Three Weeks Early

8 06 2013

Although not active on the blog…been active it seems everywhere else. Work. Reno. Life.

Got the garden planted three weeks earlier this year on May 12. Crazy for Calgary, but it was super warm and I figured if it got cold I’d just put the insulated blanket on the wee ones. I did that once and even the tomatoes survived the last bit of low temperatures. Today is June 8 and this is what the beans look like already. <smiles>

Beans June 8-2013

Look at that rhubarb in the background. The kohlrabi to the right were planted like that and growing already. That’s sorrel beside the rhubarb – I still have a bag of frozen sorrel leaves from last year in the freezer along with blueberries, peaches and a gazillion cups of rhubarb. So it’s cobbler season around here.

And this is what my bathroom looks like:

Bathroom June 8-2013

After six months of basement dwelling (however, a very nice basement) and now all of the furniture upstairs somewhere downstairs or in the garage, I went to stay at my folks in the country. I needed a reno-life-break. Fresh air and love…and some puppy love. Cassius barks at everything except the neighbour horses, he walks quietly, sits and watches. I think he has a crush.

Cassius June 8-2013

How’s your spring…it’s weeks to summer, hard to believe.

Eat well, Be well,


Lunch at Work: Mung Bean Wraps

8 04 2013

Mung beans make an appearance at lunch very often for me. Especially in the winter when lunch consists of Cleansing Kitchery or Bean Soup. Lately, I’ve been making a version of Moroccan Goodness using mung beans. They are just so easy to use, full of goodness and if you soak them overnight, they cook up fast.

Two things I look forward to in the foodie world are 1) the monthly Alive magazine and 2) the bi-monthly City Palate. I picked up both new issues two weekends ago and spent some lazy moments this weekend flipping through them. Beans are on the menu in Alive this month which was perfect timing because even I get tired of the same thing for lunch now and then. It was time for a change and time to experiment in the kitchen. Eating monotony often means I’ve also been lacking in kitchen adventures which results in little to no blogging. Newly inspired, I tried the Mung Bean Pate Wraps. I had to alter the recipe because I found it bland. I can’t blame the recipe because I made mine without garlic and shallots, which is where a lot of the flavour would come from. However, I don’t like it when recipes depend on these ingredients for flavour. Even with onions and garlic, I don’t think the tomato flavour would have come through. So here is my more sattvic, pumped up version. Of course, add a bit of garlic and shallot or onion if you’d like.

  • 2/3 cups dried Mung Beans
  • 1/3 cups Walnuts
  • 1 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes packed in oil
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp Water
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil

Soak the mung beans overnight or for several hours, the more you soak the quicker they cook. Rinse them off and bring to boil in about 3 cups of water and then simmer. If you soaked them overnight, they’ll be soft in 15-20 min, if you didn’t soak them, cover them and check them every 10 minutes until they are soft. Rinse them off in cold water. In a food processor blend the mung beans and the rest of the ingredients together. Blend until smooth. Add a tablespoon or more of water if you find it too thick. I buy a big jar of sun dried tomatoes at Costco, one of the few vegetable things that aren’t organic in our house, but you know, how can you resist the price and the amount you get!

Sun Dried Tomatoes

I smeared the pate on a spelt wrap, added some goats cheese and sliced yellow peppers for lunch. Delicious. Easy to pack to work, I just rolled up one of the wraps in plastic wrap so it wouldn’t dry out. I put the pate and cheese into a small container the peppers in another container. Sliced cucumber and other veg like carrots on the side. Lunch is served (and had my colleagues saying ‘that looks yummy’ today at lunch).

Mung Bean Pate

Have you tried mung beans yet? What’s your favourite way to use them?

Eat well, Be well,


Maui 2013

11 03 2013

No recipes to post today. Just a moment in time. In my final days in Maui I am on the balcony of my condo, watching the sun set. Something that is revered in Maui. Hard not to be in awe of it. In only minutes it dips from the sky behind the blue ocean, to rise again from the opposite direction 12 hours or so later. Splendid.

Maui sunset 2013

Each night at this time the long-timers blow on their conch shells at the dipping of the sun on the horizon to offer their dreams to the golden hue and wish for good luck. They clap at the good and the not-so-good efforts of the other conch blowers.

The birds sing their final songs of the day, loudly and huddled together in the palm trees and flowers. Everyone is settling in for an early night. The birds start again at 6AM, at first sight of day light.

Maui bird 2013

It’s easy to eat well in Maui. For me the pescatarian, it’s poke, fish tacos and the like. I’m down two pineapples and two containers of spinach which I am sure my neighbours loved as these were blended up at 6AM and prepared for my ride home from yoga practice. Somehow I think they were up anyhow. The streets are alive at 6AM in Maui with runners and walkers. You feel like part of a special club with the ‘early birds’, who are the majority here.

Final days? Art shopping, sun set watching and deep breaths.

Aloha my friends, Aloha


Steel Cut Oats, Muffin Size

29 01 2013

I’ve done it. I’ve found a new weekday breakfast (and managed to get a blog post up in January). Anyone that knows me, I’m a creature of habit, same breakfast Monday thru Friday. Whole soaked and sprouted grains with cinnamon and toasted mixed nuts and seeds. Oatmeal with natural peanut butter and maple syrup on the weekends, yummy. That and a green smoothie, I’m good to go.

I love oatmeal and whole oats. Oatmeal is a bit of a pain at work though because you have to add the hot water, cook it and then you’re left with a messy bowl after. The sprouted cooked whole grains (kamut, spelt, soft wheat etc) are great because you can make a weeks worth at a time. It freezes, it packs well, there’s no water required and they don’t clump, but a spoon and bowl are required. See my post about Kamut for Breakfast from awhile back. If you practice or workout in the morning, you probably eat when you get to work or school so it makes for a rushed breakfast before meetings or class (or you eat in meetings if you have tolerant colleagues, I do ;-)).

In November’s Alive magazine there was group of recipes that featured oatmeal. One recipe looked like cooked oatmeal in a muffin wrapper, I was intrigued. I tried it and it is now my go to breakfast. They are filling and nutrient dense. Here is the original recipe, I skipped the compote and made a few edits based on my experience and likes. I’ve made these every week since. They take no time at all.


Muffin Size Steel Cut Oats

  • 1 cup Steel Cut Oats (soak them in filtered water overnight in the fridge and then rinse and drain them)
  • 1/2 cup Oat Bran or Spelt Flour (I’ve tried both, I am sure you could try a GF flour of some sort)
  • 1/2 cup or more of chopped Walnuts (I’ve added pecans as well)
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Sugar (I added this to original recipe, they were a bit bland)
  • 2 Free Range Eggs (you could try the flax meal egg substitute for vegan)
  • 1/2 can of Pumpkin Puree, about 1 cup (use the unsweetened plain one)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Almond or Soy milk
  • 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup

Steel Cut Oat Muffins 2

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together (drained oats, oat bran or spelt flour, walnuts, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and coconut sugar). Whisk the wet ingredients together (eggs, pumpkin, milk, maple syrup). Mix the wet with the dry. Line a regular sized muffin tin with muffin papers (I prefer this over greasing them because they are easier to pack to work).  Put in the oven, middle rack, let bake for 25-30 min. The recipe called for 20 min or until set. The first time I made them, liquid was still bubbling out of them at 20 min, I was really skeptical. I ended up baking them for 30 min and they turned out, but a bit dry. Now when I make them I bake for 25 min and then cool, in the muffin pan, for 15 min to finish setting. Remove and put on cooling rack. They sweat a little, so they need to be on a cooling rack. Freeze half, fridge the other half and take two to work a day (along with your green smoothie).

Steel Cut Oat Muffins 3

Other notes:

– I haven’t tried this yet, but I will experiment with ripe bananas and home-made apple sauce. Might need to adjust the amount of oat bran to soak up extra liquid from the apple sauce.

– I freeze the other half of the canned pumpkin. Put the lid back on the top of the pumpkin and freeze. Take out hours before using to defrost. You’ll need to drain the pumpkin a bit to rid some of the liquid. Or, just make a double batch with a can of pumpkin and freeze them. They freeze great!

– If you try alternatives, let me know!!!

Eat well, Be well,


Chocolate Coconut Almond Meal Cookies

23 12 2012

Well it’s here and gone, the winter solstice and we all survived the Mayan’s end of the world prediction. Phew😉. I hope this post finds you well and settled in for a break during the holidays. The winter solstice, being the shortest day of the year, is a turning point, the first official day of winter and now the days slowly gain more light. It is a time of reflection and as a dear friend said to me recently I hope you “are able to step back, rest and reconnect with the deeper voices of life this solstice season.”

This time of year is a cookie occasion. Filling tins and gift bags with baking to share with family and friends. I didn’t imagine myself to be a cookie maker, but alas here I am, blocking my calendar for a ‘bake day’ in early December. This included cracking open wine in the afternoon, maybe unique to me, no? I bet that’s why there are ‘bake days’😉. I started the day off early making Walnut Kifli with grandma Anne. These cookies get lots of hits on my blog this time of year, so I know there are other Hungarians out there enjoying this traditional recipe, that’s fantastic.

photo 3

Once the kifli were done, it was home to the test kitchen. I wanted to make a ‘not so bad for you cookie’ and use up a bunch of almond meal from the Almond Milk I make weekly. I found a recipe on Naked Chef, but was not convinced by it. Once I got the cookie dough made, it was quite wet, a bit bland and I had to bake them longer to set. I tried two kinds, regular and chocolate. The regular didn’t turn out but the chocolate were okay. I added coconut to the chocolate ones and dipped them in ganache with a sprinkle of sea salt, much better.  I wasn’t convinced at first, but B liked them and then mom liked them. So here they are. I will definitely make them again, and experiment with flavours.

To make vegan: grind up 2 tbsp flax seeds and add to 1/3 cup water. Mix together and let sit while you prep the rest. This is an excellent egg substitute and is really good for you.

Flax meal

To make gluten-free: experiment with your wheat free flour. I think this recipe could be gluten-free, but haven’t tried. Let me know if you do.

Chocolate Coconut Almond Meal Cookies (adapted from The Naked Chef)

  • 2 tbsp Ground Flax Seed soaked in 1/3 cup Water
  • 2 cups raw Almond Meal (remember you can keep almond meal in the freezer to use later)
  • 2 1/4 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt + a few grains for garnish
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup Honey
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 cup grated and unsweetened Shredded Coconut

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the almond meal, flour, baking soda, salt, coconut sugar, cocoa powder and shredded coconut together. Add the ground flax mixture, coconut oil, honey and vanilla, mix together. Roll into balls using about 2 tbsp of dough. They do puff up a bit so they should be kept on the small side. Bigger and they stay raw inside (as per my experience). Bake 15-25 min. Test one batch in your oven to make sure they are cooked in the middle. I had to bake for 23 min,  depends on the size of the cookie balls you roll. Let cool.

I melted 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler and added a few tablespoons of almond milk, stir well. Dip the cooled cookies in the chocolate and sprinkle with a few grains of sea salt. They save well in the fridge or freezer. The recipe is supposed to make 36 cookies, but by the time I got this all figured out I didn’t have a lot to offer folks…oh well, next time.

Chocolate Coconut Almond cookies

Enjoy the holidays and happy solstice!

Eat well, Be well, Nat

Veggie Enchiladas

9 11 2012

Whoa, November. Another year is quickly speeding to the finish line and it seems winter has shown up a wee bit early. It’s hard to ignore the changes in our climate. Besides the dump of snow we got here, hurricane Sandy and the follow-up storm has many folks stopped in their tracks, the devastation is clearly unbelievable. We need to reflect on the impact climate change has had on our environment (while some continue to deny it). Hopefully we not only sort out a recovery but how to adapt and rethink how we interact with our world.

Back to food (and dreaming of warmer days already)…growing up, Mexican food was a staple in our house including taco night, dad’s nachos (he makes good nachos) or going to Chi Chi’s with family and friends. Like many Canadians, trips to Mexico started as teens to escape our long winters. No all-inclusive for us, we always had an apartment and mom cooked with local ingredients. Later on, travelling there on my own, staying with friends, I learned the art of making great guacamole.

I can hardly call this veggie enchilada recipe a ‘recipe’ because it’s so easy. If you can, pick up fresh corn tortillas and pepper sauce from a Mexican store. I get mine from Sabores at Kingsland Farmers Market. I think the enchiladas are $5 for a stack and they last me two enchilada dinners. I just freeze half for a second dinner. The corn tortilla is what separates an enchilada from a burrito, so for gluten-free folks, it’s the way to go. Pick a filling, roll up and cover with sauce and a bit of cheese and bake. You can make your own pepper sauce, recipes are plentiful, pick a red or green, but I cheat and buy them to make this an even easier dinner to throw together. Here are two simple ways to get your enchilada on, veggie style.

Filling #1: Mexican Veggie Ground Round

  • I package Yves or other Veggie Ground Round (I season my own, but you can use the Mexican one if you’d like)
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cumin
  • 2 tsp ground Mexican seasoning or Taco seasoning – season to taste
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground Chipotle seasoning
  • Olive Oil for sautéing
  • 1/2 small Sweet Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small Red or Yellow Pepper, sliced
  • 6 White Mushrooms, sliced
  • Heat the veggie ground round, season to taste
  • Saute the onion, peppers and mushrooms in a bit of olive oil until softened and move to enchilada construction

Filling #2: Refried Beans

  • 1 can black or pinto Refried Beans, warm in a pot over the stove, season to taste
  • Sautéed veggies from filling #1
  • Move to enchilada construction

General ingredients:

  • 10-12 Corn Tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups of salsa or pepper sauce of your choice – I buy a red sauce from Sabores, it’s perfect but I have also used a canned Mexican green sauce bought in the Mexican section of your grocery store
  • 1-2 cups of shredded cheese or vegan alternative of your choice. Monterey Jack and Mozzarella work well

Enchilada Construction:

  • Lightly coat a 9×13 glass baking dish with a non-stick spray.
  • Before assembly, you have to soften the tortillas, work with them at least at room temperature, but they may crack. I did some research and there are two ways of making them easier to roll, heat in oil or lightly steam in microwave, I chose the latter.
  • Wrap the tortillas in a damp cloth or paper towel (wet and squeeze out water), put in the microwave for 30-60 sec. Now work fast.
  • In each tortilla, place 2-3 tablespoons of the bean or ground round filling and then a small amount of the veg on top. You don’t want to over stuff. Practice makes perfect.
  • Roll softly, they don’t have to be tight, place seam side down in the pan. You don’t have to tuck in the sides like burritos, just roll them up. If they crack, don’t panic, try again. Tuck them beside each other to keep in place.
  • Cover with sauce and then cheese.
  • Bake in the oven until golden brown at 375 for 40-50 min.
  • Serve with fresh guacamole, salsa, sour creme or whatever you’d like.

The best part about these is that they make great leftovers (if there are any). Ole!

Eat well, Be well,


Urban Harvest

8 10 2012

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving. It was a gorgeous day, although I spent mine with a cold, boo. I skipped Sunday dinner and made Soska Soup instead, yum. T did most of the work to harvest the garden yesterday. Compared to last year and the year before, things are improving. I did a better job of thinning stuff and the lay out worked a bit better. A few things to move next year and we have to ‘rehabilitate’ the heavy clay soil, which I am learning will take worm casting tea, mulch and compost among other things. And I still couldn’t get the radishes I desire. I’ve jotted down the lessons learned and I’m already prepping next year. I am going to plant spinach and parsley in the next few weeks, just before the frost so these will come up first in the spring. A friend of mine gave me terrific ideas to incorporate some permaculture techniques which is exciting. Oh the anticipation.

I watched the documentary Surviving Progress the other day. Highly recommend it, it’s available on iTunes. If you’re into healthy eating you’re usually into a healthy planet. This film looks into the causal architectures or systemic and deeply rooted causes of how we arrived at our current destination, as Jane Goodall says, ‘destroying the only home we have, our planet’. Consider the deeply rooted and systemic issues debt based economies and a consumption mindset have made on our world? The idea that ‘progress’ has meant ‘more’ instead of ‘better’. There is a lot more to it than that, and I especially appreciated David Suzuki’s quote in the film, “conventional economics is a form of brain damage” and that calling life systems like water and top soil externalities is “just nuts“. Agreed.

While harvesting the garden I was thinking about how there is so much hype about ‘living off the land’ now a days. Easy for me to attempt half the year in my own back yard and the rest of the year from locally sourced foods from the nearby market. I do my best but I still buy bananas. What about folks who live in densely populated cities, what do they do? I think we can get a bit snobbish and elitist about this whole movement and Colin Beavan of the No Impact Project said something in Surviving Progress that seeded these thoughts: “This No Impact experiment we did, we live in New York City, which made it unusual because most people can think of environmental living as some sort of a back to the land thing. But of course, back to the land is not the right idea when it comes to saving our habitat. If all of us in New York were to go back to the land, we would very much destroy the land.” He’s got a point, a very good point. I am usually a bit wary of ‘make small changes’ messaging, but you know what, we do need to think of these things in a way that will result in long-term sustainment and starting with how and what we consume is a good start. Our civilizations failing economy and environment are big ships to turn around, but if more people lean to one side, we (meaning generations to come) might just do okay.

Hopefully some of you are enjoying the fruits of your own labour this weekend, or that of others who work hard to bring you locally sourced foods. If not, while considering what you are thankful for this holiday weekend, give some thought to how you might help steer our collective ship better.

Eat well, Be well,