Being Sustainable

23 06 2012

What is sustainable anyhow? The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary says:

: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged <sustainable techniques><sustainable agriculture> b : of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods <sustainable society>

I listened to an episode of Q on CBC yesterday that attempted to debate the need or not for sustainable agriculture and the locavore. Besides the fact that both authors were clearly lacking expertise in their said areas the debate speaks to the complexity of the ecological and food production systems. We are living in a time that doing good = creating change. What we don’t have is a deep understanding of the issues at hand and how to wrestle with them. Agriculture is inter-related with governance and policy, capitalism, trade and business as well as the justice and law system. Although attempting a sustainable life-style is a practice to continue – it’s not enough. If we stop at the romantic (as one author described it and I agree) ideal of eating local and being personally sustainable we miss understanding the bigger picture (the part he clearly misses).

It will take those in positions of influence and power to understand the relationship between systems like economics – politics – policy – eduction – business – agriculture – justice – ecology etc. to create adaptive levels of development and integration between them. Making personal choices about food isn’t enough, speaking out and demanding understanding and change is better. Change in food production in isolation of any of these systems results in GMO foods to keep up with production needs and a predictable collapse of mono-crops in the Western Hemisphere; and the continuation of millions of starving people in the Eastern Hemisphere because Western practices are infiltrating the same systems which can not sustain these practices. They are seeing the collapse already from not “harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged” as per Merriam-Webster’s definition above. The issues are not that simple of course, stress of climate change, lack of diversity, population strain, decades of civil unrest and more are certainly a part of it.

An article that points us closer to the problem and how the current fashion of buying local, learning to garden etc can be seen as some personal green washing: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/06/12-4. If you are passionate about living well and being responsible to the future of our planet and generations to come, give it 10 minutes of your time to read and give some considerations to the systems at play.

We should all be careful not to stop our thinking at our own actions, this is limiting. The solution is not easily in reach, but if we all operated in a narrow frame of ‘self-fulfilling’, ‘feel good’ action the systems at play will win, keeping us exactly where they want us to be.

How’s that for a Saturday morning rant? Time to go to my local market and tend the garden 😉

Eat well, Be well,

Nat




Spicy Black Bean Dip

10 06 2012

A dip, a spread and filling all in one. This dip is delicious. I was looking around the internet to make a simple bean dip for a gathering and found one, but once I mixed the ingredients together, it was, well, bland. I changed the measures and added some spice and here we are.

The original recipe asked for a 2/3 cup cilantro, I left this out as not everyone at the gathering likes cilantro. Cilantro is one of those herbs that you should ask before adding to a recipe, especially as garnish. With or without cilantro, this bean dip is yummy. I spread it on whole grain wraps, folded in half and grilled to make a quesadilla for lunch. I just let it cool, cut it into three triangles and stored in the fridge.

  • 2 cups cooked Black Beans (1.5 14oz cans – save the rest for a salad)
  • 1-2 cloves Garlic (optional, I added a bit of garlic powder)
  • 4 tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Pepper sauce or powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 cup filtered Water

Add all of the ingredients into a food processor, blend until smooth. Taste and adjust for flavour and add extra water if you want the consistency a bit thinner, I didn’t have to. If you want to add the cilantro, add with the rest of the ingredients before blending or just stir in chopped cilantro once you’ve blended the rest.

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Freezer Fruit, Quick Tip and some Aloha

13 05 2012

Well another season of growing has sprung. We’ve done our spring cleaning, prepped the garden and planted a few cool weather crops like radish and lettuce. A new home for the composter means new possibilities in the garden and space which we needed badly. The rhubarb is over a foot tall already, in its new home in the fresh tilled garden (we added our favourite sea soil again this year + our home made compost). The sorrel is a few inches tall and also has a new home in a sunnier location.

Frozen fruit ready for oven

In all this prepatory garden work, I realized I hadn’t eaten half of what I froze last year! I’ll have fresh rhubarb in weeks and bags of it in the freezer still. The past couple of months I’ve been baking fruit to make room in the freezer. Crumbles are such an easy and healthful dessert, they are a common write up here. The last one I made was a delicious mix of Okanagan peaches and blueberries and rhubarb from the garden. Just take the fruit out of the freezer, let it defrost for 30 min or so. Remember to freeze cut fruit and berries on cookie sheets first, easy to pull apart later. Here are some recipes: Rhubarb Crumble with Walnuts, Rhubarb Peach Apricot Cobbler and Blueberry Peach Cobbler.

Travel has limited my kitchen time. I have been sticking to old favourites and well buying lunch quite often, which I don’t love doing. I have discovered a place to get veggie chilli, and that got me through an entire week once. Last week I pulled a fast one – put together a quick version of my quinoa salad for lunch.

  • Bought a large container of quinoa salad from Planet Organic.
  • Added chopped and deseeded cucumber, diced yellow pepper, diced carrot and celery from my favourite market KFM and a can of chickpeas.
  • There was enough dressing and flavour in the salad from Planet – so I mixed it together and enjoyed for a few days.
  • Nice! Lunch for days in 5 min.

I hinted at Aloha last blog…here is a short food tour through Maui…I cry when I leave Maui, I love it there. From the moment we land we seek out the best fish tacos. My pescatarian diet flourishes near the ocean, fresh seafood everywhere. We have a favourite, Paia Fish Market. I think T loves those tacos more than me for brief moments ;-).

I also had the best veggie tacos filled with grilled Portobello mushrooms at Fred’s (thanks Joanne for the tip).

Each morning on the way to practice with Nancy Gilgoff, you’d drive past the sugar cane fields. They burn them to harvest, eek. We visited the museum last time, lots to consider. Sugar has taken over other less profitable and natural crops and has huge historical impact.

On the road to Hana, you gotta stop and pick up toasted coconut ‘candy’. 4 bags for $20, leave your money in a box and take the flavours you like, it’s an honour system. I grabbed vanilla, regular and candied ginger as well, which you may need if you get car sick on the way to Hana. 

Mmm and the Hawaiian purple sweet potatoes, so good. We ate at a new place in Kihei a couple of times, Three’s, we highly recommend it.

Mmm fish tacos (and a beer) on the beach.

Eat well, Be Well and Aloha

Nat





Top it with Tahini

9 04 2012

I just ate this and I don’t think I was breathing while doing it:

It was good while it lasted but I think I am having heart palpitations now. Have you read the recent articles on sugar addiction. 😉 No joke.

Good thing we have healthy recipes to bring us back to life. A popular recipe on this blog is the Tahini dip/dressing, go here to read again. It is so good on so many things. My last post was about an experiment with sea kelp noodles, go here to check it out. If you made that recipe (or used brown rice instead to make that yummy bowl of veg and tofu), you should have had tofu left over. What to do with it? Grill it up and serve over a chopped salad and drizzle with tahini dressing.

Make enough tahini dressing to use again. Next day, make or buy some falafel’s and warm them up, throw them onto a salad with tahini dressing and fresh cracked pepper.

And another way to use the tahini, spread it on a whole grain wrap, add veggies and tofu (these are the tofu snacks from Planet Organic) and roll up and press in a Panini press or warm it on a stove top grill pan. Its a good quick lunch. Finally, here is another tahini recipe from 2010. So many ways with tahini…what’s yours?

3 tbsp Tahini
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Maple or Agave Syrup (or jaggery if you have it, asian sugar cane)
2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil (or olive oil if you don’t have it)

Hope you had a nice long weekend,

Eat well, Be well & Aloha (more on that later),

Nat





Discovery: Sea Kelp Noodles

1 04 2012

Birds are singing, guess it’s time to go outside and take the ‘once gorgeous holiday planters’ apart. Spring is here! Well sort of, Calgary spring anyhow. Time to at least ponder what we’re going to do in the yard this year, cause some stuff is still frozen and snow will arrive again I’m sure.

Stuck in the house on a recent cold day, time to experiment. I bought sea kelp noodles from Real Raw Food awhile back. Remember to check them out for all your nut and seed needs. I blogged here about them. Not a regular accompaniment to the dinner table, sea kelp noodles took some getting use to. I used them in place of rice in a veggie bowl dish and well, they were good. Strangely crunchy, they have no flavour on their own, but pick up the flavours of what you add to them or cook them in. In this case it was yummy miso gravy. It made the meal altogether lighter. I read a lot about the goodness sea vegetables have, iodine, a multitude of vitamins and other minerals. I haven’t seen these anywhere in town, but have only looked at Planet Organic, maybe Community sells them? Let me know if you see them. There is a bunch of stuff you can do with them, I think salads and stir-fry’s make the most sense from a texture perspective. I’d try them again for sure.

This veggie bowl recipe is so simple. I didn’t make my own miso gravy, although I know it is better than bottled, but hey, this is quick and good for you. I buy Naam Miso Gravy from Planet. For two veggie bowls:

  • Marinade a block of tofu, cut into triangles. Cut the block in half lengthwise, then into four squares and then cut those into triangles. Marinade them in 1/4 cup of Bragg’s (or Tamari) 1 tbsp Sesame Oil, 2 tsp ground coriander, fresh cracked pepper and enough filtered water to cover the tofu. Let it sit in the marinade for a couple of hours if possible. The longer it sits the better the flavour. You won’t use it all up but keep in the fridge for the next meal or two.
  • Slice thick a small eggplant, red or yellow pepper and one firm tomato. Brush them with a bit of olive oil. Grill 8 slices of tofu and the veggies while you heat 1/2 cup or so of miso gravy on very low heat, stirring now and then, don’t let it bubble. Grill everything so there are grill marks – you might need to grill the tomato a little less so it’s still a bit firm. I use a stove top grill, a good investment!
  • For the sea kelp, I cut them up with scissors, heated a pan and stir-fried them with 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 1/4 cup of water, covered and let warm and soften a bit. Tossing now and then.

  • To serve it up, in a big bowl add the sea kelp noodles, arrange the veggies and tofu slices on top, drizzle with the miso gravy and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

  • Now if this sea kelp idea is a bit funky to you, make some flavourful brown basmati or jasmine rice instead. This is a super comforting dish.

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Taste of Life

18 03 2012

Whoa, blog void. It’s been three weeks since my last post and frankly, it seems like only a few days. What’s been going on? Well, no experimenting in the kitchen, but plenty of favourite healthful dishes have come and gone. It is a good thing when healthy choices of whole foods and planned meals make it into your kitchen and tummy on a habitual basis. For me these past few weeks has been made up of some of my favourites on this blog (click on the links here and in the photos to jump to the recipes). Three Bean Soup, Kitchery, one pot Moroccan stew, and Veggie Lentil Soup. Fast, easy and nourishing when life is busy. What is your go to healthy choice?

Something new we did – after having a gift certificate for over a year for the Cookbook Company we finally attended a cooking class last night. We had done this before, but a demonstration class (you watch, eat and drink). This time though, we did the cooking. Had a couple of friends with us, so it was a fun way to spend time together, but I think I like the watching, eating and drinking better :). On the menu, a goat cheese starter, bean and garlic soup, chickpeas and quinoa salad and baked trout with home-made mango coconut ice cream for dessert. I so want an ice cream maker, already thinking of the non-sugar healthful versions you can make with real fruit….In the spirit of the Big Taste 2012, a dining event that was going on in downtown Calgary till last weekend, we started our night at BorgoIf you haven’t been, go. Best Italian food you’ll eat. We ended the night with a glass of great wine at Divino. How can the night have been better?
Well, when you talk with friends about life and it’s preciousness it makes for an even nicer night. Yesterday a friend of T’s passed away from cancer. A gal full of life with a husband and little kids. Taken far too early. Gave us all something to consider last night. We all fret over what we’re planning on doing next year but what if you didn’t have a next year? Now, I don’t think we should ‘just do what you want’ and ‘giver’. Living gracefully, through life and death, thinking beyond yourself and not just what you need to be happy (which is the predominant story out there) is something I believe we should aspire to. It’s hard work. It’s way easier to do what makes you happy. The progress trap of ‘more is better’, ‘do what makes you feel good’ and ‘love is the answer’ are limited in their reach for what is needed today. Disciplined action and thoughtful inquiry are required, in good times and bad. We rarely think beyond our own feelings and immediate situation, but we should. Our environment, politics and economic situation would be a different reality if we did. Consider that for a moment and how you might live if you knew your time was up – well you already do, instead of weeks, you can assume years, so how will you use them?.
Eat well, Be well
Nat




Cleansing Kitchery

26 02 2012

Happy Sunday once again. It’s a snowy one here but a good day for CBC podcasts and to cook up a pot of Kitchery. I am honestly surprised I hadn’t shared this recipe with you before. For the yogis out there, they’d know it, especially if you’ve been to practice in India. Kitchery is a very basic meal of ghee, mung beans, brown rice and herbs. It is a staple for doing panchakarma which is an ayurvedic whole body cleanse. And when I say whole body, I mean from the nasal passages to bowel to skin. It is quite intense and meant to balance. During the cleanse (about a week or so) you eat nourishing and very easily digested foods, namely kitchery. I’ve talked about a mono-diet on this blog before and it’s my experience that it is a good way to stick to healthful living. Cooking a one pot soup or quinoa salad and eating it every day for lunch or dinner ensures you are eating well and it is just so convenient when you are busy, which most of us are. Last week was an insanely busy week of work with ordered in lunches and dinner events which didn’t end on the weekend with two more dinner outings. Fun but I am finished with eating out for a bit ;). A pot of kitchery will do the trick this week to balance body and mind.

I like to add the vegetables to the kitchery instead of steaming them on the side, which is quite normal. One pot stop. You can add whatever vegetables you like, I grabbed what was at the market yesterday. I add asafoetida to this recipe and to some Indian dishes when cooking without onions and garlic. If you read this blog often you’ll know that onions and garlic are not usually considered a calming (sattvic food), so when cleansing, we eliminate them. Asafoetida is a herb used in India and some Middle Eastern countries and known to support digestion. It stinks so bad though, I keep mine double zip-locked! You only need the smallest of a pinch to get the flavour and benefit. If you don’t have it, no worries, but look for it in your Indian grocery.

  • 1/2 cup Mung Beans, soaked for awhile or up to over night
  • 1 tbsp Ghee (I use my favourite coconut oil-ghee blend)
  • 1/2 cup Brown Basmati or Jasmine Rice, rinsed
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 2 Cardamom Pods
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 inch grated Ginger
  • 6 cups of filtered Water
  • 1 cube low sodium Veggie Stock
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt (or to taste)
  • Pinch Asafoetida
  • 2 cups chopped Carrots
  • 2 cups chopped Parsnips
  • 1/2 head Cauliflower, cut to small florets
  • 1 bunch Dinosaur Kale, de-stemmed and chopped

Heat the ghee in a soup pot, add the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds, the cardamom and ginger. Stir until they become aromatic, a couple of minutes. Add the mung beans, rice, water, salt, veggie stock, turmeric and asafoetida. Bring to a boil, then let simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Add the veggies, except for the kale, cook stirring now and then, for 30 minutes. The rice and mung beans should be softening by now and water absorbing. Add the kale, cook covered until the rest of the water is absorbed and kale cooked, about 15 minutes. You may need to add a bit more water, just keep an eye on it.

Wishing you a healthful week,

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Recipe Share: Bok Choy and Mushroom Soup

12 02 2012

It’s Sunday once again and soup’s on. This week I am sharing a recipe from a friend of mine, E. We swapped a bunch of recipes a few months back and I have been meaning to try this soup for sometime. It is good, filling and hit the spot on a late Sunday afternoon. It honestly took 30 min from start to finish. I like that kind of soup 🙂

  • 3-4 cups sliced Mushrooms (shitake and crimini)
  • 1 package firm Tofu, cubed (1.5 cm squares)
  • 6 cups Chicken or Veggie stock
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium or regular Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced (I used 1/2 tsp garlic powder, you know me ;))
  • 1 tbsp minced Ginger
  • 6-8 heads of Baby Bok Choy
  • 3 Green Onions, sliced fine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds for garnish
In a soup pot, stir-fry tofu and mushrooms in a bit of oil with the garlic and ginger over medium-high heat. Cook until the tofu and mushrooms start to brown. Add all but the bok choy and let simmer for 10 minutes. I used organic chicken stock, organic poultry makes it into our house now and then, but I am sure the veggie would work fine. Add the bok choy and green onions and simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve in a big bowl and garnish with sesame seeds.
If you wanted, you could add udon noodles to this, that would be good. As well, T thinks it would be good with a touch of sriracha sauce, it’s all the rage right now but an oldie and a goodie asian hot sauce.
Quick recipe, quick blog, have a great week friends!
Eat well, be well,
Nat




Lunch at Work: Three Bean Soup

5 02 2012

Okay, I looked at the calendar, it says it’s February but you’d never know it with the weather we are having. Soup for lunch is a staple for me in the ‘winter’ but this winter is a bit funky. Enjoy it while it’s here but be a little concerned about what it means in the bigger scheme of things. Anyone that doubts climate change should go outside for a walk on February 5, in a light jacket. I saw kids playing basketball at the park across the street yesterday.

We go to Costco about once a month to pick up our toiletries and such. More and more organic foods are arriving there which is super exciting. I noticed a few months ago a new addition to the TruRoots products, sprouted bean mix.Until recently Costco was only selling their quinoa but now has the bean mix and chia seeds. Nice. The bean mix is super good and quick. The beans have been sprouted and dried so you can have cooked beans in about 15 min. It has lentils, mung beans and adzuki beans in it. I made up this super simple soup and have eaten it a lot for lunch this ‘winter’. I skip the onion completely but if you want, add it in with the carrots and celery for a proper mirepoix. The veggie stock has onion in it anyhow.

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
  • 2-3 large Carrots
  • 2-3 stalks Celery
  • 2-3 medium Parsnips
  • 2 cups TruRoots Bean Trio
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Small bunch of Parsley
  • Sprig or two of Thyme (remember you can keep parsley, thyme, rosemary etc in the freezer)
  • 5 Pepper Corns
  • 2 cubes of low sodium Veggie Stock
  • 9- 10 cups of filtered Water
  • 1 can of Diced Tomatoes, drained
  • 1 medium Zucchini
  • Sea Salt and fresh ground Pepper to taste

Prepare the veggies by chopping them small. For soup I like to cut my carrots and parsnips into half-moon like shapes, celery the same, unless it is quite big, then I might cut it lengthwise first. Heat the oil in a soup pot, add the carrots and celery and cook on medium heat until they start to soften. Add the parsnips, beans, spices, stock and water. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 15 min. Check the beans for softness. Add the tomatoes and zucchini, simmer covered again for another 10-15 minutes. If you think you need more liquid, add a bit more water or next time add less beans. This ends up being a thick and hearty soup which I like at lunch. Experiment, add other veggies of your choice.

My Sunday-post-primary-practice-yoga-ladies were talking today about the cost of food and the ‘healthlessness’ of our society these days. An important element to this is that we have lost our means of being resourceful people in regards to eating. I hear all the time that vegetables are expensive. I don’t say they aren’t but in relation to what? Being compared to processed foods like KD and ichiban, not a fair comparison. It’s what is more nourishing that matters. This soup costs less than $10 and it feeds me for five or more days (I added it up below). I’m full and have done good for my mind and body. The other options? Probably the same price at way less value. And if you’re buying lunch every day, totally different story. This post is for my Sunday ladies, love our time together. 🙂

Eat well, be well,

Nat

  • Bean Trio $15 (enough for about 6-8 pots of soup)
  • Bag of organic carrots $4
  • Organic celery stalks $3
  • 1 Organic zucchini $2
  • Bag of Organic parsnips $4
  • Organic Parsley, Thyme $4 (and freeze left overs for later)
  • Bay Leaf, pepper corns $4
  • Box of organic veggie stock $5
  • Can of organic tomatoes $2
  • Oil of some sort, salt and pepper – nil (I assume most people have something of the sort)
  • Water – nil
  • 1 hour of time
  • Total: $43 and you have ingredients to make more soup or other things. Don’t buy organic and maybe save a bit more, but not much these days. Shop local and within season.




A Quick Cup of Coffee

29 01 2012

Happy Sunday. The days are getting a wee bit longer, which is nice and the weather continues to be freakishly lovely. It feels like a March day in Calgary today. Up early with tea, read, off to practice, tea with the usual yoga crew and home for a quiet Sunday. It’s nice when you did all your errands on Fri/Sat and you are left with a bit less to do on a Sunday.

I don’t drink coffee but T does. I wish I liked it though. It smells so good sometimes, but doesn’t do it for me. I like my tea. Maybe it’s because coffee became a survival technique during university and now it has lost its allure. I do like it now and then (decaf) with dessert when out for dinner. But I think even the thought of it keeps me up so I don’t do that often.

Our combo expresso/coffee maker died an early death last fall. It was a good one too (we thought), a Krups. I have learned since, that it has been discontinued. Nice. T was without a proper coffee maker up until Christmas. He used the Bodem, which worked and he liked because he likes fresh ground coffee in the morning. He hates cleaning it out though…it’s about being efficient in the morning. So for Christmas I thought, i’ll buy him a new coffee maker, how practical of me. 😉 Well I found the bomb of quick coffee makers. I don’t mean to offend, but those little pod coffee makers that everyone is buying and were EVERYWHERE at Christmas are an environmental disaster. I work at a building with 40 some floors and each floor has an average of two of these machines pumping out a black garbage bag or more a day in little plastic containers. Yikes. Yeah, yeah, they’re recycled, but their still made from plastic…and they’re expensive!

I have the perfect item for you, fresh coffee, one cup at a time with the Hamilton Beach The Scoop. T grinds fresh coffee every morning, fills the scoop, adds water and presses start. How easy is that AND the unit is half the price or more than the expensive pod ones. So if you have been considering buying a new coffee maker and are being woo’d by those trendy pod types, give The Scoop a thought. (I swear we are not endorsed by Hamilton Beach, but when something this smart comes along, I gotta tell people. p.s I got ours at London Drugs and saw them at Canadian Tire too. Shameless, I know.)

Eat well, Be well,

Nat