Tag Archives: health

What She Ate (Hello! It’s a Link Up!)

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As some of you may already know, I was recently diagnosed with a second autoimmune disease.  Yep, my immune system is a rock star in the bad sorta binge drinking kinda way.  But moving on.  My naturopath suggested that I do a therapeutic diet for the next month to help ease the inflammation in my body, give everything a chance to heal/rest and in the meantime potentially identify some foods which may need to be completely eliminated.  The diet is pretty restrictive, but in reality is still full of great healthy options.  If you know me, though, you know I’m a high-fructose corn syrup in the form of candy candy candy kinda girl.  So that part of the elimination diet list that said ‘no sweeteners’ hit hard in my candy crack fogged brain.

fruit salad

It’s the end of my first week and I think so far I’m doing good, but the real test will come tonight when I go to the movies sans-goodies.  Oh my!  Oh wait, I can sneak a bottle of 100% pure fruit or vegetable juice.  Poo.

We already eat pretty darn tootin’ healthy.  (with the exception of the previously professed candy problem).  We make most of our food from scratch, eat a diet full of whole foods and a good variety of fresh fruits and veggies.  However, when it comes to cooking I don’t know the first thing about laying off the cheese.

curried rice apple chickpea salad

I thought this would be a great opportunity to invite some fellow bloggers to join in a link-up.  (Disclaimer:  I don’t suggest that anyone embark on any kind of diet without first talking to your doctor).  It seems that there are many of you out there who are making the choice to either eat healthier or for one reason or another have had to give up some type of food.  So why not link up together and spend a little time every couple of weeks sharing some healthy eats, new recipes and naughty (but healthy) indulgences.  You don’t have to be on a special diet to join, you just have to share an interest in home cooked deliciousness.

vegan chocolate mousse

So if you are interested in joining this link up let me know in the comments below and I’ll send you all the info you need by email (including the little banner guy up above and the button).  We will have a new theme every couple of weeks…like a culinary challenge.

Here are two recipes from my first week that I wanted to share.  Easy-Peasy my friends and so gooooood!  For starters,  I can’t give up chocolate.  I just can’t.  I was lucky to have my friend Steph stop by for a visit and she brought with her this recipe for Vegan Chocolate Mousse.  I believe it was originally intended to be served in a chocolate tart of sorts, but it makes a pretty good imitation of a pudding.  And you all know how much I love pudding.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

2 cups avocado
1/3 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk
2/3 cup maple syrup (or to taste.  I used honey and a lot less)
1 tbsp peanut butter or tahini
1 tbsp arrowroot or coconut flour
1/3 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted

whir it all up in a blender and enjoy.

And here is a lunch staple in our house (which I had to modify slightly because I can’t have peppers or dried fruit or mayonnaise or Worcestershire sauce…ho hum).

Curried Rice, Chick Pea and Apple Salad

2 cups cooked brown basmati rice
5 green onions, sliced
1 apple, seeded and chopped
1 cup or 1 can cooked chickpeas
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil

mix. mix. mix. voila. eat.

* adapted from the cookbook “Beyond the Moon” by Ginny Callan.  I love this book.

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I can’t get the link-up thingamajingy to work…hopefully up for next time.  In the meantime, you should really head on over to Abhaya to check out the gorgeous Indian Slaw recipe that Sondra posted.  It looks absolutely yummers!  Coconut and Lime and Roasted Peanuts…need I say more!

You can also head on over to the What She Ate Pinterest Board to see all the delicious healthy eats!

Things That Can Break

vintage typewriter suitcase

moving boxes

Wondering if I can wear a goiter with style.

These days I’m forced to recognize that ‘control’ may be more illusion or perspective than reality.  That my body (despite being properly fed, nurtured, treated delicately and exercised appropriately) might still do its own thing.

I am edgy today.  Irritated at the bags under my eyes, the ease of exhaustion, the swelling in my throat and the persistent pain in my back….my hips…my feet…my hands.

Moving forward…movement in general…is what is best.  The quiet numbing slosh of the water at the pool as I go from one end of the lane to the other.  The scrape of the skate blades on the freshly cleared ice.  If I sit for too long I may stay that way, suspended.

This morning I started to pack the boxes.  Started the process of putting everything temporarily on hold until we unpack again.  A familiar, but now completely uninteresting process.    I have moved enough times now that there is no longer any excitement in it for me, but luckily also no hesitation.  No longer that sense of sitting on the edge of something new…some unknown potential…some brief glimpse of opportunity.

There is always the uncertainty.  But even that I have gotten used to.  I don’t know where I’ll work…if I’ll make new friends…if I’ll find old or new patterns to follow….if this place will be better or worse than the last.  For now I will simply not know.  You have to sit with that.  There is no other choice.  No prediction.  No way of reading the future.

I am a master now at address changes.  All of our worldly belongings can be unloaded by two of us in under an hour.  I panicked briefly about labeling boxes and than quickly realized it’s not as necessary as it seems.

Next friday, a pizza box…perhaps a bottle or two of beer…and that strange hollow echo of a place not yet your own.

Goodbye Gluten: Hello, DIY Imitation Kashi Cereal

gluten-free cereal diy homemade

Wheat, it’s all I can think about.  Funny how when you decide to give something up for a while it has a way of taking over your mind.  Last night I fell asleep counting giant chocolate muffins and croissants and riding around with a bike basket full of baguettes.

It is only day two of operation ‘Goodbye Gluten’.

This is something I am trying out for a while to see if it helps at all with the inflammation and pain in my joints or the chronic bloating and stomach pains that have plagued me for nearly a decade.  I figure it can’t hurt and if it doesn’t make a difference I can happily go back to munching on melba toasts.  But if it does help with the above described problems than I think i’ll be all too happy to get a little extra creative in the kitchen.

Some of you may know I love to bake and I love to eat.  And one weapon I have on my side is that we already make most of our food from scratch.  So when I ran down the meal plan for this week it wasn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be.  We grabbed up a few extra ingredients, shoved the wheat and gluten filled pantry items to the side and dug right into experimenting with new flours.

Over the course of the next week or two I will be sharing some of the food we are making and some of the recipes I am discovering.  I don’t really want this blog to become all about ‘inflammed joints’ and ‘bloat belly’ and ‘gluten this and wheat that’.  But for the time being this is what’s happening and I thought I could make it a bit more fun if I take the time to share.

I’m not big on cereal.  More of an egg breakfast kinda person.  But I do love a little breakfast parfait from time to time with some cereal and yoghurt and fruit.  So I whipped up an imitation ‘kashi’ style granola that is also gluten-free.  I’m too cheap by the way to buy cereal.  I’m like that about most things.

So here’s the recipe:

in a big bowl mix together

  • 4 cups of gluten-free oats
  • 2 to 3 cups of puffed millet cereal
  • 1 cup of coconut
  • 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup of chopped almonds
  • 3/4 cup of honey
  • 1/3 cup of oil
  • Some shakes of cinnamon

Mix it all together and spread the cereal mixture onto a couple of baking sheets.  Throw the sheets in the oven at 350 F for approximately 30 to 40 minutes (until it browns lightly).  Check on the cereal every 5 to 10 minutes and give it a stir.  When it is done, remove from the oven and sprinkle a few shakes of gluten-free vanilla extract (you gotta check this stuff cause often it’s full of artificial colouring which may contain gluten).  Add a cup full of raisins and mix.  When the mixture has cooled store in an air-tight container.

My mix nearly filled a 3 L storage container.  It’ll keep in the pantry for about 4 to 6 weeks, but you’ll so have gobbled it all up way before that time comes.

Happy Nibbles!

Multigrain braided bread

A Marathon of Baking

Multigrain braided breadRight around the time I decided that I wanted to try training for a sprint level triathlon (500 m swim, 20 km bike and a 5 km run), I simultaneously dove right into a marathon of sunday baking.  We are still pushing along with making all of our breads and baked goodies.  So while the loaves and muffins and pitas baked away, I sketched out a rough plan for my new 10 week training program.  The first step will be to have my bike fixed.   It had two tune ups last year and somehow still woke up this spring in the worst shape ever.  In reality…I kinda need a new bike, but that’s for another budget year.  Right after I pear upside down muffinsput the pear upside-down muffins in the oven, I also gathered all the information I will need in order to plan my weekly swimming sessions at the local pool.  Unfortunately, the schedule at the pool here is less than ideal and most of the lane swimming times happen during my work day.  However, there are a few times throughout the week where I can catch a swim before work or later in the evening.  So this week I will get my bike off to the shop and start off with a mix of swim and run training.

Perhaps thinking about a triathlon is what spurred the excessive baking this sunday.   My lovely took care of making our bread for the week (one loaf of multigrain and a beautiful braided loaf that looks so so wonderful).  But while I was thinking of extra runs, long distance bike rides and swimming laps…I also thought about all that my body has to do in a week.  I have a very physically demanding job which should make all this training an extra challenge.

pita breadI’m finding it really hard these days to stay motivated with work-outs, crafting, creating and writing.  I think in part due to isolation…a lack of community to share and grow with.  Yesterday we went to Toronto for the day and it was so refreshing (for a rural girl) to spend the day surrounded by so many people.  Although I hate to admit it, some part of me is still a city girl.  I was raised in both settings and always feel like I hover somewhere in the middle.  Loving the silence and beauty of where I am, but craving the hustle of a more active social life.  So far my weekend has been in both worlds.  Saturday we visited the Royal Ontario Museum, ate delicious vietnamese food on Spadina and snooped around the second hand delights of Kensington Market.   Sunday, nestled in our country life, I’ve been baking, running and digging up wild leeks out on the trails.

What we baked this week:  2 loaves multigrain bread, Rosemary and Parmesan Foccacia (a gift for our rosemary parmesan foccacianeighbour), Pear Upside Down Muffins and a dozen pita breads.   What I picked up in Kensington Market:  a fantastic red floral vintage smock apron and a cotton batik wrap skirt for summer.  What I loved at the ROM:  beautiful displays of butterflies from their specimen collection and inspiration perhaps for a future embroidery project.

Rye

Our Daily Bread

Oatmeal Wheat and RyeWe are now making all of the bread that we consume.  This was a recent decision, spurred by our shared desire to one day grow, bake and create as much of our food as possible.  It can seem like such a daunting thing, especially when there is so much other work to do.  So instead of diving right in and getting completely overwhelmed, we decided to chip away at it one piece at a time.  Our new home has blessed us with more garden space than we have had in previous years.  The potatoes are planted, the seedlings in waiting and the seed packets lined up anxiously. Already there is a bounty of asparagus spears sticking up out of the ground and rhubarb coming out of our ears.

The first piece of our food plan was to learn how to bake bread and to completely Ryeeliminate all store bought bread from our shopping list.  We looked up a few recipes, grabbed up a jumbo bag of flour and some yeast…and away we went.  In hindsight, with only one loaf pan and one tiny wee little cookie sheet…we likely should have stocked up on some extra bakeware.  And almost as if it heard us discuss this plan…the breadmachine that I got second hand…finally decided to call it quits.

The results so far have been great.  The first Sunday we made a small loaf of rye and a large loaf of Oatmeal Wheat Bread.  This Sunday we decided to go all the way Rye Bread and PB&J Cookieswith the rye and made a small free form loaf and one loaf in the bread pan.  Check out my Pinterest “Bread” board for recipes and notes on the loafs we have tried so far and recipes we have lined up for our next Sunday Bread Adventures.  I’m studying up now on sourdough and will share the results of our first starter soon.

Oh and the cookies next to the Rye Bread were a little extra treat I whipped together:  Peanut Butter & Jam Drop Cookies!

if i don't love

if i don’t love…

if i don't lovethe other day while running on the treadmill the ‘perfect’ blog post was written.  in my head, as usual, and never with a keyboard or pen in sight.  my thoughts are calmest when i am busy…running, gardening, walking, driving to the store or hauling more brush out to the pile.  the post was about an ache in my heart that i suddenly felt compelled to share.  an ache that has probably sat there for as long as i can remember.  but when i sat down to write, i couldn’t accurately put the feeling back into rhythmic and organized words.

but here i’ll try.

for as long as i can remember i have regarded my body and myself as separate.  two separate entities that are somehow forced to share the same space.  and i hurt for all the hatred i’ve poured into myself.  all the lonely self-loathing, spiteful glances and disgust.  the longing for a ‘perfection’.  and i have been angered by how pityful it is to waste so much energy on hating myself…my body…my every slip of skin….while i could have chanelled all of that good life into loving.  i ask others for love and acceptance…like the simple goodness that it is…but i don’t for a second give myself that same comfort.  i do not give myself the peace of self-respect.

i am healthy.

and the acceptance starts here.  if you know what i’m talking about…what i’m hinting about.  if you too have an ache in your heart from every moment you’ve spent dressing up the disapproval and discomfort you feel in your own skin.  i want you to say it too.

i am healthy.

i have gray hairs coming out in dozens.  i lost 2 dress sizes and it shrunk the one thing i wanted left untouched…my breasts (oh the irony), but left my cellulite unharmed.  i am thin and fit and even at my skinniest have carried what i used to affectionately call the ‘scone belly’.  in high school i was so so skinny…a flat rectangle held up by two matchsticks.  and while everyone kept saying how much they would love to be as skinny as me…i longed for a curve and i longed to have people stop saying ‘do you eat?’.  oh i eat.  and for a brief period of time there was balance.  i hailed the miracle of being introduced to a regular diet of ‘poutine and beer’ and i filled out and sadly i still hated myself.  and i filled out some more.  and some more. and i had to buy one dress size up and up again.

and i worried for my heart.  so i ran.  i ran to keep a good distance between myself and genetic heart disease.  i ran until a set of stairs no longer took my breath away.  until 5 km and 10 km would no longer feel like a marathon.  i ran and my body got healthy and strong.  but my heart still ached.  it ached for the lack of celebration.  for even at my strongest.  even at the beauty of my 30s with new jeans and strong legs and a happy heart…i cannot see myself and my body together.  i will not let myself be joyful in my own skin.

please regard how difficult it is to be so honest about so personal a thing.

i suppose what i’m trying to say is that the hatred…the distrust and dislike of my own body….has nothing to do with weight.  skinny or not…healthy or unhealthy…strong or weak…i regularly turn my back on the body that is my life’s greatest tool.   and it has gotten worse.  an ex-boyfriend once told me that i suffered from body dysmorphia.  and i yelled and cursed and hated him for trying to stop me from hating myself.  the definition being “excessive preoccupation with perceived defects in physical appearance”.

and it has to stop.

i don’t want to spend another day not loving myself.

i don’t want to spend another day finding ‘defects’ in a body that does everything i ask of it.

i am healthy.

even when i don’t feel it, i am sexy.

i will always be sexy.

sexy isn’t something that goes away.

sexy isn’t something that ages or fades.

sexy is what i can be if i let myself be.

i am healthy.

these legs can run for hours.

and i have been given everything and then some.

i have food to nurse my health and all the comforts of a good life.

my thyroid has been trying for over a decade to shut down and leave my body.  and i don’t blame it.  what with all this hatred.  and if i don’t stop hating.  if i don’t start being good to myself emotionally.

i will no longer be healthy.

all the good food and exercise in the world won’t heal me
if i don’t love.

Soup for Sundays: Spicy Sweet Potato and Cornmeal Yummy!

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup and Cornmeal MuffinsOkay, so it’s not really a Sunday…but a holiday Monday is pretty much the same thing.  I worked today, which because I work for myself, really means that I wasn’t nice enough to give myself a proper labour day rest.  But regardless, I did finish up the day with a slow cooker full of curried sweet potato soup and a tray of 12-grain cornmeal muffins.  It has been way way way too long since I’ve done a blog post and I feel like I have so much to share.  I must have at least a dozen posts saved up in my mind, tons of recipes that need to be jotted down, loads of craftiness has been going on…and I’ve even managed to slip in a few swims in the lake and some scenic hikes.

For now…enjoy the end of the long weekend!  Cooler weather blowing in means it is now time to get back to wholesome tummy filling heart warming cooking.  This soup is awesome (and yes, I am tooting my own horn) Enjoy!

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

4 small to medium sweet potatoes (peeled and cubed)
1 large onion, cut up in chunks
A couple tablespoons or so of ginger, peeled and chopped
a few shakes of dried chilies
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
a couple pinches of nutmeg
2 generous tablespoons of peanut butter
1/3 cup of milk
4 cups of broth (I used vegetable, but you could also use chicken)

I’m not fancy and i’m not precise.  I cook by throwing things into random order…by adding pinches and dashes and handfuls.  So these measurements are not exact and are meant to be played with.  I literally just throw everything in the slow cooker and give it a stir.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.  Once the sweet potatoes have softened…puree in small batches.  Return pureed soup to the slow cooker.  Add a few dashes of salt and pepper to taste.  Voila!

12-grain Cornmeal Muffins12 grain cornmeal muffins

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup 12 grain flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp baking soda

1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup oil

Throw together the dry ingredients.  Whisk up the wet ingredients.  Blend the two together.  Prepare about 8 muffin cups by greasing with butter.  Add a generous amount to each cup.  Bake in a preheated oven at 425 F for 10-15 minutes.  They’re done when you can push on the tops and they spring back up or when a stick inserted in the middle comes out dry.