Saturday, 29 December 2012

Now What?

I didn't mean to go AWOL for so long.  I haven't meant to be social media missing for so many weeks and I am sorry.

Life has a wonderful way of throwing you curve balls. I guess tons of behind the scenes work and suffering from a terrible case of 'Mommy burn out' wasn't enough.  I needed to throw in Christmas (with travel), a sinus infection and the diagnoses of now adding 'dairy free' to my life (and blog) banner.

This has left me reeling. I can easily go without gluten and I have almost completely cut out refined sugar from our diets (this goes to hell a bit over the holidays) and I don't feel deprived or even frustrated. Going gluten free felt like a challenge. Inspiring me to learn more about food. But a diet of no dairy or wheat (or anything with gluten) doesn't feel like a challenge to me.......this feels......lame?....mean?....overwhelming?...all of the above.....and it sucks!!

I need to regroup, figure out what this means to my life, my writing, my blog, my kitchen, and my family.  I need to read Paleo and SCD cookbooks.....I need to find a way to be inspired.  I need to stop being mad. I need to get over this sinus infection. I need to do 10 loads of laundry. I need to figure out where all the new Christmas toys go when we clean up.

I promise to take you all on this journey (not the laundry doing part).  I know I am not alone and there are others who have many many more food restrictions but right now I need mourn cheese and yogurt and figure out how to do this so please excuse my lack of recipes for a little while.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Alone in a Crowd

This past weekend my family and I joined friends for the annual tree cutting.  Every year the same group of families go to the same farm and ride the hay ride out into the fields to pick our Christmas trees, cut them down and head to one of our homes for hot chocolate and lunch.

This year being 'Christmas at my parents place' we didn't get a tree but we love the tradition none the less and always join the families that are getting one.  On the drive back into the city the kids grew quiet as tired from roaming around in the woods set in.....for some reason this is the time when Big Daddy and I have some of our best talks.  Maybe it is being trapped in the car together without distraction of a computer or tv, maybe it is because the kids are usually quiet/distracted/asleep but we bond in the minivan.

This time it was a chat a about the news of a couple we know splitting up.  Two young kids and they called it quits.  We are not close to them and didn't see or hear of troubles but were surprised and saddened to hear the news.  Funny how it is the shock of this kind of news that more often than not makes you reassess your own marriage and happiness.

12 years in, Big Daddy and I are doing better than ever.  We have our troubles and struggles but things have been really good lately. We have been doing well at communicating and listening so bumps in the road have been smoothed over pretty easily as of late.  The best part is we almost got into a domestic as to why we are doing so well.  I think it is because of some lessons I have beat into him....enforced changes ........improvements he has made and he thinks it is because of some hormone stability.....drinking .......peace finding I have done.

Although I agree with him about my attitude change in some respects, I just don't think it was the powerful force that improved how we communicate. I can't give it that much credit.......I just don't think I have changed that much.....

I will explain (with some back story) thing that I am thankful for daily is that my husband and I absolutely agree on some major parenting decisions.  We both did research and both of us feel strongly about our choice in not vaccinating the kids (or continuing to vaccinate ourselves).  This is something we very much agree on and I know that no matter what happens between the two of us, this will never be an argument.  My husband is also completely on board with my commitment to quality real foods and the choice of nutritionally rich foods that make up our diet.

Where he thinks I have changed is in my attitude about the debate on vaccines.  He thinks I have calmed down.....  Not that my stance has changed but just that I am not entering into the debates anymore and that some how this is a sign of me mellowing or that by not getting involved I am other words, he thinks I have calmed down?

There is some truth to this.....I am not mellowing but have stopped entering into the debates because I find that it is the same conversation over and over.  I am tired of discussing 'herd immunity', the 'amazing safety testing' , or 'no link to Autism'  BS with people who have obviously only gotten their information from the CDC or Health is like taking a cup of water out of the ocean and arguing with me about the existence of whales.  I just can't do it anymore.  I truly believe that time will tell.....and the truth is starting to come out so why do I need to be the crusader? Besides, I have found crusading is inherently lonely.

The thing is, I have found most of my parenting choices pretty lonely ones.  I am not surrounded by a crowd of non-vaxx'ing, gluten free, real food eating, enviro parents.  I don't have a community of peeps. I can't gripe to my mommy friends about the sub-par foods in the school's snack program when according to most they are healthy choices.  I have no one to commiserate with through kids colds and exchange natural remedies but I am invited into conversations on the inside scoop to bulk buying juice boxes or where tylenol is on sale......if I happen to mention making your own 'vick's like rub' with coconut oil to avoid the petroleum products or astragalus tea.... the conversation ends and I can assume from the looks on everyone's faces - I have grown an extra head or two.

So although I may have mellowed in my need to fight the good fight, the part of this puzzle that would affect my attitude the most still exists....which is...this is a lonely crowd to be part of.  I know there are communities of parents just like me...apparently I need to move to Victoria BC....but I live here.  I wonder if what has changed is that I have actively seeked out *my community* on line.  Finding moms that I relate to....finding some *peeps*. Maybe I have gotten better at 'picking my audience' for certain topics of conversation.....maybe I have gotten mature enough (who am I kidding?) that I don't need to surround myself with people just like me.  Or maybe I have just been a parent long enough now that I am pretty confident with my choices and don't feel the need to have them approved by more seasoned veterans of this job.  Maybe the sweet man I married and I have found a groove after a few years of major upheaval and stress.  Maybe it just took a few years for us to figure out how to find the time to be good to each other and be good parents.....maybe I realized that I am not alone in the crowd but that he is standing beside me.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Radio Silence

I need to apologize in advance.  There is going to be 'radio silence' here for a little while while I work behind the scenes.

As few of you know, this blog started innocently as a record for my kids.... a record of their childhood. ....hence the name of the blog Life: A other words, I was paying attention to their lives for them.  It wasn't that these kids, my kids, are any more important than anyone else's but that I knew my memory for their landmarks was going to be crap.  It is hard enough to remember first words when you have one on the go....but two!!?....forget it.  It is all happening too fast and if you haven't had a good night sleep in years.........

Anyway I point here is that in the last few months I have decided to make an honest push for this sight.  My kids will be in full time school in the fall 2013 and I would like to be 'working' for this site by then.  Yes I do other things, teach seminars on cooking and preparing real foods, develop recipes, write for other sites and publications, and now apparently small scale catering but they all link back to this it has to get it's shit together.

First I need to learn what SEO means......and then work on that.....I am only half kidding.  I know what it means but have very little concept of what it means to me and my site and how to 'work it'.  The way my brain works means that I have to have a pretty good grasp of how something works before I can use it.  I need to be able to 'teach it' before I feel confident to use it. So I have been tryin' to learn the ways of the internets.  Here's the rub, the kids are in school for 2 1/2 hours a day and I have been spending the entire time writing recipes/posts and taking the dam pictures.  Learning about RRS feeds and keyword search tools takes my whole brain, focused in one direction with my eyes open....and truth be told, there is nothing about this subject that makes it easy for me to keep my eyes open.  Twice I have woken up in a pool of drool, head on my desk.

So here it is.  I will try to make this quick and as painless as possible -  I am not redesigning the whole web site but I have to 'get on the ball' even if it is a very small ball to start

Monday, 19 November 2012


I am knitting's my winter sport.

For about 6 months of the year I knit. I am a good knitter, not a great knitter but I have gotten good enough to be able to design a few patterns of my own.  I have made tons of hats and booties for my own kids but for some reason I always make baby blankets for pregnant friends

I think I do it because it is meditative, rewarding and by giving it away, I can show off a in other words I do it for mostly shallow insecure reasons.

A is for Alex
Babies need a special blanket all their own. And for certain special little people I go ahead and make it.  Whether their parents want me to or not.

When I found out that a dear friend of mine from childhood was expecting I got started on the blanket even before the invite to the baby shower arrived. They found out the sex and had a name all picked out before he was born so I was able to incorporate his initial right into the design of the blanket. It is hard to make out in this picture but there is a textured 'A' in the center square.

for my niece

Then when a very close friend of mine found out she was unexpectedly pregnant I wanted to ensure her excitement and down play any fear and unpreparedness she might be feeling.  She found out she was having a girl so I went girl crazy and over-cuted all her gifts. This blanket is off-white with pale pink and raised textured hearts with a cable stitch separating the rows.

If I don't have time to make a blanket I will at least make a hat.  Like I said I am not fantastic but I can hold my own.  I like doing it so much that I decided to start a Stitch'n Bitch with some of the moms from the twins school. Unfortunately even though I planned the whole thing I ended up missing the first meeting.  SO tonight instead of knitting with friends I am at home blogging about knitting.

I am currently working on some fingerless gloves?.....tippless mitts?  I'll post a picture when I'm done.

On to the knitting!!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Health Benefits of Using Cast Iron

Those of you with children will remember those first few months when you brought the first one home.  The auto-pilot daze you went into.  A survival mode of sorts.  Well, times that buy 50 and you have bringing home preemie twins with medical issues.

It is possibly one of the worst ways to be welcomed into the parenting 'club' (BTW I never did receive my membership card?)  We were tired, exhausted, stressed out zombies.

Even all dressed up for New Years, you can see how tired we are.  Babies have been home for 3 weeks at this point
Those first few months we tried, faithfully, to burn the house down but to no avail. We just ruined pot after pot, kettle after kettle. Coming to when the smoke alarm went off.  I think we ruined close to $1000 worth of cookware in about 6 months.  I had inherited a set of Le Creuset cookware from an aunt when she past away.  At the time of inheritance I had no idea of it's value and was just glad I didn't have pots and pans to buy as I was just moving out on my own for the first time.  But as my love for cooking and food grew I learned what an enormous treasure I had. Then a few years of real pleasure cooking with it and then destroyed it all within a small time period.  I will say it again....these are the most expensive children on the planet....good thing they wear hand-me-downs.

We aren't in a position financially to replace this cookware and I thank my mom for slowly building up my stash again when every Christmas I am spoiled with a great piece she probably got from Marshells in the US. But there the few great pots and pans that I don't want made out of expensive enameled cast iron but plain ol'million year old cast iron.  In fact, in some cases, I don't even want to buy it new.

I have a cast iron Dutch Oven (go ahead....laugh...I'll wait) that was my moms, that is now mine.  It is probably over 40 years old.  The glass lid was broken many many years ago but the pot lives on...making endless pasta sauces and roasted potatoes on the BBQ.  It's one of my favs.  40 years ago it probably cost less than $20 (if my mom bought it new!) and now might cost around $40-$50.

Why Cast Iron?
  1. Cast iron is naturally non-stick. Unlike Teflon pans, the longer you have it the more non-stick it gets as the cooking surface gets a patina.  Just look after it properly *see below for care instructions
  2. Highly durable. Since it does not scratch, there is no need to use plastic utensils, and there is no fear of using your silverware to stir or scoop. It lasts for so long that many people still use cast iron cookware inherited from their parents and grandparents.
  3. Retains heat (always coast on waste heat) You can use it for high-heat cooking, like searing, or for mid-range heat, like sautéing.  
  4. It's free of toxic chemicals like PFOA and PTFE that coat many non-stick frying pans.
  5. It's cheap! Cooks looking to replace non-stick cookware often consider stainless steel. However, a high-end, 12-inch stainless skillet runs well over $100, while a similar-sized cast iron one costs less than $30.
  6. There are health benefits. You can actually boost your iron intake from eating food cooked in cast iron cookware. This vital mineral is crucial for maintaining energy levels, and it helps strengthen immune systems.  If you suffer from low iron as I do and know how hard it is to get it up, every little addition to help improve your numbers helps
  7. Cast iron cookware can be used over any heat source. Take it camping, throw it on the BBQ.  Loose power? You can use it in your fireplace!!
  8. Food cooks beautifully. Using a cast iron skillet you can create restaurant-quality, homemade fish sticks, potato pancakes and French toast, complete with golden brown, crispy exteriors. Contrast this with non-stick cookware, which makes browning nearly impossible.
  9. Besides the stove, you can use a cast iron skillet in the oven, at any temperature This comes in handy for making corn bread, frittatas, and flat bread.

How to season cast iron

Season your pan with a rich fat like animal grease. Don't eat animals? That's fine—use coconut oil. Coat the inside of your pan with the fat of your choice. Bake it for about 2 hours at 120C (250F), wiping off any excess and cool. There are a few different techniques to doing this.  I don't find one to be better than another.

How to clean cast iron

Never, ever wash cash iron with soap!
This will remove all your seasoning and food will stick. Instead, simply wipe clean or, scour with hot water and coarse salt for messy jobs. Cook it dry to prevent rust.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Chicken Marbella with a Twist

I have started to attempt to add small scale catering to my resume.  Crazy I know but with everything else that I am doing it makes some sense. And in truth, I have had some requests.

So I thought I would try it.  I am probably more stupid than brave but then you are here reading about it......sooooo I win!.

I needed to pulled off finger food for 20-22 people, Tapas style.  One of the dishes that I thought would go over well was Chicken Marbella.  I love the flavour profile of this dish, it has Spanish roots and if I am organized far enough in advance I make a point of making not very often.

Now the classic recipe for this dish is the one from The Silver Palate Cook Book. I have one complaint about this recipe.  I find it produces the the worst kind of chicken skin.  Soft, fatty and thick with dimples - like it has been boiled. Now the original recipe calls for using 10 lbs of chicken......because it is so good you are going to want leftovers....made with broken down whole chickens. But I needed to make more than that and it had to be finger food so I wanted to use wings only. 

I knew the fatty skin aspect would only be emphasized by using wings.......and what is worse than chicken wings that have a skin that feels uncooked?  I also tend to enjoy the sauce so much (like spooning off other peoples plates so much) that I felt it needed more.

When you change one cut of meat for another there are a few things to consider

  1. Does it change the cooking time?
  2. Are these cuts inter-changeable?
  3. Will there be more or less fat rendered?
  4. Is there a point?

Here is my version based on using 12 pounds of wings
Chicken Marbella

12lbs chicken wings
1 1/2 heads of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/3 cup dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup red wine vinager
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups pitted prunes,coarsely chopped
1 cup Spanish green olives, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup capers with a bit of juice
8 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup Italian parsley or cilantro, finely chopped

In a lg bowl combine chicken, garlic, oregano, pepper, salt, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers with juice and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate over night.

Preheat your broiler on HI. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a large baking pan (I used a large roasting pan I have), trying to avoid the caper, olives, prunes and bay leaves, leaving them in the marinade bowl.  Crisp up the wings under the broiler.  Don't let them burn but it is ok if the tip of the wing blackens a little.  Turn to brown other side.  Then remove from oven.  Turn off the broiler and preheat oven to 350. The wings don't need to be cooked through at this point, it just to crisp up the skin.

Pour the marinade evenly over the chicken. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and pour the white wine in around the pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, basting frequently with pan juices.

When you take it out it is done but it only improves with flavour the longer the chicken sits in the marinade.  Top with parsley or cilantro. I made this the day before the party and reheated it at the party.  It is also delicious at room temp.

**I know I say that this site is gluten free, sugar free and crap free.  And I do stick to my guns on that one.  This is one of the few recipes that I will post that has any sugar in it.  Get a high quality brown sugar or unrefined cane sugar.  In this rare case I don't recommend a replacement.  The pure sweet and ability to caramelize is why real sugar is indispensable this time.  There is also a case to be made for the fact that it is being consumed with a fatty protein therefore greatly slowing the sugars ability to raise your blood sugar.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Pad Thai

My life is getting in the way of my life again.  I know I say this every couple of months, like I am surprised, and like I should've gotten it all under-control since the last time I felt it but the fact of the matter isn't a matter of control but a matter of attitude.......and I gotta bad one.

My daily 'to-do' lists are always longer than is possible for one human to accomplish in one day....or probably a lifetime  I always push and stress and 'natter' (my grandparents used this word interchangeably with worry about or stress...I know it isn't a real word)  I have the attitude that some day.....that one magic day I will some how mount Mount Laundry, scrub the house unto a cleanliness that is yet unknown to man kind, be showered and dress, hair done and maybe some make up, have all the days meals prepared, have a pantry full of a years preserves, the garden perfectly weeded, the kids fully supplied with all the clothes they need for the season, all things that need to be repaired - repaired, all things that need to be painted - painted, all beds made, all books read, all blog posts written, all recipes tested you catch my drift?? Essentially I want to wrap my whole life up in a tidy bow because then and only then I can relax......

Until then I have this 'to-do list'.....

But my true problem isn't that I am busy (to be fair, I am busy) but that I have no idea how to relax and justify my stress level for my logical brain by filling 'to-do lists'.  The biggest draw back to this kind of psychosis is that it makes it impossible to enjoy in the moment.  Instead I am making lists of the things I should be doing, could be getting done and need to be accomplished.  But to what means? And really to whose benefit?

To wrap this up in a tidy package and to create some, albeit contrived, connective tissue between my mental health issues and Pad Thai I will say this.  I worry about how many vegetables my kids are eating.  Kids are so carb-centric that it can be difficult to know that they are getting enough greens and protein. It is also completely stress inducing to fight them at the dinner table.....and what a nice environment to then try to bring down to getting ready for bed calmness.  Pad Thai in this house is a 'clean out the crisper', 'use up the left overs' kind of meal.  I know the Thai would probably balk at me saying that and that I haven't preserved the traditional Pad Thai recipe but I use mental illness as my excuse.

My Way Pad Thai
I am posting the recipe for the version in the picture.  Like I said above, you can use any vegetables you like or that need to be used up.  I will list some ideas at the bottom of the recipe

454g of vermicelli rice noodles, cooked as per instructions and rinsed with cool water
Some firm tofu, cut into cubes.  Quantity is up to preference (make sure it is organic and non-GMO'd)
1 med Salmon filet, salt and peppered
6 tbsp Olive Oil
3 tbsp Hoisin sauce
4 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1-2 tbsp Sriracha hot chili sauce (an Asian chili paste) to taste.  My kids can eat it with the full 2 tbsps with no issue.
1 lg sweet pepper, sliced
1 lg onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
A small knob of fresh ginger, minced or grated on cheese grater
1 med zucchini, diced
1 bunch of broccoli, steamed over the cooking noodles
salt and pepper
a hand full of coarsely chopped cilantro (optional)

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tbsp of the olive oil and fry salmon filet skin side up and flip once the pan has released it and you don't have to scrape it up off the pan. Approx 2 minutes.  Cook on skin side for about 1 minute, remove and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the hot pan and saute the onion and peppers until they start to soften. Once they are starting to turn translucent add the garlic and ginger, saute for about 2 minutes. Add the Hoisin, fish sauce and chili paste, combine and add the tofu and zucchini. Saute for 2 minutes before adding noodles.  Toss to warm up noodles. Remove the skin from the salmon and dice. Toss in and combine. Serve with broccoli and top with soy sauce (or if you are gluten free - gluten free tamari)

Possible additions - bean sprouts, grated carrot, chicken, shrimp, egg, any left over vegetables.

Monday, 29 October 2012

November 11 2012

Guess where I'll be on November 11th??


I'll be at The Gluten Free Garage....IN PERSON!!

I can't believe it!  Meeting me in person and maybe even getting one of my business cards??'s a dream come true!!  And all the while finding great sources of Gluten-Free Foods.  It's a day of legend making really.  Meet me there.....and then.....we'll both be there!!

Allowed out in Public

Parenting Article November 2012 edition
an article written for another publication

Me and the cousin in Time's Square's bleechers

My twins turned five in October.  It has been a long five years that has also flown by.  I still remember, like a dream-like-state, that first year.  The endless nights full of sleep deprived hallucinations, and the days of feeling completely ill-equipped and under-qualified for this new job of parenting not just one new baby but two. My husband took four months off work after we brought them home.  We would take turns with who was in charge of which baby every night. Gabe, Bea, Gabe, Bea……you got a better night sleep if you had Bea except for the two weeks she was colicky… you were guaranteed a better night every other night.  They seemed to wake up within 20 minutes of each other for the night time feeding.  We would find ourselves in our regular spots every night, me on the big cozy brown chair that fit the massive twin breast feeding pillow and had the breast pump beside it and Mike in a little nest he created on the couch, each with a baby.  At the time these 3 am meetings were painful. Now I look back on them with sweetness. We watched the entire series of LOST during those late night clandestine rendezvous’, we talked, we bonded….and we cried a little all while feeding our new little ones.    

In the five years that have followed, everything has changed – not just my babies becoming school age kids but my needs as a Mama.  Gone are the months full of nights that need more sleep, or never getting to eat a meal while it is still hot, or the desperation to eek out a few seconds to shower to put on clean clothes jammies that are then spit up on at a record speed.  We have moved into a new state of chaos, one of tiny toys to step on, elbow high individuals that have awfully big opinions and a Mom that just needs to finish a thought without it being interrupted.  Yes the 2 ½ hours a day they are at school has given me a moment to breathe but as a freelance food writer, I have to fit an entire 8 hour work day into that 2 ½ hours….that and to be frank….having a moment alone in the bathroom without someone banging on the door has done wonders for my bowels.

All very much first world problems but I think it is universal that the mom is the first to sacrifice for the kids. We are parents nine months before our husbands. As soon as that second line shows up on the home pregnancy test and we put down our glass of wine, we are Mamas and how we carry ourselves in the world changes.  I happily made those sacrifices and would do it all again but (and I have a pretty big butt) the twins are now old enough that they are claiming some independence and that gives me some room to claim a little more of my space in the universe back.  Not just my space as their mom (the space that packs their school snacks and wipes the pee off the wall beside the toilet – I would like to blame this on Gabe and say that potty training a boy is gross but I have been doing this since I married a man that is 6’4.  I can only assume that the toilet is a very small target from way up there) but the ‘my space’ that loved to go to movies alone or spend hours upon hours wondering a museum.  The me that adores nothing more than to spent hours over dinner gabbing and drinking wine, enjoying every bite.

Sure my husband and I have had date nights and I have had many nights out with ‘the girls’ (no I am not talking about my breasts). I counted that we (my husband and me, not me and my breasts….although to be fair, they were there too) have been to 14 weddings since the twins were born….. which is crazy to me because I don’t think I even like that many people!!… but all these events were leashed in by the fact that we had kids to get up with in the morning. In the last 5 years we have had very few mornings to ourselves and that’s ok but it doesn’t mean I don’t need one.

My husband Michael has a standing, yearly, long weekend away with ‘dah boyz’.  Historically they camped but as they have aged, had more children and exhaustion has set in, they have resorted to renting a cabin……and I use the word ‘cabin’ very loosely. This is a monster of a house with a ‘games’ room and lake front property and I have always hated and resented him (jealous much?) on those weekends.  Lucky bastard I say. 

I always wanted one of these weekends but the friends that I would do this with just kept popping out babies like we have a clown car.  There was always someone too pregnant, a new born, a still breastfeeder, or a sick kid. We finally all gave up, knowing the kids would leave for college eventually…..

Then an opportunity came to join a cousin of mine while she was on a business trip in New York City.  It was just a seed of an idea but it grew…Porter had a seat grew into 5 days, 4 nights in the financial district.  It grew into another mom joining us who also hasn’t had a get away since her two were born.  It grew into an event I anticipated so much that it could never live up to the hype.  It grew into being the Most Perfect Weekend Mom Get Away evah!!

Now the details of this trip are private….I mean, what happens in NY, stays in NY!! (or is that Vegas?) and they can remove tattoos now but more importantly than what I did there… what I learned there.

I learned that I am still me.  Even after all this time of absolute focus and attention being on the lives of others it took less than an hour after the plane took off to slip right back into my narcissistic, self involved only-child me!! It was fantastic!!  To be reminded that under the ‘mom façade’ I can still successfully be self indulgent, lazy, eat the occasional junk food, and day dream.  That I haven’t forgotten how to sit in a park with a cup of tea and make fun of people people watch without going through the check list of ‘to-do’s for the day.  That I actually let go of the fact that I knew my husband was probably feeding the kids too many grilled cheese sandwiches and not enough vegetables and that had to be ok and was ok.

I needed to learn that the kids are a bit older now and I can let go of controlling everything.  That my day is not longer run by 3 hour segments of feeds, pumping and naps.  That I can let go of the anxiety that having preemies left me.  That I can take a deep breath.

It was nice meeting this Emily person again.  She is funny, knows how to put on make up and loves to do shots of cheap tequila. She has some great heels that she has forgotten how to walk in, can stay up past midnight and if she takes her hair out of the mom ponytail it is getting pretty long. And she hasn’t forgotten how to sleep in. She is pretty cool and I think I’ll introduce her to the kids

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Creamy Zucchini Soup

The weather is getting cold, the seasonal vegetables have changed and the budget is thin. 

After beautiful summer weather all through September, Fall rolled in with a vengeance.  It got cool fast and everyone got sick.  The last week has been cool rainy days that are overcast and dark.  My least favourite kind of weather.  Getting up in the morning is difficult at best for all of us.  My kids have never really been bright and shiny risers.  As infants they were up early but once they were in the pre-school age category the wake up times got to be fairly reasonable.  Now with it so dark in the mornings the wake up for school involves my alarm going off and me waking them up.  They flop around and groan a lot.....well Bea flops around and groans a lot....and then they finally come down stairs, bleary eyed and barely functioning.  At this point I have already made coffee and packed their snacks.

We have just enough time to jam breakfast down, get dressed and run the second half of the walk to school or else be late. It isn't ideal but it is kinda working for us. 

This time of year also moves us into cooler weather vegetables.  The hardier stuff, nothing delicate. Now we eat the larger zucchini not the delicate flowers, woodier beans and endlessly wonderful squash. I have mentioned before that I love cooking when the cooler weather hits.  It opens the doors (metaphorically) to casseroles, bakes, roasts and all the creamy foods that are just too heavy to eat in the summers heat.

We are also tightening our budget belts.  This month hits us with some extra expenses.  We have the twins 5th birthday at the end of the month and my 5 day New York trip that starts TOMORROW!!!  I have been trying to arm Big Daddy with some healthy meals that he can just pull out of the freezer while I am gone but life has been getting in the way.  He will have some spaghetti sauce and a couple of soups, including this one.

Over a year ago I wrote about going to to see Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala (of Vij's and Rangoli fame)  talk about food while we were served dishes from their new cook book.  They were terribly charming and the food delicious but every time I have tried one of the recipes from their cook book Vij's at Home, the one they were promoting that night, I have found them flat, missing something, oily and terribly salty (and I like salt!).  I have ended up using the book as a great jumping off point to something different than what they intended and better than the result they recommend.

Here is their recipe with my alterations

Vij's Kitchen Staff's Zucchini Soup

1/3 cup cooking oil (I used coconut oil)
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 tbsp chopped jalapeno (I recommend 1/2 tsp, or more, of cayenne instead)
1 1/2 tsp garam masala (I used a full 2 tsp, this is necessary because of my substitution of cream over milk, more spice to cut through the creaminess) 
1 tbsp salt (I would recommend 2/3 tbsp)
1 tsp turmeric
2 lbs zucchini cut in 1/2- inch dice
1/2 cup water (I doubled the water and used half and half cream instead of milk
2 1/2 cups whole milk (1 1/2 cups of half and half)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

**I stirred in a cup of plain yogurt just before serving.

In a soup pot over medium heat, heat oil and add cumin seeds.  Allow them to fizzle and slightly darken, about 30 seconds and then add the onion.  Saute until browned but not burned.  Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minute until browned and then stir in ginger, jalapeno, garam masala, salt and turmeric.  Saute for 3-4 minutes stirring regularly, then add the zucchini and water and stir well.  Cook the zucchini for 3-4 minutes until tender then add milk, stir and bring to a light boil.  Then remove from the heat and stir in cilantro.

The original isn't bad but mine is better.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

What I am up to and Roasted Tomatoes

I have been 'Up to' too many things.  Recipe development, Parent Council business, my own research, catching up on columns for other publications, planning the twins birthday party and preparing for my 5 day trip to New York (more on that later) So busy with so many big things that I am being pulled in a million different directions at the same time.  So steep a learning curve in so many different areas that I am actually feeling brain dead at the end of the day.

This has all been exacerbated by the fact that I have been busy finishing up my tomato canning for the year.  3 bushels (150lbs) so far.  I say so far because I may buy another 1/2 bushel for roasting and canning.  I can't believe how completely obsessed I am with roasted tomatoes. It has been such an intense love affair that I have been going out of my way to cook dinners that involve the use of them.

I canned 1 1/2 bushels of peeled and slightly chopped tomatoes, used 1/2 a bushel to make a years worth of ketchup (recipe to be posted soon) and roasted another bushel that I made pasta sauce with and canned that......and then preceded to eat 1/2 of it this week........we don't generally eat pasta that often but with my current schedule some nights it has been impossible to make an alternate healthy dinner.  It also makes it easy for Big Daddy to throw a healthy home made dinner together if there is a beautiful home made sauce ready.

Pre-heat oven to 350. Wash tomatoes and cut them in half. Pile your now halved tomatoes in the middle of a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet. Drizzle oil over the pile and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.  Toss and then lay them out cut side up.  Don't pack them tightly. Roast in the oven for 45 mins to an hour depending the the size of the tomatoes.  They will grow richer in colour, the skins will wrinkle and the bottoms will brown a little. Let them cool for about 20 minutes before handling.  You could send them through a food mill now but I don't have one and I actually love slipping my thumbs under the skin and 'releasing the tomato from the skins' (said with your best Julia Child accent).  Use this to make a rich amazing sauce.

In my testing I have been trying out other developers recipes.  I have had a real interest lately in the Paleo diet and have been reading quite a bit about it.  I not only find diets in general fascinating but Paleo is a Gluten free/real food friendly way of food so it opens my eyes to a million more recipe ideas and ways of looking at meals.  That and it is a incredible healthy way to eat.  I found this food blogger

Against All Grain

And then my head exploded.  I thought I was doing a good or at least interesting job at eating well with my food restrictions but this woman blows my mind.  Even with the numerous foods she is unable to eat, from her recipes I am not sure she ever feels deprived.  I don't think I would notice the missing but common items with meals like these.  I tried her grain free waffles recipe.

And whatever part of my head that hadn't already exploded enough....exploded!!! And I flew into a jealous rage of "How dare she?", "How can she?" and "I'm not good enough"'s. And had a temper tantrum. Then I insisted that Big Daddy feed me the rest of my waffle while I lay on the floor feeling sorry for myself (see why I am so exhausted?)  I highly recommend checking her out and I plan on eating more of these waffles. Thanks Danielle!!

I also finished preserving some hot peppers and have more about to ripen.  I packed them in oil and I will keep them in the fridge.

Its been a big week really

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Sweets from the Earth

This past weekend I had the great pleasure of being invited to join the Food Bloggers table at The Gluten Free Expo - Toronto.  I got the invite from Jax at Gluten Free Ontario which was a surprise and flattering.  And Oh Boy am I glad that I went!!  Not only is Jax super nice (she did lose her voice early in the day so maybe I just couldn't hear how she really felt about me) but I got to meet tons of 'my community' (yes I am totally doing gang signs and posing all gangsta like)

One HUGE bonus is the free stuff I got sent home with! I was sent home with a huge bag of breads, flours, chocolates, baked goods, baking mixes and snacks.  All gluten free and mostly delicious. One of the really nice swag givers was Sweets from the Earth who offered me a couple of different loaves of bread including this one

The Harvest White Baguette
I have tried many of the gluten free bread options on the market here and in the US.  Most of them are lousy, some are ok, and very very few are good.  Gluten free bread will never be like regular 'glutened' bread and maybe we just need to stop trying to make them compare.  Every once and a while you stumble across a brand that is so good it stands alone.  That is true of this white baguette from Sweet from the Earth. No it isn't just like a french baguette but it has all the attributes that make a baguette good.  It is chewy with a nice crunchy crust.  And no I never feel deprived....not when I can eat like this....

I cut the baguette in half and toasted it well, smothered it with salted ricotta, a smear of the home made pesto, tomatoes from the garden, salt and pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Low-Grain Granola

I have been slowly reading and 'digesting' (see what I did there?) more and more of Wheat Belly and the concepts behind the Paleo Diet, GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) and SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet).  The need to go gluten free first opened my eyes to diets beyond Atkins and low-cal to ones that cut certain carbs, only eat raw foods, traditional foods, etc. It has been a steep learning curve and has made my gluten-free-ness seem simple and completely do-able. I haven't found that I need to be anything but gluten free (so far) but the more I learn, the more I feel it important from a health stand point to 'ungrain' us a little bit.  It is engrained (see I did it again!) in part of our North American culture and diet, part of our food pyramid, part of our lifestyle to think that grains need to be a major player on our plates. More and more recent studies have shown this to be absolutely untrue, and in fact, not only has the human race's digestion not evolved fast enough to keep up with the industrialization of grain farming but with the now over processing of the huge quantities of grain that are force into our diets, we just keep getting sicker and fatter. I spoke to that a couple of weeks ago with 'How Healthy is your Healthy Diet?'

I have no plans on going completely grain free, at this point, but what if we only ate about 50% of the grain that we generally consume?  I can only assume the further into learning about this I get, the lower I will want that percentage to be, but for now getting down to 50% doesn't seem impossible.

I have posted a granola recipe in the past and I stand behind it.  In fact my low grain version is based on the same concept of 10 cups of dry ingredients with coconut oil and maple syrup cooked at a low roast.  If there is an ingredient you aren't particularly fond of just up one of the seeds you like more.

Low Grain Granola
2 cups oats
4 cups nuts (prepared same as other recipe)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup golden flax seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cinnamon

1 cup puffed quinoa

Prepare the same way as previous granola recipe adding the puffed quinoa as you would dried fruit.  With this granola I haven't been adding dried fruit and eating it with fruit salad and some yogurt.  We all lerv this and eat it for breakfast and snacks.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Chili con Carne

The weather has just started to change here. The evenings are getting cooler and some days aren't that hot.  Even when I was a student, and this weather meant the impending doom of school starting, I liked it.  I like that the hot days end with a reprieve of cool open window sleep weather.  I like dragging out the hoodies (not the snowsuits!!) and cardigans.  I like the slightly shorter days.  Mind you in 2 months when it is dark by 6:30 at night I am almost suicidal...but dark by 8 is a completely respectful time that I can live with.

Another nice thing about the change in the weather is that we have been able to turn off the air conditioners, open the windows and breathe the real of the draw backs to this is that my ratty ol'dog has to bark at anyone who walks by and dares breathe.....which means she is great at warning us that neighbours are walking dogs, or the mail has arrived but means that we will have very little warning in the Zombie Apocalypse.

And every year I celebrate this time not just for the open windows but for the cooking windows that open with cooler weather.

"I fear not the hot baking oven ....I fear not slow long cooked stews....I fear not  pungent spicy curries (see while I say this I see myself standing a top a mountain with one arm thrust in the air, oven mitt on fist holding maybe like a ladle or large wooden spoon or you see it?) I fear not.....ok so you catch my drift...."

And so I fear not the Chili con Carne, a kid favourite around here

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

An Attempt at Aging Gracefully

Getting completely off topic -

Turning 40 last month hit me pretty hard. I wasn't ready for 40....I'm still not ready. Getting older is fucked up. The changes to my perspective - my attitude toward many things, has relaxed and is a nice reprieve after years of drama and emotional roller coasters.  Things that at some point mattered a lot just no longer count.  I shrug more and more the older I get.  This part pleases me.

It is the changes to my physical self that I can't come to terms with.  I haven't broken in the 40 year old bod yet. Or maybe that is the is broken in. I am not use to it.  I am not fully aware of it and it's newer limitations. So unaware of it that every time I catch a view of myself in a full length mirror I glace behind me for the frumpy pudge pot reflected back. I have the other form of a body dismorphic, where I think I have the body of a 25 year old and then am genuinely surprised when I see myself and I don't.  I will volunteer it for activities that are better done by younger bodies or at least ones in better shape.  This minds view will think I can squeeze her through spaces far to small, I am terribly clumsy and not even the littlest bit graceful anymore but drunk cartwheels seemed like a good idea at the time.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Gluten Free Expo Toronto

Hey Readers,

Wanna meet me?  Wanna meet Jax from Gluten Free Ontario? Wanna meet other Toronto based gluten free bloggers? Come out to Toronto's Gluten Free Expo.

September 30, 2012
10am - 5pm

655 Dixon Rd, Toronto, ON (DoubleTree by Hilton)

Tickets are $12 at the door or save money by purchasing online for $9 each. 

I am really looking forward to this event and I hope to see you there !

Monday, 10 September 2012

Fresh Tomato Pasta

We are currently overwhelmed with tomatoes from the garden.  They aren't any of the great canning varieties and in some cases not even sliced on a sammy types.  They are from the littlest of little to a larger cherry tomato size.  We have had some strange success from these larger yellow guys that we have never grown before and I mistakenly let one rot on the vine waiting for it to turn red.  They have a very strange orange hue that give the impression that it is just about to turn red but it never does.  They are very low acid and have the wonderful tomatoey taste that you want for sammys.  Those we are putting aside as the 'sandwich tomato' is the bowl a day minis that we are struggling to make sure we enjoy - many a tomato, basil and  home made mozzarella (more on that later) salad and many plates of fresh tomato pasta.

This is one of Big Daddy's favourite meals.  A few simple ingredients - always the way the best meals are made - ready very quickly

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

How healthy is your healthy diet?

As a 'real food' advocate I write/talk/promote/teach about eating real food.  The term 'real food' is a real trendy talking point at the moment and is actually defined differently for different people/groups. So I thought I would take a second to explain what that means to me.

food  [food] n 1. something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies.
real [ree-uhl, reel] adj 1. true and actual; not artificial

How we eat/what we eat 
  • Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Full fat dairy products (look for minimal and recognizable ingredients)
  • Brown rice
  • A variety of beans
  • Naturally raised meats (but that look like their origin, so that weeds out things like deli sandwich meat)
  • Sustainable Seafood
  • Pastured Eggs
  • Water, milk, tea, 100% fruit juices and a very small amount of organic coffee– mostly water
  • Dried fruit, seeds, nuts and popcorn
  • Honey is the main sweetener, but I also use maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and coconut sugar
What we don't eat:
  • White processed foods like white sugar, white rice and white bread
  • Refined sweeteners such as sugar, corn syrup, cane juice, or artificial sweeteners
  • Nothing out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than 5 ingredients listed on the label
  • Nothing with ingredients that I couldn’t purchase individually at a store — if I can’t pronounce it or recognize it as food, I try to avoid it
  • Processed oils
  • Fast foods
  • Low fat and non fat foods
  • Food with gluten
I know that it seems like a big task to take on - To buy no processed foods but like anything it is just creating new habits for yourself.

Many people defend their diets by saying "all things in moderation"....and as much I agree with this, I really believe that most people don't realize that the way they are eating couldn't be further from 'moderate'.

I read once that McDonalds is so bad for you that you should eat there twice a year at most.  That it takes the next 6 months for your body to recover from eating it.  So even eating it twice a year, your body is in a constant state of recovering and healing from that one meal.  Does that sound like moderation?

As an example, one 'healthy' buy. That healthy bread that you are deliberately choosing because it is a 'healthy' choice - is it healthy? It would not meet the standard of eating 'real food' for many reasons, one being the number of ingredients and the quality of those ingredients

Various whole grains** (most of which are GMO'd)

Highly refined grains**

Sugar/Glucose-Fructose (Canada's labeling for High Fructose Corn Syrup) - linked to one of the causes of diabetes, obesity and cause of a condition known as metabolic syndrome, which includes abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly.

Extra added gluten -some believe the raise in gluten intolerance is due to adding gluten to foods.  Gluten is the protein found in most grains and is more digestible when eaten in the whole foods form.  By refining the grain and separating out the gluten it is no longer a whole food and leaves out the important other ingredients that help with the digestibility of the gluten

Soluble Raisin Syrup - essentially more sugar (made from soaking raisins in water and reducing to a syrup)

Soybean oil - a refined soy product, known to be a pseudo-estrogen

Mono-glycerides (a chemical emulsifier sometimes labeled as E471)  A hydrogenated oil sourced from vegetable oils or animal fats. When the public caught on that partially hydrogenated oils were unhealthy because of their affect on your cholesterol and their increase in the risk of strokes, diabetes and heart troubles,  the FDA started to require labeling for trans fat content, BUT only if it contains more than .49 g per serving, AND only if it comes from triglycerides.  Unfortunately, this is not too difficult rule to get around…simply decrease the serving size, or disguise the trans fats somehow…by using monoglycerides and diglycerides so they aren’t required to label the food as containing trans fats. Another interesting result is that although the bread can and often is labeled as suitable for vegetarians it may actually contain animal products.

Calcium Propionate (a mold inhibitor) - a toxin to mold and a toxin for humans.  In the small doses found in bread it can cause
  • migraine and headaches
  • stomach upsets
  • skin rashes and nasal congestion
  • depression, tiredness and irritability
  • restlessness and inattention
Sodium Stearoyl -2-Lactylate (sometimes labelled as E920) - derived from hydrogenated vegetable oils and animal fats. see mono-glycerides

Acetylated Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono and Digycerides (sometimes labeled as DATEM) - emulsifier often derived from GM soya bean oil

**There is also growing evidence that grains, even in their whole form, are not good for you. In the North America, we're told that grains (especially whole grains) are an important part of a balanced diet, necessary for obtaining our daily requirement of healthy nutrients and fiber, and found as the largest portion of the food pyramid
According to a growing number of experts, including Dr. Loren Cordain, a professor at Colorado State University and an expert on Paleolithic lifestyles, humans are NOT designed to eat grains, and doing so may actually be damaging to your gut. causing a condition called Leaky Gut.

Leaky gut is a condition that occurs due to the development of gaps between the cells (enterocytes) that make up the membrane lining your intestinal wall.

These tiny gaps allow substances such as undigested food, bacteria and metabolic wastes, that should be confined to your digestive tract, to escape into your bloodstream.

Once the intestinal lining is compromised, and there is a flow of toxic substances "leaking out" into your bloodstream, your body experiences significant increases in inflammation.  Your immune system may also become confused and begin to attack your own body (autoimmunity).

Most often, leaky gut syndrome is associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease, but even healthy people can have varying degrees of intestinal permeability leading to a wide variety of health symptoms -- and this can be influenced heavily by the foods you choose to eat.

Dr. Cordain explains
"There's no human requirement for grains. That's the problem with the USDA recommendations. They think we're hardwired as a species to eat grains. You can get by just fine and meet every single nutrient requirement that humans have without eating grains. And grains are absolutely poor sources of vitamins and minerals compared to fruits and vegetables and meat and fish."
But the problem isn't only that there are superior sources of nutrients; grains actually contain anti-nutrients that may damage your health. Ironically, we're often told that whole grains are the best for our health, the high-fiber bran portion of grain – part of the whole grain -- actually contains many of the anti-nutrients.

Dr. Cordain
"Grains are the seeds of a plant. They're its reproductive material, and plants don't make their reproductive material to give away for free to other animals. If they did they'd become extinct, and so the evolutionary strategy that many plants, particularly cereal grains have taken to prevent predation is to evolve toxic compounds so that the predator of the seeds can't eat them, so that they can put their seeds in the soil where they're meant to be to grow a new plant and not in the gut of an animal to feed it.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence showing that grains, as well as legumes, contain these anti-nutrients and other problem substances that may increase intestinal permeability. This anti-nutrients are: 

Gliadin is the primary immunotoxic protein found in wheat gluten and is among the most damaging to your health. Gliadin gives wheat bread its doughy texture and is capable of increasing the production of the intestinal protein zonulin, which in turn opens up gaps in the normally tight junctures between intestinal cells (enterocytes).
In celiac disease the body will make antibodies to gliadin after it is digested by the intestinal enzyme tissue transglutaminase, resulting in severe autoimmune damage to the delicate, absorptive surfaces of the intestines. It does not, however, require full blown celiac disease to suffer from the adverse effects of this protein. In fact, it is likely that our intolerance to gliadin and related wheat proteins is a species-specific intolerance, applicable to all humans, with the difference being a matter of the degree to which it causes harm.
This helps to explain why new research clearly shows gliadin increases intestinal permeability in both those with, and those without, celiac disease.
Lectins are a key mechanism through which plants protect themselves against being eaten, and are found in highest concentrations in their seed form -- which makes sense, considering that seeds are the plants' "babies" and whose survival ensures the continuation of their species.
When animals consume foods containing lectins, they may experience digestive irritation, along with a wide range of other health complaints. The degree to which the adverse effects are expressed depends largely on how long that species has had to co-evolve with that particular form of plant food it is eating. Since humans have only been consuming unsprouted grains and beans in large amounts for approximately 500 generations, we still suffer far more than certain rodents and birds, who have had thousands of generations longer to adapt to this way of eating.
We are mostly exposed to lectins from grains, beans, dairy products and nightshade plants, such as potato, tomato, and chili peppers. However, bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) has a prominent role to play in lectin-induced adverse effects, due to the fact that it is a relatively new form of wheat, and contains wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) – a particularly resilient and problematic lectin, considering it is not eliminated through sprouting and is actually found in higher concentrations in whole wheat.
Studies indicate that it has the potential to contribute to a wide range of adverse health effects, including gut inflammation and damage to your gastrointestinal tract:
Pro-inflammatory--WGA stimulates the synthesis of pro-inflammatory chemical messengers (cytokines) in intestinal and immune cells, and has been shown to play a causative role in chronic thin gut inflammation
Immunotoxicity--WGA induces thymus atrophy in rats, and anti-WGA antibodies in human blood have been shown to cross-react with other proteins, indicating that they may contribute to autoimmunity . In fact, WGA appears to play a role in celiac disease (CD) that is entirely distinct from that of gluten, due to significantly higher levels of IgG and IgA antibodies against WGA found in patients with CD, when compared with patients with other intestinal disorders.
Neurotoxicity--WGA can cross your blood-brain barrier through a process called "adsorptive endocytosis," pulling other substances with it. WGA may attach to your myelin sheath and is capable of inhibiting nerve growth factor, which is important for the growth, maintenance, and survival of certain target neurons.
Excitotoxicity--Wheat, dairy, and soy contain exceptionally high levels of glutamic and aspartic acid, which makes them all potentially excitotoxic. Excitotoxicity is a pathological process where glutamic and aspartic acid cause an over-activation of your nerve cell receptors, which can lead to calcium-induced nerve and brain injury. These two amino acids may contribute to neurodegenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, Huntington's disease, and other nervous system disorders such as epilepsy, ADD/ADHD and migraines.
Cytotoxicity—WGA has been demonstrated to be cytotoxic to both normal and cancerous cell lines, capable of inducing either cell cycle arrest or programmed cell death (apoptosis).
Disrupts Endocrine Function—WGA may contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, and leptin resistance by blocking the leptin receptor in your hypothalamus. It also binds to both benign and malignant thyroid nodules, and interferes with the production of secretin from your pancreas, which can lead to digestive problems and pancreatic hypertrophy. 
Cardiotoxicity—WGA has a potent, disruptive effect on platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1, which plays a key role in tissue regeneration and safely removing neutrophils from your blood vessels.
Adversely Affects Gastrointestinal Function by causing increased shedding of the intestinal brush border membrane, reducing the surface area, and accelerating cell loss and shortening of villi. It also causes cytoskeleton degradation in intestinal cells, contributing to cell death and increased turnover, and decreases levels of heat shock proteins in gut epithelial cells, leaving them more vulnerable to damage. 
As noted earlier, the highest amounts of WGA is found in whole wheat, including its sprouted form, which is touted as being the most healthful form of all ... The traditional ways of addressing many of these anti-nutrients is, in fact, by sprouting, fermenting and cooking. However, lectins are designed to withstand degradation through a wide range of pH and temperatures. WGA lectin is particularly tough because it's actually formed by the same disulfide bonds that give strength and resilience to vulcanized rubber and human hair.

So if this is the impact of just your healthy bread choice, how moderate do you think your diet so now?


Pesticide Action Network Pesticide Database
Food Intolerance Network Factsheets
Wageningen University
Dr. Mercola
Green Med Info
The National Library of Medicine via Pub Med
The FASEB Journal

Monday, 27 August 2012

Potato and Leek Soup

I have pretty much recovered from the Swine Flu and the strep throat my body decided would be a funny addition to the summer of hell.  I am still a little tired and taking a few of the supplements to fight the good hasn't helped that it was my birthday and our college reunion this past weekend....stealing the extra sleep I probably still need....the kids haven't been 100% either and with the stress and viral level of this summer I am not surprised.

I haven't felt like cooking.  I haven't been inspired.  I have been counting down the days until the kids are back to school and I can actually have two minutes of my own thoughts, uninterrupted.

I have resorted to comfort foods.  Not necessarily wintery heaviness but the easy meals that you know will be eaten, don't challenge my brain and don't make a huge mess of the kitchen.

Last night was another solo parenting night and both kids had been running on and off again fevers.  I just couldn't imagine anything fancy, rich or particularly heavy.  I also knew that an early bedtime was needed.  The decision was easy when I found leeks on sale at the market.


  • 3 large leeks, cut lengthwise, separate, clean. Use only the white and pale green parts, chop.
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian option)*
  • 2 lbs potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch pieces (I don't peel my potatoes)
  • Marjoram - dash
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 4-6 slices of bacon, crispy and chopped

  1. Cook leeks in butter with salt and pepper in a medium sized sauce pan. Cover pan, cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Check often. Do not burn
  2. Add water, broth, and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Using a hand blender, puree to your preferred texture. Add marjoram, parsley, and thyme. Add some freshly ground pepper, 1-2 teaspoons salt or more to taste.
  3. Serve with crumbled bacon on top 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Perception of Joy

I have been thinking a lot about this NY Times article 'The 'Busy' Trap' lately and it's observation that
"Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day."
The article touches on parents that feels the need to over schedule their children.  That this busyness that makes them feel 'worthy' in the world is now being projected on their offspring.  Busy kids, of course, has it's benefits (tired kids at bed time) but also makes for very tired parents and, usually, a lack of time for some of the truly important moments (emotionally, physiologically, and healthfully) for the kids - home made healthy meals, meals not had in front of the tv so conversation and family time happens, bed time stories or even just the child's ability to entertain themselves instead of having an organized activity.
"The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it."
So not only is this something that we have chosen but then we have surrendered to it.  I would like to add an additional thought......not only are we 'busy' but we also have a negative attitude about the busyness that our children have added to our lives. I can't tell you how often other parents complain to me about the limitations that having children has created in their lives. Or how 'hellish' certain aspects of their lives have become since having kids. Now as all parents know - having children is life changing, having children is hard work, having children makes for a life that is no longer just about you.....but is that a bad thing?

And this perception that it is a bad thing....where did that come from and why?  Is it just like the article says - that by creating an atmosphere of a life of busyness and over-burden that it validates us? Makes us feel more important in the world?.....excuses us from meeting the made up societal standards of success? or justifies our on-going feelings of not being qualified for the job of parent? Or do we just feel more comfortable expressing ourselves from a place of negativity?  Is it funnier? More relate-able?

I am not completely guilt free on this one, I am not writing this from high on a horse.  I need as much support and camaraderie as the next mom but I do try to make a point of never talking about the challenges and struggles in front of my kids. Those conversations are to be had separate from them.  It is not their business or burden to hear how much work they are or how they are challenging me.  That's my problem and children are only literal so it all directly affects their self-esteem in the world. I pay my husband the same respect and not talk about my challenges with him to others in front of him.

I try to greet them everyday with a smile and attitude that I am happy to see them....because I am happy to see them.  I am the creator of this life and, in fact, I worked really hard to have this life, I am not a victim of it and I try to focus on the blessing that I got what I asked for, no matter how challenging it may be.

I am not interested in sighing and huffing and puffing about my challenges.  I don't want to give them that much of my energy, waste any more of my time, or drag myself down in it.  I know how to swim so it shouldn't matter how deep the challenge in life is learning how to ask for help if that water gets too choppy.....and that isn't my kids problem either.

Have we forgotten what joy is? Or what are we waiting for that is going to finally make us happy? Why do you think we 'like' to complain so much?