Bring on the Sunshine!

Image

Today marks the last predicted day of our deep freeze (for now..), move over frigid air, get outta here wind chill – sun’s a-comin’ and I can’t wait!  I’m welcoming some not so crazy cold days with a really simple citrus set up. A Sunshine Salad, if you will.  Sweet and tart, with a boosted vitamin C drizzle.  Yum.  Well…. unless you’re my unsuspecting love, biting straight into a drizzle-less lemon. Hehe, oops!

Image

A few months ago, back in the very early grips of winter – I spent the afternoon foraging for enough wild sage to make a number of smudge bundles. During my foraging journey, I happened across hundreds and hundreds of wild roses. Or well, rose hips. The fruit, rose fruit. I know from my upbringing that the best time to harvest rose hips is after the first frost, the zap of ol’ Jack Frost leaves the fruit a touch sweeter. Well, the morning I set out may not have been the first frost, but it was certainly frosty. Perfect.

Image
Wild roses are one of my favorite plants! They are so beautiful, so fragrant, so lifting, I love them. I love walking through the trees just outside the city and happening upon bush after bush. All blooming and full of life, emitting the softest yet strongest aroma and immediately lifting my spirit. I love this plant. I connect with this plant. The wild rose offers much in the way of healing, may it be a vibrational healing or a physical healing. The hips are antibacterial, antispasmatic, mineral rich, and of course the high vitamin C content is always welcome, especially in the cold and dark months of an Albertan winter. Brrr!

Image

The hips can be dried and ground into a powder, they can be made into jelly, or one of my favorite uses – they can infuse honey or be used to make a rosehip syrup. Rosehip syrup is one of my favorite ways to gently sweeten my home brew kombucha! Buttt….  that’s a different post. Right now, I am talking about ground rosehips, powdery soft and the slightest tinge of orange. Really beautiful and delicate stuff, of course, coming from such a beautiful plant. (Even kitties love them, notice top right!).

Image

We all know and associate citrus with vitamin C, right? Yes, great. Okay. Well now, we can associate rosehips with it as well, loads of it. Pair the two together and people I tell you, you will feel like a super star. A super star shot right out out of this universe and into the next! Seriously simple, super yummy, and healthy to boot. Use whatever citrus is around, kumquats, navel, grapefruit,lemon, pomelo. Any! All! Don’t be scared to add the funny face inducing ones like lemons and limes. The tang is refreshing and the detoxing effects are well worth it. Plus, with a pinch of salt in the drizzle that graces the top of this citrus salad, all different types of fruit get sweeter. Really! Don’t love grapefruit? Try dipping it in salt. Just a touch.  Sounds strange, I know, but it’s a tip I picked up from a teaching kitchen and it works like a charm.

Image

Sunshine Citrus Salad

2 Limes
2 Lemons
1 Large Grapefruit
3 Blood Oranges
3 Navel Oranges
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
2 Tsp Rosehip Powder
Raw Honey
Pinch of Himalayan Salt

Carefully slice each of the citrus fruits at the top and the bottom, this provides a flat working surface. Begin at the top and slowly remove the rinds (rinds which can be kept and dried, chopped up and used for infusions!). Once the rinds have been removed, slice thinly and arrange on a serving plate. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, rosehip powder, honey to taste and the pinch of salt. Pour over top of arranged citrus slices and enjoy!

Image

Left Overs… I Love Left Overs!

My dad makes the best mashed potatoes in the whole world.

Image

Well, actually he makes an amazing Christmas dinner in total – but ever since I was young, the mashed potatoes and dressing have been my favorite.  I can’t for the life of me make mashed potatoes like my dad does, not even a chance.  This is a pretty sad thing for me, as I have a serious love for potatoes.

On the other hand…. very lucky for me, that I got to take all of the left overs!

Image

While cleaning up the kitchen after our holiday dinner, it came out that I don’t have a microwave in my tiny apartment.  I used to, but when I last moved – I left it. Actually, my old landlord called me to thank me for leaving it, as I hadn’t used it for the year I spent in his building and it had been essentially brand new when I moved in.. He took it. I had intended to leave it for the new tenant, but anyway, besides the point.  I don’t have a microwave. I love left overs.  I choose not to have a microwave for a number of reasons, and find that often when one would sure be handy – creative juices begin to flow.

Image

Holidays… heck, just plain old days off – call for brunch. Brunch to me just isn’t brunch, without eggs. Now I had been doing the fully vegan thing for a while, with some recent reintroductions – eggs and goat cheese. I feel very strongly in listening to my body, I believe food is medicine… and if my body needs vitamins it can get from eggs – well I would much rather have an egg than pop back a couple of pills. As long as it’s organic, properly treated, and farm fresh.   Omit the egg to keep it vegan, instead topping with fresh greens.

Image

Potato Latkes & Crisped Sage
makes about five palm sized latkes

2 Cups Cold Mashed Potatoes
1/2 Cup Quinoa Flakes
1 Shallot
2 Cloves of Garlic
Pinch of Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
5 Tbsp Coconut Oil (separated)
10 Fresh Sage Leaves

Preheat the oven to 350. In a fairly large bowl, hand mix all ingredients except the coconut oil (make sure to use cold potatoes!).  The mixture should be thick and stick mostly to itself, not your hands. Roll the mixture into five separate balls, flattening each into a patty. Heat up a pan (ideally cast iron, but not necessary), melt 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and gently place the latkes in. Depending on the size of the pan, mine fit four at a time. Keep in mind, the latkes will need to be flipped, so over crowding is not a good idea. Allow the latkes to develop a crust, then flip. Once both sides have a seared crust put the pan in the oven (if not using a cast iron, transfer gently to an oven safe dish or cookie sheet) and continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes.  When the latkes come out of the oven, they will be very soft. Allow them to cool slightly, and firm up before plating. In another pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, to test that the oil is hot enough to crisp the sage – dip the tip of one leaf in. If it begins to bubble, it’s ready – add in all 10 leaves. It’s not to deep fry them, just to crisp them so they need only be cooking for about two minutes, maybe three. Remove them with a fork.

*If completing this brunch with an egg, use the same sage-y coconut oil to cook it *

(Medicinal Mushroom) Savoury Breakfast Bowl

Image

My dad sent me a text this morning to inform me of the snowfall warning scheduled for Calgary tonight, this immediately put me into need-comfort mode. It’s not that I don’t like snow…. I think it’s beautiful! It does however instill the serious need for hibernation.  I tend to run a bit on the cool side, so winter really bites me in the butt sometimes.

Comfort food is something that has dramatically changed for me in the last 10 months or so. Since going primarily vegan the typical oozy, gooey, piping hot cheesy pasta bowls, quiche, and ultra creamy brie pizzas have sorta flown out the window. I have a much stronger grasp on what works for me and my body, and am so happy to say that I am still learning! Every day!
Each day in yoga I am reminded that today is different from yesterday, that tomorrow will be different from… next Tuesday. We are in a constant state of revolution, the beauty of becoming more in tune with our own body is that come tomorrow (shoot, even come three hours from now!) we will require something that is just a bit different from the current moment.  Being your own intuitive chef is one of the best things you can do for yourself!

Image

Comfort food for me, now looks something like this! Quinoa, avocado, shiitakes, and kimchi.  Deeply nourishing, flavorful, and packed with both prebiotics as well as probiotics. Most everyone has heard about probiotics and how important they are (think yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut) but not as many people now how vital it is to also have the prebiotics! Prebiotics are essentially food for the probiotics, they provide sugars for the happy bacteria to eat and grow thus helping us to be happy and to grow!  Enjoying a breakfast (or lunch, or dinner) like this fabulously comforting bowl is only one way to get a good dose of bioavailable nutrition; for those of us who enjoy a sweeter breakfast, or perhaps to be used as a dessert option it’s simple to convert from savoury. Bananas are a great source of prebiotics, oats and other porridge grains work as well. Scooping some cultured yogurt and raw honey on top of a blended banana oat pudding/porridge and topped with some extra beneficial bee pollen is sweet perfection in a bowl. Wholesome, real food.

I cooked the quinoa in a decoction of chaga tea, chaga is a tonic medicinal mushroom that is a-maaaaa-zing! Chaga is a rough and tough mushroom growth that essentially scabs over the broken portion of a piece of living wood. Key words there – living wood. It grows to protect the tree, not to help it decompose. Chaga is an immuno-modulating herb that has been used in Canada and Russia for years and years. In fact, I recently heard about a Siberian shaman who was found in the ice from ages ago – who had chaga in his herb belt. Ancestral people knew that it was anti viral, antiseptic, and very tonic; a herb that could be used on a very regular basis and to treat a number of different conditions. Now we also know that chaga has the most amount of antioxidants of anything known! Awesome! Tonic herbs, immno-modulating herbs, this means that instead of boosting the immune system (like echinacea) they balance the body so that it can zen out. They help to put the pieces together, so the body itself can be the boost it needs. Chaga is not an aromatic, so it can be concentrated and decocted multiple times – and by multiple, I basically mean you can brew chaga on the stove sort of witches cauldron style for hours and hours and it will just be more bioavailable and amazing. Unlike something like a peppermint tea, you cook that baby down and eventually you’re just drinking leaves. The minty aromatics fly away. Once you bottle the chaga you’ve made, keep the mushroom, keep on refilling that pot until the brew deposits no more color into the water. I usually get four or five brews out of the same batch, fill mason jars with the beautiful black tea and refrigerate it to be used as a base in soups, smoothies, or to cook grains in.  Cooking grains with chaga tea provides an even more powerful prebiotic base! Perfection!

Image

Savoury Breakfast Bowl

1/2 Cup Quinoa
1 Cup Chaga Tea
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 Cup Whole (fresh) Shiitake Mushrooms
1/2 Cup Water
Himalayan Salt & Fresh Pepper
Kimchi
Avocado – sliced

Add the quinoa, chaga and coconut oil to a small pot, allow it to boil then cover, turn the heat down and simmer for ten minutes or so before removing from the heat. Get a frying pan out and onto the hot element, adding in the shiitakes, salt and pepper, and then the water. No oil necessary. Pan-steam (I may have made that term up…) the mushrooms, until they are ultra soft and have soaked up most of the water. Assemble in a bowl, starting with the quinoa, the mushrooms, sliced avocado and kimchi last. We want those probiotics to live, covering them in hot quinoa isn’t ideal!

Optional Toppings

Hemp Hearts
Sesame Seeds
Dried Dulse, Wakame, and Sea Lettuce

Image

Autumn… In Pudding Form

Image

While looking for the perfect, single sized pumpkin…..  I came across a beautiful, single sized Hubbard squash.  The only thing I knew about Hubbard squash, was that they are starchy something like a potato and require a majorly sharp knife.  Typically the Hubbard squash I have seen are massive, seriously huge – when you see them at the farmers market, sometimes they can be 20lbs.  This little gem was the perfect size, it supplied me with enough of it’s starchy meat for three palm sized tarts and about a cup and a half of extra puree.

I am all for pumpkin pie, all for it.  I love the warm spices, the creamy filling, the whipped (vegan) cream on top – give me the works and I will be a happy girl. I had the privilege of eating a freshly baked sugar-pumpkin pie earlier in October, there was, I think six of us…  sitting on the couch waiting for it to cook.  We couldn’t even wait for it to cool down enough to slice, all six pieces were inhaled.   Essentially ever since, I have been dreaming of it – hence my search for the perfect single sized pumpkin.

Image

I’m not ashamed to say, the Hubbard did not do it for me in tart form. It was good – but it wasn’t pumpkin. It wasn’t creamy and smooth, the starchiness of the Hubbard flesh was just that. Starchy. The left over puree, however, became the perfect autumn topping to the chia pudding I made for breakfast! Mmmm-mm.  Warm spices, creamy chia, let me tell you – the squash was an excellent addition. It cut the creaminess of the pudding, added some sweetness (I never sweeten my chia pudding, I rely on fruit to do that for me!).   Rich in vitamins A & C, beta-carotene and fiber, adding a gorgeous winter squash to the diet is a great way to eat seasonally, locally, and if it’s something unusual – why not? I didn’t know much about this gem of a squash but am so happy that I took the opportunity to buy one.

IMG_2153

I ate the first one out of a martini glass, tricking myself into thinking I was sneakily eating a rich and indulgent dessert parfait. The second one (yes, I had two) was layered into a hand-sized mason jar and taken on the road!  It could certainly be enjoyed as a dessert parfait, or a breakfast to-go.  I love whole, real foods for their versatility; eating things that are pure any time of day. Chocolate avocado mousse, banana ice cream, or a seriously amazing parfait – these are not limited to special occasions or after dinner treats anymore!

Spiced Maple Hubbard & Chia Parfait
Serves Two

1 Cup Rice Milk (or other non dairy milk)
1/3 Cup Chia Seeds
1-1.5 Cups of Cooked Hubbard Squash
Juice From One Orange
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
Fresh Ground Nutmeg, Ginger, Clove, Allspice – to taste
1/3 Cup Coconut Cream
3-4 Tbsp Dark Maple Syrup

Optional Toppings

Bee Pollen
Nuts
Seeds
More Spices
Drizzled Maple Syrup

One night ahead, preheat the oven to 350. Add about one inch of water to an oven proof dish, slice the Hubbard squash in half and roast cut down for about thirty minutes (or until the skin is easily pierced with a fork). Once the squash is soft, allow it to cool, then chop and skin it. In a food processor or blender, add the squash, orange juice, spices, coconut cream and maple syrup. Blitz until it is smooth. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate. Next, in a jar or some container with a lid mix the rice milk and chia seeds. Give it either a shake or a stir, then let it form in the fridge for an hour or so. Just before bed, give it another shake/stir, and let it set in the fridge over night.
Scoop out half of the chia pudding into a bowl/jar/martini glass. Spoon the prepared squash puree, and top with slivered almonds, bee pollen & a quick swirl of maple syrup!

Flowers, Bees, Workouts and Love.

Image

Goooooooood Morning!

Rising with the sun is just one of those perfect things. It’s something so simple, and yet we very infrequently have the time or the willingness to do it. I am completely guilty of this.  When the winter begins winding down and spring sets in, I am up and ready to go at 5am as the sun starts peeking through my windows….but now, now that it’s summer that is coming to a close, I am in no way ready get up early.  Each day getting shorter and shorter, I find that it’s so difficult to fully wake. Today was different, today I was up with the sun (which was a bit of a sleep in, considering the season change). Today I greeted the morning with a juicy Canadian pear, and a real butt kicking spin class..  butt kicking, quad kicking, arm and chest kicking.  Man, I really got my sweat on!

Image

Wandering around the neighborhood afterwards,  I really started to warm up to the fast approaching fall. The sight and smell of yellowing leaves, plants and flowers in various stages of blossom and rest, the crispness in the air…  Fall used to be one of my favorite seasons. This beautiful Saturday morning really reminded me of that.

Post workout recovery is something that I have recently vowed to get better at, in particular – refueling with the right ingredients and pushing myself to deepen my stretching. I know that both of these are super important,  however I am known to forget to do one, or sometimes even both.  Today I got after it, I cooled off – walked the streets engaging and really noticing my muscles and how they were operating; and I had a SUPERpower packed breakfast smoothie to reinforce and nourish my whole body, mind and spirit.

Image

A few nights ago I attended a lecture on bees and bee products. The healing medicines that come from a hive, and I’m not just talking honey here.  Bee pollen is one of my favorite treasures from the hive, from the bees, from the plants of this earth.  We all know the importance of reducing completely eliminating GMO products from our kitchens, we know that altering plant DNA and tarnishing our natural fields have negatively influenced bees,  but how many people have thought about those two things together at once?  GMO plants…  produce GMO pollen, GMO honey, and all kinds of alterations that impact my beloved honeybee. An article I read a while back in VegNews magazine about bees and GMO plants really shook me to my core. “Poland recently banned a genetically engineered crop in an effort to save the country’s native honeybee population. Monsanto Mon810, a strain of GE corn that self-produces the popular insecticide neonicotinoid, can no longer be grown in the country after research found that it triggers Colony Collapse Disorder – a worldwide plague that has caused honeybees to die en masse since 2006.” Disgusting, no? This is what plants are doing to the bees, what the heck do we think they’re going to do to us? Before I get off on too much of a tangent….  In my opinion, and this was reinforced and agreed upon by everyone at the lecture I attended – buying non GMO bee products is incredibly important. Buying honey that comes from wildflowers, buying honey that is local, buying honey that is cruelty free. All so important. It can only improve our health (and the health of the plant).

Bee pollen increases strength, and energy – both important after a workout. It helps to rebuild muscle and tissue, it’s a great source of a plethora of vitamins, and is super high in protein.  I had a heaping tablespoon this morning! Nothing like tasting the pure love of a flower, delicately gathered by a tiny, fuzzy, striped angel.  Have I mentioned… I love bees? Love them. Love them love them love them.

Image

Recovery smoothies that you can buy in stores tend to taste a bit off to me. I don’t like the taste of strong protein powders, and I very much try to avoid any packs with added sugars, or even other added beneficial nutrients.  I like just plain, raw hemp powder. High protein, nothing extra.  That way….   I can make it into something so super delicious all you can do is drink it down and giggle with delight. Yep, giggle – that’s exactly what I did this morning.  My recovery smoothie this morning was reminiscent of a almond butter cookie.. with chocolate.. and espresso.  Umm… YUM! I had the pleasure of drinking a chocolate mylk elixir at the Light Cellar, I have been thinking about it ever since… so I made my own version of it, recovery style.

SUPERpower Recovery Smoothie

1 Tbsp Maca Powder
2 Scoops of Raw Hemp Protein Powder
1 Tsp Dried Reishi Mushroom Powder
1 Tsp Dried Chaga Mushroom Powder
8-10 Cacao Whole Beans
1 Vanilla Bean – Scraped
1.5 Bananas
1/2 Cup Young Coconut Meat
2 Tbsp Raw Almond Butter
1 8oz Glass of Purified Water

Layer everything in a blender, start with adding about half a cup of water – just to allow the blades to get working and grind up the cacao immediately. Adding in a full glass of water right at the beginning will just make the cacao whirl and float! Once the mixture is smooth, add in the rest of the water and enjoy!

Image

Happy Mornings.. & Slow-food Breakfast

Image

I love breakfast.    Easily my favorite meal of the day.   Typically – also the meal I tend to forgo on work days.  Whizzing up a smoothie and heading out the door is my usual routine, nothing like the slow sweet enjoyment of weekend breakfasts.   Weekend breakfasts…..  I take time to eat, I dial it right back… slow way down and actually savor everything that lay before me.   There’s something so special about slow-food, connecting with what you’re eating and being in the moment. Today, was a perfect morning for just that.

Image

Starting this beautiful sunny Saturday at 6am with a giant jar filled with greens (yes it’s actually so green is appears black)..  absolutely wonderful.  What a glorious way to energize my body without a caffeine jolt!  My new home has a very large, very sunny east facing bay type window, second only to the kitchen – that window is my favorite spot to be while indoors.  Since moving into this house, I have been blessed with an abundance of natural light.  With that.. comes the ability to rise with the sun. Nice and early, my rooms are flooded with sunshine and up I get.  Well… up we get…

Image

A curious and loving face inches slowly towards the head of my bed, giving little licks up my arm to let me know she’s ready to begin the day.  Here is where our morning ritual starts.  A jar full of glorious greens, and breakfast made to be enjoyed in the sunshine with my kitty – welcoming the day in a big way.  Savoring each bite of this breakfast bowl…. took me at least 25 minutes. Seriously.  I find great value in waking slowly, giving every part of my body time to adjust for the day.  Not just waking up and moments later rushing out the door and into early morning traffic is fantastic, a feeling I need to cherish more during the work week. This lovely Saturday, I made an agreement with myself to do exactly that – cherish each morning, enjoy it slowly. Start the day off properly.

Image

Breakfast of Champions – Early Morning Bowl

1/2 Cup Cooked Red Rice
1/3 Cup Warmed Brown Basmati Milk (or whatever milk you enjoy)
True Cinnamon (and any other warming spice you fancy)
A Handful of Flax Seeds
Piles of Your Favorite Fruits
Dollop of Coconut Yogurt

The rice can be cooked in advance, and used for up to three days if kept sealed in the fridge. Scoop about half a cup of the rice into a nice, deep bowl. Sprinkle with as much cinnamon (clove, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, or warming spice of your choice) as you like. I like lots! Slowly warm the basmati milk on the stove, and pour over the rice just before it begins to boil. Top with fruit – I used blueberries, raspberries, kiwi and pear, flax, and a nice big dollop of coconut yogurt…..   Now the best part…

Enjoy. It. Slowly.

Ice cream… for breakfast?

Good morning friends! Happy Saturday!

Image

This morning….  I decided to break the rules.  I’m having ice cream for breakfast!  I don’t mean…. dairy or soy or coconut or rice… ice cream… I mean (almost)raw, totally vegan, deliciousness ice cream!

Image

I figured…  I have no yogurt, but I have this bunch of bananas – why not!  Bananas contain tryptophan – an amino acid that our bodies convert to serotonin.  Serotonin makes us feel more happy and more relaxed… who doesn’t want that? Especially early on a Saturday!  Add to your serotonin producing ice cream…. flax seeds… goji berries… or chia seeds, as I did! Chia was used as an endurance food by Native Americans, and is great as a breakfast additive! Chia become very sticky when added to liquid, they swell with moisture and form a pudding consistency. So… they help to keep you feeling full! They are also, after flax of course, the highest source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Because bananas are so sweet already, there is no need for loads of extra sugar, it’s simple and quick.   Maybe not the right time of year…..  but I enjoyed it none the less.

Image

Maple Breakfast Ice Cream

3 Ripe Bananas
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
(subsitute raw honey or agave to make it a fully raw breakfast)
2 Tbsp Organic Oats
Pinch of Vietnamese Cassia & Freshly Scraped Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Bean
Sprinkling of Chia Seeds

Peel and slice the bananas then place them in the freezer until soft but frozen (you can freeze in advance if you’d like also!). Add the sliced bananas, oats, spices and maple syrup to your blender and give it a whirl!  Sprinkle with chia and enjoy!

Image