Cooking For a Weekend Away

I came back from vacation on Friday and immediately I couldn’t wait to start eating more nourishing, healthy food. During my almost two weeks in London and Paris I ate “whatever” I wanted, which amounted to very few veggies and far too much sugar (especially in a deliciously boulangerie-filled Paris… Can anyone blame me?)

So although I had plans to come visit my mom on Saturday and stay Sunday, as well, I decided I’d pack my own food instead of continuing to eat “whatever.” I cooked a vegan sweet potato curry with a can of organic mixed beans I found on sale a month ago. The recipe was inspired by this Creamy Thai Sweet Potato Curry from Pinch of Yum.

I made salads, as well.

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I’ve recently enrolled in the introductory courses of the Natural Nutrition program from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. I have been curious about and interested in food and nutrition for almost as long as I can remember. I’ve had struggles with food for even longer. So overall this seemed like a good choice for me, especially since the entire program is offered online as a self-study course, where you can set your own pace.

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I’m learning a lot about the interaction between the environment and food supply (and the quality of that food supply) and also about the importance of eating a balanced diet that includes carbs, fats, protein, fibre and a host of micronutrients. I didn’t place enough importance on protein previously, having accepted vegan guru wisdom on the lack of necessity of protein.

The 900-plus page tome in the photo is the introductory text and it’s super accessible and interesting. There seems to be a large focus on how human behaviour and industry has affected the quality of our food supply and what we can do to make sure we stay healthy despite the many contaminants we face daily.

I’m still only at the beginning, so more thoughts to come. Leave a comment if you have any questions about the course that I might be able to answer!

Quinoa Three Ways

If you hate the texture! 

Even though I learned about the benefits of quinoa years ago, I really couldn’t bring myself to eat it until recently. Unlike rice and other grains I like, quinoa seeds would—annoyingly—slip beneath my teeth as I tried to chew. I just can’t stand the texture of plain quinoa, and I don’t imagine I’m the only one.

Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a plant-based form of a complete protein. According to the BBC Good Food website, a magazine I love (and trust), quinoa is high in fibre and a good source of iron, magnesium and manganese. As well, research shows that quinoa is high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. You can click to see where I have found this information and more, here.

In conclusion, quinoa is a good thing (better than most grains, it seems)! So I didn’t want to just give up on it because of a texture problem. And it turned out to be a pretty easy one to circumvent, anyway. I just have to mix it with other things.

Here are my three favourite ways to eat quinoa recently. It’s gone from bearable to being a constant in my diet.

  1. Mix equal parts quinoa and brown rice! This is the least expensive and simplest way to eat quinoa for me. It involves simply mixing a cup of each in a pot and cooking. Brown rice tends to cook quite a bit slower than quinoa, so I add that first, and toss in the quinoa about 15–20 minutes before the rice is done. Make sure the pot is filled with enough water!
  2. Quinoa and veggies! This was on a salad I ate at a restaurant, but I’ve since recreated it at home. It’s a similar concept to above, but a bit more nutritious, and it keeps in the fridge for up to four days. You can add it to bowls or salads or pour a little pasta sauce over it and enjoy. I cook tricolour (or any) quinoa and add one or two cups of frozen carrot chunks and peas. There’s really no recipe and quantities depend on your preference.

    I should add that I do find tricolour quinoa is less “slippery” in general, but I realize it’s not available everywhere.

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  3. Put it in an intricate salad! The internet is littered with really complex salads that contain a cup of quinoa here and there. These can be a little hit and miss in my experience, but when they are good can be a really great way to incorporate quinoa. This Mexican salad was a favourite and it can contain up to two cups of quinoa (it’s also vegan, made with Daiya cheese).

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Soul Journal: Letting a Good Thing Go

Two weeks ago, on a Monday, I took the plunge and pressed print on my resignation letter from a job that has brought so much growth to my life.

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A year ago in March, I began working in the highly competitive field of book publishing, doing something that gave me a hand in the creation of real books that real people read and enjoy and think worth their dime to buy! I was a new proofreader, proofreading and  lightly copyediting manuscripts every single day. (Yes, I got to read stories for a living.)

While I loved the job at first and came to work with a feeling of pride, endeavouring to do my best on every single page, eventually that feeling faded. I was gripped with a feeling of complete isolation that overshadowed my positive feelings about the role. While the department had more than a dozen people—almost all of which I liked—the job itself turned out to be too solitary to bear.

I tried keeping myself busy with social outings after work, with friends and with new people that I met through meetup.com, trying a variety of activities. While the social stimulation was very helpful, it left me with no time to carry on other important aspects of my life. I spent nearly two hours in solitary transit, eight hours at work, and the few more I had left, I was using to socialize.

Eventually I began to experience sleep troubles and felt I was on the verge of more worrisome/deeper emotional disarray. I knew that I was living by hanging on to the wall of a cliff, and that no matter how strong I made myself to be, I’d eventually slip and fall. So I made the decision to instead reach for that just-too-high edge while I still have strength left in me.

I can’t describe how good it feels to take a huge risk that somehow feels right (and that all things considered actually is right). It feels much safer than a routine that works against me. I’m following my bliss, and I feel ecstatic and excited.

I let a good thing go because it stopped working for me. And I feel so alive…

 

 

Finding What You Seek

This post is like nothing I usually put up here, but I learned a beautiful lesson today and it really made me understand what I am doing wrong in terms of looking for certain things—looking for a good partner, a better fitting career, a better social life, etc. Basically, anything.

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This morning, I got up and started with my regular routine. I opened the front mirror cabinet in the bathroom and took out my cleanser. I cleansed my face and then towel dried. Then, I opened the mirror cabinet again, this time looking for my sunscreen!  The shelf above the cleanser’s is where I keep my sunscreen, so that’s where I expected to find it.

But it wasn’t there this morning.

Confused, I looked through the cabinet’s shelves thoroughly, opened both side compartments and looked there, opened the cupboards under the sink and looked there and even looked through the purse I take to work and in the kitchen and clothes’ closet—I really couldn’t understand where this sunscreen could be. Well…I didn’t find it. I went to work, and ultimately ended up using the spare sunscreen in my purse, which I use to reapply and keep my skin protected on longer days.

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But just now I got home and I saw that the sunscreen had been on the bathroom counter all along! Now, my bathroom counter has all of four or five things on it. The soap is at the side of the sink, a candle and air freshener spray are tucked in one corner, my toothbrush is on its charger and…that’s it! It was those things, plus my sunscreen, but I didn’t see it despite searching and searching because I expected to find it in its regular spot and when I didn’t find it there, I figured, well, then it should be in those other places. This baffles me because I would have never had to look in the first place if I’d actually been open to finding what I was looking for.

I italicized the word see because well of course I saw it, literally speaking. But it didn’t register that what my eyes were seeing was what I was looking for. It’s so silly but I do this all the time, but not just for trivial things like misplaced sunscreen. I do it for potential relationships, friends, jobs, educational opportunities, etc. I put up conditions that aren’t in my best interest—they don’t actually produce what I am looking for at all. In this case, my brain was looking for “the sunscreen in the cupboard,” but that’s not what I actually wanted. What I wanted was “the sunscreen”… It would have fulfilled my desires 100% even if I’d found it on the floor, trash can or tub.

Anyway, this was a huge reminder for me to make sure that the conditions I place on the things I want are intentional and genuine because otherwise it’s so, so easy to miss on opportunities. 20170406_173931

Here’s what’s on my plate for dinner. I’m a little sick today and I’d rather conserve all of my energy for getting better than for cooking or preparing food. There’s a salad place I trust a 20-second walk from my door, so tonight’s pick was a falafel salad with sweet potato mash and hummus. So good!

I took photos of what was “on my plate” yesterday too but after getting home and seeing a video of the children and adults in the Syrian chemical attack on my feed and then learning about similar atrocities being perpetrated in Yemen, blogging was the last thing I wanted to do.