Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year, New Goals

As the big day approaches its now time for me to layout my plans for a more productive 2009.

Of course there is the usual eat healthier and exercise more. Lets face it, its an ongoing process, being the healthiest you that you can be. Some days I make all the "right" choices, some days I do pretty good, and some days I just plain fall off the wagon. But I always get back on, because one bad choice or meal or even an entire bad day of eating isn't going to cancel out all the other good choices I make each and everyday. And I think thats what its all about, everyday you try to do your best and if you don't then you try again the next day. Like I said its an ongoing process for most of us. Fortunately, my Dad always said I have more tenacity then anyone he knows (actually what he may have said was that I was stubborn and that I never back down when there is something I want but I looked it up...thats tenacity folks!). 

Most of time when I "fall of the wagon" its not that I had a craving or a lack of willpower, its that I had no plan. And that leads me to my resolution for 2009.

My resolution for 2009 is to help myself out by planning things out more often. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm a Mom of 2 young children. A trip to the store to grab toilet paper requires a plan ( you laugh but you haven't met my kids). Its not like I fly by the seat of my pants all the time but I could definitely do more planning in the meal/groceries department. And thats exactly what I'm going to work on in 2009. More meal plans means better meals and leftovers, less groceries and hopefully more fun in the kitchen.

When I became Vegan I made the decision to do it but it had to be a healthy diet. No processed soy products, no meals consisting or refined grains and not much else. That is not a true Vegan or Vegetarian diet to me and I think people who eat that kind of diet thinking they are "healthy" simply because they don't eat meat are far off the mark. Thats why I'm such a big fan of Dreena Burton's cookbooks. I love reading her cookbooks and blog because she sets a great example for me. She's a busy wife and Mom of two young girls but on top of that she's also a cookbook author, she's super creative in the kitchen, she's a health conscious and compassionate cook, and she always takes time to share her great ideas and recipes with us.

She is probably a lady with a plan. 

Monday, December 29, 2008

Its that time of year again...New Years Resolutions time!

The holidays are behind us and I had a great time with family and friends. And the food. Oh the food....the brunches, the lunches, the appetizers, the huge suppers, the christmas drinks, the treats. You get the picture, I ate way too much! And although it was vegan and relatively healthy compared to what some of my dining companions were chowing down on, it is down right embarrassing the quantity of food I managed to eat. While quality of food is the most important issue for me when I make a food choice quantity also needs to be considered.

And so, now that I am fully ashamed of myself for proving to everyone that I can still out eat them, I'm using that guilt as inspiration for my News Years Resolution.

To be honest I both love and hate making a New Years Resolution. For me the new year always brings a feeling of renewal, thats the love part. And although I have made many a new years resolution in the past that has almost always been forgotten by the end of January, thats the part I hate. January doesn't seem to be a good time for me to make changes. I'm not sure why, but to be honest I think it has much to do with the weather. Here in the Great White North the weather can be down right wretched January - March. And when its snowing, windy and -40 I'm not much in the mood to do much but hibernate (read: light a fire and  lay on the couch with a good book).  I have found that spring and fall seem to be when I make big changes in my life, particularly the fall. But this year I have a few resolutions that I know I'm going to make good on because most of these resolutions are urgently needed and time is of the essence, -40 or not.

My next post will outline resolutions and my plan of attack to get it done.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I know its kinda crazy to be blogging on Christmas Day but I need a break from all the activity in our house right now. So I just wanted to do a quick post to wish everybody a super Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is have as great a Christmas with their family and friends as we are. 

I'll be back posting in a day or two.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another Winner from ED&BV

So today it was a balmy -25 degrees celsius (that was the high folks) and I knew I needed a winter kinda supper. I also needed an easy to prepare supper because this week is the busiest for me leading up to Christmas. ED&BV's Quinoa Confetti Casserole fit the bill on both accounts. First off, you have to love a dinner that using only one pot (casserole dish in this case) and takes about 5 minutes to prep. Then its in the oven for an hour while I get the laundry done (most of the laundry anyway...is the laundry ever really done?). I had high hopes for this dish  and it did not disappoint. I replaced the fennel with zucchini but other than that I made no alterations to the recipe. I loved it! I'll be making this one on a regular basis. And it makes alot so if you have a crowd to feed or want a dish that will be supper and lunch the next day give this one a try. I'll be enjoying the leftovers tomorrow and probably the next day as well. I served it with a nice crisp green salad with a maple balsamic vinaigrette. Perfect meal on a cold winter night. Below is the crappy photo I took of it. Don't be scared off by my photography, its much tastier than it looks in this photo. I promise one day I'll snap a decent pic!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

When Ideas Go Right

I have had a couple of ideas in my head for awhile now and I even though I'm busy enough just trying to keep up with all the Christmas activities going on I had to try them out.

First up is a raw vegan coconut truffle of sorts. I'm sure most of you have seen or tried a raw brownie recipe. This is similar but I put in half the normal amount of walnuts and added some coconut. Then I shaped them into balls and rolled them in coconut. They taste awesome. I am so pleased with how they turned out. My mom is a huge coconut fan and I can't wait for her to try these (she is sick with a cold right and is so stuffed up she can't taste much, I just hope there are some left when she is better!). I have posted the recipe below for these and I just wanted to make a quick note about the dates. Medjool dates are very different from your average dried date. Make sure you buy  medjool dates or this won't work out at all (trust me, this is the voice of experience speaking). I apologize for the poor quality pics, I'm still have some camera issues.

Coconut Truffle Recipe

1 cup of Medjool Dates, pitted
1/4 cup of Cocoa Powder (I use the one from Cocoa Camino)
1/2 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup of coconut

Put everything in the food processor and whiz till combined. The mixture will be a little loose. roll into little balls. Sprinkle some coconut on a dinner plate. Roll balls in coconut. Store in freezer (the freeze excellently) and remove as needed.

Make a double batch - these won't last long. They have earned a spot on my Christmas "baking" platter!

Ok next up was an idea that I didn't think was going to work but work it did and our family dinner tonight was all the proof I needed.

Tonight we had a family dinner for my Dad's birthday. I didn't have to bring anything so I thought this would be a good time to try out my next idea - if it flopped no one would be the wiser and if it worked then I would test them out on the family, many who are devote meat eaters. And so I give you vanilla cupcakes with a chocolate hazelnut mousse topping.

Ok so they look like any old cupcake and the cake part is. Its the vanilla cupcake recipe from ED&BV. Its the mousse thats so special. Its made out of......white kidney beans! I have been playing around with the idea for a soy free mousse for some time now and the beans were the perfect substitute. I told only my parents about the special ingredient (although they are not vegans or even vegetarians they are very health conscious and very supportive of my decision to be vegan so I let them in on the secret as long as they didn't tell anyone else). All who had one loved them - the mousse part atleast. The cupcake wasn't quite what I had hoped for. I think I'll try the  recipe from VCTOTW next time but everyone loved the mousse. I stilled haven't told them whats in it and I don't plan to. My brother in law hates all beans so if he knew he'd never eat one again. Thats ok...I can keep a secret. My kids went crazy for these - my oldest proclaimed them to be the best cupcake she ever had. I almost wanted to cry.  I'm still perfecting the mousse recipe but I'll post it soon. Below are pics of my little ones enjoying their cupcakes.

I hope everyone is keeping warm and cozy this holiday season. I'm trying a few more new recipes this week so I post pics and reviews.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Making Vegan Living Easier

One of the hardest things about going vegan for me was changing the way I cooked. I've always been health conscious but when I went vegan I went into overdrive reading labels. And alot of the products I was using were not vegan friendly. And so I had to learn how to cook again (this from a girl who as a teenage told her parents she wasn't going to need to learn how to cook, instead I was going to have a great job and hire a cook. I sincerely hope my girls didn't inherit my smart mouth). But I digress...back to the learning how to cook again thing, I found it somewhat daunting. I felt out of my comfort zone. I had a sick toddler and a newborn and I totally felt like a fish out of water. But I was committed to going vegan and I was determined to stay on the wagon. So I bought some cookbooks and started learning new recipes. But sometimes you need some help in the kitchen. And help I did find at my local grocery store. 

Renee's Gourmet Dressing and Sauces. Thank you Renee for making my life much easier. Sure I like to make my own salad dressings and even stir fry sauces but sometimes the kids are grumpy, or my husband is working late, or I'm not feeling well and I need to save some time in the kitchen.Enter Renee's products. Several of Renee's vinaigrettes are vegan. And they're not full of preservatives and crap. They are always refrigerated (I always wondered about those Kraft dressing in aisle 15), are labeled vegan and they taste amazing. The Asian Sesame is better than any Asian dressing I have ever made. The Pear and Guava Vinaigrette is awesome on a spinach salad with almonds, strawberries and pears. The Balsamic vinaigrette is great to have on hand when time is tight and I can't make my own. My current favourite is the Sundried Tomatoe and Black Olive...simply terrific on a tossed salad.

If  you haven't tried these dressing go to the store ASAP and pick one up. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Better late than never.

Ok so I'm a little bit late with this post but I have a good excuse...I was super busy in the kitchen trying out some new recipes. Unfortunately my camera is not working properly these days so no pics.

First up was a "cheese" sauce recipe that I found here. I have been looking for a cheese sauce recipe that is soy free for sometime now and we finally have a winner. I wouldn't call this a cheese sauce exactly, I'd say its more of a cream sauce, closer to an alfredo maybe. It was excellent on pasta with some steamed broc. My youngest loved it, couldn't get it in her mouth fast enough. My oldest didn't like it but she only tried one bite so I'm going to try again with her. My mom gave it a two thumbs up too and even brought some to work for her co-workers to try. 

Then we tried the Great Grain and Veggie burgers from Vegan Planet. Ever since I saw these on Carrie's blog I wanted to make them. As soon as I took one sniff of the mixture I knew these were going to be winners. The are hands down the best "burger" patty I have had. They only thing I didn't put in them was the roasted red pepper. We had them with guacamole, red onion, tomatoe, lettuce and pickles and home fries on the side. I had enough of the ingredients to make 2 batches and we froze the second batch. I'll post an update on how they turn out from the freezer. I too went with the Curious George angle. My youngest will eat anything so its never a challenge with her but the oldest is a little picky. These may become Dora burgers nest time.

The last new recipe of the week was the Savory French Lentil recipe from ED&BV. These were awesome! These will be on the regular rotation for sure. Make sure you use the mushroom boullion cube, it really makes the recipe. This was my first time cooking with French Lentils and I really liked them. I love almost all legumes and lentils are right at the top. These really hold their shape well and had a slightly firmer texture than regular green lentils. My mom hates lentils because as a teenager she worked at a nursing home and they served lentils apon occasion. She thinks lentils taste like rabbit turds (her words not mine!) but I bet I could change her mind with this recipe. I had them with some leftover brown basmati rice and a green salad with sun dried tomatoe and olive vinegrette. Made an awesome supper on a cold winter night.

Well thats all from me tonight. I plan on trying a few more new recipes this week so I'll keep you posted.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ok so I lied...

a little bit about a food post tonight. It was unintentional I promise. I found out this afternoon that hubby is leaving tomorrow for work-realted trip out of town. So I want to spend the night with him tonight, the food post will have to wait till tomorrow. The good news is with my sweetheart out of town I'l have my nights free (and lonely) so I'll be posting alot.

Where does the time go...

I am almost embarrassed that I have posted in so long. I have no excuse really. Yes we've been busy but no busier than usual. I have, however, been feeling more lazy than usual. I hate those funks you get in when you just don't feel motivated to do anything...its not that I was feeling depressed or sad or anything I was just happy to waste away time dong practically nothing. I think another part of it was I went into reading overdrive. Oh how I love my books and although I read consistently throughout the year there are times I periodically go into overdrive reading a book a day. Such has been the case lately. And that eats up alot of time (obviously!). But no longer will I be wasting away the day with my nose in a book. I am ready to get back into the swing of things and kick it into overdrive once again. And I promise a food post tonight! Reading all of your blogs keeps me very motivated and feeling part of the "community" if you will. I have no friends that are vegan or even vegetarian (although my sister wants to go veg but has a very dificult time with willpower, but thats another story for another time). It time to get back on the blogging wagon.

Till tonight!