Friday, April 26, 2013

My inspiration

I love many things about my job as part time vegan chef at a local retreat centre but the inspiration I get each time is really the best.  I come back to my family after many long hours away with all of this creativity pouring out of me.  Yesterday my partner and I went to a potluck with friends and I made the glazed lentil walnut apple loaf from Oh She Glows and healthy hash brown casserole from the Fat Free Vegan. This weekend I really want to make the African Peanut Stew from Ecoki and the marinated red cabbage salad with the Asian ginger dressing from  They don't really go together, so I'll have to come up with other recipes, too.

So much of the food I cooked this week was new to me, recipes gleaned from some of my favourite food/recipe blogs.  I just found Gluten free goddess and her recipes are great.  I'll even admit here (just between you and I) that I didn't test all of her recipes before making them for ten people at the retreat centre.  The ones I had tried before were so good that I just kept on trusting them.  I can say the same for Oh She Glows and Whole Life Nutrition; everything is good and works.  Do you have some tried and true recipe blogs that you love?  Leave me a comment and tell me about it.

Well, I have some housework to do and then I'll get started making my menu for the next five days.

Check back often for updates!  I'll post pictures and commentary about whatever I decide to cook. Also, look for my menu plan which I'll post tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Body of Soul" ~ Lomi Lomi Nui ~ Healing Retreat

Twice a month (except for March) I work part time at a local retreat centre near Brighton, ON. I create the menu and write up the shopping list and then I arrive on cook day at the appointed time and cook the meals I've chosen.

Today I sat down to draw up the menu for the upcoming retreat that begins on Friday.  I got the list of food restrictions and I went to work.  This is the most time consuming part of my job, but it's also the part that I really enjoy.  As I have mentioned I am a compulsive recipe collector and so therefore I wouldn't be exaggerating to say that I have a HUGE stockpile of recipes.  I try to select tried and true recipes when cooking for others, but that isn't always possible.  Some of the restrictions included ingredients I use in a lot of my cooking, ie. onions, beans, and rice.  So then some of the recipes are new to me, but from reputable sites that I have come to trust.

Without further ado, here is what I came up with:

Friday April 19 - Supper

Saturday, April 20 - Supper

Sunday, April 21 - Lunch

Mushroom and Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Sunday, April 21 - Supper

Red cabbage salad with carrots and apples
Moroccan carrot stew
Green salad with sunflower mustard dressing

Monday, April 22 - Lunch

Monday, April 22 - Supper

African peanut stew (only we pureed it before adding the rice)

Sauteed kale
Roasted Beets and Sweets
Green Salad with Honey Dijon Dressing
A very loose interpretation of this apple crisp

Before leaving for the night I also made two loaves of Strawberry banana bread for the morning meal.  We ended up using the bread for dessert the following night instead.

Tuesday, April 23 - Lunch


Tuesday, April 23 - Supper

Eggplant Curry from Moosewood

Gypsy Soup from Moosewood

Tofu salad from Moosewood cookbook (minus the tofu) with this great Asian dressing

Wednesday, April 24 - Breakfast

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal with mixed fruit compote

Wednesday, April 24 - Lunch

Chickpea tabouli with walnuts and cauliflower

Marinated zucchini noodles

Leftovers of African Peanut Stew

Lunch is served.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Meal Plan Week 2

Well, I am over the flu (just a little bothersome cough holding on) and I'm ready to tackle my second week of online meal planning.  Even while I was sick I was still using my awake time to find new recipes.  I told you that I'm a compulsive recipe collector.  It's hard to decide in what order to make the recipes, but I'm going to start with the soup because my youngest son has just come down with the flu tonight and my partner is on day three today and so will need the nourishment of the soup to help her get strong enough to return to work on Wednesday.

Tuesday - Skinny Ms slow cooker lentil veggie stew.  Not sure I got a picture of this, but it was really good.
Wednesday - Leftovers (a whole fridge's worth).
Thursday - BBQ beans and greens from Straight Up Food
Friday - Vegan Sparkles' Autumn Sweet Potato Vegetable Red Lentil Dhal
Saturday - Quinoa protein bowl with kale, squash and a cheesy sauce.
Sunday - Saffron sweet potato rainbow quinoa soup from Reboot Your Life.
Monday - Amazing 3-bean sweet potato chili

I worked full time through this entire meal plan and my partner didn't cook any of the food listed.  I think I'll carry it over to next week.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Meal Plan Week 1

I think the easiest way to stay on a healthy diet is to menu plan and since I love all things cooking, I also love menu planning.  Here is my menu for the week:

Sunday - Pasta Primavera from Forks Over Knives
Monday - Enchiladas with cilantro avocado cream sauce from Oh She Glows
Tuesday - Protein Power Bowl
Wednesday - Roasted butternut squash with kale and almond-pecan-parmesan from Oh She Glows and Hearty white bean soup
Thursday - Smoky apple baked beans from and Creamed kale from nourishing meals
Friday - Maple baked lentils with sweet potato from Oh She Glows
Saturday - Black bean and potato nacho plate from Oh She Glows

All recipes are "clickable".


The Pasta Primavera was very family friendly, even toddlers would love it.  My 12 year old ate three helpings and my 9 year old ate two.  I was impressed to be sure.  I found it rather blah compared to the foods I normally cook.  I was asked to archive it in family favourites.


The Enchiladas were DELICIOUS!!  I could not get enough of the cilantro avocado cream, it was lip-smacking good!  We cannot wait to make this again, and honestly I'll probably make it again before the month is out.


The Protein Power Bowls were delicious as always.  The recipe is borrowed from Jeff Novick, RD. Recipe serves 6.

6 medium sweet potatoes
6 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
1 cup fresh dill
1 tbsp. black sesame seeds

Roast sweet potatoes in the oven for 40 minuts or cube and steam.  Steam or boil vegetables.  Mix tahini, lemon juice and water with a fork until frothy.  Add some fresh chopped dill.

Assemble bowls by layering sweet potatoes, cooked veggies and chickpeas.  Top with tahini sauce and additional chopped fresh dill.  Sprinkle some seeds on top like pictured.

Serving size 2 cups. Per serving:  300 calories, 7 g fat, 50 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 9 g protein, 323 mg sodium.


Tonight I made the white bean soup and the butternut squash and kale casserole for my family while I sweated it out with the flu.  I do love them and I want them to eat well, even when I am under the weather.  That and I am most stubborn! "I don't get sick", is my mantra.  They said the soup needed some Herbamere to bring it up a notch, which makes sense because I don't generally season until the end of the cooking time and by that time I was back in bed.  They loved the butternut squash roasted with kale, parsley and topped with toasted almonds and pecans. - It's nearly 10pm but I think I'll try the soup for myself.

Thursday to Saturday were lost in a sea of fever, coughing and other flu-like symptoms.  I seriously slept away four days of my life. I actually don't remember a lot of it.

We did eat Friday's meal on Sunday, the maple lentils with sweet potato.  My family found it to be too sweet, but I had to take their word for it as I couldn't taste any food for a couple of days. If we make it again, I will half the amount of maple syrup and molasses.

Today (Monday) I made the Black bean and potato nacho plate for supper.  It was delicious!  So filling, so good!  Nothing to improve upon it, it was spectacular.  I just love the flavours of cumin and chili together.  The potatoes made it very filling and I actually enjoyed it more so than eating a plate of corn tortilla chip nachos.

I'll come back and add to this post as the week goes on. I think I'll make my menu planning a regular feature of this blog since so many people have trouble with it themselves.

Monday, April 1, 2013

McDougall Meal Plan - Day 1

So yesterday was not only Easter Sunday, it was also the first day of our McDougall Meal Plan.  We didn't actually start our detox until today (and we both cheated - more on that later), but here are some pictures.

Chip and Salsa Soup
Sunday soup - Chip and Salsa Soup
This soup was very tasty  and everyone enjoyed it.  Basically it was beans, corn, salsa and broth cooked and served over blue corn chips and chunks of avocado. Afterwards we ate Mexican Bean Burritos, also from Day 1 of the McDougall meal plan.  Forgot to take a picture of that goodness.

Monday soup - Harvest Moon Soup
This soup was good, too!  My youngest didn't care for the tomatoes and he took about an hour before he dared try it.  The rest of the family liked it just fine.  You'll find the recipe for this soup here.We paired a serving of this soup with homemade pizza.  Pics to follow.

Karen's pizza, not on the meal plan, as the plan is VEGAN. She says hers was delicious (too).

My pizza made with Daiya cheese and homemade vegan pesto. Delicious, nutritious.

So my cheat today was a serving of potato chips and Karen's cheat was a plastic Easter egg full of chocolate eggs.  Progress not perfection! :-)

I also managed to do 60 minutes of my Chalean Extreme workout today - Burn it off and Recharge.  A killer workout, to be sure.

Here are some photos of us eating vegan food at Burger Revolution in Belleville on Saturday:

Utopian burger
Vegan Poutine
Karen waiting for her veggie burger.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Blog sakes alive!

Hi everyone!

I've decided to keep this blog open for things other than recipes.  If you're looking for recipes and things to do with my personal chef business, please check out my new blog at Vegan Faery.

My partner Karen and I have decided it's time to kick up our diet a notch to try to lose some weight.  I've been working out for the past six weeks with Chalean Extreme from Beachbody which I really love.  It's a circuit training workout system with free weights, cardio, stretching and HIIT - high intensity interval training.  I absolutely love it!  Now that the snow is melting we're getting out walking our dog too.
Lucy :-)

Karen is very resistant to exercise and has only just recently shown an interest in working out.  She doesn't like being in a gym, so the best place for us to workout is outside walking with Lucy, which works great for me because I love that, too.  

If you know anything about weight loss you know that weight loss is 70-80% nutrition and 20-30% exercise.  I like to think that a good night's sleep should account for at least 10% of that equation.  We eat a plant-based diet, but it's a little too heavy on nuts/seeds/avocados.  We need to tone down the plant fats; 1 oz of nuts per day and/or half an avocado is plenty.  We need to center our meals around beans, vegetables, and whole grains/starches.  I watched a great video conference yesterday How to lose weight without losing your mind with Dr. Doug Lisle on You Tube.  If you want to take a look, I recommend skipping the first 15 minutes.  He's not the best public speaker (he's no Dr. John McDougall or Jeff Novick), but he's very knowledgeable.  I also participated in a live Q&A with Julieanna Hever, The Plant Based Dietitian last night on Facebook.  She gave me some helpful tips on losing weight which included that green smoothies are a great way to fuel my body, I don't need to add protein powders like Vega, Shakeology or Sun Warrior unless I'm an athlete (which I'm not), that salads with beans/tofu,  nuts/seeds/avocados are great and nutritionally sound, provided I follow the guidelines already mentioned, and that I get some exercise every day.  

So, getting back to Karen and I... we are going to start a cleansing diet to kick our addiction to sugar to the curb, thereby allowing us to lose some weight.  Karen would ultimately like to lose 40-60 lbs, while I have just 30 lbs remaining to lose.  Basically, if you are familiar with Dr. John McDougall's starch based diet and Dr. Joel Fuhrman's plant-based nutritarian diet, you know what path we are going to take.  Breakfast will consist of 500 ml warm lemon water followed by a green juice and/or a green fruit smoothie.  The salad becomes the main course and we will most likely eat it every day for lunch.  Our salads are HUGE, weighing in at 3/4 of a pound; we will follow that with another green juice.  Supper will be a sensible dinner consisting of a hearty soup or a light soup and a light meal.  We love our desserts so we'll have banana ice cream (chocolate, vanilla or berry), hot cocoa, or date/nut balls on the days we don't eat nuts in our salads.  Each meal will contain a starch, a fruit or vegetable or combination thereof and a fat source and some protein - think oatmeal, chia, hemp, flax, sweet potatoes, yam, brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, etc.  This is how we eat right now, but apparently we eat too much since we're maintaining our weight and not losing.

I'm going to post back with my meal plans every day* along with photos of our food.  If this pleases you, please stay with me here.  

Have a great Easter weekend.

*Note I am currently recovering from some type of stomach bug (virus or food poisoning I know not which) so I'm on the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) until I'm well again.