Thursday, October 27, 2011

5 Awesome Weekday Happenings

1) Making my own Version of this Raw Chocolate Orange Cheesecake
Gorgeous, isn't it? I did get to taste it, but it was for my catering gig. I changed the crust from the original recipe. I also tweaked the proportions of the filling and omitted the orange extract because I was out. It's the perfect for the Fall!

2) Pairing an Awesome Chocolate Orange Cheesecake with a Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

This is one of my own making. The crust was pecan, walnuts, and dates. The filling was pumpkin, lemon juice, soaked cashews, agave, vanilla, pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, mace, allspice), and sea salt.

3) Receiving a Stash of Sunwarrior Goods in the Mail
So over a month ago, I won a giveaway from the lovely Ayah over at Healthy Tasty Cheap. When I won, it totally made my day since that was around the time my laptop had gotten stolen. However, the package must have had quite the journey to get to me. I'd been in and of town, there was a mail strike up here in Canada, the package was sent back to Ayah and then sent back here again, but one month and a bit later, it finally got to my door! Thanks again Ayah for not giving up on me :)

The food goods are all from Sunwarrior (a great brand of raw protein) and include Raw Activated Barley packs, their raw vegan protein powder in two flavours, their Ormus Supergreens powder mixes, and because the Healthy Tasty Cheap folks are awesome, I also got lots of other neat goodies :) Look out for smoothie recipes soon!

4) Our Awesome New Natural Rubber & Wool Bed with Organic Cotton Sheets
Our new organic bed comes from Obasan, and we love it so much. The difference between this bed and our old bed full of "toxic" stuff is phenomenal (as much as I was absurdly emotionally attached to the last one). I can just breathe the sunshine and lollipops the minute my head hits the pillow on our new bed... this is only marginally an exaggeration.

Why avoid "regular" bedding? Well, they're more prone to collecting mold and mildew, and bed bugs. If that's not enough, a lot of the components of regular bedding contain flame retardants and nasties like DEHP (a phthalate which outgasses badly enough that it's been banned in Europe), antimony (a toxic chemical), boric acid (mostly used as an insecticide or flame retardant), other pesticides, polyurethane foam (yet another noxious outgassing chemical substance), and penta-BDE (a flame retardant that's been attributed with behavioural disorders, also banned in Europe and California).

On the flip side, our awesome bed and organic bedding in general lasts longer, protects against dust mites and bed bugs, helps naturally maintain your body temperature when you sleep, and obviously doesn't contain any nasties.

5) Getting to Hang Out on Farms as Part of my Doctoral Work

Yep, as part of my PhD coursework, I will be spending the next few days (and hopefully lots of time over the next couple years) hanging out on farms, talking to folks about their work and their views on sustainable agriculture and food systems. Can you think of a more ideal scenario for me, because I can't! Hopefully, a lot of this will also roll over into my dissertation.

The picture above is of highland cattle which I'm particularly excited about because I get to see some on a biodynamic farm on Saturday. Have to say that some parts of my life are pretty freakin' awesome.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

5 Awesome Weekend Happenings

Just a quick hello to share 5 of the awesome things that have made up my weekend (yes, 3 out of 5 of them are food... what did you expect?):

1) Ottawa Thai Massage's 3 hour Couple's Workshop 

The workshop was run by our amazing and absurdly multi-talented friend, Devin Johnstone.
For a really quick idea of what it is: Thai Massage mainly involves deep stretching and massage. It's usually done on the floor or mat, and the masseuse guides the receiver into a variety of yoga-esque/stretching positions and then applies firm and/or rhythmic pressure like a normal massage. While that made sound a little strenuous, it isn't at all. It's really relaxing, and after all, I'm one to love a nice juicy stretch.

We absolutely loved it! It was broken down into partner awareness exercises, a quick partner meditation, and then down to the dirty work. It was absurdly relaxing, and a wonderful way to connect. I may or may not have gotten a little emotional... We'll definitely be practicing what we learned as often as we remember!

2) Angela's Amazing Parsnip Fries
I originally thought these sounded kinda weird, but they are SO. GOOD... like I want to go back into the kitchen and use up my entire of bag of parsnips just to make these...

3) Our final fall harvest

It was made up of Andrew's lovingly planted heirloom potatoes and lots and lots of my green tomatoes! Oh Canada and your absurdly early frosts... FYI, for people who also planted their tomatoes too late in the season, here are 10 Things to do with Green Tomatoes...  I found some of these tricks pretty handy. Either way though, there is something so fantastic about growing your own food. I only didn't have to buy tomatoes all summer, and I can't wait to see what we'll be able to do with a "real" yard.

The potatoes were amazing, and I made do with all the green tomatoes by slicing them up and baking them with a little olive oil, pepper, rosemary, and sea salt. Yuummmmmyyy!
4) Shirataki noodles

Just discovered these at the Herb and Spice today! They're made from soybeans, and are gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan, about 40 calories a pack (about 4 times less than their "real" noodle kin). They're deliciously satisfying to curb pasta cravings! Sure they're a little processed for me, but I have no qualms with non-GMO soy. Once in a blue moon these types of things won't hurt me, instead they'll be delicious, and in my belly. I served them up with a raw avocado pesto tomato sauce,  broccoli, red pepper, my green tomatoes, and caramelized onions. Mm mm good.
This is what happened to them:
5) Starting Bikram Again

Though I've been feeling out of the fitness loop over the last few weeks, I took the bull by the horns and went for Bikram session for the first time in over a year. This was part of my commitment to go a couple times a week over the next month.
While I thought I would be completely out of it, since it had been so long, it actually ended up being amazing. It was just like getting back onto a bike, really. I was a little rusty, but it went very well. I made sure to drink enough water before hand, and sure I got a bit dizzy partway through (I think it's because I went at 6pm and hadn't eaten since about noon) but I poured buckets of sweat for 90 minutes and I left feeling absolutely elated. I forgot just how much I'd come to love Bikram, and how emotionally and physically clean it always leaves me. I'm not actually sure why I ever stopped. I can't wait to again next week!

For those interested, I took this class through Bikram Yoga Ottawa. I think it may be my favourite bikram studio to date. I loved the instructor from my regular haunt back in DC, but this studio was super clean, super friendly, and though it sounds random, they had organic soap dispenser and use filtered water, which was absolute icing on the cake after a sweaty session.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend, and have a great start to this week! My tip of the day: Don't forget to eat breakfast, my kitty certainly never forgets to get in on our morning blueberry-banana-spinach-spirulina smoothie action:

Monday, October 3, 2011

How to Have an Epic Birthday

How to have an epic birthday, tip #1: Have awesome friends.

There are little things in life that you just don't realize how much you appreciate 'til you take a step back and realize how awesome everything you have is. That was how yesterday went for me, which also happened to be my birthday. It was everything I wanted nothing fancy, nothing crazy, and yet nothing boring or simple. After a year of crazy and self-inflicted ups and major downs, it was, in all respects, perfect. Friends, food, spontaneous music, laughter, happiness, all coming together under our roof. What more could you want, really?

I also can't say how grateful I am that everyone went out of their way to make beautiful and tasty dishes that fit within my vegan ethic. It was even an added bonus and awesome coincidence that everyone unknowingly ended up bringing a dish that completely randomly either had a) one of my favourite ingredients of all time b) something I've been jonesing for recently for no real reason. Some of these things included dulse (over edmame), mushrooms (in the most gorgeous and veganized fall pie with butternut squash and the most frighteningly convincing tofu cheese), samosas (really, I just eat the insides, but I've been dreaming of those insides for weeks!), a raw massage kale salad (it was my birthday, so I got to claim about half of it for me!!!!), and carob (in the form of vegan gluten-free and zucchini-based carob brownies... oh. my. god. yum.) 

Of course, the piece de resistance was the most amazing raw carrot cake ever topped with a maple cashew frosting. It was of course made with love by my bestie, Amanda, who specially came over early just so I could help :) (Love you soooo much, Amanada!!!) This girl knows me so well that when I asked her what I should do about dessert, she immediately texted me a whole recipe for her wicked raw carrot cake. Little did she know that I had wanted raw carrot cake so badly earlier in the week that I had actually started a to-do list on my phone just to figure out how I could put one together for myself some time... I didn't even have to do it because she made the magic happen!
Cake: carrots, apricots, dates, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon, 
cardamom, nutmeg, orange zest, coconut, almonds, raisins & walnuts
Frosting: cashews, lemon, maple syrup, vanilla

In fact, everything was so tasty that even my kitty wanted in:
Thanks again so much to everyone, and especially to Andrew, for planning this and making awesomeness happen. It was perfect and I feel so blessed and loved :) Hope your starts to the month have also been as stellar!

For this coming week: Come up with 10 October goals like I did in September (I managed to actually accomplish 7 out of 10)!