Saturday, December 26, 2009

Once Was Lost...

I thought I had lost our family photos for good. I had resigned myself to the fact that they had been sacrificed to the great 'Moving God'. (it also scored a spatula, soup ladle and a cork screw)

I helped my friend clean out her attic and low and behold! There were my box of photos!

This is the best of Christmas presents.

Ahhh! The Ghost of Christmas Past

There are some photos that just tug at your heart strings.

More tugs!

If Christmas is about memories, and family and counting our many blessings, this is the best! I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Some Holiday Whoo-hoo

I really love pumpkin pie, especially at Christmas. However for one person it is really not worth the effort. I also need to avoid cow's milk as much as possible. This recipe is my compromise of pleasure, time and health.

My daughter gave me ramekins and a small butane torch for Christmas last year. I have been putting them to good use. For this recipe you will need four ramekins.

Dairy Free Pumpkin Brulee

¾ cup soy milk (I use So Nice - Vanilla)
½ cup pumpkin puree (or 125 ml can)
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons Sucanat or cane sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
A pinch of ground cloves
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F
Boil 2 cups of water

Combine soy milk, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, cane sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla in blender and process until well combined. Add eggs and process until smooth. Tap the bottom of blender container against your palm and set it aside for 5 minutes or so until any bubbles settle.

Divide the mixture between the four ramekins, and put the ramekins into a metal rectangular cake pan (8x8 inches). Add boiling water to the pan bringing the level of the water to halfway up the outside of the ramekins.

Put pan into the oven and bake for 35 or 40 minutes or until the custard has set. Remove ramekins from pan and let cool on wire racks. Can be covered and put in fridge overnight.

I put a thin layer of refined sugar over top and torch it to get a traditional Brulee crust.
This can be served with vanilla yogurt, frozen yogurt, whipped cream or any ice cream type product that you like.

Whipped Green

For an extra rich dairy free whipped cream sort of topping try whipped green. It must be eaten immediately as the avocado tends to oxidize.

½ ripened avocado 1 banana
1 Tbs agave or maple syrup 1tsp vanilla extract or liqueur
¼ cup soymilk or rice milk
A little lemon juice

In a blender, add avocado, banana, vanilla and soy milk and sweetener.
Blend until smooth and creamy. Adjust amount of milk to get the consistency you want. This can be used as a dip for fruit or as a replacement for whipped cream.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fresh Spring Rolls with the Ultimate Easy Dipping Sauce


These spring rolls are my all time favourite food.  They are like salad and finger food at the same time.  I serve by putting sauce in the bottom of a bowl, and fan the spring rolls in the bowl.

8 large rice paper wrappers
8 ounce package rice vermicelli noodles or bean thread noodle, soften with boiling water and cool enough to handle
4 green onions cut in thin strips
2 carrots cut in julienne strips, lightly steamed and flash cooled
1 red pepper cut in thin julienne strips
3 Tbs fresh Thai Basil cut in thin strips
3 Tbs fresh mint leaves cut in thin strips
3 Tbs fresh cilantro leaves cut in thin strips
1 cup of lettuce cut in thin strips
8 ounces cooked shrimp cut lengthwise in half or tofu cut in thin strips or ……
Use sliced crab meat; pre-grilled chicken, smoked salmon or Spicy Dry Tofu

Prep all your veggies and ingredients in advance
Soften the paper by dipping the rice papers one at a time in a large flat bottomed dish of cool water for about 1 minute.  Hold it by one edge and let the water drain off it.  Lay on a the counter or a cutting board  and let them soften.  Re moisten if necessary.

On the side nearest you, place the meat, tofu, a small handful of noodle, the greens, carrots, pepper, herbs etc and roll the paper around the filling like a jelly roll.   Keep your mass rather long and narrow.  Be careful not to over fill.  Flip in each end and continue to roll trying to keep the roll tight around the filling.

Place on serving dish, seam side down.  To keep them from drying out, cover with waxed paper placed over the top. You can also soak a rice paper and place that on top.  Discard before serving.

Get creative. Anything that doesn’t squeal can be made into a rice wrap.  Some examples are: chicken or mock chicken salad or green salad with a yogurt/fruit dressing.  Dress the salad lightly before you roll.  Don’t have it dripping with dressing, just enough to flavour.

For dressings to dip your spring rolls into:

Mix about a ¼ cup of lightly ground Gomasio into the basic balsamic vinaigrette,
or mix equal parts of peanut sauce with the balsamic dressing.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Basic
2 parts oil to one part vinegar - If you find dressings have too much bite, add 1 tablespoon of water. 
Balsamic Vinegar is strong tasting – so add a little less than the full part
Crush 1 garlic clove and add to oil
Add 1Tbs of Dijon mustard (emulsifier)
Herbamere to taste
This is better made ahead and left to marinate a bit.

Japanese Gomasio
Rinse 1 cup of brown sesame seeds in sieve under tepid running water
Let drain
Use dry cast iron skillet –medium heat 
Cut dulse into small bits
Toast in pan until dulse is crisp
Add 1 tsp Celtic salt –ground fine
Up end sieve and dump in sesame seeds all at once
Spread over bottom of skillet and leave it to dry for a bit
Stir gently and fairly constantly (you may need to reduce heat)
This is ready when seeds are fragrant, slightly golden and hollow
Cool slightly and store in an airtight jar.
Grind about ¼ cup of the seeds using a mortar and pestle and add to the basic Balsamic Vinaigrette.  

Peanut Sauce
¼ cup of crunchy organic peanut butter
Add boiling hot water and mix, a little at a time, just until you get a smooth consistency
2 Tbs rice vinegar
2 Tbs Braggs Aminos or Tamari sauce
1 tsp or more Thai red pepper sauce
1 inch or more ginger root, pealed and grated
1 clove of garlic minced fine
Adjust flavourings to taste
(I mix this with equal parts balsamic vinaigrette)

Oriental Dressing
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup warm brown rice syrup or agave syrup
1 Tbs water
1 Tbs sesame or canola oil
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp grated ginger root
¼ tsp toasted sesame oil
A little hot stuff

Friday, November 27, 2009

Holistic Help for 'Younging' the Aging and Elderly

People often think that little improvement can be expected for people of age.  This is far from the truth.  There are however, areas of special concern for the elderly.  The first thing to consider is the effect of the accumulated toxic burden on the body.  Because entrenched toxins diminish the function and energy of our body, they can diminish our quality of life.  These toxins are often deep, layered and entrenched.

The next thing to consider is the likelihood of malnutrition, not just from a poor diet, but from the diminished absorption because of low function in the digestive system and lack of enzyme function.   Lowered energy or vitality, is often why the body will cannibalize its resources over time.  This is especially true of the glandular system, and the structural system.

In regard to the toxic burden,  Green food complex such as Greens + and Vegge Greens offers a huge broad spectrum of nutrition as well as supplying enzymes, pro-biotics, essential fatty acids and digestive tonics.  These complexes contain Phosphatidylserine, Phosphatidylinositol, and Phosphatidylcholine which feed the brain.  Drainage teas such as Esiac, Florescence and Essigen not only help to relieve the toxic burden over time, but are a good choice to protect the cells of the body from these toxins.

Essential Fatty Acids are also necessary to nourish the brain, nervous system, glandular and hormonal system.  These EFA’s are not created by the body and must come from the diet.  EFA’s help to lubricate the joints and reduce joint inflammation.  Unfortunately, when people have had their gall bladders surgically removed, they will remain unable to process any fats in the diets for their whole lifetime.  This includes the healthy and essential fats.  Taking a digestive enzyme that contains Bile Salts will be a helpful addition to emulsify fats.

Antioxidants are essential for anti aging.  Co-enzyme Q 10 has been proven to support the cardio-vascular system.  Network antioxidants such as Phytoberry work by protecting the cells in every system of the body.

In regard to nutrition, aging and fatigue of the digestive system can diminish the body’s absorption.  Good nourishment can be obtained by getting creative.  A smoothie drink that contains rice based free-form amino acids as well as Vegge Green and Phytoberry and be an amazing boost to a chronically undernourished system.  Consider investing in a juicer. Carrot or a combination of carrot, apple and beet juices can really perk up anyone and will be a creative solution for those who have trouble chewing. 

Bio Strath from Bio-force is a good choice for really nourishing and strengthening an exhausted digestive system.    There are homeopathic singles and plexes that help to enhance the body’s glandular and organ strength.  There are tonics to support and energize the vital function of the body.  Magnesium is the first choice for muscle spasms. 

Not everything that we put in our mouth benefits the body.  Minerals are especially difficult for many people to absorb.  Tissue or Cell Salts in a 6x or 12x potency are the most body-friendly way of providing mineral nutrition easily and effectively on a cellular level.  For this reason, this is something to consider for young and old.

 A zest for life is a huge factor for people of any age.  Passion is an essential ingredient for good health and long life.  There is no substitute for meaningful work, dynamic relationships and the love for learning.  This is true at any age.  Somehow we think that our elders should learn to get on without these essential aspects of life. 

I have good friends who live in a retirement community.  They asked if I would ever consider moving there.  I said to them, “Do you really want to hear what I have to say?”  I went on to say that although they had a lovely village in a wonderful location with great people but, I viewed it as an ‘Age Ghetto’.

I feel that it is unfortunate for the rest of us in society when the most experienced, skilled and resourced citizens are being segregated within a gated community where they can only minister to one another. To me this is the have giving to the have. Philosophically, I feel that an integrated community is a healthy community.  The young and the old need each other.  Since I am closer to being the later rather than the former, I hope this is true. 

I must also point out that aging and maturing are not necessarily the same thing.  Without a maturing of spirit, we unfortunately just get old.  A friend of mine once, promoted me in the nicest way.  She said “even though Nelda has lived 50 years, she hasn’t lived the same year 50 times”.  

Monday, November 23, 2009

Canine Health

Once you have known one of these creatures as a best friend, you will never be the same.

We had just adopted our border collie in April.  On the second day of September, my mom, after a lengthy decline, died.  In October our dog was diagnosed with mammary carcinoma.  We were all worn out and distraught.

I was referred to a Naturopathic vet, who refused to see my dog unless the dog was being fed real food from organic sources.  She had no time for pet owners who used manufactured food.  She believed that most of the health problems with pets were diet related. 

We followed her advice and treatment protocols, and thankfully, my Border collie remained in remission from cancer for almost 13 years until her death from old age.

Natural Dog Food

The amounts aren’t really important, as long as the consistency is ok.  Cook this up in a slow cooker on low.  Can be frozen in small batches in air tight containers.

1 lb or so of organic beef or lamb
Such as liver, kidney, ox tail, tongue, stewing beef, or hamburger
2 cups organic whole grain barley or organic brown rice
2 cups or so of organic vegetables (carrots, squash, yams)
1 or 2 cloves garlic
1 to 3 teaspoons of Dulse or Kelp sea vegetable
Add a small amount of peas or green beans
Left over (bland) roasted meat would be ok

Avoid:   tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, corn, onions, wheat, oats, salt or spices and human left-overs
Mix the food with hot water to make it stew-like, and then when it cools, add in any supplements.
One of the best supplements for dogs is called ‘The Missing Link’.  This is available from Health food Stores.  (There is also a cat formula.  In addition, Kelpmate is a great supplement for cats.  Kelp is essential for cats.)

These can be easily added to your pet’s food when it has cooled to eating temperature:
Vegge Greens (a sprinkle)
Phytoberry (a sprinkle)
Bone Meal (New Zealand source) (in the Missing Link)
Desiccated Liver (in the Missing Link)
Ground organic golden flax seed – this goo is amazing to relieve constipation for dog and human alike.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils (in the Missing Link)
A few fresh raw peas, carrot shavings or green beans, in season

Adult dogs usually do well with 1 meal a day as long as it arrives at a consistent time.

I usually provided a morning meal of yogurt or keifer.  I would add the Vegge Greens to the yogurt.

Dogs respond well to Echinacea, bee propolis and oil of oregano, homeopathic plexes and homeopathic single remedies.  Many herbs are also very effective for dogs who are feeling under the weather.

One winter morning I noticed blood in my dog’s urine.  I then noticed that her shoulder area felt hotter than usual.  Right away I gave her homeopathic Cantharis, waited 10 minutes then  I put 20 drops of a herbal kidney drainer (Common Mallow Combination #1) in a little water on a saucer for her to lap up. Keep in mind that my dog was about 40 pounds in weight.

I stared giving her a homeopathic complex called Febriplex, which helps the body work with fevers. I also put 5 drops of oil of oregano in her yogurt. After I started this program she still had one very obvious red pee, but from then from then on she was a right as rain. 
I kept up the oil of oregano for about 5 days, reducing it to about 2 drops, and kept up with the herbal remedies for about 2 weeks.

I always assume that there is something deeper out of whack for the acute situation to take hold.  After the crisis day or so I would start on a program to really clean up the urinary system.  Like humans, yeast, fungus and bacterial residues are often an underlying concern.  In this case I used a flush for the ‘plumbing’ consisting of Unda # 44 and Fungisode along with the Common Mallow Combination #1.

Just as with people, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kale - In Praise of a Humble Winter Vegetable


Many years ago, a friend brought an ‘earth-shaking’ salad to a winter pot-luck.  It was made with spinach and (I swear) a whole pound of bacon.  It was yummy, but I just couldn’t get my head around the pork and animal fat.  I took the basic idea, and over time developed my Wilted Kale Salad; what I consider to be one of my favourite winter salads. 

Kale is a little more durable than spinach.  The kale turns from a dull blue-green to a really bright, fresh green when you add the hot salad dressing. 

The first thing is to do is to create the bacon taste with out the bacon.

Japanese Gomasio

Rinse 1 cup of brown sesame seeds in sieve under tepid running water
Let drain
Use dry cast iron skillet –medium heat 
Cut dulse into small bits
Toast in pan until dulse is crisp
Add 1 tsp Celtic salt or sea salt –ground fine
Up end sieve and dump in sesame seeds all at once
Spread over bottom of skillet and leave it to dry for a bit
Stir gently and fairly constantly (you may need to reduce heat)
This is ready when seeds are fragrant, slightly golden and hollow
Cool slightly and store in an airtight jar.
Can be ground coarsely as needed, or used whole as a garnish.
Tastes like bacon and is great with vegetarian Caesar Salad or Spinach Salad

Wilted Kale Salad with Mushrooms and Red Onion
Curley Green Kale sliced fine, enough to fill a large heat proof salad bowl (cut out the large stems and veins)
Slice ¼ medium red onion in very very thin slices
Slice 2 Cups of firm white button mushrooms 

Heat 1/3 Cup of light oil in sauté pan on medium heat
Add the sliced mushrooms, sauté until you can see the mushroom just starting to exude their juice
Quickly add ¼ Cup of Balsamic vinegar and cook down for 2 minutes

Take the pan off heat and move the mushrooms to the sides
Add 1 heaping tsp of Dijon Mustard into the centre of the pan and stir well to mix  it in completely
Quickly pour the hot dressing over the kale and toss the greens fast 
The Kale will turn a bright green from the heat
Taste it and if you need to, add some additional Balsamic dressing if needed
Add the onions and toss lightly

To serve, grind Gomasio coarsely and sprinkle on top
In this way Gomasio tastes like bacon

For a salad main meal: top with cooked and cooled shrimp, crab-meat or grilled chicken, then top with the Gomasio
You can omit the Gomasio and add caramelized pecans, cashews, almonds or dried cranberries on top 

This salad can be made with spinach in just the same way, but you have to serve it right away or it gets too limp.  This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated as the Kale holds up well if it is not eaten immediately.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar - If you find dressings have too much bite, add a teaspoon of water. 
Balsamic Vinegar is strong tasting – so add a little less than the full part of the vinegar
Crush 1 garlic clove and add to oil
Add 1Tbs of Dijon mustard (emulsifier)
Herbamere/sea salt to taste
Shake or whisk like mad

Restaurants usually choose kale as a garnish, over leaf lettuce in the winter months.  I am the person who eats the garnish as kale is a plethora of essential vitamins and minerals.  Kale contains nutritients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Vitamin K, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Herbs in the Kitchen - The Simple Helpers

A well stocked kitchen should include ingredients for health as well as for taste.  An example of ‘Let Food be your Medicine’ is East Indian cooking.  Every ingredient is there for a health benefit.  The bonus is that these foods taste wonderful.

Healthy foods should balance the body temperature, discourage microbes (non paying tenants),  enhance digestion by improving glandular secretions, and increasing nutrition.

Ginger is a vastly under-rated remedy for nausea or stomach upset, especially when the digestive system is sluggish, or overloaded.  It is simple enough to add it to the hot oil when making a stir fry, or peel it and cut in slices and add hot water for tea.  One can even grate it and then squeeze it to get all the juice out of it.  This juice can be added to flavour food or add to warm water.  In the Oriental 5 Element tradition, the small intestine is in the Fire Element.  Ginger is warming to the body.

Mint is another wonderful simple that aids digestion and cools the body.  Mint can be easily used for tea in either the dried or fresh form.  I like mint in just about anything; a topping for rice or noodles, in salads, on top of vegetable dishes.  It is a summer essential for me.

Licorice, the root, not the candy, is great energy food and nourishment for the adrenals.  It can be chopped and added to hot water to make a tea.  It is also available in tincture form.  The taste is sweetish, and makes a nice tea.

Fennel is often recommended for digestion when there is bloating and gas.  Fennel too is great energy food.  Fennel seeds are made into a tea.

Something valuable, but smells awful and tastes worse, is Valerian root.  This is excellent for nourishing the nervous system and relaxing the muscles.  Whenever tension is noticed, even tension in the neck muscles or one feels ‘wound up’ and headachy, valerian is a wonderful aid.  Athletic remedies for runners and athletes often combine magnesium and valerian.  Being the wimp that I am, I usually put valerian tincture drops in an empty capsule.

Onions and garlic are wonderful for keeping us healthy during the winter.  My once had a Polish boyfriend who called garlic ‘Polish penicillin’.

Eating beets is a simple way of getting more absorbable iron in our diets.  Boil oat straw and make a tea out of the water.  This is high in absorbable  calcium and other minerals.  Nettles is a great herb to have on hand.  This makes a nice tea and is rich in iron and minerals.  Nourish the body with horsetail, comfrey leaves, and alfalfa leaves.

Any culinary herb has anti-microbial properties.  Thyme, Sage, Oregano, Summer Savory, Basil, Rosemary are great herbs to have on hand.  I grow them in pots outside my kitchen door.  Oil of Oregano was been touted as a powerful anti-microbial.  During the winter, I make a Greek salad by putting a drop or two into my salad dressing.

You should never have to compromise health for taste.  Conversely, often the best tasting meals are those made with good health in mind.

One Pot Vegetarian Rice Meal
¼ to ½ Cup Oil
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 tsp whole cumin
Sliced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic mashed
1 medium onion diced

1 large carrot diced
2 small pieces cinnamon bark
2 whole cloves
1 tsp cumin ground
1 tsp coriander ground
1 tsp turmeric or any good curry powder
¼ cup sunflower/pumpkin seeds or almonds/cashews
¼ Cup large flake coconut unsweetened or fresh coconut
2 Cups Basmati Rice (817 Elephant Brand)
3 cups water with  2 Morga Soy Cubes or vegetable stock

½ chopped fresh parsley
1 apple diced

Heat oil and add mustard seed.  When they begin to pop add cumin and fry until golden.  Add ginger, garlic, cinnamon pieces and cloves and sauté a couple minutes.  Add onion and sauté for a couple of minutes.  Add carrots and sauté a few minutes more.

Add uncooked rice and sauté stirring continually.  Add more oil if you need to.  Sauté until golden and fragrant.

Add ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, curry powder, coconut, nuts and seeds and sauté for 1 minute adding small amounts of water to prevent sticking.

Add water quickly and soy cubes stirring to dissolve cubes and bringing the water to a boil.

Add apples and parsley on top, cover and turn heat to minimum.  Cook 20 minutes.   Be careful that you don’t overcook.  The rice should be firm not mushy. 

This dish can have any ingredients you prefer.  It can be cooked in the oven in a rice cooker or stove top.

I have made this meal many times when I would swear that I hadn't any food left in the house.  Lo and behold, fast food, and healthy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Never-ending Story of ........ Soup


Many years ago I made friends with a woman who loved to cook and loved to eat.  I invited her to lunch one day.  I served the usual soup; vegetables boiled to death in water.  She said “I really appreciate you inviting me, but you know, this soup is really horrible”.

She made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  She offered to come to my house each week day with her cooking kit (makings and utensils packed in a laundry basket that filled the back of her Pinto).  For her it was a bonus to have a guaranteed healthy vegetarian lunch a stones-throw away from her work.  She would show me how she cooked vegetarian and vegan-style and make enough for the two of us.  This was my ticket to free cooking lessons and endless great lunches!   

Once the cold damp weather hits, I love to eat soup almost every day.  The Never-ending soup is about utilizing the bits that we usually throw away or end up in the compost pile.  The makings from the last batch of soup make a great starter for the next batch.  Here’s how.

Basic Vegetable Stock
1 -2 potatoes
Any good vegetable scraps, potato peels, onion skins and ends, garlic cloves and peels, celery tops and leaved, mushrooms, carrot peels and scraps, fresh parsley stems.  Do not use peppers which turn bitter, and be careful about using cauliflower, kale cabbage or broccoli as they really have a strong taste.  When I am making borscht, (beet soup) it is great to add these to the stock
Add a few bay leaves and peppercorns if you wish.

Pack a large pot with vegetable scraps and fill to ¾ full of water (3 to 4 cups).  Bring to a boil and simmer gently for about 2 hours.  I used to use a slow cooker for this.  Now I use an induction cook top.

From here, you can sauté your way to a great soup, fast.  Or you can choose this onion soup recipe which tastes better the longer it cooks.

Morga soy cubes are a vegetarian bouillon that is amazing.  It can bump the flavour of soups and sauces to restaurant quality in a minute.  I think they are the best of the best.

Onion Soup
This soup depends on starting with a strong flavourful vegetable stock.  In a pinch use: Morga Soy cubes (1 to every cup of water) and a potato.  If you make using homemade vegetable stock, you may reduce the number of soy cubes but the more flavour the better

3 Tbs of butter or oil
6-8 onions cut in crescents
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp fresh or dry thyme
¼ cup Tamari or soy sauce
½ cup sherry or 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
Salt (or 1+ Morga Soy Cube) and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot melt the butter.   Add sliced onions and garlic.  Cook these down for 40-60 minutes or until the onions begin to brown and caramelize.  Add small amounts of water to prevent scorching.

Add the thyme and cook about 3 minutes.  Take off the heat and stir in the mustard.

Add the stock, Tamari, balsamic vinegar and parsley.  Simmer for at least another hour to deepen the flavour until you get the right taste.  Watery? Add a soy cube or two.  Too strong?  Add more water.

To Serve:  grill or fry a round of bread, and float on top of soup, grate parmesan cheese on top with a sprig of parsley.  This can be served with home made croutons floating on top or on the side.

Vegetarian cooking is all about method.  It is important to build and layer flavour. The easiest way to have soup in a jiffy is to cook up a bounty of fresh vegetables when you have a windfall of them.  Divide them into meal sized portions, label and date them and store in the freezer.  In this way you can thaw them (at least enough to get them out of the container) and carry on with your prep.

Flavour Bases
Flavour bases are made in a saucepan and added to your vegetable mixture.  These bases can be either a soup or a sauce.  I can not stress again how wonderful Morga Soy Cubes are for bringing simple ingredients ‘over the top’.  Also you can intensify or dilute the flavour depending on your preference.  By using Morga Soy Cubes you have a lot of control.
Freeze broth in batch portions.  Freeze left over vegetables or the juice from straining a tin of tomatoes.  A little packet of something can be just the ticket when you’re scrambling to put together a meal.

Question:  What is the difference between a soup and a sauce?  Answer – nothing.  As long as your flavour-base is up to strength when used as a sauce over pasta, fish, vegetables or rice.

 Squash Soup
The Base
1 medium butternut squash
2 potatoes
In a large soup pot, cook the potatoes in enough water/broth to cover until well done
Steam or bake the squash and let it cool enough to handle. Peel off the skin and add to potatoes and cook until the ‘blend-able’ stage.

The Flavour
4 Tbs butter
1 onion chopped
¼ tsp nutmeg
¾ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp dried marjoram
2-3 Morga Soy Cubes/broth

In a saucepan melt the butter and add the onion.  Sauté until golden and slightly caramelized.  Add the spices and marjoram and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Have a little tablespoon of water or stock on hand in case it starts to stick and scorch. 
Add ¼ cup of water and the Morga Soy cubes.  Mash and stir until cubes are dissolved.
Add this to the potato- squash mixture and blend.

Slowly add
2 Tbs cream sherry (rose hip wine)
2 cups milk (soy, rice or coconut)
1 tsp honey if needed
Heat gently, taste and adjust the seasonings.
An Asian Flavour Variation for Squash Soup
4 Tbs butter
1 onion
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala ( East Indian Spice Mixture)
2-3 Morga Soy Cubes
¼ cup rice wine
1 cup coconut milk

In the same way heat the butter and sauté onion until golden.  Add all the dry spices and fry for 1 minute.  Add a little liquid if you see that it is going to scorch.
Add the rice wine and Soy Cubes and stir until dissolved
Add to squash/potato mixture, slowly add the milk and heat to serving
Taste and adjust seasonings.

Over the last week or so, I have made:
Tortilla Soup
Smoked Salmon Bisque
Shrimp Chowder
Beef-less Barley Soup
Tuscan Bread Soup
Chinese Mushroom Soup

Weird traditions!  
When my daughter would ask what was for supper, and I said soup, we would immediately shriek “souuuup” in unison (which rhymes with ‘whooop’). 

No matter what else is on the menu, homemade soup is an easy and economical addition.  It is nourishing, and comforting on cold damp days such as these.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Allergy-Addiction Cycle


When someone says that they’re ‘in a mood’, they may be ‘in a food’.  Eating is the action where we literally take something outside of us and bring it into the most inner part of our beings.  At the food trough, we do not often stop to consider the impact of food choices on our thoughts and emotions. 

A child can turn into a real Jekyll and Hyde
If you experience serious food cravings, the chances are that you are also allergic to these same foods.  This allergy/addiction cycle can create dramatic mood swings.

A child can turn into a real ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ when they consume such things as sugar, chocolate, milk, pop or wheat.  If behavior is an issue, take the time to consider what they have been eating in the last 24 hours.  Look for a definite ‘high and crash’ pattern.

One adult told me that they were less aggressive and felt less frustrated when they reduced the amount of meat in their diet.  Another individual claimed that although they had been feeling tired and depressed, they could think more clearly and optimistically when all refined sugar and wheat were eliminated.

Take the time to visit Health food stores and ask questions. Investigate ‘allergy free’ and ‘Organic’ groceries and products.  Take the time to interview, read and study.

Sometimes, the smallest of changes can bring us closer to balance and health.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Commit to the Inspired Life

Writers Block!  This is the worst of all possible states of being for a budding writer.  Nothing great to say, no good advice or interesting thoughts; the pressure is on, commitments to be met.  Yet I come up empty.  This is so scary.  I ask myself, ‘is this it? Am I dried up?’ 

When I started my blog I made a deal with myself.  I was only going to produce from an inspired state.  No expectations, demands or deadlines.  I would work from an inspired state, period.   

Right now I am definitely not inspired.

Most of my articles come to me at night.  I make some notes to help me remember so I can take a run at it in daylight.  Sometimes, an article writes itself, and I get up and stick with it until it is polished and ready to post.  In truth, they write themselves.  This is really great until one hits a dry spell.  Then faith and trust kick in.

This past summer I took an official holiday.  My sister moved to Prince Edward Island, 'for the adventure’ she says.  What a great opportunity for me to spend some time with her and to see more of the country. 


I hopped on a plane and I took an unheard of two whole weeks of doing nothing, other than playing with my sister’s dogs, driving around looking at surreal pink dirt, smelling sea air, and of course, critiquing places to eat. 

(Just in case you visit PEI in the future, the winner was Landmark Café, in Victoria by the Sea.)

This village was most like how I remember my mothers home village of Providence Bay on the Manitoulin Island, sans the salt.  

Most of all I was in awe of pink dirt!  

Oh yeah, and the endless seafood.  Yummmm!

When I came back home and settled in, I worked for two weeks straight.  As well as my usual client load, I was writing information packages and re-designing internal systems for my practice.  I also created a huge body of general information files for client follow up.  The keyboard was ‘smoking’.  I was inspired!  It felt like no work at all.  Ah, this is why employers pay people to go away! 

I began to ponder the inspired state.  It got me wondering if this is what our lives could be like and should be like, all the time.  As a society, we tend to be highly production oriented.  We even brag to one another about how fatigued we are while keeping up our end of the ‘Gross National Profit’.

Farmers of yesteryear followed a guideline of planting for 6 years and then letting the field go fallow for the seventh year.  This allowed the land to refresh and repair itself for another productive phase. 

I think the same good advice goes for any endeavour.  Creativity comes from that still place; the hands empty phase.  Yet it is hard to go fallow.  Unless one has complete trust and faith, the non-productive phase is hard to go though.  

The chunking out the data part of my brain seems to be on holiday. If I am true to myself, right now, I have to say that I want all aspects of my life to be ‘inspired’.  No pushing for productivity. No guilt about what I should be accomplishing.  I am giving in to the fallow-phase.  This is the playing, reading and resting phase. 

The higher part of me trusts that in a little while, I’ll be the conduit for ‘the flow of information’ again. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Natural Approach to Colds and Flu

Vaccines have certainly been a hot topic in the last 10 years or so.  Most recently, there is a really big push to vaccinate our nation in this cold and flu season. Keep in mind that fears ‘sells’.  Although it is great to be informed, what the media chooses as a spectacular issue should not necessarily be the total driving force in our own personal health choices.

There are people who for whatever reasons of their own, are very strongly opposed to vaccines.  Needless to say, I will say nothing about this subject, as this is a personal choice.  I encourage people to weigh their decisions carefully. I recommend a pro-active program this season, especially for those who are feeling more rundown or have other challenges.

Consider using a specific homeopathic ‘plex’ remedy that is used once every 2 weeks preventatively.  This alerts the body to be vigilant in regard to airborne viruses and bacteria.  This can be for adults and children alike. Many companies make plexes that are effective when working with cold, fever, flu and gripe. Most products that people choose tend to suppress the body’s functions.  Natural remedies used wisely, support the body’s efforts.

When we buy a new car, we get an owner’s manual in the glove box.  We then have some idea how to operate and maintain the equipment.  When we have a baby, guess what?  No owner’s manual!   

Take the time to become familiar with single remedies for home use.  The best home-care-on-hand manuals that I know are:

Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines
By Stephen Cummings, M.D. & Dana Ullman, M.P.H.

Homeopathic Medicines at Home
By Maesimund B Panos M.D. & Jane Heimlich

Together they are a great cross reference.  I would not like to try and raise a child without these.  Overall my advice is research, research research!
Consider boosting the body’s immunity and energy at this time.  Royal Jelly is a good addition for those additional B Vitamins at times of stress as well as a good Ester C complex.  Energy tonics that support the adrenal glands are really helpful for those times when we feel run down or stretched in a dozen directions.  During the fall and winter, our bodies are stressed just trying to stay warm.  Again it is easier to prevent the common cold by supporting the body.

It is helpful to keep up on pro-biotics such as acidophilus.  This helps to keep pathogenic and toxic bacteria in check.  Flora markets an oral probiotics called ‘Udo’s Super 5, which is great to suck on.  This helps to balance bacteria in the throat, esophagus and stomach. 

Echinacea works very well to support the body’s fight factor.  The golden rule is to take it every hour or so until symptoms abate, and then back off gradually.  You have a 14 day window where Echinacea is effective. (period)  Pay attention.  If your symptoms get worse by using this herb, stop using it.

Oil of Oregano is a wonderful remedy to discourage bacterial growth.  I often open a slippery elm capsule and add a couple drops of oil.  I take this with food and it doesn’t tend to repeat or irritate my stomach. 

Fall is when the food quality tends to deteriorate.  I recommend Vegge Greens which is an alkaline ash whole food concentrate, as well as Phytoberry antioxidant to protect and support all the tissues and systems of the body.

For further research I recommend the articles:
  • Bio-chemical Individuality 
  • Increasing Immunity

    Saturday, October 10, 2009

    Scary But True

    I have been struggling over the title for this blog.  Perhaps it should be called ‘N’er Wax Flippant among Thespians’.  This is a true story.

    One day in July, my daughter asked me what I wanted to dress up as for Halloween.  Given that I was distracted, and given that it was JULY, I very flippantly answered “Marilyn Monroe”.  Well, that was it.  My theatre designer daughter was off like a greyhound chasing a rubber rabbit.  When she arrived home with a blonde bombshell wig within the week, I knew I was in for trouble.

    C was busy creating costumes for herself and several others as well; I was hoping she would forget about me.  But oh no, I was lined up for fitting and subject to endless discussions about make up and nail enamel colour.  I think she settled on a colour called ‘red blooded’.  She was obsessed about the state of my fingernails and their growth rate for 3 months.

    On the eve in question, I was subjected to the make up ordeal.  It took forever.  Then C did her own makeup, which took a Japanese forever.  Finally it was almost midnight and we were dressed to kill!  Nobody I knew was going to believe this. 

    I phoned my neighbours ‘the Great Scotts; who had obviously been woken up by my call.  I said “I need to come over right now.  I have to show you something”.   

    The Ms. Scott said “Right now?” 

    I said “Yes, right now”. 

    Thank goodness they were welcoming and generously manned the camera, or you would not believe me.

    So once the neighbours were appropriately wowed, we were off to the party.  We were stopped within a block of our destination by the local constableatory, doing a ‘ride check’. 
    “Hello Ladies” he says as he peers into the car.  “Are you going someplace special tonight?” 

    Now between the mink jacket, the platinum wig and the makeup that is trowel thick, I have to wonder at the question.  Not to mention the other sex icon in the seat beside me. What’s a girl to do?  So with my breathiest, ‘Mr. President’ voice I can manage I say,

    “Yes Officer”.  I threw in a couple of pats of the hair for effect.

    “Have you been drinking tonight?” 

    What?  Who can be thinking of drinking?  I am not only having an altered consciousness moment, I’m having an altered personality moment!  Ok, Nel, breathe, stay in character.  No one is arrested for wearing a wig. 

    I answer a breathy “No Officer”.  ‘Pat' 'pat’.

    “Well you Ladies have a good time”.

    “We sure will”, says C enthusiastically from the passenger seat, without a trace of accent.

    So I have to say it was an odd night.  I usually tend to run mostly invisible.  I noticed men’s eyes light up at the sight of me.  They wanted a conversation.  It was so weird.

    C won first prize for her costume.  (An insulated duffle bag for cans of beer)  She doesn’t drink beer ever, and it was really odd altogether to see her carry it around.

    We have a group shot of the costumes C did. 

    What you can't see here is that Cerunus (guy with the antlers) is wearing fake-fur trousers that totally cover over his shoes.  There was a little strategic pocket built in them so he could stash some money.  This was a riot when he bought us all a coffee at the local Tim's.

    The blue fairy in the middle is wearing huge beautiful sheer blue wings. She was a server and got wedged by the wings in the passage way leading to the kitchen. No one could go in or out for a few minutes.  (C later lent the wings to a professional photographer for a photo shoot.)

    So I have learned my lesson.  Never be flippant around Thespians. They take your literally!