April 29, 2010

Indian Comfort Food

The other day was really chilly; quite different from the nice spring like weather we've been having. It was a day that required warmth - a cozy blanket, comfy clothes, herbal tea to sip on, and of course comfort food. I found these two recipes in my stash of 'to make someday' and finally made them this past winter. Tuesday was the perfect day for them. Curry has that quality of warming you up, from the inside out, and it did the trick. It's just what the honey and I needed. The original recipe came from the Weight Watchers website years ago and made a few changes for sake of ease (the lentil spinach was originally a crockpot recipe). Even though they are two separate dishes, I like making them together with a side of basmati rice. Plus, then there's leftovers for lunch or dinner the following evening.

Curry-Spiced Lentils and Spinach

Serves 6
1 ½ tsp curry powder
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ginger
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cayenne
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1–19 oz can lentils, rinsed
¼ cup basmati rice
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 cups vegetable broth

Combine all ingredients in a pot and cook on medium-low heat until rice and lentils are cooked.

South Indian Curried Chickpeas
Serves 4
2 tbs shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tsp ground coriander
1/3 cup jalapeno pepper pickle juice *
2 tsb water
1 medium carrot, diced
1-19oz can chopped tomatoes
1-19oz can chickpeas, rinsed
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cumin
Chopped cilantro for topping
Plain yogurt on the side
* I use the juice that is in a can/jar of pickled jalapeno peppers

In a large skillet add carrot, tomatoes and chickpeas and cook until carrots are tender, about 10 mins. Stir in coconut, coriander, jalapeno juice, cinnamon, and cumin. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 mins. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with yogurt on the side.

April 25, 2010

Spring is Here

The warm weather ad sunshine have arrived and looks like here to stay. There is a feeling of renewal all around as I see flowers popping up, the grass becoming a luscious green, buds forming on the trees, and the birds singing their hearts out. This weekend I’ve seen quite a few magnolia trees with their pretty blooms wide open. It all puts a smile on my face. I’ve also seen lots of people in shorts and t-shirts; it’s warm, but not that warm. Easter weekend was 25°C and that was perfect was for shorts and t-shirts, but this weekend hasn’t near that and I’m happy staying in my jeans and fleece jacket. We don’t have much of a garden, some roses and bulbs out front and a few peony and bleeding hearts at the side. We have quite a few tulips popping up along the fence and in the little spot of grass we have. It makes we wonder how they got there, what crazy squirrel put them there, and once we mow the lawn, can we shear off the spent leaves with the lawn mower?

It was a nice week, keeping busy with work and finishing up things around the house – a mix of spring cleaning and finishing tasks that should have been done last fall. Picking up things like picture frames and developing pictures, picking up some groceries to munch on, doing a little painting, and hanging up curtains to freshen up a room. Also, getting our taxes done now that it’s nearing the end of April – what a relief. It’s nice to be busy, but no so busy that you need a break or are exhausted. It was the perfect amount and still feel balanced.

To finish off the week we decided to go out for dinner. We live in Hintonburg/Westboro and there are so many great restaurants; it’s often hard to decide. We made our way down Wellington and stopped at Agave. It was packed. Next, it was the Wellington Gastropub thinking it would be a nice place for dinner. Being Friday evening, it was very busy and understandably so as I’ve heard many good things about the food. We sat at the bar and ordered a few pints. I love Muskoka’s Cream Ale and my honey got the ‘guest draft’ HogsBack Vintage Lager. We’d never heard of it before, but what a nice beer. It’s from Ottawa so I’ll have to be on the lookout for it at the LCBO. The menu looked really nice, but not our cup of tea that day. Going through all these dietary changes we knew it would be a challenge finding dinner out, but nothing screamed out to me. Their soup and salads were tempting, but I wanted something substantial, and with a bit of a smaller price tag. I’ve heard their menu changes quite often so we’ll go back another time. We ended up at The Foolish Chicken. We had gone once before (my first meat meal out) and it was just as good the second time round. An added bonus of this place: many items are gluten-free. It’s a casual atmosphere and the staff is really friendly. That night there were some friends, a family, and a couple or two. You could hear the music in the background but still have a conversation without having to shout. We enjoyed their Zucchini Sticks, BBQ Chicken, TFC Club, which came with sweet potato fries. I felt so disappointed when the waitress said ‘Can I interest you in our gluten-free dessert?’ as I had no room to spare. One of these days we’ll have to go when we’re not really hungry and have dessert instead of an appetizer.



April 18, 2010

The lightbulb went off

It was a few months ago when I was reading one of the local dailies and came across an article about food myths. I was intrigued. 1) Because I like to be healthy; and 2) My health pretty much has been up and down for the last 2-3 years, mostly down. I read ‘Vegetarians are healthier: False’. I thought: ‘Yeah, whatever!’. But as I continued to read the small little blurb about some people’s bodies just can’t handle it and cannot get what it needs from a plant-based diet, it dawned on me: this may be my problem.

You see, since turning thirty a number of years ago my body started rebelling. I mean, the teenage years. While in my twenties I became lactose intolerant, followed by a wheat intolerance years later. But I learned to deal with it. Then I turned 30. My joints began hurting, my hip began causing me problems, then my shoulder, and my energy plummeted along with my mood. This past winter I finally came to the realization that my body is genetically jinxed . Don’t worry, I’m not exaggerating; well, maybe I am just a bit. I know there are people out there far worse off than me, and thinking about them helps me get out of my funk. But some days, you can’t help but think: ‘What the hell is going on?!?’.

So I began my quest. My life as a vegetarian was changing, or adapting, depending on how you want to look at it. I was taking the leap, there was no going back. I had entered the forbidden zone. Are you ready for it? I have become a closet carnivore. Yes, I have added meat to my diet. Now I’m sure vegetarians reading this are gasping and possibly disgusted, while meat-eaters are pumping their fist with a ‘YES!!’. However, it may not be permanent. I finally confessed yesterday to a friend and her husband that ‘have been experimenting with meat’. Her husband snickered a bit as it sounded like something from a confessional reality TV show; like someone’s teen coming home and telling mom and dad that they’re experimenting with pot, or a snooty friend telling you they’re experimenting with different liquors for their martinis. I must admit, it feels good to get it out. For a month or two now I’ve felt like a big fat liar. I explained to my husband that I felt like I was leading a double life. When we were with people we knew, I didn’t dare touch the meat. I knew questions would follow as would some kind of lecture. You know the one that all vegetarians have heard: ‘Humans were built to eat meat’ or ‘God wouldn’t have given us animals if he didn’t want us to eat them’ and the B.S that usually follows. I’ve spent 15 years hearing this garbage and didn’t really want deal with it, so it became my dirty little secret.

We’ll see what happens. We’ll see how my body does. We’ll see how far out of the closet I come.