World Environment Day and Homemade Hummus

I was really hoping to get this post out yesterday which was World Environment Day but I spent the evening hanging out at the beach and celebrating the day by soaking up our magnificent natural world. So I have a great excuse for this blog post being a day late.

The big topic of conversation with my friends yesterday was the effect of meat consumption on human health, the environment and, last but not least, the suffering of animals in the factory farm system.

I read an article recently that if the human population keeps growing at the rate it is, food supplies will have to increase by 70%. 70%! Imagine cutting down that many more forests to raise animals to eat? Forests which cool the planet to raise cattle whose gas when fed an unnatural diet of grains (which we are currently feeding most cattle) create methane gas that damages the ozone layer and contributes to global warming. Is it just me, or does that sound like a very sad recipe for disaster and a burning hot planet?

And beyond the environmental disaster of excessive meat consumption is the stomach turning cruelty of factory farms. There is a slaughterhouse in Toronto called Fearman’s (appropriate name) that kills 10,000 pigs a day. Every. Day. And that is only one slaughterhouse of the thousands and thousands of slaughterhouses in North America. Kind of mind boggling, isn’t it? It gets worse. I recently read another article that will not leave me. It was a slaughterhouse worker who was promised anonymity for describing life inside the slaughterhouse. He spoke of how angry the workers get at pigs when they walk onto the killing floor. The pigs are usually thirsty and hungry after a long trip with no food or water, are always terrified and often they are crying in fear. I guess the crying and vulnerability of the animals enrages a lot of the workers so the men feel that they need to abuse the pigs before they kill them. I won’t even describe the things he recounts because the actions can only be described as hell on earth for farm animals.

So my hope for World Environment Day this year is that we all think about what the animals we eat go through and want to save many of them from terror and abuse. I hope that we realize the huge toll our love of steak and bacon is taking on the planet through pollution and climate change. And I hope we all love ourselves enough to feed ourselves a health-giving plant based diet. It does our bodies good too to stay away from too much meat.

When I talk to people about these issues who eat a lot of meat and can’t imagine life without it, I never say “give up meat”. Change doesn’t have to be so black and white. The less meat we all eat the better our health is, the less animals we hurt and the healthier and cleaner our world is. Every meal that we eat beans and grains and veggies is a big step in the right direction. If every person ate, say, half the meat they are currently eating, the planet would be transformed. The transformation would be a cleaner environment, less cruelty and healthier humans. A win/win/win.

I’ll be posting lots of my favorite bean dishes and protein smoothie recipes in the next while ’cause plant based is not only amazing for us, it can be unbelievably delicious too. And to get started, here is my hummus recipe. I whip this up in my blender, serve with an herb flat bread and a big salad full of veggies and avocado and dinner is served. Yummy, healthy and cruelty-free.

Homemade Olive Hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice from 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 3 chopped black olives
  • 2 T Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt to taste

Blend all ingredients together and serve.

Beach Yoga & Energy Balls

 

The feeling of freedom I get from doing yoga and meditating in nature keeps me balanced, happy and sometimes sane.

I practice yoga in a studio over the winter but when spring hits and I can do a few Sun Salutions gazing at the Pacific Ocean and the mountain range behind it, well nothing indoors can really compare to that. Going barefoot in the sand and letting my poor little feet, usually imprisoned in some sort of high heel, sink into the cool, grains of dark sand feels better than the most luxurious spa treatment. And if you believe in earthing, it is better than the most luxurious foot treatment.

The beautiful ocean air, the sweet sound of the waves lapping the shore and my own little yoga practice on a deserted beach is my recipe for re-balancing and relaxation.

Then I like to go home, chilled out and stress free to work on some other recipes.

This week I have a raw energy ball that’s full of nutritious ingredients and easy to pack in your bag when you’re in the run. Clean eating approved and delicious, here it is:

Almond Oatmeal Energy Balls

 

  • One cup oatmeal
  • One cup almond butter
  • 2 T honey or maple syrup
  • 1 T flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together. Form into balls. Refrigerate.

 

 

Farm Fresh Greens

One of the basic philosophies of the raw food movement is that since humans evolved from primates, our most natural and health giving diet consists mainly of fruit. I love that philosophy…in theory.

Fruit is sweet and luscious and so delicious that I wholeheartedly embraced this way of eating  for the past few months. I embraced it until I noticed that I began severely lacking in energy and I kept getting sick (three times this winter compared to my usual one), and my skin wasn’t looking better, as all the raw food lessons, books and articles said it would. In fact it was looking a little worse. And I was craving protein. Even as I was studying my “Peak Performance” lesson which stated that protein was over-rated, I was severely craving protein. Something had to give. And so it did.

One day the image of a succulent, savoury piece of salmon wouldn’t leave my mind. No matter what I did or how I tried to lead my thoughts down another path, a path filled with raw carrots and bananas and mangoes, I couldn’t stop thinking about salmon. So, after much deliberation, I did what I had to do. I had to admit that the 80 -100% raw vegan life is not for me. Then I went out a bought the biggest wild salmon steak I could find. I jogged home with it, ripped my coat off, raced to the kitchen and covered my fish in lemon and capers and a thin layer of mayo. Then I proceeded to slow cook it at 180 degrees. The aroma was heavenly.

I really loved eating all of the recipes filled with sweet tropical fruit, honey and maple syrup but clearly I was consuming a bit more sugar, even if it was natural sugar, than my body could handle. So, as much as I like the ‘gorilla food’ theory there is also a theory that you should be eating food that is natural to your environment. So, if you’re living in the Yukon it would not be natural for you to be chowing down on kiwis and pineapple and if you’re living in Vancouver, eating wild salmon and greens and fruit that is indigenous to your environment would be the healthiest fare. Makes sense to me.

So, after a visit to the local farmer’s market, where I found the freshest greens and spouts I’ve tasted in a while, I have a farm fresh salad to share with you.  Enjoy.

Farm Fresh Greens

  • 1 cup fresh organic spinach or greens of your choice
  • 1 heirloom tomato
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions
  • 1/4 cup various sprouts
  • sprinkle of Manitoba Harvest hemp seeds
  • Dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mixed herbs and fresh apple (all ingredients to taste, blended together)

Nothing beats the taste of home.

Thai Prawn Curry

It’s a lazy, rainy Sunday in Vancity.

So instead of the epic walk on the beach with my dog I had planned, I’m spending the afternoon in the kitchen making something to help me feel warm, cozy and content this afternoon.

I’ve avoided making curry in the past as the ingredient list seemed way too daunting. But I finally decided to take the plunge, and creating a delicious curry was not at all as complicated as I had thought it would be. This is my own recipe (with my neighbor Cecilia’s help) and it’s pretty yummy, especially on a cold, rainy day.

Thai Prawn Curry

  • 1/2 cup prawns
  • 1/2 cup medium firm tofu
  • 1 cup Thai Kitchen full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 1 T sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup cubed onions
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 cup Thai basil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red bell peppers
  • 1 cup chunked sweet potato
  • 1 T olive oil

Toss everything in a saucepan and sautee until sweet potatoes are soft, add prawns and basil at the very end. Pile on top of rice and you’re done.

It always smelled like it was raining outside, even if it wasn’t, and you were in the only nice, dry, cosy place in the world.

J.D. Salinger

Nice Cream

I’m loving the raw food recipes I’ve been sampling as I continue with my nutrition course.

You can’t be perfect though, and sometimes I just want to leave the uber-healthy green smoothies behind and indulge in a messy, gooey, rich and delicious dessert. But a dessert that won’t make me feel unhealthy and bloated and give me a sugar rush. Well, The raw food recipes I’ve been experimenting with have got that covered too.

Let me introduce you to Nice Cream.

Nice Cream

  • 3 frozen bananas cubed
  • Splash of maple syrup
  • One T coconut cream
  • Two T raw cacao for chocolate (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries etc. for other flavours)

Blend all ingredients together and indulge in this rich, delicious ice cream-like dessert that is actually good for you!

Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette

My MSG free journey is coming along pretty well. Of course there have been a few surprises along the way. One of the surprises was the realization of just how much MSG has infiltrated our lives by being in almost every prepared product on the shelves of the grocery store. This annoying little toxin is in so many every day items that you really have to re-think almost everything that goes into your mouth. An example is that I had to toss out my minty fresh, flavour enhanced toothpaste and am now brushing my teeth with a coconut oil/baking soda mixture. Oddly enough, I’m finding that I have fresher breath with this natural cleanser. I can’t wait until my next trip to the dentist for a cleaning to see what the verdict is on my new found oral hygiene. But I digress.

What I really want to talk about is salad dressing. Do you know that it’s pretty much impossible to buy a commercial salad dressing without a liberal dose of MSG added? I’ve looked and looked and haven’t been able to find one (If anyone out there knows of one please leave the brand name in the comments section below). So, I’ve been making my own dressing at home…much like I’ve been making my own everything on this journey. The TV show Little House on the Prairie that I used to watch as a teenager has been popping into my mind as I make all of my meals from scratch in my little galley kitchen. I used to love watching the show and all of the homesteading that was just part of life back then. Oops, digressing again.

tossed salad with raspberry vinaigretteSo salad dressing! I’ve concocted what I think is a winner.

Such a winner that as I eat my delicious, wholesome salad, I wonder why I ever bought that preservative filled, MSG laden store-bought dressing in the first place.

Here it is:

Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Drizzle this over a salad of mixed greens, pecans, goat cheese and fresh raspberries for a big plate of yum!

Snowfall & Soaked Oats

Our unusually snowy Vancouver winter continues, giving me beautiful photo ops like this..

and also making me crave some good, wholesome, stick-to-your-ribs breakfasts to start the day before putting on my winter boots and trudging through the snow.

Luckily I’ve been Pinteresting and found out about soaked oats. Soaked oats are amazing! Tasty, healthy and wholesome. Top with fruit and nuts and you’ve got a hearty breakfast that will power you through the toughest Canadian winter morning.

Banana Pecan Soaked Oats

  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 T full fat yogurt
  • 2 T shredded coconut flakes

Top with Sliced banana, pecans and drizzle with pure Canadian maple syrup.

soaked oats with banana