Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Weekend Homemaker

I found my dairy-wheat-sugar-egg free cleanse extremely helpful in getting my diet re-calibrated. Even though I feel like I eat pretty healthily in general, completing the cleanse helped me to realize several things:

* I eat way too much sugar (as an additive in other products)
* My grain to vegetable ratios are way off
* I wasn't eating 5-10 vegetables a day even though I thought I was

Most significantly, however, the cleanse showed me that it is not realistic for me to eat a diary-wheat-sugar-egg free diet all the time. Eliminating these foods from my diet, in combination with my desire to eat real food and eat locally, made food planning and preparation extremely time consuming.

In other words, I am very happy to be back in my weekend cooking mode!

My food box arrived last Thursday and I spent the weekend cooking; preparing enough meals to last me for the next two weeks (although I will probably need a few additions to avoid maltime boredom)!

My very wintery looking food box.

My box contained pears, apples, oranges, romaine lettuce, collard greens, onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic and a lemon.

I started off my weekend with a lovely salad of lettuce, dried figs, pine nuts and a homemade honey balsamic dressing. This salad is even better with spinach and some chopped mint, but you've gotta work with what you've got! I ate this along side some sunflower bread spread with local goat chevre.

On Saturday, I made chicken noodle soup from scratch. I had made some homemade chicken stock from a roast chicken the previous week and decided to go whole hog (or whole chicken, as the case may be) and make my own noodles as well.

Mmmm. Cooking from scratch is SO worth the effort. I am usually not a fan of chunky soups, but this soup is delicious and definitely the best chicken noodle soup I have ever eaten! And, in total, I will get 14 meals out of my $24 local chicken. At $1.71 per meal, eating local, pasture-raised chickens doesn't seem so extravagant!

I had never seen or eaten collard greens before they arrived in my food box this past week. I wasn't sure how I would like them and thought they might end up on my "never send" list, but after I boiled and sautéed them, they were actually pretty good.

I ate these greens along with Red Lentil Dahl and rice, which I did not take a picture of. Dahl is tasty, but not particularly photogenic.

Lastly, I made Baked Pear-Apple Sauce. I will use this throughout the week in my morning muesli, a favourite discovery from my cleanse!

I still have the carrots, parsnips, potatoes and garlic to deal with and I am looking forward to roasting them up this coming weekend, perhaps along with another roast chicken!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 15 - Chocolate, Chocolate!

I finished my two week cleanse on Sunday. Yay! I was not completely sugar-free, but I think I did pretty well over all. I am planning on continuing to keep my diet low in sugar, wheat and eggs for the rest of the month.

Except for one wee little thing . . .


I had been thinking about making a sweet Valentine treat since my cleanse began. First, I was going to make Chocolate Sugar Cookies but, I couldn't quite handle the thought of royal icing.

Then, I decided to make White and Dark Hearted Brownies and set out to Michael's to find a tiny heart shaped cookie cutter. However, when I arrived at the store, all I could find was flowers, bunnies and eggs. No good.

Who knew that Valentine's treats required so much advanced preparation?

In the end, I decided on my old standby, cupcakes. Sweet, chocolaty and loved by all.

Chocolate, Chocolate Baby Cakes, mmm.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Days 9 through 12 - West Coast Muesli

Despite my lack of posting, I have been continue on fairly well with my cleanse. I have not eaten the following items in the past 12 days:

- diary
- wheat
- eggs
- coffee
- and very little refined sugar (only what's in my soy milk and daily handful of chocolate chips)

In fact, I have not had coffee for the past 14 days so that part of my cleanse is done. Yay!

In the past week I have eaten:

* West Coast Muesli (recipe below)
* Green Tea
* Dried apricots stuffed with cocoa nibs
* Borsht
* Red Onion Soup with Almond-Flax Crackers
* Apples
* Tortilla chips with salsa

Just two days and plenty of yummy ideas to go!

West Coast Muesli


1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup pear sauce (I used this recipe, but replaced sugar with honey and vanilla with cinnamon and purred the final product)
3/4 cup soy milk
small handful chopped hazelnuts
small handful dried cranberries
1 tablespoon hemp hearts or flax seeds

Stir well and refrigerate in sealed container overnight. Eat!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 8 - Almond-Flax Crackers

My cleanse is getting easier. I am pretty much over the coffee withdrawal and I feel like I could live without it now. Although, I don't want to.

Today I ate:

West Coast Muesli
Green Tea

Almond-Flax crackers (recipe below), carrots and broccoli with yam hummus

Sweets and Beets (Yam and beet chips)

Chocolate chips

Almond-Flax Crackers (based on this recipe from Elana's Pantry)


1.5 cups almond meal
.5 cups flax meal
.5 teaspoon chopped rosemary
.25 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water

Mix until combine and pat into a round disk. Place disk between two sheets of parchment paper. Carefully roll to 1/8 inch thick. Remove top piece of parchment paper and slide second piece and dough onto cookie sheet. Score dough into rectangles or squares.

Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Cool crackers on baking sheet before separating and eating.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I don't believed that I've ever mentioned, on this blog, that I am a quilter.

Or that I was.

And am trying to be, again.

I started quilting when living in northern Canada in 2000. It was cold! I needed an indoor craft activity!

I became a quilting enthusiast pretty quickly and carried on until 2004 or so, when I went to graduate school. I had a variety of grand plans to pick up this hobby again when I graduated in 2007, but it has taken me almost 4 years to get to that point. Graduate school recovery is intense!

The last quilt I made was in the summer of 2004 and now, six and a half years later (!) I am getting started again. With a vengeance. I currently have 4 projects on the go. Yikes!

Two of the projects are fairly small and well underway. I may blog about them when they are done. The two other projects are the result of a monthly block club I have joined. The group is called "Yours, Mine and Ours", and we will each be making 2 star blocks a month, one for ourselves and one for a charity quilt. We started January off with the Ohio Star.

I will be using my stars to complete a quilt that I started way back in *gulp* 2001. I have a large broken star that is surrounded by sashing and a pinwheel border that will be the centre block of a queen sized quilt.

Can you believe that this has been sitting in my closet for 10 years?

I had always intended to do a sampler border, but did not wants stars (how boring, I'd thought) and couldn't figure out what else to do. But now, having started the block of the month club (where we will only sew stars), I see that they will be perfect.

I am not sure if the fabric will be perfect though. I like it, but I think my taste has matured a bit since 2001. Oh well.

My Ohio Star

For the charity quilt, we could pick whatever materials we wanted - all new and perfectly coordinated or just a scrappy mishmash. I decided to take the middle road and shopped from my own fabric supply to find a stack of blues and whites.

I love how this colour combination turned out. There is nothing more classic than blue and white. I really want to keep this block for myself. But, I won't.

My charity Ohio Star

I am looking forward to finding out what we will be making for February and, in the meantime, I have my other two projects to keep me busy. It's good to be back!

Fresh Poppy Design

Day 7

One week of my Free and Frugal February done! I can't wait to drink coffee again and am already planning my first trip to a cafe next weekend (my coffee fast ends on Saturday). But, aside from coffee and dairy, I think I may stay (mostly) sugar, egg and wheat free for the rest of the month. I don't feel any different than I did a week ago, but I am definitely eating more vegetables and less bread/pasta, a goal of mine.

Today I ate:

Green Tea


Unsweetened Vanilla Rooibos Tea Latte

Kale chips are stinky, but provide a delicious salty hit when required.

Veggies, almond crackers and Lemon Cashew Dip
Coconut Rice Pudding
Chocolate Chips (oops!)
Herbal tea with honey

Bottom Line: I ate a lot of rice today!

Day 6 - Coconut Rice Pudding

After a week of Wasa bread, I now have some ingredients to make my Free and Frugal February a little bit more interesting.

Today I ate:

Oatmeal with maple syrup
Green Tea

Broccoli, carrots and rice crackers with Lemon Cashew Dip

Salt and Vingar Kale Chips

Salad of lettuce, sunflower sprouts, shredded carrots, shredded beets and smoked honey salmon. Homemade dressing.
Coconut Rice Pudding (recipe below)

Coconut Rice Pudding

I adapted this recipe from a "Mango Rice Pudding" I learned at a Thai cooking class with Chef Heidi Fink. This recipe combines some traditional English rice pudding elements with some Thai cooking ingredients.


1.5 cups Sweet Thai Rice (can be found in traditional Thai or Chinese grocery stores)
2 oz Unrefined Palm Sugar (can be found in traditional Thai or Chinese grocery stores)
1 can Coconut Milk
1/2 cup Soy Milk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 pinch Nutmeg
1 pinch Cloves
1 pinch Cardamom


(1) Soak rice in water for at least 3 hours (or overnight) before cooking. Drain.

(2) Steam rice in a bamboo basket or in a steaming basket covered with cheesecloth. Sweet rice should not be submerged in water. Steam, covered, for 40 minutes.

(3) As rice is steaming, combine remaining ingredients in a medium sized pot and combine over medium heat. Once coconut cream and sugar has melted, turn off heat. (Note: you can break up the palm sugar using a hammer or shred it, as I did, on a grater).

(4) When rice has finished steaming, scoop it into the sweet coconut mixture. Stir to combine and allow to sit, covered, for 5 -10 minutes.

(5) Enjoy! This dish is best when eaten immediately, but can be reheated.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 5 - Lemon Cashew Dip

I have been on my cleanse for 5 days and coffee free for 7 days. I cannot believe it. I don't think I have spent more than two consecutive days coffee free since I started grad school in 2004.

Although, I have done cleanses before so that might be a lie.

I've probably just
blocked it out.

In any case, my organic food box arrived yesterday and I picked up a few additional supplies today, so week two of my cleanse is bound to be a bit more interesting than week one.

Today I Ate:

Green Tea

Apple Parsnip Soup
Rye Wasa bread topped with peanut butter and honey (yum!)

Unsweetened, Soy-Milk, Tea Latte (my first trip to "the big green star" in a week, and it was good)
Dried apricots and cashews

Rice crackers with Lemon Cashew Dip (see recipe below)
Salad (lettuce, beets, carrots, sunflower sprouts and hot-smoked honey salmon) with homemade dressing
Blackberry tea with honey
A handful of Chocolate chips (I can't seem to let go of this)

Bottom line: I am feeling pretty good about the cleanse today. I ate well and have more plans for the weekend.

I spent some money, but on necessities only.

Lemon Cashew Dip (Adapted from this recipe by Dreena Burton)

(1) Soak 1.5 cups of raw cashews in water overnight (covered, in the fridge).
(2) After soaking, place cashews in blender and add the rind and juice of one lemon, a scant 1/4 cup of water, salt to taste and pepper to taste.
(3) Puree for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the side of the blender as needed. Add more water 1 teaspoon at a time if required to achieve desired consistency.
(4) Serve with veggies and crackers or spread on bread.
(5) Enjoy!

Lemon Cashew Dip

Lemon Cashew Dip on Wasa Bread with Smoked Salmon

Days 2 through 4 - Roasted Greek Potatoes

Well, I am still sticking to my wheat, sugar, dairy, egg free plan. I have not been caffeine free . . . I just can't do it. But, I haven't had any coffee and have only been drinking tea, which is much lower in caffeine than my usual espresso-based beverages.

I REALLY miss coffee.

Days 2 and 3 were very much like day 1 diet-wise. A few changes in soups and nut butters were about all I altered.

On Day 4 I ate:

Green Tea

Rye Wasa Bread with Yam Hummus
Strawberry Apple Sauce

Mixed pecans, rasins, dates, dried apricots and cacao nibs
Tortilla Chips

Small Beef Tenderloin Steak
Greek Roasted Potatoes (See recipe below)
Blackberry tea with honey and lemon
A handful of chocolate chips (Ok, perhaps my sugar quota has not been perfect either!)

Bottom line: I really, really miss coffee. Aside from that, the cleanse hasn't been too difficult, but I am not yet sure if it is worth it.

I still haven't spent a cent!

Greek Roasted Potatoes

(1) Peel and chop potatoes into large chunks (using as many potatoes as you would like).
(2) Boil potatoes in salted water until they are soft (about 15-20 minutes).
(3) Toss boiled potatoes with Lemon Oil and Olive Oil (or olive oil and the juice of a lemon), salt, pepper and oregano.
(4) Spread potatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet in bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes (flipping halfway through). If potatoes are not light brown and crispy by this time, broil for 5 additional minutes (watch carefully!).
(5) Eat!