Sunday, January 31, 2016


I buy a bag of green beans from Costco from time to time and I am always looking for different dressings to use with the cooked green beans.  I found this recipe in a cookbook by Deena Burton 'let them eat vegan'.  There are lots of great recipes in this cookbook.  I like this dressing as it includes lemon juice and dijon mustard.  You can serve the cooked beans warm or cooled with this lemon dijon dressing.   I didn't have fresh herbs but I do have dijon mustard with dill so I used that.  Dijon mustard with dill is one of my favourite mustards to add to recipes.


1 pound green or yellow wax beans, whole or cut into smaller pieces
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp agave or maple syrup
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh dill, parsley or tarragon
salt and pepper to taste


Boil a pot of salted water and add the beans.  Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until tender.  Drain and let cool.  Set aside.

In a bowl, mix the remaining dressing ingredients except for the herbs.   Some like to add the oil at the end while mixing in order to emulsify it.  Add the beans to the bowl and thoroughly mix.  Serves 4.

Adapted from 'let them eat vegan'.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


I came across an article written by Ferris Jabr in the October 15, 2013 on-line edition of Scientific American.  The article is about the importance of taking mental breaks or downtime to recharge your batteries, increase your productivity, solidify memories and enhance your creativity.  It is not just about getting enough sleep every day but it is also about taking a break from being busy, multi-tasking, concentrating for hours on end on a particular task or being subjected to constant stimulation.  It is about taking a break from the constant monitoring of emails, twitter, instragram, Facebook and texting. 

Your brain doesn't stop working; the molecules, hormones, cellular processes and all of the biological cycles keeps on going.  The article says that "during downtime, the brain also concerns itself with more mundane but equally important duties.  For decades scientists have suspected that when an animal or person is not actively learning something new, the brain consolidates recently accumulated data, memorizing the most salient information, and essentially rehearses recently learned skills, etching them into its tissue.  Most of us have observed how, after a good night’s sleep, the vocab words we struggled to remember the previous day suddenly leap into our minds or that technically challenging piano song is much easier to play.  Dozens of studies have confirmed that memory depends on sleep."

Have you ever noticed what you think about when you just let your mind wander?  It is far easier to let your mind wander when you are taking a walk, sitting at a cafe or on a park bench, travelling when you are not doing the driving, or taking a shower or a bath.  Do you replay conversations in your head, think about upcoming work or social functions, think about a recent book or article you read or just soak in your surroundings and tune in to the sights, smells and sounds of what you are experiencing.  I find that some of the best mind wandering can occur when you are taking a walk or in the shower or bath.  The time spent in the shower or bath would be briefer than a walk but it can still be impactful. 

Exercising is also another tool to use to let your mind rest.  I would venture though that not all exercising is restful as some can be competitive and your mind is working hard to strategize on how to win or meet your goals.  I have found that yoga can provide a great downtime as the room or studio is quiet and you are focussing on your breathing and the stretch you are doing.  Furthermore the inside chatter in your head stops.  You take a break from all of the rushed thinking and things you need to get done.  The last point that should be made is about allowing time for yourself to have some downtime.  

The article by Ferris Jabr reviews the impact of taking naps, vacations, incorporating more personal time into your daily life.  If you would like to read more about 
your brain and downtime, this link will provide lots more detail. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016


In my travels through the internet I come across wonderful food blog sites.  The pictures and layouts are eye catching as are the recipes.  I have posted several gluten/wheat free recipes for breads and muffins.  I decided to try this one from elana's pantry as I am familiar with her cookbooks.  The ingredient list to make this bread is not extensive and it requires both almond and coconut flour.  It does require five eggs which is more than some other loaves I have made.  The loaf is not large in size so one wants the loaf to rise while baking and also be tasty with the investment of both eggs and almond flour for the ingredients.

In making the loaf I didn't make any adjustments to the measurements for the ingredients.  I used agave instead of honey as the honey I have is solid.  I also melted the coconut oil in the microwave before adding it to the batter as I was worried about adding solid coconut oil to the batter and not having it evenly distributed.  I used a mix master to mix the ingredients using a small bowl.  The standard mix master bowl would have been too large for the size of this loaf.   I used a small non-stick loaf pan and greased it with coconut oil so that the loaf would come out easily.  I baked it for about 28 minutes at 350 degrees F using convection heat in the oven.  The loaf needs to rest for two hours in the pan and cool before turning it over to come out of the pan.  I let it cool down for an hour and that was fine.  The bread does not rise to the same height like regular gluten yeast bread.  But it is very filling I think due to the eggs.  It is not crumbly when slicing nor dry in texture.  The DH and I thought the bread tasted fine and he said it was like a banana loaf in terms of height.  One could add a mashed ripe banana to the batter and I am sure it would work.  I will store the loaf in the fridge in a plastic bag or container instead of leaving it on the counter or in the cupboard.

Batter mixed and ready to go into the loaf pan. 

The sampling has started.

Here is the recipe from elana's pantry - almond and coconut flour bread.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 1, 2016


In looking to cook more vegetarian and vegan based meals, I decided to make vegan burgers for supper tonight.  I already have a box of frozen vegetarian burgers that are good but not great and could have used those instead but decided to make burgers from scratch after reading about the perfect vegan burger on Catherine Katz's blog site  These burgers are not mushy, they don't fall apart, are chewy and are filling.  One burger with homemade oven fries was enough for me and also for the DH.  I chose to make fries instead of having a bun.  I would make these burgers again.  They require prep time as you have to first cook the farro, mushrooms and lentils if you use dry lentils.

I followed the recipe for the burgers and didn't make any substitutions.  I made four big burgers, each about the size of a quarter pounder.  You can use either canned or dry lentils which of course require cooking first.  I used dry french lentils.  The recipe for the BBQ sauce looked good and decided to make it.  I am glad I did as it adds to the flavour of the burger and it is a sauce that could be used to baste other things.  I did not add the chipotle powder nor the turmeric.  I like turmeric but that spice bottle is empty and I do need to fill it up again with turmeric.  These burgers can be grilled but I made them in the oven.  The oven temperature was set at 375 degrees F and I baked the burgers for about 45 minutes.  I basted the upside of the burger and after 25 minutes I flipped them and basted the second side.  I think they could have been baked for less time but I was also baking the fries in the oven at the same time so it was all about timing.  I have attached the link for the recipe after the photographs.

Basting burgers with the BBQ sauce.

Just out of the oven.

Oven baked homemade fries with the burger.
   Here is the link for the recipe for vegan burgers.