Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chocolat on Hallowe'en

I wrote about this new Chocolaterie in my neighbourhood back in August 2009. You can read the post here.

Today, I managed to get there for my second visit. This time I bought truffles with 72% chocolate from Venezuela and other truffles made of 66% chocolate from Mexico. They were divine!

Here is the lovely shop owner. Serving me with a smile and with a lovely French accent. Oh la la. It is Hallowe'en tonight and the shop owner has dressed like Juliette Binoche's character in the movie Chocolat. Unfortunately, you can't see the pretty dress she has underneath the cape.

Below is a display of some of the chocolate that was on offer today; much of it from Mexico and Venezuela. I like this shop because the owner checks out her chocolate sources as best she can to ensure that the cocoa does not come from cocoa plantations that promote child slave labour. After hearing about "blood chocolate" in West Africa, and becoming involved in helping widows and orphans in Kenya, I am more mindful of where I get my chocolate fix.

The little shop is eagerly awaiting the children who will be out tonight looking for their treats and are open slightly later for that purpose.

Now let me share a chocolate truffle with you for dropping by *smile. :-)))

Next time you are in Vancouver, drop by the

Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France

198 E. 21st Ave.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Break in Vegan Blogs

Hey everyone,

It's my fourth day of eating vegan today.

This is the point at which my vegan eating "coach" and encourager evaluates how I am doing so far and makes suggestions to help me. After showing her my menu for the last several days she said I am not eating enough. I can easily increase portion sizes and eat more in general of veggies and good snacks.

She also made an excellent point that I should not worry about the dairy slip I had the other day. Her point is that I've been doing without a lot more dairy over the past few days than I would normally eat and that is so true! In I week, I would generally have milk, yogurt or cottage cheese, maybe some ice cream products or cheese. Now I have none of that so indeed, I have cut waaaaaaaaay back. It took Naomi Rose to point that out for me and I thank her for it as I was feeling pretty bad about it all.

So today will be my last day of journelling what I have been eating on this vegan diet now that my new lifestyle is underway. I was only going to give this new way of eating a one week trial but I have noticed an increase in my energy levels and for the most part, I am feeling less hunger than in my regular way of eating. So I have decided to stick with the vegan eating for at least several weeks. By that time, my body will likely be so used to it that it might be hard to return to dairy and meat but we will see. My main purpose in going vegan is to improve my health. It isn't because I am against meat eating.

Even though I am not opposed to meat and dairy eating, the sad reality is that in most of the western world, the conditions for raising animals to supply meat, poultry and eggs is so disgusting that as time goes by I really have a harder and harder time to think about eating animals products. Most of the animals and chickens have been under distress before succumbing to slaughter for our food needs. I don't think that is good way to treat our animals before we eat them. I also don't think that that kind of animal distress can be good for our bodies once we consume the meat, poultry or eggs.

If I lived on a farm and could ensure everything was hormone free and stress free for the animals, I could eat in good conscience. There is also the issue of the rapidly disappearing rain forest to be able to support livestock needs. Another distressing issue for me is all the hormones and junk that animals are fed. Have you heard what they feed to pigs? I have always like pork but I have a hard time to eat when I think of what they might have eaten themselves.

Well, I'll stop there as I am certainly no expert on the rationale for going vegan. But all these things trouble me when I permit myself to think of them and also they all contribute to a poor diet devoid of the necessary nutrients I need to function properly. Now here is my menu for the day.

Porridge with cashews, figs, brown sugar and soy milk.
Half a banana
Large portion of Butternut Squash Lasagna
Snacks: 1 square of chocolate and a few small mandarin oranges.

Dinner (pictured above)
Corn, Red Potato & Onion Chowder with pureed garbanzo beans as a thickening agent. Perhaps I should have added flour to properly bind the soup but I omitted it on purpose. I added salt for seasoning and a few crumbs of falafel mix left over from the other day. I found the falafel gave it a bit of a spicy flavour which was good.
Pitta bread was the accompaniement as I have no bread/buns.
Snacks....I will likely have some cantaloupe and other fruit later. Perhaps a choco square.

This weekend I hope to make some muffins, cookies and/or banana bread Vegan style of course so that I have some snacks on hand for next week. I will also start cooking more veggies as side dishes. That way I will ensure I get a broader spectrum of greens, and nutrients etc. I may let you all know in a few weeks how things are going with me and the "vegan way".

Very soon I hope to be blogging here about some exciting projects I am hoping to move forward to aid widows and orphans in Kericho, Kenya. I hope you will come back again soon and let me know what you think when I write about them. I would dearly love to hear from you all and I hope to see you again real soon.

God bless.

Eating Can Be a Challenge

I needed some fibre today so I started off with porridge sprinkled with ground flax, a few raw cashews, dried figs, brown sugar and soy milk. It did the trick.

Lunch was a package of store bought falafel. I'm not a huge fan of falafel. I found this mixture to be somewhat salty though actually better than what I've eaten in restaurants. Due to the saltiness, I only had 3 round balls in a small bit of pita bread with alfalfa sprouts. It was quite good that way and "cut" the salty taste but I've been hungry all day.

This is the package.

This is what it looks like after mixing with water.

This is the mixture after setting for 10 minutes.

Here it is browning in a cast iron skillet with some olive oil.

Dinner ~ I have been wanting to make this Eggplant Dip for awhile. The main ingredients are eggplant, garlic and tofu.

It started off fine. This is the eggplant inserted with garlic cloves and brushed with chili peppers and olive oil.
It looks great after roasting for 40 minutes.
To get it looking like it does below was a bit of a challenge. It required scooping out the eggplant meat from the shells, adding it to a blender along with some mint leaves, some tofu and some soy milk. It kept getting stuck in my blender so that was no fun. After I finally got it looking more edible, I added some more chili flakes and lemon as suggested. I'm afraid I didn't like the taste as much as I had hoped. I found I did not like the addition of the fresh mint so next time I will leave it out.

This ended up tasting quite good however as a base in which to put chopped red onion, parsley and tomato...all wrapped up in pita bread like a donair but without meat and with out the yogurt, lol. It was rather yummy.My hunger was not satisfied today. I need to get something more filling tomorrow. I found I didn't ride the vegan wagon too well today as I had some more pomegranate sherbet purchased yesterday..the one that has milk ingredients in it. Today it wasn't as good...too all of a sudden everything seems too salty (the falafel) or too sweet. Other snacks included a cored and quartered apple, about 12 nacho chips, a Starbucks grande soy latte, 1 small half inch square of chocolate (50%) and 1/2 diced fresh cantaloupe sprinkled with fresh juice of lemon. I'm still very hungry. I think I'll have a few more nacho chips, some soy milk. I know that's probably not a good thing but I don't want to have some pasta or beans at this hour. It is really bed time.

At least I started back on my vitamins today at last and my energy level has been up. I got some real work done tonight around the house, hunger pangs and all. Whatever hunger pangs I might be feeling are time limited compared to what my friends in Kenya experience on a weekly basis.

Talk soon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vegan Experiment On Track

Today was the second day of my experimentation with vegan eating. I think it went okay for the most part. Breakfast was the final (and small) wedge of Apple Pie which I wrote about earlier this week. Lunch was a half circle of pitta bread and a small bowl of yesterday's Beany Stew. I made Butternut Squash Lasagna for dinner.

This what the filling looked like.

A close up of the autumn coloured lasagna filling.

Here is the beginning of the layering process before the noodles are added.

And a close up after the noodles are added.

I made enough lasagna for two pans. That way I would have left overs since this dish was more labour intensive than what I normally cook. Perhaps after I make it a few times it will seem less so.

This is what the lasagna looks like after it is topped with the vegan "cheesy" sauce which is really a roux or a bechemel sauce.

I topped one of the pans of lasagna with soya "Mozzarella" cheese.

The cooked lasagna with the "cheese" topping. Ready for eating.

It was good! My taste taster however, said that while it tasted good, I should have made "real" lasagna with meat. I reminded him that I could not because that wouldn't be vegan eating. He had a two large pieces at dinner and another one later for a snack.

Looks like I ended the day on an error as I had some refreshing pomegranate sherbet. Later, upon reading ingredients I learned that this sherbet contains milk! I usually read labels first, but I really thought I was fine on this one.

An earlier snack included about 8 nacho chips and 4 squares of dark chocolate (50%) at different sittings as well as a half pitta circle filled with alfalfa sprouts, a few slices of avocado and tomatoes. I didn't feel like eating more pasta when I felt a hunger pang.

My First Day Vegan

The new eating regime started Monday. It was a little hectic chopping up all the veggies for luncheon and preparing the dried beans (soaked on Sunday night) and getting it all together for a late lunch. I had risen late otherwise I would have had an early start. In between making lunch, I was replying to emails, making and receiving phone calls, doing laundry, etc.

Breakfast will usually be porridge or hot oatmeal with some cashews & dates/raisins/figs. One can eat the porridge with or without almond milk or your alternative milk of preference. But today, I had left overs of the Apple Cake I made Saturday night. If you recall, I had made a vegan version of it and though it is a dessert, it actually has very little sugar in it, probably less than I would get from the dates/raisins/figs I would put into porridge.

Lunch today consists of Beany Stew with Roasted Garlic.

Ingredients in my version:

~ reconstituted garbonzo beans, two cups
~ reconstituted fava beans, about 1.5 or two cups
~ 8 green beans chopped
~ 1 large carrot, peeled and slided
~ 8 reconstituted mushrooms chopped
~ half a red onion cleaned and diced
~ 1 can of tomato paste
~ 2/3 cups of water
~ stir in baked cloves of garlic 1 or 2 baked garlic heads as in Naomi Roses recipe
~ water as needed. Less water for stew-like consistency. I did not use canned beans so you will have to add more water than the 2/3 cup that Naomi's recipe recommends.
~ salt and pepper to taste when done.

This was absolutely delicious and filling! Actually I had a half filled blue bowl (less than in the photo) and I feel too full now that it is digesting. I also had enough for my roommate who has a huge appetite and saved some for another meal & snack.

Right now I have a wonderful aroma permeating the house as Braised Red Cabbage is cooking in the oven. Here is a sneak peak. I will cook it for several more hours to get it reduced to an almost like sauerkraut consistency. It is piping hot from the oven to be stirred and you can see the steam rising from it. I'm not actually sure what is for dinner but it will likely include this cabbage dish. I think I will have the tempeh burger and the cabbage. Tonight I will try to make some vegan lasagna to have on hand for tomorrow night and figure out how to make falafel for another day (both suggestions of the wonderful Naomi Rose.
Please drop by my other blog post for the day called Window Shopping.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Watercress, Pear, Bacon & Pecan Salad

I've been having a craving for this salad for a couple of weeks now. My plans are to start eating vegan only as of Monday, October 26, 2009, so Sunday night was my last opportunity to satisfy the meat craving for awhile.

I left the making of the salad too late. I was way too hungry when I started chopping up and frying the bacon and shallots together. I was literally shaking from low blood sugar so I didn't wait for the bacon to brown before I threw in the sliced pears and pecans. Normally I would let the bacon and shallots brown before adding in the pears and pecans.

After this mixture browned (mainly the bacon) a bit, I added a sprinkling of brown sugar and then threw in a couple of handfuls of watercress after having washed and cut off the ends. The watercress cooks down very quickly so don't let it go limp when you stir it in to the hot pan. Serve immediately after cooking and sprinkle blue cheese on top while the mixture is still piping hot.

I really enjoyed this salad. I don't know if I even made the recipe correctly, lol. It has been awhile since I've eaten this salad and some of my papers with recipes are still in boxes after the late summer move. I didn't bother to search for the recipe tonight due to the hunger I was experiencing. You can see that my photos are blurred due to the shakiness I was experiencing from low blood sugar levels. My shakes subsided after eating (and "no" the salad wasn't too sweet as I did not add very much brown sugar to it).


- sliced bacon (half package)
- diced (peeled) shallots (6-8)
- sliced pears (2)
- 8-10 pecans cut in half lengthwise
- couple tbsps. of brown sugar, or to taste
- couple handfuls of watercress rinsed and ends chopped off
- crumbled blue cheese for topping

Try the salad. I think you will love it as much as I do.
I will let you all know how my new regime goes. Keep me in your prayers.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Love Autumn

My Dogwood tree in all her glory.

Check out my slideshows of yesterday in Vancouver. I relished the small bit of blue sky in an otherwise cloudy and rainy week. Click the arrow to start the slideshows. Double click the snapshots to enlarge them and take you to the photo album. Enjoy!

And then, the unthinkable happened. It got even brighter outside. God is good.

Apple Cake

It seems I've been obsessed with food lately. Good food. I want to fill my body with healthy food and as hard as I try to eat more fruits and veggies, I just don't feel any better. I have even cut out a lot of meat protein and now use extra virgin olive oil rather than the cheaper available alternatives. I've increased the yogurt in my diet for the probiotics and try to eat leafy green veggies. I also eat sprouted grain bread and use heart healthy margarine on the rare occasions I do use margarine.

My body feels beat up and out of shape and I simply have little energy to do much about it. But I think all that is about to change. I've decided to go radical and go vegan for health reasons. In order to do that I've enlisted the help of Naomi Rose, a darling girl from England who has so generously donated her time for my benefit. I'm going to give her suggestions a try and I've already purchased most of my supplies for the week's eating suggestions.

In the meantime, I've already started to make some vegan substitutions in my diet by cutting the meat protein out almost completely and eating only veggies or legumes for dinner. I've been scouring the internet and simply cannot believe the wealth of good looking and probably good tasting vegan food out there. Looking at the photos posted by the various bloggers on the internet makes me motivated and excited to try out this new way of eating. Even if only for a time.

Today I made the Apple Cake below with some vegan substitutions. Unfortunately my photo of the pre-cooked cake isn't a good enough close up as compared to the one in the recipe link. Nonetheless it smelled divine when in the oven. Moreover, it brought back memories of childhood and chilly winter nights when I would arrive home from school. In those days we had a long walk home and it was already very dark as days are very short in winter in the far north. We would get home and how nice it was to arrive to the wonderfully wafting scents coming out of the kitchen oven. Those were joyful and innocent times.

The cake before it goes into the oven.

A close up of the Apple Cake after it has finished baking.

I can't wait to try it. I'd forgotten to cover the bottom of the pan with oil but the cake didn't stick, probably because my pan is enamel (I hope that doesn't outgas. I'd better look that up).

It was delicious! Still lots of cake left for my roommate and a snack for another day.

Here are the vegan substitutions I made "on the fly":

~ I substituted half a mashed banana for the egg
~ I used a mix of gala apples and granny smith apples as the gala were on sale
~ I substituted soy butter for regular butter.

I didn't go completely vegan with the substitutions as I used 1% milk instead of soy/almond/rice.

My guess is that using real butter would have made the sugar/cinnamon mixture a lot more caramelized but the end result of the vegan substitutions lost nothing in flavour or moistness and I must try this again some time.

Tomorrow I will be making a watercress/bacon/blue cheese salad before giving up my meat protein for awhile. Keep me in your prayers as this new way of eating will be a real radical shift for me. I'm committing to a few weeks at the outset. Enough time to see how I fare, how I feel and how I like the food.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kibet and I are Very Excited

Hello friends,

This is just a short praise report to let you know that a little boy named Kibet was able to get some medical help for his leg.

I first saw Kibet a few weeks ago in a story here . I was able to send some funds and get this little boy and his family some much needed help.

Kibet was very excited, and he could not hide his joy as my pastor friend took him sandals to keep his feet dry and clean and also a blanket to keep warm.

It brought my friends Jonah and Thomas a lot of joy to help this poor family get basic things that some of us take for granted, like doctor visit and medicine for his foot, sandals to keep feet clean and dry, a blanket to keep warm at night and a small treat of fresh oranges.

[Caption: Brother Thomas checks over the oranges for the children.]
[Caption: The children are enjoying the oranges and the blanket.][Caption: The children say goodbye to my friends .][Caption: This little girl also needs to see a doctor]

Please pray for Pastor Jonah and Brother Thomas
as they move one step at a time to help these dear ones. A few dollars can be stretched to meet more needs.

Thanks for your continued prayers.
and if you can help please click here

Library Tour

Hello friends and fellow bloggers, The weather was inclement but I decided to go for a walk to the library.  Before I did that I met up with...