Friday, 31 August 2012

When The Going Gets Tough..

Make Hummus.

Earlier today something upset me, and so I decided to make hummus. I mean, why not? It's an amazing thing, hummus.

It is versatile, easy to make, fairly cheap, does not take long, goes with several dishes.. it is kind of like peanut butter, but savory. Yes, hummus is the savory peanut butter of my life. Though, it might not go so well with jam. Or will it?

Besides all of that, it is fun to take out aggression on lemons. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to hurt the lemons, I love lemons! But hand squeezing out all of that juice is sure to build some muscles and make a girl feel good about herself. And, the smell! Oh, the smell. Doesn't the smell of fresh lemon juice just perk you right up? So while I drown my sadness in the whirring of our food processor, I begin to feel a little better.

Batch #1 of hummus is lemon garlic, with no specific recipe. I had a big bowl of chickpeas that had been soaked and boiled already and were waiting eagerly to be used up. I threw in some tahini, roughly 4-5 tbsp (it's a big batch), the juice of one lemon, garlic powder, and water. Pretty basic. I then took half of this for Batch #2 of hummus. With this batch, I will be chopping up a hot pepper, and mincing some for the top as garnish. Sounds delightful, no?

While I would have preferred to use much more fresh ingredients, our fridge is sparse. In the meantime, I look forward to using the hummus that I have made. And on Sunday I am making black bean brownies. I really hope they turn out well! I might even splurge and make them a pretty dress of icing. Because everybody deserves to feel beautiful.

Tomay-toe, Tomah-toe

Wow, I just made amazingly yummy soup. Now, I don't often do this, so consider yourself extremely fortunate. I am going to share the recipe with you. Because it is just too brilliant not to.

8 large tomatoes
olive oil
dried rosemary
garlic powder
1 avocado

First, cut all of the tomatoes in half. Lay them on a baking sheet, cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, garlic powder and rosemary. Roast until wrinkly.

Once cooled, toss the tomatoes and as much of the juices as you can gather from the pan, into the food processor with a peeled and pitted avocado. Blend well. You may want to add some water if it's too thick for you.

Dump it all into a pot and simmer until nice and toasty warm. ENJOY.  Of course, I also had a super cute assistant to help me.

Foodie PenPal Reveal

I really wasn't sure what to write today, about this lovely package sent to me a few weeks ago. It was sent to me by Stephanie,  from Toronto, ON.

My package contains a lot of goodies, including:

Sprouting Alfalfa Seeds
Miso Soup
Ebar Organic Fruit Bar
Sasha Co Buckwheat Snack

It also came with this sweet little recipe card, with a recipe for Spanish Tomato Toast on the back and a message inside:

(I apologize for the picture quality)

Stephanie writes that a good friend of hers used to work in the health food store here, close by. This bit of news was a little exciting, since we visit said health food store at least two or more times a week. In fact, it is where I made all of my purchases to my foodie penpal, including SaviSeeds! How coincidental. :)

I have to try sprouting those alfalfa seeds! And as I'm sure you can see in the picture, the Buckwheat Snack did not last. Nope, it was surprisingly delicious, and even my super (food difficult) children gobbled it up. I will be buying some in the future!

As this was only my first month, I really look forward to next months Foodie Penpal package.
If you want more information on Foodie PenPals and how you can participate, click HERE

Monday, 27 August 2012

No Doubt

Today I do not have a single doubt about my son having Aspergers. Yesterday was a very exciting day for us, and today it shows.

When his sister was playing with a piggy oven mitt that she wasn't neccessarily supposed to, he wanted a turn. "Yes, you can have a turn. But then it goes back in the drawer." I told him.

Said oven mitt is the shape of a piggys head, who's mouth opens. It is silicone. Our son picked up a magnet in the piggy's mouth and was trying to hide it so that the magnet would have been "swallowed." But his sister was peeking. "Don't look!" he said over and over again, getting louder and more frustrated by the second. She thought it was quite funny, teasing him and making a game out of watching the piggy hide the magnet. But our son, not so much! Next thing I know, he is trying to knee her and push her and there are arms flying everywhere and screams from both of them.

I hastily jumped in the middle of it, and told him that the piggy is going away now because he can not be hurting others. I had to literally wrestle it from his hand, as he kept screaming that his sister was watching and that she had a longer turn. "Yes, she did have a longer turn honey, but you were hurting her."

Me: "I can't go and live somewhere else with you grabbing and hanging from my arm."

As I walked back to the kitchen with Mr Piggy, our daughter decided it was a good idea to taunt him about it.. so he kicked her chair really hard. I picked him up, the safest way that I could (he is five, and over 40 lbs) and carried him to his bed. I layed him on his bed where he started making whimpering sound and lay still, and I wrapped him up tight in his blanket. "You can lay here until you have calmed down." I then left the room and went back to the kitchen.

When I went down a while later to check on him, he was calmly playing with his marbles as though nothing had happened. Here, he was in his element. I snuggled up beside him on the floor and wrapped my arms around him, "I love you," I said. He continued to look at his marbles. "I love you." I said again.

Him: "Mommy, I hold the black marbles up like this to look through them. See, this one is really purple, but it looks black! Then it goes in this dish."
Me: "That's really pretty. Sweetie, I love you. Do you still want me to live somewhere else?"
Him: "Look at this one!"
Me: "It's really nice Kairan. I need you to answer me though. Do you still want me to live somewhere else?"
he shakes his head no..
Him: "Do you like this one? I will share it with you."
Me: "I do like that one, but you can keep it. Do you understand why I took the piggy away?"
Him: "But I share with Daddy, so I want to share this one with you."
Me: "I know you share with Daddy, that is so generous and kind of you. Do you understand why I put the piggy away?"
Him: "Yeah. I'm putting the white ones in here" (points to a container) "and you can have this one if you want it." (the same one we spoke about earlier)
Me: "No thank you, but would you like some more containers for sorting our your marbles?"

I almost began to cry. This, THIS was his element. Sorting marbles and telling me about the different kinds. I told him which ones were my favorites, and he told me which ones were his. He never once looked at me. He never once stopped what he was doing. His tiny fingers reached into the bucket to pull a marble, his hand went up to the light infront of the window, then back down to the appropriate container. Then again. Then again. I love him so much. This was his safe activity, something that helped him to feel calm, something that he could focus on. This, was his aspergers shining through. On most days, it is barely noticeable. We'll have a situation or two where he wants a specific colour and we know, that no other colour will do. Or when his dinner has to be laid out a certain way, or the blocks have to go away in a certain order. My husband and I don't generally notice though, because that's just our son. We've come to expect it on a daily basis, so it is as natural to us as taking a drink of water when we are thirsty. But today was different. Today was an Aspergers Day, or as well call them often, a Max Day.

I can not put the video up, but if I could - I would suggest watching Parenthood Season Two Episode One. Highly recommend it, if you watch it my entire post will be clearly explained. Hopefully I can find a way to add video's that are not on youtube one day.


Yesterday was completely amazing! Spending time with compassionate friends, it was as relaxing as a vacation. The kids had fun running through pathways, playing at the park, and devouring my good friends Chocolate Chip Cheesecake. I really enjoyed dessert and the Chana Masala. The conversation was easy going but also intellectual and it was great to bounce my ideas off my friends. The sun was shining, everybody was happy, the food was killer. Vegan potlucks are MUST DO. Seriously, if you have not attended one, put it on your bucket list. Here are some snapshots just for you..

The food was incredible!

 We had an unexpected visitor. Our little friend almost climbed right up my leg! He/she had the opportunity to share our abundance of food on the "food table" (we wouldn't have stopped him/her) but it decided not to after standing up to the table and sniffing around.

Never doubt that a potluck will not be full of good conversation.

We did this same picture two years ago.

Sinful; Coffee and Left-Over Cheesecake.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Potluck In The Park

Yep, it's that time again already!

Tomorrow, we are having a potluck at the park. This time it's going to be even smaller than last time, which is pretty small. But I at least know I'll be in great company again.

My five year old son made some wicked hummus, my four year old daughter made chocolate pudding, and I'm going to make a cucumber salad. Hubby is insisting on making something too, but I told him I think we already have enough. I'm waiting in anticipation to see what he can come up with based on the foods we currently have in the house!

I've also heard whispers that there will be Indian food, Cheesecake, and GF (Gluten Free) Noodle Salad! Just thinking about all of the food is making my mouth water. I will get to enjoy a wonderful sunny day with good friends, brought together by compassion, mutual friendships, and great food. What more can a lady ask for?

I'm really looking forward to future gatherings of my earthly friends. Please, if ever you want to join us, just post in the comments with your email address and I will definately get back to you right away! You can also join my facebook page, Peace and Love Advocate: Peace & Love Advocate - Facebook

Monday, 20 August 2012

"Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas!"

Yep, seriously. Christmas has been on my mind lately. From what to buy, what to make, how to celebrate, and when the kids act like it's Christmas morning over harvesting beans from their pods. Especially since I received my foodie penpal package today! But, I can't tell you about that yet.

(a small harvest from our garden)

In my family, Christmas was fairly traditional. On Christmas Eve, I was allowed to open one gift of my parents choosing - right before bed, just to get the excitement flowing! Then first thing Christmas morning while Mom and Dad made coffee and set up a tray of cheese, cold cuts, hot relish, crackers, etc I would start on my stocking. By turning my stocking on it's end and giving a wee shake, the floor would be instantly covered with small chocolate balls scattering in all directions. Along with chocolates, there would be some scratch tickets and a few small random gifts. Then we would dig into our lazy day platter of food, our chocolates, and the rest of our gifts. Following all of that action, we made thank you and Merry Christmas calls to friends and family.

For a few years now my husband and I have kept our Christmas celebration quite similar to this, but the vegan version. This year I have been thinking it is time for a change. We often do not have much money to lavish our little angels with present after present, we do not believe in any religion so really it is odd that we celebrate at all. Change is difficult though, and I'm just not sure where to go next.

We want to have our own years end celebration, not revolving around any kind of religious organization or belief but to say thank you to nature. A much more spiritual celebration, to replace Christmas. Crazy right? Well I say why not? People make up holidays all the time! Here in Stratford we have all sorts of days for "famous" people, like Justin Bieber Day and Julia Wilkinson Day.

Of course there is no way I want my lovely children feeling left out when the seasonal holidays are over. So I've been brainstorming. Unsuccessfully. Lets hope that this blog post will help get my wheels turning!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Save Money Tip

Here is a tip for when you are totally broke, and need to make a cheap and easy meal. It involves one simple word, but is so versatile that the options are unlimited.


Soup is the most basic form of cooking. I don't care who you are, you can always make soup. You can blend up some refried beans with vegetable broth either in a food processor or blender, toss the mixture in a pot to heat it up and serve. You can blend up tomatoes with a grapefruit and spices, for a neat twist. Throw in any vegetables that need used up. Potatoes are easy to add density, either cut up or blended as well.

Today I decided to make soup for lunch. Here is what I did:

4 Small Potatoes, cut into hash brown sized pieces
2 Large Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
1 Bouillon Cube (gluten-free, vegan for us)
1/2 Small Onion, minced
1 TSP GMO-Free Miso Paste (fermented soy paste found in most grocery stores)
1 Carrot, finely chopped
1 1/2 Cups Left Over/Cooked Rice

1. Fill up a pot about 3/4 of the way with water, toss in the bouillon cube and miso paste. Boil.
2. Add the potatoes and carrots, turn the burner down to low and cover (simmer).
3. Toss in the onions and simmer until the potatoes are half cooked.
4. Add the garlic, simmer for a few minutes.
5. Put the rice in the pot and simmer until all ingredients are cooked through.

You may need to add or remove broth as the soup is cooking. I found that the left over rice we had in the fridge (about 2 cups after removing some for soup) was quite dry. Rather than toss the broth I removed from the pot, I added some to the container of rice and stuck it back in the fridge for later use.

Another idea if you find you have too much broth for your pot is to scoop it into ice cube trays and freeze it. The next time you are cooking something that needs a little more flavor such as rice or a stir fry, just pop a cube or two into the dish.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

My Gears Are Ground

I've heard a lot of my people say "you know what really grinds my gears?!" Now it's my turn. Because let me tell you, my gears have been ground!

To some people, being gluten free must seem like a new diet fad. I get that, I do. For a while I was like "how can people have a gluten intolerance? Bread and Wheat have been used for what seems like a millenia!"

Okay, but I learned. You see our son has some really nasty behaviors sometimes. And I needed to find a cause. One day I thought, well, lets look into this whole gluten thing. It was then that I discovered that gluten can cause severe behavioral reactions. Honestly, I did not even consider the physical reactions that gluten can cause in children.

Lets move on. I drew the lines with my imaginary pencil from point A (the behavior) to point B (the symptoms). So for a while we would experiment, but we weren't really sure if going gluten free was working and the towel was thrown in. That was months ago, and I realize now that we were very naive!

Months go by, and I again revisit the realm of gluten free living. I learn more about grains, and how ridiculous it is that we consume them at all. But by this point I've discarded any notion of gluten intolerance. I'm not sure why, but about a month ago I decided that we needed to try again. So I became further educated in the art of gluten-free kitchens, and plunged in with two feet.

The difference was immediate. Our son stopped having violent temper tantrums within two days. Suddenly began to eat with a bigger appetite, he is becoming much more social, complains not at all of tummy aches and headaches. When he has had an accidental gluten exposure we know right away because our son becomes very emotional, will develop a persistant dry cough, has a difficult time sleeping and for two days Mommy and Daddy are on edge never knowing when the next outburst will be.

What grinds my gears, is trying to explain this to other people! I have heard vast responses when it has been neccessary to explain our sons gluten intolerance to them.

"Oh, he'll outgrow it."
"Is there anything you can give him to counterbalance it so he can still have wheat?"
"Back in my day if a child was being bad it was a good swift kick in the ass, that solved the problem."
"That is so limiting/hard/inconvenient/etc" (for them, because they feel offended and like they can't feed him)
"I don't understand, I just don't get it." (after explaining often - not bad, but I will explain again)

First, no he probably will not. Second, I would rather remove the source of the problem rather than cover it up with a pill or a bandaid. That is like a lactose-intolerant person taking pills so they can have dairy. The food is HURTING YOU inside. Covering up the symptoms doesn't mean that the damage is not there! Also, really?! I don't even know what to say! If a child was having an asthma attack, or their face was swelling up from a peanut allergy, would a good kick in the ass solve the problem then, too?! Fine, the next time a child can't breathe due to an allergy I'll just beat it out of him. I'm sure that will do the trick.

Uhm, yes it is hard. Imagine just for a moment, how hard it must be on us, and on our son! All the foods he adores now have to be different or eliminated! It breaks our hearts, but we have to do it to protect his health and our sanity. It is difficult, it is limiting. We have to learn a whole new way of cooking, as though we've never so much as turned on the oven. It's back to basics, baby. It makes our son feel left out, isolated, jealous, sad. It is expensive. Pregnancy is hard. Should we just not do it? Bee stings are painful, do we let the bee sting us anyway because it's easier than getting away? This is a human beings health we are talking about! He is a 5 year old little boy who has been given a difficult hand of cards. There are others who have it much worse than he does. He'll survive. Again, would you give a peanut-allergy kid a peanut butter and jam sandwich because it was too hard to find the allergen-free nut butters?

Last, "I don't get it." Let me explain it to you again. Though as I have noticed, sometimes it does not matter how many times you explain something - if a person is unwilling to listen or unwilling to learn, you are wasting your time. I hope if you are gluten-curious, you take the time to educate yourself.

GLUTEN is a protien found in WHEAT.
WHEAT is what most people know as FLOUR.
FLOUR and WHEAT is in almost EVERYTHING.

Wikepedia: (edited to take out irrelevent information)
Gluten sensitivity (also gluten intolerance) is a spectrum of disorders, including celiac disease and wheat allergy, in which gluten has an adverse effect on the body. It can be defined as a non-allergic and non-autoimmune condition in which the consumption of gluten can lead to symptoms similar to those observed in celiac disease or wheat allergy (other conditions which fall under the gluten-related disorders spectrum).
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity include bloating, abdominal discomfort, pain or diarrhea, or it may present with a variety of extraintestinal symptoms including headaches and migraines, lethargy and tiredness, attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity, schizophrenia, muscular disturbances as well as bone and joint pain.[2][3][4][5]

From MayoClinic.Com
Celiac (SEE-lee-ak) disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is primarily found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye. People with celiac disease who eat foods containing gluten experience an immune reaction in their small intestines, causing damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients.
Celiac disease can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea. Eventually, the decreased absorption of nutrients (malabsorption) that occurs with celiac disease can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment.
No treatment can cure celiac disease. However, you can effectively manage celiac disease by changing your diet.

Also from
Changes to your diet to avoid gluten
To manage the disease and prevent complications, it's crucial that you avoid all foods that contain gluten, including:
  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Durum
  • Farina
  • Graham flour
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Spelt (a form of wheat)
  • Triticale
  • Wheat
Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian, who can help you plan a healthy gluten-free diet.
Once you've removed gluten from your diet, inflammation in your small intestine will begin to subside, usually within several weeks, though you may start to feel better in just a few days. Complete healing and regrowth of the villi may take several months, or as long as two to three years. Healing in the small intestine tends to occur more quickly in children than it does in adults.
If you accidentally eat a product that contains gluten, you may experience abdominal pain and diarrhea. Some people experience no signs or symptoms after eating gluten, but this doesn't mean it's not harmful. Even trace amounts of gluten in your diet can be damaging, whether or not they cause signs or symptoms.

Gluten intolerance is not a syndrome, it is not misbehaving, it is not the flu, it will not just pass by. It is a real medical problem for some people. One of those people happens to be my son. So before you brush what I tell you aside, consider how you would feel if you had a serious medical condition and I told you to slap a bandaid on it because you are over reacting. "Do you want a bandaid with that peanut butter?" Come on now, think first. It will not damage you to listen and understand.

Friday, 3 August 2012

"We Built This City.."

So this was our imaginative "craft time" today:

Don't you just love it? We used the large squares as a road, and built a city. Then, we used baby cars and trucks and animals to populate the city. Then the giant baby came and attacked!

Anyway, I've been thinking about our community a lot lately and how much I love it. For years the husband and I have been thinking about moving away from our home town. Suddenly, I don't want to leave! We are really starting to build a sense of community and home here finally. It's amazing how you can live some place for almost all of your life, and never truly get to know people, or never truly feel as though you belong.

I am so thankful to the friends and family who are making this possible. The wonderful market vendors are always understanding, helpful and very kind to our family. We have a slew of like minded people to get together with. Volunteer opportunities that speak directly to our hearts. Support. And so I leave you with two things..

So many people say things such as "I wish there was something we could do about it, but you can't fight (fill in the blank)."

Why can't we? Because of people like that. If you're willing to stand up despite any ill consequences, and you band together, you have the power to create change. It might not be 100% the change that you wanted it to be, but every step is a step forward. Even a step backwards is SOMETHING. Don't sit idly by allowing those with more money, more fame, more anything stop you and control your decisions. I have to be a little more cautious because I have children to consider. But that doesn't stop me from acting on my beliefs. Erin Brockavich was one person. Martin Luther King was one person. And be nice to your fellow people, because you never know when that ONE PERSON beside you is going to stand up, walk across the street, and demand change. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. You can. Don't give up. I will never be silent.