Monthly Archives: June 2012

Recipe: Feisty Fried Cumin Hummus

There is nothing like a quiet weekend at home.

Lost time is never found again.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Howdy fine blogging readers and buds!

The weekend is soon upon us (yay!) and we are looking forward to spending a quiet weekend here at home. The teenager is gone on a camping trip, and the little one is done school for the year. Time to stop. And enjoy.

Sometimes nothing beats the promise of a few days around the house, enjoying the hard work it takes to make your house a true home.

I’ve shared with you all about my recent attempts to free up some space and remove a portion of mental clutter by clearing out closet space, or the basement, or just our minds. This weekend I am looking forward to seizing the opportunity to enjoy that extra space.

I can feel the relaxation already…can you? πŸ˜‰

Today I am excited to share with you quite possibly the best hummus I have ever had – yup, it’s that good.

Now, if you like cumin, this recipe will seriously hit the spot. If you don’t (or just aren’t sure), this is almost guaranteed to turn you onto it (IMO). It’s that seriously serious about it’s flavor. And it’s just that feisty too.

Packed with the goodness and flavor punch of fresh lemon, garlic, and parsley, this intensely flavorful dip will have you wondering how you ever made it any other way!

I find the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.

~ Thomas Jefferson

The Less:

Less over salted processed dips means less bad sodium without sacrificing taste. Less high cost and high fat snack foods means less guilt and more enjoyment. Less repetition in your recipes means there is always something new, so you can re-work the classics to be fresh every time.

The More:

More intensity in flavorings means more satisfaction from fewer bites. More freshly made snack foods means more healthy ways to get cooking. More pure clean ingredients means more accessible nutrition, so your body can make quick work of every morsel.

Feisty Fried Cumin Hummus:

~ Recipe can easily be halved for a single serving

  • (2.5) tsp cumin seeds
  • (2) tbsp olive oil
  • (4) cups cooked chickpeas (2 398ml can if using canned)
  • (4) tbsp sesame tahini
  • (6-8) tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • (2) medium cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • (2) tsp good sea salt
  • (1/2) cup good olive oil
  • (1/2) cup fresh parsley (not packed)
  • up to (1/2) cup of cold water

Ready to make delicious?

Start with the cumin seeds and 2 tbsp. of olive oil. In a medium frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat until hot. Add the cumin seeds whole and cook, stirring pretty much constantly, for 1 minute. The seeds should turn a dark brown and become beautifully fragrant – just be careful not to burn them!

It is best to stay fully present (as in, in the moment, hard sometimes) while doing this step, or you could end up with a smoke-filled kitchen (unless you like that sort of thing).

Remove the seeds to a bowl and allow the hot oil from the pan to follow. Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, combine 2 teaspoons of the cumin seeds with all the remaining ingredients except the water – reserving the last half teaspoon or so of seeds for garnish. Blend on high until well mixed and smooth (and crazy good).

If using a blender, add the additional water as the blender runs and agitate the mixture with a spatula (careful of those blades!). Use only enough water to get the mixture churning nicely and to facilitate better blending.

For those using a food processor, feel free to add enough water to reach desired consistency.

Taste to adjust seasonings and remove into a container or serving dish. This hummus is best served a little colder or after sitting in the fridge for (just a little) while.

Before serving or storing, garnish the top with the remaining fried seeds and a nice splash or drizzle of additional oil.

Perfection!

I actually think this is my favorite hummus version ever.

It is full of protein, calcium, and loaded with healthy fats and fresh ingredients. Keep this stored in your fridge for up to a week and use it as you wish .

On fresh crusty bread, crackers, or with any fresh crisp vegetable.

Teachers open the door – you enter by yourself.

~ Chinese Proverb

There is nothing as wonderful as a fresh bowl of crunchy romaine hearts.

Ready to scoop up your favorite dip.

Summer time calls for easy living. With ovens off and back doors flung wide open.

Grab a few fixings and head outside. This weekend I’ll be enjoying this house I call a home.

I’ll be digging into this delicious dip right here. All alone. And I can’t wait.

I make like I like alone time, but guaranteed it won’t last long.

Whether filled with friends or family, this house always seems full. Full of energy, full of good folk, and (thankfully) full of good food. Not too much though……just enough. I am a lucky girl.

There is more to life than increasing its speed.

~ Ghandi

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.

~ Aesop

The first hummus recipe I ever posted here at IPOM was (just a little) bad-ass, but add this super feisty version and I wonder kind of match we’ll have on our hands?

  • What’s your favorite hummus version?
  • How are you spending your upcoming weekend?

Let us know readers! It is always such a pleasure to hear from you all πŸ™‚

I’ll be doing some major blogging catch up this weekend as I relax on my couch, and I can’t wait!

Yours in Less,

79 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Summer Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

It’s going to be a great summer!

Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.

~ Zig Ziglar

Holla friends and readers!

I’m back in action after a tremendous few days. I mentioned in my last post that I might be (just a little) absent here in the blog world while I tackle a fairly big project.

I am happy to report it was (for me anyway) as successful as I ever could have hoped, and it is great to be back here – I am looking forward to catching up with you all!

On Saturday, Not So Fast hosted its first ever faster sponsored cooking class for youth.

You may have read here, about Not So Fast and the food support we offer through ‘living with less’. If you are new to IPOM, I would be honored to introduce you to Not So Fast here.

As a result of Chris & Carla’s amazing effort and contribution to our cause, we gathered with 10 enthusiastic youth to cook a nutritious meal together (yup it included lentils & barley!).

We not only cooked food for the kids to take home, but we also cooked enough food for the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner to feed 40 people!

It was a giant challenge (I love a giant challenge), and with the help of some super amazing people, we prepared a (rather tasty) menu that embodied the simple philosophy of the recipes found here at IPOM.

It was nothing short of amazing.

Today I’ll share with you the fantastic dessert we prepared for the evening. This is a classic summer dessert in every sense of the word. Stay tuned for more from the weekend, but for now, let’s talk (just a little) summer dessert!

Love is the absence of judgment.

~ Dalai Lama

First, the rhubarb.

This locally abundant (here in BC) spring & summer treat has earlier been featured in these yummy dessert bars, but there is nothing as classic as pairing them with another classic.

Strawberries. Local strawberries. The truest sign of summer if there ever was one.

Local strawberries flood me with memories of garden patches covered in green mesh to keep the birds out. Fortunately little hands (mine) were always wily enough to push around the mesh to find the little red gems under the white blossomed strawberry plants (don’t tell).

This recipe is not for those who are shy in front of sugar (or butter or flour), but I am quite confident my vegan and gluten-free readers have more than an ample supply of tricks up their sleeves to make this combo shine with any sub or clever replacement.

After all, everyone should enjoy this classic combo, right?

The Less:

Less ingredients in baked treats make quick work for the chef. Less store-bought summer pastries means more goodness for far less cost. Less heavy, crumbly topping means more flavor for less portion size, so enjoyment needn’t come at a heavy cost.

The More:

More real, straight up ingredients means simple purity in taste and method. More fresh local summer fruits means more of the classic tastes like we remember. More flavor, sweetness, and balance, means your guests will go for seconds, so making this for a gathering means you’re guaranteed to be a star.

Summer Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp:

~ Adapted from Canadian Living

  • (3) cups chopped fresh strawberries
  • (3) cups chopped fresh rhubarb stalks
  • (3/4) cup granulated sugar (you can also use brown, feel free to reduce to 1/2 cup if you prefer)
  • (2) tbsp white or whole wheat flour

Topping:

  • (1) cup white or whole wheat flour
  • (1/2) cup slow oats
  • (3/4) cup brown sugar
  • (1/3) cup cold butter, cut into pieces
  • pinch each cinnamon and salt

Start by buying the freshest fruits you can. Rhubarb can be bought several days ahead for this, but fresh strawberries are the best, especially if they are locally grown.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Wash your fruits and cut them into (somewhat) uniform sizes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of flour and mix all with your hands gently.

In a separate bowl, toss together the flour, brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon and salt. Add the cold butter and cut the mixture with a pastry cutter, or your hands (like yours truly does).

Grease well an 8 inch square pan. Spread the fruit mixture evenly to cover the bottom, then top with the crumble topping and press together lightly to ensure it is even.

Bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until the topping is fragrant and golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving. Serve as is, with tart plain thick yoghurt, or vanilla ice cream.

Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.

~ Norman Vincent Peale

My heart is full lately. It’s full of the promise that summer might just come. It’s full of the warmth of the community I am proud to be a part of.

It’s full knowing that the classics never go out of style, and easy comforting summer memories are easily at hand with just a few simple steps.

Everyone who got where he is has had to begin where he was.

– Robert Louis Stevenson

It’s safe to say this was a giant hit at the dinner. The kids didn’t cook this one, but the volunteers who make it all happen all year-long sure enjoyed it.

I’ll share the simple menu we prepared together in an upcoming post, after I catch my breath and finish the last few bites of this delicious crumble πŸ™‚

Yes, my heart is full. Full with gratitude for all who took part and contributed their time and talents to pulling this together. You know who you all are!

Carly prepares to cap off the crumbles…

Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

~ Dalai Lama

Enjoy this delicious version of a summer classic. As the days are now (hopefully) as long as our smiles, the time is now to revel in the goodness of fresh local foods.

I am looking forward to catching up with you all, I hope you are all fabulous!

  • What is your favorite summer fruit dessert?
  • Are you reveling in the glory of local berries?

Do tell as I am sure there are more than a few berry lovers out there!

My humblest thanks for reading (as always) – stay tuned for more from this weekend, and here’s to the official start of the summer season!

Yours in Less,

61 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Desserts, Fasting, Food, Not So Fast, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegetarian

Recipe: Hearty French Lentils

More Hearty. More Simple. More Good.

It’s really that easy.

But is it? I am telling you this girl thinks so!

In the midst of a busy life, many of us can too easily succumb to feelings of pressure ( I know I can).

Pressure to perform. Pressure to please. Pressure to be who we want to be. Maybe even pressure to be what we think others want us to be. Staying cool and calm amongst all these pressures can be tough. But it’s the only way to win (in my very humble opinion).

Staying grounded starts with good nutrition. If we are fed well, our brains work and our bodies work. We can see things for what they really are.

We are all alike, on the inside.

~ Mark Twain

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Being well fed need not be complicated.

Mixing together compatible ingredients that taste great, feed our bodies, and can be pulled together easily with (just a little) know how, is really all it takes.

The trick is to just keep it real . This recipe is the perfect start.

French lentils make beautiful firm mouthfuls out of this dish, but any green or brown lentil will do, though cooking time will vary.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

~ Henry David Thoreau

The Less:

Less pressure to be fancy means more simple hearty foods. Less hard to find ingredients means more easily at hand meals. Less cooked, canned, and processed protein means good fuel is cheaper, cleaner, and more healthful. And when it’s this easy to cook, why not?

The More:

More hearty warm comfort food means more comfort for the soul. More easy ways to fill up means more reasons to make it habit. More simple herbs and spices means creating variety is easy, so making delicious out of (just a little) quickly becomes second nature.

Hearty French Lentils:

  • (2) tbsp good olive oil
  • (1) large onion, chopped medium (2 cups chopped)
  • (1 – 1.5) tsp salt, or to taste
  • (2) tsp ground cumin
  • (3-4) carrots, peeled and cubed
  • (2)Β  Tbsp garlic, minced (about 3-4 good-sized cloves)
  • (3) bay leaves
  • (2) tbsp tomato paste
  • (1) cup Puy or French lentils
  • (3-4) cups water (I used 3)

Start by putting up the olive oil to heat in a medium pot on medium high. When hot, add the chopped onion and salt, and cook, stirring for 5-8 minutes or so until the onions are translucent.

Add the carrots, cumin and garlic, and cook a further 5 minutes, stirring often, being careful not to let the garlic burn.

Once all the veggies are glistening and the cumin is smelling fragrant and delicious, add the water, lentils, tomato paste, and bay leaves and stir to incorporate.

Bring to a boil on high.

Once boiling, turn heat to medium low (not low) and cook with the lid on for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice from the bottom up. After the first 20 minutes, remove the lid and rest on the side of the pot so a little air can escape. Cook another 20 minutes (total of 40 minutes) stirring here and there.

Serve piping hot with crusty fresh bread, and top with your choice of olive oil, black pepper, fresh herbs, chopped chives or scallions, fresh tomato, or slices of red onion.

You really can’t go wrong.

This dish will keep for up to 5-6 days in your fridge (it gets better the longer it languishes) and freezes well too. So double it up if you want leftovers. Seriously!

It could be because I grew up eating lentils, but I don’t know of a greater comfort food than this. There are endless variations to the uses for them, limited only by what is in season, or what you have on hand.

They are cheap. They keep forever. They are for real.

Not all those who wander are lost.

~ J.R.R. Tolkien

This dish will make a special appearance at an even more special event this weekend, stay tuned for that – I’ll be sharing!

Let’s just say it all started with Chris & Carla πŸ˜‰ Read up about that here (you’ll be glad you did).

  • What is your ultimate easy comfort food?
  • Got a favorite way with lentils?

I’d love to hear how you keep it real from day-to-day.

Even with all the pressures we face, staying cool and calm is always helped by (just a little) of the right fuel at the right times.

And it needn’t ever be expensive or complicated (unless you want it to be).

I hope you’ll try this one!

On a small side note – apologies to all of my beloved blogging buds for falling behind (just a little) in my comments and visits this week, I’ve got a fairly big project on the go that is demanding my attention, one that I will be sharing with you all shortly! I’ll look forward to getting back in the groove with you all in good time πŸ™‚

Yours in Less,

93 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Sunny Day Orange Date Shake

Oranges and Sunshine – aren’t they the same thing?

I hope so!

Well dear blogging friends, how are you all? I hope you are well!

Here in Vancouver, we are plowing through our coldest June ever on record, with more rain than I (and most Vancouverites) would surely like, and a view to wake to each morning of brooding overcast grey.

I tell you, it’s a (wee) bit of a downer for those itching to get outside, and for anyone hoping to capture a little fun summer lovin’.

But if the sun won’t shine, I refuse to let it dampen my mood. So I decided to catch a little sunshine of my own πŸ™‚

The task ahead of you is never as great as the power behind you.

~ Unknown

Honestly, if I wasn’t so distracted with chasing my dreams (they are a long way off and it’s a crazy ride), I might just let the weather get to me.

But the truth is, I’ve got a lot to keep me busy, and most of all, an awful lot to be thankful for (and I suspect you might too).

So what if the sun isn’t shining?

I’ve got my health. I’ve got my family. I’ve got food on the table.

And really, what more is there?

Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.

~ Unknown

The Less:

Less store-bought cooked juice means more live enzymes and vital energy. Less refined sugar and sweets means more natural whole highs. Less high cost sugary drinks means less hit in your pocketbook, so you can put your money towards the real stuff.

The More:

More natural whole sugars means more healthy sustained energy. More well-balanced smoothie mixes means more well-balanced daily fuel. More liquid sunshine in the form of orange juice means more bright vitamins and minerals, so you can get that brightness into you πŸ™‚

Sunny Day Orange Date Shake:

  • 1 whole large orange (navels are so good right now!)
  • (1/2) cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • (6) dates, soaked overnight
  • (1) tbsp tahini (roasted or raw)
  • (1) frozen banana
  • (1/2) tsp grated orange zest
  • (6) ice cubes (optional)

Liquid sunshine in your glass is just this easy..

The night before, put up your dates to soak in fresh cold water to cover, and freeze your banana*.

*I freeze ripe bananas whole in their peels. This makes it easy to pop them in the freezer when they are getting, well, brown and too far gone (but perfect for bread or smoothies). To peel, simply remove the banana from the freezer and run it under hot water for a few seconds. With a paring knife, simply peel the skin off the banana like you would the skin of an apple.

In the morning (whether overcast or sunny) peel your orange. Grate your zest. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth and luscious.

You might need shades when you do this, it’s going to be bright!

Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Serve in a cold glass and enjoy. The tahini adds a hint of protein and weight that makes this smoothie feel substantial, without being heavy.

The zest will sit with you a while on your palate and leave a trail of sweetness long after you take the last sip.

Just like sunshine leaves a bit of color and warmth on your face.

I know summer will come.

But for now I’ve got this smoothie.

And I’ve got my dreams. I am all set.

If you see a friend without a smile; give him one of yours.

~ Unknown

Here’s to finding happiness from within, knowing that at any moment you can change your outlook.

I am surely not immune to outside forces wreaking havoc on my moods or emotions, and I too succumb to feelings of frustration and doubt. I am human after all.

But then I get into the kitchen, crank the tunes, and start peeling oranges! Nothing is (ever) that bad, and for that I am grateful everyday.

  • Whats your recipe for getting out of a funk?
  • Got a great rainy day activity to share with us?

I’d love to know your secrets to finding sunshine, no matter what the day looks like outside!

Yours in Less,

81 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Raw, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegan, Vegetarian

Recipe: Superfood Chocolate Chip Cookies & Guest Posting!

Ready for a 2 Post Friday?

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

~ Dr. Seuss

Welcome to a special 2 Post Friday here at IPOM! Holla! *So much fun*

Another link at the end of this post too!

Today I’ve got a guest post up at Cara’s amazing blog, Fork and Beans.

If you’ve never had a chance to visit her before now, I highly suggest you do after I tempt you with these delicious cookies (the link is up at the end of the post too!).

Today’s recipe, here at IPOM, is Carla’s favorite homemade cookie recipe, the one given to her on her wedding day in a family cookbook.

This version is slightly updated and it incorporates a few of our latest favorite super foods.

It is super. For reals.

I’ve also got to thank you readers for your responses and messages regarding the last post about Chris and Carla – if you liked what you read then be sure to keep up with us as we share more and more…it is only just beginning!

Now for the cookies…

Cocoa nibs are a nutritional wonder finding their way into yummy treats all over the blogosphere. You can enjoy them in granola, or these raw cookies.

But today – they team up with chocolate chips for an extra hit of rich sweet goodness!

Look for cocoa nibs online or in most health food stores these days. They aren’t cheap, but a little goes a long way.

Hemp hearts are one of my all time favorites.

Grown here in Canada (you’ve got to love local), they are loaded with healthy fats and protein that fill you up and keep on giving well into the end of your day.

I am a giant fan of enjoying them in the morning, they provide fuel for an evening run or workout that is amazing, and did I mention just a few tablespoons keep you satisfied for hours too? Pretty killer.

The Less:

Less hydrogenated fats and oil mean less hard to identify compounds for your body. Less store bought treats means less packaging, waste, and preservatives. Less reliance on outside sources for snacks and goodies means more ways to make life simply delicious. Especially when it is this super-charged.

The More:

More superfood ingredients means more super-charged nutrition. More pure easy ingredients means more goodness that’s easily at hand. More homemade chocolatey treats means more tasty ways to share blessings, so you can spread thankfulness for today πŸ™‚

Superfood Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Cream Together:

  • (1/2) cup brown sugar
  • (1) cup butter (at room temperature)

Wet:

  • (2) eggs
  • (2) tsp vanilla extract
  • (2) tbsp milk

Dry:

  • (1) cup whole wheat flour
  • (1) cup white flour
  • (1) tsp baking soda
  • (1) tsp baking powder
  • (1) tsp salt
  • (1/2) tsp salt
  • (2) cups oatmeal
  • (1) cup shredded coconut
  • (1) cup hemp hearts (sub 1 more cup coconut of you don’t have these)
  • (2) cups chocolate chips
  • (1) cup cocoa nibs (sub 1 more cup chocolate chips if you don’t have these)

Start by heating the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir to combine.

Combine the dry ingredients in another mixing bowl and add to the wet ingredient bowl in batches, stirring in between to incorporate. Get in there with your hands!

Shape your cookies and set on a flat un-oiled cookie sheet. No need to press these down as they will make a lovely ‘cake-like’ cookie (like my mom used to make).

Bake for 8 minutes. Once ready, remove from the oven and let sit on the hot dry another 5 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack.

Pack up in your favorite tin and share, share, share!

This recipe does make a rather large batch of cookies. Of course, you could halve the recipe though I am sure the large batch size is for a reason ~ for sharing!

After all, who in your life could use a little thank you? Got a friend, co-worker, neighbour that likes cookies? I bet you do! Accountant, boss, arch enemy? No one could say no to a home baked cookie.*

*(unless you could)

There is no delight in owning anything unshared.

~ Seneca

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

~ Winston S. Churchill

The world is what YOU think of it, so think of it DIFFERENTLY and your life will change.

~ Paul Arden, Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite

Consider this the official invite..

I’ll be busy planning an extra special dinner with some very special friends next weekend. I’ll be sure to update you all very soon on that one!

  • What is your favorite cookie recipe?
  • Anyone in your life that could use a little thank you?

I am so happy to share Carla’s favorite way to perk the office up with you today, we are always thankful for home baked treats!

Let us know your thoughts, and as always giant thanks to all for reading!

Make sure to come see us at Fork and Beans and meet Cara, you’ll be so happy you did, and thanks again to Cara for hosting me today!

Yours in Less,

51 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Oatmeal, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Snacks, Sweet Treats, Vegetarian

NSF Update: On Cookies, Craft Beer & Giving Back

You are about to meet a very special couple.

Carla & Chris. Chris & Carla. I love these guys, and soon, you will too (I hope).

Both are bound by love and their mutual interests. Chris and Carla are both (beautiful) healthy folks who live the good life in pretty much every sense of the word. They work hard, they play hard, they eat well, and give back when they can.

While these two beautiful souls are surely extraordinary, they are also just really good, regular folk who are blessed to have their health, their happiness, and each other.

Like me or (maybe) like you.

Carla has been a huge supporter of Not So Fast since the early days, and so a few months ago both Chris and Carla decided to put themselves to the test for the benefit of others.

For those of you who are new to this blog, you may wonder what this has to do with food and delicious recipes. If you like, you can find more info here and here (I’d be honoured).

IPOM exists to share healthy, accessible recipes and inspire new (delicious) ways to live with (just a little) less.

This is a story outlining how small changes can be turned into real food for real people who have less.

How does it work?

Go without: Chris and Carla decided to fast for 40 days, by going without one specific luxury for 40 days.

The money they didn’t spend on what they would have consumed would be donated to feed those who have less.

Make It Real: Keep a journal (we are making something very special for this). Write in in your calendar. Tweet it.

By giving record, you make it real. After all, shouldn’t you take credit for your awareness and good deeds?

Feed People. We’ll do that, and soon we’ll tell you how. Or, get involved in your local community.

Here are Chris and Carla’s Stories…

Carla’s Challenge: Carla chose to go without any refined sugar for 40 days.

For those of us who are lucky to work with this lady like me, we know she works hard. She takes great care of herself. And she likes treats (but not too many).

We knew this would be tough..

Chris chose to go without all alcohol for 40 days.

This was in the midst of a few upcoming weddings. And weekends (those darned weekends)!

Chris, like Carla, is somewhat the picture of good health. They are both moderate people. But they, like all of us, have vices*, or things in their life they do not wish to be controlled by.

*(unless you don’t)

Here are a few thoughts direct from Chris and Carla themselves.Β 

This is proof that no matter how small, little changes add up, and can result in positive benefits for you and for someone else!

Chris speaks on going without:

Why did you want to do this challenge? I am faced with various challenges everyday, but at the time I felt that I do not challenge myself enough. I think I was feeling a little complacent. I think I avoid challenge to avoid additional stress in my life.

Why did you choose beer to give up? I chose all forms of alcohol, not only beer. In the past I have given up only beer but just replaced it with other forms of alcohol, like wine, so the challenge was absent. Recently I became aware of how much alcohol I consume. I am not abusive but I have a drink a day. I truly enjoy the taste of beer and wine and look forward to that after work or with friends. I could not remember the last time I went a long period without consuming any alcohol (more then a couple days anyway). So it seemed like a good idea. Another big part is health. As I get older I become more aware of health choices. I felt it could do my body good to stop drinking for a while.

What did this exercise teach you about yourself/each other? That I was more dependent than I thought on alcohol. After a long day at work or at a social gathering, I found I would be a bit grumpy knowing that I was not going to have a drink. There was a very noticeable absence in my life for the first couple weeks. I think though the social aspect was the most interesting. In my life alcohol is often consumed in the company of friends and with that comes good conversation and discussion. I missed that and found that I was less social during this time. I even think friends called me less knowing that they might be drinking alone if we went out. Giving up alcohol felt like a bit of a sacrifice, if only in the superficial sense.

What were you able to contribute as a result of this or who did this positively affect? I think the most positive effect was on me, both health and financially.

Has it affected you in any other ways? My fast came during the season of Lent so there was a spiritual element to it. Although that was not as prominent during this time, I did make a point of thinking about why I was giving something up whenever I longed for it. This would lead in many different directions, from self-satisfaction/dissatisfaction to thinking of those who have no choice in what they do not have, to health and pride.

Would you do it again/build something like this into your daily routines? I will consider doing this again in a year and currently I conscientiously practice giving things up on a week to week basis.

Carla speaks on going without:

Why did you want to do this challenge? To encourage more reflection in my life – to help remind myself of how blessed I am for what I have, and that there are many who have to go without –being able to choose to go without is a luxury. I also wanted to support NSF by giving to those who have less.

Why did you choose sugar? I chose sugar for health reasons… and because I crave a little sweetness at least once a day. I knew it would be a little difficult.

What did this exercise teach you about yourself/each other? It taught me self discipline and encouraged generosity and reflection. It was encouraging to see how well Chris did in his fast and it helped me stay on track. Seeing that Chris and I could complete this challenge (not without our moments of weakness…), who knows what else we could take on.

What were you able to contribute as a result of this or who did this positively affect? Food issues are important to me – where our food comes from, how it is produced, what we put in our bodies and food waste. We are donating $$$ to NSF for a local food project they are involved in.

Has it affected you in any other ways (either positive or negative)? This fast has taught me that I don’t need sugar (and probably a lot of other things in life) – and should try and treat it as something special – that I’m lucky/blessed to be able to have, while others have to go without.

Would you do it again/build something like this into your daily routines? Yes.

Making it real…

Carla used this little notebook to record what she was giving up, and the value of it too.

In it I found little gems of her writing.

Putting words to something somehow makes it real, like thoughts once they become spoken words.

Do you keep a journal?

Everyday is a new challenge..what’s yours?

Chris and Carla donated enough money to sponsor a very special NSF event coming up.

I can’t wait to share this with you as the planning is in the works as we speak. Seeing the results of their challenge has inspired many great things and I can’t thank them enough for their courage and willingness to take part.

Not only will their funds provide much needed food, but we will also be sharing cooking skills that will (hopefully) enable folks to keep feeding themselves. Stay tuned as we roll out more πŸ™‚

I’ll be keeping the recipes flowing too, starting with these delicious cookies in my next post…

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.

~ Oscar Wilde

  • Have you ever considered giving up a vice or a habit?
  • If you did what would it be?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and thank you my friends for reading about this amazing effort by amazing people. I told you you’d like them. Was I wrong? πŸ˜‰

There is lots more to come, and I’d love to hear from you all!

Here’s to a super week everyone!

Yours in Less,

66 Comments

Filed under Discipline, Fasting, Feeding, Food, Going Without, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Non-Profit Organization, Not So Fast, Uncategorized

Recipe: White Kidney Bean Dip with Herbs & Artichokes

It is always so good to be home!

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.

~ Henry Miller

Hello bloggers!

I am rather excited to report that I made it through another few days of (fun) work travel and am home safe and sound!

It has been a busy little spring here (for me and my little trips) and I am quite content to put my feet up for the next little while and rest until the ‘big trip’ comes around in August.

I wish I could report that the weather was swell here at home, but the truth is it is just so-so (it’s sunny out as I write though!).

So while I pine for (just a little) sun, I’ll share with you this yummy dip that we’ve been enjoying, most recently on our Mother’s Day picnic (yes…a sunny warm meal outdoors!) *sigh*…

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

~ Marthe Troly-Curtin

As you all may know, I enjoy finding many a use for green veggies like kale, and this dip offers another chance to use up this powerfully nutritious green.

Along with fresh herbs, the easy to use and ever tasty artichokes, and (always) good quality olive oil, lemon, garlic, and (just a little) of your love – this 100% vegan dip is an elegantly pleasant surprise!

So if you’ve got a bag of dried white kidneys, or a can or two hanging around the pantry, this is a fabulous way to enjoy their creamy texture and taste that serves as a base for many a lively addition.

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.

Β  ~ Dalai Lama XIV

The Less:

Less dairy-based dips means more plant-based clean eating. Less store bought or prepared foods means more fresh easy ingredients. Fewer ruts in your repertoire means things will always stay fresh, and what’s better than freshness in life?

The More:

More high fiber bean dishes means more tasty ways to fill up faster. More fresh greens to incorporate means more reasons to always stock them. More fresh dips on hand means less tempting for calories elsewhere, so you can enjoy more of the good stuff, more often.

White Kidney Bean Dip with Herbs & Artichokes:

  • (3) cups cooked white kidney beans (navy beans will do in a pinch)
  • (1/2) cup cashews, soaked in water for 4 hours (you can also use them straight up)
  • (1) can artichokes (398 ml, about 5 each)
  • (1) cup chopped green curly kale
  • (1/2) cup fresh lemon juice
  • (1/2) cup good quality olive oil
  • (2-3) cloves of fresh garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
  • (3) heaping teaspoons capers
  • (1) tbsp fresh rosemary leaves removes from the stem & chopped (about 2-3 stems)
  • (2) tbsp fresh thyme leaves, removed from the stem
  • (1) tsp salt (more to taste)

Combine all ingredients on a blender or food processor, and pulse blend until creamy and well combined. You can’t over blend this one so let is really go!

Once ready, transfer to a container or serving bowl and chill. This tangy dip will keep for a while in the fridge, at least a week, and goes well with all breads, crackers, and fresh crisp vegetables (it’s super delicious with crisp romaine leaves).

This recipe makes a generous portion, so if you aren’t feeding a large group, or don’t want to eat it all week, consider halving the recipe.

If you do make the whole thing – plan to eat this for a few days! The nice thing is there are so many ways…..and it is pretty yummy πŸ™‚

If you have trouble peeling garlic, here is a good little tip (I am sure many of you do this already):

Start with good garlic. But organic if you can and local garlic is even better. Separate the cloves you need from the bulb.

Using a sharp knife, place the side of the knife on top of the garlic clove you are about to peel. Using all of your weight, push down on the knife and the garlic and crush the clove with the side of the heavy knife blade.

The peel will slip right off! Voila!

Of course I served this a few times in the last while for guests, and on this gloriously sunny picnic.

It’s also superb on warm toast with tomato.

The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.

~ Mark Twain

However you choose to enjoy it, I suspect this will be a hit!

Even the hubby liked it and kept going back for more. I didn’t tell him it was full of kale or capers..because there really was no need πŸ™‚

Where there is love there is life.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

I hope you enjoy this one as much as we did!

  • What is your favorite summer dip?
  • Do you ever use white kidney beans?

Next up, I’ll share with you all (as promised!) the progress we’ve made on our plans for NSF…we are working on a menu for a special event coming up and getting ready to roll out our new look!

Carla and Chris started something special with their 40 day fast, and I am grateful for their efforts and contribution – I hope you will be as pleased to meet them as I am to know them.

Have a fabulous week my friends – I am wondering if anyone got inspired to purge their closet from the last post? I loved all of your comments…and am so glad to hear I am not the only one out there who is benefiting from letting go!

We would love to hear from you, and hope you are all having a swell week, wherever you are, and no matter the weather πŸ™‚

Yours in Less,

81 Comments

Filed under Cashews, Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Nut Recipes, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

The Less and More of Closet Cleaning & Letting Go (just a little)

Anyone due for a closet cleaning?

The things you own end up owning you.

~ Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Holla dear friends and readers!

I alluded a few months back to some closet cleaning I did in an attempt to free up some space.

I wouldn’t consider myself a minimalist, but living with (just a little) less has given me the opportunity to look at more than one area of my life. I often get bogged down by ‘stuff’ and feel the need to purge.

Sound familiar?

Part of this could have to do with my tiny 1940’s closet (one girlfriend cried when she saw it, citing ‘cruelty to women’), part of it is just trying to stay up to date with what the weather is doing, and a huge part of it is just wanting to be (just a little) more free.

A fit, healthy body – that is the best fashion statement.

~ Jess C. Scott

This past year has brought some big changes in my life as I started to approach things differently, with more awareness, and a huge desire to grow. It’s been challenging, exhilarating, and, quite literally, the best time I’ve ever had.

So, if you’ll oblige me, I’d love to talk (just a little) about our closets!

Many wealthy people are little more than the janitors of their possessions.

~ Frank Lloyd Wright

I’ve often found myself captured in a fantasy of me as a lone traveler wandering with a single backpack and nothing else.

In this fantasy I imagine the freedom to move with just the bare minimums at hand, and the thrill of having the world at my fingertips. The wide open spaces. The sheer open possibility without the burden of choice (what to wear?) and the weight of grounding possessions.

But reality is quite different. Real life requires certain things.

We work. We play. We run. We hike. We go out. We garden. We have outfits for each.

Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.

~ Democritus

Clothes are fun. I like clothes. Jeans, shirts, shoes. Bags, scarves, and more scarves (I have a few scarves).

If you are anything like me, you end up with a few jam-packed drawers, and clothes hung so tightly you can’t see what’s in there. Items hung and not worn for months.

Sure, that blue number you got last year is a cool piece, and you got a killer deal on it, but do you wear it?

So a few months ago, after too long of looking at the same stale picture of my closet, I took action. Before I shared, I wanted to see what happened. Here is what I did.

This is my all time favorite. Classic white. Wear it till it’s dead, and get a new one.

The Less:

Less clothes in your closet means more easy ways to find favorites. Less maybes means more yes’s so you can deliberate with ease. Less guilt around what doesn’t work means less weight on your shoulders, so you can dress those shoulders smartly everyday.

The More:

More loving what you do have means more loving what you wear. More knowing what you love means more knowing who you are. More letting go means more control over your life, so you can get on with what matters in your heart.

I always have one favorite. What’s yours?

The What. The How. The Wear (pardon the pun).

Jeans & Pants: I cut my jeans selection into 3rds: those I wear often (every week), those I rarely wear (but still love and have a purpose), and those I never wear (the wide leg thing didn’t work for me). The never wears were axed, and the rarely wear got cut in half. I went from a diluted 17 casual pants to a slick streamlined 9.

Shirts & Blouses: Anything not worn in the last 2 months got axed. I took out 2/3 of what was hanging in my closet! Vintage thrifted items, lace tops, colorful fussy things I never wore. My lifestyle doesn’t change too much, and I know if I am getting dressed (down or up) a little black anything is all I need, and feel best in guaranteed. All those dresses I bought and never wore? Gone. All those tops that get put on and taken off before I leave the house? Gone.

Jackets: Jackets take up lots of space, and I had a few blazers I’d collected through the years just hanging out. I work in a pretty casual industry and trust me, the need for a blazer is rare (business attire behind the espresso machine anyone?). The wool coats, down soccer-mom gear and fleece went to the basement for the winter (to keep), along with all the rain gear I never wore… ‘but it’s new!’. I never wore it. Gone.

Shoes: Anything uncomfortable was gone. Those black booties I got on sale and hid from the hubby during my dark days of obsessive shopping? Gone. They might have been (super) cute, but they hurt my feet. Loose shoes? Gone. Old shoes? Gone! I refined my shoe selection down to less than half.

T-shirts & Running Gear: After too many times of muttering ‘where is my sports bra?’…’where is my favorite t-shirt for sleeping?’ or passing over lesser items for the ones I really wanted to wear I said enough was enough. The ones I really wanted to wear were all I needed. 2 pairs of good running shorts, 2 good athletic tanks, 2 good sports bras, 3 favorite t-shirts.

Less laundry, more finding, and more living were mine. I just had to let go. And so I did. 80% gone, and 100% better!

Classic. Comfy. Goes with everything. What’s your classic?

The best color in the whole world is the one that looks good on you.

~ Coco Chanel

The funny thing is, I cheated when I did this.

I totally went the easy route. And now I’m here to tell you I think you could too (only if you want to of course).

I didn’t actually get rid of any of the good stuff yet. I packed it in boxes, and put it downstairs. I told myself as I felt the scared ‘are you crazy?’….’this is beautiful!’…if I missed it, I could have it back.

Guess what?

Getting dressed has never been easier.

I am done in (seriously) one try. Everything (well, almost everything) in the closet now gets worn. I don’t feel guilt towards items that don’t work. I don’t feel remorse everyday looking at things that I should be wearing.

I realized the other day as I popped on a fave pair of pants, threw on my latest favorite t-shirt, and slipped into my oxfords, that I am free.

Freer than I have ever been as a matter of fact! I don’t miss a single thing, and couldn’t even tell you what is down there.

I like just a little. And it goes with everything!

Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.

~ Coco Chanel

I don’t even know what’s downstairs, and I really don’t need to. It’s out of my mind, and out of my space.

Just like a fast clears the body of food debris, and lightens the mind – this letting go in a material sense has been of tremendous value. I’ll keep those things downstairs and maybe ‘shop’ the boxes here and there, after all, a little absence may make the old seem new again.

But more likely I’ll be giving it all away.

I am no minimalist (yet), but I like letting go, and I think I’ll be doing it a lot more.

  • Are you in need of a good closet clean or purge?
  • What are your favorite basics you can’t live without?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. After all, we (hopefully) don’t eat more than we should, or stock more food than we need (unless you do). We only eat what we like, not what doesn’t agree with us.

Why shouldn’t we take the same approach to our closets?

Thanks for reading dear friends, I’d love to hear from you! I am off on a work trip this week and may be here and there with my comments again – this is the last one (I think) until the big one (France!)..have a wonderful week all!

Next up…a fabulously delicious dairy free white bean dip!

Yours in Less,

86 Comments

Filed under Fashion, Going Without, Happiness, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Photography, Shopping

3 Recipes for Simple Living (and to pair with a mean curry)

Easy. Simple. Good!

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

~Mahatma Gandhi

I desperately want to tell you that the recipes I am about to share are very complicated. I want to tell you that you must be a culinary wizard to make them, and that you also must have deep pockets to be able to afford them.

But all of that would (of course) be a lie, because none of this is true (and I didn’t really want to tell you those things!).

Given that most of the world subsists on inexpensive healthy staples like rice, beans, and veggies, it is easy to see why it’s not so bad when they taste this darned good!

Hope is not what we find in evidence, it’s what we become in action.

~ Frances Moore LappΓ©

The 3 recipes included in today’s post are the perfect base or accent to any curry dish. Or really anything you fancy to go with it, for that matter.

Whether you pair it with the Paneer curry from the last post, this IPOM Red Lentil Curry, or any one of your favorite recipes, a few easy breezy steps and you are good to go!

Rice is naturally gluten-free, and there are so many varieties to try. Brown, black, red, white. When lightly toasted over heat (with oil) prior to boiling, it makes the final product light and fluffy – pilaf style. Rice that won’t stick together!

A simple rice dish paired with a crisp light raw salad, and your favorite condiment makes for tasty filling eating for pennies (unless you want to drop coin on something luxurious to top it with – totally your call!)

The search for truth is more precious than its possession.

~ Albert Einstein

Cumin Spiced Rice with Peas:

  • (1-2) tbsp butter, ghee, or vegetable oil
  • (1) tbsp cumin seeds
  • (1) cup white basmati rice
  • (1.75) cups cold water
  • (1) cup frozen green peas
  • (1/2) tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

Heat a medium saucepan to medium heat and add butter, ghee, or oil. Once the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring the entire time, for about 1 minute. Be careful not to burn these by having them on too high heat!

*Note: if using this cooking method with other rices (most notably brown rice), the end result will be heavier. White basmati rice is ideal for this cooking style as it is naturally absorbent and fluffy – thus making it a light foil for heavier foods to go with it. If you do try it with brown rice, try using the lower amount of butter or oil.

Add the dry rice and cook, on the heat, stirring for about 5 minutes. The rice kernels will start to turn opaque and white. Be careful not to burn the rice by stirring pretty much every 10-15 seconds or so.

After 5 minutes, or the rice is consistently turning color (it will look flecky), add the cold water. Cover and bring to a boil on high. Once the water boils, turn the heat to low (without removing the lid), and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.

During the last 7-8 minutes of the rice cooking time, add the peas and allow them to cook atop the rice as it cooks (do not stir). Simply open the lid quickly (have the peas pre-measured!) and pop them in as quickly as possible.

After 20 minutes is up, turn the heat off and let the rice sit in the covered pan for 3-4 minutes. Once ready, fluff the rice and peas together with a fork and add the salt. Voila!

Ready to serve straight from the pot or transfer to a serving bowl and take to the table! πŸ™‚

Brussels sprouts have been a long time fave of mine.

They are cheap, available (pretty much) year-round and boast the same health benefits as their other cruciferous family members (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and yes, KALE!). They are pretty much a superfood in every sense of the word, and I adore them for their underdog status as one of the most ‘disliked’ vegetables out there.

The truth is (IMO), they taste great roasted, steamed, and here, completely raw!

If you’ve never tried them this way, I highly suggest you do – this salad is light and delicious while providing a gorgeous fresh contrast to your cooked dishes. I also love this little number wrapped in my fresh tacos with a little avocado and salsa too….but that is another post entirely!

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad:

  • (6-8) good sized fresh brussels sprouts
  • (2-3) tbsp good quality olive oil
  • (1-2) tbsp apple cider vinegar (can sub regular vinegar just reduce to 1 tbsp to start)
  • (1) tsp fresh finely grated ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro leaves for the top

Start by buying the freshest brussels sprouts you can find. These guys are basically baby cabbages, and I almost prefer eating these in a salad over cabbage – they take up so much less space in the fridge too!

Wash the sprouts and peal and discard any rough outer leaves. Starting at the top of the sprout, with the stem end down, use a sharp knife to shred/slice the brussels sprouts as thinly as possible, one by one, into rounds as thin as possible. Separate the ‘slices’ with your hands and to a bowl.

Toss with olive oil, vinegar, and ginger until well mixed – massage gently with your bare hands to ensure the shaved sprouts soften up a little. Taste to add salt.

Serve in a lovely dish garnished with cilantro leaves and optional black pepper. You might be surprised who eats this and likes it! It is a pretty good disguise for this much maligned little wonder πŸ™‚

Can you tell I am a big fan of the sprout? Love’em….

The past has no power over the present moment.

~ Eckhart Tolle

A word (or two) about condiments:

Having good condiments in the house can become a bit of a fun hobby. Anyone out there a bit of a condiment collector?

It’s easy to do and there are just too many ways to liven up simple healthy food that it is mind-boggling (including this chutney I cannot wait to make). Really!

When I eat spicy Indian food, I always order a round of cooling Raita (Indian Yoghurt Dip). If you eat yoghurt, chances are you could have a regular stock of plain yoghurt in the house on a regular basis.

Here is a 2 second condiment that can make a good meal (just a little) better. There are many ways to make a Raita, but here are a few suggestions to get you started!

Cucumber Raita:

  • (1) cup plain yoghurt (pictured here is super thick Mediteranean style)
  • (1/4) cup grated or finely chopped peeled cucumber
  • pinch or two of Garam Masala spice mix, or ground cumin (about 1/4 tsp)
  • salt to taste

Mix all together in a bowl until just mixed. Do not over mix if you can help it!

That’s it! Serve immediately and make it as needed – Raita will keep but only for a day or so in the fridge, so small batches are best πŸ™‚

Enjoy this meal with friends, family, or anyone you want to share it with..

with or without broiled naan bread.

Who says food has to be complicated or expensive to be good?

Simple pleasures are the last healthy refuge in a complex world.

~ Oscar Wilde

Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.

~ Lao Tzu

I know it is (perhaps) (just a little) corny, but when I think of sharing food, I often picture the world sitting around the table with me.

I picture wide smiles and hear happy sounds. This is why I cook food, and it brings so much joy to share it!

Live simply so that others may simply live.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Living with (just a little) less can be easy. Especially when it is this good!

I hope you’ll enjoy these ideas or use them as a launching pad to devise your own creations with these basic universal staples, and I’d love to hear your suggestions or favorite takes on the above.

This notion of sharing simple food is deep in the spirit of Not So Fast…the idea that there is enough food for all.

In the next week, I’ll tell you the story (and the results) of Carla and Chris’s 40 day trial of ‘going without’. I’ll tell you what they did, how they did it, and what it will mean to others (and yes they ate like kings the entire time!).

I can’t wait to share this with you all!

  • What is you favorite cheap staple or go to budget meal?
  • Do you have a favorite easy & frugal dish that is too good not to share?

I’d love your suggestions and they might just come in super handy in the future – so do let us know!

Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.

~ Albert Einstein

You know how much I adore your feedback and stories.

I wish you all could come and have a seat around my table……but for now I’ll be happy to receive your comments..…..even if I can’t see all your lovely smiles! πŸ™‚

Yours in Less,

91 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Rich & Simple, Salads, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian