Category Archives: Health

Recipe: Healing Fresh Ginger Tea

Healing Ginger Tea | IPOMHealing Ginger Tea | IPOM

Happy New Year everyone! It’s been one of those weeks full of craziness over here as the kids have been home from school and a few girls and I were preparing to throw a baby shower for our favorite person in the world.

Yesterday we gathered 20 girls together to wish our beloved best friend well in her motherhood journey. There really is something very special about spending time with a close group of inspirational women, and it is something that as I get older I have wanted to do more. It’s okay to be real, and to get real in those situations, and yesterday we were (roller coaster of wild emotions and all). Thanks ladies, my heart is full today and I can’t wait to see what’s next! πŸ™‚

Given the time of year, today’s recipe is all about warmth, digestion, and healing. This age-old remedy for good health has been around for ages, and for good reason. When we were kids, this was what we were given when sick, livened up with fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper & honey. Ginger is spicy & warming and does wonders for settling a tired tummy that could use a little rest from perhaps (just a little) holiday over eating.

I’ve been nursing a pot of this on the stove for a few days now and have to thank a friend for reminding me just how amazing this drink is…so thankful. Between this and the high from being around so many cool ladies yesterday – I think I’m set for a great week to come!

Healing Ginger Tea | IPOMHealing Ginger Tea | IPOM

The Less:

Less burden on the tummy means it can feel nourished with little food. Fewer bagged teas means less cost, waste, and more freshness. Less caffeinated & sugary drinks means health is just a cup away, so warming up & wellness come together at less cost.

The More:

More spicy, healing ginger means more warmth & aid to your guts. More aid to your guts means happy tummies all the time. More fresh ways to warm up means less reason to seek them outside, so keeping a pot on the stove makes sense all year round.

Healing Ginger Tea | IPOMHealing Ginger Tea | IPOM

Healing Fresh Ginger Tea:

  • (2) large pieces of fresh ginger, peeled, and cut into thumb sized pieces
  • (6-8) cups fresh water for boiling
  • Optional additions: fresh mint in summer, a cinnamon stick in winter, honey, fresh lemon juice, cayenne powder

Clean up your ginger and slice it into small thumb sized pieces. Combine the ginger in a medium sauce pan and fill with 6-8 cups of fresh water. Bring the water to a boil, and turn the heat down to medium and simmer the mixture at a gentle rolling boil for 20-30 minutes.

For cinnamon ginger tea, add a half or a whole cinnamon stick to the pot in the beginning. For mint ginger tea, add fresh mint to the pot for 5 minutes at the end.

Once ready, ladle into warm tea cups and add fresh lemon juice or honey, or both. To help ward off a cold, add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper to each cup. Enjoy by the fire with your favorite book or magazine (not required but highly recommended).

You can keep this going by adding more water to the ginger as you run low and re-boiling again. Simply leave the pot on the stove and add water and re-heat as desired. It really is the never ending ginger tea!

Healing Ginger Tea | IPOM

Healing Ginger Tea | IPOM

Healing Ginger Tea | IPOM

Wishing you all a wonderful, healthy, and feel good week – I am so excited for this year I can’t even tell you. Well, maybe I could πŸ˜‰

  • Are you taking any measures to restore well-being after holiday over indulgences? If so, what are they?

I’d love to know..for now I am off to make a green smoothie…

Yours in less,

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Filed under Food, Gluten Free, Health, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegan, Vegetarian, Victory

A New Years Post, Less is More Style.

Paris Lover's Bridge Pont Des Arts | IPOM

So I love the end of the year, and subsequently the beginning of a new one. (It wasn’t always this way).

Is there anyone else out there who feels the way I do?

I know it is maybe a little cliche, and I am fully aware of the many out there who might point out that this time of year should be no different from any other time of year. A time to maybe set some goals, a time to reflect on the year that past, a time to plan your triumph, and all too familiar for many, a time to fall short on some of those well-meaning goals we set for ourselves.

To them I say, they are all 100% right.

French United Nations Paris | IPOM

I was recently reminded of how each new second is a completely clean & brand new one, one that has never happened before. A simple thought for sure. There really is no time like right now to look around, count our blessings, and think critically about what is working for us and what is not. Why wait for a certain time of year?

As I get older, I realize that the start of each new year does represent certain things to me, and that the power that a clean slate brings is quite wonderful to embrace. I often choose a word or two that will represent what I’d like to focus on (I already have mine for the year).

Versailles Shop Bathroon Paris, France | IPOM

Never a bad time to reflect. Each moment presents itself new.

3 years ago I was struggling with a deep dissatisfaction that I couldn’t put a finger on, I had a compulsion that was out of control and desires that could never be filled (I wrote about it here and here). It was insane and unreasonable, but all too true. Things needed to change.

Two years ago I knew changes were coming, and I was excited. The search had begun, and I had no idea how or when I would find my next project. I owe huge gratitude to those who helped bring it on!

One year ago I had started on the journey. It was exhilarating and completely terrifying all at the same time.

This year, more than ever before, I feel so thankful and hopeful for both this past year AND the coming year.

This year brought this blog, sharing good food with those who have less & a re-ignited connection to the food that fuels us. It also brought a super warm and satisfying connection with ALL OF YOU. Truly, it has been so much fun, so thank you to each and every one of you for making this year truly special! πŸ™‚

Cassis, France | IPOM

Whether you have commented, emailed, called, texted, spoken to me, (perhaps the best) passed me a sly comment at the dinner table about a recipe you’ve tried, or made a generous donation or volunteered your time, you’ve all made it a year to remember!

  • What are your thoughts on creating goals for a New Year? Do you do it?
  • Is there anything you accomplished in the past year that you are especially proud of?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, and best wishes to all for a safe & happy start to 2013! I owe you guys a cookie recipe I promised, but I am thinking that might have to wait until next Christmas….what do you think? Something more to look forward to is always a good thing!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Aspirations, Going Without, Happiness, Health, Hope, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Success, Sweet Treats

In Pursuit of (Daily) Happiness. What’s on Your List?

Cassis, France | IPOM

There are things that bring us all happiness in our lives.

It could be a quiet moment, or a few hours with a really good book. For some it could be a run in the woods, or a call from a good friend. For me, I can always use a good laugh, and luckily there is no lack of that in my life.

I was at the gym this week, doing my thing on the stair master & catching up on some (mindless but wonderful) magazine reading (this is one of my happy places). In this month’s issue of Canadian FASHION, there is a page dedicated to New Year’s Resolutions (after all, ’tis the season). On this page, a few celebrity clothing designers wax about their goals for the coming year.

There was one I read that particularly struck a chord with me (I love those moments).

“I want to create a ‘happy list’ and encourage my daughters to make their own. A happy list is a list of what quickly and easily puts a smile on my face, like a bubble bath. I will make sure to do at least one of those things every day.”

~ Rachel Roy

Tofino - Photo by Niko Pavlo

Photo by Niko Pavlo

An amazing and simple concept, and one that can shockingly fall by the wayside all too easily sometimes. So in my own pursuit of more (happiness, purpose, substance), it strikes me that this all too simple idea simply must factor not just into the bigger picture of life, but into each and every day of my existence (I’ve personally been working on this for a long while).

So, if you’ll oblige, here are 12 things I would add to my daily ‘happy list’ – it amazes to think that these are actually at times hard to do. I’d LOVE to hear what would be on all of yours!

Here goes my 12 daily bits of happiness…

  1. A long run in the cold air
  2. An entire day or evening with my family ~ with all of my technology turned off & tucked away out of sight & out of mind
  3. A long walk with a loved one (or two)
  4. Giving something away
  5. A good meal on a truly hungry stomach
  6. Cooking in the kitchen with a favorite record on
  7. A glass of wine on the couch with my husband (love that guy) with a good record on
  8. An afternoon in the garden with my bare hands in the soil
  9. A hot cup of tea, and a moment to just sit still in the quiet
  10. A hot aromatherapy bubble bath (thanks Rachel)
  11. A few deep breaths
  12. A ride though the city on my old creaky bike (usually with the hubby ~ he makes me wear a helmet when I ride alone)

Tofino - Image by Niko Pavlo

It seems so simple, but really the best things in life really always are. So that’s my list off the top of my head ~ what’s on the top of yours? πŸ™‚

As we move into the final push of the Christmas season, I am struggling to feel as though I really need anything (I really don’t). Everything I really need is already right in front of me, or within me, and I just need to make them happen, every day. To me that is an empowering thought.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic ~ and thanks for reading, as always!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Happiness, Health, Hope, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Rejuvenation, Success

True Storytelling: A Not So Fast Going Without Story

Time for some more storytelling. This is our story, after all.

The day was April 16, 2011. That was the day I started fasting once a week and giving the value of what I didn’t consume to those who have less.

Not So Fast began just a few days after the idea came to me, and I knew it would be a long process of putting this whole beautiful thing together, but I wanted to start right away.

Since that very first day, a few (awesome) things have gone down. A blog or two, some great discussions, a few meetings, some great food, and all of you (wonderful readers and friends -xxx)!

But enough about me.

I am honored today (back to a new recipe tomorrow!) to send you over to Somer’s blog to read her story and to see how easily a simple concept can bring beautiful people together from all over this big, beautiful world.

So head on over to see Somer, she is one amazing woman with one amazing story. Storytelling like this is just too good to miss.

If you’d like to get involved, feel free to drop me a line at shira@wearenotsofast.org.

I’d love to hear from you!

A HUGE thank you to all who so generously donated to our cause this past two weeks, we are honored by your actions and look forward to sharing even more (in less). Our second cooking class kicks off this week, so stay tuned!

Tomorrow I’ll be back with a sweet new recipe! πŸ™‚

Yours in (just a little) Less,

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Filed under discipline, Fasting, Food, Going Without, Happiness, Health, Hope, Inspiration, Non-Profit Organization, Not So Fast, Success, Victory

Recipe: Easy Coconut Kale Chickpea Curry

A nice simple curry for our (sometimes) complicated lives.

Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.

~ Lao Tzu

Hey everyone! I hope everyone had a great weekend!

I am sure many of you are enjoyed a nice rest and took some time to enjoy the rest of the delicious posts from Vegan Blogger’s Potluck that went down last week (with great success I might add). Great work and a giant fist bump to all involved!

Today’s recipe is another fave of ours, and it’s one that should make itself super comfy in anyone’s meal repertoire. Chock full of spicy delicious flavors, this classic straight out of Vikram Vij’s first cookbook won my heart straight away. I think you will soon see why!

I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

~ Thomas Edison

Ginger, tomato, jalapeno, cumin, and coconut…I mean what could be better?

Whipped up in just a few minutes, I challenge you to not want to curl right up into a warm bowl of this curry with a soft blanket and your favorite company…right away πŸ™‚

The Less:

Less complicated meals means easy & healthy are at your fingertips any day. Less heavy, dairy-based curry means more light plant-based goodness. Less heavy meat-based dinners means more satisfied tummies without digestive difficulty, so dinner time leaves you feeling spiced just right.

The More:

More high fiber chickpeas means more filling, hearty proteins. More spicy foods in winter means more warming for your insides. More warm bowls of nutrition means less clean up & complicated prep work, so one pot does the trick every time πŸ™‚

Easy Coconut Kale Chickpea Curry:

  • (1/2) cup canola oil
  • (1) tbsp cumin seeds
  • (1.5) cups finely chopped onions (1 large yellow should do)
  • (2-3) medium tomatoes, chopped
  • (1.5) tsp salt
  • (4-5) tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • (2) finely chopped fresh jalapeno peppers
  • (4) cups cooked chickpeas
  • (1) can coconut milk
  • (1) bunch green onions, chopped
  • (3-4) cups curly green kale, chopped very finely

Heat the oil in a medium to large pot on medium high for one minute. Add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 seconds (the seeds will start to sizzle and become fragrant). Add the chopped onions and continue to cook on medium high for about 8-10 minutes, until the onions are soft and brown.

Stir in the tomatoes, pepper, ginger and salt, and cook for a further 8-10 minutes, stirring well. THe oil should start to glisten on the top.

Add the chickpeas and coconut milk and stir well. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to medium low, keep the pot covered and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring here and there.

At the last minute, add the chopped green onions and kale and stir in well. Cook the mixture for one to two minutes further until the kale turns bright green.

Serve this curry right away to retain the color in the kale and enjoy it freshly cooked.

Slightly spicy (or quite spicy depending on your idea of spicy), the fresh jalapeno add a kick of warmth to jump-start digestion and the coconut milk and tomatoes make a comforting & delicious sauce to match it.

Serve this dish on its own, or with this delicious homemade Naan Bread…this fabulous and creative (vegan) recipe was originally brought to us by Vegan Richa and has recently been beautifully celebrated again over at Kristy’s wonderful blog. I’ve been looking for a homemade naan recipe to try, so I am excited for this one!

I’m looking forward to trying this at home soon and love the great inspiration that is coming in these days.

Stored in the fridge, leftovers will keep for up to a week and all this needs is a gentle re-heating for an easy and satisfying weekday lunch or dinner. Perfect for these cool (and dark) winter days (over here in North America anyways)!

The greatest wealth is to live content with little.

~ Plato

On another note..this is one busy month for me and the crew at Not So Fast!

We’ve got (2) cooking classes coming up this month, the first being on the horizon in precisely a week from today – November 13th marks the first class!

We’ll be cooking the basics of a healthy day of delicious food on a limited budget with 8 youth here in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. For those of you interested in supporting our efforts…feel free to send a donation our way..every little bit helps, and as little as $5 goes an awful long way towards filling little tummies!

I’ll be sharing all of the details for this as we go along….but for now wish us luck! (THANKS!)

  • What’s your favorite warm & spicy winter meal?
  • What would a ‘basic day’ of food necessities be to you?

We all have those things we can’t live without, I’d love to know what your ideal healthy food day would look like from a necessity stand point. I’ve a feeling a few of those things might be included in today’s recipe…

Wishing you all the very finest of weeks as always! Love all of your guts….

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Health, Not So Fast, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Luscious Homemade Tahini Goddess Dressing

A good dressing can make vegetables sing.

Nothing is worth more than this day.

~ Goethe

Some days you just want a salad, right?

You know, those crisp fresh vegetables full of hydrating water and loaded with vitamins & enzymes?

I don’t know about you guys (I have my suspicions though) but I am always pretty thrilled to have a homemade salad dressing hanging out in the fridge that makes it easy to wash a few raw vegetables and dress them to perfection.

This recipe is made in honor of a very popular bottled salad dressing. Anyone out there familiar with a store-bought version of the ever popular Goddess dressing?

I’ve never been a fan of bottled anything – so one day a few weeks back I decided to make my own version of a popular favorite. Here is the result! I’ve got a secret…it’s better (IMO) than anything you can buy in a bottle!

Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.

Β  ~ Eckhart Tolle

Utilizing tahini in salad dressings has always been a popular trick with vegans. This paste made of hulled sesame seeds is satisfying and filling, not to mention full of calcium and protein – two things vegans (and all folks really) need.

Here I added soy sauce, dried parsley, oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and granulated garlic – all easy things you probably have in your pantry already. It keeps well, eats well, and can easily be tailored to your tastes and preferences.

Boom.

Thick & satisfying, this dressing is just as home on top of hot brown rice & steamed broccoli as it is on crunchy romaine leaves or as a dip for whole raw carrots.

The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.

~ Eckhart Tolle

The Less:

Less bottled and packaged shelf stable groceries means more tasty, waste-free staples. More control over ingredients means fewer extras added so food can sit longer. Less sugar and sweets at dinner means you can add those later in the day, so spreading the love is still tasty and makes sense.

The More:

More high calcium sesame means more satisfaction in flavor and texture. More heft in your dressing means more freshness to go under it. More use for those pantry staples adds more depth to your kitchen, so whipping this one up year round is a snap.

Luscious Homemade Tahini Goddess Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup roasted sesame tahini (you can use raw but the end result will be different)
  • (1/2-1 cup) water (depending on desired thickness)
  • 1/2) cup good olive oil
  • (5-6) tbsp fresh lemon juice (can substitute bottled lemon juice too)
  • (2-3) tbsp apple cider vinegar (to taste based on the lemon juice)
  • (2) tbsp Braggs or soy sauce
  • (2) tbsp dried or fresh parsley
  • (1/4) tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a blender (or in a bowl for use with a hand blender) and blend until creamy and emulsified.

Taste to correct seasonings (use the lesser amount of water, lemon, and vinegar and add as desired).

Transfer dressing to a clean jar and refrigerate. This should keep well for up to a week, and perhaps longer if you use bottled lemon juice. It will thicken in the fridge a little and makes fabulous dip.

A little goes a long way and this dressing is jam-packed with flavor!

Veggie salads are a great way to load up on fiber and roughage, not to mention a fabulous vehicle for a great dressing like this!

Enjoy poured on hot cooked grains, and steamed vegetables of all kinds. This would also make a great dip for roasted potato wedges and even as a mayo substitute in veggie sandwiches or on burgers.

Use it to you heart’s content!

The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.

~ Ferdinand Foch

Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right use of strength.

~ Henry Ward Beecher

Thanks to all of you who let me know how much you enjoyed the super nutritious quinoa breakfast from my last post..and if you liked that one, you might just like this quinoa breakfast too (you know, just in case) πŸ™‚

Wishing you all a super swell weekend – we’ve got a typical weekend planned packed with soccer games & a special get together with good friends. For those of you curious, Not So Fast will kick off our first sponsored cooking class on November 13th…cooking up the good stuff and sending kids home with warm home cooked food.

We’re getting there with our website and taking time to do things right. I’m hoping you will all be pleased with the results!

Until then, stay tuned for more great food and stories. I sure enjoy yours.

  • Are you a fan of Goddess dressing?
  • Got a favorite tahini-based dressing to share with us?

The last time I asked for recipes I got tipped to a fabulous chickpea farinata recipe – I’m happy to report I’ve made it more than once (it’s amazing) and I’ll be sharing it soon with a little something extra tasty and special.

Until then, wishing you all the very best, and be well. Me and my armpit are going to be just fine (story in my next post).

Yours in Less,

53 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Gluten Free, Health, Nut Recipes, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

True Stories: My Shopping Addiction & The Healing Process

A quick break for some storytelling.

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.

~ Confucius

True story: I love food.

I love creating food, serving food, eating food, and in general sharing the great wealth of variety & goodness we have at our fingertips.

But I love other things too.

For instance, I love shoes. And clothes. And jackets and handbags and designer lipstick.

For those of you who know (just a little) about IPOM, you may have read (at some point) my story here on my About page. The real reason I am here today, writing this blog, having started a charity from no more than a passing idea, is because just over 2 years ago I overcame a pretty big issue: a compulsive and destructive addiction to shopping.

And no, I don’t mean to cocoa nibs and kale πŸ™‚

You see, after reaching a certain level of accomplishment in my life (kids, marriage, work, home, renovated kitchen, two cars), I was at a point where I didn’t know what mountain was left still to climb.

I had it good, and it was time to show it, no? After all, isn’t that what you do after spending your life attaining all the things in life we are supposed to want?

I haven’t led a typical life, that’s for sure.

My story is long and varied for a woman of 35 and has many stories (not all of them good). I didn’t set out to have these things, but I consider myself beyond blessed to have been given them. I don’t plan to share too much here on this blog, but I do promise that one day I will, somewhere soon. When the time and place are right.

But back to that status thing. I had two healthy kids in school, a good job, and a kitchen worthy of magazine covers (I stole my ideas all from those covers and it turned out pretty good).

So I set about decorating my physical frame with beautiful things. In some cases (well, most cases), I did it with money I didn’t yet have, and with an openness that didn’t exist.

There was a period there where you could have asked me ‘What’s in the wings?’ – and I would have had at least one (or two or three) expensive items either on layaway in store or hiding in a closet deep in my basement somewhere, hidden from my husband, but secretly known to me, the shopkeepers, and that Visa no one else in my house knew about.

Acquiring nice things became a game between me and my scheming mind, and once I acquired one and successfully integrated it into the mix (‘What, this old thing?’), I soon would lose the rush and set my sights on what I could focus all of my powers on to get next.

Addiction. It’s not pretty.

Knowing myself as the addictive person that I am meant I knew I had a problem.

But like most of us, when we know we want to change something, is it easy to change?

So that brings us here. To be truthful, I am here because I needed to get better (it has worked). I needed to re-focus, and look outside of myself, and not to what is hanging on my flesh, but to who and what is going on around me. So I’ve dedicated this time in my life to nurturing the part of me that wants to connect with others, those in need, and those also in need of connection.

I needed to change my ways for my girls, and for my marriage, and I needed to connect with what it was I was really after.

A purpose far greater than just myself.

It’s still a long way away, but I am on the path, and just by being here, you are with me too, and that (IMO) is pretty darned awesome (it’s not just awesome, it’s better than awesome).

I love food, and I’ll continue to share all that brings me joy in this life, in hopes that I might continue to bring some small nugget of value to you as readers of this blog.

But I’d be lying if I told you just food was enough. There’s just so much more to celebrate and talk about.

All in moderation of course πŸ™‚

Less really can be more, in all aspects of our lives, whether it is with food, television, swearing, shopping for pretty rags & (really) over consumption of all kinds.

I know many of you blog (or read blogs) for reasons of health, happiness, inspiration, and making conscious choices that can make the world a better place for all of us.

So whether that choice is veganism, food activism, human rights, or otherwise, I’d love to know how you came to that choice. And I’d also love to hear, and perhaps even share, your story.

If there was one thing you could see going without for a better and more fulfilling life, what would it be? Do you have any destructive habits you’d like to kick for good? Have you already started this journey and want to share it?

You don’t have to share it here if you aren’t comfortable, and honestly, if you’ve made it this far into this post, I’m just happy you are still here..but I’d love to hear from you, and perhaps even share your story here.

If you like, feel free to drop me a line at shira@wearenotsofast.org. I’d like to mix things up a bit here and get real. Want to share your story of healing? I’m all ears.

I’ll get back to cocoa nibs and kale in my next post, I promise, just as soon as I pull on this old jacket and these shoes from last season πŸ™‚

I’m no saint here, but I’m trying. Trying to do better, to be better, and to help others do the same. Thanks for being here with me, and for doing what you all do to make this world a better place.

Yours in Less,

55 Comments

Filed under Aspirations, Discipline, Going Without, Happiness, Health, Hope, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Success, Victory

Recipe: Easy Crusty Home Baked Bread (Baked Beans on Toast – Part Two)

Bountiful. Beautiful. Home Baked Bread.

IPOM Crusty Bread (1)

If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.

~ Robert Browning

Baking beautiful bread?

Bread. Beauty. Bounty (alliteration today is brought to you by Cara). Today is the day!

I’ve been excited about this one for weeks, that is ever since I discovered it (I haven’t stopped baking beautiful bread since that day).

This was a recipe I randomly & luckily stumbled upon, and I am not sure through which medium it actually came to me (I am thinking Pinterest) – however, it must be noted it was this amazing blog post that got me going.

Insert major gratitude here.

Over the years, I’ve certainly tried all manner of bread recipes. Yeast and flour and I have never really gotten each other, and it could be that the precise nature of all things baking just does not come naturally for me.

I am happy to say that I’ve finally found the one recipe that has made me a bread baker. The day has come, and now, if you want it, it is yours for the taking too!

Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.

~ James Beard

Not only must we be good, but we must be good for something.

~ Henry David Thoreau

It is true that not all good folks enjoy bread freely these days. With the rise in sensitivities to gluten, more and more people every day are avoiding the stuff.

Wheat being one of the oldest crops known to man-kind, it always seems crazy to me that evolution would take us down this road. Especially considering wheat’s status as the ‘staff of life’ and the fact it is an age-old source of sustenance that has been relied upon since the dawn of human existence.

Wheat berries are cheap, they can be grown all over the world, and in their whole form are full of sound vitamins, minerals, and other healthy nutritious properties.

Used in their most natural form, whole wheat berries can be made into all manner of salads, added to stews, or famously sprouted for making raw breads or used to make rejuvelac and to grow wheatgrass.

However, when wheat berries are milled, bleached, bagged, and left in giant storehouses to spoil & turn rancid, it’s no wonder that our bodies are struggling to recognize wheat for the simple, life-giving grain that it is.

Change your thoughts and you can change the world.

~ Norman Vincent Peale

So if you are sensitive to wheat & gluten, but can still eat it from time to time, do source out organic freshly milled flour if possible. You might just notice a difference in how you feel after eating it (or you might not).

Whole wheat, all-purpose, or white, the most important thing to know is that it is fresh.

Just like roasted coffee should be ground right before use, or nuts & oils can go rancid if left for long periods of time at the wrong temperature, all milled flours are susceptible to the same conditions, so use it fresh.

Like all of your food (if you can).

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.

Β  ~ Mahatma Gandhi

The Less:

Less store-bought, packaged bread products means less cost, waste, and potential preservatives. Less reliance on commercial food supply lines means more control of your health, your home & your pocketbook. Less complicated recipes to produce authentic foods means more likelihood you’ll do it, because everyone deserves to be a baker (if desired).

The More:

More fresh-baked bread from freshly milled flour means (hopefully) fewer reasons for healthy bodies to reject it. More novice friendly methods means more confidence you can do it, so you can turn pro starting right now. More homemade comfort food on the table means more enjoyment all around, and isn’t that what we are all seeking after all?

Easy Crusty Home Baked Bread:

  • (3) cups all-purpose flour
  • (1/2) tsp active dry yeast
  • (1 3/4) tsp salt
  • (1.5 – 1.75 cups) cold water from the tap
  • Whatever additions your heart desires: fresh or dried herbs like rosemary, grated cheddar cheese, dried fruits, nuts & seeds, the ideas are endless!
  • One oven proof casserole with lid, preferably ceramic or cast iron (though I read you can use any oven proof dish and cover it with foil, I have an Emile Henry clay casserole I got for my wedding years ago)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except for the water. Next, add the water (in bits or all at once) and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or tough plastic spatula.

Once mixed, the dough should be sticky, like the picture shown below.

Feel free to play with the amounts of water used as I have used anywhere from 1.5 cups (the original recipe amount) to almost 2 cups. A good friend of mine uses a bread recipe very similar to this and suggested to add more water particularly if I play with other flours – ie. a mix of white & whole wheat.

Once the dough is well mixed, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to proof on the kitchen counter for anywhere from 12 – 20 hours.

Seriously, this is (just one) of the beautiful things about this recipe.

You can start the dough at anytime and get to the baking when it works for you. I have baked after 12 hours proofing and I have baked after 22 hours proofing. All delicious, all the time.

Proofed Dough, ready to bake.

When you are ready to bake (and have a free hour and a half), turn on the oven and heat it to 450 degrees. Once the temperature is reached, put your oven proof dish in the oven and heat it for 30 minutes.

Just before the heating time for the dish is ready, flour a work surface with a very generous handful of flour. With your hands, pull the proofed dough out of the bowl and set it atop the floured surface.

Shape the dough into a roundish loaf and evenly coat it with the flour. Don’t worry about any inconsistencies with the shape of the dough – it will all sort itself out in the baking process.

This is a no knead recipe. Yes, that is right, no kneading!

So. Very. Awesome.

Remove the hot pot -careful it will be HOT! – and place the dough carefully into the dish. No oil or anything required.

Place the lid on top (or foil if this is your method – use good oven mits!) and place the dish into the hot oven still set to 450 degrees.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, keeping the oven hot by not peeking (I love having a hot and heavy lid that prevents me from peeking).

I have done both times and prefer the 35 minute time, the crust gets (just a little) crustier that way, but feel free to play with a time that works for you.

After 30-35 minutes, carefully remove the dish from the oven, and voila! Hot, beautiful, glorious bread. Remove onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool before slicing.

For best keeping, do not store in a plastic bag until the loaf has cooled completely as this will diminish the crust on the loaf. A paper bag or on the counter is great right after it is made.

Though if you make this in time for a family meal I can almost guarantee leftovers will not be an issue.

Serve with soup, salad, curry, pasta, or make into crusty bread sandwiches with tofu steaks, cheese, lettuce, and ripe red tomatoes.

My personal favorite? Fresh out of the oven with butter. A bowl of hearty warm beans. And not a whole lot more (or less) πŸ™‚

The history of the world is the record of a man in quest for his daily bread and butter.

~ Hendrick Willem Van Loon

Whatever makes up your daily bread, doing so with reverence and appreciation of all things past can give us a better understanding of how it is we got where we are today. Things don’t always get better with time (but thankfully many things do).

In our modern world full of processed, packaged, ‘middle grocery aisle’ foods, fresh foods from fresh ingredients are still best. It’s been that way for thousands of years. Funny how some things never change.

Fresh is still best.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

~ Dr. Seuss

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

~ Mother Teresa

This recipe is cheap, easy, and simple in a world with so many options when it comes to tackling what (can be) one of the hardest foods to master in the kitchen.

Suitable for kitchen novices and experienced cooks alike, I’ve got full faith that anyone can be just hours away from blatant, breathtaking, bread-baking brilliance!

  • Are you a bread baker?
  • What is your favorite bread recipe?

We’re coming off a gorgeous holiday weekend here in beautiful Whistler (thanks to all for the truly fabulous company) – here’s to wishing all of my Canadian readers a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Next up, I’ve got the best brussels sprout salad you’ve ever had.

So stay tuned. It will be worth it, that I can promise you.

Yours in Less,

66 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Food, Health, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Vegan, Vegetarian

On Gratitude, Gratefulness & Always Giving Thanks

Gratitude. What does it mean to you?

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.

~ Thornton Wilder

It’s that time of year again!

The time here in the cooling (and beautiful) Northwest when we start thinking about cozy sweaters, warm scarves, pulling on our favorite boots, and about Thanksgiving.

This is the time of year when every corner grocery store stocks tiny mini pumpkins and you can’t take a step without hearing a leaf (or seven) crumble under your well-meaning fuzzy-socked feet.

Happy October everyone!

The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.

~ William James

This week I am particularly thankful for big progress here at what I like to lovingly call world IPOM headquarters (tee hee).

Not So Fast is making progress at a healthy and (mostly) manageable pace. I owe big gratitude to all who are taking part in this creative and amazing labor of love. Your energy and support are the only reason NSF is anything more than just a random passing idea.

I’ve got a giant heart here and it’s all full because of all of you. Yes, you (that is pointed squarely at you too IPOM readers).

Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

~ Leo Buscaglia

Not So Fast is hard at work planning a full school year of cooking classes for kids and families living in our fair city’s poorest neighborhood.

We want to not only share simple food with those who are keen to join us, but we hope to (maybe) offer (just a little) hope, confidence & much needed access to eating well into lives that are (likely) much more limited than our own.

A quick visit to our local farmers market drives our mission home for me with motivating intensity each and every time I go.

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.

~ Epictetus

This time of year showcases producers of all types offering up the very height of glory in the fruits of their (hard) labor.

I get goosebumps just thinking of perusing & buying fresh corn, squash, kale, sweet cherry tomatoes, heirloom variety apples, and the last of the summer fruits and berries of all kinds.

It is nothing short of pure vegetable heaven this time of year, and every bit a true food lover’s paradise, no matter what your dietary preferences. You’d have to be inhuman not to get inspired this time of year after a visit to the market.

That is, unless you can’t afford it.

I wrote a few posts back about my visit to the market where I (oh heavens me) happened to find myself with only a meager sum of cash to get me through my visit. That visit where I had to control my desires and my will.

Imagine (just for a second) that you had to do that every day?

Not because (like me) you just weren’t organized, but because you simply didn’t have the dough. I ask this question not to instill guilt, or a sense of anything other than awareness.

Awareness that no matter what your means, there is always someone who has less than you, and always someone who has more.

Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.

~ Thomas Goodwin

As we prepare here in Canada to celebrate our national celebration of Thanksgiving (we are 3 weeks ahead of our American friends), many of us might be busy planning menus, inviting guests, or maybe just looking forward to our next three-day weekend.

My wish for this coming weekend, and for all the weekends to follow is simple:

My wish is that each day that comes next might be just as good as the day before, and that no matter what life throws at me, I always remember the important things. Like having a healthy loving family, a cozy roof over my head, and two strong legs to walk my sorry a** to the store when I’ve run out of milk (again).

Rest and be thankful.

~ William Wadsworth

I’d love to know what you might be thankful for not just this season, but all year long. I’ve a feeling our needs are not that different from one another, really.

Food, shelter, love.Good people. Good food. A good laugh here and there.

Not too much for ask for I reckon, especially when there is just so much to go around.

I am so happy to have you all here at IPOM to continue to celebrate simple healthy food and the idea of living with (just a little) less.

Many blessings to you, your loved ones, and the communities you live in.

Because the truth is as we move forward in our collective lives is just this: we are all in this together.

I’d love to hear what you might be pondering in preparation for this coming holiday weekend (and for those of you who are looking that far ahead in the US). No matter where you are, thanks for joining us!

I’ve got some recipes coming up that I hope you’ll love πŸ™‚

  • What are you planning for Thanksgiving?
  • How do you give thanks?

Yours in Less (as always),

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Filed under Children, Cooking, Fasting, Feeding, Food, Food Insecurity, Going Without, Happiness, Health, Hope, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Non-Profit Organization, Not So Fast, Photography, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Success, Uncategorized, Victory

Recipe: Vegan Harvest Chickpea Salad

A salad to make weekday lunches sparkle & shine!

I just wish people would realize that anything’s possible if you try; dreams are made possible if you try.

~ Terry Fox

Good day everyone!

I’ve got a goodie to share today, and this one has been tucked away in the ‘fave salad’ category for many years now.

One of the best things for us folks who love to prepare food is enjoying something in an unfamiliar place prepared by someone else and enjoying it so much we promptly head home to re-create it.

Sound familiar?!

Well this salad came about after a work trip many many years ago, and it was in Calgary that I first enjoyed this combo as part of a quick healthy lunch.

It has pine nuts in it, which truthfully I don’t use very much and haven’t featured on IPOM before, as they are very expensive. They are, however, a nice treat and combined with the rest of the ingredients here taste rather unreal! Of course, you could also sub in lightly roasted cashew or almond pieces if pine nuts are not on hand.

So without further ado, let’s get to this beautiful salad featuring Farmer’s Market chard & yellow zucchini.

It’s totally vegan & gluten-free too! A rather nice perk, I would say πŸ™‚

A single leaf alone provides no shade.

~ Chuck Page

It always seems I am reminded of this recipe at the end of summer when I stumble across fresh yellow zucchini squash.

This time of year they are abundant and cheap, not to mention firm, sweet, and delicious. Of course, you can sub in green for the recipe too, you’ll just miss that sunny hit of yellow in your bowl!

The chard used here adds a nice variety and provides a use for this green in its raw form that can be (for some) rather obscure in its applications.

Of course you can also sub other greens such a raw kale here too, but the case for color remains the same – just looking at the colors in this dish brings a smile to my face!

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.

Β  ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

The beauty here is depending on what you’ve got, this can be made year round & keeps well for 4-5 days in the fridge.

It makes for a truly satisfying & light lunch on the go during the work or school week.

It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

The Less:

Less prepared foods at lunchtime means more freshness in your tupperware. Less pre-bottled dressings means less waste, cost, and preservatives. Less reliance on traditional lunch foods means packing a brown bag becomes exciting & weekday lunches become something to relish.

The More:

More high fibre chickpeas means easy filling up on the good stuff. More colorful veggies means a feast for the eyes. More variety & raw greens means more fresh vital energy, so you’ll never miss the standard old heavy stuff.

Vegan Harvest Chickpea Salad:

  • (3) cups cooked chickpeas or garbanzos
  • (2) medium yellow zucchini, chopped into one inch pieces
  • (4-6) cups chopped Red Chard
  • (1/2) cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • (4) tbsp pine nuts
  • (2) tsp dried basil
  • (1/4) cup good olive oil
  • (3) tbsp red wine vinegar
  • (2) tsp salt, or to taste

Start by washing and preparing the vegetables.

On the stove, put up a shallow pan filled with an inch of water and turn on the heat to high. Chop the zucchini into one inch pieces and add t the pin with the lid propped just barely on.

Once the water reaches boil, turn it down to simmer and cook for no longer than 3 minutes (set the timer!), just until the zucchini is soft-‘ish’ – be careful to not to overcook! Drain the zucchini pieces and set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl combine the olive oil, salt, and wine vinegar & mix together with a fork or whisk. Add the cooked chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and basil. Stir all gently to combine.

Add the zucchini and raw chopped chard to the mixture and stir gently to incorporate, taking care not to crush the chard leaves or the zucchini. Taste for seasonings, and transfer to a clean serving bowl and serve!

If you are making this for lunches, store covered with wrap or foil or in a to go container. Last week I packed up my containers in advance and just grabbed them in the morning when I left the house.

Feel free to add freshly ground pepper or crumbled feta to this if you like.

It is also totally wonderful just on its own and truthfully a wonderful break from heavier cheeses and nuts.

As much as I normally try to avoid using pine nuts due to their high cost, I was lucky to find a very reasonable source here in Vancouver recently, and this recipe benefits immensely from their taste and light texture. Of course the substitutes I mentioned above would add their own brand of delicious too πŸ™‚

If you choose to cook your chickpeas from scratch, simply put up 2 cups of dry beans to soak in 6-8 cups of cold water for 8-12 hours. Before cooking drain & rinse the soaked beans in more cold water and put up to boil in plenty of salted cold water (about 1 teaspoon salt added to the water). Simply Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 – 1.5 hours or until soft.

If you’ve got the time, this is a wonderful cost saver, not to mention the added benefit of having no cans to open & recycle.

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

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.

~ Seneca

I hope you might enjoy this celebratory combo as we continue to ring in this beautiful fall season we are having here in this part of the world!

  • Do you have a chard recipe to share with us?
  • Do you ever cook beans from scratch?

I’ve certainly posed this question about beans before and am always interested to know who is cooking their own. It is so easy but can be tough to fit in (and to look that far ahead) at the same time.

I became re-inspired about cooking my beans from scratch as much as possible after reading (and trying) a few recipes I brought home with me from my holiday, and after getting to it have been reminded of the taste & texture of freshly cooked beans, especially chickpeas – it is heaven in comparison!

Wishing you all a fabulous sparkly week as always filled with good food, good friends & loved ones!

Yours in Less,

56 Comments

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