Category Archives: Photography

Recipe: Not So Fast Easy Red Lentil & Vegetable Soup

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

~ John Lennon

So it happened again (so many high fives)!

A group of folks got together to spend just under two hours with a group of kids from our fair city’s toughest neighborhood to cook together. To cook real food ~ food that needs no more than a few basic skills to make, skills like peeling, chopping, stirring, boiling, cutting, slicing, and best of all, caring.

There is nothing that could make me any happier, or more grateful to know that no matter where you find them, kids are always just kids. They need us. They need us to teach them how to live well, and that no matter what, they are worthy of every bit of our love and our attention. Each and every single one of them.

Just two nights ago we gathered in a small community center kitchen in Vancouver’s Eastside and cooked 4 healthy & nutritious dishes, one of them being this hearty, delicious soup.

We planned for 8, thought we had 6, and ended up with 12 (by the end of the night we had 9). Having such an immense amount of interest has been just incredibly encouraging, knowing kids are eager to learn how to have fun in the kitchen. And they are hungry for good food if it’s there.

This is the first of 3 classes we will be putting on, trying to reach as many youth & families as we can in the process. I’ll be posting the recipes from our classes one by one over the course of the next few weeks, starting with today’s soup, as we are repeating this menu for the next 2 classes coming up, and in the New Year we plan to offer another round with a new menu.

So stay tuned for more great recipes, stories, photos, and full hearts! If you’d like to support us, we’d love your help. A little or a lot, it doesn’t take much to fill a little tummy. You can donate here, and read up on Not So Fast here if you are new to IPOM and my story, thanks to all of you have been with me since the start!

The Less:

Less complicated, fussy food means more pleasure in doing simple things. Less heavy, meat based soups and stews means more high-fiber, easy digesting. Less cost for good food means more to go around, so everyone can come and sit at the table.

The More:

More simple recipes means more confidence and fun in the kitchen. More warm filling soups means more warm, happy bellies. More skills where it matters means more focus on priorities, because eating well should be easy & accessible for all.

I thought I’d share what the recipes looked like for the class Tuesday night (spelling error and all). Part of our goal in arming kids with knowledge is providing tools when we can as well, so we sent each participant home with a folder full of recipes for each dish we made. It’s a little thing, but you just never know πŸ™‚

I think my heart is so full it might last quite a while. And I can’t wait to do it all over again, surrounded by literally the best team of friends & volunteers any girl could wish for (so much love & gratitude for you all). Stay tuned for my next post and I’ll share the rest of what we all cooked, how we cooked it, and the laughs and smiles we had all along the way.

To make a donation in support of our efforts, however big or small (hint: there is no small!) you can do that here, your money goes a long way! Best to all for a super wonderful week, and thank you for joining me, I am one super-inspired happy camper.

Yours in Less,

59 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Children, Cooking, Feeding, Food, Food Insecurity, Gluten Free, Going Without, Inspiration, Non-Profit Organization, Not So Fast, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Authentic Italian Chickpea Flat Bread

Healthy, delicious, vegan, gluten-free & Italian.

Need I say more? I mean, really? With so many wonderful things all packaged up into one, it might seem almost too good to be true. If I told you also, just how mind-bogglingly easy this recipe was, well you might just freak right out. Don’t do that. Instead, read on to find the recipe that could literally help you simplify your life, be healthier, all the while impressing your friends and family as well. Lofty promises I know.

I first posted a chickpea flat bread recipe back in September, fresh off our glorious family holiday in France. That recipe, as well as today’s, came directly from our time in a comfortable Provencal apartment, when on the last day there I chilled alone on the terrace with a (1/2) bottle of rose and a few of the apartment owner’s cookbooks (a most wonderful and sophisticated Australian woman).

A few hundred iphone shots later (not even kidding you) and I had what might be the best collection of authentic French and Italian recipes ever. Not to mention a never to be forgotten few quiet moments to myself in paradise.

And now I am so excited to share some of that paradise with all of you, with my surroundings slightly different of course, but you all know what I mean! Chickpea flour is fairly inexpensive and can be found in most any Asian, Indian, or health food store. So do seek it out, it will be well worth your while!

The Less:

Less wheat flour based diet staples less irritants for those sensitive. Less grains in the diet can mean less trouble for the stomach, digestion, and comfy body weight. Fewer ingredients in your food means more control of what you are eating, so sourcing ingredients of quality stays paramount.

The More:

More simple recipes to prepare means more reasons to make them. More old world foods means more old world wisdom. More alternatives to bread means more ways to feel satiated, without paying a price in equilibrium.

Authentic Italian Chickpea Flat Bread:

  • (2.5) cups chick-pea flour (also called gram or garbanzo flour)
  • (3.5) cups fresh cold water
  • (1 tsp) salt & black pepper, or to taste
  • (1/4) cup extra virgin olive oil

First, prepare to be blown away in a few hours, as this recipe calls for the mixed batter to sit a little while. I’ve made this recipe now several times and have had great success with mixing it up mid-day on a weekend for cooking in time for dinner.

In a large mixing bowl, pour in the flour. Add the water gradually as you whisk the flour to keep any lumps from forming. Once all the water has been added, mix until completely smooth and add salt and pepper as desired (just not too much salt and this recipe doesn’t need much).

Let the mixture stand on the counter for 3 hours or so. When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Gently skim off any froth that forms on the surface of the mixture with a slotted spoon. Prepare a large rimmed cookie sheet by pouring the olive oil onto the bottom (if you can, do not be shy or skimpy here with the olive oil, it is wonderful in this recipe).

Once the oven is hot, pour in the batter, making a layer about (1/4) inch deep. Careful, this is going to move a lot when you pick it up! Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven when done and let cool a little before cutting & serving.

Now the original recipe (to which I have made no changes to) calls for the ‘cake’ (called chick pea cake or ‘Torta Di Ceci’) to be served piping hot. It is of course, completely delicious straight out of the oven, plain or with (just a little) grated Parmesan on top.

Personally, I think it is divine smothered in the Broccoli Pesto from my last post, but it would be equally good with my favorite Kale Pesto or a tomato based chutney or even a good sharp cheese (I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t ridiculous with Gruyere). The trick here is not to double up on the beans – for balance I would avoid hummus or any other bean related dip with this one, bit that might just be me πŸ™‚

This recipe makes a generous amount, and the good great news is it keeps incredibly well. Just cut and store in the fridge until needed. To heat, simply broil the amount you want until hot and brown. Perfect.

In addition to being amazing freshly baked, I was thrilled to learn that the textural integrity of this cake is still amazing with left overs. It is a heavenly and welcome substitute for pasta or beans in soup too and won’t dissolve or disintegrate when added to liquid and cooked. Simply cube and add to whatever liquid based sustenance you happen to have on hand.

My sustenance this weekend was just this. Hot, cozy tomato soup with cubed chickpea flat bread and a nice sprinkle of olive oil and black pepper. Perfect for a rainy winter weekend πŸ™‚

  • Have you cooked with chick pea flour before?
  • Have you tried the broccoli pesto yet?

Now you can do both at once!

Yours in Less,

92 Comments

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

Recipe: Broccoli & Lemon Zest Pesto

A beautiful bright green add-on to your day.

Life really is a funny thing. As we move forward (which we inevitably have to), it is certainly impossible to know what might inspire us from day-to-day, week to week, and so on. It could be a conversation over lunch, or a person you haven’t seen for years that suddenly pops into your life. It could be a season, or the way you feel after spending quality time outdoors in the fresh air.

I know that for me, I am happiest and most inspired when I’ve got a full, balanced plate in front of me. Pardon the corny food metaphor, but it’s just so apt! Not too much, and not too little. Just the right amount. Having too much (of anything) can certainly cause a feeling of being bogged down. The goal (for me anyways) is always to find some sort of precarious balance and this week, I am finding much strength in looking at ways to further embrace the philosophy and idea behind this blog.

Less is always more (except when it isn’t). Simple & easy might rule around here for a while, as we kick off our next set of NSF cooking classes (pumped!) which are just around the corner. Stay tuned for an update on what we are doing next week as we finalize the recipes, write the ingredient lists, and round-up the best volunteers in the whole entire world (love you guys!).

Of course, we’ll also get to some really great recipes too. Lots of them, in fact! Starting with this amazing version of a popular favorite. Yes, broccoli pesto it is, and it is wonderful, especially when you see what it goes with!

The Less:

Less oil-heavy sauces means fewer calories and fragmented foods. Less traditional pesto ingredients means more variety and fun ways to eat different things. Less calorie & dairy rich appetizers means lighter eats to snack on anytime, so good taste and light feelings come together.

The More:

More fiber filled broccoli means more chlorophyll and vitamins. More lemony, zesty flavor means more punchy bright taste. More pumpkin seeds & fresh herbs means more plant-based nutrition, so eating adventurously is just this good for you & healthy.

Broccoli & Lemon Zest Pesto:

  • (1) broccoli floret, washed and chopped (about 2 – 2.5 cups chopped)
  • (1/3) cup pumpkin seeds
  • (1) clove garlic (optional)
  • (1) tsp salt
  • (4) tbsp lemon juice
  • (1) tsp lemon zest
  • (2) tbsp olive oil
  • (3/4) cup fresh parsley
  • (1/4) cup fresh basil leaves

Start by putting up some water to boil in a small saucepan and steam the broccoli for 2-3 minutes until bright green and tender, but not mushy. Once cooked, remove the broccoli from the heat and set aside.

Roast the pumpkin seeds in a 350 degree oven for 2-3 minutes until turning brown and fragrant. Prepare the lemon juice, lemon zest, & fresh herbs and set aside.

Once the seeds are toasted, remove from the oven and add them directly to the blender warm with all of the prepared ingredients. The mixture might need some agitation with a spatula to get going, but should get going to a nice bit of pureeing in little time. Blend on high until well mixed and bright green.

Serve within a day or two to ensure the best color from the broccoli and the best nutritional value. Broccoli pesto will keep in the fridge for several days and is delicious served with chickpea flat bread, or as a dip for crunchy crackers.

In my next post, I’ll share with you the latest version of chickpea flat bread that has won my heart for good.

Since our return from France in August (and the recipes I brought home from Provence), I’ve had the pleasure to try a many of these, and this one is so far my favorite! So stay tuned for an easy, filling, and nutritious version of what is fast becoming a popular food here at home (and for very good reason).

Stay tuned, you’ll want to make this one, I promise! Also do let me know if you’ve got any streamlining to do as a result of a (rather) full plate, and what is your first thing to let go!

  • What do you do when you feel bogged down by details?
  • Have you tried a broccoli pesto or chickpea flat bread yet?

Have a wonderful remainder to the week my friends and thank you as always for reading, for your kind comments, and your wonderful feedback on the recipes πŸ™‚

Yours in (just a little) Less,

62 Comments

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

Recipe: Cashew Rice Loaf & Red Pepper Cheese Sauce, Virtual Vegan Potluck Edition

Delicious for anyone at your table, guaranteed!

Life is either aΒ daring adventureΒ or nothing at all.

~ Helen Keller.

Holla Bloggers!

Welcome to this stop on the Virtual Vegan Potluck!

For occasions like this, sometimes you’ve got to whip up something special. Enter one of my all time favorite special occasion recipes. There are many amazing versions of vegan loaf recipes out there, but this one is well, special.

This is a recipe I’ve been serving up in my house for years, and whether for Thanksgiving, Easter, or just an anytime awesome vegan meal, it always gets rave reviews. After all, what’s not to love when yummy ground cashews & hearty brown rice are mixed with herbs and spices and baked to perfection?

Not a whole lot, I can tell you that for sure!

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

~ Dr. Seuss

I must point out that I rarely use cashews this heavily, as they can get pricey, and while a vegan’s dream ingredient for those missing the creaminess of dairy, can still be heavy-ish on the pocketbook and tummy if not used in (relative) moderation.

But with today being a special occasion, what better time could there be to make something (just a little) less ordinary, and perhaps (just a little) more delicious than usual?

Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.

~ Mother Teresa

The Less:

Less meat-based main courses means more veggie heaven for all. Fewer fats, lower cost, and better value means more nutrition for less output. Fewer steps in a recipe means anyone can do it, and when dinner tastes this good, really, everyone should.

The More:

More tasty filling dinner ideas means you can safely (and deliciously) feed anyone. More nuts and whole grains means more plant-based satisfaction. More simple to make sauces and healthy flavor add-ins means healthy food that is flavorful, so serving up plant-based becomes ritual.

Cashew Rice Loaf & Red Pepper Cheese Sauce:

~ Adapted From the Silver Hills Cookbook

  • (1/3) cup short grain brown rice
  • (1) cup water for cooking the rice
  • (1) tbsp olive oil
  • (1) small onion, finely chopped
  • (1) cup finely ground raw cashews
  • (1) cup breadcrumbs
  • (1) cup soy or nut milk
  • (2) tbsp fresh or dried parsley
  • (1) tbsp soy sauce or Bragg’s
  • (1/2) tsp salt, or to taste
  • Olive oil for oiling the loaf pan

Start by combining the rice and cold water together in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, and turn down to simmer with the lid on for 35-40 minutes while you prepare all the other ingredients.

While the rice cooks, chop the onion finely and heat (1) tablespoon olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Saute the onion for 6-8 minutes until brown and fragrant. Once the onion is cooked, add it to a large mixing bowl that is ready and waiting to go.

In the mixing bowl, combine the cooling cooked onion with the remaining loaf ingredients. Once the rice is cooked, add it to the mixture while still warm, this will help it all to mix beautifully together. Mix everything well, and get in there with your hands to ensure it is all even.

After mixing, the mixture should be nice and moist, but not too dry. Feel free to add a few extra breadcrumbs if the mixture feels too wet, but in my experience the ratios here are perfect.

If you are subbing in gluten-free breadcrumbs, you may want to add a little more.

At this point once your loaf mixture is all mingling together, you can set the mixture aside for later and bake it when convenient.

To bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Transfer the cashew mixture to a well oiled standard loaf pan (or two smaller pans) and bake for 40 minutes, until the house is smelling wonderful and the loaf has browned on top.

Red Pepper Cheese Sauce:

  • (2) medium red bell peppers, seeded & chopped coarsely (you could use yellow or orange too for different color)
  • (1) cup cashews or cashew pieces (slightly more affordable)
  • (1.5) cups water
  • (1/4) cup olive oil
  • (1-1.5) tsp salt
  • (1) tbsp nutritional yeast
  • (1/4) tsp garlic powder or granulated garlic
  • (1/4) tsp black or white pepper

Combine all ingredients in your blender, and blend on high for at least a full minute, even longer (up to 2 minutes is good). This recipe is so easy and simple and doesn’t require any pre-soaking of nuts or roasting of peppers!

Once your mixture is well blended, transfer to a medium sauce pan and heat very gently on the stove. Cook this mixture over medium-low heat for 15 -20 minutes until heated throughout, and thick and bubbly. Make sure to stir frequently to keep the sauce from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Cooking the cashews gently thickens them while cooking the pepper and spices together. Of course, you could pre-roast the peppers, but I love the beauty and ease of this sauce – it can be whipped up in minutes spur of the moment!

Serve this for a special meal. Or serve it everyday. Turn it out onto a serving dish (wait for it to cool a minute) and garnish with fresh herbs and cooked greens.

It’s not only fabulous fresh out of the oven and smothered in gravy, but equally delicious thrown in the fridge to be enjoyed later. Crumble leftovers over green salads with tahini dressing, or add it to a vegetable saute with garlic & kale.

This dish is easy to make and always a hit for vegans and omnivores alike. Feel free to use different bread crumbs and play around with the herbs and vegetables too.

My favorite part about this recipe is it doesn’t need anything added, it’s perfect just the way it is!

It just needs good people around to eat it.

I think that could be arranged right? πŸ˜‰

Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right .

~ Henry Ford.

I think it’s safe to say that we all, at the end of the day, desire (and need) the same basic things.

Good food and good friends are just about the two best things in the world when put together, and I’m happy to have you all here to share all of this amazing food love with me!

  • Have you got a great vegan loaf recipe to share?
  • What’s your favorite special occasion meal?

Thanks for joining in today and do let us know…I am off to count the Halloween candy haul between two rain-soaked & excited eight year olds πŸ™‚

Looking forward to perusing the fabulous offerings at the Potluck, and have a wickedly wonderful weekend everyone!

And of course a HUGE thanks to Annie at An Unrefined Vegan – with the wonderful help ofΒ  Somer at Vedged Out and Jason – for organizing, as well as Vegan Bloggers Unite for hosting!

Go here to start from the beginning, or here to visit the post before me & here to move ahead!

Note: this post is also being submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays!

Bon appetit!

Yours in Less,

115 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Crisp Brussels Sprout Salad w/ Apple Dijon Dressing

The tastiest, craziest, & most delicious salad. Ever.

Be Bold, be bold, and everywhere be bold.

~ Edmund Spenser

I’ve got to come out with it.

I know it’s hard when this happens, but really, I’ve got to be honest. I’ve had a challenging week.

I’m not sharing this to illicit sympathy (well, not intentionally), but in truth, I’d be lying if I tried to pretend life was all roses all the time. Of course this week has also brought it’s fair share of amazing as well.

So what to do?

Roll with it. Carry on. Be bold. Stay strong. And don’t stop (never stop).

Keep carrying on. Positively!

So really, that fender bender that will see my insurance rates go up for the next few years? I am choosing to see the positive: while my vehicle is in the body shop, I can finally have the rest of the knicks and scrapes repaired along with that crack in the wind shield that gets longer by the week….no one was hurt. Accidents happen.

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

~ E.E. Cumming

My usual style is to beat myself up hard over stuff like this. After all, driving is serious business and there is nothing like a split second to change the course of your day, or if it is really not your day (and heaven forbid) your life.

As shaken as I was for the rest of that day, I know that practicing forgiveness for mistakes is as much a part of the lesson as the mistake itself.

So drive safely folks. Don’t text (I wasn’t on or near my phone when this happened). Don’t look down. Take a few extra seconds to think. And if you fail, forgive. It’s the least you can do.

And then make this salad. It will make you an instant hero, no matter what your week, or your day, has looked like. Even if you don’t like brussels sprouts, this raw combo will blow you away (and anyone else at your table too).

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

~ John Powell

The Less:

Less conventional cooked brussels sprouts means a chance to finally enjoy them. Less boredom in the salad department means more excitement and life in your salad bowl. Less cooked heavy meals means more lightness, crunch, and flavor, not to mention good health and well-being too.

The More:

More cruciferous green veggies & home-grown sprouts means more delicious, disease-fighting frugality. More high-fiber substance means more filling up on the right foods. More crisp crunchy textures means more chewing for good digestion, so eating and mindfulness are a no-brainer.

Crisp Brussels Sprout Salad w/ Apple Dijon Dressing:

  • (15) large brussels sprouts, washed
  • (1) cup fresh sprouted legumes (my fave to grow at home are mung bean or green peas)
  • (1/2) cup dried cranberries
  • (1/3) cup toasted whole pecans, crumbled
  • (1/2) cup Apple Dijon Dressing
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Apple Dijon Dressing:

  • (1/4) cup apple juice (or water will do in a pinch)
  • (1/2) cup apple cider vinegar
  • (1/2) cup good olive oil
  • (3) tbsp smooth Dijon mustard
  • (3) tbsp honey or plant-based sweetener
  • (1/2) tsp good sea salt

First, make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a blender (or large bowl if you are using a hand blender). Blend all until a silky texture is created, just about 20-30 seconds. Transfer to a clean container or jar.

To make the salad, start by toasting the pecans either in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or on the stove top in a dry pan for 5 minutes or so, being very careful not to burn them. Set the pecans aside.

To shred the brussels sprouts, make sure they are clean by running them quickly under cold water. With a sharp serrated knife, start with the top end of each sprout (they are cut individually) and slice the sprout in rounds as thinly as you can until you reach the thicker stem end. Use this method until all of the sprouts are shredded.

Next, add them to a large bowl and separate the rounds with your hands to free the pieces and create a slaw like mixture.

When ready to serve, combine all of the ingredients in the bowl except the pecans, and toss with the dressing, adding it to taste.

This is a nice light dressing which will pool somewhat on the bottom of the bowl once the salad is served. Don’t waste this! I suggest a few baked or steamed whole sweet potatoes to serve alongside this to soak up this delicious dressing πŸ™‚

When ready to serve, crumble the toasted pecans over top of the salad or onto individual portions and serve right away.

Freedom lies in being bold.

~ Robert Frost

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

~ Steve Jobs

This salad tastes incredible the next day too and is wonderful served on top of cooked grains and/or other steamed vegetables.

In my next post I’ll take you through the home sprouting process step by step – sprouting legumes is really one of those easy and cheap things that brings amazing results to anyone looking for simple raw nutrition for literally pennies!

These gorgeous mung beans provide at least a few days worth of enzymes, protein, and vitality and they only took 2 days to grow right here in my sink πŸ™‚

If you are ashamed to stand by your colors, you had better seek another flag.

~ Author Unknown

So folks, I hope you are having a fabulous October so far – it is hard to believe we are almost half way!

I am looking forward to the upcoming Vegan Potluck hosted by Annie and Somer, as well as continuing to take in all the delicious recipes coming through Vegan MoFo (October is the Vegan Month of Food)…and a special thanks to Kristy at Keepin’ it Kind for her gorgeous version of this chickpea flatbread!

I am also excited to get my car fixed up. Turns out there IS an up side to everything, it just depends in which light you look at it. So whether life is actually roses all the time or not, those colored glasses we always hear so much about?

I’m keeping mine close. It’s the only way.

  • Have you tried brussels sprouts raw before?

If not, this is so worth a try!

It has been immediately added to our regular rotation, and even got a huge thumbs up from both the teenager and the husband. Now, that’s a win worth celebrating!

Wishing you all a safe and happy week!

Yours in Less,

87 Comments

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

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

Recipe: Homemade Baked Beans On Toast – Part One

The ultimate in affordable (vegetarian) comfort food.

Play is the highest form of research.

~ Albert Einstein

Do you ever just need a little comfort food?

I think it is safe to say we all need a little comfort in the form of our favorite foods here and there. Growing up, one of my most favorite snack foods was just this – comforting – not to mention dirt cheap and easy to make.

After all, what is easier than opening up a can of beans and heating them up? Toss a few pieces of bread in the toaster and slather on the butter….just thinking of it brings me right back to 4th grade heaven.

My 30 something year old self now knows that while the old canned standbys are still good in a pinch, there is nothing better than a warm bowl of home cooked beans and a fresh piece of bread hot out of the oven. Especially when they are this cheap, and this easy.

All you need is (just a little) love. And (just a little) time.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Having just celebrated another birthday, I find myself of late quite keenly aware of the fleeting nature of our lives.

As I think back to my days as young child I can tell you my defining moments just as easily as I can tell you what my favorite things to eat were. Most often, and particularly at the beginning of each new school year, I think back to me and my siblings, convening after a long day at school to watch TV and eat food we could make on our own.

Hot beans in a bowl. With toast. Childhood comfort food. Three’s Company. Let’s do it!

Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

The Less:

Less canned food in your pantry means more room for cheaper dry goods to nourish you. Less waste and added preservatives means cleaner eating and a lighter conscience. Less sugar heavy baked beans means more naturally sweetened heartiness, and a whole lot more nourishment too.

The More:

More high fiber protein foods means easier work of digestion. More hearty, filling comfort means more warmth and goodness in your day. More cheap easy recipes means more ways to spread your money farther, because good health doesn’t have to come at a high cost.

Homemade Baked Beans:

  • (2) cups dry white Navy beans, soaked in cold water
  • (1/3- 1/2 cup) good olive oil
  • (2) medium – large yellow onions, chopped
  • (2) tsp salt
  • (1) small can tomato paste (about 1/2 cup)
  • (3) tbsp honey, brown sugar, or other plant-based sweetener
  • (8) cups cold water for cooking
  • Lots of love of and plenty of time

Start by soaking your beans in plenty of cold of water for anywhere from 8 – 20 hours (8 is about the minimum to soak thoroughly and don’t worry if you ill time the soaking – they can sit there for a while). When ready to cook, drain the beans and rinse in the colander under more fresh cold water.

Next, heat the oil in a large soup pot and add the chopped onion and salt. Cook the onion for about 10 minutes on medium-high heat, being careful not to burn them. Stir here and there, after 10 minutes the onions should be soft and translucent.

Next, add the tomato paste, beans, and 4 cups of cold cooking water. Stir well to dissolve the paste and bring to a boil over high heat with the lid on. Once the boil is reached, stir again and reduce the heat to medium, to keep the simmer at a jolly roll (not boiling but cooking nicely).

Now, kick up your feet, and get settled in. Read a book , or finish that knitting project you started. Maybe write some notes to your family to tell them you love them. Or not. But do enjoy this nice time at home.

Cook the beans withe the lid ajar for 1.5 hours, stirring here and there and adding the remaining 4 cups of water in increments as the sauce reduces. After the first hour, add whatever water is left, and the honey or sweetener, and cook for 30 minutes until the mixture is deliciously saucy.

From here, you can let the beans hang out until you are ready to bake them (you can even sneak in a bowl to eat at this point).

To bake, transfer the beans to a casserole and bake, covered either with the casserole lid or with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and serve hot with fresh bread or toast.

These beans will keep extremely well, and should be good to eat up to a week after they are made. A little goes a long way here as these guys are hearty and filling, so pile them into a container for those moments during the week when you need a little comfort.

Paired up with the bread recipe lined up for the next post, you’ll wonder if there could possibly be anything simpler or more nostalgic (especially if you grew up in my family).

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.

~ Julia Child

I was pleased to see that 25 years later, kids still love this food as a filler up after soccer practice or after a long tough day as a teenager (because let’s face it, that is exhausting work for those of you who may recall).

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.

~ Henry David Thoreau

Next I’ll share with you the bread recipe that has literally changed my life since I discovered it. Turns out, it’s never too late to be a baker, even if you’ve never even made bread before! Stay tuned, I am really excited about this one!

Here’s to a super fab October…wishing you all the very best as always!

  • Did you have a favorite childhood comfort food?
  • Got an updated version to share with us?

Let us know! Looking forward to hearing from you all as always, and for all my vegan-minded blog friends taking part in Vegan MoFo, wishing you all the best for a month of blogging inspiration, and those of you interested, check out the link here!

Yours in Less,

87 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Family, Food, Gluten Free, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Snacks, 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

Recipes: Chickpea Flat Bread & Basil Pistou

The turn of the seasons means time for new foods.

Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.

~ Albert Camus

Holla bloggers! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Grateful as always to be here, I spent the weekend enjoying cooking at home and getting back into the groove in my kitchen. Yes, the dancing shoes were on and everything πŸ™‚

Since utilizing fresh, accessible & affordable ingredients is fundamental to this blog, I am super excited to keep sharing more easy healthy recipes, and what fun it is to bounce off the energy and inspiration collected on my recent holiday.

This (new to me) gluten-free chickpea flat bread is as versatile as it is tasty, and when it comes to preparation, is almost criminally easy.

Paired with a topper like this Basil Pistou, it makes a perfect light lunch or side to a more substantial meal.

A man taking basil from a woman will love her always.

~ Sir Thomas Moore

Before we start, a few thoughts on food…

I’ve been teasing for quite a few posts about the foods we enjoyed while we were away. Of course I’d planned to write about this for weeks, and the truth when it comes right down to it is just this: the food we enjoyed there was dead simple.

We enjoyed amazing produce, and super fresh bread & cheese. My husband barbecued & I made (and ate) salads galore.

There were a few key ingredients that were thoroughly enjoyed to the last drop, like a balsamic vinegar that tasted as sweet as could be, gorgeous raw walnut oil for our salad dressings, delicious mustard that was added to everything, and wonderful staples like fresh bocconcini, tomatoes, sublime melons, and that amazingly fresh bread.

The crazy thing was that in France, and most notably in the countryside, the fresh healthy stuff came wonderfully affordable compared to home.

Upon our return to the Canadian west coast, fresh on the memories of the market in Provence, a visit to our local farmers market revealed that prices are in some cases 5 times what they were in France (and I was informed that the market we visited was the ‘expensive’ one for tourists by a good French friend).

There, baguettes were at the most 1 dollar (85 euro cents). A giant ball of gorgeous fresh bocconcini cost all of $1.15, and a triangle of brie just a paltry $1.96 (precisely). Sweet ripe melons were sold at every market at a mind boggling 3/$5, and two entire days worth of fresh picked fruit and vegetables cost me all of $9 at a roadside stand.

Enjoying regional foods is beautiful no matter where you are, and treating to aged balsamic vinegar (at $15 a bottle), local walnut oil ($5 a bottle), and fresh pressed local olive oil ($6) was a dream, made that much more amazing by the accessibility and prices.

Here at home, the same balsamic once imported would cost $50. Needless to say, I’m back to adding sugar to my dressings, and they taste delicious too πŸ™‚

My return has prompted many new (and renewed) thoughts & ideas about our food here at home and the dream of making delicious, healthy foods available to all.

It was inspiring to say the least, and also eye opening to see such stark differences between the different worlds. So I am back to cooking, and back to work on this project that is so dear to my heart.

I’m so excited to bring you all along, starting with these recipes!

No one has ever become poor by giving.

~ Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank

The Less:

Less store bought breads and dips means more taste & freshness without the added cost & waste. Fewer ingredients means easy work of making delicious. Less cost to make healthy goodness means your money can go farther, and who wouldn’t take a bite of that idea?

The More:

More fresh garlic means more taste and added amazing health benefits. More grain free recipes at hand means more options for those who may be sensitive. More easy ways to impress your guests means more smiles at the table, after all, nothing brings a smile like the smile of another.

Chickpea Flat Bread:

  • (1) tbsp good olive oil for oiling the pan
  • (3) tbsp good olive oil for the recipe
  • (2.5) cups chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
  • (3.5) cups water
  • (1) tsp salt
  • (1-2) tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a square or round 8-9 inch cake pan with (1) tbsp of olive oil.

Next, measure the flour into a large bowl. Gradually add the water into the flour, whisking constantly to keep lumps from forming. Add the salt, chopped rosemary, and (3) tbsp olive oil and whisk until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden, about 40 minutes. When done, remove the bread from the oven and let cool for a couple of minutes.

Remove from the pan and cut into slices, or, bring the entire pan to the table or serving area and serve straight from there!

This recipe made a generous amount that lasted in our house all week. If you like, this recipe can easily be halved, in which case you could use a regular loaf pan to bake it in.

We ate this with the pistou in this post but also enjoyed it days later fried in salt & olive oil as delicious croutons for our weeknight salads.

Keep any leftovers in the fridge and use within 5-6 days.

Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others.

~ Buddha

I’d love to hear how this goes for those of you who are looking for easy & affordable gluten free recipes to try. It’s so easy and has a lovely digestibility, not to mention the unexpected gentle chickpea flavor. Yum.

Chickpea flour is very affordable and is available in Asian food stores (it is used in Indian recipes) as well as most health food stores.

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

~ Mark Twain

Basil Pistou:

– Adapted from Ina Garten in the Barefoot Contessa

  • (2-4) large garlic cloves (depending on your fondness for garlic!)
  • (1/4) cup tomato paste
  • (24) fresh basil leaves (or about 1 packed cup of fresh basil)
  • (1/2) cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • (1) cup good olive oil
  • (1) tbsp lemon juice
  • (1/4) tsp salt

Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend on high until smooth and well incorporated.

Feel free to start and stop the blender to whirl the mixture with a spatula (always taking care to not do this while it is running, mindfulness with the blender can be a big challenge for me!).

Transfer to a sealed container or jar and keep in the fridge. By adding the lemon juice, this recipe should not discolor, but if you choose to you can cover the top of the pistou with a film of olive oil to keep it from drying out at the top while being stored. The original recipe called for all but the salt and lemon, but I couldn’t resist adding my favorite flavor boosters, and I do think it is more delicious for it.

Use this as a spread for bread, or for pasta, in a sandwich, or as a quick perk up for a bowl of hot soup.

This one might be tough for my vegan readers as the cheese really does carry it, but with all the genius for substitutions out there among all of you, nothing would surprise me at all πŸ™‚

A quick bit of reading on the difference between pistou & pesto yielded some history on the origins of both (both have been around for centuries), and from what I read the basic difference between the two seems to be the absence of nuts in a pistou.

Great news for those sensitive to nuts, or anyone looking to add easy variety to their repertoire.

In my next post, I’ll share the pasta salad I made with this pistou. Garlicky and delicious, it was a perfect combo with these amazingly ripe local tomatoes πŸ™‚

The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

I hope all of you are basking in the glory of September, whether it is Spring or Fall where you are.

Stay tuned for more recipes and some Not So Fast news coming up! We are hard at work this fall and hope to have some fun to share with you all very soon!

  • Have you ever tried working with chickpea flour?
  • Got a favorite pesto or pistou?

I’ve seen a few great posts out there in the blog world using chickpea flour, feel free to share your faves in the comments – I’d love to know if you’ve got a goodie!

Wishing you all a super fabulous week!

Yours in Less,

92 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Not So Fast, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Snacks, Travel, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Paris: 5 Ways We Did More with (just a little) Less

Slowing down to enjoy the view.

The Seinne in the sun is pure magic.

Make hay while the sun shines, isn’t that what they say?

Hey bloggers!!

Well it’s true what they say, the time does go fast.

It’s hard to believe it is now September, with August behind us and all that it brought. Just a month ago we were putting the finishing touches on our packed luggage…

But with September comes so many good things: back to school, back to work, and back to working on this little blog and all it encompasses πŸ™‚ I hope you’ll all stick around to see what we’ve got up our sleeves!

While we get back to normal life, it’s my pleasure to share in my next three posts a few tidbits from our time in France – starting with a few things that made a big trip not only more affordable, but really, that much better.

Travel is a real luxury, and as you all know it can sure get costly. I hope you’ll enjoy this little round-up of 5 ways we traveled well with (just a little) less.

The mere sense of living is joy enough.

Β  ~ Emily Dickinson

Our favorite statue in the city just up the street from ‘home’.

1. Shack Up

And no, I don’t mean run away with a french man on a motorcycle!

As tempting as that might be πŸ™‚ …but really, I am referring to accommodation, as anyone knows that after flights, the place where you lay your head is likely to be your biggest expense, particularly on a longer trip.

And really, fancy hotels aside (which are sweet if you’ve got the budget) – just how much time will you be spending in said place of sleep?

I referenced the quaint french apartment we took in Paris, and it was just that: small, old, perfectly lovely, and right in the heart of where we wanted to be (for those of you interested we stayed in the Marais district).

After all, this is how the vast majority of people live in big cities like this, so it was fun, and not to mention for the four of us, (just a little) less hit on the budgetΒ  & a whole lot more authentic.

Unlocking the door to the courtyard after another big day.

Everything you can imagine is real.

~ Pablo Picasso

We did just fine cozied up in our tiny kitchen, enjoying simple foods made with basics (my next post).

This was the start of the food journey that has not only affirmed my approach to food more than ever before, but forever reminded me just how simple foods made with quality ingredients are best, and how important it is to enjoy each and every bite.

After all, that is precisely what the people do in France. And it certainly shows!

Our go-to salad for three whole weeks it seems!

2. Eat In

Really!

Part of the fun of having a real place to shack up in is the chance to live like any other person might in that part of the world (at least for me it was and I suspect this would be the case for many of you too!). Cooking in a strange (tiny) kitchen is an adventure, one I was up for, and one we had a blast with.

It was a beautiful thing – heck – I was cooking dinner in Paris! What a sheer delight it was, and one I took with gratitude and pleasure.

I mentioned the produce market that set up literally at the steps to our door twice in the time we were there. I bought melons, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, nectarines, apples & berries. They were all pretty amazing, yes.

The block we stayed on had a store that stocked every fine oil, wine, preserve & jelly you could want, and the boulangerie on our block made just the right baguettes and chocolate croissants for the girls, who enjoyed them daily.

It was good living, as we say.

Not like the one in Provence, but hey – pretty darned good!

Eating in saved us tons of money, and it also meant that the three of us vegetarian girls weren’t struggling with menus (and our French) every night. It also meant we ate like royalty & had plenty of time & money left to hit the streets for some quality sight-seeing, and maybe an ice cream and a night cap (or two).

Of course, we ate dinners out too, and we enjoyed it (just a little) more when we did.

Less really was more here, and it went this way through our entire trip.

The best part? Reserving the majority of our sitting time for chilling at our favorite cafes.

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

~ Dr. Seuss

Cafe life in France, and in Paris especially, is just about the funnest thing you’ll ever experience, as no one is ever in a rush.

The people watching is just about the best in the world, not to mention the goodies you are likely to enjoy. A few days in I gave up my afternoon coffee and switched it to white wine or beer.

And then we simply sat. And watched. And drank. And talked.

Until it was time to be on our way.

3. Set out on Foot

A big city like Paris is (obviously) more than well set up for tourists, and they are pros at handling all those visitors.

There are tour buses, stacked double-deckers, boats, bike tours, and of course, the metro is superb. But nothing is like seeing the city on foot both for your waistline and your wallet.

We walked for hours & hours each day, which many of you know is a wonderful way to get fresh air, exercise, and views that you just don’t get from a tourist bus, or underground on the metro.

Plus, how will you see that top in the window or find that off-the-beaten-track patisserie with the best pastry you ate the whole trip? That gorgeous old cathedral you stumbled on that time you got lost?

Nothing says adventure like traipsing around a city with just your bag, a camera, good company and a good stylish pair of comfortablish shoes.

More on shoes in an upcoming post πŸ˜‰

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr

4. Pack Coffee/Carry Water

Depending on your preference for coffee, this might not apply, but I was glad to have brought along a few bags of ground coffee from home to make French Presses while I greeted the day and acclimatized.

The kids were often tired (especially at the start of the trip), and given my (fairly unreasonable) requirement for caffeine early in the day, I got amped at home before leaving the house.

I’d done quite a bit of research on some coffee places I wanted to hit – places that are doing quality coffee like we are lucky to enjoy at home. My first try yielded a closed sign (Telescope seemed to be closed for the month) and the others were just too out-of-the-way and not convenient to drag the whole brood to.

For a full list of great spots to hit, check out this post on Alice Gao’s beautiful blog here. Alas, maybe next time.

Besides, I see plenty of snazzy coffee shops here (it’s my job), and I realized that day that I didn’t need to travel to Paris to see them there too.

So the home coffee was a major lifesaver, not to mention an easy way to avoid the Oranginas and other goodies you buy every time you sit your kids at a table (cause you know they can’t sit there with nothing).

But believe me, they got plenty of Oranginas. In fact, I am pretty sure we spent more on those drinks then most anything the whole trip. But more on that in another post too πŸ™‚

And bring water wherever you go! All that walking will make you tired, and many places might leave you high and dry (read: thirsty) and succumbing to overpriced drinks you otherwise wouldn’t need.

5. Buy a Museum Pass

Okay. So really. This one made me very, very, happy.

Mu husband deserves the credit here, and this action turned out to be genius.

And not strictly for financial reasons. In fact, all in, we figured that by the end of our week in Paris, we broke even on the cost of this. The real savings, however, turned out to be of the more precious kind.

This thing saved us precious and irreplaceable time. No line ups!

Visiting Paris in August means the height of tourist season there – in fact – there were (what felt like) more tourists than locals, and given the high rate of shop closures for ‘Vacances’, I’d say this was correct.

We bought a one week pass that got us into any museum, sans line-up. A sweet deal considering we packed a good ‘sight a day’ into the itinerary. And did I mention the time savings? Brilliant.

But this is my husband we are talking about. I married him for a reason, or two πŸ˜‰

On our ‘must-see’ cultural list was: Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, The Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, Les Invalides, Versailles, The Pompidou Centre, and of course, the Eiffel Tower (which we did not go up as one of the lifts was broken) – there are quite a few more amazing sights to see, but traveling with a young one allows only so much, and these kids were stimulated to the max.

Truthfully, they were amazing. As was my husband for buying this pass. Brilliance.

Β  Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Commitment is a line you must cross….it is the difference between dreaming and doing.

~ Bernie Fuchs

Looking back, it seems crazy that all that is behind us now. Time really flies.

True to one of my fave Dr. Seuss quotes, I’ve got to tell you that I’m pretty darned glad we did that, and my smiles feel pretty darned wide.

I’ve since returned home to enjoy the blessings we enjoy here, such as good great regional food, clean tasty water, and truly great friends.

Yes, this is where I give a shout out to all of you – whether you wrote me a text to read when I landed, a thoughtful & genuine blog comment, an email, FB message, or straight up picked up the phone and called (you know who you are), you all made coming home that much sweeter, and I have big love for each and every one of you!

Thank you all for being here with me!

Looking forward to all that is to come – and next I’ll get to those top foods – I promise πŸ™‚

  • Got any tips to add to this from your travels?
  • If you could travel anywhere tomorrow where would it be?

I’d love to add any wisdom from all you fine readers out there – and let us know your thoughts and whatever might be on your travel wish list!

Looking forward to a fab fall with all of you!

Yours in Less,

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