Tag Archives: Christmas

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? 🙂

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

Recipe: Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread

Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread | IPOM

So it is totally worth saying that I am having a cashew moment of late. And of course, here is another cashew recipe!

I’m not sure if it is all my vegan readers and blogging friends that are re-igniting my fondness for creating yummy goodies from this nut, but either way, I’m happy to be here, enjoying the fun that comes with working with this great transitional ingredient for those looking to wean (just a little or a lot) of dairy from their diets.

Yup, cashews. They are pretty rad.

As many of you already know, the cashew is a very natural stand in for recipes requiring the richness, texture, and taste of dairy. For anyone wanting to reduce or eliminate milk and milk products from their diet, this is such a wonderful ingredient to cozy up and get familiar with.

Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread | IPOM

Cashews can just be used in so many ways (but you guys know that already, right?)! To make cream, cheese sauce, dinner, as a topping for a healthy salad, as salad dressing, and today in a luscious spread for everything from burgers to sandwiches to pizza.

Cashews are not cheap as far as nuts go (not too many nuts are anymore), but pound for pound they might not actually be all that far off the price of good organic dairy. So while moderation is always key for any rich food (plant-based or not), it is prudent to also keep that in mind when adopting cashews for use as a dairy substitute in the kitchen.

Less is usually more, and that is certainly the case for this rich and flavorful spread, but the beauty part here is this dip is largely made of peppers. Roasted to perfection first, of course!

Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread | IPOM

The Less:

Less dairy and egg-based spreads means less cholesterol and reliance on animal fats for fuel. Fewer ingredients in your food means easier work of collecting and knowing them. Less pre-made and pre-packaged sauces and spreads means less waste, cost, and (potential) bad karma, so serving up appies and spreads comes cheap & healthy.

The More:

More red peppers in your food means more color and fresh vitamins. More cashews in place of dairy means more plant based alternatives. More reasons to eat plant-based means you’ll never miss your old favorites, even if you still think you might 🙂

Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread | IPOM

Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread:

  • (1/3) cup cashews, roasted
  • (2) red peppers, roasted, peeled & seeded
  • (2) tsp fresh lemon juice
  • (1/4) cup fresh parsley
  • (1/3) cup olive oil
  • (1/2) tsp salt
  • (1) small clove garlic (optional)

Start by roasting the peppers. To prepare, wash & slice the peppers each in halves lengthwise and place (seed side down) on a flat cookie sheet (no need for oil). Turn the oven on to broil and broil the peppers until black and blistered (and smelling wonderful) – about 15 minutes or so. Once ready, carefully remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Next, turn the already hot oven to 350 degrees. Spread the cashews on a flat baking tray and place in the oven. Roast to a light brown color and until just fragrant and remove from the oven to cool, about 8-10 minutes.

Prepare the lemon juice, parsley, salt, oil & garlic (if using) and add to the blender along with the still-warm cashews.

To prepare the roasted and cooled peppers for blending, wait until they are cool enough to handle with your hands, then simply remove the skins, stems, and the seeds with your hands and add the pepper flesh to the blender. Blend all of the ingredients together until perfectly smooth. Transfer to a clean jar or container and allow to cool before serving. Kept in the fridge, this delicious spread will keep for well up to a week.

Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread | IPOM

Use this beauty as a substitute for mayonnaise in sandwiches and in burgers, or as a dip for raw celery or Belgian endive leaves.

There are numerous uses for this dip, and I enjoyed it several times slathered over the latest version of chickpea flat bread I’ve been making – topped with chopped fresh tomatoes and thyme roasted red onions. Pretty darned awesome any day of the week if you ask me, and even the teenager was pretty impressed. Win!

Roasted Cashew & Red Pepper Spread | IPOM

As a quick update on my week, we cooked tons of vegan food last night with another enthusiastic group of kids, and afterwards enjoyed a much needed drink and celebration as we look to our plans for the New Year!  The NSF website is being built as we speak and I’ll be hoping to share a little project we’ve been working on this year rather soon.

For now, I’m doing a little dance as we get closer to Christmas, and am looking forward to a lighter load under the tree (that will be lit up tonight!) this year (don’t tell anyone but I’ve yet to buy a present).

  • Are any of you planning a less is more Christmas?
  • What is your favorite part of the Holiday season?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic as we get closer to the big day. Thanks for being you (all of you), and I’m looking forward to getting caught up on my blog reading this week, I am hoping each and every one of you is well 🙂

Yours in Less,

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

Cooking Classes & Kids: Why We Love Them Both

Holla folks!

I just wanted to write a quick note to let you all know what’s been happening around here of late, as it has been (just a little) busy juggling work & family & blogging & Not So Fast all at once, and it is all so worth it.

NSF-CookingClass_013

As we gear up for another holiday season, there are so many things that can take up our time & precious mental space.

Of course, there are the basic things: family needs, school matters, home meals, laundry. There is vacuuming to do (thankfully my wonderful husband does that), and Christmas decorations to hang. I am loving Instagram these days as people share photos of their Christmas trees and (my fave) their favorite childhood decorations.

As  you all know we only get one chance at childhood, and I personally will never forget that (rather sad) day when I realized it was all over (my childhood, and yes it happened just like that), and that all that time I spent in my youth wishing I was ‘grown up’ could have been better spent being the age that I was. Young.

This is partly why I am so passionate about working with youth.

NSF-CookingClass_035

As I prepare to bring out my own childhood decorations (we just got the tree last night), I am reminded that each of us gets a chance everyday to create our own special memories, or if you are a parent or a mentor or teacher to children in any way, we get the chance to create memories for our children, either good or bad.

Kids do what we do, and kids learn directly from what we (as a collective) teach them.

Not So Fast Cooking Classes

Tonight me and our faithful group of NSF volunteers prepare to meet out third group of kids at a community center in Vancouver’s poorest neighborhood.

We cook with them and send them home with warm healthy food. We share some laughs and pass on some basic skills, and hopefully, we create some of those good memories we all hope to carry with us through life.

It’s really the least we can do and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.

Not So Fast Cooking Classes

Thank you to all of you who have so generously contributed to our cause, as your support has been wonderful and we can’t thank you enough!

If you’d like to follow Not So Fast on Instagram, you can find us under @wearenotsofast (also our Twitter handle). And for those of you also interested in following me on Instagram, you can find me at @shiramcd.

I’m off to make memories, hang some decorations, and share a few laughs with some pretty inspirational peeps. I’ll be back with another delicious recipe very shortly, I promise! Thanks to all of you for following along 🙂

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Children, Feeding, Food, Food Insecurity, Happiness, Inspiration, Non-Profit Organization, Not So Fast, Success

Recipe: Incredible Cranberry Orange Dressing

Honey Crisp, Kale & Persimmon Salad | IPOM

No need to worry about color & flavor with this one.

Happy December everyone! Phew!

I’ve got to tell you it’s been a busy few weeks here and it’s about to get even crazier. Anyone else got a super-packed month (ha ha that is kind of trick question)? Honestly it feels like summer just ended and here we are writing out Christmas lists and watching as our evening and weekend calendars get loaded up with social engagements and festive outings.

Wow. Allow me to just marvel for a moment and catch my breath.                                           

That’s better 🙂

In the craziness, I missed that my last post was indeed the 100th post for IPOM, and now I am excited to get started with the next 100, starting with this truly beautiful and shockingly delicious salad dressing! Here goes #101..

I was recently introduced to this after stumbling across the original Oh She Glows recipe randomly (I can’t even recall where I was tipped off!). I’ve got to hand major props to Angela at OSG for this one, as I am head over heels in love with this amazing creation.

Honestly, what could be more wonderful than bright cranberries to brighten our dinner plates and bring zest and zing to a bowl of fresh winter greens? The combination here of sweet and sour is nothing short of wonderful and I can tell you I’ve now made it no less that 10 times since I discovered it.

I even substituted blueberries in place of the cranberries for a purple color and deeper, sweeter flavor. So there. It’s amazing and versatile. Enough said.

Cranberry Orange Dressing | IPOM

The Less:

Less heavily oiled dressings means lighter textures and fewer calories. Less bland boring salad dressings means more ways to bring veggies to life. Less heavy meals around the holidays means more enjoyment when they do happen, so eating light when we can makes a big difference in how we feel.

The More:

More tangy, bright foods means more happiness on your tongue. More cranberries & summer fruits means more vitamin C and sunshine. More flavorful salads means more reasons to enjoy them, so staying healthy through the winter months is delicious & natural.

Incredible Cranberry Orange Dressing:

~ Adapted from Oh She Glows

  • (1) cup frozen or fresh cranberries (can also use blueberries for variation)
  • (1/4) cup maple syrup
  • (1/4) cup apple cider vinegar
  • (1/2) cup orange juice
  • (1/4) cup good olive oil
  • (1) tbsp Dijon mustard
  • (1/2) tsp salt

In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, maple syrup, and cider vinegar and heat over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until the cranberries are soft (careful not to boil this mixture as the vinegar liquid will condense and evaporate). The house will smell like you are pickling so be prepared, it will be worth it!

Allow the cranberry mixture to cool a little while you add the remaining ingredients to the blender. Add the cranberry mixture to the blender when a little cool and blend all until you get a silky and beautiful emulsion of goodness (YUM).

Transfer the mixture to a jar and refrigerate to cool – this will keep in the fridge for a good while, but this will not be a problem!

Cranberry Orange Dressing

I’ll share with you in an upcoming post my current favorite salad. I’ve enjoyed it many times since I stumbled upon this dressing and it so good I’ve got share it.

Yes, it does involve kale & brussels sprouts, naturally, and you’ll see what else is making my meals just that much for lively and fun.

Coming up, I’ll be sharing a holiday cookie for a festive cookie swap I was so graciously invited to join by the wonderful Kristy (heart) – so stay tuned, it’s a recipe close to my heart and I can’t wait to share it with you all!

  • What’s your favorite salad these days?
  • Got a favorite homemade dressing you are loving?

I think it is so great to have healthy & enticing light options this time of year when many of us may be worried about heavier foods and the effects of the celebrating and Christmas parties. I’d love to hear how you plan to spend the month!

Yours in Less,

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