Tag Archives: Not So Fast

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

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.

AsΒ  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 πŸ™‚

Yours in Less,

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

Recipe: Bright & Lively Beet Borscht

Bright bowls of yum for these cold dark days of winter.

It’s definitely here. As winter creeps upon us and chills our insides, it is important to stay warm from the inside out.

This is the time of year that I reach for thick leggings versus pants, as I need extra layers of warmth like I need extra heat in my belly. This borscht recipe is one of my all time favorite ways to seek comfort, and I’ve been making it for the family ever since I’ve been lucky enough to have one (it’s been a few years).

A frugal favorite that is loaded with healthy veggies, this recipe stands the test of time by a mile.

Some might argue what actually makes borscht its authentic Ukrainian self (if that is actually its true origin). The cabbage? The beets? The dill?

In fact, I can never really decide what is even the best part of this soup. At the end of the day the combo of comforting soft potato, sweet and tender green cabbage, roasted sweet beets, zingy tomato, chopped carrots, and fresh dill make me swoon. Not to mention the sight of such a combination is about the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

An elderly Ukrainian friend (who we bought our house from) once shared her recipe with me and that is where I learned the best trick ever to making a great borscht: not too much beet, and what you do add, make sure they are sweet. So we roast them. Of course!

The Less:

Less heavy dairy based soups means more light, satisfying texture. Fewer beans means less starch and potential bloating and indigestion. Fewer meat-based hearty soups and stews means more fiber-loaded fueling, so warm and cozy comes at a comfortable cost.

The More:

More vegetable-based main courses means more fiber, vitamins, and fun. More beets in your diet means more sweetness and needed iron. More lively bright foods means more mood enhancing meal times, because what fun is eating without color?

Bright & Lively Beet Borscht:

  • (2) small-medium red beets for roasting, or one larger one
  • (3) tbsp olive oil
  • (1) tbsp salt
  • (2) cups yellow onion, chopped small (2 small or one large)
  • (3-4) medium carrots, peeled or unpeeled & chopped small (2 cups chopped)
  • (3) medium yellow fleshed potatoes, peeled and chopped small (3 cups chopped)
  • (3) cups canned tomatoes (1 796 ml can)
  • (4-5) cups water
  • (4+) cups chopped green or savoy cabbage, washed & chopped small
  • (4) tbsp honey
  • (1) tsp salt
  • (1/2) tsp black pepper, or to taste
  • (2-3) tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • (1) bunch fresh dill, or (2) tbsp dried dill

To start, heat the oven to 350 degrees. To roast beets, simply wrap them in foil one layer thick (no washing required) and prick them with a fork several times. Put the in the heated oven for 45-60 minutes or until tender when pushed. This step can be done days in advance of making this soup and the beets will keep well in the foil or in a container for up to a week or more.

Once the beets are done, put them in a bowl in the sink, unwrap each as you go and one by one with cold water running, rub the skins off the beets with your hands. They will simply slide right off under the water! Chop the beets into a 1/2 to on 1 inch dice and set aside.


To prepare the vegetables, peel and chop each veggie before starting, taking care to chop into a small dice, about 1/2 inch if possible, or bigger as your patience, skill, and desire dictates.

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onions and (3) tbsp salt and cook the onions until soft, about 6-8 minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook, stirring, for a further 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes & (4) cups water and turn the heat to high. Bring the water to a boil and turn the heat down. Simmer the soup for 8-10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are just tender. Add the cabbage and cook a further 6-8 minutes, until all of the veggies are soft and starting to meld together.

To finish, add the chopped beets, honey, black pepper &Β remaining salt to taste. Stir and cook a few more minutes on medium heat until well blended and tasting amazing.

Next, using a blender, blend up to half of the soup to a smooth consistency (feel free to add up to a cup more of extra water to get the blending going), leaving the rest in its chunky form. Pour the blended soup into the pot and stir all to combine.

Stir in the chopped dill & cider vinegar at the end and taste to correct seasonings, reserving some to sprinkle on each bowl.

To serve, scoop into bowls and garnish with dill and more freshly ground black pepper & a small drop or two of cider vinegar. To me, the zing of the vinegar adds the most wonderful flavor boosting acidity and I highly recommend trying it this way.

That is one thing I did not learn from my Ukrainian friend, but I am sure I picked up that little tidbit somewhere or from someone along the way πŸ˜‰

Enjoy this super cozy and super nutritious soup on a cold night when you need a little love in your tummy. Snuggle up with a hot bowl and enjoy, these cold nights won’t last forever, and we want to remember them fondly when we are picnicking in the grass next summer πŸ™‚

  • What is your favorite winter soup?
  • Got a borscht recipe to share?

Wishing you a most wonderful few days, we are busy preparing as the next Not So Fast class is going full steam ahead in just two days, we’ll be cozying up with the kids and that rocking red lentil soup. Just when you thought we couldn’t get any warmer….

Yours in Less,

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

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: 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,

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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: 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

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

NSF Update: On Cookies, Craft Beer & Giving Back

You are about to meet a very special couple.

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

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

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

Like me or (maybe) like you.

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

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

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

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

How does it work?

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

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

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

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

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

Here are Chris and Carla’s Stories…

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

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

We knew this would be tough..

Chris chose to go without all alcohol for 40 days.

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

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

*(unless you don’t)

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

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

Chris speaks on going without:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carla speaks on going without:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making it real…

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

In it I found little gems of her writing.

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

Do you keep a journal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Oscar Wilde

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

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

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

Here’s to a super week everyone!

Yours in Less,

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

Recipe: Vegan Almond Chocolate Ice Cream

To me, there is something very satisfying about using up every last morsel of something.

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.

Charles M. Schulz

I’ve always struggled with tossing the pulp produced from juicing perfectly good whole vegetables and fruits. The same goes for bread crusts, wilted greens, and wrinkly old apples and oranges.

My last post about almond milk provided a nourishing, high quality way to satisfy a craving for richness. Straining the almonds makes a beverage that is ultra smooth and silky – but what to do with the leftover pulp?

Here is what I did.

My bet is you’ll be making almond milk from now on just so you can get to the leftovers.

A good friend once told me about her two rules to a happy marriage:

1. Never go to bed mad

2. Always have chocolate in the house

Over the years, I have learned that sometimes ignoring rule no.1 is the only way out of a silly late night bickering match.

(Trust me, go to sleep and it won’t seem like such a big deal in the light of day).

But I do stand by rule no. 2 religiously.

You might want to have a little of this tucked away after you try it too.

Here is the recipe for a 4-ingredient ice cream that will satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth, and hopefully have you (and your significant other) sleeping soundly at night!

The Less:

Less real ice cream means less additives, fat, and calories from not eating dairy, not to mention dollars spent on processed packaged goodies. Less waste in the kitchen means better karma for your whole life, not to mention more satisfaction from using every penny’s worth of your precious ingredients.

The More:

More real chocolate and richness means you can enjoy less to be satisfied more. More nutritious treats means you can indulge without worry. More chocolate in life is just good. Just like more time in the kitchen celebrating goodness for yourself and your loved ones.

Almond Chocolate Ice Cream:

You will need:

  • Almond pulp from making one recipe of Mindful Almond Milk (this will yield about 3/4 cup of pulp)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup cold water for soaking chia
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 200 grams good dark chocolate (I use Callebaut from Belgium)

In a small bowl, combine the chia seeds and 1/3 cup of cold water. Mix well and set aside. Next, using a double boiler or stainless bowl atop a pot of boiling water (I outline an easy method for this here), begin to melt the chocolate. Stir the chocolate as it melts to avoid it getting stuck or burnt. Check the soaking chia seeds after a few minutes and stir with a fork to make sure it gels with the water consistently.

After 10 minutes or so, the chia will have formed a nice gelatinous mixture. Stir one last time. In a blender, combine the almond pulp, chia, and remaining 1/3 cup of water and blend on high until smooth and well mixed.

Transfer chia/almond mixture to a small mixing bowl. Once your chocolate is melted, stir the warm chocolate directly into the chia/almond mixture and stir (be sure to spatula out every last drop of melted chocolate!).

Stir your gloriously warm concoction together and look to the stars, chances are angels are singing, birds are dancing and the clouds are parting…you are stirring pure heavenly goodness!

From here you can go one of a few ways, but for ice cream, (after all that is the title of this post, right?) transfer the mixture to individual containers (I just happened to have an empty dessert container from a frozen probiotic yogurt I tried)….then freeze!

If you eat this on the same day you make it – allowing 4-5 hours to set in the freezer – the texture will be perfection. However, if you want to save it for a later day I recommend removing it from the freezer 20-30 minutes before you want to eat it, the texture will be just right….

And here you have it, the finished product. By-products from other delicious recipes never looked (or tasted) so good!

I hope you enjoy this partially raw, totally vegan, protein-and-nutrient-packed dessert as much I did πŸ™‚

I’ll admit my almond milk was gone (partially from the results of my next post) pretty much the same day I made it….this ice cream disappeared about 5 minutes after I showed up to the office today.

Want to see what else I made with this?

Stay tuned. Other major highlights this week included a photoshoot for Not So Fast with the talented photographer, soon to be world traveler, Mark Feenstra (we seriously nailed it thanks to an amazing group of sexy volunteers!).

  • How do you stay steeped in chocolate?
  • Do you have any rules to a successful marriage/partnership?

I’d love to hear how you are making out!

Update: as this has been one of the more popular posts on this blog, this has been submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays, a super cool new initiative from a group of great bloggers! Check out their event and enjoy! πŸ™‚

Yours in Less,


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Filed under Children, Desserts, Family, Happiness, Nut Recipes, Raw, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian