Category Archives: Recipes

The Legend of the Sesame Seed and Immortality


 

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Black Sesame Seed / Hei Zhi Ma,  Image credit

The Legend of the Sesame Seed and Immortality

There is an ancient Chinese legend from the Qing dynasty that pays tribute to the importance of sesame seeds in one’s diet. It is said that during this time, a governor was sent to Yin Tai, a region in the North China Sea, now known as Japan. The Emperor had requested he find a “holy medication” that could give the Emperor immortality. It was thought that the combined energy of 3,000 young men and women who were “pure in spirit” was one source of producing everlasting life. The governor searched high and low through treacherous terrain in mountains and forests for many years searching for this miraculous remedy that would ensure longevity. Finally after many years of searching for it, he returned with sesame seeds. His instruction to the Emperor was to take the sesame seeds and its oil everyday in order to be granted a longer life.

Sounds like a good idea to me!  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, black sesame seeds and their oils can be used medicinally to treat a wide variety of symptoms often associated with Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency including constipation, alopecia (hair loss), premature graying of hair, tinnitus (ear ringing), dry skin, chronic low back and knee pain, as well as menstrual health and infertility. It can also be used to help women with insufficient lactation produce more breastmilk. Here’s one way you can gain the health benefits of sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Black Sesame Pudding Recipe

160 grams – toasted black sesame seeds

4 tbsps – white glutinous rice

8 cups – distilled water

400 g – raw honey, or other natural sweetener of your choice

Directions:

Wash and allow glutinous rice to soak for two hours. Combine toasted sesame seeds and glutinous rice with 2 cups of water, and blend in food processor until the texture is creamy and smooth. Transfer mixture to a sauce pan and add 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil at medium heat. Stir regularly to keep consistency smooth. (Story and recipe adapted from Dan-On Foods and Dan-D Foods )

Want to know more about the many benefits of Black Sesame Seeds?

“Taking black sesame seeds can heal all the chronic illness after 100 days, improve skin tone on body and face after 1 year, reverse gray hair after 2 years, and regrow teeth after 3 years.” says the Compendium of Materia Medica, the largest and most comprehensive medical writings in the history of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This herb is also known as Semen Sesami Nigrum and Hei Zhi Ma and related experiments show that the content of vitamin E contained in this herb is the highest in all foods of plant origin. It is well known that vitamin E can promote cell division and delay cell senescence. Long-term use can counteract or neutralize the accumulation of cell senescence substance of “radicals” and then delay aging and extend life expectancy.” -from Chinese Herbs Healing

 

Super Easy Rice and Vegetable Noodle Soup


If you’re looking for a fast and tasty lunch to warm up little tummies in the cold winter months, here’s a healthy recipe that’s tried and true in our household:

Ingredients:

2 cups rice pasta
6 cups water
1 vegetable bouillon cube (or prepared vegetable stock)
125g of firm organic tofu, diced
1/2 cup of organic broccoli/ peas/ edamame
1 tbsp of sesame oil

Optional: Add 1 tbsp of tamari sauce, dried seaweed, and/ or sliced ginger to taste for more adventurous eaters!

Directions:

Add pasta and vegetable bouillon cube
to a pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to medium and add in the rest of the ingredients for approximately 5-8 minutes.

Serve in soup bowl. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Mint Smoothie Stunner


The smoothie of the day (this recipe was adapted from an amazing dessert salad suggested by Dr. Aviva Romm on her Facebook page)

I can attest that this is indeed both healthy and delicious!!

Ingredients (makes 6-8 servings):
3 cups of mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries)
1 cup of fresh mint
3 cups of almond milk
2-4 stalks of celery
1 cup of orange juice
1 banana
1 handful of cacao nibs

Raise a glass to your hero: Mango-peach lemon yoghurt smoothie supreme


Are you drawn to certain people in your life over and over again? What is it about them that makes them radiate the qualities that you just can’t get enough of? These people inspire you, raise you up, help you realize your full potential.

You find them and you just know that they are meant to be a part of your life journey.

For me, I have a few that have inspired me at various stages in my life, namely: my kids, my husband, my best friends, a few teachers and a few notable acquaintances. But today, it’s all about my all-time fave yoga teacher. She really has been a blessing and I have learned so much from taking her classes. When I’ve completed one of her classes, it’s like the whole world is made new and fresh and inspiring again. I want to be that much better in everything. A better daughter, sister, wife, mum, practitioner, writer.

Who are yours?

If you’re looking to toast your hero this morning, try this decadent smoothie that might just become your number one fave way to honour them:

Mango-Peach Lemon Yoghurt Smoothie Supreme

Ingredients (makes approximately 6-8 glasses):

-2 organic ripe mangos (peeled with pit removed, then sliced/cubed); or approx. 1-2 cups frozen mango

-2 local grown and organic peaches (peeled, pit removed, then sliced/cubed); or approx. 1-2 cups frozen peaches.

-1-2 ripe bananas

-1 cup of lemon yoghurt (a thicker style such as Greek makes it more decadent)

-1 tbsp of chia seeds

-2 cups almond milk

-1-2 tbsp of Vega Energizing Smoothie Protein Supplement*

*optional

Shoot me it’s good! Vegetarian mini burger with pea shoots


Looking for a fast yet healthier BBQ option for you and your family? Try these fantastic mini burgers with a quarter serving of vegetarian (soy, mushroom, tempeh) burgers and delicious pea shoots along with your favourite condiments… your kids will love these bite sized burgers coupled with the crunchy texture of the pea shoots. We call it “grass” and this seems to sell them on this refreshing and tasty alternative to lettuce.

To ensure that everyone gets enough greens, you can serve this with a generous side helping of Greek salad and some fresh berries for dessert. Our kids eat the Greek salad sans the balsamic vinaigrette and feta but yours may be more adventurous.

What other meals do you like to make for your family in the summer?

-m.

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Must Try Recipe – The Healthy Chef: Teresa Cutter’s Chocolate Protein Power Balls


Just found this great recipe by Teresa Cutter of the Healthy Chef: www.thehealthychef.com that is sure to bring a smile to your day (hello, chocolate!!) as well as give you a quick boost of energy. It is also gluten-free!

Ingredients:

330 g raw whole almonds
60g  protein powder – [Teresa] used a natural unflavoured WPI but any good quality protein powder will be OK (whey, hemp, pea, rice are all good and work well in [her] recipe)
16 fresh dates, pitted
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon natural vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground  cinnamon
coconut for rolling

Throw almonds into the food processor with cinnamon, protein powder and cocoa then process until the mix looks crumbly.
Add dates, vanilla extract then process again until the mix starts to come together.
Add a splash of water if you need to so that mixture is soft and forms a soft ball.
Form into 14 decent sized balls.
Roll in coconut and store in the fridge until you feel like a snack or quick meal on the run.
Store in the fridge for upto 4 weeks if they last that long.

 Nutrition per cookie: makes 14 total

Protein: 8.2  g protein
Carbs: 7.6  g
Fat: 12 g
kilojoules: 703
Calories: 168

For more information on this recipe, visit the Healthy Chef here:

http://www.thehealthychef.com/2011/09/protein-fudge-cookies/

Gong Gong’s Tofu Shrimp Surprise


I have been thinking a lot about my father lately. It is coming up on the third anniversary since he passed away. I still miss him and remember the things he used to repeat to us countless times (at the time we would roll our eyes of course, but now I am so thankful that he repeated the things he felt were important for us to remember).

My father’s way of showing how much he loved his daughters was by providing for us…often in the form of meal preparation.

One of his favorite dishes to make was tofu shrimp. I recently made this and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to prepare. It was of course a very sentimental meal to create, yet I felt so comforted once again hearing my father’s instructions on how to prepare the meal coming out loud and strong, after having them tucked and filed away for so long in the deeper parts of my subconscious mind.

Tofu Shrimp Surprise (serves 2-3 people)

Ingredients:

- 1 block of medium firm/ extra firm tofu (approx. 500 g)
- 10 fresh or defrosted large sized shrimp
- 3-5 tbsp of sesame oil
- 3-5 tbsp of tamari or soy sauce
- 1 cup cooked quinoa/ brown or white rice
- 1 green onion
- 1 clove garlic
- lightly steamed vegetable of your choice (e.g. baby bok choy, yu choy, asparagus, broccoli, kale)

Directions:

-Cook quinoa or rice in 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa/ rice. Once combined, bring pot to a rolling boil on high heat then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.
- preheat oven to 375 degrees Farhenheit.
- slice tofu into 1 inch pieces and place flat in oven safe dish.
- add 1 fresh shrimp to the top of each slice of tofu.
- pour sesame oil and soy sauce on top
- bake in oven for 30 minutes.
- lightly steam vegetables
- Optional: fry quinoa or rice with green onion and garlic.

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International May Day Celebrations Renewed


Well here we are. May 1st. Some exciting things are happening this month! While typically here in Canada we think of Mother’s Day and Victoria Day celebrations as the highlights of May, it seems that there has been a resurgence in the popularity of celebrating the very first day of this bright and cheerful month all over the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Day

May Blossoms from the May tree. Photo Credit: ceridwen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Queen_of_the_May,_in_June_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1346819.jpg

May Day, also known as the Gaelic festival of Beltane (May 1st) and the German Walpurgis Night http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walpurgis_Night (which is celebrated on the night of April 30 – and leads into May 1st),  is  typically observed in areas such as England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, France, and even Hawaii (where it is more commonly referred to as “Lei Day”).

Historically, May 1st was considered the first day of summer in some pre-Christian pagan cultures.  This day was celebrated in pre-Christian times as the festival of Flora in honour of the Roman Goddess of Flowers. Following the conversion of Europe to Christianity, many pagan celebrations were either dropped or given religious undertones. In Roman Catholic cultures, May is considered Mary’s month and May Day is usually celebrated as a tribute to the Virgin Mary. Flowers are used to adorn her head in a May Crowning represented in works of art such as plays, sculptures and figure drawings. 

For many other people, May Day is recognized as a secular tradition where spring and fertility is celebrated with events such as dancing around a Maypole decorated with colourful ribbons, and the crowning of the May Queen.  

Maypole in Munich, Germany http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Viktualienmarkt_Maibaum_Nahaufnahme_1999.jpg

Queen Guinevre’s ‘Maying’ by John Collier. Photo credit: Andreas Praefke http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Collier_Queen_Guinevre%27s_Maying.jpg

If you are looking to make your own May Pole check out this amazing blog on spring festival celebrations and Maypole ideas at Kleas: http://kleas.typepad.com/kleas/2011/05/spring-festival.html

DIY Maypoles with dyed silk ribbons. Photo credit: http://kleas.typepad.com/kleas/2011/05/spring-festival.html

Here are a few other great sites to visit for creating a Maypole and celebrating May Day with your children:

Maypole with Beads. Photo credit: www.gardeners.com

Maypole Nature Table. Photo credit: http://3.bp.blogspot.com

Fresh flowers and Ribbon Maypole. Photo credit: http://stillraisingthenextgeneration.com

Stone-tipped Fairy Ribbon Wands. Photo credit: http://paintcutpaste.com

A sweet tradition in the past (that is likely to gain new momentum) was to prepare May Day baskets filled with flowers or treats, and to leave them anonymously on the front door steps of a neighbour or friend. For tips on how to make your own May Day basket, visit Ben Partridge’s excellent post on The May Day Basket Refresher at Apartment Therapy at http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/may-day-basket-refresher-how-t-118478

May Day Baskets. Photo credit: Ben Partridge http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/may-day-basket-refresher-how-t-118478

May 1st is also International Workers’ Day  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Workers%27_Day which was officially recognized in 1891 and celebrates the International Labour Movements and marks the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago and the subsequent 1894 May Day Riots in Cleveland, Ohio when people rioted against the ineffectual measures the city officials carried out to reduce the skyrocketing rates of unemployment at the time. While this day is officially reconized elsewhere, here in Canada and the United States, Labour Day is recognized on September 1st (a move that was favoured by the then governor of Ohio so as not to commemorate the riots).

Currently, there is a resurgence in the United States and elsewhere to celebrate this infamous day in the context of supporting the 99% of the population who are not as well off as the remaining 1%. This planned day of protest is fuelled by the Occupy Wall Street (and other Occupy movements around the world) .

So what will we be doing this May 1st? Since I’ll be at home with the girls, we will be celebrating this special day as a tribute to spring and all its glory. My litle ladies love dressing up in their most desirable princess gowns and dancing around the living room or out in the front yard. So we will likely be doing some dancing (as per usual!) Not sure if we’ll have a little May Pole set up to dance around…although we could make a makeshift May Pole using our beautiful white hobby horse which would also double as a perfect companion to my two lovely little May Queens.

And perhaps a flower garland for their hair, or pansy flowers pressed into shortbread cookies in a basket would be a welcome activity to add to our day.

For a great shortbread recipe with pressed flowers to celebrate spring, here’s a great article on Stonegable: http://stonegable.blogspot.ca/2010/05/pansy-shortbread-cookies.html

Pansy shortbread cookies. Photo credit: http://stonegable.blogspot.com

Here’s to a very Happy May Day and a great start to your month! What does the month of May mean to you? Will you do anything special this May Day? Please share your thoughts.

Spring Cleaning with Fennel, Zucchini, and Black Olive Penne


Now that spring has officially arrived, a little home spring cleaning is just what our family needs. And what better way to support that than a healthy vegetarian dish that highlights the delightfully flavorful, fennel (see image below to appreciate it in its full glory).

Photo credit: http://www.lesliebeck.com/images/featured_foods/fennel_300.jpg

The wonderful recipe that featured my large fennel plant that our friendly Front Door Organics Delivery Service (http://www.frontdoororganics.com/) provided along with our local fresh fruits and vegetables last week, was for Fennel, Zucchini, and Black Olive Penne. Below is this relatively simple yet delicious recipe for your perusal from Front Door Organics (http://www.frontdoororganics.com/):

Ingredients:

-1 bulb fennel

-2 cloves garlic

-10 black Kalamata olives

-lemon juice

-shaved parmesan or garnish

-1 zucchini

-2 cups dried penne

-4 tbsp olive oil

-salt and pepper

-1/4 cup chopped parsley

Directions:

Trim the fennel base and tops, cut in half lengthways and then in quarters lengthways. Cut the zucchini in quarters, lengthways also. Use a tablespoon of oil to coat, set on a baking sheet and roast at 400F for about 20 minutes, until softened and starting to turn brown.

Meanwhile remove pits romt he olives and roughly chop. Mince the garlic well and bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. In a large pan, heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil over low heat and gently cook the garlic, remove from heat when it starts to colour.

Cook the pasta to al dente and when the fennel and zucchini have roasted, remove from the oven, all to cool slightly and then roughly chop.

Add the chopped zucchini and fennel to the pan with the garlic, heat over medium and add the olives and drained pasta. Combine with a tablespoon of oil, chopped parsley, a little pasa water, a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and black pepper. Serve topped with shaved Parmesan.

Note: This meal was a light and delightful dinner for two. For those with gluten sensitivities, replace whole wheat penne with a  gluten free product such as brown rice penne. The leftovers for next day’s lunch supercharged our day as we attempted to purge, purge, purge and clean our lives into simplified beauty and order.  More on this in my next post!

St. Paddy’s Feast: Vegan Sliders and Fries


St. Paddy’s Feast: Vegan Sliders and Fries.

A somewhat healthy option to celebrate St. Paddy’s day courtesy of Yoga Journal. Have a great weekend everyone!