SHOCK!

Shock pika shock Shocking I know! I haven’t died! It’s been a busy and yet completely unbusy summer… if that makes any sense at all.

I’m heading back to school in: Excited balloon bounce

∑(゜Д゜;) THIRTEEN DAYS! Yikes! I’m excited and terrified all at the same time. If that makes any sense.

We’re gearing up for our move next week so it’s been busy busy busy packing.  I’ve gotten all of my school supplies together and cute-i-fied. . o O ( Not a word, I know ^u^) I’ve re-decorated two of my old backpacks, I mean they’re perfectly good backpacks – they were just ugly. So now they aren’t. One has the grumpy sheep that was featured in the last post I made (by Tasty Peach Studios) the other features a bad little kitty that’s gotten into a bowl of ramen. I’ll post photos when I’ve unpacked it again. (✿◠‿◠)

Alice readingAnd thus in a few short week’s I’ll be back in the swing of stress and hopefully settled into our new (very small) apartment. It’s an adorable little flat in an old heritage house. I’m kind of excited for it but Mom thinks it’s going to be too small. I think that’s the real reason that they’ve invented noise cancelling headphones. Not for the plane. ( ´∀`)

So the move happens next Tuesday! Tomorrow we have the joy of going out for a girl’s night.heart martini

 

Photo a day May early

I’m changing places tomorrow – I’m currently in Nelson BC. We’re spending the month here, testing out if we like living here. BTW, we really do! It’s a beautiful town, I feel at home here. The green is almost in full bloom already – Edmonton might have the buds showing now. I love being able to walk everywhere. Although my feet are very very tired at the end of the day… I seem to be pushing myself a little too far before I’ve fully healed. But the point is – we’re changing where we’re staying in town tomorrow. So I don’t know if I’ll have access to internet tomorrow. Surprise present time! Early photo a day post!

 

Hmm… day 7 – someone that inspires me. Now this is a hard one. There are so many people who inspire me! I’ve decided that I’m going to do two photos this time. A personal inspiration – someone I know personally who inspires me with everything he does. And a celebrity inspiration – someone I idolize.

Me & Petrie

 

My personal inspiration. While most of my close friends inspire me to keep going, Petrie is by far the more inspirational. He has a super power! He somehow always knows when I’m starting to feel down, even from across the country. He always texts me, or calls me at precisely the right moment. He always knows the right things to say. He’s encouraging of even my most insane dreams, pushes me to think harder, do better, work ha

rder, smile more, love more… He is always pushing himself further, challenging himself to try new things, immerse himself in totally alien surroundings and somehow he’s still always one of the guys. He always fits in just right. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen him sad. He knows how to keep pushing through even the toughest of times. He’s a true inspiration. I know that I would truly be lost without him and I’m ever so blessed to have him in my life.

Now my celebrity inspiration… Another hard one. I’m not sure whether I want to showcase a fashion idol, a make-up idol or a career idol. Then of course it’s narrowing down those choices!

Alright I decided! I know you didn’t see the 1/2 hour lull between those two paragraphs – but it was there! I chose the lady that has inspired me to get in shape and eat healthier. And of course, lose weight. I’m only slightly above the BMI I should be at (to be healthy) but I do have a few extra pounds I’d like to shed. For many reasons, to feel amazing and to look as amazing as this lady does!
Criss, started her journey at 197 lbs! She’s down 75 lbs and looks absolutely AMAZING.

 

Home again home again, jiggity jig.

Aaaaannnnnndddd…. I’m back. I’ve been exhausted for the last few days. Going to the gym really takes it out of you. >.<‘ My trip was amazing. If I were to place it in to words that last amazing would be in 900pt and have about a billion “!” after it. I don’t think there are many ways that it could have been better.
As for this precise moment I’m off to the gym again. Although I plan to download my photos and transpose my journal from the trip very soon! I promise! I’m just too lazy right now to go all the way to the basement, find my camera cord, download the 500+ photos and organize them. I’m just too darned lazy!
I’m back in the swing of things though. I’m taking my role as my Mom’s personal Chef very seriously. The only meal I don’t prepare is usually breakfast as we get up at different times. Usually within a half hour of each other but she’s already started eating. The whole personal chef thing came about as I’m taking a year off to screw my head back on and find a new career path that doesn’t have me on my feet for 9+ hours a day – thus avoiding permanent and more serious damage to my feet. My Mom in the meantime is supporting me with wages. She’s funding my year and therefore I need to do something so that I feel employed by her, not just a worthless bum like so many my age. This whole year off is actually her idea, so please don’t think of me as a mooch! As an offer to earn my keep I said that I would cook gourmet meals for her everyday. There’s been a few days where I’m just pooped and she’s cooked but they’re few and far between – or on days we both want spaghetti and my pales in comparison to hers. There’s always one dish that a chef just can’t duplicate; usually one of our mothers.
On the plane ride home I got the chance to watch Food Network, a channel we don’t get at home ($7/month for one channel in a package that I would watch, I don’t think so.). I watched the recent installment of Top Chef: Texas. This weeks’ challenge was to create a dish that honours those who inspire us. I thought long and hard about what I would make to honour my Dad, who fanned the flame of my passion for cooking.
Last night I made my dish:
Fennel and cranberry braised red cabbage – German style; pork schnitzel; lemon herb spatzle; red-curry butter sauce
A twist on the dish I felt my dad was famous for. The other option would be to do a twist on rouladen, another dish only my dad made for us. I miss him so much. Especially when I get new recipes I want to try. Mom makes a great guinea pig tho! She eats everything and usually enjoys it. The best is that if she doesn’t, she tells me! Something a lot of people are scared to do. I like constructive criticism when I’m cooking – not much any other time tho – it helps me improve.

This week: sketching drawings for my best friend’s made-of-honour dress (for me); finishing a few crochet patterns

Oh yeah! I got my earrings from Pei Li: the miniature patisserie chef! I bought pain-au-chocolate and pink macaron earrings – they are SO CUTE! I love them so much. The took a bit to get here, but that’s the hazard of shipping overseas. You should check out her etsy shoppe, she has some amazing things.

Breakdown

I deviated from my diet plan today. It’s been hot out and I really wanted ice cream. Since I had already indulged I made the (bad) decision to indulge. Cream based pasta for dinner, cheese… oh man when I fall off the band wagon I do so brutally. Let’s just say bloated is an understatement. Not only did I have lactose, I had cornstarch in the alfredo sauce.
My boss is right, I did feel better these last few days. Although I really need to finish reading my Becoming Vegetarian: The complete guide to becoming a healthy vegetarian book. I had a crash the other day. Oh yes, on top of all of this business I am hypo-glycemic. Last night taught me that not only do I have to watch my caloric intake I need to eat more often with this new diet. They haven’t said much about that in the book yet as I’m only on page 100 or so.
The book, however, is actually a really good one. It gives nutritional facts, protein recommendations, and everything necessary to adopt a healthy meat-free lifestyle. I know many people have been worried about becoming vegetarian or vegan because it means adopting a lifestyle filled with supplements and drugs. This book outlines how to dive into this new lifestyle with out pills. That’s my kind of lifestyle!

They put that sh*t in everything!

I think this is one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever set myself on. Not only is there the hardship of making a safe and smooth transition to vegan (ish) life, there is the psychological battle. It is very difficult to say “No” to myself when I’m craving my favourite foods that contain dairy or corn. Luckily I have lots of support. I have friends who encourage me, family who is willing to try out the foods I’m eating and a boss who is surprisingly supportive. As she said “Just imagine how much better you’re going to feel.” That statement really helps me, it means that I can keep working at the restaurant. Although how exactly I’m going to do my job is a little curious, at least in my mind, but I’ll figure it out. Worse comes to worse I change course and choose to either change careers or find a vegan restaurant and start a new path of cooking.
Either way this is still a hardship.
I spent a good 45-50 minutes at an organic store just trying to find a good tempeh and tofu that didn’t have “natural or artificial flavours”. Most of the tempeh does, save for two: the 7-grain and regular. All of the flavoured versions, like sesame ginger, bbq etc, all did. Most of the regular, unflavoured tofus were safe; however, all of the simulated meat products like fake chicken, ground round etc, have the dreaded ingredient.

Now I don’t know exactly what Natural Ingredients is. From the research I’ve attempted it’s, well pretty much anything edible. That being said, it is possible that companies are hiding meat in vegetarian products. How terrible would that be? As I don’t know what it is, or what’s in it I’ll just be avoiding it to err on the side of safety. The website I’ve featured in this post has the most comprehensible description I’ve read. Another post referred me to the book “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser the post said that it has a really good insight into the ingredient in it’s capacity in fast food.
Another thing I’m attempting to avoid is the non-descript “spices”. I know it is most likely just unspecified spices, so that no one can duplicate a trademarked sauce. However, again, to err on the side of safety I’ll avoid it. Luckily most sauces that use the “spices” ingredient also have either natural flavours, artificial flavours or corn of some variety making them easy to avoid.

Thankfully I have the backing of a good arsenal. I am a chef so my ideas and skills are endless – making this process so much more comfortable.

Cereals

To start, like many children I was raised on cereal. It was my breakfast in the morning before school. With bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes or other seasonal fruits. It was what was comforting after a bad day, the easy thing for a late supper, the weekend morning cartoon snack… A big deal. I was raised with non-sugar cereals – and quite happy about it actually. Although I have tried a bunch of the sugared cereals now I still go back; well used to, to my staples: cheerios, corn flakes, crispix, rice krispies, and spoon size shredded wheat. Cereal is still a staple in my diet, it makes for easy mornings and still comforts me after a bad day.


Many of you know how big “The Great Canadian Superstore” is. For those who don’t, think Walmart superstore with mainly groceries. Needless to say, it’s huge. The aisles go forever and carry thousands of items. They carry every cereal available in Canada plus ones exclusive to Superstore. I spent almost and hour going through every single cereal to see which ones I could eat. That is to say those NOT containing corn, cornmeal, corn starch, corn by product, natural or artificial flavours. Out of the hundreds of cereals there are three that I can eat.
Three. Spoon size shredded wheat (yes!), Special K Red Berries (yes, specifically. The blueberry, chocolate, vanilla almond, regular, satisfaction etc all contain corn or corn starch.), and Shreddies. To make it worse, I really don’t like shreddies. I like them once and a while but they are not my first choice. In fact they are not my choice at all and I won’t be purchasing them anytime soon… leaving me with two cereals.


Luckily while living a corn free existance I can still consume granola and oatmeal happily. That is to say granola I make myself and pure stone cut whole flake oatmeal.
To share my enjoyment those two recipes are as follows!


Corn Free Granola
Things you’ll need:
honey – your favourite kind. I like creamed honey.
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 cup stone cut oats (certified gluten free if needed, although I’ve learned that 15% of celiacs are still affected by oats even if certified gluten free)
1/4 cup each of your favourite seeds [I enjoy using sunflower seeds, flax and pumpkin seeds, they toast nicely.]
1/4 cup nuts (if you want, I personally don’t)
1/2 cup bran buds
1/4 cup each of your favourite dried fruit (I enjoy dried cranberries and dried cherries. I have enjoyed dried tropical fruits in the past although I suggest adding them at the end instead of cooking them with the rest of the items as they don’t bake well.)
1/2 cup shreddies (I know I said I don’t really like them earlier but they are a nice addition to bulk up the granola)


Method of madness
Preheat oven to 350 F
1. Coat a large baking sheet with oil/butter/pan spray (depends on your preference)
2. Combine spices in a small bowl. 
3. Combine all dry ingredients and whatever your imagination decides in a large mixing bowl.
4. Add the spices and toss.
5. If needed, melt the honey in a microwave safe bowl. Drizzle the honey over the mixture and toss to coat. I find it’s easiest to get sticky and mix it up with your hands.
6. Spread mixture evenly over the baking sheet, you may be required to bake it in two batches.
7. Bake the mixture for 5 minutes, remove from the oven and stir the mixture. Redistribute evenly, and back another 5 minutes. Continue the process until it starts to brown slightly. Allow to cool completely and test for crunchiness. If not crunchy enough, bake a little longer. Cooking time will vary based on how much you’ve put in it. Make sure to keep a close eye on it as it burns very very easily.
8. Once cool, if using tropical dried fruits add them now.
Store in an airtight container for up to a year. Hopefully it’ll be too tasty and you’ll make it frequently!


Corn-Free Hearty Morning Oatmeal -1 serving
This meal is extremely filling – it should keep you full well into lunch. If it’s too much food feel free to scale the recipe back to your liking. I’m in the kind of profession where you don’t eat lunch until 2 or 3 pm if you eat it at all.
Stuff you’ll need
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch cardamom
pinch all spice
2/3 cup raw stone cut oatmeal
1 tbsp dark brown sugar or raw cane sugar (taikoo is the brand i’ve found in Canada that’s pretty affordable)
1 tbsp chia seeds (brand name is salba, there are generic brands out there that are much cheaper!)
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 fresh banana
1/2 cup Silk Vanilla Soy Milk (or alterna-milk of choice)


Method of Madness
1. In a microwave safe bowl place oatmeal and fill with enough water to just cover.
2. Microwave for 1 minute on high. (This may require more or less time depending on your microwave. The ideal time will be long enough for the water to be fully absorbed but short enough that it isn’t complete mush.)
3. Add spices and sugar, stir to combine.
4. Add the seeds, fruit and “milk”.
5. Enjoy!
You may choose to heat the milk in the microwave if you like a warmer cereal in the morning. I like that the cold milk cools it enough that it’s a quick bite, if necessary.

Alternative Milk Beverages

As a, now, lactose-free human being I’ve been through the trials and tribulations associated with choosing a non-dairy beverage. I’ve shopped around, I’ve experimented and come to the following conclusions:

Best alterna-milk for just plain drinking: Silk Vanilla Organic
. o O (It has the best flavour, it has little to no chalk after taste/mouth feel. To me it tastes like a really great old fashioned milkshake. It’s thick, creamy and filling. I find the organic is slightly richer and closer to real milk. It is a large bonus that the organic is priced the same as the regular here and it doesn’t have any unpronounceable additives, natural or artificial flavours.)

Best alterna-milk for steaming and drinking straight: Earth’s Own Almond Fresh Vanilla or Chocolate
. o O (It has a nice simple flavour. Good for mixing with tea or just drinking steamed and warm on a cold night. I like that the mouth feel isn’t too slimy like other brands I’ve encountered. The vanilla has a lovely aroma of the filling of oreo cookies. The chocolate is like chocolate covered almonds and make for a quick hot chocolate, just add marshmallows! [If you’re ohkay with corn that is :)])


Best place for soy beverages: Starbucks
. o O (I’ve tried soy based beverages out quite a bit and starbuck’s blend of sludgy coffee sweet syrups and not-so-chalky soy milk make it the best I’ve tried. The second cup soy choice leaves your throat very dry, timothy’s coffee seems to have a bad after taste. Many independent coffee shops use either So Good or Silk. I don’t find either other them steam up very well. So Good has a chalky taste to begin with and it’s made worse by heating. Silk really doesn’t foam very well. It creates more bubbles than anything else and they pop all too quickly. I find that Silk also doesn’t hold heat very well. It cools down all to quickly.)





Best alterna-milk for sugared cereals: Ryza Rice Milk

.o O (It has a nice mouth feel and the lack of flavour allows the sugared cereal to take over. I’m not a huge fan of sugared cereal and frankly can’t eat any of them now, but I thought I’d include this anyway.)




Personally I enjoy Silk’s Vanilla on my non-sugar cereals. It makes spoon-size shredded wheat taste like those stacked vanilla wafer cookies. I find that it gives a unique flavour to my favourites and it has the closest mouth feel to real milk.
All of the above are becoming more widely available which makes life a lot easier.


A buying guide:
Safeway carries Ryza’s rice milk, all Silk milks and now the coffee “cream”, Earth’s Own original and chocolate almond milk.
IGA carries Ryza and Silk.
Superstore carries Ryza, all Silk and all of the Earth’s Own Almond milks including the vanilla.
I haven’t been to Walmart recently, but last year they carried the Ryza and Silk.


I hope this helps you out on your alterna-milk search.