Favourites: March 10th edition

A few simple highlights from the past week:

Knitting

A delightful new knitting project!

LianeMoriarty

A great book.

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Our current quick-and-easy ‘go to’ dessert: banana and chocolate chip cake.

From around the web:

Important for HSP to remember.

A mindful approach to difficult emotions.

Self-care.

Environmental responsibility..

More mindfulness.

For the yogis.

On letting go of books. Mr. Wanderlust and I recently significantly downsized our enormous library; we can empathize with the author of this story.

Life lessons.

Instagram Favourite:

I enjoy following the explorations of Zero Waste Chef. Her profile states the three inspiring rules she follows to run her kitchen: “Rule #1 no packaging. Rule #2 nothing processed. Rule #3 no trash.”

Wishing you a tranquil weekend!

Slow mornings

Sunday morning.

A few overripe bananas alone in the centre of a large ornate bowl.

Hungry bellies await breakfast.

A yawn escapes while the countertop is set with a metal bowl, a whisk, and measuring cups.

The bananas are peeled, then mashed.

Milk is poured, with juice of half a lemon squeezed to replace buttermilk.

Coconut oil melts in the skillet.

The dry and wet ingredients intermingle in a large bowl.

A handful of chocolate chips tossed into the mix. Why not?

Coconut oil sizzles as batter is poured onto the hot surface.

The routine is tranquil, meditative.

The kettle emits a gentle whistle as the water inside boils.

Tea. Pancakes. Coffee. Maple syrup.

Simple, like Sunday morning.

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In the interest of saving time amid a busy weekday routine, we celebrated Fat Tuesday a couple of days early. In truth, Sunday morning pancakes are a tradition chez nous. Here is our favourite banana and chocolate chip pancake recipe:

Ingredients:

2 medium-size very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 cup buttermilk (or a cup of milk with lemon juice squeezed into it)
1 egg
1 tbsp coconut sugar or white sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil or butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
handful of chocolate chips
additional coconut oil for frying

Preparation:

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, bananas, buttermilk, sugar, and oil.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold the batter showly. Add the chocolate chips and stir gently.

Fry 2-3 minutes per side on a skillet lightly greased with coconut oil or butter. Serve with maple syrup and/or other favourites.

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Place share a favourite pancake recipe in the comments below.
 

Pantry declutter project: mung bean soup

I spent the weekend tidying the laundry room in our home and sorting through piles of paperwork that I had collected over the past several years. I’m also cooking my way through our kitchen pantry stash of beans, flours, and other items that we had purchased once upon a time within the past few years but have not used in substantial quantities.

On Sunday, I used a large quantity of flour to make play-doh for the youngest Wanderlust Junior’s classroom; banana pancakes for breakfast; banana and chocolate chip muffins for Wanderlust Juniors’ snack break at school; and a banana and chocolate chip loaf for our post-dinner dessert. I confess that my baking quest was not a result of attempting to bake my way through an entire bag of flour. Rather, there were too many very ripe bananas sitting on our kitchen counter, begging to be featured in several delicious ways.

Last week, I shared with you my recipe for banana, blueberry, and lavender muffins. This time, I will share with the result of my pantry declutter project: mung bean soup. I made a large pot of this flavourful, warming, grounding soup on Sunday afternoon for me and Mr. Wanderlust to enjoy at lunch all throughout the workweek.

Ground, warming mung bean soup recipe

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Ingredients:

2 cups dry mung bean

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small white or yellow onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

3 carrots, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped finely

1 green pepper, chopped finely

1 heaping tbsp tomato paste

Enough filtered water or vegetable stock (or a mixture of both) to cover the mung bean and vegetables, plus three additional inches of water and/or stock on top

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

1 tbsp curry powder

sea salt and pepper, to taste

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Preparation:

  1. Soak the mung bean overnight in a large pot in cold water. Before cooking the soup, rinse and drain the beans.
  2. In a large cooking pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil and cook the onions and garlic until they turn a golden brown colour.
  3. Add the carrots and celery and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the bell peppers and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the tomato paste, turmeric, and curry powder, and stir everything together.
  6. Add the salt and pepper and water and/or stock, cover and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat to simmer and continue to cook the soup, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour on low heat.
  8. Turn off the heat, add the lemon juice, and stir once again.

I like to allow the soup to rest overnight, absorbing the flavour, and serve it the following day.

Do you have a favourite soup recipe that incorporates various legumes that just might be lurking in my pantry? Please share them with me in the comments below.

Do you know someone who might enjoy this recipe? Please share this blog post with a friend!

In the bleak midwinter, I shall bake muffins

The Wanderlust Juniors and I spent the first week of the new year with my parents in cottage country, where we slept in, enjoyed plenty of time outdoors in the fresh winter air, taking walks and playing in fluffy snow — almost knee-deep for me, and even deeper for them. It’s truly a pleasure to grant ourselves a vacation from the everyday bustle, to start the year on a quiet note, with a retreat from the city, immersed in silence.

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Through the wardrobe… Winter is magical.

It would be dishonest of me to say that I do not care about weather changes. Although I do enjoy winter weather, the limited exposure to sunlight does affect me, as it does many others. Yet, staying indoors for an entire day when it’s cold outside also doesn’t help to elevate my mood. That is why I do my best, whenever possible, to bundle up, pull on my big faux-fur winter boots, and head outside for a walk or to play with Wanderlust Juniors. Even 15 minutes outdoors make a tremendous difference, reminding me that the world continually changes, that nothing is ever static, and that we must grant ourselves the opportunity to slow down, take a few deep breaths, and reconnect to the greater world. Perhaps, we just might find that the midwinter is not all that bleak.

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Playtime! Snow angels in the winter sunshine.

After the outing, we go back inside for a large mug of steaming tea for me, and muffins for the boys. Here is my ‘go to’ muffin recipe:

muffins

Banana, Blueberry, and Lavender Muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

a pinch of fine sea salt

1-2 tsp culinary lavender (In Toronto, I purchase culinary lavender from Weir’s Lane Lavender & Apiary)

2 ripe bananas

1 egg

1 cup milk of your choice

1/3 cup vegetable oil, grape seed oil, or melted coconut oil

2/3 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and lightly grease or line a 12-cup muffin baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lavender. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, thoroughly mash the bananas, then add the egg and whisk lightly. Add the oil and milk and continue to whisk until the mixture is uniform.
  4. Carefully pour the wet ingredients into a well in the centre of the bowl containing the dry ingredients. Gently fold in the blueberries, stirring carefully until the batter is just combined.
  5. Using a tablespoon, pour the batter evenly into 12 muffin cups.
  6. Bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the muffin baking pan, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Notes: I sometimes substitute chocolate chips for the blueberries, if you wish. Lavender reminds me of summer in the midst of the cold months; however, if you do not enjoy lavender, you may omit it entirely. The Wanderlust Juniors also love these muffins as a school snack.

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Please leave a comment below to share your tips for staying healthy and joyful throughout the winter months. Also, I would love to read about your favourite type of muffins. Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!

Peppermint lip balm

When the weather outside is frightful my skin becomes particularly dry. I turn to my favourite sweet almond oil, cocoa butter, and essential oils to keep my skin and lips healthy over the winter season.

A playful, crafty mood and a shot of curiosity led me, several years ago, to create a recipe for peppermint lip balm that smells beautiful and works wonders. In addition, it can be made at home in under 15 minutes with a few ingredients:

  • Beeswax. I purchased a large 1 lb block of beeswax from a local online pharmacy two years ago, and still have plenty remaining. If using a block of beeswax, you will need to utilize a knife on a wooden chopping block to chip approximately 3/4 cup of beeswax. You may also purchase smaller beeswax pellets, which would save you some time and an arm workout.
  • Cocoa butter: approximately 1/2 cup.
  • Sweet almond oil: approximately 2/3 cup.
  • Peppermint essential oil: a few drops.
You will also need a few small containers for the balm. With this batch, I filled 12 small plastic containers that I found in the craft aisle of the local dollar store. I keep one for myself and gift the rest to family and friends.
The preparation is simple:

Melt the beeswax, and cocoa butter in a metal bowl over boiling water (double boiler technique), using a metal spoon to stir constantly, then carefully add the sweet almond oil.

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Melting beeswax and cocoa butter over a double boiler.

2. Add a few drops of peppermint oil. I added approximately eight drops to this batch and some might find it a bit spicy. The mint certainly will feel slightly cooling upon application.

3. Carefully and slowly pour the mixture into the prepared containers, dividing evenly. Allow the mixture to cool completely before screwing on the lids.

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Once completely cooled, the balm will feel solid. Only a tiny amount is needed to protect your lips from harsh wind and below-freezing temperature.
Enjoy, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

A nourishing celebration

 

At 11 o’clock on Sunday, the stands at the local farmers’ market are abuzz not only with the greedy wasps that land on the juiciest ripe peaches. Shoppers with large cloth bags tucked under their elbows stroll leisurely along the lane, their eyes lit with pleasure as they inhale the fresh, colourful scents that surround them. Late summer’s harvest bounty is on full display. There is nothing demure about it. The plump eggplants and oversized zucchini are sensually bathed in light in golden straw baskets, the vendor knowing all too well that before long, they will be picked up gently by large warm hands that will appreciate their weight. The vegetables will be admired by eyes that will grow hungry at the sight of the deep velvet aubergine and green colours. They will feed many a mouth at today’s dinner.

“Mommy, can we buy strawberries?” the eldest Wanderlust Junior’s eyes smile at mine as we pass the perfectly shaped heaps of shiny berries glistening in the sun. It occurs to me that I can actually smell them from several feet away in the open air. I yearn to taste those berries.

The next moment, my gaze darts to the florist’s stand with its smorgasbord of colours, and I am inevitably pulled toward them. Beautiful food and flowers are two of my beloved simple pleasures.

“Sunflowers! I want to buy sunflowers!” they are the youngest Wanderlust Junior’s favourite. Amidst scarlet gerbera daisies, they will be the perfect delicate decoration for our small round dinner table.

We buy 250 g of freshly roasted coffee beans to bring home for Mr. Wanderlust. The after-lunch espresso fills our home with an irresistible aroma. I mean it! I rarely drink coffee these days, but I give into the temptation of a delicate cup after our lunch of freshly baked bread with smoked trout, soft chevre, and a salad of spinach and multicolour baby tomatoes drizzled with a dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, coarse Hawaiian sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, with those succulent strawberries for dessert. Simple. Delicious.

Last week, I read Elizabeth’s Bard 2010 memoir Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes, in which she documents her move to the city and exploration of its culinary delights, the recipes for many of which are also shared in the book. As a Francophile, this book had been on my To Read list for the past few years, and I was glad to finally pick up a copy from the local library. I was familiar with recipes for several of the French staples, and ratatouille is on my annual rotation for the harvest season.

For dinner, I slowly sauté coarsely chopped onions in a generous amount of olive oil, gently moving them around the skillet until they are translucent and their sweet aroma cascades through the kitchen. I add chunks of aubergine, red and yellow peppers, and beefsteak tomatoes. I omit the zucchini today, since my preference is for the more flavourful smaller varieties, which weren’t to be found at the market this time. I sprinkle the beautiful medley with sea salt, black pepper, and a couple of pinches of oregano. After a few more minutes, the ratatouille is ready, the vegetables simmering in a perfectly thickened sauce. I serve it alongside fresh young potatoes coated with melted butter and chopped chives from my garden, then add a few pieces of leftover chicken breast. For dessert, we enjoy a yogurt cake made with ripe local nectarines (see photo above). The yogurt cake is a staple in many French homes, easy and quick to bake with basic ingredients that are likely already waiting in the pantry of the fridge. I enjoyed Bard’s version of this classic and will return to it over and over again.

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Ratatouille, simmering on the stove.

I have long been a fan of French cuisine, and not only for the recipes and variety of dishes. It’s the French attitude to food that inspires me, with an emphasis on slow cooking and eating, enjoying every bite. This style of food preparation and consumption celebrates each meal, whether it is a dinner served in honour of a special occasion or a simple lunch for one. I must say that weeknight dinners in our home tend of be rushed, but even then, I do my best to make every serving appear beautiful on the plate, presented with gratitude and tenderness. Weekend dinners are an opportunity for us to slow down, linger, and reconnect once again.

The weekend trip to the farmer’s market is itself an occasion, inviting us to browse, to caress, to close our eyes and smell the peaches, the tomatoes, to delight at the warmth of the corn nourished by the late August sunlight as an image forms in our minds of what we will prepare and serve for dinner. For me, a grocery shopping trip often feels like a chore, which is a perfect invitation to move slower, more mindfully, with complete presence as I purchase provisions for the school and work week. An excursion to the farmers’ market is different. It does not require coaxing. Later, after we return home, comes the meditation of stirring the onions in the skillet and observing their changing colour, listening closely for the subtle sizzle of the hot oil, breathing in the sweet scent. I smile as I adorn the table with flowers that tell their own story while eavesdropping on our pleasant dinner conversation. The entire experience is slow, intentional, inviting all our senses to join in the dance.

What’s not to celebrate?

Do you enjoy shopping at the farmers’ market? How do you cultivate presence while shopping for groceries and preparing meals at home? 

Sealed with a kiss. Ahem… My recipe for healthy lips

About two months ago, I shared with you my recipe for delicious lip balm to keep your lips soft throughout the winter season. That season is still going strong in Ontario, and I have been playing with my new Young Living Essential Oils, combining them with staple ingredients from my kitchen pantry to create a lip scrub that smells beautiful and further helps to keep my lips healthy (and kissable). This recipe takes less than five minutes to create and is also a great quick gift idea for someone you love (just be sure to double or triple the amounts listed below to make a larger batch). I keep it in a small jar on the bathroom counter and Wanderlust Juniors have started using it as a hand scrub. Creativity at its finest!

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*** A note about Young Living Essential Oils: I have never been one to give into trends. However, after hearing many praises sung in the name of Young Living Essential Oils, I decided to try it. Having been a regular user of essential oils for the past several years and enjoying their many benefits, I am familiar with many brands that are on the market. I was very impressed with the quality of YLEO and decided to sign up as a distributor. If you are looking for excellent pure essential oils, you have my recommendation for a great brand. If you would like to support me as a distributor by placing an order, please use my number: 3565905. Thank you in advance for your support.

I love playing in the kitchen, cooking intuitively, chopping and tossing a bunch of ingredients into a large pot, then, stirring up some magic by sprinkling in a pinch of pixie dust (shhh, it’s actually salt and pepper, but we won’t divulge that culinary secret). Sometimes, I plan in advance, soak black beans or kidney beans in a large heavy pot the night before, then cook them in the morning. The pragmatist in me reminds me that soups and stews with some plant-based protein are more likely to keep me well satiated.

On a chilly Sunday, I naturally choose to prepare chili for dinner, and make plenty more for the next few workday lunches. The black beans are freshly cooked and are temporarily resting in a bowl on the counter. I don’t enjoy washing large cooking pots, so of course I intend to use the same pot I used for cooking the beans to cook the chili itself. The EVOO on the bottom of the pot sizzles joyfully, threatening to become menacing lest I take my time chopping the yellow onion and mincing garlic. So, I rush, then carefully sweep the onion and garlic off the bamboo chopping board and into the pot, and reduce the heat of the burner to medium-high. The aroma of the golden onions is comforting, reminding me to breathe deeply as I chop the green peppers, yellow peppers and button mushrooms, adding them in batches to the pot. I grind a few peppercorns in my mortar and pestle, then add a generous amount of fine sea salt and, affecting my best impression of Tinkerbell, sprinkle it all into the pot, watching the magic transpire before my eyes as a I slowly stir the delicious contents with a large wooden spoon. Oh, but I almost forgot the chili powder! How much shall I add? Too much spice, and the youngest Wanderlust Junior would need plenty of convincing and a tall glass of water before reluctantly attempting to eat his spicy meal. Not enough spice, and the chili would taste like a bland stew. I settle on one heaping tablespoon, then grab the packet again and shake in a bit more of the coppery powder.

I open a large can of diced tomatoes, add some boiling water to cover the vegetable and bean mixture, plus an inch more, and increase the heat to ‘high’ bring it all to a boil, stirring occasionally simply to satisfy my olfactory senses. I lower the heat to ‘simmer,’ replace the lid, and allow it all to cook for about 30 minutes.

 At dinner, I serve the delightful concoction with purple tortilla chips on the side, then watch as the chips quickly start to disappear. “Eat the chili itself,” I remind Wanderlust Juniors who gaze at me sheepishly from beneath downcast eyes, grinning mischievously as the rhythm of their crunching slows for just a moment. I inhale the steam that rises from the bowl before me, then ask my family, once again, to ensure that their own servings, prepared well in advance before mine, are cooled enough for them to eat. I am the only one in our family who enjoys piping hot foods and drinks.

We’re all here, and we are warm. These people at this cozy pine kitchen table are my inspiration for playing in the kitchen. They are the reason I continue to craft dishes that warm our bellies all through the winter season. They also remind me that there is always an opportunity to practise awareness, setting true intentions, all while allowing my imagination to sparkle!

 

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Vegan chili prepared with well-cooked beans is a great dish for both Vata and Kapha weather, or winter in North America. We also enjoy slow cooker chili, prepared in much the same way, but instead of leaving the stew to simmer on the stove, I turn the slow cooker to LOW and allow it to cook for 8 hours, returning at the end of the day to the enticing smell of HOME.

 

What is your favourite winter meal? Please leave a comment below, and thank you for taking a moment to share this blog with a friend!

DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner and All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

As promised last week, I wanted to share with you my quick go-to recipe for an all-purpose disinfectant spray. I use this spray on everything: my yoga mats; bathroom mirrors; wiping sticky hand prints and dust from surfaces; door handles; kitchen counters, and so on. I will confess sheepishly that the pleasant, clean scent of the spray alone makes me want to pick it up and clean everything around me. All you need is a few minutes and a few basic, clean ingredients to create this magical product.

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DHARMA WANDERLUST YOGA MAT CLEANER AND ALL-PURPOSE DISINFECTANT SPRAY

Ingredients:

  • Small spray bottle
  • Distilled water
  • Pure white vinegar
  • A few drops of essential oil (I recommend tea tree oil for its disinfecting properties, but I also enjoy calming lavender; eucalyptus or fir needle have a clean, fresh scent)

Method:

  1. Fill about 2/3 of the bottle with water.
  2. Fill the remainder of the bottle with vinegar.
  3. Add a few drops of essential oil. I like to add about 3 drops of tea tree oil and then one or two drops of lavender and/or other oils. I don’t recommend mixing more than two oils at a time.
  4. Screw on the lid, shake well, spray your mat or any other surface in your home, and enjoy a chemical-free cleaning experience!

Do you have a favourite DIY cleaning recipe? Please share it in the comments below. 

Do you know someone who would enjoy this blog post and the recipe? Please share it with them via social media or email. 

Raw, Vegan Cannelloni

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A few weeks ago, I met a friend for lunch at a local raw food restaurant. Of all the healthy and unique items on the menu, I was particularly intrigued by the cannelloni. It tasted as wonderful as the description on the menu promised, and after leaving the restaurant, I was inspired to create my own version of the beautiful dish. Earlier this week, I experimented with a recipe. Both Pawel and I were very impressed with the result, and after posting the picture on Instagram, we received many requests for the recipe.
I don’t have many fancy photos of the ingredients for you, as I made the dish fairly quickly without expecting to post a winning recipe (see: approximately 10-15 minutes). The result was just too great not to share.
So, we’ll do this the old-fashioned way by simply posting the quick recipe below.
Raw, Vegan Cannelloni by Dharma Wanderlust
Ingredients:
2 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise using a vegetable peeler
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for a few hours
1 lemon, juiced
1 broccoli (florettes and a bit of the stem)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 large bunch of fresh basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
For the sauce:
2-3 tomatoes
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of fresh basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
sea salt, to taste
Method:
1. In a food processor, pulse the broccoli, then add the cashews, garlic, basil, oregano and lemon juice. Continue to pulse until the mixture resembles ricotta cheese.
2. Layer four slices of zucchini, allowing them to overlap, and scoop a spoonful of the ‘cheese’ mixture on the zucchini. Starting at one short end, roll the zucchini into a tube shape and tuck the other short end underneath.
3. Prepare the sauce by pulsing the tomatoes with a bunch of fresh basil, dried oregano, olive oil and sea salt in the food processor.
4. Drizzle the tomato sauce generously on top of the cannelloni. Sprinkle with pine nuts, if desired.
Enjoy!
We’d love to hear what you think of this recipe. Please leave us a comment below. Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!