Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back to the Blender - Sister's Soft Moist Sunday VI

I took a break from this feature last week, as I was off playing air-guitar in Calgary. Besides, my parents are visiting my sister, so I knew she'd be well fed without my suggestions. It was back to the blender this week though. The cooler weather had me thinking about autumn treats. This pumpkin pie flavoured smoothie was the result.

This Week's Soft, Moist Selection

Pumpkin Banana Smoothie

(This is another easy-to-make smoothie. Just add the ingredients to the blender and whiz away. I used my favourite pumpkin pie spices, but they could be adjusted to suit your taste. I also think almond butter would be a nice alternative to sesame seed butter; just don't substitute fake maple syrup for the real stuff.)

Makes 4 cups

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp sesame seed butter
1 tsp flax seed oil
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of ground ginger, nutmeg and mace

- Blend banana and water
- Add milk and pumpkin and blend
- Add remaining ingredients and blend

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sometimes You Just Gotta Go With The Imported Jam.

Pearl Jam that is. Last weekend Hubby took me to the Virgin Music Festival in Calgary where Pearl Jam was headlining. Bliss. Just the kind of nourishment my inner rocker-chick needed. It was one of those experiences that just couldn't be improved on. Nourishing and satisfying. Who could ask for more?

Stilts on uneven, uphill terrain. That's one talented chicken.

Every time I saw these tree-folk they were dancing, playing hacky sack or just jumping around. I wish I had that kind of energy. I wonder what they were eating?

I had to include the above shot. That's where the Olympic Flame burned during the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Sort of like lighting a match in the bathroom, but on a much, much larger scale.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Feeding My Soul, Feeding My Spirit, Feeding My Face

I spent part of the long weekend cat-sitting for a friend. She had wisely left the chaos of our local BC Day celebrations to head for the hills. I relaxed in her sweet, wee house, played with her adorable cat, raided her garden for lettuce and blueberries and generally made myself at home. She wanted to reward me for such arduous labours, so yesterday we headed up to Ocean Resort. We had been there before, but they have recently added a labyrinth to the grounds, and we wanted to check it out.

I find walking the labyrinth to be incredibly peaceful and relaxing. Fortunately, there are several within driving distance of our town. I've tried a few, but the one at Ocean Resort is my new favourite. It's a 7-circuit driftwood labyrinth set within view of the ocean. I loved how all all 4 elements were present: earth in the crunch of the gravel beneath my feet, air in the breeze from the ocean, fire in the few scorched driftwood logs, and water in the nearby ocean. I can even say that all five senses were represented, as from time to time I could taste salt from the ocean on the breeze. (I bet you thought I was licking the logs or something.)

Yesterday's labyrinth walk was particularly nourishing, as I was able to leave all the worries and heaviness I've been carrying outside. It wasn't planned. I just suddenly noticed that they weren't there. It was like a little time out, and it was wonderful. I felt so light, and it was so much easier to be present (not that I'm ever that present) without those concerns to distract me. Because of this, I was able to notice things like the taste of the ocean air. It also made me aware of the rather noisy construction taking place across the road, but that didn't bother me. Instead I was grateful that I was present enough to notice it.

I must admit there was a moment, when I realized that I was nearing the end of my walk, that I was hesitant to leave the labyrinth. I had to pause and remind myself that I could choose which worries and concerns I picked up again when I left. What a reassuring thought. The lightness I felt in the labyrinth continued, and my friend and I headed off for lunch.

Originally we had planned on taking part in the resort's "Labyrinth and Lunch" special, but they were completely booked for lunch. Ironically, they had a 7-day retreat that featured green smoo
thies taking place, so there was no room for us. Instead we headed over to Salmon Point Resort and had lunch there.

We were seated on the patio at the restaurant. Fortunately, we were able to get a table with enough shade for my friend and enough sun for me. I continued to set my concerns aside, and didn't even think to ask the server where the seafood in my seafood clubhouse sandwich came from. Odd, considering our ocean-side seats. It was nice not to think about it. (Though once home it was nice to know that the ingredients for our dinner came from friends and local farmers.) Instead of fretting about the origins of the items on the menu, I chose something that sounded appetizing after a morning spent in the fresh ocean air. I was able to concentrate on enjoying the excellent company, the great view and the good food, and I must admit, I savoured every bite of my meal.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What's In A Name - Sister's Soft, Moist Sunday V

When I started this weekly feature I didn't know what to call it. I went back to the notes I took when I talked to my sister about her dietary restrictions to see if I could find anything inspiring. The words "soft", "cooked", and "moist" jumped out at me. They were on the list of "OK" food choices from one of her specialists. I believe the "cooked" is there to ensure that the foods she eats are easy to swallow. I get the impression applesauce would be on the "OK" list, while a raw apple wouldn't. I could be wrong about this. She sees a lot of specialists, and each gives her a list of "do's" and "don'ts". Sometimes the items on one list contradict the items on another. It gets rather confusing.

I'm assuming that raw foods that are naturally soft and moist, or raw foods that can be made soft and moist, would make the "OK" list. Because of this I dropped the "cooked" when I named this feature. Well, that and I thought that my blog would get more traffic with the title I chose. There have to be people with interesting inclinations Googling the terms "soft", "moist" and "sisters". So far they haven't found me, but that may be a good thing. I'm not sure how I would respond to their disappointment when they found smoothies instead of, well, whatever they were looking for.

This Week's Soft, Moist Selections

Easy Peanut Butter/Banana Smoothie

(Sister has been to the pain specialist three times this week. When I spoke to her she sounded exhausted, and she had loads of paperwork to sort through to prepare for a visit from an MS caseworker. In light of that, I tried to make the easiest smoothie I could think of. No chopping, no paring, no washing produce, no fussy ingredients. Just throw the items in the blender and enjoy. And get the kids to clean up, of course.)

Makes 3 cups

1 cup milk
3 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp maple syrup (The real stuff please!)
1 banana
1 cup ice

- Blend milk, peanut butter and maple syrup.
- Add banana and blend.
- Add ice and blend.

Not Exactly Lettuce Soup

(This is a chilled soup based rather loosely on Paulette Mitchell's Lettuce Soup recipe from "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup". The variations aren't due to any preferences. I just didn't have 5 of the 8 ingredients in the house! I think it turned out well, though I've never tried the original for comparison. I'm not really a fan of chilled soups, but was willing to try this for Sister's sake. (Am I a good sister or what?) She's really feeling the heat this year, so hot soups are out until the weather cools off. Surprisingly, for someone who's not a chilled soup fan, I really enjoyed this one. Hubby did too.)

Makes 4 servings.

3 cloves garlic
2 cups chicken or veggie broth (I used homemade, but store-bought would work.)
1/2 cup water
6 cups greens (I used beet greens and kale, as that's what I had.)
Fresh herbs (About 1 tbsp total. I used thyme, oregano, chives and rosemary from my garden. Use what you have.)
Juice of 1/2 lemon (Sister is to avoid citrus, so omit if it's not for you.)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp salt

- Blend garlic and about 1/2 cup broth. Use enough liquid to cover blades.
- Add 1/2 of the greens and the rest of the broth and blend.
- Add remaining greens and 1/2 cup water and blend.
- Add herbs and blend.
- Add yogurt, lemon juice and salt and blend until smooth.
- Chill until ready to serve.