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Macro Monday: Checking in / Markets / Grocery budget chats.

Hi there friends,

It's been awhile since the last Macro Monday! But now it's June, and June is a lovely month. So Happy Macro Monday!

I've been feeling more inspired by cooking again lately, and am working on a few recipes I'd like to share with you soon.

One of these is a vegan lentil bolgonese sauce. I have a bit more tweaking to do, and then I'll send it your way.  

And another recipe in the works for you is the lovely vegan wholegrain carrot cake I made at Easter. It had a lemon cashew icing, and was delicious. If you follow me on instagram (here's the link!), you may have already seen it. This carrot cake was super healthy, hearty, and very much like what I imagine baked oatmeal would be like. I enjoyed the leftovers for breakfast.

Other than that, I have been doing some gardening, and have already enjoyed eating kale and komatsuna from my little container / pot garden on my balcony. The weather has been fantastic, and T & I have been spending as much time as possible outside. 

GROCERY COST / BUDGET CHAT

I have been doing the larger part of my produce shopping at my local market again, now that it's open at full capacity. This has gotten me thinking a lot about grocery budgets. If you've seen my instagram posts, you'll know that I love sharing pics of my weekly grocery haul. Sometimes I just get a few things, but usually I get a large full basket full of a variety of produce, and while the berries are in season, lots of berries. I try to make this my only produce shop for the week, and this usually works just fine for T & I.

In my experience, at least here in Victoria, despite what many people think, this is much friendlier to our grocery budget, than if I were to buy the equivalent organic things at most grocery stores. And sometimes, I feel like it's even better priced than some of the conventional produce. I know that Vancouver Island has an amazing growing season, but I just can't get over how fairly priced the local and organic veggies are.

In case you're interested, I'll list a few items I regularly buy, with the market price listed first (M), and then a common grocery store (GS) price after:

DAIKON - $2 - 4 M // $5-10 GS (side note: perhaps cheaper in china town).
KALE - $2 -3 M // $3-5 GS
SPROUTS - 2 packages for $5 M // $3-5 per package GS
STRAWBERRIES  - $4-6 M // $5-7 GS (on sale perhaps you can get them for $4).
Fresh BASIL -  $3 giant bunch M // $3-5 GS for a smaller container
Mixed SALAD GREENS - $3-5 M // $4-7 GS 

Here's my giant basket-full of veggies from this weekend:

In case you're wondering, all these vegetables are local (duh), and organic. The quality of these vegtables are MUCH higher than anything I can find at the grocery store. The daikon alone is about half the price of what a similarly sized organic daikon would be at any store, and it is of such higher quality I can barely even compare the two. (most daikon I find at stores is either limp, spongy, or worse yet often moldy!).

This Saturday I packed my basket full of: komatsuna, broccoli, daikon, sprouts, green onions, radishes, collards, salad turnips, the most beautiful green leaf lettuce, basil, mixed kale, baby summer squash and the most tasty little strawberries. The hummus I bought from a local shop on the way home so I haven't included in the price. The total for all these vegetables was $37 CAD. Now, I'm definitely no financial wizard, and perhaps I'm crazy, but this seems like a STEAL of a DEAL! Also considering both the turnips and daikon are sold with their beautiful tops - you can eat these like any other leafy green. I'm all about the 2 for 1 veggies.  I am fairly confident that had I chosen to buy all of these things at a health foods store, I would have paid much closer to, if not more, than $50 CAD. And perhaps more like $40 - 45 for the organic versions purchased at a conventional grocery store.  

I would say this is likely the average amount of produce I buy weekly at the market (some weeks more, some weeks less), but when the berries really start to roll out, my weekly produce price will increase as berries are my fav and are our ultimate summer treat and I will be adding those along to my regular veggie haul.

How much do you spend per week on produce? What do you think - especially fellow Canadians - does $37 seem like a reasonable price, expensive price, or good price for this basket full of organic produce? I'm honestly curious here and welcome your opinions. If you think I can do better, I'd love to know how! (other than growing all the veggies yourself, as I'm doing the best I can at the moment with my balcony garden). 

It makes you think and realize - if you stick to eating veggies, and then items from the bulk bins (whole grains, dried beans, nuts and seeds), with the occasional detour for things like tempeh, tofu, fish, high quality bread, oils, etc., healthy groceries can definitely be affordable.

And one more thing: I understand if organic produce is not importance to you, but it is to me for a few reasons. Firstly, TASTE! Not always, but most often, organic versions are tastier. Seriously. Especially local and organic veggies - so much PRANA! Secondly, the nutritional content issue. Most organic versions of food are higher in vitamins and minerals. Usually, they are grown in better soil yielding more nutritious crops. More nutrition bang per bite. And lastly, obviously, the potential chemicals used in conventional crops are a bit scary. I know that many big organic chains use "organic" pesticides that are supposedly better (they may or may not be), but in my own experience, I have never had organic strawberries that tasted like chemicals, but I have had regular ol' strawberries that do. And ditto that for grapes and all other berries. YICK. 

I'm not completely rigid over organic - I do tend to follow the dirty dozen / clean fifteen guidelines whenever buying 100% organic produce is not possible. And I will try to choose local foods with equal importance as organic because I believe it is the most responsible thing to do environmentally speaking, but I also understand reality and budgets, and I do realize that often organic foods can be more money.

That is why I'm SO EXCITED when it's market season, because my grocery bills usually drop! 

So to wrap up please, tell me about your healthy, perhaps organic, grocery budget tips and tricks!

Check back soon for those recipes <3 <3 <3 

And I'll leave you with a beautiful article written by Phiya Kushi that I found to be extremely inspiring.
 

Hiya! Updates + It's almost Spring.

Hi Guys,

I've been laying low these past few months, busy with work and other things, and have been feeling like I've been in a bit of a funk.

When I stop to think about why I have been feeling this way, a few things instantly jump out:

1. My sleep schedule has been alllllllllll over the place. Late nights / late mornings combined with feeble attempts to get back to my beloved early bedtime. This does not work well for me. Some of this has been out of my control (noise disturbances etc.), and some of it has been my doing - such as just giving in, and staying up late even though I know it's not good for me.

2. Of course, having an erratic sleep schedule has led to me having an erratic eating schedule. This too, does not work well for me. I like to eat at the same time, every day. Call me boring. I don't care. Eating at random hours feels way too cray cray for this little guy (me).

3. Erratic eating schedules also lead to erratic eating choices. Poor sleep + inconsistent meals times = plenty of snacky snack snacks.  I would say that I'm always fairly consistent in eating vegetables and high quality natural foods, but I have definitely been eating a bit "wider" on the Macrobiotic spectrum these days, mostly because I've been eating out more than usual, and I've been feeling very carefree. Hello red wine! yee-haw! This for sure can be good every once in while. But, my body is telling me that it needs a little re-centering.

4. It also makes sense that if I haven't been getting proper sleep, and proper fuel, that I might also overlook the self-care routines and practices that make me feel so good. No matter how erratic my days are, I am always good at taking a few moments to sit in the sun and enjoy a cup of tea. But self-care goes beyond this. It means finding the right balance between social obligations and alone time. It means being consistent in the practices that improve your life. It includes processing emotions and feelings, and taking time to breathe, and to meditate [if you don't meditate, then contemplate ;) ]. And sometimes, self-care means a hot bath and a green sea monster face mask.

Self-care, self-love, and creating a happy and healthy life require diligence and maintenance.

I always appreciate these down phases and feel-like-i'm-in-a-funk periods because they remind me that a good life doesn't just happen to you ... you have to create it! Each person is different, and will require different things to live a big life.

I wouldn't say that it's unusual to feel in a funk in January / February. These are generally considered to be two of the hardest months of the year. But, Spring is in the air (at least over here!) and I'm already feeling my energy shift.

Spring energy is upwards moving. It is invigorating, and motivating, and I'm definitely tapping into that. Think about the colour green. Fresh new buds and sprouts. Right now, there are a billion cherry blossoms and magnolias. Every single time I step outside, I am instantly grateful for this.


So, I know what I need to do to shift back into feeling lovely and balanced! It's always about the simple things for me. Consistent sleeping schedule, regular meals, and lots of cooking at home. In fact, I am already dreaming of the beautiful produce that will soon be in abundance at the market!

So friends, please share: if you're feeling off, what do you do to shift yourself back into balance?

Much love and pink cherry blossoms,
Jess

Macro Monday: October & November Catch-up.

Hi Friends,

It's been awhile! October was a delightful and busy month, and time seems to have gotten away from me! It's the last week of November - wow!

October started off with a bang! I went to Seattle to attend some Macrobiotic classes with Warren Kramer, set up by the lovely Teresa who blogs at Sweetveg and Littleveg.

Short version of all of this: AMAZING!
There were just so so SO many good things about it:

#1 - I got to meet Teresa, which was purely delightful. She is just as sweet and caring as you would imagine when reading her blog posts. She organized an amazing weekend, and I'm beyond thrilled that I was able to attend. Thank you Teresa! :)

#2 - MACROBIOTIC CLASSES. Can you believe that I have been doing the whole Macro thing solo for over 6 years!? This is the first time I've taken a cooking class or attended a weekend workshop with multiple classes in all this time. It was SO wonderful to be around other people who use the words "yin" and "yang" regularly - ha! And who also appreciate things like the perfect kabocha, brown rice, and all kinds of things Macrobiotic. It was definitely worth it for me, times like a million!

# 3 - Learning! Warren Kramer is a wonderful, wonderful teacher! I feel super lucky to have been able to attend some classes with him. I definitely tucked away more than a few new-to-me pieces of information. So grateful for all of this!

#4 - FOOD. Can you say full-on multiple course Macrobiotic meals that I didn't have to make...just there for me to enjoy? Heaven, I tell ya'. Here are a couple of photos of one of the meals that I was so lucky to enjoy:

#5 - Seattle. What a great city. In a very non-Macrobiotic fashion, T and I did a coffee tour of the city after the weekend's Macrobiotic classes. ;) So many cute and fun cafes. Amazing coffee. Like, some of the best I've ever had anywhere. And it's a great city full of good veggie eating options - I might do a post later about some of my favourite veggie meals I enjoyed there. We took the ol' city bus and/or walked everywhere, which worked out perfectly. We stayed in a sweet little 1 bedroom suite we found on Airbnb. We just took the ferry from downtown Victoria, straight to downtown Seattle. We booked in advance, so it was only $120 return for each of us. Super easy, and super fun.

Also, in the past few months I have continued to teach a few Macrobiotic classes, which were great fun - thanks to everyone for attending! I will be doing another two before Christmas. Next on is Monday December 1st and is on sweets <3

Also, since October in particular was quite rainy, we have been spending a bit more time inside. T and I have been going through our stuff once again - we are continually trying to downsize. We share a 470 square foot suite, and we both work from home...and we both love it! It just forces us to be on a continual minimizing mission. It feels so liberating to sell or donate stuff you don't need or use anymore.

I'm working on a post for the vegan ramen that T and I have been making fairly frequently. It's super delicious, cozy and makes a great quick meal on a rainy/snowy day. Check back later this week for the recipe - I'll have it up by Friday <3

Also, I have gotten back into reading again - any book recommendations? I enjoy reading all kinds of books :)

Hope the past weeks have been wonderful for all of you.
xoxo jess

 

Macro Monday: September Reflections

Hi Friends,

September has always been my time. It's the time of year when I feel the most energized , revitalized, and determined. I just LOVE when the air gets a little crisp. Not to mention the way the sunlight filters through the still-a-little-green pretty red & yellow leaves.

I think this is why I have always loved the start of school. I always dreamed about crunching leaves with my new boots on the walk home, and having an excuse to wear a few cozier things like scarves. My heart just swoons. And I know I'm not the only one.

This summer has been mega busy. Good busy. Bad busy. A little bit of all kinds of busy. I am so grateful to have been able to spend to much time with family and friends this summer. Lots of beaches and outings and all of that. And we'll be getting to see more family in a few short weeks, which is super fun! It goes without saying though, that life has been a little more chaotic than I am used to. Finding balance has been hard. But I am learning (trying) to find my grounding within it all.

So, this long weekend T and I unplugged. In fact, there would have been no other choice - we simply needed to regroup and relax and take a break from everything and everyone. We'll be back into the swing of things later on today (this post was written a few days ago, actually, so I could truly unplug over the weekend).

Anyways, back to September - I always love watching how we naturally adapt to the changing seasons. Without consciously thinking about it, I haven't been craving salads in the last few weeks. And I haven't been drawn to the berries at the market the last few weeks (I still got a few, duh). My intuition has been pulling me towards celeriac, and squash, and carrots, and has me planning soups and stews and warm, nourishing plates of delicious hearty food.

I also am drawn to work inwards and see what needs a little polishing. What kinds of things are not serving me at the moment? How can I focus my time more effectively on the things that matter? What can I let go of, and is there anything I need to bring more of in? There are definitely a few habits that I'm going to focus on letting go of, which I may write about in a future post.

I'm also excited, and gearing up to teach a few more Macrobiotic classes in September and October at one of the most lovely & wonderful spaces I've ever been in: Templed Mind. Definitely check them out, and their amazing schedule full of wonderful classes and events. Next Monday, September 8th, at 5-6:30pm, I'll be doing a class on some of the Macrobiotic Healing Foods. Hope to see you there!

Are you an Autumn kind of person? What's your favourite season? Any foods you've been craving lately?

Sending you a big crunchy-leaf, wool socks, and hot mug of tea kinda hug!
xoxo Jess

 

Macro Monday: Start Subtracting

Today's post is just a simple conversation about something I like to chat about A LOT: simplifying. Subtracting. Reducing the things the don't matter.

I love Macrobiotics because it feels simple to me: it places a large focus on finding balance through local, natural foods. Eat what's growing around you. Pretty simple. But, the Macrobiotic lifestyle also encourages simplicity. Some of the recommendations include: spending time in nature, gentle exercise, laughing, natural fabrics, and less time in front of screens. I think that is why I continually appreciate Macrobiotics -> it is another tool on the road to a simple life.

I have been growing a subtle distaste for EXCESS. I have my moments where I get caught up in consumerism, but they are becoming fewer and farther between. I have my sweet buddy, T, to thank for this - he is by nature the least possession oriented person I know - but also my yoga practice and my practice of Macrobiotics continue to be hugely influential. And another thing that's been adding fuel to the less is more fire: moving into a smaller space has been WONDERFUL. I can't say it enough. When you don't have rooms and basements and garages to hide your junk, you have to face it (or live in chaos, which I can't handle).

So the flipside of my growing distaste for excess is my huge appreciation for simplicity. The quote above, is for me, an amazing idea that I think would be great to live by: "When things aren't adding up in your life, start subtracting." If something about your current situation just doesn't feel right, then look to how you can simplify and refocus, by reducing the unnecessary blocks in your way.

If this interests you, I'd begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What IS truly important to you? Or, how do I want my life/job/relationship/house etc. to look like / feel like / embody?
  • What are the bare essentials that I require for this to happen?
  • How can I focus on or achieve those bare essentials?

Then, put everything else into the don't really need it or under consideration category, and stop thinking / doing / acting on those things - begin to reduce them from your life.

If spending time outside and being in nature is your focus, then ask: what are the bare essentials I need for that? My guess is probably TIME. So what gives you free time? Less work and obligations. And how can you work less? Well, you decide to buy less. So ---> reduce the number of things you buy, so you can reduce the number of hours you work, and instead spend your extra time outside.

If going traveling is your focus, then ask yourself what do I need to do that (what are the bare essentials)? Depending on you and the kind of travel or length of traveling, you may feel like the bare essential you need is simply money. If the bare essential is indeed needing to make money for traveling, then you need to STOP SPENDING on all other things, and amp up your work hours (I personally did this when T and I traveled though South America - I worked horrible long hours at a call centre, and didn't do much else). Many people think it's impossible to go traveling, because they just don't have the money. The truth is, if traveling is really the most important thing to you, you can indeed save up for it working a minimum wage job - its absolutely your spending that you need to address. Stop going out for drinks, going to the mall, eating out, decorating your house and walk or bike instead of paying for a car. Perhaps get a roommate, move into a cheaper place, or move home with your folks while you save up. All of these things will help you get to your money goal faster.

And here's a potential tough part, where I think many of us get caught in: perhaps if you aren't willing to make those changes to achieve your bare minimum (i.e., saving for traveling), then you should sit back and ask: is it (i.e., traveling) really that important to me? Maybe it actually comes second or eighth or twentieth on the list - maybe socializing with friends and spending money decorating the house are higher on the priority list. Be willing to realize that priorities shift and change. And that is totally cool, everyone has different priorities, and different things that make them happy. But be honest with yourself - it'll save you from feeling like you are being denied something, or that you CAN'T do something. Be willing to let go of things that are no longer your priorities. Instead, if you get in touch with your real, true, current priorities in life, it'll make you feel like you're doing awesome at the things you are working for. You'll no longer be pining over something you actually don't really want.

As you can see, you can apply this kind of thinking to WHATEVER goal you have or whatever it is that is important to you. If things just don't seem to be going your way, try it: try reducing. Figure out, and then get rid of the things that ARE getting in your way to achieving what is most important to you. And don't be scared or upset if you realize that the things in your way are there, because they have a message for you about what is NOT your priority (often they are things you subconsciously put in your own way).

Go for what YOU really want, not for what you think you should want, or what other people think you should want.

And get rid of the rest.

Have you done this before? Do you have trouble reducing to your bare essentials?

Have a wonderful week friends <3 <3 <3
~~Jess

 

 

 

MacroTreat Friday: Creamy Dreamy Golden Milk

Hi Friends,

It's Friday! This weeks' treat is a little unusual - no cookies or muffins or squares or cakes (don't worry, soon enough more of those yummies coming your way!). Instead, this week's treat is a golden-ey delicious paste that you can add to a milk of choice, and heat up for a little bed time treat.

This is a treat for your body, and has the bonus of making your house smell wonderful, whenever you make it!

MTF: Golden Milk [aka tumeric milk]

 It was SO pretty to make!

It was SO pretty to make!

Tumeric has been touted for centuries for it's healing properties, and perhaps is most known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

I could go on & on about the wonderfulness that is tumeric, but you can learn more here, and also here. And here too,

I don't use too many spices that often in my cooking, but I do enjoy tumeric from time to time in lentil dahl, a tofu scramble, or even the occasional smoothie. Somewhere along the way though, I read about tumeric being great for sleep...and I've seen many tumeric milk recipes floating around, so I decided to try it out. Basically it's a way to amp up that warm milk + honey you might have occasionally before bedtime. I combined multiple recipes floating around to try it out at home, and it turned out super nicely :)

STEP #1:  First, let's make tumeric paste!

||| BE WARNED: TUMERIC stains stuff...so don't cook this on too high of a temperature, and if you use a wooden spoon, expect it to be yellow after...also, it can stain stovetops and countertops too - so wipe up any bubbles or spills ASAP. And wear an apron too! |||

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tumeric powder (get a high quality brand, organic if possible).
  • a few grinds of a black pepper mill (optional, but the combo with tumeric is supposed to make cucurmin (the active component in tumeric) more bio available)

Directions

  1. Add water to a small saucepan.
  2. Stir in tumeric.
  3. Cook over medium - low heat for about 7-8 minutes. Stir frequently while cooking. You want the paste to be a nice paste that is quite runny - not super chunky - so you may need to add in a bit more water. Watch for it bubbling over.
  4. Store in a sealed glass jar in the fridge (wait until it's cooled to put in fridge).
  5. Mine lasted ~2 weeks until it separated (not sure just how long it'll last, but I would imagine about this time length).

STEP #2: Use Tumeric Paste to make GOLDEN MILK

Serves 1.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk of choice (I've tried with rice and almond).
  • optional sweetener to taste (I'd say between 1tsp - 1 TBSP pure maple syrup or honey).
  • 1 heaping tsp of tumeric paste
  • 1 tsp high quality vegetable oil, such as sesame (optional, but also increases absorption)
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Directions

  1. Add about 1 cup of milk of choice to a small saucepan , and stir in a heaping teaspoon of tumeric paste.
  2. Heat on stove over over medium - low. Stir often.
  3. Once tumeric paste is completely dissolved, add in oil (if using). If using maple syrup as a sweetener, stir into milk as well.
  4. Bring to almost boil.
  5. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and enjoy! Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon, if you like.
  6. *If using honey as a sweetener, I'd stir it in after you've removed from heat.

I found this to be incredibly relaxing and very enjoyable in the evening, before bed, especially when it's a bit chilly out. My guy T came over and needed a taste, because the smell of it all warming up on the stove was just TOO good. He now enjoys his own from time to time :)

I haven't done so yet, but I imagine this paste would be a killer addition to any kind of lentil stew, or curry, or stirfry!

Do you use tumeric in your cooking? Have you tried golden milk before?

Macro Monday: The Superfoods Trap

Happy Macro Monday friends!!

Today's post is about something that I have played around with in my own shopping and eating experience, and is something that you are likely familiar with if you're into the health world. So...let's chat about being bombarded with "superfoods."

 My kind of SUPER foods :)

My kind of SUPER foods :)

Macro Monday: The Superfoods Trap

For the past while, it seems that there is a new superfood that makes appearances in the stores and in internet-land each and every week. We've been through goji berries, to acai berries, to spirulina, lucuma powder, coconut oil, chlorella, maca etc. Whatever ~~~berry has "just been discovered." And you just "must try it."

Now, before you put your guard up - I'm not trying to knock healthy foods. And not the ones I mentioned above, either (some of them are dang delicious and wonderful, and things I do use from time to time). If you know me, you'll know that I'm all about healthy eating. But I do feel there is a giant "superfood" trap out there that we need to be aware of. And I also think we should be calling many more foods "superfoods" -> because any foods that are truly health supporting, in my mind, are indeed SUPER.

But I think it's a shame that a lot of our focus has shifted away from fresh, whole food, and moved towards these so-called "superfood" powders, extracts, tonics and elixirs.  We've really adopted the faster and more is better mentality with these foods. The real superfoods, in my mind, are the ones that you might mix in with those powders: a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole-grains and healthy fats.

Straight up local and organic veggies in their whole form are truly SUPER in all ways. They probably don't come in a fancy package, they aren't advertised (usually), and they generally don't run at $15 - $100 per item. In other words, these kinds of foods probably seem boring, dirty (literally, covered in dirt sometimes), and not so miraculous in comparison to their shiny new "superfood" friends.

But I want to tell you something, friends, and I'm speaking from my heart and my experience. Whenever I have been tempted and lured into purchasing these amazingly packaged powders, tonics & superfoods, I usually regret it later on. Not because they don't have some healthful properties, or they taste bad (they can often taste delicious). But because nothing alone, no one single powder, ethically sourced and straight from the jungle healer's hands, is the key to health. And when you invest your hard-earned dollars on something that is advertised as being so essential and so amazing, it's likely that you will begin to believe it (hi cognitive dissonance), and you might then, feel that you MUST have these things to be healthy, feel stressed if you can't afford them, and you may begin to overlook the regular boring FOOD that has sustained humans, healthily, for a long long time.

Something new & exciting that has the price tag to match it's "amazing healing properties" is, in the long run, probably not so sustainable - for your bank account, but also for our beautiful Earth. So many of these miracle foods that become "superfoods" have a high ecological toll because the demand for them skyrockets out of the blue. Those foods, I'm sure, have likely earned at least some of their SUPER status - but maybe we should consider the small communities that have been eating them traditionally for thousands of years and often rely on these foods, and perhaps adjust our over-consumption, slow it down a little, so that we can give our Earth time to adjust for the increased demand.

For myself, when I forget about this and that superfood, and focus on eating local and organic food in its whole form,  I feel SUPER. I feel healthy. Eating more vegetables + whole grains always make me feel good. These are also foods that we have been eating as humans, for a long time, and they are also the foods that natural healing systems such as Macrobiotics and Ayurveda promote. We've been growing these kinds of foods all around the world for a long time, and we for the most part, seem to have the hang of it. Another bonus when I eat this way: my bank account loves me for it. I never regret buying vegetables, fruits, and wholegrains - when I fill my cart with these things, I never cringe at the grocery bill. If my eyebrows ever raise at the checkout, it is always because I've on a whim thrown in something in a pretty package that most likely includes the word SUPER on it.

Of course, if your budget allows, and health is your passion, then play away, responsibly! I'm not trying to halt you on your quest for health, or discourage you for trying things out for yourself. Experiment with some of these new things if you so desire. I am certain that I will end up trying at least a few more - it seems really hard not to. And they will either be a repeat buy because they truly add something to my life (this doesn't happen so often), or end up in my "superfood" graveyard - the pile of random bulk baggies and jars of interesting things at the back of my cupboard. But here's what I've been trying to do: when I see something new and fancy and SUPERbly exciting, I won't buy it the first few times I see it. I'll read the labels, do some research, and avoid buying it for as long as possible, until I feel like I actually have a good reason to use it, and that is is indeed something that will enhance my everyday cooking and eating. I also try to look for the original, whole form of these superfoods, rather than the fancy powders, tonics and concentrated elixirs. For example, actual goji berries and cacao nibs in their "whole" form > goji berry cacao superfood smoothie powder mix, in my mind.

I guess, all I'm asking is that you don't forget the old-school once famous stars of the show: carrots, broccoli, oats and other grains, a variety of greens, traditional herbal teas, nuts & seeds, pumpkins and other veggies, apples, berries, etc. These guys are easy to find, have been considered healthy for a LONG time across all countries, and they won't cost you an arm and a leg.

Thoughts, dear friends? If you have tried a lot of superfoods, which ones have been worth it and are now something you use regularly?

MacroTreat Friday: Delicious Veggies

Hey Friends,

I know it's MacroTREAT friday, but sometimes treats come in unsuspecting shapes and sizes.

The best TREAT I've had this week was the taste of amazingly fresh & delicious veggies. I just signed up for an organic produce box (I had one when I was in Edmonton) to supplement my weekly veggies from the market (I kind of have a love / hate relationship with grocery stores, and avoiding them and getting my foods elsewhere can feel nice!). Dang - summer's just the best! So many fresh veggies and fruits. YUM!

MTF: Fresh Veggie Saute

IMG_7382.JPG

Ingredients

Serves 2 veggie lovers <3

  • 3 baby bok choy
  • a large handful of fresh basil
  • 4 large green onion stalks
  • a few bunches of oyster mushrooms
  • sesame oil, ginger juice (freshly grated and squeezed, or out of a bottle), shoyu & umeboshi vinegar
  • Serve with your grain of choice

Directions

  1. Heat up a generous splash of sesame oil in a heavy pan or skillet.
  2. While pan is heating prepare the seasonings: take a cup, add some water (about 1/2 cup) and then a few drops of umeboshi vinegar, a splash of ginger juice, and a couple splashes of shoyu. Stir it all up. This will be the liquid you add to the veggies.
  3. When the pan is hot, add in the chopped green onions. Put a lid on and let them cook for a few minutes. If they are sticking, add in a splash of the cooking liquid. Stir around a few times.
  4. Add in the chopped mushrooms. Again, put the lid on and let them cook down a bit.
  5. Add in add a few splashes of the cooking liquid again.
  6. Add in the bok choy, and another splash of cooking liquid. Put the lid on, and let the  bokchoy "steam" for a few minutes on top of the mushrooms. Then stir in and let cook for a bit more.
  7. Add the chopped basil in last, and the remaining cooking liquid. Stir around, put the lid on, and cook for another minute or so.
  8. Serve with cooked rice, quinoa, millet...any grain your heart desires. Or you could even just have a couple pieces of good bread on the side, or wrap it all up in a nice pita or wrap. Your call. We enjoyed ours with fresh cooked short grain brown rice that was cooked with some wakame in it., and topped with half an umeboshi plum!
  9. ** TIP: when you take the lid off after cooking, shake the condensation on the lid back into your pan - I learned this tip from a macrobiotic cooking class I took in Japan - the teachers told me this is where a lot of good flavour ends up :)

What kinds of FRESH summer produce and food have you been treating yourself to lately?

And... HAPPY CANADA DAY weekend to all my lovely Canadian friends <3
xo Jess

Macro Monday: Some Thoughts on Fasting and Cleansing

Hi Guys,

I'm back from some time away visiting family & friends in my hometown. I had SUCH a blast catching up with with everyone, and I had so much fun attending the loveliest wedding! I definitely embraced the summer fun vibe, and drank more wine in those few weeks away than I have in the last 10 years put together...very out of character for me (in the last long while), but not so out of character for my younger-self (also formerly known as party Jess...she seems so far far away these days, haha). It was great though, and life's short, so why not?!

And here are some delicious eats from my visit:

 I finally got to try  Frickin' Delights Donuts ! Donuts have never been something that I've craved, but Mandy's vegan donuts are SO FRICKIN' GOOD (seriously, they are) that I'd become a donut person for sure if I lived in the same city!! She uses the best &amp; freshest local ingredients around!

I finally got to try Frickin' Delights Donuts! Donuts have never been something that I've craved, but Mandy's vegan donuts are SO FRICKIN' GOOD (seriously, they are) that I'd become a donut person for sure if I lived in the same city!! She uses the best & freshest local ingredients around!

I guess all that food & wine brings me to the subject of cleansing, and fasting (or lack there of). I've been asked quite a few times about various fasts, so I thought I'd do a quick post on my thoughts for any of you who are interested.

MM: Fasting & Cleansing

Extreme Fasting / Cleansing

I guess this could be a really short post, because quite honestly, I think that fasts and cleanses can more often than not cause more harm than good. But of course, it definitely varies depending on the cleanse and the fast. I have never personally tried anything so extreme as the Master Cleanse, or even an all-juice fast. I think that these kinds of fasts (often, not always of course) create much too quick of a change in body chemistry - these kinds of changes are usually impermanent, and often lead to future binging & weight gain, a damaged metabolism, and major eating and emotional health issues. Under proper guidance of course, these potential side effects could be reduced. But it is an area that I would tread very cautiously on. especially if you are feeling pretty healthy anyways. If you have a strong digestive system, be happy (yay!) and don't do anything too drastic, because you might permanently change and/or damage it, and my sad-belly history is begging you to reconsider. I also think the cleanse mentality of "good foods" vs. "bad foods" can be very destructive to our relationship to food. If you pay attention, you'll learn to know just how each food you consume makes you feel and you can choose your eats accordingly, allowing of course, for enjoyment. Remember, the dose makes the poison.

Cleansing vs. Healthy Eating

I guess I'm not so into "cleansing", because I do not consider clean natural eating or healthy eating to be a part of a fast or cleanse - but perhaps some people do. I guess often the recommended diet on many of those cleanses is one that appears to be a stricter variation of my regular day-to-day eats. If not eating much processed food, focusing on local veggies, fruits, and whole-grains and gentle protein, with healthy nuts, seeds, and oils means going on a cleanse, then hah! I guess I have been "cleansing" for a long long while unknowingly. The closest I have been to what I would consider a "cleanse" is simply to have chosen to eat a bit more simply, for a short chunk of time (eating lots and lots of brown rice amongst other things, perhaps adding in a few extra supportive herbs or remedies, and removing for a short period, a few things that I sometimes eat too much of!). But really, nothing very different at all from what I normally eat. And anytime I have thought about or leaned more towards what I feel like is the common fanatical "cleansing" mindset, it has stirred up negative eating thoughts and patterns that I am much better off without! Instead of drastic measures, eat good food and your body will feel good! Eating healthy natural food regularly is key to a happy body, mind & soul :)

Healing With Old-School Wisdom

I think the best natural break you can give your body (of course only when and if you need a break) is to focus on freely eating lots of cooked whole-grains and veggies with healing seasonings, herbs and oils, and some gentle protein of choice. This is probably more effective for most people than any mono-diet or strict cleanse, as it greatly reduces the possibility of damaging your metabolism, while still providing high quality yet easily digestible energy. You are still eating real food! If you're wanting to do a cleanse because of sickness or severe digestive problems, then (after seeing a doctor or professional, of course) perhaps try cooking your grains and veggies with extra water and for longer than usual, and even blending them into soft porridge. But nothing crazy is required here. I'm talking about simply removing the obvious junk, and giving your body a tiny break - even just for a day - probably all the things your body is asking for if you learn to listen closely. Let's just gather up all of our collective old school knowledge and apply it - when you were sick as a child, did you eat lots of heavy foods such as meat and dairy, or hard crunchy sweets like candy ? Probably not. I know at least for myself, when I was sick as a child, I was given plain toast, or soft rice, or porridge, and sometimes plain popcorn. Simple food. Easy on the belly. If you want to give your digestive system a break for a few days, then just scale back the variety of foods you're eating, and chew well your well-cooked simple food.

Our Natural Ability to Cleanse & Heal

Really, all this cleansing talk is super positive when you think about it in terms of what goes on without us doing anything. Our bodies are amazing! They will naturally cleanse and heal themselves, if we let them do it! Seriously, cells regenerate and heal all on their own. Sometimes letting our bodies heal on their own, means that we may need to assist by removing some obstacles out of the way. Here are a few of those obstacles that I can think of that can impede our bodies' natural ability to cleanse, process, and function optimally:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of rest (too much go-go-go-ing)
  • Major diet imbalances - too much of any one kind of food or macronutrient (have you eliminated an entire food group, and instead are focusing on just one?)
  • Stress & Anxiety
  • Excessive alcohol, caffeine, drugs & refined sugar
  • A lack of necessary vitamins or minerals (get tested for deficiencies if you're not feeling well, & especially if you've recently changed your way of eating - also be aware of Vitamin D deficiency, fellow Northern friends).
  • Being too sedentary
  • A food allergy or more serious condition such as celiac disease or chrons.
  • Too much time in front of screens, and not enough time outdoors
  • A hormonal imbalance or other imbalance such as depression

I think a simple self-assessment of the previous points, and addressing any ones that stand out, will give you much more of a deeper cleanse than any actual "cleanse" you can do or take or buy. Why not send all your cells on a holiday, when you sleep well, get some gentle exercise, breathe in some fresh outdoor air, and eat supportive foods, while reducing for a little while, the frequency of foods that take a little more to process. Nothing harsh, just some TLC in the most simple yet deep way.

Final Thoughts

So would I recommend cleansing? No- at least not in the way that most people understand it (such as those popular very extreme cleanses like the master cleanse), and not for most people.

What would I recommend?
Try eating, as much as possible, high quality, wholesome, local & natural foods with minimal processing. In whatever shape and form those take, as long as they make you feel your best.

...And back to the wine conversation from earlier...obviously there has been no "cleansing" going on over here - it's summer, and I'm just enjoying and relaxing and following what my body is asking for right now and catching up on some rest - I'm not so spry as I was in my younger days, and those few days of, what feels like a lot of wine to me, took a bit of a toll :) Summer is a time of in season fun splurges along with the season's natural ample fruit and veggie bounty.  My favourites are fresh raspberries and cherries, and of course some iced coffee wouldn't be horrible ;)

I'd love to hear any of your personal experiences with "cleansing" both good & bad, or any of your thoughts on the subject in general! And...what's your favourite summer treat!?

Have a great week!
- Jess