What Do Vegans With Colds Eat?

100_4449I’ve been feeling a little under the weather for this last little while100_4366– fighting off some cold symptoms- so I when the weekend finally hit I decided it was time for a nice “chicken” soup and early to bed night. Instead of using tofu or dried soy chicken, I naturally turned to my newest experiment- green jackfruit. It worked very well cut into small chunks, with looks and texture remarkably like chicken in the soup.

But- chicken soup has been shown to actually help colds, and I wanted to do more than just soothe myself psychologically, so it was time for a little research into why chicken soup in particular helps a cold. According to Dr. Stephen Rennard, MD’s research, chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine that is released when the soup is made. This amino acid thins mucus in the lungs, aiding in the healing process. So I checked the nutrition charts where I discovered that 100g of chicken contains 42% of the RDA of methionine and cysteine (both are listed as interchangeable in charts) and jackfruit only contains 3-8% of the RDA. However, I also discovered that good plant sources of Cysteine include lentils (21% for 100g), miso (12%), and onions, peppers, and garlic.

Also, Dr Rennard notes that onions in chicken soup “contain protein, calcium, and especially sulfur, which decreases swelling and aids in reducing nasal congestion. Another significant ingredient in chicken soup is carrots. Carrots enable our bodies to produce vitamin A, which strengthens our white blood cells and in turn allows us to better fight off infection”, and “hot soups in general help keep nasal passages moist, thin out mucus, prevent dehydation, and soothe a sore throat”, so “the more ingredients in your soup, the better”.

With all of this new information, I was ready to make my own vegan version of healing “chicken” soup. Feel free to change up the vegetables based on what you have on hand.

“Vegan Penicillin Soup”

– One onion.
– Two carrots.
– One green pepper.
– 1/2 red pepper, chopped (what I had in the fridge, I’d add more if I had it but I wasn’t feeling like a grocery trip)
– One stalk of celery
– 1/2 cup of snap peas.
– 1/2 cup of pasta noodles- whatever you have.
– 1 cup/1 can of cooked lentils.
– 1/2 can of jackfruit, chopped (again, this is what I had leftover from the last recipe, so feel free to use the whole can and make a larger batch- adjust amounts of ingredients using your culinary discretion and preferences).
– 6-8 cups of vegetable broth.
– 2-4 tablespoons of miso (adjust type and amount to your taste).
– Lots of freshly ground black pepper.

– Chop vegetables and jackfruit.100_4401
– Pre-soften the vegetables in the frying pan for a few minutes.
– Put the vegetable broth in a pot, add the miso and vegetables.
– Add the jackfruit, lentils, and pasta, and simmer for at least 1/2 hour- the longer the better to blend the flavours.
– Enjoy hot with some warm bread or a bit of salad.

I found this to be soothing and satisfying, the babying I needed to start feeling better almost immediately.


What the Heck is Jackfruit? (A Fruit You Can Use as a Meat!)

100_4392I am committed to a plant-based diet now. I have passed the point of no return, as the thought of eating real meat now makes me feel quite squeamish. That is sometimes a problem, as I grew up in Alberta- definitely meat country- and I loved meat. I really get the bacon-flavoured everything craze. So, I am always on the hunt for new ways to satisfy an old craving. I have already posted about meat substitutes, and this week I finally sourced one that I have been wanting to try for a long time. Believe it or not, it is actually a tropical fruit. When ripe I have read that it is sweet and deliciously addictive. In fact some sources said ripe jackfruit was the inspiration for the flavour of Juicy Fruit gum.

Green jackfruit, however, has very little flavour of its own, and it can be shredded and cut to resemble mild-flavoured meats like chicken, pork, and even tuna. Most vegan recipes 100_4366using jackfruit call for jackfruit packed in brine. The fruit I found, however, was packed in water. Better for heart-health anyway, but I suspect I will need to experiment a bit more with seasonings to find the perfect fit. In the meantime, expect quite a few jackfruit recipes as I try out ways to use it. If you are looking for green jackfruit yourself (and it does not grow where you live), try stores that carry Asian or Indian foods.

It cost about $1.50 (Cdn) per can and the nutritional info per 280g (a little over 1 cup) is:
Calories 60                                       Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 g                                 Sodium 1260 mg
Carbohydrate 14g                             Fibre 6g
Protein 2g                                         Sugar 0g
Calcium 4% RDA                             Iron 12% RDA


I wanted to make a quick lunch with no cooking, so the first thing I did with the jackfruit was to use it in a mock tuna salad. It really does not require a recipe- you can just use your regular tuna salad recipe and substitute the jackfruit for the meat, but I will outline the steps I took and give a few hints about modifications you might want to try. It would work exactly the same if you wanted to make it as a chicken salad- you would just change the seasonings that you use.

Jackfruit Salad Sandwiches

– Canned jackfruit100_4353
– Mayonnaise or vegan substitute
– Veggies. I used green onion, celery, mini tomatoes in the salad, and lettuce and cucumber in the sandwich. Shredded radish, carrots, peas, even green apple would be good too. If you were to make a curried “chicken” salad, you might add green grapes.
– Chick peas or mild-flavoured beans (I used them whole. To make the salad stick together more, you could mash them before adding. They add protein and body)
– Pickles (I like pickles in my tuna salad, and the vinegar also helps to add some flavour to the jackfruit. You could also try pre-soaking the jackfruit in a teaspoon or so of vinegar and leaving out the pickle if you don’t like it in the salad).
– Pepper, spices, and extras as desired (sometimes I like chicken salad with cumin, other times I like it with a bit of chili powder. Experiment. This time I just added pepper for flavour and some hemp hearts for texture and extra omegas. Flax seed would be good for that too).
– Bread, pita pockets or lettuce for holding and delivering the salad to your eager mouth.

– Shred the jackfruit with two forks to 100_4376give it the look of tuna or shredded chicken (It shreds naturally into strings). Soak in vinegar if desired (this would make it more tuna-like. When I made it plain it was more like chicken)
– Chop up veggies, pickles and extras to add to salad, and slice the ones for in the sandwich.
– Mix jackfruit, chopped veggies and extras, and add a Tablespoon or two 100_4390of mayo (to taste). Add pepper and spices (to taste) and stir.
– Pile it all up in your bread and add lettuce and other sliced veggies (you could use sprouts, too).
– Serve with a pickle slice. This was as good as tuna salad any day, and I imagine (like real tuna salad) it would get even better if you let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two so flavours can mix.


$2013 in 2013 Update- First 8K Run of the Year

Pre-race bib pick-up.

Sunday (13th) we drove to Saanichton on the peninsula of Vancouver Island for the first run of the year in the Island Race series. It was frosty and clear but the sun was out and the sponsors gave out free gloves to anybody who needed them. And talk about an amazing bunch of runners! The fastest runner came in at 23:49 and the first place women’s finisher did the 8K in a top 25 in the world time of 25:28!

Harriers Saanichton 8K2013
Ready to run. (I’m not there- I took the pic)

In my world, that means she had finished and was already getting her sandwiches and fruit before I was even at the halfway mark. I struggled quite a bit and found I was near the very back of the pack overall. I am used to going in the bigger races with lots more recreational walker/runners like me and I was quite outclassed as the majority of people in this race were serious runners. Still, a group of us had entered as an extended family and others in my group did very well in their age categories. My nephew came in 9th in his category, my sister came in 7th, and my daughter came in 3rd, winning a medal for her efforts! I am a very proud Mom. Considering that most of the people in our family group only started running in the last year or two, I think we all did ace, and I added another 8K onto my $2013 in 2013 tally.

Both Winners in my Book!

And later, when my daughter asked me if I would have been embarassed if I came in last, I told her that yes, part of me would have been embarassed, but I will always keep three things in mind. First, no matter how much I struggle in these races, I know how far I have come since just last year. So, others may see a last place finisher, but I’m ahead of where I was for the last 25 years and I will continue to improve. Second and third, I remember two cool t-shirts I have seen in other races. One said “No matter where I finish, I am still ahead of the people who stayed on the couch”. The second was this photo from weknowmemes:

This reminds me that we all have a story and the last person’s story may in fact represent a greater triumph than the winner’s, we just don’t know. So yes, we tend to compare ourselves to others when we race, but we should not let the fact that others are ahead of us be discouraging, because there are always people ahead of us and behind us. The real competition is against ourselves and we should celebrate every step we take to improve. So if I came in last or even if I didn’t finish, I would still be proud that I had the courage to enter and try. (And after that deep speech, I secretly vowed to up my training before the next race…. Because I don’t want to finish last).

Cooking Club- New Year, New Ingredient (Part 3). Farro and Kale Salad

Ready to start cooking club

Ready to start cooking club

At our first cooking club meeting of the year, we made two curry recipes to take home for our families’ dinners, but we decided to eat Sarah’s recipe right there. After all- we had earned a good lunch after our hike and all our cooking and cleaning. It was an excellent idea because, let me tell you, this salad is top of my new favourites list! Continue reading

Cooking Club- New Year, New Ingredient (Part 2). Kohlrabi Curry


I’m going to start here by telling you that curry is probably my very favourite food in the whole world. I love all different types of curry, and I like it hot. My Dad grew up in India, and my Mom and Dad spent the first of their married years there, learning to cook the foods that our family would be raised with. In Canada, Mom would have dinner parties where she served a beef curry from a recipe inside her head. As a young child, it was my job to fill Continue reading

Cooking Club- New Year, New Ingredient (Part 1) Chayote Squash Sidekick.

Last week was the first cooking club meeting of the new year. Following tradition, we began with an activity. Marg was hosting so she led us on a short 5K hike on the Trans-Canada Trail near Lake Cowichan. It was a perfect day for it. We had recently had snow but it had melted and the only thing that threatened us that day was rain. In the end it held off, though, so we had a lovely walk through the trail and then back along the river.

by homefinderbcby homefinderbc

Then home to cook…. Continue reading

Patties- The Vegetarian/Vegan DDD Trick

Just a quick post to talk about how I squeezed yet one more meal out of my pepper pot soup and Hoppin’ John. If you remember from past posts, I made a huge batch of super easy, super tasty pepper pot soup- far too much as it turned out. I froze some of the surplus for a later quick meal, and then used the rest in our New Year Hoppin’ John.

That recreated the problem- adding all the beans and rice again gave us too much to eat at one meal. I added some to my FITR salad the next day- yum- but I did not want the second dinner of a new year to be a repeat. So instead I pulled a very handy leftovers trick- I made vegan patties for dinner. In this case it was even easier than usual. I simply used pressure with a burger-press, and then heated them in the oven. They held together well because of the beans and cooked veggies, and with a bit of salad and tzatziki they made a very nice light meal quite unlike the hearty stew of the day before.


Of course, vegetarians and vegans did not invent the idea of using leftovers for patties, but they have certainly opened my eyes to their versatility. Many Fridays after swimming I lunch at a local vegetarian café and the delicious patty variations never fail to please. I hope to offer some recipes in the coming months, but in the meantime I will provide some ideas and a quick formula so you can experiment yourself:

Making Vegetarian or Vegan Patties

First, you do not need a burger press, you can simply form the patties with your hands. But if you make patties frequently you might like the way a press makes them a consistent size and allows for more pressure to help hold them together more firmly. You can find all styles and sizes of press, go with whatever suits you.

1- Cooked Leftovers: veggies, grains, whatever. Be imaginative here- really you can throw in anything you cooked the night before (you can also use shredded raw root vegetables, or add a few chopped raw veggies to the patties). I’ve had patties made of millet, rice, shredded beets, quinoa, beans, turnips, hash browns, and many more. They have contained leafy greens, onion, peas, mushrooms, tofu, even vegetarian meat- the list is endless, and I’ve rarely had one that I did not like.
2- Binder/glue: Meat-eaters often use egg to bind burgers and patties. Similarly, vegetarians often use egg substitute or a flax egg, but there are many other choices, too. Beans, legumes, and cooked root vegetables are good for holding patties together. You can add chopped veggies and beans or lentils into the patties and then if you require extra “holding power”, also add some more blended beans. Some people use breadcrumbs or rolled oats to help bind, and you can also use nut flours (simply grind any nuts to powder).
3- Seasonings: Again the possibilities are endless, from none at all, to strong seasonings like curry. Experiment.

-Mix all ingredients together until you get a texture you like.
-Make patties.
-Bake or fry. If you used raw chopped or shredded veggies, you will need to cook them through, otherwise you really only need to heat or brown them, depending on the texture you are aiming for. You can use oil or dry heat.
-Serve. You can serve with a sauce, in a bun, however you like them.

How cinchy is that?

Tally Sheet- 2013 in 2013

So far I haven’t figured out a better way to do this, so I will start with a page here and update it every day or two. Once it moves off my front page, you can always find it in my sidebar in the “$2013 in 2013 Challenge” category. It will give you an outline of my exercise and a running (ha ha get it? “running”) total of my donations and distance so far. A reminder- for exercise that I can’t clock distances for (ie- spinning bikes with no odometer, boxing classes, etc), I will count 10 minutes as equal to 1 kilometer. That’s because I can easily walk/run a kilometer with the same or less physical output in less than 10 minutes. Fair? I hope so, because I want to try lots of different activities, too. I’m just finishing my holidays so this first week has a strong start- I don’t expect to keep this pace up once I’m back working every day. (Just sayin’).

Date Exercise Distance (Km) Distance Total (km) Donations Total ($)
Jan 01 Walk/jog outdoors 7.6 7.6 20.00
Jan 02 Swim 40 lengths 1 8.6
Jan 02 Aquacizes 2-45 min. classes (90 min= 9km) 9 17.6
Jan 02 Spin- 50 minutes 5 22.6
Jan 03 Treadmill walk/run indoors 6 28.6
Jan 04  Aquacizes- 90 min. 9 37.6
Jan 06 Walk-outside 5 42.6
Jan 07 Treadmill- walk/run 7 49.6
Jan 09 Bike 35.5 85.1
Jan 11 Aquacizes- 90 min. 9 94.1
Jan 12 Bike 26.2 120.3
Jan 13 Road Race (Run/Walk) 8 128.3
Jan 17  40.00
Jan 30  Bootcamp- 60 min. 6 134.3
Feb 4  Bike 35.2 169.5
Feb 5  Boxing- 60 min 6 175.5
Feb 12  Bike 45.1 220.6
Feb 18  Walk 5 225.6
Feb 19  Walk 5 230.6
Feb 20  Walk 5 235.6

Bittersweet Morning

I went on my first walk/jog of 2013 this morning, which turned out to be a perfect transition between 2012 and 2013. I set off in the brooding morning mist, and I felt keenly the start of a year without my constant canine companions keeping me company on my walk. I took a different route to break the feeling of something “missing”.


As I went along the river path I must have met all the dogs in Duncan, out for walks with their owners. It was sad, and I have to admit that a few teardrops snuck out as one extremely happy Sheltie spotted me as a likely playmate and brought me his ball to throw. As I got to the end of the riverside park, I said a final goodbye to the gangs of dogs, and to my own little dog, Patch, feeling that I was leaving her in 2012 and moving on to 2013.


I continued through town to the official dog park (empty of course- all the dogs were busy at the river), and to the outside gym and walking track/sportsplex. Here I began meeting the regular exercisers and the sun started peeking out.


A nice little side trail opened my eyes to the beauty of the day and my melancholy mood was lifting. As I turned and headed for home, I decided to take a detour to drop in on my son and wish him a Happy New Year, and by the time I got back to the Cowichan River near my home, I was thinking of all the adventures ahead in 2013.

I have my first vegan cooking club meeting for 2013 next Sunday and our plan is to each try a recipe with an ingredient we have never tried before (and yes, I do count food as an adventure- I love my food!). The week after that is the start of the Island Race series with an 8K in Saanichton, BC. My daughter and I are planning to enter. I am looking forward to updating my $2013 in 2013 Challenge, as well as cheering on the challenges of a couple of other bloggers I have begun to follow across the seas (sometimes I love technology!). Marc Hemmingway, from Great Britain is the original 2013 in 2013’er, and Baz- The Landy over in Australia lets me join him vicariously on his mountain climbing and outdoors adventures. They both help to keep me inspired.

So, that was my morning walk/trot, and that is also my first update for “$2013 in 2013”. I traipsed a grand total of 7.6 Km (according to Google pedometer), which gives me a nice easy start for the year. As I said at the beginning of the post, it was also a nice transition from the pull of the past and looking forward to the pull of possible future adventure. It made me think of a poem by Robert Francis:

Poised between going on and back, pulled
Both ways taut like a tight-rope walker,
Fingertips pointing the opposites,
Now bouncing tiptoe like a dropped ball,
Or a kid skipping rope, come on, come on!
Running a scattering of steps sidewise,
How he teeters, skitters, tingles, teases,
Taunts them, hovers like an ecstatic bird,
He’s only flirting, crowd him, crowd him,
Delicate, delicate, delicate, delicate – Now!

The poem is called The Base Stealer, but the first time I read it I was not given the title, and I will therefore always visualize a drop of water running down a slightly drooping vine and hanging there in the moment before it falls to the ground- the tiny suspended moment between past and future, when time stands still for an instant, allowing a quick final gift of reflection before moving on to the exciting unknown.

photo by emrank

Happy Healthy Prosperous New Year (Hoppin’ John Hack)

You know those emails that start out really nice, asking you if you want to be rich, and then they unexpectedly turn mean and tell you to forward the email on to 27 friends or you will have bad luck until the cows come home? Well, Hoppin’ John is not like that. It is a dish made with black-eyed peas and rice, and according to stories from the American South, if you eat it on January first you will have prosperity through the year. But you can still share it with 27 friends if you want.


At its base, Hoppin’ John is simply black-eyes peas and rice, and is often served with collard or other greens. Some people like to eat it piping hot at the stroke of midnight, but your wealth is assured as long as you eat it some time on January 1. Since black-eyed peas require no pre-soaking, it is a super easy dish to whip up (perfect if you’ve celebrated a bit too much bringing in the new year). I had leftover pepper pot soup, so I made the easiest cooking hack in history and still ensured that I’ll be rolling in the bounty in 2013.

Continue reading