Happy Year of the Snake! Recipes #4. Fat-Free Vegan Chicken “Firecracker” Spicy Rolls

100_4880Here is where the fat-free vegan Chinese theme and my experiments with green jackfruit intersect. Really, I wanted to see what would happen if I baked eggroll wrappers with no fat. I discovered that they are delicious and crispy, and the resulting rolls make excellent appies or lunchbox nibbles.
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Happy Year of the Snake! Recipes #3. Fat-free Vegan Chicken Balls

100_4599So here was the challenge: chicken balls as good as the old deep fried ones I used to eat, but- they had to be vegan and fat-free. I planned to use jackfruit as the chicken, so it seemed an easy task- simply find a good batter. And, of course, a way to fry them with no fat- which was where I got stuck. Until I suddenly thought of … Continue reading

Happy Year of the Snake! Recipes #2 Bean Sprout and Baby Bok Choy Salad

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Here is a quick and easy salad we had with our 100_4489Chinese New year meal. I used home sprouted mung beans for the freshest flavour, and then I looked for what was freshest at the market. You could do the same thing with any fresh vegetables for an extremely fast Chinese-style side dish.
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Bean Sprout and Baby Bok Choy Salad
  • 4 baby bok choy, washed and chopped
  • 4-5 cups bean sprouts, rinsed
  • 1 bunch enoki mushrooms, cleaned, roots removed
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce

Directions:
1) Pour boiling water over bok choy in colander. Rinse immediately with cold water. Drain thoroughly and place in medium serving bowl. repeat process with bean sprouts and place in same bowl. This will brighten the greens and slightly soften the vegetables, allowing them to soak up the flavours.
2) Mix agave, vinegar, soy sauce. Pour over salad and toss to combine.
3) Garnish with the mushrooms.
4) Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

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Happy Year of the Snake! Recipes #1

100_4704Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Cooking club this time set out with a whole new challenge. Fat-free vegan Chinese celebration food- how’s that for a tall order? I think we did a great job, with some good recipes and some innovative techniques. Check out some of the fun recipes we tried:
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More Fun Charity Sites

by Dominic’s pics

I have been enjoying seeing how people are raising money creatively, so I thought I would round up a few more of my favourites to inspire us all to keep thinking outside the box when we look to give back. After all, why shouldn’t we have fun while we do good?

First is a yearly event in Canada that is happening two days from now. It is done with humour and originality (although it does rely a bit on old stereotypes- still, I believe the intent softens that). This Thursday is National Sweater Day, when we are all encouraged to turn the heat down and put on our favourite sweaters to help the World Wildlife Federation take action against climate change. And to help us remember, they have a group of very funny grannies that you can book to call and remind you (or for more fun, you can book one to call one of your unsuspecting friends). Watch some of the grannies in action HERE and book your call.

Second is an inspiring site called Tim’s Running Reviews. Tim is working to raise money for The Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics. To do this, he is hosting a virtual 5K race. Read all about it on his blog HERE. You might not be able to resist joining in and doing his virtual 5K!

And the third one that has come across my page lately is Moolta. This is a site that challenges people to do very silly things to raise money for charity. The types of challenges would (generally) likely appeal more to younger people- some are a bit baffling to me- but I loved the most recent post HERE, all about Rag Week. Rag week seems to be a British tradition for university students, who spend the week doing quite funny things to raise money for charity. I think rag week is a tradition that should move across the pond, don’t you?

So much fun to do so much good! It makes me smile and giggle. What can be better?

Starting a Healthy Diet, Part 2. Pick One of These…

By their nature weight-loss diets are restrictive, and that makes them nearly impossible to sustain over any extended time. But once we move our focus away from merely losing weight, and aim at eating good healthy nutritious food, a whole new world of possibilities opens up for us. In order to have a truly healthy diet that supports our heart and immune system, we should be doing all of the things I will list below (and get lots of good strength and aerobic exercise, too).

However, the neat thing about this list is that you can choose to implement these ideas one at a time, and still enjoy improved health and healthy weight loss right from the start. Some people will decide to only ever do one or two things from the list, and that might work well for them. However, it has been my experience that some steps are important for me to keep my own food addictions in check. If you eat irrationally by indulging cravings (or if the thought of changing your eating habits makes you feel panicky and you want to run out and buy a particular food), you may want to start by following the starred (*) items religiously. The panic and cravings are a clue that you may have some food addictions too, so you have to break them. After toughing it out for a few short days, you will no longer feel the panic, and eating this way will begin to feel good- honest.

1*. Eat REAL food, not processed. If you are used to eating mainly processed foods and takeouts and this seems daunting, start by finding one homemade recipe based on your favourite meal. Treat it like a game, experimenting with recipes until you find one that tastes good and is easy for you to make. You will likely discover that the homemade one is cheaper (bonus), and likely does not take much more time to make. After you get good at one recipe, choose another. The aim is to replace ALL processed food with real food. Start reading labels and you will see why this is a good idea. If you eat processed foods, you have no idea what strange things you might be ingesting. (See this and this for example).

2*. Eat alternatives to refined sugar (and cut down the sugar consumption overall). Once you start eating real food your tastes will change and your sugar cravings will be reduced anyway, but it is still good to be mindful of what you put in your recipes. For sweetness, you will be surprised how quickly you find a new taste for fresh fruit, and in recipes you can replace refined sugars with smaller amounts of unrefined sweeteners like agave nectar, maple syrup, brown rice syrup or coconut sugar. For more information, see this article.

3*. Switch from simple to complex carbohydrates. Simple carbs include the sugar mentioned above, but also things like white flour and most store-bought baking (see this article about breads for an eye-opener). Complex carbs are found in vegetables, beans, lentils, and many other leguminous plants.

by Gary Wilmore

4. Trade meat and dairy for other dense proteins, like tofu, beans, seitan, and tempe. There is overwhelming evidence that meat and dairy are extremely bad for you. If you want to check this out yourself, read The China Study or go to the website for Physicians for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), or google it- there are numerous good evidence-based studies about this. Nevertheless, I know that many people may not be comfortable with this change. Again, you need to make choices that you are comfortable with, in the way that you can live with. You could always approach this one step at a time. Like with the processed foods, you could start with the “meatless Mondays” idea and replace one meat meal a week. Or, you could choose one meat/dairy dish and go on a hunt for a healthier replacement recipe that you will be happy with, and then repeat until you have subbed out all your old meat/dairy dishes.

And that is it! Do those 4 things and you will be well on your way to a healthy body, without counting calories or spending exhorbitant amounts of money on “diet” (fake) food and supplements.

CHALLENGE! (for you)
What is your best/easiest/tastiest recipe that replaces an older favourite food? (ie- were you addicted to a certain fast food burger and now you have a rival vegan recipe?) Share with us- I’ll bet there are others who feel the same.

CHALLENGE! (for me or others)
Is there still a recipe that is just outside your grasp, and you’d like me or other readers to find or develop a healthy alternative recipe that makes you drool as much as the old one? Send it out and we can all work on it together. I can start the ball rolling. I am still trying to crack the code for making a vegan version of Pizza Hut’s breaded hot chicken wings. (I think they are only sold in Canada, and even the individual restaurants don’t have the recipe- I’ve asked. lol. They come to them frozen and pre-breaded). Has anyone out there found that perfect crunch and want to share it with us? Or do you have any tips or ideas for me to use as I continue the quest?

Starting a Healthy Diet- Part One. The Problem With Our Weight Obsession

Yes, being overweight is generally part of being unhealthy, and especially in the more affluent countries more people are overweight than ever. Also, overweight people are more likely to be obese than ever before. But in spite of society’s ridiculous obsession with appearance (really- grow up shallow people of the world! Fat shaming is OK? How about we start non-critical thinking shaming?), focussing on weight loss is not how we will make society healthier.

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