Shortbread Failures and Life Blow Ups

I was really hoping to post a recipe today. It was all planned out. But it just wasn’t meant to be. After a couple of weeks of testing shortbread cookie recipes I declare defeat. For now at least. Though I solemnly swear that I cannot. Eat. Another. Shortbread. Cookie. Ever. Sad thing really, as they were my favourite at some point, though it’s hard to recall that blissful time in this sugar-induced haze I find myself in. What went wrong? Well, good question, it comes down to science really. The formula of sugar, butter and flour just wasn’t right. Nor were the changes I tried to make. I tinkered with proportions, times, temperatures and materials. Each time believing this batch would be it. But it wasn’t. The last batch being the worst of all. So I have decided to give myself a short shortbread break. A shortbreak. Hehe. Is it a forever break? Heck no! I just need to step away from these cookies long enough to not hate them. Should take a week or so. I’ve also run out of vegan butter.

What you might have seen on my Instagram Stories:

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This whole experience made me think of something I heard on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook page the other day. That’s Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat Pray Love book/movie fame. I recently got reunited with her discourse and community after discussing a book of hers with a good friend. In any case, she said something to the effect that anytime something blows up in your life, more often than not there is something far better on the other side. Now I know cookies don’t have the gravity of life events, but anytime I can use food as a metaphor…and the hope of better cookies on the other side? I’ll  take it! And it’s true, for my life anyway, life has blown up a few times in the past (breakups, injuries, health setbacks, a gazillion moves…) and it has ALWAYS led to a bigger, better, more fulfilling life on the other side. Yes, of course there is that temporary state just after the blow up that makes it hard to see things clearly. You are suspended in this insubstantial space that feels uncomfortable, scary, raw, blurry, you feel vulnerable or drained or fragile. But for me anyway, there were always cracks that allowed some light in. Sometimes those cracks were nothing more than hairline fractures, barely visible to the clouded eye. After going through a few life blow ups, I try to focus on expanding those cracks and coaxing, urging the light to edge out the pain or uncertainty. With practice (I’ve had some), the light seems to know its way back in much faster, I guess it has directions 😉

And blow ups is where the learning happens. You learn about you, your friends and family, your strength, your needs. And with these cookies I’ve learned about the infuriating yet fascinating baking process. One small change to the method or ingredients and boom, a wildly different outcome. I can already see how making endless batches of failed cookies has provided me with knowledge that will inevitably become invaluable as I create new recipes in the future. And yeah there will be more! I don’t succumb to defeat that quickly! Though a shortage of ingredients certainly puts a halt on development.

As an aside, you may have noticed with the last few posts that this isn’t strictly a traditional food blog (but I don’t think there are rules about that anyway). I’m still trying to find my voice and direction with this project and I have decided not to put any limits or agendas in place just yet. My sole intention is to create then post something at regular intervals. Sometimes that may include recipes but sometimes, like today, just words suffice. I do use food metaphors often though, so I guess there’s always that. Cooking and baking for me are like meditation in motion so that’s often when I do a lot of thinking and sorting of the chaos in my brain. Naturally then, for me, creating in the kitchen is tangled up with soul searching.

I am always happy to get feedback, so leave a comment, share with friends if you so please and as always, I am eternally grateful that you stopped by! Even though there’s no nice food pictures this time around 🙂

xo

ilona

There is a crack in  everything. That’s how the light gets in. —Leonard Cohen

nourishingBITES: Fall Is Here!!

I LOVE Fall, Autumn, best season ever, the most wonderful time of the year….whatever you’d like to call it. The flavours, colours, aromas, the crisp cool in the air, the spices and the veggie and fruit bounty. So incredibly amazing. I don’t think I’m the only one that gets excited about the squashes, pumpkins, apples and root vegetables that fill farmer’s market stalls at this time of the year. Or maybe it is just me. I dunno. All I know is that my heart raced with excitement as I pulled up to Hutchinson Farm today to raid their endless stalls and baskets filled to the brim with pumpkins and squashes. While I got a selection of their goodies, I particularly stocked up on two of my favourites: delicata squash (with its edible exterior) and the grey ghost pumpkin (who would guess that beneath that pale, wan exterior hides the brightest most vibrant orange flesh). I raced home, chopped them up, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and stuck them in the oven. I am impatiently awaiting the results as I type. What do you love about Fall?? (Besides everything).

Delicata squash: slice lengthwise, scoop out inside, slice into 1/2 centimeter half-moons, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper; put in 425°F oven for 15-20 minutes or until tender, flipping over half way

Grey ghost pumpkin: carefully cut in half, scoop out seeds and guts, cut into quarters, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper; put in 400°F oven for 45-60 minutes or until tender (depends on size of pumpkin)

Enjoy!!

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Grey ghost waiting to jump in the oven

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Delicata squash all lined up for their before shot

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Golden sweet deliciousness straight out of the oven

Happy beautiful magical colourful Fall!
Xo
ilona

kidBITES: The Definition of Successful Mealtimes Might Surprise You!

There’s a big misconception in the practice of feeding babies and children. A misconception so pervasive and far-reaching that it has affected how most of us feed our kids.

I will get to this falsehood in a second. But first, let me ask you a question (and you can answer whether you’re a parent, an aunt or uncle, a grandparent, a daycare provider or simply a bystander to the challenges of mealtime):

How do you define a successful mealtime? Simply put, how do you judge whether a child is eating well? What measure or scale do you subconsciously (or consciously) use to evaluate a child’s eating?

Whether we care to admit it or not, most of the time the answer has something to do with the quantity consumed. We might exclaim in delight “Look at little Sofia, she ate all her broccoli! She’s such a good eater!” or “Baby Elliott gobbled up a big bowl of spaghetti! What a good boy”.  Sometimes we might be scrutinizing what the child ate: did they eat more of the “healthy” foods? Did they ask for seconds of veggies? Did they eat something other than the noodles on their plate? Bottom line: we tend to equate success with WHAT and HOW MUCH a child ate.

Here’s the thing, and now I reveal the fallacy, a successful mealtime is not defined by quantity. It is defined by quality.

Yes awesome parents and caregivers of the world: how much your child ate means little to me as a dietitian. Let’s say your little one DID eat a giant plate of food, if the mealtime was chaos and there was pleading and begging and coaxing and bribing and distractions galore, well let’s just say that by definition (and not just my own) mealtime is actually not going so well.

Successful eating means a lot more than amounts. It means a pleasant and positive eating environment, it means families eating together and children eating according to their developmental abilities. It means cooking and serving one meal and knowing that everyone at the table has at least one food they can fill up on. It means going to a restaurant or a friend’s place or an event and knowing your child can make do with whatever food is served there. It means peace. It means being okay with your child’s up-and-down appetite, knowing that they will make up their intake tomorrow or the next day or next week.

Quality doesn’t happen overnight. And sometimes families need guidance and help to achieve it. That’s okay. Feeding our children has become a confusing and often anxiety-fraught task. There is so much going on! Food companies that barrage you with a plethora of the latest and greatest snacks, the internet flooded with so much misinformation, well-meaning friends and family trying to provide advice. And of course your own self-doubt. But there is a better way.

I counsel families to follow one exceptional strategy, Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility. It works. It often takes some finessing and mastering, but it works. In essence, you as the parents decide WHAT, WHERE and WHEN your child eats; and your child (baby, toddler, preschooler or school aged child) decides HOW MUCH TO EAT. It sounds like a simple strategy, and it is, but it often requires unlearning not-so-positive practices and adopting some positive feeding dynamics.

If there is one thing I would urge you to start with today, it would be to have sit down meals and snacks. That means all (or most) eating happens at the table, with no distractions (TV, tablets, games, toys and so on). You eat with your child(ren) for social interaction and role modeling. And you enjoy your food while your children enjoy theirs.

If you would like to learn about this strategy and how to make it work for your family, I am running a 1 hour workshop in Milton next month, the details are as follows:

Thursday, June 25th at 7:30pm

$25 per guest, this will include light refreshments and information package

Location to be provided upon registration

(in Milton, Savoline Rd. and Main St. area)

Please call 905-580-1803 or email ilona@soundbitesnutrition.ca to register and reserve your spot!

Banish mealtime chaos and learn how to deal with your picky eater once and for all!

Xo

ilona

Welcome to soundBITES nutrition!!!

So happy to have you stop by for a visit!

Please stay tuned for a new and exciting website coming in November 2014. In the meantime, I am available for consults, counseling and teaching sessions; just contact me at 905-580-1803 or at ilona@soundbitesnutrition.ca

You can also check out my Facebook page, Sound BITES Nutrition.

Please stop by the About page to find out what I do, my areas of expertise and pricing.

I hope to see you stop by for another visit soon.

With gratitude and thanks,

ilona

Brunch Success: Tofu Scramble Wrap with Greens and Zingy Avocado

I arrived at my sister’s house for our family brunch and was immediately greeted with bacony, eggy aromas that were so very familiar…and so very delicious (I didn’t start this whole veg thing because I hated these tastes, after all!)

My stomach grumbled. All I could think was that the meal I was about to prepare for myself better not disappoint as I might just gobble down a very non-veg pumpkin pancake before being aware of my actions.

Well, I would have to say that it turned out good. Very good indeed.

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 The taste was bright and the sprouts added a very fresh touch. The zingy avocado spread pulled it all together and I can’t imagine preparing this version without it.

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 Tofu Scramble Wrap with Greens and Zingy Avocado

The Engevita yeast (also know as nutritional yeast) adds a savoury note to the scramble, interestingly approximating the tastes you would find on an omnivores breakfast plate. Turmeric, a vibrant burnt-orange hued spice hailing from South Asia, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, adds a golden, egg-like colour. I happened to have come across pea shoots at an organic market the day before making this, but other greens like baby spinach, arugula, cress or such can easily be substituted. The easy to make avocado spread really makes this dish sing.

Adapted from one of my go-to veg cookbooks, Fresh: New Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes from the Award-winning Fresh Restaurants

Servings: 4

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 block firm tofu, crumbled

2 Tbsp Engevita yeast

1 tsp dried oregano

pinch of turmeric

¾ tsp salt

fresh ground pepper

½ cup water

2 avocados

3 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1-2 lemons)

4 whole grain tortillas

2 large handfuls of pea shoots (or other tender greens), tossed with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and a squirt of  lemon juice

1 cup fresh sprouts (I had some home-grown broccoli sprouts, but any will do), optional

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Sautee onion until softened and starting to colour. Add the crumbled tofu and stir about for a minute or two.

In a small bowl combine the yeast, oregano, turmeric, salt and pepper with the water and whisk with a fork until smooth. Pour over the tofu and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and let cook until all the liquid has evaporated.

Mash the avocado with the lemon juice, add salt and pepper to taste. Dress the greens.

To assemble, divide the avocado mixture amongst the four tortillas, top with the tofu scramble, sprouts and greens. Roll up and enjoy!

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 My brothers feedback: you could fool a meat eater into ingesting tofu with this wrap. I’ll take that as a compliment 🙂

A few other family members tried a bite and conceded they would have some, that is if they weren’t so full already. I am so going to hold them to that!

After I finished the wrap, as I sat around watching my family devour pancakes, I decided I wanted to finish off my meal with something sweet too. I toasted up some Silver Hills Squirrely bread, slathered it with all natural peanut butter, topped with a mountain of fruit and drizzled with maple syrup.

"Pancake"

Yum! Feel free to lick the screen. I think this was quite ingenious on my part, wouldn’t you say?

"Pancake" - 2Well, enjoy the rest of your Sunday. I’m off to mope…Sunday afternoons remind me that work is just around the corner.

ilona

P.S. Here’s a peek at those home-grown broccoli sprouts I mentioned. Oddly satisfying to have cultivated something delicious and nutritious from a hard, unimpressive, tiny seed.

IMG_1054Anyone want to learn how to sprout??

Update: Maple Baked Lentils

Update to my previous post.

So I decided to make a double batch of the Maple Baked Lentils with Sweet Potato. If you know me you know that I like to feed small armies at a time.

Who knew that 4 cups of dry lentils makes SO MUCH! I had to evacuate about a third of the cooked lentils from my dutch oven otherwise there would be no room for any of the other ingredients.

The other stuff just made it in…

But despite the almost near miss, the results are delicious. Cooked up some buckwheat to go along with the dish and it worked beautifully. And I have lots to share with my partners in crime…Ewa and Tomek, hope you like this!

Belly full. Body warm.Soul content. Now off to finish that book I mentioned yesterday. Perfect chilly winter night.

ilona

Need Warmth. Now.

Driving home from work I was forced out of my car into the frigid weather by the little yellow “you’re out of gas” light. Bahh. Standing there, filling up my tank, I decided that tonight calls for a hearty, filling dish…the kind that warms you from the inside out. Also, I needed something to sop up the last dregs of this innocent little cold that had me waking up every hour or so last night (stuffy noses do not make for good slumber!). Comfort food is needed at times like these.

When  I got home I was so ridiculously excited to find that I had ALL the ingredients for a dish I came across earlier this week, Maple Baked Lentils with Sweet Potatoes (again from Oh She Glows, serious major girl crush on the gal behind that site!).

Seriously, when does that ever happen? Serendipity was smiling down on me today 🙂

There was still a smidgen of daylight when I got home (YAY), so I can show you a few of the ingredients I will be using (the recipe calls for whole lentils, I only had these split ones in my cupboard…c’est la vie).

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Well, off I go to work some magic in the kitchen.

Hope your evening is warm and cozy and delicious. Bon Appetit! Which reminds me, isn’t it weird that in the English language we don’t have a Bon Appetit equivalent? In Polish we say Smacznego. What do you say at the start of a meal?

ilona