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A Meatless Meal For Animal Lovers

I have always been an “animal person.” You know the type. The kind of person who grew up worshipping the family dog, who wanted to be a veterinarian as child, and who declared vegetarianism in some stance of teenage defiance.

Since becoming an “adult,” one of my top priorities has been to get a dog. The responsibility is something I never took lightly, so I continually put it off. I never had the money, the time, or the space. I wanted to move and travel too much. Even when I moved back home for good, I continued to put it off because I couldn’t find “the one.” The dog I wanted to spend the next 10+ years of my life with.

Well, we all know what happened. I got cancer and found myself with a lot of time to spend all by myself at home. Then one day I stumbled across the dog. During this dark time in my life, I suddenly have a bright light brought to me every day in the form of my new pet.

I love my little Buster Bartholomew to pieces. But a recent Globe and Mail article called “The problem with loving your dog too much” got me thinking.

I already frequently joke that I don’t want to be “one of those” dog owners. The type that posts pictures of their dog all the time (okay, I already do), the kind that talks about their quirks all the time (I do that too), or who constantly speaks to them in a high pitched voice (oh, dear…). Well, at least I didn’t dress Buster up for Halloween! Although, I secretly really wanted to put a King Charles crown on him.

The article got me thinking about how there are a lot of dog owners out there who don’t treat their dogs like… Dogs. It reminded me that not everyone is a head over heels dog person like I am, who will stop strangers on the street just to talk about the dog they’re walking.

But at the same time, it got me wondering, to what detriment is there to loving your dog too much?

Buster does more than just give me something other than myself to think about for once. He does more than keep me company all day, and keep me active by wagging his tail by the front door every afternoon. He doesn’t care that I’m sick. He isn’t nicer to me because of it, nor does he ask me how I’m feeling every hour.

So what if dogs are a children replacement? Because of chemotherapy there is a decent chance I will be infertile when all of this is over. Maybe loving and caring for a dog is the closest I’ll ever get to being a mom. Sounds a lot easier too.

The article, while a worthwhile read, unfortunately only skims the surface and doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter. There’s a decent conversation that opens up on the comments over how “dog people” should socialize with their dog-weary counterparts. Because lets face it, dog people and non-dog people really do exist, and there really is a difference between the two.

I guess the take home point would be that it’s good to remember that dogs are not people, nor can our relationships with them replace the ones we should have with humans. But at the same time, I admit that I have no shame in loving my dog a little too much sometimes. So what if I love him like maybe I could love a child? Or jump over hoops to keep him happy? It’s all because he keeps me just as, if not more happy. To me, it’s all worth it.

In honour of our animal friends I’ve got an incredible meatless meal to share with you today!

Chickpea Pot Pie with a Whole Grain Crust

I used this recipe, making the following changes:

  • 5 cups broth instead of 6
  • 3 cans of chickpeas instead of 1
  • omitted noodles
  • omitted parmesan cheese
  • made my own crust!

While there is nothing wrong with a little puff pastry, I really wanted to get nutritional value out of all components of this dish. I opted for a whole grain crust from this recipe, choosing that particular one simply because I’d had success with it before (using canola oil).

I just made the dough and flattened it out to the dimensions of a 9×11 baking dish, then let it chill in the fridge until I was ready to place it over top. As for the filling, I noticed that there was too much of it to put into one pot, so I ended up layering the frozen peas and beans with the hot contents in the dish to avoid having to switch to a larger pot and it worked perfectly.

The results were fantastic! I wholeheartedly recommend this recipe. I didn’t miss the chicken at all and thought the flavour and texture of the chickpeas blended in really well. I was also quite pleased by how the whole grain crust held up. Not quite the light pastry you’re used to, but definitely helped this meatless dish keep my belly satisfied for the remainder of the evening.

Now if only I could convince my puppy that he isn’t a human and his dinner is the crunchy stuff on the floor…

Babaganoush Hummus Soup

When people ask me how I’ve been making out with my chemotherapy treatments so far, I usually name the one or two side effects that are the worst that day, then add that overall it hasn’t been too bad.

I’ve written before that I had some horrific image of my being rail thin, bald, and puking over a toilet the whole time. Instead, I feel like the chemo experience has instead been quite manageable. Sure, I’m tired all the time. But really, what busy person doesn’t feel tired all the time anyways?

Then treatment #6 came and I felt a little walloped.

The thing with chemo is that it accumulates. While I was able to recover within a few days of the first treatments, that recovery time gets longer and longer with each treatment. Suddenly, a week has passed since my sixth chemo and I only now feel like I’m coming out of the post-treatment fog.

One of the big things I noticed this time around was my stomach. It hated treatment #6. All I wanted was toast and cheese, preferably every few hours to keep it from getting too upset. That worked for a couple of days, until I realized I needed something with I dunno, vegetables.

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We got eggplant in last week’s CSA box. There was no way I had the stamina to make another moussaka, so I racked my brain and remembered a certain Babaganoush Soup I once saw on Eat Live Run. I *puffy heart* babaganoush and it sounded like a great way to turn the dip into a meal.

But then I remembered Oh She Glows Garbanzo Soup. Aka hummus soup. I wanted that too!

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So I mixed the two and created a tasty little “get well” chemo soup. It’s full of those veggies I need, easy on my tummy, and a cinch to make when I have no energy to be standing around in the kitchen.

Babaganoush Hummus Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large eggplant (or 3 small ones)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups vegetable stock

Directions

Heat oil in a medium heat pan and add chopped eggplant, red pepper, and onion. Cook slowly, about 20 minutes, until soft and caramelized.

Add coriander, cumin, and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.

Transfer to blender with remaining ingredients and blend. I recommend adding your stock last and a little bit at a time until you get your desired consistency. I like my soups reeeeally thick and added less than 2 cups.

Transfer to a pot and let simmer for about 30 minutes so the flavours can mingle. Or 5 minutes if you’re impatient like me.

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The end result is a warm and creamy soup with a cumin and garlic kick reminiscent of my favourite dips. Although, it’s still a good idea to have pita bread on hand for this one! Or my latest favourite – cheese and toast. With a little pesto for good luck.

Home is where the workout is

Hello friends! Hope everyone had a good weekend, or long weekend if you had one of those too ;)

So today was my last shift at Starbucks. I had high hopes of getting up early, shovelling the wall of snow at the end of my driveway, and heading to the gym for a treadmill date before work. Yeah. Looked outside and it was still dark and raining. Tackling the snow boulders the plow leaves behind didn’t sound too appealing at that hour. Luckily, Chris and I turned my apartment into a workout friendly place last night! Check it…

This is what my bachelor apartment looked like before…

There was a lot of debate about how to set up my small space when I moved in. My mom and sis were adamant on having my dinner table in the living room. But it didn’t leave me much space in there, and left my sleeping area open to the rest of the apartment.

After a little rearranging, here’s what I’m now working with…

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The coffee table is pushed to the side in that photo, but it still provides much more open space than before. My bed is now behind the couch, so my sleeping area is sort of “cut off” from the living room. It’s how I originally wanted the couch, and as soon as Chris and I moved it, I immediately felt a sense of comfort in my own home. Something I haven’t really had yet. My mom believes in all that Feng Shui stuff, and I can see why now. I feel so much better in my space already!

The kitchen table is also where I originally wanted it…

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The microwave stand that was there is a little awkward in it’s new spot, but I’ve only got so much space to work with.

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My first living room workout turned out to be a stellar one!! I started with 40 minutes speed intervals on the trainer. I originally planned on 20 minutes, but then figured and extra 10 wouldn’t hurt, then pushed out another 10! It helped that I was being entertained by the television (watching one of my old classmates do live hits on a national news network!!!!).

The trainer itself is kinda fun. It was nice to be on my own bike. Unlike spin bikes, mine is set up to fit me perfectly. It was weird having the back wheel spin though! I was a sweaty mess. I’ll have to put a mat underneath it. The lack of fancy air system in my apartment made a big difference.

As you probably spied in the above photos – I tried Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred for the first time!

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I did Level 1 which consists of three circuits. Each circuit has 3 minutes strength, 2 minutes cardio, 1 minute abs. I’ve heard Level 1 is easy – but I found it quite challenging! Albeit, I was kinda wiped from my bike sesh. But the quality of a workout is always the quality of the work you put in ;)

Oh, and the best part? I burned 500+ calories in 67 minutes! In my living room. Love it :D

 

Now how about some random eats? Some highlights if you will ;)

Last night I tried a new-to-me product – quark!!

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I remembered Ellie telling me about this stuff she can buy in Scotland that resembles Greek yogurt (which I can’t buy here). Pretty sure my eyes bulged out of my head when I spotted it in the grocery store.

Apparently, quark is a cheese. The nutritionals are awesome.

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Ellie said it’s quite thick, but this stuff was more just like a thick yogurt. But with a slight cheesy taste underneath the typical yogurt “tang.” I ate it the usual way…

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With stevia, vanilla extract, strawberries, ground flax and unsweetened coconut. Messed up, of course ;)

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I really, really liked it! If it wasn’t so dang expensive, I’d add it to my regular rotation. Alas, it will have to remain a special treat.

Other random eats include a new-to-me Simply Bar flavour – Lemon Coconut.

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It was “meh.” Too much lemon, not enough coconut. The lemon flavour reminded me of the Lemon Zest Luna a little, but not nearly as sweet. If anything, it was a little too plain.

 

I got sent home from work early today because the mall was d-e-a-d. Apparently, no one else wanted to attack their driveway snow boulders. It was pretty sweet, as I was definitely not feeling my last shift at the Bucks today. Plus, I got to come home and bake!

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Carrot Cake Protein Bars 

I found this recipe here but I can’t find the original on Jamie Eason’s website. Here’s what I used:

  • 1 cup oat flour (made by putting rolled oats in my coffee grinder)
  • 2 tsp 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup 1/2 cup Splenda
  • 1/2 cup fat free low-fat Ricotta cheese
  • 24oz 7oz baby food carrots
  • 2 scoops vanilla whey protein
  • 1 cup quick cooking rolled oats

Mix up dry ingredients, add the wet stuff. Pour in a 9×9 pan and bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes.

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I cut it into 16 squares, each having 74 calories, 1g fat, 5g carbs, 1g sugar, 1g fibre, 10g protein. Not too shabby! The best part is that they actually taste good!!! Yes Deb, even with the protein powder! :P Next time I’ll add a little shredded carrot, golden raisins and walnuts, but like this they are quite edible.

 

I tried out another random recipe for dinner: Indian Cauliflower Stew.

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Ingredients

1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 med. carrots, chopped
1 med. onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. curry powder
Salt
2 1/2 C vegetable broth
1 med. head cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 (15 oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 C chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 C plain lowfat yogurt

Directions
In a dutch oven, heat oil and add carrots and onion. Cook 10-12 mins or until tender. Stir in ginger, curry, and 3/4 tsp. salt into mixture, cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth, cover and heat to boiling. Stir in cauliflower and chickpeas. Cover and cook on medium 15-20 minutes longer, gently stirring until cauliflower is tender. Stir in chopped cilantro and yogurt. Serve over rice.

I pretty much followed the recipe to a tee. Only changes were that I added 1/2 tsp ground ginger instead of the fresh stuff, 1 tsp ground cumin, and ate it over top a bed of shredded chicken ;) I loved this. I don’t make a lot of Indian food at home, I should!

 

Last but not least, here’s a photo I swiped from the New Year’s party – better late than never!

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There’s obviously a lot more, but I don’t really want to post pics of Chris’ friends without their permission! I was a little overdressed for the party, but I didn’t give a damn. It was New Year’s – I wanted to feel pretty!

 

Hm. This post was kinda all over the place. Keeping ya on your toes ;)

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite “ethnic” food to make at home? I guess I use the term ethnic lightly here, perhaps “regional” would be more appropriate. Mine’s mostly North American, but I like making Greek-inspired stuff. I also much prefer my homemade Chinese-inspired dishes to the stuff I buy in restaurants.

 

See ya tomorrow for a recap on my first day at my new job!! Eeeee!!!

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