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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.

Layered Moussaka Casserole

Welcome to another work week! I wish I was heading off to work this morning like so many of you, but instead I will likely spend my day napping. Trust me, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds.

Actually, one of the most frustrating things about chemotherapy is that I have all this free time now, and absolutely no energy to do anything with it. Usually all I can muster is a very mild “work out” and hanging out with my family. Some days I try to run a few errands or clean my room. But the best days are those I find the energy to cook.

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This coming week is a chemo week – in other words, my least favourite kind of week. But the weekends preceding my chemo weeks are also my best. My body has recovered enough that I feel *almost* normal. Or the closest to normal I can get these days anyways!

So on these weekends you will likely find me in the kitchen. And boy, do I have a kitchen creation to share with you!

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This recipe is “moussaka-inspred,” meaning it bears only a small resemblance to the traditional dish to make it a little healthier and easier to cook. This is definitely not a weeknight dinner, but rather something you could make on a Sunday and have the leftovers for the rest of the week. Now you know for next weekend!

Layered Moussaka Casserole

Prep time: 1 hour
Bake time: 1 hour
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb beef
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute (or your favourite all-purpose seasoning)
  • 1 tsp allspice (or something similar to a pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste (I like lots)
  • 1 700ml jar of your favourite tomato sauce (I used President’s Choice organic roasted garlic)
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 3 small zucchini
  • mashed potatoes – 8-10 small potatoes worth (I’m not going to tell you how to make mashed potatoes! I went the garlic potatoes route made with a little milk + butter and lots of salt + pepper)

Directions

Peel and cube the potatoes and add to a pot of boiling water.

Brown the beef in a large pan with onion, green pepper, garlic, and celery. Add spices and seasoning along with the jar of tomato sauce. Simmer for around 30 minutes.

While beef is simmering, make mashed potatoes. Slice the eggplant and zucchini lengthwise. Traditional recipes would have you sauté them first, but I usually don’t bother and leave them raw. I never notice how bitter the eggplant is.

Cover eggplant slices on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Spread half of the beef mixture on top. Cover with zucchini slices and add remaining beef on top of zucchini. Spread mashed potatoes over top of beef.

Bake in a 350F oven for 1 hour.

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After hours of chopping, stirring, and cleaning my mess in the kitchen, I sat down to eat my hot meal only to suddenly feel too sick to eat it! Ahhh the joys of chemo.

Thankfully, I’ve since been able to eat the leftovers after a quick 2 minutes in the microwave. It is FANTASTIC and worth every minute in the kitchen. If you ask me, making hearty, healthy food is one of the best ways to use what little energy I have. Now if you don’t mind, I think it’s time for another nap.

New Month, New Goals!

Thank you for all the wonderful comments on the Things I Learned in February post! Those are some of my favourite posts to write, but I kind of selfishly love reading all the things you learn in the span of a month. For example….

Morgan learned “I need to be more patient. Good things come to those who wait! (and work hard)”

ellie said “the biggest thing I learned is that only I have the power to change my life.”

Angela learned that “fortune cookies are hard to make at home and look much uglier.”

Angharad said “Despite what I *think* my body can do, it NEEDS a rest day at least one day a week, if not more.”

So many good lessons among us!! Even better, it’s a whole new month. One for new discovery, new mistakes and many more lessons learned ;)

For example, today I already learned that the spin bike in front of the fan is the most coveted spot in the room. I live in a university town and it’s March Break, so all the kids students are gone. Which means it’s pretty dead everywhere – including my gym! I credit my rest day yesterday and a constant stream of cool air to my kick butt spin class today. Felt goooood :)

I prepared a wonderful breakfast to devour once I got to the office.

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Smoked salmon, laughing cow cheese, mustard, capers, tomatoes and spinach on an english muffin and a pear. But my hunger levels have been pretty low today (something I blame on the excessive amount of blondie eating I did yesterday which we won’t discuss).  Anyways, I tossed the pear after a few bites.

Drank all my iced coffee though!

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Mid-morning I dug into some low-carb banana bread.

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Which I kinda turned into a PB sandwich – it’s Peanut Butter Lovers Day after all!!

Lunch was a beastly chicken and spinach salad.

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My salad dressing was homemade again – Mae’s Pizza Cheese!

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2 tbsp hummus, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp water. All shaken up to coat everything.

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Yum!!! LOVED it!!! The hummus + nutritional yeast is a stellar combo, I can’t believe I’ve never thought of it before! Next time I’ll try it on an actual pizza ;)

Unfortunately, I suffered from some digestive discomfort after this. My salad had 1/4 of an avocado that didn’t sit well in my tummy. Avocado usually does this, nothing like pineapple, but unpleasant nonetheless.

Carbonated drinks usually settle my tummy when it gets like this (ie I need to burp!). So I hit up the vending machine for some aspartame diet pepsi.

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I actually don’t care for pop that much, the bubbles hurt my tongue! But it at least did the trick ;)

Afternoon snackage was a couple of boiled eggs and a piece of cheese. 

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Perfect example of a low-carb snack. I’m trying to keep my macro ratios in check :)

Dinner was random, but still turned out pretty well!!

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In the oven:

  • 1 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • mushrooms, halved

In the frying pan:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • few shakes ground cumin
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • Many more cumin shakes, plus a dash of curry and chili powder

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I love just combining meat, veggies and a legume in a bowl and calling it supper! I have three more bowls like this sealed up for the week. Yumyum :)

Dessert was a new chocolate bar:

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Like how my nail polish matches the wrapper? This picture may have been set up to highlight that…

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Luuurved the raisins in the chocolate. I may have gone back for another square ;)

 

So now that it’s March 1st, it’s time for me to set some new goals for the month! First, let’s look back to the goals I set for February:

1. Work out no more than 6 hours a week. I know this is kind of a backwards goal, but I am seriously addicted to endorphins. If I don’t watch myself, I can over-train and injure very easily. Here’s a weekly breakdown:

Week 1 – 5 hours, 25 minutes
Week 2 – 5 hours, 18 minutes
Week 3 – 5 hours, 4 minutes
Week 4 – 5 hours, 38 minutes

Met goal and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t have to take an extended break at some point this month because I wore myself out at the gym :)

2. Say yes more. YES!! My best friend asked me to go to Halifax – yes! I wanted to move to Toronto – yes! Hung out with some new people – yes! Took on some challenging work projects – yes!! Actually, I don’t think I had anything to say no to.

3. Make more leftovers. I finally succeeded at this one! I never had access to microwaves or refrigerators in past jobs, so making food with leftovers was always tricky. I could never repurpose them for lunch. But now that I can, every single week I whipped up something random like tonight’s meal and lived off it for the rest of the week. Makes meal time so much easier!

4. Eat more fat. Obviously, I did this one, read my Fatty February wrap-up to hear more!

 

So what’s on tap for March??

1. Work on getting my car sold and apartment subletted. Yes, this is number one. There’s a lot of things I need to do before I move to the tee-dot in June, but I can’t start building a life there, until I tie up the loose ends here.

2. Apply for a bazilion jobs in Toronto. Cause someone’s gotta bite…right?

3. Take more initiative at work so I can finish my contract knowing I made a mark. I’m exactly halfway through my four-month contract as a communications officer at my old university. I feel very comfortable there now and I do not want to coast through the rest of my time there. I want to bring more to the table and make the most of this wonderful career opportunity that has been given to me.

4. Learn as much as I can about personal training. I’m doing my in-class component of the course the last two weekends in March. I want to finish my textbook and online class work before then. And I want to fill my brain with as much info as I can before my exam in April, and eventual on-the-job experience.

5. Run outdoors again. It’s March! It’s almost spring! The streets are slushy and full of black snow, but it’s at least above zero! I think it’s time my new running shoes get broken-in outdoors ;)

 

Question of the Day: Your turn! What are your goals for March?

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