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Macro Monday: Checking in / Markets / Grocery budget chats.

Hi there friends,

It's been awhile since the last Macro Monday! But now it's June, and June is a lovely month. So Happy Macro Monday!

I've been feeling more inspired by cooking again lately, and am working on a few recipes I'd like to share with you soon.

One of these is a vegan lentil bolgonese sauce. I have a bit more tweaking to do, and then I'll send it your way.  

And another recipe in the works for you is the lovely vegan wholegrain carrot cake I made at Easter. It had a lemon cashew icing, and was delicious. If you follow me on instagram (here's the link!), you may have already seen it. This carrot cake was super healthy, hearty, and very much like what I imagine baked oatmeal would be like. I enjoyed the leftovers for breakfast.

Other than that, I have been doing some gardening, and have already enjoyed eating kale and komatsuna from my little container / pot garden on my balcony. The weather has been fantastic, and T & I have been spending as much time as possible outside. 

GROCERY COST / BUDGET CHAT

I have been doing the larger part of my produce shopping at my local market again, now that it's open at full capacity. This has gotten me thinking a lot about grocery budgets. If you've seen my instagram posts, you'll know that I love sharing pics of my weekly grocery haul. Sometimes I just get a few things, but usually I get a large full basket full of a variety of produce, and while the berries are in season, lots of berries. I try to make this my only produce shop for the week, and this usually works just fine for T & I.

In my experience, at least here in Victoria, despite what many people think, this is much friendlier to our grocery budget, than if I were to buy the equivalent organic things at most grocery stores. And sometimes, I feel like it's even better priced than some of the conventional produce. I know that Vancouver Island has an amazing growing season, but I just can't get over how fairly priced the local and organic veggies are.

In case you're interested, I'll list a few items I regularly buy, with the market price listed first (M), and then a common grocery store (GS) price after:

DAIKON - $2 - 4 M // $5-10 GS (side note: perhaps cheaper in china town).
KALE - $2 -3 M // $3-5 GS
SPROUTS - 2 packages for $5 M // $3-5 per package GS
STRAWBERRIES  - $4-6 M // $5-7 GS (on sale perhaps you can get them for $4).
Fresh BASIL -  $3 giant bunch M // $3-5 GS for a smaller container
Mixed SALAD GREENS - $3-5 M // $4-7 GS 

Here's my giant basket-full of veggies from this weekend:

In case you're wondering, all these vegetables are local (duh), and organic. The quality of these vegtables are MUCH higher than anything I can find at the grocery store. The daikon alone is about half the price of what a similarly sized organic daikon would be at any store, and it is of such higher quality I can barely even compare the two. (most daikon I find at stores is either limp, spongy, or worse yet often moldy!).

This Saturday I packed my basket full of: komatsuna, broccoli, daikon, sprouts, green onions, radishes, collards, salad turnips, the most beautiful green leaf lettuce, basil, mixed kale, baby summer squash and the most tasty little strawberries. The hummus I bought from a local shop on the way home so I haven't included in the price. The total for all these vegetables was $37 CAD. Now, I'm definitely no financial wizard, and perhaps I'm crazy, but this seems like a STEAL of a DEAL! Also considering both the turnips and daikon are sold with their beautiful tops - you can eat these like any other leafy green. I'm all about the 2 for 1 veggies.  I am fairly confident that had I chosen to buy all of these things at a health foods store, I would have paid much closer to, if not more, than $50 CAD. And perhaps more like $40 - 45 for the organic versions purchased at a conventional grocery store.  

I would say this is likely the average amount of produce I buy weekly at the market (some weeks more, some weeks less), but when the berries really start to roll out, my weekly produce price will increase as berries are my fav and are our ultimate summer treat and I will be adding those along to my regular veggie haul.

How much do you spend per week on produce? What do you think - especially fellow Canadians - does $37 seem like a reasonable price, expensive price, or good price for this basket full of organic produce? I'm honestly curious here and welcome your opinions. If you think I can do better, I'd love to know how! (other than growing all the veggies yourself, as I'm doing the best I can at the moment with my balcony garden). 

It makes you think and realize - if you stick to eating veggies, and then items from the bulk bins (whole grains, dried beans, nuts and seeds), with the occasional detour for things like tempeh, tofu, fish, high quality bread, oils, etc., healthy groceries can definitely be affordable.

And one more thing: I understand if organic produce is not importance to you, but it is to me for a few reasons. Firstly, TASTE! Not always, but most often, organic versions are tastier. Seriously. Especially local and organic veggies - so much PRANA! Secondly, the nutritional content issue. Most organic versions of food are higher in vitamins and minerals. Usually, they are grown in better soil yielding more nutritious crops. More nutrition bang per bite. And lastly, obviously, the potential chemicals used in conventional crops are a bit scary. I know that many big organic chains use "organic" pesticides that are supposedly better (they may or may not be), but in my own experience, I have never had organic strawberries that tasted like chemicals, but I have had regular ol' strawberries that do. And ditto that for grapes and all other berries. YICK. 

I'm not completely rigid over organic - I do tend to follow the dirty dozen / clean fifteen guidelines whenever buying 100% organic produce is not possible. And I will try to choose local foods with equal importance as organic because I believe it is the most responsible thing to do environmentally speaking, but I also understand reality and budgets, and I do realize that often organic foods can be more money.

That is why I'm SO EXCITED when it's market season, because my grocery bills usually drop! 

So to wrap up please, tell me about your healthy, perhaps organic, grocery budget tips and tricks!

Check back soon for those recipes <3 <3 <3 

And I'll leave you with a beautiful article written by Phiya Kushi that I found to be extremely inspiring.
 

Vegan Ramen with Brown Rice Noodles

Oh mama.

First, just to clear the air - I have never actually had a bowl of real ramen. Yes, I've had the packaged instant ramen noodles back in the day. Does anyone else remember that terrifying phase in the 90s where kids just ate crunchy ramen noodles out the bag at lunchtime? Though I was sad at the time, looking back now, I am so glad my mom wouldn't let us do that. And I've had some fish or veggie ramen out at restaurants before, and they've been wonderful. But I have never had a bowl of delicious, high quality ramen out a good Japanese place or ramen shop - here in Canada, or when I was in Japan.

But don't worry. My guy T, who has indeed tried and loved many a real ramen in his day, loves this version just as much. So do I. I bet you will too.

It's super quick to make, very warming and satisfying on a cool winter evening, you can use up all the odds and ends kind of veggies in your fridge, and really let's be honest: eating squiggly noodles is just fun.

Vegan Ramen (with Brown Rice & Millet Noodles)

for two.

Ingredients

  • 2 packages of brown rice ramen noodles. I use this one here, by lotus foods. FYI - they have it at Costco - a 10 pack for around $10 <3
  • 4 - 6 cups of water, or soup stock (we like a lot of broth with our noodles, so we use 6 cups)
  • Veggies of choice. We love: thinly sliced daikon or turnips, carrots, mushrooms of any kind, broccoli, greens - especially cabbage, and green onions.
  • Protein of choice: chickpeas, or some tofu are delicious. Sauteed tempeh would also be mega-yum.
  • lemon juice or vinegar.
  • 3 tsp miso paste of choice (we rotate through mugi miso, a millet miso I picked up, and brown rice miso) OR 1 tbsp shoyu.
  • some spice, if you like it hot: chili pepper flakes, a dash of cayenne, some grated fresh ginger
  • dash of nori flakes or other seaweed flakes.

Directions

  1. Heat up a dash of toasted sesame oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Saute your veggies, starting with the green onions (you can add a pinch of salt), and then add the rest one at at time, starting with the thicker or longer cooking veggies first. Leave out the greens to add in later (unless you're using cabbage, if so, throw them in now).
  3. If using tofu, add it in now and saute for a richer flavour. You can also throw it in later.
  4. Add in soup stock / water.
  5. Bring to boil, and let simmer with the lid on until veggies are fairly tender. If you slice your veggies thinly, then probably around 10 - 15 minutes.
  6. Somewhere along the way, add in a squeeze of lemon, or a dash of brown rice vinegar, and any spices you desire. If using shoyu rather than miso, add the shoyu in now.
  7. Add in sliced greens, and the ramen noodles, and let simmer for about 4 minutes (as per package instructions).
  8. If using Miso, after you put the noodles in, stir your miso with a bit of water or some stock, and add to the pot. let simmer on low (not boiling) for about 4 minutes.
  9. I usually throw in some seaweed flakes near the end, after the noodles are added.
  10.  Enjoy! I like mine with a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime.

Macro Monday: October & November Catch-up.

Hi Friends,

It's been awhile! October was a delightful and busy month, and time seems to have gotten away from me! It's the last week of November - wow!

October started off with a bang! I went to Seattle to attend some Macrobiotic classes with Warren Kramer, set up by the lovely Teresa who blogs at Sweetveg and Littleveg.

Short version of all of this: AMAZING!
There were just so so SO many good things about it:

#1 - I got to meet Teresa, which was purely delightful. She is just as sweet and caring as you would imagine when reading her blog posts. She organized an amazing weekend, and I'm beyond thrilled that I was able to attend. Thank you Teresa! :)

#2 - MACROBIOTIC CLASSES. Can you believe that I have been doing the whole Macro thing solo for over 6 years!? This is the first time I've taken a cooking class or attended a weekend workshop with multiple classes in all this time. It was SO wonderful to be around other people who use the words "yin" and "yang" regularly - ha! And who also appreciate things like the perfect kabocha, brown rice, and all kinds of things Macrobiotic. It was definitely worth it for me, times like a million!

# 3 - Learning! Warren Kramer is a wonderful, wonderful teacher! I feel super lucky to have been able to attend some classes with him. I definitely tucked away more than a few new-to-me pieces of information. So grateful for all of this!

#4 - FOOD. Can you say full-on multiple course Macrobiotic meals that I didn't have to make...just there for me to enjoy? Heaven, I tell ya'. Here are a couple of photos of one of the meals that I was so lucky to enjoy:

#5 - Seattle. What a great city. In a very non-Macrobiotic fashion, T and I did a coffee tour of the city after the weekend's Macrobiotic classes. ;) So many cute and fun cafes. Amazing coffee. Like, some of the best I've ever had anywhere. And it's a great city full of good veggie eating options - I might do a post later about some of my favourite veggie meals I enjoyed there. We took the ol' city bus and/or walked everywhere, which worked out perfectly. We stayed in a sweet little 1 bedroom suite we found on Airbnb. We just took the ferry from downtown Victoria, straight to downtown Seattle. We booked in advance, so it was only $120 return for each of us. Super easy, and super fun.

Also, in the past few months I have continued to teach a few Macrobiotic classes, which were great fun - thanks to everyone for attending! I will be doing another two before Christmas. Next on is Monday December 1st and is on sweets <3

Also, since October in particular was quite rainy, we have been spending a bit more time inside. T and I have been going through our stuff once again - we are continually trying to downsize. We share a 470 square foot suite, and we both work from home...and we both love it! It just forces us to be on a continual minimizing mission. It feels so liberating to sell or donate stuff you don't need or use anymore.

I'm working on a post for the vegan ramen that T and I have been making fairly frequently. It's super delicious, cozy and makes a great quick meal on a rainy/snowy day. Check back later this week for the recipe - I'll have it up by Friday <3

Also, I have gotten back into reading again - any book recommendations? I enjoy reading all kinds of books :)

Hope the past weeks have been wonderful for all of you.
xoxo jess

 

Macro Monday: September Reflections

Hi Friends,

September has always been my time. It's the time of year when I feel the most energized , revitalized, and determined. I just LOVE when the air gets a little crisp. Not to mention the way the sunlight filters through the still-a-little-green pretty red & yellow leaves.

I think this is why I have always loved the start of school. I always dreamed about crunching leaves with my new boots on the walk home, and having an excuse to wear a few cozier things like scarves. My heart just swoons. And I know I'm not the only one.

This summer has been mega busy. Good busy. Bad busy. A little bit of all kinds of busy. I am so grateful to have been able to spend to much time with family and friends this summer. Lots of beaches and outings and all of that. And we'll be getting to see more family in a few short weeks, which is super fun! It goes without saying though, that life has been a little more chaotic than I am used to. Finding balance has been hard. But I am learning (trying) to find my grounding within it all.

So, this long weekend T and I unplugged. In fact, there would have been no other choice - we simply needed to regroup and relax and take a break from everything and everyone. We'll be back into the swing of things later on today (this post was written a few days ago, actually, so I could truly unplug over the weekend).

Anyways, back to September - I always love watching how we naturally adapt to the changing seasons. Without consciously thinking about it, I haven't been craving salads in the last few weeks. And I haven't been drawn to the berries at the market the last few weeks (I still got a few, duh). My intuition has been pulling me towards celeriac, and squash, and carrots, and has me planning soups and stews and warm, nourishing plates of delicious hearty food.

I also am drawn to work inwards and see what needs a little polishing. What kinds of things are not serving me at the moment? How can I focus my time more effectively on the things that matter? What can I let go of, and is there anything I need to bring more of in? There are definitely a few habits that I'm going to focus on letting go of, which I may write about in a future post.

I'm also excited, and gearing up to teach a few more Macrobiotic classes in September and October at one of the most lovely & wonderful spaces I've ever been in: Templed Mind. Definitely check them out, and their amazing schedule full of wonderful classes and events. Next Monday, September 8th, at 5-6:30pm, I'll be doing a class on some of the Macrobiotic Healing Foods. Hope to see you there!

Are you an Autumn kind of person? What's your favourite season? Any foods you've been craving lately?

Sending you a big crunchy-leaf, wool socks, and hot mug of tea kinda hug!
xoxo Jess

 

Macro Monday: Start Subtracting

Today's post is just a simple conversation about something I like to chat about A LOT: simplifying. Subtracting. Reducing the things the don't matter.

I love Macrobiotics because it feels simple to me: it places a large focus on finding balance through local, natural foods. Eat what's growing around you. Pretty simple. But, the Macrobiotic lifestyle also encourages simplicity. Some of the recommendations include: spending time in nature, gentle exercise, laughing, natural fabrics, and less time in front of screens. I think that is why I continually appreciate Macrobiotics -> it is another tool on the road to a simple life.

I have been growing a subtle distaste for EXCESS. I have my moments where I get caught up in consumerism, but they are becoming fewer and farther between. I have my sweet buddy, T, to thank for this - he is by nature the least possession oriented person I know - but also my yoga practice and my practice of Macrobiotics continue to be hugely influential. And another thing that's been adding fuel to the less is more fire: moving into a smaller space has been WONDERFUL. I can't say it enough. When you don't have rooms and basements and garages to hide your junk, you have to face it (or live in chaos, which I can't handle).

So the flipside of my growing distaste for excess is my huge appreciation for simplicity. The quote above, is for me, an amazing idea that I think would be great to live by: "When things aren't adding up in your life, start subtracting." If something about your current situation just doesn't feel right, then look to how you can simplify and refocus, by reducing the unnecessary blocks in your way.

If this interests you, I'd begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What IS truly important to you? Or, how do I want my life/job/relationship/house etc. to look like / feel like / embody?
  • What are the bare essentials that I require for this to happen?
  • How can I focus on or achieve those bare essentials?

Then, put everything else into the don't really need it or under consideration category, and stop thinking / doing / acting on those things - begin to reduce them from your life.

If spending time outside and being in nature is your focus, then ask: what are the bare essentials I need for that? My guess is probably TIME. So what gives you free time? Less work and obligations. And how can you work less? Well, you decide to buy less. So ---> reduce the number of things you buy, so you can reduce the number of hours you work, and instead spend your extra time outside.

If going traveling is your focus, then ask yourself what do I need to do that (what are the bare essentials)? Depending on you and the kind of travel or length of traveling, you may feel like the bare essential you need is simply money. If the bare essential is indeed needing to make money for traveling, then you need to STOP SPENDING on all other things, and amp up your work hours (I personally did this when T and I traveled though South America - I worked horrible long hours at a call centre, and didn't do much else). Many people think it's impossible to go traveling, because they just don't have the money. The truth is, if traveling is really the most important thing to you, you can indeed save up for it working a minimum wage job - its absolutely your spending that you need to address. Stop going out for drinks, going to the mall, eating out, decorating your house and walk or bike instead of paying for a car. Perhaps get a roommate, move into a cheaper place, or move home with your folks while you save up. All of these things will help you get to your money goal faster.

And here's a potential tough part, where I think many of us get caught in: perhaps if you aren't willing to make those changes to achieve your bare minimum (i.e., saving for traveling), then you should sit back and ask: is it (i.e., traveling) really that important to me? Maybe it actually comes second or eighth or twentieth on the list - maybe socializing with friends and spending money decorating the house are higher on the priority list. Be willing to realize that priorities shift and change. And that is totally cool, everyone has different priorities, and different things that make them happy. But be honest with yourself - it'll save you from feeling like you are being denied something, or that you CAN'T do something. Be willing to let go of things that are no longer your priorities. Instead, if you get in touch with your real, true, current priorities in life, it'll make you feel like you're doing awesome at the things you are working for. You'll no longer be pining over something you actually don't really want.

As you can see, you can apply this kind of thinking to WHATEVER goal you have or whatever it is that is important to you. If things just don't seem to be going your way, try it: try reducing. Figure out, and then get rid of the things that ARE getting in your way to achieving what is most important to you. And don't be scared or upset if you realize that the things in your way are there, because they have a message for you about what is NOT your priority (often they are things you subconsciously put in your own way).

Go for what YOU really want, not for what you think you should want, or what other people think you should want.

And get rid of the rest.

Have you done this before? Do you have trouble reducing to your bare essentials?

Have a wonderful week friends <3 <3 <3
~~Jess

 

 

 

Macro Monday: The Superfoods Trap

Happy Macro Monday friends!!

Today's post is about something that I have played around with in my own shopping and eating experience, and is something that you are likely familiar with if you're into the health world. So...let's chat about being bombarded with "superfoods."

 My kind of SUPER foods :)

My kind of SUPER foods :)

Macro Monday: The Superfoods Trap

For the past while, it seems that there is a new superfood that makes appearances in the stores and in internet-land each and every week. We've been through goji berries, to acai berries, to spirulina, lucuma powder, coconut oil, chlorella, maca etc. Whatever ~~~berry has "just been discovered." And you just "must try it."

Now, before you put your guard up - I'm not trying to knock healthy foods. And not the ones I mentioned above, either (some of them are dang delicious and wonderful, and things I do use from time to time). If you know me, you'll know that I'm all about healthy eating. But I do feel there is a giant "superfood" trap out there that we need to be aware of. And I also think we should be calling many more foods "superfoods" -> because any foods that are truly health supporting, in my mind, are indeed SUPER.

But I think it's a shame that a lot of our focus has shifted away from fresh, whole food, and moved towards these so-called "superfood" powders, extracts, tonics and elixirs.  We've really adopted the faster and more is better mentality with these foods. The real superfoods, in my mind, are the ones that you might mix in with those powders: a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole-grains and healthy fats.

Straight up local and organic veggies in their whole form are truly SUPER in all ways. They probably don't come in a fancy package, they aren't advertised (usually), and they generally don't run at $15 - $100 per item. In other words, these kinds of foods probably seem boring, dirty (literally, covered in dirt sometimes), and not so miraculous in comparison to their shiny new "superfood" friends.

But I want to tell you something, friends, and I'm speaking from my heart and my experience. Whenever I have been tempted and lured into purchasing these amazingly packaged powders, tonics & superfoods, I usually regret it later on. Not because they don't have some healthful properties, or they taste bad (they can often taste delicious). But because nothing alone, no one single powder, ethically sourced and straight from the jungle healer's hands, is the key to health. And when you invest your hard-earned dollars on something that is advertised as being so essential and so amazing, it's likely that you will begin to believe it (hi cognitive dissonance), and you might then, feel that you MUST have these things to be healthy, feel stressed if you can't afford them, and you may begin to overlook the regular boring FOOD that has sustained humans, healthily, for a long long time.

Something new & exciting that has the price tag to match it's "amazing healing properties" is, in the long run, probably not so sustainable - for your bank account, but also for our beautiful Earth. So many of these miracle foods that become "superfoods" have a high ecological toll because the demand for them skyrockets out of the blue. Those foods, I'm sure, have likely earned at least some of their SUPER status - but maybe we should consider the small communities that have been eating them traditionally for thousands of years and often rely on these foods, and perhaps adjust our over-consumption, slow it down a little, so that we can give our Earth time to adjust for the increased demand.

For myself, when I forget about this and that superfood, and focus on eating local and organic food in its whole form,  I feel SUPER. I feel healthy. Eating more vegetables + whole grains always make me feel good. These are also foods that we have been eating as humans, for a long time, and they are also the foods that natural healing systems such as Macrobiotics and Ayurveda promote. We've been growing these kinds of foods all around the world for a long time, and we for the most part, seem to have the hang of it. Another bonus when I eat this way: my bank account loves me for it. I never regret buying vegetables, fruits, and wholegrains - when I fill my cart with these things, I never cringe at the grocery bill. If my eyebrows ever raise at the checkout, it is always because I've on a whim thrown in something in a pretty package that most likely includes the word SUPER on it.

Of course, if your budget allows, and health is your passion, then play away, responsibly! I'm not trying to halt you on your quest for health, or discourage you for trying things out for yourself. Experiment with some of these new things if you so desire. I am certain that I will end up trying at least a few more - it seems really hard not to. And they will either be a repeat buy because they truly add something to my life (this doesn't happen so often), or end up in my "superfood" graveyard - the pile of random bulk baggies and jars of interesting things at the back of my cupboard. But here's what I've been trying to do: when I see something new and fancy and SUPERbly exciting, I won't buy it the first few times I see it. I'll read the labels, do some research, and avoid buying it for as long as possible, until I feel like I actually have a good reason to use it, and that is is indeed something that will enhance my everyday cooking and eating. I also try to look for the original, whole form of these superfoods, rather than the fancy powders, tonics and concentrated elixirs. For example, actual goji berries and cacao nibs in their "whole" form > goji berry cacao superfood smoothie powder mix, in my mind.

I guess, all I'm asking is that you don't forget the old-school once famous stars of the show: carrots, broccoli, oats and other grains, a variety of greens, traditional herbal teas, nuts & seeds, pumpkins and other veggies, apples, berries, etc. These guys are easy to find, have been considered healthy for a LONG time across all countries, and they won't cost you an arm and a leg.

Thoughts, dear friends? If you have tried a lot of superfoods, which ones have been worth it and are now something you use regularly?

Macro Monday: daikon

When I wait in line at the market, and at grocery stores, I often overhear a variation of the same question..."what IS that?" says someone, while pointing at the giant daikon in my shopping basket... and "what do you do with THAT?"

Well, dear friends, if you've ever wondered just that, then this post is for you. It's all about what you can do with one of my favourite veggies:

Macro Monday: Daikon

Daikon are a kind of Asian radish, and are characterized by their enormous size. They most commonly look like giant white carrots, and can be up to 14" long.

 Thanks  Wikipedia , for the image :)

Thanks Wikipedia, for the image :)

Daikon have many healing properties, and are used extensively through Asia as both food, and as remedies for specific conditions. They are often used to make pickles - Japanese style, and Korean style (spicy like kimchi). They are often in miso soup, too. Really the ways of using this wonderful veggie seem unlimited. It's just THAT good :)

I have found that the smaller and/or shorter or rounder ones have a stronger "radish" flavour. Look for ones that have the leaves on - they will be fresher, AND you can eat the leaves too (chop them up, and lightly steam or saute with the daikon).

Today though, I want to talk about a few of the different ways of preparing it!

How to Prepare Daikon

When you cook the daikon, it loses a lot of its pungency and bitterness, and instead becomes gently sweet.

Steamed

My favourite, as far as simplicity and taste goes, is simply to steam it. I cut off a chunk, scrub it, and cut it into rounds, then in half, so I have some nice half-moon shapes. Then I simply steam it, for about the same length of time as you would steam carrots (depending on the size). Daikon & carrots steamed together make a fine match, just are steamed daikon and greens. Drizzle a tiny bit of umeboshi vinegar after steaming. Yum.

Stir-Fry

I have also cut thinner rounds, and/or diced it into small chunks and thrown it into a veggie stir-fry or saute.

Long cooked // Daikon stew

You can also easily make a delicious dish of stewed daikon. And it's one of my favourite ways to enjoy this veggie.

Cut the daikon into thick rounds (peeling the skin off makes for a nicer flavour), place a strip of kombu in a saucepan, and place the daikon rounds on top. Add just enough water to cover the daikon. Bring to boil, then turn heat to low and slowly simmer with lid on. Check often, and continue adding tiny bits of water as needed, as it boils away. You can let it cook for a long time - up to an hour or perhaps even more, depending on the thickness of your daikon rounds. The longer you cook it, the sweeter it'll be. The daikon is ready when a toothpick can be easily inserted. Once it is done, add in a few teaspoons of shoyu and let simmer for 5 more minutes or so. Clamp the lid down (using an oven mitt), and give the pot a good shake, and serve.

Raw

And of course you can slice it and put it in salads just like any other radish. You can also julienne it, and/or grate it - you may have noticed that white vegetable they serve with sashimi at Japanese restaurants...yep, that'd be daikon.

Have you ever tried daikon? What's your favourite way of eating it?

I'll leave you with a photo of my goodies from the Market this week. Summer's the best. Do you see the daikon hiding in there?

Have a great week, friends, and see you back here on Friday, for MacroTreat Friday!

Macro Monday: Some Thoughts on Fasting and Cleansing

Hi Guys,

I'm back from some time away visiting family & friends in my hometown. I had SUCH a blast catching up with with everyone, and I had so much fun attending the loveliest wedding! I definitely embraced the summer fun vibe, and drank more wine in those few weeks away than I have in the last 10 years put together...very out of character for me (in the last long while), but not so out of character for my younger-self (also formerly known as party Jess...she seems so far far away these days, haha). It was great though, and life's short, so why not?!

And here are some delicious eats from my visit:

 I finally got to try  Frickin' Delights Donuts ! Donuts have never been something that I've craved, but Mandy's vegan donuts are SO FRICKIN' GOOD (seriously, they are) that I'd become a donut person for sure if I lived in the same city!! She uses the best &amp; freshest local ingredients around!

I finally got to try Frickin' Delights Donuts! Donuts have never been something that I've craved, but Mandy's vegan donuts are SO FRICKIN' GOOD (seriously, they are) that I'd become a donut person for sure if I lived in the same city!! She uses the best & freshest local ingredients around!

I guess all that food & wine brings me to the subject of cleansing, and fasting (or lack there of). I've been asked quite a few times about various fasts, so I thought I'd do a quick post on my thoughts for any of you who are interested.

MM: Fasting & Cleansing

Extreme Fasting / Cleansing

I guess this could be a really short post, because quite honestly, I think that fasts and cleanses can more often than not cause more harm than good. But of course, it definitely varies depending on the cleanse and the fast. I have never personally tried anything so extreme as the Master Cleanse, or even an all-juice fast. I think that these kinds of fasts (often, not always of course) create much too quick of a change in body chemistry - these kinds of changes are usually impermanent, and often lead to future binging & weight gain, a damaged metabolism, and major eating and emotional health issues. Under proper guidance of course, these potential side effects could be reduced. But it is an area that I would tread very cautiously on. especially if you are feeling pretty healthy anyways. If you have a strong digestive system, be happy (yay!) and don't do anything too drastic, because you might permanently change and/or damage it, and my sad-belly history is begging you to reconsider. I also think the cleanse mentality of "good foods" vs. "bad foods" can be very destructive to our relationship to food. If you pay attention, you'll learn to know just how each food you consume makes you feel and you can choose your eats accordingly, allowing of course, for enjoyment. Remember, the dose makes the poison.

Cleansing vs. Healthy Eating

I guess I'm not so into "cleansing", because I do not consider clean natural eating or healthy eating to be a part of a fast or cleanse - but perhaps some people do. I guess often the recommended diet on many of those cleanses is one that appears to be a stricter variation of my regular day-to-day eats. If not eating much processed food, focusing on local veggies, fruits, and whole-grains and gentle protein, with healthy nuts, seeds, and oils means going on a cleanse, then hah! I guess I have been "cleansing" for a long long while unknowingly. The closest I have been to what I would consider a "cleanse" is simply to have chosen to eat a bit more simply, for a short chunk of time (eating lots and lots of brown rice amongst other things, perhaps adding in a few extra supportive herbs or remedies, and removing for a short period, a few things that I sometimes eat too much of!). But really, nothing very different at all from what I normally eat. And anytime I have thought about or leaned more towards what I feel like is the common fanatical "cleansing" mindset, it has stirred up negative eating thoughts and patterns that I am much better off without! Instead of drastic measures, eat good food and your body will feel good! Eating healthy natural food regularly is key to a happy body, mind & soul :)

Healing With Old-School Wisdom

I think the best natural break you can give your body (of course only when and if you need a break) is to focus on freely eating lots of cooked whole-grains and veggies with healing seasonings, herbs and oils, and some gentle protein of choice. This is probably more effective for most people than any mono-diet or strict cleanse, as it greatly reduces the possibility of damaging your metabolism, while still providing high quality yet easily digestible energy. You are still eating real food! If you're wanting to do a cleanse because of sickness or severe digestive problems, then (after seeing a doctor or professional, of course) perhaps try cooking your grains and veggies with extra water and for longer than usual, and even blending them into soft porridge. But nothing crazy is required here. I'm talking about simply removing the obvious junk, and giving your body a tiny break - even just for a day - probably all the things your body is asking for if you learn to listen closely. Let's just gather up all of our collective old school knowledge and apply it - when you were sick as a child, did you eat lots of heavy foods such as meat and dairy, or hard crunchy sweets like candy ? Probably not. I know at least for myself, when I was sick as a child, I was given plain toast, or soft rice, or porridge, and sometimes plain popcorn. Simple food. Easy on the belly. If you want to give your digestive system a break for a few days, then just scale back the variety of foods you're eating, and chew well your well-cooked simple food.

Our Natural Ability to Cleanse & Heal

Really, all this cleansing talk is super positive when you think about it in terms of what goes on without us doing anything. Our bodies are amazing! They will naturally cleanse and heal themselves, if we let them do it! Seriously, cells regenerate and heal all on their own. Sometimes letting our bodies heal on their own, means that we may need to assist by removing some obstacles out of the way. Here are a few of those obstacles that I can think of that can impede our bodies' natural ability to cleanse, process, and function optimally:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of rest (too much go-go-go-ing)
  • Major diet imbalances - too much of any one kind of food or macronutrient (have you eliminated an entire food group, and instead are focusing on just one?)
  • Stress & Anxiety
  • Excessive alcohol, caffeine, drugs & refined sugar
  • A lack of necessary vitamins or minerals (get tested for deficiencies if you're not feeling well, & especially if you've recently changed your way of eating - also be aware of Vitamin D deficiency, fellow Northern friends).
  • Being too sedentary
  • A food allergy or more serious condition such as celiac disease or chrons.
  • Too much time in front of screens, and not enough time outdoors
  • A hormonal imbalance or other imbalance such as depression

I think a simple self-assessment of the previous points, and addressing any ones that stand out, will give you much more of a deeper cleanse than any actual "cleanse" you can do or take or buy. Why not send all your cells on a holiday, when you sleep well, get some gentle exercise, breathe in some fresh outdoor air, and eat supportive foods, while reducing for a little while, the frequency of foods that take a little more to process. Nothing harsh, just some TLC in the most simple yet deep way.

Final Thoughts

So would I recommend cleansing? No- at least not in the way that most people understand it (such as those popular very extreme cleanses like the master cleanse), and not for most people.

What would I recommend?
Try eating, as much as possible, high quality, wholesome, local & natural foods with minimal processing. In whatever shape and form those take, as long as they make you feel your best.

...And back to the wine conversation from earlier...obviously there has been no "cleansing" going on over here - it's summer, and I'm just enjoying and relaxing and following what my body is asking for right now and catching up on some rest - I'm not so spry as I was in my younger days, and those few days of, what feels like a lot of wine to me, took a bit of a toll :) Summer is a time of in season fun splurges along with the season's natural ample fruit and veggie bounty.  My favourites are fresh raspberries and cherries, and of course some iced coffee wouldn't be horrible ;)

I'd love to hear any of your personal experiences with "cleansing" both good & bad, or any of your thoughts on the subject in general! And...what's your favourite summer treat!?

Have a great week!
- Jess

Macro Monday: Finding Inspiration

Hi Friends,

I've been feeling like I need a bit of inspiration these past few days. So, here we go!
 

MM: Get Inspired

Here are some Dainty Pig tips for getting inspired, when your motivation seems to prefer taking naps instead of going on adventures.

Get Outside

It doesn't matter if you simply sit outside with a book, go for a walk, hop on your bike, or just lay in the sun & have a nap, getting outside will make you feel better. And if it's raining, open up your windows and take a deep breath in of that gloriously fresh rain air.

Go Somewhere New

Again, the options are limitless: go to a new restaurant, walk somewhere new, go on a road trip, visit a new park in your city, take a new route on your way to work. There's a certain rush of seeing something for the first time - yes, even if it is simply taking a new route in your car. This also flexes your easy-going muscles, and gives you a chance to be more spontaneous.

Eat Something Fresh & In Season

Berries. Berries. Berries. I am so happy to have fresh berries this week. They instantly lift my spirits. They are so pretty and tasty and bring summer right to your bowl. Anything fresh and seasonal will make you feel balanced, and bring some of the season's energy & momentum into your life. Visiting a farmer's market and seeing all the amazing fresh veggies & fruits will connect you to Mother Nature - always a good thing.

Listen to New Music

Try something totally different. It just might shake things up a bit for you, and shake off that stagnant energy that we all feel some time. And you could also try dancing to that new music :)

Visit / Chat with a Friend

Get out of your own head, your own life, and be there for someone else. You must give in order to receive!

Unplug

For an hour, for a day or for a week if you can. Leave your phone & laptop behind (or lock them away), and experience how much space & time you have!

Make a list

Make a list of all the things you are grateful for. Hello instant mood booster :)

Clean

Clean your house, clean your car, do some laundry - whatever kind of cleaning is calling to you, go for it. Make space in your surroundings for the things you love. That clean fresh energy will interact with you :)

Treat Yourself like Royalty

Have a long bubble bath. Put on a face mask. Get a massage. Or a facial. Buy yourself some flowers. Or a pretty new dress. Sleep in. Do the things that make you feel luxurious and spoiled. Sometimes that's all we need.

Watch an Inspiring Movie / Listen to or Read about an Inspiring Story

Don't be shy to let yourself get lost in someone else's adventures or inspiration for awhile. Maybe some of that good stuff will rub off :)

Ask...

Ask yourself: why am I not feeling so inspired? Is it because you are under slept? Or you haven't been doing the things you love? Is there something that you are avoiding dealing with, or is there a big stress in your life? Ask. And listen.

What are your favourite tips for getting inspired?

Have a wonderful wonderful week my lovely friends!
xoxo jess