My best friend's daughter has Celiac disease, and one day when we were chatting about school snacks and lunches, she mentioned the difficulty of finding really tasty gluten-free "grab and go" snacks that were also nut-free. The wheels in my head started turning, especially after talking with another friend whose daughter is allergic to dairy and sugar cane, in addition to gluten and nuts. I was thinking about them both as I found myself in the kitchen, trying to create an energy bar that would fill all those needs. Was it possible?
When I was pregnant with my younger son, my number one craving was Greek salad. My number two craving was - wait for it - Cheez Whiz on toast. I don't know how many loaves of bread and jars of Cheez Whiz I went through for those nine months, but I probably should have bought shares in Kraft.
During that time, I also fell in love with nacho cheese sauce, the kind that comes in a jar and gets heated up in the microwave before being eaten with a family-sized bag of tortilla chips. What? The baby wants what the baby wants.
I am back from my annual vacation at my in-laws', and I am experiencing my annual "all my pants seem to have shrunk" phenomenon. Let's just say that averaging four drinks a day is not great for one's waistline, and leave it at that.
True confessions: if I could eat any junk food in the world, I would choose Old Dutch Ketchup Chips.
Gosh, even looking at that gives me a craving. I remember when I found out that a) Old Dutch chips were a strictly Western Canada thing, back in the 80s, and b) ketchup chips were a strictly Canadian thing.
I love Greek food. I love the flavours, I love how Mediterranean food is among the healthiest in the world, and I love how eating it transports me back to 1992, when I was almost seventeen and on a school trip to the Greek islands. I know! How lucky was I?
When you were a kid, did you read books set in the turn of the twentieth century, and did you desperately long for the olden days, where THE event of the season was the town's Strawberry Social? I sure did. I didn't know what a Strawberry Social was, exactly, but I knew it involved Sunday dresses and strawberries, and frankly, that was good enough for me.
There's something that's been bothering me lately, but I haven't been sure how to articulate it properly. Last summer, I met a friend's husband for the first time, and upon some discussion, he learned that I mainly follow a vegan diet. His first reaction was to question whether or not I felt that I was morally superior to the other people in the room, and although his outspokenness startled me, I explained very truthfully that I do not.
If you've been following my recipes for any length of time, you will know that I am an enormous fan of coconut. All hail the mighty coconut, provider of energy, antioxidants, and dietary fibre! Numerous studies have shown coconut products to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties - and that consumption of coconut helps to boost immunity. Perhaps that makes this coconut fudge a health food!
Nothing adds a creamy coolness to a spicy dish like a dollop of sour cream. Spicy chilis, soups, curries, and tacos are all made better, in my opinion, with a spoonful or two. If you cannot eat dairy products, you don't need to give up such creamy pleasures - you can easily make your own non-dairy sour cream at home.
I think my children are in what we call a "growth phase," although I have a sinking feeling that this is less of a "phase" and more of a "way of life for the next eight or nine years." We haven't even entered the teen years and my boys are already eating me out of house and home.
Remember when you were a child, and your parents took you to Dairy Queen, and you were allowed to get a dipped cone, and you would watch with fascination as the teenaged Dairy Queen employee took that swirl of soft serve and dipped it into the vat of chocolate, and then you felt like you just witnessed something completely magical as that chocolate hardened into a perfect, scrump-dilly-umptious treat?
There are so many things I love about this time of year: the sun rising as I'm leaving the yoga studio in the early morning, the sun setting as I'm getting ready for bed at night, leaving the house without multiple layers on, and little green shoots coming up in the garden. I love how the trees are leafing out and the grass is greening up, and I really, really love the return of salad season.
If there's one thing I love to do, it is to create a dessert that features all sorts of nutritional goodness - especially if no one eating it can tell that there are "secret ingredients."
Oh, strawberries! Could there be a more perfect fruit? Sweet, juicy, and so tantalizingly colourful, strawberries are the stars of the berry world, in my opinion. One cup contains 47 calories and 141% of your daily total of Vitamin C, so eating them is exactly akin to boosting your immunity in a very tasty way.
It doesn't matter how long Seinfeld has been off the air: whenever I hear the words "Kung Pao," I think of George Costanza. George likes spicy chicken! Fortunately for me, my children have started to take an interest in Seinfeld reruns, and so they do not immediately raise their eyebrows and exchange meaningful glances when I repeatedly say "Nicole likes spicy cauliflower!" while preparing this meal.
Nutritional yeast is a common staple in plant-based cooking, and of all the ingredients I use, it is the one I get questioned about the most. Nutritional yeast is as common as salt in the cupboards of those of us who have been following plant-based diets for a long time, so I sometimes forget that not everyone is acquainted with this tasty little flake. For every question I receive, I assume there are many people who wonder about it but do not want to ask.
May I take a moment to applaud a certain member of the palm family? If fruit is nature's candy, then the Medjool date is nature's gummy bear, and I mean that in the best possible way. Medjool dates are exceptionally sweet little things, with the vast majority of their nutritive value coming from naturally-occurring glucose and fructose. That means that they can be used to make sweet treats in a natural, no-processed-sugar way.
There are so many wonderful things about Spring, the most notable being it marks the end of winter. In spring, I always think of the Ingalls family in The Long Winter, wan and pale and starving, seeing the tiny blades of green grass sprouting and being filled with hope.
Oh, Spring! It's such a happy season, with its feelings of renewal and growth, and with the sudden mildness that leads to the shedding of woolly layers. It's also the season for asparagus, one of my favourite vegetables.