Happy Thursday–Vegan Treats!

Been cooking up a vegan storm and have 2 out of various attempts to share!  My test panel (family members) agrees with me that the following 2 recipes are excellent and worthy of sharing.  Both were side dishes to a larger lentil dish that still needs perfecting.  Having more time to devote to creating animal free foods that are nutritious and healthful is just exciting–now that I am not working for someone else, my time is my own to fill. Cooking great food that is good for me and mine at a reasonable cost is fulfilling.  Keeping the calories at a minimum is another goal I’m striving for too.

The first dish is a triple “C” Coleslaw delight– Cabbage, Caraway, and Cashews!

Triple "C "Coleslaw--mmm good!
Triple “C “Coleslaw–mmm good!
  • 5-6 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup agave
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2/3 cup cashews, chopped up a bit (use more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 cup Vegenaise (or other soy mayo product)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of lemon juice

You can add more or less cabbage depending on your own tastes.  This dish is also best made and eaten–doesn’t do well overnight due to the sogginess factor.  However, it’s so yummy that I doubt you will have any to save over!  The cayenne pepper adds an extra zip…

The second dish is better after it sits in the fridge for a day or more.  Chop, Chop–its full of veges– Pasta Verde salad.

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  • 4 cups cooked macaroni
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 smallish zucchini sliced across
  • 4 stalks green onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium size tomatoes, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar snap peas, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt, pepper to taste
  • toasted and ground sesame seeds to top all

Cook the pasta according to directions, rinse in cold water.  Combine the oil and lemon juice, then mix with the pasta.  Put in frig until veges are prepared.

Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and cook the zucchini on med-low heat until browned (3-4 minutes).  Add the other  ingredients (except the sesame seeds) and saute for 4-5 minutes–still crispy.  Mix thoroughly with the  pasta and then pass the sesame seeds for a sprinkle of delicious.  I prefer to make this dish a day ahead so the flavors permeate the pasta and become mellow.  I don’t add the sesame seed topper until finally served.

I put my family to the taste test–and it gives me a boost to see them!  All in all, a super plus on the happiness scale for me!  They also benefit from having a ‘good food’ experience (most of the time the cooking is good!)

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Hope Your day is filled with happiness!–Judy

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Happy Wednesday–Helping Others!..

Have recently had the opportunity to help some friends organize spaces in their homes.  The experience has been rewarding in that my friends really got on board and energized to create best use of their living spaces.  One couple owns a very small house, has many possessions and little storage space.  Organization has been viewed as difficult due to the small house size, but has also been needed to keep order in the living space.  And a new baby has added complexity for sure.  Sometimes we all just need a fresh perspective to give us a kick-start!

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One area needing help was the baby’s room.  The storage space was minimal and clothes were stuffed everywhere.  Target sells a $20 adjustable clothes hanger rack that added just the right amount of hanging space for many of the clothes.  The neat organization change shed light on the potential to further organize the room overall.  Since the clothes to hang were baby clothes, the rack was set at a low height.  As a result the walls weren’t taken up with an unsightly storage view–the rack was perfect for the space!  The bottom of the rack allowed for boxes of diapers to be stacked and out-of-the-way–formerly cluttering up the walkway.

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The small kitchen also had an available and unrecognized space to make a big difference.  The space was not used except to store cans of soda on the floor–I could see shelving becoming helpful, but it had to be small and easy to install.  A low-cost (about $25) storage stand with optional caster wheels (which we did not use) from Wal-Mart filled the need along with rethinking of the use of kitchen items in general.  Installing the stand as a surprise gift energized the parents to dedicate it for a baby feeding supply station–centralizing  bottles and baby food supplies that were formerly and randomly located throughout the living areas.  Seeing the potential, the parents moved other unused items to attic storage.

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A third change involved integrating a 2 shelf-6 cube open-faced cabinet to the master bedroom.  Important papers and items could then be stored in the cubes instead of throughout the living areas.  We obtained the cabinet at a resale shop for $10 and there were extra fabric drawers not being used that were brought into service.  When creating this change, we discovered that we could store extra sheet sets at the top of a closet system (in another room) that was unused–got the clutter of the sheets under control and creating more floor space.  Consolidating important papers also freed up a drawer in the kitchen allowing for best use of space there.

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I enjoyed helping with these changes and ended up–well, you know–happy!  So did the folks I lent a hand to.  I had the time and energy to see the need and the inclination to help.  So, we all benefited.

Hope Your day is filled with Happiness!–Judy

Happy Monday–Bridges Over Troubled Water–a Tribute

After publishing my “Bridge” post on Thursday,  a relative of mine passed away.  Upon attending her Visitation, I read the card about her the immediate family gave to all who came through offering comfort.  A version of the lyrics from “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” was printed on the card, making the event just a tiny bit more poignant than it already was.  And due to my thoughts about bridges in general for the blog.

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This relative was a much-loved and happy person, so the lyrics the immediate family used fit her perfectly–and were a loving tribute:

“When you’re weary

feeling small

when tears are in your eyes

I will dry them all

I’m on your side

when times get rough

and friends just can’t be found

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Sail on Silver Girl,

Sail on by

I’m sailing right behind”

I can think of some very special  people who were my Bridges over Troubled Waters. And I am pretty sure that I have been such a bridge for some people in my life.  I plan to be one for more people in the future.  We undoubtedly all have been the “bridge” for someone.  And in then end, we, the ones who help us, and the ones we help are all Silver Boys and Girls…

The song is available on You Tube under Simon and Garfunkle as are the lyrics.  Happy listening for those of you who remember this song.  And for those who don’t or haven’t heard it–a special treat!

Hope Your day is filled with Happiness!–Judy

Happy Thursday…Bridges to Happiness!

Illinois is blessed with lots of waterways…that also means plenty of bridges.  The very nature of bridges has always provided us with guideposts in life and we have many sayings tied to their structure and function.  Most of us know the names of several famous national bridges–in the States; the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, for examples.   I find sayings related to bridges to be good descriptors of our daily activities, achievements, and struggles and  in life.  Not to mention how much easier our lives are because of them–I crossed a bridge several times daily over a big river for years…not sure what the other options would be (swimming?  ferries?)!  Below are pics of some of the bridges near me and then some phrases we often use to describe our life experiences.

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The Murray Baker Bridge
  • The hardest thing in life is to learn is which bridge to cross and which to burn.
  • Bridge the gap.
  • We will burn that bridge when we come to it.
  • That is water under the bridge.
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The Bob Michel Bridge
  • If so and so jumps off a bridge are you going to jump off too?
  • Create a bridge between one thing and another.
  • Don’t cross that bridge until you get to it.
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The McClugage Bridge
  • Go jump off a bridge!
  • Build bridges instead of walls and you will have a friend.
  • Don’t burn your bridges behind you.

Photography adds so much inspiration, joy and happiness in my life.  I’m always mildly surprised when my photos turn out half way decent!  For contentment’s sake,  I’m planning on taking many more bridge pics and soon!  Do any of you have other bridge sayings or pics to share?  Would love to hear from you.  Until then…

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Hope Your day is filled with Happiness!–Judy

Happy Friday!–Converting Recipes to Vegan…

A great week for me with cooking!  I found some resources that helped me find new and vibrant recipes.  Then some that showed me how to convert recipe ingredients that were not vegan.  My 2 personal cooking challenges:  find a new recipe for Quinoa and then use Couscous for the first time.  Both recipes I finally cooked needed some conversion as they both had dairy.  But, with substitutions the conversions were made and were just as scrumptious as the originals–and I made both versions (vegan and vegetarian with dairy) to be sure.  Of the 2, the Quinoa dish from Rachel Ray on the Food Network website was my favorite, but only by a bit.

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Rachael’s Quinoa and Vegetable Stuffed Peppers was a delightful mix of hot pepper, mint, various veges and spices–all ending up in a plateful of yumminess!  The mint was a discovery for me as I haven’t cooked with it much or eaten it enough in main entrees to notice its sumptuous delights.

I replaced the crumbled feta intended for a topping in the original recipe with a vegan substitute I found on the Vegan Wolf website and it’s below:

  • 3/4 cup crumbled Tofu & 1/4 cup avocado (the amounts of mix are mine)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix all together with your hands and sprinkle on top of the cooked peppers.  The final product is a little gooey, so placing a portion atop each pepper works best.  The diner can mix it all in!

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The best feature of my new cooking exploration is trying my skills out on my daughter, her significant other, and my sister–new times for family and interaction.  Plus, cooking is relaxing and soothing.  They all 3 loved this dish, too.  And…I get to practice on my photography skills at the same time.  Sweet!

If anyone has other great Quinoa recipes, I would love to try them!

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Hope Your day is filled with Happiness!–Judy

Happy Thursday!–Resolving Angry Feelings

I have currently been plagued with angry feelings toward someone I am close to. The angry feelings are not allowing me to experience the level of happiness I want to maintain. My anger stems from this person not doing something I want them to do—it’s totally ego oriented in my case.  I know that I must acknowledge my anger and then take my feelings out in other ways such as brisk walking and exercising.  Recognizing that I cannot impose my will on others just for my own ego’s sake is the way to go.  Yet, the ego is strong.

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My approach is to trick my ego and indirectly nudge it to consider other points of view about the person I am angry with—important benefits I have reaped from being involved with this person.  Once I do so, my anger can dissolve.  I love this person and want to always regard them in the very best light.  I want to feel peace and satisfaction and happiness in all aspects of my life.

So, during my walk the past few mornings, I thought only of the good deeds this person has done for and with me and all the wonderful interactions we have had. I called up details from memory about as many as I could think of in the time given. Then I visualized the person as happy and joyful—and concentrated on their aspect in general, refusing to let any feelings of anger enter in during this time.  I also ‘sent’ them happy loving thoughts–mental express mail.

I then used the joy of nature’s beauty to soothe me and foster my good feelings toward this person. Here are a few pics I took of gifts from a neighbor to the world around him— beautiful flowers with the ability to infuse the mind and senses with the wonder and appreciation of nature’s glory.

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I walk several miles/40 minutes in the morning 4-5 times per week. Using my approach, I focused on resolving my anger for at least 30 of those 40 minutes. In the end, I came to a better place with my feelings and where I stand in relation to this person. I can still have surges of anger about the issue before me, but I refuse to focus on the bad feelings. Instead, I immediately jump over to the positive and pleasant aspects of our relationship and the many benefits I experience there. If you are ever having similar challenges, I hope you will consider my approach—maybe it will work for you.

If you have a better way, I would sure like to hear about it.

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Hope Your day is filled with Happiness!–Judy

Happy Wednesday!–Contentment and Cooking for others…

Watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares–UK version and I can’t stop myself!  I have watched one after another like an addict.  Really–it’s too fascinating!  What I really like about Gordon Ramsay is his passion and depth of knowledge–and that he is trying to help others through his expertise!  A laudable goal for any of us!

Which brings me to the cooking session I had on Sunday trying out vegan recipes from various sources.  I found 2 that were very good (and a couple that shouldn’t have been published!) and you might like them as well.  One is a grilled (or pan-fried) marinated Tofu sandwich and the other is an apple corn side dish.  Both are spicy and can be more or less so depending on the cook.  The first is found at http://cookeasyvegan.blogspot.com/2008/08/aarons-grilled-tofu.  I used toasted whole wheat vegan buns.  This sandwich was excellent, the dressing and tomato just the right complement to the marinade.  Avocado can be added, but the taste does not come through clearly, so not worth the calories from my point of view.   I dreamed about this yummy sandwich on Sunday night…mmmmm good!

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The second recipe is an adaptation from a Corn and Apple Salad side dish from Vegeterranean: Italian Vegetarian Cooking by da Cunha and Musacchio and as follows:

  • 1 small ear of corn, steamed until just tender
  • 1 Granny Smith apple–cored and cut into tiny cubes the size of the corn kernels
  • 1 Shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 TBSP chopped parsley
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar to taste–I used 1 tsp
  • Balsamic vinegar to taste–I used 1 tsp
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 dash Tabasco

Cut the corn kernels from the ear.  Core and cut the apple into tiny cubes the same size as the kernels.  Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl.  Allow to stand for at least 2 hours before serving to allow all the flavors to blend.  The authors say to peel the apple, but I next time I am going to leave the peel on to add more color to the dish.  Next time I am also going to try using frozen corn for the color–and paying attention to the taste.  This dish is very spicy while also being surprisingly refreshing!  I know I will use it many times over.  The portion sizes on the  smallish side due to the spiciness–but up to you.

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I had a variety of people taste these dishes making for a happy dinner and conversation.  The sandwich was a big hit with all, and only one person did not like the salad.  However, he does not like apple salads at all, so…All in all, the effort was worth the feelings of connectedness and contentment.

happyroadsign

Hope Your day is filled with Happiness!–Judy

Happy Summer–New Kinds of Fun!

A few weeks ago my daughter asked me to go on a 3-4 hour canoe trip with her and 2 friends–well, pressed me and then I couldn’t resist!  I did pause to consider whether I could actually do the physical portion or not–but thought, “If I can’t, I’ll just make her do all the rowing!”  I had a blast and my daughter and I laughed  much–a great time all around.

My daughter...
My wonderful daughter…

Illinois has many rivers and a few have companies that will let you park your car at the end point of the trip and then drive you to the take off point upstream for a fee.  Our destination was the Vermillion River in northeastern part of the state and the take off point was Streator, Illinois.  We were going to a section of the river with no rapids, the water was only 2-4 feet deep, and risks were minimal.  The company we used; http://www.canoethevermillion.com.  Much information about their services and costs on the site.  Our costs were very reasonable too at $45 per canoe load–we had 2 per canoes, so great for a day’s experience.  Here is a picture from their website:

We launched and then rowed and floated downstream for 12 miles.  The weather was sublime as the heat of Summer hadn’t descended on us yet.  We also took off at 8:30am, so had the coolness of the day on our side.

The river was/is so beautiful with its sandstone cliffs, lush vegetation and wildlife.  I personally received a surge of well-being and happiness just floating along and becoming more close to nature.  Everyone else agreed.

Canoes on the Vermillion near Streator, Illinois
Canoes on the Vermillion near Streator, Illinois

I have lived in Illinois all my life and I have never taken a canoe trip–didn’t really think about it in the press of life’s responsibilities.  But now, I have more time.  My daughter is all about completing Bucket List activities, and she is of the frequently expressed opinion that I urgently need to give mine some serious dedication!  She’s also persistent–so there I found myself, floating along, singing “Row, Row, Row My Boat…” having a sweet time.

On the 1 hour drive home we stopped at both a hole in the wall diner for a tasty lunch and a roadside vegetable and fruit stand.  Fixin’s were bought for a pie bake-off  later in the week to continue the fun streak.

In the end and from a happiness perspective, this day was a pinnacle day.  Closer relationships were fostered, merriment was had (due to our pathetic & hilarious rowing skills!), and learning took place.  I extended beyond my “normal” arena and benefited much.  You might also want to give an ‘outside your comfort zone’ activity a try.

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Hope Your day is filled with Happiness!–Judy

Happy Thursday! Family Fun–Geocaching.

My sister, Barb,  and I went a little crazy today and figured out how to ‘Geocache’.  We hadn’t done this before and I am sure glad we took the dive.   We were both in need of some enjoyment and dished ourselves up a good ole bowl of ‘self help’ soup!

I’ve been working on improving the functionality of my blog in the last few days and ran into the geocaching idea from another site–http://www.projectlighttolife.wordpress.com.  We went to a new coffee-house in small town Illinois and looked at the http://www.geocaching.com website.  Signed ourselves up for free and pulled out my iPhone.  Downloaded the free app for starters.  Following the directions, we were both startled that there were 3 caches close by–we were really surprised.  And due to our own ignorance for sure.  Anyway it was sunny and a blistering 95 degrees outside–but that didn’t stop us!  We needed some fun!

We get to the site and grope around–can’t find the cache…until we both stop and focus the tree before us at the same time and look at each other in recognition of the spot where it has to be.  Barb reaches into the hole where the branches come together at the trunk, and –lo and behold!  There it is.

Not much in the end really, just a sign up sheet and a little bottle.  But you would have thought we struck gold.    Participants can put track able ‘tags’ in the caches.  Players are then encouraged to take the tags out of the cache container, carry them to another cache and drop them off.  Eventually the tags will hopefully make it around the world as people move the tags from one cache to another.  It’s an honor system.  And the tags are tracked via the website.  Never too late for fun, and now that my time is more freed up, I’m having me some of that!

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Millions of caches around the world so Geocaching says.  If you are looking for something different, caching might be right up your alley!  We’re going to do with our “What The Fabulous” girls’ party time group in the near future and in the nearby city where there are many more caches just waiting for us to discover them.

We had a happy time.

Hope Your day is also filled with Happiness!–Judy

Happiness Tuesday!–Body-Mind Connections

Out for my daily walk.  Added an extra 15 minutes on the trip due to beauty all around.  Living in the snowy Midwest, I personally store up summer sights to tide me over winter’s more white, greys and browns.  The following summer daisy’s are for you to enjoy provided by a thoughtful neighbor–maybe they’ll also motivate you to stay out for more of your healthy body time like they did for me.

Peace and beauty to me and to you!
Peace and beauty to me and to you!
Sweet gift to neighbors and passersby!
Sweet gift to neighbors and passersby!

Hope Your day is filled with happiness!–Judy