Taste of Edmonton

Chef Husband and I almost never go on dates. We don’t have any family here, and I don’t like to bug my friends and ask them to watch our children. We could hire a babysitter, but for some reason, we just don’t. So right now because we have a full-time nanny working for us, we decided to go on a date. We made it a lunch date since it’s easier when we already have someone watching the children (and they’re at a camp this week anyway). I was trying to think back and remember when the last time we went on a real date was, and I think it was last year around this time!

We went to Taste of Edmonton – a festival (Edmonton, for those of you unfamiliar with the great north, is known as a festival city – there is at least one festival every single weekend from May to September). Taste of Edmonton has 40+ restaurants partake. Each restaurant has its own booth and they offer 2 items from their restaurant. It’s to give you a “taste” of restaurants within Edmonton and is a great way to explore new foods! We’ve been going for a number of years and this year I noticed the labelling to be even better!

The menu (which can be found here for this year) has labels for Vegetarian, Seafood, Nuts and Celiac Approved. While this obviously doesn’t encompass the whole list of common allergens, this is a huge start! Each of the booths also had the labels clearly displayed. There were a couple of errors on the menu when it was printed, but even those are listed in corrections on the menu page, and they are labelled correctly at the booths.

Now, this is the first year I’ve gone as a mostly-vegetarian consumer. While the festival has a number of options for celiacs, and a number of options for vegetarians, there were extremely limited options for vegetarian celiacs. So I ate meat in one of my 3 dishes I had – not ideal, and if I ever went full vegetarian or vegan, this festival certainly wouldn’t be an option for me.

Let me introduce you to the food we consumed.

First we went to 3 Amigos booth where they had 2 kinds of Celiac Approved food – the burrito and the taco. I opted for the burrito. Because I didn’t want it spicy, there was no sauce on it. It had good flavour, but was kind of boring in the end. I kind of which I asked for the sauce just for that moisture factor.

Burrito Norteno and Rice

The festival encompasses Churchill Square downtown. On top of the 40 booths, there are also food trucks, ice cream stops, and lemonade stands.

Taste of Edmonton

My husband of 8 years and I! Come fall, we’re going to make this date thing a more regular occurrence!

Date!

Although the chicken tikka wasn’t Celiac Approved (or vegetarian) I loved how it looked while it was cooking! All the fresh veg around the outside and the meat on the inside. When they’d need to fry up more vegetables, they’d grab a bit from the circle. Chef Husband ate the chicken tikka (with garlic naan) and said it was wonderful! (From New Asian Village)

Cooking Chicken Tikka

Chef Husband opted for all the non-celiac approved items. It’s rare he gets to eat wheat so he decided to go for it! (And I full encouraged it!) These are whiskey and dark chocolate ribs. He wasn’t overly fond of them. He said that you couldn’t really taste the flavours that much and he would have liked it stronger. Plus, his piece was quite fatty.

Whiskey and Chocolate Ribs

Guru restaurant is one of my favourites in the city. Their chef is phenomenal, and they are extremely knowledgeable about their product! They make me feel very comfortable eating there and we’ve gone a few times. Their potato bhadji was my winner! Vegan and Celiac Approved! The tamarind sauce was to die for and I consumed these much faster than I thought I would. The flavour was mind blowing! Next time we go, I’m definitely ordering these.

Potato Bhadji with Tamarind Sauce

I didn’t take pictures of our desserts but Chef had tiramisu at my request.. it was a toss up between that and canoles, both of which I miss eating. Must make them at home! I had chocolate peanut butter truffles. They were super good but really rich! It came with 3 but I could only eat 2.

All in all, Taste of Edmonton was a success. On top of having some good food, we got to spend a whole hour together wandering around! That in and of itself made the outing worth it!

Why Can’t We be Friends?

“You’re being judgemental”

“Don’t judge me”

“There’s so much pressure”

And on and on and on.

What kind of world do we live in? These days, we live in a world where we’re never good enough; where no matter what we strive to become we’re always expected to want more, do more, be more. Can we ever get to a point where we’re okay with who we are? Should we get to that point?

We live in North America, where there is so much opportunity – so much ability to learn just by being alive. We don’t need to go to school to learn about life – we need to live. But we never give ourselves the time or the right to just be.

We’re killing ourselves.

In the last month we’ve had:
1 – Toronto Eaton Centre shooting.
2 – Edmonton G4S shooting where a man shot his coworkers. All but 1 died.
3 – Toronto again – block party shooting that left 2 dead.
4 – Aurora, Colorado shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured.

In each of these tragedies, people were in a place where they felt safe. In the Edmonton shooting, all of the victims were armed. But who expects someone they trust to turn on them?

I could go on and on about gun control, and the need for stiffer sentences, but I’m going to be honest – despite my repulsion by weapons, I don’t think that a stiffer law would stop these occurrences. Ultimately, I think we need to look to the world as a whole to solve these problems. Because right now, the world is on edge. Does anyone else feel it? We’re all edgier than we’ve been in a long time. And yet instead of turning to the next person, asking how they are and giving them a much needed smile, we judge.

Judgement hurts. Judgement that is constantly felt leaves us feeling worthless or never good enough. Judgement causes depression, anxiety, and the need to run ourselves into the ground. Judgement doesn’t make us better people – it makes us want to be people we’re not.

I worry about the world. I worry that if we continue to put this pressure on ourselves that at some point, we’ll burst under that pressure. Look at all the press that motherhood has been getting over the last decade. Mothers are just one small section of the world and yet, if they keep getting this pressure and reach the boiling point, what does this tell the next generation that we raising?

Instead of judging, how about we try to just accept people for who they are. Accept that they are amazing inside and out and that if we support them, they will blossom more than if we push them to the brink. How about instead of slamming/flaming/attacking people on facebook/twitter/etc, we try to say things nicely. Remember the phrase “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” What are we teaching our children people? We teach them that bullying is not okay, and yet when you attack someone else’s opinion, aren’t you engaging in a form of bullying?

Stop.

Think.

Then act. With love. And from a place of respect. You don’t need to agree, but that doesn’t give you the right to be disgrace another.

Smile at your neighbour. You never know what they might be going through.

We need to stop. We need to stop judging, we need to stop expecting.

We need to start being.

We can do this.

Successful Vegan Fail

Say what? How can a vegan success be a failure?

I’ll tell you.

You see, I want to be a more conscious eater. I’m not going full vegetarian or vegan, but I’d like to cut my meat and animal consumption back significantly. Ideally I’d like to eat meat 2-3 times a week. I’ve been reading a lot about healthy eating and as my darling friend, Runner Girl, put it yesterday, her and I probably eat a lot better than most people out there. Despite our differences in what we are able to eat (she can eat anything, I’m restricted), at least 4 times a week we text back and forth about what we’re eating. Full ingredient lists are disclosed. Drooling has ensued. And ultimately, I think we make each other better cooks. Runner Girl inspired me to buy siwss chard. I helped inspire her when her and my brother went gluten free for a time. It’s a mutually beneficial food exchange. We live 2000km (1250 miles) apart, and yet I talk about food with her more than anyone else.

So both of us have decided to go more conscientious. We’re reading books, doing research, and putting into our bodies what our bodies NEED as opposed to what they want (because I’m not going to lie, my body wants a LOT of Doritos).

Last night I decided I was going to make stuffed peppers for the first time ever. I can’t even remember ever eating a stuffed pepper. I also decided I was going to make it vegan. I’d eaten meat at lunch, and I’m limiting myself to one meat consumption per day right now (I was a 2-3 time a day meat eater previously).

So I got out all my ingredients.

*red peppers
*carrots
*onions
*celery
*quinoa
*swiss chard
*broth
*black beans

I diced the carrots, onions and celery (if you don’t own a Pampered Chef Food Chopper, you should get one. They save so much time! And they are also a really good stress reliever as you slam down to chop those veg..).

I tossed some olive oil into a big pan and fried up the chopped vegetables. I added the swiss chard (about a cup chopped) and let it cook for about 2-3 minutes. Also add a can of black beans, drained and rinse. Then, add about 1/2 cup of dry quinoa. A lot of people will cook their quinoa first and then add it. I prefer to add it dry and cook it all together. It really makes the quinoa absorb so much more flavour.

Add 1 cup of  broth to start and make sure that the quinoa is at least touch ing the broth. Turn to low (or 2-3) and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Then check it. If the quinoa is still teeny and most the broth is gone, add a bit more. Overall you want to let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

Cut your peppers. You can either cut the tops off and clean them out, or you can do like I did and cut them in half and clean them out. I tried to stand my peppers up before I cut them and they fell over. The were some seriously weird shaped peppers. Anyway, I cut them in half and shoved in as much of the stuffing as I could. Then I threw on a big heap of salsa, put them in a baking dish, added a bit of water on the bottom (to help the peppers cook through steam and also make sure they didn’t get burnt or wilty), and tossed them in the oven at 375 for about 25-30 minutes.

When I took them out I was hesitant. I’ve never really even wanted to taste a stuffed pepper. But these? WOW! They were AMAZING!! (Hence the Successful part). They were moist and flavourful and downright outstanding. Chef Husband even loved them despite their lack of meat. We each at a full pepper, and I have almost 2 cups of stuffing left which I fully plan on consuming part of for lunch.

So where’s the fail you ask? Well, when I went to return the leftover ingredients to the fridge I looked at the stock. The giant words “CHICKEN stock” glared back at me. Chicken stock. In my first vegan dish. Sigh.

Well, you live and learn right?

Finished, delicious stuffed red peppers.

But where have I been?

I’ve been away for a while it seems. There are several reasons for this and in the interest in remaining true to myself by not pretending to be someone I’m not while blogging I will let you know why (one of my biggest issues with the blog world is that we can portray ourselves to be amazing cooks, moms, yogis, leaders, people, when really, we’re imperfect and have complete control of what we can write and how people will perceive us).

1. I think it’s extremely important for me to writen when *I* want to write. I’ve learned over the last 4 months that when I do something because I feel like I should or that other people want me to I lose interest really quickly. I blog in part for the readers out there, so that I may share some of the things that I have learned along the (very bumpy, ever evolving) path of parenting 2 celiac and allergic children, but I also blog for me. Blogging allows me to have a creative outlet. I need creativity and for now, I need to have a lot of control over that creativity. Blogging gives me that.

2. I’m very intraspective right now. I’m trying to heal (see point #3) and in order for me to do that, I spend a lot of time inside my own head and body trying to make everything work the way it should. I spend a lot of time doing yoga, both in a studio and at home. I spend a lot of time agonizing about what to eat and when (I’m often not hungry). And I spend a lot a lot a lot of time resting and sleeping.

3. I’m extremely anxious right now. I’ve suffered through various degrees of mental illness for years (realistically, since childhood), and right now I’ve got an anxiety bump in the road. Lots of panic attacks, mostly mild in nature, lots of heart palpitations (I have a heart arhythmia), and lots of not fun times.

I normally wouldn’t blog about such a personal matter, which is why I haven’t blogged in a long time. But realistically, I know that I’m not alone – lots of you out there suffer from anxiety, whether it be post-partum, every day, situational, etc. And yet, even with anxiety, many of us still maintain some semblance of day to day living. We still need to provide for our families, or ourselves, whether it be through food, hugs, working, or anything in between. I still put my children to bed each night and cuddle them in close. I still make sure they are well fed within the limits of their diets (and make them try new foods whenever I can). I still get out of bed each day and 98% of the time I get out of my pyjamas too.

Each day is a new one, and I’m learning to embrace that. I’m learning that regardless of our restrictions, we are still amazing people who do amazing things. While getting out the door for a yoga class is about as much as I can do right now, others of you get out of bed and go to work every day, or work to a greater goal. Each day should be celebrated – it’s the last time you’ll have that one day in particular.

So go ahead, whatever might be troubling you today, be thankful for today. Embrace today. And know that tomorrow is always a new day.