Many different places, mostly in my mind!
Look for more posts to come – going to make this a more regular visiting spot.
As most know, the penny was officially retired as currency this week. Enterprising charities and not-for-profits have jumped on the chance to empty peoples’ pockets, drawers and jars of these coins. One such organization, which hits close to home for me in several ways, is Pawsitively Natural, which is collecting pennies (and anything else you’d like to donate) for PALS. PALS is a non-profit organization that provides pet therapy to people who would not ordinarily be able to benefit from such a service, such as seniors in long-term care facilities or terminally ill children in hospitals or care centres.
As most of you probably know, Miki and I volunteer with PALS since 2010. Not only do we visit a seniors’ home twice a month, but I also interview prospective volunteers, manage the social media strategy and am helping to redevelop the website and branding for the organization. Lesser known is that Miki also visits Pawsitively Natural Daycare and Training Academy once a week as a break to being home alone all day. She loves going and their staff is incredibly engaged. Eric and his team are experienced and full of energy, and I could recommend them as a daycare to anyone.
Want to donate your pennies to PALS?
- Visit Pawsitively Natural – 1313 16 Ave SW
- Drop your pennies in the jar!
Can’t get to Pawsitively Natural? Donations can also be made online through Paypal. Sure, it won’t help you get rid of your pennies, but it’ll still make you feel good – and you can get a tax receipt!
P.S. I think I’m one of the few who will actually miss the penny. I use my change – and, by that, I mean I enjoy throwing all my change down the chute on the self-checkout machines at Safeway every so often.
Matt and I discovered this recipe a while ago, probably close to a year. We’ve made it a few times since then and absolutely love it. The original was with pancetta but since I don’t eat red meat, we’ve always substituted turkey bacon with no issue.
My goal was to re-create this in my new dairy-free diet so that it was just as awesome. I succeeded.
Gnocchi with roasted cauliflower and turkey in balsamic sauce
Adapted from dansgoodside.com
Serves 4 – Cook time ~ 40 mins
2 1/2 cups cauliflower florets (loosely chopped)
1/2 cup turkey bacon (thinly sliced)
1/2 red onion (chopped)
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
1 tbsp dairy-free margarine or shortening
1 tbsp flour
2 cups rice milk
2 tbsp vegan cream cheese
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
2 tsp tomato paste
2 cups red swiss chard (chopped and blanched)
4 cups (500g package) cooked gnocchi (make sure it doesn’t contain lactic acid)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Place the first five ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Put the cauliflower mixture into a prepared baking dish and let bake in oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, give the dish a quick stir, turn heat to high broil, and let cook for another 10 minutes or until the cauliflower and bacon start to caramelize and crisp up. Remove from oven and set aside for now.
For the sauce, melt the margarine in a large pan on medium-high heat. Add in the flour and whisk to form a rue. Pour in the milk and cream cheese; whisk until smooth. Once the liquid begins to simmer and thicken, stir in the sun dried tomatoes and tomato paste. Reduce to medium heat and let cook for 10 minutes.
Now you can add the cauliflower/bacon mixture to the pan as well as the chard and cooked gnocchi. Toss a few times to coat everything in the sauce. Finally, add the balsamic vinegar and give the pan one last, solid toss.
It’s amazing how catering to one whim can change your perspective so ultimately.
A friend went to get a food sensitivity test done and came up with some surprises. I pondered it. I’d been feeling run down, lethargic, irritable. I caught any and every bug that made the rounds. My stomach was frequently upset.
My tests came back normal: no anemia, no thyroid issues. I have no allergies. Could it be my diet?
So, I trundled off to a naturopath for the first time. We discussed my medical history, my family, my current situation and issues. And then she brought out the IgG sensitivity test. I had to prick my finger and squeeze enough blood to saturate three little swabs. And we sent it off.
I’d never considered dairy. I mean, I love dairy. I drink the milk out of the bottom of my cereal bowl. Occasionally we’ll sit down for a dinner of crackers and three types of cheeses. Yogurt is one of my favourite snacks. My go-to protein is cottage cheese. I drink a grande or venti latte daily. Sometimes two.
Dairy is the worst.
Most of my tests came back negative. A few of the categories look alarming, like cranberries, baker’s yeast and whole wheat, but those fall under “very low” reaction and are nothing to really worry about.
Then, you get to dairy. Most people gasp at this point. I fall in the “high” or “very high” reactions. For. every. single. one. Even goat’s milk, which apparently most people aren’t sensitive to even if they’re reactive to cow’s milk. Even yogurt. And whey. And casein, which is used as a filler in so very many foods.
My body hates dairy.
What does this mean? It means that whenever I consume dairy, antibodies (used to identify foreign objects that are seen as threats to the body) attach themselves to the dairy antigen and create an antibody-antigen complex. Because dairy was a huge part of my daily life, my body was creating these complexes too quickly for them to be removed, causing them to be deposited into my tissues and creating inflammation throughout my body. It causes different symptoms, or none at all, in each person, so it’s almost impossible to diagnose.
A sensitivity is closer to an allergy than an intolerance. Since the real action happens in the blood and tissues, it’s not just a matter of upset digestive system. And a sensitivity this high was seriously disrupting my body. Hence why the suggestion of “Just take a Lactaid” doesn’t go over well with me nowadays.
What’s happened since I found out? Well, the first day I splurged on dairy, like so many dieters do before starting (or restarting) their eating plan. I had a latte, a grilled cheese sandwich and ice cream. I woke up the next morning feeling hungover, except I hadn’t had a drop to drink the night before.
Since then, I sleep better. My stomach is upset much less often. My headaches are almost all gone. I have more energy, it’s easier for me to wake up in the morning and I have a much better outlook on life.
I’m sure some of it is in my head, but I know most of it is due to my eliminating dairy from my diet. I won’t say I haven’t slipped. I’m averaging about a once-a-week “oops” right now. A lick of the spoon after dishing out ice cream to my family. Sneaking a chicken skewer from the office kitchen and finding out the hard way it was cooked in butter. Going to the food court for lunch and later regretting I didn’t ask what was in the sauce. My digestive system rebels, I get a wicked headache and my whole body feels like shutting down. I usually don’t sleep well that night. It’s incredible how much worse the symptoms are now when I slip up, but the naturopath warned of that too. Before, my body was in a perpetual state of inflammation; but now that I’m trying to eliminate it, even the smallest doses are a shock to my system.
It’s amazing how much better I feel. Now, I quite often think: “And I used to feel that awful ALL THE TIME.”
So, what’s the bottom line? I’m re-learning how to eat. I can tell you what foods are generally “safest” on restaurant menus, how almond and soy milks differ in lattes, what bagels I can eat at Tim Hortons, the fact that even dairy-free chocolates are quite often processed on equipment that also handles milk products, and how much I’m discovering I love coconut milk.
I’m going to start posting recipes on my blog of meals Matt & I decide are still awesome, even though they’re dairy-free. And eventually some tips for those who are just starting off, even though I’m still pretty new to this myself.
So, it’s been a while since the last update. Again.
I’d like to blame it on the usual: the ramp up to the zaniness that is Stampede, especially as a Caravan volunteer, putting in 50 hours of volunteering in eight days. And having a friend from Australia visit for three days during that period. Meaning I had to clean my house from top to bottom. And show her around even though I was dead on my feet and getting less than 5 hours of sleep a night.
And FolkFest, where I once again worked full days Thursday/Friday AND put in my 16 hours of volunteering throughout the four days of the festival. At least I spent more time this year enjoying the music & festivities. And parties.
And then the inevitable week where all I do is crawl home and spend the evenings sitting in the dark, watching TV, because I can’t fathom being on my feet or talking to people for another second.
That’s not to say I haven’t written a few blog posts in my absence. In fact, I wrote three!
In July, I wrote one for the Calgary Stampede on why I volunteer with the Caravan Committee.
In August, I wrote two blog posts for Calgary Culture – festival previews for:
So, I haven’t been totally under a rock. Just not under this one.
I’ll try to do better. Promise.