Monday, February 29, 2016

Easy Chia Pineapple Delight

This is easy and quick to prepare and so very delicious.  No cooking involved.  The list of ingredients are short and readily available.  The combination of pineapple with maple syrup within the pudding and on top with toasted coconuts and that cherry makes this irresistible.  You are in control of the sweetness and the amount of ingredients according to your needs.  This is plant based and healthy for you.

Easy Chia Pineapple Delight

2-4 servings
  • 1 cup non dairy milk, unsweetened
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened crushed pineapple, drained plus 1 tbsp more for topping
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup or according to taste
  • 1-2 tsp sweetened coconut flakes
  • 2-4 maraschino cherries
Mix all the ingredients except the coconut flakes and cherries in a blender or you can mix them with a fork.  Serve with more crushed pineapple, coconut flakes and maraschino cherry as toppings.  Enjoy.  

Everybody Should Take Chemistry

Everybody should take chemistry
Though how miserable you get to be
Balancing chemical equations
Mixing all those potions
Memorizing elements and their symbols
Understanding atomic numbers in the periodic table
Ingesting it is the central science
Which makes sense
It is the study of matter and everything it has on
Atoms, molecules, electrons, neutrons, protons
It is a science so powerful
It can create both the good and the awful
Studying it gives you the background
To make decisions that are sound
You will learn to differentiate in the news and in your life
Between truth and hype
About everything around you
Even the ones working inside you
What affects the earth or not
What is good for you or you will get fat
Not to be conned and confused
By some of the hocus bogus
Everything will make more sense
And you will find some are nonsense
Things that you learned and sometimes made you confused
Its foundation now you can use
Having learned chemistry
Will give you liberty
To ask and not just swallow
What is presented to you to follow.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Room For Another One

I wondered if my heart would have room
For this second grandchild, a boy, that was coming soon
After all I was totally enthralled
With the first one a granddaughter I so loved
Then my daughter's last trimester arrived
Vision of a grandson in my thoughts came alive
I noticed the excitement that I did not expect
Since I thought one was just perfect
Two would be a crowd
No way my heart would have that allowed
But I was so wrong
The feelings for another was just as strong
And when yesterday he arrived
My happiness was on overdrive
How huge my heart was came as a surprise
It had room for more than something "sweet and spice"
That there also was space in it for "snips and snails
And puppy dog tails"
I am so grateful
My heart is so full.
I am delighted
I am excited.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Paradox of Solitude

In solitude
I find myself
Who I am
Why am I here
Only that I am not alone
The others
And everything
Have meaning.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Chocolate Coffee Chia Pudding

This pudding can provide you with the necessary nutrients to start your day for breakfast.  It has minerals, vitamins and antioxidants derived from its various components including the power food chia seeds.  It also has coffee and cocoa which will definitely wake you up early in the morning with their caffeine content.  It can also be served as an elegant dessert for your next dinner topped with fruit or nuts.  If you use decaffeinated coffee, this is also wonderful and healthy after school snack for your kids.  It is simple to prepare and comes together quickly with ingredients right from your fridge or pantry.  No cooking is required.

Chocolate Coffee Chia Pudding

4 servings
  • 1 cup non dairy milk (I used cashew milk)
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 4 dried apricots, sliced
Place all the ingredients except the apricots in a blender (I used a Vitamix) until they are thoroughly mixed. Transfer the pudding into four containers. Garnish with apricot slices.  Enjoy.

High School Reunions

Preparing for high school reunions
To some is painful like feet bunions
Some are afraid how much they have changed
Dieting to death to lose the pounds they have gained
They wish all those wrinkles and lines could be erased
And those bulging bellies and balding spots replaced
Alas the time to meet old classmates is closer than ever
And panic takes over
Then reality sets in
What in the world am I doing
This is not what reunions are for
You should enter the reunion venue door
With pride and not anxiety
You are seeing, being and rejoicing with everybody
However you are now with them you should celebrate
You earned those wrinkles and weight
You lived life your way
And so did they
Just reminisce of days long ago
When you were young and much in life did not know
The moments are precious and life is short
Find strength in the camaraderie and support
It is worth celebrating with old classmates
What was tendered to each of you by fate
You all survived living all these years
And to that one grateful Cheers!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Asian Pineapple Cashew Salad with Oven Fried Quinoa

I always wondered how I could crisp quinoa for a salad without using oil to adhere to my plant based approach to eating.  As I was browsing Oh My Veggies, I spotted a recipe for Baked Fried Brown Rice.  I decided to try their approach to "frying" using the oven in crisping the quinoa of my dreams.  I used a shorter baking time, 25 minutes versus almost an hour in their case.  I really love the resulting Asian flavored quinoa. It was crispy and oh so tasty.  I almost devoured the whole batch I made before I could use it for a salad.

I used 1/4 of the prepared oven fried quinoa per serving.  I am using it more like a topping rather than a stand alone side dish in this recipe but you can.  I also added crushed pineapple to the salad to enhance the Asian twist to the salad.  The cashews and sliced radishes add crunchiness enhancing the taste and texture of the salad as you eat it.  For the dressing, I used the pineapple juice from the drained crushed pineapple in combination with rice wine vinegar and a little sugar, salt and pepper.  This dressing is a keeper and can be used for your other salads.  The salad itself you will devour like I did and you might just have to prepare more.

Asian Pineapple Cashew Salad with Oven Fried Quinoa

4 servings
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 stalk green onions, sliced and the white and green parts separated
  • 2 tbsp cashew
  • 1/4 cup sliced radishes
  • 1 bag salad greens
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained but save juice for dressing
  • 1/4 cup crushed pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar or to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a pan with aluminum foil and spray with non cooking spray.

Preparing the oven fried quinoa.  Add the white part of the green onions to the quinoa.  Add the soy sauce to the mixture and mix with a fork.  Add to the prepared pan and bake at the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Preparing the dressing.  Mix the pineapple juice, rice wine vinegar and sugar in a small dish.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Preparing the salad.  Place the salad greens in a bowl and top with the oven fried quinoa, cashew, radishes, the green part of the green onions and crushed pineapple.  Douse with the prepared dressing before eating.  Enjoy.  

Maddie and Her Puppie

This is Puppie.  Note she is so worn out her nose is gone.  

Maddie and Her Puppie

Maddie has a puppie
But it is not real
It is a big eyed toy she named Puppie
To her she is the real deal
She loves her
And will not let go of her ever.

Inseparable they are
Maddie has to have her in the car
On the table while she eats
With her as she crosses the street
She even shares with her Puppie
Her milk and cookie
Gives her kisses and hugs her tight
Before she sleeps at night.

When Maddie sometimes loses her Puppie
We all have to find her in a hurry
Maddie gets real sad
And feels really bad
Maddie is so lost
Without the Puppie she loves most.
We have looked for Puppie
At home in all nooks and crannies
In her car seat we looked to see
And on the floor of my car that was so messy
We have checked the library toy bins
Or the church pew we sat in
One time I went crazy looking for lost Puppie all over town
Only for my hubby to find her in the office garbage can I own.
How it got there is still a mystery
Perhaps I threw her with the other stuff accidentally.

We bought exactly the same toy to do the trick
So we do not end up looking for lost Puppie till we're sick
Puppie is now old and so worn out
Her nose we do not know its whereabouts
But somehow it is always the old one I give her
To Maddie it might not matter
But to me it does to give her this
The Puppie she had always missed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Am I Not Enough?

Am I not enough?
So I ask
Was my dying for you
Not touched you?
My rising from the dead
Not impressed you?
And was my coming to earth and being like you
Just confused you?
What do you want from me?

I will let you figure it out
What I am all about
How, when and what
Remains to be seen
I can wait
I own eternity.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sweet Potato Gnocchi Soup (Plant Based)

Gnocchi is one of the very much loved Italian soups.  The challenge for me is to come up with a plant based version that can compete with the chicken potato gnocchi served at Olive Garden. When I was a carnivore that was the soup I order first when I went for the endless soup and salad choice in the menu offered by this restaurant.  It was thick, gooey, delicious and full of flavor.  I know I have to make up for the flavor of the chicken by using the proper vegetables and a good combination of spices. 

I had no problem with the gnocchi.  At Aldis Grocery store, they sell Specially Selected brand gnocchis.  I decided to use the sweet potato one.  The store bought gnocchi was competitive with the homemade ones at Olive Garden. The combination of milk and cornstarch mimicked the gooey rich texture of the original.  The vegetable broth with the celery, carrots and spinach helped in enhancing the flavor of the soup. With a little bit of this spice and that, I feel I hit on a combination that is satisfactory to my palate.  Here is the recipe of this hearty and delicious soup.  

 Sweet Potato Gnocchi Soup (Plant Based)

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 32 oz vegetable broth
  • 4 cups non dairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch stirred in 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp each dry thyme. dry parsley, dry basil and dry oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 16 oz sweet potato gnocchi
In a pot add the onion, celery, garlic and 2 tbsp water.  Allow the mixture to boil till the onions are translucent.  Add the broth, non dairy milk, cornstarch suspended in the water, salt, pepper, the dry spices, garlic powder and nutmeg if using to the mixture.  Allow the mixture to boil till it gets thick.  Add the shredded carrot, spinach and gnocchi to the boiling mixture and allow to boil gently for more 8 minutes. Serve with crusty bread and you will be in heaven.

I Love All This Free Time

I love all this free time
No more meeting the deadlines
I can sleep till late
No more driving through bad weather which I hate
I have time to smell the roses
Even planting them is now one of my choices
I now feel life's rhythm
Enjoying the simplest things
Relishing what every moment can offer
In it finding meaning that is deeper
Happy, sad, nice, or awful
Any experience I am grateful
Now I have time to reflect and to feel more
Everything I care to explore
A time for everything even being bored
For the time I have I am now its lord.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Spinach and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Citrus Dressing

I like butternut squash for two reasons, oh make it three.  It is delicious, nutritious and I do not have to store it in the refrigerator.  It keeps for weeks on my kitchen table without me worrying if it will rot.  I can microwave, boil or roast them in the oven.  Not a prima donna of a vegetable this butternut squash.  

Not only are they convenient to have and prepare, butternut squash has many poly-phenolic antioxidants and vitamins.  It has more vitamin A than that found in a pumpkin.  It is rich in B-complex of vitamins like folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-2, thiamine and pantothenic acid.  Knowing this makes me buy this squash every time I go to Aldis Grocery store where they cost less than 2 dollars each.  

 For this salad, I decided to roast the neck of the squash and used the main body for another dish.  This part of the squash is easy to peel and has no seeds at all.  I actually used the Turkish spice rub I posted previously in a past post to flavor the squash and roasted it in the oven even without any oil to adhere to my plant based approach to eating.  I used the roasted butternut squash for my spinach salad which I doused with a plant based citrus dressing.  With walnuts, cranberries and red onions, the resulting salad was very satisfying in itself.  It is equally good in complementing the grilled salmon we had that night as a side salad.

Spinach and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Citrus Dressing

4 servings

Roasted Butternut Squash  

  • the neck part of the butternut squash, peeled, cut in half and then to pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp Turkish Spice Rub (optional)
Citrus Dressing
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp chopped dry thyme leaves
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

  • 1 small bag of spinach, prewashed
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • Roasted Butternut Squash
    To roast the butternut squash.  Place salt and pepper on both sides of the butternut slices.  Then sprinkle on both sides of the butternut slices the Turkish Spice Rub if using.  Roast in a preheated 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes.

    To prepare the citrus dressing.  Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a small jar with a lid.  Shake with the lid on till the mixture is thoroughly mixed.

    To assemble the salad.  Place a bed of spinach on the plate top with the red onion slices, walnuts, dried cranberries and roasted butternut squash.  Douse the citrus dressing over the salad when ready to eat it.  Enjoy!


    My Friend Carol

    My late friend Carol
    Led a life that was incredible
    She was dealt with a debilitating disease
    Called multiple sclerosis
    She was never bitter
    Though almost immobile in a wheelchair
    She could not walk
    But she could talk
    Her mind was sharp as a knife
    She discussed current events and everything in life
    She could still move her fingers
    To click the TV remote so she could watch the Steelers
    She was a diehard fan
    Well in Pittsburgh so is everyone
    An autographed picture of wide receiver Hines Ward
    In her room was prominently displayed
    Her friends loved to visit her
    One even made her life better
    A contraption he made
    So when alone at night in bed
    She could with certain turns of her head
    She could answer the phone
    And turn the TV off and on
    At night that was her routine
    A piece of candy including
    She could swallow and loves eating
    I even saw her grocery shopping
    Her friends took her out
    Access service got her out and about
    One time her caregiver pushed her in her wheelchair
    From her house to nearby Parkway Tavern where we had dinner
    When I visited her she never complained
    But instead asked about my family and how I am
    Her focus was towards others not herself
    Though her life was the one that was rough
    When she finally went to that better place
    In our hearts was left an empty space
    That would be filled with memories
    Oh her indomitable spirit and her heart so unselfish
    And so I write to you all
    Of my friend Carol
    Who was unforgettable
    Who was tough when the going was rough
    Never stopped living fully till she dropped.

    Saturday, February 20, 2016

    Grilled Tofu with Turkish Spice Rub Over Quinoa

    I did the happy dance once I tasted this Grilled Tofu with Turkish Spice Rub.  I was so thrilled to find another way to make the taste of tofu satisfying with that stick in your ribs kind you get with a steak.  Over quinoa and a side salad with greens and orange doused with just lemon and salt this feeling goes for me to the sublime. The whole package makes it a filling delicious meal.

    The Turkish Spice Rub is easy to prepare with ingredients readily available in your arsenal of dry spices. You can double or triple the recipe so you have this rub ready for your chicken, steak, salmon or even your vegetables as you roast them.  It has a personality of its own that make it distinct from other ethnic rubs like the Indian garam massala or Mexican Taco blend.  It does give that kick that you want to awaken your tongue with but not too overpowering that will make your picky eaters in the family like my husband for example complain of the dish being too hot.  Subtle with a gentle kick is how I will describe it.  

    I pan fried the tofu with the rub without any oil at all and it worked.  I am plant based so I avoid even plant oil if possible.  As for the dressing, I just used lemon with salt and pepper to again fulfill the plant based approach but you can use your own dressing.  The addition of orange slices complements the spiciness of the tofu.  You can serve this over quinoa or brown rice with a sprinkling of green onion slices.  For your next meal even with your family with carnivores among them, this is a satisfying, delicious and oh so beautiful alternative.   

    Grilled Tofu with Turkish Spice Rub Over Quinoa

    4 Servings
    • 1 block (16 oz) firm tofu, pressed out between paper towels and sliced into 8 rectangular slices
    • Salt and pepper
    • 2 tsp or more Turkish Spice Rub (recipe below)
    • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
    • one stalk, green onions
    • juice of 1/2 lemon
    • 1 small bag salad greens
    • 1 orange, peeled and sliced to bite sized pieces
    Add salt and pepper to both sides of the tofu.  Add enough spice rub on each side of the tofu slices and spread it out uniformly throughout.  Place the tofu slices on a non stick saute pan that had been heated at medium heat and grill till you can lift the tofu without the rub coating being peeled off.  Turn the tofu and grill the other side.

    Place the tofu slices over cooked quinoa that had been drizzled with some lemon juice, salt and pepper and topped with green onion slices.  Serve with side of salad greens and orange slices doused with lemon and salt and pepper.

    Turkish Spice Rub 

    Yields approximately 1 tablespoon
    • 1 tsp cumin powder
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp chili powder
    • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    Mix all the ingredients in a small container with cover and shake with cover on.  

    I Really Have Enough

    I really have enough
    Listing them is actually tough
    All I need to have to live
    To grow in many ways and thrive
    I have a roof over my head
    A comfortable bed with no bugs
    Pillows to rest my head and to hug
    In the fridge and pantry are aplenty
    Foods both good and bad for me
    I have clean running water to drink
    To wash dishes in the sink
    To bathe myself with till I am clean
    To brush my teeth with till they gleam
    To flush the toilets
    To water the african violets.
    Clothes fill my closet and drawers
    Shoes to wear are everywhere
    I also have socks
    I have coats on my back
    I have electricity to light my home
    Run the TV, fridge, computer and phone
    Gas for my stove and to heat the house
    For hot water for me to get bathed and washed
    I have a car that runs
    So I can go out for errands and fun
    I have a gym to go to and exercise on some days
    A church where I can worship and pray
    I can dance and walk
    I can chew and talk
    I can hear the door bell
    The aroma of food I can smell
    I can taste and have appetite
    I can see, I have my eyesight
    I have my husband and my whole family
    God has been good and generous to me
    I really have enough to live
    Even more that I can share and give
    I should be content
    And not to lament
    That I could not harbor
    What could be more and more
    Get over that fact
    Because enough is enough.

    Friday, February 19, 2016

    Failing Is Not A Crime

    Failing Is Not A Crime

    In my class I did not want anyone to fail
    They should be tough as nails
    As a teacher I was a control freak
    In my classes defeat and failure should not sneak
    You can do it, I preached
    As long as you work hard was my speech
    You will get all the help you need
    Use it should be your wise deed
    But alas it was not to be
    There were A's and there were D's
    To my chagrin there were F's
    I wanted to jump the cliff
    Until I realized
    Thanks to a friend* so wise
    Who told me the sad reality
    Allowing them to fail I should let it be
    It was part of nurturing
    It was key to true teaching.
    Through the years I happily discover
    They could be successful
    Because that was what they wanted to be
    It was not really about me
    Failing is not a crime.
    Good things take time.

    *This friend is the late Dr. John Woolcock of the Chemistry Department of Indiana University of Pennsylvania.   I consider him The Teacher.  One of the best and also a wonderful mentor.

    Thursday, February 18, 2016

    Easy Plant Based Filipino Pinakbet

    I follow my cravings and that was what I was doing when I cooked this plant based version of another iconic dish from the Philippines, Pinakbet. It is a vegetable dish to begin with using the ones you might have on hand but there are some that are customarily used like okra and bitter melon. I luckily found okra in the grocery store which I used with the eggplant.  I added the cabbage for more bulk and nutrition but I would have preferred to have used green beans which I did not have at hand.

    As much as possible I wanted the dish that I was preparing to match what I was craving. The vegetables I used were close to that criteria but I have the challenge to approximate the taste of bagoong, which is the heart of the dish.  It is made of either fish anchovies or shrimps that had been highly salted.  The shrimp variety are even sauteed in pork. Definitely not plant based.

    I decided to use the combination of soy sauce, almond butter and miso paste to mimic the characteristic saltiness that the bagoong imparts on ones palate.  I am happy to say it worked.

    We Filipinos like to undersalt our dish and use a condiment like fish sauce or more bagoong while eating the dish. That is what I did with this pinakbet but this time I used miso paste. I am happy to say my cravings for pinakbet have been satisfied with this plant version as I use this Filipino custom.

     Easy Plant Based Filipino Pinakbet

    • 1 eggplant, cut into 2 inch pieces
    • 1 large tomato, sliced
    • 1 large onion, sliced
    • 2 cups loosely packed okra
    • 1/2 head of cabbage, cut into chunks
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp almond butter
    • 1 tbsp miso paste (need more as condiment when eating)
    • 1/2 cup water
    Place all the ingredients in a pot and allow the mixture to boil with the pot cover on.  Allow to boil gently till the vegetables are all cooked. Serve with rice or quinoa with a side of more miso paste to incorporate as little dabs with every bite of pinakbet with rice. This mixture is blissful.

    Welcome A New Day

    Welcome A New Day

    A new day what do you have in store for me
    I wonder what they will be
    Along the way I know there will be surprises 
    I just hope some will be nice
    If some are not
    And even if they are a lot
    That is OK
    What can I say
    I got a gift of another day.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2016

    Are You Listening?

    These two pictures were shared by three young persons who I met while dining at a restaurant.  They were on their way back to Boston from Baltimore where they joined the demonstration.  

    Are You Listening?

    Are you listening?
    Is it with your mind
    Which can be blind
    Is it open or is it shut
    Where is your heart
    That can make us feel the hurt
    That creates between us so much space
    And so much menace
    Can you feel the pain intertwined
    In the message between the lines
    Is your call for justice and the law
    Tempered by mercy for the hearts to thaw
    Are you longing 
    In your listening
    To hear their side with your mind and heart
    Are you willing to feel their hurt
    The message between the lines
    That did not exist in our minds
    That we did not hear and see 
    You and me
    Our hearts were so deaf and blind
    We did not care to mind.

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

    Chia Banana Coffee Smoothie

    I wanted dessert after my lunch today.  I gave up chocolate for lent and I wanted something close to it.  I played around with the recipe of Chia Coffee Cardamon Bliss I posted in the past.  I decided to add cinnamon and frozen banana and made the brewed coffee as much as the nondairy milk.  The coffee is now taking a main role thus it is darker than the original recipe.  For me this is good.  My eye is tricking me I am having chocolate.  But really you will not miss the chocolate at all.  The result was so amazing I had to share it with you.  Go make this.  It will make your day especially if you are chocolate deprived.  

    Chia Banana Coffee Smoothie

    2 servings
    • 1 cup brewed coffee (Note 1)
    • 1 cup unsweetened cashew milk
    • 2 tbsp chia seeds
    • 1 tsp cinnamon 
    • 1/8 tsp cardamon
    • 1 frozen ripe banana (Note 2)
    Place all the ingredients in the blender and pulse till the frozen banana is cut into pieces and then switch to the blend mode till the mixture turns thick in consistency.  You can eat this immediately or you can refrigerate for later.  Believe would be just slurp this right away.  Enjoy!

    1.  I used a cup of single serve coffee decaffeinated.

    2.  If your banana is not that sweet you can add maple syrup to sweeten the smoothie.  

    Tomato Pesto Avocado Toast

    If you have a good loaf of whole wheat bread, anything will taste good on it. Actually even air.  It can go naked.  I buy my whole wheat bread from Aldis where they sometimes cost less than a dollar but even if not on special they only cost less than a dollar fifty.  If you are running out of ideas of what plant based sandwich you can have for lunch then you have come to the right place.  This is easy and delicious.

    If you spread a homemade tomato pesto on it using the recipe I have in a past blogpost or one you can purchase at Aldis the whole wheat bread can be easily your lunch with a good cup of vegetable soup.  Since I discovered how good Daiya non dairy cheese, this time I used cheddar, I like to splurge and use a sprinkling. I just saw Daiya cheese being sold at Giant Eagle Grocery Store less than what I paid at a specialty food store.  Check it out.  For a special treat, I topped my toast with sliced avocados which I have plenty of since my adorable Aldis was selling them for less than 70 cents a piece a week ago.  If you have cilantro do use it. It gives a special refreshing flavor to the whole package.

    I had this toast with Plant Based Corn Potato Chowder the recipe of which I posted in this blog or you can always pair it with any favorite soup of yours.

    Tomato Pesto Avocado Toast

    2 servings                                                              
    • 2 pieces of whole wheat bread
    • 4 tbsp tomato pesto (here is a home made recipe)
    • 2 tbsp Daiya non dairy cheddar cheese
    • 1 whole avocado sliced
    • 1 handful cilantro leaves.
    Spread the tomato pesto on the whole wheat bread. Top with Daiya cheddar cheese and toast till the cheese melts. Top with avocado slices and cilantro. Enjoy with your favorite cup of soup.

    Our Wounds Can Be Our Teacher

    I was given my first great blow in life when I lost a dream job in a company that was considered one of the best to work for nationally in the eighties. Of course I resorted to playing the blame game.  First focusing on other people then myself. I was losing confidence I will ever recover from what I consider a great defeat.

    Wisdom culled from two books helped me get through this utterly disappointing time in my life. Nothing can be more different from where I got these two sources. One was actually bought from the Goodwill Store. It was a paperback entitled Go For It by Dr. Irene C. Kassorla.  I referred to this book and its message on strength in vulnerability in a past blogpost when I was struggling with how strong or not I should be in fighting my small cancer.

    The other book that helped me tremendously to recover and find clarity over the loss of a job that I worked so hard to get and keep was entitled When Smart People Fail written by two women who suffered the same fate I did, Carol Hyatt and Linda Gotlieb.  My eye caught the book cover with its catchy title on its spine while I was at the Grandview Public Library in Missouri.

    This book contained many reflections and stories by other persons who have experienced failure and defeat. Some gave accounts of what they did during those times.  One that stuck in my mind was the story told by Billy Jean King one of the greatest tennis players in the world. Even though she had one of the best winning records among the women tennis players she had her share of defeat in her career. When she used to lose a game she would go back to her locker room and instead of beating herself for her mistakes she would recall the stroke she missed and actually practice how it should have been done. For her to fret would not help her. But learning from her mistake would.

    I recently read what another player said when asked in an interview what the best advice she had received, she just gave these two words "Next Game".  And that was what I did.  I had two more major jobs and one actually did not work out, again.  It took a third chance for me for things learned to finally sink in.  I am grateful that I never gave up but rather found strength from these two experiences of defeat and grew from them.

    Note:  The thoughts in the poster was adapted from the Daily Meditation provided by Richard Rohr and in turn he adapted his meditation entitled The Positive from the Negative from the book Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi, pages 101-106, 111-112.

    Whatever I Eat Turns Into Me

    Whatever I Eat Turns Into Me

    If whatever I eat turns to me
    Will I now be looking like a tree?
    For 5 months I have been plant based* 
    No meat, no fish, no dairy, and no eggs
    Was it the end of merry me
    Or is it more the beginning of me so healthy
    Would you believe with 80% complex carbohydrates
    Just 10 % protein and 10 % fat, my A1C** was the best yet
    For a long time diabetic to get 5.8 is a feat so great
    So happy this is working
    Though it takes a lot of chopping and planning 
    I eat whole wheat and grains
    Plenty of vegetables and leafy greens
    Not to worry for my protein
    I get from tofu, quinoa, beans and also from the greens
    And for my sources of good fat
    I get mine from seeds, avocado, coconut oil and nuts
    Fruits and plant based dessert to eat I am able
    And yes even chocolate since it is a vegetable!
    Of course in moderation all of these food goodies
    It is more than this and that which you skip
    It is what you put in, the antioxidants among them diseases they can lick
    And if you follow the 80 20 20 rule
    No need for counting calories for us fools
    Just do not mix other diets with this one
    I do cheat once in a while cuz I am human
    But no surprise there is a price to pay
    So keep it once in a while and not everyday
    I learned to concoct recipes that are flavorful and tasty
    While making me glowing and healthy
    What the heck
    If I do not eat steak
    If I eat do turns to me
    Oh gee, tee hee
    I would rather turn to a plant
    Than an animal like an elephant.

    *If you want to know more about the plant based approach to eating and living, check this book out, The Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living by Lindsay S. Nixon.

    **Here is a link explaining what A1C and its number means.

    Sunday, February 14, 2016

    What Is God Like To You

    I found out that how I pictured God made a lot of difference in my life. I summarized its impact on me in the poem below.

    How Is Your God Like

    I always had a hard time being happy
    Always forlorn and guilty
    Until I found out my image of God
    Was making me sick and sad
    I used to picture him as a Santa Claus
    Rewarding me with a bike
    If my actions he liked
    Dumping me on the side
    If my actions began to slide

    Through the years I found
    The God I pictured should not be that of that guy who is jolly and round
    But more like a good mother or a best friend
    Who loves me unconditionally to the end
    Whether I am good or bad
    Whether I make her proud or sad
    This God will be at my side
    Happy to rejoice or help me if I need a guide

    I no longer wake up scared
    Of the day ahead 
    That I will displease and get punished
    Or go to bed feeling admonished
    I now start the day not blue
    But confident my loving God will help me through
    Not abandon me when I fail and fall 
    But patiently pick me up and guide me to again stand tall
    At night I no longer feel rueful
    But feeling hopeful and grateful
    Because I change my God
    To one who loves me good or bad
    Who is at my side
    Come high or low tide.

    The Essence of Joy

    The Essence of Joy

    The half time show is what we care to see
    Aside from the cheesy commercials we watched with glee
    During the Super Bowl every year that is held
    To see the two champion teams go head to head
    But 2016 to me is the year
    I will hold to my heart so dear
    It is whence I with my granddaughter Maddie
    And even my daughter so preggie
    Jumped and danced with joy as Bruno Mars 
    Beyonce and Coldplay sang under the stars
    With all the energy they could give
    With such abandon and so alive
    That made two year old Maddie point to the TV screen and say "I want to be there"
    On the same stage in the great football field where they were
    In those happy moments dancing together I truly felt
    The essence of joy we all have met
    It was such a feeling so great
    That made the people in the world forget all their woes
    And that some of them were even foes.

    Saturday, February 13, 2016

    Will I Still Believe

    Will I Still Believe

    Will I still believe
    If Jesus did not die on the cross
    And free us from sin or we're forever lost?
    Will I still believe
    If Jesus did not rise from the dead
    To show us even death can be conquered?

    I know the crucifixion and resurrection are both essential
    For us to obtain life eternal
    But in Him I have become to believe more
    As His life as you and me I explore
    How human he was as he walked on the same ground with dirt
    Just like everyone on this earth.

    That He was born in swaddling clothes in a lowly manger
    Grew up and played like you and me as a toddler
    Even got His mother Mary upset and worried as a pre-teenager
    When at twelve years old he wandered
    In a Jerusalem temple and with older learned priests He bantered.

    I find it more impressive
    By the examples He was to give
    That he was like you and me 
    At the same time He was God almighty
    Who did miracles and taught things some did not understand
    Who to the poor, the sick and the sinners He was always at hand
    And to those astray gave mercy and forgiveness
    Not heartless judgement and meanness
    Who also got really mad at those in the temple selling
    Disappointed when His own disciples were doubting
    Who by the devil was tempted
    Whose commands He rejected 
    Oh was so sad at Gethsemane praying in the garden
    Of what He knew would be done
    Even more broken hearted while on the cross almost in vain 
    He pleaded to God the father to pass the pain.

    All the humanness he showed humanity
    Proved more to me His divinity.
    What is the use of a God that is so almighty
    If He had no wisdom and humility
    To show us all how to live
    By the examples as a man He could give?

    Oh King David

    Oh King David

    Oh King David
    With all you did
    You taught us poor mortals how to live
    Songs of praise to God you loved to give
    You wrote the 150 Psalms
    Even after you could have been damned
    For what you shamefully had done.

    You had trust
    And we also must
    In God's forgiving heart
    That we sometimes hurt
    With our misdeeds
    And our pride and greed.

    Whenever we fall and fail as you did
    You showed Oh King David
    We need to overcome the shame and guilt
    And to not ever be hopeless and quit
    But from God to ask for His mercy and forgiveness
    And not to stop to sing Him beautiful rhymes and phrases.

    Friday, February 12, 2016

    Dreidel from Homemade Edible Playdough

    I am not really a crafty person.  When you teach kindergarten CCD (religion) you almost have to take a leap of faith that you can be one.  In teaching children at this age level, you think of activities that will not only teach them the lesson but also engage them.  Hands on activities wherein they color or make something are appropriate for children this age who could not read or write yet.

    Last week, we were covering Jesus as a toddler and up to when he was 12 years old when he got lost in Jerusalem.  I wanted the students to realize Jesus was once a child like them who liked to play games. He grew up a Jew and I remember how dreidels are popularly played by Jewish children during Hannukah.  It is a game of chance.  The dreidel has four sides with a pointed end like a top. Instead of being circular in shape it has a square shape.  It has also a handle for the children to use to spin the dreidel.

    I had made edible homemade play dough for another planned activity so I decided to use it in making a dreidel.  I shaped the play dough like the dreidel  that I saw in the internet but instead of writing the usual Jewish symbols on the four sides I just wrote the numbers 0,1,2 and 3.   I wrote 0 on one side, 1 on the other, 2 on third side and 3 on the last side.  If the dreidel upon spinning shows zero (0), they get none of the three goodies that I brought.  If  number 1 shows, they get to choose one of the prize goodies, if  it is 2 they get 2 kinds and if they get 3 they get all 3 of them

    This way of playing the game that I have described is not the usual way the dreidel game is played which appeared to me more like gambling. In the traditional dreidel game, a pot of coins or candies are for play.  One symbol indicates you do not get the pot, another symbol you get the whole pot.  One other symbol indicates you put back what you just won and the last symbol you get half of it.

    When we played the dreidel I made at home in class, Rylie loved it.  So we made one in class using the microwave in the teacher's room.  I used Q tip for the handle.  It actually worked!  I asked her mom, Adrienne, how it went with the two dreidels (the one I made and the one Rylie made) that Rylie took home.  She said one has to spin it real fast so it will not fall on one side too soon.  Other than that it worked.

    Below is the recipe of the play dough and how I used it to make the dreidel.

    Dreidel from Homemade Edible Playdough

    • 1 cup flour
    • 1/2 cup salt
    • 1/2 tbsp cooking oil
    • 1/2 cup or more water
    Mix the flour and salt in a small bowl.  Add the cooking oil and water.  You can add more water to your preferred consistency.

    Take a small amount of the play dough and shape it to the dreidel shown below with four flat sides like a block but with a pointed end at the bottom.  

    Insert a Qtip into the flat top side of the dreidel.  You can remove the cotton on the Qtip if you like.

    Microwave the dreidel for 1 minute.  You will find that the dreidel might still be soft.  It will harden after a while so let it set.

    Using a marker write the numbers or symbols you like on the four sides.

    To use the dreidel,  which is heavier than the store bought one, you need to spin it real fast using the Qtip handle. 

    Taking a Different Worldview

    I wrote a poem illustrating the difference between being and having and doing.  I am hoping this perspective of emphasizing being will help the unrest and greed that permeates society today and also within ourself. Here is the poem.

    The Importance of Being

    When my life goes off tracked
    And I am out of whack
    There is something I am forgetting
    That in life what matters most is being
    Not having
    Not even doing.

    Having and doing leave one never satisfied
    You want more and more till you're tired
    Burned out and totally fried.
    Being is pacifying
    Joy giving.

    I have to remind myself when the rat race
    Is too fast paced
    To slow down and even stop
    To breathe and reflect
    We are not just mere objects.
    Awareness of the spirit within
    Is life giving
    Not the things 
    Or what success brings.

    Cauliflower with General Tso's Sauce

    If one goes to the Chinese buffets, one of the most popular dishes is General Tso's Chicken.  You can see this irresistible dish in almost all the overfilled plates. I have posted a Slow Cooker Healthier General Tso's Chicken recipe in this blog in the past.  I love its sweet and spicy taste and with that unmistakable kick in it that sets it apart from other sweet-spicy Chinese food.  Now that I am plant based I am still alive with all my cravings intact.  I decided to satisfy this yearning for this iconic Chinese dish by using cauliflower.  It is a hardy vegetable that I envisioned to be able to withstand being cooked in the sweet and spicy sauce and still retain its crunch.  I could have used tofu as this online website, the Minimalist Baker, has done but I just tofu-ed out for the week.  If this is eaten with quinoa instead of brown rice the protein requirement for the day can be met.

    I used a tangy sweet spicy sauce in my Slow Cooker Healthier General Tso's Chicken with orange marmalade and juice in it.  It was really good but I wanted to try another recipe.  In this recipe, I based it on the one in the Minimalist Baker.  I did tweak it including adding chili garlic sauce.

    Daphne Oz from the TV show The Chew has a recipe for General Tso's Cauliflower where she dredges first the cauliflower in rice flour cornstarch mixture with egg whites.  I did not have the motivation to go through that dredging step plus I want to stick to the plant based approach that refrains from using eggs.  So I decided to just cook the cauliflower florets with the sauce in the pan.  It is an easier procedure that even a burned out cook with no energy at the end of the day will be motivated to do.

    I was really impressed that the cauliflower held its crunch as I envisioned and the sauce went really well with the florets.  The consistency of the sauce is left for the cook to decide.  I prefer mine thinner so I can scoop it with the florets and pour it in my rice or quinoa.  If it is to be served as an appetizer a thicker consistency will be the preferred so the florets are coated with the sauce as people pick them up.  It is a flexible and very easy recipe as you can see and so like the real thing, baby.  You can use it as a main dish, side dish or even as an appetizer.  Yes, yes.  I had it for breakfast today, the indicator it is addictive and haunting.

    Cauliflower with General Tso's Sauce

    Adapted from the Minimalist Baker  
    4 Servings
    • 1 cauliflower head, cut into florets
    • 2 tsp sesame oil
    • 4 tbsp cornstarch
    • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
    • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • 1/2 -1 tsp chili garlic sauce 
    • 3 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1/2 cup water
    Mix all the ingredients except the cauliflower florets right in the saute pan.  Let it boil and then add the cauliflower florets.  Continue to boil gently the cauliflower in the sauce until it is cooked but still has that crunch.  You can boil off as much of the liquid as you want until you get the consistency of the sauce you want.  Do not overcook the cauliflower, however.  Serve topped with sliced green onions and over rice or quinoa.  Enjoy.  So good.

    The Importance of Being

    The Importance of Being

    When my life goes off tracked
    And I am out of whack
    There is something I am forgetting
    That in life what matters most is being
    Not having
    Not even doing.

    Having and doing leave one never satisfied
    You want more and more till you're tired
    Burned out and totally fried.

    Being is pacifying
    Joy giving.

    I have to remind myself when the rat race
    Is too fast paced
    To slow down and even stop
    To breathe and reflect
    We are not just mere objects.

    Awareness of the spirit within
    Is life giving
    Not the things 
    Or what success brings.

    Thursday, February 11, 2016

    My Plant Based Pizza with Stringy Mozzarrela, No Kidding

    I am happy to announce I am eating pizza again even though I am plant based.  I just could not eat one without cheese so I avoided pizza.  If not for the dairy free Daiya brand mozzarella cheese I would have just given up on eating pizza on this plant based approach of eating.  In the past on this diet I have sneaked in a small piece of the regular non plant based pizza with dairy cheese but I was not happy about it.  I wanted my own substantial serving of pizza I would not be guilty of.


    Dairy free Daiya mozzarella as the package claims is cheesy and stringy.  The taste is delicious and not the pasty kind you get from other brands.  I got mine at Mc Ginnis Specialty Food Store in Monroeville PA. It is a bit pricier than the regular mozzarella but definitely worth every penny for me.  They are so rich I just use less than what some would use of the regular version.

    I decided to make my pizza using ciabatta bread I got from Aldis Grocery Store.  I placed the store bought marinara sauce on top and just placed the Daiya mozzarella cheese, mushroom slices and sliced yellow pepper on top.  I then sprinkled garlic powder, dry oregano, basil and parsley on top.  The garlic powder gives the taste to me of the Parmesan cheese that one sprinkles on most pizza.

    This pizza works.  I am in pizza heaven.  As one T shirt I saw said, Life is Pizza and I got mine back. Thanks to Daiya cheese.

    My Plant Based Pizza with Stringy Mozzarrela, No Kidding

    1 serving
    • 1 Cibatta bread, split into two pieces
    • 2 tbsp Marinara sauce
    • 2 tbsp or more dairy free Daiya Mozzarella cheese
    • 1 small yellow pepper, sliced into four pieces
    • 2 large button mushrooms, sliced into 6 pieces
    • garlic powder to taste
    • dry oregano, basil and parsley to taste
    Spread the Cibatta bread with the marinara sauce.  Top with the cheese, yellow pepper and mushroom pieces.  Toast or bake in the toaster oven till the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted but not burnt (like mine).  Sprinkle garlic powder, and the dry spices to taste.  Enjoy!

    Lenten Fish Fry

    Lenten Fish Fry

    You have heard of how for lent for Catholics
    We have to give up things we like
    Be it chocolate or dessert 
    Favorite snacks we eat at night
    But people would never lie
    That they ever gave up the Friday fish fry
    They rather forget 
    The tons of cholesterol they will get
    As they eat the batter fried fish
    With their favorite side dish
    Be it deep fried spuds prepared by Fr. Tony
    The church ladies' butter sauteed haluski
    Cabbage slaw, mac and cheese so creamy
    Or the ubiquitous, delicious pirogies
    So on Lenten Fridays they could hardly wait
    With family and friends it is a date
    To eat at their Church's fish fry
    Or they will cry, and cry and just die.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016

    What If I Get To Be 70, 80 or Even 90

    What If I Get To Be 70, 80 Or 90

    I am in my sixties
    And I do wonder what it will be
    When I am in my seventies, eighties or nineties
    Will I be like seventy-ish Kay
    Who averages 14000 steps a day
    Or will I be at home to stay
    Or be out to the gym like Kay to play.
    When I am in my eighties
    Will I learn new crafts like Dorothy
    Making pop up cards and folded cut out trees
    Will I be like Win painting travel memories
    Or be like Rose who with her computer skills
    Do facebook, skype and send out emails
    Will I still be doing Zumba steps with pizzass
    Like Helen in my class
    Or will I be home like I inhaled ether and just be still
    Complaining that life has no more thrills.
    Will I be like the late dear Elma in her nineties
    Doing the exercise circuit at Curves while telling us stories
    Or will I just sit on my behind
    Bored out of my mind
    And what if I reach the hundreds
    Will I be like Val busy with the Garden Club she heads
    Who chooses at 101 "to live while she is alive
    And die only when she is dead"
    Or will I just dread
    My obituary that will be read.
    Whatever life brings at any age
    As I speak like Patricia the ageless sage
    It will be good and even better somehow
    If I emulate the attitude of these inspiring ladies to whom I bow.