Happy Halloween! Do you have your costume ready? I’ve decided to be mega lame and re-use last year’s costume. I wore it at a party with a different crowd, so I think I can get away with it.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, tomorrow, after indulging in a few Halloween treats tonight, I’m going to be starting Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Lean 30 Day Meal Plan. To get myself organized, I’m going to be creating weekly shopping lists to go along with the meal plan. I’m going to share those shopping lists here on my blog to help out anyone else who is getting started with the program.
I’ve made modifications to the schedule to maximize the use of leftovers. I’ve basically reorganized it so that I’ll only need to be preparing meals every other day. As Kimberly says, her meal plan is meant to be a guide, which we are free to make our own. So my shopping list isn’t law either. There are lots of opportunities to further simplify. For instance, you can definitely buy fewer different types of greens or different types of onions to cut down your shopping list and maybe save a few bucks. I’m providing the meal plans in an easy-to-use MS Excel Workbook, so it’s really easy to modify to suit your needs.
Please note that this Shopping Guide doesn’t contain any of Kimberly’s recipes. You’ll need to purchase the 30 Day Meal Plan to get those. My shopping guide provides a day-by-day schedule along with the ingredients you’ll need on hand for each day, so you can make sure you have everything you need on hand. The Shopping Guide also includes a shopping list for the week. Most of Kimberly’s recipes provide 2-4 servings, and since there’s just two of us, I stuck fairly closely to those quantities, but make sure to consider your family size and modify the shopping list accordingly.
I’ll be updating this file with the shopping list for each week, so make sure to keep the link handy so that you can get the updated version. I’ll give you guys a reminder when the updates are available. I hope that you find this Shopping Guide useful as you get started with the Meal Plan.
To download, just enter your information in the form below to subscribe. You’ll receive an email requiring you to confirm your subscription, and then you’ll receive a link that will allow you to download the Week-by-Week Shopping Guide.
Please let me know if you run into any issues using this Shopping Guide, or if there’s anything that I should change for the upcoming weeks.
Happy shopping! And if you’re celebrating, have a wonderful and safe Halloween!
I’m excited to share that I’ve decided to follow Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Lean 30 Day Meal Plan for the month of November. This is a new product that Kimberly just recently launched which provides recipes for 30 days of properly combined, beauty-boosting, super nutritious and simple vegan meals.
November is going to be a big month for me. Mid-month I’ll be heading into surgery to complete my breast reconstruction. Recovery from this surgery is supposed to be much easier than the recovery from the prophylactic mastectomy, which I completed in March, so I’m hoping and praying all goes smoothly.
Also, November marks the 3-month lead up to another big medical event, which I haven’t yet shared with you all. In addition to the breast cancer risk associated with the BRCA1 genetic mutation, which I took care of with the prophylactic double mastectomy, I also am at a greatly increased risk of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is especially troubling for me, since that’s what my mom died of in 2009 at age 55.
BRCA1+ women are advised to undergo prophylactic oopherectomies, the removal of the ovaries, before the age of 35 when the risk of ovarian cancer really kicks in. I’m not going to be undergoing this surgery for a few years still, but in February I’m going to be freezing my eggs for later in vitro fertilization (IVF). There are a few reason that I have decided to do this:
BRCA1+ seems to also be associated with reduced fertility, so I might have trouble conceiving naturally;
We will screen out BRCA1+ eggs, so that I don’t pass on this genetic mutation;
If at anytime during all of this, I am diagnosed with ovarian cancer then I will be able to have my ovaries removed and still have children (once you have the eggs, you don’t need ovaries…just a uterus).
So, what does all of this have to do with Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Lean 30 Day Meal Plan? Well, I’m going to be following this meal plan to kick off 3 months of fertility-boosting eating. I’m doing this to give myself the best chances possible for the egg retrieval process that I will be undergoing in February. IVF is super expensive and it’s not an easy process, physically and mentally, so I don’t want to have to go through this more than once if possible. I’m aiming to have as many viable eggs as possible ready to go for retrieval in February. And of those, I want to have as many healthy, non-BRCA1+ eggs as possible. Now, we don’t know what role, if any, diet plays into the whole BRCA1 genetic mutation, but we do know that diet can have a HUGE effect on general fertility, so it definitely can’t hurt. I’m also hoping it will help speed along my recovery from my mid-November surgery.
I’ve chosen to kick things off with Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Lean 30 Day Meal Plan because it’s packed with fertility-boosting foods. Now, Kimberly hasn’t made any claims as to the effects of this meal plan on fertility, so I’ve chosen to go ahead and use it as a resource for this purpose all on my own.
By following the Glowing Lean 30 Day Meal Plan I’ll be avoiding a lot of the foods that have been associated with infertility or trouble conceiving: alcohol, caffeine, refined carbohydrates, and red meat. And I’ll be getting tons of the good stuff: iron rich leafy greens. nutrient dense plant-based meals, and healthy fats from coconut oil, avocado and nuts. Does this mean that I’m going to have lots (or any) viable and non-BRCA1+ eggs? Not necessarily, but I’m going to do what I can to increase my chances!
Halloween is only a couple days away and I’m caught without a costume, of course. Usually somewhere mid-summer, it occurs to me that I should come up with a costume, so that I’m not caught trying to pull something together at the very last minute. But, here we are. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, since I defaulted to wearing my witch costume nearly every single year when I was a kid. Same costume, the long black wig more matted each year. I think that streak was only broken by the intermittent ‘baby’ costume, which has always been a popular choice among us last-minuters. Pajamas, pigtails and a few eye-liner freckles is all it took.
I did ok last year, when inspired by polka-dot fabric, I went as a ladybug. I wrapped a Captain America shield with the fabric, wore all black, and picked up some sparky antennae. My favourite was when I was in undergrad and I went as Amelia Earhart. Everyone thought I was Swinger Girl from the Recess cartoon or Howard Hughes, since The Aviator had recently come out, but that was ok. I even had a real pilot’s cap and goggles.
But for this year, I have no clue. Maybe I’ll be a zombie ladybug. That’s a good way to get use out of your costumes, right? Zombie it up the following year?
October’s Beauty Detox assignment was to create our own version of Kimberly Snyder’s Sweet Potato Custard. By blending cooked sweet potato with tapioca, I was able to achieve that light and creamy texture of a traditional custard without any of the eggs or milk. This vegan sweet potato custard is sweetened with a touch of maple syrup and topped with whipped coconut cream (see recipe below).
Pretty much the only time I ever really eat custard is when it’s part of a prix fixe menu, so in my mind it’s a fancy dessert even though it really couldn’t be more simple. And this sweet potato custard isn’t any different. I kept it easy by baking the custard, which avoided having to stand over the stove stirring the tapioca.
Tapioca isn’t typically baked, but I decided to go ahead and bake this custard in a water bath just like a classic custard. Usually this method is used to prevent the egg from overcooking and curdling the custard, and while this recipe doesn’t contain any egg, I thought it might prevent the outside of the custard from cooking too quickly. I wanted to make sure that this sweet potato custard had a consistent creamy texture throughout, and the water bath did the trick. I refrigerated my custard before removing the ring molds just to be extra sure that it would hold together. By ring molds I mean tin cans, since I couldn’t find my ring molds anywhere. The tin cans did the trick, so remember that for the next time you’re desperately in search of a ring mold! Or, you know, use a ramekin.
This sweet potato custard is thickened with tapioca and naturally sweetened with maple syrup. This baked custard is a creative, completely vegan twist on a classic dessert.
Author: Home at Six
1 large sweet potato, chopped
4 tbs tapioca flour
¼ cup coconut milk
3 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs vanilla extract
coconut whipped cream, walnuts, and maple syrup for serving
Preheat oven to 350F
Bring water to a boil in a medium sauce pan
Add sweet potato and simmer until very tender (10 minutes)
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and combine until completely smooth
Fill ramekins or other oven safe food molds and place in a larger casserole dish
Add boiling water to larger casserole dish to ⅔ of the height of the ramekins
Carefully place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes
Allow to cool completely before serving
Coconut Whipped Cream
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2 tbs powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions: Cool coconut milk in fridge overnight. When ready to use, flip can over and open. Pour off liquid and retain leftover cream. In chilled bowl, use a hand-mixer to mix coconut cream, sugar and vanilla until it becomes nice and fluffy. Store leftovers in the fridge, and re-whip before serving.
Find Kimberly Snyder’s Sweet Potato Custard recipe HERE, and check out my other Beauty Detox assignments HERE!
Have you heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project? It’s a new campaign for allergy awareness that encourages people to offer trick-or-treaters non-food treats instead of, or in addition to, candy. By placing a teal pumpkin in front of your home, those with food allergies/intolerances will know that they can find safe options.
I think the Teal Pumpkin Project is a great idea, since there are so many kids out there that need to avoid nuts, dairy, soy, gluten, etc., which can make Halloween super stressful for them and their parents, rather than fun. Of course this doesn’t mean that anyone needs to stop giving out candy, but it’s just encouraging people to consider offering non-food items including small toys or stickers. What do you think about this initiative? I’m sure it will take a while to catch on, but I’m hoping it gains momentum.
If the Teal Pumpkin Project is something you’re interested in, you can find more information and download printables from the FARE website, HERE.
Speaking of pumpkins… are you carving a pumpkin this year? I’m hoping to carve one this weekend, since I haven’t carved one in a few years. If you’re carving a pumpkin, make sure to roast those seeds for an easy, nutritious snack! I roasted up the little seeds from the mini pumpkins from my Cranberry Rice Pilaf that I made last weekend. I just coated the pumpkin seeds in a bit of olive oil, salt and paprika and baked them for a healthy, crunchy snack!
I’m out in Saskatoon this week for a conference, where the land is flat and the weather is surprisingly fall perfection. I gave my presentation on Day 1, so now I can sit back and relax a little, take in the other sessions and sneak out for a few minutes here and there to walk down to the Saskatchewan River, where the sun is warm and the trails are littered with crunchy leaves.
In between presentations I wanted to share this recipe that I made last weekend. In this dish, a simple rice pilaf is jazzed up with sweet dried cranberries and tender cubes of roasted butternut squash.
After getting home from France, I noticed we had a single butternut squash hiding in the cupboard, leftover from the butternut squash soup that we served for our Sugar-Free Thanksgiving. I also spotted the dried cranberries that I’d hidden away last month, so together they went into this Cranberry Rice Pilaf with Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash.
I roasted the garlic right inside the cavity of the overturned halved squash, which infused the squash with a subtle garlic flavour and resulted in buttery soft garlic that I then mashed into the rice. Cubed butternut squash is mixed with wild rice, cranberries, onion and pepper, and served in mini pumpkins just for extra seasonal cuteness. How great would this look on a Thanksgiving table though, right?
Cranberry Rice Pilaf with Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash
Wild rice, cranberries, rosemary, and cubes of roasted garlic butternut squash combine in this seasonal, sweet and savory rice pilaf. Serve in mini pumpkins for a festive Thanksgiving side dish. Find more Thanksgiving dishes: http://homeatsix.com/2014/09/thanksgiving-menu/
Mike has a severe peanut allergy, which can honestly be a huge pain in the butt when it comes to eating out. Before we left on our trip to France, we did a bit of googling and found out that although peanuts aren’t used too commonly in French cooking and baking, they do use peanut oil in everything from pizza dough to salad dressings. Eeeek! I knew that peanut butter wasn’t really eaten there, so I’d mistakenly assumed that it would be easier to find peanut-free options there, rather than harder! Boy, was I wrong. Peanuts and peanut oil are everywhere!
While evidence shows that the refining process removes the allergens from peanut oil, we weren’t taking any chances while we were on vacation and didn’t want to eat anywhere that wasn’t absolutely certain that their products were peanut-free. And it was really tough! Compared to North America, it seemed like peanuts were everywhere. I know Mike ended up eating way more burgers and pizza than he’d ever hoped to on a French vacation due to his peanut allergy.
Fortunately, despite the peanut allergy, we did manage to make it safely through our vacation and we were able to track down all the French specialties that Mike had his heart set on trying. So much of French culture centers around food, so I’m so glad we were able to find peanut-free options (croissants, French onion soup, socca and all).
I compiled the following tips to help anyone else who might be facing the same challenges.
What to know about peanut allergy in France?
Peanuts everywhere. Nearly every bar will have bowls of peanuts. You’ll see bowls of peanuts at cafés, too. Even if you’re just going for a drink, inform the staff of the peanut allergy to ensure there’s no cross-contamination. If you or your child are very sensitive then you’ll need to be extra careful. We ate at a restaurant where the chef assured us that the kitchen was entirely peanut-free, but sure enough, when I walked past the bar I saw heaping bowls of peanuts. Even if you don’t think a dish would contain peanuts, ask! Sauces are thickened with peanut butter and dressings might be made with peanut oil.
Less awareness. In France, there is so much less awareness regarding peanut allergies. When we go to restaurants here in Toronto, servers are almost always able to immediately tell us whether or not their restaurants use peanuts, even though they’ll rarely make a 100% peanut-free guarantee. In France, when we informed them of Mike’s peanut allergy, only a couple front of house staff had the answer, and sometimes even the cooks didn’t know! A couple explained that they receive their oil is huge vats and they can’t be sure what’s in it. A whole bunch of times we encountered hosts and servers that preferred to just tell us that we probably shouldn’t eat there without even checking with the kitchen. That was pretty frustrating when we’d already struck out at a few restaurants already, but we felt it was much better to be safe than sorry.
Parisian waitstaff are grumpy. Restaurant servers are notoriously grumpy in Paris, but don’t let it phase you. Don’t take it personally, and don’t let it discourage you from emphasizing the seriousness of the peanut allergy.
In case of emergency. Make sure you know the local emergency numbers. For emergency numbers in France, click HERE.
What to say?
Make sure you emphasize the severity of the peanut allergy and make sure you clearly communicate that it’s a matter of life and death, not just a food preference. Clarify that it’s important that not just the particular meal be peanut-free, but that no peanuts are used in the kitchen at all. We were told at least once that there were no peanuts before being told, “Ah, yes, actually we use peanut oil for the fries!”
Je suis très allergique aux arachides/cacahuètes - I am very allergic to peanuts
J’ai une allergie analphylactique aux arachides/cacahuètes- I have an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts
Je suis gravement allergique aux cacahuètes et à l’huile d’arachide- I am seriously allergic to peanuts and peanut oil
Important note: Do not just ask if the food contains noix. This word for nut is used to refer specifically to walnuts, and misleadingly doesn’t encompass all nuts.
What to do?
Even in the most touristy, English-speaking places we visited, hardly anyone understood the word ‘peanut’, so make sure you know all the different terms used to refer to peanuts and peanut oils. Don’t assume that what is safe at home is safe abroad.
Be prepared. If you have a severe peanut allergy, always have an Epipen and make sure it’s labelled and carry a prescription for airline screeners. Make sure your travel companions know how to use it.
Write it out. Unfortunately the French don’t make it easy, and there are a few different words that are used to refer to peanuts. We made sure to use them all. Mike doesn’t speak very much French, but he memorized a few key phrases and carried them around written on a paper card to be sure. If you’re unsure of your pronunciation or if the restaurant staff seem even the least bit unsure, show them your card.
Check labels. Allergens are pretty well labeled on packaged goods, so we bought a lot of our food at grocery stores. We stayed in apartments with kitchens, so we were able to prepare our own food, which saved us money and grief. We always tried to have some peanut-free snacks on hand, so that when it took us ages to find a peanut-free restaurant, Mike wasn’t left completely ravenous.
On labels, look for:
Cacahuètes- peanuts (most commonly used in France)
Arachides- peanuts (most commonly used in Quebec, but also used in France)
Huile d’arachides - peanut oil
Beurre de cacahuètes/arachides - peanut butter
Fruit à coque - translated as “fruits in shells”, this term is used as a catch-all for nuts, and is used on lots of labels
Watch out. if peanuts are an ingredient in a product, they won’t necessarily be included in the list of “may contain” ingredients, so read everything carefully!
Clarify. Even if the host told us we were ok, we also made sure to ask the server, and also asked them to double-check with the kitchen. We emphasized the severity of the peanut allergy, and told them he would DIE. Honestly, it was a hassle and Mike hated the fuss, but I reminded him that it was way less fuss than a trip to the ER.
Where to go?
In both Nice and Paris, I tried searching online for peanut-free restaurants and bakeries, and didn’t find anything at all. So here’s a list of a few of the spots we found that were able to assure us that they didn’t use any peanuts or peanut oils. If you’re looking for peanut-free food while in France, check these places out as a starting point, but please, please make sure to always ask because things might have changed. I need to track down the names of some other restaurants we ate at, so I’ll update this list.
Nice: La Claire Fontaine (lunch/dinner), Boulangerie de L’Olivier (bakery)
Eze: Le Pinocchio (lunch/dinner)
Vence: Brasselie la Victoire (no peanuts in the kitchen, but served at the bar) (lunch/dinner)
Thanks so much for the congratulations on our recent engagement! We are so excited to take this next step in our relationship and I couldn’t be happier!
All that aside, this morning I made a shocking realization. it’s now already mid-October and I haven’t even had my first pumpkin spice latte! What?! I have a strict policy that fall-specific drinks aren’t to be enjoyed before October 1st (and no Christmas drinks until December 1st), no matter how early Starbucks wants to roll them out. But we’re two weeks into the month and I haven’t had my first PSL yet. To be rectified ASAP!
While I have my rules about my seasonal beverages, I don’t have any rules or regulations prohibiting the early use of pumpkin in other goods for consumption, which is a good thing since I had to celebrate Thanksgiving a month early this year. As you know, my early Thanksgiving coincided with Sugar-Free September. I wasn’t very worried about pulling it off with the exception of dessert.
For me, Thanksgiving really isn’t Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. So Sugar-Free September was going to need a sugar-free pumpkin pie. Earlier in the month I’d made a Sugar-Free Peach Pie, but peaches have so much sweetness all on their own. If you’ve ever tried pumpkin straight out of the can, or the rind, then you know it isn’t the least bit sweet. In fact, it’s pretty gross! I certainly didn’t want to end up with a gross pumpkin pie, no matter how healthy.
My (needlessly strict) rules for Sugar-Free September prohibited the use of any added sweeteners. That meant I couldn’t use any of my typical baking sweetener alternatives. No stevia, no maple syrup, no dates. So what did that leave? Bananas! I’ve used bananas in plenty of cakes and muffins before, and of course in banana loaf, but could I pull off a banana-sweetened sugar-free pumpkin pie? Yep, I sure could!
But this sugar-free pumpkin pie recipe isn’t that sugar-free pumpkin pie recipe. This recipe is my first attempt at sweetening a pumpkin pie with overripe banana. I didn’t quite trust that it would work, so I added a few scoops of carob powder for extra sweetness. This attempt resulted in banana-chocolatey deliciousness with that smooth pumpkin pie texture, but it wasn’t close enough to the classic pumpkin pie that I wanted to serve my Thanksgiving dinner guests. For that recipe, download my Sugar-Free Thanksgiving Menu. But if you’re looking for another use for that extra can of pumpkin you’ve got in the cupboard, then go ahead and try this Sugar-Free Banana Chocolate Pumpkin Pie.
I’ve been away from the blog for a while because I’ve been super busy. Super busy lying on the beach in Nice (swimming in October, even!), busy eating bread and cheese at every meal, and busy walking for hours on end through winding streets and medieval towns, up hills and down mountains, through castles and into shops, and all over the beautiful south of France and up into Paris.
We spent the first half of the trip visiting with my family in Nice, and capped the trip off with a few days in Paris. It was Mike’s first time to France, so we crammed in as much as possible and had an amazing, though completely exhausting time.
While every day was wonderful, fun and pretty much perfect in every way, in this post I’m going to re-cap my Top Five in France. While I’m sure I’ll be sharing more about our trip over the coming days, these 5 are among my favourite memories.
1)Spending time with family. It was wonderful to visit with my dad and sister, Rebecca, who live in Nice. With my dad, Mike and I enjoyed visiting the huge, weekly antiques market, touring the beautiful town of Vence and eating many meals and sipping on numerous espressos. I wish I could see them more often, but it does give me a great excuse for the occasional visit to the glorious French Riviera. While I unfortunately didn’t get to see them during this visit, my aunt and uncle generously allowed Mike and me to stay in their beautiful apartment just steps from the Promenade des Anglais.
2)Warm days on the French Riviera. Already dreading the onslaught of another hideously cold winter in Toronto, it was wonderful to slip away to Nice, where I was able to put aside my jackets and scarves, and slip back into my summer dresses and sandals. I even went for a quick dip, which I never, ever do, unless it’s really, really hot. We spent countless hours people watching in the cobblestone streets of Vieux Nice, being dazzled by the sights, sounds and Lamborghinis of Monte Carlo, and living like a local by going for morning jogs and late, late night dinners. We enjoyed the local specialties and maybe a croissant or two or three, and, of course, more than a few glasses of wine. Between the palm trees and the food and the history and the culture, Nice is nice, as the tacky souvenir t-shirts say.
3) Creating my signature fragrance. France is, of course, famous for it’s perfumeries. So I signed Mike and myself up for a perfume-making workshop that was held at the Fragonard factory in the adorable hilltop town of Eze. The class started off with a really fun and interesting introduction to the science and smells of perfume making. Then we were able to mix up our own signature scents and I ended up with a pretty, light and citrusy eau de cologne, which will remind me of this trip every time I wear it.
4) Cooking in Paris! I surprised Mike with a cooking class on our first night in Paris. The class was led by the loveliest French chef, and was full of an eclectic group of other English-speaking travelers. One man was taking his 13th cooking class in 13 days, and another was a language teacher who spoke 28 languages (only 20 fluently, as he clarified). We cooked up a delicious 3 course meal and then sat down to enjoy it along with plenty of wine and good conversation.
5) By far, the biggest highlight of our trip was getting ENGAGED IN PARIS! After enjoying a cute little picnic along the Seine, Mike suspiciously insisted on leading me a block away, through a construction zone, with the promise of a really great view of the Eiffel Tower. I was wondering what the heck he was up to because he was glancing around furtively and clearly not hearing a word I was saying. And then it happened! Mike got down on one knee and proposed to me in the most nervous and rambling, yet beautifully romantic way on a quiet bridge near the Eiffel Tower. I couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect moment and Mike thoughtfully had a photographer hiding in the shadows, ready to capture the proposal. We’re so happy and excited!