All posts by jolisab

Bite..Chew..Swallow

Today I’m not writing a food post. No recipes to share. Yes. I know, I’ve not been around for the past couple months. I have a confession. Commitment issues, really. This post is really about where I’m at in life. This particular 30 – something year old phase of  my life.

I promise it’s not a self wallowing post. Just a reflection on where I thought I should have been by now. Marriage..at least. An MA. Savings towards a house/ land. A retirement plan…shoot a health plan. For the most part, I can say that I have been able to work this year and pay bills. After almost a year out of work and basically using almost all of my savings during that time,  I have been able to sorta kinda manage life.

I’ve had some very humbling experiences for the past year or so and with all of this life going on, committing to my blogs posts here has severely lacked. I never wanted this to be a pressure thing. This is suppose to be a fun thing, where I can share recipes and everything in between. Thing is, sharing is kinda hard when you feel like crap. So I basically emptied my life expectations plate. The dog definitely ate all of it.

Now I’ve decided to refill the plate with attainable goals at the moment. First portion was a great helping of spiritual nourishment. Walking by faith and not by sight. Man. That is easier said than done. Major failed moments on that one. But eventually setting small goals of daily readings and listening to audio, has been a great help in faith building. God and I have had some serious conversations. Me basically doing most of the talking. And him sending confirmations in very subtle ( and sometimes not) ways. I consider my faith walk with Christ in the beginning as that big iron pot (everybody granny have one) of dasheen bush bhaji…puffed up in the beginning, all about me, and I and quickly boiling down, only to then realise that you need other ingredients to make you taste good. Humility.

Second helping was my creativity soup. Truth is, I get bored. Quickly. I’m great at initiating ideas, pitches, projects. But the follow through…fail. Honing what I’m good at and actually sticking to it is challenging.My minds goes into overdrive and I can’t seem to settle on things…over-thinker much? Yup. However for the past couple weeks, I have been given an avenue to use the creative juices and tune in  to what  I love to do most..cook. and that has somehow allowed me to focus, plan and execute successfully. A good helping of soup; corn, fish, pumpkin,lentil or whatever is always good for the soul.

Third helping and last portion, managing my health. Focusing on taking care of me. Does that sound selfish? No. It really isn’t. Stress is real and it will kill you. Eating properly, exercising and maintaining your body isn’t vanity. Being the best you is important and so is feeling physically well. So basically… just eat your kale.

And that is basically how my  life serving on a plate looks presently. I’ve never been one to measure success by things, I learnt a long time ago that isn’t my view of success. But becoming a better Christ -like individual ( or least trying), using my God given talents/ abilities constructively and taking care of my body is exactly what is needed at this junction in my life. Everything else will come. Eventually. Small bites, careful chews and contented swallows. My success.

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Egg Free Mayo

Hey you! I’m back with the jump off..ayyee!! Too  much? Ok. Lets get in shall we. We are all the way into 2016, the months have just flew right on by..I mean 2016 you need to kinda slow down m’kay.

I bring to you mayo (this by no means is a new thing guys). The condiment  both loved  and loathe, depends on who you talk to.  But why bother to make it, you ask. Well thanks for asking. So here at home, paying $30-$35 TT dollars for an 11 oz. jar of vegan mayo?!..ummmm..no…no..nope. I admit I was a sucker and got reeled in once and caved and bought it. I had buyer’s remorse after for sure. After looking at the ingredients list I could have totally made it.

So today I say to you..do not be that sucker.You can totally make your own condiments. The bonus to all of it is that you know exactly what ingredients are being put into your food and essentially your body. Plus you can cheat once in a while eating mayo and still feel good about it because you made it. Let’s jump right into this super simple recipe.

 

You will need:

1 1/2 cup to 1 3/4 cups neutral oil (sunflower or canola)
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. mustard
1 Tbsp. lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

Tip: To make your mayo completely soy free sub the soy milk with unsweetened almond / cashew milk.

the line up

Process:

Put all the ingredients (except the oil) into a blender and blend for 5 seconds. Next, continue running the blender and slowly ( I mean this) stream/ pour oil into mixture while the blender continues to run. The mixture will thicken quickly. When the mixture has thicken into the familiar consistency of mayo, pour out and store in fridge for  later use.

 

mayo close up

Congrats! May all your mayo dreams come through.

Adapted from : The Homemade Vegan Pantry

Farewell 2015!

Yes, I’m writing a closing on the year of 2015…too cliche? Maybe. But  how quickly  December 31st,2015 arrived. And  for many this year may have been one of great leaps and bounds in their respective lives. And for others, not so much.  So before you head out to your various celebratory moments later this evening or  decide to call it a night and just head to bed, I want to take some time to share some words with you and  to myself on the upcoming 2016.  You ready?

My year of 2015 has been quite eventful, personally and professionally. A friend recently posted on Facebook if we were to sum up the entire year in one word, what would that word be? And immediately my word was HUMBLED. This year, that I have experienced has taught me to be ever so much more humble and be able to receive as much I give (this is kinda hard for me to do).

From job loss to broken relationships, 2015 turned me around. But I am still here, still standing.

Whatever this year brought or didn’t , if you’re able to read this, YOU ARE HERE! How amazing is that. YOU SURVIVED 365 days!!!! There are many who didn’t. Celebrate that.

Here are some notes/ to-dos I made to myself & maybe it’ll help motivate you as well..yes?

  1. TRAVEL more: I love travelling! Visit a different country or travel domestically, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get out. Allow yourself to experience something new. Travelling renews your soul, it gives you so much perspective on so many things.

2.  Be GRATEFUL:  When you appreciate and  you’re genuinely  grateful for the things in your life, you suddenly realise  what matters most. I can guarantee material things will weigh less on that list. The gratitude jar is a great way to record your 2016 thoughts / accomplishments and later reflect on your year.

3.  Stay POSITIVE: Did you roll your eyes at this one? lol… I know, easier said than done right?  Hear me out.  When you purposely stay in a positive mind set it allows you to set the tone to your everyday activities. It is a habit that needs to be developed and worked on daily. I know it can be hard to go and face negativity once you’ve set your mind right, but you have already done it and you’re now able to change the tone in any environment you step into because you’ve purposely decided to stay positive.

 

4. Be KIND to yourself:  Yes. Before you can help anyone, you first have to help yourself. Be gentle with you. Learn to  treat yourself if you aren’t already doing so. You work hard. You may have families that you take care of. You may have a business to run. But to do all those things you have to be gentle with you. Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes. It was a mistake. Have you learned from it? Have you grown? Now move on. Meditation/ Devotion, exercising, eating well for your body all the things help make a better you..so go on, be kind to you. Love on you.

 

5.  WORK on your dreams:  We all have aspirations. Short and long term goals, which many of us have already written down in  journals ( that’s not only me right?) and planned to accomplish in the year 2016. Stick to them, whatever your dream/s may be. The dreams that you’ve had on the back burner, the one deep down that you really want, start working on it.  Risk is scary. But so is letting your dream die! Nurture it, love on it, revive it and take the steps to accomplishing what you really want. Believe in YOU. And if you have been able to already start it..you are AWESOME and keep pressing on!

 

Here are some of my picks on inspirational  books  for 2016 that I’ve added to my collection that may help/ inspire you too ( all can be found on Amazon):

  1. Year of Yes – Shonda Rimes
  2. Big Magic– Elizabeth Gilbert
  3. The Power of Habit; Why we do  what we do and, how to Change – Charles Duhigg, ( 2013 )
  4. Start with Why– Simon Sinek

I wish to close by saying this, may 2016 bring you abundant blessing and may your live purposefully in this season. Walk in your air and be bold. Take risks and spend quality time alone. May you have more belly- hurting laughter, good health and much prosperity in all areas of your lives. A very Happy New Year to you all!

 

 

 

Five Fab Finds (Christmas Gift Ideas)

There are eight days left before Christmas. Have you done your gift shopping yet? Oh …you have. Well you can never have enough gifting ideas..so stick around.  For procrastinators delayed shoppers like myself, look no further because here are some of my favorite things that can be found locally to give the loved one/ foodie in your life.

  1. The Sweet Beet Gift Cards – The Sweet Beet, a natural cold- pressed juicery is offering Christmas gift cards and nothing beets ( see what I did there) having cold pressed juices to guzzle on! And packed with so much nutrients, your beloved is gonna love you even more. Send them a message, response time is quick.Check them out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesweetbeet/?fref=nf

sweet beetPhoto cred: The Sweet Beet

 

2.  Wholesome You :  One of my personal favorites. Wholesome You carries handmade, organic body and hair products ( I dare you to not want to eat it..the products  smells sooo good).  They currently have perfectly packaged gits bags to grab and go. Easy gifting!

Check them out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Fulumiranicare/?fref=ts

wholesome youPhoto Cred: Wholesome You

 

3. Verti Grow : How about a simple, vertical hydroponic growing  box for the green thumb in  your life. Growing herbs and produce easily would be appreciated by anyone who cares about their food. Fusion Farms provides the equipment, tools and seeds to jump start that new project. It’s also great for small spaces!

verti growPhoto cred: Fusion Farms Ltd.

Check them out on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/fusionfarms

 

4. Local Artisan Greens:   Now if growing your produce seems a little intimidating at first, no worries. Because this team here can still hook you up with your fresh greens. You can do a subscription order delivery  to the lucky person’s house as a treat this Christmas.

local artisan green

Check them out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/localartisangreens

 

5. The Nutribullet : Yes. This baby here is powerful and pulverises anything into juices and makes for  fast smoothies and soups.It can be purchased at most home stores.  It’s a great investment for any smoothie/ juice fanatic (like myself)and they’ll appreciate it, I’m sure.

nutribullet

Photo Cred: http://www.amazon.com

Boom. No guilt trips.

 

The “BIG V”.

I have been away. Ok so,  I MIA  for almost  a whole year. But 2015 has been a year! So many changes and challenges, high points and lows, you know life basically throwing some stuff at me that I needed to Olivia Pope ” handle”. And before the new  year of 2016 rolled around I have already started my goals list.

And part of that list includes writing and sharing more of what I love doing; cooking and sharing recipes ( fails and all) and committing more time and effort into my food journals. To be honest my lack of writing  has been weighing  heavy on my heart.

Now before you roll your eyes and click out..please don’t ..I promise not to get too emotional here with you. Along with all the changes that have occurred thus far in my life this year, my eating habits have  been one of them. Some have even called it drastic. For the past 2 1/2 years I began eating mostly a plant based diet with small intakes of seafood ( mainly fish). I’ve had some health issues and was basically told to lose weight by my doctor, which  I did. I felt great, I looked great and people noticed. I was exercising more..shoot I could run. And then about five months ago I decided  to cut out all animal flesh and products containing animal by-products out of my diet.

What??!!!!!!!!! was the question I was asked a LOT when I suddenly declined many food offerings. “You’re what?””

I’ve decided to live a vegan lifestyle. For health reasons, for environmental reasons and for  ethical reasons. And having done a plant based lifestyle, the transition has not been difficult for me. I am sharing this, as I felt it’s  important and necessary because most of my recipes shared will be absolutely meat and animal product free. It may not be for everyone, however if you want a healthier alternative or looking to try something new..I am your girl!

I am absolutely not a doctor or nutritionist but I’m willing to share some awesome recipes that I have tried, tweaked and even created to show that being animal free in your diet is absolutely not going to harm your body.

So as the year is quickly drawing to a close and a new year approaches, come along on my journey of vegan eating, living better and making healthier choices! Thanks for sticking around 🙂

 

Photo Cred: http://www.vegan.com

 

 

 

 

 

Dairy Alternative : Oat Cashew Milk

I have a secret. Confession really. You don’t have to sit down. Coffee is my cryptonite. Whoa! It feels good to get that of my chest. I’ve been in a bit of denial; six cups before noon is totally normal right?

Let’s be real. Haven’t we all sat in the denial  pool at some point in our lives?  I’ve done the green tea route.I love teas actually but if I had to choose between the two, it will be coffee. It always be coffee.

There is a point to this rambling. I made my usual cup of smooth, dark deliciousness but I had the urge for a creamer. My usual go-to in this instance is coconut milk. Popped the ‘fridge open…dang it! I was out. I needed milk but not from the usual suspects.

I’m just not about that life. I’m also not vegan. I just really try to avoid dairy as much as possible due to health issues. But I digress.

Oats. Those wholesome grains that usually make its rounds at breakfast, stared back at me from my refrigerator shelves. So oat milk it was. Creamer problem solved.

I added some cashew in there which adds a lovely creamy consistency. If you happen to be lactose intolerant  or  just looking to have a healthier / cheaper dairy alternative, then this “milk” can be your go to as well. So here is a super simple recipe on how to get your fiber in and have bonus benefits on good cholesterol and whatnot.

You will need:

2 Cups Oats ( I used quick oats in this recipe but I recommend Old fashion  rolled oats)

4 Cups filtered water

1 cinnamon stick (medium ) or 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp  freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 cup  raw cashew nuts ( soaked in 1 cup filtered watered for 20 -25 mins & drained)

Fine sieve and nut milk bag/ cheesecloth

Sweetener of your choice ( I used honey)

ingredient shot edit

Process:

Add oats , cashews ( and cinnamon stick if using)  to your blender. Pour in filtered water and  blend for 3 minutes until everything has been pulverized and has has become a smooth mixture.

Next place your nut milk bag into sieve and place over a large bowl to strain out the leftover pulp.  Squeeze gently; you don’t want your milk all over the kitchen floor. Trust me.

You should now be left with creamy milk. Add in salt, nutmeg, ground cinnamon ( if you haven’t used stick) and sweetener. Stir everything together until fully incorporated. You can strain again to ensure a smooth finish.

Congrats you’ve made “milk”! Moooovellous! Too much? Ok.

pouring milk in glass 1 edit

Note: Do not boil this “milk” as it thickens. 

Quick tip: If you don’t have a fine sieve or a fancy nut milk bag,  a thin clean cotton cloth  lined in a colander can also be used.

Coconut Chia Pudding

It’s Wednesday. Yes, I know you are fully aware of the days of the week.  But it’s also mid- week. I promise no hump day jokes. I’m no good at that anyway. But internet cousins ( that’s totally cool I adopted you right?) we’re almost at the glory land of weekend fun..can you see it? Are you into it? You may be too busy doing what adults do to notice?..ok  cool no biggie.

In the mean time, I can provide you with a treat. I’m not into tricks. Just a l little something to shake up your mid- week style and provide you with wholesome goodness. We all need wholesome everything in our lives. Yes.

Chia. Whoa! The craze on the chia was insane right? At that time when that commercial aired, I didn’t  even know that the seeds were edible.  I just wanted the “pet”. And somehow that sneaky seed has crept back into our lives. The seeds contain  protein, fiber and a whole slew of other awesome benefits that does your body good. You know, wholesome everything, in that very tiny seed.

You will need;

5 Tbsp chia seeds

2 1/2 Cups coconut milk

2 Tbsp honey ( or sweetener of your choice)

1/8 tsp cinnamon

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg ( optional)

Clean  jar or glass

Add Ins ( optional)

1/4 cup of mixed nuts ( almonds, cashews, pecans, brazilian)

1/3 cup of raisins or dried cranberries

1/3 cup of dried fruit (papayas, bananas or pineapples)

Process:

Add sweetener to coconut milk and stir until dissolved. Whisk in chia seeds until all has been incorporated into coconut milk. Cover and leave  jar/ glass  to stand for 3 minutes. The chia seeds would have started to absorb the milk by this time and should start thickening. Whisk again to break up any clumps.

The mixture should be thick by this point as the seeds would have doubled it size. Pour into a bowl if serving and top with add -ins for some texture. This can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days.

chia shot 2

Note: You can add more coconut milk if you like. This is all personal preference.

Quick Pepper Sauce

Let me start off this post by saying a very Happy Divali to my Hindu community. I get to experience a very multi-cultural country and I am grateful to be born here. With the menus that would be present at most Hindu households today – curried everything, I thought about sharing this quick recipe with you. Also I visited the market this weekend and through  bargaining aka sweet talk , scored scotch bonnet peppers...way, way, way too many.

seasoning with vinegar salt 1

So in keeping with today’s theme I decided to make a quick pepper sauce. This condiment can be found in almost every household here and will definitely debut on lunch and dinner tables today. It can be purchased at local markets and grocery stores. But  homemade with fresh herbs and produce is where its at. Let’s jump in, shall we.

ingredients laid 1
blender action

You will need:

1 medium onion

20 scotch bonnet peppers ( I told y’all I  hauled)

6 leaves shandon beni

5 large garlic cloves

1 large lime

1 Tbsp salt

1/2 Tbp sugar

6 stalks fresh chives (sometimes the stalks have two coming out in this case use 3)

1 1/2 cup  white vinegar

Glass jar

Process: 

Washed all produce thoroughly. Roughly chop chives, onions and chandon beni. Add peppers, garlic, chopped herbs and onions into blender. Pour in vinegar, add salt and sugar and squeeze the juices from the lime in. Be careful with the seeds from the limes, make sure to catch them if squeezing directly in.

Cover and hit that blend/ grind button. When everything has combined, taste a little carefully. Salt can be adjusted as needed. Pour into glass jar and store in the fridge. Boom. Condiment done.

Yields:  2 1/2  cups of hot sauce.


pepper sauce shot 2

Simple Banana Mango Smoothie

You’re in a rush. I know. I understand. Our lives have become a huge to – do – list and so very little time to get things done. Breakfast. We need it. We sometimes tend to forget it. Let’s stop doing that, ok ? Yes, I do too. Totally not judging.

We all want to have something a little easier to grab and go in  the morning. Coffee is a great idea, currants roll..not so much. How about we chuck some good ‘ole fiber in.Yes?

This smoothie can totally be dinner, lunch or a snack too.Your time is limited, it’s important. I understand. I got you! Awesome..let’s go.

You will need:

2 Cups Spinach ( packaged  type)

2 Cups Water ( Coconut water works well here too)

2  Bananas, very ripe

1 mango, very ripe

2 Tbsp soaked chia seeds ( optional)

1 Tbsp  coconut oil ( optional)

A knob of ginger, peeled and diced ( optional)

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10409293_10154566874850214_4905190565209570382_n

Process:

Add spinach and water into blender and blend.Next add in bananas and mango. When everything has combined smoothly add in chia seeds and blend for an additional  minute.You can add more liquid if you desire, depending on the  consistency you like. Makes 2 servings.

Adapted from: SimpleGreenSmoothie

Note : You can substitute the spinach for any favorite leafy vegetable such as kale/ romaine lettuce or watercress. You can also mix the greens when you want to switch it up!

A Taste of Tortola (BVI)

Sunburn marks still adorn my body and I’ll admit, I have a slight case of vacation ‘tabanca’. I know we all must come back to reality. For me it’s that 7.30am – 4 pm – grind reality.  But somewhere between the tracking of daily inventory and visits to the scanner machine,  my brain has yet to get back into ‘work mode’.

And as my mind wanders to my glorious two week- sun filled- visit to beautiful  British Virgin Islands ( Tortola & Jost Van Dyke) images of crystal clear waters and awesome rum cocktails are all I can think about.

Having arrived at the beginning of the country’s two week  60th Emancipation Festival celebrations, I was ever so pleased to have the opportunity to experience the festivities firsthand. Itineraries  were planned in advance  by my very gracious hosts as they knew I was all about the food . Dining at fancier restaurants this time around wasn’t my intention as I opted to eat more of the local offerings which meant – street food!

snow cone
Beating the heat with a tambran juice sno cone at the festival parade
conch lunch
Local cafe lunch : beans & rice, tossed salad, fried plantains and stewed conchs with a passion fruit drink!

 

One of the main events I looked forward to, was attending a food fair held in the town’s main area during the festival celebrations. Some dishes were somewhat familiar to what is eaten here at home as most Caribbean islands, share some of the same fruits and vegetables.

market scene

local
Friendly local giving a briefing on the tarts and pies offered at her stall.
Saltish Cakes
Saltish Cakes being made on spot.
PicMonkey Collage
Food fair offerings!
BVI 2014 026
Quick lunch – Clockwise: sweet mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, plantains, coconut dumplings & salted cod

Between shopping trips  in the bustling Road town area; we stopped at the very popular BAZZ  to have fresh, natural fruit smoothies made on order.  A smooth, satisfying drink with  just enough natural sweetness and deliciously refreshing.  It was became almost a ritual once I made it into town to have one.

smoothie
Bazz’s  fruit smoothies: Stawberry/banna combo (top) , cashew ( bottom)
portk
The popular Dareo’s Jerk Center :  festival ( similar to trini fried bakes) and bar- b- que pork.Divine!

I also had the opportunity to visit Jost Van Dyke  this time around. An exhilarating  boat ride down to the island left me a little winded,but the scenery made up  for that. Oh boy was it worth the rough waters long the way!

beach ed
White Bay
beach two
White Bay

beach three

A visit to the Soggy Dollar bar, located right on the beach is  a must when visiting this amazing island. After all the sea bathing one can do,  appetites needed to be fed.

bar

conch fritters
Conch Fritters with cocktail sauce
jost lunch
Sirloin Burger ..sooo juicy!

The beach bar served an ‘American style’ lunch menu. So  I chose a side of crispy potato wedges, sirloin burger which came with thick cut , tangy pickles and an al- dente  tuna-pasta salad. I was hungry!

The real star however at Soggy Dollar is the Painkiller. A delightful concoction of  dark rum, fruits( orange and pineapple), coconut cream and nutmeg. This cocktail hit the spot ( I did a happy jig) and having just one didn’t  really work out as I tried to limit my alcohol consumption…really? I’ll tell you though it is a definite creeper, this  one.  Just make sure you’re not the one driving the boat or car when leaving if you’ve had a few of these!view

drank
Double up.

This visit to Jost Van Dyke was indeed the highlight of my trip and I plan on visiting again when next I make it to the BVI. These islands hold a special place in my heart, from the delicious local fare to the very hospitable folk. I look forward to many more adventures and taking you along with me!