Now is the time for quiet, for togetherness, for connection, just us four.


sunday in the kitchen

His climb up the stairs was louder than usual...more of a stomp, really. It was earlier than usual too. My eyes focused just long enough to read 6:04 a.m. on the clock. 'Why so early on a Sunday morning? They never get up this early on a school day!' I groaned to myself, but I looked forward to our usual morning snuggle, hoping we would both drift back to sleep for at least another hour. "Mommy, can Nathan and I go outside to play?" he asked, jumping up and down on the wood floor. This child had no interest in snuggles. "But it's 6 a.m.!" I groaned out loud. "But it's snowing, it's snowing, it's snowing, it's snowing!" he pleaded. "But it's still dark out! Wait until the sun comes up!" "Pleeeeease! Pleeeeeeease!" I couldn't say no. I was too tired for a fight. And really, a little extra quiet is not a bad thing on a snowy Sunday morning! "Fine, just don't leave the yard," I relented, tucking myself back in for a bit more shut-eye. Well, what I expected to be one hour outside turned into several hours. They played right through breakfast, came in to grab a quick bite to eat and convinced G to take them tobogganing. This gave me almost an entire day to catch up on projects that are approaching deadline and to bake a yummy cake for them to enjoy when they finally decided to come in from the cold. Oh, the first snow is always such a joyous time for those boys of mine! Here are a few snapshots from their snowy weekend - oh, and a recipe for Apple Upside Down Cake.

Apple Upside Down Cake
Bottom Layer
6-8 apples peeled and sliced
1/4 C brown sugar
1 tbsp coconut oil melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 C Earth Balance margarine
1/2 C date puree (I make a lot of this ahead ot have ready in the fridge by putting 2 C dates in a saucepan with about 1/2 C water and cook until dates are soft. Puree with hand blender)
3/4 C buttermilk (dairy-free buttermilk can easily be made by adding 1 tsp apple cider vinegar to your favourite milk substitute)
1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 C spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat over to 350F. Grease a round baking dish (I used my spring form pan which worked okay, but place on a cookie sheet to catch drips from the bottom while baking). Peel and slice apples and mix with sugar, oil, cinnamon and ginger. Place in bottom of pan. In a mixing bowl, blend together margarine, date puree, buttermilk, flax seed, and vanilla. Add in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour over apples and bake for about 45 minutes or until a fork comes out clean. Let cool, then remove ring from pan, place a large plate on top of cake and quickly flip upside down. Remove bottom of pan. Slice and serve! I topped our slices with some coconut milk whipped cream (place can of full-fat coconut milk in fridge overnight. Open can from bottom and pour out coconut water - this can be used for other recipes like soups or curries. Scoop out coconut fat, add  a couple of spoonfuls of honey, and whip it up!).


i wanna grow up

"I need some advice about growing up," he asked, "like how to drive and how to shave." Please don't be in such a hurry, my youngest child, to trade flying free on the top of your bike for strapping yourself into the responsibility of a car, to trade your hand-drawn beard for real whiskers. A time will come soon enough when you will look back on this day and long for the simple worries of a seven-year-old, like how to keep that beard from washing off in the bath.


gone fishing

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles. 
- Doug Larson



tastes of autumn

I am cleansing again and so grateful to being doing so at a time when foods are so plentiful and delicious! Pumpkins and squash and root vegetables and cabbages can be found everywhere around these parts, and they are making for some really good and hearty eats this time around. Like this delicious pumpkin pie! We were invited to my sister's (she's doing the cleanse with me and G) for dinner tonight and I needed to make something that would satisfy the sweet tooth of those cleansing and those who are not. For those who are not, they didn't even miss the regular stuff like sugar and milk and eggs. There's none of that in this pie. Nothing but wholesome deliciousness that tastes just like autumn should - spicy, warm, comforting, and nourishing.

Pumpkin Pie
1 pie pumpkin
1/2 C pureed dates
1/4 c honey
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp arrowroot starch
1 tbsp coconut oil

Cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds, and cook until nice and soft. I placed mine in a slow cooker on low overnight. To puree dates, place 1 C dates in a pot and cook with about 1/4-1/2 C water until soft. Puree in a food processor. Mix ingredients together in a pot and cook at medium heat until pie filling thickens. Pour into pie crust and refrigerate until solidified. I used my very favourite pie crust - 1 C dates, 1 C sunflower seeds, and 1 C coconut blended in a food processor with 2 tbsp coconut oil. Press into pie plate and add filling.


autumn is in the air

He's sure he has found the largest leaf in the world.


sunday in the kitchen

I have two boys. And they're growing. They're growing at a rate that I just can't seem to keep up with! Two shoe sizes Finn went up between June and the start of school last week. Pants, if they can even still button them up, barely cover their ankles. And food - it just seems to vanish into thin air! I bake, and before I know it, all of my efforts are eaten up before the treats have a chance to cool. Entire watermelons are devoured in seconds flat. I know I bought a loaf of bread yesterday, but where did it go? Silly question, mama! You know that loaf didn't stand a chance in this house with two growing boys! Now that we're making lunches for school again, I needed something that was satisfying to their enormous appetites, that was nutritious, and that was super yummy! Oh, and that would last longer that on day! Bits and bites, of course - an enormous batch! I'm happy to say this recipe lasted the first week of school with lots left to last another week of lunches! 

Bits and Bites
1 C pumpkin seeds
3 C pretzel sticks
3 C wheat squares
3 C Nature's Path Heritage Os
3 C Nature's Path Kamut Puffs
1/2 C Earth Balance margarine
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cajun spice
1/2 tsp Herbamare or sea salt

Mix dry ingredients together in large baking dish. In a small pot, melt margarine and add worcestershire sauce and spice. Pour over cereal mix and toss to evenly coat. Bake at 250F for about an hour, tossing every 15 minutes.


this moment

Enjoying the ride from the backseat, wind in his hair, free.


first day

They squeezed in every minute of fort building they could before heading off to start the new school year.


sunday in the kitchen

Chocolate, bananas, coconut milk, and soy nut butter - it really doesn't get anymore complicated than that. And it shouldn't on this lovely long weekend. Because who has time to waste in the kitchen when the days to be spent outdoors having barbecues with family are waning? I know I don't! 

Chocolate Banana Soy Nut Butter Cream Pie

1 1/4 C graham crumbs
1/4 C coconut oil

1 can coconut milk
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 C soy nut butter
3-4 bananas sliced

Melt coconut oil and combine with graham cracker crumbs. Press into springform pan. Slice bananas and spread layer over crust. Using a double boiler - or a large bowl over a pot of boiling water - melt chocolate chips with coconut milk and soy nut butter. Once smooth, pour over bananas. Refrigerate until firm.


why i camp

"I don't love camping. I L-L-L-L-L-LOVE camping!" he said. And that's why I sleep on the ground, in a leaky tent, with sand in my sleeping bag and campfire smoke in my hair.


like digging for gold

Sinking my hands deep into the earth to pull out these beauties is so very rewarding.



When he asked me to shut the door so he could have a quiet day, I had a hard time saying no.


sunday in the kitchen

We are harvesting produce from our garden like crazy these days. We're pulling in bowlfuls of kale and cabbage and ground cherries and squash and peppers and tomatoes. Such rewarding work, especially when we stop to take a nice little snack break made entirely from our bounty - tomatoes, onions, garlic, and basil. Topped onto slices of grilled French bread and sprinkled with parmesan cheese, this snack captures the essence of summer perfectly, if you ask me!


wave baby

It's such a fine line between letting them have the time of their lives and keeping them safe from harm.


sunday in the kitchen

I've attempted cleanses before with very little success. I usually get one or two days in, feel so terribly ill and quit before I've truly begun. This one was different. I can't say for sure what the exact difference were - maybe it was the communal aspect of it, the support and motivation of a group cleanse, or maybe I was just ready for the powerful changes I knew would come to me if I stuck it out. And I stuck it out - through headaches and body aches and fatigue and emotional outbursts. I did it! And I have to say I feel pretty darn good! I feel light and clear and more motivated than ever to continue on this path of wellness and clean eating. I haven't had potato chips in more than two weeks and for those of you who know me well, or share the same Neilands gene pool, you will know that is nothing short of a miracle! Here is a recipe for a delicious soup I came up with as I reached the half-way point of this 10-day cleanse - a time when my emotions were getting the better of me and I wanted nothing more than to drown myself in comforting foods that are not so good for me. This soup turned out to be just as comforting and seemed to do the trick in helping me get over that hump!
Carrot Soup
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
4 carrots
1 sweet potato
1/4 C quinoa
1 inch piece of ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 can coconut milk
In a large stock pot, fry up the onions and garlic in a little bit of water until translucent. Add the remaining ingredients, except the coconut milk, and continue to fry for a couple of minutes before adding 5 cups of water. I like to get the bottom of the pot a little brown before adding the water. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add 1 can of coconut milk and blend until smooth. Serve topped with fresh coriander, roasted pumpkin seeds, fresh ground pepper, and a squeeze of lime juice.



"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."
   - Margaret Atwood
And, boy, did they ever smell like dirt and get covered in dirt from the very tops of their heads to the tiniest cracks of their toes. But greater fun could not be had by two boys on one simple pile of dirt.


long weekend treat

Long weekends were made for sandwiches like these - sweet and gooey and completely over the top! We went on a wee bit of a long-weekend adventure yesterday - an adventure that took us north of town and right past Pine River Cheese. Of course we couldn't drive by without stopping. That would be just plain silly, if you ask me and my cheese monster Finn. And it didn't take him long  to pick out this unusual treat - chocolate cheese fudge. I have to admit, I wasn't so sure about this selection, but I trusted my young foodie's instincts and went with it. Of course the best thing one could ever do with such a cheese, besides eat it straight up, is to grill it. Oh yes, grilled chocolate cheese fudge sandwiches. There's nothing really left to say except, 'yum'!