Kale and Edamame Rice Bowl with Spicy Peanut Sauce

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I really wanted something light yet satisfying for dinner the other day, and since my garden is bursting with kale over growth I felt inspired to add it to our meal.

When in doubt, I throw everything together over rice, with some yummy sauce and call it a “rice bowl”.  You can literally make any type of rice bowls you can imagine, Thai, Mexican, Vietnamese…heck I bet you could make a yummy dessert bowl too with the right ingredients and sauces.

But for these purposes our vegan meal was made extra tasty with a generous pour over of my spicy peanut sauce.

And also the filling would make a rad rice paper roll filling, or leftovers for lunch the next day.

Try it! I’d love to hear how you liked it.

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salad ingredients

1 can corn

2 cups chopped kale, stems removed

1 cup cooked and cooled edamame

1 avocado pit removed and cubed

1 cup chopped cilantro

1 cup shredded carrots (I only had baby carrots so I sliced them thinly instead)

1 cup chopped roasted unsalted almonds

3 sliced scallions

2 tsp coarse sea salt

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp lime rind

To make, massage the kale with sea salt, pour lime juice over top, cover and set aside.  Next put a bowl of water to boil and cook about 3 cups of brown rice as per package instructions. While the kale is marinading and the rice is cooking.  Toss together all the remaining ingredients, the hardest part of the whole meal is chopping everything up by the way! Then add in the kale mixture, toss again, and set aside while you make the sauce.

sauce ingredients

3 tbsp smooth peanut butter

1-2 cups of boiling hot water

3 tbsp sesame oil

3 tbsp tamari soy sauce

2 tsp siracha sauce

In a large bowl put in the peanut butter, and begin mixing around while adding in two tbps of hot water at a time and mixing until well incorporated.  Once you have the desired sauce consistency (I like mine a bit thicker), add in the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Taste.  If you like to have a bit more spice, then add a bit more siracha sauce. If you accidentally made your sauce too runny, add a little more peanut butter and mix well.

To serve place the cooked rice at the bottom of the bowl, top with the salad mixture and pour the sauce over top.  You can also top with a little extra chopped almonds and cilantro to make it all look fancy 😀

Enjoy!

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r a c i s m : it is your problem

“The plague of racism is insidious, entering into our minds as smoothly and quietly and invisibly as floating airborne microbes enter into our bodies to find lifelong purchase in our bloodstreams.” – Maya Angelou

The snow was falling hard and fast on the remote Pennsylvania roads. House after house, crossroad after crossroad we passed, not a soul in sight. It was January 1, 2016 as Michael, Johannes and I drove from our home in Toronto, Canada down to our weekend retreat in Pennsylvania, some three hours away, through several small towns in the USA.

“Can you believe those flags?” Michael asked. I looked around. Bright red flags, with blue crosses and white stars were hung on every house, every gas station, every store along our route.

“The confederate flag Ana. They’re all flying the confederate flag.” Michael called out.

He was right.

I learned about this in school, about the American Civil War in history class, so why wasn’t the flag a recollection of the past? House after house screaming out “I am a racist” now seemed incomprehensible and wrong.  Why is the confederate flag not banned?! Why is it not illegal?!

I looked back at Johannes staring out at the world, listening to our conversation and I felt sick to my stomach. He was born white.  He was born and immediately he was awarded a different set of playing card. He was born without knowing hate and anything that he becomes is entirely my doing.  I, as his mother, have the responsibility of instilling on him the soundtrack of the world.  He is born loving everyone.  Open minded, with love in his heart, curiosity on his side. The world will change and shape him, and perhaps not for the better.

After the appalling atrocities that have taken place in the States against black human beings this week I realized two things: this has been happening all along, but we are now in an era of social media, private live streaming and personal sharing that is accessible and allows us all to publish our story quickly and pointedly.  And second, it affects all of us.  We all need to rise up, stand up, put our hands in the air and scream, “not in our name”!  You will not murder humans in the name of whites. That is not ok.  That is not OK.

Its my responsibility as a human, as a mom, to raise my boys to love and care for ALL humans.  And perhaps teaching them to disregard colour is wrong. So instead,

I will teach them to see the colour of one’s skin. And then I will teach them that skin is less than a centimetre thick and that when you peel it back all human beings are exactly the same.

I will teach them to see the colour of one’s skin.  And then I will teach them that our differences make us interesting, special, worthy of love.

I will teach them to see the colour of one’s skin.  And then I will teach them that every human has a mother, a father, sisters, brothers and love in their hearts.

I will teach them about the past.  And then I will teach them that our human responsibility is to learn from the past in order to better the future.

I will teach them about the horrors of today’s events.  And then I will teach them that they have to stand up for those who cannot always defend themselves even if it means putting themselves in harm’s way.

I will teach them that people kill for no other reason than pure hate.  And then I will teach them that hate does not win.

I will teach them that they are human and as a human there are responsibilities.

I will teach them that the best defence against hate is unity in love and acceptance.

I was born white.  My children were born white.  Nor they, nor I, will understand what our friends experience on a daily, weekly or constant basis.  But I do know that it is not ok for black mothers to warn their sons against wearing hoodies, or having to comply with the police.  I know that it is not ok to shed another human’s blood simply for the colour of their skin.

So when I see comments on the Black Lives Matter posts with retaliative statements such as “all lives matter” it infuriates me.  Because, yes! all lives matter. But that is NOT the point. Not ALL LIVES are being persecuted for their colour.  And right now we are not talking about ALL OTHERS.  We are talking about BLACK lives.  The lives that have been systematically been cut short for no other reason than the colour of their skin, it is infuriating.  And it should be infuriating for you too.

When I see posts on social media with naive comments such as “I’m so glad I live in Canada where this doesn’t happen.” it infuriates me.  Because yes! when I dig down deep this does happen in Canada. No we may not fly the confederate flag, and no, we may not be able to walk around bearing arms, but yes our police officers target minorities and routinely detain, persecute and racially profile them.

Racism is OUR problem.  Its everyone’s problem.

You want to stop it? Stand up.  Share your abolishment of the hatred.  Share your story.  Take a collective stand against universal racism. Volunteer with the local shelters.  Expose your sons, daughters, and yourself to everyone and everything so that love is socialized and accepted irregardless of skin colour rather than in denial of it.

And for the record, saying and doing nothing at all is part of the problem.

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” – Maya Angelou

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tiny lessons

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“actually, the best gift you could have given her

was a lifetime of adventures…”, Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

Sometimes quotes inspire us, sometimes they lift us up.  Sometimes they evoke deeper meaning or act as simply something we can giggle at.

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I don’t have girls, obviously, but when I came across this quote while rifling through my worn out copy of Alice in Wonderland, I couldn’t help but stop.

Adventure.

I often think about just this exact though when it comes to the boys.  I try to think of the experiences I can share with them, new things that I can teach them, places we can travel to together.  Life is made up entirely of adventures isn’t it? big or small…but they are certainly adventures.

We may not have the largest back yard, the biggest house, or even two bathrooms for that matter.  But we have fun collecting rock samples, and finding tiny potato bugs Johannes names Seymour. At least I hope so.  Only time will tell I suppose.

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Perhaps naively, I believe adventures shape their personalities, their likes and dislikes.  The more they experience, the more fun they have with it, the more they’ll grow into balanced, happy young men, fathers, brothers, husbands, friends.

On the weekends we spend our time outside.  Planting new lavender bushes, or tending to our garden.  The boys participate, and love to help.

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One Sunday Johannes and his friend dug a hole for over 3 hours.  I heard them chatting the whole time, collaborating on a digging strategy.  When I saw their very large, and very deep hole, I asked, “What is this hole about guys? its very big”.

“We are digging our way to China, of course.  Would you like to come?”, the kids echoed back.

As it turns out they were creating their own magical adventure, complete with a destination and purpose.  They diligently worked at making it a reality, never could I have imagined that a task that seems so mundane to the rest of us brought them so much joy.

The disappointment crept in when they realized it was time for dinner, and they weren’t in China as they’d hoped.  So I promised to plant peonies in their hole and a giant pumpkin too.  Reluctantly they acquiesced.

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5 Minute Strawberries and Cream Dessert

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What do I want my kids to remember most about me when they’re old and grown and busy with their daily lives?

I don’t want them to remember a specific instance, or moment.  I don’t want them to have a single memory to look back on nostalgically.  Instead I want them to have a feeling of “I’m home” “I was home”.

I want them to bite into a freshly picked strawberry and instantly be reminded of their childhood.  I want them to smell the fragrance of a lemon tree on a trip down south and think back to their childhood home and fun summers in the back yard.  I want to be an all encompassing memory stored much deeper than words could express, and maybe even deeper than basic thoughts can resurface.

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We had fresh picked strawberries on Sunday, thank’s to my mom who always thinks to buy extra whenever she comes across something amazing. Initially I thought perhaps I would make strawberry jam from it because it seems to be a revolving favourite with both the boys, but then the guilt of bastardizing a perfectly good strawberry by drenching it in sugar and boiling it to near extinction got the better of me and I came to my senses.

I decided to make a really easy, simple dessert and let the flavour of the wild strawberries do the talking. So strawberries and cream it was, and in Johannes’ own words, “Mom this is the tastiest thing you’ve ever made in my life.” so I have big shoes to fill moving forward it seems.

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Here’s how you can make it too…if you have 5 minutes and perfectly sweet, ripe strawberries!

1 small container of 35% whipping cream

2-3 pints of sweet, fragrant, washed and quartered strawberries, stems removed

1 cup of sour cream

4 tbsp granulated sugar

Whip the whipping cream as is (you could add vanilla extract but it would likely overpower the strawberries) until peaks form. Pour the sugar over the cut strawberries and let stand for 3 minutes. Mix the sour cream with the sugar and strawberries.  Divide into bowls.  Top with whipped cream, and more strawberries if you wish.  ENJOY!

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a life is a life no matter how small

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I really wanted to share this post with you all last night, but I just couldn’t find the words to put together a post. Please note* the only photo taken on Monday was the black and white one, the rest are of my boys on Sunday morning during pancake breakfast and Lego building on the patio…in better spirits of course.

At 5:45am on Monday morning as I was waiting for Magnus to start knocking on his door for me to come and get him, I got a call from Michael.  As he was leaving for work he noticed a baby raccoon injured between ours and our neighbour’s house, and was bleeding quite a bit.  I grabbed a towel and ran outside, completely forgetting about the boys asleep upstairs or the shoes I should have maybe tossed on.  I sent Michael back inside to take care of the kids and Maddie and wrapped the poor little baby tight in our towel.

She was alive, breathing in and out, purring very loudly as I assume she tried to comfort herself.  No mom or siblings in sight and no real way to help her other than to try and stop the bleeding, I felt completely helpless and started to cry.  Michael had called the city and they advised him that they could come to collect her, but that they would only be able to euthanize her.  So I tried to call a wildlife rescue nearby but they wouldn’t be open until 9am and their voice mail advised that they were not accepting baby raccoons at this time, being that its early summer and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of baby raccoons in the city.

Michael headed to work, and I was left to try and explain what was happening to a very upset Johannes.  This was the closest he’s ever come to seeing an animal nearing the end of life.  He asked me, “mommy, will they come and help make the baby raccoon better again? will they fix what’s broken?”

I didn’t know what to say, and not wanting to lie I simply told him the truth, that no one was able to take her at this time and that the city workers could only give her a needle to stop the pain.  Which is when he looked at me and burst into tears, “but will the needle make her die mom? I don’t want her to die”

He cried, and I cried too.

By 8am the city workers still hadn’t come to take her and as I went to check on her again I saw my next door neighbour.  Collectively we decided to try and get her to a vet.  We got my cat carrier, wrapper her tight in the towel and he drove her away, promising to call me with an update once he had one.

At 11am he called me at work.  The vet clinic had turned him away citing the legalities of helping wild animals as the reason for not helping.  So he decided to take matters into his own hands and drove another hour away to the Toronto Wildlife Centre.  The people here were wonderful, though incredibly overwhelmed with animals needing care and emergency help, they took the baby raccoon and triaged her right away into surgery.  She got the help she needed at the moment and everyone hoped she would make a full recovery.  We won’t know for some time if she will be ok in the end, but we’re hoping for the best and I will definitely call them back soon to find out how she’s doing.

When I told my story at work I was met with eye rolls and comments of “they’re everywhere” and “we need less raccoons in Toronto”.   A shocking reaction to a pretty sad day over all.

Raccoons are in fact everywhere in Toronto.  They get into our garbage, they eat our garden veggies, they even sometimes poop in my yard (which is dangerous and I scour the yard every single morning to make sure its safe for the boys).  Sometimes they sleep on my patio furniture, and indulge in midnight snacks on my porch.  I see their little hand prints all around our house, but that’s OK.  Do I like it? No.  But does that make their life less important?  No.

Seeing anyone, fur or skin or feather, suffering puts a weight on my chest and hurts my heart.  I want to raise my boys to have love and compassion for every being, because a life is a life no matter how small.

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Two Days of Planting, and a Lemon Tree

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Why must weekends pass by so quickly, while work weeks seem to drag on? Yet here we are again, on a late Sunday evening, 10pm to be exact, on the brink of another work week, and pouring over the hundreds of photographs I’ve collected over the weekend trying to decide which to post first.

So with that in mind, a warning, this post may be filled with many many photographs of my children, fur children and green babies.

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Another weekend of scorching temperatures and no rain or cloud in sight.  When my impromptu early morning stop in to the new Crown Flora / Green House Juice shop ended with the passenger seat on my car being occupied by a large Meyer Lemon tree, complete with baby lemons and fragrant blooms, I knew it was going to be a planting weekend.  And so it was.

We didn’t leave the house except to run to various nurseries for lavender, or a Saturday afternoon walk to get an extra large cup of iced tea.  We planted and planted some more.  Watered the grass, the garden beds and filled new terracotta pots with lemon trees, lavender, chocolate mint and spear mint.

Magnus helped on Saturday.  He put on his working garden gloves and quickly helped fill up the pots, handful by handful. Afterwards diligently helping water our newly planted green babies.  Maddie sat near by, taking advantage of the hot sun, and seemingly unaffected by her new cone-head situation (she was spayed on Friday).

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And I decided lemon trees are the new fiddle leaf trees, or so they should be.  They smell incredible and more importantly, they earn their keep by serving up delicious fragrant lemons perfect for making lemonade or a tasty tart.  My plan is to let Suzy-q (our new lemon tree) live outdoors for the summer, and bring her in as soon as the temperature drops.  She will live in our bedroom, along side her hipster friend, Smithers…my fiddle leaf that now has been a part of this family for three whole years, and if you know me and how bad I am with watering my plants, you’d quickly realize that these three years are nothing short of a miracle for our beloved fiddle leaf.

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All of this to say, I think you should perhaps consider getting a lemon tree, or a citrus tree of some type, and happy new week worker bees.

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