Lentil Quinoa Vegetable Soup

Adapted from:  http://www.celiacteen.com/2010/share-our-holiday-table/
1 T. (each) margarine and oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
4 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. dried quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tomatoes, chopped
1 19 oz. can lentils, drained and rinsed
3 T. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. each pepper, dried dill, dried parsley, celery seed and garlic powder
salt to taste

Melt margarine and oil in dutch oven or soup pot. Saute the carrots, celery and onion for a few  minutes over med. heat. Add everything but the lentils and parmesan cheese. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 20 mins. until the quinoa is cooked (the rings will start to separate.) Add lentils and cheese and heat through. Makes lots and is more filling than you’d think.

Cool Tools and Things That Miss the Mark

As a Chronic Chick, I appreciate my small appliances. They make my life simpler. There’s two I love the most:  My Vitamix blender and my slow cooker.

While browsing a popular retailer’s website, I note an astonishing assortment of small appliances for the kitchen.  There was the cool, the practical, the cute, and, in my humble opinion, “things that miss the mark.”

In the cool category, I’d put the following:

Cool Tool #1:

This is a cheese grater with a convenient storage box for your grated cheese.  Less mess however with a retail price of $159.99 (CAD) it is a bit high-end.


Cool Tool #2:

This stylish looking coffee carafe is made of heavy-grade aluminum to help coffee stay warm for hours and is available in 1, 3, and 6 cup sizes.  It’s chic, but the downside might be, as with all coffee carafes, the longer the coffee stays in the carafe, the more metallic it might taste.  The 3 cup size, pictured above, retails for $89.99.  Again, it’s up there and I wonder why “good taste” has to be expensive.  This carafe however is a bargain compared to the tea kettle I saw advertised on the same retailer’s website for $315.00.


Cool Tool #3:

This is a stainless steel coffee plunger, similar to the Bodum glass coffee plunger; however the stainless steel model appears to have the advantage over the Bodum glass one as the stainless steel will help keep the coffee warm, something the glass one was not-so-great at, prompting crafters to sew their own Bodum cozies, or those who weren’t so crafty to wrap tea towels around the base of it to keep the coffee warm.  Downside:  as with the coffee carafe, the possibility of metallic-tasting coffee.


Cool Tool #4:

Okay these are just “fun” – lotion dispensers in the shape of a coffee maker, juicer or toaster, for a person with a “kitchy” kitchen, this would be a perfect addition!


Cool Tool #5:

Here’s an all in one coffee maker and bean grinder.  Practical, functional, stylish-looking, less mess and space on the counter, what’s not to like?  If my current coffee maker and (separate) bean grinder ever give up the ghost, I’ll be buying one of these.


Now, in the “Things That Miss The Mark” category, the following.

Snow Cone Maker, which retails for $30.00. Low-cost alternative:  A blender and some ice, sugar and food coloring should do the trick.


Hot Chocolate Maker, which retails for $40.00.  Low cost alternative(s):  Heat 8 ounces of milk in the microwave or on the stove.  Place 1 tablespoon each cocoa and sugar in a mug.  Pour heated milk into the mug, stir thoroughly.  For multiple servings, a pot on the stove with some milk, cocoa and sugar does the same thing. To get your milk to “froth” [one of the features of this Hot Chocolate Maker], use an old-fashioned whisk.

The “Rocket Grill”.  Retails for $124.94, plus you need to buy replacement parchment pouches separately ($20 for a package of 36) but it does come with 48 of those parchment pouches.  Food is inserted in the pouches then inserted toaster-like into this grill.  The parchment pouches help grease drain away into the reservoir.  Apparently this grill “fully cooks most fresh foods in 3-8 minutes and most frozen foods in 8-12 minutes” [hence the name “Rocket” I suppose]. This may have some merit and appeal for time-stressed moms on the “front-end” [making of the food] but I wonder about the clean up and, if the item is discontinued, will you still be able to buy the replacement pouches?


A Margarator for $140.00 (makes blended drinks with ice – alcoholic and non-alcoholic.) I think a decent blender will do the same thing and have more uses.

I puzzle why retailers feel we need all these things cluttering up our counters and our lives and emptying our wallets.  Maybe their motto is: they who have the most kitchen appliances when they die wins.

Meatless Monday: Grilled Apple and Gouda Sandwich

Red Pepper Jelly or Chutney

4 slices whole grain bread

3 oz. gouda, sliced thin

1 apple, cored & sliced thin

A little margarine or butter

Lightly butter both sides of each sandwich.  Then, spread the condiment (jelly or chutney) on the opposite side of two of the slices of bread.  Arrange cheese and apple on top of bread with the chutney or pepper spread.  Cover with remaining slice of bread. [Butter side up]  Press firmly down.  Repeat with remaining bread, cheese and apples such that you have two sandwiches.  Heat a non stick pan over medium heat.  Cook 3 minutes per side or until golden brown.  Slice and serve.  Makes two sandwiches.

Banana Raisin Flax Muffins

3/4 c. white flour

1/2 c. each whole wheat flour and ground flaxseed

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 c. raisins

1/4 c. nuts, chopped

1/2 c. liquid honey

1 egg

1/4 c. milk

1/4 c. vegetable oil

1 c. mashed bananas (about 2)


Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix well and make a well in the middle.  In separate smaller bowl, beat egg until frothy.  Add milk, oil and bananas.  Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients. Mix until all moistened. Try not to overmix. Bake at 400 20 – 25 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins.  Note:  3/4 c. chocolate chips can be substituted in place of the raisins and nuts.


Hodge Podge Stew

I needed to clean out my freezer of frozen bits of this and that.  Voila, “Hodge Podge” was born!  This was fast to prepare but took a while to fully cook.

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1/2 uncooked orzo pasta

4 cups beef broth

1/2 c. pizza sauce

1 small can green chilies

1 tsp each rosemary, basil, Italian Herb blend, powdered garlic

1 Bay leaf

salt and pepper

1/2 c. each frozen peas and corn

1 c. each cooked and chopped ham and roast beef

Brown celery and onion in a bit of oil in a large pot.  Add the next 8 ingredients (carrot through to salt and pepper) and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to medium and cook until vegetables and pasta are tender. Stir in frozen peas, corn, and meat.  Cook until everything is heated through.  Oops I forgot to time the cooking! My bad  – and why I’ll never get a cook book deal – I’m too fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants when I cook.  I’d say about 30 minutes cooking time, all together.

The Diet Merry Go Round

Merry go round at Buchart Gardens, Victoria, BC
Merry go round at Buchart Gardens, Victoria, BC

Try this diet, no that diet, no this other diet.

Low-carb, no-carb, specific carb. High fiber, insoluble fiber, soluble fiber.

If I had a nickel for every “diet-as-a-cure” I’ve been told about, or heard about, or read about, I’d be in a different income tax bracket.

It seems like everyone has an opinion on what foods are “helpful”, and “harmful” for whatever chronic illness ails you.  From websites to books to friends and professionals, I’ve been offered the following “diets.”

Because I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as well as fibromyalgia, a well meaning friend put me in touch with a friend of hers who had conquered her Crohn’s Disease issues by being on the Specific Carbohydrate diet.  http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/beginners_guide/the_science_behind_the_diet2.htm

After I spoke with this individual,  I suspected that it would be very difficult (i.e. restrictive) and expensive to be on it.   Another friend with digestive issues who tried this diet for 6 months [with little change in symptoms] confirmed my suspicions.

The Elimination Diet – I was instructed by a naturopath to give up gluten and dairy for three weeks, after which I could re-introduce them, but supplement with digestive enzymes.   Other than the negative effects of being extremely hungry and bitchy for the entire three weeks, it did nothing.  Not even weight loss!

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet was suggested to me by a fitness professional recently. While some recommendations may help fibromyalgia, certain foods on it, in quantities as recommended, could trigger an IBS attack for me. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02012/anti-inflammatory-diet

And so it goes – a diet that may help one chronic illness could trigger a flare in another.

And, as someone who struggles with “disordered eating”, a dialogue about diets for whatever reason is probably not the healthiest for me.

Easy to say, hard to do? You bet. *written for a “Patients for a Moment blog carnival in 2011 where the theme was “easy to say, hard to do.”

Orange Almond Raisin Bars

Adapted quite a bit from a Company’s Coming recipe

1/2 c. non-hydrogenated margarine, melted

1/2 c. sugar

1 – 2 T. grated orange rind

juice of one half an orange

1 egg

1 c. flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 c. sliced almonds

1/2 c. raisins

Combine melted butter with sugar, orange rind and juice in large bowl. Blend well. Add egg and beat.  Mix together flour and baking soda first then stir into batter.  Add almonds and raisins.  Scrape into a 9 x 9 inch pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes, being careful not to overbake.  Cut into 36 squares.  When I scraped this into the pan, I thought there was no way this would work out but it rose beautifully.  I have a “hot” oven so I baked it for 20 minutes and that may have been a bit too long.

Rock the Red Pump

I’m joining 1,000 bloggers today to “Rock the Red Pump” http://www.theredpumpproject.org/2011/03/were-proudly-rocking-the-red-pump-for-nwghaad/ in support of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

I’ve chosen to write about Cheryl, a good friend of mine who, in 2009, traveled to South Africa to work with HIV+ patients at Acts Clinic.

Cheryl had an African Dream since she was 18. After her kids were raised, she began to bring this dream to fruition. She accrued holiday time. She worked a second job. She was granted time off.  She felt a bit fearful after the time off was given thinking “it’s now time to poop or get off the pot.”

Cheryl found information about the ACTS Clinic, applied to go, and was accepted to spend eight weeks with them helping. Her medical background as a pathology assistant no doubt helped in her being accepted to the Clinic. She continued to plan for her “volunteer vacation.”

I assisted Cheryl with the preparation of two presentations upon her return from South Africa. One was given to her work colleagues and one to a group of our mutual friends. I learned so much and the stories of those affected by HIV touched me deeply.  I felt like I’d been there, too. Emotionally, I was.  I am “Rocking the Red Pump” to bring awareness to women in South Africa that live with HIV.


ACTS Clinic http://www.actsclinic.co.za/is located in Peebles Valley, Mpumulanga Province, South Africa.

Location of ACTS Clinic

Founded by Dr. Margie Hardman, who launched the AIDS Care Training and Support Initiative in February 2000 (a non-profit, faith-based organization) with a generous donation from Glaxo-Smith-Kline. GSK’s donation was sufficient to purchase land, construct the clinic and training centre, and pay for operational costs for three years.  Since they opened in 2001, they have consulted and treated over 12,000 patients.

Their mission:

“to provide a quality continuum of care and support to all those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, and to model this in the Masoyi Tribal Area of Mpumalanga, South Africa.”

AIDS and HIV in South Africa:

  • In 2007 an estimated 5.7 million HIV+ in SA with 1,000 AIDS death per day.
  • Extreme poverty
  • High unemployment, about 65%
  • Poor Infrastructure
  • One third of sexually active population HIV +
  • Virtually every household in the community has at least one HIV positive inhabitant.


HIV Stigma is a Huge Problem

Factors Contributing to Stigma

  • HIV is a life threatening disease
  • HIV is associated with sexual behaviors
  • HIV is a result of irresponsibility
  • HIV is an infection that some believe is a moral or religious punishment for immoral behaviors.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon says

“Stigma remains the single most important barrier to public action.  It is a main reason why too many people are afraid to see a doctor to determine whether they have the disease, or to seek treatment if so.  It helps make AIDS the silent killer, because people fear the social disgrace of speaking about it, or taking easily available precautions.  Stigma is a chief reason why the AIDS epidemic continues to devastate societies around the world.”

He continues:

“We can fight stigma.  Enlightened laws and policies are key.  But it begins with openness, the courage to speak out.  Schools should teach respect and understanding.  Religious leaders should preach tolerance.  The media should condemn prejudice and use its influence to advance social change, from securing legal protections to ensuring access to health care.”




  • more susceptible to the virus as they have so much more mucosa, comparing surface of a vagina to the tip of the man’s urethra
  • with 5.7 million HIV positive people in South Africa, 60% are women, 40% are men.
  • Women are nothing in the South African culture
  • Women with HIV are sometimes treated differently from men where they are culturally, socially and economically disadvantaged.  They are perceived to be the ones who transmit the disease and men are more likely to be excused for the behavior that caused their condition.
  • by age 15 and extending to age 30, female exposure is greater than 2-3 times the male rate
  • thought to be a result of some community issues
  • there is a sharp decline of older women with HIV is largely due to the death rate and as women die, the male takes the lead in rates of HIV infection at 35 years.  As for the increase in men over 50…who knows!

People living with HIV in developed nations can have the best of health care. For example, in Canada, medications that cost approximately $1,000.00 per month are provided free of charge to HIV patients as well as free counseling.

By contrast, many people in South Africa and other nations die of HIV because they can’t afford (and aren’t given) medications that cost $88.00 per month.

Cheryl struggled deeply with the fact that God seems to have abandoned the women, children and men who are HIV+ in South Africa:

Cheryl with Polite, a little girl infected with HIV through breast milk

“My spiritual questioning went deeper, further…

God, why is this precious little girl infected with HIV from nursing?  Where are you?  Do you care?

God, why the children, why?

God, where are you for them?

God, this is too much.”

“I have come to realize how perspective changes over the course of time.  You go away for a few weeks to help, I think the Christian community calls it mission.  And on returning the actual mission begins.  While the hearts of a few volunteers pull together to help with individual situations, I was under no illusion that my presence would make any sort of a lasting impression.  You leave and eventually are forgotten but the lingering personal experiences are where the true mission lies.  And the course of time continues to change those impressions as greater understanding is given.” – Cheryl

From ACTS Clinic's website

Cheryl “Got Her Pump On” by going to ACTS Clinic.  My involvement, by contrast, was minimal but I’m proud to spotlight her on my blog. She is an inspiration!

Meatless Monday: Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce

Prep Time – about 25 minutes [excludes pureeing time]

13 Roma Tomatoes, cored, seeded and halved

1 large (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes

1 large onion, chopped

1 pepper, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

Spices:  Italian Seasoning, Garlic Powder, Cayenne powder, to taste

Brown onion, pepper and celery in a bit of oil or cooking spray.  Place in cooker along with the prepared fresh tomatoes and the canned tomatoes.  Add spices.  Cook on low for about 10 hours.  If you prefer your sauce “chunky” or want to save more time, leave it as is after cooking.  If you prefer a smoother sauce, puree it a bit with a hand blender or in the blender.  This makes quite a bit of sauce.  It would help to buy a package of pre-chopped peppers and onions if the same is available in your area.