Girls Birthday Dinner I am lucky to be surrounded by so many wonderful people who believe in real food. I celebrated my belated birthday with my girls this week and Miss Patti Ann was a killer hostess without actually killing a thing. The meal was so delicious and satisfying I begged her to let us share the recipes with all of you.
Wheat Berry Salad*
1-1/2 cups wheat berries
1 lemon, zest & juice 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
3 tbsp sesame oil
mineral salt & pepper
Bring wheat berries to a boil and cook uncovered for 1 hour, or until tender. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients by hand and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Paco's Failsafe Soup
1 onion, fine chopped
1-2 leek, fine chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-1/2 cup dry bean mix i.e. lentils, split peas, barley*, black eyed peas
White wine OR rice wine vinegar
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup veggie stock
2 cups water as needed
Mrs Dash OR herbs of choice i.e. thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper Steamed kale and hemp hearts to garnish (optional)
Saute onion and leeks in olive oil until soft (avoid caramelizing but that won't hurt), add garlic and stir until fragrant. Add grains/dry bean mix and stir for a few minutes until well coated. Pour in white wine or rice wine vinegar to deglaze the pan, stirring until liquid has evaporated. Mix in tomatoes, carrots, tomato paste and herbs. Add veggie stock bring to a boil then let simmer for 12-20 minutes. Add water as needed and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Note from PA - don't worry about following the steps exactly - it's pretty failsafe.
*Sorry kids, wheat berries and barley are not gluten-free

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blue_Monday_95.jpg Did you know that it was Blue Monday today (cue amazing New Order song).  Apparently the third Monday of January is known to be the most depressing day of the year.  You know what I think about that?  Balls (as my dear Steph likes to say).  Pure and simple. Actually, if you do your research you'll find it's all a marketing gimmick from a 2005 publicity campaign for the TV programme Sky Travel. There is also an equation someone arrived at to pinpoint which exact date it is, as it varies from year to year.  Yeah, whateves. So whether you believe the hype or not, I'll give you something to believe in.  Smoothie Mondays.  And the amazing thing is that it happens every Monday, not just once a year.  Here's my equation: 2 cups water 1 cup mix greens 1/2 small zuc 1 pear 1 large date 1 tbsp hemp heart Ingredients + blender + love = Happy Monday....every time.

photo cred Cat Ok, I'm on a budget so what's inexpensive and can usually be found in your fridge all year around? Did someone say carrots, potato, onion and garlic?  Yeah, sounds about right.  Well that's pretty much the recipe. Carrots are packed with vitamin A which assists the liver in flushing out the toxins from the body and they help prevent premature wrinkling. What? Sign me up. Carrot Top Soup 6 carrots, sliced 2 cloves of garlic, zested 1 onion, chopped 2 med potatoes or yam, diced 1 liter organic veg stock generous dab of coconut oil Himalayan salt & pepper to taste Add carrot, garlic, onion & coconut oil to large pot for 2 mins. Stir in potatoes, cover, reduce heat to low and sweat veggies for 5 mins.  Pour in stock, bring to boil, season with salt & pepper. Then simmer, covered for 25 mins. Puree soup in your blender in batches and away you go.  And as always, I add my hemp hearts (1/4 cup) at the blending stage for added protein. Serves 4

photo cred Cat Ok, I admit, I may tend to bang on a bit about soup (ok, ok, and pretty much all things in general) but c'mon, soups are soooo righteous.  It just so happens that last night Kods and I had a bowl of my latest creation as an app before dinner.  So fancy are we.  All joking aside though, it filled us up and we didn't snack at all after dinner, which was a first in a long time. Easy Sweet Potato and Leek Soup  3 lbs sweet potato peeled & quartered 1 large leek chopped 2 liters of organic veg stock 2 tbsp ginger minced 5 cloves of garlic minced 1/2 cup hemp hearts dab of coconut oil Himalayan salt & pepper to taste In a large pot saute leek with coconut oil and garlic for 5 mins. Add stock and sweet potato and bring to boil, then simmer for 45 mins. In batches add soup to blender and add ginger, hemp hearts and salt & pepper, if needed. Yields: Enough for the week. P.s. Oh yeah and for those of you with little ones, just add some organic baby cereal to a little bowl of it and you've got their meal covered too.

photo cred Cat For all you stocking stuffers, here's a fun alternative to candy or gimmicky dollar store items for the holidays. Himalayan Salt - Colour tells you everything. If the salt is white - stay away.  If it's sandy, brownish, gray or pink in colour you should be good. It should list the minerals on the packaging. Local Organic Honey - Raw, unpasteurized and preferably within a 100 miles of your house.  Also said to help ease allergies. Cacao Powder - Spelling is everything, it's cAcAo  not cOacO and make sure the spelling is right in the ingredient list.  The real stuff has amazing health benefits, the other, well, not so much. Try Navitas brand. Hemp Hearts - Great protein alternative and fabulous in smoothies and sprinkled on salads. Manitoba Harvest  and Purity are great brands at a great price. Protein Powder - Sun Warrior is a go-to. 'Tis a pricey item but lasts a very long time. Totally worth it. Stevia sweetener - '0' on the glycemic index (GI) but crazy sweet and all natural. Comes in liquid or powder format. Goji Berries - has 5 times the amount of iron found in spinach and a fab addition to smoothies and salads. Try Navitas brand. Avocado / Hemp / Flax / Coconut  Oil - Coconut is a standard everyday oil, withstands high heat and adds great flavour. The other three are amazing alternatives for dressings, salads and anything that doesn't require cooking.