Couscous Cake – An Easy Breakfast To Go

couscouscake1

Yes. You read that correctly. Couscous… and cake. Together. Although this isn’t what I had for breakfast today, it’s just too good not to share as part of breakfast week! The thing that makes it special is that is isn’t baked. Not that I don’t love me something baked and delicious, I do, it’s just that baked goods can be really hard on you. Baking is drying for your body. Just think of the high heat of the oven creating the crusty crusts of bread/cakes/etc. The liquid is cooked and dried out of the food… let alone the fact that even a good sourdough is still made of refined flour! If I eat too many baked goods I really notice that I start to feel tight and grumpy. Confession time! The most “dangerous” breakfast for me (well… actually, for hubs)- especially if I haven’t been eating well- is toast and coffee. Seriously- poor hubs!! It’s such an indicator for me- if I become a crazy beeee-atch after toast and coffee I really know it’s time to clean things up. Hurrah for the 100 day project… and couscous cake!! ps. it makes a really nice afternoon tea treat, or dessert!

couscouscake

 Breakfast this morning: amaranth porridge, water sauteed napa cabbage, green tea. Tip! If you’re new to greens, napa cabbage is a great place to begin. It has a high water content and its flavour is nice, light and refreshing. It’s also easy to chew! Napa is one of my favourite greens to have in the morning.

teresa@sweetveg - January 29, 2014 - 9:53 pm

Wow! Your couscous cake is a lot different than the one I usually make. I am going to try it. The almonds are chopped or whole? Also..thank you for the incredible reminder to water saute more often. :)

Shauna - January 30, 2014 - 7:25 am

Hi Theresa! Isn’t it so fascinating- all the variations there are out there? This one’s super easy, and in the summer it’s amazing with fresh fruit (strawberries and raspberries especially, omg). Just add the fruit in after the couscous is cooked. It doesn’t keep as long, but that’s usually not an issue… !!

[…] was reading a macrobiotic blog a few days ago and came across this recipe for Couscous Cake. I had forgotten all about Couscous Cake! I used to make it all the time. Here are my […]

Day 2 – Polenta “French Toast”

polentacakesOkay… French toast is maybe a stretch, but polenta cakes didn’t really to fit either! Whatever you decide to call ’em, these are delicious. Even the cat wanted in and I can’t really blame him. Here’s what you do:

Lightly coat the leftover polenta squares with flour. I used unbleached all-purpose, but you could use any other kind. Even cornmeal/corn flour would work. 

Brush your cast-iron pan with a little oil of your choice. I used a tiny bit of coconut this morning and it was delicious. Heat it over medium – medium high heat.

When hot, place the polenta cakes in the pan. After a few minutes, or when starting to turn a bit golden, flip and repeat on the other side. 

Serve hot (they taste good cold too) with an apple juice sweetened jam of your choice,  apple butter, or maple or brown rice syrup. You could easily do these as a savoury version for brunch or for a fast weeknight dinner. Simply top the cakes with some stir fried veggies of your choice.

Along with these bad boys, breakfast this morning included blanched collard greens (yay greens!!) and a cup of green tea. So fast and easy.

teresa@sweetveg - January 29, 2014 - 9:56 pm

This is a totally new idea for me. I never thought to coat the polenta with flour before frying. Keep the great ideas coming. They are super appreciated.

Shauna - January 30, 2014 - 7:28 am

I know!! I hadn’t either, but I found that it was always just a bit oily, and that is tended to stick a bit. So one day I dusted it with flour first and it clung to the polenta so easily, it’s really hardly any flour at all! It cooked so much better for me this way!

KiKi - February 4, 2014 - 9:22 am

Greens for breakfast??! That’s new for me, but it totally makes sense! Thanks for re-introducing me to polenta. A much better experience this time ’round! Feeling good… And it’s only day 2! :)

Shauna - February 4, 2014 - 11:11 am

Agree!! At first, I was like… this is so weird. But now I’m hooked! I always feel much better when I start the day with greens!

Be Kind – Day 1, Breakfast Week!

polenta porridge

Okay Friends! Here we go. You got your shopping list last week- did you buy anything new and exciting? For week one we’re going to be focusing on breakfasts. In (and out of!) my classes, it’s the number one thing I get asked about.  So, I figured we’d  just delve right in with the first meal of the day!

Energy in the morning is rising. Just think of the sun coming up and you can feel what I mean by that. You want to eat something to help you feel in tune with this. In addition to this rising energy, you’ve been fasting all night while sleeping. It’s nice to wake up your digestive system, to break your fast, with something gentle and warm. Miso soup, porridges, steamed, blanched or water sauteed greens, warm tea-  combined, these make a great breakfast. I don’t have miso soup every morning, but I do try to have greens. Greens for breakfast??? When you think about that rising morning energy, and then about plants- growing upwards, stretching towards the sun, it just makes sense.

Occasionally I might have my greens in a juice in the morning, but most often they are lightly cooked. In northern climates, and ESPECIALLY in the middle of this freezing cold polar vortex* kind of winter we’re having, it’s important to have cooked foods to keep our bodies warm and our energy (chi) strong and vital. If you feel cold all the time, examine what you’re eating and if you find you’re having lots of tropical (cooling) fruits, or eating lots of salads, smoothies or juices, try eating your greens and vegetables cooked for a few weeks and see how you feel.

Breakfast this morning: Polenta Porridge topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and leftover lemon pudding (yummy!), green tea. Yup. After all my talk of greens in the morning, no greens today. We tried to buy some yesterday but there were no organic greens to be found and even the conventional ones looked pretty cruddy. Sooo…. Hubs is getting some from Whole Foods today. Hooray!!! Greens tomorrow morning for sure!!

*****

 For hubs and I, I made one cup of polenta, cooked in 4 cups of lightly salted water**. I added an additional scant half cup of water towards the end of cooking to get my ideal porridge texture. 1 cup of dried polenta makes more than enough for 2 bowls of porridge. Pour the remaining polenta into a baking sheet and let set in a thin layer (approx 1/2 inch or 1- 2 cm thick), either on the counter or in the fridge, for the day. When it’s firm, cut the polenta into 2 – 3 inch squares/rectangles and store in a glass tupperware. I’ll show you tomorrow how to make it into a quick and yummy breakfast. 

*****

* polar vortex is SO. MUCH. FUN. to say!! Especially if you say it in an action movie preview  type of voice- you know the one. Low, growly, full of testosterone, slightly angry… Now say it with that voice- Polar Vortex– haha!! So fun!!

** I use Bob’s Red Mill Organic Polenta and for where I live the 4 (ish) cups of water makes a texture of porridge I like. Your water amount may vary depending on the type of polenta you use and how dry/humid your climate is etc. You can start with 3 and add more as you go if you like.

Karin - January 27, 2014 - 11:20 am

YUM! Polenta is my favourite!!! So delicious. :)

Shauna - January 27, 2014 - 11:35 am

omg! especially when it’s smothered in leftover lemon pudding and fresh toasted pumpkin seeds. Just a bit of fast and easy decadence for Monday morning!!

Sonja - January 27, 2014 - 12:58 pm

about that lemon pudding recipe?

Shauna - January 27, 2014 - 1:10 pm

Sonja! You’re the second person to write about that (the other over on FB!). Guess I should have known that people would want it! I’ll definitely post the recipe for it over the next little while. Lemon pudding isn’t what we usually use, we just had it this morning because it was leftover in the fridge!

Normally we top the porridge with a little non-dairy milk and a splash of maple syrup or brown rice syrup- it’s still really delicious. Sometimes if I don’t want sweet I’ll chop a little bit of an umeboshi plum and mix that in.

teresa@sweetveg - January 27, 2014 - 3:54 pm

Yum! I am looking forward to seeing what you make for breakfast. I have a lemon pudding recipe over at sweetveg if anyone wants to try it. I would love to see how you make yours, Shauna!
http://sweetveg.org/2012/06/02/lemon-pudding-recipe/
How was your workshop with Warren? I am hosting him in Seattle in April. We are super excited.

Shauna - January 27, 2014 - 4:11 pm

Hi Theresa- thanks for sharing! I love lemon so much! Despite my best made plans, I wasn’t able to get to the macro centre to see Warren this time around and I was so sad about it. His classes are really, really great (and so is his cooking!!). I keep hearing all kinds of amazing things about Seattle- can’t wait to get there some day!

teresa@sweetveg - January 27, 2014 - 8:49 pm

Shauna-You are welcome any time. We have a guest bedroom and live pretty central to everything. :) I love Warren, too. I am helping at his Portland, OR workshops, too, and feel so lucky!

KiKi - January 29, 2014 - 8:50 pm

Sounds delicious! Totally gonna try this! I think it’s time for *gung-ho-macro*!

Shauna - January 29, 2014 - 9:13 pm

Awesome!! Be sure to let me know if you have any questions… and have fun!!!

Going with the Flow & Issue One

I’m a dreamer and I dream big dreams. This post, for instance, I intended to present in a very different format. Almost 2 weeks later and it is still having issues publishing cleanly. And while I try to be kind to myself while learning new technologies, it’s hard not to get frustrated. In any case, this morning while staring at 15 pages that were ready to go (just not in the format I wanted) I had a little moment. I could re-do them all in a new program, which would likely take much more time than I can realistically spend right now, or, I could publish them on the site as is and start work on the next few recipe posts and Issue Two of the Macro Project! Yes, I’m a perfectionist but sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

A few months back when the weather was dreary, dark and threatening snow,  I was preparing beans for dinner and- in a matter of mere minutes– they went from just about done to a layer of burnt black charcoal that took me days to fully scrape off the bottom of the pot. It was the weirdest thing. Seriously- in under 10 minutes, dinner tragedy. Yet somehow I managed to maintain my cool and instead of flipping out over pot of burnt beans and a ruined dinner, I picked up the phone and ordered Chinese food from the end of our street. Crisis averted. So simple. Hubs and I walked over, picked up dinner, ran back home, opened a beer, put our feet up, indulged in yummy food and had a lovely evening. We went with the flow and it was so easy.

My Sifu wrote to me once, “When a boat is launched into the water it is difficult for the boat if it stays along the side of the stream as this is where the roots and rubbish collect. Tree branches might overhang or there might be other boats to navigate around. If one steers the boat into the center of the stream and goes with the current one finds it easier. The odd obstacle might show itself but because of attention it is easily steered around. This is chi flow. We keep our focus and when something pops up, we are able to handle it with ease. We can see the big picture and we don’t get caught in the details.”

So. I’m keeping my boat in the middle of the river, and posting the macro shopping list as a regular ‘ol blog post. I’ll keep working towards putting it in a fun and tidy new format, and when that happens I’ll be sure to let you all know. So!! Here’s your macro shopping list! In it you’ll find a list of all of the foods commonly used in the macro diet, along with (very brief!!) explanations at the beginning of each category. Be sure to write if you have any questions or comments. Friends, let’s get this 100 day macro party started!

UPDATE! For a downloadable/printable version please click here or on the link to the right!

The Dainty Pig - January 23, 2014 - 4:12 pm

GORGEOUS!!! Love it :)
High-five from Victoria
xoxo Jess

Shauna - January 23, 2014 - 5:05 pm

Thanks, Jess!! Giant high-five back!! xo

Kathi W - January 24, 2014 - 7:50 pm

I love your lists! Can’t wait for your next post!

Ana - January 24, 2014 - 8:41 pm

Thank you SO MUCH for putting this together. i have been toying with the idea of a 30-day macrobiotic challenge, but felt too overwhelmed to get started.

I plan to print this out tonight and keep it in my handbag to reference at the supermarket and while eating out.

I really appreciate it. This is wonderful.

Shauna - January 27, 2014 - 11:01 am

Kathi – Thanks! It was fun to put together- I’m excited for this project!!

Ana- You’re welcome!! I know- it can be so daunting figuring out just how to begin. Hope this helps you, and keep in touch with how it goes!!

Heather - June 7, 2014 - 3:10 pm

Is there a way for us to download this? I’m not able to save the photos or print. :(

Shauna - July 16, 2014 - 12:39 pm

Hi Heather! Yes! I’ve just updated it and you can now download it by clicking on the link on the right of the page, or at the bottom of the post. Please let me know if you have any issues downloading/printing… if you do I’ll send you the pages via email :)

Fred - September 3, 2015 - 9:59 am

Hey, where did you go. I know that there areanly a few of us out there, but I really like your enthusiasm and ability to post things on your site nicely, complete and sensible. Get back on the website please!!!!!!!!

Shauna - September 3, 2015 - 11:17 am

Hi Fred,
Honestly, I totally burnt-out and had to take a long break. I’d like to get back to posting too, some day soon, I hope. Right now I’m helping others put their vision out there in a beautiful way- by building brands, doing photography and logo and website design. Mostly for other small start-ups, food enthusiasts, artists, musicians and yogi’s! I guess that’s one of the things about macro, is that- if you allow yourself- you really can be “shown” the direction(s) to living a big life!! Sorry to keep you waiting, but happy to know there are people like you out there :) xo

To Be Kind

be kindOne way you could say it, is that 2013 was a year. Or you could delve into all the gory details and say it was a giant year of change, growth, discovery, setback, heartache, realization, and so much more. Pick either and you’d be right, 2013 was  a year.

Actually, 2013 felt like it began for me in October 2012 when I started cooking for a client full time. Yes, I was his chef- but when someone is eating food you are preparing for them to try to reverse a terminal, untreatable condition, it becomes so much more than being just a cook. Cheerleader, supporter, confidante, friend, teacher. A conveyor of brutal honesty and a shoulder to cry on. We cooked together (while he told amusing stories)  in his home once a week, and I delivered his meals on the other days. We listened to music- lots of Beethoven along with R&B- and he talked to me about everything. I offered what I could and honestly, often more than I could. I was so angry after seeing him some days that I’d have to sit in the car and have a good solid cry before I could come back into my home.

The whole deal was, if I’m being brutally honest, really fucking hard and what I took from it all is that every single person on the planet is here to have their own singular, unique experience and learn the lessons that they chose/choose to learn. I could provide my client with everything I could, but he had to live his own life.  That, my friends, is a big lesson to learn. I feel grateful and immensely lucky to have been part of his journey- Thank you, K.

He fought like one tough son of a bitch, and to me at least, his passing last October was unexpected. I won’t get into all the messy details and conflicts of emotion I had during the following weeks. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty, and involved hours of binge watching netflix. After that?

I soul searched. Who am I? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? And one day in late November, when all hell was breaking loose, Hubs walked me through the park and we talked and I cried and we talked some more and I likely cried some more too. Then in the midst of the emotional wildness, I experienced a moment of epiphany. Standing still, the feeling of being completely at ease and alone with myself, the little thought came to me. “you tell stories” it whispered and everything became clear. When I performed in orchestra or as a soloist, it was all about the story- the experience for the audience. The push and pull of sound and silence and the power to control it and carry everyone along. Through photos it’s the same- to try to create a mood, an atmosphere- to encourage the desire to make delicious food. As a writer the challenge is how I want to say things, how words form together… how much to write- a little? a lot? How personal do I get? Do I just skim along the surface? Should I swear like I do in real life? And just how much do I want to share with the internet???

In discovering that I tell stories, something blossomed and opened- a little swirl of bravery and acceptance of ME. That I am, and of course can only be, purely ME. The fear of publishing something, thinking “What if they don’t like it? What if I don’t know enough? Is it good enough? Is is macro enough???” started to slip away. Now it’s scary and incredible and freaking crazy liberating  to write and post what I want- being accountable to…. only ME!

Of course it makes sense that during all of the turmoil of last year my eating habits were also chaotic. One extreme leading to another and a craving for yet another. I ate wide. Very, very wide. I can’t say that I ate an entirely vegan diet. I ate a little meat. I ate baguettes and cheese and drank (a lot of) red wine. I felt so much pressure and I rebelled against and sought relief of that pressure with more alcohol which led to more extreme choices…. it’s a vicious cycle, folks. My body changed. My emotional discomfort, of course, morphed into discomfort in my body- clothes were tight. I felt bloated and tired. My digestion was horrible. And oh the guilt!!

Yet here and now, all I can feel is thankful. For all the hardship, beer, wine, baguettes and everything else. Because if it hadn’t been for all of that, I would not be where I am right now. And I am one lucky, lucky girl. Hard and horrible as it is, it is pretty freaking amazing to see and feel your body reacting in direct correspondence with your actions, and be able to learn from it all- then watch it find a healthier balance in time. The human body is an amazing thing.

Which leads us to 2014. Instead of resolutions to work out more, eat better, do yoga, have better chi kung practices,  eat out less, conquer the world, travel as much as possible, blah de blah blah blahhhhhhhhh, I want to focus this year on one thing and that is to: Be Kind. No more cursing at the ‘cupcakes’ that currently poureth over the sides of my too tight pants. No more self deprecating fat talk in my head. No more I should have done better, self doubt or self abuse. 2014 for me is about developing and maintaining habits that will serve me well- which can all fall under the cozy cashmere blanket statement: Be Kind.

Some interesting career opportunities have come up and I’m carefully dipping my toe in the water to see what will come of them. You can expect to hear more about them all as the year unfolds. And of course, there’s the macrobiotics!! Primarily this site focuses on the food aspect, and it will keep doing so- although I would like to talk more about the energetics of food/plants too. In this spirit of being kind, Hubs and I are being a little kinder to our bodies and starting a 100 day macro-challenge this week. If you want to come along, I’ll be posting some menu plans, grocery lists and some yummy recipes. Look for the first instalment next week. Keep in mind- this is about making better choices and not about complete rigid control and perfection… I plan on fully disclosing my stories as we go through the process!!

Last, you’ll likely be wondering about the lead donut image…. In early December I was in Edmonton doing some photo work for a very inspirational woman and her lovely vegan donut company. (She even makes a macro donut!) Everyone (well, almost everyone) loves donuts, and when they are this beautiful and prepared so lovingly by hand and with such quality ingredients, well, I had to share one of the shots from the shoot. Thanks all, for coming along on this wild ride- and I look forward to an exciting, creative, yummy and kind 2014 with you all. xo

The Dainty Pig - January 6, 2014 - 2:28 pm

So much love for you, and for all of this :)
I know what it’s like to be thrown in & out of the loving arms of Macrobiotics, swinging from miso to baguettes & cheese and back. <3
It's all good, and it'll all be okay.
Happy monday friend,
xoxo Jess

Blaine - January 6, 2014 - 3:18 pm

Wonderful! And hats off to keeping it real. I’ll join you in your ‘be kind’ resolution.

Happy new year, wishing you so much growth & happiness in 2014!

Christina - January 6, 2014 - 5:18 pm

This is a beautiful piece! Authentic and moving. I wish you all the best in the year ahead!!

Mandy - January 6, 2014 - 9:45 pm

I am so proud of you… this was so beautifully written, so beautifully honest and so very amazing. I have nothing but love for you my dear and I know that you will be outstanding in your new ventures. Xoxo

Edit - January 7, 2014 - 3:21 pm

I completely understand you, 2013 was for me roller coaster and my decision for 2014 is same, be kind, rest more, accept myself as I am.

Teresa@sweetveg - January 8, 2014 - 7:13 am

Lovely! I look forward to reading more words from your heart in the upcoming year. Since starting my imperfect macro practice I am becoming more and more compassionate with myself. It’s a wonderful journey. I am so glad you are sharing yours with us.

Noe - February 11, 2014 - 7:23 pm

Thanks alot cause you reflect me! Aceptance…

Cristina - October 17, 2014 - 1:25 pm

Shauna, I hadn’t browsed your website for a while… since I took one of your macro classes probably.
I found so much empathy and relief in your article as I went through… or still going through a similar situation after a very loved person in my life passed. I haven’t been eating as I should and the worse, like you say, is the “guilt”… even more so now that I’ve completed my certificate as a holistic nutritionist!… so ironic!
So it was very comforting to know that I am not the only one that makes those kind of mistakes and that they also help us to grow and make us better persons.
Thank you for sharing such an inspiring stories!