It’s official – winter is here in Ottawa! We received a huge delivery of about 15 – 20cm of snow between Sunday and Monday, it’s snowing again today, and there’s still more to come this week. How do I feel about that? AMAZING 🙂
The time between the first snow and Christmas is one of my favourite times. Everything becomes magical. The snow and cold arrives and there are decorations and lights all around the city. I’ve mapped out a walking route that’s perfect because it takes me to Parliament Hill, around City Hall, and through Confederation Park. These are some of Ottawa’s prime Christmas light spots. Once all the lights are on, it will be amazing to see at night, and night starts at about 5pm these days.
Although it’s depressing to be in the dark so early, I figure this is what Christmas lights and decorations are for. It’s also what snow is for – to reflect the beautiful lights and make a magical world for us in the dark. That’s how I like to think of it anyway. The other thing that keeps me happy all winter long is cooking warm, hearty meals that make me smile. These meals did just that. I’ve been trying to incorporate more salads into my weekly meal planning, I’m not a big salad fan usually. I like eating them but they’re boring to make usually and not the first thing I reach for on a freezing cold winter night.
This Roasted Winter Salad Bowl from Oh She Glows is the perfect balance of being a healthy salad, but also containing some filling, warm winter essentials like potatoes, green beans and quinoa. The dressing was amazing, tangy but not too much – however I absolutely love Dijon so I may be biased. Kale, pepitas, green onions and some hemp seeds top off this gorgeous dish. Fortunately I found these cute potatoes at the store in a bag, they were called “Little Gems” which is just such a fitting and adorable name. I like the little pops of colour they bring to this meal.
Next up is this delicious Healing Turmeric & Red Lentil Dahl that I found while perusing Pinterest, an almost daily activity of mine. I also love turmeric and try to incorporate it into as many recipes as possible. It has such a unique and warm flavour to it and it makes a beautiful colour when you cook with it. I’ve been avoiding using salt recently (explanation below), so I found it just a little bland although I’m sure as my taste buds adjust that will change. However the next day as leftovers, it was not bland at all! Clearly the spices needed some time to mingle, get to know each other, and become best friends. Although this has not topped my all time favourite Indian dish, chickpea masala, it’s much less work than masala and a nice way to shake it up once in awhile. It was moved to my ‘Favourite Recipes’ board on Pinterest shortly after I made it, so you know it’s good.
Finally, a real salad from Minimalist Baker, one of my all time favourite websites for vegan recipes. I had a choice between this Kale Salad with Tandoori Chickpeas and another Caesar one that was more work and more ingredients. The choice was extremely easy to make. Although this is not technically called a Caesar salad, that’s what I call it. It’s garlicky, kind of tangy, and super flavourful.
You will see this lovely salad is served beside one of my new favourite things: vegan BLT’s! Such an easy weeknight meal and paired with a salad, they were absolutely perfect. These include tofu bacon, which is nothing like real bacon on its own, but when you put it with tomatoes in a sandwich it kind of comes close. At least the flavour is similar, and the texture well not so much but still it’s a great addition to a plain toasted tomato sandwich.
Of course for these sandwiches you’ll need some vegenaise. I have no idea what real mayo tastes like anymore, I can’t remember. But I’m pretty sure I would take Vegenaise over it hands down. It’s so yummy on sandwiches and in cooking. It’s the most useful vegan processed item I buy regularly.
In other news, I recently went for a blood test after my doctor discovered that my blood pressure was very high. Although I’ll likely never know what exactly caused the high blood pressure (which is now under control), at least I know it has nothing to do with veganism! All of my nutrient levels were completely normal, including B12 and iron – the two I worry most about as a vegan. I’m not sure if that test measured Vitamin D, but I do take vitamin D regularly so I’ll go ahead and assume it was fine as well. Being told you have high blood pressure is scary. It is a condition that makes your heart work extra hard and it increases your risk for heart attack, stroke and blood clots. Hearing it for the first time was enough to scare me into reducing my sodium, regardless of whether that was the cause or not. Once I started checking how much sodium was in everything, I was shocked. I try to keep an eye on it and reduce wherever I can, including by omitting salt in most recipes unless it’s required in baking. So the point of that update was mostly I’m just happy my B12 and iron are good and also this is why I’m reducing my sodium intake 🙂
I’m so looking forward to trying more new recipes this winter! Especially some desserts, I haven’t made desserts in a long time and Christmas cookies are always so much fun. I already can’t wait for the canal to open and to go skating again, but I know that’s REALLY far off. I’ll just stay focused on Christmas for now 🙂