Friday, September 21, 2012

Curry Cauliflower & One Inspiring Artist

My friend Paul has an extraordinary eye. Where I see fog, he sees this:

He finds beauty in what many of us overlook. Paul is going through his countless images as he prepares his home studio for this weekend's West End Studio Tour. He's showcasing his vibrant photos from his recent trip to Havana.

I've been an admirer of Paul's work ever since we were colleagues at CJOH News. We covered hundreds of thousands of stories together. He drove me to countless interviews, events and locations. Between stops, we were always on the hunt for the best cheap eats.
Paul was at the top of his game, winning award after award. One day, in the middle of a news scrum, the veteran cameraman could no longer operate his Betacam, his hands and arms trembling uncontrollably.
Courtesy CTV Ottawa
Turned out to be -- not depression and anxiety that doctors first diagnosed -- but a degenerative neurological disease. Parkinson's put an early end to Paul's career in TV.  It didn't hamper his passion for capturing beauty.

"Still photography is solitary, so there's a chance for reflection. When you frame up a shot, you're in the moment. And the Parkinson's is gone."

When I was going through the darkest period of my own neurological illness, Paul was my light. He would coax me out of my house with the promise of lunch at a new local dive.

These days, on a good day, Paul is busier and more energetic than most people I know. He packs his days with photography, salsa dancing, guitar playing, tennis and visits to AK's Kitchen to sample the latest experiments. For the record, Paul is 64 years young.

This is Paul's credo: "Some people say 'seize the day.' I have to seize the hour because time is short."

I'm managing my health, and I owe much of my success to Paul. He inspires me to push myself a little further and enjoy every healthy, able moment.

One of Paul's favourite dishes is curry cauliflower. Cauliflower is in season now, and it's a great source of dietary fiber. The Indian spices in this recipe add a range of nutritious benefits. What I like best about this recipe is that it is filling, flexible and frugal.

I stretched this recipe to make seven servings, plus leftovers for lunches. I simply doubled the amounts and added toasted almonds to boost the protein content.

Paul's Curry Cauliflower
Serves 4-6

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 small potatoes (peeled, diced and partially cooked) 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground dried turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup water or vegetable both
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 (12 ounce) can beans, drained and rinsed

Optional but so delicious:
Toasted slivered almonds
chopped coriander

Separate the cauliflower into tiny florets and put aside.
In a large skillets, heat the oil.  
When the pan is very hot, add the mustard seeds. 
Once they "pop," add the other spices, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes until you have a dark paste.
Add the onion and garlic, and saute until translucent.
Add the potatoes, cauliflower and water/ vegetable broth. 
Cover for about five minutes and let simmer.
Once the potatoes are soft, add tomatoes and beans.
Let simmer uncovered for another five minutes.
Serve warm with rice or naan bread. 
Top with toasted almonds, yogurt and fresh coriander.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Raw Chocolate Bliss

Craving chocolate? I found an easy, healthful substitute to a decandent chocolate truffle.

I sampled this wonderfully scrumptious dessert today, at a yoga studio of all places. If it comes from a yoga place, it's gotta be good for you, right? When I asked the yogi for the recipe, she told me that it was easier than doing the Downward Facing Dog.
Fresh dates + almonds + cocoa = Raw Chocolate Bliss
Two parts dates, two parts nuts, one part cocoa. Whiz all three ingredients in a food processor.  Presto: Raw Chocolate Bliss.
When I got home, I had to try it for myself. I used 1/4 cup of dates, 1/4 cup of slivered almonds and 1/8 cup of cocoa powder. I refrigerated the mixture for about ten minutes and then formed little balls with a teaspoon and my fingers.

I made eight quarter-sized balls. I took this quick picture before my little vultures dove in and cleared the plate and all surrounding crumbs.  

These tiny morsels are super filling. They're packed with fibre, anti-oxidants and a host of vitamins and nutrients.

Best of all, they leave you feeling good and satisfied, without having to do the Downward Facing Dog.