Cooking With Compassion

'Dairy Free Decadence' at Glyde Community Centre

‘Dairy Free Decadence’ at Glyde Community Centre

On Saturday I ran my very first ‘compassionate cooking’ class and had the privilege of meeting 10 (well 9 since one was unwell) beautiful people who had gathered together for a variety of health and personal reasons – united  in trying their hand at ‘dairy free decadence’.  These welcoming new friends opened their hearts (and mouths!) to vegan ‘necessities’ (desserts are part of my staple diet) where we created almond milk, raw cacao fudge and cashew cream- all amidst yoga buffs and iffy food processors!

As His Holiness the Dalai lama so eloquently affirms:

Compassionate thought is the most precious thing there is. And if we have a good heart, a warm heart, warm feelings, we will be happy and satisfied ourselves, and our friends will experience a friendly and peaceful atmosphere as well. This can be experienced community to community, country to country, continent to continent”.

This new community of compassionate individuals listened with open hearts as I shared something that was very close to mine:  the extension of kindness and compassion towards animals, whose voices have been silenced in factory farms throughout the world.  I would personally like to thank these lovely  people- Colin, Alayne, Carole, David, Susan, Jan (who we will see next week), Rae, Lyn, Jennifer and Nancy-  for the opportunity for me to share my passions with you. Together we created delicious food to share in a compassionate gesture not only towards each other, but also in beneficence to the millions of sentient beings around the world whom suffer in the food industry.

Every small gesture benefits the greater whole; for ourselves, each other, the animal kingdom and mother earth. Each time you indulge in ‘dairy free decadence’, you are creating a kinder world for all those whom inhabit it.

'Pixie' from Greener Pastures Sanctuary. Photo courtesy of Marjie Bremner

‘Pixie’ from Greener Pastures Sanctuary. Photo courtesy of Marjie Bremner

“No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves”. ~ Amelia Earhart

Thank you for being part of this kindness ripple effect.

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Raw Cashew Cream

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This homemade cashew cream is easy to make and is a fantastic cruelty- free alternative to cream. It also happens to be healthy for you so you can add an extra helping on everything sweet related! I use this in place of cream and it is delicious on it’s own, or as a super yummy ‘garnish’.

 

Equipment:

Food Processor

 

Ingredients:

1 cup of raw cashews, soaked in water overnight

¼ – ½ cup of water for blending

2 ½ Tabs of sweetener (I use Maple Syrup and light Agave)

¼ teaspoon Natural Vanilla Extract

 

Preparation:

1.  Drain Cashews and rinse with water.

2.  Place cashews in the food processor and process.

3. Slowly add part of the water and the sweeteners- process well.

4. Add the remaining water (depending on what consistency you like and process for several minutes until smooth.

5. Enjoy on everything you would normally put cream on!

 

 

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Raw Cacao Balls

Raw Cacao Balls

Raw Cacao Balls

Who said that Vegan’s don’t get to enjoy chocolate?! This recipe will dispel that myth and I’ve had a lot of enjoyment creating (and eating) it. These raw cacao balls are a delicious way to use up the pulp from your homemade almond milk. Be warned though- it’s hard to stop at one and even though these are good for you, the cacao will have you bouncing off the walls before you realise it!

 

Equipment:

Food Processor

Trays for refrigerating

 

Ingredients

1 ½  cups of squeezed almond pulp  (This is equivalent to all the pulp left over from the Almond Milk- click here recipe for instructions )

1 ½  cups cashews

2 cups dates

¾ cup plus 2 Tabs of raw cacao (available from the health food store/ aisle)

½ cup dried coconut

5 Tabs (or 90 ml) of pure Maple Syrup or Agave

1 ½ Tabs of psyllium husks (available at the health food store)

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt (or any sea salt if you don’t have this)

4 Tabs of Cacao nibs

 

Preparation

1. Place cashews in the food processor and process until they become small and crumbly.

2. Add dates to the cashews. Process both ingredients until the mixture sticks together and the dates are well processed.

3. Add the cacao, Maple Syrup/ Agave, almond pulp and sea salt. Process until the ingredients are just mixed together (Don’t over process, we don’t want it to turn into butter!). Add the psyllium and process again.

4. Stir in the cacao nibs- do not blend. This will give the fudge mixture a nice chocolate-y ‘crunch’.

5. Roll the mixture into small balls and place on a tray. The mixture will be quite moist so it’s a good idea to store it in the freezer (Don’t worry, it will still be nice a chewy).

6. Enjoy! But try not to bounce off the walls 😉 Makes about 20-30 balls, depending on how big you make them.

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Cullin Barnett: Compassion’s Ultimate Test!

Image courtesy of of Katrina Love

Image courtesy of of Katrina Love

Compassion towards Barnett is by no means an easy challenge. It’s difficult to have empathy for a man whose idea of co-existence is to smile for the cameras whilst yielding baited hooks which are intended to kill living beings. Consequently, ‘compassion’ and ‘Barnett’ do not frequently appear in the same sentence within my vocabulary.

Image courtesy of Goran Martinovic

Image courtesy of Goran Martinovic

If however,  I am to practice what I preach for all living beings, then I have to find the space in my heart to have compassion for Barnett, even if he is a conservative egocentric Imperialist who fails to listen to the general public in his own agenda of power acquisition. But wait, I digress. This blog is about compassion for all, even the fascists 😉

And so I took this waning need for compassion towards Barnett and wrote him a polite letter (I won’t post the rather hostile letter I sent him several weeks ago), hoping to appeal to his diminished sense of humanity and concern for all life. Whilst I’ll share this letter at the end of this post (along with his contact details in case you feel moved to do so), I wanted to mention some of the beautiful gems that are slowly revealing themselves in light of this controversial issue.

For the second time this year, thousands of West Australians gathered on Cottesloe Beach to voice their opposition to Barnett’s reactionary shark cull. Sea Shepherd’s Managing Director Jeff Hansen told SBS news:
“Ten years ago we may have only had a handful of people on the beach speaking out for sharks and now we’ve got regular people – mums, dads, average people that aren’t working in conservation, talking about biodiversity, talking about apex predators and talking about the importance of sharks in our oceans.”

Western Australia is an extremely conservative state and we rarely see this type of activism, which is far more typical over east. To see thousands of people stand in protest on Cottesloe beach as a united voice for marine life, fills my heart with overwhelming joy and a love so deep, it extends well beyond words. I can only hope that Barnett was as moved by the dedication and compassion of the Western Australian public, and perhaps harness some of this courage to begin to reflect on his actions and credibility as Premier of the state. As Bo Bennett so aptly said: ‘It is not our mistakes that define who we are; it is how we recover from those mistakes’ – wise words that Barnett could certainly learn from.

And so I will leave you now with my letter to Barnett, in the hope that it may inspire you to speak out for what you believe in and know to be intrinsically right and just.

Dear Mr. Barnett

I am writing to you as one of the growing majority of Western Australians who oppose the reactionary shark cull policy. Whilst I believe your intentions to protect the West Australian public are well-meaning, pre-emptively killing sharks is a response based on emotion rather than of scientific data, with some 100 shark scientists already writing to you to outline the floors in this policy.

As Western Australians for Shark Conservation founder Ross Weir told TIME magazine recently: “While the rest of the world is turning to shark conservation, our government is sticking their head in the sand, ignoring all the experts and employing an archaic strategy. What they are doing is illegal and violates 15 different United Nations conventions and treaties”. Perhaps what is more alarming, is apart from the devastating effects the drum lines will have on the marine eco-system, the growing body of evidence indicates that there is indeed, no scientific proof that shark culling works.

“It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character.”
Dale Turner

In western society Mr. Barnett, we have traditionally been taught that a leader should hide weaknesses and not admit to mistakes. The danger of that belief, especially when it is held by people in positions of power, is that it backs a leader into defending their poor choices, even when they themselves have come to recognise they have made a mistake. New managerial and leadership research indicates that admitting mistakes and taking corrective action can be a powerful opportunity for leaders to build trust and commitment from their followers. This quality is very rare in leaders however, I believe would be invaluable to you in regaining the trust and respect of the West Australian public.

I implore you to listen to the majority of West Australians whom elected you to represent them Mr. Barnett, to show the courage to admit your mistake, and the resilience to make amends. There are many successful, non-lethal approaches to shark control which would not only earn you the respect from the West Australian public, but protect the delicate balance of West Australia’s marine life.

Kind Regards,

Fern Demeo

You can read about the facts about why a shark cull will not work here. If you
are moved to write to Colin Barnett, here are his contact details:

wa-government@dpc.wa.gov.au
cottesloe@mp.wa.gov.au

Alternatively, you can stand as a united voice for sharks and sign and share the petition:
http://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/the-western-australian-government-call-off-plan-to-cull-sharks-near-wa-beaches

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Almond Milk

Almond Milk

Raw almond milk is super easy to make, super good for you and super delicious. It’s a fantastic cruelty-free alternative to milk which will I know you will enjoy 🙂 The leftover pulp is also great for a variety of recipes -which will be coming soon!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw almonds

  • water for soaking

  • 4 cups of filtered water

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or agave (optional)

Equipment:

  • Blender

  • Cheesecloth or Nut Milk bag

  • Strainer and bowl

Preparation:

  1. Soak the almonds in water overnight.

  2. Drain the water from the almonds and discard this liquid

  3. Add the almonds to the blender with approximately 1 cup of the filtered water. Blend this mixture, pausing to scrape down the sides of the blender.

  4. Add the remaining water and vanilla extract (optional), and blend the mixture until almost smooth.  This may take several minutes.

  5. Line the strainer with cheesecloth (or a Nut Milk bag) and place it over the bowl.

  6. Pour the blended mixture over the strainer/bag so the milk can collect in the bowl.

  7. Strain the remaining liquid out of the almond pulp by using the cheesecloth to squeeze it firmly. The pulp should be dry to touch.

  8. Homemade raw almond milk will keep well in the refrigerator for three to four days.  Use it in place of dairy milk and enjoy the health benefits and crystal clear conscience!



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What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast almost becomes a staple food item for vegetarians and vegans. For many, it is because of its nutritional properties (Nutritional Yeast is one of the only plant derived sources of vitamin B 12), though for me, it’s also because of its delicious ‘cheese like’ taste (I’m half Italian, and we need a cheese hit from time to time!).  Nutritional yeast has a distinct flavor which can be described as cheesy, nutty and creamy – just to name a few. It’s a great substitute product, and when combined with other ingredients such as nuts, forms a delicious new taste sensation for your savoury dishes. In Australia, we buy nutritional yeast as ‘savoury yeast flakes’, though other names include nooch, yeshi, or brufax.  It’s usually sold in the form of flakes and basically looks like a yellow flaky powder.

So what exactly is nutritional yeast? Essentially it is deactivated yeast, which is different to brewer’s yeast or yeast extract. Nutritional yeast is produced by culturing a nutrient rich medium (usually sugarcane or beet molasses) for several days. When the yeast is ready, it’s deactivated with heat and then washed, dried and packaged. The high heat involved in production deactivates any ‘bad yeasts’ such as Candida Albicans, so you don’t have to worry about yeast infections with nutritional yeast. In fact, according to Doyle (2010), only a small proportion of yeast organisms ever cause a problem for humans; with many of these fungal specimens living happily inside the body which actually help enhance your nutritional intake (from Nutritional Yeast and Yeast Infections, 2010).

References:

Asbell, R. 2010. Big Vegan. Chronical Books: San Francisco;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutritional_yeast

http://www.livestrong.com/article/270014-nutritional-yeast-yeast-infections/#ixzz2lvd2iUv9

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Rebirth

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Today is the launch of The Passion for Compassion – a blog dedicated to fostering compassion in not only our own lives, but in the lives of all sentient beings who share this beautiful planet with us.  Today is a significant date for me as it is my beautiful Mum’s birthday. Today she would have been 57 years old, however she was taken abruptly to spirit not long after her 50th birthday.  It is with great love and intention that I launch this blog on her birthday, to honour her for the unconditional love she showered me with and for the compassion she instilled in me towards all creatures great and small.  The truth is that I miss her dearly and many tears continue to fall some six and a half years later.  As Elizabeth Kubler-Ross so aptly states:

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” 

Part of my journey towards wholeness has been around re-aligning with my passions and purpose- to be of service to the animal kingdom in whatever way I can. This fills me with a love so deep that it begins to shine some light into the gaping hole that grief left behind. My mum always loved animals and had intervened to help many creatures throughout my childhood. She instilled in me the values of love, kindness and compassion towards some of the most vulnerable and voiceless beings on the planet- the animals.

I hope you all enjoy this blog as much as I have enjoyed creating it.

Happy Birthday Mum xoxo

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