Simple advice for a better life.
Veggie Delight at SalaThai in Downtown Vancouver

Creative Commons License photo credit: sweetonveg

The Great Lent began about two weeks ago, which means that those who follow this tradition, abstain from eating meat at least on Friday of every week, or some even do it on Wednesdays as well.

If you are like me, and are used to having meat at least once or twice per day, preparing meatless meals a couple of times per week might create a challenge.  I used to really stress out about this during my early years of cooking, but after a while I built quite a long list of meatless meal choices, and could easily be a vegetarian, if I could only win my family over to that eating style.

I have been posting some of my  meatless recipes during this past year, so if you are searching for ideas, here are the links to these posts:

Palushky (Potato Dumplings)

Halushky (Pasta with cabbage)

Vegetarian Holubtsi (Cabbage Rolls)

Varenyky (Pierogies)

Homemade Pasta (in the lower section of the linked post)


Tuna Melts

Veggie Burgers

Tomato Soup

Red Beet Soup

Sorrel Borsch

If you are interested in a rather quick meal, there is always Macaroni and Cheese (you can add in some steamed broccoli, or any other of your favorite vegetables), Tuna Fish Salad, Egg Salad, Shrimp Scampi, any other fish which may be fried or broiled, pasta with steamed veggies, pasta with tomato sauce, pizza, PBJ, etc.

With so many different choices, the few meatless days during the 40 days of lent, pass by so quickly, that before you know it, you are back to the old meat cooking routine.

Sometimes  I actually miss a meatless meal, so I whip one up for a change, just to add a new twist to my meal planning.

As always, please share your favorite meatless meal idea with all of us.

Cocoa Cake with Peanut Butter FrostingIt’s time to celebrate yet another birthday at the office.  I have volunteered to be the  “cake baker” , but the birthday celebrant has to select his/her favorite cake.  Sometimes I even ask them to provide me with their favorite recipe, and I will do my best to create a cake.  This time the selection was a chocolate cake with lots of frosting.

Since I really love this Cocoa cake with Peanut Butter frosting, which several years ago my manager made for my birthday (she loved gourmet cooking), I decided to use that recipe.

Slice of Cocoa Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

It is the combination of the chocolate cake and the peanut butter frosting that makes this cake so decadent, as it reminds you of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Ingredients for Cake:

  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cups Hershey’s Cocoa
  • 1 ¼ tsp. Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 1/3 cups water

Ingredients for Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup Peanut Butter
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract

Directions for Cake:

  1. Heat oven to 350°.
  2. Grease and flour two 8 or 9 round baking pans.
  3. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla.
  5. Beat 1 min. at medium speed.
  6. In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  7. Add alternately with water to creamed mixture, beating after each addition.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  9. Bake 35 to 40 minutes for 8 inch rounds, or 30 to 35 min. for 9 inch rounds, or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool 10 min.
  11. Remove from pans.
  12. Cool completely.
  13. Frost the cake with creamy peanut butter frosting.
  14. Cover and refrigerate.

Directions for Creamy Frosting:

  1. In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and butter, until creamy.
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar, and vanilla.
  3. Mix well until well blended and creamy.

Morning Time Management

Mornings could be a very hectic time in any household, especially if everyone is on a very tight schedule, and in a hurry to get ready as fast as possible, and to move on.

It is even worse if you are not a morning person, and you have to drag yourself out of bed, even after the alarm goes off, and the snooze button is hit few more times (this is not a good idea).

Here are some of my suggestions to make the best of your busy morning, but it requires good planning the night before:

  • Prepare a list of things to do in the morning, and follow it for a while until the routine is somewhat mastered by everyone  (This will work for  any household; singles,  married, families, or even retired couples)
  • Keep the list  posted on the fridge, or any area in the house, where it can easily be viewed by everyone
  • Delegating daily tasks, and engaging the whole family, is  another great idea to get tasks accomplished as a team
  • Get as much accomplished as possible the night before (well began, half done…there is a lot of truth to that expression)
  • Empty your dishwasher
  • Fill it up with dirty dishes sitting around (much more pleasant to be greeted in the morning by an organized kitchen)
  • Prepare the next day’s lunch bags, by at least putting in the drinks, snacks, and napkins
  • You can even make the PBJ sandwiches, but spread both pieces of bread with PB then put the jelly in between the two, to prevent the bread from getting soggy
  • Making a meat sandwich, place the meat on each piece of bread, then put the mayo or mustard between the meat, also to prevent the bread from getting soggy
  • Check the weather forecast for the next day, and make sure everyone lays out their clothes out before going to bed  (this really cuts down on the morning confusion, not to mention the numerous outfits ending up on the floor)
  • If you are sending off a child to daycare, pack their diaper bag and fill their bottle (store the drink it in the fridge of course),  and leave a reminder on your diaper bag to take the bottle
  • Supervise your school age children to pack their school bags, special projects, instruments, sports equipment, before going to bed
  • Replenish the water for your pet
  • Schedule your children bedtime at least an hour or more before your own, to free up some time for yourself
  • Insist that everyone places their dirty clothing in the laundry basket, not on the floor, after changing into their pajamas
  • Everyone should have their own alarm clock set up with a wake up time. Best way is to get up as soon as the alarm goes off, rather than dragging it out and hitting the snooze button, as this may cause you to fall asleep again (you should try to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep, and 8 – 12 hours for children)
  • Wake up time should be moved up, for days with inclement weather, which required earlier departure time, to allow for slower driving and traffic
  • Don’t skip breakfast! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as it provides your body with needed nutrition to start the day, even if it is only a piece of fruit and a glass of juice, it is better than not eating at all

Also, just like breakfast gives you the energy to start your day, organized morning contributes to an overall better day.  Speaking of a better day, check out these suggestions on how to free up some of your time during the day.

I know, this looks like a lot to accomplish the night before, but these tasks require only few minutes each to complete.  But the key factor is the planning, organizing, and  delegating, which requires to select one person to be in charge of this.   You will be surprised how smoothly this whole process will proceed, and I assure you that there still will be free time for family fun, and less grumpiness in the morning.

I can speak from my own experience, as a morning person, if I don’t complete most of my unfinished tasks the night before, and especially select my next day attire, my morning is very unproductive, time flies by, and I end up leaving the house with breakfast on the go in one hand, and the car keys in the other, and no prepacked lunch.  Not to mention the mess I made of my closet, before I decided on the outfit for the day.

I am sure that many of you have lots of wonderful ideas of your own, and we all would love to hear about them, so please share and leave comments.

Buffalo Chicken DipDips are still part of the “centerpiece” foods at parties. Everyone loves having a scoop of their favorite dip, surrounded by veggies or chips. It makes it easy to move around and socialize, while enjoying your food at the same time.

I already shared the ever so famous recipe for the original Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip, but recently I had an opportunity to taste a much lighter version of this dip, and I could not believe how great it tasted.

So, if you are still sticking to your New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier, here is a recipe for you to enjoy without feeling guilty.


  • 2 chicken breasts (cooked and shredded)
  • 8 oz Fat Free Cream Cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup Frank’s Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
  • ½ cup shredded Low Fat Cheddar Cheese
  • ¼ cup Fat Free Ranch Dressing
  • ¼ cup Fat Free Oikos Greek Yogurt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Unwrap the cream cheese, place it in a microwave safe dish, and microwave for 10 seconds, to soften it.
  3. Place cream cheese in a medium bowl, and stir until smooth.
  4. Mix in Frank’s Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce, Low Fat Cheddar Cheese, Low Fat Ranch Dressing, and Oikos Fat Free Greek Yogurt.
  5. Add chicken, and mix until combined.
  6. Scoop mixture into a casserole dish, and smooth the top with a spoon to even it out.
  7. Bake it uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the mixture is heated through (do not overcook, as it will begin to separate)
  8. Stir well and serve.

TIP. Best served with cut vegetables (carrots, celery, peppers),pretzels, crackers or baked tortilla chips.

If you prefer less spicy version, you may cut the cayenne pepper sauce to 1/2 cup.

Veggie Burger – Recipe


Creative Commons License photo credit: miikkahoo

I never thought I would like the taste of a veggie burger, so at first I purchased some frozen ones, Veggie Medley by Gardenburger , and realized that they were not as bad as I thought.  Since I am not really a hamburger lover, veggie burger earned my approval.

I like making my own food at home, since it allows me to control what goes into it, and enables me to modify the recipe to my taste.

I looked up some recipes for veggie burgers, and came up with this modified version to fit The Fat Smash Diet.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels or frozen, thawed
  • 6 mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 3/4 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1 egg white
  • Salt and pepper


  1. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat.
  2. Stir in corn, mushrooms, scallions, and bell pepper.
  3. Saute for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, cumin and cayenne and cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in spinach.
  6. Add carrot and brown rice and stir to combine.
  7. Add egg white and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Add some quick oats or more brown rice, if the mixture does not hold together.
  9. Shape mixture into 6 disks and place on a plate.
  10. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
  11. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in non-stick skillet and cook veggie burgers until golden on each side.

Tip: I like to eat these veggie burgers plain in Phase I and II, but in Phase III, there is a choice of whole wheat bread or whole wheat muffin to serve these on.  Veggie Burgers, just like brown rice, are now part of my new food list, which I learned to enjoy.

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