Pumpkin Polenta with Caramelized Peaches and Butternut Squash


Hello beautiful people,

Thanksgiving in Canada is just a short week away. I’m already excited for all the delicious food, the family, the ambiance of festivities… If you’re hosting, Thanksgiving can require quite a bit of cooking. I find that a little preparation and cooking a few days ahead goes a long way. It’s your best bet to not stressing out on the day of and to actually enjoy some of the celebrations. I love spending time in the kitchen, but when my entire family is over, I want to spend time with them, not in my kitchen, and enjoy some of the delicious food and great conversations.

So here’s a few tips I’ve gathered over the years of hosting (and this applies to any gathering or party or festivity you are hosting and that is more labour intensive than a potluck – although potlucks can be labour intensive…but that’s for another post!):

  1. Write down you’re entire menu, down to the very last bite of food. A cute little tradition we have in our family is that my dad will have my menu printed out on decorative cards and placed on each person’s plate. It makes for a nice little souvenir of the celebration and serves as a great memory card for me, the day of!
  2. Make sure there’s something for everyone on your menu. If someone you invited has a food allergy, intolerance or is on a special diet, don’t make them feel left out, have something on your menu they can enjoy. For example, in my family, a few people are gluten-free. So I make sure there’s a few dishes for them to enjoy. They are always very thankful for the kind gesture and everyone else get to enjoy the dishes as well…
  3. Also, make sure your menu contains items that can be prepared ahead of time and that freeze well. See item 6.
  4. Once your menu is written down, prepare the non-food related chores like decorating the house and setting the table. You can even go over your music playlist to make sure you have all your favourite tunes are lined up.
  5. As you write down your menu, write your grocery list. You don’t want to waste time going back and forth to the store because you keep forgetting something. Leave only the items that need to be “same day” fresh for last minute purchases like french baguette.
  6. Start cooking the freezable items on your menu, a few of days ahead. I always make a soup on Thanksgiving. Mainly because everyone in my family loves soup but also because it’s such a nice warming way to start a big meal. And it just feels very Fall-ish. And it’s easy to freeze. I also make my dessert a few days ahead like the crust to my pumpkin pie or my carrot cake. All that’s left for me to do on the big day is either fill my crust or ice my cake.
  7. Don’t stress out! Hosting a big gathering can be stressful but remember why you’re hosting and the reason for the celebration. And if everything is not perfect, that’s ok, nothing ever is!

For the longest time, in our family, Thanksgiving has been a brunch celebration. I can’t even remember the last time we had a Thanksgiving dinner, per se. But I’m perfectly fine with that even though it cuts my kitchen time quite a bit, the day of. I love the fact that everyone gathers early in the day so we can enjoy the entire day together.

This creamy Pumpkin Polenta with Caramelized Peaches and Butternut Squash is exactly the type of dish I’ll be making for Thanksgiving. It’s gluten free so it’ll please many members of my family, but it’s also creamy without being heavy and the caramelized peaches and butternut squash give it just the right amount of sweetness and decadence.

Hope you enjoy this dish and let me know some of your tips and tricks for hosting a big event by leaving me a comment!


Pumpkin Polenta with Caramelized Peaches and Butternut Squash
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 portions
This creamy polenta will make everyone at the table happy, from the gluten free adepts to the picky toddlers. If you want to make your polenta a little less rich, skip the coconut milk and simply add more water. It won’t change much of the texture but it will save a few calories.
  • 1 Cup peaches, diced
  • 1 Cup butternut squash, diced (I saved time by purchasing pre-cut frozen butternut squash)
  • 1 Tbs coconut sugar
  • 1 Tbs vegan butter
  • 2 1/2 Cups water
  • 2 Cups lite coconut milk
  • 1 Cup medium cornmeal / polenta
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 ginger
  • 1/4 all spice
  1. In a mixing bowl, add the peaches, butternut squash and coconut sugar.
  2. Stir with a wooden spoon to coat evenly. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, add water, coconut milk and spices and set over high heat.
  4. Sprinkle the cornmeal and whisk at the same time. This will prevent clumping.
  5. When the mixture starts to boil, continue whisking and reduce to medium-low heat.
  6. The polenta will start thickening. Keep stirring frequently to prevent burning at the bottom of the saucepan and the polenta from clumping.
  7. Cook the polenta approximately 30 minutes to get a nice creamy texture.
  8. While the polenta is cooking, add your butter to a saucepan and set on high heat.
  9. Once the butter is melted, add the peaches and butternut squash mixture. Stir then allow the fruity mixture to caramelize, stirring only occasionally but keeping a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn, about 5 minutes.
  10. Once your polenta is nice and creamy, pour into a serving dish and top with the caramelized peaches and butternut squash.






Red lentil and butternut squash curry



Hello beautiful people,

So where did we leave off… ah yes, the steps I took to implement more compassion in my life!

In my last post (with the pumpkin brownie recipe as a bonus for reading through my post! lol) I talked about what it meant for me to be vegan, what the rule of ahimsa represented, what I discovered about myself in regards to compassion towards myself but also towards others and what steps I took to bring more compassion into my life.

Well let me be honest with you: it wasn’t as easy as I thought it was gonna be! It’s actually still not easy and it’s something I have to remind myself to do everyday. I’m hoping that with practise, it’ll become as routine as brushing my teeth and walking my dog.

My two great struggles were compassion towards myself and my selective compassion towards others.

I needed a plan.

I truly thought that all my years of yoga practise had given me the necessary tools but as it turns out, I’ve still got a whole lot to learn. So I turned to the experts like Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins (ok, not the first name that comes to mind when you strictly think of compassion, but he is number one – in my book at least- when it comes to success) and Dr. Axe (ok, not your typical “compassion” pick again, but he wrote a great article on activating your brain’s caring centre, that you can find here).

To tackle my selective compassion towards others, I jotted down a list of actions (thank you Tony Robbins!) that I mindfully choose to take daily, towards everyone. And I mean everyone. Not a selective few. Everyone. And this is key. I apply these steps to those that have hurt me in the past, those that I no longer share a friendship with or simply those that have always rubbed me the wrong way. This list was designed with them in mind. So here goes…

First thing in the morning, before I even leave my bedroom, I meditate. This may sound simple but it’s really the foundation on which everything else rests. I start by taking deep breaths. Nothing too complicated. I just breath. Once I feel that my mind is calm, I repeat the mantra (phrase) Om Mani Padme Um. It’s a Tibetan Mantra to invoke the blessing and compassion of the divine.

I repeat the mantra 11 or 25 times and then I go back to my deep breathing. By this time, I usually feel an immense relief and sense of happiness wash over me. I’m simply happy and I want to share this happiness with others. This is a good start for more compassion!

Then comes the hard part: I choose one person that I’ve purposely not shown compassion to and I hold that person in my mind. Then I smile. Internally and externally. I smile. That’s it. That’s my big plan: I smile. I smile at that person I would normally not smile at. I don’t allow any other thought to enter my mind then to smile and feel happiness, all the while thinking of that person. And I stay like that for as long as it feels right and then I let go.

Once I’ve let go, I chant Om and I’m done.

People, believe me when I say, the difference in my day is huge! Not only am I generally more happy, but I find myself doing a lot more random acts of kindness throughout the day. Like smiling at perfect strangers, calling a friend to ask about her day instead of texting/messaging her (come on, let’s admit it to ourselves, texting is a lot faster but calling is so much more personal), reaching out to someone (even those on my selective list!) I’ve heard is going through a difficult time to offer a few words of encouragement, really listening when someone talks to me instead of racing through my to-do list in my head, offer someone the benefit of the doubt instead of thinking the worst of why they’ve acted in a certain way…

But what have I done specifically for myself. 1 thing.

Every morning, I stand in front of the mirror, I look into my own eyes and say out loud: I love you.

That’s it.

And I dare you to try it! It is not as easy as I sounds… Or at least, it wasn’t easy for me at all. Sure, you can just say the words while you’re standing in front of the mirror or say it jokingly, but to really look at yourself and mean those words… there’s the challenge.

At first, I could barely say it out loud. I would start out loud then finish in my head or simply say it all in my head or I would look away. But it’s not the same. It doesn’t have the same impact.

So I kept trying. And eventually I got it. And now, not only to I “have it”, but I smile at myself when I’m saying it. And that little gesture, those little words, simply changed my world…

I really encourage you guys to try some of the steps I’ve written down. And if only one, try saying “I love you”.

And now, onto the food! In honour of the Patnajali’s ahimsa, I’ve made an Indian red lentil and butternut squash curry. This recipe is adapted from Vijay’s curry recipe over at NoshOn.It

I hope you guys enjoy it and leave me a comment to let me know how you practise compassion or how you’ve improved your compassion towards others.




Red lentil and butternut squash curry
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8 portions
This curry is lush and creamy and the perfect meal for a cool Autumn night. It also makes amazing leftovers for lunch the next day. I kept the recipe on the mild side but if you like a little more heat, add a little cayenne pepper with the other spices.
  • 2 Tbs cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbs garam masala powder
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 2 tsp coconut oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced finely
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and seeds removed then cubed into 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped for garnish
  • Juice of 1 lime for serving
  • Vegan sour cream for serving
  1. Take out your mortar and add all your spices. Pestle away until the cumin seeds are broken up. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you add mix and ground the spices together in a coffee grinder.
  2. Set the spice mixture aside
  3. In a pan set on medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil.
  4. Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and ginger. Stir and cook another 3 minutes.
  6. Add your spice mixture and stir to coat the onion mixture evenly.
  7. Your pan will look pretty dry and sticky. Add the tomato paste and stir until all the mixture is well combined. Your kitchen should be nice and fragrant by now.
  8. Add the diced tomatoes turn and off the heat. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan to make sure you get all the little bits that are stuck.
  9. Transfer the tomato mixture to your slow cooker.
  10. Add the red lentils, butternut squash and water to the slow cooker.
  11. Stir to combine well.
  12. Set your timer on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours.
  13. Once cooked, open the lid of your slow cooker and stir. It should have a nice creamy-ish texture.
  14. Add some salt if needed and the juice of a lime.
  15. Serve with loads of fresh cilantro and vegan sour cream.