Spring Gillard

Groovy Granola

granolaI know, two recipes in a row. It’s a sure sign of my busy-ness when that starts happening. I’m adjusting to working full time, writing my MA thesis on weekends, and keeping up with household chores. This great time-saving and delicious recipe comes from my good friend Megan. I make a big batch of her groovy granola every couple of weeks. I have some in the oven right now. Smells so good. At first I laughed at the small serving size, but Megan was right, it’s enough. I have mine with soy milk, and sometimes add a banana. Or sprinkle over fresh fruit and yogurt.

4 cups large flake, old-fashioned oats

1 ¼ cups nuts or same amount mixed nuts and coconut (I use cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds & coconut)

½ cup brown sugar (could reduce to 1/4 c)

½ tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ cup oil – Crisco, coconut or grapeseed

¼ cup sweet – honey, maple syrup or agave syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300°. Combine first five ingredients in large bowl. Combine final three ingredients in small bowl and mix well. Add wet to dry and mix well. Spread on two rimmed baking sheets. No need to grease them.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes, stirring and rotating pans every 10 minutes, until golden.

Add raisins, dried cranberries or other fruit once granola has finished baking.

Store in tightly sealed container. You can also freeze it.

Serving size is ½ cup.

Chili Weather



We had a potluck today at work to send off some wonderful co-op students who are heading back to school. One of my colleagues brought this amazing veggie chili. He found it on a blog called Food Wishes. With the weather turning, it is starting to feel like chili time. Roasting the sweet potatoes beforehand deepens the flavours.

Roasted Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

2 lbs orange-fleshed sweet potatoes

1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper, or to taste

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 jalapeno, sliced

1 tbsp cumin

2 or 3 tbsp Ancho chili powder, or other chili powders, or to taste

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1 can (28-oz) diced or crushed tomatoes

1 cup water, more as needed

1 tbsp corn meal

1 tsp salt, or to taste

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp unsweetened cocoa

2 cans (15-oz) black beans, drained, rinsed

cayenne to taste

sour cream and cilantro to garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Combine sweet potatoes, chipotle pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large bowl and toss to coat. Spread sweet potatoes on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
  3. Roast sweet potatoes in the preheated oven until the outside is crunchy and inside is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Cook and stir remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion, garlic, red bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, ancho chile powder, cumin, and dried oregano together in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook and stir until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Pour tomatoes and water into the onion mixture and bring to a simmer. Add cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, sugar, and cocoa powder. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Stir black beans and cooled sweet potatoes into the onion-tomato mixture. Add more water if mixture is too thick. Simmer until heated through, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Serve topped with sour cream and cilantro.

Park This Policy?

I had lunch in the park near work one afternoon and spotted this man having a snooze on the bench. Then I noticed the sign right in front of us. I wonder why it’s okay to sleep on a bench during the day, but not at night. Anyone?

Pirate Ship?

pirateLooks like the Dread Pirate Roberts is docked at the Vancouver Maritime Museum near the dog beach in Kitsilano. I am intrigued by this contraption which appears to have some “green” features. Perhaps some water collection capacity? A compost toilet? Would love to know more if anyone has details.

Just got this update from the Vancouver Maritime Museum – it’s art!

The barge in the waters outside of the Museum is called “Deadhead.” DEADHEAD is a large-scale sculptural installation mounted to a barge and towed by tug to different locations along Vancouver’s waterways. For more information, please check out their website;

White Light

whitepartyI ran into a White Party last night on my ride home from work. Or that’s what I thought it was until I did a little more research. There was a cluster of bright whites gathering around my Solar Bike Tree. Other white-clad folks carrying picnic baskets and coolers spread throughout the park around Science World, setting up portable tables, draping them in white cloths. Although the participants were all dressed in white, this was not technically a White Party. The White Party has its origins in the LGBTQ community and was originally conceived by Frank Wager as a fundraiser for HIV/AIDS research in 1985; the “circuit party” takes place all over the world. A few years later, the Dîner en blanc was born in Paris thanks to François Pasquier and a few friends. These dinners are meant to be chic al fresco picnics, with the secret and very public locations released to ticket holders at the last minute. It was a beautiful surprise to stumble upon this elegant sea of white diners whatever the intention.

Fruit & Veggie Deal

peppersStarting in Sept, you can subscribe to a monthly low cost fruit and veggie box. There are two sizes – the small box is $14-$17 and the large $20-23 – based on a sliding scale. You can pick up your fresh produce box from Steeves Manor, Linden Tree Place or UBC.

This program is run solely by volunteers who order, sort and pack the boxes for the third Thursday of each month. The Fruit & Veggie Deal is also supported by a number of community organizations and sponsors including the Westside Food Collaborative.

For more information call: 778-371-4664 or email:

A Different Kind of Mediation


I came across this beautiful essay by Zenobia Barlow from the Center for Ecoliteracy. It is her address to graduates of their sustainability leadership academy in 2009/10, the year of the Transocean/BP Oil spill on the Gulf Coast. In the address, she refers to the Okanagan Four Societies Model or En’owkin. The model is a collaborative, community building, whole-systems process. I wondered how quickly the current BC teachers’ strike would be over if both government and the union leadership adopted this approach, or brought in a mediator adept in this model. Barlow provides a good sense of how the model is practiced in the excerpt below, but you can read more about En’owkin, which is in Jeanette Armstrong’s essay, Let Us Begin With Courage, also found on Ecoliteracy’s excellent and resource-full website.

It’s true that leadership calls for clarity of vision, but vision needs to be accompanied by a healthy respect for conserving traditions from the past, the capacity to nurture networks of relationships in a community, and a willingness to champion practical strategies that are manifested in concrete action.

The Okanagan Four Societies model presumes that all four perspectives must be present for a community to genuinely practice sustainability. Although leaders may not be able to embody every dimension in their own leadership, they do need to be aware of cultivating these multiple perspectives in their communities.

Just as there are multiple learning styles in a classroom, there are multiple points of view in organizations. We need our leaders to affirm the validity of diverse perspectives. In the Okanagan tradition, the challenge is to request that the person with the point of view furthest from one’s own be encouraged to share that perspective as forcefully as possible. The second challenge is to ask, how can I change myself to accommodate the other? This is the opposite of our tendency to manipulate or force others to adopt our point of view. Communities who live on a scarce resource base for long periods of time learn that their resilience demands consciously eliciting and honoring the minority point of view as well as nurturing a spirit of cooperation that extends beyond necessity to encompass caretaking for one another and other life forms.

As I reflect on the disaster on the Gulf Coast, I really doubt that the decision makers at conference tables in their wood-paneled boardrooms making plans for offshore deep-drilling operations challenged one another to state the points of view most opposite from their prevailing assumptions. Nor did they care to take into consideration implications beyond extractive efficiencies. Can you imagine what might have happened if their technical and financial considerations had been tempered by a deep ecological understanding of the interconnectedness of ocean ecosystems and Gulf Coast communities?                     – Zenobia Barlow

Cooking with Three Sisters

mayagdnLooks like a fabulous workshop this weekend at UBC Farm with the Mayan gardeners. A Three Sisters garden contains squash and beans and corn. You will be working with those garden fresh ingredients in the kitchen. Here’s the info.

Traditional Maya Cooking Workshop

Members of the Maya-in-Exile Garden at the UBC Farm invite you to a traditional cooking workshop. Help prepare (and eat!) four dishes:

Tamalitos de flor de calabaza con salsa de miltomate (tamales filled with squash flowers served with tomatillo salsa) ; Ensalada tradicional (traditional salad); ejotes en sopa (green beans in soup); dulce de calabaza (Squash dessert), and cafe traditional (Mayan coffee).

Date: Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Time: 2:00-4:00PM

Place: UBC Farm, 3461 Ross Drive, Vancouver

Cost: $30 (All proceeds to benefit the Maya-in-Exile Garden)

What to bring: Curiosity and your hungry belly

To register: Please e-mail:

Event link:

Recycle All Your Plastics


Westsiders can drop off all the plastics that don’t go in the recycling bins at a convenient depot in Kitsilano. If you miss the Thursday, you can also drop off at Lord Byng School on the third Saturday of every month. It’s on August 16th this month. Here’s what you can bring.

Soft plastics (packaging, i.e., cheese wrapping)•Hard plastics (like those soda bottle caps)•Styrofoam (blocks, containers, cups, take-out, peanuts)•Beverage containers (wax lined)•Milk cartons•Foil lined bags (chips, coffee)


@ Pocket Market, 8th & Vine

Thurs. Aug 14, 4-7 pm

Thurs. Sept 18, 4-7 pm

The Enemy Within

201_largeI read this the other morning. Seems like an important message for our times. Working on the violence within ourselves is the best place to start.

One who conquers himself is greater than another who conquers a thousand times a thousand men on the battlefield. [Dhammapada, 103]

As long as we attack others under the foolish belief that the enemy is outside, we can never be victorious. The real enemy is within all of us. This is the enemy we have to face with courage and then defeat. Gird yourself up to fight, the Buddha would say; the battle is already joined! Don’t try to run away. The enemy is all that is base in us, all that is greedy, and separate. This is the real enemy, who hides within and deceives us by warning, “Look out! The enemy is waiting for you outside.” – Eknath Easwaran, Essence of the Dhammapada (Nilgiri Press, 2013, p. 93)