Monthly Archives

October 2011

breakfast, recipes

Feel Good Smoothie: Two Ways

Things have been pretty grey here in Toronto lately and if you’re anything like me there is a direct correlation between dreary weather & dreary moods.

So…what’s been keeping my spirits up lately?

Sad/Sweet/Seasonal Music
Autumn isn’t always easy. Its sad saying so long to summer and hello to months of blustery cold. Albums like these make me feel better about the prospect of staying in & sipping tea till March rolls around.  

  • Feist: Metals
  • Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues 
  • St. Vincent: Strange Mercy
  • Cults: Cults
  • Youth Lagoon: The Year of Hibernation
Good Mood Foods
Yesterday I had the good fortune of attending a seminar by Joy McCarthy (a holistic nutritionist, writer and all around lovely lady working in the Toronto area) on the subject of how food can be used improve your overall emotional and mental health….and not in the midnight-binge-on-haagen-daaz kinda way 😉
I love Joy’s approach to health and wellness because she provides sound nutritional advice focusing on organic and whole foods , but she doesn’t shy away from talking about how issues like stress, anxiety and depression can be just as important when it comes to your overall health and happiness. In this workshop she even touched upon how issues of sexuality and sexual health can be tied to food and emotional eating. I know, right? She’s awesome. I’m such a fan.
Anyhow, I don’t wanna go into all the details of the good mood foods Joy suggests but I whipped up a little smoothie this morning with Joy in mind so I thought I’d share the recipe with you:
Good Morning Good Mood Smoothie
B vitamins abound in this smoothie from the leafy greens, plus heavy duty antioxidant power in the cacao & berries, blood sugar balancing protein and cinnamon and an omega blast in the chia and flax combo. I felt like a freaking superhero after knocking back this thick and tasty conconction.
BLEND:
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 big handful of leafy greens (spinach has a very mild flavour but I also like kale or swiss chard)
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries (mixed frozen berries also work)
  • 1 scoop plain raw brown rice protein powder
  • 1 big heaping scoop of raw cacao (or cocoa powder)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp flax oil
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup OR 1/2 tbsp spoonable stevia
  • 1 hefty sprinkle of cinnamon
  • a few drops of pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ice cubes
  • 1-1.5 cups almond milk**
    (I often half the almond milk in this recipe and use part brewed coffee instead for a chocolate mocha treat)
And just in case you wanna get crazy with me…I figured I better show you how I really enjoy my smoothies.
BOWL STYLE.
Like a huge bowl of super thick chocolate milk topped with extra cocoa powder, frozen raspberries, toasted pumpkin seeds, raw oats and nature’s path kamut puffs. Strange? Possibly. But trust…it’s delicious. Have I ever lead you astray?
Hope you’re having a happy, healthy, joy-full day!  🙂

community, culture, reflections, restaurants

PARTY LOCAL.

Hey folks –

Sorry for the mini hiatus but it was birthday week in these parts and I have been busy PARTYING MY FACE OFF.

whatever maybe that was me partying my face off when I was 4…

Here’s a rundown of what the party really looked like this year…as I celebrated my 25th:

  • Bought 2 grey autumn sweaters with my mum (this and this)
  • Picked up an incredible pair of hiking boots at Mountain Equipment Co-Op – courtesy of the backwoods ranger (aka. my mom’s partner in crime)
  • Drank a few too many whisky sodas at the Holy Oak, one of my favourite little cafe/bar combos out on Bloor St. West

Photo Source: Blog TO

  • Ate delicious trail mix birthday cookies from Cool Hand of a Girl thanks to the Magical Megginz
  • Enjoyed a locally sourced birthday dinner at the Keriwa Cafe. I will review this restaurant soon but let’s just say it couldn’t have been more Healthy Hipster approved. They had birch on the walls and bannock bread on the menu. It was simply beyond.

Photo Credit: Toronto Life

MacIvor still gives me chills.

It was a show called His Greatness, about Tennessee Williams living in 1980s Vancouver. These tickets were courtesy of my pops, whattaguy!

A Young Tennessee Williams: Sass & Swagger

  • I also got to enjoy a delicious birthday brunch at Zocalo, a foodie hotspot in the Junction Triangle I’ve been meaning to try for ages. (A friend tried to explain where precisely the J.T. is but don’t ask me to explain…I let him lead the way. I like the feeling of not knowing where to go until I get there)

Photo Source: Blog TO

In Sum: I spent the day with the friends and family I love, supporting the businesses, restaurants and artists that make my community so wonderful. Sure I do these things every day, but on my birthday it felt special. Simple. But it suited me.
How do you like to celebrate your birthday? Home Cooking or Restaurants? Do you like to go adventuring or do you enjoy staying local?  
coffee

Coffee of the Day

Feel like shaking things up from your usual drip coffee/latte routine? Try a cortado!

It’s somewhere between a bold espresso macchiato and a smooth, foamy cappuccino. Reminds me of the cafe con leche I used to drink every morning when I lived in Spain. Delish!
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Cortado made with Soy @ Lit Cafe on College St…with a side of The Onion 😉 Perfect way to start the day.

diy, healthy treats, recipes, snacks

High Protein Brownie Bar (Vegan, Low Sugar)

Okay so I’ve been working on this little recipe for a while now and I feel like even though I haven’t worked out all the kinks I’ve been snacking on them WAY too often not to share. And who knows, maybe you’ll have your own tips and tricks to make them even better!

My standard recipe is as follows:

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • pinch of cinnamon (if desired)
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar/agave/maple syrup OR 1.5 tbsp spoonable stevia
  • ½ cup milk of choice
  • 3 scoops (20grams) plain brown rice protein powder** I use a raw variety that is cheap, vegan and allergy-free!
  • 2 tsp light tasting vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1.5 cups dark berries
  • ¾ cup oats
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp pepitas (or sub for sunflower seeds), toasted
  • ¼ cup almonds, toasted and crushed
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
Directions:

  1. Mash banana until the consistency is soft and runny. Then mix in protein powder, almond milk, cocoa powder, coffee, oil, sugar or stevia and cinnamon if using. Stir well until protein powder is dissolved and ingredients are completely blended.
  2. Grind flax seeds in a coffee grinder (or use preground) and add these to the mix along with an extra 1/3 cup water. Stir and set mixture aside for at least 5 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients: toasted nuts and seeds, flour, oats, baking powder, salt.
  4. Add dry mix to wet mix and blend until you reach a batter-like consistency.
  5. Mix in berries and stir to combine.
  6. Bake in a foil lined 8 x 8 pan (this is important as it will help you remove and cut the bars later) at 350 degrees for around 30-35 minutes or until the centre is cooked through.
  7. Allow the bars to cool for 5 minutes then lift out foil and place in the freezer for around a half hour. After this amount of time the bars should be firm enough to slice with a knife. I usually keep half in the fridge and freeze the second half to take with me as an on-the-go snack.
Keep in mind these bars are soft at room temperature and a little crumbly, so you’ll need to wrap them up. But they’re delicious and loaded with protein, healthy fat, whole grains and fiber to keep you going way longer than your standard sugar-laden granola bar.
Enjoy!
reflections

Thanksgiving in 3 Parts: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

While most families celebrate Thanksgiving all together in one gigantic feast, my meal this year was broken down into several smaller parts.

PART 1: BREAKFAST

Since we were all so busy this weekend, I decided to meet my cousin, his beautiful lady & little princess for a thanksgiving diner breakfast.

I ordered 2 poached eggs, wheat toast & tomatoes with some pan-fried potatoes that were too tasty to pass up.

Alexis opted for sunny side up…

With a side of pac man (courtesy of her crazy aunt). Ahem…I swear I’m not a bad influence.

PART II: LUNCH

Next up was a delicious Thanksgiving lunch at Mrs. Mitchell’s, a self-proclaimed granny-inspired restaurant that serves up hot tea and homestyle meals with a gourmet twist. Their Thanksgiving lunch menu was chock full of delicious brunch and lunch options.

I chose a grilled chicken salad with mango dressing, goat’s cheese, candied pecans, strawberries & red onions….

With a side of supersweet corn on the cob just because…

PART III: DINNER:

Everybody knows what a Thanksgiving dinner looks like so I decided not to snap a zillion pictures of our feast. I will say though that my gluten-free stuffing was an excellent addition to the meal 😉

No doubt the best part was getting to spend it with my beautiful friend-family. Like my handsome bestie Ryan (who also chose our soundtrack for the day…Wilson Phillips anyone?)

Okay fiiiiine maybe one food pic….this homemade gluten free coconut-milk-based pumpkin pie made my life…obviously. 

Traditional or no, my holiday weekend was perfect because it was perfect for me.

dinner, recipes

Pimentón & Rosemary Gluten-Free Stuffing

When I was living in Spain, Pimentón (better known as smoked paprika) was a table spice. It came in two varieties: sweet & spicy, though they were most often used in tandem to give all those traditional spanish dishes the vibrant colour and depth of flavour they are so known for.

Well this morning as I was whipping up an extra batch of stuffing (made special for my gracious hostess can’t tolerate the gluten) I couldn’t think of a better way to season it than with that delicious Spanish spice, with a Thanksgiving twist!

Pimentón & Rosemary Millet-Rice Stuffing

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup millet
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 heaping tbsp coconut oil, earth balance or butter
  • 2 leeks 
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika (any variety will do)
  • 1/2 tbsp ground rosemary
  • 1 palmful of salt (I used seasoned Herbamare)
  • a few shakes of salt-free vegetable seasoning (optional)
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds
Directions:
  1. Cook millet & brown rice separately in lightly salted water with a bay leaf in each pot. (Millet usually takes about 30 minutes, brown rice may take 45. Don’t worry if the grains are a little al dente as they will cook more when you add them to the veggie mix)
  2. Add leeks, carrot, celery, mushrooms and garlic to a food processor and pulse until the veggies are evenly chopped and combined.
  3. Melt coconut oil/earth balance/butter in a large skillet. Add veggie mix, salt, paprika and rosemary. Cook on medium high heat for about 5-7 minutes until very fragrant.
  4. Add rice and millet (with the bay leaves) to the skillet along with an additional cup of water. Simmer on low for around 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  5. Pulse the toasted almonds in a coffee grinder (you could also crush them in a bag using a wine bottle). You don’t want to completely pulvarize them – the result should be about half almond flour/half almond pieces.
  6. Add nuts to the stuffing and adjust seasonings to taste.
Serves 6-8.
dinner, photojournal, restaurants, travel

Untraditional Holidays & A Harvest Meal

As the Thanksgiving long weekend approaches here in Canada I’m sure many of you are getting ready to head home for the holidays.

Well for me, this is not always a straightforward endeavor…To be honest my family is less than traditional (remember a few posts back when I mentioned I grew up on a hippie organic farm? You get the idea…) This year I decided to do my trip “home” the week before Thanksgiving, visiting my mum and her fella (the Backwoods Ranger) for a little hiking, camping and general adventuring in the North. Then on Sunday I will have my “traditional” Turkey day meal with the folks I like to think of as my friend-family (or my family of choice). While I appreciate tradition as much as the next gal, I kind of love my plan this year because it works for me and the people I love.

I was also glad I chose to go North when I did because the leaves are right in the middle of changing and the colours were breathtaking.

One night I was invited over for dinner at our family friends Jim and Carolyn’s cabin home in Massey, Ontario.
We sipped Chardonnay on the porch as the sun went down.
 I roasted up some fennel, onion & asparagus…Plus some unpictured buttercup squash.

Carolyn showed off her new quilting fabrics to Mama Hipster.The Backwoods Ranger (+ his brother Jim…who is…also a ranger) fired up the BBQThen we feasted on a delicious pre-holiday Harvest Meal. (Those squash seeds were roasted up using this delicious recipe)The next day we woke up early to go for a hike. We grabbed an on-the-go breakfast from Tim Horton’s. I opted for plain mixed berry oatmeal with a side of peanut butter mixed in and a plain egg patty on the side for some added protein.

Not to get down on the ol’ Canadian maple…but I think birch trees are my favourite.

Oh yeah that wasn’t terrifying…

I’m back in the city today and so excited to spend the holidays with my friends here. But I can still smell the campfire on my clothes….and that’ll definitely keep me smiling all weekend long. 😉

breakfast, dinner, photojournal, travel

Bits and Bites from North Country

After a brief but memorable 5 hours on the greyhound I arrived safe and sound to the teeny town of Lively, Ontario.

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I was greeted by chilly sweater weather, lots of hugs and a warm bowl of turkey chili I layered over some fresh spinach. If I can pry this recipe from my mum I will share it cause it’s a keeper! So far all she’s shared is “fresh veggies, no garlic.” A mysterious creature my mother is…

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Breakfast the next morning was entirely non-optional. Mum wanted poached eggs. I obliged.

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Followed up with some tea on the porch…

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Now all thats left to do is lace up my boots and hit the trails.

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coffee, travel

Tim Hortons of the Day

Hope you folks liked the last guest post as much as I did cause you’re about to see a whole lot more of Northern Ontario in the days to come.

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Tim Horton’s Pumpkin Spice tea, enjoyed on the road along the Trans Canada Highway, en route to visit my fam in the teeny town of Lively, Ontario.

I’ve already seen fall colours, made some peculiar friends on the greyhound bus and caught my first glimpse of a canoe (if you look closely you can see it behind my timmys cup).

Bring on the canadiana…