Monthly Archives

February 2012

breakfast, inspiration, recipes

Ira Glass Loves Oatmeal

Okay so I can’t say that with any authority. But I offer you this as evidence:

I love oatmeal. And I love listening to Ira Glass in the morning while I eat my oatmeal. So my 6am powers of deductive reasoning tell me that Ira Glass must love oatmeal. Why else would he spend so much of his time recording episodes of This American Life just to entertain me during the hours that I’m wide awake on weekend mornings but no one else has even kicked off their covers? Riddle me that.

Crockpot Steel Cut Oats

  • 3 cups water, 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
Combine ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on low overnight. Makes 4 thick, creamy, delicious servings.

My breakkie today: 1 big cup of oats mixed with 1 scoop of sun warrior protein powder and topped with a bit of maple syrup, frozen berries, cinnamon granola and drippy almond butter.

[Back to Ira]

This morning as I was eating the above bowl of deliciousness, I stumbled across this quote from the man himself and I thought it was worth sharing. Whether you’re a writer, an artist, a mother, a teacher or an espresso slinging barista I think that the struggle to live up to your own high expectations is something we’ve all experienced. It’s certainly something I’m coming up against now as I’m smack dab in the middle of my quarter-life-crisis.

Source

Swoon. Have a lovely Saturday!

cities, restaurants

Friday Round-Up: A Week of Highs & Lows

This week my life has sort of mirrored the weather…as in…I’ve seen some pretty crazy ups and downs…

1) HIGH: Went to my very first NHL hockey game!

It was amazing and the fact that I chugged a gigantic grey goose caesar right before the game only improved matters…

And yes that is a piece of pepperoni in my beverage. Ha! Gross/mazing. My dad thoroughly enjoyed snacking on it before the game. 

2) HIGH: Mac & Cheese at the Hogtown Vegan

In a recent conversation with my sister we got to talking about the holy grail of vegan dining: the perfect Mac & Cheese. There are loads of recipes out there involving all the usual vegan suspects like daiya cheese, earth balance, cashews and nutritional yeast as well as some less conventional additions like butternut squash. But we both agreed that whatever the combination, it is seriously tricky to emulate the creamy comfort food magic of mac & cheese…Unless of course you’re a chef at The Hogtown Vegan.

Source: BlogTO

To say I was impressed would be an understatement, I was utterly befuddled. Normally when I go to a vegan restaurant I am secretly plotting how I could recreate the dish at home but with this baked platter of goodness I had no idea whatsoever how I would go about making it…Which was probably the same reason I liked it so much. It was pure pleasure. Ignorant bliss. I paired it with a lovely dinner salad they had on the menu that came loaded up with marinated tofu, a scoop of the best guacamole I’ve had in years, sunflower seeds and fresh crispy vegetables. Sadly my own pics didn’t turn out very well due to the low lighting…But now I just have another reason to go back 🙂

3) SERIOUS LOW.

On Monday one of the worst car accidents in Ontario history resulted in the deaths of 11 migrant farm workers from Peru who were on their way home from working at a poultry farm just North of Toronto. While this was, on the surface, just a very tragic accident, it has caused many to rethink the current treatment of migrant workers in this country.

As someone who consciously supports Canadian farmers by purchasing local fruits, vegetables and meats, this accident served as a wakeup call and a tragic reminder that “local” does not always mean “ethical.

I thought immediately of the families of these individuals living in Peru who not only lost their loved ones but their livelihood. Migrant workers in North America often send large portions of their wages back to their native countries to support friends and famlilies there (this money is called remittances). While this process occurs informally, it often serves as the primary income for many families in developing countries.

The Real Price of Sending Money Home from on Vimeo.

What I did about it: 

Bundled up in my long johns and woolies and got my butt out to the local farmer’s market. I figured there must be others like me who wanted to support for the families of these workers, so why not give them the opportunity? The response was incredible. I raised about $300 in 3hrs (it is a teeny tiny market, so this is a SERIOUS chunk of change) plus I handed out a zillion donation cards to folks who didn’t have money on them but wanted to donate online.

And that’s all for now, folks.

Care to share your highs and lows from the week? What are you looking forward to this weekend? 

cooking tips, healthy treats, recipes

Sweet Satisfaction: Managing Your Sugar Cravings

Hope everybody has had a super-sweet humpday because today we’re talking Sugar.

20120209-003254.jpg
No, not you sassy best friend from the trashily amazing lesbian British teen drama Sugar Rush

More specifically…I wanted to chat about a few ways that you can deal with those pesky, insatiable, binge-inducing sugar cravings.

The reason I’m bringing this up is not because I want to be a total buzzkill right before cinnamon heart season (which I fully intend on participating in…with reckless abandon) but because of an interesting article published last week by group of researchers working at the University of California, San Francisco. Basically they argue that the addictive properties and heath risks associated with refined white sugar are so damaging that we should tax sugary beverages in the same way we tax alcoholic ones. I won’t go into the details of the article but The Guardian provides an excellent summary of here.

As someone who strives to find balance in my everyday diet and lifestyle I found this article to be a little problematic. I hold fast to the belief that deprivation only begets deprivation and can often become its own addiction. For this reason I have no desire to eliminate the sweet pleasures from my life, even when they take the form of say…the aforementioned mountain of cinnamon hearts. On the other hand, I hate the idea that I am in anyway reliant on sugar, that I may be craving its addictive properties instead of my body truly desiring it.

So as a bit of compromise these aren’t ways to eliminate sugar completely but rather to manage sugar cravings on a day to day basis by enjoying it in smaller, more satisfying doses.

Top 3 Ways to Get the Best of Your Sugar Cravings!

1) Learn to love licorice & fennel.

Okay so I know licorice isn’t for everyone, but anise and fennel have a natural sweetness that I can’t get enough of. When purchasing tea, always opt for something blended with licorice or fennel because this will ensure the tea has a sweet aftertaste. Vanilla or fruit flavoured ones tend to be dissapointingly sour or bland on their own.

I have also been all about raw fennel lately and have been making this “recipe” as a snack almost every single day.

Cinnamon Sugar Fennel Sticks

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar, stevia or sucanat (omit entirely for a completely sugar-free version)
  • 1 tsp coconut, almond or walnut oil (I often use the top runny layer of my nut butter for this…SO GOOD)
  • 1/3 bulb of raw fennel, sliced into sticks
  1. In a large mixing bowl, lightly toss fennel sticks in oil & use your fingers to make sure they are well coated
  2. Combine cinnamon & sugar if using.
  3. Sprinkle about half the cinnamon sugar over the fennel, toss & cover with the rest. Sometimes I pop these in the freezer for a few minutes before i eat them to add a little crunch

2) Combine the savoury and the sweet.

One of the best ways to avoid feeling deprived of sweets is to enjoy a little bit of sweetness with your savoury dishes. I find this almost always satisfies my sweet tooth and I rarely crave dessert afterwards.

Sweet & Savoury Curried Egg or Tofu Scramble

  1. Sautee up some onions, garlic and veggies in a little oil, then add your tofu or eggs just as you would with a normal scramble.
  2. To add the sweetness mix in curry powder, cooked squash or sweet potato and top with about a tbsp of chopped raisins and some toasted nuts. I also like to add a little cinnamon but that’s maybe not for everybody 😉

3) Enjoy naturally sweet, high-fibre fruits alongside healthy fats.

This is definitely my go-to recipe for caving into a sweet tooth the right way. I like to enjoy a midday sweet treat that includes a high-fibre fruit like bananas or dried figs alongside a healthy fat like dark chocolate (made with pure cocoa butter), coconut or nut butter. The fibre and fat will help to keep your hunger at bay and slow down the absorption of sugar into your system. Which means you can enjoy all that sweetness without the crashes or cravings.

Banana Almond Bites
Carob, Coconut or Cocoa-Covered

Directions

1) Slice 1/2 banana into 3 large chunks. Then slice these chunks in half again.
2) Take 1 large scoop of almond butter and spread it evenly over three of the banana pieces.
3) Sandwich the nutbutter between another piece of banana.
4) Roll in carob powder, coco or shredded coconut.

Serve as is or on top of crunchy crackers.

Do you ever struggle with sugar cravings?
What tips do you have for striking a balance ?

cities, culture, inspiration

Sunshine & Avant/Garde Inspiration

I am not in the kitchen today. Or the gym. I am in the sunshine. It’s 7 degrees in February and all I want to do is play outside.

So instead of a standard post I am sharing an assortment of things that have been inspiring me over the last week.

Memories of this fantastic production of Cruel and Tender by Canadian director Atom Egoyan.

While the play itself had some interesting thematic content I was completely enamoured with the cinematic quality of the staging. Visually stunning.

Photo Credit: Torontoist

Going to live theatre makes me feel just as giddy and excited as I did as a little kid. And I still HAVE to save my ticket stub and program.

A few snapshots of design details I fell in love with at the Interior Design Show. For some reason I keep returning to these ones.

Woodland Playchair.


Faux Cowhide Alphabet Rug.


Porcelain Tiles.


Water & Wood Dining Table.


Crystal Accents.


Neon Canadiana.

I also can’t stop falling in love with this digital portrait series called The Avant/Garde Diaries. I especially love this one on Rosmarie Köckenberger’s post-industrial cafe/urban garden in Berlin.

Hidden in a 600 square meter big garden in Berlins’ neighborhood Kreuzberg, Rosmarie Köckenberger welcomes her guests, friends and residents to have a coffee and a warm chat in her KJOSK. An almost 50 year old, white painted double-decker bus is used as a mom-and-pop store where people can play Super Mario together, eat local sausages and have a after work beer. Rosmarie offers with her KJOSK a special place, overgrown with greens, to settle back from the bustle of a big city in a familiar atmosphere.

Off to enjoy the day! Hope you’re finding inspiration in unexpected places on this Monday afternoon…

budgeting, recipes

Dickensian Stem & Split Pea Soup

If you’re anything like me by the time Saturday hits your fridge looks pretty bleak. All the showy vegetables like asparagus and bok choy were the first to go,with boring but reliable cruciferous veggies making an appearance mid-week and by Friday you barely made due with a few sprigs of kale some wrinkly mushrooms. Saturday is, in other words, shopping day…Or at least it should be. But I often like to push things just a little bit further by bringing together my two great loves: saving money and making soup.

This soup is downright Dickensian but it is comprised not of vegetable remnants (ie. the last few sprigs of this or that) but the seemingly unusable scraps or…in this case…stems of hearty cruciferous vegetables. These stems, along with the split peas, make for a nice thick soup without the use of a roux or additional potatoes. A perfect meal or snack that will last you all the way through the weekend and maybe even to your Monday lunch hour.

Refrigerator Remnants:
Stem & Split Pea Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped 
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
  • 3 broccoli stems, sliced into discs. Make sure to use only the top 3/4 of the stem and discard the very bottoms as they are too “woody” and won’t blend well. 
  • 1 cauliflower stem, roughly chopped. Avoid leaves and the “base” of the stem but use everything else. 
  • 1 cup dry split peas, rinsed. 
  • 9 cups water (divided)
  • 2 tsp all  natural, low sodium vegetable boullion
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional, adds a little depth to the flavour)
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup light coconut milk (optional, replace with more almond milk if you don’t have it on hand)
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup/honey/agave
Directions:
  1. Sautee onions and garlic in coconut oil over medium heat until fragrant
  2. Add chopped stems and continue to cook 2-3 minutes until just softened
  3. Add dry, rinsed split peas and coat well with the oil in the pot
  4. Add 6 cups of water and boullion. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.
  5. Simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Since much of the liquid will have absorbed, add an additional 3 cups of water and return to a boil. Then continue to simmer on low for an additional 20-30 minutes.
  7. Add almond milk, coconut milk, turmeric, nutritional yeast and sweetener.
  8. Blend.

Serve soup with extra coconut milk on top, chopped chives, smoked nuts or paprika. 

Yields: 4-6 servings. 

Do you save your refrigerator remnants? Or do you have a favourite pauper food? 

diy, recipes

Protein-Rich Granola Bars & Other Small Changes to Keep February Fresh

When I was living in Holland a few years back I experienced a lot of culture shock. More bikes than people? Took some getting used to. Bland foodmash that passes for a national dish? Mildly offputting (though Dutch food eventually grew on me). The inability to wear high heels on cobblestone? Straight up rage-inducing. However, once the first day of February hit and I realized it was spring I was finally shocked…in a really really good way.
The air smelled sweet, the flower markets were packed with fresh blooms and the rain (at least temporarily) seemed to subside.
Fast forward to present day…February in Toronto, Canada…my cold Northern landscape is providing me with no such seasonal inspiration. But I’m still trying my best to find that sense of February rejuvenation by mixing things up and implementing some small changes in various aspects of my life to keep myself from succumbing to the winter doldrums.
Small Fitness Changes: 3 Ways To Mix Up Your Routine
1) Try out some incline/intensity during your regular cardio. Not a lot. Just add some incline or intensity for 1 minute after 4 minutes of your regular level of intensity, then return to normal. Repeat for the duration of your workout.
2) End your workout with squats. Either time how many you can do in a minute (or 2, or 3) OR try going to 100. This will add a  nice little end-of-workout burn without raising your heartrate too much. Plus it is satisfying because you can set small goals and then feel great when you achieve them!
3) Pushups. Give em a go. Go for girlyones (I’m appropriating the term, its cool) if you aren’t used to the upper body challenge or try to do them in full plank position. Just a few sets of 10 mixed into your routine is a great total body workout…Plus they make you feel all tough-like. 😉
Small Food Changes: Experiment with New Ingredients
Last week I bought Sunflower Seed Flour for the first time. It has great nutritional benefits and is very high in protein but it has a really distinct flavour so I wasn’t sure how well it would blend into regular baking. Nevertheless I made the change, I gave it a shot and ended up creating these deliciously energizing little snackbars.
DIY: Protein-Rich Granola Bars
 Vegan, Gluten-Free, Low-Sugar,
Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup gluten free oat bran or oat flour
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seed flour (I’m sure you could sub for almond flour with great results)
  • 1.5 cups crunchy cereal (I suggest a high protein variety like Hi-Lo or Kashi but anything would work)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1 tbsp honey or agave
  • 1 cup almond milk (sub for rice milk if you want to make this recipe nut-free as well)
  • 4 tsp ground chia mixed with 4 tbsp boiling water 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • Optional Cinnamon
  • Optional 2 Packets of Stevia (to enhance the natural sweetness)

Directions
  1. Combine wet ingredients mashed banana, almond milk, vanilla, chia mix and tahini in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir flours, baking powder, salt, seeds and cereal together. Also add cinnamon and stevia if using.
  3. Mix dry and wet ingredients and knead a bit with your hands to make sure everything is combined.
  4. On a parchment lined baking sheet, shape dough into two rectangular blocks. You’ll be cutting each into 6 pieces and you want them to end up looking like standard granola bars so do the math. I made mine about 2 inches thick.
  5. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes. They should end up golden brown and crispy at the edges.
  6. Slice into 12 bars and store in the fridge for an on-the-go snack that will last all week.
What small changes are you making to keep things fresh this February?
inspiration, profile

Get to Know a Healthy Hipster: Joy

This post is a part of my new “Get to Know a Healthy Hipster” Profile Series. To read more about this series check out this post.

Name: Joy
Occupation: Holistic Nutritionist
Location: Toronto

How would you describe your style of eating ?

I’m a Flexitarian! That being said, a large portion of what I eat (at least 80%) is plant-based — I love my kale, avocados, quinoa and almond milk lattes! But I certainly enjoy a piece of wild salmon or certified organic steak once in a while.

What are some of the must haves in your fridge/pantry?

Pantry foods I always keep stocked are quinoa, dark organic chocolate, extra-virgin olive oil, organic coconut oil, chia seeds, brown rice, dried beans, raw cacao (LOVE my chocolate, notice it’s in here twice), Sunwarrior (fave vegan protein powder), various kinds of pasta including brown rice, spelt and kamut. Foods I stock in my fridge and buy often include leafy greens (kale/arugula/spinach), lemons, various kinds of nuts & seeds (yes they should be stored in the fridge!), apples, organic eggs, sweet potatoes, garlic, greek yogurt, goat or sheep milk cheese, frozen berries… I could go on and on. I eat a wide variety of foods depending on the time of year.

Joy's Delicious Detox Salad with Dijon Maple Dressing

Favourite local bar/venue/party to blow off steam?

I love the city of Toronto so much, it’s so hard to choose. But I absolutely love eating out with my friends. My faves are Pizza Libretto, Origin Restaurant, Comrade (for drinks) and if I really wanna blow off steam you will find me somewhere in the West end of Toronto listening to live music dancing my buns off!

Best place to caffeinate/hydrate?

I LOVE independent cafes. My top 3 that I visit every single week are Mylk Uncookies, Merchants of a Green Coffee and Te Aro – yes, I’m an East ender. I don’t drink coffee, but I love a good almond milk latte.

Mylk Uncookies in Toronto's east end is one of my favourites too! Make sure to try their homemade raw desserts and fresh almond mylk!

Photo Source: BlogTO

Style icon?

Zoey Deschanel. If I could raid her closet, I would be in heaven. I love wearing dresses and skirts – Spring, Summer, Winter or Fall. I love pretty things, vintage pieces and then spending good cash on a piece that’s going to last me for years, like a fabulous coat. But to be honest, I spend most of my money on good food.

Zooey Deschanel: The Vegan, Vintage Frock Wearing Vixen Hipster Chicks Hate + Love in Equal Measure

Photo Source: The Clothing Menu

Favourite ways to get active?

Shopping around a farmers market – yes this is exercise when you are carrying 4 grocery bags! Lifting weights, yoga, walking, running and of course, having sex.

Who were you in high school?

I was torn between wanting to spend all my days in art class (I skipped many classes to hang out in the art studio) and hanging out with “90210” crowd as we called them back then! But to be honest, I always felt out of place. Back then, I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. It wasn’t until my mid 20’s (yes, I’m 34) that I felt totally joyous in my own skin.
**
FYI I gasped aloud when I read that last part! Srsly whatever Joy puts in her naturally sourced BPA-free lemon water, I want some!

You’re on death row, whats your last supper?

At least 3 glasses of Pinot noir, arugula salad with some pecorino cheese, proscuitto pizza from Libretto of course and tiramisu — and this dinner must be had with my sweet man!

If you live in the Toronto area make sure to check out some of Joy’s fun and inspiring workshops! I wrote about my own experience at one of her seminars here.

Winter Eat Well Feel Well 6-wk nutrition + yoga class
Superfoods for Natural Beauty: Feb 11
Gluten-free Deliciously: Mar 10

Are you a Healthy Hipster? Or do you know someone who is?
Send your story to healthyhipster@gmail.com and I might just feature you in a future post!