Treats & Tulips!

Happy Easter to those who celebrate! And to those who don’t…Happy excuse-to-eat-Cadbury-mini-eggs Day!

I woke up this morning after spending the second night in my quirky, delightful new apartment to see these beauties staring back at me!

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Such a treat that they seemed to bloom all at once. It was the perfect backdrop for my delicious Sunday morning breakfast…

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Mocha frozen yogurt with strawberries, chocolate sauce, toasted coconut, carob chips & cashews.

…Don’t believe me? Then you’re a smart little gluten-free cookie! ;) That was actually my dessert last night & my first time checking out one of those self serve froyo places I’d heard so much about! Menchie’s to be exact.

I kinda had a field day with the testers but finally settled on Mocha.

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A sugar induced gigglefest with the bestie soon followed…

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As for actual Breakkie this morning, it was microwaved oats topped with blueberries and chia with a side of green protein smoothie.

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Not bad…but no froyo. And I’m so sick of no-cook microwave meals. Definitely cant wait to have a functional kitchen again! I have so many recipes in this turban covered head of mine so stay tuned this week as the pots and pans come out of their boxes and I hit the ground running with fresh, springtime foodie fare! :)

Simple Spring Lunch

Spring cooking for me is all about simple flavours and fresh ingredients and today’s lunch was the perfect way to ring in the season…

Asparagus, Avocado & Poached Egg on Toast

Click here for my step-by-step instructions on how to execute the perfect poach.

Additional tip: Blanch asparagus alongside the egg in your poaching liquid to avoid dirtying a second dish!

I’ve actually been incredibly sick since arriving home from Ottawa (for the first time in over a year!) but I’m hoping that deliciously healing whole food meals like this one will set me right soon enough and I’ll be able to fill you in on all my glorious updates soon.

In the meantime, here’s wishing you all a happy, healthy and inspired spring equinox!

Weekend Roundup: Kale Salad to Electro-Goth Dance Parties

Here are a few things that I came to realize this weekend….in no particular order.

1) I only want meals in bowl-form lately.

 Breakfast

1.5 servings rolled oats cooked in soymilk for some extra protein, topped with 1/2 banana and 1/4 cup trail mix

Lunch

2 Whole Eggs Scrambled with Curry Powder, Mushrooms and Spinach. Served over a (buried) sweet potato and topped with 1/4 avocado, 1/4 cup hummus and some more trail mix

Dinner

Kale Caesar Salad from Live Organic Food Bar with Eggplant Bacon, Raw Croutons & Marinated Tempeh

2) Rest days are my new best friend.

The past week or so I have been taking more days off the gym than on because my life has been so hectic and I’ve been doing a lot of walking around the city on my search for a new place to live. Also a lot of anxious fretting…does that count as a workout? Anyways I was pretty sure my first day back this morning was going to be brutal but to my surprise I had much more energy and stamina than usual. I even managed to complete a set of full bridges (also known as full wheel in yoga or sometimes reverse pushups) which is huge for me. A lack of upper body strength made bridges the bane of my existence during my days as a dancer.

[Source]

This little personal success reminded me that giving your body extended time – not just a day but a whole week or two off – to rest and recover might be just what you need to avoid burning out and help you break through your own fitness plateaus.

3) I can still stay out past 2am.

Unlike many folks my age I wake up early. And do things. Things like cooking breakfast, reading the newspaper, moving my body in some way, grocery shopping and (very occasionally) cleaning my house. I get razzed about this all the time but honestly I like my morning routine and lovingly accept myself for the nerdy proto-grandma that I am. But I definitely can’t (nor would I want to) keep this schedule all the time…Sometimes it’s a Saturday night and one of your favourite bands is playing and your friends are out and you just want to dance till an unreasonable hour….


TRUST LP RELEASE PARTY @ WRONGBAR. TORONTO, ON.
[Source: PinkMafia]

STILL GOT IT.

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!

Naturally Sweet Grain Free Muffins

Last week, I wrote about my attempt to prepare a satisfying grain-free breakfast and I ended up with these delicious coconut pancakes. What I didn’t mention was that I was completely obsessed with them and proceeded to make them every day for the rest of the week.

Why you ask? Pretty simple. That high fibre, high protein, grain free meal left me totally satisfied…maybe more satisfied…than my typical overflowing bowl of oats. Gasp. Unfortunately pancakes just aren’t that practical for every day fare and by the end of the week I was pretty over all those dirty dishes. It was time for a change. I busted out the muffin tin and whipped up these equally if not more delicious (and much more convenient) breakfast beauties…

Naturally Sweet Grain-Free Coconut Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sweet potato or buttercup squash puree (I haven’t tried other varieties of squash but my guess is they wouldn’t contain enough starch to hold these babies together)*
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup egg whites
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds, ground
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • OPTIONAL Stevia (2 packets/a few drops) OR 2 tbsp honey/agave**
  • shredded coconut (for garnish) 

*To make this from scratch, puree a little over a cup of of cooked sweet potato or squash flesh in a blender/food processor along with just enough hot water get it smooth but still thick (usually 3-4 tbsp). Or use this to save time.
**This recipe is naturally sweet but a little extra sweetener will help to enhance those flavours.

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl add potato or squash puree along with eggs, egg whites, banana and coconut extract. Mash and stir well until thoroughly combined. If using, add sweetener now also.
  2. In separate small bowl add your ground chia seeds and slowly pour in 3/4 cups of boiling water. Stir vigorously with a fork to remove clumps then set aside.
  3. Stir together dry ingredients.
  4. Add chia gel which will have set by now and dry ingredients to the wet mix. Stir until just combined.
  5. Use 1/4 cup measure to scoop batter into lined or well greased muffin tins. Top with shredded coconut if desired
  6. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes. Allow to sit about 5 minutes in the pan then place on a rack to cool completely.

Yield: about 9 medium sized muffins.
Serving size is about 3 for a meal or 1.5 for a snack.  

Grain Free Coconut Cinnamon Pancakes

When I was in university I ate a toasted everything bagel for breakfast just about every day. Sure it wasn’t the most balanced meal but it gave me with the energy I needed to focus on important things like semiotics and French feminist theory rather than my grumbling stomach. Plus, did you know that your brain requires 15 times more energy when you’re thinking  hard than when you’re zombified/watching project runway? Its true!
These days I am still a creature of habit when it comes to my morning meal and while I prefer a bowl of oatmeal or Ezekiel toast over refined white flour, I definitely choose a grain-based breakfast 9 times out of 10….
Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
But in keeping with my current plan of eating more variety I was on a mission today to create a filling, fibre-rich breakfast that was heavy on the protein and healthy fats and a little less grain-centric. To my suprise I ended up creating something totally grain-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and dairy-free. I know what you’re thinking and yes the secret ingredient is sawdust!
I kid, I kid. These are an absolutely delicious alternative to traditional pancakes! C’mon, have I ever led you astray? ;)
Grain-Free Coconut Cinnamon Pancakes
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp ground chia or flax
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup squash or yam, cooked and mashed**
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 whole egg, separated
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or a few drops of stevia
  • 1/8 tsp coconut extract (optional, can sub for vanilla)
  • 1/4 cup egg whites

**can sub for 1 medium mashed banana for a yummy banana coconut variation!

Directions

  1. Stir dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Mash squash, egg yolk, sweetener and extract into the dry mix. It should be crumbly at this point. Stir until well combined. Slowly stir in almond milk.
  3. Beat remaining egg whites (1/4 cup + the remainder from the whole egg) for a minute or two, until white and foamy. Fold egg whites into the pancake batter.
  4. Heat a griddle or nonstick pan and add a little oil or cooking spray (I like this coconut oil spray)
  5. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until batter looks dry and bubbly, flip and cook for an additional minute.

Makes 1 substantial serving. Feel free to double the batch and save the leftovers for on-the-go snack or tomorrow’s breakfast! 

Are you a creature of habit in the mornings?

Do you favour a protein-rich, grain-based or balanced breakfast? 

Monday Meals.

Hey folks,

Not sure if you were aware of this but today was blue monday which, if you’re not familiar, is otherwise known as the most depressing day of the year! A buncha researchers somewhere apparently decided that today has just the right combination of failed new years resolutions, holiday debt and wintery weather to make today the official worst day ever. Obviously this can only mean one thing…

You made it!

Bring it on 2012, its all uphill from here…. ;)

On that note I’m continuing on with my EAT MORE series by posting my basic meal plan for today, which I’ve pretty much followed to a T except for my standard grazing on cereal, dark chocolate, frozen berries, nuts, etc. But I have definitely stayed true t the ingredients from my Sunday Shopping List. I’m really excited about how much healthy fat I’ve managed to incorporate and with how balanced all my meals and snacks have been.

Monday
Breakfast Chia Oat Bran + Green Smoothie
Lunch Salad with Ezekiel Croutons, Carrot Ginger Tofu Salad & Avocado
Dinner Corn Grits with Chicken & Collard Greens
Snacks Brown Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter and Sliced BananaCarrots & Raw Fennel

Egg Wrap

Chia Pudding (Before Bed)

I can’t tell you how great it felt to make all my meals at home for a change. I swear that between holiday meals, having visitors stay with me and travelling I’ve spent way more time (and money) in restaurants over the last month than I’d like to admit.  It also felt really good to start off the day with a plan and then actually have all the ingredients I needed to follow through with it. So let’s get on to two recipes from this list, shall we?

First up….BREAKFAST

Thick and Chewy Overnight Chia Oat Bran 

Sure it ain’t the prettiest thing I’ve ever eaten, but since you prep this recipe the night before it is fast, delicious and crazy filling. Clearly these factors trump aesthetics when it comes to Monday morning breakfast.

Directions

Stovetop 
1) Mix together about 1/2 cup oat bran with 1 cup almond milk & 1 cup water and cook on medium heat for around 3 minutes. Add 1 heaping tbsp chia seeds. Cook an additional 2 mins.
Microwave
1) Mix together 1/2 cup oat bran, 1 cup almond milk, 1 cup water and 1 heaping tablespoon chia seeds. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Microwave in a LARGE bowl for 3 minutes. Stir vigorously. Microwave for an additional 2-3 minutes. Stir again.
2) Add mix-ins of  your choosing – I like cinnamon, vanilla extract and sweetener (maple syrup/brown sugar/stevia/whatever you like) – pop it in the fridge overnight.
3) Remove from the fridge in the morning and eat it either cold or reheated, covered in more toppings. Strawberries and Peanut Butter for me, please! 

If you’re like me and you want an extra protein boost in the am, you could serve this with a small green protein smoothie for a complete energy packed breakkins.

AND THEN COMES LUNCH…

I love to prep lunch salads like this one a Monday so I can snack on them all week long. They are perfect in salads, sandwiches, wraps or even eaten on-the-go with a pile of crackers. I make endless variations (like my curried lunch salad)  but today I opted for tofu salad.

Carrot & Ginger Tofu Salad
(to be exact)

Ingredients:

½ cup roughly chopped carrots
2 inch piece of fresh ginger (or sub for 1 tsp ginger powder)
1 clove garlic

1 package extra firm tofu
¼ cup nutritional yeast (optional, but tasty!)
2 tsp oil (I used sesame and flax)
1 clove garlic
1 tsp vegetable boullion (this  natural, reduced-sodium variety is what I use)
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sriracha
juice of 1 lime
almond milk (as needed, around 1/4 cup)

Directions:

  1. Process carrots, fresh ginger (if using) and garlic in a food processor. You don’t want them turning into mush, just a few pulses should do. Add tofu, oil, lime juice and seasonings to the processor and pulse to combine.
  2. Add almond milk as needed until the mixture becomes smooth but remains thick.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.Makes about 4 servings.
And no I am not showing what my final lunch salad actually looked like today. It was actually far too ugly to photograph. But tasty as heck. No complaints here.
Whoof….that was a big post. Time to kick back and catch up on Project Runway All Stars while painting my nails with my favourite new Chanel nail polish (this ridiculous colour). Have a great night! And congrats again for making it through the worst day ever. How do we feel about making tomorrow to FUCHSIA TUESDAY?

The Green Smoothie Morning: Finding Balance in a Sea of Breakfast Tacos

Good Morning, Austin.

While every day spent here in Austin has been different from the last, my mornings have been pretty consistent. I wake up, do some work (yes I’m working from home even while I’m on “vacation”…thats what you get for going out of town right after the holidays right?) and of course I start each day off with big healthy breakfasts. And what signifies healthy start to the day more than a green smoothie? Drinking one of these bad boys before 8am makes you feel like a superhero not only because of the sense of accomplishment you feel chugging down something so strange looking….but because all those B vitamins provide you with the energy you need to deal with whatever your day/night might have in store for you (even if that includes a whole lot of tequila & tacos…)

Simple Green Smoothie

  • 1 small frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 2 big handfuls of spinach
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 1 scoop raw vegan protein powder (optional)
  • cinnamon, vanilla & honey

And because I am not a “smoothie for breakfast” type of girl (aka. give me complex carbs in the morning or suffer the consequences) I rounded out my morning meal with 1.5 slices of Ezekiel toast topped with almond butter, mashed banana & cinnamon.

Another thing I’ve been doing since arriving here in Austin is trying my best to squeeze in some type of physical activity before noon. Nothing too strenuous since I want to save my energy for adventuring around the city, but at least a little something. So far I have enjoyed strolls around the neighborhood, light yoga and (on this particularly ambitious morning) a short run to and from the local park.


On this day I went through my favourite interval run. Its a pyramid style workout that is perfect for the outdoors because you can tailor speeds and intensity to match your environment and energy level. It looks something like:

5 minute warm up
30 seconds quick run
1 min brisk walk or jog
45 seconds quick run
1 min brisk walk or jog
1 min quick run
1 min brisk walk or jog
90 seconds quick run
1 min brisk walk or jog
Repeat this series in reverse (Run 1 min, then 45 seconds, etc.)
5 min cool down

Enjoyed some local scenery along the way….


I love how the residential areas in Austin have a bit of a country vibe to them. Maybe its all the succulents in their landscaping? The lawn flamingos? Random windowpanes hanging everywhere? Whatever it is I like it.

Following up that morning activity with some tasty eats at home (making sure to leave some room for my ritual mid-day taco feast)…

Mixed greens & Kale topped with diced red peppers, zucchini, crunchy edamame, almond cheese (my new obsession…more on that later), 1 leftover slice of organic turkey breast & roasted kabocha squash. Plus a side of my favourite ginger kombucha. :)

Have a lovely Monday, folks!
Stay tuned for upcoming posts on Free Music Week & the Austin Farmers Market (SWOON!)

 

Overnight French Toast: A Sweet Start to Friday Morning


Think French toast is just for weekends? This recipe whips up super quickly, even on the busiest weekday morning. Just make sure you learn from my mistake and brush your teeth after you flip the toast…unless you want to end up with extra crispy  version like mine ;) Still tasted great though!

Overnight French Toast

  • 2 pieces of whole grain bread (I like Food For Life Ezekiel & GF Brown Rice breads)
  • 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites **See note for a vegan option
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup or agave (sometimes I make a sugar-free version with a few drops of stevia)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp  nutmeg
**For a vegan version omit eggs entirely and replace with an extra tbsp of chia seeds, 1/2 mashed banana and an additional 1/4 cup of almond milk 
  1. Whisk all ingredients together and pour into a shallow baking dish.
  2. Add toast and allow to sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Flip once and then soak overnight.
  3. In the morning simply transfer to a griddle or pan coated with a thin layer of coconut oil (a teaspoon or so) and fry on medium heat for about 3-4 mins/side or until egg is cooked through in the centre.

I topped one half of mine with mashed banana and peanut butter and the other half with fresh raspberries and a sample pack of Justin’s Chocolate Almond Butter I had been saving for just such an occasion.

Now that’s the way to start a Friday.

Vegan Mini-Quiches with Quinoa Crust

If you’re anything like me, cooking for a crowd these days can seem like a daunting task. Not only is there the pressure of making something delicious and presentable, but everyone and their shelter-saved puggle seems to have some sort of special dietary requirement.

Don’t get me wrong I strongly believe that everyone is entitled to make their own decisions when it comes to food without fear of judgement or criticism. And I try my darndest to support my friends as they follow their hearts and tummies, making the choices that work for them. Back to my first point, though…it isn’t always an easy task.

But not to worry, I’m here to show you that there are delicious recipes out there that can accommodate even your most discriminating friends and family…I promise.

Today I whipped up a lunch that was just perfect for this sunny-but-cool November afternoon. Warm and savoury, balanced out with a fresh arugula salad and some crisp fruit. This whole batch would be ideal to bring to a holiday potluck, as it would please both vegans and meat-eaters alike. Or you could always do what I did and freeze them in packages of 2 for a quick heat-and-go lunch or snack.

 Spinach and Herb Mini-Quiches
(Vegan and Gluten Free)

My mini-muffin take on this recipe

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, prepared in veggie broth
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons of gluten-free rolled oats, ground in a coffee grinder to make flour (or you’re welcome to substitute for any GF or wheat flour you have on hand)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tbsp salt-free herb blend (Kirkland Organic, Mrs. Dash, Spike, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Combine ground flax seeds with water and allow to set for around 5 minutes.
  2. In the meantime mix together cooked quinoa, seasonings and oat flour.
  3. Add flax seed “gel” and stir well to combine.
  4. Scoop mixture into a well greased muffin tin – approximately 1 heaping tbsp per quiche – and make sure to press quinoa firmly to create a solid base.

For filling:

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt 
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of liquid

Directions:

  1. In a food processor or blend, puree all ingredients except spinach until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add spinach last and pulse a few times until well combined.
  3. Scoop quiche mixture into each base – just shy of 1/4 cup per quiche. Try your best not to eat directly from the food processor with a spoon. It will be that good.
  4. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

And there you have it! A fresh, hearty, inexpensive lunch you can proudly serve to just about anyone.

What are your favourite recipes to cook for a crowd? 

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