Browsing Category

dinner

dinner, recipes

Summer Dinner Party Kale Salad

I’m the girl who brings salad to a party. I accepted this fate long ago.

The trick is to bring a salad that’s so delicious no one really cares. The other trick is to BE COOL ABOUT IT. Don’t make a big deal about your new veg-positive lifestyle. Don’t pester people who prefer more typical BBQ fare. Trust me. By being LOW KEY about your healthy contribution, you can ensure that a) your salad gets eaten and b) no one leaves said party talking how new-agey you’ve become or how you “used to be fun.”

Here’s a recipe that might help you out in these efforts…

 

IMG_2248.JPG

SUMMER DINNER PARTY KALE SALAD
Serves 4 as a main, 6-8 as a side

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bunches of kale, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbsp Coconut oil
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 block sheep feta
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup balsamic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp tamari

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Coat chickpeas in coconut oil, cumin paprika and sea salt.
  3. Bake on a lined baking sheet for 40 minutes. Remove from heat for 10 minutes and allow to cool. Cook for an additional 10 minutes (this is a trick I learned here and it really helps to crisp them up).
  4. Whisk together balsamic, olive oil, maple syrup and tamari.
  5. Add dressing to kale and masssage gently with your hands until wilted.
  6. Top kale with roasted chickpeas, feta, pumpkin seeds and blueberries and serve.

 

 

 

breakfast, budgeting, dinner, lunch

Healthy Meal Planning on a Shoestring Budget

IMG_2645

When I was 5, my family moved to a hippy commune.

It wasn’t creepy newspaper headlines kind of place. More of an organic farm mixed with a yoga retreat and an extended episode of Thirtysomething. A lot of pastel was worn. Moral of the story is: the people who lived at this place (many of whom I consider family to this day) were exceptionally healthy and they managed to be this way on very little money. Wholesome meals were prepared from scratch in a shared kitchen space using simple ingredients. No chia seeds or goji berries in sight, but loads of whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables and farm-raised meat. My parents laugh a little about the move now, seeing it as their “new agey” phase. Still, living with so many inspiring, creative, thrifty, healthy people had a big influence on my life and my approach to well-being.

Which brings me to the topic of this post…healthy meal planning on a budget.

IMG_2641

When I’m strapped for cash one of the first places I cut back is my food expenses.

  1. I start cooking at home 95% of the time.
  2. cut back on fancy health food items that I like to have, but don’t need to have; and
  3. I menu plan. Menu planning makes it so much easier to reduce food waste at home and saves you from surviving off of crappy takeout.

Since I know meal planning isn’t an easy thing for many folks to do, I’ve tried to break it down for you…using a nifty chart.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
BREAKFAST Toast with peanut butter, sliced bananas and a drizzle of honey Oatmeal with apples, sunflower seeds and cinnamon Toast with poached eggs
LUNCH Kale salad with lentils, carrots and celery Bean and grain bowl Sardine salad and crackers
DINNER Fish with brown rice and salad Chicken, potatoes and kale Roast squash stuffed with tofu scramble
SNACKS Homemade granola barsHard boiled eggs Celery and Carrots with hummus and rice crackers Apple and peanut butter

Why did I choose these meals?

Of course it’s all personal preference and feel free to pick and choose the foods you love, but the meals I’ve chosen for this plan are all healthy, easy to prepare and most importantly…cheap! Eggs, grains, beans, peanut butter and root veggies are staples of a penny-pincher’s diet. When it comes to meat and fish, it’s always good to choose cheaper cuts of meat (bone-in, skin on chicken legs for instance) and fish that’s local to your region. This is just an easy way to put it all together!

Shopping List:

  • Eggs
  • Whole Grain or Gluten Free Bread
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oats
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Sardines in tomato sauce
  • Rice crackers
  • Tofu or Tempeh
  • Chicken legs or thighs
  • Local white fish (hake is a great choice)
  • Broccoli
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Onion
  • Squash
  • Potatoes
  • Brown rice
  • Extras: Tahini, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, honey, cinnamon, salt and pepper

Hope you enjoy! Good luck & keep saving those pennies for the things that really matter….Like data overcharges and a new pair of air force 1s. 😉

dinner, recipes

Masala Chicken, Green Beans and Lentils

When it comes to weeknight cooking, I tend to have one of two very different approaches: maximum efficiency or maximum effort. On a maximum efficiency day, I eat out of a giant mixing salad bowl that is usually layered with greens (arugula, kale, spinach), sweet potatoes or brown rice and some kind of quick and cheap protein (chickpeas, tuna, tempeh, etc). On a maximum effort day, I do things like make my own pizza crust from hand-ground almond flour or whip up 7 layer vegan mousakka. Usually on these days I usually end up snacking so much by the time dinner finally hits the table that I’m too full and tired to enjoy my meal, let alone clean up after myself.

This evening I tried my hand at some kind of middle ground, and the results were fairly tasty.

Chicken and Green Beans

Masala Chicken, Green Beans and Lentils

Ingredients:

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1.5-2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • coconut oil
  • 1 lb bag of green beans
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1.5 cups cooked lentils

Directions:

For the chicken

  1. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. Heat coconut oil on a large frying pan on med-high heat.
  3. Massage chicken breasts with salt and garam masala.
  4. Add chicken to fry pan and cook about 4-5 minutes or until browned, then flip to the other side and repeat.
  5. Place browned chicken on a lined baking sheet and place into the hot oven. You can also use an oven-safe pan and place it directly into the oven.
  6. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until cooked through but still tender.
  7. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then slice.

For the green beans and lentils 

  1. Cook lentils according to package instructions (i usually use a bit over a 2:1 ratio)
  2. Melt coconut oil in a large pan or wok.
  3. Add green beans and garlic and stir fry for about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add tamari and a small amount of water (1/4 cup max). Simmer and allow to reduce by half.
  5. Add cooked lentils to the mix and stir well to combine.

Serve sliced chicken on top of lentils and green beans. Serves 2-4.

healthy-hipster-fav-02

dinner, recipes

Easy Jamaican Curry Chicken & 5 minute Roti

Every day when I walk through my bustling downtown neighborhood I am overcome by the scents of all sorts of regional cooking – Tibetan, Ethiopian & Indian restaurants in particular – but to me the smell of jerk chicken and Caribbean roti always stands out from the rest when I’m famished after work.

This dinner was inspired by classic summer BBQ chicken and spicy, flavorful Jamaican curry. Enjoy it on its own paired with rice and peas or do what I did and transform it into a simple shortcut “roti” dish. Either way, you won’t be disappointed when these scents fill your kitchen.

Jamaican Curry Chicken

20120719-085640.jpg

Marinade:
1 heaping tsp Jamaican curry spice (Grace brand, etc.)
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp plain yogurt (greek, soy or coconut)
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cumin
sea salt and pepper

Directions

Allow 1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts to marinate for several hours or overnight.

Grill on medium heat for about 6-8 minutes per side or until cooked through. (If you don’t have a grill, I suggest searing the chicken breast on both sides in a small amount of coconut oil, then baking it at 400 for 10-15 minutes or until juices run clear)

5 minute “Roti”:

20120719-085843.jpg

1 whole wheat or brown rice wrap
1 chopped Jamaican curried chicken breast (see above)
¼ cup mashed sweet potato
¼ cup shredded carrot
2 tbsp plain yogurt – any kind
1 tbsp raisins, chopped
¼ cup green peas or chickpeas (optional)
¼ – ½ cup almond milk

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined. Fill wrap and lightly grill before serving. Serve with hot pepper sauce, more yogurt or even some mango chutney.

Why am I not eating this again right now? So good.

breakfast, dinner, photojournal, snacks, WIAW

WIAW: My first and likely last attempt

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a WIAW it’s pretty self-explanatory. Blogger trend. Take pictures of your eats for 1 day of the week. Not every morsel just main meals and snacks.

Kinda problematic because obviously every body is different, every day is different, yada yada yada. But I write a food and fitness blog so it’s all pretty problematic when you think about it too hard. Grain of salt, people. Here goes…

Breakkinz:A LIBRA solution to the sweet/savoury dilemma

A-SIDE: 2 egg scramble with onions, peppers & mushrooms in a swiss chard wrap

B-SIDE: A cup and half of oats with a chopped peach, soy yogurt, coconut flakes, chia seeds & sunbutter


No decision necessary. Just the way I like it.

LUNCHRidiculously large tupperware full to the brim with kale salad (about half a bunch), shredded beets, zucchini & carrots, sprouts, 1/4 avocado, handful of cherry tomatoes, 1 slice toasted and chopped ezekiel “croutons” & about 1/3 block curried tofu cubes.

Desk snacks

DinnerProtein salad from Fresh – tempeh, chickpeas, quinoa, goji berris & tahini dressing

Evening snacksMany handfuls of sweet potato, beet & yuca terra chips to make up for my lighter-than-average dinner.Chocolate avocado shake for dessert!

Just almond milk, cocoa powder, avocado, maple syrup, ice and a 1/4 scoop of chocolate sunwarrior.

And voila! I certainly won’t make a habit of this since, even as a food blogger, I’d still rather spend my time eatin my food than takin pictures of it…but it was kind of fun just this once 😉

dinner, recipes

Simple Tempeh Sautée



Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 onion, sliced very thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 inches ginger, minced
  • 1 block tempeh, sliced into very thin squares (mine ended up about 16 cuts lengthwise, 5 widthwise)
  • 1/2 head napa cabbage
  • 1 medium zucchini, julienned
  • 1 medium carrot, julienned
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • splash of mirin or sherry
  • 1 cup vegetable broth

Directions:

1) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sautee lightly until they are just transparent (2-3 minutes). Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute.
2) Add tempeh slices and stir to combine.
3) Brown tempeh slices on both sides being careful not to break them as you turn them.
4) Add carrots, zucchini and cabbage. Stir to combine
5) Pour a splash of mirin or sherry over the veggies and tempeh to deglaze the pan, scraping up the pieces on the bottom as the alcohol cooks off. Then add miso paste and vegetable broth.
6) Allow mixture to simmer, stirring frequently until vegetables are cooked through.

Serving suggestions:

Top with ume plum or rice vinegar, avocado, a drizzle of tahini, a dash of sriracha garlic hot sauce, torn basil leaves and/or a squeeze of lime juice.

Enjoy with steamed brown rice or a side of sweet potato.

dinner, inspiration, photojournal, reflections

Summer, Unplanned.

To me, a dinner party isn’t something you plan for. It’s something that happens naturally amongst friends because conversations (and mid-afternoon libations) are flowing so easily that you can’t bring yourself to leave.

This weekend marked the official start to summer for me because I found myself stumbling into one of those impromptu suppers. I spent much of the afternoon strolling along the beaches the span across Toronto’s east side with a dear friend, climbing rocks and picking blades of grass and generally exploring the world in the same ways have since I was six years old.

After hours of beachside wandering we were thirsty and starving so we stopped into the local grocer’s to pick up some chicken and fresh asparagus for our summer meal.

If this afternoon has set the tone for my summertime adventures, I’m in for a very special season.

When was the last time you went plan-free? Where did your freedom lead you?

 

6 x 6 SUMMER SHAKE UP CHALLENGE, breakfast, dinner, fitness, inspiration, photojournal, snacks

INSPIRATION & RANDOM ACTS OF NEON

If last week felt like carefree summer in Toronto, this week felt like nose-to-the-grindstone fall. The weather turned grey and drizzly, work got busy and hectic and the city went into a bit of a miniature hibernation. Despite my love for all things hustle bustle, it is often during these downtime days/weekends/weeks that I get the most inspired creatively. Perhaps that’s why I’ve almost exclusively chosen to live in grey, rainy cities (Amsterdam/Halifax/Prague/Oviedo/etc)

20120605-104900.jpg

Here’s a little rundown of how I channeled my creative chutzpah this week…

1) DIY PROJECTS: NEON ACCENTS

Vintage Granny Chair + DAYGLOW PIPING

20120605-103723.jpg

Neutral Colourblocked Vase + SAFETY ORANGE

20120605-103800.jpg

2) SIMPLE, COLOURFUL, BALANCED MEALS

Loaded up on kombucha.

20120605-103922.jpg

Oatmeal bowls made for me and my dad (topped his with organic yogurt, mine with extra nuts and berries)

20120605-104314.jpg

Lentil hummus and roasted veggie stuffed chard wrap with a pile of squash and sweet potatoes (possibly ate half of these directly off the baking sheet) and a redundant side of greens and chopped apple for crunch.


Baked salmon served on a mountain of roasted veggies (potatoes, squash and brussel sprouts)

20120605-104408.jpg

3) YOGA x A MILLION


One of the things I’ve enjoyed so far about my 6 x 6 plan is that it has encouraged me to listen more attentively to what I actually want to do rather than mindlessly following some fitness schedule. Some days this means hauling ass to the gym in the middle of my workday to sweat like. Other days it means leaving the gym behind and going for an evening walk with my bestie and her pup.

This week my body was craving yoga almost every day and I was more than happy to oblige. Of course by early Sunday morning it became clear why I’d spent the week in stretchy/gumby/relaxation mode…

6 x 6 Update

20120605-104553.jpg
Monday: 1 hr yoga class
Tuesday: ZILCH. I had no energy all day and couldn’t put my finger on why…
Wednesday: 75 minute super sweaty gym session. Full of beans. Random.
Thursday: 1 hr walk with my pal and her pup.
Friday: 1 hr Hot Hatha Yoga.
Saturday: 30 self-led morning yoga. 30 minutes cardio LIFE (hoofing it back to the city carrying 2 gigantic bags of laundry I did at my dad’s place…cause I’m a grown-up like that)
SUNDAY – MONDAY: Surfin the Crimson Wave (TMI?). But it explained all my wacky energy changes as well as my need for serious yoga/stretching time. Both of these days I put my plan on the back burner and gave my bod the rest it needed.

I did however complete multiple sets of the following circuit workout, which I highly suggest you try:

1) Dip a big piece of banana in almond butter
2) Dip nut buttery banana in vanilla coconut yogurt
3) Dip nut buttery, vanillafied banana in brown rice crispies
4) Douse in cinnamon
5) Nommmmm…..

Repeat this circuit to tummy fatigue.

Does dreary weather inspire you to get productive or does it leave you in a funk? How are you channeling your creative energies this week?

brown baggin it, cooking tips, dinner, fitness, snacks

In-a-Hurry Lunch/Dinner/Workouts/Life

I have worked a lot of jobs in my life (barista, waitress, tap dancing instructor, teacher, au pair, web designer, researcher, marketing consultant, etc.) but until this week I had never actually worked in a 9-5 office environment. But bright and early Monday morning I started a dreamy dream job working for an non-profit I really believe in doing work that I love. But the hours behind a desk, the office culture & my ears popping every time I take the elevator? All that will definitely take some adjusting…

This week I was far too busy getting mentally prepared for my new job to do much planning for things like food or fitness but I’ve been just barely getting by by cutting corners wherever possible.

1) Workouts

I’m currently between gym memberships so it’s been all about the outdoor running lately. For cardio I have lovingly found my way back to this pyramid interval run because it is super quick and always leaves me panting. And while I’ve been pretty light on strength training due to my lack of gym access, circuit workouts like this one (jotted down on a random envelope?) are definitely doing the trick.

Repeat this circuit for 10-15 mins for a short and sweet (and by sweet I mean suprisingly hardcore) workout!

2) Dinner/Lunch Combo Prep

 Seriously people, even if you don’t have time to do an epic weekly meal prep on Sunday afternoon, you can always prep your lunch while you make your dinner. Such a simple idea but one that has totally saved my dress-pant-wearing butt this week.

Tonight, for example, I whipped up a quick little dinner of one-pot curried cauliflower & pumpkin stew (topped with some pan fried haddock, basil & lime)

This isn’t a full on recipe but in case you’re interested…

Directions

Sauteed a handful of chopped carrots, a chopped celery stick and 2 cloves of garlic in sesame oil. Once fragrant add 2 cups cubed fresh pumpkin, 2 cups cauliflower & 2 cups of veggie broth  then simmer until all the veggies are very soft and you can lightly mash them with a fork. Finally season to taste with curry powder, soy sauce, ginger and a little squeeze of agave…then top with basil, lime & siracha for the perfect one pot dinner!

And now on to lunch…

Since those ingredients were already out of the fridge and handy I decided I would whip up a second dish that I could use as the base for my lunch tomorrow…

You’re shocked, I know. It’s a kale salad. What can I say? I’m easy to please! This salad is dressed in sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, lime juice, flax oil & agave then topped with sunflower seeds and chopped carrots. All the ingredients used in the previous recipe just repurposed with lunch in mind! A simple way to save time prepping lunch (or money buying it!)

Do you work in an office? How do you usually prep for the busy week? 

budgeting, cities, dinner, restaurants, reviews

TRENDING: Singapore Streetfood at Hawker Bar

If you live in the west end of Toronto and have a pulse you’ve  probably heard some kind of buzz about Hawker Bar, a new addition to the Ossington strip where you can pull up a salvaged wood stool and enjoy Singapore-style street food at reasonable prices while listening to Little Dragon. I know, I know. I had you at salvaged wood.

We chose to order a bunch of things off the menu and share but I was pleasantly suprised that all the portions were a perfectly reasonable size, so you could also opt for a single $12 dish and be totally satisfied.

As we took our sweet time deciding on the perfect order our server offered us some complimentary ginger tea. They’re still working out their liquor licence so it’s all mocktails and tea for the moment, but this didn’t bother me or my date one bit. I mean…cocktails don’t come in teacups this cute.

After a verbal tennis match of possible sharing combinations me and my ladyfriend decided on the vegan laksa, 2 sides of soy broccoli & the sea bream special (who doesn’t love a whole fish on a plate?).

The laksa was pitch perfect in my books, filled with rice noodles, veggies & puffed tofu flavoured with a rich coconut cream (not too much coriander) and enough spice to break an early evening sweat. The sea bream, however, was what really shone for me. It was flaky and tender inside with crispy skin and paired perfectly with the delicious sweet soy sauce that accompanied it. I also asked for a side of sriracha and was pleasantly suprised with a homemade garlic chili sauce that should really come standard with the dish.

I must admit that unlike some of the Toronto foodie hotspots popping up in Roncesvalles lately (which seem to me to be 70% hype 20% inflated prices & 10% hollandaise) this spot actually lived up. Definitely worth checking out during this brief but precious interrum after the peak of Ossington strip fever but before the Queen West Gentrification/Condo Monster has fully taken hold. Get it while you can.