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Lovely Lunching

I must admit that when it comes to meals, I always pick favourites and breakfast typically wins out.

But for some reason this week I’ve been all about eating/packing/buying big, elaborate lunches.

Happiness is the soup & salad combo at Hibiscus.

The trick for me is that on any given day I crave a massive-bowl-of-salad more than just about anything but even I can find that tiresome after a while. So I’ve been using a few strategies to continue enjoying my salad bowl while also making my midday meal just that little bit more exciting. Here are some of the tactics I’ve come up with so far:

Kale salad with roasted carrots and broccoli, marinated tempeh cubes, toasted pepitas and about 1/2 cup cooked millet. Topped with a simple dressing of tahini, lemon, agave and tamari.

1) Switch up your greens.

Used to light, crunchy romaine? Swap out for a heartier green like collards or kale. Bored of bland spinach? Top it off with a handful of peppery arugula. Personally I’ve been enjoying kale salads like its nobody’s business. The trick with kale is that you need to rub your dressing right onto the leaves with your fingers before eating. Sounds weird but it works!

2) Roast your veggies.

I always forget that I can use roasted veggies in a salad but I never regret it when I do. It’s as easy as making a double (or triple) batch of roasted zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, fennel, broccoli or cauliflower the night before. Then just toss with a little olive or flax oil and seasonings and refrigerate for use the next day.

3) Pump up the flavour of your protein.

Whether you’re topping your salad with tofu, tempeh, tuna, eggs or chicken remember that lean protein sources like these tend to lack in the flavour department…but that’s where you come in! Tandoori Tofu? Barbeque Tempeh? Curried Egg Salad? The options are endless.

4) Don’t skimp on the toppings.

Sure it’s easy to dig into a salad once you’ve got the bare bones together but topping off a salad with toasted nuts and seeds, chopped up fruit, a handful of edamame et. al. will enhance the flavours of the whole meal not to mention adding healthy fats and fibre-loaded fruits that will keep you feeling full and satisfied!

Extra tips: 

  • Always pair with a delicious beverage aka. tasty kombucha or…say…an almond milk misto courtesy of Capitol Espressso

  • Don’t forget a hot lunch date…

Clearly my bestie knows his way around a smoothie…
And yes. There are two pink straws in that strawberry mango masterpiece cause we’re adorable.

And there you have it! The perfect recipe for a happy, healthy midday meal! 🙂

budgeting, dinner, EAT MORE, recipes

Wholesome Pancake Wednesday: Savoury Blinis

I apologize for being a little late for Pancake Tuesday but since I’m not much for Lent maybe you can forgive me? In return I’m giving you a totally guilt-free (not to mention allergy-free) recipe for savoury pancakes that you can enjoy on Pancake Tuesday and then every day after that since they are free of animal products, fat, sugar and pretty much anything else you might want to give up! As for me, I’ll be enjoying these with a big slather of earth balance, a side of caramelized onions & some freshly smoked salmon…plus a few squares bar of dark chocolate for dessert. To each their own. 🙂

If you’ve never had a traditional blini the concept of a savoury buckwheat pancake might sound a little strange. But when you think of it as chewy, warm, fresh cooked pan bread…things start to sound a whole lot more delicious. I even managed to sneak some extra veggies into this recipe too…cause I just couldn’t help myself.

So go ahead…try something new for dinner this week! Who knows? You might just want to eat them for 40 days straight…

Savoury Blini Pancakes
(Vegan & Gluten-Free)

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp buckwheat flour, ground fresh from buckwheat groats for a lighter flavour
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup mashed cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned sea salt like herbamare
  • 1/2 cup + 2tbsp hot water

Directions

  1. Stir dry ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  2. Add water stir until well combined.
  3. Scoop batter using a 1/4 cup measuring cup and fry on a lightly oiled/sprayed griddle or pan for 2-3 minutes/side.

Optional Substitutions:

– if you don’t have coconut flour use extra buckwheat or gluten-free flour
– swap out whatever leftover veggies you have on hand for the cauliflower: mashed potatoes, squash, pumpkin or carrots would probably work well

Check out this post for more information on the nutritional benefits of inexpensive, high protein, whole grain buckwheat…it’s definitely one of my all time favourite grains when prepared correctly. Even more reasons to eat pancakes for dinner! 🙂

EAT MORE, restaurants

EAT MORE Shopping List 2

Thought I would follow up with another shopping list based on my EAT MORE meal planning series. This week I ended up buying mostly produce and a few odds and ends to fill out the standard pantry items listed in my cheat sheet. I also listed some of the items I already had in my pantry/freezer in italics just to refresh your memory.

Click to Print

This is what my groceries looked like when I got home. Basically a forest.

And I was pretty proud with the sum total of this epic grocery haul…

Not too shabby…

I’ve already busted out the crockpot and I can’t wait to share some of the recipes I have planned with you later this week.

In the meantime, here is how I’ve been fueling up lately.

 This was the a meal I made at home using the dregs of my last grocery shop: 

1/2 smashed Japanese sweet potato (love these)
tofu & broccoli stem scramble
small mixed green salad with pepitas & pecans

Some restaurant fare at Sadie’s Vegan Diner

Mixed bean chili served on greens & topped with a poached egg and a bottle of hot sauce
…and yes I ordered the poached egg on the side, then put it on top. Reminded me of the Pisto with Egg I used to eat in Spain…I should really whip up a batch of that…SO good. 

Valentine’s Day dinner, anyone? 

I went to to town at Sushi Shop . My plate (pictured at the back) included veggie sushi, avocado/bbq eel dragon roll, salmon sashimi & bean curd/shitake mushroom sushi. Plus an unpictured green salad & half a bowl of miso soup.
SUSHI COMA BLISS.

I’m off to make some lunch with all these new groceries then heading over to Social Media Week, Toronto for some really great sounding workshops geared towards the uber-nerdy media savvy. Hope you all have a happy, productive Thursday! 🙂

breakfast, brunch, EAT MORE, recipes

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? 

breakfast, budgeting, EAT MORE, inspiration, recipes, snacks

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?
budgeting, EAT MORE

EAT MORE Sunday Shopping List

My mother has this theory that once its cold enough outside you can’t get sick. She says that not even germs can survive the antiseptic powers of Canadian winter and proceeds to huff the -20 degree air like the poster woman for Vicks Vaporub. While I’m not so sure I agree with her logic on this one (my annual winter flu provides me with a pretty strong case to the contrary) I will say that when I returned home to Toronto this weekend I sort of understood what she was talking about.

Stepping off the plane and onto the icy tarmac I took a deep breath of frigid air and didn’t feel any of the post-holiday/post-25 degree weather letdown I was anticipating. Instead I felt a rush of excitement, of detoxificaton, and a boundless enthusiasm for all the possibilities of a fresh new year living in a city that I love.

The same feeling hit me when I walked into my kitchen and realized that I had not a scrap of food in the house. Normally this would send me into an IMSOHUNGRYFOODRAGE but instead I felt AMBITION! Faced with this clean slate I did something I never ever do: I made a grocery list. Which I actually stuck to. The following is what I came up with based on the Cheat Sheet I created earlier this month. I’ve even included my (very crumpled) receipts to prove I really did stick to it!

Umm I find it oddly hilarious is it that chia, tahini and tempeh all come up as spelling errors…My spellcheck needs to get with the times. 

All in all I was pretty satisfied with the cost of this trip considering I had zero food in the fridge or freezer and I bought some of the pricier items in bulk (chicken, salmon, frozen berries). Because I have most of my bread, grains, beans, nut butters, oils, etc. already on hand the final cost balanced out I think. Either way this is only a very general guide. My budget/list varies a lot week to week based on where I shop and what I happen to run out of.

Anyways I plan on posting breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas all week long that focus on the ingredients from this list. I’m excited to get cooking, hear your feedback and see how it goes! 🙂

EAT MORE, inspiration

EAT MORE FOOD: My Anti-Deprivation Resolution (Part 2)


Click HERE for a Printable Checklist of my EAT MORE 2012 Foods

Selected Descriptions, By Category

Vegetables

I have chosen these vegetables based on this list of the world’s most nutrient-dense foods. They are all readily available, relatively inexpensive and include a variety of different “colour groups” to ensure a broad range of nutrients are represented.

Fats
I’ll elaborate here since these may seem oddly specific…

Avocados: Contain virtually all your bodies essential nutrients in a single serving including B Vitamins
Goat Dairy: Though cow’s milk doesn’t agree with me I would like to eat a little goat’s dairy so that I can enjoy the healthful benefits of calcium & naturally occurring probiotics (yogurt)
Brazil nuts: Even 1 brazil nut a day is very high in selenium which has  well documented cancer fighting properties. Why not, right?
Ghee: This variety of clarified butter is often used in Indian cooking and is known for being a digestive aid, is safe for high temperature cooking and tastes delicious!
Coconut Oil: A high heat cooking oil known for its healthful metabolism boosting properties
Flax Oil: A great way to boost your Omega 3 Fatty Acids, use it uncooked for dressings and sauces.
Chia Seeds: Great for digestion, high in vegetarian protein & higher in Omega 3s than flax seeds. 

Whole Grains, Beans & Starches

Generally I am aiming to eat grains in their minimally processed form. I choose whole rolled oats over quick ones, Ezekiel (sprouted grain) bread over traditional whole wheat & cooked grains  (like brown rice or buckwheat). I also include some quicker cooking grains like polenta & whole wheat cous cous for those days when I need something easy.

Garbanzos and lentils are included because I prefer their taste and they are very high in soluble fibre. Black beans are great too because they also happen to be high in antioxidants which can help reduce your risk of cancer and other diseases.

Starchy veggies like sweet potatoes and winter squash also fell into this category because they fibrous, slow-digesting and most importantly jam packed with beta-carotene and antioxidants

Protein

Because of my activity level I eat a pretty high protein diet. But for health and ethical reasons I limit the amount of animal-based proteins I consume. So in the past this has looked like a lot of eggs, tofu & fish with chicken included maybe once a week and vegan protein powder as a supplement. BUT since this report was updated from Health Canada I have begun to question the type and amount of fish I was consuming and decided to switch things up a bit in the new year. I will still generally avoid pork and red meat (although I have included a little lean beef in this list for diversity’s sake) but will make a concerted effort to broaden my horizons!

I am emphasizing hormone free and local meat although I am flexible for purely financial reasons. The fish I have included are all the most sustainable and low toxicity (source) in my region.

Fruits

Not something I have to work hard to incorporate into my diet since I love pretty much every fruit. So the ones I’ve chosen are generally higher fibre/lower sugar with the exception of bananas which are great for prolonged energy, especially before a workout/high impact activity.

Spices

Ginger: Digestion
Tumeric: Healing & Anti-Inflammatory
Chili Peppers/Cayenne: Metabolism boosters
Cinnamon: Blood sugar balancing
Garam Masala: Basically a blend of all the above

Drinks 

WATER: OMG I HAVE TO DRINK MORE WATER ITS RIDICULOUS. 
Green and Herbal Tea: Antioxidants, stress-reducing, metabolism boosting.
Probiotic Drinks: Support a healthy immune system. 

And VOILA! That’s the plan, folks.

I look forward to following up on this list with some fun and easy recipes, shopping lists and weekly meal plans!

Deprivation-free in 2012. A novel concept, huh? 

90s, EAT MORE, inspiration

EAT MORE FOOD: My Anti-Deprivation Resolution (Part 1)

First things first…HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


I hope you had a delightfully debaucherous New Years Eve. I know I did. Champers, drinking games & dancing. The best.

 
I also cleaned off the New Years Resolution board I made with my friends at last years NYE house party to make room for some the new. This years batch turned out to be just as filthy & ridiculous as 2011 (NO PICS. Jeez, kids might be reading… 😉 )

And on the topic of resolutions… 

“Gee, Brain, its 2012. What do you want to do this year?”


“The same thing we do every year, Pinky. Try and MAKEOVER the world.”

Okay, okay I’m a nerd. But I figured who better than Pinky & the Brain to introduce the topic of my first post of the year?

We are just two days into January and I’m already exhausted by all these resolutions focused on detoxing, elimination diets, “clean” eating and pretty much anything and everything related to weight loss.

I mean I’m all for self-improvement but I strongly believe that a “healthy living” plan that deals in the business of deprivation is doomed to fail.

According to most medical dictionaries the term “deprivation” refers to the removal of something that is normally present and usually essential for mental or physical well-being. THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A MINUTE. Low-Fat? Low-Carb? Those are (by definition) essential nutrients that your body needs to function properly. It is a testament to how delusional our body & food obsessed culture is that we are manipulated into believing that going without is something to strive for. That is some serious CRAZY right there.

What’s my plan, then, for escaping all this whackadoodle deprivation rhetoric while still striving to make positive changes for my own body and health? Simple.

EAT MORE.

No seriously, that’s my resolution. 

From all the information I’ve gathered over the years, eating a diversity of foods is the best way to ensure that your body  are getting all the nutrients it needs. So in an effort to encourage more diversity in my diet and avoid any “food ruts” I have compiled a list of the foods I want to EAT MORE of this year. My plan is to print off this list and use it as the foundation of my meal planning over the course of a month.

No subtraction. Addition all the way.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a full printable list of my 2012 EAT MORE foods…