recipes

Sweet Potato and Egg Skillet

Despite my predilection for highly involved projects and recipes, I spend very very little time actually preparing my meals. This is for the best because usually by the time I’m home from work and the gym, I’m voracious. No vegetable scrap or handful of granola is safe in my path. For this reason, I tend to do a lot of “food prep” over the weekends. This way, I have a variety of ingredient staples on hand. For example: there is rarely a day when I don’t have a tupperware full of roasted sweet potatoes, a bowl of brown rice and a ziploc full of hard boiled eggs in my fridge. In case of snack-mergencies. Of course having these kinds of staples ready-to-go also helps me whip together Monday-Friday dinners in under 15 minutes.

This sweet potato and egg skillet is the kind of creation I’ll pull together when I am 90% hunger and 10% rational thought. It’s fast and easy but still healthy and satiating.

Sweet Potato and Egg Skillet

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Ingredients:

  • coconut oil
  • 1 roasted sweet potato, cubed*
  •  2 eggs
  • 1/2 head of broccoli, chopped
  • handful of kale
  • sprinkle of goat cheese (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add broccoli and sautee until bright green.
  3. Add sweet potato and smash pieces lightly with the back of a spatula.
  4. Add kale and stir in until wilted.
  5. Crack 2 eggs on top. Poke yolks with a fork and tilt skillet until egg is evenly spread around the pan.
  6. Add salt and pepper and a sprinkle of goat cheese (if using).

*If you don’t have these prepared in advance. Just preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly coat cubed sweet potato with coconut oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping once half way through baking, until brown and tender.

coffee, inspiration, weekends

Weekend Diversions: In search of lost down time

When you’re a working stiff like I am, weekends always feel a little bit like New Years Eve. Full of hope and promise but also painfully unrealistic expectations. My growing list of plans and projects would take the average human a year to get through, but somehow I believe that “the weekend” will imbue me with magical productive powers. That I will become a superhuman martha-stewart-meets-paris-hilton-type who can see every friend I have, check out every band worth seeing and dance all night long then wake up at 7am, make my own nut butter, go for a run and ombre dye an infinity scarf. Needless to say by the time Sunday rolls around, I often feel both spent and disappointed by all I didn’t accomplish.

This weekend was the first real spring weather we’ve had in Toronto this year and to celebrate I tried my best to spend the weekend lollygagging, sauntering & carousing…not a checklist in sight. Some highlights included…

Late night dancing at Soho House celebrating the birthday of my dearest friend, author Harriet Lye. You can read some of her writing herehere).

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Afternoon wandering with two of my favourite pals. Spent an unreasonable amount of time checking out spider plants and succulents in Roncesvalles, one of my neighborhoods to spend a weekend afternoon in Toronto.

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And (of course there is food involved) Sunday morning snacking on this vegan cinnamon bun from TBC Vegan Bakery paired with an Americano made with Dartmouth’s own Anchored Coffee.

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Do I still have a pile of laundry to do? You bet. But I’m feeling okay about that right now. 😉

 

 

inspiration, mental health

Art as Meditation / Meditations on Art

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I have known some exceptionally talented visual artists in my life. Dear friends of mine like Christel who designed my gorgeous new website, these cats, this babe, etc. etc. forever. But I am not one of them. I have other skills. I can write a lucid sentence. Hold down a steady 9 to 5. Rock red lipstick like it’s nobody’s business. But “Art” has never been my strong suit.

Nevertheless, I recently discovered that painting and drawing actually help reduce – even eliminate – my anxiety. So I’ve done my best to integrate art more fully into my life as part of my mental health regimen (something I don’t think we talk about enough). Going to the gym for an hour might help you “turn off your brain” but creating a piece of art helps you tap into it. Rather than mentally checking out, you’re actually learning more about your thoughts and feelings at a given time.

When I decide I’m going to spend a night doing something creative, I put away my cellphone, turn on some low key jams, light candles and zen the eff out. No matter you make, I guarantee you’ll feel better than a night of wine and netflix.

For those of you looking to integrate a little creativity into your life, but who don’t know where to start, these are some of the things I’ve done to dip my toe in the water:

  1. COLOURING: You laugh, but colouring for adults is coming back in a big way. Try these free printable mandala colouring books and embrace your inner hippie child.
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  2.  PHOTOGRAPHYLeave the house one day with nothing but a camera and your own eye. Be a tourist in your own town. Finding beauty in your daily surroundings is a fun challenge that leaves you appreciating the space you live in.
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  3. KNIT: Just because it’s springtime doesn’t mean you have to give up cozy handicrafts all together. Find some youtube videos like this one on basic knit stitches, and get to it. I like to buy large amounts of undyed yarn and then hand-dye my scarves at home as a cheap alternative to some of the fancy pants yarn you can buy in the stores.
  4. COLLAGE: I am really into collaging right now. I troll newspapers and magazines for images that inspire me and then see how they piece together and tell a story. Afterwards I always look at what I made and gain some insight into how I’m thinking/feeling at any given time.
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  5. PAINT: Don’t be scared, pal you got this. Painting is intimidating but it’s also tactile and immersive in a way that’s unlike anything other kind of artistic form. Drink a glass of pinot if you have to, but I recommend you give it a try.
fitness

Long Weekend Workout

Hey pals!

As we gear up for a long, luxurious weekend I thought I’d share one of my favourite equipment-free workouts. It’s tabata-style which means that you complete each activity for 20 seconds then rest 10 seconds and continue this for 8 rounds. To learn more about the benefits of tabata-style workouts check out Gina’s post on the topic here. Love that woman.

I like to move back and forth between each circuit for 1 tabata round, then move on to the next circuit.

Hope you guys are as inspired by this sexyweird pic of shia as I am. Ahem…Consider it my belated April Fools joke 😉

 

shia

 

Enjoy!

breakfast, budgeting, dinner, lunch

Healthy Meal Planning on a Shoestring Budget

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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.

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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.

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gettin personal

Surviving Urban Life in Your Late Twenties: Part 1

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When you’re 22, living in a big city is the perfect thing. There’s a seemingly endless array of things to do, people to meet, jobs to apply for, and restaurants to eat poutine in at 4 in the morning. It’s an indecisive time of life, so being constantly surrounded by options is the ideal scenario. But, skip ahead a few years, living in a city starts to feel a little different. The options are there but you know yourself better so you don’t always feel the need to take advantage of them. Tuesday night gallery openings might sound cool, but in reality they’re awkward and boring…plus you have pilates that night. And all those people? Who has the time? You barely see friends you have and they are cooler and better than everyone anyways.

With the honeymoon period of big city living over, the daily grind of doing “adult” things in an urban context (commuting, grocery shopping without a car, finding a non-sketchy family doctor, etc.) can start to get you down. And if you’re like me living in Canada in the middle of February, the whole experience can be pretty isolating….

So I thought I’d start a little series where I share some of my strategies for surviving city life as a responsible(ish) adult.

Survival Tip #1: ESCAPE
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It’s easy to start feeling like your neighborhood is the centre of the universe. In my case, living in Toronto’s West End, all my favourite bars, coffee shops, restaurants, food co-ops, yoga studios, terrarium designers, artisanal jam shops and literally every person I know are within a stone’s throw of my apartment. Escapes don’t necessarily need to be “vacations” but they need to take you out of context. Here are a few examples of mini-escapes I’ve taken, that have really helped to broaden my perspective during my down times.

Check out a new neighborhood : escapes don’t have to take you far from home. Hop a bus across town and explore what your city has to offer you beyond your own backyard.

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Go to the country: If you’re anything like me, the mix of consumer culture, jam-packed schedules and non-stop screen time can leave me feeling drained and disconnected. One of the best remedies for this I’ve found is to visit a smaller community where people do things a little differently. Good people, slower pace, tight knit community and rural life are just a cure all if you ask me.
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Hang out with munchkins: Full disclosure I am definitely a “kid person” but honestly I feel like one of the biggest things that gets me down about city living is how self-focused it all starts to feel. My apartment, my job, my hobbies, my gym, my friends, my plans, my needs, etc. It’s easy to feel purposeless or worse selfish and vain. And while I genuinely don’t think everyone in this world is meant to have kids themselves, I think we undervalue the restorative and frankly existential value of having children in our lives. So Skype your niece and nephew or take the bus out to the suburbs and hang with your married friends. As long as you don’t go comparing your own life to theirs (never a recipe for success) you might just find the boost you were looking for.

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Staycation: Not every weekend you have needs to be chock-full of social plans and to-do lists. Sometimes you need to kick back, relax and get some much needed R&R. Check out a new yoga studio. Go for a walk. Take a book & read/people watch in a cozy cafe (preferably NOT your local spot). Bake something tasty. Stretch. Marathon episodes of Empire…ahem. Whatever you do to relax and get your mind off the hectic world around you.

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gettin personal

Don’t heal your gut, follow it…

There’s a lot of talk in the wellness world about “gut” health. People cutting out gluten, chowing down on probiotics & eating foods in specific orders with the goal of improving their digestion/life.

But if we dive a little deeper, what is our gut really? It’s the part of our body that helps us process. That separates good and healthy from bad and toxic…It filters out bullshit that doesn’t serve us.

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Lately I’ve been making an effort to be more attentive to my gut…and not by cutting out dairy. I’ve been listening when it twists into knots. Am I anxious? Stressed? When it feels like its moving up from my belly into my throat. What am I feeling? Do I have emotions I need to identify or express? And especially when it feels like it’s sinking or dropping. Am I afraid? Is my fear rational?

This weekend I decided to follow my gut and found it brought me exactly what I needed…

Slow mornings.

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Yoga.

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Fresh air.

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Fresh food

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Long nights.

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It might sound hippy dippy but I encourage you to listen to your own gut and to think about what it’s really got to tell you. What that gurgling is actually all about. Was it really that gluten-bomb you ate for dinner or is there something more? If you put down the kefir water and gave yourself some R&R time, saw a friend for tea, marathoned some Broad City or drank a glass of wine with dinner….

It might just do the trick.

gettin personal

Healthy Homemade Chocolate

I’ve never been one for Valentine’s Day.

When I was in 10th grade my boyfriend made me a hand welded amethyst ring and I told him it “looked hard to make” then walked away. In 12th grade my boyfriend and I ate our first chocolate fondue over a delicious Valentine’s Day dinner then proceeded to amicably break up. College days are a blur in general, though I do remember one where me and my partner at the time got A&W burgers and went to a black and white movie…I guess they weren’t all bad.

No matter what your feelings are about the love-centric aspects of Valentine’s Day, I think we can all agree that a day celebrating chocolate in the middle of February is a universal good.

So with that, here’s a recipe for some. And it’s kinda healthy, but not too healthy.

Healthy Homemade Chocolate

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 heaping tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp good quality cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl mix together melted coconut oil, honey and almond butter and stir until smooth.
  2. Add in cocoa powder and mix until well combined.
  3. Line a shallow bowl with saran wrap.
  4. Pour mixture directly onto saran wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove bowl from freezer, peel away saran wrap. Use a sharp knife to chop chocolate into 3 inch squares (mine made about 16).
  6. Store in freezer until ready to eat.

Enjoy!

reflections

The Weekend Cookie

Hey pals.

A while back I posted a recipe for what I boastfully called “The Ultimate Cookie” that’s been one of the most popular recipes on this blog. It was my own take on Bunners’ (a gluten-free vegan bakery based in toronto) gypsy cookie. And I must say that even after all this time, this recipe keeps me coming back.

But there’s a new cookie in town.

These days when the weekends roll around and I find myself hunting for a treat, I’ve been finding myself reaching for another Toronto baker’s fare – a local raw vegan kitchen called Earth & City, and more specifically their INSANELY delicious “Cowgirl Cookie.” I’ve been obsessed with these babies for years but the price tag (about $3 a cookie) has kept my cravings in check…until now. Today I decided that rather than springing the $3 for my favourite treat, I’d whip up my own version and see how things went.

All I can say is “Holy Cowgirl.”

These guys are naturally sweetened (for all you folks cutting out sugar this month) plus they are full of fibre and healthy fats so they won’t leave you craving more sweets after eating them. Perfect for kicking your sunday afternoon cookie craving. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

The Weekend Cookie

IMG_2593Ingredients: 

150 grams dates (around a cup) – if they aren’t soft I’d recommend soaking them first
150 grams ripe banana (about 1.5 bananas)
2 cups oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 oz good quality dark chocolate, chopped coarsely into chunks
1/4 cup coconut oil
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to just under 300 degrees.
2. Place bananas in a food processor and blend until they are smooth.
3. Add dates and continue blending until the mixture is thick and smooth. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of water if necessary.
4. Pour date/banana mixture into a big mixing bowl, then add oats, coconut, oil, chocolate chunks, cinnamon and salt. Mix until well combined.
5. Use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop mixture and your palms to form it into medium sized cookies.  The dough won’t stay together like regular cookie batter but it should stick when you press it. If not, refrigerate for an hour or so and it should be easier to work with. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.
6. Keep forming cookies until you’ve made about 18-20 cookies.
7. Bake for 30 minutes at low heat – I suggest 275-300 degrees.
8. Remove from oven and let the cookies cool completely (this will also keep them from crumbling) before removing.

These store in the fridge for 5-7 days or in the freezer for as long as your will power allows.