Monthly Archives

November 2011

cooking tips, dinner, recipes

First Snowfall & Dutch-Inspired Comfort Food

The first snowfall of the year always seems to take me by suprise, but this icy rose looked even more shocked than I was when big fluffy flakes filled the sky around 11am this morning.

Never fear, little rose. I have a winter-friendly comfort food recipe ready and waiting to perk you up and get you excited for (or at the very least resigned to) the chilly months to come.

This recipe is inspired by the time I spent living in the Netherlands. Dutch food is often very simple – consisting of potatoes, greens and some kind of protein (usually pork) that is flavoured with some combination of vinegar, mustard or kraut. Perhaps one day I’ll post one of the more “authentic” Dutch recipes I still cook up once and a while…but for today I’ll just pass along the Dutch inspired meal I whipped up this evening.

Me on my old street in Utrecht overlooking the Dom Tower. I was such a baby! Also why on earth don't I still have that trenchcoat...

Dijon Chicken (or Tofu) & Greens with Rutabega Mash

Rutabega Mash:

  • Peel, cube & steam for approximately 10 minutes or until tender
  • Mash with 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup vegetable broth, 1 tbsp coconut oil/butter/earth balance, salt and pepper

Dijon Chicken (or Tofu) & Greens
Sear and Steam Technique

  1. This is not so much a recipe as a preparation method. I like to sear my protein and steam my veggies in the same pan to save time and dishes. Its also a great way to infuse the whole dish with slow-cooked flavour without the time commitment!

First up…SEAR

  1. Slice chicken breast or tofu into 2 inch slices (1 serving of either will make about 4 slices)
  2. Coat your protein in salt, pepper, paprika and creamy dijon mustard. Allow to marinate if possible.
  3. Add a small drizzle of oil or cooking spray to a non-stick skillet bring to medium-high heat.
  4. Add chicken or tofu to the heated pan and sear until browned on all sides but not yet cooked through (2-3 min/side).
  5. Add 1/4 cup onions and 2 cloves minced garlic to the pan and cook an additional 2 minutes until fragrant.

And now…STEAM

  1. Add in a few handfuls of greens (collards, chard or kale would work nicely) along with 1 bay leaf, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 1/2 cup veggie broth. Cover pan and reduce heat to simmer. Steam for a few more minutes to cook the greens and finish your protein while infusing flavour.
  2. Use kitchen tongs to remove greens from the pan. Toss just the greens together with a scoop of the cooking liquid and an additional spoonful of dijon.
  3. Serve greens on top of rutabega mash with chicken on top and a side of your favourite saurkraut (I use an apple cider vinegar variety common in Dutch cooking)

So good. Already looking forward to the leftovers! 😉

How are you feeling about the transition to root veggies & savoury winter eats?

brown baggin it, diy, healthy treats, recipes, snacks

Lunch Trio with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Earlier this week I was visiting a friend, a busy mom with two young and ridiculously adorable children, and she was kind enough to offer me a bowl of the creamy roasted red pepper and tomato soup she was preparing for lunch.  As I ate my first spoonful of that rich and comforting bowl I was reminded of 2 things:

1) I used to eat these prepackaged soups all the time and I still freaking love them. Apparently even my healthy-food savvy taste buds aren’t immune to that familiar combination of sugar, salt and modified milk products. Mmm…mmm…good.

2) While there may have been a time in my life when a bowl of tomato soup would have been a perfectly lovely lunch, that is definitely not the case for me anymore. (See this post for more info on how I eat to fuel my active lifestyle) This fact became all too apparent to me when I got hungry for dinner at abut 2:15 that afternoon…

With both of those things in mind I decided that I must a) recreate this soup immediately and b) ensure that I enjoy it as a delicious addition to my typical lunch fare. Thus I got home and began cooking up this delicious dairy-free version. And it quickly turned my standard wrap/salad combo into a hearty, restaurant-style lunch trio.

Sauteed veggie and tuna wrap in a toasted brown rice tortilla, mixed green salad with carrots, apples, pumpkin seeds and flax oil/balsamic dressing and (of course)…

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (Dairy-Free)


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped roughly
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped roughly
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 roasted red peppers, seeded and chopped (See instructions below)
  • 1/2 package silken tofu  
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional, could sub Parmesan cheese for a dairy option)
  • pepper to taste
Roasted Bell Peppers: Easy as 1-2-3
  1. Place whole bell peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil in the oven until the skins have blackened (peppers may start to look “deflated”). It usually takes around 15-20 minutes and typically I flip them about half way through. 
  2. Once the peppers are blackened place them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. As they cool this will create a vaccuum seal that will make the skins very easy to peel off.  
  3. Use your fingers to tear the skins away from the flesh of the peppers and remove the tops and seeds. Voila!


  1. In a large pot, sautee onions, garlic and celery over medium heat until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add tomatoes, broth and peppers and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for around 15 minutes.
  4. Using a regular or infusion blender, puree mixture until smooth.
  5. Add silken tofu, nutritional yeast and a little pepper. Puree until tofu is completely combined (not grainy).
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if desired.

Garnish with parsley, fresh pepper slices and a drizzle of your favourite milk. 

cities, markets, vlog

Splurging at the Health Food Store (VLOG)

This afternoon I had some time off and decided to hit up one of my favourite Natural Food Stores. When I got home my wallet was significantly lighter and I felt a pang of guilt as I unloaded my bag of what I deemed to be totally unnecessary purchases. But then I checked myself! I mean sure, I could live without these item but sometimes springing the few extra bucks on foods that spice up your pantry will make eating nutritious whole foods at home just that little bit more exciting. And if you live in a city as foodie-friendly as mine, the temptation to go out to restaurants is pretty much omnipresent. So in the long run…maybe you’re actually saving money! Or am I rationalizing here?

Either way I decided to record this vlog to show you some of the foods that make even this bargain hunting, bulk bin diving lady crack open her piggy bank. Still not sure how I feel about the vlogging format (I apologize in advance for being a touch terribly long winded) but I figured it would be fun to mix things up. Hope you enjoy!

Mentioned in this post:
The Simply Bar
True Lemon
Chia Seeds
Food For Life Brown Rice Tortillas
Mary’s Crackers
Sun Warrior Blend Chocolate Protein Powder.

Now then…what do you love to SPLURGE on? 

breakfast, budgeting, recipes, snacks

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



  • 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.)


  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:


  • 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


  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? 

breakfast, budgeting, cooking tips, recipes

DIY: Fancy Brunch (In a Hurry!)


While this visit to the coast was short it was, as always, very sweet.

I enjoyed many sips of coffee out my grandmother’s china…

And spent a lot of quality time with the lady herself.

What a cutie, right? Its a little ridiculous.

Anyways I’m back in the city now and what better way to celebrate my return than with a luxurious stay-at-home brunch with my bestie.


Sweet potato homefries, swiss chard and mushroom frittata & mixed greens with bosc pear, pepitas and a blueberry balsamic emulsion. Served with a side of this cornbread.

Sounds ridiculously complicated? Not so much!

Here are some tips I use to save time come brunch hour

No-Bake Frittata (Omlette-Style)



  1. Sautee veggies of choice in a medium saucepan, well coated in cooking spray or oil. I used onions and mushrooms. Add greens like chard, spinach or kale last so they don’t cook down too much.
  2. Whisk together 2 eggs, 4 gg whites, 1/4 cup milk of choice, salt and pepper plus a heaping scoop of nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese (optional).
  3. Pour egg mixture over sauteed veggies and reduce heat to low. As the frittata cooks, tip the pan to redistribute the uncooked egg on the top to the sides of the pan.
  4. When egg lifts easily from sides of the pan use 1 or 2 spatulas to FLIP the egg. Cook for 1 more minute, slice and serve.


5 minute Sweet Potato Hashbrowns


  1. Poke a medium-large sweet potato a few times with a fork and microwave around 7 mins (or use the ‘baked potato function) until cooked through.
  2. Cut cooked potato into cubes and toss in about 1/2 tbsp of coconut or olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle with herbs and sea salt (I used Kirkland’s Organic No-Salt Seasoning, Pepper, Herbamare & Old Bay) and toss again.
  4. Fry on a skillet over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned.

Tip: To make your potatoes extra crispy, prepare them before the rest of your meal. Then just reduce heat on the skillet to the lowest setting and leave them there while you cook the rest of your breakfast. This will dry them out and crisp them up even further.

No-Cook Balsamic Fruit Emulsion


  1. Place 1/4 cup frozen berries in the bottom of a microwave safe dish and cover in 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar.
  2. Microwave for 2 minutes.
  3. Muddle together balsamic and berries with a fork then return to microwave for another minute.
  4. To make a dressing, add in 1 tbsp coconut oil (heat of the balsamic will melt it) or your favourite oil. Serve while warm.
What’s your favourite Stay-At-Home Brunch? 
breakfast, budgeting, dinner, healthy treats, recipes

Comfort Food: Wild Salmon & Brown Rice Casserole

Its a chilly morning here on the island so a bowl of piping hot oats for breakfast seemed like a no brainer.

1/2 cup rolled oats with almond milk, chopped banana and egg whites cooked in at the end. Topped with a scoop of peanut butter, jam, a small handful of frozen raspberries, toasted almonds and a buncha cinnamon.

That is pure breakfast comfort food right there.

Now when I think of suppertime comfort food I usually think of the cheap, filling, one pot meals my grandma made for us growing up.

My favourite of these meals: Tuna Helper. Don’t ask me why but I was crazy for the stuff…like…for years. Tonight as I looked through my grandmother’s cupboards – full to the brim with all of the pre-packaged food items I grew up loving, I got it in my head that I could make better tasting and better for you version using the whole foods we had in the house.

I swapped the tuna for omega-3 packed wild salmon, the noodles for brown rice and the laundry list of preservatives and sodium for spices and sea salt. Feelin pretty pleased with myself indeed.


  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2-3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped roughly
  • 3/4 cup dry brown and wild rice blend
  • 2 cups chicken or veggie broth (if using water, you’ll need to add boullion)
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1.5 cups chopped asparagus or broccoli
  • 1 can of wild salmon (I used one large can, maybe add 2 if using small ones)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Heat a medium-large sized pot over medium heat
  2. Add a drizzle of olive oil along with onion and celery and sautee for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
  3. Add the peppers and mushrooms and cook for another few minutes until softened.
  4. Add all seasonings, liquid and rice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to very low.
  5. Cover and simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until rice is cooked through.
  6. If there is some liquid left in the pot, simply raise the heat again and add in chopped asparagus or broccoli. Cover and allow greens to steam in the rice liquid for 2-3 minutes. If rice has absorbed all the cooking liquid, just add an extra 1/2-3/4 cup water/broth/milk and then do the same.
  7. Stir in canned salmon and dijon and stir until heated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with a side of steamed veggies or salad and eat tucked under some kind of large fluffy blanket…preferably with something trashy on TV.

    What’s your favourite grandma style comfort food?

90s, fitness, inspiration, travel

Non-Boring Cardio at the Summerside Wellness Centre

This morning I was up with my grandparents at 630am (which is 930am in Senior’s Standard Time) and by actual 930am I was already fed, showered, on my second coffee and out the door to join them on their daily trip to the Wellness Health and Fitness Centre in Summerside PEI.

20111108-120835.jpgMorning Coffee & Paper. Apparently The Guardian newspaper “covers Prince Edward Island like the dew.” Amazing.

The Wellness Centre is a massive building with loads of natural light and I loved how it drew such a mixed crowd of people there for all sorts of reasons. From the morning coffee & conversation crowd…20111108-120919.jpg

To the folks on the track, which is clearly a hotspot at the Centre. I swear, only Canadians could get that excited about circling repeatedly around an ice cold, unused hockey arena. But I don’t know that I’ve never encountered a happier, chattier bunch.

And then of course there were the friendly gals (not a lot of bros in the room…a nice change for me) in the fitness room. 20111108-120946.jpg

The decor was slightly hilarious…full of Clip-Art style decals that kept making me giggle…I kept expecting the couple from Body Break (ahem…Hal Johnson and Joanne Mcleod) to jump out from beside the treadmills and give me pointers.


I have been pretty light on the cardio lately…just haven’t been feeling it as much but after reading this Step Up Workout from the lovely Angela at Eat, Spin, Run, Repeat I totally got inspired. She is a fitness instructor and always posts seriously awesome workouts, but once I saw this one I got super jazzed. I only modified it a little bit but I thought it was very unique and ramped up in a way that was totally fun and kept me on my toes. My slightly modified version looked like:

  • 5 min slow warm up
  • 3 min at a steady moderate pace followed by 1 min walking (x2)
  • 2 min at a steady fast pace followed by 1 min walking (x2)
  • 1 min at a very fast pace followed by 1 min walking (x4)
  • 5 min slow cool down

You can do this on a treadmill, bike machine, outside, inside, wherever you like! Its guaranteed to cover you in sweat like the dew on PEI….sorry couldn’t help myself…gross.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I’ll be sharing my recipe for tonight’s dinner – a super delicious & budget friendly casserole dish that was a total throw back to old school comfort food. Get excited…

coffee, travel

Coffee of the Day, Island Style

Well somehow I’ve managed to find myself on Prince Edward Island once again…

It’s a wonder to me how much the Island manages to stay the same after all these years of back and forth, leaving and returning.

One new addition however was Samuel’s Coffeehouse, a cozy little cafe serving top notch espresso right at the foot of Summerside’s scenic ocean boardwalk. 20111107-121840.jpg

The music was surprisingly delightful (Feist’s The Reminder followed by the new Fleet Foxes record) and the space felt warm and welcoming, flooded with natural light and exposed brick. I was particularly excited about their stack of magazines as well… Flipping through them with my grandmother was the perfect way to start my day.

inspiration, reflections, travel

Striking a Balance this November

I hope everyone has enjoyed their extra hour this morning. Maybe you spent it doing something ultra luxurious like sleeping in, cuddling, drinking an extra cup of coffee, watching Coronation Street (doesn’t everyone do that on Sunday mornings?), whatever makes you happiest.

As for me I was up at 5:30am to hop a flight east to Prince Edward Island. As you might have seen in earlier posts I am terribly enamored with this tiny province on Canada’s east coast and I often spend time there hiking, reading, cooking and swimming in the ocean during the summer months. This visit will be a little bit different. I will be spending the whole week helping my grandparents pack their belongings for a big trans-canada move.

the view from the sky over montreal

And since nothing makes me more self-reflective than air travel I thought i’d share with you my simple life goal for the month of November.


I know it sounds super Oprah-fied and self-help junky but when I talk about finding balance I just mean keeping my life as varied as possible. Think: Not putting all your eggs in one basket. Creating balance = weaving lots of other baskets. (Fun with metaphors!)

Of course this is easier said than done for me as I am a very type A personality and when I get excited about something I tend to go FULL FORCE with it until I completely burn out.

I have done this before with loads of things in my life including (but not limited to):

  • School: While writing my Masters Thesis I would have to force myself to go outside, even just for a walk or fresh air
  • Relationships: More specifically, new relationships. BEST BIGGEST LIFE DISTRACTION EVER.
  • Friendships: “OMG isn’t ________ being such a _________ ?” Lets talk about it forever.
  • Work: “No seriously guys, if I don’t spend all night prepping for this class I have to teach, the world will fall to pieces and my students will die. I’m basically 100% sure.”
  • Fashion: “Don’t believe anything my already caving-in wardrobe says, I swear I really do need this sackdress/pair of leggings/pair of wedge heels.”
  • Fitness: Exercise > Life.
  • Food: Eating Organic/Local/Whole-Grain/Healthy Food > Not sounding like a total wang all the time.

What I have discovered is that when I am able to spread my attention and energy evenly between all of the different things and people I care about, it is easier to cope when something falls out of line. End result: I stay sane and happy.

So….Here’s to a happy, balanced and RUT-FREE November!

How do you plan on finding balance this month?