Healthier Tapas-Style Meatballs

For a lot of North Americans, enjoying a “tapas” or “small-plates” meal means going to a bougie, overpriced restaurant that bullies you into ordering 3 unsatisfying micro-entrees rather than 1 (less expensive) meal-sized one. However, after living in Spain for quite some time, I can assure you that authentic tapas is a lot less fussy…

Tapas began as salty snacks (like olives, potato chips or cured meat) given out for free  at bars to encourage…well…heavy drinking. Nowadays it still serves that purpose, but has expanded into a small but tasty late night meal eaten hours after the Dionesian Feast that is Spanish lunch. Believe me, if you ate the way we did between the hours of 2-4pm (lunchtime where I lived in Oviedo), you wouldn’t have much of an appetite by “dinner hour” either.


Tapas bar culture. Nothing opens until at least midnight and you’re lucky if you find a place to lean. 

When in Spain I definitely encourage you to sample all the delicious deep fried, sodium-laden tapas fare you can get your hands on. But in the meantime…here is a recipe that is similar to the traditional Spanish albondigas, but lightened up by using chicken instead of pork and even adding a little green for good measure. Serve with a side salad and roasted potatoes for a healthier take on albondigas and patatas bravasDon’t skimp on the glass of red wine though…For the antioxidants of course 😉

Tapas-Style Chicken & Spinach Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 package extra lean ground chicken
  • 1/2 package frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
  • 1/2 onion, diced finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1/4 cup egg whites OR 1 whole beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup oat bran (or rolled oats, ground coursely in a coffee grinder)
  • 1 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast (or parmesan)
  • 1 heaping tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 heaping tsp dijon
  • a few dashes of soy sauce/braggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup cooking sherry OR white wine
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth

Directions

  1. Add all the ingredients and seasonings for the meatballs in a very large bowl and mix well with your hands until combined.
  2. Scoop meatballs using a 1/4 cup measure (you wont need to fill it all the way) and roll into balls.
  3. Fry meatballs over medium heat in a very large skillet until just browned then set aside until you’ve gone through the whole batch.
  4. Add 1/4 cup or so of cooking sherry or white wine to the bottom of the pan to scrape off any brown bits then add meatballs back to the pan along with 2 cups broth & 1 cup crushed tomatoes.**
  5. Simmer on low for 30-40 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

    **If your pan isn’t big enough you can transfer wine, meatballs, broth and tomatoes into a large pot instead.

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Recovery Food & Ottawa Roundup

While the last week of my life brought a whole new meaning to the phrase Spring Fever I seem to have finally made it through. Hooray!

As I was recovering, I received some lovely emails wishing me well (you’re all so sweet!) as well as a few asking me to post about my nutrition choices while recovering from an illness. I’m not sure if I follow any hard fast rules, I usually just give myself what I crave. This week that meant a lot of green smoothies, soups (lentil, butternut squash, tomato, etc.) and Ezekiel Toast Sandwiches with either almond butter, banana and honey or avocado and egg. I definitely favour starchy vegetables like carrots and potatoes and I can’t seem to get enough of oranges and kiwis (which also happen to be extremely high in Vitamin C).

Here’s a little cheat sheet:

In celebration of feeling a zillion times better, I am (finally) sharing some lovely shots from last weekend’s road trip…Broken down by category of things I love.

1) COFFEE. Bridgehead. Mandatory in Ottawa.

2) VEGAN EATS. 3 Course Lunch @ Zen Kitchen. I’m obsessed.

Butternut Squash Soup with Pepitas

Organic Greens

Vegan Reuben with smoked tempeh, house fermented sauerkraut & thousand island dressing on rye bread. Side of house made frites. 

3) CHEAP MANICURES.

4) Shopping BROWSING JEWELLERY.

5) DANCE PARTY!

Primping ensued… (We kept it real classy with beer cups….)

NDMA Live @ Fall Down Gallery (Accompanied by Live Model Body Painting)

Rafter Brews…

Hot date.

I don’t know why but something about this trip got me excited about summer and more summertime road trips…Look out Montreal 😉

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!

On to Ottawa Road Trek

I’m on the road today for a short but sweet visit to Ottawa, that other Ontario city. First stop: greyhound station (downfall of being completely and utterly carless)20120315-151039.jpg
Some relatively healthy (making due) road food!

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Egg white & Smoked Ham On a Whole Wheat English Muffin from Tim Hortons…doesnt look too exciting but tasted super delicious to early morning me!
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Gigantic bag of celery, fennel and organic heirloom carrots I packed from home.
20120315-164007.jpgVegan, Gluten Free Protein Bar.
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Stevia sweetened Vitamin water. Not the best choice but it was super hydrating after a couple hours of recycled air and kept me from caving and buying a chemical laden Coke Zero (weakness…)

And for my mental fuel?20120315-152336.jpg
David Rakoff’s Fraud on audiobook…because 1) He is a clever, charming, snarky & a Canadian born New Yorker 2) I can’t read in a vehicle and 3) The man has the sultriest voice imaginable.

Are you taking any trips over March break? What are your favourite road snacks?

Embracing Spring: Raw Lemon Ginger “Stir Fry”

Spring has officially sprung here in Toronto and you know what that means…

Street Style Photo by George Pimentel for Toronto Fashion Week

Bare ankles, nautical stripes & denim? You betcha. But also…the end of slow roasting, root vegetables and comfort foods and the beginning of fresh spring produce!

We’re not quite there yet but here’s a fresh take on stir fry that will definitely satisfy your craving for fresh, crisp veggies in the meantime…

Raw Lemon Ginger “Stir Fry” with Marinated Peanut Tofu

Ingredients (Tofu):

  • 1/4 block tofu, cubed
  • 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (or tamari)
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
Ingredients (Stir Fry):
  • 4 large leaves of bok choy
  • 1 medium carrot, halved and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 zucchini, halved and sliced thinly
  • 2 large mushrooms, halved and sliced thinly
  • 1 spring onion, sliced into thin rings
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • small pinch of garlic powder
  • 1 inch of grated ginger
  • 1 tsp flax oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp tamari

Directions

  1. Mix ingredients for tofu marinade (warming peanut butter if necessary) until well combined, pour over tofu cubes and set aside.
  2. Whisk together lemon juice, seasonins, oils, maple syrup and tamari and pour over chopped stir fry veggies. Massage dressing into the veggies for 1-2 minutes or until they begin to wilt slightly. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Top your raw, marinated stir fry with marinated peanut tofu.

Enjoy with a side of fruit, crackers or leftover cooked grains and you have one delicious, seasonal lunch!

Springing Forward & Falling Back…

Waking up this morning I was shocked to realize that I actually slept in to a reasonable hour…Or at least I thought I slept in until I realized it was daylight savings time. Whatever, I was still pleased with myself for waking up past 8…even if it was just a technicality. Small victories, folks. 😉

I’ve got to admit though that despite all of this sunlight and springy weather, I’ve actually been falling back on some of my not-that-bad-but-still-not-great vices to get me through the past few stressful weeks….

Exhibit A: Trashy Reality Television

Downloading Legally purchasing multiple seasons of The Rachel Zoe Project during a period of high-stress is wickedly dangerous territory. This picture is an accurate portrayal of my life recently between the hours of 9pm and…ahem…  <—– infinity.

Exhibit B: Comforting Food

Scoff all you like but for me a piping hot mess of steel cut oats is comfort in a bowl. And during a stressful time I get weirdly fixated on eating the same thing at every meal. Instead of judging myself for this, I try to roll with my cravings and eat my oats at whatever time of day I darn well please….

I ate this as a snack somewhere between breakfast and lunch… Half bowl of oats + a mess of berries + pumpkin seeds with a poached egg and spinach on the side for protein and veggies. Worked for me

I’ve also been enjoying more than my fair share of restaurant meals… including this delicious brunch at The Junction Eatery.

Cornbread, blackened catfish, bacon, eggs & smokey baked beans. 

Chopped salad with chicken, fresh peas, cashews, avocado & apples

Not at all easy on the wallet but definitely low stress and comforting.

Exhibit C: (Discount) Shopping

I blame She Does The City for inviting me to this ridiculously adorable sale event at The Gap. I mean…25% their entire spring line? So dangerous for a bargain hunter like myself.

Liquoring us up with free pinotDownright lethal.

They were really hocking these coloured pants…even the DJ was wearing some (hidden under his macbook…hehe). I left with a pair of cropped black jeans that weren’t part of the sale but were already marked down 50%…. Pahaha. So predictable.

Exhibit D: Old faithful…

What addictions/habits/crutches do you fall back on when you’re feeling stressed?

womens day//everyday

Today I was rummaging through some old magazines and I found this photo of gloria steinem that i salvaged from my sisters garbage can when i was 14, put up on my wall & didn’t take down for 10 years…

I think it was an international womens day miracle.
Who were your female role models growing up and who inspires you today?

Wednesday à la Mode: Fashion Forward Accessorizing

It is an absolutely glorious day here in Toronto. The sun is shining and it’s so warm that I am not only thinking about spring…but summer. Remember summer? That season with the bikes and the babes and the babes on bikes? I’m definitely getting ahead of myself. But what better day than today to dedicate an entire post to one of my favourite topics to think/dream/obsess/yammer on about…FASHION.

My style is effortless and eclectic and I strive to create outfits that are expressive and a little unexpected. When it comes to shopping I love to stay up on the latest designers, brands, lines and stores but my budget certainly doesn’t allow me to hog wild at Acne or Jonathan and Olivia? Hells to the no. So true to Healthy Hipster form I’m going to offer up some friendly advice for how I stay fashion forward without resorting to my evil credit card thee-who-shall-not-be-named.

Today’s Budget-Friendly Fashion Tip?

Shop the trend…but only in the accessories aisle.

Nobody likes a trendwhore…but a girl’s gotta get her fix now and then. I do it by closely monitoring my trend intake and indulging in moderation. Accessories are much cheaper than a whole new outfit, not to mention smaller (less wasted closet space) and more tasteful. And as an added bonus trends tend to be cyclical…so yesterday’s boho feather earrings or mod studs can be repurposed as today’s aztec revival and colour blocking. Trust.

Here are a few of my suggestions for ways to shop some of the hottest spring trends without buying a single piece of clothing…

Shop the Trend: Accessories

CUTOUTS & MESH: Leggings
$16 – forever21.com

TYE DYE: Tights
$20 – topshop.com

NEON: Ankle Socks
$6 – topshop.com

AZTEC: Clutch
$27 – forever21.com

CHEVRON: Knuckle Ring
$6.80 – forever21.com

GEOMETRIC: Necklace
$7.80 – forever21.com

90s REVIVAL: Turban
$3.80 – forever21.com


Would you rather avoid trends altogether or do you love to freshen up your wardrobe with quirky new items?
Wanna see more fashion posts like this one in the future? Let me know!

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.

Peanut & Ginger Collard Green Coleslaw

Finally! Back in the kitchen and eating something other than cookies. Yes! Yes! Yes! This salad is my favourite three things: flavourful, healthy & cheap. It’s also bright and colourful, which was just what I needed to mirror this unseasonably springlike on this beautiful March day.

Peanut & Ginger Collard Green Coleslaw

For the slaw

  • 4 cups broccoli, carrot & cabbage coleslaw mix
  • 2 cups collards, stems removed and sliced into shreds
  • 1 cup cooked edamame 

For the dressing

  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 heaping tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tsp ground chia (optional, helps to thicken)
  • 2 tbsp flax oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 inch or so of minced ginger (I always freeze my ginger and grate from frozen!)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 chopped scallions 

Directions

  1. Warm the almond milk in a small saucepan until just below boiling.
  2. Melt molasses and peanut butter into the almond milk and stir until combined. If usin, whisk in ground chia and cook an additional minute.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in oils and seasonings. Whisk in vinegars next, 1 tbsp at a time to prevent the almond milk from separating. (If it does, don’t worry! It will still taste delicious.)
  4. Toss together dressing and slaw mix in a large bowl and allow to marinate in the refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Makes about 3-4 servings which – if you’re anything like me – will be polished off in one day. Come to think of it…I might need to go back for thirds right about now….

Am I alone on this one or do you also start to crave a little colour in your meals when spring weather hits? What about in your wardrobe? 😉