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… ūüėČ )

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…

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.

NON-BORING CARDIO ROUTINE!

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…

Halloween Roundup

Hope y’all got yer tricks n’ treats on this Halloween, I know I did.

First thing: a quick apology for my intermittent posting lately, but my attentions have been geared towards teaching, writing and (most of all) serious¬†life strategizing. This is gonna sound so¬†quarter life crisis of me but I swear,¬†the day after I celebrated my¬†25th birthday¬†it was like I looked up in the sky and there was a gigantic ACME ANVIL of self-imposed life-pressure ¬†plummeting towards me and I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to figure out creative ways to dodge it.

Anyways I’ll go into more detail on some of my Pre-Holiday/Quarter-Life-Crisis-Avoidance November goals at some later point. For now, let us take November 1st to celebrate our collective¬†HALLOWEEN HANGOVER.

FIRST UP: THE TREATS

While I didn’t cook up anything too exciting this Halloween, these two recipes will¬†definitely be finding their way into my chocolate-crazy kitchen this week:

These dark chocolate sunbutter cups from Healthy Green Kitchen

These Mexican pumpkin spice brownies from Making Love in the Kitchen (totally appropriate considering today is el dia de los muertos)

NEXT: THE TRICKS

Since I’m sure you were dying to know my Halloween costume this year was inspired by the 90s (obvs), more specifically I was a member of a Wiccan Girl Gang inspired by the 1996 teen horror flick¬†The Craft.


Now I’m not one to boast about my Halloween costume (ahem…) but I think I’d fit right in

As for the trouble I got into? Where else could I spend the evening but at one of my favourite queer-positive west end party spots: The Beaver ¬†for HALLOQUEEN. The costumes were BEYOND. Futuristic Sci-Fi Drag Queen Explosion. There are no words…Photo evidence, you ask? All I got is this blurry bad boy…though I think it may encapsulate the debauchery of the evening rather well come to think about it.

THE HANGOVER: 

Nothing wrong with a little debauchery now and again, but don’t forget to REFUEL the next day with loads of water and of course a big ol’ healthy breakfast. Thanks to Clinton’s on Bloor St. for the¬†Halloween brunch¬†(notice the festive mug??)

Soy bacon, poached eggs, multigrain toast, mixed greens with balsamic dressing on the side n’ a pile-o-fruit.¬†

And that about sums it up right there, now doesn’t it?

How did you trick, treat n’ recover this Halloween?¬†

Ruffles-Style All Dressed Kale Chips

In the Great Chip Flavour Debate I have always come down hard in favour of¬†all dressed. You see folks, I’m a libra. Which for those of you currently snickering into your coffee cups at my casual mention of astrology, means I have a hard time making decisions. Does this impact me in other parts of my life as well? You betcha. But we’ll save that for another day.

All dressed chips were basically designed for indecisive folks like myself because they just take every seasoning and mix it together into one epic mix of hard-to-distinguish flavours. So as my own personal homage to the glory of All Dressed Ruffles (or Crispers, omg) I have created an delicious recipe for All Dressed Kale Chips that I swear tastes eerily similar to the real thing.

And yes, for your information my favourite pop when I was a kid was also swamp water (aka. the brown liquid that results after mixing together fountain coke, sprite, iced tea, dr. pepper, etc.)

If you’re a newb, I’m sure the idea of Kale Chips sounds strange. But if you’ve ever tried them you know that by following a few easy steps that boring bunch of kale can become something really special.

With toasty flavour & a satisfying crunch, Kale Chips may never serve as a¬†replacement for regular all dressed chips, but they’re definitely worth a DIY try!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium sized bunch of kale
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp dried onion flakes
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 dashes liquid smoke (mine is hickory flavoured)
  • 2 dashes soy sauce
  • 2 dashes hot sauce
  • a good coating of salt and pepper
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Tear kale leaves from stems in large chunks and place in a large mixing bowl. Add all ingredients to the bowl and massage (I instantly apologize for using that word) together until the leaves are well coated.
  3. Spread out leaves on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
  4. Bake for around 20-30 min or until dry and crispy. If some chips finish earlier than others just remove and let the other ones stay at it for a bit.¬†TRY to let cool before eating to enhance the crisp factor…it’ll be a challenge ūüėČ
Magical Bowl of Crrrrrunchhhhh. 
**Note: This is a healthy recipe in the nutritional sense, but it is FAR from low sodium. In fact this may fulfill your sodium requirement for the year. So dig in at your discretion.

Weird Ingredient Wednesday: CAROB


I love preparing meals for my friends. It gives me the opportunity to combine all the things I love into one epic event. Namely music blasting, kitchen dance-partying, wine sipping, gossip sessioning & of course some SERIOUS snacking. But one thing I notice every time I make a meal for a crowd is that…well…I cook weird.

I know this because of how many times I have had the following conversation:

“Do you have any __________?”
“No, but I have ____________!”
Oh.”
[crickets. tumbleweeds. dead air.]
“What’s that?”

I forget that not everyone grew up on a hippie organic farm. Not everyone has a family history of diabetes. Not everyone has friends with gluten intolerances. Or a vegan big sis.  So what seems pretty darn normal to me is actually SUPER DUPER obscure and downright weird to the rest of the universe!

So here’s a new feature I’m going to try on for size where I put a spotlight on some of the more “specialty” ingredients I use in my cooking.

THINK: 

(healthy hipster edition)

On to today’s weird ingredient….

CAROB!

That's not cocoa powder in my breakfast bowl, that's toasty tasty CAROB powder!

Weird Ingredient FAQ:

  1. What is it?
    Carob is a tropical pod just like cocoa, so it comes in the exact same forms as chocolate! You can get it powdered for cooking and baking or in the form of carob chips which you would use just like chocolate.
  2.  What does it taste like?
    Sweet and toasty, just a little bit bitter…like a caramelized coffee & chocolate combo.
  3. Is it good for you?
    Yup! High in fiber and calcium, lower in saturated fat than chocolate.
  4. Why am I such a fan? I love that unlike¬†cocoa powder, you don’t need to add sugar to carob because its naturally sweet!
  5. Ways to use it: I love blending it in smoothies or substituting carob for chocolate in my favourite desserts to change things up a little! I also use carob powder on its own or mixed with cinnamon as a topping on yogurt, cereal or oats.
Carob n’ Yogurt Breakfast Bowl
  • 1/2 cup plain soy yogurt
  • 1/4 cup cherries
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1 cup puffed wheat
  • 1/4 cup millet flakes cereal
  • handful of soynuts & pepitas
  • sprinkle of shredded coconut
  • 2 big tablespoons toasted carob powder
  • a lil’ cinnamon
Have you ever tried carob? Do you think you would give it a try? 

Bizzy/Lifey/Sigggh

Home at last from my intensely relaxing vacay to the east & obviously I have already hit the ground running. I love my city but slow paced it is not.¬†Today looked something like: sirens, coffee, groceries, laundry, lunchie, work emails, cleaning, errandz, visit with fam, dinz, more worky & now I’m off to a BBQ! At least a couple of those were fun…yeesh! A few days ago my day looked more like: sleep, brunch, sleep. walk on beach, read, watch a VHS copy of 10 Things I Hate About You.¬†

Anywhoo in the thick of it i still managed to whip up a halfway decent lunch salad. Nothin like a whole wacka green to keep you running at peak the whole day through.

In the mix:

  • 3 big handfuls red leaf lettuce
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 1 fuji apple, diced
  • 1 green onion
  • buncha toasted sesames
  • Dressed in a mix of: tamari, seasoned rice wine vinegar & sesame oil
AVEC: A hefty side of steamed edamame for proteeeein powahh.
Off I go again… Wee!

apple braised kale & my history as a child hoarder

When I was a kid I used to keep a map of all the Cracker Barrel restaurants in America in my jewellery box. It just sat there all year long, beside my other treasures such as:

  • Lisa Frank stickers I’d snuck from my sister’s room
  • necklaces I’d swiped from the game Pretty Pretty Princess
  • chocolate covered bon-bons I’d pilfered from my bubie’s stash
  • notes to and from my imaginary friend Mamilla
To say that I had a¬†fixation¬†with Cracker Barrel would be like saying …since we’re already on the subject…that a crack addict has a “fixation” with crack. Its true, but it doesn’t go¬†far¬†enough in describing my relationship toward the popular American restaurant chain. As far as the map goes? I would take it out of its prized location in my jewellery box once a year on family road trips, when I would force my parents to plan our entire journey around which rest stops did or did not contain a Cracker Barrel. Something that combination of toys, muskoka chairs & lard was¬†utterly bewitching¬†my younger self.
Today as I make summer plans to go on several road trips, some of them to America, I can’t help but get a little of that ol’ Cracker Barrel fever (one must always use folksy shorthand when referencing a Cracker Barrel). This recipe is inspired by their Turnip Greens & Ham.

Sweet n’ Savoury Apple Braised Kale

  • olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 slices of finely chopped veggie/turkey/standard bacon OR a few dashes of hickory flavoured liquid smoke
  • 1/2 bunch kale, lower stems removed
  • 1/2 apple, diced
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar¬†
  • 1 tbsp grainy dijon mustard
  • pinch of sugar
  1. Heat a small amount of oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add shallot, garlic and bacon if using sautee for about a until fragrant (and meat is mostly cooked, if using). Add kale and stir to combine.
  2. Add broth, liquid smoke (if using), apples, mustard, 1 tbsp of balsamic & sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce to  low simmer for about 15-20 min or until most of the liquid has cooked off and apples are cooked.
  3. As a last step, raise heat once again. Add in the last tbsp of balsamic and quickly reduce, tossing to combine with the greens for about 30 seconds-1 min or until they are well coated. Serve immediately.
Optional: Remove greens and add 1 more cup of water or broth to the cooking liquid. Add protein of choice (fish or thinly sliced tempeh are ideal) and poach in liquid, serve on top of greens. Reduce remaining liquid by half and serve as a jus. 

snack like a kid.

When it comes to mid-afternoon snacktime my tastebuds have a tendency to…regress. Its inexplicable but as soon 3pm hits my palate forgets about all the years I’ve spent growing to appreciate new, complex flavour profiles and instead starts crazing¬†(crazy craving? you wish you thought of it) the flavours of my childhood.

In my fam after school snack-fare included: granola bars, fruit to gos, soup (i was a strange child. more explanation on my childhood soup obsession here), goldfish crackers AND – the king of after school snacks – pizza flavoured EVERYTHING.

Be it bagel, pop or pocket: pizza snacks were (and are) THE JAM.

So naturally, when the “after-school hour” hits and my mind¬†turns to all things munchie, I know that only one snack will suffice. With a few tweaks of course…


“Bagel Bite” Style Pizza Snacks (All Grow’d Up)

  • 1 whole wheat english muffin
  • 2 triangles of light laughing cow cheese OR (vegan-styles) 1/4 avocado mashed with 2 tbsp nutritional yeast¬†
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • fresh basil¬†
  • pepper
  • cherry tomatoes, sliced (optional)¬†
Directions:
Split and toast the english muffin in a toaster or pan. Spread each half with 1 serving of cheese or 1/2 the avocado mash. Broil in oven or toaster oven for 2 minutes or so. Then top with about 1.5 tbsp of tomato paste/side, fresh basil, pepper + cherry tomatoes (I like to keep it simple but you can add any toppings you like!).
THEN GET YER SNACK ON, KIDSTYLEZ. 
Do they still play re-runs of full house after school? I miss me some Kimmy Gibbler.