Tag Archives: Healthy

Inspired Creations

Clearly I have not been very diligent with writing blog posts, recipes tests, or anything on here! So much has happened since the last time we “met” …

First off, it’s March … so we’ve by-passed February completely! In missing February, I can’t recall anything of great importance that happened.

Except my birthday :o) my 35th birthday, to be exact! I love my birthday and this year was great! I had multiple lunch dates (obvi not on the same day!) and was able to celebrate during the evening of the specific date with a group of friends & coworkers!

At the very beginning of February, I was accepted into the Diploma Program in Applied Holistic Nutrition at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition! I chose the part-time evening program, as I cannot afford to quit my job to attend school, so I will be attending class Monday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm for a 2 year period! I am beyond exciting to get this started … which isn’t until September!

Luckily, that time is going to be well spent re-doing, arranging, and organizing a new office/work space at home, as well as doing as much bookkeeping as possible to help pay for this program!

One thing I didn’t have much of in February was inspiration or the desire to cook. It’s kind of weird how it ebbs and flows! March has been a bit different because I’ve been following more people on Instagram, through my GonaGetHealthy account, and found some great Instagram Stories and links for recipes!

The first one that caught my eye was the Creamy Spinach Sweet Potato Noodles with Cashew Sauce as shown on the Instagram account and the website of Pinch of Yum!

It looked easy to make, with simple ingredients, and turned out really flipping delicious!

Creamy Spinach Sweet Potato Noodles with Cashew Sauce

I was previously displaying my kitchen & cooking skills on Snapchat, but since it’s more of a personal account, I decided to move my health, food, and cooking trials to Instagram, and this recipe was the first that I did using Instagram Stories.

I had many people watch the story, and even a few friends & co-workers comment or ask questions in person! I think I’ve convinced a few people to go out and buy a spiralizer … they are affordable and can make “noodles” out of so many vegetables!! I have many in mind that I plan on trying out in the coming days/weeks/months as spring arrives and local produce becomes more readily available!

This morning while I was procrastinating the start of bookkeeping (which I’m still procrastinating on), I saw an Instagram Story via the Vital Proteins account, on which Kelsey of Little Bits Of was making her Vanilla Shortbread Energy Balls!

Again, this recipe looked SO SIMPLE with easy ingredients! I did have to hit up the health store for a couple of items, but that was on my list of chores for the day anyways!

While I was shopping, I did a bit of research (thank you awesome cell phone data plan!!) regarding buying almond flour vs. buying almonds and making flour …

The ~400 gram bag of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour retailed at this store for $18.99, and from what I could tell, was not derived from organic almonds.

Whereas I bought 300 grams of organic raw almonds and simply put them in my Vitamix dry container to make flour! This amount of almonds retailed for just less than $15.00 and they were ORGANIC! So not really any question of which to use or if I made the right choice!

Vanilla Shortbread Energy Balls

These bites came together very nicely and taste fabulous! Definitely a recipe to go into my collection to be made again and again!

If you know of anyone on Instagram or who has a great website, whom you feel I should check out and/or follow, or if you come across any amazing recipes that you think I should test, please comment below, or send me an email with the details!

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Cookie Craving Conundrum

craving

noun crav·ing \ˈkrā-viŋ\

Definition of craving

  • an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing

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I woke up this morning with a craving for oatmeal raisin cookies! But I also knew I needed to get some work done to pad my bank account to pay for college … to which I have my Admissions Interview on Tuesday! Fingers crossed!!!

So in between work, I brought up the websites of some of my favorite health/nutrition mentors:

After reading oatmeal cookie recipes on their sites, I settled on the Gluten-Free Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Meghan’s website. I quickly jotted down the ingredients and figured I needed to hit up my local health food store for the necessary flours and coconut sugar.

I did stop by Safeway on my way to the health food store to see if they carried the ingredients and if so, what was the price point. (Un)luckily, Safeway did not carry the flours or sugar … so one more block to walk!

At the health food store, I was able to easily locate the buckwheat and brown rice flours … and it made me think I might have some at home … but I wasn’t willing to walk home to check! So I grabbed one of each, plus a bag of coconut sugar – something I hadn’t cooked/baked with before. (As it turns out, I did have both buckwheat and brown rice flour at home, but they’d been open and unused for so long, that I felt it was better to toss them and start fresh!)

I had included eggs on my grocery list, but thought I should try to follow the base of the recipe as best possible, which means using “chia paste” instead of egg (also – to keep it vegan!) … so no eggs made it into my basket.

I’m very thankful that all of Meghan’s recipes that I’ve attempted thus far have been very clear and easy to follow. In order to make the chia paste, I needed to grind some chia seeds … and I thought of 3 different “appliances” to make this happen:

  1. Electric spice grinder
  2. Mortar & pestle
  3. Vitamix dry container

Starting with the quickest and easiest … the electric spice grinder (a coffee grinder … but I don’t drink coffee, so it’s never had coffee beans in it). This tool was perfect! It took literally seconds and voila! the chia seeds were now a chia powder!

Mixing the powder with warm water quickly created the chia paste and again – it pasted up in mere seconds!

When making this recipe, I followed the base recipe (wet & dry ingredients) but was VERY skeptical as the recipe called for 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened! HALF A CUP!!! Holy Hannah!

The changes I made were:

  • Raisins instead of chocolate chips
  • Walnuts instead of pecans
  • Cornstarch instead of arrowroot starch
  • Baked 11 minutes in stead of 15 minutes

After the wet ingredients were added to the dry and thoroughly combined, I was still skeptical as the “batter” was very oily …

I scooped out 5 cookies and spaced them well apart on the parchment-lined baking tray … in case they decided to become 1 cookie! I was very pleased to see the cookies completely held their shape and didn’t spread AT ALL!

I was able to fit the rest of the batter, shaped into cookie balls, on the second tray, so not to take too long with multiple batches.

These cookies have great sweetness, but not overly sweet. The coconut sugar definitely has a different smell/taste/texture than regular granular sugar, but it’s so enjoyable!

I’ve changed the color below to show my changes:

Ingredients
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 serving chia paste*
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

*Chia Paste – 1 tbsp chia seeds, ground … mixed with ¼ cup warm water (now, 1 tbsp of chia seeds yields more than 1 tbsp when ground … I only used 1 tbsp of the ground chia seeds … not sure if that was right, or if I should have used the whole amount of ground seeds!)

Make It Like So

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix together coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and chia paste
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flours, oats, baking soda, salt, raisins & walnuts
  4. Add wet into dry and stir until combined
  5. Using 1-2 tbsp of mixture, form into balls and flattery slightly and place in parchment lined cookie sheet
  6. Bake for about 10 – 11 minutes, until golden
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The rest of the day was pretty lazy … for the whole household …

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Cashew No-Cheese Sauce

I have a co-worker who, many times, said how she isn’t a good cook. She doesn’t feel confident in the kitchen and most recipes intimidate her.

She is Celiac, and also has allergies to soy and almonds (?) … plus her husband is a “meat and potatoes” kind of dinner eater! LOL

I often think of her when I find easy DELICIOUS recipes … and I’ve started to pass them on to her. The first was the Takeaway Taco Salad recipe from The Un-Diet Cookbook by Meghan Telpner.

I wasn’t surprised when she came to work and told me that she made it, how easy it was, how DELICIOUS it was, and that her husband liked it (it has no meat)! He has even stopped by my desk (yes, also a co-worker) to thank me for passing along recipes to them.

However, when she made the Takeaway Taco Salad, they didn’t make the Cashew Cream Cheese sub-recipe … but since, she has made a recipe she found on her nutritional yeast package.

And she asked me to make it so that I could let her know how it compares to Meghan Telpner’s Cashew Cream Cheese. So today that was my weekly test recipe …

The recipe is found on the package of Bob’s Red Mill‘s Nutritional Yeast (I bought my bag from Safeway for around $11.50 CAD).

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashew pieces
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

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Directions:

  1. In a food processor or blender, process into a fine powder
  2. Add nutritional yeast, salt & garlic powder – blend until combined
  3. Add water and lemon juice – blend until smooth

Makes 2 cups

This Cashew No-Cheese Sauce recipe is absolutely like cheese sauce – it’s creamy and cheesy! It would be divine over some steamed veggies or even as a nacho dip!

It differs greatly from the Cashew Cream Cheese by Meghan Telpner as that recipe is much more like cream cheese … it’s smooth and thick.

I like the fact that these are vastly different as they can have their own time and place!

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Coconut Curry

I came across a post about a Gluten Free Expo that was taking place in Vancouver, and I instantly went to the site and purchased a ticket. I went to a VegExpo a few months ago, and while it was good, the list of vendors for this Gluten Free Expo was a LOT bigger and quite a few more names I actually knew.

Luckily, Saturday was a dry day so I was able to walk to and from the expo and get some glorious natural Vitamin D absorbed through my skin!

I had decided to not let the potentially large crowd at the expo get to me so that I could view each and every vendor/booth. I arrived around 10:40 am (it opened at 10:00 am) and I finished seeing, tasting and buying around 12:50 pm! I absolutely took my time, asked questions, ate or drank samples, accepted freebies, and spent readily!

The 3rd booth I visited was the Spice Works booth and they were sampling their Butter Chicken and Coconut Curry “All In One” spice blends – prepared without meat, but as directed on the package.

I ended up buying one of each, plus a Satay blend and a Jamaican Jerk blend. And when I got home, I checked my cupboard for additional ingredients …

I needed chickpeas and coconut milk … both of which I had!! So I decided my “recipe of the week” wouldn’t be from a book, but rather from this product.

I’m very happy to say Spice Works is sold locally in some British Columbia locations (Vancouver being my main concern), but you can also order online!!! BC orders over $60 receive free shipping; whereas under $60 gets shipping for only $10.

On to the recipe … makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Drain & rinse chickpeas. Pour insert package from Mix over chickpeas and toss with 2 TBSP each olive oil and water – allow to sit, stirring to coat as often as you’d like (I think my chickpea mixture sat on the counter for 2 hours and I stirred to coat perhaps every 30 minutes)
  2. Cook Rice/Quinoa in 2 cups of water (I use a rice cooker … takes about 20 minutes)
  3. In saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Turn to low and whisk in remaining Mix – let simmer for about 1 minute
  4. Add in coconut milk and whisk to combine – let simmer for another 4 minutes or so
  5. Add in chickpea mix and stir to combine – let simmer until you’re ready to eat
  6. Serve chickpea coconut curry mix over rice/quinoa in individual bowls

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You could easily use cubed, skinless, boneless chicken instead of, or even in addition to, chickpeas. I found this blend of foods to be very filling!

Here is the nutritional breakdown (hope this link works!):

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This is absolutely a spice mix that I will track down and make again and again! So easy – so delicious!!!

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Roasted Garlic Quinoa & Chia Bean Patties

I had originally planned on making a raw Pad Thai dish for Week 2, but after looking at the recipe in detail, it had upwards of 35 ingredients. That did not sound appealing!

Now, today is still technically in Week 1, but I am going to be out of the house for the majority of the day tomorrow, so I took the day today to make my Week 2 recipe.

I had a quick look through the Whole Foods to Thrive book and came upon 2 recipes that I thought might compliment each other. I made a list of the ingredients I didn’t already have and headed out to pick them up. I am happy to say that with just the few ingredients shown below, I am able to make both recipes!

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Now, I’m sure you can imagine that I won’t need ALL the contents of some items (i.e. massive tub of coconut oil!) but how exciting that I can make 2 recipes with such few ingredients!

I made a couple of small changes to the recipes … such as using a sprouted rice & quinoa blend instead of just quinoa. I also substituted the brown rice in the patties for this blend.

So I roasted the head of garlic, which made my apartment smell SO GOOD!!! I wonder if there is a roasted garlic or fried onion candle … LOL

I also made the rice/quinoa in my rice maker. I needed 5 1/2 cups cooked, in total, so I needed to make 2 batches as my rice maker is a nice small appliance.

When I usually make the rice/quinoa, I melt in some butter/margarine after it’s cooked, and then toss in salt, pepper and garlic powder. It’s my absolute favorite flavor for this blend.

The Roasted Garlic Quinoa recipe has such great flavor because of the roasted garlic and holy smokes – this may just be my new favorite flavor for this blend! Something so satisfying about the taste of roasted garlic *nom nom nom!

For the patties, as noted above, I subbed in rice/quinoa instead of brown rice. I also didn’t have quinoa flakes, so I used quick oats. And I omitted the miso as I didn’t have any. The recipe calls for “minced” celery, carrot, and onion … but I was too impatient, so I threw them in my Vitamix and blended them up! I think this actually turned out better because it created much smaller pieces that I could have chopped by using a knife. It also allowed much of the moisture/water come out of the vegetables, which was perfect given the omission of miso.

While these patties are good, they could use something more. Perhaps some more potent herbs and spices. They have sufficient salt, so I know that’s not missing. I will likely HAVE to make them again so that I can experiment with seasonings.

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Takeaway Taco Salad

During the last bit of 2016, I was wondering what I would do to challenge myself in 2017. And since I’ve recently (re)found my love for cooking, I thought that a great challenge would be to test a new recipe at least once per week!

I’ve looked through and flagged many pages in 6 of my top choice cookbooks (in no particular order):

  1. The UnDiet Cookbook, by Meghan Telpner
  2. Whole Foods to Thrive, by Brendan Brazier
  3. Oh She Glows Everyday, by Angela Liddon
  4. Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook, by Del Sroufe
  5. Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking, by Dana Shultz
  6. Thrive Energy Cookbook, by Brendan Brazier

For Week 1, I decided to try a simple-looking recipe … Takeaway Taco Salad from The UnDiet Cookbook.

The base recipe has only 8 ingredients, with 2 sub-recipes with 6 ingredients each.

The first sub-recipe is Cashew Cream Cheese and is noted to be “the perfect dairy-free, creamy, cheese-y alternative” and can be made thinner to resemble sour cream. I’m always skeptical on cheese alternatives …

Well yet again, (author) Meghan has proven herself and her recipe to be great! This recipe makes about 1 cup of “cream cheese” and is noted to only last refrigerated in an airtight container for 4 days … so I’ll be finding ways to use this!

The second sub-recipe is Tahini Dressing and I’ve made this a couple of times before with the Dressed to the Nines Sweet Potato recipe, so I know it’s awesome!

On to the base recipe! The theory of this recipe is to pack it into a mason jar and have it ready to go … on the go! But I’m trying it at home, so I’ve simply placed the ingredients in a bowl in a pretty fashion so that I could take a picture:

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Then I poured them all into a larger bowl, added the called-for amount of Cashew Cream Cheese (1 TBSP), mixed it up … then checked the recipe for how much Tahini Dressing to use. But it wasn’t specified.

So I opted for approximately 2 TBSP of Tahini Dressing and mixed it up. Once all combined, I poured it back into a more reasonably-sized bowl and dug right in!

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The recipe makes 1 serving … something I absolutely ADORE since I’m only one person and live with no others!

You’re only required to use 1/4 avocado … so I know I’ll have this at least 3 more times to use up the whole avocado. But I think this recipe could very easily come into regular rotation!

I made the dressings this morning so they could marry and thicken in the fridge during the day. But honestly – this recipe was so very easy!

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Blogmas Day 17

BLOGMAS DAY 17

This blogmas is coming to you from the future … because I was in bed early with a headache and didn’t get to blogging!

Saturday! I didn’t do much – it was quite a boring day by most people’s standards!

In the morning I cleaned the kitchen. I went to the grocery store to pick up some black beans.

In the afternoon I made the Dressed to the Nines Sweet Potatoes from Meghan Telpner‘s The UnDiet Cookbook (seriously LOVE this recipe!)

I’ve signed up for a 1-month free trial of CraveTV so that I can watch the 1st season of The Affair. I can get season 2 and the current season 3 on demand through my TV provider.

I’ve been battling a headache since about Wednesday and yesterday it became much more apparent. I still feel it this morning, so I don’t plan on doing much of anything today (except laundry … I MUST do laundry!)

Advent Calendar Day 17: Chocolate Covered Almond

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“Sweet, crunchy and totally addictive, chocolate almonds are a classic for a reason. Whether you want to satisfy a sweet tooth, need an afternoon pick-me-up or are looking for the perfect holiday treat to serve your guests, the answer is always an almond covered in a thick layer of chocolate. And this rich and nutty black tea is every bit as tasty. It’s got cocoa, carob and tons of yummy almond bits, plus an energizing shot of roasted yerba mate to add a warming toasted almond flavour. This little indulgence is so good, you won’t even realize you’ve gone back for seconds.”

day-17-chocolate-covered-almond

I brewed this tea as per normal … water from my metal kettle that was sounding warm, but not boiling. Then I popped in a few ice cubes to cool it further so that I could drink it now and not have to wait 30+ minutes for it to cool! I smell the chocolate but don’t necessarily smell the almond. But this is a very enjoyable tea!

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Blogmas 2016 – Day 2

BLOGMAS DAY 2

Work was much less busy today – lovely change from yesterday.

We started the day out with our Breakfast Club. On the 1st Friday of each month, we have 2 – 3 staff members who volunteer to bring breakfast foods for the group. Today the volunteers provided us with some delicious scones, muffins & croissants, a great fruit platter with some crackers, Brie & ham, as well as some home-made quiches! Oh and some Timbits!

We gather and eat and socialize for about 30 minutes – it’s really a nice way to kick of the day!

I took a late lunch … close to 1:15 pm instead of my usual 12:30 pm lunch … and just grabbed a quick small bite to eat … because I have dinner plans!

Two weeks ago, I treated myself to a wonderful steak dinner at The Keg, at Dunsmuir & Granville, before heading to Vogue Theatre on Granville Street to take in the Just for Laughs Comedy Tour featuring Dane Cook.

Well tonight, I treated myself to a(nother) wonderful stead dinner, but this time I chose the Cactus Club, at Dunsmuir & Burrard, before heading to Rogers Arena to take in Amy Schumer‘s act!

At both places I ordered a 7 or 8 oz sirloin steak and both came with mashed potatoes & vegetables. The Keg had garlic mashed potatoes and long green beans, while the Cactus Club had buttery mashed potatoes and asparagus.

I prefer the garlic mashed potatoes because I love garlic, but I prefer the asparagus because they were just cooked and seasoned better than the green beans.

Both steaks were ordered to be cooked medium. The steak at The Keg came to my table cooked exactly as requested. While the steak at the Cactus Club came a bit under cooked … more medium rare, I’d say. And I was able to tell this by slicing through the middle of the steak to look right inside.

And anyone who knows me knows that I am not one to hold back and not say what needs to be said. So I called my server over and let her know the steak was under cooked. She said she’d take it back to the kitchen, but asked if I wanted to keep my sides (potatoes & asparagus) while the kitchen fixed my steak … to which I replied “no, I’d like my meal served together” – fair request. So off she went …

Another reason I sliced through the middle of the steak, in essence creating 2 smaller steaks, is so that the kitchen would hopefully take a clue and make me a whole new steak … having grown up in a home with a professional chef (and watching Gordon Ramsey on TV), I know that you can’t serve a re-heated steak after it’s been sitting … you just canNOT!

Almost on queue, the server came to let me know the kitchen would be making me an entirely new dish (meaning I would have to wait another however many minutes (15 maybe?) for it to be ready … but that’s ok – I want my steak how I ordered it and I want it served as it should be had it been correct the first time. I don’t think that is asking much and the kitchen fully understands that – awesome service!

So steak # 2 arrives and it’s cooked perfect! And it’s seasoned perfect! And it tastes perfect! So I devour it, while savouring it at the same time.

My original plan to eat at this location of the Cactus Club was so that I was only a block away from the skytrain station and could quickly/easily grab the train to the next stop and head right in to the comedy show … but when I got outside, it was DRY!!! And since we has a whopping 6 DAYS OF NO RAIN in all of October AND November COMBINED, I was taking advantage of no rain … so I walked to the show. I probably only took me 15 minutes, and it was the best way to start the steak-digesting process.

Amy Schumer was good and funny … but not gut-busting as I expected her to be. It was nice to go to an event and yet be home by 10:30 pm! I usually head to bed to wind down around 9:00 pm, with sleep coming quickly by 9:36 pm (yes, 9:36 pm … almost nightly … including weekends) so staying OUT until 10:30 pm is HUGE for me … let alone I still needed to come home, have my Advent Calendar Day 2 Tea and write Blogmas Day 2.

So here I sit with my 2 cats all fed and happy! We’re all in our happy place (being the introverts we are)!

Advent Calendar Day 2: Organic Serenity Now

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“So maybe you burned dinner. Maybe the dishwasher broke. Again. Maybe you just forgot to hit “save.” Life is full of stressful surprises. But lucky for us, life is also full of tea. And this oh-so-soothing blend is a guaranteed one-way ticket to your happy place. It’s got serene strawberries, harmonious hibiscus and restful rosehips, all in a base of low-key lavender. So get that kettle started and brace yourself for the rush of calm. Bring it on, life. We got this.”

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Ok truth be told … I looked at the tea in the Day 2 slot and it was called Jumpy Monkey and had a caffeine rating of “stimulating” … so I made the executive decision … at 10:45 pm … to switch Day 2 with Day 4.

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I’m not a huge lavender fan and this definitely smells of lavender. But I agree that it’s very low-key! It smells like you’re at the spa … drinking the spa … living in the spa! This tea was the perfect choice for a late night drink!

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