Tag Archives: Vancouver

Avocado Fudge

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!!!

It was such a treat to have a 3-day weekend … and to add awesome to that, our instructor postponed our test! It was supposed to be tomorrow, but we still have a TON to learn about Fats, so now we have until Thursday!

This let me get some bookkeeping done with weekend, and a bit of recipe testing, too!

I made my Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, but swapped the regular white sugar for coconut sugar, and swapped the margarine for butter … meh – they are NOT the same!

I also made some Coconut Bars, but instead of bars, I used a mini muffin tin, so I have Coconut Bites! The original recipe calls for strawberry protein powder, but I swapped for the seasonal release of Chocolate Mint. These turned out AWESOME!

Today I tried out an Avocado Fudge recipe. The original calls for 4 scoops vanilla protein powder, but I wanted to try it with our seasonal release of Pumpkin Spice! So I swapped 3 scoops for PS and used 1 scoop vanilla.

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The full recipe was a MAJOR test for my food processor. It made the motor REALLY smell! So next time, will opt for making 2 half batches instead.

Also, the ingredients call for honey, but the recipe didn’t indicate WHERE to add it! So I completely forgot it!! Was a wee bit concerned how sweet these brownies would be, but was delighted that they taste GREAT!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large avocados, pitted & peeled
  • 4 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
  • 3 tsp honey

Instructions:

  1. Add the avocado through salt (let’s say through honey!) to food processor and process until a smooth consistency is reached
  2. Add 1 cup of walnuts and 1 cup of dates; process until smooth
  3. Add 1 cup of walnuts and remaining dates; process until smooth
  4. Add remaining walnuts and pulse to combine
  5. Prepare 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper; fill with mixture
  6. Press firmly with back of spoon; freeze for at least 3 hours (putting in the fridge isn’t enough – needs freezer)
  7. Remove from pan and slice into desired size pieces (I opted for 4 x 6 = 24 pieces)

Will I make this recipe again – yes, ABSOLUTELY!!!

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Luxurious Tomato Basil Pasta

Today I did my very first Facebook Live! I was a bit nervous, but when you’re talking about a subject that you’re passionate about, it just comes easy!

The FB Live was me preparing a recipe … Luxurious Tomato Basil Pasta from the Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon!

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, unflavored almond milk (I used cashew milk)
  • 9 oz uncooked pasta (I used Fusilli)
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 handfuls spinach
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

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Directions:

  1. Soak cashews for minimum 2 hours, then drain and rinse. Add cashews and milk to blender and blend until smooth
  2. Cook pasta, according to instructions, to al dente
  3. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent.
  4. Add tomatoes and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted
  5. Stir in cashew cream through pepper and cook until heated through
  6. Add pasta to skillet and mix
  7. Enjoy!

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Tip: if at any point the sauce or pasta dries out, stir in a splash of almond/cashew milk (I anticipate this for the leftovers).

After a quick taste, I have to say … this is one delicious dish! I can’t wait for lunch tomorrow and Tuesday! Will absolutely be adding this recipe to my collection of go-to’s!

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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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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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It is with a Heavy Heart …

It’s only heavy because it’s working so hard to pump blood to my unhealthy, overweight body!

Today, January 1, 2017 … I weigh in at 241.8 pounds (109.6 kg).

Today, January 1, 2017 … is the heaviest I will be in 2017 … and beyond!

Today, January 1, 2017 … I bundled up (it’s a balmy 2 degrees in Vancouver today) and walked to the Robert Lee YMCA and signed up for a membership.

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Today, January 1, 2017 … today is a new day, a new year, a new chance!

 

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Blogmas Day 22

BLOGMAS DAY 22

3 MORE SLEEPS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!

Work was good – it went fast enough. One of my managers and I took some food & cash donations to the food bank today. And when I got back from lunch, he left a gift basket and card on my chair!

How nice! The basket had a bottle of wine, can of Pringles, box of microwave popcorn (will have to see how one pops microwave popcorn without a microwave!), Lindt chocolates, and a book!

One of my other managers gave me a Bath and Body Works 3-wick candle and Starbucks gift card.

Another manager left me a small box of Merci chocolates. And the partner of the group gave me a bottle of wine and a gift card to a group of restaurants!

I was going to return some Old Navy items I’d ordered online, but after getting the Christmas treats, my bag was heavy and I decided to wait until tomorrow for the return.

I came home, fed the furries and had a shower to wash my hair. Then I did my nails, had some wine and then remembered I still needed to have my Advent Calendar tea!

Advent Calendar Day 22: English Toffee

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“Need a toffee break? This rich and decadent, all-natural blend of pu’erh, cocoa beans and caramel is the perfect sweet treat. With its mouth-watering aromas of caramel and browned butter, even steeping it feels like a luxury. But with all the benefits of pu’erh – and next to no calories – this is one little indulgence you can feel great about drinking. Try it with hot frothed milk and a shot of coffee liqueur. It just doesn’t get sweeter than that.”

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It smells lightly like English toffee and the taste is slight too. I like English toffee, but thought this tea might be a bit sweet. I was pleasantly surprised to the (nice) lack of sweet!

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I’m hoping for a 1/2 day tomorrow. None of the managers will be in-office, and while I have stuff that I could do that I’ve been putting off, I would like to scoot away early!

Only 3 more sleeps!

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Blogmas Day 20 & 21

BLOGMAS DAY 20

What did I do yesterday … aside from totally forgetting to type blogmas and forgetting the advent calendar!?

We had our admin Christmas social and I’ll use that as an excuse because there were mimosas and wine!

After work I had my cat-sitter over for a visit and a nice visit. We go over things that have changed from last time she sat and talk and drink wine! LOL

Advent Calendar Day 20: Cardamom French Toast

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“Something about cardamom just puts us in a festive frame of mind. We love its rich, fragrant taste any way we can get it. One of our faves? The buttery, cardamom-scented Christmas breads popular in Sweden and Finland. And since cardamom toast is so great, it only stands to reason that cardamom French toast would be out of this world. With black tea, cardamom, cane sugar and cinnamon, this rich, sweet blend tastes just like the decadent breakfast of our dreams. Only this is one brunch item you’ll be wanting all day long.”

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This one definitely smells like cinnamon. And tastes like it, too. But it’s not one that I’m over the moon with. It’s lacking the french toast side!

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Now – this tea was sampled today, on Blogmas Day 21 …

BLOGMAS DAY 21

I didn’t sleep well last night in anticipation of my doctor’s appointment to review my blood work.

I headed out the door around 7:50 am and was able to get in early to see my doctor. While the results weren’t good, I was more put off by one of her comments.

She said (something along the line of) “maybe this will make you do something about your health”. WHAT!? Are you fucking kidding me!?

Let’s review …

My weight is down. Not much, but down is DOWN!

My cholesterol is on point!

My blood pressure (which used to be sky high and I used to be on meds for it) is also on point!

So my blood sugar is going up. Last November it was at 6.5 and this December it is at 7.2 and this is not good. When you receive 2 readings above 7, you’re diagnosed a diabetic. I’ve always had readings in the 6’s … making me pre-diabetic.

But also, diabetes is very apparent in my family. Both my grandmas have diabetes. I believe both grandpas also have it, too. And I know (and truly believe) that our genetics are NOT our destiny.

Last year when my reading was 6.5, my doctor recommended that I speak with a nutritionist – which I did. And the nutritionist looked at my food diary and recommended that I DON’T CHANGE MY DIET as it’s relatively great as compared to many people’s diet.

So my doctor agrees that I don’t need to change my diet. But suggests that I do more cardio.

And I walk … a LOT … most of the year. In Vancouver, it rains … a LOT … and that creates a deterrent to getting outside for a walk. So while most (dry weather) work days has me walking to work (2.25 km = 26 minutes) and potentially home from work (2.25 km = 26 minutes), she wants me to “aim to do 30 – 45 minutes of cardio 3 times a week at lunch”.

I’d say I’ve got a good head start doing 30 – 60 minutes of walking 5 days a week. Man – she frustrates me!

I’m bummed out. It’s not the diagnosis I hoped for. But I’m not giving up (ok I kind of did for a bit today, but that’s just me being all “woe is me”). I’ll “aim” to do 30 – 45 minutes of cardio 3 times per week … and I’m preparing for a better result on my follow-up test which I’ve scheduled for March 15, 2017.

As for Advent Calendar Day 21 … I couldn’t open the tin. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have 2 teas!

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Blogmas Day 19

BLOGMAS DAY 19

Loving the new bronzer/contour I’m using! I can’t remember the brand … Mineral something … oh and my lovely new hair cut!

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So it snowed yesterday. And it snowed over night. And rained. And froze.

And since it rarely snows in Vancouver … then rained, then froze … the city stopped.

The buses weren’t functioning. Cabs were nowhere to be seen. Which left me to walking to work.

And since it was already 4 degrees, the frozen rained-on snow was melting … fast. So I was walking through puddles on puddles on puddles!

Luckily I have waterproof winter boots! Which reminds me … I should re-spray them soon!

Here’s a drinking game I played at work today:

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Also since it snowed, and rained, and froze … my co-workers didn’t make it to the office. Out of the 7 people who aren’t on holidays, 1 made it in! LOL

I was productive, but I don’t know what I did.

On Friday I had some bloodwork done and the tech said the results will take about 3 days. What I didn’t expect was 3 calendar days (or less)! My doctor’s office called this morning and my doctor wants to see me … meaning my results aren’t good. I go in Wednesday morning, so I’m trying not to stress and worry.

After work, I stopped by Safeway and picked up what I needed to make BBQ Chicken Caesar Salad.

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Advent Calendar Day 19: Organic Sweet Almond Green

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“Our favourite part of the holiday season? The treats, of course. And those little almond-scented cookies have an extra-special place in our hearts. Buttery and sweet, with the nutty crunch of an almond on top, they’re a dangerously delicious part of any festive cookie spread. But with a nutty kiss of almond and an organic base of green tea, this sweet and subtle tea is our guilt-free version of the classic treat. Because indulging yourself should have no strings attached.”

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The almond aroma is intense! Although … upon further wafting … it smelled very “artificial extract” like. It tastes a bit artificial, too, but it’s an ok flavor.

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