Is Costco replacing your health food store?


An arrangement of packaged foods purchased at costco laid out on the counter.

Shopping at Costco. I love it (and kinda loath it). Living where we live, it's an epic 2.5 hour (one way) drive, and we can usually only go on the weekend, when it's a noisy, busy, crazy mess.

After the most recent trip, I took a good look at the things I bought....almost everything was 'health food'. When did this happen? Is this what Costco shoppers want? It must be. I mean they still have oodles of things I would not remotely consider health food, but lots of healthier products have made their way into the arsenal of products they carry everyday.

I worked at Costco through my university days....often buying cases of gum and the biggest bags of Cadbury mini-eggs (not making the best food choices). I don't remember what else they had, but I'm fairly certain there were zero organic products. Looking around Costco today, it's organic frozen mango, agave nectar (blah), organic coconut sugar, sprouted rice, quinoa, coconut water and dozens like them.

I don't really know where I'm going with this...more of an observation of things. I save a bit of money going to Costco once every 2 or 3 months, but thank goodness there is an awesome health food store here in town. I don't think i could live here without it! I'm probably there 2 or 3 times a week to pick something up. Ok, enough about that....what about the snow this week?! There's my Honda fit under there.
My Fit completely covered with snow in the driveway
Remember when I showed you that thing a month ago? Not the same post but same height. The snow is slowly creeping up. Plus...see that light in the top right corner? I'm calling it sunshine. I need too.
pathway of snow showing how high the snow is getting
Getting out on the greenbelt for a snow walk. Gotta do it, especially on these grey days. Helps to keep the sanity in check!

Raw brownie with raw fudge icing

No-bake brownie with fudge icing on a blue speckled pottery plate
Last night we were watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix (love that show, even with the football) and looking for an amazing treat to indulge with. Because this is me, it had to seem and taste 'bad for me' but really be healthy and good.

I've made brownies using walnuts and dates, but this icing takes these to a new level of yum. I don't know why I never included icing before! If you make these, your happiness level is likely to improve. Immediately. It's rich, fudgey and guaranteed to satisfy even a man brownie lover (that would be Craig, can't speak for others).  

Yield: 16 squares

Ingredients

Raw Brownie Base:
  • 10 medjool dates (pitted)
  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • a pinch of pink or sea salt
Raw Fudge icing

  • 10 medjool dates (pitted)
  • 3 Tbsp + 1tsp cocoa powder
  • 7 Tbsp coconut milk or any other milk you prefer

Instructions
  1. In a food processor, mix 10 dates with 2 Tbsp cocoa powder, walnuts and salt. 
  2. Blend until it looks crumbly. Press into a 8" square pan. 
  3. Using the food processor again, mix 10 dates with 3 Tbsp + 1 tsp cocoa powder and milk. Blend until smooth and thick like icing. 
  4. Spread on first layer. Voila! 
2 pics. First is raw ingredients in a food processor. Second is ingredients pressed into a baking pan.

2 pics. First is icing being made in a food processor. Second is icing spread on pressed ingredients in baking pan.
No need to chill or wait, etc.. I dusted a square with a little cinnamon and dove in. If you have any doubt left, think of it as a delicious way to get more walnuts in your diet! *Honestly, walnuts have the most antioxidants of all the nut & protects your brain from aging. Other benefits including a special one for men only.
a small piece of no-bake brownie with fudge icing close up on a fork


Note: These DO have quite a bit of natural sugar...dates are natures candy after all. If you are watching your sugar, you might not want to eat a whole bunch of them.

The perfect cup of tea

I'm a Coronation Street watcher. It's not a soap to me, more like classic British TV. What does it offer you may wonder? 
  • Improbable yet somehow believable plots
  • Not especially handsome but sexily accented men
  • The right amount of crazy people balanced with boringly normal ones (like Emily)
  • Makes me feel good about my food choices (what with all the bacon butties or is it buddies?)

They're so into their tea too. You can't watch an episode without wanting a 'cuppa' yourself. They'll stab their fellow Weatherfield resident in the back then offer to "put the kettle on, shall I?"



















That's what I was thinking as I made my morning cup. Coffee makes my eye twitchy (seriously), so it's tea all the way for me. But I know Corrie wouldn't approve of my methods: I don't use a teapot, I only drink earl grey (though that sounds like it might be English...), and I have it with stevia & almond milk.

Tea, my window nook and Corrie. Plus a big bowl of muesli. Perfect way to spend Sunday morning. Then later, off for a ski.

What's your favourite way to spend Sunday morning?


Spicy quinoa sliders with chili dipping sauce

Blue plate with 3 cooked sliders with raw sliced red, orange, and yellow peppers and avocado.

Patties, rounds, circles of deliciousness? It's not easy naming foods I tell you. Sliders seem about right though. Means mini sandwich or mini burger.

My Asian inspired quinoa soldiers were a hit around the domicile so I wanted to try something similar. They were great but these are my new favourite. They're amazing on their own or try with the dipping sauce. I'm a sucker for Thai flavours.

For a tasty burger option, make these bigger (about 3x the size shown) and grill on the BBQ. Serve with a side of veggies or a thin bun, mayo and garlic chili sauce. Grills in about 5 minutes a side.Raw slider mixture in large metal bowl being stirred with wooden spoon. Combined mixture in next pic.
Yield: 15 patties
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 2-3 mins per patty per side

Ingredients

1.2 lb ground pork (525 grams)
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 tsp garlic chili sauce (use more if you like it hot-this amount had a nice medium kick)
1 tsp soy or tamari sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Stir enough to combine only. Use fairly soon after you put it together as the quinoa will absorb liquid as it sits and dry things out. 
  2. Make into patties. Set aside on a non-stick surface.
  3. On medium heat, fry sliders in 2-3 Tbsp coconut oil or other cooking oil. 
  4. Lightly salt each slider in the pan.
  5. This size of patty takes about 3 minutes per side. 
Raw sliders on a silpat. Sliders cooking in black fry pan on stove.
Dipping sauce
Mix together:
4 tbsp soy or tamari sauce
2 tsp chili garlic sauce

Close up shot of quinoa sliders with dipping sauce in background


Do you ever cook with quinoa?

This recipe shared on Allergy-Free Lunchbox Love

Coco-Crisps bars

4 coco-crisps on a blue pottery plate
Back in my days of eating too much sugar (and feeling gross afterwards), I loved rice crispy squares. Melted marshmallow, crispy rice...yummy. But sadly, negative nutritional value. I know I could do better, make a decadent treat and use wholesome ingredients to boot. Enter the coco-crisp!

Prep time: 10 mins
Chill time: 60 mins
Yield: 16 squares

Ingredients

3 cups rice crisps (I use nature's path) or 2 cups rice crisps and 1 cup oats
1/4 cup hemp hearts (I get mine at Costco. If you don't have, sub with sesame seeds)
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup brown rice syrup or honey
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix rice crisps and hemp hearts. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan on low heat combine peanut butter, rice syrup and vanilla.
  3. Pour mixture into rice and hemp heart mix. 
  4. Add 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. Mix these in.
  5. Press firmly into a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Use damp fingers.
  6. Refrigerate for 1 hour until firm. 
  7. Cut into squares.

4 step instructions on creating coco-crisps. Stirring dry and wet ingredients in a large metal bowl. Pan lined with parchment paper with mixture pressed into it.

Large knife slicing coco-crisps into 16 squares


Coco-crisps on a light blue pottery plate. Individual chocolate chips sprinkled on plate.

More no-bake treats? Try avocado pudding or pumpkin & almond muesli (it's as good as a treat!)

What are some of your favourite go-to healthy treats?

Lentil mental vegetarian soup

Soup's on in my little kitchen. Looking in the pantry, I found perfect little lentils lingering in the back. Green & red ones begging to get eaten. Lentil soup is delicious when it has lots of good stuff that contributes to the depth of flavours- and this one delivers.
Green ceramic bowl on a matching plate. Lentil soup in the bowl with a metal spoon dipped into it.

Ingredients

2 tsp coconut oil (or reserved bacon fat)
1 onion chopped
2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 carrot chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
1 1/2 cups green lentils
1/2 cup red lentils
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp organic no salt seasoning (from Costco it's great stuff)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground turmeric (because it's really healthy, so I add it to everything I can)
1 or 2 pieces kombu seaweed or similar
1X1L container of veggie stock
5 cups water (or more stock)

Instructions
  1. Rinse lentils in a sieve. 
  2. In a large stock pot, add fat, onion, salt, carrot and celery. 
  3. Cook on medium-high for 5 minutes, stirring a little. 
  4. Add lentils and cook 5 more minutes, again stirring a little. 
  5. Add spices, stock, water and seaweed. Bring to a boil then turn to simmer for 1 hour. Remove kombu.
fresh carrots, celery and onion, dry lentils and container of vegetable stock
chopped carrots and celery on a bamboo cutting board and soup simmering in a large metal pot on the stove
Serve with fresh bread or add a little cooked quinoa to the bowl. That's what I usually do.
green ceramic bowl with lentil soup in it and sliced homemade bread on the side

More soups to try? Check out  Ginger quinoa split-pea,  split-pea bacon or spanish turkey meatball

What kinds of soups have been cooking lately?

Chalkboard paint to label pantry jars

small mason jars with chalkboard paint on lids, labelled with chalk
I have a cupboard full of jars. While I know what most things are in there, it would be nice to have everything labelled, in its place, etc. That's typical of me. I like things to be organized and tidy. I even prefer that to clean. Of course, I like it clean too, but tidy looks clean. You know what I mean?

Plus, sometimes I put things away convincing myself that of course I'll remember what it is, no need to label it, only to look at it months later and not have a clue.

This way I'll have no excuse-as long as there is chalk around.


It's the first time for me using chalkboard paint. Sometimes it looked like it would dry lumpy/brush marks. But it smoothed out nicely when dry--Easy!



I bought the paint at the hardware store and I had a zillion jars to choose from at home. But if you don't have any, thrift stores are a great spot to pick them up cheap (I bleach those ones out a little).  I lightly sanded the surfaces but it seemed like this paint would stick to just about anything, sanded or not. 
descriptive pics showing preparations for jars and lids for painting
Allow for some ventilation. The paint is oil based and fairly smelly. You might start thinking that most surfaces in your home would benefit from a writeable chalkboard surface.
mason jars with chalkboard paint labels and label written in chalk
And there we go, this cupboard is coming along nicely...I couldn't resist doing the salt shaker too. Probably not super practical but I did say that paint was smelly. 
Inside of pantry showing chalkboard paint jars labelled with chalk
And, to give you an idea of our weather these days...my walk to work yesterday.3 pictures showing snowy conditions over a bridge, woman in pink winter wear and snowy riverHappy organizing! What are some ways you keep track of what's what in the cupboard?

Pumpkin seed and almond muesli

bowl of muesli with milk and a spoon in it
A new year and an old favourite. It's cereal with a tough name to spell! I had to look it up, like twice. Generally I have cooked oats for breakfast but it's nice to spice things up a little (large flake, quick cook, steel cut, I have them all but it's all still porridge). 

Store-bought muesli is crazy expensive and usually has added sugar. Once I made this batch, I knew I'd be making more soon. It's still inspiring me to get out of bed every morning since I made it. It's that good! This version has a hint of sweetness but if you like a sweeter cereal, just add more raisins. The ingredients were easy to find between the health food store and Costco for the hemp hearts. 
all muesli ingredients in a bowl mixed with a wooden spoon

Prep time: 10 mins
Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients

2 cups large flake oats
1/2 cup oat bran
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chopped raw almonds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/2 cup organic raisins
2 scoops unflavoured protein powder (I like natural factors)
1/2 cup rice crisps (I used nature's path)
a couple shakes of cinnamon powder to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mix.

And that's it. I have mine with almond milk. Nice with yogurt & sliced banana. mason jar full of muesli being held by a hand
Happy breakfast eating! Does anyone have any variations they'd like to share?  I'm always looking for ways to spruce up breakfast.

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