romaine wraps & homemade oreos

Ok, I realize how simple this looks, but it was so surprisingly delicious when I made it (over and over again for lunch in the past couple weeks) that I had to share it. It's refreshing and light when it's hot outside. Not great lately for the rain and chilliness but that's what this is for.

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients
2 large pieces of romaine lettuce torn in half
2/3 to 1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken or 1/2 tin of salmon
1/4 avocado (optional)
chopped chives or other fresh herb for garnish

Instructions
Combine chicken or salmon with the pate and avocado (if using). Mix well, spread on pieces of romain lettuce. Sprinkle with fresh herbs. Fold it around like a taco to eat. 
DIY intermission: Here is Craig creating a planter with recycled wood. Stained it too!
Do you find when you live with someone that you cook, bake and have things in the kitchen that if you lived alone you would not? I think it's a common challenge, but maybe it's just me?? That's the reasoning that led me to a batch of homemade oreos. "Those look great, I'll make them for Craig".

It was during one of my searches for healthy treats that I found a sugar free recipe for oreos. But alongside, she had this full sugar option. 

I had 1/4 of one to try. Tasty yes, but not something I'll be making frequently (if ever again). You'll have to go with Craig's review: "amazing, so much better than packaged oreo's that they don't even compare". So if you like oreos, these might be ones to try! If I ever make the other version, I'll let you know.

Recipe: Much nicer than regular Oreos (by Nicole Bremner)
Does your partner influence what you eat on a day-to-day basis? Or do you stick firm to your ideals for what you want to be eating?

ratatouille with chickpeas and polenta

I was thinking about polenta the other day and specifically that I haven't had it for ages. Adding of a slice of polenta in this vegetarian roasted eggplant ratatouille makes it just seem fancy. But in reality, the whole thing is super easy to throw together. Basically, once your eggplant is roasted (and you definitely want to roast it), toss everything in a pot, simmer and voila!

Yield: 4-5 servings

Ingredients
4 tbsp olive oil
1 can chickpeas (big or small can, you decide)
1 can tomato sauce (398 ml)
1 can diced tomatoes (796 ml)
1 pepper chopped (I like yellow or orange but you can use whatever)
1 eggplant chopped in cubes, skin on
1 zucchini chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
cilantro or parsley for garnish

Polenta ingredients
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup corn grits for polenta
2 tbsp butter (optional)


Instructions
1. Roast your eggplant: heat oven to 400. On a lined baking sheet, place chopped eggplant. Drizzle with 3 tbsp olive oil and 2 tsp salt. Roast for 10-15 minutes until just browned. Remove from oven, set aside.
2. In a large pot, add onion, 1 tbsp olive oil and a dash of salt. Cook on medium high heat for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and pepper, cook 5 more minutes. Add rest of ingredients (not polenta of course) and eggplant. Bring to a boil.
3. Turn heat to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.
4. Make polenta while ratatouille is cooking: in a large pot, bring 3 cups water and 1/2 tsp salt to a boil. Add 1 cup corn grits. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring frequently to prevent sticking until mixture is very thick-about 15-20 mins. Stir in 2 Tbsp butter if you wish.
5. Oil a deep medium sized bowl, spoon mixture into bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes. Invert onto a flat plate. Mixture will be solid and able to be sliced.
6. Serve ratatouille in a bowl with a slice of polenta. Garnish with cilantro.

Polenta!

cooking + wine + gardening = staycation

Lots of talk about going away, but in the end, we stayed home.  Not the weekend getaway I was hoping for, but less rushing around and we got some stuff done. 
  • shopping in Kelowna on Saturday (new clothes for me!!)
  • & a big food shop at Costco (deserves its own bullet)
  • gardening Sunday 
  • packed in my exercise on Monday with mountain biking and squash
After wearing the same 2 pairs of stretch cords from Costco for the past 8 months, I felt I was due some new pants. I got these chambray trousers (you could totally wear these in a no jeans workplace), flowy peasant blouse and rattan wedges.

Finally tried the raw kelp noodles. Overall impression was good but not amazing. Rice noodles they are not...mostly due to a slightly weird crunchy texture. I tossed with baby spinach, chicken and peanut sauce. The flavour is neutral, they took on flavours from the sauce.  
Jack just after breakfast on Sunday. It's challenging to get a good pic what with all the black fur. I think he's contemplating territory maintenance strategies.
Enjoying a glass of wine on the deck & to make it more special, a glass wine stopper gift from the in-laws from their trip to Africa. Makes every bottle seem fancy.
Year 2 of my gardening life. So much to learn, it makes me sad :(  Loving marigolds and have put them everywhere. Apparently they keep bugs away? Not sure what kind of bugs, but seems like a good idea....still need to buy lettuce.   
What did you get up to this long weekend?

Tomato & sunflower seed pate

If you like sun-dried tomatoes, you will probably love this. The large jar from Costco (where else?) led me to making this one. I love the taste of dried tomatoes in oil but there doesn't seem to be enough opportunities to eat them. There are a few of course, like on pizza, with crackers & goat cheese, in salads...Well, here's one more way, and it's extremely yummy. Dare I say my favourite way? I often pack it in my lunch and it goes over well at parties too with everyone asking who made this and can they get the recipe. 






Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients

1/2 cup sunflower seeds soaked for 12 hours or overnight
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
juice of 1/2 lemon or more to taste
1 tsp organic no-salt seasoning (I buy at Costco, but fine to use your favourite spice blend)

Instructions
Put all in a food processor. Blend until well incorporated-scrape down the sides several times.
Great so many ways!
1. by itself
2. on wraps
3. sandwiches
4. dollop plunked on a salad
5. spread on seed crackers or fresh scones

Here's my pre-dinner snack on the deck. Just me and the millions of bits dropping off the birch trees slowly driving me crazy.

This post was shared on Allergy Free Lunchbox Love.

green-chocolate smoothie



Trust me please. This shake looks green but tastes like chocolate. It is my favourite thing to have for lunch right now (I go through phases). It's portable, super filling and satisfying in a really healthy way. Lots of ingredients make it look complicated (I counted 15!) but if you like making shakes as packed full of nutrition as possible, they are good ingredients to have on-hand.

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients

1/2 frozen banana
7 or 6 ice cubes
a couple good shakes of cinnamon
1/2 tsp spirulina powder
1/2 tsp flax seeds
1/2 tsp chia seeds
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 scoop protein powder (I used natural factor's whey in french vanilla)
1 tbsp peanut butter (or other nut or seed butter)
1 tsp maca
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt (optional)
1 cup (packed) raw spinach or other green of your choice (kale, romaine lettuce, chard, etc)
1 cup water
1/4 avocado (optional)

Instructions
Put everything in the blender. Blend for 3-4 minutes until well incorporated. Use a blender that will pulverize ice well.
Yum! What are you having for lunch today?

What's new in my pantry + a simple way to organize recipes

Good morning! I'd like to share a couple things with you today.

First, Real Raw Foods is one of my favorite sites to order from. Everything arrives super fast and the quality is excellent. Mainly raw and organic (you have to order at least $100/per order but that doesn't seem to be a problem for me). You pay shipping, but it's not that bad. Especially for items I can't find; sames me time and gas running around looking for them.

Natural goodies I've been coveting and now they're mine!!....(I get pretty excited about this stuff).


This is a new one for me. I've been searching for kelp noodles in my small town but nobody's heard of them. I'm saving them for something special but I'll let you know if they're any good. I didn't think they'd be ready to eat out of the pack, but they are!  
The giant brown bag is 5lbs of raw cocoa powder. Yikes! It looks bigger in person. The others are coconut flour, raw hazelnuts, golden flax and maca powder. That's one I hadn't tried---but I recently used it in the chocolate protein bites. It's supposed to help with energy, stamina and other stuff. The thing I'm most excited about is the little package on top. It's vanilla powder from 100% pure ground Uganda vanilla beans. A little pricey at $15, but very concentrated and probably the best smelling stuff on the planet (if you like vanilla--I actually know someone who doesn't). 


Simple recipe organizer

For someone who thinks they're organized, my plastic bag of recipes was a sad sight. But I used it for years. Happily, it all came to a crashing halt when the dollar store came to town last week (as much as they are a breeding ground for cheap, throw-away plastic crap, they also provide some fun, useful things). I got a presentation binder, plastic inserts and section dividers. I had the craft paper already. Yes, easy, I know. Should have done it ages ago. It's especially perfect if you like ripping pages out of magazines. 


What do you use to organize your recipes?


fudgey protein bites


Quitting sugar is hard to do. Why not seek out a little indulgence when you can? I made these last night and at first I wasn't impressed....the texture & flavour not what I had hoped for (thought maybe because I used a different protein powder). But maybe they just needed to sit overnight because I had one for breakfast (I ❤ morning chocolate), and they have taken on flavours of maltesers (what I remember of them anyway) and fudge. Yummy!! Worth giving them a try even if you're not quitting sugar.

The recipe is from Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar chocolate cookbook.

(I've been challenging myself to quit sugar).

Yield: Makes 10-12


Ingredients
  • 1 cup basic raw chocolate*, melted 
  • 2/3 cup protein powder (I use Natural Factors Whey Protein in French Vanilla---look for one sweetened with stevia or not at all)
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup maca powder, optional (if not using maca, add a little extra protein powder)

Instructions


Combine all ingredients and pour into silicon moulds or cupcake liners. Place in the fridge or freezer to harden.


*For the chocolate: melt 1/2 cup coconut oil and 1/2 cup cocoa butter in a double broiler (or stainless steel bowl on a pot). Add 1/3 cup + 1 tsp of cocoa powder. Add 1-2 tbsp brown rice syrup (or leave it out, add a few drops of liquid stevia) and pinch of salt. It would be fine to use all coconut oil or all cocoa butter too.

I might venture to say that 2 tbsp of brown rice syrup was too sweet. The second time I made them, I used 1 tbsp and they were sweet enough I thought.

Is anyone out there working on quitting or reducing sugar? Any tricks or tips to share?
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