Tag Archives: lunch

Tea for Two

28 Jul

IMG_2305

I had an awesome landlady for the 3 years I lived off-campus during university. As in, free parking in the driveway, drive you to the hospital and wait with you for 5 hours and pay the parking ticket when you needed stitches kind of awesome. So when I bought a groupon to Dishington’s, a tea room just outside of London, I called her and asked her if she wanted to get together for lunch to catch up (she’s an avid HHH reader…Hi Lynne!). Thankfully, she accepted, and Tuesday we had lunch.

When I thought tea room, I was thinking creamy salads, sandwiches and baked goods, but thankfully, I managed to find some healthier options (since this week/weekend are PACKED with food-focused occasions, I didn’t want to start 80/20 –ing too early Winking smile). I ordered the “soup, salad and biscuits” with a garden salad. The soup of the day was tomato vegetable, so pretty healthy. I didn’t snap a picture of the biscuits, but I only ate one (no butter). I LOVE biscuits, but rarely eat them, so it was a nice treat. The salad was your average salad, and the soup was good.IMG_2306

Lynne and I decided to share a dessert. Given my love for peanut butter and chocolate, when we heard that peanut butter chocolate ice cream cake was the feature, that was our choice – YUM! It was pretty much just as delicious as it looked and sounded. The tea was good, but I was a little disappointed that at a fancy tea room, it was just Lipton! I was hoping for something a little more special.

All-in-all, it was a great lunch though. So nice to catch up with Lynne, who is no longer my landlady, but a dear friend. And I treated myself without going too overboard.IMG_2313

After saying good bye to Lynne, I headed downtown to The Running Room to get new runners. My current pair have been through a marathon and a half marathon with me, so they were well past their prime. After consulting with the helpful staff, I came away with the most expensive running shoes I’ve ever owned – these Asics. The guy told me that the shoes I have now weren’t supportive enough for my arches (I expected as much. I have flat feet and was in MAJOR pain when I crossed the finish line last fall at my marathon). I’m planning my “maiden run” in them today, so I’ll keep you posted!

IMG_2312

I was really hungry by the time I got back home (around 6). Although my lunch included some yummy treats, what it didn’t include was very much protein. I wanted something that would be satisfying and filling, but still pretty light. Enter: zucchini “pasta” with meat sauce.

Not only does zucchini “pasta” IMG_2309have way less carbs and calories than the usual stuff, it also cooks up WAY quicker ( a great benefit when your stomach’s eating itself). All you do is use a vegetable peeler to make thing strands from the zucchini. As long as it’s not too big and seedy, you can use the whole thing (one medium zucchini makes one serving).

IMG_2310

I cooked my “noodles” in salted water in my microwave cooker for 4 minutes, drained, seasoned with salt and pepper and that’s it!

 

 

 

 

For my quick meat sauce, I sauteed ground turkey, onion, garlic, mushrooms, IMG_2308red pepper and yellow pepper (from my garden!) in a teaspoon of olive oil until browned. Then, I added part of a can of San Marzano tomatoes, a splash of red wine (because it was sitting there, I was feeling rebellious, and I like the taste of wine in sauces, just not to drink)and salt and pepper; brought to a boil, then reduced the heat and simmered for a few minutes.

IMG_2311

Right at the end, I stirred in a generous handful of chopped fresh basil and oregano, simmered for a few more minutes, and we were good to go. I poured the sauce over my “pasta,” added some Parmesan, garnished with more fresh basil, and dinner was served!

 

Thank you to those of you who submitted questions to me earlier in the week. I plan to answer them in a post to come – it’s just been a bit crazy this week. Stay tuned for the rest of my eating adventures (and a shoe summary).

If you are a runner (or any other type of exerciser for that matter) have you shelled out the big bucks for shoes, and was it worth it?

Advertisements

Road Trip!

21 Jul

I am blessed to live where I do. grapes of wrathNot only do I live within driving distance of most of my extended family, I also live within driving distance of many fun places to visit, such as Stratford Ontario, home of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. So when my Aunt asked if I wanted to go with her and my cousins to see a play in Stratford and go out for dinner (and generously offered to buy my ticket…thanks Auntie Rue!), how could I refuse?

IMG_2237

Since the play was at 2, we planned to leave around noon, which meant I’d be eating on the road. By now, you know me better than to think that equals McDonald’s (at least I certainly hope you do). I packed a nice little car-friendly meal: PC blue menu Tzatziki and veggies (including peeled pickling cucumbers…oh how I LOVE them….so crunchy…seriously one of the best parts of summer), ham slices with lemon dill mustard wrapped around arugula, 2 Source: Dessert Selection yogurts and fresh cherries. Since I was eating cherries and wearing a white skirt, I packed a paper towel, just to be on the safe side (thankfully there were no fruit/fashion mishaps). This lunch was perfectly portable, and perfectly delicious.

The play we saw was The Grapes of Wrath. Let me warn you, if you are feeling a little sad, or down-in-the-dumps, I wouldn’t recommend this one. It takes place in the depression, and it was, well, depressing. Don’t get me wrong, it was a really good play – very well done, superbly acted and great music, but not exactly a feel-good play, and you don’t come away feeling all warm and fuzzy. Thankfully, my Aunt and Cousins and I all have a pretty good sense of humour, so we were able to get our spirits up over dinner afterward.

IMG_2242

Speaking of dinner, we ate at Pazzo, which has a fancier trattoria upstairs and a more casual pizzeria downstairs. I ate a couple bites of a piece of bread and to start, my Aunt and I both had the “soiled reputation greens, roasted chickpeas, monforte toscano, lemon and olive oil” salad. Delicious! Perfectly dressed (not over-dressed at all) and the chickpeas had a pleasant crunch to them that worked beautifully with the other tastes and textures in the salad.

IMG_2243

Since we were at a pizzeria, of course we had to go with pizza for our main course. You can choose your crust and toppings, so my aunt and I shared a whole wheat crust (nice and thin, incredibly crispy, and not oily in the least) with tomato sauce, mozzarella, goat cheese, roasted garlic, portabellas, roasted red pepper, fresh basil, sundried tomatoes and roasted red onions (I think that’s everything). You pay by the topping, so it wasn’t cheap, but it sure was tasty! I ate two (plus a little bit) slices and enjoyed every bite.

Me and my cousin Emily at Pazzo (think we look alike? You’re not the first.)

IMG_2241

 

 

All-in-all, a great day. Nice weather, good (albeit rather sad) play, great food, and even better company. Thanks again Auntie Rue!

 

What are your go-to road-trip meals and snacks?IMG_2235

P. S. See this guy? It’s a yellow cherry tomato. It came out of my garden on Tuesday. It’s a slow start, but, my friends, tomato season has begun…stay tuned!

Chill out!

16 Jul

IMG_2126

It’s summer…and the weather is HOT! (NOT that I am complaining…I am a summer baby, and I can take the heat). But sometimes, our bodies just crave the cold stuff. If the picture at the top of this post confuses you, it’s because there’s a bit of tromp d’oeil going on (that’s French for “tricking the eye”) – this soup was downright chilly!

I got the idea on Tuesday, when I was thinking of what to have for lunch, and what I had in my fridge. IMG_2124I was thinking that the crushed San Marzano tomatoes I had would make a lovely soup with a roasted red pepper, some Laughing Cow and fresh basil. But I didn’t want to go to the time, temperature and trouble of making a hot soup. So, I thought, why not use these ingredients to make my own version of a cool and creamy gazpacho?

For those of you who don’t know, Wikipedia tells us that “Gazpacho is a cold Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup, originating in the southern region of Andalusia.” I use the term gazpacho loosely, as I’m sure mine isn’t authentic (and, quite frankly, I enjoyed it more than any gazpacho I’ve had), but it was absolutely amazing, can be made in the bowl it’s served in, and uses only 4 ingredients (plus water, salt and pepper). What more could you ask for?

Creamy Cold Tomato and Red Pepper Gazpacho – serves one

*Some quantities are approximate, as I didn’t measure, just threw stuff in. I don’t think a little more or less of any one ingredient will ruin the dish, you’ll just give it your own unique spin.

  • About 3/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes (use San Marzano if you can find them – they’re amazing)
  • 1 jarred roasted red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 2 wedges light Laughing Cow cheese
  • A generous handful fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • About the same amount of water as crushed tomatoes

Put the cheese in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 30 seconds until softened. Add all remaining ingredients (except for the garnishing basil leaves) and puree with an immersion blender until smooth (if you don’t have one, you could throw this in a blender, but you REALLY should get an immersion blender, it makes life so much easier (unless you give yourself stitches with it…but that’s another story)). Chill in the fridge until nice and cold (or go for a few minutes in the freezer if you’re in a rush). Garnish with fresh basil and enjoy – that’s it, that’s all!

IMG_2125

Paired with roasted cauliflower and a grilled cheese on a thin bun, this was the perfect lunch – the summer version of everybody’s favourite comfort food classic – tomato soup with grilled cheese. Please, please PLEASE try this soup. It is dead easy, and tastes like summer in a bowl. Totally refreshing, no heating up the kitchen, and minimal clean up – what more can I say to convince you?

IMG_2178

Well, Ill try this: I loved the soup so much that I made it again on Thursday – exactly the same, didn’t change a thing. This time, some garlic scapes accompanied the cauliflower (both roasted), and I swapped out the thin bun grilled cheese for a quesadilla made with goat cheese, fresh basil, and grape tomatoes plus a few slices of full-sized tomato. Other than the tomato making the flatbread slightly soggy, the whole meal was delicious.

Now see that bottle in the back left? That was one of my delicious impulse buys at Winners on Wednesday. I should really stay away from the “home” and checkout sections of that store .Why? Because I go in to look for oven mitts and a spoon rest, and come out with this:

IMG_2167

The spoon rest (at least I got one thing on my list – they didn’t have any oven mitts that I could see), rose water (it’s one of those things I see in recipes from time to time but can never find. Now that I have it I probably won’t be able to think of/find  a recipe that uses it, because that’s the way my life goes), fudge brownie coffee (the crazy thing about this, is that I would tell you I don’t drink coffee – I just bought this stuff to add variety to my iced coffee drinks), freeze-dried apple/strawberry combo (I’m a sucker for freeze-dried fruit, love the stuff) and truffle (the mushroom, not the chocolate)-infused balsamic vinegar (it was fancy, French, and came in a spray bottle….I couldn’t say no!). And the crazy thing is, that’s not even everything I wanted to buy. I resisted the urge to get fancy tea (darn that promise I made to myself not to buy more until I used up my overflowing stash) and cute bowls that were ON SALE.

…anyway….I misted that vinegar over the roasted veggies and it was actually quite delightful. I love things in spray bottles – just so perfect for finishing things like roasted veggies and adding a touch of flavour. I will certainly re-use this bottle when the tasty vinegar is gone.

IMG_2164

Speaking of cool, check out this AMAZING mega-salad that I had after UFC class with Donna Wednesday night. It’s a pumped-up summer time version of the watermelon/feta salad of a few weeks back. My greens were garden lettuce and arugula. Veggies: lightly cooked asparagus (the last, I’m afraid, until next year), cucumber, red pepper, tomato, and grilled zucchini and Vidalia onion. The herb-age was tons of fresh basil.

IMG_2163

For added protein power, I grilled a Sobey’s BBQ Chipotle chicken breast (I did this and the veggies, along with steaming the asparagus and chopping the melon at lunch time, as I knew I would be home later, and I wanted there to be minimal time between getting home and enjoying this salad. The plate you see to the left, along with the chopped melon were waiting for this sweaty beast when she arrived home). IMG_2165

I threw all of the above into my standard “big salad” bowl (Pampered Chef medium square bamboo bowl, in case you were wondering) with a cup of watermelon and honeydew chunks (leftover from the Edible Arrangement), salt and pepper, and feta crumbles! My dressing was made with schmancy blueberry wine vinegar, fat-free Italian dressing, Dijon and olive oil. The fruity flavour went perfectly with the salad.

All in all, pretty much a perfect summer salad. Some people see eating salad for dinner as punishment, but I can ensure you, it is not so with this salad. It was the perfect mix of cool, crunchy, sweet, spicy and salty, and it was totally and completely satisfying.

What are your go-to cold recipes for hot weather?

All around the mulberry bush

7 Jul

(everybody sing along)….the monkey chased the weasel. The monkey thought it IMG_1991was all in fun…POP! Goes the weasel. Please tell me you know that song, that you sang along (at least in your head) and it gave you a nice little chuckle as it did for me. You see this picture? It’s a mulberry bush (well, ok, tree). And I went all around it on Tuesday (although there were no monkeys or weasels, sadly).

IMG_1992

You see, I was being a bit of a blogging hypocrite. I told you how great and cheap it is to pick fresh berries, but I have this tree in my front yard, and I’m ashamed to admit, it’s been years since I picked any of the berries off of it! And they are plentiful…and it’s a shame to let the birds eat them all (and then mess up the sidewalk, it’s quite lovely). So Tuesday, I determined to go out there and pick some berries. Let me tell you, it’s a good upper body workout with your arms in the air all that time! IMG_1990

I managed to get about a quart (I could have got more if I had bothered to get a ladder and spend a little more time out there), but I figured this was a good amount for my first effort. These guys are SUPER juicy and quite delicate, and fall off the tree very easily (come check out the ground below if you don’t believe me). IMG_1989

How juicy you ask? I give you Exhibit A – the aftermath. This was before washing, but even after a wash, some of the purple stayed behind.

So what to do with all those mulberries? They do have one caveat – a small stem that needs to be removed before they can be eaten, which is a bit of a pain. I have plans to stir some into my morning yogurt with strawberries and cherries, but have yet to do so (will keep you posted).

My first mulberry project was inspired by my sister, who makes lovely syrups IMG_2000for soda (even though she doesn’t drink carbonated beverages) with a variety of fruits. You can do this with almost any fruit (fresh or frozen) depending on what’s in season. And since I was straining the stuff anyway, I didn’t have to de-stem…win win!

All you do is put the washed fruit in a pot with some water and sweetener of your choice (Splenda for this girl). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat until syrupy and the fruit have released their juices (about 10 minutes for the mulberries).

IMG_2001

This picture shows what the berries look like after they’ve simmered and released their juices. Then just put the berries over a fine-meshed strainer and press through into a bowl/container to get all the syrup, and discard the solids. You will be surprised at how little liquid you end up with, considering the variety of fruit you began with. IMG_2040Look at the picture…see what I mean? That’s all I got!

Like I said, you can use this syrup to make your own flavoured sodas. Just pour some into a glass and add sparkling water. It would also be delightful on ice cream or other desserts. The mulberry really makes a nice deep purple colour (and all over the kitchen too….a lot of wiping up goes on)!

IMG_1993

 

IMG_1994

 

 

 

 

 

Since this is kind of a garden-themed post, I thought I’d share more exciting garden news with you – I picked my first pepper! One of my poblanos (which are large, green, and spicy, but not EXTREMELY hot) I used it in a tasty lunch on Tuesday – a Mexican stuffed pepper with a salad on the side (with lettuce and cilantro from my garden also).

IMG_1997

I broiled the pepper for a few minutes on each side to get it softened and charred a bit. For my filling, I sautéed a bit of garlic, onion and sweet peppers, then added 1/2 cup soy crumbles, salsa, salt and pepper, fresh cilantro and some Mexican seasonings (Epicure nacho cheese dip mix, cumin….I think that was it). I stuffed this in the pepper, then topped with a few tablespoons light Tex-Mex shredded cheese and baked until melted. I finished it all off with fresh cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt.IMG_1998

My southwest salad dressing had a bit of oil, salsa, red wine vinegar, light BBQ sauce, fat-free Italian salad dressing, chipotle mustard (another US purchase), and a touch of sweetener….it was quite yummy, and complemented the flavour of the pepper nicely. All in all, a nice garden-fresh lunch.

What local ingredients (from your garden or not) have you been enjoying lately?

Show and Tell

6 Jul

First of all, although she would probably kill me for doing this, I have to give a  IMG_1967shout-out to my mom, who is celebrating her birthday today – happy birthday mom! Now that I’ve got that out of the way, on with the post. I promised on Monday that I would share some of my “American novelty food purchases” with you – so here I go. Warning, this post may have one of two effects on you, depending on your nationality. If you are American, you might laugh and/or get bored with my amusement at products not yet available north of the border. If you are Canadian, you may become annoyed and/or jealous of my fabulous food finds. Either way, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

IMG_1962

Item Number One: Thomas Breakfast Thins These guys are available in blueberry and cinnamon raisin (I bought both of course). I’ve only tried the blueberry so far, but it was delicious. A welcome change from the typical thin bun at breakfast. I did my usual – toasted (minus the cinnamon Splenda sprinkle ‘cause I figured it was already sweet), topped with 1/4 cup ricotta (mixed with Splenda and vanilla) and fresh berries. Cafe mocha to drink on the side. Speaking of new stuff, don’t my cup and bowl from Anthropologie look lovely? And how about that cute tea towel underneath (don’t worry, you’ll be seeing lots more of it iIMG_1966f you can’t get a good look).

Item Number Two: Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies (also pictured at the top of this post, with the Anthropologie mug again). Just like the thins, these came in two flavours (chocolate peanut butter and chocolate), and of course, I bought both. Umm…a brownie with 90 calories and 5 g fibre? SIGN. ME. UP. I hope the the folks at Canadian fibre one will catch on quickly, just like when they did a copycat 100 calorie version of the American 90 calorie bar. And by the way, these things are GOOD! I only wish I bought more.

IMG_1976

Item Number Three: Bush’s Grillin’ Beans: Black Bean Fiesta I bought these on a whim at Target, ‘cause they were on sale. And since they’re not in a super-sweet sauce and don’t have any meat in with ‘em, they’re pretty reasonable in stats.

IMG_1977

 

 

 

 

I had the beans as a side dish with Saturday’s BBQ supper: grilled chicken (a chipotle-flavoured one from Sobey’s), asparagus, Vidalia onions, and a salad made with Israeli couscous and fresh herbs and veggies. Everything was delicious, and the beans made a perfect side dish – good flavour, but not too spicy (not that that would bother me though).

IMG_1980

Items numbers four, five and six: Fiber One 80 calories Honey Squares, Barbara’s Bakery Peanut Butter Puffins and Stonyfield Oikos Caramel Greek Yogurt Be jealous, be very jealous here, my fellow Canadians. When you combine one and a half cups fresh berries, a container of this divine yogurt, and 1/4 cup each of the above mentioned cereals, you get a dessert that is more like breakfast! And doesn’t it look just smashing in the bowl placed on the cute tea towel, both from Target? IMG_1986My only regret about this bowl is that there wasn’t more of the yogurt….it was just that good. I decided to enjoy my second one on it’s own with lunch the next day, so I could enjoy the delicious flavour to the max. And peanut butter cereal? Yumfest. I remembered reading about them on Carrots ‘n Cake, so I decided to go for them when I saw them at Target – a decision I’m NOT regretting. I think these guys would be great to snack on – on their own, or mixed with popcorn or other cereal. Better still, according to the website, all of Barbara’s stuff is: “free of artificial preservatives and ingredients, hydrogenated oils, and refined white sugar.” The 80 calorie stuff was good, bot amazing, but pretty decent for the low caloric and high fibre price tag.

IMG_1987

Item Number 7: DaVinci Sugar Free Caramel Syrup Good news Canadians – you can get this stuff (or another brand) in Canada, it’s just not readily available in stores I frequent on a regular basis. I used it to make an absolutely delightful iced coffee by combining with instant coffee + water + 1 cup unsweetened original Almond milk + ice in my stylish new Target glass (I bought two, so if anyone wants me to make you such a drink, c’mon over)!

All in all, tasty finds for delicious summer eats. I’ll probably share more as I use more stuff. But my conclusion? All of this stuff, but especially Stonyfield Oikos caramel Greek yogurt and 90 calorie fibre one brownies NEED to come to Canada….sooner rather than later!

Sweet and Salty Salads

28 Jun

IMG_1878

It’s no secret that I love all things sweet and salty. Pretzels and peanut butter, salted caramel…I could go on (and on and on)….but sweet and salty salad? Seems a bit more unlikely, but trust me, it’s good! In the last week, I’ve tried 2 sweet ‘n salty salad combos, and both have worked out delightfully.

IMG_1875

My first attempt was for a lunch last week. It seems like in the food world (blogs, magazines), I’ve been seeing the watermelon feta combo EVERYWHERE for the last few summers. It’s always intrigued me, but I’ve never tried it, and since I had watermelon in the fridge leftover from Father’s Day, I decided the time was right to give it a go. My base was spinach leaves, which I topped with watermelon and feta, fresh mint, tomato (I feel like I’ve seen those 2 in many of the recipes I’ve come across), Vidalia onion (because I love ‘em, and WHY NOT?) and steamed asparagus (because it’s in season, and I put it in practically everything I can this time of year).

I made a fruity vinaigrette with one of my schmancy wine vinegars from Niagara to top it all off. The verdict? Yum! Perfectly cool and refreshing…could be a new summer classic! I love the salty feta paired with the sweet watermelon, and the mint added a nice freshness. I will definitely do this one again (although, since asparagus season is drawing to a close, it sadly may not make an appearance).

IMG_1925

SSS (sweet salty salad) # 2 was created for last night’s (low carb day of the week….last one for June) supper. I was home later after signing up for my one month cheapie membership at the Athletic Club and trying my first class which reduced me to a quivering pool, and wanted something quick and cool (and of course, low in carbs) and that used up stuff in the fridge.

This salad’s greens were lettuce, chives and parsley FROM MY GARDEN (sorry, didn’t mean to shout at ya there, just lovin’ the local). I topped them off with “normal” salad veggies for me (cucumber, mushrooms, red pepper, Vidalia onion), then some grapes that had been in the fridge since, as Katie would say, “Jesus walked on water,” sliced fresh strawberries (I would have gone all berry, but my desire to use stuff up won), diced ham (had some in the fridge, also leftover from Father’s Day, that needed to be used) and a tablespoon of sunflower seeds for crunch. I mashed a couple of strawberries into my dressing, created with another one of my fancy wine vinegars (maple this time).

Results? Also delicious. Sweet and salty wins every time. Now, it’s no peanut butter and pretzels, I’ll admit, but still incredibly fresh and delicious.

Two side notes:

1. I am STOKED about my one month membership at the Athletic Club. And although my Shape up for Summer challenge officially ends as of Thursday (full summary/recap to come), I think this is just what I needed to push myself more in my workouts, if my soreness from my first class (TRX, a totally cool weight class which uses this crazy harness thing, your body weight and resistance) is any indication. Just glad they also have a pool so I can use that to recover!

2. I am also STOKED about the huge bump in my site stats the last 2 days. I don’t know if I’m done anything in particular to draw in new readers, but my numbers went WAAAAY up Sunday and yesterday. So a big thank you to everyone who stops by to hear my ramblings and follow my journey. I truly appreciate you all and I hope you enjoy reading this little blog as much as I enjoy writing it.

Question: What’s the most unusual salad combination you’ve ever created?

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Portabella Pleasure

16 Jun

I love portabella mushrooms. IMG_1720If you don’t, well, I’m not sure if we can be friends anymore…I kid, I kid. I still love you, even if you don’t share my love for the fabulously funky fungus that is the portabella mushroom. But if you don’t share this love, you might not dig the recipes I’m about to share with you – just a heads-up! Last Friday, I got a package of 4 monstrously huge (seriously, these guys are gigantic) portabella mushrooms, and have enjoyed them in numerous forms this week. What forms, you wonder. Glad you asked!

The first concoction I made last Saturday. It was SO amazing, I’ve wanted to share it with you all week, but it hasn’t made it on here until today, but now is the time. My friends, I give you the beauty that is The Mexi-Mushroom (great name, I know). This beauty is basically everything you love about nachos in a portabella mushroom cap (I’ll give you a moment to stop and ponder just how awesome that is). It is SO easy to put together too!

IMG_1719The Mexi-Mushroom (serves one)

Broil one large portabella mushroom cap (cleaned and de-gilled with a grapefruit spoon, of course), sprayed first with a touch of PAM and seasoned with salt and pepper, until it starts to brown/release juices. Flip it and broil the other side.

Fill the cap with 1/2 cup refried beans (if desired, add extra seasonings like cumin, chili powder, or some Epicure stuff) and top with one Velveeta cheese slice (or use any cheese of your choice). Pop it back under the broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly (see above photo).

After the cheese has melted, top cap with any or all of the following (I went for all): salsa, chopped bell pepper, chopped green onion, chopped canned jalapenos (omit those if you can’t take the heat), chopped fresh cilantro, chopped tomato and sour cream/Greek yogurt. Serve with your choice of side dish (as you can see, I went for kale chips) and enjoy!

I think this would be fun to make as a party appetizer, but in baby ‘bellas, instead of full-size portabellas. And if you are low-carbing it or just trying to cut calories, this would make a great nacho substitute!

IMG_1767

IMG_1768

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half a portabella (I told you, they’re HUGE) also made an appearance in the grilled goodness that was Tuesday night’s low carb supper. Since I had hooping, I grilled everything ahead (the mushroom, sweet Vidalia onion, asparagus, a mini eggplant and a mini yellow pepper, and a M&M honey garlic pork chop). I threw the cooled veggies and pork on my salad of lettuce, grape tomatoes, fresh dill and chives and thawed frozen corn.

My dressing was a real winner – balsamic barbeque! I combined 1 tsp avocado oil, a squirt each of yellow mustard, light ketchup and light BBQ sauce, a splash of fat-free Italian dressing, a drop of liquid smoke, cumin, and of course, balsamic vinegar. This dressing was AWESOME! It combined everything I love about ketchup/mustard, BBQ sauce flavour, and of course, balsamic vinegar! Combined with the slightly sweet pork and grilled veggies, it was basically barbeque in a salad – a sure-fire summer winner (FYI cold grilled pork chops are surprisingly juicy).

IMG_1781

As of the time of typing this, I haven’t tried the last portabella option (it’s today’s lunch), but I thought I’d share it with you anyway. I had the thought that I could make one of my favourite at-home paninis (portabella brie) in a to-go version. Here’s how I did it.

I baked one mushroom cap in the oven until tender the night before, spread it with Lemon Dill mustard, sliced some sweet onion, and wrapped it up in foil. I also brought some sliced light brie and 2 slices light bread. On the side, you see a salad I came up with based on what was in my fridge. I also brought a fat-free tapioca pudding and some fresh strawberries to enjoy for dessert.

Are you a fungus fan or do you avoid mushrooms at all costs (Donna, I already know your answer)?

Portabella Pleasure

16 Jun

I love portabella mushrooms. IMG_1720If you don’t, well, I’m not sure if we can be friends anymore…I kid, I kid. I still love you, even if you don’t share my love for the fabulously funky fungus that is the portabella mushroom. But if you don’t share this love, you might not dig the recipes I’m about to share with you – just a heads-up! Last Friday, I got a package of 4 monstrously huge (seriously, these guys are gigantic) portabella mushrooms, and have enjoyed them in numerous forms this week. What forms, you wonder. Glad you asked!

The first concoction I made last Saturday. It was SO amazing, I’ve wanted to share it with you all week, but it hasn’t made it on here until today, but now is the time. My friends, I give you the beauty that is The Mexi-Mushroom (great name, I know). This beauty is basically everything you love about nachos in a portabella mushroom cap (I’ll give you a moment to stop and ponder just how awesome that is). It is SO easy to put together too!

IMG_1719The Mexi-Mushroom (serves one)

Broil one large portabella mushroom cap (cleaned and de-gilled with a grapefruit spoon, of course), sprayed first with a touch of PAM and seasoned with salt and pepper, until it starts to brown/release juices. Flip it and broil the other side.

Fill the cap with 1/2 cup refried beans (if desired, add extra seasonings like cumin, chili powder, or some Epicure stuff) and top with one Velveeta cheese slice (or use any cheese of your choice). Pop it back under the broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly (see above photo).

After the cheese has melted, top cap with any or all of the following (I went for all): salsa, chopped bell pepper, chopped green onion, chopped canned jalapenos (omit those if you can’t take the heat), chopped fresh cilantro, chopped tomato and sour cream/Greek yogurt. Serve with your choice of side dish (as you can see, I went for kale chips) and enjoy!

I think this would be fun to make as a party appetizer, but in baby ‘bellas, instead of full-size portabellas. And if you are low-carbing it or just trying to cut calories, this would make a great nacho substitute!

IMG_1767

IMG_1768

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half a portabella (I told you, they’re HUGE) also made an appearance in the grilled goodness that was Tuesday night’s low carb supper. Since I had hooping, I grilled everything ahead (the mushroom, sweet Vidalia onion, asparagus, a mini eggplant and a mini yellow pepper, and a M&M honey garlic pork chop). I threw the cooled veggies and pork on my salad of lettuce, grape tomatoes, fresh dill and chives and thawed frozen corn.

My dressing was a real winner – balsamic barbeque! I combined 1 tsp avocado oil, a squirt each of yellow mustard, light ketchup and light BBQ sauce, a splash of fat-free Italian dressing, a drop of liquid smoke, cumin, and of course, balsamic vinegar. This dressing was AWESOME! It combined everything I love about ketchup/mustard, BBQ sauce flavour, and of course, balsamic vinegar! Combined with the slightly sweet pork and grilled veggies, it was basically barbeque in a salad – a sure-fire summer winner (FYI cold grilled pork chops are surprisingly juicy).

IMG_1781

As of the time of typing this, I haven’t tried the last portabella option (it’s today’s lunch), but I thought I’d share it with you anyway. I had the thought that I could make one of my favourite at-home paninis (portabella brie) in a to-go version. Here’s how I did it.

I baked one mushroom cap in the oven until tender the night before, spread it with Lemon Dill mustard, sliced some sweet onion, and wrapped it up in foil. I also brought some sliced light brie and 2 slices light bread. On the side, you see a salad I came up with based on what was in my fridge. I also brought a fat-free tapioca pudding and some fresh strawberries to enjoy for dessert.

Are you a fungus fan or do you avoid mushrooms at all costs (Donna, I already know your answer)?

Why I almost burnt the quinoa…

8 Jun

IMG_1691

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I got home Monday night around 7:30 after a full but wonderful day. I was making the deliciousness that you see above for a pre-race healthy carbo-load meal (more on that in a sec) (and race recap will come tomorrow), and, as the title says, I almost burnt the quinoa. Why, you ask? Well, I was a little preoccupied. With what, you ask? Well, if you follow Donna over at Love, Run & Travel, you might already know the answer….Winking smile

…I WAS REGISTERING FOR THE HEALTHY LIVING SUMMIT!!!!!!!!!

So I read all about the HLS on Tina’s blog, Carrots ‘n Cake, last summer, and thought it sounded pretty cool. That’s back before HHH was born, before I was a blogger myself. I saw the registration announced on Meals ‘n Miles and was thinking that I really wanted to go. But I didn’t want to go alone – it would be cheaper to have one (or two) people to share a room with.

I went out on a limb and emailed two of my fellow Canadian health/food bloggers that I “know” (even though I’ve never met either one face to face) and Donna emailed back within the hour saying that she was totally in!

So tickets went on sale Monday at 8 pm. There are only 200 tickets, and apparently last year they sold out in 20 minutes, so I was sitting at my computer, obsessively hitting refresh, and manically texting Donna…it was a bit stressful, not gonna lie. After FINALLY getting to the registration page, I completed all my login info and was paying, and there is a weird extra security code on my card that only applies to some sites, and I didn’t know what it was, and the BMO site said I couldn’t recover it. “Ok. Don’t panic. Don’t panic.” I told myself. I made a quick decision, grabbed my mom’s credit card, paid with that, and immediately paid her back. Phew, that was a close one, but I’M IN! …and so is Donna!

I cannot tell you how excited I am about this event! I think it will be such a fun trip, a great city to explore, and an awesome opportunity to increase my blogging knowledge, get new food/exercise ideas, and do some serious blog networking…can’t wait!

Speaking of Donna, I was inspired by IMG_1676her “Healthified” Mint Chocolate Chip Soft Serve and decided to create my own version over the weekend. I’m not gonna lie, the idea of adding mint extract to the banana kind of weirded me out, but I decided to give it a go. Donna made a mint version with chopped chocolate. For my version, I did the basic method of banana soft serve, adding a touch of mint extract and a spoonful of cocoa. I proceeded as usual and came away with a DELICIOUS bowl of chocolate mint-y goodness. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fruity flavour of the usual soft serve concoctions I make, but sometimes you just need chocolate, you know? Winking smile

IMG_1690

Now onto the salad you saw above. I wanted to make something healthy as my pre-race lunch (the race was at 7, with a supper after, so I knew I’d only be eating a snack before, not supper), that had good carbs, but wouldn’t weigh me down. Enter quinoa! For the salad, I roasted some eggplant, onion, red pepper, mushroom and asparagus with salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme and 1 teaspoon olive oil.

I combined the roasted veggies with fat-free Italian salad dressing, Dijon mustard, fresh basil and oregano, balsamic vinegar, one chopped canned artichoke, and more salt and pepper. After the roasting and cooking, it really didn’t take that long to put together. And of course, there was extra quinoa to use later on in the week. Smile Perfect flavour combo of the nutty quinoa, roasted veggies and fresh herbs.

So that’s my exciting news of the week!…and a lunch time salad to boot. Stay tuned for the details the weekend of August 19-21…I can’t wait to update you about the HLS!

Full of Beans

5 Jun

IMG_1624

Have you ever heard that expression before? I remember my mom using it growing up to say that me or my sister were kind of silly/crazy. Although I would describe myself as being “full of beans” in the crazy sense quite often, that’s not what this post is about, it’s more in the literal sense. Winking smile The beans in question? Garbanzos (aka chickpeas). I am a BIG fan of canned beans. For 99 cents (if you buy no-name), you can get 4 servings of a protein and fibre-packed food that is both tasty and extremely versatile. Win, win! So that’s one layer of the post title. The second meaning comes later on, keep reading and scrolling.

I love healthy eating/cooking blogs (and some not-so”healthy” ones too). Seriously, I don’t know what I did without them. While I come up with many of my own meal ideas, I love getting ideas and inspirations from all you other brilliant bloggers out there. I sometimes think there’s not enough hours in the day to read all the blogs I love! So when I saw this recipe over at Oh She Glows, it immediately piqued my interest. Fresh herbs? Chickpeas? Lime and cumin? I’m in. But the funny thing is, Angela adapted it from another blog, then I adapted it from her. Follow the link for the original recipe, below is what I did.

IMG_1622

Cilantro (and other herb) Lime Chickpea Salad (adapted from Angela who adapted it from Heather)

Makes 2 small or one large serving

1/2 can chickpeas, drained

Fresh cilantro, parsley and chives (I didn’t think I had enough cilantro yet in my garden to go ALL cilantro. Also, the original recipe called for fresh spinach, which I didn’t have, so I upped the herb-age).

About 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped red onion

One clove garlic, chopped

Small spoonful of Dijon mustard

Generous pinch of cumin

Lime juice

Fat-free Italian recipe (original called for olive oil, I swapped it out for this)

Splenda (swapped in for sugar in original)

Salt and Pepper to tasteIMG_1623

Process all ingredients except chickpeas, onion, salt and pepper in food processor (action shot). 

Combine the dressing with the chickpeas and onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let sit in the fridge for a bit if you have time to develop flavours.

I used this in lunches 2 days in a row last week as part of a larger, “enhanced” salad (I know, more salads, but I warned you)!

IMG_1625

IMG_1633

 

 

 

 

 

Salad one (on the left) was a basic Romaine and fresh veggie salad (plus more fresh herb-age) with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing on the side, which I poured over right before serving. Good, but not WOW.

Salad 2 on the other hand, really hit the spot. This one was a “combine-with-dressing the night before and let sit” kinda deal. Lightly cooked asparagus, cucumber, onion, tomatoes, fresh parsley and chives, broccoli slaw mix, red pepper. Dressing: the “juice” from the chickpea salad, a bit more lime juice, red wine vinegar, Dijon, fat-free Italian, salt and pepper. Mmmmm! Those flavours combined and marinated to absolute perfection. This was Friday’s lunch, where I was supplying at a track and field day, so my multiple ice packs kept this nice and chilled in my bag and I was SO ready to dive in at lunch time!

My only “downside” to this chickpea salad was that I wish that I had enjoyed it on its own/in something that allowed its flavours to stand out a bit more. I liked what I did, but I don’t feel like I really let the chickpea salad take the starring role that it could have.IMG_1627

Now, if you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I DO NOT like letting food go to waste. You also might know (although I haven’t mentioned it as often) that I have sort of a fear/paranoia about slimy canned beans. So, once a can is opened (sometimes even before), I am thinking about how I can incorporate the rest of the can into upcoming meals. Case in point: the aforementioned garbanzos.

I had seen the idea for the salad and wanted to make it, but didn’t want to make the whole one-can batch as originally posted. What to do with the other half of the can? Make a seriously delicious veggie-packed vegetarian (and even vegan if you leave off the cheese)-friendly pasta dish, naturally! Here’s how it all went down (this recipe serves 2). IMG_1628

I sautéed chopped asparagus, mushrooms, onion and garlic in 2 tsp olive oil in a non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, then added the remaining little bit of a can of tomatoes that was in the fridge. I reduced heat, added salt and pepper, then let it simmer away.

 IMG_1629

Meanwhile, I cooked 4 ounces whole wheat macaroni. Towards the end of the sauce cooking, I added in a cup of chickpeas (the other half of the can), and generous portions of fresh oregano, basil and parsley. *Fresh herb tip: add fresh herbs right at the end of cooking time. While you can add dried herbs in early, fresh herbs have a more delicate flavour, which can be cooked out if you add too early.IMG_1630

Add the cooked pasta, and a bit of that starchy cooking water (thanks Rachael Ray), crank the heat back up, and simmer for just a few more minutes to reduce the sauce a bit.

 

 

 

IMG_1631

Spoon into bowls to serve, and top with crumbled goat cheese (unless you’re going vegan). Mmmm….so good! Fibre-packed and full of veggies. Healthy, fresh, and incredibly delicious. I believe my mom’s words after eating this were: “that was exactly what I wanted, even though I didn’t know it yet.” Smile

Now for the second meaning of this title….

IMG_1663

IMG_1664

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know what these are? If you guessed the bean plants in my garden, you’re right! This is what they look like 1.5 weeks after the seeds are planted. One is yellow, one green (can you guess which is which Smile with tongue out?). I just love planting things and watching them grow! Even better when I know I will get to eat them eventually!

What is your favourite bean dish (using canned beans or otherwise)?