lentil soup recipe

It snowed this weekend! It was just a light dusting that didn’t stick around, but it was slightly traumatic and it was definitely enough to make me crave something warm and comforting like this tasty red lentil soup. I threw it together in under an hour after a long day of running errands and let me tell you that it was intensely satisfying while a slice of whole grain bread and a glass of red wine.

Spiced Carrot & Lentil Soup
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 7 carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp curry powder (you can use paste)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cup red lentils
  • 1 lime
Garnish
  • fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • plain yogurt
Instructions
  1. While chopping your veggies heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until they begin to soften (about 6 minutes).
  3. Add the garlic and spiced and continue to cooked for another 4 minutes - stirring to incorporate the ingredients and make sure they don't burn.
  4. Pour in the broth, and add the lentils and tomato paste.
  5. Simmer uncovered on low heat for about 30 minutes.
  6. At point you can use an immersion blender to blend your soup to a smooth consistency, OR you can ladle half the soup into a blender and blend until smooth before pouring it back into the soup pot.
  7. Add the juice from one lime and you're ready to go!
  8. Serve hot with a dollop of yogurt and chopped parsley.

 

Superfoods Super Guide

November 2, 2014 — Leave a comment
What is a SUPERFOOD?! Cameron Simcik over at FoodBeast shared this awesome infographic showing us why the food community is buzzing about Blueberries, Kale, Chia, Acai, and more.
Superfood SuperGuide

homemade butterDid anyone watch the Amazing Race last night? The teams had to milk a goat and pour the liquid into an inflated intestine to make butter. This reminded me of when we made butter as a class project back when I was but a teeny tiny food lover. The teacher poured a little cream into a mason jar for each of us and we shook it until we were rewarded with a tiny gob of buttery goodness.

I hadn’t thought about that in years, and I happened to have a container of whipping cream in the fridge that was going to go to waste so I tried my hand at some homemade butter!

What you’ll need

  • Heavy cream, I used 35% whipping cream
  • Mason Jar
  • A strong arm and some patience

Get Shaking!

The process is really simple, but it does take some patience and effort. To start fill your mason jar about halfway with cream. Screw on the lid and start shaking.

Stage 1- Cream (start to 7 minutes)

For the first few minutes the cream will slosh around, but after not too long the shaking will get quieter and you’ll find that you have whipped cream. At this point you can stop, add a couple tablespoons of sugar and a dash of vanilla extract and you’re good to go.

Committed to butter? Keep shaking!

Stage 2 – Whipped Cream (7 to 15 minutes)

A few more minutes and your whipped cream will thicken. At this point if your arm is getting tired you can pop the jar in the fridge to keep it cool and give yourself a break. If you’re ready to continue just keep going.

Stage 3 – Thickened Cream (15 to 20 minutes)

Soon the liquid will thicken up more and will start to slap back and forth between the bottom of the jar and the lid. This is the final stretch! Keep going and all of a sudden you’ll start seeing liquid again and at the centre will be your butter.

Stage 4 – Butter and Buttermillk

At this point watery liquid water will seem to appear out of nowhere. Pour out the liquid (this is buttermilk so you can save this separately). Screw the lid back on and shake again to ensure that you’ve extracted as much milk as possible.

Stage 5 – Butter!

Pour out any remaining liquid and then rinse your butter with cool tap water. Spoon your butter into another container and put it in the fridge – it’ll harden in only a few minutes and you’ll have fresh sweet butter.

reddit nosleepToday’s post has nothing to do with food, and it’s even more horrifying that the calorie count in the pizza I made this weekend.
*cue screams*

I don’t know if you’re familiar with reddit, but I’ve been a huge junkie for about a year now. It’s an acquired taste for a lot people because you have to get used to the format, and the chaos, but I loooove it. I could spend hours aimlessly scrolling through upvoted posts of fitness tips, food pics, science news, cat pictures, and so much more.

My favourite subreddit by far is /r/NoSleep, which is where users can post their scary stories. Some are good and some are bad because anyone can post, but all fall under the same community rule. If you’re posting in NoSleep you’re posting your account of true events – No matter how outlandish, the story you’re reading is true, and all comments and interaction with the author (or OP in reddit speak) need to be in character.

Below is a roundup of ten /r/NoSleep stories to keep you up on Halloween. Strictly title’s only because providing a summary of each one would be cheating. On reddit you only have the title to draw your interest.

  1. All In Good Time
  2. Room 733
  3. 630-296-7536
  4. I’ve been watching my friends on Netflix
  5. Today my Grandma told me that she has firsthand knowledge of time travel. And I believe her
  6. I was a part of Queen’s Guard – One of the rare jobs where you aren’t allowed to move, no matter what. 4321…
  7. Cops were called and I am still shaking
  8. the story of her holding an orange
  9. A Story to Scare My Son
  10. What happened on my drive home last night?!

Sausage Pizza

October 28, 2014 — 3 Comments

sausage pizzaHave you ever heard of the 80/20 rule to health eating? As long as you eat properly 80% of the time you can use the remainder to indulge in some less savoury treats. My naturopath taught me about this ages ago and I feel like it has to be legit, since she was a pretty fit woman who swore that clean eating was the key to health.

Since that’s the case I don’t feel guilty admitting that sometimes the only thing that can save your day is an incredible pizza. Right? The pizza above was my Sunday splurge and it was DELICIOUS. A few choice ingredients from the grocery store and only about 10 minutes of time spent in the kitchen makes this well worth the effort of making something that you’d typically order out for.

1 Ball of pre-made dough + 1/2 cup tomato sauce + 1/2 cup mozzarella + organic pork sausage = huge cheat day :D

Sausage Pizza
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: huuuge
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ball of pre-made dough
  • ¼ cup tomato pizza sauce
  • mozzarella cheese
toppings:
  • sausage
Instructions
  1. pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. cut sausage into bite size pieces and grill or pan-fry them until cooked through
While the sausage is cooking...
  1. lightly oil a cookie sheet
  2. take your ball of dough out of it's plastic bag and stretch it out
  3. spread the dough into the sheet until it's stretched to the desired thickness
  4. generously cover dough with pizza sauce
  5. spread cheese over pizza
  6. toss sausage onto pizza
  7. put the whole thing in the over for 19 minutes or until crust is crispy and cheese is golden brown

 

What is Xylitol?

October 20, 2014 — 3 Comments

I was at the dentist today when out of the blue my dentist told me that I get cavities quite easily and that I should start taking xylitol mints after eating. He tells me this while my mouth is crammed with gauze, a dental dam and a drill so I didn’t have a chance to ask WHY until the end.

When my mouth was free again and I remembered his demand that I buy Xylitol mints I asked about it and he went into a little more detail. He told me that some people get get cavities more easily than others because of the type of bacteria in their mouths. He went on to tell me that we’re born without our mouth bacteria and that we get it from our environment – usually from our mothers who taste our food as babies before they feed us.

It sounded vaguely like a scam being perpetuated by the sugar free/dental industry, but by the end he’d convinced me to at least try it out. Apparently taking Xylitol mints after each meal is a god way to improve the environment in our mouths. According to my dentist bad bacteria that feeds on sugar and causes cavities in our mouths will eventually die out due the the Xylitol and will over time leave us with a healthier colony of bacteria that’s less inclined to cause cavities.

I’m willing to try this because popping a few mints after each meal is harmless, but here’s what the internet has to say about Xylitol.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a naturally occurring alcohol found in most plants, including many fruits and vegetables. It’s mainly extracted from birch wood and is used a a sugar substitute in ‘sugar-free’ gum and candy. Structurally Xylitol is different than sugar because it has five, not six carbon atoms. Most mouth bacteria cannot make use of such sugars, which is why xylitol can help prevent cavities.

Benefits of Xylitol?

Well – according to Xylitol Canada, which may be biased, Xylitol is a dentist’s dream. It reverses the negative effects of sugar on your oral health. Because Xylitol is non-fermentable it can’t be converted to acids by oral bacteria, which helps to restore a proper alkaline/acid balance in the mouth. This alkaline environment is inhospitable to all the bad bacteria, and it inhibits plaque formation.

Long-term use suppresses the most harmful strains of oral bacteria, making a long-lasting change in those bacterial communities. Xylitol even has the ability to enhance the mineralization of the enamel. It is most effective in treating small decay spots. Although larger cavities won’t go away, they can harden and become less sensitive.

How to add Xylitol to your diet

Using xylitol right before bedtime, after brushing and flossing, protects and heals the teeth and gums. The best way to start adding it to your diet is to pop a couple of xylitol mints after each meal. You could consider this a fairly affordable supplement, and if in fact it will save your teeth it’s definitely worth it. I’ve picked up this pack of mints from Spry

Xylitol warnings:

Xylitol is said to be safe in the amounts found in food. It seems safe as a medicine for most adults in amounts up to about 50 grams per day. Higher doses is known to cause diarrhea and stomach discomfort. There is some concern that extremely high doses for long periods of time (more than three years) can cause tumors.

Conclusions:

There seem to be some alarmists out there, but overall Xylitol seems to be safe and beneficial when taken in small quantities. To me it’s worth trying as it’s relatively affordable and easy to include in your diet and if it really is as good for oral health as the industry claims then it would be well worth the effort of popping a few mints after a meal.

 

summer berry smoothie harley pasternak

Another day, another smoothie. Today I’m trying out another smoothie recipe from Harley Pasternak’s Body Reset Diet book. This one is the Red Smoothie and it isn’t as delicious as the Apple Pie Smoothie I tried the other day, but it’s definitely not bad.

With just some frozen berries, half an orange and some vanilla protein powder this meal replacer takes less than five minutes to make, and it tastes like my usual protein shake. I had to add quite a bit of water to get it to blend, and I didn’t love the little orange bits that made it through the blender, but I’d have it again.

Red Smoothie
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • ¼ cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ orange, peeled
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Vega)
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • water to desired consistency
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until you get a smooth consistency

 

harley pasternak apple pie smoothie for breakfastI was browsing through Harley Pasternak‘s Body Reset Diet book for some smoothie ideas and thought I’d give the “Apple Pie Smoothie” a try. Normally smoothies that masquerade as delicious desserts end up tasking like spinach and diarrhea, but this one is seriously legit.

You can find the original recipe here, but I modified the recipe below based on what I had available this morning. My NutriBullet had no problem blending it out pretty smoothly and I’ll definitely do this again. It tastes sweet and creamy like apple pie à la mode crammed into a blender. Yum!

Apple Pie Smoothie
 
Ingredients
  • 1 red apple, unpeeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 small frozen banana, chopped
  • ¾ cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, or more to taste
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend at least 30 seconds, until smooth.

 

 

silk purealmond almond milk

My fave brand of silky delicious almond milk

Almond milk is a staple in my house. I gave up the real stuff years ago after horror stories about hormones, puss filled milk, and sad cows with infected teats. Yes – I love beef, but milk seems so…unnecessary, and why do we glorify the discovery of a madman. Why would you get under an animal and drink creamy white liquid from its giant dangling breast(s)?

Anyways – while almond milk isn’t quite as drinkable as cow’s milk it is a great substitute in cereal and smoothies. I use it every single day so when I heard that Doctor Oz was dissing almond milk as being potentially dangerous because of an ingredient called carrageenan I thought I’d look into it…Is almond milk bad for you?!

What is Carrageenan?

It’s a natural ingredient that derives from red algae and is used to thicken the almond milk to make it more like cows milk.

Why do people think Carrageenan is dangerous?

Some studies have suggested that carrageenan may trigger an inflammatory reaction in our gut which could result in tumor production or cancer. it sounds terrible, but it’s more complicated than that because there are two types of carrageenan and while mainly tested on mice we know it reacts differently in different kinds of animals.

Alternatives?

1. Look for store brands that don’t include carrageenan. It must be listed in the ingredients so if you don’t see it on the label then it’s not there.

2. Make your own almond milk, like the folks over at The Kitchn

3. Try other non-dairy substitutes. Rice milk is a little watery and is for the truly advanced non-diary lover. Hemp milk is better for beginners as it’s much more similar to real milk and has a mild nutty taste.

Final Thoughts?

At this point I think the research on carrageenan doesn’t seem particularly damning…yet. I’m going to continue buying almond milk for daily consumption, but it’s better to be safe than sorry so I will consider rotating my ‘milks’ to minimize the risk.

more reading:

 

Earlier this month I ran out of vitamins so I put in an order at Well.ca. While ordering I thought I’d try out a few energy boosting supplements I saw a nutritionist Miranda Malisani recommend on an episode of the Marilyn Dennis Show. Here are three that I’ve been giving a try this week:

SISU To Go Ester-C Energy Boost – Lemon Lime

30 Packets – $13.64 CAD

Claim: These packets combine Ester-C and energy-supporing B vitamins along with minerals, and electrolytes to help keep you feeling at peak performance. Just add water and drink.

Taste: At first I mixed this into a small glass of water and the taste was awful. Second time around I mixed it into a full bottle of water and the taste improved drastically. It’s like a dull lemonade that could use some sweetness.

Result: I felt good about this one, but it made me feel so bloated and gassy. I’ll have to wait and see if this is something my gut will get used to. I’m not sure yet if I’d buy this again.

Amazing Grass Green Superfood – Original

480 g (60 Servings)  – $49.99

Claim: This green powder will help you meet your required daily servings of fruit and veggies. It naturally detoxifies and boosts your immune system, plus it comes in a full range of flavors that taste great.

Taste: In a glass of water it tastes like leafy death. In a glass of juice or in a shake it’s great!

Result: Again, this might be my imagination, but I just felt great about drinking some veggie powder. I’ll definitely buy this again.

Vega Sugar-Free Energizer – Lemon Lime

136 g – $44.99

Claim: With ten synergistic ingredients and only 5 calories it is a healthy alternative to coffee, giving you both immediate and sustained energy – without the jitters! Not only is it a great pick-me-up, but also it can help you focus and boost energy so you can power through a yoga class or lower intensity exercise.

Taste: Pretty similar to SISU’s muddy lemonade. Not bad in a glass full of water or juice

Result: This didn’t make me feel like I was going to deflate from my butt like the SISU product. I felt a distinct pick me up after taking this in the afternoon. I’d definitely buy it again and keep it at my desk at work for the 3 o’clock slump.

 

Once a year Daniel and I treat ourselves to a vacation in New York City because we think it’s one of the best places in the world. It’s wild and exhausting and beautiful and so unlike anywhere else in the US. This time we stayed at a new hotel between Bryant Park and Time Square and had a great time – far enough from Time Square to avoid that chaos, and within walking distance to all that midtown has to offer. Later this week I’ll be sharing some natural energy boosting supplements I purchased before my trip, but until then…some pics of NYC:

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

Midtown View from Hotel

Midtown View from Hotel

Radio City at Night

Radio City at Night

Late Night with Seth Myers...The guest was TINA FEW

Late Night with Seth Myers…The guest was TINA FEW

Midtown Manhattan

Midtown Manhattan

Bryant Park

Bryant Park

Central Park

Central Park

Today we went to Toronto’s CNE and walked home along the waterfront. The fried chicken was a fail, but how could I resist trying deep fried chicken covered in chocolate?! Thinking back on it I can’t see what I thought was appealing, but I fell for the hype and the pull of an I insanely long line in the food pavilion. The chicken wasn’t sweet or chocolatey – it was slightly smokey and just…not great. Regardless, the CNE is always a great for a few hours of chaos.

coco's fried chicken toronto CNE coco's fried chicken with fries downtown toronto lake ontario marina toronto music garden view of cn tower