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

fresh egg pastaI keep seeing the contestants on MasterChef throw together pasta from basically nothing and after my success with making bread from scratch I thought I’d try my hand at making fresh egg pasta. Turns out it’s not so bad!

This basic recipe from Jamie Oliver calls for a pasta machine, but I don’t have room for any more equipment into my tiny condo kitchen so I just rolled it out thinly and sliced it with a knife.

I find it amazing that one of my favourite foods is made from only two ingredients, and while rolling it out thinly was pretty hard this whole process was surprisingly quick and easy. The bonus here is that the ingredients are incredibly low cost, and the lack of preservatives means that unlike processed pasta your body breaks down the pasta easily. Slightly gross picture proof here.

Fresh Egg Pasta Recipe
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup flour (Tipo "00" is best for pasta, but I used regular all purpose white)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
Instructions
  1. Pour out your flour and form a well at the centre.
  2. Add eggs to the centre of your flour well.
  3. Use your fingertips to combine the flour and egg until it comes together.
  4. You can't over knead this dough so just go for it - kneading until it becomes a dense ball.
  5. Wrap your ball in cling wrap and throw it in the fridge for 30 minutes (if you don't have time you can skip this step, but your pasta won't be quite as good).
  6. When you're ready to work with the dough begin by rolling it out as thinly as you can.
  7. Once it's thin use a knife to cut your dough into thin strips.
  8. Now your pasta is ready to keep in the fridge for a few days

 

 

apple cider vinegar dressing

Apple cider vinegar is said to help with a multitude of things from acid reflux, to liver detoxification, to weight loss. One thing it’s not known for is having a great taste…Unless you turn it into a simple vinaigrette with a few other basic ingredients.

And once you do you won’t be disappointed. This apple cider vinegar dressing is soooo good! It takes about 5 minutes to make and it’ll keep in the fridge for a week – if it lasts that long. Toss it in with your favourite greens or into a nice slaw and you’ll be hooked!

Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing
 
Ingredients
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • ¼ apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • dash of salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. add all ingredients to a mason jar and seal the lid
  2. shake until all ingredients are combined and add additional lemon juice or salt to taste, if necessary
  3. serve over your favourite greens

quick bread recipeThis no-knead bread recipe could just as easily be thrown in a pyrex bowl and baked in the oven, but I love a gimmick! When I found out that you can make bread in a rice cooker I picked up a package of yeast next time I as at the grocery store. The ingredients only set me back a few dollars, and the end result was a crusty wheel of bread that exceeded my wildest expectations. Not only is it delicious with a bit of butter, but it has no sugar, or preservatives. I used quick rise yeast and this was done from beginning to end in barely over an hour – with no dirty dishes!


No-Knead Bread Recipe
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1½ cups water, hot
  • 1 package quick-rise yeast (I used Fleischmann's)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. mix all the dry ingredients in your rice cooker
  2. add hot water and stir until the mixture is wet and sticky
  3. put on the rice cooker lid and set the dough aside until it bubbles (15 minutes)
  4. spread some flour onto a cutting board and dump out the dough mixture
  5. fold the dough over itself once or twice until you get a nice ball
  6. coat the dough in olive oil and set it back into the rice cooker.
  7. let this rise for another 15 minutes and then turn on the rice cooker.
  8. cook for 10 minutes, pop out the bead and put it back into the rice cooker upside down for another 10 minutes.

Quick Bread - after first rise

Quick Bread – after first rise

 

Quick Bread - after second rise

Quick Bread – after second rise

Bob Harper Jumpstart to Skinny Breakfast.jpgWell, no…I didn’t have breakfast with Bob Harper, but I did read just “JumpStart to Skinny” and it got me hooked on a new breakfast. It takes me more time to prepare than my usual Vega shake, but there’s something more satisfying about it.

What you may or may not know about me is that I love reading diet books. I’ve bought more than I’d care to admit, and borrowed countless editions from the e-library on my Kindle. I think that most of them are nonsense, but a bunch of them are written by reputable leaders in the fitness or nutrition industry and I like to take away tips or tricks every once in a while.

What’s nice about JumpStart to Skinny is that Bob doesn’t even pretend that this is a long-term lifestyle solution. It’s labelled right off the bat as a low-calorie crash diet that will help you drop some pounds, and it segue’s perfectly into Bob’s other book which guides you to a more realistic healthy lifestyle solution.

My takeaway from this book was pretty simple : Bob’s 40/40/20 rule.
A meal comprised of 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fat is the ideal mix of macro nutrients to keep you feeling full and keep cravings in check. I really felt that this works, and I plan to stick to this breakfast for a while. It takes some time in the morning, but it’s very filling while being quite low calorie – and along with a coffee it keeps me full until lunch.

Bob Harper’s Jumpstart to Skinny : A 40/40/20 Breakfast

1. Omelette:
3/4 cup of liquid egg whites (equivalent to 6 egg whites).
1 tsp coconut or olive oil.
Coat pan with Pam or olive oil. Add eggs and cook on medium-low heat until cooked through and golden on one side.

2. Oatmeal:
1/3 cup of Quaker Large Flake Oats
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
6 raw almonds
Add water to cover oatmeal. Add berries and microwave for 2 minutes. Sprinkle almonds on top or eat separately.

Here’s what all this looks like in Myfitnesspal. You can see it meets the 40/40/20 guideline pretty closely.

jumpstart to skinny breakfast

 

For the past month now Daniel and I have been going for a run early on Sunday morning and I thought I’d take the opportunity to show you what I’ve found. Some great places to walk or run right in the heart of the city.

1. The new Park at the heart of the Regent Park Revitalization has lots of play space and is adjacent to the new Aquatic Centre.Toronto Regent Park Revitalization

2. The Western half of Riverdale Park is always full of people playing baseball of walking their dogs.20140622-102101-37261280.jpg

3. Cross the footbridge to Riverdale Park East and climb a huge hill to find one of the best views of downtown. The park is full of runners and ambitious hill climbers.20140622-102100-37260868.jpg

4. Leaving the park before hitting Riverdale Farm you’ll find this quiet marshy area to stop and catch your breath.toronto green 2

5. Farther into Cabbagetown you’ll find old homes with fantastic gardens, like this ivy covered cottage. These quiet one way streets are full of joggers.toronto cottage cabbagetown

 

thai turkey sloppy joe

It was a long weekend in these parts and Daniel and I decided to take a trip home to visit my family. That came with too much food, too much napping and zero exercise. Now that I’m back in the city and back to work I need to refocus on my goal to lose a few pounds before summer arrives and I have to shed gut concealing sweaters and cardigans.

This week I’ll be taking my lunch to work, which is always a good idea since it saves money and is healthier. I will take my lunch and I will eat it rather than be tempted to hit the food court. To make it easier I’ve prepared three days worth of brown rice, and I have enough chicken breasts in the freezer to get me through the week.

To make the week doubly challenging I’ll be preparing healthy dinners when I get home from work. Tonight is an easy recipe based on fit2fat’s Thai Turkey Skillet. I ruined it slightly be replacing the lettuce wraps with whole grain thin buns, but overall it’s a fairly healthy take on an unhealthy fave. The recipe for the Thai Turkey Sloppy Joe:

Bringing Lunch to work, and a healthy take on the sloppy joe
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
Instructions
  1. Brown the ground turkey in a large nonstick skillet.
  2. Add the peppers, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-high heat about 4 minutes or until the peppers have softened.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together the peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and cilantro.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into your skillet and mix well.
  5. Serve hot over whole grain buns

 

green curry recipeA few weeks ago I pulled the scalene muscles in my neck and since then I’ve been doing what I can to relieve pain from my neck down to the fingers of my right hand. I saw a doctor who’s only suggestion was to take as many anti-inflamatories as I wanted. I’ve taken a few of them, but what’s really been helping lately is massage and physio appointments along with some at-home help that anyone can do.

Troubles with the scalene muscles in your neck/shoulder area can put strain on a bundle of nerves called the brachial plexus which can cause back pain, chest pain, and problems right down to the tips of your fingers. My problems started with pain in my chest and shoulder, but as that got better the pain moved down to my forearm, and pins and needles right through to my index finger and thumb. Along with hot baths these are a few techniques that have been helping loosen up my scalene triangle and the pain and tingling down my arm:

The upside in all of this is that I haven’t been able to go to the gym after work the way I normally would. This opened up some time for me to walk home, stop for groceries, and make dinner. All with time to spare before it gets too late.

One of my new favourites is this green curry recipe, which is quick to make, and is even paleo diet friendly if you choose to skip the brown rice. I’ve been making it with enough chicken to feed Daniel and myself for dinner, with just enough leftovers to take to work for lunch. If you like curry why not try it out?!

Easy Green Curry Recipe
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts, sliced
  • 1 can Coconut Milk
  • 2 tbsp Green Curry Paste (I used Taste of Thai)
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 can bamboo shoots
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (you can use soy sauce instead)
Instructions
  1. Prepare the vegetables, and set aside.
  2. Simmer onion in saucepan for a few minutes on low heat until soft.
  3. Turn heat to medium and add chicken.
  4. Heat until cooked through and add vegetables - cook for an additional couple of minutes.
  5. Pour 1 can of coconut milk into saucepan.
  6. Whisk in green curry paste. Reduce heat and allow sauce to thicken for 4-5 minutes.
  7. Serve over brown rice.

 

Holiday Treats Roundup, 2013

December 12, 2013 — 2 Comments

 

holiday treat recipes2013

Every Christmas season my waisteline makes a mad dash for Santa-like proportions, and it’s the time of year where it’s okay to splurge every now and then to enjoy the goodies that we havent had a chance to enjoy since last christmas Thanksgiving. January is for painfully long gym sessions anyways.
Just when I thought I was done with list posts I realized that Pintrest has gone mad for last year’s Holiday Treat Roundup (go figure that my adventures in Quinoa are largely ignored). In honour of the holidays and in the spirit of giving people what they want – I’ve updated my Holiday Treats Roundup to include my favourite recipes for Christmas 2013.  And, before diving into these goodies why not check out these fun tips about spending less on your christmas baking.

Recipes: From Top Left, Clockwise

Reindeer Christmas cupcakes by Mari Williams at the BBC
Peppermint Chocolate Roll from Naomi over at Bakers Royale
Chocolate-Espresso Snowcaps from Martha Stewart
Christmas Cake Pops from Jayne Cross
Chocolate-Fig Palmiers from Rhianna over at Cream and Sugar
Strawberry Santas (center) from Jeanette’s Healthy Living

flourless oatmeal banana cookies

There’s something great about not having to pull out that huge tin of white flour when baking so I thought I’d try out another flourless cookie alternative this week. This one is less…controversial than my chickpea cookies so they appeal to a broader audience, but they’re still relatively healthy.

These cookies don’t have any flour in them and that gives them a dense chewy texture that makes they more like a breakfast bar* that your standard oatmeal cookie, but they’re still sweet and chewy enough to fill your craving for a cookie.

Basically these cookies are just oatmeal bound together with a mashed banana, and some peanut butter, which I just added to make things stick. The end result a fiber dense treat that’ll satisfy your sweet tooth.

*Note to self: have these for breakfast. 

Flourless Oatmeal Banana Cookie Recipe

Flourless Oatmeal Banana Cookies
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ⅛ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Mash banana with a fork until it's a sweet gooey paste.
  2. Add rolled oats, egg, peanut butter, and flax seeds and mix until it forms a soft dough.
  3. Mix in chocolate chips and spoon onto parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 350° for about 15 minutes.

chickpea chocolate chip cookie

These don’t have most of the ingredients that you’d expect from a cookie. No white sugar, no flour, no egg, or oil. But they’re delicious, despite being comprised mostly of… chickpeas.

I know it sounds disgusting, but I tried them myself and was pleasantly surprised by the taste. I knew I needed to get some honest feedback on these so after making a batch I left them out on the counter and went to the gym. While I was out Daniel ate a few and said they were pretty good. He rated them a 7 out of 10, saying that he would have rated them higher, but he expected a trap of some sort. When I quizzed him about the secret ingredient he thought I had thrown in some flax seed (which I do to regular peanut butter cookies).

The Cookie

Credit where credit is due. While I got this particular recipe from a co-worker I’ve seen these floating around on Pinterest for a while now and Texaneran makes claim to the ‘original chickpea chocolate chip cookie’ recipe.  This was my first real attempt at gluten-free cookies and it turned out surprisingly well because the recipe really couldn’t get any easier. None of those expensive gluten-free flour mixes – just a a can of chickpeas, honey, peanut butter, and some chocolate chips.

These cookies dance a fine line between hummus and peanut butter cookies, and the result is a spongy cookie full of peanutbuttery chocolaty goodness. And they’re actually pretty good for you so they’re a great way to satisfy a craving for sweets. What do you think? Will you give it a shot?

Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Ingredients
1 cup canned chickpeas (rinse thoroughly and drain)
1/2 cup peanut or other seed butter
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/3 c. dark chocolate chips

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Add all of the ingredients except for the chocolate chips to a food blender. Blend until the mixture comes to a smooth hummus-like consistency.
3.  Add chocolate chips and incorporate them evenly.
4. Spoon dough onto parchment paper lined baking sheet.
5. Bake for 13 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool.

How did this happen?! How does it work?!

shaytardsBefore my friend Miranda could even finish telling me about DietBet I had already signed up, paid my dues and was psyching myself up for weigh-in morning.

Her and I have done countless weight loss challenges over the years, but Dietbet is an exciting new way to put your money where you mouth it. You pay to join a pool of people who are all working towards the same goal. If you meet the goal by the end of the challenge you split the pool with the other winners. If you don’t meet your goal you get zilch and you lose the money you initially put in.

Terms of the DietBet

I joined the “ShayLoss Shaytober DietBet” team because Mir is a lifelong fan of the SHAYTARDS and at $30.00 the stakes are high enough that I’d like my money back, but not so high as to be devastating if I lose (which I won’t).

The terms of the bet are that you need to lose 4% of your body weight in October. You put in $30.00, and submit a dated ‘before’ shot of yourself standing on the scale to the moderators. At the end of the 30 days you submit a photo of your weight and an ‘after’ shot to the moderators. If you meet the 4% goal you split the pot with the other of the winners. Did I mention that the SHAYTARDS have a huge fan base? There are 2,339 players and $70,200 in the pot. While I want everyone else to succeed I also want a cut of that sweet sweet dough.

The Bet so far

As of today there are 12 days left in the challenge and I’m 48% of the way there. It could be better, but with Halloween candy being a constant menace that number could be far worse. I’m fully motivated to buckle down and finish off the next few weeks a little stronger than the firs two. could also be far worse. I’m fully motivated to finish this thing. After all somebody has to pay Pearl.

DietBet Caveat

I think that DietBet has the potential to be unhealthy if the stakes are too high. I know there would be some people out there starving and throwing up to make their $150 bucks back, but  I think that a smaller amount like $30 dollars is enough to keep you interested without causing any negative behaviour. I don’t know if they do or not, but I hope they cap the amount you can wager at the beginning of each bet.

What do you think? Have you tried DietBet with any succcess? Is it a good idea?