Sunday, 20 December 2015

Gingerbread Cookie Mini Cheesecakes



Gingerbread cookies are a Christmas favourite around here! I used my mom's cookie dough recipe to make small pie crusts in a muffin tin, then we piped a simple cheesecake mixture into each one. We decorated with a variety of Christmas candies and spices.

This recipe doesn't include any eggs, so they are allergy friendly.

Makes 30 mini gingerbread pie crusts

Ingredients

Cookies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp all spice

For the cheesecake mixture:
1.5 cups mascarpone (or smooth ricotta cheese)
6 tbsp icing sugar
1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Blend in molasses and maple syrup.

In a second bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Add dry ingredients and water to creamed mixture. Knead well until blended and form into a smooth ball. Cover and chill for at least 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 3In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Blend in molasses and maple syrup.

In a second bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Add dry ingredients and water to creamed mixture. Knead well until blended and form into a smooth ball. Cover and chill for at least 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly flour work surface, rolling pin and hands. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick and cut with5°F (see note above). Lightly flour work surface, rolling pin and hands. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick and cut with a circular cookie cutter or turn a large mug upside down.

Press circles into muffin pan and bake for 8 minutes. Use a spoon to scoop out cookies and place on a cooling rack to cool fully before adding cheesecake mixture.

In a large bowl, combine mascarpone, sugar and vanilla. Mix well with a hand mixer. Transfer to a piping bag. Pipe cheesecake mixture into each cookie and top with candies or cinnamon and nutmeg.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Homemade vanilla extract

I recently read a post from smittenkitchen.com on how to make your own vanilla extract. I decided to give it a try, so I ventured into Ottawa's new Whole Foods Market, which was an experience. I learned that I am far too cheap ("frugal," says Simon) for Whole Foods, and that I am far too cheap to buy as many vanilla beans as the smittenkitchen.com recipe uses. Since I cheaped out, I only bought two vanilla beans, because they came in a glass vile of two for $8.00. I thought I'd try this out first before I buy any more than that. The bad news? My vanilla extract has a not-so-pleasant colour. The good news? It smells and tastes great anyway! So the moral of the story is: You can totally cheap out on this and still make it yourself.

I had both vodka and white rum in the cupboard, and since I wasn't sure how this would turn out, I decided to use white rum for my extract. That way, if it didn't taste vanilla-y enough, rum is a common enough baked goods ingredient that I figured I could get away with it. You can use either, but I was really happy with how the rum turned out.

I purchased these little jars from Dollarama. The jar must be kept in a cool, dark place. I stored it at the back of a cupboard and waited six weeks before I used it in my baking. The muffin in the photo is the Banana Oat Pumpkin Seed Butter Muffin recipe that I used it in this past weekend. I'm looking foward to using this extract in my upcoming Christmas baking!

Here's what I used:

2 vanilla beans (purchased at Whole Foods Market for $8.00)
2/3 cup white rum
1 small mason jar

Directions

Place vanilla beans in mason jar. Pour rum (or vodka) over top and seal. Store in a cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks before using.

So easy!  If you try it out, let me know how it goes!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Sauce

I haven't posted in a while, since I ended up with food poisoning last weekend. I couldn't eat much at all, never mind try a new recipe.

I made another big batch of my Slow Cooker Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese  soup a few weeks ago and it went over well, so I thought similar flavours would make a great sauce for chicken. I used chicken thighs, but you could swap them for boneless skinless chicken breasts. The chicken and sauce can be served over brown rice or whole wheat pasta.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1kg boneless skinless chicken thighs
6 small Roma tomatoes, sliced, seeds removed
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
300g jar roasted red peppers
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup fresh basil
Italian seasoning blend, to taste
Chili flakes, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
130g goat cheese

Directions

Place chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker pot. Combine all remaining ingredients (except goat cheese) in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour over chicken and cook on low for 8 hours.

When 8 hours is complete, remove lid and add goat cheese to slow cooker pot. Stir to combine and allow goat cheese to melt into the sauce.

Nutrition

Calories 468
Fat 20.5g
Saturated fat 8.8g
Carbohydrates 12.8g
Fibre 2.6g
Sugars 8.9g
Protein 56.9g

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Pomegranate Muffins (Gluten Free)

When I get the urge to bake, it's often unplanned, so I just look around the kitchen and to see what I can add to the recipe. This recipe ended up being a little bit of everything. I planned to use almond flour and coconut flour, but then realized I only had 3/4 cup of almond flour left, so I threw large flaked oats in as well to make up the rest of the flour portion.

I'd never baked with pomegranate seeds before, but I kind of expected them to explode open like a cranberry or a blueberry. Out of curiosity (is it actually a seed? maybe it's a berry?), I looked up the parts of a pomegranate. It is a berry containing many seeds, the fleshy red part is called an aril, and the crunchy part inside is the seed. The more you know, right? Anyway, they didn't burst open, they stayed in their crunchy, seedy form, which gave them a Christmas-y look. I think these muffins would be a perfect snack for Christmas morning!

I don't require gluten free foods myself, but I like to bake gluten free snacks because the combination of almond and coconut flours is just so tasty. Those flours also add fat to the recipe, which means you don't have to add a lot of oil, and you will still have a moist muffin. Simon's favourite cake that I make is Almond Orange Cake, so I expected him to love these too. He said the muffin part was really good, but he couldn't get past the pomegranates in it. I had no idea he didn't like pomegranates until yesterday. I'll have to try this recipe with a different berry in them next time.

Makes 12

Ingredients

3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 overripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 cup pomegranate seeds
Canola oil spray, for greasing muffin tin

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a muffin tin with canola oil spray.

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, oats, coconut flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Mix until uniform.

In a second bowl, combine mashed bananas, maple syrup, vanilla extract, coconut oil and lemon juice. Mash together well with a fork. Whisk eggs until frothy, then add to the mashed banana mixture.

Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix. Fold in pomegranate seeds. Scoop even amounts of batter into muffin tin. Bake for 18 minutes, or until muffin tops are lightly browned.

Allow to cool for 3 to 5 minutes in muffin tin, then carefully remove (gluten free muffins can be crumbly before they cool), and place on a cooling rack.

Nutrition

Calories 162
Fat 8.9g
Saturated fat 4.7g
Carbohydrates 18.4g
Fibre 3.0g
Sugars 8.2g
Protein 3.5g

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Zesty Baked Chicken Wings

These wings were so flavourful and had a nice kick to them, but not super spicy. This is a great way to get a chicken wing fix without the breading, deep frying and a high sugar sauce. This might just be the best wing sauce I've ever had! We had a side of oven baked basmati rice and, of course, celery and carrot sticks with blue cheese dressing (I highly recommend Renee's).

This recipe came from paleoleap.com, but I adjusted it slightly by reducing the sauce. You can use this sauce on grilled or baked boneless skinless chicken breasts too if you want to reduce the calories per serving.

Makes 48 wings

Ingredients

2.0 kg chicken wings
2/3 cup Frank's Red Hot
3 tbsp pure maple syrup (or honey)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
Black pepper, to taste
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of 2 limes
Canola oil spray, for greasing

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and grease with canola oil. Arrange chicken wings evenly on the baking sheets. Bake for approximately 30 to 35 minutes, until browned (flip chicken wings over at the 20 minute mark).

While chicken is in the oven, combine Frank's Red Hot, maple syrup, butter, garlic and black pepper in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Stir frequently, bringing the sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue stirring for 2 to 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add the lime zest and squeeze in the lime juice and stir.

Remove chicken wings from oven, then place them into a large mixing bowl. Pour the sauce over the wings and toss to coat before serving.

Nutrition (per 4 wings)

Calories 369
Fat 16.3g
Saturated fat 5.8g
Carbohydrates 4.9g
Sugars 3.3g
Protein 48.4g

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Slow Cooker Chorizo & Tortellini Soup

I saw this recipe posted on Noblepig.com and it looked fantastic, so I decided to try a slow cooker version. Tomatoes are a tough sell in our house, but if they are pureed, no problem. That gave the soup a nice thickness. You can swap fresh basil for dried if you don't have it on hand.

The three chorizo sausages I used were about 6 inch links, so you might need to use four of them if the kind you are using are smaller.

Serves 8

Ingredients

3 large chorizo sausages
Canola oil spray, for greasing pan
28oz can diced tomatoes, low sodium
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/2 can (3oz) tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Italian seasoning mix
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes
Black pepper, to taste
4 cups no salt added chicken broth
1 red bell pepper, diced
500g (2 packages) cheese tortellini
227g (8oz) fresh baby spinach

Directions

Slice raw chorizo into bite sized medallions, with casing still on. Grease a large frying pan with canola oil spray and set to medium heat. Brown the chorizo pieces on the outside (they do not have to be fully cooked through), and set aside.

Pour canned tomatoes into slow cooker pot, and add onions, garlic, basil, tomato paste, sugar, and seasonings. Use an immersion blender to puree the contents of the slow cooker. Add chicken broth, diced red peppers, and browned chorizo pieces to the slow cooker. Cook on low for four hours.

Cook tortellini according to the package, while it is cooking, remove lid from slow cooker, and add baby spinach. Allow to wilt.

Drain the tortellini, and scoop into large bowls. Stir the soup, then ladle soup on top of tortellini to serve.

Nutrition

Calories 409
Fat 16.7g
Saturated fat 4.6g
Carbohydrates 45.8g
Fibre 3.4g
Sugars 8.0g
Protein 19.7g

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Christmas Gingerbread Cookies

 
My mom makes the best gingerbread cookies. Gingerbread cookies are often too hard or crunchy, but hers are soft and chewy. I used her recipe, but swapped out the margarine for butter. The key to this recipe is to make the dough in advance and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours (I refrigerated my dough overnight). It is necessary to refrigerate it for several reasons: To allow the gluten to rest to prevent a "gluey" texture, to allow the butter to firm up in the dough (this recipe has no eggs to hold it together), and to prevent the dough from spreading too much in the oven (which maintains the cookie cutter shape).

For Christmas, I purchased this tiny gingerbread house cutter from amazon.ca, because they are so adorable! I wanted to make a gingerbread house, but gingerbread houses are difficult to store to keep them fresh, and no one wants to be the first person to dive in and break the house to start eating. These tiny teacup gingerbread houses means everyone gets their very own house! They are a little extra work, but everyone loved them.

I used Alton Brown's royal icing recipe to make the icing for the Christmas cookies.

If you have a stand mixer, you can put all the ingredients in there, starting with the wet ingredients, followed by the spices, flour and baking soda.

Note:  My mom's recipe says to bake these at 375°F, but my oven runs hot, so I usually have to adjust the temperature when I bake. I baked mine at 350°F for 8min30s for the tray of the small ghosts and medium bats, and 9 minutes for the large pumpkins. The recipe made three baking sheets worth of cookies in various sizes, so the yield is a little hard to determine, but it was around 30 large cookies, or 48 small/medium cookies.

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp all spice

Optional decorations before baking:  Dark chocolate chips or peanut butter chips
Optional decorations after baking:  Royal icing for piping, Smarties, Reese's Pieces

Directions

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Blend in molasses and maple syrup.

In a second bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Add dry ingredients and water to creamed mixture. Knead well until blended and form into a smooth ball. Cover and chill for at least 2 to 3 hours (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 350°F (see note above). Lightly flour work surface, rolling pin and hands. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Press chocolate chips or peanut butter chips in if desired.

Bake for 8 to 9 minutes (8min30s is perfect for my oven). Allow to cool fully, then decorate with icing (optional).


Nutrition (based on the medium cookie, the bat)

Calories 93
Fat 3.2g
Saturated fat 2.0g
Carbohydrates 15.1g
Sugars 6.5g
Protein 1.1g

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Sweet Potato Gingerbread Loaf

My boyfriend raved about a gingerbread loaf he ate in Seattle last week. I decided to make a healthier version by using whole wheat flour and sweet potato. Which was clearly a success when he looked at it funny and said, "Are there supposed to be stringy things in this?" The sweet potato adds natural sweetness, so it could be replaced with 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce in this recipe.

After I put the loaf in the oven, I realized that I had forgotten to add the salt. I couldn't figure out why the sweetness wasn't "popping" when I tasted the batter!

Serves 12

Ingredients

1 medium/large sweet potato, microwaved and cooled
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground ginger
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup fancy molasses
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup hot water
2 eggs
Canola oil spray, for greasing pan

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a loaf pan with canola spray.

Poke holes in the sweet potato, then microwave on high for 10 minutes. Place potato on a cooling rack, and slice open to allow to cool inside. Cool for at least 25 to 30 minutes.

Combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and spices in a large bowl and mix until uniform.

In a second bowl, combine molasses, maple syrup, coconut oil and hot water. Whisk together. Mash the sweet potato and add to the bowl. Add eggs and whisk again.

Pour wet ingredients into dry. Mix to combine, then transfer to loaf pan.

Bake for approximately 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition (per slice)

Calories 189
Fat 5.6g
Saturated fat 4.2g
Carbohydrates 31.6g
Fibre 1.4g
Sugars 10.5g
Protein 3.5g

You might also like:
Sweet Potato Spiced Cookies

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Zesty Lemon Basil Turkey Meatballs

These meatballs were a hit! They can be made with ground turkey or chicken, and they pair well with both tzatziki for dipping, or pesto for serving over pasta. Freeze them and reheat in the oven for an easy weeknight dinner, or prepare them in advance for a party appetizer.

Makes 48 meatballs

Ingredients

900g (2lbs) lean ground turkey
150g goat cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup basil, finely chopped
1 cup baby spinach, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp chili pepper flakes
2 eggs
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Canola oil spray, for greasing
Olive oil, for hands

Directions

Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil, and spray with canola oil. Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix well with a spatula, then coat hands with a couple drops of olive oil. Use hands to form the mixture into balls. Space the meatballs evenly on the baking sheets.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Transfer baking sheet to cooling rack and use a spatula to loosen the meatballs from the foil to cool.

Nutrition (per 4 meatballs)

Calories 250
Fat 13.9g
Saturated fat 4.8g
Carbohydrates 7.1g
Fibre 0.5g
Sugars 0.9g
Protein 26.6g

Monday, 5 October 2015

Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate S'mores Pie

This pie doesn't necessarily fit in with the other dessert recipes on this blog, because I didn't make any effort whatsoever to reduce the saturated fat or sugar. I made it for my boyfriend's daughter's birthday party, and it was a hit with our 11 year old guests!

We had an (indoor) camping themed birthday party, for which we decorated the dining table in green complete with a camping lantern, mason jars labelled "Squirrel feed" for nuts, "Don't feed the bears" for pretzels, and "Catch of the day" for Goldfish crackers. Of course, I had to put my mad napkin folding skills to use to make the Bishop's hat. I knew working on a cruise ship would pay off someday!
The seating area had sleeping bags and pillows spread out on the floor. The kids played camping themed Pictionary on a white board, made friendship bracelets and listened to ghost stories (this podcast is just awesome, so even if you're not having a party, it's a great listen).

Anyway, back to the pie:  It is fairly easy to make, but it is time consuming, because each layer has to set before you can add the next layer. You can have all the layers ready and place it in the refrigerator the night before, so all you have to do the day of the party is toast the marshmallows. I had never made a graham cracker crust before, so I wasn't really sure if I should bake it or refrigerate it before adding the ganache. I decided to bake it, which made it shrink a little, which I googled afterward to see what I did wrong--from what I read, it is not recommended to use a glass pie dish for a graham cracker crust because it will slide down the sides during baking. My mistake actually turned out just fine, because the marshmallow layer covered it anyway. You can, of course, just use a pre-packaged graham cracker crust.

Makes one 9 inch pie


For the crust:
1 1/4 cup honey graham crumbs
1/4lb butter

Mix honey graham crumbs and butter in a large bowl. Press firmly into pie pan, evenly covering the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake at 300°F for about 8 minutes. Allow to cool fully before adding the next layer.

For the chocolate ganache:
6oz 70% dark chocolate (1 box of Baker's chocolate)
3/4 cup whipping cream

Break chocolate up into pieces and place in a glass casserole dish that has a lid. Pour whipping cream into a small saucepan and set heat to low. Stir occasionally, and watch the cream carefully. When it comes to a simmer, pour the cream into the casserole dish to fully coat the chocolate pieces. Place the lid on the casserole dish and set a timer to 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the lid and lightly whisk from the centre outward. The chocolate will melt and the ganache will begin to thicken. Once the mixture is uniform, spoon or pour the ganache carefully into the graham cracker pie crust, and spread evenly using the back of a spoon. Allow to cool on the countertop for at least 15 minutes, then refrigerate to set for 30 minutes.

For the peanut butter ganache:
4oz peanut butter chips (2/3 cup)
1/2 cup whipping cream

Place peanut butter chips in a glass casserole dish with a lid and repeat the procedure used above for the chocolate ganache. Allow to set, but do not refrigerate. The peanut butter ganache should still be slightly sticky when adding the marshmallow topping.

For the marshmallow topping:
1 bag of large marshmallows
Kitchen scissors

Cut (with scissors) one marshmallow in half through the centre and place in the middle of the pie, on top of the peanut butter ganache layer. Slice marshmallows diagonally into halves. For an example of how to cut it, check out the directions on this cupcake decoration tutorial (specifically, direction #1). Place diagonally cut halves in a circle around the centre and work outward until pie is covered. The end result will look like this:
Cover with tin foil and refrigerate the pie until about 30 minutes before serving.

To toast the marshmallows:
Set your oven to broil. Uncover the pie and place in the oven. Rotate the pie every minute to make sure that it is evenly toasted. To lightly toast the marshmallows, it will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to return to room temperature before serving, about 20 minutes. 

Slice, serve, and enjoy!

I will spare you the nutrition information with this one. :)

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Coconut Milk Grilled Chicken

This chicken was everything I dreamed it would be! It was flavourful and moist, and it was so easy to prepare. I saw a similar recipe on Whole Foods Market recipes , and adjusted it slightly.

I marinated eight large chicken breasts, basted them throughout the grilling process, and still had quite a bit leftover, so this recipe makes enough marinade for ten to twelve chicken breasts.

Makes 8 chicken breasts

Ingredients

2.0kg boneless skinless chicken breasts
400mL can coconut milk
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Black pepper, to taste

Directions

Place raw chicken breasts in a large bowl. Mix all other ingredients together and pour over top of the chicken to fully coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.

Grill chicken breasts, basting with excess marinade throughout.

Nutrition (per 1 chicken breast)

Calories 397
Fat 19.1g
Saturated fat 8.9g
Carbohydrates 2.7g
Fibre 0.7g
Sugars 1.1g
Protein 51.7g

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread with Pecans

I was given some vegetables last week, and one of those veggies was an enormous zucchini! We grated the zucchini for this recipe, and didn't even use the whole thing. It would have produced about five cups worth, but we only needed three. Check this thing out:
I always struggle with the baking time when I make zucchini bread. I can bake a banana bread, a carrot loaf or a beer bread in 30-35 minutes at the same temperature in the same loaf pan, yet zucchini bread always takes twice as long. This one took 60 minutes! It was delicious though, so it was worth the wait.

Pecans add heart healthy monounsaturated fats, fibre and protein. You can swap the pecans for walnuts in this recipe if you prefer. We buy the giant bags of pecans, walnuts and almonds from Costco, which are much cheaper than buying pecans from the grocery store. I ground the pecans up in the food processor, so some were ground finely like almond flour, but left some in small chunks to add some texture. I measured 1 cup of pecans whole, then ground them, so it was probably a little less than 1 cup after that.

Serves 12

Ingredients

3 cups zucchini, grated
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup pecans, pulse in food processor to small chunks
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil
Canola spray, for greasing loaf pan

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a loaf pan with canola oil spray.

Grate zucchini and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and mix together. Add pecans to bowl and mix again.

In a second bowl, add vanilla extract, maple syrup and coconut oil and mash together with a fork. Add eggs and mix together. Pour zucchini into the bowl and mix again.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and fold together. Transfer batter to loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the centre of the loaf, if the toothpick comes out clean, the loaf is done. Set on a cooling rack and run a paring knife around the sides of the loaf to loosen it.

Nutrition (1 slice)

Calories 243
Fat 13.3g
Saturated fat 6.2g
Carbohydrates 27.7g
Fibre 2.1g
Sugars 8.8g
Protein 4.8g

Monday, 28 September 2015

Black Bean Pico de Gallo Soup

Thank you to the two gym members who brought me vegetables from their gardens this week! I received a variety of tomatoes, jalapenos, zucchini and eggplant. This meal was inspired by a recipe my friend Steve sent me, and it just so happened to include so many of the fresh vegetables I received.

You'll need either an immersion blender to use inside the pot, or you can transfer the soup to a blender.

You can use canned diced tomatoes if you don't have fresh tomatoes on hand. You can add pre-cooked diced chicken to this recipe when you add the beans and corn, or you can keep it vegetarian. The nutrition information is based on the vegetarian version. We served this as a side to grilled chicken legs.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes
1 tbsp fresh cilantro
3 medium tomatoes, diced
3 cups no salt added vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1 tbsp lime juice
19oz can black beans, drained
3/4 cup frozen corn

Toppings:
3/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 avocado, sliced

Directions

Heat the canola oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the chopped onions and garlic, and cook until the onions are translucent. Stir in the spices, lime juice and jalapeƱo, and cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and cilantro, stir, then shut off the heat.

Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth (or allow to cool, then transfer to a blender and blend until smooth).

Add broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the blended soup back in to the pot and stir well. Add the black beans and corn and heat through.

Top soup with shredded cheese and sliced avocado.

Nutrition (including toppings)

Calories 371
Fat 15.3g
Saturated fat 5.2g
Carbohydrates 43.0g
Fibre 11.4g
Sugars 4.9g
Protein 18.5g

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Chicken Fajita Fried Rice Bowls

Fried rice is one of my favourite foods to make in a big batch because it reheats so well for lunch the next day! I decided to combine the burrito bowl concept with fried rice to make a fajita version.

Cook the rice either the night before or the morning of, and allow it to cool fully and refrigerate it. I also cooked the chicken in two batches, since I didn't want to crowd the pan.

Serves 6

Ingredients

180g brown rice, cooked and cooled fully
1kg boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tsp canola oil, for greasing
Juice of 1 lime
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 green zucchini, sliced and quartered

Toppings (2 tbsp for each serving):
3/4 cup Tex Mex shredded cheese
3/4 cup salsa

Directions

Slice chicken breasts into bite sized pieces. Mix spices together in a small bowl.

Grease a wok with canola oil and set to medium heat. Place chicken pieces into wok and squeeze lime juice over chicken. Season with spice mix. Stir fry chicken until fully cooked, then transfer to a plate. Juices from chicken will remain in the wok.

Turn heat up to high and add garlic, peppers, zucchini and onions. Stir fry vegetables, stirring constantly. When vegetables are cooked yet still crunchy, add the rice and mix well. Stir fry the rice, stirring constantly. Add the chicken pieces to the wok and mix.

Scoop servings into bowls and top with cheese and salsa while chicken and rice is hot, so the cheese melts.

Nutrition (including toppings)

Calories 444
Fat 16.6g
Saturated fat 5.7g
Carbohydrates 32.1g
Fibre 3.5g
Sugars 4.2g
Protein 41.1g

You might also like:
Mexican Fried Rice

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Spinach & Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Stuffed chicken is such an easy to make, yet impressive looking dish! We served this with Yukon Gold potato wedges and roasted broccoli.

Larger chicken breasts are easier to butterfly, so I used chicken breasts that were five per kilogram. They make a very large serving size, so you can slice them in half to serve if you prefer. To butterfly the chicken, use a sharp knife to slice all the way down the side, so that the chicken breast opens like a book.

Makes 5 servings

Ingredients

1kg boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp olive oil
142g (5oz) baby spinach
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Canola oil spray, for greasing pan
Toothpicks

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease with canola oil spray.

Grease a skillet with olive oil and set to medium heat. Add garlic and spinach and saute until spinach wilts. Set aside to cool.

Butterfly chicken breasts and lay them open on pan lined with foil.

Add feta cheese to spinach mixture, and mix to combine. Place a line of spinach and feta mix on one side of chicken breast, then flip the other side of the chicken over top of it and fasten shut with toothpicks.


Place pan in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked (juices will be clear).

Nutrition (1 chicken breast)

Calories 285
Fat 9.2g
Carbohydrates 1.8g
Fibre 0.6g
Sugars 0.7g
Protein 48.0g

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Cinnamon PB2 Cake (with chickpeas)

We set out to make peanut butter blondies, but ended up with this cake. Since we have made black bean brownies before, I assumed that using chickpeas would give us the same texture. Instead, we ended up with a fluffy and moist peanut butter cake that doesn't taste at all like chickpeas (don't worry). The peanut butter muffins and cakes I have made before were all quite dense because I used actual peanut butter, but in this one, we tried PB2, which is powdered, dehydrated peanut butter. It works amazingly well in lieu of flour. It is less grainy in texture than using almond flour, and because most of the fat is removed, it is much less dense than almond flour.

Since I wasn't actually planning to bake a cake, I didn't plan for anything to top it. Next time I make this (this would make a perfect cake for a Halloween party), I'd like to try baking it as an upside down cake covered in apple slices, then drizzle the caramel-like topping I used for my Apple Cinnamon Beavertails:
1 tbsp coconut oil, divided
3 tbsp natural peanut butter (smooth)
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
Allow the cake to cool completely before icing. In a small saucepan, combine 1 tsp of coconut oil oil, peanut butter and maple syrup and stir to combine over low heat.  Pour icing mixture into piping bag (or into a sturdy plastic sandwich bag, then make a small cut off one corner to pipe out icing).  Pipe out icing onto beavertails and serve.

This cake can be baked in an 8x8 inch square glass dish, and cut into 16 square pieces, or in a round 9 inch cake pan and cut into 12 pieces. The nutrition information is for 16 pieces without the apples and caramel topping (this cake is so good, it's great to eat as is!).

Makes one 8x8 cake

Ingredients

15oz can chickpeas, drained and patted dry with a paper towel
2 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup PB2
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp coconut flour
1/4 cup water
Canola spray, for greasing pan

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease cake pan with canola spray.

In a food processor or mini chopper, combine chickpeas, eggs, vanilla extract and coconut oil. Food process until the mixture is smooth.

In a large bowl, combine PB2, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, brown sugar and coconut flour. Mix until uniform. Pour contents of food processor into dry ingredients, and fold together. Add water to mixture and mix.

Pour batter into cake pan and spread the batter evenly with a spatula. Bake for 22-24 minutes, until cake edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool to set.

Nutrition (per 1 square slice of cake)

Calories 172
Fat 6.2g
Saturated fats 3.4g
Carbohydrates 23.2g
Fibre 5.8g
Sugars 7.7g
Protein 7.6g

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Oven Baked Basmati Rice

This recipe came from my parents' neighbour years ago, and my dad has been making it ever since. The version my dad makes has frozen peas in it, but peas are not well-liked in our house, so I swapped them out for a red bell pepper instead, which also worked well with the tomato-based flavour and the extended cooking time. The bell pepper also adds potassium, which helps offset the sodium content from the broth. This dish reheats very well, so you can make a large batch and enjoy the leftovers for a couple days.

To make this dish vegetarian, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. "No Salt Added" varieties of broth have a significantly lower sodium content than even the "Low Sodium" varieties do, so be sure to read labels carefully before buying. You can also use homemade broth made in a slow cooker.

Serves 8

Ingredients

1.5 cups (270g) brown basmati rice
2.5 cups no salt added vegetable broth or chicken broth
3 oz (1/2 can) tomato paste
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
Sea salt, to taste
Optional:  Add 1/2 cup frozen peas

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour rice, broth, tomato paste, olive oil, onion and salt into a large (2L or 2 quart) glass casserole dish with a lid. Stir all ingredients together, cover with lid, and place in oven.

Remove dish from oven every 30 minutes to stir. Rice will absorb liquid throughout cooking time, so liquid will be gone and rice will be slighty crispy around the edges of the dish. Total time in oven will be 1h30 to 1h35.

Nutrition

Calories 219
Fat 8.7g
Saturated fat 1.3g
Carbohydrates 31.6g
Fibre 1.5g
Sugars 3.0g
Protein 3.6g

Other rice recipes:
Mexican Fried Rice
Chicken Fried Rice (with Cauliflower Rice)
Thai Fried Rice (with Peanuts)

Monday, 24 August 2015

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten free)

Peanut butter cookies are usually heavy and dry. These ones are light yet chewy, a cross between a chocolate chip cookie and a peanut butter cookie.

I should note that just because a recipe is gluten free, does not mean that it is healthy...these cookies should still be considered an occasional treat! Personally, I love the flavours that coconut, almond or oat flours add to a cookie, so you can use them even if you don't require a gluten free recipe.

Makes 16 cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine peanut butter, brown sugar and coconut oil. Mash together with a fork.

Add eggs and vanilla and mix into peanut butter mixture with a fork.

Add coconut flour, baking soda and salt to the bowl and mix until uniform. Fold in mini chocolate chips.

Form dough into balls and evenly space on baking sheet. Cookies will expand, so leave ample space around each. Press down on dough with the back of a fork twice to flatten slightly.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool on cooking rack to set.

Nutrition (per 1 cookie)

Calories 132
Fat 9.6g
Carbohydrates 8.8g
Fibre 1.6g
Sugars 5.9g
Protein 4.3g

Monday, 17 August 2015

Baked Chicken Parm


I was meal prepping for the husband today and thought I'd spice up his normal meal of chicken and rice. The chicken came out so juicy and delicious - I had a hard time keeping some for him!

Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into large chunks
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
pinch salt and pepper
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian spice mix

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350*
2. Spread 1 tsp olive oil over the bottom of a square baking dish
3. In a medium size bowl mix together the yogurt, salt, pepper, garlic, parmesan cheese, and Italian spices.
4. Add chicken and mix until covered. Spread in a single layer in the pan. Top with 1 Tbsp more parmesan cheese.
5. Bake for 40 minutes until browned on top. Serve with rice and vegetables for a complete meal!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Quest Protein Bites

I recently heard that Quest makes protein powder and I was very excited to try it! I love Quest bars, so I figured the whey protein powder would be a good tasting one. You can use any flavour of protein powder you like. This mixture can be made into a bar form, but the bites are the perfect on-the-go portion. You can eat them straight from the freezer or at room temperature.

Makes 36

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup Quest Strawberries & Cream or Quest Peanut Butter protein powder
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup coconut milk (full fat, canned)
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

Combine protein powder, coconut flour, coconut oil, and coconut milk in a large bowl. Use a hand blender to combine well. Fold in mini chocolate chips Roll each piece into a ball and then place in the refrigerator or freezer.

Nutrition (per 1 Protein Bite)

Calories 57
Fat 2.7g
Carbohydrates 3.1g
Fibre 1.3g
Sugars 1.0g
Protein 3.9g

You might also like:
Peanut Butter Coconut Energy Balls
Chocolate Energy Balls
Quest Bar Cookies

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs with Tzatziki

Chicken meatballs are a staple for us! I love being able to reheat them straight from the freezer, because it makes for a fast and easy meal. So far, Anna and I have made Italian and Thai ones, but we wanted to try a Greek style meatball. Store bought tzatziki sauce was the perfect match for dipping. Anna grew the onion we used, and I grew the chili peppers and basil, so this was the perfect summer recipe for our homegrown veggies!

Makes 40 meatballs

Ingredients

900g (2lbs) lean ground chicken
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
142g (5oz) fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 small onion
2 Fresno chilies or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1 cup sundried tomatoes (optional)
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 egg
Black pepper
Sea salt
Canola spray, for greasing
Olive oil, for hands
454g (1lb) tzatziki sauce

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray with canola oil.

Finely dice vegetables, or put them in a food processor and pulse until vegetables are in small chunks.

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Coat your hands with a couple drops of olive oil to prevent sticking. Mash the ingredients together with hands, then form mixture into balls. Place evenly spaced on baking sheets.

Bake for 18 minutes, meatballs should be lightly browned. Serve with tzatziki for dipping.

Nutrition (per 4 meatballs)

Calories 260
Fat 11.9g
Carbohydrates 14.1g
Fibre 1.9g
Sugars 4.7g
Protein 24.6g

4 meatballs with 1/4 cup tzatziki:

Calories 313
Fat 15.7g
Carbohydrates 17.1g
Fibre 2.2g
Sugars 4.7g
Protein 26.1g

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Peach Almond Upside Down Cake

Peaches are in season, so we picked up a basket at the grocery store this morning. Almond flour makes a great pairing with peaches. Almonds and peaches come from the same family of plants called Prunus (the seed inside the peach looks very similar to an almond too). Almond flour works well for an upside down cake because it tends not to rise, so it will stay flat. This cake can be served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or enjoy it with a cup of tea!

Serves 8

Ingredients

3 peaches, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups ground blanched Almonds
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 inch glass pie dish. Layer peach slices in the bottom of the pie dish.

In a large bowl, combine ground almonds, flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In a second bowl, combine brown sugar, coconut oil and applesauce, then mash together with a fork.

In a third bowl, whisk eggs until frothy, then mix in vanilla extract.

Pour wet ingredients from both bowls into dry, mix, then pour over peaches and spread out evenly in pie dish.

Bake for 20 minutes, allow to cool for about 3 minutes, then run a knife along the rim of the cake. Flip the cake over onto a cooling rack so peaches are on top.

Nutrition

Calories 224
Fat 14.1g
Carbohydrates 20.3g
Fibre 3.0g
Sugars 13.6g
Protein 6.6g

Friday, 10 July 2015

Thai Fried Rice

In recent weeks, I've been consuming very large quantities of broccoli slaw. The broccoli, carrot, cabbage and bean sprout mixture comes pre-chopped in the bagged salad section of the grocery store. I pack my lunches for work the night before, and this mix is great for that because it doesn't wilt with dressing on it hours in advance. It tastes great on its own with a good salad dressing (I like Renee's Spring Herb Italian or Opa Greek Yogurt Caesar), or with chicken breast in a wrap. Today I added it to my fried rice because it made for minimal chopping. I also used matchstick cut carrots, but you can just the broccoli slaw for 3 cups if you prefer. I recommend cooking and refrigerating the rice the night before to reduce preparation time.

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 cups brown rice, cooked and cooled
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into bite sized pieces
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cups broccoli slaw
1 cup matchstick cut carrots
3 green onions, sliced

For sauce:
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1 tsp ginger, finely minced
2 tbsp honey
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp sesame oil
Black pepper, to taste

Optional garnish: 1/4 cup unsalted blanched peanuts

Directions

Add sesame oil to wok, and set to medium heat. Cook chicken pieces fully, seasoning with black pepper. Set chicken aside.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for sauce and mix.

Set heat to high and add all vegetables, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Add rice and mix with vegetables. Add chicken and sauce, and toss to coat. Remove from heat, and top with peanuts.

Nutrition (including peanut garnish)

Calories 396
Fat 13.7g
Carbohydrates 35.5g
Fibre 4.2g
Sugars 8.8g
Protein 35.4g


More fried rice!
Mexican Fried Rice
Chicken Fried Rice


Thursday, 2 July 2015

Peanut Butter Banana Oat Muffins

I've made a lot of muffin recipes for this blog. I've also made a lot of nut butter based muffins. I'm going to make a bold statement: These are my best muffins yet. I was going to make another batch of my Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins, but I happened to find one frozen banana that was kicking around, so I figured I could incorporate it somehow. When I make a new muffin recipe, I generally just keep adding stuff until I get the right balance of wet to dry ingredients, then I mix them together. I ended up adding unsweetened applesauce gradually until I got the right amount (since I only had one banana). If you have two or three bananas, adjust the amount of applesauce by volume, or eliminate it altogether.

I love peanut butter. When I'm baking, I'd rather avoid the added sugars of traditional peanut butter, but I am not a big fan of the texture of natural peanut butter. For me, the happy medium is Kraft Unsweetened Unsalted peanut butter (the blue label). This product maintains the texture of traditional smooth Kraft peanut butter, but doesn't have the added sugars or the problem of the oil separating.

Nut butter muffins tend to run higher on the caloric spectrum (as far as muffins go), so these might seem a little high, but the macronutrient content is pretty similar to a Clif Bar. In fact, these muffins have less than half the sugar content of a Clif bar!

Makes 12

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup large flaked oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 overripe banana
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter (smooth or natural)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with liners and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Mix until uniform.

In a second bowl, mash the banana with a fork. Add coconut oil and mash it into the banana. Add brown sugar, mash with fork. Add peanut butter, mash with fork. Add vanilla extract, eggs and applesauce and stir until uniform.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just enough to combine, being careful not to overmix batter.

Scoop batter evenly into muffin liners. Bake for 18 minutes, or until muffins are lightly browned.

Nutrition

Calories 264
Fat 16.6g
Carbohydrates 23.4g
Fibre 2.7g
Sugars 8.3g
Protein 8.2g

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Chicken & Rice Meatballs


Happy Canada Day! I live just 3 blocks from the heart of our National Capital, Parliament hill...which is why I'm hiding out in the suburbs today at my boyfriend's house! Canada Day in downtown Ottawa is absolutely crazy. Instead, I'm going to spend today cooking.

Meatballs are a great make-ahead appetizer for a party or a quick microwavable dinner from the freezer.

This recipe came from Rachael Ray, but the temperature at which the meatballs were baked was missing. The first batch, I baked at 375°F and they took 24 minutes to brown. The second batch was 425°F for 18 minutes, which seemed to work better. I also added more herbs and spices to the recipe, because I have basil and parsley plants. If you don't have fresh herbs, you can use dried.

I cooked the rice the night before to make it easier to prepare.

Edit:  The next time I made these, I put 5oz of baby spinach into the food processor and added it to the meatball mixture. It stretched out the recipe to 55 meatballs.

Makes 45 meatballs

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup brown rice, cooked and cooled
1 kg extra lean ground chicken
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried chili flakes
2 eggs
2 tsp olive oil
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Canola oil spray, for greasing

Directions

Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray with canola. Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Lightly coat your hands with a couple drops of olive oil, then mix well with your hands. Roll pieces into balls, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place meatballs on baking sheets evenly spaced. Bake for approximately 18 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Nutrition (per 4 meatballs)

Calories 240
Fat 11.1g
Carbohydrates 8.2g
Fibre 0.6g
Sugars 0.5g
Protein 26.9g

Friday, 19 June 2015

Mexican Fried Rice

This rice tastes awesome and is super easy to make! The key to making good fried rice is to cook the rice ahead, cool and refrigerate it, so that you lightly toast the rice in the wok. If it was still hot when you added it to the wok, it would just continue cooking and become mushy. To achieve the tomato-y flavour of Mexican rice, salsa does the trick (as an alternative to canned tomatoes or tomato paste).

For a vegetarian main dish, sprinkle some grated cheddar on top for added protein. I topped this dish with Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 cups cooked brown rice, chilled
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 green onions, sliced
3/4 cup frozen corn
1 cup canned black beans, drained
2/3 cup salsa
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
Chopped cilantro, to taste
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 tsp canola oil, for greasing

Directions

Add canola oil to wok and set to high heat. Add peppers, green onions and corn to wok and stir frequently. Mix spices into salsa in a measuring cup. Add black beans and rice to wok, then add salsa on top and mix to coat the rice and veggies. Add cilantro at the end of cooking and stir.

Nutrition

Calories 251
Fat 1.5g
Carbohydrates 50.3g
Fibre 7.5g
Sugars 3.2g
Protein 10.5g

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Body weight workout 30s & 30RM

My boot camp classes have been packed lately, so I opted to do all body weight exercises to save on space, but mostly because we just don't have enough dumbbells for that many people! I used the same format as a workout we did a few months ago (High rep workout 30s 30 reps), but swapped out the dumbbell exercises for body weight ones. This is a good workout to do at home if you don't have any equipment (a mat would be handy, but a towel will also do). This workout is intermediate/advanced level, and will take about 30 minutes to complete. Take water breaks as necessary.

Perform 2 sets of each exercise, supersetting between 30s of cardio, followed by 30 reps of endurance.  Rest for 10s between each superset.

1.  30s shuffle hops (add a hop at the end) and 30 cross legged crunches
2.  30s speed skaters and 30 squats with alternating knee ups
3.  30s jumping jacks and 30 push ups
4.  30s repeater knee and 30 bent over Ys
5.  30s fast feet and 30 alternating elbow tap lunges (the first portion of this movement)
6.  30s jump rope and 30 side lunge knee up
7.  30s side to side leaps and plank with alternating flyes
8.  30s burpees and 30 frog jumps


If you give this workout a try, let me know how it goes!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Quenching your thirst this summer



So far this summer we've had some super hot and humid days. While water is the best thing for you, sometimes it can get really boring. The key to getting your water in is being creative. I've tried to come up with a few ways to increase my water consumption, all the while adding flavour and staying healthy. 

1. Biosteel Pops
If you haven't tried Biosteel, it is basically a powdered sports drink, similar to Gatorade. The advantages is that it has amino acids, electrolytes, B vitamins, and is diabetic and vegan friendly. Its a great during or post-workout beverage if you're exerting yourself or if it is very hot outside. For the pops, simply mix enough of the powder and water to make 2 servings (2 scoops, plus 2 cups water) and pour into Popsicle moulds and freeze. 

2. Sparkling Water with Fruit
I love my Soda Stream. It makes fresh carbonated water within seconds. While the flavour can get plain, the combination of fruits to add to it are endless. My favourite combinations right now are water melon and fresh leaves, and lime slices and mint - tastes like a Moijito, minus the vodka! 


Sunday, 31 May 2015

BBQ Chicken Legs Spice Rub

Barbecue chicken drumsticks are my favourite summer staple. This spice rub was a last minute solution to, "what do you want on this chicken?" It is easy to throw together and makes just the right amount to spice 16 drumsticks. We served Lemon Pesto pasta salad with these (pesto recipe to come!), which was a perfect mix of warm spices with tart pesto.

Coats 16 drumsticks

Ingredients

1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp dried chili flakes
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Directions

Combine spices, sugar and herbs in a small bowl. Sprinkle spice rub evenly over chicken drumsticks. Rub spices in to chicken skin. Turn drumsticks over, and spice opposite side. Barbecue or oven roast drumsticks.

Nutrition (per 1 chicken drumstick, skin on)

Calories 79
Fat 2.7g
Carbohydrates 0.3g
Protein 12.7g

Other chicken leg recipes:

Roasted Sweet & Spicy Chicken Legs
Jerk Chicken Marinade
Spicy Coconut Lime Chicken Drumsticks

Monday, 25 May 2015

Slow Cooker Turkey, Barley & Lemon Soup


I know soup seems like an odd thing to cook in May, but three things prompted me to make it:
1.  We were in the middle of a cold spell (Ottawa in May...you just never know).
2.  I needed to make something that was freezer friendly, since we are going on vacation and I knew I wouldn't be able to get through my groceries in time. This way, I could make enough for weekend meals, freeze the rest, and not have to worry about fresh veggies going bad.
3.  We went to Panera for lunch last week, and I had a bowl of chicken, lemon and orzo soup that was very good, so I wanted to try a similar recipe. If you prefer boneless, skinless chicken breast for this recipe, feel free to swap that. When I looked at the chicken at the grocery store, it had a lot of fat on it, and the turkey breast looked more appealing. I also chose to use barley because it's a whole grain, and it will stand up to the cooking time.

Barley is whole grain that is high in fibre, protein, potassium, and iron. One cup of uncooked barley will yield three cups cooked (you will need to use three cups of water to cook it, which is why there is a lot of water added to this soup). Barley contains gluten, and has a chewiness similar to that of past. It has a mild nutty flavour.

Serves 6

Ingredients

184g (1 cup) pot barley
1 garlic clove, minced
4 green onions, sliced
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
500g boneless, skinless turkey breast, sliced in half (or two 250g chicken breasts)
2 tsp lemon infused olive oil (optional)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
Black pepper, to taste
900mL no salt added chicken broth (or homemade Slow Cooker Turkey Broth)
1L water
1 bay leaf

Directions

Pour the barley on the bottom of the slow cooker pot. Layer garlic, green onions, celery, carrots and turkey breast. Add olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, rosemary and black pepper on top of turkey breast. Pour in broth, and add water to top up. Add bay leaf on top. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. When 4 hours is complete, remove the bay leaf, and break turkey breast up into pieces. Stir soup together and serve.

Nutrition (per 1.5 cup serving)

Calories 254
Fat 12.9g
Carbohydrates 32.7g
Fibre 6.7g
Sugars 5.7g
Protein 21.1g

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Chicken Fajitas Over Rice

I swapped tortillas for brown rice alongside this chicken fajita mixture. Taco seasoning or fajita sauces are high in sodium, so I recommend making your own spice blends and using a little oil, lemon or lime juice, and water as needed to fry the chicken and veggies. I ate this as is, but you could add toppings such as shredded cheddar, salsa, or guacamole if you like.

Serves 4

Ingredients

120g instant brown rice, cooked
500g boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 small onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, julienne
1 yellow bell pepper, julienne
1 zucchini, sliced
2 tsp canola oil, divided
2 tbsp lemon juice, divided
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Black pepper, to taste
Water, about 1/4 cup, as needed
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Cook rice as per instructions and set aside.

Mix spices together in a small bowl.

Spray skillet with canola spray, then add 1 tsp of canola oil. Set temperature to medium heat. Add onion and chicken pieces to skillet, and pour half the lemon juice and half the spices onto the chicken. Stir frequently, until chicken is fully cooked and onions have caramelized. Transfer chicken and onions to a plate and set aside.

Add remaining 1 tsp of canola oil to skillet, increase heat to high, and add bell peppers. Add water as necessary while cooking. When peppers are half cooked, add zucchini slices. Pour remaining lemon juice and spices over veggies, stirring frequently. When veggies are fully cooked, add chicken, onions and rice in to skillet, and mix. Serve with fajita toppings.

Nutrition (fajitas with rice, no toppings)

Calories 351
Fat 7.3g
Carbohydrates 34.4g
Fibre 3.6g
Sugars 6.1g
Protein 36.2g

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Pretzel & Dark Chocolate Granola Bars


I love making homemade granola bars and protein bars. They are versatile, convenient, and best of all - delicious! I usually make a big batch, cut them into bars, and then wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them for an easy to grab snack. For this recipe I added dark chocolate chips, but other substitutions could be flaked coconut, chopped almonds, or dried cherries. 

Ingredients

2 cups oats
1 scoop protein powder (I used Quest protein in vanilla)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
1/2 cup crushed pretzels
1/3 cup dark chocolate mini chips

Directions

1. In a pan toast oats over medium heat, stirring frequently until lightly browned (about 5 minutes).
2. In a sauce pan, melt coconut oil and honey over medium heat. Turn heat off and add vanilla and salt, and stir. Let cool. 
3. Stir in the protein powder into the coconut oil mixture. Add the toasted oats, pretzels, and chocolate chips. 
4. Press into a baking tray and refrigerate for 15 minutes before cutting into slices.