Category Archives: Healthy Eats

Farm to Plate to Heart

Sunset in Paradise

Few of us are lucky to enough to know exactly where our food comes from. I’m not talking about saying “Oh yah, this carrot was grown in Vancouver somewhere…” I’m talking, pulling it out of the ground, pulling it off a vine, picking it off a tree, washing it and making something spectacular out of it….

Today, I was the luckiest person on earth. I finally got to visit Abundant Acres Farm out here in Nova Scotia. It’s the place I’ve mentioned in this post, the amazing farm that supplies the fantastic produce packs I had the pleasure of receiving this Summer. I’m not going to lie, I’m very sad that the packs have come to an end for the season…where am I going to get my fresh produce from?! NOTHING will ever taste the same…ever. I guess I’ll survive somehow, but to put it simply: it’s going to suck. SUCK!
I am in awe at how welcoming, kind, and warm Jen, Dave, Bruce and Dylan are; I can’t put into words how happy today made me, so hopefully these photos(in slideshow format, oooh!) taken by my lovely twin, Kim (found here) can sort of show how fulfilling and soul-soothing connecting with your food, and the people who grow it, truly is.

Dave, Jen, Bruce and Dylan; thank you SO much for opening your home, your hearts, and my eyes to what is possible when amazing people do amazing things.

Cheers.

*Recipe for Chana Masala (curried chickpeas) will be posted tomorrow*

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Summer Reading, Beautiful Art, and Why I’ll Never buy Produce from the Supermarket Again

There are a lot of things that make me happy

Dogs
Rainbows
Sleeping in past noon (hah!)
Waking up to the rain

Blah blah blah

I also love a great mug, a good book (or two, or three…) and fresh produce.

Is it just me, or does coffee (or tea, for all of you that aren’t bound by the crippling clutches of a caffeine addiction) just taste better in a gorgeous piece of pottery?  I used to work up at MacDonald House out in Lawrencetown; at a great little spot called Fancy Lucky Vintage you can find the wonderful shop here and here.  FLV was up on the top floor of this amazing house, and on the main floor is a wonderful art gallery owned by FLV’s mom, she carries some of the most beautiful pieces of pottery (amongst other things) that I have ever seen; my favourite pieces are by Seastar Pottery, you can find them here.  I hope to add to my collection soon, but for the time being I’ll just enjoy the two I have.

Jellyfish mug from Seastar Pottery

Sea Urchin mug from Seastar Pottery

In addition to my coffee addiction that I can’t seem to shake, I have an addiction to cookbooks, and the evil that is Amazon and Chapters. EVIL!  I feel that I pay off my credit card *yay!* only just to rack it up again with book purchases.

Sigh

My latest book buying spree has left me a giddy mess, I picked up ‘Garde Manger’ by my main man Chuck Hughes http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Garde-Manger-Chuck-Hughes/9781443413268-item.html?ikwid=garde+manger&ikwsec=Home

And the amazing ‘The Foodie Handbook. The (almost) Definitive Guide to Gastronomy’ by Pim Techamuanvivit of www.ChezPim.com
http://www.amazon.ca/Foodie-Handbook-Almost-Definitive-Gastronomy/dp/0811868532/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347041204&sr=8-1

Both of these books are slowly changing my life.  I haven’t had the chance to try any recipes yes (damn you show prep!) but, I have tried Pim’s recipe for Pad Thai, ages ago, and it’s true, it really IS the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had. EVER.
If you ever have a chance, head out and grab these two books, you won’t be sorry; I promise.

Excerpt from ‘The Foodie Handbook.’

I eat a lot.  6 times a day, to be precise.  Every meal that I eat has a vegetable portion…EVERY MEAL. So you can understand why I insist that my produce be fresh, organic when I can afford it, and delicious.  Show prep is hard enough, I don’t need crappy, and unnecessarily overpriced food to make it any harder.  I have checked out the farmer’s market out here in Halifax, and it’s nice, but I wasn’t too thrilled with paying almost 7 dollars for a bunch of carrots (WHAT THE F*C*!).  Which is why I was so happy to have discovered that I can eat fresh produce every week through a local CSA produce pack.
When I say that things changed my life, I usually really mean it.  I like to feel that I have gained something while spending my hard earned money, or my time, really, on whatever it is that I’m doing.  The two abovementioned books really are changing my life, my eating life; I love to create with food, and I love to create with food for the people that I care about.  So, that being said, my recent investment in a CSA produce pack is right up where with one of the smartest, healthiest things I’ve done to date.  It has helped me stay on track with my show prep ‘diet’ (I hate that word) and it has allowed me to try out things I normally wouldn’t have purchased at the grocery store; case and point: fresh fennel.  I love that stuff, I can’t get enough of it!  If you’re in Nova Scotia, I highly encourage you to check out Abundant Acres you can find them here and here.  I pay about the same as I did at my local produce place, but the quality of the food far surpasses what I find at the store.  When I say ‘fresh produce’ I mean, picked that morning; not picked last week and driven to the store only to have it rot in my fridge after a day or so.  I’ll be heading over to Jen and Dave’s farm this weekend, so I’ll post about the amazingness that I’m sure to find there.  If you are not in the Nova Scotia area, find out how to benefit from CSA in your area. Seriously, do it.

We ate most of the blueberries on the ride home!


Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since moving on over to a more Paleo friendly lifestyle my body has pretty much stopped craving sugar, it’s quite fantastic; I never thought I’d pass up a tray of brownies or these amazing cookie-peanut butter cup-brownie bars my amazing friend S made (I took one home to freeze, and the Mr. had half that night and the next morning, since I knew it was in the freezer, I took it out and ate it…not because I was craving it, but because I knew it was there and it would have haunted me every day until I ate it, let me just say..AH-MAY-ZING!)

I digress.

I have stopped craving sugar almost entirely, but there are still those days (once a month….) that I would do pretty much anything for something baked and sweet. Being 8 months out from competition I can’t really justify shoving my face full of cookies, or brownies, or cookie-pb cup-brownie bars. *sad* but NOT sad! The internet is a beautiful thing, so many resources just waiting to be google searched.

I stumbled upon a recipe that was almost Paleo, you can find it here. It called for sugar…eep. Lucky for me however, I had just finished making a batch of apple sauce, you will see that I omitted the milk and the sugar as I used apple sauce. They turned out pretty darn good, they hit the spot perfectly and you don’t feel bad eating them! They are on the drier side because of the coconut flour, but that’s nothing a small cup of almond milk won’t fix!

Chocolate Chip Cookies – Paleo Friendly
adapted from http://chocolateandcarrots.com

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract (you can omit this entirely if you choose)
4 eggs
1 cup apple sauce
1 cup coconut flour
dash of salt
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips, or carob chips if you like the flavour

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the coconut flour, salt and chocolate chips together, set aside. Combine the coconut oil, vanilla extract, eggs and apple sauce together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until everything is well incorporated. Take about a tablespoon of dough, roll and press onto the parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 13 minutes or until lightly browned. **the original recipe says to bake for 20 minutes, but I found that (with my oven at least) after 13 minutes the cookies came out softer inside and out, after 15 they were a bit drier on the outside and soft on the inside.**

*UPDATE*
I stuck these cookies in the fridge last night and they taste amazing cold! Think I’ll freeze one next see how it holds up to a thaw. Stay tuned!


Paleo Friendly Granola

I haven’t posted in a while, I know, I suck. I’ve been so super busy with training, and studying, and home and going to the beach (heh), and just life in general that the food blog just fell to the wayside. I also started up a small Indian Catering biz ,what what! So that has been keeping me pretty darn busy as well.

Training wise, I’m right on track, things are going so well. SO WELL! I’ve recently started to phase into the Paleo lifestyle slowly, so far so good. I’ve never had so much energy in my entire life; my body feels so amazing, everything is tighter, my skin looks amazing, I cannot say enough positive things about this change. If you are on the fence about whether or not to try it out, DO IT, you won’t look back.
Ok, enough of that. Since switching over, I’ve been scouring the internet for Paleo blogs, recipes, articles, anything I can get my hands on, there is tons of information out there. The Mr. loves granola, and recently I’ve taken a liking to it as well, I usually steered clear of it because it’s so high in sugar, carbs and all things good, but I found a great paleo friendly one that is seriously like crack.

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Crack Granola

Recipe is Here.

I made some changes, I used seeds I could find and afford; pumpkin, sunflower, sliced almonds(in original), walnuts. I left out the maple syrup, and added in chopped dried figs, apricots and raisins. BOOM


Brown Rice and Chicken Muffins

I got this recipe from a dear friend ages ago after I just finished competing in my first ever figure show, I think she got it from Oxygen Magazine, but I have yet to track the recipe down.  They are amazingly delicious and healthy, great for a post workout meal, just pair a couple with a great big spinach salad and you’re good to go! You could probably also bake this up in a casserole dish as well, and serve as a healthy family dinner with steamed veggies and salad.

 

Brown Rice and Chicken Muffins

2 Cups cooked brown rice
1 Cup finely chopped cooked chicken ( I always add extra chicken, I use about 2.5 chicken breasts, so about 2.5 cups)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 ½ tsp curry powder
8 heaping Tbsp plain low fat yogurt (I used greek yogurt)
2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
3 egg whites

 

Pre Oven

1)      Preheat oven to 375  coat a muffin tin with olive oil ( I used coconut oil)
2)      Combine all ingredients except the egg whites, into a large bowl
3)      Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter
4)      Fill muffin tin with mixture
5)      Bake 35-40 minutes or until muffins are golden brown on top

Post Oven


Quinoa Stuffed Chicken Breast

Quinoa is high in protein and is a complex carbohydrate; in my opinion, the best combination ever.  I love cooking with quinoa, it’s so easy, and it takes on flavour so well.

Ok, so, stuffing chicken breast was a lot harder than I thought, and it didn’t help that it was late and my husband and I were both starving.  When I make this dish again, I’ll be sure to prep it ahead of time and buy fresh chicken breast; not attempt to thaw out the frozen ones I had enough to slice them in half, pound them flat, and stuff them.  Sheesh!

Cook Quinoa according to package directions.  I use low sodium chicken broth in place of water, just for added flavour, but it’s up to you.

1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1″ piece of ginger finely chopped
2-3 stalks celery
1 Tbsp Hoison Sauce
1 Tbsp Low sodium soy sauce
1 ½ tsp Chinese five spice powder
1 tsp black pepper
¼ tsp chili pepper
3 carrots sliced
brussel sprouts

Preheat the oven to 350

Spray a large pan with Pam, and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent, add the ginger and cook for about 3 minutes, add in the celery and sauté until cooked through but still crispy, add in the cooked quinoa along with the hoison sauce, soy sauce, Chinese five spice, black pepper and chilli pepper, taste, adjust accordingly.

Now, the fun part!

  1. Have some thread handy and cut so you can tie the breast as soon roll it up;make sure your chicken breast is fresh, or thawed out completely.  Slice the breast in half, lengthwise, and then pound flat.
  2. Take a couple of teaspoon fulls of the quinoa and place on one end of the chicken and roll it up carefully, some of the filling will fall out, no big deal.  Tie it up securely and place in a baking dish ( I pan fried the ones in the photo, but in hindsight, it is WAYYY easier to bake them, you get a more even cooking of the chicken.) keep going until all your chicken is stuffed, I did about 5 breasts cut in half and we had plenty left over.
  3. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, steam the carrots and brussel sprouts
  5. Once your chicken is done serve on top of the remaining quinoa, alongside the carrots and brussel sprouts.

 Dinner!


Baby It’s Cold Outside

There is a thick, dense fog outside, it’s been raining for a couple of days, and it’s still cold out here in Nova Scotia; at least it has stopped snowing. I do love this province, it is absolutely gorgeous; the only thing that really makes me miss home though, is the lack of authentic, flavourful and good ethnic food. The Chinese food scene is dismal, but I think we’ve finally found a place that gets close to the flavours that we’re used to; Indian food we make ourselves at home, Thai food; good luck, same goes for Vietnamese dishes.

My husband should thank his lucky stars that he’s married to a foodie; I would if I were him. I know most people like to curl up with a nice hot bowl of chili, or soup, or something equally as amazing on a cold, rainy evening, but not me; give me a bowl of ice cream, chilled soup, or my absolute favourite Vietnamese salad wraps. Mmmm, I’m drooling now. They are so easy to make, and you can get as creative as you’d like with them. I usually do plain salad wraps when I’m training, where I just take a bunch of different greens and wrap them in the rice paper and pack enough for each meal on the go, they’re portable, and yummy. If I want to make them into a simple and light meal however, I’ll pack them full of veggies (whatever I have on hand), chicken, and vermicelli noodles, and serve them up with a spicy peanut sauce; they also go over great at potlucks! I don’t really have a definite recipe for this, I just gather all of the ingredients that I need and make them until I run out of something vital, like the noodles.

Vietnamese Salad Wraps

Protein of your choice. Traditionally you get these at restaurants made with prawns, we always have chicken at home, so I just use that.

Chicken breast, cooked, sliced and quickly sautéed with soy sauce, hoison sauce, chili pepper flakes, fish sauce and some pepper.

2-3 bundles of vermicelli noodles (you can do more or less depending on how many people you’re feeding, when I use

3 bundles we can get about 12 decent sized wraps)

Rice paper wraps

Carrots, julienned ( I had some amazing purple carrots from the farmers market that looked beautiful in these, and were so sweet!)

Spinach, chopped

Cucumbers, julienned

Zucchini, julienned

I also had some broccoli that was in danger of going bad soon, so I chopped that up, sautéed it and used it as well

Warm water in a pan large enough to hold a sheet of rice paper

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Cook the vermicelli noodles according to the directions on the package, drain, rinse with cold water, and then let sit in a small amount of cold water so that they don’t stick together when you’re working.

Place one sheet of rice paper in the pan with warm water and let soak until it becomes soft and pliable (about a minute or so)

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Pull the sheet out gently, grasping by either end of the top and lay on a clean, dry plate.

Start layering your ingredients into the middle of the sheet, like you would with a burrito.

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Fold up the bottom half of the sheet, and then the top. Then roll the rest into a tight package. I found this site as well that you may find useful.

Voila! You have a delicious salad wrap ready to go. Continue the steps until you’ve made as many as you need, or have run out the ingredients at hand.

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Peanut Sauce

1 cup natural low sodium peanut butter *you can use regular pb as well, I just like using the natural stuff*

1 tsp sesame oil (optional. I used to use this all the time, but I haven’t found it in Superstore or Sobey’s out here in NS, and I haven’t made it to the Asian supermarket yet, so I’ve just been omitting it altogether, and it tastes fine!)

1 Tbsp Hoison sauce

2-3 Cloves of garlic, depending on your taste, finely diced

1 ½ Tbsp low sodium soy sauce

Chili pepper flakes (as many as you’d like!)

Approx ½ cup of warm water.

Directions
mix all ingredients, except water, together in a bowl, mix until incorporated. Slowly start adding the warm water until you get the consistency that you like. We like it a bit on the medium thick side, so I usually end up using ½ cup of water plus a bit more, it’s really up to you. Mix well, and adjust to taste. Serve with your salad wraps

Also, before you see the next photo, I want to let you know that it’s absolutely impossible to make peanut sauce not look like…well, what it looks like.

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