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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

it's been awhile...

Why hello there followers, if I have any left. I am sorry about my extreme hiatus from the blogging world. I started a new job in the middle of May, and it along with my other job(s) took over my life. Ex. Haust. Ed. But now I am back, hopefully posting more frequently, and hearing what you have to say!


During my last post, it was just the beginning of summer. I can honestly say I didn't do many summer activities. BUT I did go back to Nova Scotia for my friends wedding in August, and had a wonderful time for the short time I was there. 


Hodge podge

Drinks with good friends

^Babies V



A beautiful outdoor wedding
Yoga moves in front of historic Greenwood Cottage

More drinks with friends ;)
Summer faded into fall, with the first fall-like weather since the first year I moved here. Fall is going fast, and the chilly Alberta weather is starting to kick in. 


There are so many things I love about the cooler weather. Being able to wear warm boots, cute sweaters, the changing leaves on the trees, cooler nights, the crunchy leaves on the ground, and the way that tea just tastes so much better after coming in from a chilly walk. The seasonal vegetables (SQUASH!) are pretty great too! 


I was at work last week, and there is this book and gift company that always brings things in. This was the first thing I saw, and I was like "Oooh. Mom would like that." Last night I actually got to take it and look at it all the way through and I spotted these bad boys. So I got the ingredients I didn't have, and whipped these up tonight. 




Garden Burgers
Adapted from the original recipe in "Quinoa 365 : The Everyday SuperFood"


Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c dry quinoa (any variety is fine)
  • 1/4 c dry green lentils
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1/2 c breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 - 19oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 c finely chopped onion
  • 1 finely chopped green or red bell pepper
  • Salt and pepper
Directions:

  • Combine the quinoa, lentils and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350*F. 
  • Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray, or line with parchment paper. 
  • Combine breadcrumbs, garlic and chili powders, chickpeas, onion, green peppers, and salt and pepper. Add cooked lentils and quinoa.
  • Using your hands (or a potato masher), mix the ingredients together, breaking down the chickpeas. Take 1/2 c of your mixture at a time, and using damp hands, begin to form your patties. 
  • Bake for 20 - 22 minutes.








Makes 6 - 8 burgers.
Mine made 7, because I was nibbling on chickpeas while the lentils and quinoa were cooking :o) I enjoyed mine with a little dilly dip, feta, red onion and lettuce, on a multigrain bun.

For 1 burger (just the patty) :
Calories - 147, Fat - 1.2g, Carbs - 29 g, Fiber - 5.2g, Protein - 5.9g



Enjoy!!
xoxo
Lauren

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

sun and fun

Yesterday was quite the day. I woke up at about 9:15 and it was already 23 degrees C. I knew that it was supposed to be hot, but didn't think it was gonna reach the temperature it did! I had an appointment, and just a few things I wanted to pick up at the grocery store. By the time I was done with that and walked home, I just wanted to curl up on the basement floor and die. It was SO hot. I needed something to beat the heat.

On Monday, my mom and I had taken a trip to the liquor store so she could pick up some vodka (relax people, it was for homemade vanilla!) and when we were leaving, I spotted something I thought she might be interested in. 




Molson 67 Sublime. It's a 67 calorie, light beer with a hint of lemon and lime made by Molson brewers. It only became available in Canada on June 1st, and I'm pretty sure that it's only available in the western provinces (except British Columbia) and Ontario right now. But these definitely hit the spot yesterday with that sun beating down and the heat reaching 33 degrees! I didn't get that gross feeling that I usually get from drinking in the sun, which was awesome. The lemon-lime flavor was just enough, and they were almost guilt-free :)


Supper last night was so easy. Both Mom and I were cooking in our little kitchen area, which was getting hotter by the minute because we were using the stove and the oven. It was the perfect way to end off the day. You can dip these in any kind of sauce you would like, because they are so versatile! And kid-friendly!


Panko-Flax Baked Chicken Nuggets
Based on Skinny Taste's recipe
Makes 24 nuggets

For 1 - 4 chicken nugget serving :
Calories - 153.1, Fat - 5.5 g, Sodium - 117.2 mg, Carbs - 3.8 g, Protein - 23.1 g

And just for fun, here are the stats for a typical 4 piece chicken nugget meal made with white meat from McDonald's (source) :
Calories - 210, Fat - 14 g, Sodium - 450 mg, Carbs - 13 g, Protein - 10 g

Sure they might taste good never once in a while, but they're not very good for you! Hopefully my slightly healthier alternative will stray you away!
Ingredients:

  • 20 oz (1.3 lb) boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into nugget size pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 1.25 tbsp olive oil 
  • 4 tbsp ground flax meal
  • 4 tbsp Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tbsp seasonings - I used Clubhouse Sweet Chili and Peppers, but you could use anything you wanted to!
  • cooking spray
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Get a baking sheet and cover with parchment paper
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper
  • Put olive oil in one bowl, and Panko, flax meal and seasonings in another
  • Dunk a few pieces at a time in the olive oil, and transfer to breadcrumbs bowl. Toss with fingers until chicken is coated.
  • Spread out on baking sheet and lightly spray with cooking spray. Cook 8 - 10 minutes on one side, then flip and cook for 4 -6 more minutes, or until cooked through. If you have a convection oven, there may be no need to flip them.


Definitely cooking in a bikini and an apron...

Served with baby roasted potatoes and asparagus with a balsamic reduction

Enjoying supper before going to see The Hangover 2!
Enjoy!
 
Hope everyone is getting lovely weather!! And if you need a good (adult-rated) laugh, go see The Hangover 2! Just as stupid and funny as the first one. 


xo
Lauren





Monday, June 27, 2011

a long time coming


I am so sorry I have been a complete slacker lately. I have been so busy with my new job as a housekeeper at a senior's home and my other job bartending. Training for my new job was the end of May, and then I started within the first week of June. I had a blog post all ready, but I just haven't found the time (or the motivation) to get it done. Better late than never, right? Maybe, maybe not. I have been in a cook's block lol.

I made this recipe for Meatless Monday about a month ago, and it was a big hit in our house! My brother didn't like the sauce for them, so he just ended up eating his with ranch and lettuce. Exciting, I know. But between the 3 of us, there was none left by the end of the night!


Falafel Pita Sandwiches
Adapted from Clean Eating magazine


Ingredients:
  • 1 - 15oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 onion (red or white), cut into 3 or 4 chunks
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped into small chunks
  • 2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
Directions:
  • Drain chickpeas and transfer to food processor. Add onion, peppers, parsley, garlic, baking powder, cumin, coriander and salt. Pulse the mixture until it is a grainy texture, scraping down the sides as needed. With lightly moistened hands, shape mixture into 12 golfball-sized rounds on a plate. Set aside.
  • Coat a large skillet with nonstick spray (or olive oil) and heat on medium-low. Work in batches and use a spatula to flatten the falafel to 1/2 inch thick. Cook until lightly browned, about 4 or 5 minutes on each side.



For the sauce :
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or a quarter lemon's worth)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • hot sauce
 Whisk ingredients together.
    To construct falafel:
    • Whole wheat pita, halved
    • lettuce
    • red onion, thinly sliced
    • tomato slices
    • cucumber slices
    • 2 (or 3) falafel patties
    • 1 tbsp feta
    • 1 tbsp-ish sauce
     I put my vegetables in, and I topped them off with 2 of the falafel patties, about a tbsp of  sauce, and feta cheese.




    Yum!! This recipe yields 12 falafel patties. You could make the mixture into about 4 falafel burgers instead of the little patties.


    For a 2-patty pita + 1 tbsp of sauce :
    Calories - 260, Carbs - 36 g, Fat - 9 g, Protein - 11 g

    Hopefully you'll be seeing more of me!


    xo
    Lauren

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    the great meat debate

    There is nothing wrong with eating your vegetables, or even just liking them in the first place.

    So many times I have been asked, "Are you a vegetarian?" "Do you not eat meat?" "What's with the bird food?" No and no. That bird food, it's actually healthier for you than those candies or chips sitting in your cupboard.

    I think so many people are scared to try anything different, and get their protein from other sources than meat, meat, and more meat. Sure, for some people it's all about flavor and texture and the fact that they're digging into a big ol' hunk of meat. But the real reason, in my opinion, that people are so "steak and potatoes" is that they are scared to try new foods, because they might just like them. Also, extra lean meat does not mean less flavor!

    I asked my dad quite frequently when he was home, "Could you go a day without meat?" He told me he couldn't, and wasn't quite sure why. Every time I cook something and invite my boyfriend over for supper, "Is there meat in this?" I just don't understand. Neither of them really care for lentils or beans or any veggie burger. (<- one of the best veggie burgers out there )

    I am not, by any means, saying don't eat meat. Just make healthy choices! That triple-layer burger with all the fixings? You could have had a full meal including dessert for all of those calories! Your body will thank you later. 


    While I do enjoy some extra lean ground beef, chicken, pork or turkey (when our little grocery store actually has it in) once in a while, it isn't cut it out of my diet completely. I just don't depend on it. And there's a little thing called portion control! Our plates are often full of veggies in this house! 


    Sorry to all of you carnivores (or as I was once corrected, omnivores) out there, but there are so many wonderful foods out there, that don't include meat, and rely solely on the flavors of the dish, not the meat that's served with or in it!


    *end rant*


    Yesterday, as you all know, was Meatless Monday. I have been the top chef for supper for most Monday's for the last 2 or 3 months. Sure there were a few weeks when my dad made supper and we kind of all did our own thing, but mostly it was up to me. Well, I kind of volunteer myself every week. No big deal. :)

    In our house, my mother and I have been on a spaghetti squash kick lately, and our little grocery store needs to keep up with the supply and demand. So basically, stock up when you can!


    I got up yesterday at 1 pm, after working a night shift at my new job (woot!). Did my regular morning routine of breakfast and tea, then sought out a new recipe to use my spaghetti squash in. 


    Stuffed spaghetti squash was out, since we've made that quite a few times lately. I came across a recipe for pad thai, then I thought about curry.

    Sure enough, the Google never disappoints and I found this wonderful recipe! It was super easy, one pan and one roasting sheet! Next time I will definitely be using light coconut milk, and more spice. Yum!!



    Thai Curry Spaghetti Squash
    Adapted from Aggie's Kitchen



    Ingredients:
    • 1 spaghetti squash, roasted and scraped from shell
    • 1 tbsp + 1/2 tbsp olive oil
    • red pepper flakes
    • 1 onion, thinly sliced and chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
    • 1 carrot, chopped into small pieces
    • 1.5 tbsp red curry paste
    • 1 tbsp brown sugar
    • 2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
    • 1 can coconut milk (LIGHT if you can!!)
    • juice of 1 lime
    • green onions
    • fresh cilantro, chopped
    Directions:


    Roast your spaghetti squash, about 45 minutes @ 400 degrees, or until insides fall away easily when scraped with a fork.


    Heat oil with red pepper flakes over medium high heat in a large skillet/frying pan. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft.
     Add veggies to pan and saute. Add your curry past to pan and mix everything together. Add tamari and brown sugar to pan and mix til well blended. Add coconut milk (don't forget to shake!) and stir to blend well. Simmer.
    Add fresh lime juice, green onion and cilantro (if using) Serve hot over spaghetti squash.


    For a recipe I had never tried before this was amazing! Next time I think it'll need a little more heat, and light coconut milk would have DEFINITELY made a difference in the fat! But I haven't seen the last of this one.


    For 1/2 cup sauce + 2 cups spaghetti squash (calories will vary according to brands used)
    Calories - 263, Fat - 16 g, Carbs - 30 g, Fiber - 5.4 g, Protein - 4 g

    xo
    Lauren

    - Do you eat meat every day? Do you think you could survive a week without?
    - Do you get your servings of vegetables each day?

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    comforting

    I love my family. I love food. That is all there is to it. I mainly crave food because of the good feelings that surround it. I can eat turkey dinner with all the fixin's and say "You know what would be good for supper tomorrow? *insert tasty food here*" regardless of how full I am. It is definitely because of the amazing foods and desserts I had growing up. I have learned to appreciate a good meal, and the hard work behind it. 


    I grew up with my grandmother's cooking for all of my life. She could take the simplest things and make magic! She worked hard to feed her man and her squawking children my mom and aunties. I mean, I don't think I know anyone else that could take tomato soup, macaroni, cheese, and crackers and make a meal fit for a queen. 

    The aforementioned mac and cheese!


    She definitely is a lady with a knack for cooking and a wicked green thumb! She and my grandfather had this house with gardens of all sorts around it. Most of the gardens she started when my mom and aunts were just little babies. Every time I would come down, even for the weekend, we would always walk around the gardens, and see what was growing. If it was summer we would go out and pick currants or carrots or snap yellow and green beans off of their little vines. My grampie would usually be in his little shop tinkering around with some parts, making his latest invention. There would always be a pot of my favorite stew with doughboys cooking in the house, because Grammie knows that is my favorite meal! I will sure miss going back to that house this summer. So many memories.


    HODGE PODGE!
    My mother also had (and still has) a love of food and gardening. Our house in Nova Scotia had so many flower beds, and we had a small garden every summer in the back yard. We would go out and pick home-grown baby potatoes, carrots and string beans and make the most comforting thing in the world, hodge podge. It is just what its name says - a hodge podge of fresh vegetables and cream and salt and pepper. Probably not the healthiest thing in the world, but most comfort foods never are! I know she misses her gardens just as much as I do. There's something about flowers and fresh vegetables that I love. Not to mention the finer things in life, like a delicious slab of that french chocolate cheesecake, with ooey-gooey caramel sauce staring you right in the face.

    I miss my homeland. The family that is there. The good times. I am blessed to have such a great family. 
    Maritimers turned Albertans at the beach!
    One of my favorite cousins. Miss you bud!!
    These are all pictures taken around my grandmother's gardens... Nature is the best model.









    The meal I made today just made me think of all of this. Comfort. 


    Slow-Cooker Chili with Chicken 
    Adapted from Kraft Kitchen's recipe


    Ingredients:

    • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • 1 can red kidney beans
    • 1 jar of salsa (about 1.5 cups)
    • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
    • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
    • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 onion, chopped roughly
    • 1 cup corn
    • 1 tbsp chili powder
    • 1 tbsp chipotle chili powder (if you don't have this, just use regular)
    • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
    • Salt, pepper, seasonings of your choice
    • Optional toppings : cheese, sour cream, sliced avocado, crackers

    Directions:


    Combine first four ingredients in slow cooker.
    Top with chicken, onion, red peppers, corn and seasonings. 
    Cover with lid. Depending on your crock pot's settings, cooking time will vary. My chili was cooked for 4 hrs 30 min. 


    Serve and enjoy!
    Makes 10 servings
    Per serving (without toppings):
    Calories - 162, Fat - 6 g, Carbs - 14.4 g, Fiber - 3.6 g, Protein - 13 g

    This was the ultimate comfort food. The whole family slurped it down! The whole time I was eating it, thoughts of home flooded my brain along with the feelings that went along with those good times! 


    Love you guys, and miss you so much!


    xo
    Lauren