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Cold Salads, Hot Date!

Because I now work mostly in the afternoons and evenings, I find myself doing all my food preparation in the mornings. Things that I can quickly zap when I get home, or will carry well in a tupperware container to work with me.

Even though it’s the dead of winter, I find myself cravings salads. The kind that get better after a day of sitting in the fridge. Even better, the kind that can be frantically eaten cold in between training clients or my second job.

Because I am the Queen of Wasting Time on the Internet, I went through 101 chicken recipes on the Cooking Light Website. Yes, this is how I make use of my not-so-spare time.

Of all 101 recipes, this Chicken and Feta Tabbouleh recipe was one of the few that really stuck out.

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Grains, protein, vitamin-packed parsley and feta for a little kick. Perfection.

Chicken and Feta Tabbouleh
from Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 3/4  cup  uncooked bulgur
  • 1  cup  boiling water
  • 2  cups  chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast 2 chicken breasts, boiled in water to cook
  • 1  cup  chopped plum tomato 4 regular tomatoes
  • 1  cup  chopped English cucumber
  • 3/4  cup  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3  cup  finely chopped green onions sweet onion
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh mint omitted because I couldn’t find any!
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  tablespoon  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon bottled minced garlic  
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper

Preparation

1. Place bulgur in a medium bowl; cover with 1 cup boiling water. Let stand 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. (I always cook bulgur like I do rice – add to boiling water then let simmer covered until cooked. The above method never works for me!)

2. Combine chicken and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add bulgur to chicken mixture; toss gently to combine.

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It looks like I made a lot of changes to the recipe, but I actually kept the key steps intact. It’s got the perfect amount of parsley and feta so that it doesn’t overpower everything. And it’s got way less oil than most tabbouleh recipes, without feeling like it could have used more.

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I of course ate it on top of a giant bed of spinach, as I do with most leftovers. Plumps up the dish to make me feel like I’m eating a lot more!

For my next salad, I was inspired by this mango slaw I made over the summer. Except this time I really want to bring out the “Asian” flavours.

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Pork & Mango Slaw
Ingredients:

  • 3 small boneless pork chops (around 8-9 oz)
  • 2 small mangoes (or 1 large one), cut into thin strips
  • 1 bag coleslaw mix (they’re all the same size, right?)
  • 1/4 cup slivered red onion
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Braggs (or soy sauce of your liking)

Directions:
Cook the pork chops in a frying pan until no longer pink in the centre (they’ll turn white as they get more cooked). Be sure not to overcook them – they cook quickly and dry out easily! Meanwhile, assemble everything else in a big bowl. Chop up cooked pork into little pieces and toss together. Tastes best after sitting in the fridge overnight.

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Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I make really good coleslaws. Or maybe I just really love coleslaws. You can’t go wrong with this flavour combo, and it was a total cinch to make at 10am!

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Yup, I even eat my coleslaw on top of spinach. Gotta build up those Popeye biceps.

Even though my meals have been cold lately, I’ve been keeping toasty with lots of warm drinks!

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Warming up in coffee shops with friends!

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When Morgan and I decided it was high time for a coffee date, I immediately suggested Te Aro. A cafe in my ‘hood of Leslieville that is always being listed as one of the best in the city.

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Plus, y’all know I can be suckered with the promise of handsome employees ;)

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They roast they’re own coffee here. A neat concept to me as back home local roasters are hard to come by.

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Nothing overly exciting on the menu board, just the classics. So I decided to find out just how well they do a classic.

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I ordered what they call a “Flat White.” A long espresso with a dash of steamed milk and foam.

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As I told Morgan, I like to judge the quality of espresso based on how much sugar I want to put in it. Good espresso is rich and caramelly and doesn’t need a hint of additional sweetness. And this stuff went down smooooth. Thumbs UP!

By the bye, Morgan is hosting a Vegan For A Week challenge next week. Click here to read all about it and even join the facebook page. I won’t be participating fully as I’m traveling to Ottawa next week. BUT I will be featuring some stellar vegan recipes just to show that you don’t need animals to make a healthy, satisfying meal. And FYI: most beers are vegan too ;)

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite thing to order in a cafe? I think I’ve asked this question before, but I want to know again! I always love long espressos or espresso macchiatos. I don’t have an espresso machine at home so it’s always a treat!

Project Food Blog Challenge #3 – Keeping It Classy: A Beer Filled Dinner Party

Three months ago, I moved from my small Atlantic Canadian hometown to the country’s largest city. My first time ever living away from my home province of New Brunswick. Apart from learning a lot about other cultures here in the self-proclaimed “multicultural capital of the world,” I’ve also learned a lot about my own Maritime culture. Or rather, people’s perception of Maritime culture.

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At first, I was taken aback to hear that the rest of Canada stereotypes Atlantic Canadians as heavy drinkers. I mean, we just love our beer as much as the next Canuck!

However, over the past three months, I have learned the stereotypes are in fact true. Us Maritimers really do love our booze more when compared to the rest of Canada. These Ontario folk have two glasses of wine on a Friday and call it a night. Meanwhile, that’s just a usual weeknight in New Brunswick!

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When reading through the third challenge of Project Food Blog, I immediately became weary…

Challenge Prompt: Celebrate! You’ve made it this far, and the next challenge is to hold a party for your friends and family (at least four guests, you can include yourself in the 4 person count). Whether you’re an experienced host or an entertaining newbie, get creative and host a luxurious dinner party where your guests will discover new tastes and exotic flavors. 

First things first, I still live like a college student. I have never thrown a dinner party. Any parties I have thrown have been far from “luxurious.”

Secondly, the majority of my friends in Toronto are all Maritimers such as myself. The type of people who blow through a case of Keith’s and end up gathered in the kitchen for a traditional “Maritime Kitchen Party” by the end of the night.

With this in mind, I decided to create a “luxurious” menu with a little bit of kick. Something that would take the class up a notch and yet make us still feel right at home.

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That’s right my friends, a menu where every dish features beer as an ingredient. 

Who said beer can’t be luxurious? ;)

Because I worked both Saturday & Sunday this weekend, I opted to do the majority of my food preparations Friday night. Then have everyone over after work on Saturday night. The Friday night in the kitchen was kind of fun!

I began by baking a loaf of Beer Bread with Guinness & Molasses.

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Recipe found here with a few changes.

4 cups flour (I used 1/2 all purpose, 1/2 whole wheat)

1/4 cup sugar molasses 

2 Tablespoons baking powder

12 ounces beer (NOT light beer) (I used Guinness draught)

2 teaspoons salt

2 eggs, slightly beaten

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While that puppy was in the oven, I got to work on baking project number two: Guinness Stout Brownies.

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Recipe found here.

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted room temperature butter, cut into cubes

8 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 6oz bittersweet, 2 oz semi-sweet)

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

4 large eggs, at room temperature (I used cold eggs and it didn’t explode or anything)

1 cup superfine or granulated sugar

1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) Guinness Extra Stout beer, room temperature

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/8 cup (about) confectioners’ sugar for dusting

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Adding the Guinness to the brownie batter…

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With the baked goods out of the way, I got to my cold salad that would sit in the fridge overnight: Pale Ale Cabbage Slaw.

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I was deeply disturbed when this recipe called to boil the beer right off the bat. Boiling beer feels so wrong!

1 pound red cabbage, finely shredded

1 pound green cabbage, finely shredded

1 package (1 pound) carrots, shredded I cheated and bought bagged slaw

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup sugar

½ tsp celery seeds

1 bottle (12 oz) Pale Ale Beer I used Bud Light Lime

1/3 cup grape seed oil canola oil

¼ cup cider vinegar rice vinegar

1 TBLS honey mustard

1 ½ tsps salt

½ tsp black pepper

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Buying the bagged slaw made the prep for this so easy! By then my bread was done, rising quite a bit thanks to the yeast in the beer. I couldn’t help myself – I had a slice right away!

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The bread powered me through the last bit of Friday night prep. I put the brownies in the oven then got started on the sauce for the Chicken & Tofu in a Peanut & Beer Sauce.

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Beer and peanut butter. Two of my favourite things!

The original recipe comes from here and is meant for chicken wings. Chicken thighs were on sale and tofu is cheap! What can I say, I’m a frugal hostess.

24 chicken wings, tips removed 5 chicken legs/thighs and 1 block tofu

1 12-oz can Lager Beer  used Brava Lager (local!)

½ cup molasses

¼ cup creamy peanut butter

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

2 Tablespoons mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon chili powder

1 Tablespoon chopped parsley Forgot this step – oops!

 

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I’ll admit, it felt very odd mixing those ingredients together all in one pot as I see them being so different. But it smelled heavenly!

I prepared the raw chicken and sauce so I could pop it in the oven come party time.

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Meanwhile, I MacGyvered a tofu press to work its magic overnight.

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Soon the peanut butter sauce smells were overtaken by chocolate smells indicating the stout brownies were done…

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What?? You’ve got to test this stuff before you serve it to other people ;)

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Dense, fudgy, rich. A definite stamp of approval.

 

On Saturday, I had two more people confirm they’d be coming. I started to worry that I might not have enough food. Plus, not everyone was scheduled to arrive at the same time. Thankfully, my roommie was on the ball and prepared a Cheesy Beer Dip while I was away at work.

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I’m told the dip was Cheez Whiz, cream cheese, and beer. Bam.

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Along with some Vodka Tomatoes.

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Made by poking holes in tomatoes and letting them soak in the goodness. Thank you Megan!! Both munchies were a hit!

Meanwhile, I still had one last dish to make: Cheddar and Beer Soup.

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The veggies, to offset the butter, beer and cheese of course.

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Recipe found here.

2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)

2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)

2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)

1 (12-oz) bottle ale such as Bass I used Kronenbourg – a French ale.

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 lb extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably English; rind removed if necessary), grated (4 cups)

4 bacon slices (3 1/2 oz total), cooked and crumbled

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When buying the cheese, I didn’t really clue in to the fact that I’d be adding the whole pound to the soup.

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To put it in perspective, the volume of cheese was equal to the volume of liquid in the pot!

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Before I knew it, my guests had trickled in and the dishes were ready to eat!

The Starter

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The cheddar and beer soup was very hearty. Mostly cheesy with a slight hint of beer. We briefly discussed how many servings of cheese there were in one bowl, then decided it was in our best interest not to know. I toasted the beer bread and it made for a perfect dipper! The Guinness and molasses flavours definitely shine through.

 

The Main

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The sauce for this was uh-mazing. You must make it. Sooner rather than later.

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With the coleslaw. This was a hit as well. The flavours were very subdued and it was a nice light side dish to go with the heavier dishes. I think the Bud Light Lime was a great choice for this.

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The Dessert

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The ice cream was actually a last minute thought. After trying the rich brownies, I knew they needed to be paired with cool and creamy vanilla ice cream. You can’t taste the Guinness in the brownies at all, although I dare to say it brings out the intensity in the chocolate flavour. I saw people go back for seconds on this one!

 

The Cast of Characters

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Megan, my roommie, hostess extraordinaire. Living together for three months and already our kitchen has turned into a foodie paradise.

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Amanda, the only non-Maritimer present, but adopted as one of our own.

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Billy and Jer, keeping up the “luxurious” standard.

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Tom, always ready with an inappropriate comeback.

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Colin, who says “no” to mix or ice.

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Me! After pulling off my first ever “luxurious” dinner party for my decidedly un-classy group of friends from back home. We ate, we drank, we ate what we drank. Proof that we Maritimers may like our drink, but damn it, we know how to do our drink well. Thank you to Foodbuzz for inspiring this gathering. My lush friends and I had a blast!

 

Voting for the third challenge opens Monday, October 4. Vote for my booze-infused dinner party here!! And remember to keep it classy blogland!

No Limits

Hello friends! Hope everyone’s weeks are off to a good start! It’s a four-day week in most parts of Canada as Monday was a holiday. Got a text message from my mom saying she’s in Cap-Pele, New Brunswick eating seafood straight from the ocean. Not gonna lie, I got my first twinge of homesickness!!

If I’m going to be truthful with you guys, then I have another confession to make. I haven’t been meditating.

About six weeks ago, I made a commitment to meditate for 20 minutes a day. My goal was to calm down, find some peace, deal with my anxiety over my life changes, and hone in on my spirituality.

It lasted five days.

I am not going to try to justify my quitting, nor am I going to re-commit myself. You may remember that on the third day, I got very anxious during the meditation. My thoughts started to race, my breath quickened, my pulse became rapid. It was not at all the peaceful, calming experience I was expecting. On day four it got worse, and on day five I came out of the meditation early to keep from hyperventilating. Then I didn’t do it again.

I had high hopes of using meditation to get to the root of my diagnosed anxiety disorder, but instead it seemed to pull it out of me. Maybe I am suppressing it, but I can honestly tell you that I feel more in control of it now than I ever have. I’m a former agoraphobic who now packs on to a sardine can of a subway to work every day. That feels like more progress to me than forcing a panic attack on myself by sitting still and worrying about all the things in the world that need to be worried about.

So that’s where I’m at. Maybe some day I will try the meditation thing again. But at this stage in my life, it’s not for me.

Don’t be shy to share your thoughts on this!! Has anyone else ever had a similar experience??

Anyways, I do have a few food photos for you today. We’ll start with dessert, as it should be.

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A Holly inspired protein cookie, or what we’ll call a chocolate marshmallow protein thumbprint cookie.

  • 1 tbsp chocolate peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp chocolate whey protein powder
  • liiiitttle bit of water to make it crumbly

Form into three cookies, press your thumb in the centre, add a scoop of fluff, then let settle in the freezer for 15 minutes. This is a stellar dessert!!

Alright, now that dessert is taken care of, we can go into breakfast.

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What? Were you expecting breakfast to be anything other than waffles?

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My favourite waffle recipe as of late:

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unflavoured soy protein powder
  • 1 packet stevia
  • several shakes cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (beware! this measurement may change if you use a different “milk” just pour it in until you get a good batter consistency)

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Batter alone is 270 calories, 3g fat, 25g carbs, 4g fibre, 0g sugar, 37g protein. Bam.

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Waffles however require toppings. This one here had fresh strawberries (a buck a pint in Chinatown!!) and a drizzle of sugar-free syrup whisked with chocolate peanut butter.

Remember that Mango Slaw I made over the weekend? Well it was a million times better after a day in the fridge. The flavours mingled and the dressing softened the mango and cabbage.

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I added some cubed tofu that I pan-fried in Bragg’s soy sauce. This combo was SO good. So good that I had it yesterday, then again today, and now I’m mourning the last of the summery slaw.

Today’s breakfast contained more summery flavours.

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A base of yogurt and protein powder, with fresh blueberries and blackberries.

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Toppings included fresh mint (yum), raw oatmeal, cinnamon, flaked coconut, maple syrup, almond butter.

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I never used to get how people could eat bowls of yogurt for breakfast and feel satisfied. I stand corrected. This bowl had around 400 calories with all the balanced macros. I got a good 4 hours out of it. Not to mention, t’was tasty ;)

 

In terms of fitness, I was all excited to start a bootcamp in the park today, but I read the location wrong :( Thursday, I will be bootcamped!!

 

Last, but most definitely not least, I have exciting news!!

Many of you who are into the whole healthy blogger scene know that there are a ton of conferences that happen every year on the subject. They are an amazing chance to get a group of like-minded people together to talk about the things they love, learn from each other, and of course have fun!

Unfortunately, so far most of these events have been held in the United States, and there seems to be a real need for something up north! Myself, Morgan, Karen, Scott, Jen and Nienke are happy to finally share:

No Limits Canada: Health, Wellness & Fitness Conference

 

That’s right!! A Canadian conference that anyone anywhere can come to! It will be held in Toronto in May 2011. So pleasepleaseplease mark your calendars! Details are still forthcoming, but I can tell you it is going to be a blast. We’re planning on fun, active sessions that will have you learning and keeping busy. Plus, I’m superduper excited to show everyone my fabulous new city ;)

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow here for updates as we have them for you. The website will be growing as we move forward, and I’ll of course let you know all the important stuff here on the blog! Get excited!! It’s happening!!

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