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An Afternoon in the Middle East

As promised, I am yammering about Toronto restaurants all this week. It wasn’t planned but it seems there have been plenty of occasions to eat out lately! I usually make things at home, but I also know I need to take advantage of the amazing chefs and menus at my fingertips in this grand city.

Which brings us to Saturday. Yes, I’m working backwards. Who said blogging had to take on a linear timeline? On Saturday, I had a lunch date with Lauren

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I first met Lauren while working an event for Simply Bar. Beyond being a fellow Simply Bar lover, we discovered we both have a love for all things food related. As well as exercising up an appetite to eat all things food related. 

We both decided our long overdue lunch date should take place uptown in the Yonge/Eglinton area (otherwise known as Young & Eligible). A frequently overlooked area for great restaurants. It’s also where I ate the best Indian food I’ve ever had (which ironically was not in Little India).

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Saturday’s choice ended up being Tabülè, a Middle Eastern restaurant I’ve been hearing people rave about for a while now. It should also be known that Middle Eastern food is my favourite kind of food.

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To start, the waiter brought out a little dish of pickled things to munch on. So much more fun than the traditional bread basket. I love anything pickled.

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Lauren ordered a green tea, extra points for the cute pot ;)

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Being the Tabülè pro, Lauren ordered her tried and true favourite: a salmon skewer with grilled vegetables. I tried a nibble and loved the char and seasoning of the veggies. Salmon was cooked to perfection! Which is saying a lot, as a lot of restaurants have the habit of serving overcooked chewy salmon.

I couldn’t decide on one dish alone because I wanted every single thing on the menu. I knew I wanted to keep it light because I had high hopes of a workout after. I didn’t want to still be digesting while doing barbell squats.

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First up: Kübbè. A whole wheat cracked wheat shell stuffed with ground meat and onions and pine nuts, fried and served with a garlic yogurt sauce.

I remember my parents buying something similar from the Lebanese lady at the Moncton Farmer’s Market when I was a kid. I think that Lebanese lady is actually the whole reason why I’m obsessed with Middle Eastern food.

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My tastebuds tell me the kübbè was made with lamb. Very brightly spiced and great with the yogurt sauce. How can you go wrong with meat in a deep-fried shell?

My second choice came highly recommended by Lauren: Fried Eggplant. Slices of eggplant fried and topped with a lemon garlic dressing.

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Now this is unlike anything I’ve had before and I loved it. The eggplant was soft to cut through with a rich lemony flavour.

And of course, who can forget my favourite part of Middle Eastern food – the pita bread.

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Perhaps it’s because I had such high hopes for warm fluffy pita, but it was just okay. There’s this place in Fredericton, New Brunswick called Dmitri’s that has amazing thick and fluffy Greek pita. Just an FYI.

I ended up carting home leftovers and completely forgot about them until today. What on earth was I going to do with one kübbè and four slices of eggplant?

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One of the best things to do with old leftovers is to turn them into a stir-fry. Turns soggy leftovers into a dish that’s as good as new!

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I chopped up the eggplant & kübbè and scrambled it with with eggs and frozen veggies. Stirred in a little cream cheese, garlic and lemon juice for extra flavour. Eaten out of a tupperware container, significantly less classy than the restaurant experience. And definitely not as entertaining without conversation with Lauren. But a delicious way to reuse the flavours and foods from Tabülè nonetheless ;)

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite kind of ethnic food? I also love Moroccan!

Christmas Dinner, Redone

Woke up to some pretty yucky weather this morning.

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It called for one thing: pancakes.

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For some reason, you can only buy 28oz cans of pure pumpkin around here. So regardless of what you’re making, it always seems like you’re left with tons leftover.

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I’m kinda scared of pumpkin. The canned stuff seems so far removed from the actual vegetable itself. Creepy. But it does lend itself wonderfully to spiced desserts.

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Or, err, breakfast ;)

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I tripled Jenna’s recipe for Whole Wheat Butternut Squash Pancakes to serve the whole family, with a few modifications:

1 3/4 cup + 2 T whole wheat flour

2 1/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp ginger

1 1/2 cup milk

3 eggs

3 T brown sugar

3 T melted butter

1 cup canned pure pumpkin

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So fluffy. So spicy. It’s cold outside but ohsowarm in my belly.

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Dipped in my favourite E.D. Smith sugar-free syrup.

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Paired with a couple boiled eggs for my protein and healthy fats.

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Chased down with a couple mugs of Jumping Bean East Coast Roast.

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I don’t know what makes this roast East Coast though. It didn’t taste like Tim Horton’s!

Har har. Local humour.

The leftovers continued into lunch. I think I actually like eating up leftovers better than the dinner itself.

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My step-dad got a George Foreman grill for Christmas, so I christened it with a turkey, cranberry and stuffing sandwich.

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SO much better than the version I had at Starbucks. Why is stuffing only ever enjoyed over the holidays? I want it once a week pleaseandthankyou.

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Along with the last of the layered salad. I shed a slight tear with my final bite. One of the few salads that gets better with a couple days of sitting in the fridge.

I then proceeded to stay in my peejays until 4pm only to shower and change into yoga pants. Aahhh… I love the holidays.

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite way to use up pumpkin? Preferably ways that aren’t mushy and won’t make me gag. Thanks :)

It’s Not All Sushi Boats

Psssssst!

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Happy Waffle Wednesday :)

Rather than bombard you with photos of yet another sweet breakfast concoction this week, I’ve got a savoury waffle combination for you. I had it for lunch and my oh my – it was good!

 

Spinach & Feta Waffles with Hummus

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  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unflavoured soy protein powder (I like mine protein-y, but this can be subbed out with more whole wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup cooked spinach
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Batter makes two full-sized Belgian waffles because of the added volume of spinach and feta.

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I ate both. Because that’s how I roll. Along with hummus, carrots and pickled beets.

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I love how the cheese got crispy on the edges. It smelled divine when cooking.

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Hummus made the perfect dipper for the waffles. Definitely adding this new recipe to my regular waffle rotation!!

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I would like to thank everyone for their sweet comments on my gaining what I’ve dubbed the “Toronto Ten.” 

However, I feel as if I should have left a bit of a disclaimer on that post.

You see, I don’t weigh myself. I’m one of those hippies that never steps on a scale. So I actually have no idea if I’ve gained 10 lbs, the title just sounded catchy ;) It’s more like I can fit into most of my pants, except those two pairs of capris I wore while triathlon training last summer. My mom said I was too skinny to start with. And Mother Nature has given me some of my old boobs back. So this is why a girl can’t complain too much ;)

Also, while I do eat out 1-2 times a week. I also put a lot of work and care into making fresh food at home.

Most days I need to have breakfast, lunch and dinner ready to transport with me to work in the mornings. Some days I’m gone from the house from 6am to 10pm.

When I was able to find time this week, I made sure to whip up a few simple dishes that would leave leftovers to grab the next day.

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The above is a very un-photogenic spaghetti squash pesto. Essentially a cooked spaghetti squash with sautéed veggies (any and all I had in my fridge) and canned tuna for the protein (all I had on hand).

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Monday night after work I stopped by the grocery store and picked up a few things for a big ole’ pot of Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili. No recipe here, just a pound of ground turkey, chopped sweet potato, can each of kidney beans and black beans, some veggies and spices!

On Sunday, I boiled a huge pot of eggs. Instead of having to prep a breakfast the night before, I’ve been able to just grab a couple eggs and toast. We won’t mention the looks I get when I eat them on the streetcar…

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Another stinky food! Instead of buying expensive, overly processed protein bars, I’ve taken to snacking on little cans of tuna. Not every day of course. But when eaten alone, they make for a great protein-packed snack!

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I work by some amazing fruit stands. Produce is both local and cheap, so I’m always stocking up and have lots to munch on.

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Including persimmons for 99 cents a pound. That is a steal my friends.

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This is a “sweet” persimmon, as not all of them are. The texture is similar to a plum, but the taste is a lot milder. The outer skin is a lot thicker.

I chopped it up on my late morning this week and added it to a bowl of yogurt.

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Over the summer, yogurt messes became one of my favourite breakfasts. They fill my belly soooo much! This particular one also had some protein powder, oats, coconut, cinnamon, chia seeds, raisins, maple syrup and sunflower seed butter.

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So there ya go, it hasn’t aaallll been boats of sushi and ooey gooey pizzas around here. As my blog name would suggest, it’s about a little balance sometimes ;)

 

I’ve got two new killer workouts to share. Will post them tomorrow – see ya then!

 

Question of the Day: What is your favourite dish for leftovers? Mine is chili, duh. It’s best on salads with tortilla chips!

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