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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!

Frankly Eatery, Frankly Delicious

Happy Waffle Wednesday!

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Did you know I’ve been celebrating Waffle Wednesday for almost a year and a half now? Traditions like this one are just too good to give up.

Today’s waffle isn’t your typical sweet and fruity one. These days, I wake up wanted savoury. Eggs. Cheese. Bacon.

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unflavoured soy protein powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 stevia packet
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped (I use chicken bacon because it’s cheaper, not necessarily because healthier)

Cook your bacon in a frying pan while whisking together the other ingredients. Add the cooked bacon bits to the batter and waffle away!

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I topped mine with low-fat Philadelphia spinach cream cheese. Again, not because it’s necessarily “healthier.” It was on sale. I like it!

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Forget cupcakes, this is one manly waffle ;)

While we’re on the the topic of brunch foods, I have something I need to say.

Listen, I know I am biased, but I truly believe I live in the best brunch neighbourhood in Toronto.

Those of you living outside the tee-dot may not understand what a bold statement this really is.

I live in a city obsessed with brunch. Every single restaurant touts a special brunch menu. Line-ups spill into the streets on weekends between 10 and 2. In Toronto, a restaurant is only has good as its brunch.

In Leslieville, my ‘hood, you can throw a rock in any direction and hit a place that specializes in this holy meal. And me? I am a girl on a mission to try brunch at every one of them.

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Which brings us to Frankly Eatery. A newer addition to the Queen East line-up, offering brunch classics with an Indian twist. Brunch is so overdone around here, I love the idea of fusing the traditional dishes with some cultural spice!

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My roommie and I popped over after a Pilates class. Our abs were in pain, but our bellies hungry.

Our Pilates instructor (hi Sandra!) recommended their rice bowls. Megan went for the one on special: chicken in a tomato coconut sauce over rice.

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I had a bite and it was gooooood. The sauce rich thanks to the coconut, but still light because of the tomato. Only mildly spicy so the flavours still stood out.

I however had eggs on the mind so I went with the Egg Bhuri.

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Spicy Indian style scramble with onions, peas and tomatoes served w/ green salad and sliced baguette.

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They asked me if I wanted it mild, medium or hot. After going back and forth, I opted for the mild, and happy I did! It was still spicy but without making me break into a sweat. Loved the peas and the amount of eggs I got. The greens were nicely dressed and I piled everything on top of the baguette slices.

The best part though?

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My roommate, who doesn’t blog, but still takes pictures of her food. Everyone’s a closet food blogger ;)

Another one to cross off the Toronto restaurant list! And unlike last time, this local spot gets two thumbs up. One thumb for the awesome food, a second thumb for our waiter, who was wearing a Vandelay Industries t-shirt ;)

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite brunch item? Mine is the “Peggy’s Poached” from Cora’s. One egg on toast with cottage cheese and a plethora of fresh fruit. Oh yes, and multiple coffee refills. 

Toronto’s “Best”: Sushi Marché

Seeing as I’m a foodie living in a city with 10,000 restaurants, I try to make a point of eating at one new place every week. I budget for one restaurant outing a week, but depending on the calibre of the restaurant even that can get expensive!

I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by top-notch restaurants here in the East end of Toronto. Some of the city’s best are just a hop, skip and perhaps a roll away.

Including Sushi Marché.

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Sushi Marche is a take-out sushi spot located on Queen St E. It consistently gets stellar revues across the board. The head chef having even worked under Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

You’d think I’d have been all over this place as soon as I landed here. I love sushi. But Sushi Marché is expensive. Especially for a take-out joint. Despite the rave revues and famous chef, I could just never bring myself to pay 30 bucks for a teeny serving of fish and rice, no matter how good. Y’all know I’m a cheapskate!

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Thankfully, the whole online “group coupon” thing is big in Toronto right now. Everyday, I get a dozen e-mails to my inbox offering half price for haircuts, manicures, exercise classes and of course restaurants. So when $15 for $30 worth of Sushi Marché popped up, I jumped on the chance!

I waited until Sunday evening to order my sushi feast. After a long weekend of working at the running store and an empty fridge at home, it was the perfect opportunity. I had to call an hour ahead because it usually takes 40-60 minutes to prepare. You can tell they put special care and attention into their food!

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I started with red tuna + salmon sashimi. I loooove sashimi for its rich taste and thick texture. But both kind fell a little flat to me. The tuna tasted bland.

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Next up was the eel/avocado inside-out roll with eel, avocado, cucumber, fish roe and spicy sauce. I ordered this because I am always getting recommendations to try the eel. Unfortunately the pieces of eel were a little too small to get the full flavour.

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Finally, the roll that gets the most rave reviews, kamikaze roll with tuna, tempura flakes, cucumber, fish roe and spicy sauce. Now this was amazing. The tempura flakes and spicy sauce had me salivating as I ate it. That is, until I got that inevitable citrus bite. Sushi Marché is known for using citrus in their rice, something that isn’t very traditional. I thought this meant “citrus scented.” Apparently it means “random hunks of citrus that make you pucker.” Totally ruined what could have been a stellar roll for me.

Verdict? Happy I finally got to try the famed Sushi Marché. Even happier I didn’t pay the full thirty bucks for this. Especially since I was still hungry enough to eat an apple after.

For me, sushi will always be something that is about the dining experience. Not about taking it home in a plastic bag to eat off my coffee table. The best sushi I’ve ever had was actually in Moncton, New Brunswick. Sharing a boat on my birthday with my mother as we bonded over magnificent food together.

I guess it’s not so much the chef, hype or jacked up prices. But rather the company you keep.

Mom, we are totally hitting up Pink Sushi again when I’m home :)

 

Question of the Day: What has been your biggest dining disappointment?

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