Unchronological Order

Good morning, everyone! I hope you are all having the loveliest of mornings. This was a meal of garlicky cheddar broiled pita, scrambled tofu with peas, and sautéed zucchini with mushrooms and peppers. Eaten about a month ago, and I’m just posting this now because I’m terribly disorganized.

These treats are from Vincenzo’s (specialty European grocery store in Waterloo), and I can’t wait for my family to try them. I also bought these and took these pics back in May (whaaaat?) and I’m not sure why I’m just sharing them now.

  • caramel milk chocolate
  • Scottish all-butter shortbread
  • white chocolate cranberry shortbread
  • tiramisu cream milk chocolate
  • 99% dark chocolate for my very health-conscious grandfather
  • French pure butter cookies
  • 3 bags of Italian black truffle chips

During a FaceTime session between my mom and I, she decided it would be a good idea to DRAW a picture of me – this is what I got. :O

Another day, my friends and I went to Menchies for frozen yogurt to celebrate after our Physiology final exam.

My Menchies cup was loaded with:

  • taro frozen yogurt
  • Nutella frozen yogurt
  • Oreo frozen yogurt
  • chocolate frozen yogurt
  • cinnamon toast crunch cereal <– my favourite cereal as a kid, next to Corn Puffs and Reese’s. Multigrain Cheerios and Lucky Charms (only the charms, though, let’s be real) were so good, too. Man, I could write a whole post about different cereals. What was your favourite?
  • peanut butter crackle
  • chocolate crackle
  • cheesecake chunks
  • brownie chunks
  • Nanaimo bar
  • yogurt-covered pretzel
  • peanut butter sauce
  • peanut butter cookie dough <– I need more of this in my life
  • Oreo pieces

And 12 hours before the Menchies, we were studying on campus. I am going to miss Athena and Jasmine so much. 😦

Recently, I’ve been living off of Minimalist Baker recipes. I adapted her chocolate breakfast quinoa bowl and have been loving this breakfast with a banana + lots of peanut butter in the morning. It’s so easy to make, and is wonderful meal prep for the days that you feel like having a variation from oatmeal.

I made two batches over the last 1.5 weeks, and will buy another can of coconut milk later today so I can make another 4 servings!

Rich Chocolate Breakfast Quinoa

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup uncooked white quinoa
  • 1 can of coconut milk + enough water to make 2 cups total
  • sea salt
  • 3 heaping tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Rinse quinoa well. Drain.
  2. Heat saucepan over medium heat. Add rinsed, drained quinoa. Toast for 3 minutes while stirring rapidly to dry up water.
  3. Add coconut milk and water mixture, a pinch of salt, and stir. Boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 20-25 minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally. If it stops simmering, increase heat to medium-low. It should be slightly simmering.
  4. When the liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, remove from heat and add cocoa powder, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
  5. Adjust flavours if needed, adding more water if you prefer a thinner texture.
  6. Eat! Don’t forget to top with chocolate, berries, more milk, or sliced banana. Nut butter is a must for me.
  7. Leftovers keep in the fridge, covered, for 2-3 days.

This morning, I realized that my milk was due to expire soon so I quickly whipped up a giant mug of hot chocolate. This mug was warm, sweet, but not too sweet, comforting, and absolutely delicious despite the hot and sunny weather. I enjoyed it with a chocolate almond croissant that I froze a few months ago. Thank you, past Cindy.

Easiest Hot Chocolate

INGREDIENTS

    • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

PREPARATION

    • Whisk together the cocoa, maple, salt, and about 2 tablespoons milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until cocoa and honey are dissolved. Whisk in the rest of the milk and heat it over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until it is hot. Stir in the vanilla and serve.
    • If you like it frothy, blend it in the blender or use a milk frother.

Cocoa powder, guys. Apparently every recipe I made this week involves that good stuff. Since I didn’t have any coconut oil, I resorted to this recipe which is entirely free of added fats. The verdict? Not my favourite. I thought it had an odd bread-y texture, which was off-putting for brownies. I wouldn’t make this again. 😦

Fat-Free Vegan Brownies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup flour (I used spelt)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp flax meal plus 6 tbsp water, whisked together

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Sift all the dry ingredients, including the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, into a bowl and set aside.
  2. In another bowl mix together the maple syrup, water, flaxmeal mixture, and vanilla extract. Whisk until well mixed.
  3. Add the flour-cocoa mixture to this in 3 batches, mixing after each addition using a ladle or spatula. The batter will be thick.
  4. Prepare an 8 X 8-inch baking pan by lining it with parchment. Leave an overhang on each side of the pan so you can easily lift the brownies. Pour the batter in and spread evenly.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool thoroughly. Lift out the brownies using the foil overhang as handles, and cut into squares. Enjoy!

And that’s it for today! I hope y’all have the best rest of the week, and I cannot wait to share some exciting stuff with you. Seriously exciting.

Stay on your toes!

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Babies, Baking Powder, and Beets

Before we look at FOOD, look at baby Cindy! Mom was doing a big house clean back home in BC, and she stumbled upon this photo of little me. I think I was one or two here.

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The good thing about the summer semester is that there’s barely anyone here, so campus always a quiet place to study.

The bad thing about the summer semester is that there’s barely anyone here, so the cafe is closed for the term, and Starbucks is only open from 9:00 to 3:00.

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Check out this neat infographic on the humble sweet potato.

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I made the strangest mishmash dinner bake the other day, which featured green beans, black beans, red peppers, quinoa, corn tortillas, and red enchilada sauce and smoked cheddar. I can’t believe I forgot the green onions, which were sitting, perfectly chopped up, in the fridge.

Delicious pumpkin noodles were devoured. I loved the addition of peas.

I made a black bean burger and topped it with smoked cheddar to serve with arugula and quinoa, tossed in a honey-mustard dressing. Delicious and simple.

Another day, my almond flour banana bread was a sad failure because I forgot to add baking powder. WHO forgets to add baking powder? Me. They tasted just as good, though  dense like a brownie. Not complaining though, because brownies are always a happy surprise.

Last week was the week of salads! Black bean burger, beets, fig goat cheese and avocado made great toppings for a bed of couscous and arugula.

With my extra beets, I made…

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Makes 9

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large beets
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1.5 cups almond meal
  • 3-4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp oil or melted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Grease a muffin tin VERY well.
  2. Puree beets in a blender.
  3. Mix all ingredients together. Add chocolate chips. Save some to top, if desired.
  4. Spoon into 9 muffin tins. Top with additional chocolate chips, if you’d like.
  5. Bake 45 minutes, or until cooked through.
  6. Cool completely in the muffin tins.
  7. Serve alone or with toppings.

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of this… month? And welcome to JUNE!

Cheesy Waffles, Coconut Flour Brownies, and Makeup (ʘ_ʘ)

Quickie post this morning because I have to go to TD Bank and deposit my first cheque! Yay for PAYDAY 🙂
On a completely different note, you should run to the store ASAP and pick up some chocolate chips and coconut flour, because these amazing paleo brownies need to be made. I was totally skeptical about coconut flour in brownies (haven’t had much luck with coco flour in the past), but these were spectacular.
Not only were they easy to make, but they also tasted SUPERB. Fudgy yet a bit cakey, and 100% chocolate deliciousness.
Coconut Flour Brownies
Serves: 9 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • ½ heaping cup honey (you can also use 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar)
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease an 8×8 nonstick pan or place parchment paper on it.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the coconut flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat until melted. Add the chocolate chips, cocoa powder and honey. Stir the mixture until the chocolate chips start to melt, then remove the pan from the heat and stir until the chips are completely melted and the mixture is very smooth. Set aside to cool.
  4. Whisk together the almond milk, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the cooled chocolate mixture.
  5. Sift the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Allow the batter to rest for 5 minutes so that the coconut flour can absorb some of the liquid.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Not really a recipe: 2 eggs + 1 ripe banana in the blender with a pinch of cardamom, cinnamon, 1/4 tsp baking powder, and some salt, then enough coconut flour and almond milk to make pancake-batter texture. Cooked in coconut oil and topped with almond butter and yogurt, these were filling, SO delicious, and hearty.

I made a massive batch of granola to take with me to Toronto. Not sure why I’m posting it now. This granola recipe is the one I always use, but this time I tripled the recipe!

First time making gnocchi was a success! I used fresh gnocchi from Vincenzo’s, the Italian grocery store, and added leftover pumpkin pasta sauce, mushrooms, and zucchini. Cheese on top is pecorino romano!

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Broccoli-cheddar soup was also made and enjoyed alongside avocado toast.

A couple weeks ago, I went from Waterloo to Toronto for my first training session at work. Since my work starts at 10:00, and I left Waterloo at 6:00 AM, I had plenty of time to stop at Lady Marmalade, a brunch restaurant in Toronto. There, I enjoyed these super cheesy spinach waffles with two poached eggs and a tomato-orange sauce. Avocado on top instead of bacon – the perfect touch 🙂

Oh! And a London Fog latte was also chugged. This was amazing!

Toronto is such a bright, diverse, colourful city. The Christmas-ized mall was lovely.

Have you make shakshuka before? This certainly wasn’t the most authentic, but I followed Minimalist Baker’s recipe, made a couple changes, and enjoyed this chickpea rendition. It was especially yummy on top of quinoa with a smattering of nutritional yeast.

1-Pot Chickpea Shakshuka
Serves: 2 cups (3 servings)
Ingredients
  • 1/2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar or maple syrup
  • sea salt to taste (depends on whether your diced tomatoes are salted/unsalted)
  • 1 tsp smoked or sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch cardamom
  • 1 can cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
FOR SERVING optional
  • Lemon wedges
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Quinoa
Instructions
  1. Heat large metal skillet over medium heat. When hot, add oil, pepper, and garlic.
  2. Saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and fragrant.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, coconut sugar, sea salt, paprika, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper (optional), and cardamom (optional). Stir to combine.
  4. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Scoop 3/4 of the sauce into a blender and blend for a creamier result.
  6. Add chickpeas. Stir to combine. Simmer for 15-20 mins to allow the flavours to develop.
  7. Taste. Adjust seasonings.
  8. Serve with bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, etc. Garnish with lemon juice or spices.
  9. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 4 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month. Reheat on the stovetop until completely warmed through.

Waterloo was SO snowy! Good thing there isn’t a speck of snow in Toronto now.

On my last day in Waterloo, I went to Alexa Baker‘s lovely studio for a photoshoot. She has a great studio in Kitchener, where model Victoria did my makeup and helped me get used to the lights.

Here are some of the photos that emerged! We took the yoga shots today, and the silks photos are from a couple months ago 🙂

In honour of the two weeks that I lived completely alone in Waterloo ( 😥 ), here are some tips for things to do!

Things To Do When Home Alone

  1. Play music really loud
  2. Take a nap
  3. Read a good book
  4. Do a home spa treatment (I made homemade oil + brown sugar + baking soda exfoliator for my legs and feet, which get so dry in the winter!)
  5. Watch a movie
  6. Clean up (sad but I actually did this)
  7. Call a friend
  8. Talk to yourself
  9. Buy food
  10. Make food
  11. Eat the food
  12. Draw something pretty
 Bye for now!

Belmont Bistro: The Best Eggs Benny

After my final exams ended on Saturday night, my lovely roommates Madhulika and Arsalan and I went to Belmont Bistro, a chic restaurant in Kitchener, for a delicious meal.

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I ordered the eggs benedict with a side salad and a sweet buckwheat crepe.

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The salad was perfectly dressed and decorated generously with chunks of chèvre and tiny sultanas. I also loved the crunchy granola scattered throughout. The sweet crepe was chewy and flavourful.

The eggs benny were certainly some of the best I’ve ever had. I love it when eggs benny are served on biscuits instead of English muffins. These were cooked flawlessly. I had one with spinach and feta, and the other with smoked salmon. Both were divine!

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Runny egg yolks and flaky biscuits are my life.

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I finished all of this and was ready to start my Christmas holiday!

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Couple of recipes for you! I made this flourless chocolate cake a couple days ago and it was divine. If you’re more of a sweet-cake person, swap the 70% dark chocolate for some 50-60%, or increase the honey to 1 cup. This chocolate cake was truffle-esque, rich, dense, and absolutely delicious. Loving the use of coconut oil here!

Healthier Flourless Chocolate Cake
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 4 oz 70% dark chocolate
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • dash vanilla extract
  • sprinkle salt
  • sprinkle cinnamon: optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Generously grease an 8-inch pan.
  3. Melt chocolate and coconut oil together.
  4. Combine with cocoa powder, honey, and eggs. Make sure it is not too hot, or the eggs will scramble! Whisk well until batter is smooth. Add vanilla, salt, and optional cinnamon.
  5. Pour into greased pan.
  6. Smooth top with a spatula.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes, until the centre is firm.
  8. Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Remove the sides. Allow to cool completely before serving.

I also baked these sweet potato spice muffins yesterday. The recipe involves a bit more work with blending the sweet potato, but it’s so worth it. These sweet potato muffins are not only exceptionally healthy, but also super delicious and taste like the holidays. Give it a shot!

Sweet Potato Spice Muffins

Serves: 18 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 + 1/2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed or chia (I used chia)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 heaping tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato – around 1 medium/large sweet potato (I boiled mine, then blended it in a blender with coconut oil)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).
  2. Whisk all ingredients (EXCEPT FLOURS) together. Mix until very well combined.
  3. Add flour slowly and use a spatula to mix. Do not overmix.
  4. Pour into greased muffin tin. Sprinkle with oats or pecans, if desired.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the centre is done. Serve immediately, keep at room temp in an airtight container, or freeze.

That’s it for today, everyone! Wishing you all a lovely rest of the week.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Swirl Banana Muffins

I can’t believe that there are less than three days until Christmas. This semester seemed to fly by, and the holidays really snuck up on me.

I have a delicious muffin recipe to share with you guys today. It involves powdered peanut butter, chocolate and bananas, so we really can’t go wrong here. I know I shared a recipe just yesterday, but… chocolate.

Mmmm. These froze exceptionally well and made a perfect yogurt/oatmeal topping.

 Give it a try!
Peanut Butter & Chocolate Swirl Banana Muffins
Serves: 9
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 medium bananas, ripe
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ¼ cup milk (I used almond, but coconut, cows, or soy would work)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup spelt flour
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)
  • 3 tablespoons PB2
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Line nine muffin tins with paper/foil liners, or grease a nonstick muffin tin. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Mash bananas with a fork.
  4. Add oil, egg, milk, and vanilla. Whisk well.
  5. Add flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda and stir until just combined.
  6. Add oats and stir.
  7. Melt chocolate chips in microwave safe measuring cup for 30-45 seconds. Stir until smooth.
  8. Cool slightly, then add ½ of batter to measuring cup and stir until combined.
  9. Add PB2 to the remaining batter and mix well.
  10. Scoop 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of PB2 batter and 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of chocolate batter in a lined muffin tin.
  11. Swirl batters together with a toothpick.
  12. Repeat for remaining batter.
  13. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
178 calories, 19g sugar, 3.2g protein
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It’s been frosty recently! The roads have all been iced over.

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And a hot chocolate at Princess Cafe with my friend Lily! This was taken before our final exams ended.

And a potluck dinner enjoyed with fellow volunteers at school. Highlights include that incredible thyme sweet potato hash and great, creamy mac and cheese.

I even bought a new notebook a couple weeks ago, hoping it would motivate me to study.

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SO glad finals are over! Now I don’t need to serve my meals with a side of biochemistry or physiology.

Here’s that quinoa veggie casserole again. I always devour this!

Mmmmm. Perfectly comforting, satisfying, and warm in my belly.

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At home in BC, Mom made my brownie recipe! She said that the family devoured it. Wish I was there to have some. Mom’s baking always looks fantastic.

Relatable.

I found some old Nepal pictures on the Volunteering Solutions Instagram page. I lived in Nepal throughout the month of August and it was a spectacular experience. Blows my mind to think that, six months ago, I was one of those little flying paragliding dots.

Since we’re nearing the end of 2016, it’s almost time to buy a new planner! Planners are my love. I could search for ages for the perfect planner, and have plans to go to Staples this morning to check ’em out.

Hope y’all have the loveliest rest of the week!

Baking for the Smell of It: Brownie Recipe!

Brownies! Yesterday was my last day of classes. With final exams on the horizon, what better way to spend my morning than go grocery shopping and baking? Baking is definitely the best way to procrastinate.

Is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t like brownies?

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Sweet, fudgy, chocolatey, rich, with a perfect crackled top, these brownies are definitely some of the best I’ve ever had.

Even better? They are incredibly easy to make and only require one bowl and less than 15 minutes of prep time. You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry already.

If you like cakey brownies, add an extra egg. For even fudgier brownies, bake for 25 minutes instead of 30. You could even add crushed candy canes on top for a festive holiday treat!

Super Easy Brownies
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 150 mL melted coconut oil, butter, OR a combination – COOLED
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.25 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • sprinkle cinnamon (optional)
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease a nonstick 8×8 baking pan.
  2. Melt butter or coconut oil. Allow to cool.
  3. Add eggs when cool. Whisk. Add vanilla, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Whisk very well.
  4. Stir in the flour. When there are some streaks of flour left, add chocolate chips. Stir until there are no more streaks of flour.
  5. Pour batter into the pan. Spread batter, then swirl with knife if desired.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out almost clean.
  7. Cool in the pan for 1-2 hours, until completely cool.
  8. Transfer brownies to a cutting board.
  9. Use a very sharp chef’s knife to cut the brownies into 16 squares, using quick, strong motions to prevent the top from crackling and breaking.
  10. Enjoy!

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I’m sure you will love these. 🙂

Let me know if you give this recipe (or any of my other recipes!) a try! I’d love to hear about how they turned out.

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Happy Tuesday, and good luck to fellow students who have upcoming final exams!