My TEA-rrific Obsession

Good Thursday morning! How are you all doing this morning?

My week has been pretty hectic, with four midterms in the next four school days, on top of lab reports, essays, and assignments. The summer semester is a couple weeks shorter than others, so all of the content has been condensed. I started to feel a little behind in my classes a few days ago, having missed several classes for interviews. With co-op interviews, you are not allowed to miss any interview at any cost, or risk getting kicked out of the co-op program. 😥

But, onto something more important and much less stressful – tea!

Sometimes, I think of myself as a “bad” tea drinker, simply because of the fact that I struggle to savour each sip. x-OyjIemMy idea of a good tea is something sweet, milky, and whether or not its organic doesn’t matter to me. Am I the only one?

In April, a good friend from high school send me a Facebook message – she asked if I’d like to try some tea from a subscription package from Amoda Tea (@AmodaTea on Twitter). I don’t know, I thought initially, I’m really not the right person for this. Tea isn’t exactly my forte. Hey, did you know that “forte” is pronounced “fort”, not “fort-ay”? I learned that this morning.

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Back to the tea! Faye, my friend, works with Amoda, which is dedicated to connecting people with superfoods, particularly organic teas and matcha blends. They make beautiful subscription (I just typed prescription… too much time at the clinic!) boxes filled with all kinds of flavours.

My aunt once told me that I should “never drink boring, regular tea.” Her reason? Preservatives. Artificial flavours. Leaching. Added sweeteners. Now, I’m certainly not a health nut – well, not a health nut to the point where everything I ingest must be #lowcarb, #vegan, or #organic. I just like good, preferably-healthy food, you know?

Funny story: I was living in Toronto for my 4-month work term at the Toronto Health Centre at the time Faye messaged me, preparing to move back to Waterloo. When I sent her my address, however, I forgot to add my unit number. I live in a student housing complex with four floors and a dozen units – the tea ended up getting mailed BACK to BC. After about a month of flying, it finally made its way back to Waterloo.

The Monthly Tea Box is priced at $20. Shipping is included in this cost. This is a great price, because you are getting 4 packages x 4 cups of tea each, which will make you 16 glorious mugs of tea; each cup comes down to just $1.25. Compare that to Starbucks, where a venti (large) tea latte will set you back $4.65. If I wanted 16 of those? A shocking $74.40. My #studentbudget doesn’t have room for that, that’s for sure!

Best of all, an Amoda monthly tea box can be purchased as a monthly subscription or a gift subscription, and you can add selected add-ons which I detail below.

The subscription box came with:

  • 4 packages of tea leaves, each package able to make around 4 cups of tea (the teas have different amounts of caffeine, but there is also the option of ordering the ‘Low Caff’, where all teas are designed for light sleepers and are low in caffeine)
  • clear steeping instructionsIMG_8562
  • tasting notes for each tea
  • a cute postcard

Possible add-ons include:

  • $5 tea spoon (I want one!)
  • $5 natural, biodegradable tea filters (25 total)

Let’s get brewing!

Let me tell you all about my favourite of the four teas in the subscription package. I’m a black tea lover, so I found MANASLU from Nepali Tea Traders to be incredibly delicious.

  • made from Nepalese black tea
  • reminded me of the many cups of delicious black tea that I enjoyed while living in Kathmandu, Nepal, over the summer
  • high in caffeine
  • rich scent, with a pure, fresh flavour
  • the name reminds of of a Cirque du Soleil production, but Manaslu is actually one of the top 10 highest mountains in the world (part of the Nepalese Himalayas)

I noticed that I needed a packed heaping 1 tsp of tea leaves to make it flavourful; the package stated “1 heaping tsp”, and I was unsure as to whether or not I should pack it loosely or heavily. I found that 4-5 minutes of brewing time was ideal for my taste, and I liked my tea with a splash of milk and a swirl of honey. I can’t wait to have another mug tomorrow.

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This photo is much better than mine. Aren’t the postcards (and the box) pretty? I haven’t mailed mine out yet.

From their site:

The Amoda Monthly Box is a premium tea subscription box. The Amoda tasting team scours the shelves of independent tea companies across North America to find unique teas, delicious blends and fun flavours. The Monthly Box offer a way to discover the hidden gems of the tea world, support the up-and-coming tea companies and taste the very best they have to offer.

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* Do you have tepidophobia? That’s the fear of a terrible cup of tea. Interestingly, I actually LIKE my tea not-too-hot and not-too-bitter (i.e. I prefer mine with milk and sweetener). Tea purists are probably cringing so much right now.

Hope everyone has a pre-tea spectacular week, and tea lovers – don’t forget to check out Amoda’s website for some serious aesthetics and good deals on tea. Perhaps it’ll put you in that Alice in Wonderland tea party mood, like it did with me! Hypnotic GIFs. I know.

Have a blissful, tea-infused week, everyone!

Uncoordinated Fingers

This morning, I woke up with a sniffly, runny nose and a craving for a soothing and warm drink. Enter this amazing latte, with super-healthy-and-hip turmeric, sweet honey, and warming spices like ginger and cinnamon. You’ll love this drink, friends.

Turmeric Latte (Golden Milk)

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch ginger (I used the stuff in a tube)
  • pinch black pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Blend in a blender until fully combined.
  2. Heat on the stovetop until desired temperature. Serve and enjoy.

Another morning, a blog post by Cora at My Little Tablespoon reminded me that I could use quinoa flour to make a breakfast bake! I made a couple of small tweaks, but regardless, her recipe did not disappoint. The sunflower butter on top was the perfect touch, and on the side I enjoyed yogurt with sliced banana.

Chocolate Quinoa Breakfast Bake

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup quinoa flour
  • 2 Tbsp quick oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • sprinkle salt

Instructions

  1. Combine flax and water and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Lightly grease a small ramekin.
  3. Place all ingredients in blender, and blend until well combined.
  4. Pour into ramekin and bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Top with chocolate chips and serve! I liked mine with sunflower butter, yogurt, and banana.

On Sunday, I visited an Ethiopian restaurant called Lalibela. The entire time I ate this, I was desperate for a fork and knife! My uncoordinated fingers had a rough time tearing and scooping. My favourite part of this meal was the collard greens and the orange puree, which tasted like chickpeas and a smoky spice that I can’t put my finger on.

The restaurant itself was quite ornate! Have you tried Ethiopian food before?

That night, I made baked salmon, hoping to try something different from my usual maple and soy combination. This week’s baked salmon was made with:

  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • small handful dill, torn up
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch cayenne

Marinated for about 15 minutes, then baked for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Perfect!

Really good gelato from G for Gelato in Toronto. One scoop of coffee-chocolate almond Rufino, and one scoop of Mediterranean pistachio-walnut. This made my night!

This newish recipe is a riff from one of my favourite almond cakes. I subbed the almond meal for delicious (albeit expensive) hazelnut meal, and it turned into a glorious treat that I just can’t get enough of. Begging you to get your hands on some hazelnut flour, and try this!

Flourless Raspberry Hazelnut Cake

Serves 9

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups hazelnut meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • frozen raspberries, to taste
  • chocolate chips, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Whisk eggs. Add all ingredients except raspberries and chocolate chips. Whisk well.
  3. Pour into greased baking pan.
  4. Bake at 325 for 50 minutes. Cool completely, then cut and serve.

The view from my 31st floor apartment room is incredible.

Chickpea blondies were also made and devoured. I followed my usual recipe, swapping the nut butter for a cashew-peanut butter blend and adding extra chocolate chips. I’m not joking, nor am I embarrassed, when I say that I ate this entire 8×8 square in less than a week. Try it and you’ll see! No bean taste, I promise.

I haven’t done yoga in too long :O

Funny Yoga Quotes!

  1. Yoga. Because punching people is frowned upon.
  2. “If you fall, I’ll be there.” – mat
  3. Go from a human being doing yoga to a human being yoga.
  4. Namas’cray: The craziness in me recognizes and honours the craziness in you.
  5. Balance is when you eat salads and do yoga, then eat cupcakes and sleep.
  6. WARNING: Yoga has been known to cause health and happiness.
  7. Life is better when you bend.
  8. Bend so you don’t break.
  9. To relieve stress, I do yoga. Just kidding, I eat chocolate in my yoga pants.
  10. Yoga is Simon Says and nap time. 🙂

I think that’s it for today, mes amis! Have a lovely, spring-forwarded week.

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!