Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I had a massive can of pumpkin puree, an hour of free time, and a craving for a warm, squash-y baked treat.

Yes – I know it’s the middle of summer and August is on the horizon, but it’s never too late (or early?) for some pumpkin quick bread! Especially when chocolate chips are involved.

Yum! This recipe uses spelt flour, but you can easily substitute any of your favourite flours (AP, whole wheat, or a combination). I loved the addition of oats in here, and find it amazing that this recipe goes easy on the oil.

It’s worth buying some super high-quality chocolate chips for this one – you won’t regret it!

Also, I put mine in the freezer and they are as good as fresh after you microwave ’em.

Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups flour (I used spelt)
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • scant 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large, separate bowl, beat together the eggs, honey, and oil on medium speed until combined. Add the milk and pumpkin and beat again until evenly combined. Add the dry ingredients, then gently stir them in by hand, just until combined. Do not over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top, then sprinkle with oats and chocolate chips. Bake the loaf for 45 to 50 minutes. Place the pan on a cooling rack, then let the bread cool in the pan. Gently turn the loaf out onto the rack to cool completely.
  5. Store leftover pumpkin bread in an airtight container lined with paper towels for up to 4 days at room temperature or 7 days in the refrigerator. It can be frozen, wrapped tightly and placed in a ziptop bag, for up to 3 months.

 

Also, check out how cute and funny my mom is…

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I love making shopping lists.

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This meal was nice – roasted broccoli, baked salmon, couscous.

 

At aerials I learned how to do a meat hook!

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And that’s it for today. Only 10 days until I am back home in BC!

From Thanksgiving to Healthy Blueberry “Buttermilk” Pancakes

Happy belated Thanksgiving, my Canadian friends!

I hope you all had an incredible day full of great food, laughter, and special moments with family and friends. I’m writing this as I enjoy my breakfast – whole wheat pita bread with a ton of melted butter, scrambled eggs with cheddar and spinach, and yogurt with peanut butter, raspberries, granola, and some chocolate banana bread. I always tend to go a little overboard with breakfast on days that I don’t have school. Since yesterday was Thanksgiving, students at the University of Waterloo also get Tuesday and Wednesday off to make a full “reading week”. I’m planning to spend the next couple of days just relaxing!

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Mom made a pseudo-Thanksgiving dinner that involved bone broth, pumpkin pie from Superstore, two pizzas and Church’s chicken, and a big, beautiful salad. Those crackers look kind of interesting, too.

At my friend Mary’s house, the table was set beautifully. I loved the cornucopia centrepiece and fall-accented tablecloth.

This was my first plate! I definitely had seconds. Moving clockwise from 12:00 – mashed acorn “pepper” squash, roasted turkey breast, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, apple and butternut squash hash, roasted sweet potatoes, raw carrot and green beans, the best celery-bacon-bread stuffing I’ve ever tasted, and strawberry jello with pineapple. The stuffing and squash mashes were incredible. What did you enjoy for Thanksgiving dinner?

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We’re kind of moving back in time here, but a couple days ago I enjoyed chocolate oatmeal with peanut butter and a serving of yogurt with fruit for breakfast.

I had my first Skype interview! It was done in a big room with six cubicles. All the interviewees got to wear headsets with microphones to speak to the hiring managers. My interview was around 30 minutes long, and I loved getting to meet my potential boss and some of her colleagues. It was a cool experience, but I didn’t like how the camera was much higher than the screen. It made “eye contact” a little awkward! Have you ever done a Skype interview?

For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to snap photos of my oatmeal on my bed? Pumpkin oats are finally IN now!

Another day I had whole wheat bread with smashed avocado, a delicious filet of spicy salmon, and some roasted brown sugar squash. An amazing lunch!

LASAGNA! ❤ This vegetarian lasagna was made with heaps of zucchini, mushrooms, and peppers, along with a whole box of spinach and fresh ricotta cheese and a ball of mozzarella. I had this two days in a row and froze the rest. YUM.

And pumpkin baked oatmeal was made and enjoyed for a couple days! This recipe serves 2, and you can use either rolled oats or quick oats. I found a vegan recipe since I was out of eggs and was pleased by how tasty this was.

Simple Vegan Pumpin Baked Oatmeal
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease baking dish.
  2. Whisk together all ingredients and mix well. Fold in raisins or nuts, if desired.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

My sister’s best friend, Brianna, delivered a tray full of banana bread and pumpkin sugar cookies to Seline. They loved these, and it inspired me to bake something with the rest of my ripe bananas!

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I made my go-to recipe for chocolate banana squares. I still have a hard time believing this amazing vegan recipe is low-sugar, oil/butter-free, and made with whole wheat flour. Granola was also made, this time using quick oats, maple syrup and coconut oil, and walnuts. I love, love, love this granola recipe.

Some of it was jarred and given to the Zach family (Mary’s family). I told you, we’re going in a weird order today… reverse chronological?!

Needless to say, I had a ton of dishes to wash afterwards, so I enjoyed washing them while watching Mockingjay Part II on my laptop. Have you guys seen that movie? Thoughts? PS: watching something while doing dishes makes it much less of a chore 🙂

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Another day, I thought I would take a nap at 6:00 PM, wake up in an hour, and then cook a delicious salmon filet. I must have been incredibly tired because I didn’t wake up until 9:00 PM, and it was so dark outside! Oops. Instead, I rolled groggily out of bed and felt instantly refreshed once I smelled this simple red curry with eggplant, mushrooms, spinach, and red pepper cooking… in the microwave. I also thanked past Cindy for making this!

A couple days ago, I tried a new recipe for pancakes. I made the following changes:
– halved the recipe
– replaced banana with a whole egg (instead of half an egg)
– greased pan with butter
– added a pinch of salt
– used frozen blueberries
– used oat flour instead of whole oats, since I don’t have a blender
– used just a sprinkle of cinnamon
– enjoyed with maple syrup

Next time, I will add more blueberries since it was easy to flip. I will also add more cinnamon next time.

It tasted like a buttermilk pancake in flavour, but the texture was a bit creamier, gummier, and was fragrant like oats. I loved it and will be making this recipe again. I highly recommend it if you’re a pancake lover like me! Next time, I might also experiment with other fruit like raspberries or even chocolate chips.

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Next time, I will add more blueberries since it was easy to flip. I will also add more cinnamon next time. It tasted like a buttermilk pancake in flavour, but the texture was a bit creamier, gummier, and was fragrant like oats. I loved it and will be making this recipe again. I highly recommend it if you’re a pancake lover like me! Next time, I might also experiment with other fruit like raspberries or even chocolate chips.

Still, absolutely 100% deliciousness.

A different recipe this time, but still using oat flour. I think I may have cooked these too long or over-mixed the batter, because it was quite firm and hard to chew. The flavour was excellent though, so I think the recipe just needs a bit of tweaking.

Last Friday, I went to downtown Toronto for my interview at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. The best part of the day was going to Rahier in the morning for an earl grey tea latte and an almond croissant.

I was walking down the street to the hospital when I noticed another bakery – Patisserie LaCigogne, so I HAD to indulge in another croissant. Yup, I had two decadent chocolate almond croissants in less than an hour. It was a sweet day, literally and figuratively.

Mom Meals! Does anything catch your eye here? For me, it’s the MUFFINS and that kabocha soup! It’s crazy how much you can do with kabocha. Here in Waterloo, it’s called “buttercup squash”. I’ve made curries and pancakes out of kabocha, but there are a million other uses that you can read about here. Yes, kabocha pudding is a thing – and leave it to Miss SuperFitBabe to invent that!

I don’t know why I love these photos so much. It’s crazy what good-ish lighting can do for a food shot! I made a red eggplant curry with spinach and served it on quinoa, with lots of peanuts. Yummy.

Dessert was arguably yummier, with raspberries, peanut butter yogurt, granola, and a square of chocolate banana bread.

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More squash and more salmon – I ended up standing over the sink, stuffing squash into my mouth before I had to head out the door! These were ADDICTIVE.

Skies are cool.

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On a different note, I wrote an article a while back about my time in Nepal, and how doing yoga there was different from yoga here in North America. This was for a Yoga Teacher Training assignment, and I was lucky to have my article actually published by both Yoga Today, Yoga Anonymous, and Gaiam! For some reason, I’m super proud of that 🙂

This infographic was neat!

And something punny that I found on Facebook 🙂

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That’s it for today! Hope everyone has a great rest of the week. Can’t believe the weekend is already here!

PS: check out the world’s most random tags that I used for this post 😛

World’s Easiest Granola

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t like granola. Even my sister, a picky-picky eater who won’t touch oats or nut butter, or even SWEET POTATO (gasp) likes granola!

And for a good reason! Let’s look at why granola is so awesome in my book:

  • Crunchy, with great texture
  • A little sweet, with lots of flavour from cinnamon and other spices you like
  • Excellent warm vanilla flavour
  • Involves dried fruits and yummy nuts
  • Can be used to top anything from fruit bowls to yogurt to oatmeal (hot or cold – both work!)
  • You can even add coconut or chocolate chips
  • Can be customized any way you like
  • Is super easy to make
  • Keeps in an airtight container for a month
  • Can even be frozen!
  • Doesn’t cost $10 a bag like it does at the store!

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You’ll need the following ingredients, but feel free to mix and match. The only thing you really need is the base recipe: a sweet syrupy liquid of some kind (honey, agave, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, etc.), oats (obviously), and some melted liquid fat (coconut oil, olive oil, butter, etc.).

Note that rolled oats MUST be used, otherwise your granola will be small, shatter-y, and probably bake too quickly. I would also say that vanilla and salt are also a must, because salt gives the oats some much-needed flavour while vanilla adds warmth and deliciousness.

Nuts, dried fruit, coconut, chocolate chips… you can add anything you like or have! The recipe is coming at the bottom of this post, so don’t fret 🙂

After whisking the wet ingredients together, you will simply dump all the rolled oats in here and give it a good stir.

Then spread it out on a foil-lined and greased tray.

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Pop this tray into the oven for exactly 22 minutes at 350 degrees, and give it a good stir after 11 minutes. When it comes out of the oven, it will look “undone”, and it won’t be crunchy at all. This is normal. Because you are cooling it on the tray, it will look unfinished but will continue “baking” on the hot tray until it cools. I wouldn’t taste it until it is fully cooled down, or you might be a little disappointed!

So again, make sure you take it out after 22 minutes or risk burning it. 😦

Once it is COMPLETELY cool, pour it into jars! I would wait at least 3-5 hours before putting it into an airtight container. If it is still warm, your granola could end up soggy, which would be really sad and depressing.

Only one warning: this recipe makes three cups, which seems like a LOT, but I promise it will be gone in less than a week 🙂 I couldn’t stop eating straight up handfuls out of this jar! It’s addictive and so freaking delicious. I recommend doubling the recipe so you can have extra on hand, and it won’t go stale if it’s in an airtight container.

Without further ado (is that how you spell it?!), here’s the recipe!


Coconut-Maple Granola

Serves: 3 cups
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 heaping tsp salt (I used fine-grain sea salt)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or other spices that you like
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil, butter, or any oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, honey, or agave
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, or a little less of any other extract you like
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chocolate chips or coconut flakes, or 3/4 cup roasted nuts and/or seeds
  • As many dried fruits as you would like: cranberries, raisins, dried apricots, dried blueberries… the list goes on!
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Microwave the oil if it is not already liquid. Whisk in the maple syrup/honey and vanilla.
  3. Add vanilla, cinnamon, salt and whisk until combined.
  4. Pour in the oats.
  5. Mix well, until every oat and nut is lightly coated. Pour the granola onto your prepared pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer.
  6. Bake until golden, about 22 minutes, stirring halfway at 11 minutes. If you would like to add unsweetened shredded coconut, stir it in here. It’s okay if it looks soft after 22 minutes – take it out of the oven and let it cool. The granola will further crisp up as it cools.
  7. Let the granola cool completely, undisturbed, before adding dried fruit (and chocolate chips, if using). Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, or in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.

My favourite way to use granola is on top of my morning oatmeal. It adds a toasty bit of crunch to the soft, creamy oatmeal 🙂

Hope you enjoy this recipe!

Tell me:

  1. What do you like in your granola?
  2. Do you get addicted to granola and eat it straight out of the jar, by the handful, like I do?!
  3. What are some other places to enjoy granola, other than the standard yogurt bowl? I’ve seen granola on SALADS at cafes in Vancouver, but I don’t think I am brave enough for that 😉

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Happy Wednesday!

The Food-tastic Fortnight: A Must-See for Vancouver Foodies!

Happy Friday, friends!

Whew. How did that week go for you? Mine was a blur. I’ve been out and about, and in other words, I’ve returned to Waterloo, Ontario – with my dad! He will be here for 12 days in total. I’m so lucky to have him around for another week! On Monday morning, we rented a car from the local Enterprise, braved the cold a couple hundred times, bought essentials from Costco, had brunch…

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… enjoyed lattes and hot chocolate from Princess Cafe, bought a printer from Staples, and went grocery shopping at Sobeys. Dad stocked up on instant noodles, microwaveable chicken strips and fish strips, nacho chips, and croissants.

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Mom’s been a busy lady back in BC! One day, she made a roast beef with vegetables and served it with mashed potatoes and gravy. This was a popular meal, she reports 🙂 Another day, Mom made sauteed tofu with vegetables, chicken drumsticks, cucumber, and yellow turmeric rice. Dessert was cream puffs with berry, honey, and toasty coconut.

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Mom also hopped onto the baking bandwagon – here, she tried a new recipe for lemon berry muffins. These look so delicious! Wish I could try some, too.

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That’s just what’s been up lately! I didn’t post much during my winter break semi-hiatus, but I have definitely been eating. Here are some of the most memorable meals that I enjoyed out and about in Vancouver.


Lunch at Ajisai Sushi with Mom, Dad, Seline, and Grandma

Waterloo suffers from a serious sushi famine, hence my choice of Japanese food as my first meal off the plane! I originally wanted to enjoy a meal at Kishimoto Sushi on Commercial Drive, but they were closed for lunch. Instead, we lined up in Ajisai Sushi Bar for over half an hour. Poor Seline whose wisdom teeth had just been removed, skipped breakfast as usual and was one grumpy girl.

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The Seafood Salad is a very popular dish. The shrimp was my favourite part – chilled, fresh, with the perfect flavor. Cornflakes were sprinkled on top for texture, but I found this quite bizarre! The sushi was quite tasty as well. We ordered lots of California rolls for Seline!

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We also enjoyed some pressed sushi – salmon and eel, both of which were yummy. There was a hint of wasabi in the rice, which grossed Dad out. But the fish was top-notch and super fresh. The black cod was seared, and one of the most tender filets I’ve ever enjoyed in my life. The charred outsides were crispy and flavourful, but the interior was so soft and melted in my mouth. My family and I loved the black cod so much that we ordered a second one, even before finishing the first.

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Ajisai was great, but wasn’t worth the 30-minute wait. I much prefer Kishimoto Sushi for high-quality sushi and their much better presentation. 🙂


Lunch at Railtown Café with Hollie and Jia

The salad I ordered at Railtown Café was, without a doubt, the best salad I’ve ever eaten in my life. I had a dark hot chocolate and a roasted winter squash soup with that, but none of the sides even came close to the amazing salad.

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Hollie enjoyed the popular chicken club sandwich and a hot chocolate, while Jia nommed on the spinach salad with a peppermint mocha.

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My salad was a foodie’s dream: topped with avocado, sliced grilled chicken, pesto baby mozzarella, beets, feta, squash chips (delicious!), and toasted pumpkin seed vinaigrette over a bed of arugula. I savoured every bite.

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My supposedly “dark” hot chocolate wasn’t very dark, and wasn’t very rich. Keep in mind, though, I do compare every hot chocolate to the rich l’Africaine (basically, a pot of melted chocolate) that my sister and I enjoyed in Angelina’s Tea Salon in Paris. I believe this one was made with water and dark chocolate powder, because the bottom of the cup was a little grainy and powdery. I finished the whole thing, though, and enjoyed it 🙂

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For dessert, we split a peanut butter crunch bar three ways and nibbled at pinches of this hazelnut chocolate muffin, which had an excellent muffin top and great cinnamon flavor. Hazelnut and chocolate was a beautiful flavor combination, and with cinnamon, this muffin was top-notch. The PB crunch bar was too yummy for words, and I kind of need an endless supply of these guys in my life.

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I will absolutely be back, hopefully with someone with a car who can drive us past the sketchy downtown Eastside 😉


Breakfast at Beaucoup Bakery with Mom

I think I have the world’s best Mom. Ever since visiting Beaucoup Bakery late last spring, I couldn’t get this amazing patisserie out of my mind. I honestly think this place creates croissants that rivals the best of Paris, France.

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On the table today: one almond croissant, one apple pie croissant, one hot chocolate for me, and a coffee for Mom. We asked for the croissants to be cut in equal halves so we could both try both. Mom is my food friend with food benefits. Does that make sense? 😉

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My hot chocolate was fairly thick, with a hint of sea salt that cut through the sweet richness of the cocoa powder and milk. It was a little foamy on top and had the cutest, um, heart (?) on top. The hot chocolate was absolutely amazing, but I need more of these croissants ASAP!

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Lunch at Joey with Natasha, Medha, and Sally

I can’t believe it’s been half a year since I’ve seen these girls! We’ve been friends throughout high school and went through so many highs and lows together – from crying in Calculus (seriously… multiple times. Mostly me.), to slicing shark reproductive organs and bouncing their eyeballs on the floor, to making dance videos in a locked bus on a July afternoon (AKA dying of heatstroke). We even spent prom night together. 🙂 Oh, good times.

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L to R: Natasha, Sally, Medha, me! 🙂

This was the Ahi Tuna Sashimi Salad, which my friend Vivian recommended. Vivian works full-time at Joey Coquitlam, where she specializes in desserts. I can’t believe Vivian is my age – she has 50 times the talent when it comes to creating beautiful and delicious food.

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My salad was fresh and much bigger than it looks. The greens were packed in here, there was an entire half avocado, and toppings were hearty with plenty of roasted salted peanuts, tomatoes, mangoes, and crispy noodles. The wasabi sauce was fresh and gave the seared fish lots of zing. I just wish the iceberg lettuce could have been replaced with arugula or spinach, and I found the salad slightly overdressed.

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One of their most famous desserts is the apple pie: hand-rolled pastry crust with caramelized apple, nuts, and maple ice cream. We asked for this to be cut into quarters to share, and that was just the right size. The maple ice cream had a prominent maple syrup flavour, and the buttery crust was the best part. With caramel sauce and melty ice cream on the pastry, this dessert was to die for.

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The chocolate cake was sweet, decadent, and rich to the maximum. This was also split into quarters at the table, and we divided the vanilla ice cream as well. The raspberries provided great contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate. The middle was gooey perfection and I’m still drooling just by looking at that picture. Mmmmm.

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Brunch at Wendel’s with Mom, Aunt Mimi, and Uncle Charles

Mimi and Charles have been telling me about Wendel’s for over a year, but since I spent the summer volunteering at the aquarium, visiting the Sunshine Coast with my family, and living in Paris with my sister, we never got the chance to go. They raved so much about the famous French onion soup and coziness of the place that I made this the #1 place to visit during my return to BC.

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Wendel’s is located in Fort Langley, the historic part of town. It’s on such a quaint street that reminds me of uptown Waterloo. Wendel’s is connected to its own little bookstore filled with all sorts of journals, colouring books, and novels. We arrived at 9:00, when it opened, and the seats were practically full already!

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Mom enjoyed a blueberry scone and coffee, and was kind enough to share parts of her scone with me. Warm and buttery, this was one of the best scone’s I’ve had. Charles ordered French onion soup with a turkey sandwich on multigrain bread.

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Mimi’s brunch was also French onion soup, with a grilled cheese with red peppers on multigrain. She shared some of her soup with me, and oh my goodness, I can see why it’s their signature dish. Creamy cheese, rich and dark onions with a flavourful broth, I absolutely loved this dish and will be ordering it next time for sure.

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My brunch dish of choice is almost always eggs benedict. See Case 1, Case 2, and Case 3. Just can’t get enough! Do you guys like eggs benedict for brunch? I ALWAYS order it because poached eggs and Hollandaise are something that intimidate me too much to make at home, and I have a serious soft spot for biscuits and gooey egg yolk. This one had smoked salmon and beautifully poached eggs on English muffin, with potatoes. I wish they served freshly-baked biscuits instead of English muffin for their bennies, but this was still quite yummy.

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Dessert time! Wendel’s has a massive selection of sweet treats, from decadent ones to desserts that are gluten-free and vegan. We ordered four for the four of us, and one of them was the lemon meringue in a jar which was exclusively for Charles. One time, he ate TWO jars in one sitting after lunch – that’s how popular and delicious these sweets are.

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L: Coffee chocolate ganache cake

M: Salted caramel chocolate brownie cheesecake – this was my favourite 🙂

R: Bee sting cake with Bavarian cream, vanilla sponge, honey, coconut and almond topping – the contrast between layers here was incredible. Would also order this again! Would be awesome with a mug of tea or hot chocolate.

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I love Wendel’s, and so did everyone at our table. We are already making plans to return for lunch next time!


Lunch at Heirloom Vegetarian with Rachel

Do you guys know Rachel? She’s a food blogger extraordinaire, and my Vancouver food adventure buddy. We’ve enjoyed brunch together at Matchstick Coffee and Lebanese food at Nuba. I’m sure there’s another place we checked out together, but I can’t seem to remember it now! Anyways, you MUST take a look at Rachel’s blog at http://www.momentswithrae.com and be prepared to be WOWed by her stunning photography and editing skills.

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Heirloom has both a vegetarian menu and a vegan menu, and an extensive list of drinks. I started with the London Fog latte, which was unsweetened and served with a little cup of cane sugar. I was a little disappointed because although we arrived before noon, it wasn’t until 1:00 until our food came. Not a big deal, though, because we got lots of talking done!

Here’s is Rachel’s Heirloom Scramble, with organic Saskatchewan quinoa, green onion, leeks, oven roasted tomato, kale, artichoke hearts, rennet free goat cheese, topped with scrambled free range eggs tofu and salsa verde. She made a couple subs but apparently there were still bits of goat cheese in there. 😦 I tried some of her scrambled tofu and was pleasantly surprised. I have no idea how they got tofu to taste and feel “eggy”, but I’m sure nutritional yeast and turmeric were involved. Yummy!

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I was originally going for the Mushroom Hash, with caramelized onion, arugula, kale, scrambled tofu, bell peppers, and hash browns on a roasted leek puree. Unfortnately, they had just sold out and I settled on the California Hash, which came with organic Saskatchewan quinoa nut fritters, collard greens, yams, bell peppers, and hash browns, on creamy cilantro sauce, topped with seahorse dressing and pea sprouts.

“Settled on” would be the wrong words to describe this. After my first bite, I was completely blown away. Beautifully-cooked vegetables and fresh, flavourful sauce made a filling meal to remember. The quinoa nut fritters were like chewy falafels with a glorious crust, and reminded me of a cross between zucchini fritters from Paris and chickpea falafels from Thrive Energy lab. The green sauce underneath was made of cilantro and walnut, and the yellow spots are a vegan Hollandaise. I demolished this bowl and couldn’t get enough of those fritters, the sauce, and the yams. Mmmmm.

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The dessert of the day was underwhelming for me. It sounded great theoretically: vegan chocolate brownie with dates, walnuts, and almonds, and an avocado chocolate ganache served with berries. We asked for this square to be cut in half so we could share, but it turned out to be extremely filling. The “brownie” part itself was very chewy and firm, and the flavor seemed to be “off”. The avocado chocolate ganache was decent, though, and I was disappointed to see sliced apples on my plate instead of berries. I would not order this again and much, much prefer peanut butter-chocolate chip Larabars or black bean brownies for their texture and flavor.

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Thank you Rachel, for a delicious meal! What is our next destination? 😉


Dinner at The Flying Pig with Mom, Dad, Seline, and Grandpa

Have any of you seen Cirque du Soleil before? I saw one show in Montreal, Quebec in the summer of 2014 and another one right before this lovely dinner at The Flying Pig. Kooza was a funny and mega-entertaining show, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the performers and their incredible stunts. The sounds (live music!), costumes, and pure skill was unbelievable. I can’t even describe how good the show was – both this one, and the one I saw in Montreal. If you haven’t had the chance to watch Cirque du Soleil, I’m begging you to! What the human body can accomplish simply mesmerizes me every time.

Back to the food! Rachel introduced me to The Flying Pig and raved about the brunches she’s enjoyed here, so I knew that we had to stop by after the show. It certainly did not disappoint! My favourite bite was goat cheese + caramelized walnut + beet + arugula, but the seared cod was tender and equally delicious. I’m going to have to try brunch here next time!

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  1. Beet salad with arugula and goat cheese, candied walnuts
  2. Pulled pork poutine
  3. Chicken breast with asparagus and mashed potatoes
  4. Seared cod with spring vegetables

Lunch at Olive Garden Bellingham with Dad, Seline, Uncle Charles and Aunt Mimi

One of the highest-priority things on my “To-Do in BC” list was go to Trader Joe’s! And for one reason only – I wanted a jar of TJ’s SunButter. Thanks, Jack, for getting me totally addicted to the stuff! Sunflower butter is so dang delicious on bananas, in oatmeal, and on yogurt. So we drove to the states, shopped, bought clothes, got my precious jar of SunButter (which, unfortunately, had to STAY in BC because of airplane regulations), and enjoyed a meal at Olive Garden, the usual.

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I started with some chicken and gnocchi soup. Guys, I LOVE gnocchi! Have you tried it before? I’ve only ever had it a couple times from Olive Garden, and once from Wild Rice, and I enjoy ever single chewy, creamy, doughy bite. Next on my must-eat list = sweet potato gnocchi!

Dad had a customizable pasta bowl which included cavatappi pasta, crispy chicken, a spicy meat sauce, and parmesan.

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Mimi and I decided to go halfsies, and I ordered something from their “Lighter Fare” menu. Tilapia with shrimp and a butter, garlic, and white wine sauce with lots of herbs, served with broccoli. Mimi enjoyed the smoked mozzarella manicotti, and we shared. 🙂 The filling in her manicotti was delicious, and I loved my tilapia. The broccoli was really unsatisfying. Chopped into tiny florets and boiled for probably 10+ minutes, this broccoli was mushy hospital food at best. Still, broccoli is broccoli and I ate it all.

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Dessert was redeeming! Apple galette with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. I really enjoyed the flaky, buttery pastry with the cool ice cream. Would definitely order this dessert again 🙂

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Going to TJs, the Bellis Fair mall, and Olive Garden is becoming a yearly tradition for our family! I love it. Do you have any family traditions? 🙂


And, because I have no idea when else to post this – here’s Seline’s favourite recipe for macaroni and cheese. It’s super quick and easy to make, yet decadent and meets all the requirements for comfort food. For added nutrition, try adding some chopped non-hospital-mushy-like broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, asparagus, or mushrooms. You could also go the Whole Foods route and add breadcrumbs to the top, then broiling until they become crispy. Yum!

Seline’s Classic Mac and Cheese

Serves two, or one hungry teenager after school

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 oz macaroni
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk and ½ cup cream OR ¾ cup half-and-half and ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (can use a mix)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Boil water, salt heavily, and cook macaroni according to package directions. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat.
  3. Add flour, salt and pepper. Whisk until well blended.
  4. Pour milk and cream gradually and stir constantly.
  5. Bring mixture to a light boil and cook, stirring constantly.
  6. Reduce heat and cook, stirring constantly, for ten minutes or until thickened.
  7. Add shredded cheddar cheese and whisk to melt. Simmer until all cheese is melted. Taste the sauce – you can add extra flavourings here: more salt, more pepper, some spices like paprika, garlic, or maybe some Dijon mustard.
  8. Add cooked macaroni noodles to the saucepan. Stir and toss to coat with cheese sauce.

That is definitely it for today, because I have LOTS of work to get done and things to prepare for next week. Dad and I have plans to tour Toronto for two days – tomorrow and Sunday! – so I need to get ahead with schoolwork. This semester is a busy one for me, as I have seven courses: human physiology, physics, psychology (my favourite course, surprisingly), anatomy + anatomy lab, a clinical practice lab, and French. 🙂

I hope your weekend will be filled with great moments and yummy food as well!

I Miss Vancouver! {Earls // Breka // Nuba // Soirette}

Before I went to Waterloo, I had some fun foodie adventures with family and friends. Sorry for the late photos and post – these have been hiding in my Drafts box for over half a year!

One Sunday morning we went to Earls for brunch. Click here to see our first meal at Earls! We were served complimentary cranberry muffins that were topped with powdered sugar. I had a bite of this muffin, which was tasty!

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Seline ordered the margherita pizza, which she thought was delicious as usual. This was her third or fourth time ordering this pizza at Earls!

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Dad had their special cheeseburger with truffle fries. We still prefer the truffle fries from the Sandbar, though.

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Mom decided on the Mediterranean linguine with grape tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and parsley.

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The Kung Pao noodle bowl for Grandpa! These noodles were tossed with tofu, carrots, peppers, cucumber, cilantro, and topped with sesame seeds.

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I had the eggs florentine with two poached eggs, mushrooms, spinach, creamy parmesan sauce, and polenta. The polenta was my favourite part! This was served with a slice of sourdough bread for dipping, but I didn’t find it necessary.

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One afternoon, Seline and I enjoyed desserts at Breka Bakery in downtown Vancouver. I chose two and rated them…

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1Not good 2Okay/Decent 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6Incredible! Must-try and would order again

Chocolate Almond Croissant: 1.5/6

  • Thick and chewy, reminiscent of a Costco or Superstore croissant
  • Not at all flaky or shatter-y
  • Quite dense, no prominent butter flavour
  • Outside: large amount of sliced almonds, thin drizzle of semisweet chocolate, and a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar
  • There was no almond paste inside
  • Layer of chocolate flat “balls” inside, like M&Ms without the shell: not entirely melted
  • Scant amount of chocolate inside
  • Mostly I disliked the texture of the croissant, because I think they should shatter and be very flaky/buttery. I was also disappointed with the filling, which was only chocolate. The only almonds here were the almond slices on top.

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This was the white chocolate cheesecake, which I enjoyed quite a lot!

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White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake with Pecan Crust: 4.5/6

  • Great white chocolate flavour
  • Cheesecake part was not too sweet nor too tangy
  • White chocolate tasted great with the slightly sour raspberries and nutty crust
  • Thin layer of raspberry at the bottom
  • Two raspberries on top – I liked how there was no sugary glaze on top
  • Whipped cream was flavourless and bland, probably store-bought
  • Whipped cream made in-house with some vanilla would be better
  • Crust was nutty and buttery, great texture and not too crumbly

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Another day, I had dinner with Rachel from Moments with Rae. We went to Nuba downtown after I finished a day of volunteering at the aquarium.

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Nuba is famous for healthy and delicious Lebanese food. The restaurant was busy, but not crowded.

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I ordered chicken kebabs with hummus. They were good, but not super memorable. I’m not big on chicken, so I wouldn’t recommend these. 😦

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This was another thing I ordered: halloumi cheese with tomatoes, basil, honey, and walnuts. The cheese was chewier and more rubbery than I’d expected. It was like a cross between mozzarella in terms of texture, and feta for flavour. A little salty for my taste, but the chopped herbs and sweet nuts balanced it out pretty nicely.

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Rachel’s tabbouleh was loaded with parsley!

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After a long day at the aquarium, I stopped by Soirette in Coal Harbour where I met Mom and Seline.

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I ordered one chocolate ganache macaron and one pistachio macaron.

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Essentially I wanted to come to Soirette to try Vancouver’s best macarons before leaving for Paris. Now that I’m back, though, I can say that although I’ve tried some of the best macarons in Paris and Van, these still aren’t my thing. 😦

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The chocolate one was good but could’ve had a more pronounced chocolate flavour with a hint of nuttiness. This was a little plain for me. The pistachio was excellent and had notes of white chocolate. I liked the pistachio macaron much more! To be honest, I liked Soirette’s pistachio macaron more than the famous pistachio macaron from Laduree in Paris.

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That is it for now, everyone! Have a delicious week 🙂

Matchstick Coffee with Rae

Hi everyone! How are you all doing?

To all Vancouverites out there – check out the sunshine we’ve had the past week! It’s incredible. I’m loving Vancity more and more every single day (when the sun is out, of course). I was so sick of the rain, and the recent weather has just been PERFECT for spring walks, gardening, and biking.

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Monday morning was Victoria Day, so there was no school. Unfortunately, hot yoga was also cancelled. 😥 This time, I called to make sure – last time I showed up and there was no one there! It’s okay, though… more time to cook a delish bowl of banana oats. This one featured banana, berries, fresh pumpkin muffin, and hemp hearts. I also stirred in an egg white during the last minute of cooking. It bulked up the oats a bit, added valuable protein, and didn’t change the flavour one bit (thanks, banana!).

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Dad drove Mom and I to Matchstick Coffee on Kingsway so we could meet up with the lovely Rachel of Moments with Rae and her mother. We were there a couple minutes earlier and spent some time admiring the super hip decor. I love Vancouver and it’s hipster places – Bandidas Taqueria is another favourite.

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Their menu isn’t bad (my photo IS bad, though – sorry!) and features food for every appetite. From granola to hummus toast to salad, everything is fresh and healthy. Plus, their menu uses mostly organic and local produce. It makes me very happy to know that such influential restaurants care about nutrition and their environmental footprint 🙂

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First, I ordered a pretty little cappuccino for Mom. The barista put it into a to-go cup with a pretty design on it, but I asked her to pour it into a mug, so the nice foamy swirl disappeared. But it still tasted very fresh. I added some cane sugar to sweeten it up a bit. This was very high-quality coffee, but since I’m not a huge coffee person, it wasn’t my favourite food of the day. More on that almond croissant in just a bit!

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I was debating between the Harvest Salad and the hummus toast, but the lady I spoke with at the counter recommended the hummus toast, hands down. It was definitely the right choice! Thick slices of bread were smothered with creamy white bean hummus and topped with thinly-sliced beets, purple carrots, cucumbers, mixed greens, dill sprigs (I think), freshly-ground black pepper, sunflower seeds, and a drizzle of honey. The sunflower seeds were excellent – they added such a nice flavour and contrasting texture. The drizzle of honey was perfect on the greens, and I felt like it complemented the whole wheat bread. Yummy!

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Matchstick Coffee, along with Thomas Haas and several other bakeries (Thierry and Chez Christophe’s, to name a few) are known for their incredible almond croissants. I ordered one of these famous croissants, and coincidentally, so did Rachel! It’s funny because Rachel and I ordered the EXACT same foods – white bean hummus toast + almond croissant. Only difference was that she ordered lattes and I chose the cappuccino for mom. 🙂

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I thought this croissant was super yummy, though not as light and tender as the one from Thomas Haas. It was still a top-notch baked good, though. Too bad their chocolate almond croissants were sold out. When I eat these little big guys, I go for the centres first! Their creamy, fragrant insides are my favourite thing. Ever. I absolutely loved this croissant. Wish I had some right now! Look how buttery and flaky it is!

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That photo on the left inspired by Rachel – her top-view photos are stunning. 🙂

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Demolished!

That’s it for now – I’ve got a yummy recipe post that I can’t wait to share with you all. Have a wonderful weekend!