The 42-Ingredient Salad

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a Thai restaurant. I’m pretty leery of them since I love cooking Thai food at home, whether that’s a flavourful curry or a tasty pad thai. This meal, from PAI Toronto, did not disappoint. I loved scraping the coconut meat out of the coconut itself!

I know you want this. It’s a cinnamon sugar cone, chocolate soft-serve, Nutella spread, butter toffee bits, cocoa drizzle and salted caramel brownies.

From the website: Chimneys, or Kurtoskalacs, are freshly baked Hungarian bread-like pastries that have a satisfying crunch on the outside and a light and fluffy dough on the inside. They have a hollow, cylindrical shape and you can pull them apart like a spiral as you eat. We bake traditional Chimneys Cakes and also Chimney Cones™ (aka “Doughnut Cones”). Our base dough is made fresh on the premises daily with 100% natural and mostly organic ingredients and is vegan. There are only seven ingredients.

Croissants freeze so well. These were stored in the freezer until a sad day that I ran out of bread. 🙂

Banana smoothie in a bowl with muffin on top.

A Cuban brunch spot in Roncesvalles, called La Cubana, serves up some mean baked eggs! The queso cheese and spicy rice and beans were my favourite. Yuca was so tasty with the crispy cabbage.

Oatmeal gives me life. Especially pear oatmeal with granola and PB, one of my new favourite combinations.

So many eggs have been devoured lately!

Chabrol is a French restaurant in Yorkville. I enjoyed this entire escarole gratin and an apple tart which is baked on the SPOT, with homemade puff pastry. I enjoyed every bite of this classic, simple, but ultra-satisfying meal.

Toronto truly has so much to offer. The Royal Ontario Museum is such a spectacular place. I’m the first to admit that I’m not a big art lover or history buff, but I thoroughly enjoyed browsing the Biodiversity floor, where I learned that 99% of known species are smaller than a bee. WHOA!

The famous 45-ingredient salad from Hibiscus was also enjoyed. The glass noodles on top had incredible texture, and I loved the creamy ginger soup. That’s a raw cracker on the side, made with dehydrated rye and other cracker-ish ingredients. I liked the kidney beans and sweet potato mash in this bowl, which I do want to recreate!

My doggie Arnie is doing great back home in BC. He had surgery a couple weeks ago to remove a tumour on his back, and recovery has been going quite well. He still loves to run and play!

I’m not really sure why I’m showing you these half-eaten meals, but I already uploaded the photos, so…

Have a phenomenal rest of the week, all!

The Best Vegan Pasta Sauce + Recipe Rewind

It’s Friday, Friday // Gotta get down on Friday // Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend ♫ The weekend part is true, Rebecca Black! Every time I announce that it’s Friday, her song crosses my mind. Just me?

A couple days ago I made a massive batch of enchiladas. The corn tortillas come in packages of eight, so I made eight yummy rolls and enjoyed them on four separate days with avocado and medium spicy salsa. Here’s a little list of what I put in these enchiladas:

  • Baked sweet potato, chopped into cubes
  • 1 can of black beans cooked with 1/4 tsp cumin and 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • Frozen corn
  • Chopped green onions
  • Grated pepper jack cheese

They turned out awesome! I could eat enchiladas all day long.

Pear pancakes were also devoured! These lovely pancakes were made with 1/2 grated pear, 2 tbsp spelt flour and 2 tbsp buckwheat flour, 1 egg, a splash of almond milk, 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/8 tsp baking soda, with lots of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla extract. Cooked with coconut oil and topped with peanut butter and yogurt + more cinnamon. These were great on a slow morning!

French Toast was made another day. I always make this vegan French toast recipe when I’m out of eggs but craving sweet, delicious French toast. It uses traditional French toast spices like cinnamon and vanilla, along with coconut milk for creaminess and nutritional yeast for egginess. I love this recipe.

It just never fails! This was filled with pumpkin, peanut butter, and cinnamon. As you can see, creamy yogurt is practically mandatory with any breakfast I create 😉

It was so tasty that I enjoyed the same breakfast two days in a row. You need to check out the recipe and see for yourself! My original recipe uses peanut butter, banana, and chocolate, but a delicious fall spin could involve pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, and creamy nut butter. YUM.

I subconsciously had a week plentiful in vegan meals, apparently!

Truth: ran out of eggs and milk, too lazy to go to the store.

Anyways, you need to try out this recipe, too! It’s a vegan mac and cheese recipe made with any type of squash. I used pumpkin puree, but have also made it before using kabocha squash and sweet potato. Pumpkin puree was so convenient and tasted amazing. More mac and peas, please!

Dreamy Squash Mac and Cheese Sauce (Vegan)

Serves 3

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. butter or Earth Balance (vegan butter)
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 5-6 tbsp. nutritional yeast (to taste)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, roasted butternut squash, or mashed kabocha squash (boil 10 minutes without skin, then mash well)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • sprinkle cayenne
  • sprinkle cinnamon
  • finely-chopped sage (optional)
Directions
  1. Cook onion with butter until caramelized (about 25 minutes).
  2. Whisk all other ingredients together until well combined.
  3. Pour wet ingredients into saucepan. Cook until thickened.
  4. If the sauce is chunky because of the kabocha or cubed butternut, transfer to a blender and blend until fully-combined.
  5. Store in airtight container in the fridge for 7 days. Enjoy with any type of pasta and vegetables.

When I was smaller, I hated carrot cake. I think it was those tiny, chewy, crunchy nuts that turned me off because they would be immersed in a squishy bite of spiced quick bread. Something about having nuts in carrot cake just bugged me, but now I’m neutral about them (same deal for raisins). How about you? Do you like carrot cake “loaded” with stuff, or plain? Anyways, here’s a fun and delicious riff on carrot cake – in breakfast form! Win-win, I tell you.

PS: you need to try this with creamy French cheese-style yogurt. I’m not 100% sure of what the name is – fromage blanc, perhaps? – but it tastes incredible with the spiced carrot cake. Reminiscent of cream cheese icing. Mmmm. Cream cheese icing.

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

Serves 2

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • sprinkle salt
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed shredded carrots
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • heaping tbsp maple syrup
  • heaping 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp freshly-grated ginger
  • OPTIONAL: raisins or chopped walnuts
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Transfer to a greased casserole dish.
  4. Top with raisins or walnuts if desired.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes until lightly golden on the edge. It will still look a little wet but will become more firm as it cools.
  6. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
  7. When it is fully cool, it will become firm enough to slice into squares.
  8. Top with maple syrup, coconut milk, yogurt, or more.

Last but not least, some loaded Mexican-style sweet potatoes. Black beans, corn, scallions, and that yummy red pepper jack!

That’s it for today, everyone!

In Case You Missed It:

  1. New Favourite Vegan Recipes! 3 Yummy Things to Bake ASAP 🙂
  2. Life Lately – November Edition: co-op, curry, sandwiches, pizza
  3. 3 AWESOME Recipes! Zucchini Cake (low-fat), Tofu Hash, Carrot Cake Overnight Oatmeal
  4. Princess Cafe and Sweet Potato Stew
  5. Whole Foods Toronto and Random Eats
  6. Pancakes, Thanksgiving, and Interviews
  7. My Top 10 Favourite Ways to Be More Active
  8. A Day in the Life of a 2nd Year Kinesiology Student

Satisfying Summer Stuff

Long time no talk blog! I feel bad because I haven’t even been busy – just kind of lazy. 🙂 But still productive… kind of.

Summer funnies: TAN lines, summer expectations vs. reality, more tan stuff, and relatable minions.

And… back to the food. A quesadilla that wouldn’t fold, topped with egg, broccoli, cheese, and salsa.

Cinnamon bun muffins were made and enjoyed. These paleo muffins were made with a whole cup of almond flour, maple syrup instead of sugar, and other goodies.

Any guesses what this is? Hmm…

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Fried eggs have been SO “in” recently. I love them with avocado toast and veggies.

Baked oatmeal with berries, yogurt, and nut butter. Chocolate baked oatmeal is so good.

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Pancakes that failed to flip, made with ricotta and oats, topped with smashed banana and nut butter.

My roomie took this photo, and all I can say is that this chocolate mug cake looks SEDUCTIVE. Is there another way to describe this photo?

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Pear baked oatmeal, using my normal banana baked oatmeal recipe but swapping mashed banana for a cubed pear. Yummy.

Roomie made tuna melts in her special tuna-melt panini press. These look so crispy and perfect!

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Pear pancakes were enjoyed another morning.

I also made fried rice one day! Egg on top, this time, rather than scrambled in.

And I baked chocolate banana brownie cake squares! They were freaking delicious, as usual. A little too yummy, because the three of us finished 16 servings in 2 days.

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Broccoli-cheddar frittata with buttered flax buns.

Baked garlic-herb salmon, potatoes, and veggies! I had seconds and thirds of this meal and ended up so full that I could barely stand. :O

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Baked banana oatmeal, which you’ve seen about 12093 times already.

Pear oats made on the stovetop with a side of yogurt, granola, and banana bread.

More pancakes, this time topped with banana and served with yummy yogurt and granola.

Lebanese food at Arabesque Cafe was enjoyed last night! I had the vegetarian plate which came with deep-fried zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant, and lots of hummus. The fried veggies were quite tasty, but too greasy. 😦

For dessert, the roomies and I enjoyed Menchie’s! I haven’t had Menchie’s before, but was so happy to see that they had crushed Reese’s PB cups and cubed cheesecake. OMG. I think I like frozen yogurt even MORE than ice cream because of the toppings.

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Mom’s cooking looks lovely, too… and she got a haircut! 🙂 I can’t wait to be back in BC next month.

Also, it’s been so nice outside recently so the UW Acro Yoga club has been meeting at Waterloo Park. These are some of the new poses that we tried, with the help of Google and these squishy blue mats that we couldn’t live without. Have you tried acro yoga before?

Above: counter balance and flying high bird

Acro is my favourite form of yoga and I think next year, I’d love to attend some acro workshops in Toronto and possibly get a certification in acro.

Above: floating paschi and flag pose

Check out these new pages on the blog:

ACRO YOGA

AERIAL SILKS

YOGA PHOTO JOURNAL


That’s it for today, everyone! Hope your weekend is AWESOME!

Oomycota + Memorial Banquet

*Seline (sister) and I are talking on FaceTime*

Me: Seline, there was white, cottony mold all over the banana bread that I baked last week.

Seline: Zygomycota? No, no, it’s gotta be oomycota.

*She is studying fungus in Biology 11*

Me: Oomycota? That’s cool. I should call my new blog post that.

Seline: K.

*I name blog post “oomycota“*

You’ll see the moldy banana bread in just a bit…

(actually it’s at the very end. You know, for a grand finale)


Last Friday, I spoke at a memorial banquet for the families of the donors who gave their bodies to science. It was a little really intimidating to speak in front of ~80 crying family members who were close with the people I knew as cadavers. Overall, it was so rewarding and beautiful to be able to thank them for supporting the decisions of their loved ones.

Some friends sang; others played musical instruments. I had no idea my classmates were so incredibly talented!

At the reception, I had a Nanaimo bar and a very sweet marble-chocolate cake bar square thing, along with some kiwi, cantaloupe, and grapes.

Since we were all dressed up, lots of photos were taken in the beautiful garden that the students at Renison University College get to enjoy every day!

Madhulika made granola, and Mom did as well! Mom liked it 🙂 Speaking of the granola, I need to buy some more oats to make this!

Ever since exams ended, I’ve been going to hot yoga every day! After classes, the room is always empty to I get to play some more.

On Saturday morning, I went to downtown Kitchener’s cute little bakery, called the Golden Hearth Bakery. The 40-minute bus ride was soooooooo worth this crispy, gooey, sweet, nutty almond croissant. It was, dare I say, as good as the ones I enjoyed in Paris?!

The Kitchener Market is a lovely place, and so busy on Saturday mornings. I found myself wishing I hadn’t gone grocery shopping the day before!

One morning I had ZERO produce in the house so I had plain ricotta pancakes. Seriously plain. Sadly plain. Plain plain plain. But still quite filling!

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Are you guys drooling at this?! Baked rigatoni with gruyere, butternut squash, and crispy sage. Mmmm, and yes I had seconds, thirds, and then fourths. I think I ate 3/4 of the whole dish in one sitting. Fresh herbs make everything look more gourmet, in my opinion.

Do you like cooking with sage? What do you pair it with?

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This was probably my favourite meal of the week: warm couscous with shrimp, black beans and corn, shredded carrot, goat cheese, asparagus, and scallions. Warm salads = bomb.

This weird-looking thing was a French-toastified pita bread topped with the last of my cottage cheese and cinnamon. Simple, simple.

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The rest of my cottage cheese had gone into a lasagna that I made the night before, which had tons of mozzarella and gruyere on top. This vegetarian lasagna was made with zucchini and mushrooms.

Served with crunchy garlic asparagus.

Brie, zucchini, and pesto on toast was devoured after I tried to stop the fire alarm (silly oven).

And I had a tasty frittata made with all the veggies in the fridge + goat cheese.

Quesadillas another day, made with an awesome tortilla (okay, two) and black beans with corn and cheddar.

More frittata, this time enjoyed with too-toasted-toast and a side of FaceTime.

This oatmeal was gross. Yeah, I just called oatmeal disgusting. I made this out of an overly overripe pear, and it was so mushy and had a fermented alcohol taste. I picked out all the pear chunks and ate all the oats and yogurt though, then added more granola 🙂

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More pesto toasties! These were also topped with caramelized onion, brie, and butternut.

A simple banana oatmeal bake for breakfast one morning. Quick and easy.

More quesadillas…

And amazing banana-chocolate oatmeal.

Toasties again.

Two-ingredient sweet potato pancakes from the post that I reblogged a while ago – they turned out so well and I can’t wait to make them again.

Scrambled cheesy eggs with avocado toast. You’ve seen it before 😉

Ricotta chocolate oatmeal with pear and granola.

And another pasta bake, this time with sweet potato, green onion, broccoli, and cubed eggplant.

YUM!

This was yum, too.

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Fresh garlic-herb salmon on a bed of couscous with carrot and mushrooms. So simple, but super satisfying. I love simply-spiced salmon.

This oatmeal bowl was so photogenic! I miss fresh berries, but it’s hard for me to justify buying them because a little box is around $7 here. 😦

Oh yeah. That quiche.

Gooey brownies and a mess that I made. I’m good at making those. Messes.

And a banana bread. Yep, THAT banana bread. Before it got moldy, it was actually quite good with brown sugar, FOUR whole bananas, and cinnamon and vanilla.

Voila… gross.

This conversation made me laugh out loud!

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And… that is it for today! I’m going to do a little meal prep, clean my messy room, and maybe take a nap. Post-exam life is the absolute best! Take care, everyone 🙂

New Favourite Recipes: You MUST Try!

Alright! I’ve got a super long post today, but I promise it’s worth reading because I’m going to share some of my new recipe obsessions 🙂 Keep scrollin’ on!

You have probably already seen the recipe for my healthy tuna pasta bake. I swear this recipe is irresistible and such a go-to! I added lots more veggies this time, including celery, mushrooms, and carrots.

This dinner took longer than expected: chicken broth quinoa with TONS of sautéed vegetables and baked spicy salmon. I made the salmon with garlic, cayenne and paprika, with some butter on top of maximum deliciousness.

Scrambled eggs are a go-to. This meal was dairy-free because I ditched the cheese for nutritional yeast. Some nutritional yeast whisked into eggs adds a nice parmesan-like flavor, and, well, lots of nutrition. 🙂 Roasted red pepper hummus on my toast. Delicious! This was a lunch because I’m always cooking oats for breakfast.

Tuna salad made with a mashed avocado and cheddar cheese, grilled until toasty. I enjoyed this lunch while waiting for my granola to bake, and while talking to Mom on FaceTime.

Cottage cheese pancakes that failed miserably in terms of appearance. Thankfully they did not taste bad! Cottage cheese makes pancakes heavy and hard to flip, in my opinion.

Falafel, spinach, hummus, and couscous with kabocha squash that was roasted… and burned.

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Better pancakes made with coconut flour and egg. these were a little too eggy for my taste, which from my experience is quite normal for coconut flour recipes. They were good nonetheless, topped with nut butter, coconut, maple, and chocolate yogurt blobs.

This was the kabocha that I made after a day at Niagara Falls. I baked it for 40 minutes instead of 20 (smart Cindy) and they were definitely overbaked. Still delicious, though, with couscous, spinach, and shrimp.

Then I needed cheese the next day! 1 egg + 1 egg yolk (you’ll see why in just a second!) scrambled with spinach, and two pieces of toast with avocado. One with harvarti and the other topped with brie, these toasts were a simple dinner.

The egg white went into this amazing coconut flour cocoa mug cake. This was one of the BEST things I’ve ever made in a microwave. Here’s how I made it:

Coconut Flour Mug Cake
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp. coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  1. Grease coffee mug with coconut oil.
  2. Mix all wet ingredients and whisk well.
  3. Add baking soda and baking powder. Whisk well again.
  4. Add cocoa powder and coconut flour. Mix until combined.
  5. Pour batter (it is liquidy!) into the mug and microwave for 2 minutes. Serve and enjoy with Greek yogurt and peanut butter for HEAVEN!

Try making pear oatmeal with coconut milk. No recipe needed – just make basic oats, throw in a chopped pear, and add a big splash of creamy coconut milk. This bowl is so filling, so delicious, and tastes like a decadent dessert. Topped with granola and muffin for me 🙂

Here’s that salmon I was talking about earlier. Just top with cayenne, paprika, garlic, and some butter. Don’t skimp on the butter here, guys. Salmon is naturally buttery, but a little extra doesn’t hurt anyone 😉 Plus it adds a richness that offsets the fishiness of the fish. Salt and pepper, too!

  • Garlic, minced or crushed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Paprika
  • Butter
  • Easy as that! Bake at 400 degrees for 13-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your filet. This took 13 minutes.

I don’t think I need to give you a recipe for toast! Plain whole wheat bread topped with my new kale pesto and some brie. Bake until crisp, then broil to melt the cheese. Heavenly.

Here it is, along with some sautéed vegetables. The best comforting dinner.

Why not grill some avocado and throw it in a sandwich with harvarti, roasted red pepper, and avocado with hummus? This sandwich was phenomenal.

I made a lasagna one afternoon using cottage cheese and a bunch of chopped vegetables, with butternut squash sauce and cubed butternut squash. Sounds pretty gourmet (actually, not really) but it was really just the leftover veggies I had in the fridge, along with leftover cheese and some frozen butternut squash. It turned out dang delicious, though. I ate this square but could’ve easily downed another.

Thai green coconut curried tofu with vegetables, brown rice, and crushed cashews made an easy lunch.

More of that pasta bake!

This plate of food isn’t the most photogenic, but I can’t get over how good the veggie + tuna + cheddar combination is.

And, more curry. This time with frozen edamame because all my tofu was gone. 😛 Don’t you guys feel like edamame is “the forgotten protein”? Everyone refers to nuts, beans and lentils, tofu, and eggs for vegetarian proteins – but edamame is delicious and rich in protein as well. Eat up!

Leftover cottage cheese from my lasagna went into stuffed French toast, with a sliced pear, almond butter, and cinnamon. I would highly recommend making French toast with cottage cheese! It’s delectable.

A ton of veggies: 1/2 a head of cauliflower roasted and chopped, sautéed with spinach and served with a poached egg and avocado toast.

Avocado on a multigrain pita with an omelet.

Brie cheese on a burned pita with pesto, sweet potato, and cauliflower. What do you do when you burn an entire plate of food because you forget that you hit the “broil” button? Well, if you’re me, you plate it all, photograph it, and eat it all because charred food is actually kinda good.

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This looks like a ton of pancakes (well, it is. 8 of ’em!), but it is just one recipe. Super simple: two eggs, almond flour, and 1/4 cup of applesauce make up the base. Toppings are yours to choose from, but I made a simple sunflower butter chocolate sauce out of maple syrup, sunflower butter, cocoa powder, coconut oil, and salt. Microwave and spread to your heart’s content!

I always have my breakfast with some Earl Grey tea, or if I’m feeling a little fancy, I make myself some London Fog latte. This is the recipe I use every time 🙂 I don’t have a milk frother so it isn’t super cafe-like, but tastes absolutely amazing and always warms me up.


 Cindy’s Favourite Homemade London Fog Latte

Serves one lucky person

Ingredients

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 Earl Grey tea bag
  • 1/2 cup milk or almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 1-3 tsp sugar (I use one heaping tsp of coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place tea bag in water for 3 minutes.
  2. Remove tea bag.
  3. Stir in the sugar until dissolved.
  4. Microwave milk or almond milk for 50 seconds to a minute until warm-hot and nearly simmering. You can whisk it here if you would like it to be foamy, but I personally don’t like foam.
  5. Stir the milk into the latte.
  6. Add the optional vanilla extract.
  7. Enjoy!

 

Broccoli, parmesan, and a little soup before class.

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Are you getting sick of my Thai curry yet? This batch had sweet potato in it. My favourite curry addition!

This was a multigrain pita with banana and chocolate sunflower butter, pan-fried until crispy and absolutely glorious.

I really liked this dinner of couscous with broccoli, shrimp, goat cheese, and butternut squash. It is my go-to dinner because it takes 10 minutes to whip up when everything is chopped up in the fridge.

Tomato scrambled eggs that because a big plate of mush.

Pear oatmeal is a whole new world of delicious. I love these photos!

And… pasta!

I love the combination of pasta with squash, garlic, and cheese. Once, I made a super yummy butternut squash and ricotta bake, but for some reason, I can’t seem to find the photos! They must be hidden somewhere in my computer. 😦 Does that ever happen to you? Oh well, maybe this is a fitting place to share the recipe!


Butternut Squash Ricotta Pasta Bake

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 bowl chopped butternut squash (flexible – to your taste)
  • canola oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Dried basil
  • 200g diced tomatoes
  • sea salt
  • 250g dried penne (I used whole wheat)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 250 mL chicken broth
  • 100g mozzarella ball
  • Fresh sage, leaves picked
  • Butter for cooking sage

Instructions

  1. My squash was frozen so I popped it in the microwave for a minute with some water. Otherwise, roast it, or use leftover squash.
  2. Pour a couple of lugs of olive oil into a large frying pan, add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes. Add your tomatoes to the pan, breaking them up with a wooden spoon and bring to the boil. Drop in the squash, bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the penne and cook for a couple of minutes less than it says on the packet. Drain, then toss with the sauce.
  4. Sprinkle sauce with dried basil and sprinkle into the pan with some salt and pepper. Stir in the ricotta and the stock, then bring back to the boil.
  5. Rub a large baking tray, ovenproof pan with olive oil and spoon in all the pasta and sauce. Tear over the ball of mozzarella.
  6. Pop it into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbling. I broiled it for about 10 minutes on low. Lightly fry sage in butter and sprinkle on top.

Dang, I really wish I had pictures for you! Just believe me that it was super yummy, okay? 😉

Icicles!

 Yesssss to randomnessssssss. Okay, that was weird. I swear I’m not usually that annoying.

I want this taped on my wall! Or printed on my phone case! Or tattooed on my back! Or on a shower curtain! Or – oh my goodness – as a yoga mat! What are some of your favourite ways to take a break?!

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Whew! Was that a long post or what?!

Happy Friday (tomorrow) guys!

10 Ways Food Blogging Ruined My Life

 Welcome to my first post of 2016…
  • Becoming a foodie abolished my inability to realize that I will never be a perfect eater, exerciser, or writer. I’m never going to throw my hair into a perfect messy bun and complete a 5-mile run before dawn, then come home for an organic kale-goji-maca-spirulina (what even IS spirulina?) smoothie. I will never master the art of photography or write flawless blog posts. And that’s okay. It’s fine if I feel sore one day and skip a workout. It’s not a problem if I “accidentally” have two extra scoops of nut butter after my morning oatmeal (this happens regularly!). Food-blogging has helped me understand that the most I can do is my best, and that I should always shoot for the moon knowing that I will land among the stars if I miss.

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Quinoa tossed with roasted zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, and white cheddar

 

  • It took away all of my laziness and lack of creativity – because I love playing with food. Honestly, oatmeal artwork seems like a pretty trivial and ridiculous hobby, but it’s so therapeutic. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of devouring a big bowl that’s been decorated in a way that makes you happy. I’ve mentioned this before, but a bowl of cooked rolled oats is essentially a blank canvas for any ingredient you wish: you can let your imagination run wild with oatmeal and do some very, very innovative designs on those oats.

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Green smoothie bowl made with one frozen banana, 2 tbsp peanut butter, almond milk, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, pinch of salt, some cinnamon, and lots of spinach – topped with berries and crushed coconut cashews

 

  • It smashed my fear of travelling alone, or doing things by myself. Because food is the motivation for 99% of my adventures (no kidding here, I went to Paris solely for the croissants), I know that I will never get tired, afraid, or worried along the way. Food is always on my mind and inspires me to be brave and walk just a little further. The craziest thing I’ve ever done for food was probably ride the Metro for two hours in Quebec last summer, then walk for a good half hour just for the shredded duck and fig jam sandwich in Montreal. Totally worth it.

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Whole Foods hot bar buffet lunch: favourites included the chicken tomato stew, smoked mozzarella pasta salad, and mashed yams

 

  • Becoming a foodie took away any shyness and anxiety I had previously, towards interacting with people my age. Knowing about food and being able to talk about it made me a much more outgoing person. Now, when I meet new people, it’s so easy to strike up a conversation and keep it going, especially if one of us has food involved. I just have so, so much to say about food!

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Chocolate-banana oatmeal with crumbled hazelnut chocolate muffin, blackberries, and sunflower butter with crushed coconut cashews

 

  • It vanquished my ability to criticize other people or judge them without knowing them. How can I point out other people’s weaknesses without first analyzing my own? Reading about the lives of other food bloggers has really opened my eyes about countless other factors in their lives: most of the time, it’s not all about food. I’ve learned so much about their underlying fears and problems, and I can relate to so many of them. Now, it’s hard for me to make a negative pre-assessment of someone without understanding their past or celebrating their strengths at the same time.

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Tea time at Aunt Mimi’s: Whole Foods cheesecake, Whole Foods apricot and blueberry coffee cake, with some dark roast coffee with brown sugar and whole milk

 

  • It completely destroyed any desire I had to be average, “okay”, or normal. Why should you be mediocre when you can be innovative? Inspiring?  Encouraging? Original? Food blogging, cooking and baking, and even talking about food have helped me discover my “voice” and passion for health.
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Get-together at family friend’s house: stir-fried vegetables with shrimp, eggs with radish, tofu, pan-fried fish

 

  • It shut down all my frustration and inability to cope with “uh-oh” situations. There isn’t much you can do when the beautifully-ripened avocado turns out to have mushy brown flesh, when you find bugs in your spinach, or when your sister accidentally gobbles up the famous Parisian macaron you were planning to enjoy. Now, I’m realizing these little things are really not the big deal I hyped them up to be at the time. These little things just aren’t worth stressing over.

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Get-together with Dad’s coworkers and their families: fruit, asparagus + scallops, eggs + leeks, stir-fried udon and vegetables, cantaloupe, and purple yam + taro tapioca soup with coconut milk for dessert

 

  • It screwed up any dread or anxiety I felt before addressing adults. Speaking to my elders has always been a forte, but I’ve refined this skill so much that I actually look forward to interviews and answering tricky questions. When I used to volunteer at the Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Coquitlam, it was terrifying to think that I had to spend several hours a week engaging in conversation with sick and injured people aged 70 and above, many with physical and cognitive disabilities. The challenging thing was knowing that I shouldn’t talk to them about clothing (they have to wear hospital gowns), their significant others (may or may not still be with them), their illness or injury (no one wants to talk about this!), or their hospital room (many of them were bitter about their rooms and roommates). Initially, I felt like there was absolutely nothing to chat about with these elderly patients – until I realized that most of them loved sharing stories about their hometowns and the food they enjoyed there. Sometimes, patients told me about their beloved recipes, childhood meals – which, gosh, are SO different from today’s salmon-and-quinoa dinner – cooking hacks, and more. One time, a lady called Maria from Greece described how she made tzatziki based on her grandmother’s recipe. The secrets include a pinch of white pepper and salting and wringing out the grated cucumber to prevent it from diluting the yogurt.

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Curry-yogurt chicken drumstick, quinoa with roasted sweet potato, roasted broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and zucchini // vegan pumpkin spice latte chocolate pudding cake with maple yogurt and crushed coconut cashews

 

  • It drained any chances I had of missing out on getting to know countless supportive and inspirational people, many of whom are dietitians-to-be or share my passion for food. The network of foodies, online and offline, is truly amazing. I wasn’t intending on naming some of them, but now I feel like sharing their wonderful blogs with you guys – please do check out some of my absolute favourite people on the Internet: the supportive and hilarious Stephanie from Mindful Eats and Treats, the sweet, down-to-earth domestic goddess Kate of The Domestikated Life, the sophisticated and talented photographer Jack of Jack’s Balancing Act, the crazy-creative and thoughtful Cassie at SuperFitBabe, and Cora of My Little Tablespoon, who is not only a brilliant writer, but also a recipe queen. You guys inspire me with each and every blog post, and I know that I will always be in store for a treat whenever you publish something new. Thank you for that.

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Carrot cake oatmeal with mashed banana, chia and flax, topped with crumbled banana almond muffin and sunflower butter

 

  • It destroyed my fear of food. Not much else needs to be said here.

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Tofu fried rice with vegetables // spinach and ricotta ravioli with roasted red pepper and parmesan

 

I know that there might be some negative habits and behaviours involved with being a healthy food blogger, but for the most part, they certainly don’t. In fact, the compassionate comments and words of encouragement far outweigh the dark side of being a foodie! Blogging about food and life has encouraged me to gradually mature into the well-rounded and accomplished adult I hope to become, armed with all the skills and assets I need to tackle personal and professional situations in the future.

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Whole wheat pita topped with sweet potato slices, spinach scrambled eggs, goat cheese, and sweet potato aioli // quinoa with butternut squash and tomato sauce, pine nuts, veggies

 

Cheers to the delicious life: a life filled with friendship, laughter, cake, cheese and chocolate.

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Classic Mom dinner: lotus root patties, taro and chicken stew, stir-fried vegetables with sesame