Happy Birthday Breakfast

Today is my wonderful husband’s 60th birthday. Normally, this would be an occasion calling for a BIG party with lots of friends and family, but given our current global situation, I am trying to find small ways to celebrate him throughout the day.

His favourite meal is breakfast, and he always has to have salsa with his eggs, so I started his day with Huevos Rancheros Egg Cakes from alive.

These are easy to make and delicious. Extras can be stored in the fridge or even frozen for later. They are portable and would also be good for lunches or dinners, served with a salad.

Confession Time

Okay. I know I’m a health and lifestyle coach, but I have a confession to make: I am not a big fan of raw vegetables. Except for Greek salad. I could eat Greek salad all day, every day. So, while I can still sneak some spinach into my morning smoothie, now that we are moving into warmer weather, I can’t rely so much on soups, stews and casseroles to help me meet my daily recommended number of servings of vegetables. Time to get creative!

Today, for the first time ever, I made Fresh Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce, from Cookie and Kate. They took a little bit of prepping.

I switched in micro-greens for cucumber as I had some that needed to be used up.

This was my first time working with rice paper, and I’ll admit, my first few rolls were not picture perfect. However, all the filling stayed in and those things tasted delicious! The peanut sauce is SO GOOD. I could put it on everything.

Give these a try! You won’t regret it.

Sweet Potato Peanut Stew

It was a rainy afternoon, yesterday. Perfect weather for a tasty stew. This recipe is vegetarian, but it would also work well with chicken. I threw the ingredients that follow in my Instant Pot. I mixed them all together except for the peanut butter, which I dotted on top. It cooked for 8 minutes. I then quick released and added a lot of spinach. I would say about 4 cups. I mixed it in and let in wilt. In hindsight, I could have also added some chopped vegetables (your choice). Delicious!

  • 3 sweet potatoes – peeled and chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves – minced
  • 1+ tablespoons of grated, fresh ginger
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 – 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1+ tablespoons of chili-garlic paste
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter

Wonton Soup

And the theme of tonight’s meal (and many, many more to come) is what is in the fridge that needs to be used up? Broccoli you say! What about Wonton Soup. The broth recipe is from recipetineats (and includes lots of garlic and ginger). I would half the sugar, if not take it all out, as the cooking wine is quite sweet already. I used mini chicken and cilantro wontons from Costco, and then threw in broccoli, carrots and mushrooms. Yum! 

Burgers!

While we don’t eat a lot of beef in our house, visitors who do recently gave me the opportunity to try out Rachel Ray’s Smoke and Fireworks Bacon-Wrapped Chipotle Burger recipe (which I think would also work well with ground turkey). Served with homemade, oven baked fries and onion rings, we had a delicious dinner. The patties had a little heat and were very flavourful. The bbq sauce was sweet and tangy and worked beautifully with the “pickled” red onion. YUM! Who needs take-out? 

Blueberry Muffins

It’s been a great berry season so far: strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. This was yesterday afternoon’s harvest.

This morning, I was thrilled to see that a friend had shared a recipe for Perfect Blueberry Muffins from Smitten Kitchen. I immediately got to work making a batch for breakfast.

Several years ago I purchased some silicone muffin cups (regular and mini). I love that I don’t have to use spray to prevent sticking, and they are so easy to clean. I put them to work.

I used Greek yogurt and this may be why I found that my batter was quite thick. I also didn’t have any turbinado sugar, but I found some Roger’s Plantation Raw Brown Sugar in my baking drawer, and used that.

I ended up making eleven muffins which I baked for 25 minutes.

They turned out well, and were quickly gobbled up by my family. They were moist and a little dense. While they were tasty, I think that I might add a little lemon juice to the batter next time.

When life gives you raspberries….

raspberries

This was this morning’s harvest. Not bad considering we did a thorough picking yesterday, and that I use a “three in the bucket, one in my mouth” method.

Most of our raspberries end up in the freezer and are enjoyed through the fall and winter in smoothies.

Today, I decided to try something new: a raspberry shrub. Shrubs are sweetened, vinegar-based concentrates infused with fruits, herbs and/or spices. They can be used to make refreshing, non-alcoholic cocktails to enjoy in the warm, summer weather.

cropped-shrub.jpg

To make this shrub, I put 1 cup of raspberries, 1 cup of sugar (you could use honey), 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, and a strip of lime peel in a non-reactive pot. On medium-high heat, I brought the mixture to a boil. I then removed from the heat and let it sit for twenty minutes before straining into a heatproof, airtight container. I let it chill in the fridge. When it was ready, I added two tablespoons of shrub to a glass of ice and soda water. Amazing! I will definitely be experimenting more with shrubs.

In addition to being delicious, shrubs are also thought to have some health benefits.

  • enhancing weight loss
  • stabilizing blood sugars
  • lowering cholesterol
  • maintain alkaline ph
  • promotes detoxification of the liver
  • eases digestion
  • fights free radicals to reduce aging  

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

 

Sheet Pan Greek Chicken and Veggie Bake

The single zucchini plant I have in my garden has been very generous this year. I am always amazed at how quickly they grow. I check one morning and notice a small zucchini, not quite ready to be picked, and the next day it is enormous and needs to be used right away. Luckily, we love it.

This was dinner last night. Sheet Pan Greek Chicken and Veggie Bake from The Stay At Home Chef. I was missing the pepperoncinis as I threw it together at the last minute. I’ll definitely include them next time. It was easy to prepare and delicious. We enjoyed it as is, which would work well for you if you are cutting back on carbs, but it would be great served with rice. I can also see myself making a vegetarian version of this in the future.

Homemade Granola

They say, “Make hay while the sun shines”. Lately, we have had more cloud than sun, but I decided to take advantage of the cooler temperatures by doing a little baking. One of my favourite things to make for a quick breakfast (or snack) is granola. It is really simple to prepare, and by making it at home, I can ensure that I avoid refined sugars and unhealthy fats. Plus, in my humble opinion, it tastes so much better than store bought.

Pictured here is this morning’s yummy breakfast: raspberries from my garden, water buffalo yogurt (so rich and creamy), and homemade granola. There are a couple of recipes I use. This particular one is from Cookie + Kate. I love the toasty oats and nuts, and the slightly salty and sweet taste. I used olive oil, maple syrup, walnuts and cranberries in this batch. I might double the cinnamon next time.

Easy, Healthy Chorizo

As my husband eats only poultry and fish/seafood as animal proteins, I often have to look for alternatives in some recipes that call for pork, beef, or…. Chorizo is an ingredient in many recipes I try, and is hard to find in chicken or turkey versions, and/or hard to find in small amounts. That’s why I was thrilled to discover this recipe for homemade, healthy chorizo from Feasting at Home.

Easy Pickled Onions

I have avoided pickling in the past because it seemed like so much work. However, I just discovered a quick way to pickle red onions at kitchn. I only added garlic and chili pepper to mine, but will experiment more in the future. Tangy and so beautiful to look at. I have used them on burgers and as part of a cheese board so far.

Greek Chicken Wraps

So glad to have had all of the ingredients for this unplanned, last minute Greek Chicken Wrap from Taste and Tell. Well… the recipe called for humus, and I had tzatziki, but it was still delicious. Loved that I could use the fresh oregano on my deck for this meal. It really made a difference.

Caprese Bites

What does a health and lifestyle coach take to a bbq? What about these caprese bites? I marinated the mini bocconcini this morning, and prepared my skewers before I left for work. I’ll top with a balsamic glaze when we get there. Great for warm, summer days. Simple to prepare. Easy to eat. Light and delicious.

You can find out how to make your own caprese bites at delish.com.

Asparagus

It must be that time of the year again because there was lots of asparagus available at my local farmers’ market this morning.


After much consideration, and many recipe searches, I decided to make Sheet Pan Chicken and Asparagus from The girl on Bloor.

I will definitely be adding this to my regular rotation as long as that lovely, tender, fresh asparagus is around. It was quick and easy to prepare, and everyone loved it.


I’m (Wal)Nuts About You!

As a coach, I spend a lot of time reading studies and articles related to health because I want to have the best information to share with my clients. I recently came across a piece about walnuts, and I was reminded of not only how delicious these nuts are, but also how nutritious.

Walnuts are…

  • rich in antioxidants
  • a good source of omega-3 fat, which may help reduce heart disease risk
  • anti-inflammatory, and inflammation is a key culprit in many chronic diseases
  • beneficial to the bacteria in your gut that keep it healthy
  • rich in polyphenols that may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer
  • helpful in controlling appetite and hunger, and by extension, weight
  • linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • part of a heart-healthy diet that may help improve blood pressure

So, how do we include more of these little powerhouses?

Baking seems like an obvious choice. I have already had to do a first harvest of the rhubarb in my garden, so I’ve made many loaves of Streusel Rhubarb Bread from Taste of Home. I replace the canola oil with… walnut oil, and I don’t usually make the streusel. It is lovely, but the bread is delicious without it. These loaves freeze really well.

Today, for lunch, I enjoyed this Simple Mason Jar Salad from Pass the Plants.

But my new favourite has to be this Instant Pot Pumpkin Walnut Chili from Pinch of Yum.


Does this combination sound a little odd to you? I have to confess that it did to me, too, but I decided to give the recipe a try, and I am so glad that I did. The chili was rich and smoky, and I was able to freeze some for another meal or two.

Here’s a tip for keeping your nuts fresh: Store them in the fridge or freezer.

Ginger-Lime Sparklers

The warmer weather is on its way, so it’s time to start making my favourite summer beverages, like this refreshing ginger-lime sparkler from Thug Kitchen.

It’s so easy to prepare. I throw a quartered lime (skin on), two tablespoons of minced, fresh peeled ginger (I add a little extra), three tablespoons of sugar (I also like maple syrup), and a cup of water into my Vitamix blender. I blend for about a minute and strain (pulp in the compost). After I add another cup of water and stir, I put the contents in my fridge until I am ready to make a drink. A little ice, a little lime mix, and soda water (to taste), and I have a delicious thirst quencher.

Instant Pot Pizza Dough

Since I’ve already shared that I use my Instant Pot to proof bread, you probably won’t be surprised to discover that it also works well for pizza dough. That’s a big deal to me because I don’t have to worry about finding that warm enough (but not too warm) spot: something I seem to struggle with. Using the yogurt setting on my pot has resulted in perfect dough every time.

I tried out this pizza dough recipe from Cooking With Karli, and used it to make Ricotta and Spinach Calzones from Kitschen Cat, which I served with marinara sauce for dipping.

Easy and pretty tasty. I do plan to experiment with different fillings: maybe BBQ Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, or Spinach and Artichoke. The possibilities are endless!

Spinach Stuffed Chicken

When I think of stuffed chicken breasts, I think fancy (and a lot of work). I am all about easy, home cooking, so I confess that I have avoided making them. However, since I had a special someone over for dinner last night (my mum), I thought I would give this Spinach Stuffed Chicken from That Low Carb Life a try. It was surprisingly simple and absolutely delicious. I won’t hesitate to make it again.

Butter Chicken

You know, if you’ve been following my posts, that I am now the happy owner of not just one, but two Instant Pots (after being lucky enough to recently win a second at a charity fundraiser). While I had people offer to buy my prize, I knew “instantly” that I would keep it. After all, if one Instant Pot can simplify cooking at home, imagine what two can do.

Last night, I made a delicious butter chicken from DamnDelicious, in one pot, while the rice cooked in the second, and the naan warmed in the oven.

Of course, you don’t need two Instant Pots to make this meal. It is easy to prepare the rice first, while you prep your butter chicken ingredients. I used one cup of rinsed basmati rice, one cup of water and a pinch of salt. I pressure cooked for 5 minutes, and then let it natural release for 5 minutes. Perfect rice every time.

Instant Eggs!

I have written posts about salad before, but what you need to focus on here is that beautiful egg. I’ve done a lot of experimenting with my Instant Pot, but I had yet to try making hard boiled eggs. Why did I wait so long?! Put one cup of water in the pot. Place as many eggs as you need on the rack that comes with the pot. Pressure cook for 5 minutes, and let rest for 5 minutes before releasing. 

The egg was a perfect addition to my homemade salad bar lunch.

A little prepping on Sunday, while I listened to an audiobook, made it easy for me to enjoy a variety of salads all week. Sun-dried Tomato Vinaigrette was my dressing today, from Wholesome Yum.

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Here’s another quick, easy and healthy idea for dinner.

I made a double batch of these delicious fajitas from Cooking Classy. I topped mine with homemade guacamole and a little cheese. The only change I made was to replace the olive oil with avocado oil because it has a higher smoke point.

I have been using the leftovers for my lunches this week, as part of a salad. Of course, I had to include my creamy avocado-cilantro dressing. Yum!

Instant Pot Curry

My family and I adore East Indian food, so I love that the Instant Pot allows me to quickly make my own dishes at home. Last night I made palek paneer (spinach and cheese) from Spice Cravings. I served it with the leftovers from dinner the night before when we had green lentil curry from iFOODreal, which I used (along with the brown rice and some baby spinach) to make burritos that I served with cucumber raita. Two nights of YUM.

Chicken Asiago

I had a wonderful evening with friends on Saturday: a long hike in the woods, a delicious homemade meal (including this Chicken Asiago dish) and excellent conversation. Exercise, good food, and friendship: the perfect prescription for living your best life.

Instant Pot Arroz Con Pollo

Yesterday was a busy day. Part of it was participating in a local spin-a-thon to raise money for both Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart Program (helping make sports and play accessible to all Canadian kids) and our local community centre (to subsidize programs for children and seniors). I should share that I am not a regular participant in spin, and that the instructor did NOT take it easy on us. I was hot, sweaty and tired after the hour. But I was reminded that participating in charity and fitness events is great motivation to get active.

Every hour of the spin-a-thon, bike numbers were drawn for a prize, and… I WON! What did I win? Only one of my most favourite kitchen tools ever! Can you guess? AN INSTANT POT! Yes, I already have one. But I have longed to own two. I often thought about proofing my bread while I made the soup, or cooking the rice while I made the curry, or preparing the cheesecake while I made the stew…. You get the idea. Now I can!

Looking a little tired, but also thrilled after winning a prize at my spin-a-thon session.

I put my pot straight to work trying out a new recipe: Arroz Con Pollo from feastingathome.

Although the spice combination was not quite what I was used to for this dish, the result was very tasty.

20 Minute Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas

The end of another busy week yesterday, but I had already planned a quick, easy to prepare, delicious and healthy dinner: sheet pan shrimp fajitas from Cooking Light.

I have been a fan of Cooking Light since the 1980’s, when you could only get it in print. No websites! Gasp!

These fajitas received rave reviews from my family. I did make a couple of changes. I replaced the crema with my Creamy Cilantro-Avocado Dressing, to which I added the jalapeño. I also roasted my vegetables (without the shrimp) for eight minutes, and then added the shrimp and cooked for a few more minutes (maybe four) before removing the shrimp and broiling the vegetables. I find that I need to keep a close eye on my shrimp when I sheet pan, or I end up with rubbery little pink lumps. If I had cooked them for the recommended time, I am sure that would have been the outcome.

Vegan Brownies

Treats can be part of a balanced diet as long as you pay attention to portion sizes and choose healthier options. This simple recipe for brownies from allrecipes.com is great for people with egg or dairy allergies.

I modified the recipe to make it a little healthier by adding half the sugar and replacing the canola oil with walnut oil. You could also experiment with half oil and half unsweetened apple sauce.

The Marvellous Microplane

The other morning, as I was rushing to get out the door, I suddenly remembered that I was out of homemade dressing for my salad. I didn’t panic because I knew I could quickly prepare Shake and Go Balsamic Vinaigrette from Oh She Glows Every Day (affiliate link). This is Angela Liddon’s second cookbook: I have both. Her plant based recipes in both books are delicious, but I particularly like those in her second book because they are so easy to prepare, and you know that I am all about that.

The vinaigrette combines 1/3 to 2/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, to taste, 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 4 1/2 teaspoons low-sodium tamari (or soy sauce), 1 large clove garlic, minced, and 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup, or to taste. Because I wanted to make sure my garlic was very finely minced, and I was in a hurry, I sped things up by using my microplane (affiliate link).

Microplanes come in various sizes. I own two, but the one I use most is the fine-tooth model. I use it at the dinner table to grate fresh asiago on my pasta or soup, to help easily zest citrus without having to worry about the bitter pith, and to mince fresh ginger and garlic without any need to pick up a knife. Grating fibrous ginger and pungent garlic gives them a texture that allows them to melt into the dressing, sauce or dish you’re using them in. An added bonus: the microplane is really easy to clean.  

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

I don’t believe in diets. I don’t support eliminating entire food groups (unless you have a medical reason to) or living off of expensive shakes and protein bars. When I work with clients on nutrition and/or weight-loss, we focus on real, unprocessed food (ideally made at home), and making small changes that are sustainable. This is the way to ensure that you are eating for health and energy, and that if weight-loss is your goal, you will not only lose it, but not gain it back. No deprivation required.

That’s why I have no problem sharing this fantastic recipe for macaroni and cheese from Active Hip Momma. It is just as easy and fast as a popular, highly processed, boxed brand. It is also delicious and definitely kid friendly.


I usually use whole-grain macaroni, but a friend was moving and donated several packages of organic Garofalo pasta. I also steam lots of broccoli and mix it in at the end. There are several other florets hiding under the ones you see here. I have a reasonable portion and no seconds. For me, using a smaller bowl, which the one above is, works best. When I eat, I do it slowly, savouring every creamy, cheesy bite. That way my body has the time it needs to tell me when I am full. Small, sustainable changes. No deprivation.

Instant Pot Popcorn

Okay. I confess that this was my first try at making popcorn in my Instant Pot. What can I say. You inspire me to try new things.

I put my Instant Pot on saute (high setting). When it indicated that it was “HOT” I added 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (because it has a high smoke point). After it melted, I added a 1/2 cup of kernels, gave a good, quick stir, and put my glass Instant Pot lid on top. You could use any lid that fits. Once the kernels started to pop, using oven gloves, I occasionally lifted the insert out and gave a quick shake, and I continued until the popping had completely stopped. I then turned the Instant Pot to the warm setting and tossed in some seasonings.

The verdict: The popcorn that actually popped was delicious. You can taste the coconut. However, I would say that only about 1/2 to 2/3 of my kernels actually popped. I wonder if I should have avoided lifting and shaking…. I will have to do some more experimenting.

Instant Pot Sourdough Bread

You read that right. You can make bread in your Instant Pot. Well… sort of. You will also need a Dutch Oven. First I should share my own history as a bread maker. Don’t worry. It’s a short one. I have had one failure after another. It seems that yeast and I don’t get along. Sadly, the same is true for my sourdough starters. For a while I was able to get by, by using a bread maker. It worked fine (except for that big hole you get when you take the paddle out), but I wanted more. So I was thrilled when I discovered that my Instant Pot could help.

This is my dough before rising.

The Instant Pot is perhaps the best method to get the dough to rise quickly without stressing the yeast and proteins.

After four hours in the Instant Pot.

Once the dough was ready, I put it in my pre-heated Dutch Oven, and less than 35 minutes later, I had a delicious homemade loaf.

I love that this bread has only four ingredients: flour, salt, yeast and Greek yogurt. I chose to use whole wheat flour, so my bread is a little more dense. The recipe for Crusty Instant Pot Sourdough Bread from Living Sweet Moments, shows the white bread version. I have to say that I love the way her proofing basket shapes the bread. I might have to add one of those to my wish list.

I purchased my Dutch Oven (affiliate link) at Costco many years ago for $75. But amazon has a great deal on one. It is perfect for preparing soups and stews… and now bread. You can definitely expect to see it used in future recipes I share.

My bread maker has now been donated.

Microwave?

Who needs a microwave? I use my Instant Pot to reheat leftovers.

Put your leftovers in a heat proof container and cover with foil. Pour a cup of water into the pot, insert the metal trivet, and put the leftovers on top. Turn the pressure cooker to Steam, and set the time for 5 minutes. That’s usually enough time. Let your pot naturally release before using pot holders to lift the container out. Et voilà !

Instant Pot Applesauce

Hopefully you are not getting tired of hearing about my Instant Pot adventures. There are so many things I use it for. I thought I would share a few with you over the next four days.

I am really fortunate to have four apple trees in my backyard, so fall means apples in our lunch bags, baked apples and crumbles for desserts…. Eventually, we need a little break from this amazing fruit, rich in important antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fibre. Then my thoughts turn to applesauce.


This Instant Pot Applesauce Recipe from Amy+Jacky couldn’t be easier. As you can see, I don’t even peel my apples. I also don’t add any sweetener as I usually use the sauce in baking.

And speaking of baking…. I have a great recipe for you: Applesauce Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from Love Grows Wild. As with everything I bake, I cut the sugar in half, and you can substitute walnut oil or avocado oil for the canola oil. Even without the frosting, this is a delicious and moist cake.

Sheet-Pan Shrimp Scampi with Broccoli and Tomatoes

Sheet pan suppers are fast and easy. You can have a delicious, homemade meal on the table in no time. As we are snowed in, yesterday evening I foraged through my fridge, freezer and pantry and found the ingredients to make Sheet-Pan Shrimp Scampi with Broccoli and Tomatoes from myrecipes.com. I tossed bow tie pasta in this buttery sauce, infused with lemon, garlic and red chilis. Amazing! The only thing I would change next time would be to roast the vegetables for two minutes and then add the shrimp for the last two (rather than cooking them all for four minutes). The shrimp were just a tad overdone. This is a keeper.

Instant Pot Family

I’m not the only family member who loves the Instant Pot. When my daughter left for school, I gifted her the 3 quart (affiliate link). It was the perfect size for the small space she was renting. I knew she would be busy, and it would allow her to prepare healthy meals simply and quickly, and cooking at home would save her money.

She texted me last night to let me know that she had just made a delicious Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup for dinner. She was kind enough to share a photo of her creation and the recipe from Jo Cooks.

Her review: “Super yummy! Super easy, too!”

Instant Pot Thai Peanut Chicken Ramen

I realize that I have been posting quite a few noodle soup recipes recently. They are a family favourite. Even my somewhat picky daughter loves them. This 30 Minute Thai Peanut Chicken Ramen recipe is from halfbakedharvest.com. It is healthy and delicious: creamy, slightly spicy, filled with vegetables and lean chicken breast. Mine is not quite as red as the original because I was using up an assortment of open Thai curry pastes (red, yellow and green). I also was out of peanut butter, so I replaced it with a mixture of almond and cashew. One deliberate change I would make would be to cook the red peppers with the noodles (on low saute). They were very soft after being pressure cooked.

Once again, thanks to my wonderful Instant Pot (affiliate link), with very little fuss I was able to get a healthy dinner on the table quickly.

Another Delicious Salad Dressing

I’ve been taking a salad to work every day for lunch, and I’ve been experimenting with new dressings to keep things interesting. Today I made Creamy Cilantro-Avocado Dressing from eatingwell.com. Fantastic! Creamy and a little bit tangy from the yogurt and lime juice. It would also be great as a topping for fish tacos, in a wrap, as a dip….

As well as being healthy and tasty, it is also really easy to make, which you know is important to me. I used one of my favourite kitchen tools: the Cuisinart Smart Stick hand blender (affiliate link).

My younger brother bought me my first hand blender years ago. Although it didn’t come with any attachments, it was the perfect tool for blending soups and sauces right in the pot without having to transfer to a food processor. Eventually it wore out, so I treated myself to a new one that came with a chopper and whisk. The chopper is great for making small batches. I threw all of the ingredients for the dressing into it. A few quick pulses, and I was done.

Instant Pot Pasta

So it’s Friday night, and you’ve just finished a LONG week of work. You’re tired, and now you have to figure out what to make for dinner. The thought of stopping on the way home and getting pizza or Chinese food crosses your mind, but then you remember that you can make delicious pasta and meat sauce in your Instant Pot with very little time and effort.

That’s what we had for dinner tonight, along with salad. No food styling I’m afraid. In fact, what you see is the leftovers. We were too hungry, and it was too good, for us to wait to take a picture. The pasta cooks in the sauce which makes it extra delicious (and easy).

I have modified the original recipe from cancerwife.com by using Italian sausage (mild or spicy) instead of ground beef. Today I also used the homemade chicken stock I had in the fridge instead of water. It’s delicious either way. If you don’t have an Instant Pot (affiliate link), I’d really recommend getting one.

Enjoy!

Instant Pot Chicken

It is no secret that I LOVE my Instant Pot. I don’t only use it for full recipes. It is also great for proofing bread, making rice and… cooking chicken for my salads. This morning I put a cup of chicken stock into my Instant Pot, popped two chicken breasts into my vegetable steamer, seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and then pressure cooked them for 6 minutes. I let the Instant Pot slow release for 10 minutes, and then the chicken rested for another ten.

I dressed this yummy salad with this amazing Chipotle Lime Salad Dressing from tasty.co. Don’t worry. It’s not too spicy. Just the right amount.

Canada’s New Food Guide

If you are familiar with my website, it will come as no surprise that I love Canada’s new food guide. Why?

  • It’s focused on unprocessed foods – low in sodium, sugar and saturated fats.
  • It includes more fruits and vegetables.
  • It encourages us to make water our beverage of choice.
  • It is simple to follow: no need to measure or count.
  • It suggests cooking at home, and provides recipes to get us started.
  • It promotes eating mindfully: taking time to eat, and noticing when we are hungry and full.
  • It is backed by good science.

In addition, the site offers tips for things like healthy eating on a budget and meal planning. Check it out!

Instant Pot Beef Stew

Searching for the perfect winter dinner recipe: quick, easy, healthy and delicious? Then look no further. Starting with only the ingredients you see below, and with minimal preparation, I was able to serve my family (in about an hour) a meal that tasted like it had been cooking in the oven for at least four.

I simply roughly chopped the vegetables, and threw in the raw stewing beef. Yes. The beef is raw. You do not have to brown it first. Then I added the tomato juice, salt and tapioca. Tapioca acts as the thickener for the sauce. (To be honest, I found a little unused tomato sauce in the fridge. So this time, I watered it down and used it instead. I’m working on reducing food waste, and now I’ll have the tomato juice for the next time I make the stew).

And the result was this incredible meal enjoyed by all. The original recipe is from pinchofyum. The only modification I have made is in adding new potatoes because I can’t imagine a stew without potatoes. Next time, I would also add halved mushrooms. The carrots in my fridge were quite little, and even though I tried to cut them in fairly big chunks, they were VERY tender, so my advice would be to not be afraid to have big pieces of celery, carrot and onion in your pot to maintain their texture. Regardless, the sauce is DIVINE!

The Instant Pot is one of my favourite kitchen tools. I use it several times a week. For example, before I made the stew, I cooked a couple of chicken breasts to add to salads during the week. It took a lot of research before I decided to add this item to my, frankly, already well equipped kitchen, but I haven’t regretted it.

Butter Chickpeas

People sometimes assume that healthy eating is expensive. It doesn’t have to be. Serving meatless meals a couple of times a week can help you save money and improve your health. Meatless meals are built around plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, vegetables and whole grains. These tend to be less expensive than meat and may offer many health benefits.

  • reduced risk of diseases like cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes
  • weight management
  • improved nutrition
  • reduced carbon footprint

Last night for dinner we had Butter Chickpeas from Canadian Living magazine. Yet another new recipe. I can’t help myself. It is a running joke in my family that you never get to eat the same thing twice… even if you’d like to. It was easy to prepare and very tasty. The only change I made was to blend the sauce after it reduced. I served it with brown rice (made in my Instant Pot) and a mini wholewheat naan bread.

I used no-name brand chickpeas and tomatoes, which added to my savings.

Salad Dressings

Preparing food at home is one of the easiest ways to avoid overly processed items. Salad dressings are a good place to start. For very little time and effort, you can have a tasty accompaniment for your salad greens. 

This week I made Garlic Sesame Salad Dressing from Mason Jar Salad Dressing 9 Ways at tasty.co

Because I used coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, which already have a little sweetness, I cut back on the brown sugar.

You can compare the ingredients in this dressing with those found in a popular bottled brand.

Ingredients

Ingredients: WATER, SOYBEAN OIL, SUGAR, SOY SAUCE (WATER, SOYBEANS, WHEAT, SALT), CIDER VINEGAR, SESAME OIL, WHITE VINEGAR, NATURAL FLAVOUR (CONTAINS BARLEY), SALT, SPICES, XANTHAN GUM (THICKENER), SESAME SEEDS, POTASSIUM SORBATE (MAINTAINS QUALITY), POLYSORBATE 60 (PREVENTS OIL SEPARATION), PROPYLENE GLYCOL ALGINATE (THICKENER), DRIED GARLIC, COLOUR, CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA (MAINTAINS FLAVOUR). (B391C)

I’ve also made, and enjoyed, the Italian Salad Recipe from the same site.

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Ramen Soup

Okay. My daughter tells me that I need to work on my food styling. I don’t even style my hair! Add to that the fact that my family is usually hovering around me, bowls and utensils in hand, as soon as something is made, and I’m not sure I could rescue enough food to style. This is what we had for dinner last night. Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Ramen Soup from No. 2 Pencil. Delicious!

By now, you know how much I love my Instant Pot. It helps me put healthy, delicious meals on the table with less time and effort. I made a couple of changes. I used chicken stock instead of water, and doubled the soy sauce. Next time, I would double the amount of spinach and maybe even add some other vegetables, like snow peas or bok choy. We added a squirt of sriracha to our soup bowls. I could have added some chili garlic sauce. It’s a great basic recipe that you can change to suit your taste.

 

Eat More Fish

This week, I have been focusing on decluttering my pantry. Who knew that I had so many packages of rice noodles? I have been inspired to use up my pantry ingredients, along with what I find in the fridge and freezer, in an effort not only to declutter, but also to save some money on my ever increasing grocery bill. All I needed to pick up for this delicious Weeknight Red Curry from Bon Appetit was a pound of firm white fish. I chose cod. I will definitely be adding this to my monthly menu!

Tonight, I will be making another Asian inspired fish dish that we have enjoyed before: Spicy Miso Ramen with Chili Roasted Salmon from feasting at home. You guessed it. I have salmon in the freezer and ramen in the cupboard.

There are many health benefits to including more fish in your diet:

  • It is high in important nutrients
  • It may lower your risk for heart attacks and strokes.
  • It may help with depression.
  • It’s a good dietary source of vitamin D.
  • It’s delicious, as you will soon discover when you try the recipes I have shared.

Enjoy!

Focus On What You Gain!

“One reason people resist change is because they focus on what they have to give up instead of what they have to gain.” Rick Godwin

Did you start 2019 with a goal in mind? Healthy eating? Weight-loss? Stress management? More family time? Only four days in, your focus and enthusiasm are hopefully still strong. However, research conducted by Strava, suggests that January 12th is the day when your motivation might begin to falter. How can we ensure that we make it past that fateful date? I encourage my clients to do as Rick Godwin suggests, and focus on what they are gaining from the changes they are making, rather than what they are giving up. Really, attitude IS everything!

Let’s look at healthy eating as an example. Whether they are trying to lose weight, or for other health reasons, many people believe changing their diets will involve restriction and deprivation. They focus on having to give up ice-cream, cookies, french fries….

Now, I feel the need to mention, at this point, that I don’t believe in “good” or “bad” foods. I think that there are some foods you should eat less often and in smaller amounts, or perhaps learn to make healthier versions of. But telling yourself that you will never again eat cake could lead to cravings that would derail your attempts to improve your weight and nutrition.

Keeping that in mind, you will still need to make sure that most of the food you consume, most of the time, is real: unprocessed/additive free.

So what do you gain out of eating that way? Well first of all you get to eat great food! As your taste buds recover you will discover just how delicious foods are in their natural state. Cravings for salt and sugar will be reduced. You’ll have more, stable energy. More focus. You’ll reduce your risk for diseases like type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. You’ll improve your heart health. You’ll likely lose weight (if that is your goal), and if you have children, you will be an excellent role model for them. Wow! That’s a lot! Feeling more motivated?

Focusing on what you have to gain will increase your chances of reaching any goal. Give it a try.

I want to leave you with a recipe I tried recently: Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas from Taste of Home. They are very easy to make. I actually made the filling (there was a lot of it) a couple of days ago, and then have used it to make lunch for the last two days. You could add black beans. The cumin is very mild (kid friendly). You might want to add a smidge more. I topped mine with homemade guacamole. Yum!

Turkey Tips: Day 3

Okay. We are getting to the end of our turkey supply. Yesterday, I made a family favourite: “Turkey” Pot Pie Turnovers. Thank you Melissa D’Arabian! The salad recipe she shares to go with the turnovers is also excellent. I would include a photo of mine, but… they were not nearly as pretty. The still tasted great, though, which my family assures me is what matters most.

I also had some cranberry sauce to use up, and a search led me to this One-Bowl Cranberry Sauce Bread from Always Order Dessert. This was SO easy to make, and SO good! I will definitely be making it again… soon.

There might be just enough turkey left to share one more recipe tomorrow if my husband doesn’t use it all up in a sandwich.

Turkey Tips: Day 2

Today, I turned my turkey stock into Turkey Noodle Soup using a “new to me” recipe from Spend With Pennies. Everyone agreed that the soup was delicious. (This was clearly illustrated by the empty pot. So much for leftovers tomorrow). I will definitely add it to my list of favourites.

I included some tasty Whole Wheat No Knead Bread from Real Mom Nutrition. After several failed attempts many years ago, I stopped trying to make homemade bread (other than with the bread maker) until I came across Sally’s recipe. She uses the Instant Pot to proof, and that has made the difference for me. I have made this bread several times, and have never had a problem.

If you have been reading my posts regularly, you know that I am a huge fan of the Instant Pot. I was an early adopter, and both my enthusiasm and willingness to share recipes I had tried, led many of my colleagues to purchase this tool. Even today, when I ran into a friend looking for speakers, I couldn’t help but mention that the store had Instant Pots on sale and how wonderful they were. Later, my husband told me that she had purchased one. I can’t help myself! I am always doing this in local stores, and my husband jokingly says that I should contact the company and become a sales representative. That is not my mission. I am a Life and Health Coach, but I truly endorse this product. If you would like to purchase one online, go to amazon.ca.

 

 

Turkey Tips: Day 1

Yesterday my family and I enjoyed a traditional turkey dinner. Since there were only four of us, I purchased a young turkey of just over eight pounds. Even though it was a small bird, I still found myself with lots of leftovers. This is the case every year, so I now have a plan in place to effectively (and deliciously) deal with all that turkey, not including the second dinner we had tonight. I thought it would be fun to share a tip a day for the remainder of the week.

Roasted Turkey Bones Stock: Taking the time to roast your bones will give you the most rich and delicious stock for soups and sauces.

After dinner last night, as we were tidying up, I removed all of the turkey meat I could from the bones. This morning, I tossed those bones (along with two carrots, two stalks of celery, an onion and three cloves of garlic – all roughly chopped) into an oven pre-heated to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and they roasted for 40 minutes.

When they were finished roasting, I threw them all into my crockpot and added enough water just to cover. They cooked at low for eight hours. I then transferred them over to mason jars (because my fridge is so full of food at the moment that I needed small containers I could squeeze in). They will cool in the fridge tonight, and I will be able to skim off any fat in the morning before making soup (which will be part of Tip #2).

Enjoy!

 

Detoxing?

As a coach, I spend a lot of my free time researching. My exploring recently led me to the book LOSE WEIGHT BY EATING Detox Week by Audrey Johns. There’s a lot of debate around detoxing. I believe that our bodies (if we are in relatively good health) are designed to naturally take care of getting rid of unwanted materials. I don’t feel the need to spend money on, and consume, special supplements, teas, or shakes. I feel that I can help my body do its job by sticking to whole foods (prepared at home) most of the time: avoiding highly processed, additive filled foods. I am also NOT interested in deprivation. I love food. I love reading about it, shopping for it, preparing it, and sharing it. So I am not interested in spending a week or more on a liquid diet. Finally, I don’t support the idea of losing a lot of weight quickly: it is neither healthy nor permanent (in my opinion). So…. Why the book? I was drawn to the title: “Eating” and “Detox” together? I wanted to find out more.

Four detox plans are shared in the book. All begin with a Detox Week. Audrey Johns claims that you can lose an average of 10 pounds during the week. You already know what I think about that. The week also quickly becomes all about smoothies and salads, and you know how I feel about that, too. Having said that, I think that the Modified Detox Week (which includes a smoothie for breakfast, a salad for lunch, a meal for dinner, and two snacks) is a good approach. I like that Audrey Johns’ detox doesn’t require anything other than whole foods, and includes lots of fruits and vegetables. And, because I would never share anything with my clients that I haven’t tried myself, my husband and I have been following the Modified Detox plan for almost a week. We have enjoyed the recipes. There is some preparation required, but it’s worth it. We are feeling great, and have lost some weight.

I know that you are all about the recipes, so I would like to share one of our favourite breakfast smoothies with you. The recipe makes enough for two, so perfect to share. Previously my husband and I each made our own smoothies, cleaning the Vitamix out in between. That’s because he was not a fan of my green smoothies, but he really enjoys Audrey Johns’.

PB&J Green Smoothie (2 Servings)

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen dark cherries
  • 1 tablespoon all-natural peanut butter
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Put it all in a blender and blend. Then enjoy!

I’ll close by sharing a link to Audrey Johns’ website. I’ve just checked it out, but suspect I will be visiting it often.

Meal Planning

In last week’s post, I mentioned meal planning as a way to create a little more time for self-care, so today, I want to share how I go about planning my week (along with a few recipes).

I usually do my meal planning on Friday: creating a shopping list. I shop on Saturday and do meal preparation on Sunday, so I will be ready for the busy week ahead.

Key for me is thinking about what I can cook once, and then use at least twice. So on Sunday, I might make Crispy Roast Chicken with Vegetables. Leftover chicken could be used later in the week to make yummy Chicken Pot Pie Turnovers: great served with a simple salad. If you have a large family to feed, you could roast two chickens on Sunday to ensure that there are leftovers. I also like to make a huge batch of Roasted Vegetables. You don’t really need a recipe for this (although the one included is delicious). Any vegetables of your choice, tossed in a little olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, will work. There are SO many ways to use roasted vegetables: topping for pizza (a fast meal with a pre-made crust, sauce and cheese), soup (pureed in broth with your choice of seasonings), lasagna, on a salad…. Often I’ll also make a lot of brown rice. If I still have some roasted chicken left, I can make Classy Chicken. Cold rice is perfect for Easy Better-Than-Takeout Shrimp Fried Rice. It’s also great for rice and bean burritos (and you can throw in some of those roasted vegetables!)

I love working with clients to help them plan and prepare meals. If this is something you’re interested in, let me know.

 

The Awesome Avocado

I am a huge avocado fan, but I confess that, until recently, I haven’t experimented much with it: sticking mostly to guacamole or throwing a few chunks in my salad. However, after spending weeks being taunted and tempted by boxes of Hallowe’en candy (Did they start selling them in August?!) I began to wonder if there was a way to incorporate this awesome ingredient into a healthier treat. In our house, it’s all about chocolate.

Mexican Chocolate Mousse (adapted from Cook Eat Paleo) 

Prep: 5 min Serves: 6 

• 2 ripe avocados 

• ½ cup cocoa powder (I used Green & Black’s Organic.)

• ½ cup full fat coconut milk 

• ¼ cup honey (or to taste) (You could also use maple syrup. I used yacon syrup.*)

• 1tsp cinnamon 

• 2tsp pure vanilla extract 

• ¼tsp ground ancho chili (or to taste) (I wasn’t brave enough this time. Maybe next time.)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender until smooth. Let set in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and enjoy. I topped with raspberries. Yum!

*Yacon syrup is extracted from the roots of the yacon plant. It’s a sweet-tasting syrup with a look and consistency similar to molasses. The active ingredients in yacon syrup are fructans, primarily fructooligosaccharides, which feed the friendly bacteria in the intestine and lead to various beneficial effects on metabolism. I’m trying it out. 

Next on my list to try… Silky Dark Chocolate Avocado Truffles

Sheet Pan Suppers

 

My clients are always asking for more ideas for quick and healthy meals. Let’s do dinner this time. With October, cooler weather has arrived, so it’s okay to turn the oven back on. Sheet pan suppers are fast and easy. You can have a delicious, homemade meal on the table in no time.
We loved them both. Let me know what you think.

Lunch Club

(Ooh, we get by with a little help from our friends.)

The best way to ensure that we are eating food that will nourish and energize us is to prepare it ourselves. This can be challenging, but with a little help, we can do it! I am part of a three member “lunch club”. On Sunday, we each make four servings of a mason jar salad recipe, and then exchange so that we have a delicious meal to look forward to all week. As the weather gets cooler, we will switch salads for soups. Perhaps you can organize something similar. I’ve included a few links to recipes below, to get you started. There are lots out there. Enjoy!

Mexican Mason Jar Salad

Asian Noodle Salad Jar

Greek Mason Jar Salad

I Love Lentils

I LOVE LENTILS

Recently, in exploring high energy foods with a client, and looking for something new she might experiment with, we landed on lentils. I love my lentils. They are inexpensive, easy to prepare, delicious and nutritious. I have been enjoying them in soups, stews and curries all winter and spring, but with the arrival of warmer weather, I am broadening my repertoire.

Lentils are…

  • High in protein
  • High in magnesium, potassium, folate, iron….
  • A good source of dietary fibre
  • Low in calories

 

Lentils can…

  • Lower cholesterol
  • Improve heart health
  • Aid digestion
  • Stabilize blood sugar
  • Increase energy
  • Help with weight loss

 

Did I mention that they are delicious? One thing I love to do in summer is dip: vegetables, good bread, crackers…. Here are a couple of wonderful recipes I have found. Enjoy!

Curried Lentil Dip
Lentil Hummus

You Are Here

With the promise of more sunshine and warmer temperatures just around the corner, many of us pull out our shorts and sleeveless tops only to discover that they have shrunk! Okay. It might have been the pizza, or the cookies, or hours spent sitting, binge watching Stranger Things….
If you are ready to shed some winter weight, and trying to decide which of the seemingly endless number of diets to try, and what (often conflicting) advice to follow, I suggest a much simpler approach: Count chemicals, not calories.By providing your body with what it needs to function best, you will feel and look great.

Now, in the perfect world, this would mean only eating meals and snacks prepared from scratch using local, organic (or antibiotic free) ingredients. But few of us live in that place, so we are going to aim for progress, not perfection. Start where you are, and make small changes, over time, to get closer to where you want to be.

Check out the ingredient list when buying processed foods. Remember that ingredients are listed in the order of quantity. Try to avoid those that include complicated chemical names, or other ingredients you would prefer to avoid.

I love to cook, but look for recipes I can put together quickly at the end of a working day, so I buy chicken stock to help me whip up soups, sauces and stews.

The label on a popular brand lists the following ingredients: CHICKEN BROTH (WATER, CHICKEN STOCK); SALT; BARLEY YEAST EXTRACT; DEXTROSE; NATURAL FLAVOUR; DISODIUM INOSINATE AND DISODIUM GUANYLATE (NATURAL FLAVOUR ENHANCER); POTASSIUM CHLORIDE (SALTSUBSTITUTE); CANOLA OR SOYBEAN OIL. That’s too many chemicals for me!

After some searching, Imagine Chicken Stock has become the brand I choose. It lists the following ingredients: ORGANIC CHICKEN BROTH (FILTERED WATER, ORGANIC CHICKEN), ORGANIC ONIONS, ORGANIC CELERY, ORGANIC CARROTS, SEA SALT, NATURAL CHICKEN FLAVOR, ORGANIC SPICES. Yum!

This tip works for any food item, including potato chips, so when you are next out shopping, take a little extra time to read those labels. Make the best choice you can. That one, small step will make a difference.

An Easy Home-Cooked Meal: Instant Pot

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I believe that preparing and eating home cooked meals more frequently is good for our overall wellness. However, I also know that it can be difficult to fit shopping, prepping and cooking into a busy schedule, so I am always looking for ways to simplify.

About a year ago, I purchased an Instant Pot after reading about it on many of my favourite cooking websites. It took me a while to make the purchase as I already have a well equipped kitchen, but I haven’t regretted my decision.

The Instant Pot is a programmable multi-cooker that can act as a slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker and sauté pan. I have also used it to warm food and proof bread. I think what I like best is that I can pretty much throw everything into one pot and then forget about it: no checking or stirring. It will even keep dinner warm until we are ready to eat, and clean-up is quick and easy.

Pictured above is a delicious and filling vegetarian lentil tortilla soup from the website Peas and Crayons. It made just enough for five, two cup mason jars: an inexpensive and healthy lunch I could throw in my bag in the morning before I left for work.

Easy Home Cooked Meals

FoodIMG_0768

I believe that preparing and eating home cooked meals more frequently is good for our overall wellness. However, I also know that it can be difficult to fit shopping, prepping and cooking into a busy schedule, so I am always looking for ways to simplify. About a year ago, I purchased an Instant Pot after reading about it on many of my favourite cooking websites. It took me a while to make the purchase as I already have a well equipped kitchen, but I haven’t regretted my decision. The Instant Pot is a programmable multi-cooker that can act as a slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker and sauté pan. I have also used it to warm food and proof bread. I think what I like best is that I can pretty much throw everything into one pot and then forget about it: no checking or stirring. It will even keep dinner warm until we are ready to eat, and clean-up is quick and easy.

Pictured above is a delicious and filling vegetarian lentil tortilla soup from the website Peas and Crayons. It made just enough for five, two cup mason jars: an inexpensive and healthy lunch I could throw in my bag in the morning before I left for work.

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