Thursday, 23 May 2013



Blending your veggies has been gaining popularity over the last few years, but I know many people are still a little, well, grossed out by the idea!  I admit drinking pureed greens does sounds strange, but in fact when you add them to your regular tasty smoothie they add a wonderful full bodied flavour that is nothing like salad.  Best of all, it means you've already got a serving of dark green veg covered at breakfast, with no preparation needed.


Kale or spinach are my favorite additions.  I find kale adds a rich, slightly sweet flavour to the drink, whereas spinach blends in completely, only changing the colour of your smoothie.  If you're unsure about trying this out, just start with a small handful of spinach, and work up towards heartier greens.


I like things in the morning to be quick and easy.  I don't have much brain power at that time, to be honest!  The most I can manage is digging around in my fridge and freezer for anything that looks yummy, dumping it into my Bullet, and blending.  Today I used about a cup of frozen strawberries, a few big spoonfuls of yogurt, and a large handful of kale.  I also added water for easy blending, but you can use milk or juice if you have that on hand to add even more flavour.  If you have any fresh or frozen bananas, adding one in adds a lovely sweet creaminess to a green smoothie.

If you are looking for a more detailed recipe before venturing into green territory, there are lots out there.  Here are just a few yummy looking ones that I found.

For an simple starter recipe that will taste more of sweet fruit then greens, try the Yummy Mummy Kitchen version.

If you like tropical tastes, try out Real Simple's recipe.

If you're looking to get adventurous with different ingredients and flavours, check this list of 30 Delicious Green Smoothie Recipes.

Or just find ingredients that you like, and create your own!  Once you try it, you'll be hooked :)

Friday, 17 May 2013


Chocolate Syrup

In an ongoing effort to eat less preservatives, chemicals, and generally any ingredients that I can't pronounce, I suddenly decided to tackle the giant brown squeeze bottle that lives permanently on the bottom shelf of our fridge door.  Even the sound it makes when squeezed had started to give me the chills!

A quick search told me that not only was chocolate syrup amazingly easy to make, but I also had all the ingredients already in my cupboards.  How had I never discovered this before?!

As it often happens with homemade food, this recipe also means better tasting results and savings in your penny jar.  A simple combination of cocoa powder, sugar, water, and vanilla, and ten minutes of time at the stove, yields a thick, rich, luscious syrup, ready for all of your chocolate needs.  Much better than any store bought product, it tastes less of sugar and more of deep, dark chocolate flavour.

Mixed with milk it creates a satisfying chocolate drink, but don't stop there!  I imagine this syrup drizzled over vanilla ice cream, added to a sweet smoothie, topped over a homemade granola bar, or simply enjoyed with fresh fruit.  Yummmmmmm.

Definitely an improvement.  It will keep for at least a month in the fridge, and I also froze the second half to enjoy when I run out.  You can find two good recipes on the these blogs:

Thursday, 16 May 2013


Pulp Kitchen Juice

Recently, someone in LA told me that juicing is going to be all over Toronto in a year or two.  Well, I hate to disappoint, but we may be a little quicker on the uptake than expected!  The city is starting to see a small flourish of juice bars, each offering dozens of varieties of fresh pressed juices, smoothies, and healthy shakes.

Pulp Kitchen is one of two juice bars in my neighbourhood, and it's my favourite because of it's approachable attitude and reasonable pricing.  They offer all of their juices to go, as well as a take out menu selection, which includes everything from vegan sandwiches and panini's to fresh salads and gluten free baked treats.  The food is yummy and healthy.

They also offer a three day juice cleanse, at a much more affordable price than any other juice bar I've seen.  Since I've been wanting to try this out for a while, I decided now was the time.  It's a simple program, including three juices a day, to be taken in the morning, afternoon, and evening, repeated for three days.  Along with a whole lot of water, that's the plan in a nutshell.  The owner of the store did kindly tell me that if I was having trouble, I could sip on coconut water and if I really needed it, some broth as well.

As you  can see from the above picture, I was not able to resist drinking my first juice of the day before snapping pictures!  I can't lie - I'm hungry.  However, I am able to do it.  Adding in coconut water does help, and I've just been trying to lay low so I don't get too "hangry" (hunger induced anger).  The first day, I had a massive headache, but by day three I actually felt pretty good.  I like to think that is my body ridding itself of all it's toxins!  I also noticed that I slept amazingly well every night, waking up early and refreshed each morning.

Now, it's day 4 and I'm supposed to ease back in to regular foods, starting with mostly raw foods for the first day.  But I seriously want to bite into a big sandwich right now!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


Nutritional yeast is a little known ingredient, but those that know about it, rave about it.  It's typically used in it's flaked form, and often found in vegetarian and vegan recipes.  However, don't be confused with the types of active yeast that are used in baking bread and brewing beer.  This is very different!

Nutritional Yeast

Let's start with the 'good for you facts'.  There are a lot of them.  Nutritional yeast is rich in B vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein.  It's low in fat, gluten free, and does not have any added sugars or preservatives.  Many brands are also fortified with vitamin B12, which is crucial for vegetarian diets.

The flavour is both familiar, and different.  It's often described as cheesy and nutty, and I find it rich and comforting as well.  It can be used in sauces to add a cheesy flavour, or even as a pizza topping.  My personal favorites include sprinkling it over popcorn, as a seasoning for homemade kale chips, or to coat marinated tofu before frying.  You can also stir it into roasted vegetables before serving, or add it to your salad dressing.

If I've piqued your interest and you'd like to give it a try, you can find it at health food stores, bulk stores, or in the health food section of your grocery store.  I use the Bob's Red Mill brand.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


They may not look very exciting, but beans or legumes really are a magical food.  Well, for your body at least.  Low in calories and high in fibre, these complex carbohydrates will fill you up faster, help lower cholesterol and can also aid in weight loss, when included regularly in your diet.  


When it comes to buying them, it's easy to gravitate towards the canned beans as they are quick to open and easy to use.  However, for just a little extra effort, dried beans can offer you more savings in your wallet, as well as better nutritional value.

Dried beans can be bought off the shelf at the grocery store, in bulk bins, and often at your local market.  Not only is a bag of dried beans much lighter than cans in your grocery bag, but it will also last you a lot longer.  A can will yield about 1 or 2 cups of beans, and then it's on your grocery list again for the next week.  For close to the same price, a bag of dried beans will hold about 4 or 5 cups of beans, which when cooked will double in size giving you about 10 cups of good eating.


The ingredients list on dried beans is also fantastic - it's just beans!  Unfortunately in canned varieties, you'll always find a lot of added salt, even in the reduced salt brands.  Occasionally, there will even be additional ingredients added, such as sugar.  Plus, since the dried beans don't go through a canning process, they are usually higher in nutritional value.  All in all, your body will definitely like the dried stuff better.

Dried beans do require a bit more planning, but it's not hard as long as you are prepared.  Most varieties require overnight soaking, so I simply use the same large pot that I plan to cook them in, fill it up with a cup of beans, fill with cold water and leave it sitting on the stove.  Then the next day, I drain and rinse the beans.  Sometimes I leave them sitting like that for the whole day, until I get a chance to cook them.  After soaking, most beans will cook in about 1-1.5 hours.  Most types need to be brought to a boil first, then reduced to a simmer for the hour.  Just follow the directions on the bag.


Then your beans are ready to be eaten!  Throw some chickpeas in a salad, add black beans and kidney beans to a pot of chili or stew, or chop up some veggies and mix with dressing for a quick and fresh bean salad.  If you like making your own soups, you can actually include the bean cooking time into your soup recipe, and the dried beans will soak up all the flavour of your broth while they are cooking.  Or use them to make your own yummy dips.

With hundreds of varieties of beans, the possibilities are endless, and each bean can give you a new variation on your favorite recipes.  Plus, you'll fill up your belly while giving it lots of good nutrients.  Sometimes, a little extra effort can go a long way.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013


I have a slight obsession with peanut butter.  I put it on everything.  Toast, crackers, bananas, and oatmeal just to name a few.  Not to mention, I also eat it straight up, out of the jar.  With a butter knife.  I'm so glad I have blinds on my windows at times like those.

I always eat the 100% natural, all peanuts, only peanuts kind of peanut butter.  I know it's clean and healthy, and good for you...well, in moderation that is.  Perhaps not when I'm scooping it out with my butter knife and licking it clean.  But, I just can't help it.

So when I started noticing something called powdered peanut butter with the brand name PB2, popping up in recipes and blogs, I was intrigued.  I know it sounds a bit strange, but after a little research I found out it's pretty simple.  The powder is made by pressing the oil out from the peanuts.  It's done through a chemical free process, and the result is a  natural and preservative free powder that has 85% less fat calories.  That's insane!  That could literally mean, that I could eat 85% more peanut butter, right? Pure delight ensued.


The instructions are simple.  For a spread, just mix two tablespoons of PB2 with one tablespoon of water.  Voila!  You've got a skinny pants friendly, all natural, preservative free peanut butter.  Even better, there are so many other opportunities for a little PB love with this stuff.  Pop some into your blender with banana and milk for a yummy smoothie, add a few scoops when baking your favorite muffins or bars, or even mix a little in with your morning yogurt and granola.

After thinking about all the peanut buttery foods that I could make, I couldn't wait to try it.  Sadly, I found out that while it's available in stores in the U.S., it is not easily available in Canada.  The biggest and most popular manufacturer seems to be PB2, but not only is there a hefty shipping charge to deliver to Canada, plus who knows what for duty charges, but their direct site was also sold out on a lot of their products.

YES, I said products!  That's because, they didn't just stop at regular old powdered peanut butter - they also offered CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER!  Mind blown.  Saliva glands, literally, going wild.


After some serious online hunting, I found a Canadian website that would deliver a jar of PB2 and a few samples of Chocolate PB2 to me (and likely also to you, if you click here and order).  There is a delivery charge, and the product isn't super cheap to start with, but at least you know it won't be stuck at the border.  I got mine in just a few days.

The results?  Pretty good!  The powder smells deliciously of your usual peanut butter, and after you mix it with water it resembles a smooth style peanut butter, although maybe a bit thinner than usual.  The taste is peanut buttery goodness, just like you would expect.  I would say that it's not quite as full a flavour as a jar of all natural full fat peanut butter, but then that's not too surprising given that it's a much lighter version.  There is also some added sugar and salt, and I can taste that a little bit.  You also have to go an extra step to mix it up (no knives in the jar this time) but that actually helps out with portion control.  And one serving is just 45 calories!



I tasted tested mine by itself, and also on crackers.  Then I busted out the blender.  Oh my!  So delicious.  I would never put peanut butter in my smoothies, since there are so many other healthier things to go in there...but now I'll put PB2 in there!

I think the true strength of this product is in the baking and cooking possibilities.  It's good on its own, and I'll likely order more when I'm out - but I'm not ready to toss the jar of my standard PB from my fridge either.  I think a nice balance will keep me fitter, with a bit of extra peanutty love in my foods.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


The Artscape Wynchwood Barns is host to many a tasty food market, but this one is by far the tastiest.  At least it is in my humble, gluten-free opinion.  Filled with decadent desserts, breads, sauces, meats, and more, everything served up by the vendors at this market is free to sample, available to purchase, and absolutely, one hundred percent, gluten free.

Gluten Free Garage

If you have ever tried to remove wheat from your diet, even for a short period of time, you know how tough it can be.  You have to question every food that you haven't prepared yourself, you are always peppering store owners and waiters with questions about what ingredients they used, and worst of all you are often forced to resist food!  

Gluten Free Garage

That's what makes this pop up marketplace so unique, and for anyone living gluten-free, it's basically heaven.  Being able to stroll around and pop any sample that catches your eye into your mouth, worry free, is a beautiful experience.  Butter Tart? Don't mind if I do!  

Over 50 vendors set up shop at this market, to share their goods, and their knowledge about living and eating gluten free.  Some vendors, served up hot and juicy sausages for sampling - these fellows got quite a few of our dollars.  I couldn't resist the chicken sausages, and was also incredibly happy with the melt in your mouth, barbecued, all beef salami.

Gluten Free Garage

Quite a few vendors had sweets up for grabs.  I was tempted by everything of course, but ended up choosing just one chocolate chip cookie, one peanut butter dream, and one beetroot brownie, all to share when we got home later that night.  

Gluten Free Garage

Although not as glamourous, I think what made me happiest was stocking up on some breads and buns for the freezer.  It's so hard to find good gluten-free bread, and it's so disappointing when you shell out for an expensive bakery loaf, only to get it home and find out it's so dense that you can't even get a sandwich down.  Here, you can sample any bread before you buy it.  That meant I lucked out with packs of bagel thins, hot dog and hamburger buns, and focaccia style rice buns.  And I already know they all taste good! 

Gluten Free GarageGluten Free Garage

I should also mention that I sampled everything and anything that I could.  There was so much choice, and although the marketplace was full of shoppers, all the vendors were constantly refilling their samples and making sure everyone got a taste.  Prices were also very reasonable, many vendors took their prices down since they didn't have to pay their usual markup required at a big grocery store.

Tons of food, all gluten free, and in a beautiful location - this was a Sunday well spent.  Since this market came only 6 months after their first GFG market, I'm thinking it was a success as well.  And that can only mean more to come!

To learn more about the event, vendors, or keep tabs on the next pop up, make sure you visit