I’ll be the first to admit, at this point in the season, pumpkin- and pumpkin spice-flavoured things are becoming old news. But, what to do when you only used 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree for that pumpkin loaf and you still have 3/4 left of a perfectly good can? We’ve all been there. The struggle is real.

I’m here to present three solutions. Two are quick and easy breakfast options; one is a delicious and surprisingly simple dinner.

1. Pumpkin Spice Smoothie
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 frozen banana (pre-sliced)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

What to do:

  1. Puree all ingredients together in your blender. Easy!
  2. Pour into a bowl and top with desired toppings: I used pecans and pepitas, but banana slices and dates would also be yummy.

2. Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • heaping 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

What to do:

  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix together thoroughly with a spoon.
  2. Microwave for 1 minute and test out a spoonful. If oats are still too crunchy for your liking, microwave for 30 more seconds.
  3. Oatmeal will be very hot, so top with a splash more almond milk to help cool.
  4. Add desired toppings: I used banana slices and pepitas, but use whatever you like.

3. Pumpkin Rigatoni with Prosciutto and Sage (adapted from Handle the Heat)
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Ingredients:

  • Rigatoni (eyeball how much you would need for 3 servings – I am horrible at this)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 slices prosciutto, sliced into small strips
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white or yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup milk (or cream if you like and can handle creamier sauces)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Black pepper

What to do:

  1. Cook the rigatoni according to package directions (or as you ordinarily would cook pasta). Drain when cooked to your desired amount.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a small, dry frying pan on low heat, until golden brown. Pay attention so they do not burn (I didn’t do a very good job of this…oops).
  3. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet and swirl it around to distribute. Optional: Add the prosciutto to the pan for five minutes to lightly crisp it, then set aside.
  4. Add the onion to the large pan or skillet and cook until slightly softened.
  5. Add pumpkin, nutmeg, milk/cream and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, stirring often, until thickened to your desired sauce consistency. Stir in prosciutto and sage, then add rigatoni and mix everything to combine.
  6. Divide into three dishes, or two larger ones–no judgment, that’s what we did–and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and a little black pepper.

Stay hungry!

Caj

I’ve neglected this space for a while. I got busy–first with work, then with traveling (oh, those were the days), then with being thrust head-first, full-force into this graduate program that I’ll be completing for the next 6-7 years. This last part was actually great for me. It forced me to get to know my campus, my program and my peers early on; it gave my day-to-day life structure; it distracted me from any potential feelings of homesickness or loneliness in this new city.

And for the first six weeks or so, this worked. Not only did I not have homesickness or loneliness to speak of, but for the first time in my life, I felt 100% on top of my workload. As someone who procrastinated most of her way through high school and half of university, I finally feel like I have my time management on lock. I’ve got a good momentum going. The problem is, I’m starting to feel like that momentum isn’t sustainable.

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^ My version of self-care.

Sure, I may have my shit together, but I only have my SCHOOL shit together, and the effects are taking their toll on the other areas of my life. Not enough time to get 7 hours of sleep, to paint my nails, to try out delicious new recipes, to hang out with new friends, to Skype with old friends, to talk to my family on the phone. Not enough dates with Kyle, and not enough time for ME. So much for “time management”.

The thing is, there IS time for all of the above – I just have to find a way to restructure my life and rebalance my priorities. This program and career path are super important to me, but so are my mental health and well-being. After all, how can I promote the mental health and well-being of others if I haven’t figured out my own?

Here are 3 small changes I’m planning to implement:
1. Getting ready for bed at 10pm.
2. Waiting until after I have fully woken up and refreshed before checking emails/social media.
3. Trying at least one new thing that excites me each week – whether it’s a recipe, a restaurant, or a dance class.

Join me in my self-care mission! What are some things you’d like to do for YOU? I’d love to know. :)

Stay true to you,

Caj

 

So…didja miss me?

Truthfully, I started this blog purely as a hobby/way to keep myself entertained during my year off from school, and the last little while, I just haven’t been itching to write about anything.  But I’ve been thinking a little more about it lately, because in two weeks I will be beginning a month-long venture in Europe with one of my best friends and know that I will want to document some of our adventures here.

In the meantime, I needed some post inspiration…and what better place to look than my fridge?

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I love breakfast.  It is by far my favourite meal of the day (well, other than brunch), partly because there are just so many options–sweet, savory, last night’s leftovers.  I’ve never been one to skip breakfast if I can help it, because a) I am usually ravenous when I wake up and b) I am also usually very unpleasant.  Apologies to family, ex-housemates, and anyone else who has encountered me before I break the fast.

Lately, I’ve gotten a little more creative with my pre-work breakfasts, and I thought I would share the recipes I currently have on rotation in case anyone is needing a little inspo–or incentive to eat breakfast at all (please do it, your body and brain will thank you).

I am the worst and slowest at getting ready in the mornings (also confirmable by family and friends), so I can guarantee that these are all super fast and easy to make.  But more importantly, they are delicious.

#1: Fruit & Nut Overnight Oats

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Possibly my favourite of the bunch (though admittedly, it doesn’t photograph too well).  Requires less than a minute of effort in the morning (or none if you’re not a banana fan) and is seriously SO yummy.  I’ve been playing around with overnight oat recipes for a few months and I think I’ve hit the nail on the head with this one:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons nuts and/or dried fruit (I use a mix of almonds, coconut chips, dried blueberries and dried cranberries)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Add all ingredients to a mason jar, screw on the lid and shake up.  Place in the refrigerator overnight – the oats, nuts and berries will absorb the almond milk and all the flavours will meld together.  You shouldn’t even need any more sweetener in the morning.  I just add 1/2 of a sliced banana, then take the whole jar in the car for my drive to work!

Bonus: not only is this recipe healthy, it’s also super filling.  And remember, morning Caj = ravenous Caj, so you can take my word for that.

#2: Smoothie Improv

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I call this “smoothie improv” because I don’t have a go-to recipe.  I’m sure even saying this is redundant, but the beauty of smoothies is that you can use pretty much any fruit (or veggies) you have on hand.  That said, my two current favourites are:

PB&J Smoothie

  • 1 frozen, sliced banana
  • 1 cup berries (whichever you have on hand)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • splash of almond milk (or up to 1/4 cup if you like your smoothies more liquidy)
  • optional: 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Sneaky Green Smoothie:

  • 1/2 frozen, sliced banana
  • 1 cup spinach (you don’t taste it, I promise!)
  • 1/2 cup diced mango
  • 1/2 cup berries (of any kind)
  • 3 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • optional: 2 tablespoons of rolled oats (blended into smoothie) or granola (sprinkled on top for texture)

These are just approximations – I change it up all the time, and sometimes get lazy and throw things in without measuring (I know, CRAZY).  In general, I just try to strike the best balance I can between healthy and filling ingredients–peanut butter, greek yogurt, chia seeds and oats will all help keep you full.  If you have protein powder that doesn’t taste like chalk, that would also be a good call.

Tip: If you know you’ll be rushing out the door in the morning, cut, wash and/or freeze your fruit the night before.

#3: Starbucks-Style Spinach & Feta Wrap

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I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory.  Like the Starbucks spinach & feta wrap, but homemade and wholesome.

  • 1 whole-grain wrap (I like spinach or sundried tomato wraps for extra flavour/prettiness)
  • 1 small handful sliced mushrooms, cut in half
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 eggs, whisked (or just the egg whites if you are healthy like that)
  • 2 sundried tomatoes, chopped (squeeze in paper towel first to drain excess oil)
  • 1 tablespoon crumbled feta

What to do:

  • Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and sauté mushrooms on medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add spinach and continue sautéing until mostly wilted.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and add eggs; push everything around the pan like you would with ordinary scrambled eggs, until eggs are cooked and spinach is completely wilted. Season with salt and/or pepper.
  • Optional: warm up the wrap in the microwave for 30 seconds, or on an additional frying pan (no oil) for 30 seconds on each side.
  • Pile eggs, spinach and mushrooms on wrap and top with sundried tomatoes and feta.  Roll up and enjoy immediately or wrap in foil to take on the go.

Stay hungry!

Caj

 

 

Happy Easter/Passover/long weekend, everyone!  I hope you’re all enjoying your final day off.  I don’t have one, but I figured maybe you could use yours to make a delicious brunch featuring this winning recipe I tried out yesterday.  Let’s just say it’s earned itself a pretty solid spot on the weekend brunch rotation.

Adapted from this month’s issue of Chatelaine, we have egg & toast tartlets:

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^ How cute are these guys?!

Here’s what I used:

  • 12 slices white bread (I used Dempster’s)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion (white or yellow), diced
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped (if yours come in a can, I recommend soaking up the oil with a paper towel first)
  • 12 eggs (small are recommended, but I could only find large at the grocery store)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

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Here’s what I did:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 ºF.  Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking oil.
  2. Cut the crusts off of each slice of white bread.  Flatten each slice with a rolling pin before tucking it into a muffin cup, pressing along the bottom and sides (the slice will fold on itself slightly).  Place the pan in the oven for 5-7 minutes until bread is lightly toasted.
  3. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and allow butter to melt.  Add onion and cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and brown.
  4. Add maple syrup and spinach to pan and stir.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, until spinach is wilted. Image
  5. Distribute onion-spinach mixture evenly into each toast cup.  Sprinkle with sundried tomatoes and crack an egg on top of each.  Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until egg whites are solid but yolks are still runny.

Enjoy with fruit and, ideally, some bacon.  Preferably arranged artfully in a cup.

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Stay hungry!

Caj

 

I can feel it in the air: spring is nigh.  I’ve felt it ever since I arrived back from my 5-day stint in Jamaica (or maybe it’s just a vacation carry-over effect?).  Whatever it is, I’ve been feeling significantly more cheery.  As you have probably read at least three times now, spring is my all-time favourite.  After the holiday excitement is over, winter just gets me down – and sometimes I don’t even realize it until the birds start to chirp and the sun comes out and I think “oh, this is how I’m supposed to feel”.

Anyway, I’d really like my newfound cheeriness to stick around, so I decided to take the 100 Days of Happiness challenge.  Turns out, my problem is not so much finding things to be happy about, but remembering to take photos of them (or at least good ones).

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Day 1: Returned to my beloved Barreworks after months off due to various injuries (real and perceived).  I LOVE Barreworks classes and will definitely be making them a regular thing again.  Looking forward to gaining my muscle back so I actually have something to flex…

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Day 2: Received a BC starter kit care package from Kyle, complete with Moleskine notebooks and a new raincoat.  I’m ready to learn to embrace the rain!

 

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Day 3: Childish Gambino with Sep.  Amazing concert, terrible picture.

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Day 4: True to my usual post-concert obsessions, I watched Donald Glover stand-up on Youtube.  Yes, this is from Google images.  That counts, right?

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Day 5: Jaclyn came over for dinner.  We made fajitas and amused ourselves with our high school yearbooks.

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Day 6: This beautiful photograph is evidence of the rain, which I am now embracing, melting all the snow away.  I’m definitely okay with that.

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Day 7: My favourite meal of the day with my favourite girls.  We went to Barque Smokehouse, where I enjoyed devoured the pancakes with smoked duck, blueberry compote and chèvre.  Followed by a lemon meringue doughnut from Glory Hole.  To die.

On to weeks 2-15.

Stay smilin’!

Caj

You might be wondering why I tried a juice cleanse in the first place.  Three reasons:

1. Usually I’m pretty good at recognizing when I haven’t been eating well and making healthier choices, but lately I’ve been struggling with that and generally turning to food (and not the fruit and veggie kind) for comfort.  I hoped that a cleanse would help kickstart me on a healthier path both physically and psychologically.  Plus, why not see if there is any truth to all the health and beauty claims?

2. Ever since Greenhouse Juice Co. opened, I’ve become a juice convert.  I absolutely love their products and their brand.  It’s hard for me to pick my favourites, but I really love Gold Rush (pineapple, cucumber, lemon, and ginger) and Deep Roots (beet, carrot, apple, celery, and lemon).  East of Eden (romaine, kale, celery, apple, and lemon) is also a good choice – I just go for whatever I’m feeling that day.  Also: for every ten bottles you return, you get a free juice AND a free yoga class.  Also: their smoothies are SO good.  Drinking “The Rio Deal” is like sipping a ginger cookie through a straw.

3. I’ll try just about anything once.  Not crack though.  You’re on your own there, Mr. Ford.

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^From left to right: Clean-Zing, East of Eden, E3 Live Booster, The Good, Almond Milk, Reishi Booster, Deep Roots, Chia Seed Hydrator. Each with its own health-enhancing properties.

So, without further ado, here is a peek into my day-to-day experience…

Day 1

8:30am: Pick up my juices at Greenhouse, feeling excited to begin my new adventure.  The first juice of the day, “Clean-Zing”–water with lemon, maple syrup and liquid cayenne, à la Master Cleanse–is not my favourite but I have had it before and am more or less used to the flavour.  Either way, nothing can sway my motivation at this point.

9:30am: Take obligatory Instagram photo of juice lineup (see above).

10:00am: Crack open the first actual juice of the day, East of Eden.  I am happy to start my day off with a juice that I know I enjoy – it fuels my motivation, and I’m already counting down to my next juice.  Let’s be real, though: that’s mostly because I’m hungry.

12:00pm: Apprehensively contemplate the E3 Live booster, a blue-green algae shot that resembles swampwater and is supposed to improve mood, brain function, and hair/skin/nail health.  I am pleased to discover that it has next to no taste.

Craving: All the Easter chocolate I see while walking through Shoppers.

1:00pm: Time for The Good: romaine, spinach, cucumber, celery, lemon, and Himalayan salt.  I’m a little nervous about this one too–it’s the only juice I haven’t tried before due to its being made entirely of vegetables–but it’s surprisingly good.  I really like the hint of salt.

Craving: Sushi.

3:15pm: Almond Milk o’clock.  This isn’t just any almond milk – it’s made with coconut oil, vanilla bean, and dates for extra sweetness (or are they all? I wouldn’t know).  The first time I had it it was a little watered down, but this batch is AMAZING, almost like a milkshake.  The vanilla bean is a seriously welcome addition and I feel like I’m having a well-deserved treat.

3:45pm: Feeling horrible and sweaty post-downing 500mL of almond milk in under half an hour.  Pace around before putting my head on the desk in an attempt to rest before my 5:00 physio appointment.

4:20pm: In the car driving to physio and yawn-yawn-yawning all the way there.  Doubting that I will make it through my hour-long appointment.

6:30pm: Made it home!  Time for my Reishi immunity booster, which I became scared of when I learned that it’s a mushroom extract.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE mushrooms–they are my favourite vegetable and yes, to me they are a vegetable and not a fungus–but I want to eat them, not drink them.  Luckily, just like the E3 booster, it goes down like water.

Craving: A bagel and cream cheese.  Can’t remember the last time I’ve craved this.

7:15-8:15pm: Sipping Deep Roots while watching a couple episodes of Scandal.  Feel a pang of jealousy as I smell my dad heating up some of our friend Martha’s homemade chicken noodle soup.

9:00pm: Decide that I can’t put off drinking the Chia Seed Hydrator (alkaline water, chia seeds, lemon, and maple syrup) any longer.  Shake up the bottle and brace myself for my first sip.  Want to gag at having to swallow mouthfuls of slimy chia seeds whole.  Feel more jealousy as dad takes an oatmeal raisin cookie out of the freezer.  Force myself to drink 3/4 of the bottle before dumping the rest down the drain and calling it a day.

Craving: A salad topped with canned tuna.  If you know me well, you will now understand just how much I hate this chia seed thing.  Canned tuna is the one edible thing on this earth that I despise.

Bedtime: Apart from the hour post-almond milk-guzzling, I felt completely normal today.  It is 11:00pm and I still have a lot of energy, actually, even though I didn’t sleep well last night.

Day 2

8:00am: Wake up as I always do, hungry and excited for breakfast.  Alas…

Craving: Breakfast cereal.  Any kind will do.

Then: This apple cinnamon bun from Piroshky Piroshky (sigh):

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12:15pm: This algae shot tastes a little worse today.  Ugh.

12:40pm: Losing faith in my willpower.  I really want solid food.

1:15pm: Everything tastes really intense today – The Good is really salty.  I’m thinking I could really appreciate the flavours and textures of that bagel and cream cheese right now.

Craving: Any food ever that appears on my Instagram feed.

3:00pm: Mmm.  Almond milk (consumed more slowly this time).  Looked forward to this one because not only is it the tastiest of the bunch, it’s also the most filling.

5:30pm: My thumbs are purple.  That’s pretty standard for me though.

7:00pm: Take Epsom salt bath as suggested by Greenhouse + the internet.  Prop my laptop on the counter so I can multitask by watching Homeland.

Craving: Teriyaki salmon and broccolini?  I don’t know, solid food.

8:25pm: Tonight was supposed to be bad, but I still feel completely normal.  Just really, really thirsty.  Does that even make sense?

Craving: Anything and everything that my dad is eating right now.

10:00pm: Starting to feel like I might have the beginnings of a sore throat – you know that annoying scratchy feeling?

Bedtime: Honestly, other than the throat thing I still feel fine.  Maybe that just means I didn’t have a ton of toxins to begin with?  I find that hard to believe, but who knows.  I’m not complaining.  I’m probably jinxing myself for tomorrow though.

Day 3

7:30am: Wake up with a worse sore throat than before.  Jinx confirmed, or this cleanse is finally working its magic.

8:00am: Search the house frantically for my phone before finding it in the pocket of the vest I am wearing.  Feel generally weak and kind of like I have cold sweats.

Craving: No food – just a nice hot cup of tea.

8:30am: Pick up my juices from Greenhouse, substituting the Clean-Zing for the Long John (a hot version of the same thing).  The flavour is even more powerful in hot form, but it energizes me and soothes my throat.

12:00pm: I’m sweeeeepy.  Someone bring a fuzzy/furry blanket to my office please.

12:10pm: Look in the bathroom mirror and notice that my lips are tinged green from juice.  That’s a good look.

2:30pm: The salt in this drink makes me so.  Thirsty.

Craving: Everyone’s Instagram food.

4:00pm: Feelin’ pretty spritely as I leave the office.  Oh, almond milk, I will miss you.

5:45pm: Rudely awoken from my nap on the couch by the phone ringing.

6:15pm: This is definitely my shitty day.  The sore throat is back in full force and I feel phlegmy (sorry), weak and tired.  Ugh.  I had really been hoping to end off on a good note.  This calls for more Scandal.

6:30pm: Spitting into Kleenexes between each sip of Deep Roots.  Again, sorry, but if you came into this post thinking it would be all sunshine and roses, you were mistaken.

7:45pm: Soothing myself with some herbal tea.  It occurs to me that I haven’t craved caffeine once in the past three days – guess I’m not as dependent on it as I thought.

8:30pm: I just want to get into bed.  But that chia seed thing is beckoning…ugh.

9:30pm: Wow, I actually finished the bottle.  I also popped an Advil for my sore throat – I wanted to avoid it but I also want to sleep.

10:00pm: Just as I am getting ready for bed, I have a renewed sense of energy/general health.  Of course.  Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel after all!

Day 4 and Final Verdict

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^ I woke up like dis.

My sore throat has abated and I’m feeling good, just hungry.  Though I had some rough patches, overall I felt pretty normal during the cleanse.  My main complaint is that I had a hard time sleeping, probably because I just had so much energy every night.  And/or maybe I’m not yet used to the time change.

As for the other health benefits: My skin is definitely the clearest and softest it’s been in a long time.  I feel more positive and cheerful.  And maybe it’s a placebo effect, but I also think my hair is shinier, teeth are whiter, and vision is clearer.  More than anything, I’m proud of myself – I never would have guessed I’d have the willpower to follow through with this so completely.  I feel accomplished and like I’ve truly done a good thing for my body.  And I do feel motivated to continue down a healthier path.

Let’s see how that goes…breakfast, anyone?!

Stay glowing,

Caj

P.S. Because you’re probably curious, this healthy splurge cost me $65 per day (before tax).  I think it’s a great investment, but definitely one I’ll be making less-than-frequently.

I’ll admit, I had this whole Culinary Creations post planned where I would display my masterful efforts at making red velvet whoopie pies, using this recipe.  Unfortunately they were not masterful at all – the dough was super sticky, the cakes were dry (and a little salty) and try as I might, I couldn’t get the cream cheese icing not to drip all over the place.  I probably didn’t do a good job of converting the weight measurements to volume measurements (because I whole-heartedly trust The Londoner’s baking expertise), but whatever the reason, I thought I’d save you the pointlessness of that post and just let you feast your eyes on this little burger-thing:

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^ That icing…ugh. Luckily, my sweet tooth was salvaged this morning:

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^ An acceptable pre-breakfast snack.

I’m feeling all cheery today. I’ve got my red pants on and pink glitter on my nails.  I love this “holiday” because it gives me a perfectly valid excuse to send out warm fuzzies, whether in a text or a homemade greeting card:

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Stay loving!

Caj

…minus the ‘Yo.

Actually, minus everything except Nutella and banana.  FYI, yesterday was World Nutella Day, and I’m not one to let a holiday slip by without finding some small way to celebrate.

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This could not possibly be simpler:

  • 1 large frozen banana
  • 1/3 cup Nutella

Note: you can taste the banana a bit more than you can taste the Nutella, so if you’re like me and would prefer the Nutella to shine, I’d try a 1/2 cup.  Because chocolate and hazelnut.

You’ll make your life even easier if you slice the banana before freezing.  I popped the whole banana in the freezer like a noob, but it was actually pretty easy to peel and slice after running it under hot water for ~30 seconds.

Mix up in your magic bullet, top with some hazelnuts if desired (toasted and crushed would be heaven), and stick in your spoon!

Stay hungry,

Caj

In the aftermath of an admittedly less-than-stellar month, I am welcoming February with open arms.  While I usually hop right on the New Year’s Resolution train, this January I made one excuse after another for myself in a dangerous cycle of self-pity.

But I’m choosing to forgive myself for that, wipe my slate clean and treat February as my true start to 2014.  Look out for a more mindful, kind, punctual, carefree and non-symptom-googling Caj.

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^ The key to a fresh start? A delicious breakfast. :)

A few things I have to look forward to this month:

  • A more varied fitness regimen.  After months of the same boring gym routine, my body is finally getting back to normal, and I can’t even describe how exciting it has been to ski, snowshoe, swim and DANCE again.  I’ve even been sneaking in a few mini, mini runs at the gym.  I’m still pacing myself, but I plan to keep changing it up so that exercise can once again be something I look forward to.
  • Enjoying 3-course meals for cheap at Winterlicious (on til February 13).
  • Valentine’s Day.  Yep.  Even when I’ve been single, I’ve always loved V-Day and used it as an excuse to wear pink and red, gorge myself on baked goods and perform little acts of kindness.  This year, you’ll find me baking some of my own festive treats (and sharing the recipe(s))!
  • A clearer view of my future.  The pieces are starting to come together–slowly but surely–and I’ll be excited to share more once I know everything for sure.
  • Just the general fact that we’re one month closer to spring.

Stay fresh,

Caj

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a recipe on here, which is a shame – the food posts are some of my favourites!

I recently realized it had been a while since I’d actually put substantive effort into making a meal, so I resolved to make myself a nice dinner entirely from scratch.  No shortcuts allowed (well, maybe one or two).

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One of my go-to recipes while at school was a chicken stir-fry: a chicken breast, some frozen veggies and a dollop of my housemate’s honey garlic sauce sneaked from the fridge.  I decided to rework the recipe with fresh veggies and quinoa instead of the rice I had used at school.

Here’s what I used (approximately…I tend not to measure things much when I’m cooking):

  • 1 cup mixed red and white quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • Olive oil
  • 1 raw chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • About 1/3 package sliced mushrooms, rinsed
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, rinsed and sliced
  • Handful broccoli florets, rinsed
  • Handful snow peas, rinsed
  • 2-3 tablespoons Asian sesame dressing (I used Renee’s store-bought version–there’s my shortcut–but you could make your own using this recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

This makes 2-3 servings, depending on how hungry you are.  I’m eating my second portion for today’s lunch!

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^ Note: You’ll probably want a skillet or wok that is bigger than this, so you can cook everything more evenly.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Combine quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Once boiled, reduce to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed.
  2. Drizzle a good amount of olive oil on a large skillet (or wok if you have one) and warm over high to medium-high heat.  Add chicken breast, mushrooms and onions and stir around, making sure to flip the chicken pieces so they are cooked on all sides.  Add a drizzle more oil if chicken or veggies start to stick to the skillet.
  3. When chicken is nearly cooked through, reduce heat to medium and add pepper and broccoli.  Again, add a drizzle more oil if needed.  Continue to stir.
  4. Once peppers have softened and broccoli has turned a darker green, reduce heat to low and add in snow peas, Asian sesame dressing and sesame seeds (I leave the snow peas til the end because I like them crunchy).  Stir to thoroughly coat chicken and veggies with dressing and seeds.  If quinoa is still cooking, leave on low heat to keep warm.

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Once it’s all done, scoop some quinoa onto your plate, top with stir-fry mixture and toss, adding a little more dressing and another sprinkle of sesame seeds if desired.

Stay hungry!

Caj

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