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Quinoa Salad with Pickles and Kale

Hey guys, Kristen Vander Hoeven here from the SoSasha.com team bringing you another quick and easy bowl recipe that you can quickly make at home this week. Quinoa, quinoa, quinoa…everyone’s obsessed with quinoa. It’s basically the perfect blank canvas for an infinity amount of recipes. You can turn it into anything you like and trick your mind and belly into thinking your eating a big delicious bowl of bad carbs. I’ve adjusted this recipe to compliment my salmon but as time passes I will add and modify different recipes on how I prepare this golden grain.

Quinoa Salad with Kale and Pickles

I added dill pickles this time to compliment the fish as well as bring that sour element to cut the flavour of the buttery salmon. I love added fermented food to almost anything I’m eating. It aids in digestion which helps to eliminate bloating. You can try different fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, etc.

Quinoa Salad with Kale and Pickles

QUINOA SALAD WITH PICKLES & KALE

PREP: 25 min

COOKING: 30 min

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 vegetable bouillon cube (if you have home made stock use that instead)
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 3 large dill pickle spears diced
  • 1 cup of kale loosely chopped
  • 1 green onion

DRESSING:

  • 6 tablespoons EVOO
  • 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Quinoa Salad with Kale and Pickles

Add all of your ingredients and dressing to your quinoa. You can serve warm, cold, whatever you wish. NOTE: For the perfect fluffy quinoa, start by rinsing your quinoa in a mesh strainer. This helps take off a weird coating that the grain has which can lead to it being a bit bitter and unfluffy. Once rinsed, placed quinoa into a sauce pan with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toasting your quinoa before cooking brings out a nutty delicious flavour. After it’s all toasty and fragrant, add your water or cooking stock. Bring to a oil then turn your heat down and simmer with lid on for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat but leave on the lid and let sit for another 10 minutes. Remove lid, fluff with a fork.

Quinoa Salad with Kale and PicklesPhotography by Jilly Botting

For more recipe inspiration and healthy meal ideas, follow me on Instagram using the handle @KristenVanderHoeven, xoxo

Tech Talk: Food Accountability with Apple Watch & Lark App

Food Accountability with Lark

Ok, so here’s the ugly truth people. Exercise alone won’t give you the body you want. Sure you’ll feel better. Have more energy. Sleep better and even move better. I know it’s not what you want to hear and you were probably hoping I would say, “I workout everyday so I can eat what I want!” Could you imagine if that were true?  I would eat chocolate cake for breakfast every single day. But unfortunately that’s not how it works kids. You simply can’t out train a bad diet.

Food Accountability with Lark

Food Accountability with Lark

Since the beginning of the year, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been religiously wearing an Apple Watch strapped to my wrist; to run, at the gym, out and about, to sleep (for those of you who follow me on snapchat) and even with evening wear to events.  This has all been in an effort to find out whether wearable technology can really enhance my life like brands claim it can. This results so far may surprise you. I will be sharing some of my findings over the coming weeks but after reading several tweets on my timeline about food accountability, I felt compelled to jump the gun and share this little secret. I confess…I have an issue with food. I love everything that’s bad for me. Carbs, sugar, anything with gluten and the occasional cocktails – all of which cause me issues due to my health condition. It’s super easy to sneak in a cupcake (or 2) when nobody’s around. It’s almost as if it doesn’t count because only you knew it happened. Well, when I deviate from my prescribed and highly suggested foods, I feel the affects physically. Having to record everything that goes into my mouth holds me accountable. I recently discovered this genius tool while researching apps for my Apple Watch called Lark. I have used the app for six out of the last eight weeks and noticed a considerable difference in what I consumed when I was not recording my meals and snacks through it.

Eating healthy would be much easier if we had a personalized nutritionist telling us what we should eat, what we shouldn’t and suggest healthier choices to our favourite foods, wouldn’t it? Well, imagine if your best friend was a certified nutritionist and she checked in on you several times during the day to give you feedback on what you’ve eaten, your activity level and workouts. That’s Lark in a nutshell.

Food Accountability with Lark

Compatible for both Apple Watch and iPhone devices, Lark uses a mix of artificial intelligence and human experts to help people stay in line with their goals, get fit and lose weight. The app helps you track all the elements that goes into a healthy lifestyle and also has a texting interface that stimulates communicating one-on-one with a personal health coach. Personally, I often get sidetracked with my hectic schedules and in the past it wasn’t uncommon for me to accidentally skip a meal or not get enough water intake but frequent texts from Miss Lark forces me to be more mindful. It was ranked in Apple’s Top 10 apps in 2015 and it’s clear why. Here’s how it works:

The lesson is quite simple, recording your meals and activity makes you accountable and forces you to make better choices during the day when it comes creating healthy habits. Instead of falling victim to shitty takeout during a busy workday, I instead noshed on this amazing Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl created by our resident foodie expert Kristen Vander Hoeven with SOTO Sake; a premium, gluten free Japanese sake and my meal feel into the “green” category otherwise known as the “healthy” zone. Meals that are borderline fall in the “orange” or safe category, followed by the “red” category which probably needs no explanation. In case you missed this ridiculously healthy recipe on the bloggie, you can find it here. And not to worry, Kristen promises prepping a meal with raw fish at home isn’t as scary as you think.
Ahi Tuna Poke Quinoa Bowl
Stay tuned for more on how my Apple Watch is helping me keep a well balanced lifestyle. In the meantime, you can learn more about Lark and download this amazing app for free here.

Quick and Clean Post Workout Fuel

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It’s shocking how many people overlook the importance of nutrition when it comes to overall wellness and weight loss. Truth be told, what we put in our mouths is more crucial than the time we put in the gym. One of the most common questions I get asked is, “what should I eat post workout that won’t cancel out the calories I just burned?”. Actually, this may be the best news you will hear this month but you you can’t cancel out calories you just burned off during a workout. When you work out, your body burns fat to be used as energy. If you eat right after your workout, those calories won’t be used to replace the burned body fat. Truth be told, your body only stores food as body fat when it doesn’t have anything else to do with the extra calories you eat. Post workout, your body needs to start restoring and repairing itself from your training, so in other words, it needs the calories.

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Your body uses the protein you intake to repair and build the muscles that were broken down during your tough workouts. Eating immediately post workout has a few other benefits. The calories you ingest will be used by your body automatically instead of being stored as fat. Eating after a workout can also increase your body’s insulin sensitivity or its ability to use carbohydrates, which is super important for weight loss.

What I eat after I workout depends on how vigorous the exercise was and at what time of the day. Sometimes, if it’s very early in the morning I may not have a huge appetite, where a protein packed shake and a cold pressed juice will do the trick or if it’s later into the day or evening, my body craves something a bit heavier. Here’s some easy options you may want to incorporate into your post workout routine.

The Go-To Salad: Belmonte Raw’s Moroccan Kale Salad

HBNewYouThe above shot at Belmonte Raw for Hudson’s Bay by David A. Pike. Wearing Lole Women

When my time is limited post workout, I have several options close to Equinox located in “The Path” (or what I refer to as Toronto’s underground city). It’s kind of the best. Retail shops, liquor stores, restaurants, everything you could ever need and want without ever having to go outside into the freezing cold. My friends at Belmonte Raw recently opened a location there that services the Financial District and within 5 minutes I can scoop up one of my fave salads to go without skipping a beat. But when I have a little more time, I like to prepare something at home where I can also have the option of adding some sort of protein to the salad; tuna, salmon, chicken or steak; like this colourful Rainbow Chopped Salad (shown here without protein).

Rainbow Chopped Salad

Ingredients: 

1 large head romaine lettuce, cored and chopped

1 head red cabbage, thinly sliced

1 handful of parsley, stemmed and finely chopped

1 apple, chopped into cubes

1 asian pear, chopped into cubes

1/4 cup wakame soaked for 15 minutes, rinsed and drained

1 sheet nori, cut into thin strips

1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped into small florets

1 cup of pomegranate seeds

1 avocado, peeled and sliced into cubes

1/2 cup of dried apricots diced finely

1.2 cup of sunflower seeds (optional)

3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons of olive oil

salt and pepper and your choice of protein (fish, chicken or steak) to taste

*Yields 4-6 servings 

Directions: Don’t feel you have to use this exact recipe. Feel free to remove or add ingredients as you see fit. You can think of this as the ultimate bowl of nutrient dense goodness. Add the simple vinaigrette or your choice of dressing, toss everything together and let marinate for at least 15 minutes before eating. SSFitTip: Make before your workout so you can devour right after your sweat sesh.

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I don’t think I’ve met a smoothie I didn’t like. I mean, what’s not to love right? Quick to make, you can pack in tons of nutrients, usually on the sweeter tasting side, making it enjoyable to drink. It’s almost impossible to get the recommended amount of folic acid from greens, so blending and juicing dark leafy green veggies like kale and spinach makes things a bit easier. Even those who don’t like the taste of green based smoothies, will love this Stevia-Sweetened Green Tropical Smoothie.

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Ingredients:

1/2 frozen banana

1 medium tangerine, peeled

1.5-2 cups of coconut water, preferably from young coconuts but bottled is fine

2 cups of kale, chopped

1.2 cup of frozen pineapple

8-10 drops of Sweet Leaf tangerine stevia

*Makes 1-2 large drinks

Directions: Mix all of the ingredients in a high speed blender, like a Vitamix, until smooth.

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If it wasn’t considered to be ridiculous, I could easily eat breakfast food for every single meal. There’s always been a special place in my heart for pancakes, crepes and french toast, but for the most part when you eat them at restaurants they aren’t the healthiest. I have come determined to find or create healthy versions of my favourite meals this year and these Red Quinoa Pancakes are pretty delish.

Ingredients:

2 organic, free ranged eggs

2 cups of coconut or almond milk

1.5 teaspoons of lemon juice

4 tablespoons of coconut oil

1.5 cups of flour (I prefer to use unbleached wheat or spelt flour as a healthier alternative)

1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar

2 teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of sea salt

2 cups of red quinoa, cooked

*Makes 20-24 pancakes

Directions: Place milk in a small bowl and pour in the lemon juice. Stir once and let sit for 5 minutes. Place flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix together. Place eggs in a mixing bowl and beat with a wire whisk. Add the coconut oil, dry ingredients and milk to the eggs and mix until combined. Add the quinoa to the batter and mix until combined (make sure to not over mix). Head griddle to medium-medium/high and grease with coconut oil. Pour batter onto the hot griddle (roughly 1/4 cup per pancake) and allow to cook for a minute or so, or until the top of the pancake has bubbled and the sides are cooked. Flip pancake over and finish cooking on the other side for another 30 seconds. Add desired fruit or other toppings and your fave syrup.

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When I workout later into the day, specifically in the evening, I finish feeling absolutely famished. If I don’t find something healthy and filling right away, it can lead to danger. I like to eat my dinner early so I need something that’s healthy and that will keep me satisfied until the next morning.Whether your a vegan or not, you must try this Green, Clean Lasagna with Kale Marinara Sauce.

Ingredients: 

olive oil cooking spray (for the baking dish)

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 yellow onion finely chopped

4 cups of sliced cremini mushrooms

2 cups of shredded lacinato kale leaves

2 cups part skim-ricotta cheese

3 cups of homemade kale marinara (recipe below)

6 no boil lasagna sheet noodles

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 ̊F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray and set aside. In a large sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and shredded kale, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly. Put the ricotta cheese in a large bowl, and, using a spatula, gently fold in the cooled mushroom-kale mixture until completely incorporated. Assemble the lasagna

Using the prepared baking dish, assemble the lasagna in six layers as follows: 1 cup Homemade Kale Marinara, spread evenly; 3 lasagna noodle sheets (arranged in a single layer); 3⁄4 cup of the kale-mushroom-and ricotta mixture, spread evenly. Repeat the layering a second time, then top with the remaining kale-mushroom-and ricotta mixture, and finish with the grated Pecorino or Romano on top. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake in the preheated oven, on the middle rack, for about 25 minutes.

After 20 minutes have passed, remove the foil from the baking dish and move the baking dish to the top rack. To finish, bake, uncovered, for another 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how you love your lasagna finished. Remove the lasagna from the oven and cool for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Ingredients for Kale Marinara Sauce:

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped finely

5 garlic cloves, finely minced

Two 28-ounce cans of unsalted organic crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup of fresh oregano

1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

1 cup of finely julienned lacinato kale

Directions:

In a large stockpot, warm the extra-virgin olive oil over low heat. Add the diced onion and cook for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for another 3 minutes on low heat. Add the crushed tomatoes and fresh oregano leaves and give the sauce a good stir. Cook on low for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. When the sauce has reduced and thickened, finish with the sea salt, balsamic vinegar, and julienned kale. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes and serve or use in recipes as needed.

HBNewYouELXR Juice Photography by Danielle Reynolds

Cold pressed juices post workout can help your training through assisting you to stay hydrated and also offers essential nutrients to support muscle development, strength, and provides nutrients which can help reduce oxidation and inflammation due to strenuous exercise. Juicing is also ideal to alkalize your body after a heavy workout. The most significant thing to remember after a workout is that you have to get the vital nutrients back into your body in the easiest and fastest way possible. Then afterwards, have a meal which has fiber. I always turn to ELXR Juice Lab to nourish me with their cold pressed juices.

Post workout, my go-to’s are usually the Pina Vida). This refreshing blend assists with muscle recovery, it’s also an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidizing while providing an energy boost. Other faves is the brand’s Second Base; packed with tons of vitamins and minerals, Beta Rush because of it’s energizing properties that give me the extra push to get through the rest of my day and Support Group for it’s ability to stabilize blood sugar levels.

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There’s no better time like now to cleanse and detox. Want to start your new year with a 1, 3, or 5 day juice cleanse? Use my promo code “So Sasha” when you order your cleanse package from ELXRJuiceLab.com to receive 15% off your order.

For more lifestyle tips and style inspiration, make sure to follow @HudsonsBay on Instagram and Twitter or use the hashtag #HBNewYou for more of our wellness collaboration.

My 30 day League Challenge Series: Healing Through Food

Healing Through Food and The League App

Our society has a tendency to underestimate the role and value food plays in our lives. The majority that do think they value it, they do so in the wrong way. Technically, food is just fuel for living. That’s it. Nothing else.  However, for so many of us it’s become so much more; for pleasure, for comfort, to socialize, as a reward, when we’re bored, as gifts, when we’re lonely…and the list just goes on and on. Over the years I’ve experimented with food. I went from eating a high carb diet while being an elite athlete, to becoming a vegetarian and then slowly transitioning to a strict vegan diet. Why vegan? For no other reason than I watched the documentary Food Inc and it scared the crap out of me. I was also living in Vancouver and it seemed as though everyone there was a “Granola Grinder” so it just seemed right at the time, LOL. But then I entered a fast pace career working for the largest Tobacco company in the country (ironic I know). With an unlimited expense account, tons of traveling, while wining and dining clients, my health started to go sideways. It is not surprising that my kidney issues resurrected during this time and fibromyalgia followed close behind.

Nathalie Niddim

If you’ve read part one of my 30 League Challenge (if not you can read it here) you have a good understanding at the health struggle I had for the last few years. I owe a large part of my recovery to food. Or shall I clarify, the right food. After several weeks of research, I was astounded to discover how much food influenced my conditions, especially fibromyalgia related pain. After taking copious amounts of prescription medication for an extended period of time, my gut lining and intestinal walls had become putrefied. These little holes in the lining allowed for food participles to sneak into my blood stream, causing my body to go into defence mode. The result was a nasty mix of chronic joint and muscle pain, food sensitivities, skin irritations, yeast infections, crippling migraines and insomnia. In recent months I have started to see some of these symptoms creep back up so I am determined to halt them in their tracks with the assistance of my League PRO and Holistic Nutritionist Nathalie Niddam.

ELXR Juice Lab

The process of connecting with Niddam through League was ridiculously easy. I was able to check her availability, set up our initial appointment through the app and within minutes she had emailed me what felt like a million documents, all necessary though, to fill out so she could get an idea of my medical history. This woman impressed me. She did a ton of reading and gathered up as much info as she could and was able to provide me with an insanely intense program for me to tackle to get back to where I need to be, while still getting the right about of calories to allow me to train and prepare for my next race. The custom program she created was broken up into three parts. 1) a custom 3 day juice cleanse with ELXR Juice Lab, 2) an anti-inflammatory/anti-candida diet and 3) a gut healing diet.

ELXR Juice LabELXR Juice Lab’s “Deep Breath” water is a midday lifesaver. It contains coconut water, fulvic acid and chorella. It boosts red blood cells and acts as a reboot – giving you life and energy to tackle the rest of the day. Photo from Instagram @sashaexeter

I was thrilled to find out that a juice cleanse was part of the program. After two years of testing out every juice company in Toronto, I have finally decided to partner long term with one and I have chosen ELXR. People have differing options on juice cleanses and they may not be for everyone but they have proven to be a lifesaver for me. When I am suffering from a pain flare-up, I can always count on a couple days of juicing to immediately bring down the pain level. It helps give my digestive organs a rest, improves my sleep, skin and so on. With more juices per day I have ever seen in any juice cleanse package before (8 juices and 2 boosters), I did not get hungry or have one craving. To be honest, I was quite full and had to force myself to drink the last two before bed. This is actually a good thing. I have cleansed with other brands before and literally felt that I wanted to chew my arm off from being so hungry. After day one,  I was bouncing off the wall with energy. With the perfect combination of cold pressed, non-HPP juices, seed mylks, and booster shots, I actually could gave gone another two days. ELXR’s mantra is, “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine by thy food” and their carefully formulated concoctions are created to act as the following remedies:

ELXR Juice Lab Remedies

ELXR Juice Lab Remedies

I am currently in the second phase of Niddam’s plan, the anti-inflammatory/candida detox for a total of six weeks – which is no doubt the most difficult one. You don’t necessarily need to be a chronic pain sufferer, have arthritis or a candida issue to do this. This regimen is a phenomenal detox program for anyone trying to do a deep cleanse of their system. However, I will admit it can be a bit challenging for someone to do voluntarily. Believe me if I could, I would be scarfing down a big stack of pancakes and sipping on a flat white while I write this post. All the foods most people generally love have been eliminated, so I am bidding farewell to fruit (with the exception of berries), dairy, legumes, all sugar and processed foods, fermented products (salad dressing, condiments – basically anything that may contain vinegar), alcohol, most nuts and caffeine…welp! The list of foods I can’t eat is much longer than what I can eat. For right now I am noshing on lots of dark leafy veggies, berries, eggs, foods high in good fats like avocados, organic chicken, fish and homemade soups made with alkalizing bone broth. I have just begun to start experimenting with some clean diet recipes that Nathalie graciously sent over in a 35 page deck and I will be sharing some of my faves over the next several weeks. Below is an easy, go-to brekkie recipe of that I love to prepare. It’s so yummy and full of good fats and protein:

Poached Egg with Avocado and Sweet Roasted Potatoes

Sample Breakfast

What You’ll Need

1 Tsp of vinegar *this is just to help keep poached eggs from separating when you boil them. Trust me, it’s a life saver!

1/3 – 1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

1 small to medium sweet potato, cut into chunks

EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) for drizzling

Pinch of paprika, garlic powder and red chilli flakes

Sea salt and pepper to taste. *Nathalie suggests pink or grey sea salts. Natural mineral salts are nourishing and help balance electrolytes

Cilantro

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer. Add in vinegar. Crack eggs one at a time into a bowl. I like to use the outer ring of a mason jar cover to help keep the eggs in place while boiling. Place the rings into the water and gently pour one cracked egg into each. To be honest, this trick will allow you to perfect poached eggs every single time. Let boil for 3-4 minutes until whites are set. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon.

3. Toss sweet potato with olive oil, spices, salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes until soft and crispy.

4. Plate eggs, avocado slices and sweet potatoes. Garnish the avow with cilantro if you wish, spritz of lime and a sprinkle of sea salt.

I am going to chill with this anti-inflammatory diet for another 4.5 weeks before going into phase three; “the gut healing diet”. When this program is over, I plan to integrate a Ketogenic diet based on the advice and direction from my nutritionist. What was initially supposed to be a 30 day challenge has quickly turned into a 90 day one. For those who are interested, I will continue to post my progress, share info on the third step of the food program, recipes I feel you may enjoy and feature my favourite concoctions from ELXR.

For more information on League, to sign up for free and to begin to build your own league of experts click here. Details on ELXR Juice Labs original, organic formulas and to create your own custom juice cleanse, head to ELXRJuiceLab.com. Thanks to my friends at ELXR, by entering the discount code “So Sasha”, you will receive 15% off your orders.

7 Ways To Avoid Weight Gain This Holiday Season

weight-management-scale

The holiday season is here and with it comes copious amounts of calorie laden drinks, home baked goods and carb filled sides. You don’t have to stay away from these items completely, but you will need to at least be conscious of your “holiday habits if you want to come out on the other side the same size.  Here’s 7 tips to help you keep off the extra weight during the holidays!

1. Never go to a party hungry. Eating a small snack or even a piece of fruit before heading to a holiday party can certainly take the edge off hunger and help you from overeating on carbs. Drinking 1-2 large glasses of water can also be beneficial.

Holiday Spread

2. Scope out the buffet table. Check out the healthiest choices before filling up your plate. Then, aim for filling half your plate with veggies and the rest with lean protein like skinless roasted turkey or seafood.

3. Escape the couch and get outdoors. Get out of the living room and get active with your friends and family. Choose fulfilled activities that encourage you to venture outdoors such as skating, sledding or venture for a walk to take in the neighbourhood lights.

Equinox TorontoPhoto by Nathalia Allen www.amillionminds.ca (@amillionminds)

4. Get moving inside. If staying indoors is the only option, there are plenty of ways to stay active.  Hit up a class at your gym that you’ve never tried before. Having an instructor and fellow classmates will help keep you motivated. No access to a gym? Try one of the “Get Focused” 15 minute workouts on the Nike NTC+ app. Hosting a holiday party? Get in a good workout prepping for guests arrival…did you know heavy duty cleaning can burn up to 300 calories an hour?

5. Try the one-a-day program. Limit yourself to one indulgence per day. Don’t deprive yourself of all sugar for the entire holiday break, that will just lead to a binge disaster between now and January 31st. Be moderate in your thought process – one cookie, one eggnog, one slice of cake, just not all at once.

Eggnog Getty Image

6. Be mindful of the liquid calories. Festive drinks may be fun to sip, especially the bubbly kind but make sure to drink in moderation as they can be full of empty calories and tons of sugar (it pains me to admit that one cup of eggnog contains 340 calories).

7. Sleep. This is so underrated. Studies show that a lack of sleep can actually slow the metabolism and increase cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone that prompts your body to store fat and gain weight. Sleep isn’t just for your mental health, but also for your physical health so be sure to get 8 hours of rest a night.

Designer Greens | The Kale Lagerfeld Salad

Kale Lagerfeld Salad

If you eat salads as much as I do, you understand that it’s easy to get bored having them several times a week. I rotate between spinach, kale, swiss chard, red cabbage, mescaline greens, and even regular Boston lettuce as a base and in terms of add on’s, trust me…I’ve tried everything. Or so I thought. I am determined to try creating and investigating new delicious recipes to help me stay on my path of clean eating this winter season and I will be sharing my fave ones with you. With a touch of champagne vinegar in the dressing, which I discovered on epicurious.com, crispy pears and pecans, this chic salad is so damn good, I had to give it a designer name; the Kale Lagerfeld Salad – a play on this dark leafy green and one of my favourite designers.

What You’ll Need

  • 2 bunches of kale, stems removed
  • 2 medium pears, cored and cut into slices (preferably asian pears)
  • 1/2 cup of pecans, rough chopped
  • 1/2 of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 small shallot
  • 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup
  • 1 large clove of crushed garlic
  • coconut oil
  • sea salt and black cracked pepper

In a small mixing bowl, combine champagne vinegar, olive oil, shallot, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, honey or maple syrup and sea salt. Use some coconut oil to lightly coat a sauce pan. Cook the kale in batches over low medium heat until it turns bright green and gets a bit soft. Pile the kale onto the desired serving plate, top with sliced pears and pecans. Dress to your perfection, then sprinkle with sea salt and fresh paper to taste. Serve immediately.

Kale Lagerfeld Salad

Easy Brunch Recipes: Poached Egg & Avocado Toast

Poached Egg and Avocado Toast

I have a slight addiction to Eggs Benedict and often told myself that I would eat it everyday if only I knew how to make them. For years I have often wondered how the heck these little perfect pillows containing yolk were made and just figured that recipes that called for poached eggs are reserved for real foodies or those skilled in the culinary arts. Over the summer months I have been hearing about little tips and tricks on how to make the process easier like; adding a teaspoon of white vinegar into the water to stop the eggs from falling apart (Thanks Steve D.) and using the outer rim of a mason jar covers to house each egg while poaching. Both tactics were used and if you ask me, the results were more than I could have asked for. I originally wanted to make a traditionally Eggs Benny but after being sick for the last several days, I thought ingesting a creamy, fatty hollandaise sauce probably wouldn’t have been a great idea – so I opted for this healthy Poached Eggs & Avocado Toast recipe.

What You Will Need

  • 2 organic, free-range eggs
  • slices of bread (whole grain, spelt or ezekiel bread)
  • 1/2 avocado – I actually LOVE avocados and used a whole one…1/2 on each slice of toast
  • 2 tablespoons of shaved parmesan cheese
  • fresh herbs finely chopped (parsley, thyme, or basil) for topping
  • quartered heirloom tomatoes for the side serving
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • *Recipe serves 1

Poached Eggs & Avocado Toast

Bring a pot of water to boil (you must use enough water to cover the eggs when they lay in the bottom). Drop the metal rims (outer rim only) of two mason jar lids into the pot so they are laying flat on the bottom. When the water has boiled, turn off the heat and carefully crack the eggs directly into each rim. Cover the pot and poach for 5 minutes max (4 for super soft, 4:30 for soft, 5 for more for semi-soft yolks).

While the eggs are cooking, toast the bread and smash the avow on each piece of toast. When eggs are finished, use a spatula to lift the eggs out of the water. Gently pull the rim off the eggs (I did it right on the spatula over the water) and place the poached eggs on top of the toast. Sprinkle with parmesan, salt, pepper and fresh herbs. Then serve with fresh quartered heirloom tomatoes. *Adding a teaspoon of white vinegar to the water before boiling helps the eggs stay together in the water!

poached-egg-toast-4Recipe found on Pinterest.com

Easy Summer Recipes | Pomegranate Mango Guacamole

Pomegranate Mango Guacamole

When it comes to Summer entertaining, there is nothing I love more than a really well made guacamole. It’s super easy to make, a tasty guilt-free snack, can be prepared tons of different ways based on your taste preferences and is always sure to be a hit at any gathering. I am beyond obsessed with avocados and could live off guacamole every day if I needed to. From time to time I like to put a little spin on the classic “guac” during the Summertime and substitute diced tomatoes with pomegranate and mangoes, which is a little trick I picked up from Pinterest. The sweet smoothness of the mangos and crunchiness of the pomegranate seeds work extremely well with the spicy avocado blend. And the colourful dish is pretty easy on the eyes as well! So delicious it can be eaten entirely on it’s own but I love to pair it with Lundberg Sea Salt chips or multigrain scoops.

What You’ll Need

  • 2 Serrano Chillies – stems removed, sliced into thin rings *I remove the seeds because I can’t handle the extra heat!
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic –  peeled and finely diced
  • 1 Medium White Onion – peeled and finely diced
  • 1/2 Cup of Chopped Cilantro Leaves
  • 4 Ripe Avocados
  • 3/4 Cup of Frozen or Fresh Mango – cut into small cubes
  • 3/4 Cup of Pomegranate Seeds
  • 1 Tsp. of Coarse Sea Salt
  • *Serves approximately 8-10

Pomegranate Mango Guacamole

It is best if you keep the aromatics together when creating this recipe, so place  the chillies, diced onion and garlic together and release the juices by pounding them in a motar and pestle. If you don’t have one at home, you can either use a food processor or simply toss the contents into a ziplock bag and beat with a rolling pin. Add in the cilantro and pound with the other aromatics.

Cut the avocados in half around the pit, remove the pit and scoop out the flesh. Place the flesh of two avocados into the motar and pestle and pound until smooth. Then cut the remaining two avocados into chunks 1/2 an inch big. Combine both the chunky and smooth avocados with the onion mix, stir in the mango cubes, pomegranate seeds and salt. Add more of the latter for taste if necessary and that’s it. Hope you enjoy!

Veuve Cliquot’s YELLOWEEK Comes to Toronto

Veuve Cliquot Yelloweek

Veuve Cliquot, known globally for it’s premium bubbly and synonymous with celebrations and luxurious festivities, has launched YELLOWEEK across Canada; a festival-style “tribute to creativity” showcasing the arts, gastronomy, fashion and lifestyle.  After successfully launching in Montreal last year, the heritage brand will be taking over Toronto May 5th-11th, Calgary & Edmonton May 19th-21st and Vancouver May 22nd-24th.

Toronto Yelloweek kicks of this Monday, May 5th with an exclusive event at the swanky French bistro La Societe where lucky guests will get to preview pieces from Greta Constantine’s collection during Yellow FASHION followed by a series of  events open to the public across the downtown core where you can dine with expertly paired glasses of champers, party at an infamous Kleen Media event with sampling opportunities, celebrate Mother’s Day with a glass of bubbly with your Brassaii brunch, take in artwork inspired by the Cliquot brand or even enjoy your fave spa treatments with a glass of Veuve… Here’s a detailed look at what you can expect during Toronto’s YELLOWEEK

Yelloweek TorontoHappy #YELLOWEEK everyone and be sure to drink responsibly

Product Review: Cuisinart’s Life Changing Juice Extractor

Cuisinart-CJE-1000Over the past month of so I’ve been using Cuisinart’s juice extractor at home and I loved it so much that it was the focus of the second episode in the Cuisinart video series I am doing with my “Cooking With Cuisinart” crew; Garrett of Gtonge1.com and Casie of CasieStewart.com. For far too long I avoided prepping my own juices at home worrying about it being too time consuming and the thought of a difficult clean up process, but learned my fears were completely unwarranted. Although I have used both the large and compact juice extractors, turns out that the larger one better meets my juicing needs. Majority of my juices are prepared with hard fruits and veggies and the 5 speed control dial and 1000 watts of power allows for optimal extracting with ingredients such as beets, carrots, apples, and ginger – some of the ingredients I use on a regular basis. With a 3″ (7.5 cm) tube opening, the juicer can accommodate larger items without having to cut them into smaller pieces, virtually eliminating the prep time for recipes. After trying out every single recipe from the Cuisinart Juice Recipe book (which is included with the machine) within the first two days of using it, I was thrilled to discover that it has a built in foam management filter disk.

Cooking With Cuisinart

Similar to the rest of the products offered in the Cuisinart brand portfolio, the quality and sleek design is unmatched by any it’s competitors. Also setting it apart from the pack, this machine is uber quiet. I was shocked to discover that I could quietly juice early in the morning and not disturb anyone else. And the best part, the clean up is super fast and simple. I use a small compost bag  to line the 2 litre pulp container and it conveniently contains the waste, allowing for easy disposal. The locking hinge eliminates necessary spills, the entire machine breaks down so easily and is dishwasher save, making clean up ridiculously simple.

Cuisinart Juicers

Want to learn more about this kitchen necessity? Visit Cuisinart.ca or visit the brand on Facebook and Twitter.

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