Feb
13

A little over a week ago, I returned from a trip to Puerto Vallarta and thought it might be fun to go over a few highlights of the vacation.

My trip was booked in a heartbeat when I punched in the dates (Jan 25 to Feb 1) and the destination (Toronto to Puerto Vallarta) into www.travelocity.com. The first thing that popped up on the list of options was a flight for $450 CAN with Taxes with Delta Airlines. I grabbed my Visa card and booked it without hesitation. #smart move

As for accommodations: I was pretty lucky and scored an opportunity to stay in an airbnb that my sister had rented. It had a huge terrace, was super clean (and quiet), and in a fabulous location as well.

pv - terrace

I also decided to hang out at The Westin Spa and Resort, and so glad I made that decision. The view was from my 11th floor room was spectacular. I’ve been a fan of Starwood for a long time and glad that I’ve now stayed in yet another one of their hotels.

pv - westin view

I did absolutely nothing on this trip except lie in the sun everyday and read my Kobo. Books that I finished included:
-My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler (chuckled my way thru this book)
-The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richmon (amazing historical fiction story)
-My Secret Mother by Phyllis Whitwell (another great memoir)

I highly recommend GoodReads – it is my lifeline when trying to find a good book to read.

Food highlights: This chili pineapple paleta that I had every day!

pv - paletta

The taco tour with Vallarta Food Tours on my last night (stay tuned for a blog post) was certainly a huge highlight of my trip.

I would also highly recommend to visit the Olas Altas Farmers Market on Saturdays which has a huge selection of prepared foods, breads, flowers and more. They even had a vendor that sold cinnamon buns that had atlas 20 people in line (I was one of them!!)

pv - birds of paradise

The weather did not disappoint me throughout the week…which is one of the best reasons to visit Mexico!

Huge thanks to @StunningOttawa (my sister) who encouraged me to join her for a week.

pv - mandy

As always, I’m already looking forward to my next trip. This year I’m fortunate to have three family functions to attend; one in New York, another in London, England and one in Niagara-on-the-Lake. #cantwait.

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Feb
09

The Guiding Stars Program!!


I make a batch of banana muffins about twice a month. They are the perfect snack, freeze beautifully and the muffins are a nice addition to a lunch box as well.

Recently I was introduced to the Guiding Stars program which is now available at No Frills, Loblaws and Real Canadian Superstores. Next time you are shopping, look for these signs which indicates a “better choice”.

PC - Guiding Stars

Here are two examples of Star Ingredients:

Egg
★★ White Eggs – Large
★★★ Omega-3 Eggs

Flour
★ White Flour
★★ Whole Wheat Flour
★★★ Whole Spelt Flour

Therefore you could take my amazing banana recipe and make it even healthier just by using an Omega-3 Egg or by adding a high-fibre cereal, flaxseeds, hemp hearts and/or your favourite nut to turn this snack into a healthy breakfast option!

See what I mean? It doesn’t take a lot to make an ordinary recipe a much healthier recipe!! Plus the Guiding Stars program is an easy way for you to accomplish this.

Once again, look out for these blue stars!

pc - two stars

Not to mention, that certain Loblaws stores have In-Store Dieticians to assist you as well!!

Here’s my banana muffin recipe but feel free adapt it with Star Ingredients!

pc - ingredients

Ingredients

2 cups of mashed bananas (about 5) Note: the darker the better
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg (see options below with Star Ingredients)
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (see options below with Star Ingredients)

Star Ingredients

Egg
★★ White Eggs – Large
★★★ Omega-3 Eggs

Flour
★ White Flour
★★ Whole Wheat Flour
★★★ Whole Spelt Flour

Note from In-Store Dietitian, Lauren Baker:
Add Ground Flaxseed
Add Hemp Hearts
Add Cinnamon + Vanilla
Add “crunch” with Bran Flakes or Quick Oats

I really do believe that homemade muffins are a convenient snack for on-the-go routines, and can be lower in saturated fat, sugar, and calories than store bought or fast-food alternatives! For improved portion control, try making mini-muffin and enjoying only one or two with your morning coffee. Its a win-win!!

Happy Baking!

Disclosure: I was compensated for this blog post, however all opinions are my own

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Feb
07

There’s a new cracker on my radar and it’s called Sanissimo Salmas. (I dare you to say that fast…four times).

cracker - photo

The reason why it’s now on my radar is that they are an oven-baked cracker made from a simple recipe of ONLY FOUR ingredients. Yes, that’s right FOUR ingredients.

As you know from previous blog posts, I’m a huge fan of anything that involves 3 or 4 ingredients.

These wholesome, gluten-free crackers are made with Non-GMO whole grain corn flour, contain no artificial flavours or colours and are ONLY 70 calories per pack. #verycool

Perfect for those on-the-go, they come in single serve packs (8 individual packs, with three crackers per pack) making them a perfect simple snack on their own or make it a mini meal with your favourite fresh topping or dip.

These crackers will go perfectly with cheese or hummus or egg salad. The options are endless although my personal fav would be cheese/crackers, which is exactly what I brought to a recent afternoon tea hosted by Starving Foodie.

cracker - cheese

So next time you are grocery shopping, please look out for Sanissimo Salmas. They are available nationally in the dips and spreads section at Walmart, Sobeys, Metro, FreshCo, Fortinos, Foodland, Highland Farms, Coppas and Rabba in Ontario.

The box looks like this!

cracker - box

For more information – head over to their facebook page: : https://www.facebook.com/SanissimoCA.

Hashtag: #TrySanissimoSalmas #FeelSanissimoGood

Disclosure: I was compensated or this blog post, however all opinions are my own.

 

 

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Feb
04

The company I work for has a policy that if you work overtime then you must take off that time within two weeks. I wanted to take full advantage of that day off but it was November and it wasn’t exactly ideal weather to fly somewhere for a for a long weekend.

I was racking my brains what to do – and then I came up with the idea to drive for an hour and a half so I could be pampered at  Ste. Anne’s Spa. Sometimes, I really do have great ideas!!

As you can see from the schedule, I was going to have a great day.

st annes - scheduleOf course, the day included some time in their outdoor hot tub.st annes - outdoor hot tubPlus I made sure to spend as much time as possible, hanging out in their robes.

st annes - robeI found out that there’s a new chef in the kitchen and I must say that I noticed the improvement, since my last visit a few years ago. My food not only was presented beautifully but it was cooked to perfection.

st annes - lunch

Not complaining that my day ended off with a gorgeous Afternoon Tea.

st annes - teaI would highly recommend Ste. Anne’s Spa but please note that they are a very busy destination so book as early as you can!! You will love their facilities, food, warm and welcoming service and attention to detail. Promise.

Please note that they offer many fantastic “packages”.  There’s a February package, a March Getaway Package and even a Yoga Retreat.

For more information:

Website www.steannes.com

Address: 1009 Massey Road, Grafton, ON, K0K 2G0

Reservations: 1.888.346.6772 or info@steannes.com

Disclosure: My visit was complimentary, however all opinions are my own

 

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Feb
01

Staying Healthy!


It’s now February 2017 and for many of us the Near Year is the start of developing the New You. However often we set unattainable health-related goals. (Um, far too often) Which is one of the reasons I’m not signing up for a 10k race.  I’m trying hard to have goals I can achieve!!

Plus there’s competing information out there, which makes it difficult to understand how to be the healthiest version of yourself or to know where to start.

Heres’ some interesting stats:

  • Half of Canadians find it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle yet 73 per cent wish they were healthier;
  • 62 percent of Canadians make New Year’s Resolutions and the most common resolution, according to 80 per cent of the country, is to live a healthier lifestyle;
    Yet, the majority of the country (86 per cent) agree they never stick to their New Year’s resolutions and many do not even attempt making health related resolutions stating it is too hard to stay on track.
  • Over one third (34 per cent) of Canadians are unaware of how to tackle resolutions

I’ve made an effort to use this Yoga App to help me improve my flexibility. I’m a disaster when it comes to flexibility and it’s time to address this issue.

yoga - app

I’m also enjoying this app because it has a calendar embedded in it so that I can keep track how many days I actually did the 10 exercises. Here’s what January looked like. Not bad eh? As you can see I started off strong and then got distracted with “vacation mode”.

yoga - january

I’m also aware that I need some vitamins in my life!! With nearly 100 years of experience, Jamieson’s team of experts have done the work for you and identified Multivitamin, Omega-3, Probiotics and Vitamin D as the four products Canadians should take every day as a foundation for healthier living.

jamieson - 4 bottles

These four essential supplements provide me with a perfect foundation to baseline health, which targets my digestive system, heart, bone and whole body health.

I’m a big believer in the whole picture; exercising regularly, good food choices (I’m trying), getting enough sleep, and taking Jamieson vitamins. 

I’m also a huge fan of meatless Mondays. There’s nothing like starting off your week with a lot of colourful healthy food.

jamieson -meatless monday

Here’s wishing you a wonderful New Year that includes a Healthy New You and Jamieson Essentials too!

For more information on Jamieson Essentials visit jamiesonvitamins.com.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this blog post, however all opinions are my own

 

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Jan
23

I tried this recipe yesterday morning and it was so delicious that I believe I’ve washed my Blendtec  three times in one day! Oh how I hate cleaning up but I do love discovering new recipes.

This is one of those easy recipes that requires ingredients that most likely you have hanging around your kitchen.

OK here’s the recipe for your healthy frosty!

All you need is the following:

2 frozen cut up bananas

frosty - banana

1 cup of milk (almond, regular, soya, rice – whatever you like)

2 tablespoons of real cocoa

2 tablespoons of all natural peanut butter

Instructions:

Put all ingredients into your mixer and mix till smooth.

 

frosty - blendtec

We are totally addicted to this drink. However I would really like a cleaning fairy to help me rinse out my Blendtec.  Not kidding – I really do hate cleaning up.

ENJOY.

frosty - final

PS Next Blog Post will be written from Puerta Vallarta. Totally excited about this upcoming vacation.

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Jan
21

Spa Sundays: Langdon Hall


For the next few weeks I’m going to write a series of blog posts called: Spa Sundays. These blog posts will be dedicated to a few Spas that I’ve visited over the last few months. I don’t know about you but visiting a Spa is like a mini-holiday for me without the hassling of airports, long flights and huge amounts of  time!

Seeing as I live in Toronto, there are no shortage of fabulous spas that are less than two hours away.

My first Sunday Spa blog post is about a recent visit to Langdon Hall which took place on a beautiful fall day in October.. Usually I visit Langdon Hall in the summer, but I was all to eager to visit them during this gorgeous season.

langdon - building

Even though I missed hanging out at their stunning outdoor pool (as it was closed for the season) it meant that I got to spend more time hanging out in their new spa.

langdon - hot tub

Yes – Langdon Hall has a 35,000 square foot expansion!! This brand new wing located by the lower gardens, is now the home of  a new day spa, a premier event venue and eight luxurious new guest rooms. Of course, I took full advantage of everything – the hot tub, the dry sauna, and the wet sauna too!

langdon - sauna

Lucky me, I got a chance to hang out in their brand new spa for an incredible facial which I badly needed.  The designers at the spa kept everything in mind: there’s plenty of sunlight, spacious rooms and beautiful change rooms.

Naturally I took the time to relax, relax, and do some more relaxing.

langdon - relax

I also took time to enjoy the food at Langdon Hall!  This Radish Salad had fresh ricotta, lemon preserves and hazelnut dressing! It was exactly what I needed. A trip to Langdon Hall must (must) include a nibble from their kitchen.

langdon - lunch

Oh ya – I “needed” to hang out on their porch and sip wine will catching up on a few blog posts too!!

langdon - vicky

Please note that Langdon Hall is about an hour away from Yorkdale Shopping Centre and is an ideal get-away (day trip or overnight!!). Also it’s worthwhile to subscribe to their website for news about promotions and special events.

For more information:

Langdon Hall – www.LangdonHall.ca

1 Langdon Drive, Cambridge, ON N3H 4R8
Reservations & General Inquiries : 1-800-268-1898
reservations@langdonhall.ca

Instagram: @LangdonHall

Twitter: @Langdon_Hall

 

 

 

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Jan
20

The Interior Design Show has been in my calendar for months! It truly is an event that I look forward to even though it’s not really my world at all. As you know I usually go to FOOD events, however there’s something about this show that I’m drawn too. ..the colours, textures, creativity, etc. (just like in a recipe. LOL),

On Thursday night I attended the opening party (lucky me) and here’s a few highlights.

  1. This beautiful carpet caught my eye. Isn’t it gorgeous?ids - carpet
  2. I also liked this fixture.  So interesting!ids - light
  3. This faucet would be a real conversation piece. ids - faucet
  4. These fancy bathtubs #WANTids - bathtubs
  5. Samsung had a presence this year at the Interior Design Show and I think it was a great strategy. They have “design” features in a few appliances that are just brilliant. See this Samsung washing machine? Well it features a top section that is designed just for ONE OR TWO items. This solves the problem we all face when we don’t want to run a full load for that one item!samsung - washer
  6. See this Samsung Fridge? Well it has 3 cameras inside, as well as a white board and so many other clever design features. It really deserves a dedicated blog post (#onmylist).  The three cameras solve the problem when you are driving home from work and wonder if you have milk or eggs in the fridge. All you have to do is tap into your app and bingo – you will find the answer!ids - fridge

Hope you get a chance to visit the Interior Design Show on the weekend. Seeing as there is no sun outside these days – this show will certainly brighten up your weekend!

For further information:

Interior Design Show, Metro Convention Centre, North Building, 255 Front St, Toronto

Hours: Saturday, January 21, 10am-7pm: Sunday, January 22, 10am-6pm

To Buy Tickets: Click Here

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Jan
17

The other night, we entertained which is code for: “try some new recipes”. So I spent some time on Pinterest looking for inspiration and then planned the following menu:

-Edamame Salad

entertaining - edamame

PC® Vegetarian Pot Stickers

entertaiing - potstickers

-Rice Wraps: trust me I will blogging about this one day soon

entertaining - rice wraps

-Sushi platter from Sushi on Bloor

-Avocado Egg Rolls with a sweet chilli sauce (click here for the blog post with the recipe)

entertaining - eggrolls

-General Tso’s Tofu

entertaiing - tofu

I’d like to share the General Tso’s Tofu recipe with you, as it was beyond delicious and easy to make as well. The trick is to squeeze the excess water from the tofu which is something I’ve just started to practice and it makes all the difference.

Plus I’ve never coated tofu in cornstarch before either and I believe this made a difference too.

RECIPE:  GENERAL TSO’S TOFU (original recipe can be found by visiting www.grumpyshoneybunch.com)

1 block extra firm tofu
3-4 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon canola oil

Sauce: (there’s a lot of ingredients but don’t let this scare you)
½ cup brown sugar
3 tbsp hoisin
3 Tablespoons white or rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons ketchup
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup water
1 tablespoon Sesame oil
4-6 spring green onions, sliced
3 tbsp fresh ginger finely chopped
Hot pepper flakes (optional) ps I didn’t chose to use hot pepper flakes

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Squeeze tofu of excess water! (this is an important step) I did this by placing the tofu between two plates and then placing a heavy object on top of the plate i.e….I used my water jug! Wait 30 minutes or longer.

2. Prepare the sauce: Miix together the first 6 ingredients and set aside.

3. To prepare tofu for frying: Cut into cubes and then coat lightly with cornstarch and fry in a shallow frying pan with canola oil until browned and crispy. Remove from frying pan and set aside.

tofu - fried

4. Wipe pan clean with paper towel and add sesame oil with onions and chopped ginger. Fry about 1 minute, until fragrant.

tofu - ginger

5. Then combine everything….the tofu, the ginger/scallions and the sauce. Stir till all the tofu is coated in the delicious sauce.

Happy Cooking!

 

 

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Jan
16

Getting Organized!!


I’m trying to get organized. Specifically it’s my spices that I’m trying to organize. Here’s what I posted on facebook last week.

spices - facebook

There were quite a few comments with a variety of suggestions and I loved each and every comment. It seems as if I’m not the only one with this issue, which makes me feel a little better. (a little..LOL)

One comment that was left for me, included a link to this article from the Toronto Star. This idea really hit home and its’ inspired me to do the same.  Please click on the link here to read more details.

spices - star

However I know that the first step to getting my spices organized involves actually LABELLING the containers.

Of course, my amazing brother P-touch Label Maker came in handy for this step!

spices - p-touch labeller

Within a few minutes, I was able to label my spices with the help of the brother p-touch Label Maker .  I have no idea how I lived without a Label Maker before!

Final Result:

spices - labelled

Here’s the steps that were involved to get to this point:

-took out all the spices that were hidden in my cupboard.

-dump out all the spices.

-wash the containers in the dishwasher

-run to Bulk Barn and bought a LITTLE bit of every type of spice imaginable.

-run home and take out my “brother P-touch Label Maker” and start the process of getting organized.

-repeat these steps in January 2018!!

Hope this blog post helped you as much as it helped me and my spices.

Disclosure; The label maker was provided to me, however all my opinions are my own.

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