Mar
29

Passover and Pinterest


Passover is soon approaching (April 10th to 18th to be exact) and I have no doubt that many of my facebook friends will be busy this Sunday cleaning and cooking (in that order).

It’s certainly not an easy holiday as it involves a lot of food and entertaining and a list of restrictions.  However I’m going to share a tip with you to make it easier. It’s called PINTEREST.

I actually created a Passover Board on Pinterest (see bottom left) to help me organize the recipes that I’m going to attempt to make for the Seder.  Why didn’t I think of this idea before?

passover - pinterst

Here’s the menu for my Vegetarian Seder that I will be serving on the first night!  (thanks to my Pinterest Passover Board).

Arugula Orange Salad with Lemon Ginger Dressing

Salmon with Creamy Avocado Sauce

Matzo Stuffed Herbed Tomatoes

Garlic Herb Cauli-Rice

Spinach Potato Nests

Dessert: Fruit (not making anything that involves a gazillion eggs or matzo meal)

As for my table – I’m naturally going to use my grandmothers china that I pull out every Passover. But I’m also going to attempt to make a few of these great “table decor ideas” that I found on Pinterest – not with purple but with burgundy to match the china (of course. LOL). I actually made the idea on the bottom right last year and it was a huge hit.

passover - table

 Not sure if the matza vase is going to turn out but we will soon find out. Hoping its’ not going to be a #PinterestFail.

Here’s one more tip to make your Passover Seder easier! I saw this idea on Pinterest a few months ago, and IT WORKS.  Trust me.

passover eggs

Wishing all my friends who celebrate Passover, a very meaningful holiday.

Happy Cooking (and Cleaning).

 

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Mar
27

A few weeks ago I received an email about a new clinic called West End Mamas. I clicked on the link and had one of those moments where I said to myself – “Wow! What a great idea”. I immediately replied that indeed I would be happy to blog about this clinic as I’m always excited to share creative and entrepreneurial initiatives!!

This clinic is founded by Dr. Sarah MickelerCanada’s leading expert on prenatal and postnatal chiropractic care. The mission of the clinic is to is to provide total wellness for motherhood. 

sarah_new_headshot_copy_720

When you click on the website (which I hope you do)…you will find that this clinic offers everything a new mama would need for total wellness. There’s a wide range of services being offered at West End Mamas. For example: Chiropractor Care, Acupuncture, homeopathy, registered massage therapy, nutrition and dietician counselling, naturopathic medicine, doula services, pelvic floor physiotherapy, lactation and postpartum support and more!!

I have no doubt that each and everyone of these health care professionals, were carefully selected!

mamas - wall

Two of their staff really intrigued me. The first is Allison Martineau, who believes in helping families cook and eat for health throughout the entire motherhood journey – something any parent knows can be a struggle, especially in those early days. I couldn’t help but think how valuable this would be for expectant moms trying to navigate a nauseous pregnancy while eating well!
The other is Tanya Smith. We hear a lot about reproductive health and technology these days, but not a lot about holistic solutions. Tanya is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbal medicine practitioner, with specialized training in supporting clients through their fertility treatment in partnership with a fertility clinic.

I also loved that this clinic offers child minding, lockers for your strollers, water in the waiting area, and a really easy to use website! Not to mention the location of this clinic is on the subway line.receptionIn their beautiful, light-filled 400 sq. ft. studio, they offer classes such as prenatal and postpartum yoga, childbirth preparation, breastfeeding and lactation support, and parenting skills such as Introducing Solids, Baby Wearing, and Mother Wellness.studioI really wish there was a clinic like this back in 1996 and 1999!! #LeSigh

Last week I took the subway and went to check out their space and to enjoy a massage. I was really impressed with the warm welcoming staff and the comfortable space they have created.  Not to mention that my massage therapist was skilled and asked all the right questions to ensure that I was comfortable and a happy client.

For more information: 

Website: www.westendmamas.ca

Address: 2477 Bloor St. West (2nd Floor) at Jane St. Toronto, Ontario

Phone: 416 960 5656

Email address: hello@westendmamas.ca

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

 

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Mar
16

Please forgive me as I haven’t been blogging as much as I normally do. You can blame the following recipe which is so simple that I’m making a batch every two days. What’s not to love? All you need is a blender and a few ingredients. I’m also loving the fact that there’s NO FLOUR, NO SUGAR and NO BUTTER in this recipe.

blender - ingredients

This recipe is saving me in the morning as I tend to sleep in till the last possible moment. As a result – there’s always a mad dash out the door WITHOUT eating anything. Now I simply grab a zip lock bag and enjoy these muffins in my car. Can anyone else relate?

I’m not going to keep you waiting much longer for the recipe. Here it is!

Recipe: Blender Oatmeal Muffins (original recipe can be found here – www.wellplated.com)

Ingredients

2 cups oats (quick cooking or old fashioned – I used old fashioned)
2 large ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 to 3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cups of mix ins – chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, chopped dates – whatever you want!!

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Mix all ingredients in the blender. (how easy could this get?).

blender - blender

3. Drop batter into a well greased muffin pan. Fill no more than three-quarters of the way to the top. Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips or nuts as desired. Bake for 15 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire rack and let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

FINAL RESULT!!

blender - finalHappy Baking!!

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Mar
09

I recently worked at the Restaurants Canada  giving out samples of squeaky cheese curds to a variety of people who work in the Restaurant Industry (chefs, caterers, restaurant owners, etc).

rc - vicky

When I took my breaks, I quickly walked thru the show to discover new products and say hello to fellow exhibitors like Lemon Lily, Lorelyns Gourmet Desserts and Walter Craft Caesar.

Here’s a few products that caught my eye. For some reason they are all beverages…which either indicates that I was really thirsty or it’s a growing category!!

  1. Pink Lemonade Beer by Farmery Estate Beer! #interesting
    rc - farmery beer

2. Hatch – Cold Brew Iced Tea. Love the packaging and the combo!

rc - hatch

3. This organic Maple Syrup Soda

rc - organic maple syrup soda

Plus this beverage caught my eye as well. Especially the blood orange flavour!

rc - bull's head

I ate and ate and ate for 3 days solid…a little this and a little of that. When I got home there was no need for dinner just a huge need to lie on the couch!! (can you say Netflix and Chill?).

The best part of the show was knowing that Uber Eats would deliver to my booth. All I did was download the app, order what i wanted from the menu (which would come from other exhibitors) and within 20 minutes it was delivered. Oh how I love technology (and food t00).

RC - uber

Already looking forward to the next trade show which will be SIAL – May 2 to 4th.

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Mar
06

As a sales rep for St. Albert Cheese Co-op,  I often myself walking along the streets of Toronto looking for prospective customers. One day I walked into a very cool hip restaurant only to find out that it was a vegan restaurant. Oops!!

However the menu really intrigued me, as did their cocktail list so I went back as a customer!!

dooomies - cocktail

I went back on a Sunday night at 630 pm and the place was packed. (always a good sign). However we did manage to get a table at the back for our party of four people. I should mention that no one was a vegan but everyone was open minded to check out a new restaurant!

doomies - packed

We immediately ordered the (vegan) nachos and then immediately devoured the nachos!!

doomies - nachos

I ordered the fried chicken and waffles but only managed to eat half of it as it was a massive portion. I happily ate the leftovers for breakfast the next day.

doomies- waffle

It was positively delicious and I want to order it the next time I visit. It was that good.

The rest of the gang ate veggie burgers and everyone seemed pleased.

I love this restaurant as they don’t have one single salad on the menu. As much as I like salads, I love eating creative food that I can’t make at  home i.e. fried vegan chicken.

Next restaurant review: another vegan restaurant called Planta. Stay tuned!!

For more info:

Doomie’s 1263 Queen St W Toronto

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DoomiesToronto/

Twitter/Instagram: @DoomiesToronto

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Mar
01

I hosted a dinner party on Saturday night and the menu looked liked this:

-Ginger Tomato Soup with Roasted Chickpea Croutons

-Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Feta Cheese and Nuts

-Roasted Za’atar Cauliflower with Dates, Pine Nuts and Thyme

-Sweet Potato Noodle Salad with Roasted Corn

-Winter Citrus Butter Salmon

All the recipes were found on Pinterest  (does that surprise you?) plus it was the first time I had attempted to make these recipe. Pretty brave move, non? I also brought out my china that was purchased in 1990 but in storage for the last 5 years. I’m determined to start using it again every Friday night.

china 2

Needless to say, I would make each and every recipe again!

This blog post is going to be dedicated to one of the recipes that I made for the dinner party. PS a trip to Bulk Barn with help with you with most of the ingredients. Hope you appreciate that tip!!

RECIPE; Roasted Za’atar Cauliflower with Dates, Pine Nuts and Thyme (original recipe courtesy of www.downshiftology.com)

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp, za’atar spice *I used a few tablespoons.
salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup pine nuts
1 tsp olive oil
6 Medjool dates, pitted and diced
1 tsp fresh thyme, plus extra sprigs for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
2. Place the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet and drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with za’atar spice, salt and pepper and toss.

saturday - roasted cauli
Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, and stirring halfway through.

3. While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a small pan on medium heat. Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan for 1-2 minutes, then add 1 tsp olive oil, the chopped dates and thyme. Cook for another minute or two.

saturday - pan -dates

 

3. Mix the date/pine nut mixture with the cauliflower florets in a serving bowl.

saturday - cauliflower

Trust me, this dish tastes delicious and wasn’t hard to prepare at all.

PS more recipes from this dinner party will be on its way!!

Happy Cooking.

 

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Feb
26

Weekend Recap: Ottawa


I hadn’t been to Ottawa since August so I was really due for a trip and timed it beautifully to coincide with Winterlude.

I took Via Rail to get there, which is always a great way to travel for two reasons: 1. to avoid weather problems 1. to avoid traffic problems. #smart move

As always, I kept busy. Seeing as I didn’t have a car I was limited to how much I could run around but I still managed to discover a few new spots! (Thanks to my friend who drove me around on Saturday)

  1. Maverick’s Donuts: This cute little spot located at 1500 Bank St. offers an array of fun donut options. I scooped up half a dozen to take back to my moms as I was having a few people over on Saturday night and they were a hit.

ottawa - donuts

Maverick’s Donuts is in the same plaza as Farm Boy so it made sense to pop in and do some grocery shopping. Each and every time I visit this store, I’m impressed. Naturally I picked up some fresh curds from St.- Albert Cheese Co-op.

2. Citizen: This new restaurant (207 Gilmour) is brought to you by the same people at Town. I got there early to grab a seat which was a brilliant move as it quickly filled up. The menu offers a lot of vegetarian options and my friend and I had no problem ordering three  veggie dishes. (Charred Broccoli, Roasted Squash and Radicchio Salad, and the Five Leave Salad). Each and every dish was a winner.

ottawa - citizen

 

4  Somehow I managed to squeeze in a quick visit to La Noodle (179 George St) which is Ottawa’s first hand- pulled noodle restaurant. I will be back for more!

ottawa - la noodle

I also managed to visit the Ottawa Farmers’ Market which is always one of my favourite activities to do in Ottawa.

ottawa - farmers market

Naturally the highlight of my trip was a visit to the Rideau Canal to put on my skates and spend $3 on my childhood treat (maple syrup on a stick). I briefly roamed around to see the beautiful ice sculptures and despite the snow that was falling heavily, I was a happy camper.

ottawa - skatingAs always, I’m looking forward to my next trip to Ottawa which will be to visit the Tulip Festival (May 12 to 22). Please click here to learn more about Ottawa Tourism. 

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Feb
21

21 Days….


I’ve just completed a 21 day challenge with Jamieson Vitamins. They made it super easy for me to participate in this challenge by providing me with this cool “Advent” style calendar.

jamieson - advent

For the last 21 days, I took daily vitamins (thanks to this calendar). I’m not kidding, the calendar was a great reminder to commit to better health!

jamieson - 4 pills

Did you know that 44 per cent of Canadians are unsure if they are taking the correct vitamins and supplements to suit their needs and a whopping 31 per cent do not take them at all for this reason?

Also, 61 per cent of Canadians agreed that when it comes to taking supplement they wish someone would clearly identify what they needed to take.

Jamieson Vitamins has a great website that takes the mystery of taking vitamins. For example, if you aren’t sure what to take then you simply click on the reason that you would like to take a vitamin.

jamieson-chart

Jamieson’s team of experts have done the work for me and identified Multivitamin, Omega-3, Probiotics and Vitamin D as the four products Canadians should take every day as a foundation for healthier living.

I really enjoyed this challenge which helped me achieve my goals to a healthier me! Still trying to exercise daily (loving my Yoga app too), eating better and getting enough a sleep. It’s definitely a challenge but I know it’s important!

For more information on Jamieson Essentials visit www.jamiesonvitamins.com.

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

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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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