Jan
12

The Activia Challenge


It’s that time of year where we all attempt to eat healthier. Including me. I’m really trying hard to eliminate carbs and eat more protein. Therefore this Activia Challenge is perfect for me.

You see on Jan 1st at noon, I treated myself to Poutini’s and I haven’t had a carb since that special treat.

activia - poutinis

According to a recent survey by Leger and Activia, Canadian women have an overwhelming tendency to make New Year’s resolutions related to their health, including doing more physical activity (88%) and eating a healthier diet (87%).

The bad news? We’re setting ourselves up to fail. More than half (55%) of Canadian women will keep their healthy living resolutions for less than a year (and some for as little as 2 weeks!), with the most common reasons being a lack of motivation, a lack of lifestyle fit and a tendency to make resolutions that are overly ambitious.

Mid-January will mark the turning point for whether or not most Canadians will keep their resolutions. Guess what? It’s mid January and so far so good I’ve been pretty good with my attempt to incorporate less carbs in my life (yay for me).

Here’s my tricks:

-I’m incorporating more yogurt into my day. The Activia Challenge is currently encouraging women to eat 2 Activia yogurts a day for two weeks. (specifically Jan 11 to Jan 21). I’m in. Are you?

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-I’m staying away from beer and wine. However Vodka is fine. Hello Martini.

-I’m eating more salads…specifically Kale salad which I find is SO filling.

activia - kale

Professional home economist, cookbook author and Cityline celebrity, Mairlyn Smith has a few suggestions as well. She’s actually serving as an Activia Ambassador! Here’s one of her easy recipes which is an easy way to transform Activia yogurt into a delicious trifle.

Raspberry Trifle (serves 4)

Ingredients:
• 4 lady finger cookies
• 1 cup (250 mL) frozen local raspberries, thawed
• 4 – 100 g 0% fat Greek Activia Vanilla yogurt

Directions
You’ll need four 1 cup/250 mL glass desert bowls or parfait dishes

1. Mash the thawed raspberries with a fork, set aside.
2. Break the lady finger in half and place in the bottom of each of the four bowls.
3. Spoon 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the mashed raspberries over top.
4. Open 1-100 g container of the Activia yogurt and spoon over top of the raspberries. Repeat with all four of the desserts. Place in the fridge. To soften the lady finger the dessert needs to set for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Each serving includes 127 Calories, 0.5 g Total Fat, 0 g Saturated Fat, 0 Trans Fat, 9.1 g Protein

I hope you join me in this Activia Challenge!

To follow along on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, please use the hashtag #ActiviaChallenge

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

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Jan
10

Fact: I serve fish for dinner every week.

Fact: I have a rotation of about 4 different fish recipes, which in my opinion isn’t enough.

Fact: I have a new recipe that will now be added to my fish “recipe collection”. (insert – applause).

This recipe provided me with a COLOURFUL and TASTY dish that involved a few interesting steps. For example – the recipe asks  you to marinate the fish in buttermilk, which is not something I’ve seen before in a fish recipe. But trust me, this step is worth it

Baked Tilapia and Vegetable Casserole (adapted from Natasha’s Kitchen)

Ingredients:

Tilapia Ingredients:
2 lbs (about 6-10 count) Tilapia fillets, thawed
Olive Oil to saute
1 Tbsp ketchup (I used Chili Sauce for an added kick)
1 Tbsp mayo

Marinade Ingredients:
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp Salt and 1/8 tsp Pepper

Vegetable Ingredients:
2 medium bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow)
2 medium/large carrots, julienned or grated
1 medium onion

DIRECTIONS:

1. Whisk together the marinade ingredients. Place the tilapia in a large ziplock bag along with the marinade mixture and marinate in the fridge at least 1 1/2 hours. (simple enough, non?)

fish - buttermilk

2. Slice onions into thin half circles, slice bell pepper into thin strips and julienne or grate carrots. (I forgot the carrots. Oops). In a large skillet over medium/high, heat 2-3 Tbsp oil and saute onions for 3 minutes or until softened. Add sliced bell peppers and carrots and saute another 4-5 min or until softened. Remove from pan and set veggies aside.

fish - fry veggies

3. Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce.

fish - sauce

3. Once  the fish is done marinating, drain and discard the marinade. In the same empty skillet over medium/high, add 2-3 Tbsp oil and saute fish lightly on the skillet just until golden on the outside (about 2 min per side). Be careful not to over cook the fish in fact it’s probably best that the fish isn’t entirely cooked.

4.  Layer the casserole dish with 1/2 of the vegetables on the bottom. Place fish over the vegetables. Brush the mixture of the ketchup/mayo on top of fish. Then add another layer of vegetables on top. Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper to taste then cover tightly with foil or lid and bake at 375˚F for 15 min.

FINAL PRODUCT

fish - final

Just so you know, I only share recipes that I would make again!

Oh ya – served a few vegetables dishes along with this fish casserole. Specifically, a tomato soup, kale salad, tabouleh salad and a sweet potato dish. There were lots of satisfied tummies.

Happy Cooking!

 

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Jan
06

I have talked about my love for my rice cooker before and I will talk about it again. Here’s what you really need to know: GO OUT AND GET ONE. STAT!! Sorry I’m yelling but I feel very strongly about this.

My first rice cooker was bought back in May 2010 after touring T & T in Ottawa with a group of twitter friends.

I bought a Tiger Rice Cooker and got hooked on the fact that I could press a button, go get a manicure and return to a bowl of perfectly cooked rice.

Although I loved my Tiger Rice Cooker, it wasn’t easy to clean. It had a hinged top and I could never clean it properly. I would take a photo to show you exactly what I mean but I can’t. It got that gross!

Therefore my beloved Tiger Rice Cooker went into the recycle bin. Bye Bye Tiger Rice Cooker.

breville - old rice coooker

Moving forward: I received a Breville Risotto Plus  to replace my beloved Tiger Rice Cooker and I’m happy, happy, happy.

breville - rice cooker

Here’s what I love about my  new rice cooker.

-no hinged top

-I can steam vegetables at the same time (which I’ve done already)

-it’s easy to clean.

-I can even make risotto. Check out the left button on the photo below!

breville - buttons

The other night, I made stuffed peppers with rice, corn, black beans and a touch of cheddar cheese. It was the perfect side dish.

breville - stuffed peppers

Not to mention, I tested out the risotto button and made this amazing risotto dish with peas, using PC Arborio Rice.

breville - PC arborio

Pretty side dish. Agreed? My Breville Rice Cooker did a perfect job of making the Risotto.

breville - final risotta

If you are looking for a rice cooker, I highly recommend the Breville Risotto Plus!. I hope to be using it for years and years!!

Happy Cooking.

Disclosure: The Breville Rice Cooker was provided to me, however all opinions are my own

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jan
01

1. My dinner at U-Feast at Campagnolo. I’m not kidding this restaurant had been on my bucket list for years. Thrilled that I was able to finally taste this dish.

2015 - bar buca

2. ANYTHING at Bar Raval. However some of my favourites include the foie gras or this salad.

2015 - bar raval

3. My job allows me to eat some amazing cheese so of course that’s a highlight! Specifically this 5 yr Old Cheddar Cheese, that was a Grand Prix winner in 2015.

2015 - st albert

4. The food at the CNE. This is one event I won’t ever miss.

2015 - CNE

5. Sweet JesusIf you haven’t tried this soft serve then you really need to go there in 2016. Stat.

2015 - sweet jesus

6. My trip to Italy. All I did was eat amazing food…everywhere. I had this particular charcuterie board for 5 EUROS, three times!!

2015 - rome

7. My Trip to Israel. Again, all I did was eat.

2015 - israel

8. The seafood tower at Harbour Sixty Steakhouse. It’s not cheap but definitely worth it. Sadly the dining room is  so dark that I have no photos of the seafood tower even though I’ve been twice this year.

9. The fish that I caught on JP Fishing Charter that was served to me just a few hours after I caught it at Molly & Oj’s Restaurant in Erieau, Ontario.  Nothing beats FRESH fish.

2015 - fish

I hope to continue to eat fabulous food in 2016 and look forward to sharing my food adventures with you as well.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dec
30

Grocery Shopping in Mexico


I swear I left the resort to go to Playa Del Carmen for one reason only. That reason was to go to the Grocery Store. No…. I did not have a fever. LOL. I simply adore discovering new food products.

Here’s a few items that caught my attention:

Campbell’s Soup – Chile Poblano: Not very happy that I didn’t buy one of these! #arghhh

mexico- campbells

TANG – Tamarind Flavour: Bring it on. I bought a packet but haven’t tried it yet. Will keep you posted.

mexico - tang

Motor Bikes: Ok it’s not a food item but I thought it was cool to see that one could buy a motor bike in a grocery store.

mexico - dirtbikes

These Drinks.

mexico - kracken

THE CEVICHE BAR – you know how we have an Olive Bar? Well they have a Ceviche Bar with no fewer than 6 different styles of Ceviche.

mexico - ceviche

When I walked thru customs I was asked what I bought: I replied a souvenir and some groceries. She asked me “what type of groceries”. I whipped out the bag of Tang and she smiled.

Walking thru a grocery store makes me happy! Go figure.

Speaking of grocery stores, looks like it’s time to visit Buffalo for a trip to Trader Joe’s and Wegmans. Haven’t been in a while. #roadtripforgroceries

 

 

 

 

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Dec
28

A Week Of Bliss…


My last blog post was called “My Bags Are Packed and I’m Ready to Go”. This blog post is called “A Week of Bliss” which means I had a SPECTACULAR vacation.

Here’s what I would like to share about Karisma Resorts and specifically El Dorado Maroma in  Mayan Riviera.

THE PROPERTY:

The words lush, manicured, and immaculate all come to my mind. The best thing about this property was the fact that there’s only 90 rooms so that means everything is close by. There is no such thing as a 10 minute walk to get to the pool or a restaurant or the lobby. It’s all just steps away from your room. Yes – I’m a sloth and I’m proud of it!!

mexico - property

THE ROOM:

The room was SPACIOUS, SPOTLESS and CONTEMPORARY. No outdated “Spanish” themed rooms! YAY.

mexico - room

THE FOOD:

I seriously never thought the word gourmet and all inclusive could be said in the same breath. Well, it’s possible. There were 6 restaurants to choose from and all of them were excellent. Presentation, quality of ingredients and freshness were evident in every dish. Plus each restaurant was tastefully decorated (modern and contemporary).

mexico - food

BOOZE:

Grey Goose Vodka was available EVERY DAY….ALL DAY. Do I need to say more? LOL. There was even a tequila tasting one afternoon by the pool. However I had this drink everyday (ok maybe twice a day). It’s called: MANGO JALAPENO, which included the following ingredients: Tequila anejo, lime, sugar, orange liquor, mango and jalapeno. OMG what a combo.

mexico - drink

SERVICE:

I kept joking that there were more staff than guests! Every day our “Personal Concierge” found us by the pool to ensure we were satisfied guests and to answer any questions. Not to mention, the lobby has 4 desks where 4 agents SIT DOWN and check you in. (with a cool towel and a glass of bubbly as well). I was super impressed when a staff person called us the night before we were leaving to ask us if we wanted a wake up call and what time we needed assistance with our bags. They truly do anticipate your needs!!

CONCLUSION:

I would return to this property in a heart beat. However please note: There’s a solid line up of entertainment at at night but the week we were there it wasn’t well attended. Not sure if guests left the property (to visit Playa De Carmen) or just preferred to have dinner and relax in their rooms.

In the event you want to see some great photos, please head over to Instagram  and plug in the hashtag #KarismaExperience or #KarismaResorts

For more information:

Website: www.karismaresorts.com

Instagram: @karismaresorts @eldoradoresorts

Oh ya…I discovered one of my Instagram followers is a travel agent and has visited numerous Karisma Properties (and other properties in Mexico as well). Check out her photos as well: @lorirachelgold.

Hope you had a wonderful vacation as well. Already looking forward to my next vacation which will be either a cruise or another visit to El Dorado. Time will tell!!

 

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Dec
16

I’m off to the Mayan Riviera and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve had enough of “grey” Toronto!

This trip involves a few “firsts for me”, that I thought I would share.

-It was my first time using Trip Central to book a trip and it won’t be my last time either. Many thanks to my vacation expert Lawrence Solomon, this trip was booked in a heart beat. Lawrence got my attention when he said: “I check out hotels, like you check out restaurants”.

-It’s my first “Air Transat” all inclusive package

-It’s my first time travelling to the Mayan Riviera.

-It’s my first time packing so “light”. I simply threw in a few dresses, bathing suits, and shoes. The second bag contains my computer, tablet and stuff for the plane!

mexico - bags

So my bag is packed and of course it contains a few essentials:

-My Lululemon Vinyasa Scarf which I received on my 50th birthday gift and is the best gift-ever!! I wore it throughout my trip to Israel and Italy in April and will be travelling with it, once again.

mexico - scarf

-my Consonant travel size face wash and moisturizer. Love this brand so much that I must travel with it.

mexico - constanant

-My Samsung tablet which has a ton of books on it as well as I’ve downloaded all my favourite magazines on Texture (which is the re-branded: Next Issue). I will never buy a magazine every again and never have to carry one in my carry-on either.

mexico - texture

Naturally I will be blogging about the property and the food, so make sure you come back and read my blog.

Happy Holidays!!

 

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Dec
15

Recipe: Baked Apple Roses


The recipe for “Baked Apple Roses”  seems to be all over the internet these days.

I mean, the recipe was  e-v-e-r-y-where: on my facebook feed, on Pinterest, etc etc.

“Baked Apple Roses” appealed to me for these three reasons:

1. It didn’t require a lot of ingredients

2. It looked simple to assemble

3. The final results looked gorgeous

Here’s what you need to make this fast and simple dessert.

Ingredients:

-2 apples

-juice from half a lemon

-1 sheet of PC Butter Puff Pastry (my new fave)

-3 tbsp. Peach or Apricot Jam/Preserves mixed with a bit of water

roses - ingredients

Instructions: (taken from Tip Hero)

1. Preheat Oven to 375 degrees

– Put apple slices in microwave safe bowl. Fill bowl with a bit of water and juice from half a lemon. Use enough water to make sure apple slices are covered by water. Microwave for 3 minutes. This will soften the apple slices and make them more pliable for rolling up. (AN IMPORTANT STEP)

– Next. grab a sheet of puff pastry. Flour your board and roll out the puff pastry enough to make 4 strips at 3 inches wide. (I actually took out a measuring tape for this step. Seriously)

– In a bowl mix your favorite fruit preserves with a couple tablespoons of water. Then spoon out the preserves in the center of the strip of puff pastry.

– Next place the apple slices long ways halfway on the strip. Keep adding slices until you reach the end. Then fold the puff pastry over the bottom of the apple slices. (sorry for the crappy photo but it’s winter and I can’t always cook/bake before 4:30 pm. #foodbloggerproblems)

roses - apples on dough

– Roll up the puff pastry and place in a greased muffin tin.

– Bake the apple roses for 35-45 minutes.

– Pull out of oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

FINAL RESULT!!

roses - final

They didn’t come out exactly like the ones I’ve seen on Pinterest or Tip Hero (my new obsession), however I was pretty happy with the results!!

Happy Baking.

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Dec
13

I had the opportunity to visit the PC Insiders Collection Boutique last week, which is located at 363 King St. W (at the corner of Blue Jays Way and King St. W).  I had been following the hashtag #PCInsidersBoutique on Instagram so I had an idea what I was visiting but it was SO much better to experience it.

boutique - outside

Here’s 5 Reasons You Should Visit the PC Insiders Boutique:

1. There are 4 rooms and one room is nicer than the other.  I actually heard that they’ve been decorating the space since August. There’s 4 rooms in total with a theme of Dine, Brunch, Mingle and Gift.

This “Gift” Room put a smile on my face in a nano-second.

boutique - gift

2. You will be treated to yummy samples.  Specifically you will sample the PC® Insiders Collection™ line of products!!

boutique - samples

The Boutique features more than 70 new and innovative products that have been launched for the holiday season.  Here’s an example of some of the treats you will sample:

Black Forest Stuffed French Toast made with PC® The Decadent® Chocolate Cherry Loaf and the indulgent PC® Poutine Pie, along with new treats like PC® Speculoos Cookie Butter. You won’t be left disappointed.

3. It’s FREE. #sweet

4. It’s a fun activity to put you in the mood for the holidays.

5. You will go home with a gift!!

So head on over to 363 King St. W (corner of King St. W and Blue Jays Way) to experience the PC® Insiders Collection™ line of products in person at the President’s Choice® Insiders Collection™ Boutique. Please note that the Boutique closes on Dec 18th. So Hurry!!

For more information:

Website: www.pc.ca, www.loblaws.ca

Facebook: President’s Choice

Twitter & Instagram: @PresChoice #PCInsidersCollection

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Dec
09

Restaurant Review: 70 Down


The other night I dined at 70 Down Restaurant and Lounge, which opened only 3 months ago. They are located at 70 Yorkville – which gave me the perfect opportunity to shop a bit before dining. Always a great combo!

My meal started off with the perfect cocktail that was refreshing and perfectly balanced!!

70down - cocktail

As soon as I saw the ingredients I knew I had to order it. I was not disappointed. It was so perfect that I had to use all my willpower not to order a second one.

70 Down has positioned itself as “Mediterranean Middle Eastern meets Modern Tapas” .  I kind of like that idea so we embraced it and started off the meal with Moosear (shallot pressed yogurt with Himalayan salt, dressed with micro arugula and thyme leaves). I must admit – I fell in love with this creamy goodness.

70down - labaneh1

We also ordered  Turshy which is the cutest assortment of pickled cucumber gherkins, carrots, eggplant, cauliflower and garlic, garnished with a chili. Another great dish.

70down - tushy

The meal continued with Bolani which is a crispy dough crust stuffed with smashed potato and caramelized onion. I was delighted to see that it came accompanied with more of the Moosear (that yummy pressed yogurt).

70down - perogies

One of my favorite dishes of the evening was a simple charcoal broiled tomatoes. So simple and so good.

70down - tomatoes

The waitress suggested we try her favourite dish which was The Moroccan Fish Tacos. I can see what it was her favourite.

70down - fish

 

Believe or not, we tried one more dish called Bontu. Who knew that beef and onion dumplings topped with a tomato beef sauce and topped with yoghurt, garlic and mint COULD BE SO GOOD. I MEAN – REALLY REALLY GOOD. (sorry to use caps and shout but I wanted to make a point. Forgive me?).

70down - wonton

We finished the evening with Bistrani – a saffron pistachio ice cream with sprinkled with good quality pistachios. It was the perfect way to end the evening.

70 Down is an incredible place to EAT as well as a happening lounge on the weekend. I was more than impressed with the management and Chef Jimmy who took the time to chat with us about their passion for food.

Already looking forward to my next visit!!

For more information:

Website: www.70down.ca

Address: 70 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto

Phone: 416 323 3696

Twitter and Instagram: @70Down

Disclosure: The meal was complimentary however all opinions are my own.

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