Food

Soup Season

Anyone who knows me personally can tell you how much I love soup. While I could honestly eat soup any place, any time of the year, autumn is truly when it starts to feel like soup season.

As I am also trying to increase my food-making repertoire, I have decided to challenge myself to make a new soup a week until the end of (at least) December as part of my meal prep. Two weeks into this challenge and I have already been successful.

Last week’s soup: Creamy Tortellini Soup with Sausage by Gimme Some Oven0-1.jpg

This soup was incredibly easy to make and made lots of servings. Variations I made to the recipe:
– I used Italian turkey sausage instead of pork sausages
– I used 1.5 cups of milk and 3 large heaping tablespoons of sour cream to make it creamier rather than the 2 cups of milk

This week, I made Jalapeño Popper Chicken Soup by Closet Cooking.

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Although my picture of the soup isn’t the prettiest, it sure tasted great! Cheesy with a bit of a bite from the jalapeños and some delicious bacon as well! I did the chopping of ingredients in the morning and through it all together in a pot in the evening which resulted in less mess and a quick meal. The (only) downside to this soup is it only yields 4 servings so it isn’t quite enough for lunch for the week. I did not add corn to my soup as it states in the recipe.

I’d say these two are keeper recipes. I can’t wait to try something else next week!

Have a wonderful Monday!

Three New Places I Discovered in Montreal

When I was little, I used to go to Montreal once or twice a year, sometimes more. Several members of my mom’s side of the family lives there so I have seen many of the wonderful sights Montreal has to offer.

A couple weeks ago, I went to Montreal for a conference. While there, I stayed with family, visited friends, and took some time alone to explore the city. It is such a beautiful place.

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During my stay, I found three new places I have never been to that I absolutely MUST recommend.

  1. Tommy 

Tommy is a café located in Old Montreal just a few steps away from Notre Dame Basilica. Its multi-level establishment has plenty of room to find a cozy spot to enjoy a coffee, pull out your laptop, read a book, or just sit and stare at the beautiful architecture (all of which I did). I tried an iced coffee and caramel cocoa vegan ice cream and it was perfect for the hot summer day that it was. I wanted to try the avocado toast with smoked salmon on top but I had just finished a meal and couldn’t quite stomach a snack that big. However, a lady at a table nearby ordered it and it looked so delicious.IMG_20180708_225156_588.jpg

2. Muru Crêpe

What an adorable and very delicious brunch spot! Water was served in a glass wine bottle. The caramel macchiato I ordered was picture perfect and tasted just as good as it looked.20180629_101712.jpg

I sat by the window so I could watch the busy street action and before I knew it, my food arrived very quickly. I wish I tried their crème brûlée crêpe because the picture looked scrumptious but I was not disappointed with my choice. I can’t quite remember what it was called but I can tell you it had chicken, thin sliced potatoes, mushrooms, and cheese in a delicious sauce. I devoured the entire thing, it was so good. Will definitely be returning on my next visit to Montreal.

Instagram: @murucrepe

3. Ca Lem 

Ca Lem is the perfect hole-in-the-wall ice cream shop I could ever ask for. Its bright colours of the building and delicious flavours are worth the visit. You can sample flavours if you are undecided (I know I was). They feature two new flavours each week for their Swirl Cones. This was my pick and the flavours when I visited were lemon and raspberry. It was the perfect combination for a hot day. IMG_20180629_151737.jpg

As if their ice cream wasn’t already picture perfect, inside they have a wall with different backgrounds you can use for that like-worthy instagram shot. How cute is that!20180629_152344.jpg

Instagram: @calemcreamery

Honourable Mention: Orange Julep

Gibeau Orange Julep is not a new place to me so I couldn’t add it to the list but it is so good, I had to rave about it. It’s a great place to stop in and get a hot dog and, of course, a famous Orange Julep drink which they also serve as a frappe! Want to know about Gibeau’s Orange Julep? Here’s a link from Mtl Blog about the history of this iconic treasure: https://www.mtlblog.com/lifestyle/the-real-story-behind-montreals-orange-julep

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What’s your favourite place to visit in Montreal?

Low Carb Bagels

Like several people I know, I have hopped on the keto train in attempts to keep myself in check like I did with Whole 30 but be free to eat cheese and yogurt and indulge in the occasional glass of red wine.

I am on Day 5 so far and honestly, it feels very similar to Whole 30. I was tired the first couple of days, had a little brain fog, but those feelings have faded. My eating habits prior to this decision weren’t too bad. I had continued to follow a mainly paleo lifestyle until going to Cuba. I did eat a few more bags of chips than I would have liked but such is life. I have heard really good things about the keto way of life and since it didn’t differ too much from the paleo lifestyle, I figured I’d give it a try.

What’s the Difference? 

Get Healthy U has this great info-graphic to break down the basic differences between the two.

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Why Did I Start?

I have had some underlying suspicions that I may have some sort of gluten sensitivity or intolerance. I removed eating gluten as part of the Whole 30 plan and I didn’t want to eat in such a restrictive way again. With Keto, I am free to eat cheese and cream cheese and yogurt and butter and all that dairy that I love but couldn’t have before. There are a lot of great recipes with stevia and other natural low-carb sugars that I can’t wait to try. For more information on what the ketogenic diet is, here’s a link for you: https://www.ruled.me/guide-keto-diet.

Am I Going to Cheat?

Probably in the future. I mean, everything is good in moderation and it might be a little unrealistic to cut out everything bad forever. I understand it is a way of life for many people, but I am still learning how it fits into my lifestyle. By being strict at the beginning, I hope to create good habits and remember all the lessons I learned from Whole 30 and make better choices at restaurants. After a few weeks, will I have a scoop of ice cream? Absolutely. It’s nearly summertime. If I’m at someone’s house and they’re serving non-keto friendly options, I will probably eat some of the non-compliant options anyways. Will I eat an entire loaf of garlic bread? No. Will I have a glass or 3 of sangria? More than likely. It’s all about making smart cheats and not “eating a whole bag of chips” kind of cheat.

Low-Carb Bagels

Now that I have rambled about my lifestyle changes, let’s talk bagels. I am trying to find easy and quick breakfast options since I usually am up and out the door in the morning. I made some flaxseed cinnamon bun muffins last week and they were delicious. This morning, I tried making low-carb bagels.

I used the recipe from WholesomeYum which can be found here: https://www.wholesomeyum.com/recipes/low-carb-bagels-with-almond-flour-keto-gluten-free-5-ingredients/ 

It was so easy to make and had only 5 ingredients: almond flour, baking powder, mozzarella cheese, cream cheese, and eggs. I added Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel spice to the top and it was perfect. My mom really liked the bagels too. I’m surprised in how quick and easy it was. Kneading the dough was difficult with it being super sticky but it combined well. (See pre-oven photo above).

The recipe makes 6 bagels and each bagel is 360 calories. Carb counts: Total Carbs: 8g | Net Carbs: 5g | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g

An everything bagel at Tim Hortons, in comparison, is 280 calories but has 53g of Carbs.

I would definitely make this recipe again!

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Spinach Dip Stuffed Mushrooms

Do you love spinach dip?

Do you love portobello mushrooms?

Well worlds collided tonight when I made some stuffed mushrooms. A few years ago, one of the local restaurants used to serve them as appetizers and it was my favourite thing to split with my mom but they have taken them off the menu. While grocery shopping the other day, I bought a 4-pack of portobello mushrooms and thought that maybe I would try to replicate them.

 

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Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 10 oz of frozen spinach (I bought the packaged stuff)
  • 3/4 tsp of garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 250g package of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Here’s what I did:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preset the oven to 375.
  2. Remove the stems and gills from the portobello mushrooms. Drizzle olive oil on the mushrooms. Place on the baking sheet and set aside.
  3. Cook the frozen spinach according to the directions on the package, drain excess water, and set aside.
  4. Combine all the cheeses together (except for the mozzarella) with the garlic powder and cayenne pepper and add the spinach.
  5. Stuff the mushrooms with the spinach dip and sprinkle each mushroom with mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

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These recipes were used as a guide in the creation of my mushrooms:

Chicken Fajitas

One of my favourite things to do when I get to see my boyfriend is cook together. He has been so supportive with all of my goals, especially those for a healthier lifestyle. The past few times we’ve spent the weekend together we’ve made an active effort to cook at least one of our meals and have it be a healthier option.

This weekend, we made chicken fajitas from scratch since we wanted something easy and relatively quick to make.

Ingredients

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 onion
  • olive oil
  • 6-8 white mushrooms
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • half a head of romaine lettuce
  • flour tortillas
  • Shredded cheese
  • Hot sauce

What We Did

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cover a large sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Using one of those slap-chop type things, we diced the onion, bell peppers, jalapeno pepper, and the mushrooms, setting aside the mushrooms and onions, and putting the peppers on the pan.
  3. Cut the chicken into strips and lay onto the pan.
  4. We made our own fajita seasoning. After Whole 30, I have loved making my own seasonings and dressings so we made this fajita seasoning:
    • 1 Tbsp chili powder
    • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
    • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp oregano
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne optional
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  5. Sprinkle the fajita seasoning onto the chicken and peppers and add the minced garlic all over the chicken and peppers.
  6. Put the pan in the oven for 15 minutes (until chicken is cooked through)
  7. In a large skillet, add some olive oil (~1 tbsp? I didn’t measure this out). Once the pan is heated, add the mushrooms and onions to the pan and cook until onions translucent and mushrooms cooked.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and add the contents to the skillet mixing everything together.
  9. Serve in tortillas with shredded lettuce, hot sauce, and shredded cheese, if desired.

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Whole 30 Round 3 is Complete!

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Well I did it! I survived a January Whole 30. While I have done this with former coworkers in the past, this time it was all me (with the help of some Facebook groups). I survived and I feel great. #TigerBlood

How I’m Feeling

Well it feels weird to be done, to be honest.  January felt like it lasted a lifetime – it just kind of dragged on and on. Today was my first day without Whole 30 and the only non-compliant thing I’ve had today was a spring roll. Otherwise my breakfast, lunch, and dinner options were all compliant. Slowly reintroducing non-compliant foods into my diet. My energy levels continue to be amazing. No mid-day slump for this gal. My digestion is back in working order. I reluctantly stepped on the scale this morning and I have lost 12.3lbs since starting Whole 30. I was thrilled, don’t get me wrong. But it was just a number at the end of the day. My non-scale victories were larger than my scale victory.

What I Learned From Whole 30 This Time

  • I did Whole 30 a year ago or so and I feel like food labels have only gotten worse since then. More additives and preservatives. You’d be surprised to read how many things have corn or soy or sugar, as well.
  • Eating out is next to impossible but can be done strategically. If you forget your homemade salad dressing at home, the roasted veggie side (if there is one) is a good option. Check their oils.
  • It is okay not to turn to food when you are upset. It has been a hard month for me emotionally and mentally. Not grabbing any form of snack (healthy or unhealthy) was something I really tried to work on this time around.
  • I didn’t miss Starbucks as much as I thought I would. I used Coffee Mate in my coffee this morning and poured it out immediately – was wayyyyy too sweet for my tastes. Black coffee with cinnamon is still a winner in my books but maybe next week I’ll start adding milk again.
  • Simple is best. I learned to make a few new things and my favourite recipes were the simplest.
  • Making your own salad dressings and seasonings (taco seasoning, cajun seasoning, etc.) are extremely easy. Like, I still can’t get over how much I love dump ranch. I’m going to make it all the time.
  • It’s okay not to have cake on your birthday.
  • Breakfast was the worst meal of the day for me for the entire month – it’s something I will need to continually work on. I can’t eat as many eggs as Pinterest would like me to.
  • Posting every single day made me accountable to myself and to the others that have followed my blog and instagram page. At times, I really hated being one of those people taking pictures of their food but then I thought, “No, damn it, I’m doing this for me.”

What Comes Next

Well, I’m not going to abandon ship and start eating crappy foods again. I will definitely carry the lessons I have learned with me and continue to bring awareness to the food I eat.

While I don’t think I will do another round of Whole 30 in February, I have been reading Leanne Vogel’s book on her take of The Keto Diet and may give that a try. While there seem to be some aspects that may be challenging (calculating macros, counting all the things, etc.), it will allow me to have dairy in my life again (I have missed cheese). I may not start right away but I will continue to prep my meals in advanced, make healthier choices, and try not to snack. This tiger blood is amazing and I don’t want to give it up. I also don’t want to live in a world of restriction much either.

Then comes the exercise piece. The next step is bridging the two: food and exercise. In February, that is something I will make more of an effort to do. If not at the gym, I will at home with my 21 Day Fix Extreme workout videos.

I will continue to try to keep myself accountable by posting on here. Watch out for more food freedom stories and my stories of body image and the other hurdles in life.

Thank you to everyone who has followed along on this 30 Day Journey and for your words of encouragement and support.

 

 

 

Whole 30 Day 28

How I’m Feeling 

Today. Was. Rough. I was up on and off all night feeling sick. I’m (hopefully) on the tail end of this stomach bug, so I stayed home to give my body some rest and be functionally closer to a bathroom. However, being home all day left me in a house full of food that I wanted to ate and either couldn’t eat because it made me feel sick or because it’s still Whole 30 and chocolate is still noncompliant. While I had seemingly broken the emotional connections to food in average situations (and even upon some anxiety-provoking ones), I (re-) discovered today that when I am sick, I want to eat like crap and that was an emotional connection I couldn’t break … but somehow did today. I didn’t order Chinese food (despite previous conditioning of me being sick = order Chinese food). I didn’t have some chocolate to feel better. I had chicken soup (without noodles) and really not a lot else.

Day 28, according to the Whole 30 Timeline, is a hard day in general. It’s so close to 30…but not quite. They call it “Day 28: 28 is as good as 30…right?” Ugh, it has felt like that. I have worked this hard to stay committed for 30 days and I am staying true to that commitment.

What I Ate

Blah – what a boring section to write today. Literally all I have eaten today is chicken soup without noodles, some vegetable dish my mom made for dinner, and one clementine.  If my stomach could handle more, I would have done more meal prep for today and the rest of the week. But in the meantime, I have leftover cauliflower rice and chicken and veggies in the fridge for lunch and dinners. Not to mention soup!

TWO. MORE. DAYS. 11357260_1667689656793748_1359635908_n.jpg

Whole 30 Day 27

How I’m Feeling

Well it may be day 27 if whole 30 but it’s also day 3 of the little stomach virus that could. Last night I slept for ten straight hours and haven’t had much of an appetite. Probably out of fear of having to run to the bathroom immediately after, but alas.

What I Ate

Well…not a lot. I had scrambled eggs for breakfast but had to give half of them to my boyfriend since I couldn’t stomach them all.

For lunch, I had a roasted chicken leg and homemade potato wedges (approximately 2).

For dinner I made homemade chicken soup without the noodles. Just drinking the broth has made me feel a bit better. But I also have some kombucha to try and get me through the night.

I’m going to try to go to bed early and get lots of rest to kick this stomach bug’s butt. Fingers crossed!

Whole 30 Day 26

How I’m Feeling

Health wise? Not so great. I have some sort of stomach bug that even Whole 30’s magical digestive powers can’t fix. For the last two days, every time I have tried to eat something, my stomach has felt so sick. Won’t include any gross details here.

What I Ate

Breakfast: lunch meat and fruit. Wasn’t feeling like stomaching much.

Lunch: chicken soup (without noodles)

Dinner: Steak, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, brussel sprouts, and roasted broccoli

Whole 30 Day 24

How I’m Feeling

Six days left and I’m feeling pretty good. I’m worried I’m starting to come down with something as I’ve had an upset stomach the last couple of days and not in the anxious kinda way. My appetite hasn’t been very big but my energy levels continue to be great and my concentration has been much better today. I crossed off three big things on my to do list and am still picking away at more.

What I Ate

Breakfast: egg muffins on the go

Lunch: white chicken chilli leftovers

Dinner: cut up veggies and salt & pepper chicken wings