Weekly Recipe Roundup: Moroccan Cauliflower Salad + Zat'ar Spice

As a private chef I make SO MANY differing dishes in a week, some are better left to the professionals, but some are worth sharing. Here are the best of the week!


Moroccan Cauliflower Salad- toronto food and lifestyle blogger

Moroccan Cauliflower Salad

My clients are Jewish, and for this years Jewish New Year (La Shana Tova!) we decided to do something fun- a trip around the world; but seriously, we wanted to create a fun menu that would impress her family!

This. Did. Not. Disappoint.

I love cauliflower because it's really good for you, and when done right (EMPHASIS on done right) it's NEXT LEVEL amazing. 

Good for you AND tastes delicious. Say no more.

I won't. Here's the recipe...

2 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
2 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp maple syrup (my Canadian twist)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup pistachio, chopped finely
1/2 cup mint leaves

Preheat oven to 375F.
Whisk together the salt, maple syrup, turmeric and olive oil; combine with cauliflower and lay on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes.

TO SERVE HOT
Remove cauliflower from oven and toss with pistachio and pomegranate seeds. Garnish with mint leaves.

TO SERVE COLD
Remove cauliflower from oven and cool completely, about 20 minutes. Toss with mint, pistachio and pomegranate.


Zat'ar Spice- toronto food and lifestyle blogger

The MIGHTY ZAT'AR

This is a spice that you will come to love, and my hope is that you use it liberally in your meals. 

  • Mix with oil and vinegar for a Middle Eastern inspired vinaigrette.

  • Mix with butter and rub all over a whole chicken and roast. Thank me later.

  • Toss with sweet potato (or regular potato)

I could go on- I won't; the point is, make this spice blend and put this sh*t on everything

1 1/2 Tbsp sumac
1 Tbsp thyme
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp lemon peel

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake. Store in a cool, dry place for 6 months...doubt it will last that long


Which Recipe Are You Most Excited To Try? Share In The Comments!

The Real Woman's Guide To Mindful Eating

My intent with this website is to help you rise to your healthiest, highest and most realized self, while living in the real world. And as someone who LIVES in the real world, health and wellness can seem all or nothing at times.

  • Don't drink.

  • Don't eat carbs.

  • Don't eat dairy.

  • Don't eat meat.

We have become buried in don'ts and should's, which has COMPLETELY derailed mindfulness around eating.


Case In Point

For a FULL YEAR I was having terrible rashy, psoriasis-like breakouts on my body, from head to toe (HEAD to TOE- use your imagination); and it wasn't cute. I cut out dairy, because it had to be that, right?! Wrong. It had to be red meat, right?! Wrong. Well then it's likely gluten. Nope.

I struggled for so long because I was using the aforementioned don'ts to guide me, instead of listening to myself and body. Had I been tuning in I would have noticed that whenever I ate popcorn (breakfast, lunch and dinner somedays) within minutes I would get irritated and itchy; instead I ignored all the signs. 

It wasn't until I paid for a V expensive allergy test that I came to realize that corn was the problem all along. I quit corn- tortillas, kernels, cob, popped- and within a few weeks everything cleared up, including my mind which I hadn't really clocked was also in distress.

So today I want to talk about mindful eating, like REAL mindful eating practices that can be used in your daily life- that also won't have you chanting to your food in public. Because food should love you, you should love food and it should be shared and enjoy with pleasure.

Ready?


Slow Down Sister

Mindfulness requires we leave behind mindlessness, and mindlessness lives in busy. When we rush through eating we do it mindlessly, which leads to over eating and the resulting discomfort.

KNOW THIS, I come to you as a reformed fast eater; meaning I used to lap people when eating meals, easily breezing through seconds while others have barely put a dent in their firsts, so I understand how challenging it can feel initially to slow down as you eat.

HERE'S MY TIP, put your fork down between bites. Like full, put down the fork, push away from the table, think about something happy and light, AND THEN (and only then) do you pick up your fork for another bite. Doing this will ensure you eat slowly, therefore mindfully, and give your body a minute to stop and smell the roses- aka, enjoy your lovely meal.


Know Thyself aka Understand Your Personal Food Cues

Our bodies are always speaking to us, but often we completely ignore the signals. For me, it was completely ignoring the OBVIOUS cues that my body was having a hard time with corn; but this is why mindfulness is important in today's world, as we all work to rise to our best lives, we can become too focused on our goals and ignore the cues we are getting in the moment.

Knowing thyself means getting clear on how your body communicates distress.

  • Do you bloat after you eat salad?

  • Do you get a headache after drinking coffee?

  • Does kale give you the BIG D (diarrhea)?

Everyone is different, so if all your friends are eating kale salads in prep for your week in Oaxaca, but kale gives you the sh*ts, listen to your body.

I walked around lightheaded and foggy for 6 months attempting to be vegan, because nutritionists are all vegans, right? Wrong. I should have listened to my body, because after a lovely lemon roasted chicken, I finally felt like myself again. 

Knowledge is power, babes. Know thyself.


Create Healthy Eating Habits

Not what you think...this is about your behaviours around food and not just what you eat.

  • Do you eat on the go?

  • Do you eat consistently out of packages?

  • Do you stress while you're eating?

  • Do you chew your food enough times per bite?

All of these habits contribute to positive or negative eating practices, and yet, have nothing to do with actual food. I find this is often the case with food habits, we concern ourselves with the food- which is important, no doubt- but we overlook the habits around food that lead to mindfulness and feeling good when we eat.

Where possible,

  • Set aside 20-30 minutes to enjoy your meals.

  • Use a plate with a real fork and knife; let yourself be fancy- you deserve it.

  • Take 3 deep breaths before every meal- especially lunch- if you find yourself wound up during the day

  • Chew each bite 20 times, until it's mush. Your stomach doesn't have teeth, so do your digestive system a solid.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. After each meal, tune into your body. Do you feel good? Do you feel tired? Do you feel energized? Use this information to inform your food choices.


Let Food Be Food

Food is food. It doesn't wake in the morning thinking about how it's going to f*ck with you today. It is us who has given food all this power and personality. Food doesn't give two sh*ts if you eat it or not. Food doesn't feel bad or dirty. Food is food. Understanding the stories you give to food- good, bad, dirty, clean etc- is key in getting our minds right about eating. Mindfulness can mean a great many things, but when it comes to food I think it's dissecting all the crappy energy we have created around food, in order to have a harmonious relationship with it.

If you met a guy (or girl) and wanted a really great bond, but all you did was get mad at him (or her) for things he (or she) didn't do or accuse him (or her) of being bad and hating you, what do you think would be the result? A gawd awful relationship is what, and it's the same narrative in your relationship with food.

I heard a friend say once, "there is no guilt free food. it's either unethical, unhealthy, unpopular or tastes like garbage", and this struck me because I love food, I have made it my life's work lol; but I remember when I was new in the wellness space I was OBSESSED with clean eating, having people see me eat clean, sharing all my clean eating inspo online and all it did was make me anxious around food. 

  • Is this made with local ingredients?

  • Did you heat the olive oil?

  • Is this grain organic?

It was stressful for me and annoying for people around me. I was also blogging, so can you imagine me asking all these banal questions to a server AND then making my friends wait to eat while I snapped a photo. MISHUGA the whole thing.

It is possible to uphold our ethics (fair trade, organic etc.) but we can do while also upholding our sanity and joie de vivre.

Finally I gave it all up and started enjoying breaking bread with my friends and family and looking at food as what it is- fuel, hobby + profession (for me), bringer together of people and comfort- sorry not sorry, sometimes I am comforted by food and I ain't afraid to say it! So if I want a glass of wine, or a soda- dammit I'm having one- and if you feel so inclined, you should too!

It's time to break up with your twisted food story and start writing a new one based on YOU and YOUR BODY; which is mindful eating at its finest!

How do you find mindfulness in the hectic pace of the modern world? Share in the comment.

Weekly Recipe Roundup: Easy Weeknight Meals

As a private chef I make SO MANY differing dishes in a week, some are better left to the professionals, but some are worth sharing. Here are the best of the week!


  Bianca Best Meatballs

Bianca Best Meatballs

This recipe is a PERFECT make and store ahead recipe. You can prepare them completely and freeze them for later baking, or you can prepare them, but save the baking for when you are ready to serve them. Either way, this recipe is perfect for people who love delicious things but find themselves time poor.

  • 1 pound ground pork or ground beef

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan

  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

  • 1½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger

  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using your hands, form the mixture into 25 to 30 little meatballs or about 18 golf ball−sized meatballs.

Place the meatballs on the lined baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until light brown.

Summer Corn and Tomato Salad

This salad was made when it literally felt like 42C in Toronto. Other than grilling the corn, this recipe will keep you deliciously cool and refreshed.

  • 3 ears fresh corn, grilled and cooled and then kernels removed from stalk

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

  • 2 cloves garlic, grated

  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Place the cooked corn in a medium bowl, then add the chopped cherry tomatoes, and herbs. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil with the lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, about ¼ t Kosher salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Drizzle over the corn mixture, toss well to combine, and serve. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

  Authentic Instant Pot Caribbean Curry

Authentic Instant Pot Caribbean Curry

When I was making this for clients, I could feel the energy of my Carib grandmothers coursing through my veins. The Instant Pot (HIGHLY recommend BUY in US or BUY in Canada) makes the meat so tender, and the process of making the sauce SUPER easy. Now you too can channel my Caribbean ancestry!

  • 1 large beef roast

  • 1 large red onion, minced

  • 3 tbsp grated ginger

  • 3 tbsp grated garlic

  • 1/2 cup curry powder

  • 2 tbsp pimento powder

  • 1 can coconut milk

  • 1 cup beef stock

  • Cilantro for garnish

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

  • salt + pepper

IN AN INSTANT POT

Using half the curry powder and half the pimento powder, rub it all over the beef roast, with 1 tbsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.. Add the seasoned roast to the Instant Pot with 1/2 the coconut milk and all the beef stock; and pressure cook for 45 mins (the standard on the Instant Pot).

Meanwhile, in a large pot on medium heat add the coconut oil; add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring. Add the ginger, garlic, curry powder, pimento and 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Stir to toast the spices, then add coconut milk. Remove from heat.

Once the beef roast is complete, remove from the Instant Pot and add the liquid to the curry sauce pot and bring to a boil.

Shred the roast beef with a fork (it will shred like a dream), and add it to the sauce with chopped cilantro. Adjust seasoning and serve with rice!

  Mediterranean Dinner Bowl

Mediterranean Dinner Bowl

Easy. Throw together. Delicious. Enough said!

  • 1 pint cherry tomato, halved

  • 2 cups baby potato, halved

  • 1 pint mushrooms

  • Instant Pot Cooked Roast Beef

  • 1/3 cup Balsamic Glaze

  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • 3 garlic cloves, grated

  • Arugula for garnish

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • Feta (optional)

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 385F.

Toss tomatoes and mushrooms with 1/2 balsamic glaze, half the garlic and 1/2 the oil. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Toss the potatoes with 1/2 the balsamic glaze, half the garlic, lemon zest and remaining oil.

Season both with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 30ish minutes- you'll know when they're done!

To serve combine Instant Pot beef and all the ingredients together in a bowl and enjoy!

  5-Minute Peanut Sauce

5-Minute Peanut Sauce

Ever heard the saying "food is a vehicle for sauce?" Buckle up, because you want to ride in this sauce!

  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (or almond butter)

  • 1/3 cup rice wine or Mirin

  • 1 tbsp grated ginger

  • 1 tbsp grated garlic

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

  • 1 tsp fish sauce

  • 1 tsp Tamari soy sauce (or coconut aminos)

  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl until smooth.


Which recipe are you most excited to try? Share in the comments!

Real Talk About How to Quit Sugar

I have an amazing opportunity coming up and I want to look my best; and, although, summer has been VERY fun, if not equally as boozy, the time has come to give the ol' white stuff the heave ho. All summer I've been consuming sugar via alcohol (rose season anyone?!), candies found in clients cupboards and of my accord- aka I get up off my butt and go get it myself. But sugar, whether you believe it or not, can lead to sullen and less than vibrant skin, and I am NOT here for that- nor is the camera ;)

(pictured, me, days before Quit Day, buzzed on Rose)

But I also reside in the real world, where being completely sugar free simply won't suit my lifestyle, so this here is the result of my quitting (greatly reducing) sugar. I suffered, so you do not!

NOTE this is a guide for the real world, so a little sugar will sneak in here or there, but it's the effort that counts, right?!


Before Quit Day 

This is often where people fail even before they begin. When it comes to quitting sugar- or giving it up for a period of time- a good start will help you long term, meaning, you must set yourself up for success.

Are you snacky? You better a) toss out ALL the sugary snack food you have around, and if the waste bothers you, donate it or take it to work; and b) replenish with approved snacks, so that this process doesn't feel so damn hard. Will power is a lie, if it's around, it's gonna get ya.

If you're like me and enjoy (ahem, LOVE) a sweet morning beverage, finding a suitable replacement BEFORE quit day means more chances of success. I sh*t you not, if I don't have a hot and sweet morning beverage, my day feels off. Know thyself and plan accordingly.

Decide. This is woo-ish but merits being mentioned. You have to have a pretty decent reason for quitting sugar. Mine is looking my best physically and being mentally clear for the amazing opportunity being presented to me; for you it might be *finally* clearing up your skin or getting your hormones under control. Whatever it is, it better means something to you, because giving up sugar can be hard; it's habitual, it psychological, it emotional, sugar and giving it up can prove quite confronting for some people, so having a strong "why" is one of the BEST motivators.

Ready? Let's give up the white, shall we?! 


NOTE: you may be inclined to binge on all this sugar before giving it up- I did; but let this serve as a warning, Quit Day will be even more challenging if you approach this way. 

Quit Sugar- Toronto Food and Lifestyle Blogger

That said, the week leading up to quitting sugar I ate ALL THE THINGS- Mr.Noodle (with cauliflower for balance), cupcakes, cinnamon buns and baked pastas a plenty and it was divine- and also the cause of a serious chin breakout; but Quit Day and the days following (about three) were rife with headaches, bad moods and just overall malaise, but it went away.

So take this nugget for what you will, if you find that you tough times make you quit, don't approach Quit Day like this.

INSTEAD

  • Start weaning yourself on the not-so-obvious culprits, breads, prepared sauces, mid-afternoon sugar snacks etc. Because this will start to train your tastebuds to appreciate the less than saccharine life. 

Quitting sugar is about reclaiming your tastedbuds, and this can take time- about one to two weeks, but this is why we're here, to make this process easier, so that no matter what your "Why" is, you persevere.


Are All Sweetness Givers Bad?

I didn't want to say sugar, because foods like honey, molasses, maple syrup, stevia etc. are sweet but they aren't sugar; but the question begs, are they all made the same?

Simple sugar which is the white stuff is converted VERY quickly into our bloodstream, that leads to insulin spikes and, more seriously, hormonal imbalances. This is the stuff that lurks in prepared sauces, jerky and bread; and even though the aforementioned maples, molasses and honey aren't refined they still have the same effect on our blood sugar and insulin levels. So if you've been thinking "I'll just sub honey", I've got news boo, it's all the same.

That said, coconut sugar has been clutch for me as I quit sugar. Coconut sugar boasts half the glycemic index as sugar (sugar is 100, honey + maple are around 60, whereas coconut sugar is 33). For a little background, the Glycemic Index is an index of 1-100, that charts the effects of food on our glycemic value (blood sugar); 1 being the lowest and 100 being the highest. 

What I like about coconut sugar is that it's sweet without an aftertaste and it can be subbed one for one in recipes; yes, things will be slightly less sweet, but still sweet enough to satisfy cravings. NOTE this doesn't mean you can use double the amount of coconut sugar, moderation and common sense are key.

Stevia is SUPER popular as 0 glycemic index food, but if you're like me stevia tastes terrible. What do I mean? Well, when I consume stevia I taste metal- no matter what; disguise it with vanilla- still there, and I love vanilla lol. Stevia isn't for everybody, but if it works for you, it's an excellent option. WARNING stevia is 3+ times sweeter than sugar, so be careful when you are using it in recipes; you can always add but you cannot take away. Remember this.

Is artificial sweetener the answer?

No. It is not. Look, artificial sweeteners won't spike your blood sugar, but this doesn't mean it's full steam ahead. Artificial sweeteners provide sweet taste without calories, so when you consume these products, hunger isn't satisfied, leading you to crave more afterward; which is why you can pound unlimited amounts of sugar free foods, yet still want more. And lastly, as I mentioned earlier, some (most) artificial sweeteners are many times sweeter than natural sugar, and that can dull your taste buds to less intensely sweet foods such as fruit, ramping up cravings for high-sugar—and high-calorie—foods. So the solution is to retrain your tastebuds and not try to trick them.


What's Gotta Go

Sugary Drinks- this goes without saying, as these are full of sugar that up your calorie intake without satisfying hunger. Don't let this scare you if you're a soda or juice lover.

INSTEAD mix freshly pressed fruit AND vegetable juice with sparkling water (1 part juice to 3-4 parts sparkling water), this beverage will be lightly sweet but WAY better for you in the long run.

Simple Carbs- the likes of cakes, crackers, cookies, breads, rice, biscuits- all of this shit. These foods leave you feeling hungry and wanting more simple sugars within an hour of consuming. Consuming sugar begets wanting more sugar and since these foods find themselves in most meals in some way or another, beware.

INSTEAD opt for products made with whole and ancient grains.

Prepared Sauces and Dressing- often FULL of sugar. "But what about the sugar free version Bianca?", well those are filled often with shitty fats and fillers that won't satisfy you AND give sugar free dressings an odd texture and flavour. 

INSTEAD make your own spice blends and vinaigrettes (Vinaigrette 101 here), it's so easy and they taste so much better than store bought!

Table Sugar and Sweetened Coffee Creamers- this one was VERY challenging for me because I love a sweet morn bevy, but how I start my day is generally a sign of how the day will go forward; so if I start sweet, the floodgates have been opened. 

INSTEAD I used Laird Superfood Turmeric Coffee Creamer, it is sweetened with coconut sugar so it's less impactful on my blood sugar and contains coconut cream, which helps to slow the release of sugar into my bloodstream- more on this in a minute.

LAIRD SUPERFOODS: BUY IN US | BUY IN Canada

Booze- this is where my sugar intake soars- rose, white wine, red wine, I do not discriminate; and when it comes to sugar spikes and hormonal responses, alcohol is the worst, because hangovers, hormone imbalance and sugar side effects. I'll never suggest you give up alcohol for good- I have ZERO plans to do that; but as I lead up to my big opportunity, I am cutting it out temporarily.

INSTEAD- drink water or stay in- there aren't many other alternatives...


New Success Habits

Go Wild with Protein and Healthy Fats- when we cut out sugary foods, we have to replace them with other things, healthy fats and high quality protein will keep you feeling full and satisfied, while helping your blood sugar stay in equilibrium and managing sweet cravings.

SUGAR CRAVING? Have some nuts and a piece of cheese.

Flavour Enhance- as a chef I often see people miss the mark on how to make their food exciting. When I quit sugar even I had a small pang of fear that my food life would become boring, but know this, to pander to a sweet tooth without resorting to the refined sugars, just look to your spice rack. Cinnamon and vanilla extract added to coffee, cereal, or baked goods offer a sweet taste without negative effects, and zero calories too! Other sweet spices and herbs to add to beverages and meals include chicory, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom. Citrus zest also adds a fruity, refreshing sweetness; the secret is to get creative and try new things. What's the worst that could happen?!


So You F*cked Up- Now What?!

Despite our best efforts we might slip up and have a drink, or grab a Wunderbar when having a bad day at work, so it's important to remember that one drink or one chocolate bar isn't going to screw you up, it doesn't make you a bad person with no staying power- it makes you human. 

Here are a few things you can do in the likely chance you have some sugar.

  • Consume with a fat or protein source, this will help the sugar release slower into your bloodstream; ie. handful of nuts if you've had some 5 cent candies.
  • Go for a walk, so that that sugars (energy) that is release is used up by exertion and doesn't deposit as fat on your body.
  • Forgive thyself and move on- sh*t happens, life happens, tomorrow is a new day.

Quitting sugar isn't easy- I'm not going to lie to you; that said, there are ways to reduce your sugar intake and still live a deliciously charmed life.

Have you given up sugar? What are your tips and tricks?? Share in the comments

Simple Summer Tomato Pasta...with a twist

Because life is too short for every post to be a novela, a recipe.

This recipe is fairly beginner and mostly hands off, but not so hands off you can walk away without consideration. I have those types of recipes but this is not one of them!

The STAR of this recipe was an experiment I tried at work today (private cheffing for a family I adore!) that turned out so well, I’m sharing here AND making it again tomorrow for another purpose. The star is a parmesan and broccoli rabe crumb, which is hard to say but after one bite, you won’t be saying much.

toronto food and lifestyle blogger- tomato pasta salad

This crumb is made by cooking down the broccoli rabe leaves in olive and salt until they are super crispy; you may even get scared while you’re cooking them, but I assure you, crispy is key. Then you chop it up REALLY finely.

Shave a parmesan brick with a vegetable peeler- side note: the pre shredded stuff is NOT the vibe here because we need the crumbly texture that comes only from it being freshly shredded- then chop the parmesan shreds finely with the rabe crumbs. And that’s it. 

I know it sounds simple, and it is, but the things you can do with this crumb are amazing. Stay tuned, because I WILL have more to share!

In the interest of brevity, the recipe…

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic seasoning
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400F. Combine all the ingredients and spread evenly in a baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the the tomatoes are soft but still have their shape.

1 ½ cups cooked pasta

  • 1 cup broccoli rabe leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1  ½ tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt

Heat the oil in a pan on medium high heat, add the broccoli rabe leaves and salt; and cook, stirring consistently, until the rabe has lost all moisture and is crispy, about 10 minutes. And cool

  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Chop the parmesan and crispy broccoli rabe finely.

Toss the hot roasted cherry tomatoes, cooked pasta and broccoli rabe and parmesan crumb. Serve hot or cold.

RECIPE NOTE: from a meal planning perspective this recipe can be made ahead and kept on hand for later, as it holds up well over time. While all the component individually can be used in other recipes as well. And lastly, you can also freeze every component (the tomatoes, the rabe crumb, the pasta), prepared but separate, for a quick throw together- shit! What’s for dinner- meal :)
 

The Ultimate Guide to Making Salad

I love salad. As a chef I find salads to be dynamic and interesting. As a nutritionist I find salads to be one of the best ways to get a wide range of vitamins, nutrients, fibre, protein- yadda yadda yadda.

Salads are great but often an afterthought, leaving most people less than excited about it. This changes NOW.

I’m going to show you how to make AMAZING salad, that will leave the rabbits feeling jealous.


THE BASE

Almost every recipe must start with a base. With soup it’s mirepox and with salad it’s the vegetable. Now, don’t let yourself be pigeon held into thinking that your salad MUST contain a leaf, it doesn’t; though I do recommend them.

Any vegetable can base your salad. Cauliflower. Potato (sweet ot other). Beet. And, of course, lettuce. Before we go on let’s talk greens and how and where they play best.

LETTUCE

There are so many lettuces to choose from, with varying textures. It’s important to remember that lettuces do not hold up well over time when they are dressed, which means wilty, soggy salads. So regardless of what lettuce you choose to use, dress your salad just before consuming.

ICEBERG- though much maligned, I happen to love iceberg BUT you mustn’t abuse it. Iceberg is well paired with hearty roasted vegetables because it add brevity to the dish.

ICEBERG DON’T: I’ll come hunting for you if you serve an iceberg salad with cut up carrots and cucumber dressed with Thousand Island dressing from Kraft. You and Iceberg lettuce deserve better.

SPINACH- spinach is great in salad, in soups, in stews, and don’t even get me started on the health benefits (there are many); but spinach isn’t the be all, end all. Spinach can leave a slightly gritty- hard to describe- mouthfeel when eaten raw, so if you find that spinach isn’t your vibe, combine it with a green like romaine or iceberg.

ROMAINE- romaine is life. I honestly love romaine, because it’s an all purpose green. It can be grilled to perfection, tossed raw into a salad- in short, romaine is the shit. I’ve nothing bad to say about romaine…

ARUGULA- I personally love arugula, but it does bear a peppery aroma, so it might not be suited to salads for picky palates, unless you feel ready for dinner time battle. Arugula is best blended with other greens or vegetables. But, for the advanced palate (meeeee) go wild with arugula in your salad for a dynamic flavour profile.

ASTERIX

Ok, I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on cabbage.

KALE- kale is a cabbage, not a leaf, and this is why so many people have negative kale experiences. Kale takes some doing to make it an “effortless” salad green. REMOVE kale rib (thick stem), CUT leaves and MASSAGE with olive oil and salt (a pinch, because leaves will lose much of their volume and if you use too much salt, welp, you’re f*cked.).

RED, GREEN, NAPA, SAVOY CABBAGE- you treat these cabbages the same, but you will want the cabbage to sit for a sec to allow the salt and massaging to take the bite out of them. Lots of water will release from them once salted and massaged, strain this off and then go forward with your cabbage salad dreams.

NOTE: cabbage isn’t just for slaw, think outside of the box.

Washing

You might be tempted to get lazy and not wash your greens- I’ve been there; but soot and bugs lie deep in waiting to embarrass you at the table. There are areas where you can be lazy, but this is not one of them.

There are equipment free ways to wash and dry your salad, like using a colander (I like this one because it makes cutting and washing easy BUY US / BUY Canada) and then you pat dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.

BUT I’m all the way here for a salad spinner, because for the same price you get ease and effectiveness; because if your greens go into your salad wet, it’s not going to be a nice time- and I am here to show you how to make it nice!

BUY US / BUY Canada.

There are some folk who believe that washing under tepid water isn’t enough, and they will tell you that you NEED a vegetable wash; I’m whatever about it. But should you be worried about using raw greens, Rebel Wash is the wash I would use, if I was using it. BUY US / BUY Canada.

Good on the greens? Ok, let’s move on.


BULKERS

Every salad needs a base, but it also needs bulkers, unless this salad is being used as a side for a larger meal; but if this is your meal, you need to bulk, or you’ll be hungry in 10 minutes- well, if you’re an eater like me.

Bulkers are heartier vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and the like, that will give some weight to your salad. Whether you are gluten free, grain free, nut free, paleo or keto, there is a bulker for you.

VEGETABLES

Bulking vegetables are things like cauliflower, beets, corn, asparagus. What you need to remember are these vegetables add VOLUME, meaning you will feel fuller for longer, but bulking vegetables are still vegetables, so you’ll only get so far by just adding bulking vegetables.

Bulking starches are where you get some legs. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkin/squash, parsnips and I would also include corn in this list as well, because corn is more starch than vegetable- sorry…

GRAINS

To add even more fill and texture to your salad, grains and legumes is where you are going to turn this salad into a full blown meal. If you’re GF there are plenty of grains for you to enjoy, like millet, quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat; now, if you’re keto, skip these all together lol. Legumes like lentils and beans like chickpeas, black or kidney beans (less so lol) are also great in a salad. I love Three Farmers Roasted Chickpeas as a healthy crouton substitute (BUY US / BUY Canada)!

NUTS/SEEDS

Keto people can now start reading again...nuts and seeds are excellent high fat and high fibre ways to add bulk to your salad but keep you compliant if you are counting carbs. My favourites are pistachios, almonds, cashews (also include in dressing), walnuts ( healthy caesar dressing, yes please), pine nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds- just be certain that you buy raw nuts, this way you can shape shift and season the nuts to whatever creation you are making.

NUT NOTE: store your raw nuts in the freezer to prevent the sometimes volatile nut oils from turning rancid on you!


PROTEIN

So we have come to the meat of this post, lol! If you’re vegetarian, your “meat” won’t be meat but will add the necessary protein to your salad.

Protein and fats are what help us feel satisfied and push away from the table, so meeting your protein requirements in a salad means you won’t be left wanting more.

Ok so here is a breakdown of the protein options (both veg and non veg) that I have and would add to my salads- ahem, chef and nutritionist here, so pay attention.

CHICKEN- obvious, but not obvious is that most people would default to chicken breast, but dark meat is not only more flavourful BUT juicier. But I’ll leave that up to you.

BEEF/PORK- suggestion here is to slow cook (I use the Instant Pot because it does EVERYTHING) a roast or shoulder of beef or pork and then shred it. Ready for salad at a moments notice.

SEAFOOD- not all fish is suited to salads, due to flavour or texture; my favourite salad fish is salmon, it flakes like a dream and takes on many flavours, and if you purchase is correctly then you won’t run into any off putting fishy flavour. Shrimp, lump crab or lobster are bougie-ass addition to any salad that I am here for.

SEAFOOD DO- when using fish in a salad, pair with a citrus based dressing to, again, offset any potential fishiness.

TOFU- you knew I was going to say tofu, didn’t you, lol?! Tofu is the chicken of the veg world, plays well in so many different applications. Here’s the deal, tofu MUST be completely dry if you plan on roasting it or frying/sauteeing, if not, sogginess ensues. Always use extra firm tofu and to get all the liquid out, place it in between a clean cloth and then weight it down to squeeze out any liquid. Do this for 30 minutes, and then proceed.

Beyond Meat/Impossible Burger- these two are new on the map, the latter is unfortunately not yet available in Canada (come on!) but these are both FANTASTIC ground meat alternatives, that aren’t full of junk and taste pretty legit. They are perfect for those who are completely veg and those dipping their toes in. I’ve tasted both and they are really good- like REALLY good! Cook them and then crumble them into your salads!

COMBINATION- as a vegetarian you must be concerned with getting enough COMPLETE protein; meaning some food has protein, but they are incomplete, so the body isn’t able to use them effectively. Combining different foods can complete, said, incomplete proteins. For instance, combining legumes like lentils with almonds, will complete a protein; or chickpeas with walnuts. So if you are making a veg salad this is something to consider.


unDRESS ME (salad dressing…)

Some people eat salad without dressing, and those people are monsters that we will not mention; for the rest of us, dressing is key to enjoying a plate full of veggies (among other things), so let’s talk about dressing.

VINAIGRETTE- this is the most popular type of dressing, likely because it’s the easiest to make. Vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and seasonings if you so choose, and voila, dressing. The important thing to remember about vinaigrettes, is they are ALL about balance- too much vinegar and it’s acrid, too much oil feels weird in your mouth and weighs down the greens. So the PERFECT ratio is 1 part vinegar to 3 part oil. That’s it. So add all your ingredients to a mason jar, put the lid on and shake.

CREAMY DRESSING- though the name would suggest cream, not all creamy dressings contain it. I love cream in my coffee, in my smoothies (guilty) but not so much in my dressing. What I can appreciate is a greek yogurt or yogurt/mayo base for a dressing, but consume too much of this stuff and you’ll notice in your clothing. It’s important to remember that when it comes to health benefits of salads, they are often negated once people douse the whole thing in garbage sauce.

UNDRESSED- this type of salad is not as dry as you would think based on the title, because it relies on the combination of hot and cold vegetables to create a sauce. Hear me out.

When roasted vegetables like cauliflower or broccoli are added, hot, to a bowl of greens and sliced yellow pepper, what happens is the heat from the roasted veggies causes the raw vegetables to leach some of their juices out, which acts as a salad dressing. These salads MUST be consumed at the moment they are combined, because the “juices” that lead to successful undressed salad, will be soggy and slimy in about 4 hours.


EQUIPMENT

The creation of salad is not an equipment heavy process, that said, there are a few items that can make your life a whole heck of a lot easier. Here’s my preferred equipment list- chef approved ;)

SALAD SPINNER- watery leaves and herbs ruin salads- point blank. A salad spinner is something you will NOT regret having on hand. BONUS POINTS, the insert of a salad spinner acts as a colander so you are killing two birds!

BUY US / BUY Canada

A GOOD KNIFE- the duller your knife is the more likely you are to batter and bruise your produce that’s to go in your salad. Some vegetables can take the beating, but things like tomatoes, peppers, greens et al lose their texture and integrity when they are manhandled.

AND KNIFE SHARPENER- because you may have knives but are they sharp?!

BUY US / BUY Canada

MASON JARS- so that you can prepare HEAPS of vinaigrettes- that never go off due to the vinegar- have them in your fridge ready to go, all you need to do is shake and dress.

REUSABLE VEGGIE STORAGE BAGS- yes, you can use Ziploc bags, and fear no judgment from me; BUT if you are going to be purchasing lots of vegetables, these bags help the veggies breathe and stay fresher longer, because the quickest way to take the wind out of your salad making sails is to have to throw away food aka money.

BUY US / BUY Canada

SPIRALIZER- this is juuuuust for fun, but if you want to go head first in the deep end with salads, a spiralizer will make your life so fun.

BUY US / BUY Canada


You are now ready to kill the salad game in your kitchen. Rain or shine, sunshine or snow squalls, salad is a food for all seasons!

What's your favourite salad? Old school faves like Caesar or a homegrown creation? Share in the comments!

CBD Spiked Matcha Latte

As per my last post, my love of beverages continues. But this beverage has a purpose, keeping me zen for a day of travel. 

If you’re like me, airports and being “in transit” is stressful. I sweat. I swear. I’ve even cried (it was period week, so you know...). In short, travelling is necessary but not always easy. 

Most of the stress of travel is due in large part to anxiety- is my bag overweight? How early should I arrive? Did they change my gate? Will this TSA agent like me or make my day worse? 

Thing is, most of our anxieties never materialize, but they manage to make the journey more stressful than need be. 

I have three letters for you C. B. D. 


CBD is on everyone’s lips. It’s being touted as a cure all- ultimate pain relief, inflammation scavenger, cancer cure (be careful with this one), and anxiety relief. All of these have merits and as countries like Canada legalize, we will begin to understand so much more about the plant that is cannabis .

Here are the cliff notes on CBD

Cbd is the NON psychoactive compound in cannabis. The one that has all the benefits. Meaning you won’t get high, but you’ll get all the anxiety, pain relief and anti-inflammation benefits.

Thc is the psychoactive compound. You WILL touch the sky with this one. Thc can also make your anxiety worse (re: paranoia will destroy ya). So I would steer clear if you’re wound up naturally.

There are many ways to consume both thc and cbd. In food, infused by tincture or infused oils. Vaped, which is no combustion and often smoked via an oil. Smoked, in your regular, garden variety joint.

When you smoke or vape you get the benefits immediately; when you ingest, it can take up to an hour to feel it. So don’t keep dosing if you don’t feel it, give it some time.

Caveat

Dose is VERY important because you don’t want to get tincted; which is the affectionate term my friends and I use for over doing it. 

KNOW you’re purveyor. Don’t buy your cbd on the street; buyer beware means more in this case than most.

ALWAYS ask questions, which come from knowing WHY you are using cbd in the first place. Anxiety? Pain? Know thyself.

This recipe is a favourite. In my deck of recipe cards for years, but adding the cbd has taken it to another level of amazing.

IF you don’t want to dose up, just use regular coconut oil or omit completely.

And, lastly, you don’t *need* to blend, but it’s what makes the latte frothy; but I’ll leave that to you.

CBD Spiked Matcha Latte

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (or any milk), warmed
  • 1 tsp matcha powder (BUY in US or CANADA)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanill
  • 2 tsp raw hone
  • 1 heaping tsp Omni Botanicals cbd infused coconut oil

Combine all ingredients in a blender until frothy.

 

How do you enjoy CBD? Are you newbie or an old friend to cbd? Share in the comments! 

 

 

The Great Beverage Breakdown

If you know me well, or follow me on Instagram, then you are very much aware that I love beverages- the tame and the not so tame kind. But I get HEAPS of people sliding into my DM's asking me about the myriad of beverages I drink.

  • Is juice bad for me?
  • Coffee of tea?
  • What on earth is bulletproof coffee?
  • Are all rose wines destined to give me a hangover?

So buckle up baby, because this is the GREAT BEVERAGE BREAKDOWN.

NOTE my product faves are listed below each category!


Juice

The amount of questions I get about juice is staggering, and I get it; people are out here saying juice can cure cancer, while some are saying juice will kill you, so what is it?

When talking about juice, quality matters. An orange juice by Tropicana ain't got shit on a juice from a spot like The Village Juicery , so remember that when sourcing your sips.

You'll also hear people talk about juice in two different categories, Raw and Pasteurized- if people are being shady they call it cooked.

Raw is just that, raw and unpasteurized; pasteurization is a high heat process that kills any potential bacteria and allows for shelf stability. While pasteurization is a great thing, when we are talking about juice, beneficial enzymes are far more "powerful" when alive; pasteurization effectively kills the juice.  DON'T WORRY if most of the juice you purchase in mass markets and grocery stores has been pasteurized, I believe when given the choice between a fully loaded yet pasteurized green juice  (by a reputable company) or pop / conventional juice, the green juice is always the better choice.

After a night of imbibing on many a cocktail, green juice- raw or cooked- is often just what the doctor ordered!

NOTE ON JUICE if you have diabetes or any type of metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance etc.) juice is not a great option for you because fibre is what helps to moderate our blood sugar levels, juice is free of fibre. Smoothies are a better choice for you.

HONOURABLE MENTION juice is a VERY wasteful business, having run a business that created custom cold pressed juices I know of what I speak; so our little juice habits can leave a fairly big carbon footprint. But this company closes the LOOP on juicing, making it a guilt free indulgence, check out LOOP Juice and their mission!


toronto food and lifestyle blogger

Kombucha

There was a moment where kombucha was THE beverage on everybody's lips- ultimate hangover cure, liver cleansing dynamo, and gut health wunderkind- and whether you believe the hype or not, Kombucha is pretty boss.

BUT there are a few caveats when considering Kombucha.

Sugar content is VERY important. Many kombucha brands on the market have a loads of sugar in them, it's what makes them taste so yum; that said, you want to watch sugar content, especially if you plan to make this a daily habit. I aim for 5g of sugar or less.

Lately I only have time for Brew Dr. Kombucha, from the Herbal Uplift to the Citrus Hops and most flavours in between, most of their flavours clock in at 5g of sugar AND they taste delicious. One piece of feedback, screw tops. The stubby bottles are cute, but not practical for those of use who enjoy a leisurely sip.

With ALL OF THIS SAID, as I write this I have 1.4L of a kombucha brand with more than 5g of sugar per serving (it has 7g), but can you really fault a woman who loves a sale?!


toronto food and lifestyle blogger

Smoothies

Smoothies are amazing. I have one every single day- save for a lapse in inventory control. That said, not all smoothies are created equal. If you're blending fruit and water or juice and calling it a smoothie, you could very well be doing more harm than good.

Blood sugar is always a concern, especially for women, because blood sugar imbalances can cause hormonal imbalances and you want NOTHING to do with that.

So here's what EVERY smoothie must have in order to be considered "complete".

Fibre- there are many ways to add fibre to your smoothie. Nuts and seeds, like hemp. Vegetables like kale and spinach. Fruits such as berries, where the whole fruit- including seeds- is consumed. This is what will help your body moderate how sugar is regulated in the body after we eat.

Healthy Fats- these are what's going to keep you feeling full and satisfied, without them your smoothies will feel thin from a texture perspective- trust me on this one. Healthy fats can be added via coconut oil, nuts and seeds (LOVE when ingredients can do double duty), coconut cream or coconut manna- the options are many. I prefer coconut manna or oil because it adds a nice flavour.

Protein- the other element that will keep you feeling full and satisfied. The reason why most smoothies fail to satisfy and properly nourish is because they lack the right amount of protein to keep you feeling full. Protein can be added with the use of protein powders- vegan, whey, whatever suits your fancy- or seeds like hemp that offer almost 11g of protein per 3g serving. 

A NOTE ON SMOOTHIES if you consume your smoothie and you get bloated, change ONE THING about the smoothie and notice if anything changes. Sometimes it's the seed you used, sometimes it's your choice of protein; don't just power through with uncomfortable bloating, customize to what your body is telling you.

Brand Favourites

PROTEIN: Genuine Health Fermented Vegan Proteins

HEALTHY FATS: Nutiva Coconut Manna (creamiest smoothies EVER!)


Coffee + Matcha

I get the "coffee is bad for me right?" question weekly and the answer is simple, for some people it's fine, and for others it's not. No diet is one size fits all, it truly comes down to listening to your body.

My mouth loves coffee, my body runs hot and cold with it. I used to get super jittery and restless when I drank coffee, so I gave it up. But I missed it, and I will never cosign living life without the full realm of my personal pleasures, so I did some customizing. 

Here are a few modifications to help your coffee love you back!

JITTERS- one word, bulletproof. Bulletproof coffee is all the rage because it's amazing; and it's simply adding fat to coffee- butter or coconut oil are the most common. There are many benefits to Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT oil) especially when it comes to brain health; however, it's also amazing for relieving coffee jitters. Not gonna lie, I'm not sure why adding fat to coffee works scientifically- I know it helps balance the acidity- but I'm not asking any questions...pass me my java ;)

BLOATING- for some people bloating is a common response to coffee, but it may not actually be the coffee, it could be what your adding to your coffee.

Check your milk boo, might be time to go non dairy (soy, hemp, almond, cashew) OR it could be the sweetener you are using.

So, candida, which is yeast overgrowth, can cause all kinds of problems in your body, but the acidity of coffee mixed with the candida feeding sugar you are sweetening with could be causing you to bloat. 

Try Monkfruit extract or Stevia blended with Vanilla (I make my own mix) which won't feed the the baddies aka candida.

Brand Favourites

Monkfruit in the Raw

toronto food and lifestyle blogger

Matcha

The newest wunderkind food. 4x the antioxidants of regular green tea and full of fibre because the whole leaf is consumed and green- because we love green! Matcha is everything it claims to be, but it takes some doing to make it palatable.

CREAMY MILK- matcha is bitter, a creamy and rich milk (table cream, cashew milk etc.) will help to bring roundness to beverage.

VANILLA- vanilla is the unsung hero of the kitchen, as it creates a depth of flavour in sweet applications that simply cannot be replicated- I tried! ALWAYS have vanilla on hand if you plan on drinking matcha.

SWEETENER- unless you are truly a taste bud gangster, you will likely need to sweeten your matcha. Now don't go wild, we wouldn't want the benefits to be out shadowed by all the sugar, but add a little to make it palatable. I like date syrup, coconut sugar, or monkfruit sweetener.

What is amazing about matcha is that it's a clean energy, meaning no crash and burn, which is nice; so if you struggle with coffee, maybe it's time to give matcha a try!

Brand Favourite

Matcha Ninja


WIIIINE (proclaimed like Oprah giving away vehicles)

Wining and dining is my favourite pass time on the planet. Granted I do what I love for work, so it feels like a hobby, so wining and dining is my hobby- not cheap, but still great!

Wine is lauded and loathed, often in the same breath.

  • Full of antioxidants.
  • Liver killer.
  • Leads to prolonged life.
  • Fertility killer.

Well, wine is all of these things. Which is why the consumption of wine, especially for women, should be considered, depending on where you are in your life. If you're trying to conceive, REAL TALK from your online girlfriend, stop drinking boo, the hormonal imbalances that are the result of lots of drinking is going to dampen your conception efforts; again, I'm no MD but this is advice given almost universally. Want da bebe? Put down da wine ;)

But if you're out here trying to live it up, here are some tips.

SUGAR CONTENT- hangovers are a direct result of sugar content. And since we are DEEP into Rose season, here's what you should know. Anything less than 5g is perfect; and it's not a white vs. red debate, it's a dry vs. sweet debate. Pinot on both sides (Grigio + Noir) are the lowest sugar content wines. Spritz with La Croix to moderate the sugar content; this also happens to be the move if you are trying to day drink all day #Maturity. 

Look, we've all been in a pinch when the liquor store only has cheap, sweet wine, so do what you've got to do.

LIVER HEALTH- the liver is tasked with detoxifying our bodies from meds, booze, environmental chemicals- everything; so if we can help our livers during the most trying time (read: summer) then we should.

Lemon + water in the am is my daily move; it's THE daily move. Lemons help cleanse the liver naturally. But this MUST be a daily habit, or else it's kind of useless.

Liver Detox Pill- now these are the BIG guns, but if you're going for it this summer, these can only stand to help you. DISCLAIMER I'm no doctor, so take this info for what it's worth, EDUCATIONAL purposes ;)

HANGOVER- simple, eat before bed, something carby if you can; and have a huge glass of water. It's called maturity, and it's quite nice!

Brand Favourites

Nature's Way Milk Thistle- helps detox the liver and cannot be overdosed on!


Whew...we made it. And now you're ready to sip like you mean it!

What's your favourite beverage of the moment?

6 Ingredient Pesto To Add to Your Meal Plan

toronto food and lifestyle blogger

I am a lover of sauce. It is my belief as a chef, foodie and woman of common sense that sauces are how we create dynamic, satisfying meals. But what I often see, that makes me go "hmmm" is people buying sauces that would be better homemade. 

And no, I'm not asking you to spend hours in the kitchen making sauces, instead I present to you a 6 ingredient pesto that will transform your meals!


  • 1 cup shelled raw pistachios, soaked 15 minutes and drained
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt + Pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and combine until smooth. Add water if needed. Et VOILA, a sauce that took you 6 minutes, with six ingredients.

You're Welcome ;)

Juice You Can Feel Proud To Drink

I often say that my life is a series of beverages spread throughout the day; don’t believe me? Peep my Instagram.


I am happy to admit that I drink many of my calories. That said, my juice habits leave some room for improvement- mainly all the waste produced in the process of juicing.

Now, there are amazing brands like NudFud that use pulp in their AMAZING crackers and snack options and my new favourite LOOP Juice is taking it to another level.

Because did you know that your daily or weekly juice habit is leaving a negative carbon footprint? I KNOOOOOW, I was slightly oblivious too. But the facts are this, almost half of the worlds fruit and vegetables are wasted simply because they don’t meet aesthetic standards that grocery stores require. Not only is this rude but it’s wasteful. 

This is where LOOP Juice steps in and uses the discarded produce that doesn’t make it from farm to grocery, for whatever reason (shape, size, bumps, bruises); which means we can all feel good about the juice we drink.


But WAIT, there’s more!

There’s a reason why this juice is called LOOP, and it’s not because they closed the loop between farm and supermarket; this still begs the question, what about the pulp? 

In a GENIUS move, LOOP Juice repurposes the pulp from juice to make high fibre, nutrient dense, full of the good stuff doggy treats. I meeeean!

I love a beverage- like LOVE, but what makes me love this beverage THE MOST is that I can feel good about the whole process from start to finish.

LOOP deserves a cheer.

Sip Sip HOORAY!