Month in Review: January 2015

January is a busy month for a lot of us as we try to get back to real life after the holidays. So I’ve rounded up all my January posts in case you’ve missed any this past month!

Month In Review - January 2015

// Chelsea’s Healthy Kitchen recipes

I kicked off the new month and new year with this Kale Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Toasted Almonds, and Parmesan. With so many great flavours in it, this recipe might make all you kale haters think again!

Kale Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Toasted Almonds, and Parmesan

I’ve been on a huge omelette kick these past few months, so I shared one of my favourite versions: this Shallot and Gruyere Omelette.

Shallot and Gruyère Omelette

I make My Favourite Everyday Banana Oatmeal for breakfast almost every day (hence the name of the recipe). It covers pretty much all of my meal essentials: it’s fast, it’s easy, it’s healthy, and it’s delicious.

My favourite everyday banana oatmeal

This Broccoli with Cheese Sauce and Toasted Pine Nuts is a jazzed up version of a childhood favourite. It’s kid (and picky boyfriend) approved!

Broccoli with cheese sauce and crushed toasted pine nuts

// Chelsea’s Healthy Kitchen blog posts

Shortly after the new year started, I had Andrea D’Ambrosio from Dietetic Directions guest post about tips to overcome “all or nothing” mental sabotage. This is a great post to come back to if you’re currently working on any goals.

For Christmas JZ got me a hands on cooking class at Dish Cooking Studio in Toronto.  It was such a fun night of food, wine, and good conversation!

Dish Cooking Studio

For all you ice cream lovers out there who opt for fro yo as a healthier treat, read this post about why fro yo isn’t healthier than ice cream (sorry to burst your bubbles!).

Towards the end of the month I went to the launch of Taste of Burlington and got to try samples from all the participating restaurants. I can’t wait to go try out some of their prix fixe menus next month!

Taste of Burlington - Eatalia

// Blogging

Previous to now, I’d been using my old blogger account to read blogs. But I finally bit the bullet and signed up for Bloglovin, which I love already. Except for the fact that I’ve added like 20 blogs on top of the ones I was already reading, so it’s turning into a major time suck – ha!

If you’re not already following me and want to do so, click this button to add me:

I was shocked one morning to wake up and find out that my blog made its first appearance on Huffington Post in this round up of omelette recipes! I don’t know how they found my recipe, but I’m so flattered it was included!

This month I also joined Mode Media – hence the new ad and logo on my sidebar. This partnership may give me the opportunity to do more sponsored posts in the future, which is something I’m nervous about. I’d like to make more of an income from this blog, but at the same time I want to keep providing content that is true to me. I think if I keep sponsored posts to a minimum and only partner with brands that are a natural fit for my blog, it won’t be disruptive to my content, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

// Off the blog

I had to make a tough job related decision this month, but it taught me a lot about the importance of finding a good professional fit. Ultimately my values as a dietitian is what’s important to me.

I started reading this fantastic book by Timothy Caulfield. If you want an informative, no BS read about fitness, diet, and health, I highly recommend it!

book, tea, and cookies

What were the highlights of your month?

Taste of Burlington Winter 2015 Launch

After Christmas here in the GTA, social media starts buzzing with talk of Winterlicious in Toronto. But what most people don’t know is that we have our own prix fixe dining program here in sleepy old Burlington. Actually, we’re not so sleepy lately with all the howling coyotes keeping me up. But anyway, to kick off Winter 2015’s Taste of Burlington there was a launch event last Tuesday. For $30 we got to try  samples from all of the participating restaurants to pique our interest in trying their tasting menus come February 22. Well, I’m officially interested.

(I just want to quickly stop here and apologize for the horrid photo quality in this post – I just didn’t feel like lugging around my DSLR at this event while juggling plates of food, so I stuck to using my iPhone)

Taste of Burlington Winter 2015

We started our evening at West Plains Bistro‘s stand, a restaurant where I always have a good meal. Their offering was salmon en croûte with goat cheese, asparagus, and sundried tomato finished with a vodka cream reduction. The flavours were spot on, although the puff pastry was slightly soft due to being precooked and held in a warmer. This was still my favourite dish of the night though!

Taste of Burlington - West Plains Bistro

I was pleasantly surprised by the Beaver and Bulldog‘s healthy vegetarian option: a quinoa salad with chickpeas, dried cranberries, feta, scallions, and pumpkin seeds. This definitely put this restaurant on my radar as a healthy lunch option when I’m downtown!

At Eatalia‘s stand I had a panko crusted salmon cake topped with caper aioli and lemon dressed micro greens. That aioli totally made the dish – yum! Honestly I’ve been to Eatalia before for drinks, but I’ve always overlooked their food. Perhaps that should change?

Taste of Burlington - Eatalia

Paradiso is a restaurant I usually love, but I was a bit let down by the lack of flavour in their braised beef and mac & cheese fried balls. Despite this flop in my eyes, I know they serve a great meal at the restaurant – especially their crab cakes and fish – and I definitely plan on returning!

Pepperwood Bistro had a delicious spoon of smoked bacon wrapped meatloaf on Yukon gold potato puree. Oh man was this ever good! I would gladly devour a full sized plate of that.

Taste of Burlington - Pepperwood

Rayhoon is a Persian restaurant that’s a newer addition to downtown Burlington, and a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try. They were serving up Aush Reshteh soup made with herbs, beans, and noodles topped with cream sauce, mint infused oil, and fried onions. The flavour was really unique, but it grew on me the more I ate it. It sounds weird, but the best part of this soup was actually its mouth feel – it was so soft and velvety!

Taste of Burlington - Rayhoon

SB Prime‘s butternut squash gnocchi with rabbit confit had me excited, but I found the flavours to be flat. I would have liked an exciting punch of flavour in the dish to make it stand out!

From the Waterstreet Cooker I had a roasted root vegetable and baby kale salad with goat cheese and quinoa granola. The granola was such a cool addition. I enjoyed all the flavours in this, however I didn’t taste any dressing on it. I’m not sure whether it was left off intentionally or by mistake! But I think the salad would have benefited from some moistness to tie it together.

Taste of Burlington - Waterstreet Cooker

We wrapped up our tasting spree with a chocolate brownie with ice cream from Wendel Clark’s. This unfortunately fell a bit flat for me. The brownie was fairly good, but it was served in soupy ice cream that was lacking in richness. It was good (how can any brownie and ice cream not be good?) but just not spectacular.

Taste of Burlington - Wendel Clark's

We ravaged our way through the samples and left merely an hour after arriving – guess we  were on a mission! But I’m looking forward to checking out the tasting menu at one (or hopefully more!) of these restaurants at the end of February.

Looking for more posts about local food events? Check out these:

Delicious Food Show 2014
Veg Food Fest 2014
London Wine and Food Show
Savour Stratford Culinary Festival

Broccoli with Cheese Sauce and Toasted Pine Nuts

I wasn’t always so gung ho about vegetables. Just like most other children, I was skeptical of new foods and needed some prompting to eat my vegetables.

So my dad came up with the idea of serving us broccoli with cheese sauce. Made with just a simple roux, milk, and shredded cheese, it was a 5 minute solution to get us to eat our veggies. And it worked! My sister and I would gobble them up and even ask for seconds!

Broccoli with cheese sauce and crushed toasted pine nuts

As I got older I found I liked the taste of broccoli on its own – especially roasted – so I haven’t thought about that cheese sauce in years. That is until I started dating JZ who has the taste buds of a 5 year old (and I say that in a loving way). So I’ve had to get creative with my veggies and whip out that cheese sauce for broccoli, maple glaze for roasted carrots, gremolata for green beans… basically anything to disguise the fact that I’m actually serving vegetables. So far everything has been a hit, I think (except for coleslaw!), but he especially loved that broccoli with cheese sauce.

I was inspired to add the pine nuts on top after I went to Beast in the fall and had rapini with spiced buttermilk aioli and pine nut crumble. The aioli wasn’t a cheese sauce, but it reminded me of the one from my childhood and gave me the idea to merge the two dishes into this one.

I used Gruyere, but you could really use any hard cheese like cheddar or Gouda or Parmesan. Or hey, go crazy and do a blend of cheeses. Either way, you can’t go wrong with cheese sauce, am I right?

Broccoli with cheese sauce and crushed toasted pine nuts

Broccoli with Cheese Sauce and Toasted Pine Nuts
 
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Steamed broccoli with an easy homemade cheese sauce. Toasted pine nuts on top add a great nutty flavour and texture to the dish!
Author:
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ lb broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 15 g butter (about 1 tbsp)
  • 30 g flour (about 3 tbsp)
  • ¾ cup of low fat milk
  • ⅓ cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp pepper or more to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small pan, toast the pine nuts over low heat (watching them carefully!) until they are golden in colour. Let them cool, then crush them in a mortar with a pestle. Add ¼ tsp of salt and then set aside.
  2. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Then add the flour, and whisk it into the butter for about a minute. Add about ¼ cup of the milk and whisk it in until smooth, then add the rest of the milk, grated cheese, and salt and pepper. Stir until thickened then remove from the heat.
  3. Place the broccoli florets in about 1 inch of water in a pot with a lid. Bring to a boil and let the broccoli steam until it is bright in colour. Drain and place broccoli in a serving dish. Top with cheese sauce and crushed pine nuts.

Broccoli with cheese sauce and crushed toasted pine nuts

How do you jazz up your vegetables?

Why fro yo isn’t healthier than ice cream

Fro yo. The biggest fast food dessert craze to hit North America since Blizzards and McFlurries. It’s cold, it’s creamy, it’s sweet, and best of all, it’s healthy! Or so the companies tell you. I mean, it’s yogurt, so it’s basically a health food right?

Why fro yo isn't healthier than ice cream

Okay, you guys are probably smart enough to know that fro yo is far from a health food. But I wanted to write this post to highlight how seriously ridiculous it is to think that fro yo is a nutritious choice.

So to prove my point, check out the nutrition facts for the French Vanilla fro yo from Yogurty’s, a popular Canadian chain:

French vanilla fro yo nutrition

That’s 120 calories and 22 g of sugar in a half cup serving. And this doesn’t include all the fudge sauce, M&Ms, chocolate chips, and gummy bears that inevitably make their way on top of your fro yo (which easily add another 200 plus calories to your bowl). Now compare that to the nutrition information for the same size serving of Breyers French vanilla ice cream:

Breyers French Vanilla ice cream nutrition facts

It also 120 calories for a half cup serving, but it’s actually 6 g lower in sugar!

Now I should mention that Breyers ice cream is filled with additives like guar gum and cellulose gum, which decrease its caloric density. If you look at Haagen Dazs – which is real ice cream made with just cream, milk, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla – it has a much higher caloric density and fat content (250 calories and 17 g fat in a half cup). But a) most ice cream from ice cream shops is probably more similar to the Breyers ice cream, and b) when you eat ice cream, you don’t tend to put any toppings on it because you want to let the richness of the ice cream shine through, so even a serving of Haagen Dazs may end up being even less calories than fro yo loaded with toppings.

Bottom line: Just eat the damn ice cream!* Or have fro yo if that’s what you prefer. But my point is if you think you’re making a healthier choice by opting for the latter… you’re not.

*Obligatory dietitian clarification: in moderation

Looking for more nutrition posts? Check out these:

Are “healthy choices” on restaurant menus actually healthy?
Is coconut oil good for you?
How to choose a healthy granola bar

My favourite everyday banana oatmeal

Back in high school, I was intense. About school, that is. I would spend all my time on homework and I wasn’t satisfied with anything less than a 98%. Now before you go thinking I was a total hermit, I did have a great group of friends who I hung out with on weekends – but in hindsight I took high school way too seriously and didn’t have as much fun as I should have.

My favourite everyday banana oatmeal

Luckily I loosened up in my second year of university and learned to balance school work with the fun that comes along with being of legal drinking age. However, I was still an overachiever and spent many a weekend cooped up in my apartment studying and working on papers.

So now that I’m done school and done my dietetic internship, I have been taking a much needed break and trying to live life stress free. I know this isn’t going to be my life forever (in fact – I’m starting a job soon!), but it’s been nice to just take life slowly for a while before jumping into the working world.

My slow pace of life as of late is why it has taken me so long to post this oatmeal recipe, even though I’ve been making this exact same oatmeal recipe almost every day since the summer!

My favourite everyday banana oatmeal

I used to always make my oatmeal on the stove top using rolled oats, but that changed over the summer when I was visiting Hayley in England. While I was there I had quick oatmeal made with boiling water from the kettle every morning, and realized I liked it just as much. So I’ve kept making it this way since it’s so much easier.

This banana oatmeal is my favourite go-to healthy breakfast because it’s so packed with nutrition! Fibre from the oats, banana, and chia seeds, healthy fats and protein in the chia seeds and almond butter (I use Barney Butter), and a plethora of vitamins and minerals to boot. And while it tastes great as is, you can also boost up its nutrition even more by adding additional toppings like coconut, dried fruit, fresh berries, hemp hearts, or granola.

My favourite everyday banana oatmeal

My favourite everyday banana oatmeal
 
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This easy banana oatmeal with almond butter takes under 2 minutes to make in the morning and tastes seriously delicious! Oh, and it's healthy too.
Author:
Yield: 1 serving
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup quick oats
  • 1.5 tsp chia seeds
  • Heaping ⅕ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup low fat milk (I use 1%)
  • ⅓ cup boiling water (or more)
  • 2 tbsp egg whites (optional)
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp almond butter
Instructions
  1. In a microwave safe bowl combine the oats, chia seeds, cinnamon, milk, and boiling water (and optional egg whites).
  2. Microwave for about 60 seconds, or longer if needed.
  3. Add sliced banana and stir to mix it in, then top with a scoop of your favourite nut butter.
  4. Optional: add any other desired toppings, such as granola, shredded coconut, fresh berries, hemp hearts, dried fruit, etc.

Looking for more healthy breakfast recipes? You might like:

Apple butter granola
Kefir breakfast bowl
Mango goji coconut oatmeal