Kefir breakfast bowl

I’m having a bit of a love affair with kefir these days.

I’m not going to lie – the first time I tried it several years ago, it was definitely not love at first bite. It was way too tangy for my liking. But now that my taste buds have adapted to plain Greek yogurt, I found that I really enjoyed kefir when I recently gave it another try.

For those of you who are currently thinking “ke-what?!”, let me back track for a second. Kefir is a fermented milk product that is similar to yogurt, however it’s thinner, slightly fizzy (although there are non-fizzy varieties too), and actually contains even more live cultures than yogurt. The brand I buy has 37 billion good-for-you bacteria in just 100 ml! And like other dairy products, kefir is a good source of protein, B vitamins, and calcium.

I’ve been experimenting with kefir for the past several weeks, and this breakfast bowl is hands down my favourite way to eat it. It’s just like overnight oats, but no overnight wait required – this breakfast is ready in seconds!

Kefir breakfast bowl

Kefir breakfast bowl
Gluten free, nut free

Serves 1

1/3 cup quick rolled oats
1.5 tbsp chia seeds
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup plain kefir
1 banana, sliced
Toppings: berries, sliced banana, coconut flakes, granola, hemp seeds, goji berries, nut butter, or any other desired toppings

Mix together the rolled oats, chia seeds, and cinnamon in a bowl. Pour the kefir over top and stir. It will be quite thick already, and it will continue to get thicker as you let it sit. Feel free to add more/less kefir to your liking. Then stir in the banana and add your desired toppings.

kefir breakfast bowl

Have you ever tried kefir?

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O’Finn’s Irish Temper

Do you guys ever see something that you really want on a restaurant menu… and then order something else?

I do that sometimes for various reasons. Maybe it’s because I get influenced by what my dining companion ordered. Or because I want to get something healthier. Or because I want to order something more seasonally appropriate. Or because the other person wants to split some appetizers instead. Or because the dish has one ingredient in it that I don’t like, and I don’t want to annoy the kitchen by asking them to modify it. Or any other number of reasons.

O'Finn's Irish Temper

This happened to me last summer at O’Finn’s Irish Temper when I went there with Sam for lunch. When we sat down and started perusing the menu, immediately the “Root mash shepherd’s pie” jumped out at me. But was 30°C and the middle of summer – the last thing I wanted was a meal that would make me feel even hotter! So I ordered a chicken Caesar wrap. And it was good… but I couldn’t get that shepherd’s pie off my mind.

So this weekend I went back to O’Finn’s Irish Temper with JZ to get that shepherd’s pie, and it was every bit as good as I’d imagined. It was made with a buttery potato, parsnip, and sweet potato topping with a ground lamb mixture on the bottom. It was comfort food at its finest!

O'Finn's Irish Temple shepherd's pie

We also split a large size Caesar salad, which was pretty standard but made with a great house made dressing.

O'Finn's Irish Temple caesar salad

JZ got the Farmhouse pizza for his entree, which was made on a thin crust made from scratch and topped with house cured bacon, fennel seed pepperoni, quail eggs, sweet roasted garlic, chili spiked tomato sauce, and smoked mozzarella. I had a bite and thought it was good, but would have been even better on a thicker crust – but that’s just personal preference.

O'Finn's Irish Temper pizza

All in all a good meal. And I’m glad I finally satisfied my curiosity about the shepherd’s pie! Except now I’m dying to go back to try their “farm fresh bowl” with quinoa, beets, chickpeas, and all sorts of good stuff in it. Hopefully I won’t make myself wait another 9 months to go back this time!

Have you ever not ordered what you really wanted at a restaurant? Did you ever go back to finally order it?

O'Finns Irish Temper on Urbanspoon

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Cookbook review: The Oh She Glows Cookbook

This post is a part of my cookbook review series. Previous posts include:
Veganomicon
Fresh Food Fast
Clean Food

About four and a half years ago, I started reading the blog Oh She Glows. It was at a time in my life when I needed guidance, and Angela’s blog turned out to be exactly the inspiration I needed. Full of stories about her journey to finding self happiness, she motivated me to do the same while also trying out her nourishing vegan recipes along the way.

The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Fast forward to now and she’s finally released the Oh She Glows cookbook – which I pre-ordered and then jumped with excitement when it arrived. I’ve been cooking from it like a madwoman, and I have to say, everything I’ve made has been fantastic! But we’ll get to that in a second. First I want to mention some other features of the book.

Things I like about the cookbook:

  • Stunning photography! I swear, even if I didn’t already read her blog, this book definitely would have caught my eye at the bookstore because of the gorgeous food pictures.
  • It’s divided by recipe type with mini table of contents for each recipe section. It’s very organized and easy to navigate!
  • Her recipes are always suitable for multiple dietary needs and preferences (gluten free, nut free, vegan, soy free, grain free, etc). And when a recipe isn’t suitable, she often makes suggestions for how to adapt it.

Things I don’t like about the cookbook:

  • I may be hesitant to make some of the entree recipes for my unadventurous, meat-loving, vegetable-fearing friends and family. I know I could win them over with the desserts though!

Recipes I’ve tried from the cookbook:

1. Gluten Free Chocolate Almond Brownies

Gluten Free Chocolate Almond Brownies - Oh She Glows Cookbook

So far this is my #1 favourite recipe from the book. They are seriously the fudgiest, richest “healthy” brownies I’ve ever made – you can’t even tell they are vegan and gluten free!

2. Protein Power Goddess Bowl

Protein Power Goddess Bowl - Oh She Glows Cookbook

With chewy wheat berries, mild lentils, nutrient packed kale, and a sauce with tahini, lemon, and garlic, how could you go wrong? This is such a flavourful salad that’s perfect to make ahead for weekday lunches. And the flavours get even better as it sits in the fridge for a day or two!

3. Glo Bars

Glo Bars - Oh She Glows Cookbook

Angela used to make these and sell them at a local farmers’ market that’s just 20 minutes away from me, but I could never buy them because of the nut butter in them. So I was ecstatic to see a recipe for them in the cookbook so that I could finally make them myself. All I did was sub soy nut butter for the peanut butter to make them nut free, and the result was delicious: healthier, tastier, and way cheaper than any packaged granola bar I’ve ever bought.

4. Empowered Noodle Bowl with Orange-Maple Miso Dressing

Empowered Noodle Bowl - Oh She Glows Cookbook

Lots of great flavours in this dish! Next time I might make the dressing a bit thicker by omitting the tablespoon of water, but that’s just personal preference. She also gives the recipe for a peanut sauce (I would make it with sunflower seed butter) that I’m sure would taste fantastic with these noodles too.

5. Marinated balsamic, maple, and garlic tempeh

Marinated balsamic, maple, and garlic tempeh - Oh She Glows Cookbook

This totally stunk up my kitchen, but it was worth it – this tempeh is amazing! For all you tempeh skeptics, this is a great recipe to try that really masks the strong taste of tempeh that some people have a hard time getting used to.

6. African peanut soup

African peanut soup - Oh She Glows Cookbook

I had to replace the peanut butter with sunflower seed butter because of my allergy, but it still tasted great. Nut/seed butter in soup sounds weird, but it really works! It also makes it a lot more filling than your average soup because of all the healthy fats.

To wrap this up – the gist of what I’m saying is if you’re vegan, gluten free, have dietary restrictions, or just enjoy healthy cooking, I highly recommend this book. And heck, even if you’re none of these things, you might surprise yourself by how much you will enjoy these recipes!

What’s your favourite recipe from Oh She Glows’ blog or cookbook?

What blog has had the most influence on you?

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What I ate Wednesday: Weekend Edition

Hey friends!

It’s not often I participate this link up anymore because I don’t have as much time, I don’t take as many pictures, and frankly, I tend to make a lot of boring food lately. My heavy rotation of oatmeal, stir fries, bean and quinoa salads, and fried eggs certainly aren’t anything worth blogging about. But this weekend happened to be full of good eats, so I thought I’d reunite with What I Ate Wednesday this week!

To kick off the weekend, a s’mores sundae from Jack Astor’s that I split with JZ. Didn’t manage to snatch a picture because we gobbled it up too quickly, but it looked just like this.

A Tamp Coffee Co latte enjoyed on a windy stroll around downtown.

Tamp Coffee Co latte

Game night food: baked chicken fingers (made from this recipe – highly recommend it!) and potato wedges with veggie sticks and blue cheese dip. This meal was a winner, but sadly the Leafs were not.

Homemade chicken fingers

At least we could console ourselves with chocolate in the form of brownies from Kelly’s Bake Shoppe. JZ was skeptical when I dragged him in the bakery and he saw the “vegan and gluten-free” signs, but he quickly changed his mind when he tried the brownies. That place is magical, I tell you.

Kelly's Bake Shoppe brownie

French toast with banana, almond butter, and maple syrup for breakfast the next day. Never gets old.

French toast with banana

Followed by a lunch date with my best friend at Lettuce Love Cafe. I haven’t had the Buddha Bowl in ages, so I decided to go for my old favourite.

Buddha Bowl Lettuce Love Cafe

With a side of mint chlorophyll Rise Kombucha, which was the perfect refresher for the whopping 13 degree celsius weather on Sunday – I finally felt warm outside for the first time in months!

Rise Kombucha mint chlorophyll

And to finish off the weekend, a little bit of recipe testing done in a rush in attempt to catch the last hour of daylight for picture-taking.

Skillet pasta

I hope to have a post for this one up soon – stay tuned!

What’s the best thing you ate over the weekend?

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Pita Break Zero Low Low OneBun Review + Hummus and Feta Veggie Sandwich

Out of all the products at the grocery store, I think bread is one of the most confusing products in terms of nutrition. The saying “looks can be deceiving” has never been truer. A loaf may look like it’s full of the good stuff, but when you turn it over and look at the label, often times “whole grain flour” isn’t even the first ingredient! And even when you do find a loaf of real whole grain bread, it’s often full of preservatives and unpronounceable additives.

Pita Break Zero Low Low OneBun

But recently Ozery’s Pita Break contacted me and told me about their new Zero Low Low OneBuns, which come in two varieties (sprouted wheat/light rye), and are:

  • Free of added sugar
  • Low in sodium
  • Low in fat
  • Free of artificial preservatives
  • A source of fibre
  • A source of iron

What I liked most about these buns though is their ingredient lists:

Sprouted wheat: Sprouted whole grain wheat flour, filtered water, wheat gluten, yeast, cultured wheat starch, citric acid, sea salt, guar gum. Contains wheat. May contain sesame seeds.

Light rye: Whole grain whole wheat flour including the germ, filtered water, light rye flour, sour dough (organic unbleached flour, filtered water, yeast, sea salt, sunflower oil), yeast, cultured wheat starch, citric acid, sea salt. Contains wheat. May contain sesame seeds.

Nothing funky in there right? All pronounceable, whole food ingredients that you would probably use in your own home baking. Now that’s a bread product I can get on board with!

So how did they taste? A lot better than some of those other cardboardy thin buns I’ve tried. Overall I really liked them, and they make a perfect vehicle for sandwiches, burgers, and even mini pizzas. This sandwich is one of my latest favourites:

10April5

Hummus and feta veggie sandwich
Nut free, egg free, vegan option

Makes 4

4 buns (or 8 slices of bread)
3/4 cup of hummus
3 oz. feta cheese (replace with olives for vegan option)
2 medium carrots, in thin slices
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1 small avocado, mashed
Optional: lettuce, tomato

Assemble and enjoy!

10April4

What’s your favourite healthy brand of bread?

I was provided with Pita Break Zero Low Low OneBuns to review free of charge. No other compensation was provided and all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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Sesame soy tofu

It seems like just yesterday I was posting about starting a new rotation in GI Surgery… but now 5 weeks have passed and I’m on to a new rotation in Trauma/Surgery at a different hospital. This ward is actually pretty similar to the one I was on before, which isn’t common in internship because the idea is to expose us to as much variety as possible. But I’m pretty happy about it because it means I’m really getting a chance to practice in this setting and become good at it. I’m actually already noticing an improvement in my skills – by the end of these next 4 weeks I’ll be doing it in my sleep!

Sesame soy tofu

It’s kind of like this tofu recipe.

I’ve made this tofu too many times to count, which has given me lots of time to experiment and perfect it. I know it only calls for a few ingredients, but I played around with ingredient ratios for ages until I found the best one. Now it’s like a no brainer for me. Hopefully I’ll soon be able to say the same about being a surgery floor dietitian!

Sesame soy tofu

Sesame soy tofu
Vegan, gluten free, nut free

Serves 2-4

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2.5 tbsp low sodium tamari
1 block tofu
Optional: 2 green onions + 2 tbsp sesame seeds

In a small bowl whisk together the rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Pour into a large shallow dish such as a rectangular glass baking dish.

Then press out the water from the tofu and slice into rectangles or triangles. Place them in the marinade and let sit for about 15 minutes. Then flip over each of the pieces and let marinate for another 15 minutes.

Pan fry until golden brown on each side and serve with sliced green onions and sesame seeds if desired.

Sesame soy tofu

This recipe is one of my favourite ways to eat tofu because it’s so versatile – it’s great on its own paired with some side dishes, or it’s also delicious in salads, rice bowls, and stir fries.

What is a recipe that you make all the time?

This post is linked up with Healthy Vegan Fridays over at Hello Veggy’s Blog – check it out here!

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8 lessons I’ve learned about blogging (& my 4th blog birthday!)

Do you remember in my last post how I mentioned that I’m bad at celebrating holidays? Well that applies to my own milestones as well. Because it just so happens that Friday was my four year anniversary of blogging – and I totally missed it. Oops! But better late than never right?

To celebrate my 4th blogging anniversary, I decided to share with you guys some of the lessons I’ve learned about blogging over the years. Maybe one of these years I’ll actually learn how to put up posts on time!

8 lessons I've learned about blogging

1. Don’t be scared to make a big change: This year I changed my blog name, got my own domain, and went self hosted. I’m not going to lie – it was pretty intimidating and I had to pay for some help since that kind of stuff is way over my head. But I’m so glad I did it. I feel like my new blog fits my vision a lot better and therefore has given me a lot more confidence when sharing it with others and pursuing blogging opportunities.

2. Find your focus: When I first started blogging, I had no idea what my niche was. I would post about new recipes, recipes I tried from other blogs, my workouts, my thoughts on health topics, and other tidbits from my life. And looking back, I can admit that it was unfocused and sloppy! So over the years I experimented with fitting in different niches – I tried being an eating disorder recovery role model, then I focused on posting about my nutrition program, then I tried to be more of an exercise blog, and finally I turned back into a food-centric blog. But it wasn’t really until I became Chelsea’s Healthy Kitchen that I gained a strong vision of my blog as a food blog focusing on food I eat, make, and experience, with a dash of nutrition thrown in there for flavour. Now that I have that focus, I find it a lot easier to design my posts to fit with that vision.

3. You don’t have to blog about everything: This goes hand-in-hand with #2. Once I found my focus, I stopped posting about every aspect of my life because not everything I do is going to fit within my blogging niche. I went for a run yesterday, but am I going to post about it? No – I’m not a running blog. I had a fun weekend in London with my old roommates – but am I going to post about it? No – I’m not a lifestyle blog. Sometimes even if topics fit within my niche, I still don’t post about them because I don’t have the time, I didn’t bring my camera with me, or I just plain don’t feel like it. And hey, that’s a good enough reason for me.

4. Get a bit personal: No matter what kind of blog you write, throw some personality in there. Otherwise reading your blog will be a total snooze. I made that mistake at one point. I thought that in order to be a more serious food blog, I had to cut out anything personal from my posts. Wrong-o. Readers like to connect with the author – that’s what keeps them coming back!

5. Don’t be a lemming: Within any category of blogs, you’re going to find a lot of bloggers doing the same thing, whether that be all cooking with the same ingredient, trying out the same workouts, posting discussions on the same topic, or participating in the same link up. It can be tempting to follow the crowds and just do what everyone else is doing, but guess what? It’s okay to be different. Do your own thing and let yourself stand out!

6. It’s better to post less good quality content than more half-assed content: As I’ve mentioned a few times before, I don’t have as much time to blog this year because of my internship. And sure I probably could have kept up with posting 3-4 times per week if I really wanted to, but the quality of my posts would have really suffered. So instead I opted to post more like twice a week which has allowed me to put a lot of effort into writing posts I can be proud of. And as a result I’ve had more of my recipes shared on social media, more opportunities to work with companies, and more posts accepted to recipe sites than ever!

7. Just because your blog isn’t professional quality, that doesn’t mean it’s not good: Sure we all want to be like those big bloggers who have followers in the millions, take gorgeous quality photos, and make a decent salary off their blog alone. But before we compare ourselves to them, we have to remember that often their job is their blog so they have the luxury of investing a lot of time in it. And even if you’re not at that point (yet?), it doesn’t mean your blog isn’t good. You’ve still got good content, a unique voice, and a following of readers who have connected with you and enjoy reading your blog – so be proud of that!

8. Blog because you love it: Not to become popular, not to make money, and not to get a book deal. Because they might not happen. So ultimately it has to be your love of blogging that keeps you going – that’s what has done it for me!

I probably should have added a 9th lesson to say that I’ve learned that other bloggers and blog readers are amazing. Seriously. Thank you all so much for continuing to read and support my little corner of the internet. I’ve enjoyed connecting with each and every one of you! And if you haven’t commented yet – please do, hey? I’d love to hear from you!

Do you agree with any of the lessons I’ve learned? What have you learned from blogging?

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Apple cinnamon oatmeal pancakes for one

I can be a bit of a Debbie Downer. A Lame Lauren. A Party Poopin’ Petunia… okay now I’m just making these up. Point is, I suck at celebrating holidays.

Christmas? I meant to bake cookies for all my friends, but got busy and forgot. Canada Day? Tried to make a Canadian themed cheesecake, and when that failed I just stayed in and ate the mediocre leftovers instead of going out to see the fireworks. Halloween? I don’t even think I celebrated it this year.

So a few weeks ago when I realized Mardi Gras was coming up, I made it my mission to eat pancakes that day. And guess what? I did. I’m a little late on posting this recipe mind you, but at least I celebrated. Baby steps, folks.

Apple cinnamon oatmeal panckakes

Apple cinnamon oatmeal pancakes
Gluten free and dairy free

Serves 1

1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup rolled oats, ground into a flour
1/2 small apple, shredded (or 1/3 of a medium sized apple)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup egg whites
2 tbsp almond milk
Remainder of the apple, chopped
1/2 tsp cinammon
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp maple syrup

Cut the apple in half – shred one half and chop the other half. Then add the chopped apple only to a pan with 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/3 cup of water. Let cook over medium low heat. If the water gets evaporated, just add more and continue cooking until the apple chunks are soft.

Then in a large bowl mix together the oats, oat flour, shredded apple, cinnamon, and baking powder. Then stir in the vanilla, egg whites, and almond milk. Stir until just combined.

Spray a pancake griddle with non-stick spray and heat it over medium heat. Scoop the batter into three pancakes on the griddle and let cook until golden on the bottom, then flip and cook until done.

Top with the apple chunks, maple syrup, and raisins.

Apple cinnamon oatmeal pancakes

Are you bad at celebrating holidays too?

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Filed under breakfast, recipe

The language of food

One of the things I love about cooking so much, apart from the fact that it involves making delicious food, is that it’s like its own form of communication.

A lot can be said by the simple act of cooking for others. When a parent makes their child his or her favourite food, it’s their way of saying “I love you and want to make you happy”. When someone’s loved one passes away and people bring them casseroles, it says “I’m so sorry for your loss and I’m here to help in any way I can”. When we make someone a birthday cake it says “Hey you’re pretty awesome and deserve to be celebrated today.”

The language of food is one we can all speak and understand.

And as someone who’s not always as good with words, I tend to do a lot of talking through food.

Friday night I made lemon rosemary roast chicken with carrots and baby potatoes for JZ, which said “I love you enough to dissect out the chicken organs by myself and get smushed kidneys all over my bare hands”.

Lemon rosemary roast chicken

For all you Canadians, the recipe was from the Spring 2014 issue of Food and Drink, and I highly recommend it! The brine makes the chicken so tender and moist. It may take an extra day to prepare, but it’s so worth it.

Lemon rosemary roast chicken

Saturday morning I made us these whole wheat buttermilk pancakes for breakfast, which said “Haha sucker, I totally snuck whole wheat flour into these without you even noticing”. They were really good – especially with chocolate chips added to them!

Whole wheat buttermilk pancakes

Just a note: I only use whole wheat pastry flour in my baking – regular whole wheat flour tends to make things too dense and tough.

Later on in the day my good friend came over to catch up over lunch, so I made us African peanut soup (subbing sunflower seed butter for the peanut butter) from Oh She Glows’ cookbook with salted smashed avocado on buckwheat toast. This said “I really value our friendship and love having life chats with you.”

Oh She Glows African peanut soup

And that night JZ and I went over to his parents’ house for dinner. So I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies (recipe from here) to say “Thanks for having me over for dinner”.

Chocolate chip cookies

The dinner they made was seriously delicious! And I’m no mind reader but I think it’s message was “Be careful, our food is as good as it looks and might send you into a 12 hour food coma.” I didn’t listen – oops.

How do you communicate through food?

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“Do what you can”: my new motto

Sometimes, life gets busy. You have kids and suddenly you have no free time. A family member gets sick and you start helping them out 4 times a week after work. You decide to do a part-time masters degree while working full time. Or, like me, you start a dietetic internship.

Life is crazy busy for me right now guys, especially since starting my latest rotation in GI surgery. I’m often at the hospital at 8 am or earlier, and there until 5 pm or later. And then I have to jam my evenings full of studying for the next day, working on some ongoing projects, making dinner, packing my lunch, and maybe working out or relaxing if I have time.

23Feb1

Needless to say, I simply don’t have time for everything, which used to really stress me out and make me feel like a failure. But I’ve started to realize I just can’t do it all. So I’ve adopted the motto “Do what you can”.

I can’t workout 5 days a week like I used to. So I just do what I can. Some days I’ll have the opportunity to enjoy an hour long workout at the gym. Other times I’ll squeeze in a 20 minute Jillian Michaels video. And the rest of the time I just have to count the 10 minute walk to/from my car and the walk up 4 flights of stairs as my workout for the day.

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred

I can’t pursue all of my hobbies. I obviously love cooking and make it one of my priorities when I have the time, but I also love reading, yoga, watching my favourite tv shows, seeking out new music, perusing fashion blogs… but I don’t have the time to do all of these on a regular basis, so I do what I can. I may be 6 episodes behind in Grey’s Anatomy and crawling through my current book at a snail’s pace, but I still try to fit them in when I can because they make me happy.

Lululemon yoga

I can’t cook dinners from scratch every night. Remember my days in university when I had time to do that? I’m looking back and laughing at how easy I had it back then. So I just do what I can. I try to make a batch of something like soup or quinoa salad on the weekends to have on hand for the week. I try to cook on the weeknights when I have time. I try to get in my 5-10 fruits and vegetables per day. But sometimes those things don’t happen, and that’s okay.

Curried lentil quinoa soup

I can’t make this blog into what I’d like it to be. I have this vision of a blog with gorgeous food photos, new recipes 1-2 times per week, and a couple of nutrition posts each month. But I don’t have the time to spend hours recipe testing or perfecting my photography or researching nutrition topics outside of the studying I already have to do for my internship. So I just do what I can and accept that my blog – while not professional or polished by any means – is still something to be proud of.

CHKblog

I can’t find time to go to the dentist… actually that’s a bad example. I really should go to the dentist!

Anyways, point is sometimes we can’t do it all. And rather than getting ourselves all in a tizzy about not being able to fit everything is, I’ve found that it’s way better to just stop stressing, accept it, and settle for what we can do. Because when you think about it – what we can do is still pretty impressive!

Do you ever struggle with not having time to do it all?

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