Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

It's the holiday season and hopefully everyone is able to be with friends and family at this time of year. Most people are running around today and tomorrow finishing up last minute preparations for Christmas. Especially after this weekends ice storm! Not sure about you, but we weren't able to leave the house yesterday so last minute shopping and groceries had to happen today. Amongst all of your preparations, remember to take a moment for yourself and eat! When you're on the go it can be easy to forget to eat. But if you want to keep your energy levels up over the holidays, you still have to eat nourishing foods. Especially, because you are going to eat so many treats and big heavy meals. So throughout the day, take a moment to make yourself some healthy food.

My Dad and I were out and about this morning. When we got back, we were STARVING! So I whipped up a quick toasted sandwich. It's easy to make and you can use whatever ingredients you have in your fridge. I grilled a slice of whole grain bread with cheddar cheese and the other slice plain. Once the cheese was melted I added arugula and tomato and placed the plain slice on top and voila! Easy, quick and cheap. It's a good way to add in those veggies when you are surrounded by treats.

Speaking of treats, I have to post a yummy sweet recipe! Every year, for years, I have made chocolate covered pretzels. I love the sweet and salty combination. But since I've started cooking so much this year, I really wanted to actually make something. So I found caramel chocolate pretzel bark, or as my aunt calls it "Christmas crack." It's so addictive! It's pretty easy to make and doesn't take long at all. The time consuming part it letting it cool. But you can just leave it in the fridge until you are ready to break it up. And no, there is nothing healthy about this recipe.

1 cup of butter (I used margarine)
half bag of pretzel twists
1 cup brown sugar
1 bag of chocolate chips (I used milk but dark would be delicious too!)

Preheat oven to 375F. In a small pot on medium heat, melt the butter. In the meantime, on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, cover it with a layer of pretzels. Once the butter is melted, stir in sugar. Allow to simmer and bubble slightly but NOT boil. Stirring frequently, the browning process should take about 3 minutes. Pour quickly over the pretzels (it will harden quickly!). Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Then sprinkle chocolate chips and set for about 30 seconds. Once the chips are melted use a spatula to spread evenly. Place in the fridge for at least an hour to harden. Break it up into desired sized pieces when you are ready!

It's SOOOO yummy!!! And makes great gifts too.

This is the original recipe but as per usual, I changed things up a bit.

Merry Christmas to all!!! If you're without power, please stay safe and stay together. Don't let your kids play outside. I just witnessed half a tree falling into a driveway and young kids live next-door. Thank goodness they weren't outside today!



Remember, a healthy mind and body equals a happy and healthy dancer.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Snack Time!

I was just cooking up a storm and it inspired a new blog entry! Although I wasn't making granola bars, I thought it was time to post this recipe :)

When you're on the go a lot, it's hard to eat complete meals all the time. In result, snacks happen frequently throughout the day. It's not easy to find snacks in the grocery store that aren't highly processed like crackers, granola bars, vegetable dips, etc. I also enjoy snacks in general but I want to put good things into my body and not things extremely high in sugar and salt. That's why I make my own granola bars. I know exactly what's in them and, for the most part, they're actually good for you.

I make mine with peanut butter but you could totally make them with almond butter. I know peanut butter is not the best for you, but it's one of those things I just haven't been able to give up. I love my peanut butter!
I find these are best to make before going to bed because then they can sit and harden over night and then you can wake up to homemade granola bars!

Here is the recipe:

1 ¾ cups oats
1 ¾ cups rice krispies
½ cup shredded coconut
1/8 cup ground flax seed (optional)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
½ cup peanut butter (or other nut/seed butter)
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 handful chopped nuts
2 handfuls chopped dried fruit (raisins, apricots, cranberries, etc.)

Place parchment in bottom of 9x9 pan.

Combine oats, cereal, coconut, almonds, fruit and flaxseed in a large bowl.

In small saucepan, over medium heat, mix honey, brown sugar, and salt. Stir and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat, stir in peanut butter and vanilla until smooth.

Pour warm mixture into dry mixture and mix until well combined.

Place in pan and press down to even out the surface. Let sit, covered with cloth, for a few hours until hardened.

Cut and serve!

To add more goodness into them, I like to add sesame seeds and sunflower seeds as well. You can totally add what you, just make sure not to skimp on the 'glue' (honey, sugar and PB) or they won't stick together very well. A little extra won't hurt either!



Remember, a healthy mind and body equals a happy and healthy dancer.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mmm Salad

I was 17 years old at the time and was just finishing a show - a fundraiser variety show that my mom and I had put together. By the end of the night, after all the running around, dancing in countless pieces,  making sure everyone was where they were suppose to be, and so on, I was STARVING. We all were. So naturally I blurted out, "I just want a GREAT BIG SALAD!" My dad turned his head and looked at me as if I was nuts. He thought I was going to say steak or something. That would have been a normal answer. Guess I don't take after him in my eating habits. haha
I grew up eating 'healthy' or what was labeled healthy at the time. We always ate vegetables with dinner, I never really ate fast food, and didn't eat a lot of sweets. Now, the hot food topics are about allergies and if something is actually organic or what products are all natural, etc. 

The point to all of this? Salad. You can't go wrong with salad. Leafy green vegetables are the best possible things for you.

I've never liked store bought dressings. So I make my own with ingredients most people have in their kitchen. It's light and delicious. What's the point of salad if you're just going to douce it in some salty, creamy, heavy dressing? Using a light, homemade dressing will ensure that 'natural' part and you will actually taste all the vibrant flavours of each of those veggies.

I start with a leafy green base. I like to use different combinations of red and green leaf, arugula, romaine, spring mix, and spinach. Then I add one or two other fruits or veggies like apple or pear, and cucumber. I prefer to use minimal ingredients to really enjoy the flavours of each ingredient. Then I might add walnuts or almonds for protein.
For the dressing, I drizzle olive oil, lemon juice, and honey, and just a sprinkle of salt and pepper. When I have them, I also like to add fresh herbs like basil. Then I do a quick hand toss to coat all of the greens. Top with some fresh parmesan (or another cheese) and BAM! Quick, easy, and delicious salad.

I use lemon juice AND honey to counter balance each other. If you don't have honey, that's okay, you're salad will just be a little more tart.

Another great thing about this salad? It's hard to get tired of it. With this simple recipe, you can switch it up as many times as you like. Using only a few ingredients makes the possibilities endless.

In this photo, my salad is paired with one of my chic pea burgers and homemade potato chips. But the chips will have to be for another time.



Remember, a healthy mind and body equals a happy and healthy dancer.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'd love to know what everyone is cooking this weekend, traditional and non. We made a pretty traditional dinner, except with chicken - roasted carrots, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and of course the gravy. mmm mmm I'm going non-traditional for dessert though. I made a Pumpkin streusel coffee cake!

I guess roasting carrots isn't very traditional for a Thanksgiving dinner (at least not for me) but I really don't like boiled carrots. Growing up, I always thought I didn't like cooked carrots because they'd be boiled until all of the flavour is gone. (Sorry ma and pa ;)) It wasn't until very recently I discovered roasting them. I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner since I roast other root vegetables. Vegetables already have such great flavour so we only want to add to that. Boiling just takes the flavour away.
I like to cut my carrots into circles for this but you can totally cut them into sticks. So cut up your carrots, toss in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. I also like to add a bit of paprika but it's not necessary. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until desired tenderness. I like mine to still have a bit of crunch. If you've cut your carrots into sticks then they may take a little longer. And done! Delicious and tasty carrots! Easy peasy.

Now for the dessert, apple pie is my all time absolute favourite dessert ever. There are two people in my life that make a delicious mouth watering apple pie. I swear I could eat the whole pie sometimes. haha But I know I can't make a pie like either of theirs. I haven't mastered a crust yet... or at all really. So I decided I didn't want to go through all that fuss and it not turn out. I'm all for trial and error but not for this occasion. I'd be that girl who failed Thanksgiving dessert miserably. So, I went with a cake. Who can go wrong with a cake? I snuck a bite fresh out of the oven and mmm mmm so yummy!! I mostly followed the recipe but I did simplify a couple of things. NOTE: This is a dessert recipe, full of sugar and not "healthy" but hey, it's Thanksgiving!


For the Streusel:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons butter (or margarine)
1 cup chopped, lightly toasted pecans or walnuts (optional) Directions on toasting at the bottom

For the Cake:

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

For the Glaze: (Optional)

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350F. Line 8X8 pan or 9" cake pan lined with parchment and greased sides.

For the streusel:

In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut (or cream) in the butter until coarse crumbs form. Mix in the toasted nuts if using.

For the cake

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.
In a separate bowl, mix the butter and brown sugar until well combined. Then mix in eggs. Add in the pumpkin and sour cream and mix just until combined. Fold in the flour mixture. Batter will be thick.
Evenly spread half of the cake batter in the pan, and then top with 1/3 of the streusel. Evenly spread the remaining cake batter, then top with the remaining streusel.
Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and cool.

For the glaze:

In a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.

To toast the nuts, preheat oven at 350F, spread nuts even on baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.

Here is the original recipe:


Side note, not everyone has ginger or nutmeg. If you have two of the three - ginger, nutmeg, or cinnamon, you can add a little extra of two to make up for the one you're missing.

I actually didn't add the glaze this time. Instead, I served it with vanilla ice cream for dessert. But it's just so good on it's own that it really doesn't need anything added to it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!! My next post will be more on track but it's Thanksgiving so I just had to post this dessert!!



Friday, October 4, 2013

Plan Ahead

One key to eating and cooking healthy is planning ahead. Ever stand in the grocery store looking around thinking, "What am I going to eat this week?!" Or, standing and staring into the fridge? Look at your week schedule. When can you take an hour to cook? One hour. That's it.
Even though I love to cook I also love to open the fridge when I have to leave for rehearsal in 20 minutes and grab something to eat. So I plan ahead. I look at my schedule to see when I have a bit of free time. I like to cook things in multiples or big portions so it will last a few days, sometimes even a week. Like the chickpea veggie burgers I made earlier this week. Took me one hour and it made 9. Because there isn't any meat in them, they will actually last in the fridge.
You might think, "I can use that hour doing something else." But stop and think about how important your health and energy are. Instead of reaching for that frozen dinner, you can reach for something homemade - with ingredients you understand.

Here's the delicious chickpea burger recipe:

Makes approx 8 patties

1 can chickpeas, mashed
1 celery stalk chopped finely
1 grated carrot
1/2 minced onion
1/4 cup flour OR 3 tblsp corn starch
1 egg
lots of herbs and spices
oil for cooking (preferably olive oil)

Mix all ingredients together. Form into patties and lightly fry until golden brown.
Be sure to really work the patties in your hands before putting them in the pan. I find they stay together better.
Move to a cooling rack until completely cooled. Store in an air tight container in the fridge.
For the herbs and spices I used fresh basil and parsley, dried thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. If you can eat fresh garlic, put that in there! Unfortunately, I can't eat fresh garlic, so all of my recipes are garlic free. You can really add any spices and herbs you like. The burgers on their own are really bland so you can take the flavour any way you want!

How can you go wrong? Chop, mix, form, fry, DONE.

I like to top them with lettuce and salsa on a whole grain bun.
To reheat - If you're in a hurry microwave them for approx 30 seconds. If you have some time you can use the oven which will make them a little crispy. 375F for approx 15-20 minutes.
So now you have 8 healthy vegetarian meals that will last you the week.



Remember, a healthy mind and body equals a happy and healthy dancer.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Healthy cooking doesn't have to be time consuming

I've always enjoyed cooking but over the past year I've really started cooking A LOT. Particularly, I enjoy cooking things from scratch and using fresh ingredients. The only packaged food items you'll usually find in my kitchen are cereal and well, cereal. (I LOVE cereal!)
Living in the big city of Toronto it's hard to buy all natural, organic foods. There are farmer's markets (which I try to get to when I can) and health food stores but you can't get all of your groceries at these places so that means extra trips to the grocery store, more groceries to carry on the subway and extra money on the TTC (which is expensive!). There just isn't enough time in the day for all of that. If your someone who is able to shop at these places than kudos to you! But for the rest of us, shopping at Loblaws and Sobeys are our only options. One trip and you're done.

As dancers, we're constantly on the go. Teaching, rehearsing, choreographing, shows, gigs, classes, part time jobs and the list goes on. It's easy to resort to packaged, microwaveable foods. Eating and cooking healthy doesn't have to be time consuming. My meal tonight took 15 minutes. That's quicker than Kraft Dinner. All of my ingredients came from Sobeys. Nothing was prepackaged or frozen. Haddock from the fish mart, green beans, lettuce and tomato, and whole grain buns from the bakery. And with all of this I got 2 complete meals out of it with lots of everything leftover except the fish. I did use a couple cooking techniques that my wonderful partner taught me to add flavour.

Here's what I did.

1 small pot
2 medium frying pans
Preheat oven 375F
String beans
Whole grain bun
Olive Oil
Salt & pepper
Lemon juice and grated rind
Toppings (I used lettuce, tomato and fresh basil)
A spiced mayo would be excellent on this but I didn't think of that until after the fact.

Bring small pot of water to a boil. Add green beans and cook for 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat pan #1 on medium with olive oil.

Strain beans and heat medium pan #2 on medium heat with olive oil.
Place fish in pan #1 and cook for 3 mins on each side with a little salt, pepper, lemon juice and grated rind.
Place beans in pan #2 covering lightly with the oil and cook to desired crunchiness. Add a little salt and pepper for taste.
Place fish in the oven for 3-4 minutes.
Place fish on prepared bun. Don't want the bread? Eat the fish as is!

And voila! Delicious meal in no time at all.

On a side note, if you're not a fan of fish, you can use the same technique on chicken. Sear it in the pan for about 4 minutes on each side then cook it in the oven on 400F for about 8 minutes.



Remember, a healthy mind and body equals a happy and healthy dancer.