Breakfast Bowl Recipe

Anndd I’m back with the summer blogging! Yes, I am calling it summer even though it does not look or feel like it right now with this cloudy, chilly weather (and the fact that it isn’t really officially summer until June..). So what better way to beat Toronto’s strange weather and also feel energized at the start of your day than to eat a delicious, nutrient-dense breakfast bowl that’s quick and easy to make? Continue reading

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New Year’s & Maple Banana Bread Recipe

With 2015 gone and 2016 here to stay for a year comes one of the most common new year resolutions that are usually long forgotten by February: eat healthier. Let’s face it, even if you’re not a new year’s resolutions kind of person, you’ve thought about it at least once in the first few days of 2016. And like all of us, the determination to consume healthier foods slowly fades as the days go past, our lives get busier, the $3 slice of pizza looks a lot more wallet-friendly than shelling out big bucks for fresh fruits/vegetables at the grocery store, or when all the holiday chocolates go on sale after Christmas.

I think the key to maintaining the determination of eating healthier is to be realistic and honest with yourself. For example, salads are the bane of my existence and I know that. So it doesn’t make sense to try and plan out kale salads for lunch every day of the week for me. To put it simply, I easily stay determined to eat foods I enjoy and contrary to belief, there are foods out there that taste good and are healthy at the same time. I found this amazing Maple Banana Bread recipe from The Heart and Stroke Foundation (http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.9277763/k.8449/Recipes__Maple_banana_bread.htm) when I was baking for a bake sale and was surprised by how delicious it was, considering the super healthy and nutritious ingredients. I will definitely be making this recipe throughout the year! Without further ado, let’s get baking:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (250 mL) whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) large flake oats
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) wheat bran
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp (4 mL) baking soda
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) plain 0% Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) canola oil
  • 1 egg

Also: feel free to add extra ingredients into the recipe to customize your own banana bread. Some great add-ons would be nuts, seeds, cranberries, raisins, etc. For mine, I added in about 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts.

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Directions:

1.Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, oats, bran, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda.

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2. Blend the bananas until they have an even consistency and pour into a bowl.

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3. Add the yogurt, maple syrup, canola oil, and egg and mix well.

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I got a little carried away and tried to make a heart barista-style, kind of an epic fail 😀

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4. Once the wet ingredients are whisked well, pour into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix together.

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It doesn’t look the most appealing pre-bake, you know you did the recipe right if it looks like lumpy oatmeal!

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5. Pour mixture into a parchment paper lined and sprayed 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches (1.5 L) loaf pan and bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 40 minutes. You can also insert a toothpick in and if it comes out clean, the banana bread is done.

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6. Let the banana bread cool for 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan and serving it.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe and let’s all stay inspired and motivated this year to eat clean and think consciously about what we put into our bodies, but also equally important -to treat yourself every now and then! 

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Dairy-Free Pistachio Ice Cream Recipe

Hello again fellow readers! Today, I wanted to share a fantastic summer recipe that I was excited to try -Pistachio Ice Cream. What makes this recipe pretty awesome is not only is the star player one of my favourite nuts, but it also happens to be dairy-free and includes no added sugars, making this a pretty guilt-free dessert! It all started when I recently acquired a Yonanas machine. For those who are wondering what in the world a Yonanas machine is, it essentially converts frozen fruits into a soft-serve ice cream consistency without the need for any cream or sugar (aka the best invention to ever be gifted unto society!!). I was first confused on how a machine could simply turn frozen fruits into something that looked and tasted exactly like ice cream without any cream OR sugar, and the answer to both questions is: bananas. The key is to freeze over-ripe bananas (over-ripe bananas with some black spots on the skin are a lot sweeter than plain yellow ones), and add it to the mixture to provide a natural sweet, creamy flavour. Genius! I could ramble on and on about how wonderful this recipe is, but instead, I’ll let you guys try it and see for yourselves! So without further ado, here’s the Yonanas Pistachio Ice Cream recipe!

Ingredients:

-2 frozen over-ripe bananas

-12 oz shelled pistachios (make sure they are plain pistachios without any added salt)

-1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

-1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Peel 2 over-ripe bananas, separate each into 1/4 pieces and let them freeze in the freezer for at least 24 hrs.
  2. Grind the pistachios in a food processor until they reach a grainy-sand-like texture (you can use a blender instead if you’d like; I used a Vitamix).

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3. In a medium saucepan, combine the almond milk and vanilla extract, and slowly incorporate the ground pistachios. Let this mixture come to a simmer and take it off the heat. If you feel like the texture is still a little thick, you can pour it back into the blender until the texture becomes more consistent and smooth.

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4. Let the mixture cool down, then fill an ice cube tray and freeze to make frozen pistachio cubes.

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5. When ready to make your pistachio ice cream, take out your frozen banana pieces and pistachio cubes and let them thaw for around 5 minutes.

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6. Start by first adding in a banana piece into the Yonanas machine, then add 2 pistachio cubes. Alternate until you’ve added in the full 2 bananas and 8 pistachio cubes total. If you would like more pistachio or banana flavour, feel free to add more of either ingredient to your preference. After, mix the 2 ice creams together well until you achieve a consistent, light green colour.

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I finished it off with some fresh ground pistachios as a garnish, and it’s ready to eat! This recipe has easily become one of my favourites -pistachio ice cream without any dairy or added sugars, yet tastes equally delicious! Hope you guys enjoy this recipe and happy ice-cream making! 🙂

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Homemade Pizza Recipe

New food recipe alert! It really has been so long since I’ve tried a new recipe this summer, and I wanted to make something I’ve never made before. Yesterday, I thought it’d be fun to take on the task of making pizza from scratch, not only for the challenge, but because I was really craving it too! The great thing I’ve learned about making pizza is that it’s so easily customizable to your own preferences. Once you’ve made the base with the dough and tomato sauce, your creativity and own imagination can take reign over every and any topping you decide to include in your pizza. I’ve based this recipe from Jamie Oliver’s with some of my own modifications:

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/bread-recipes/spicy-salami-courgette-basil-tomato-and-mozzarella-pizza-topping/#YKPE8rB8OPtMXQvf.97

INGREDIENTS:

For the pizza base

  • 800 g strong white flour
  • 200 g semolina flour (can substitute with strong white flour)
  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 2×7 g dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 650 ml lukewarm water

For the tomato sauce

  • 400 g canned plum tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the toppings

  • your favourite toppings!
  • some suggestions: cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, feta, etc.), salami/pepperoni, peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, etc.

DIRECTIONS:

Find a clean surface and mix together the white flour, semolina flour, and sea salt.

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Mix in the yeast packets to the lukewarm water, and allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes.

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Create approximately a 18cm well from the dough and fill it with the yeast-water mixture.

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Take a fork and slowly mix the flour into the yeast mixture until you reach a thick porridge-like consistency.

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Add some more flour until the dough starts coming together. Knead the dough for around 10 minutes until the dough becomes smoother.

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Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to sit for 45 minutes and double in size.

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While you’re waiting for the dough to rise, you can make the tomato sauce. Start by chopping the garlic and heating it up in a saucepan with some olive oil. Once the garlic turns golden brown, add the canned tomatoes, fresh basil, and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce reduce down a bit until the consistency runs thicker.

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As you wait for the tomato sauce to cool down, take the risen dough and separate it into two halves. Store one half in the freezer for future use. Take the other half and separate it into 4 pieces. This will make 4 separate pizzas. Lightly flour each piece, wrap them individually with plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 minutes. This will allow you to easily roll each piece thinly.

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When you’re ready to make your pizza, roll out the dough to around 0.5cm thick.

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Place your rolled out pizza dough onto a lightly greased pan and preset your oven to 500°F. Evenly spread the tomato sauce on the pizza base up to the edges.

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Once your pizza base and tomato sauce has been made, the possible toppings you can add are endless! I decided to buy a few ingredients, and then switch up the different ingredients on each pizza I made from the dough: mozzarella cheese, spicy salami, prosciutto, orange peppers, basil, zucchini, onions, and cherry tomatoes. Use whatever toppings you love! Finish off your pizza with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper on top before putting it in the oven.

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Allow your pizza to bake until golden and crispy (approx. 10-15 minutes).

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Usually after cooking, my appetite greatly decreases (does anyone else ever experience that?!), but this recipe was an absolute exception!! It looked too good that I immediately cut out a slice for me to eat! After trying out this pizza recipe, I can conclude that it is delicious and relatively easy to tackle for pizza amateurs like me. The most time-consuming part of the process is making the dough – having to let it rise and rest, and kneading it well. However, an advantage of this recipe is that it makes a lot of dough! I made around 6 pizzas from it, so if you have any leftover dough, you can just pop it in the freezer until you want to make more pizza in the future. And since the most time-consuming part is over, you can make delicious pizzas in significantly less time in the future! Hope you all try this recipe out and happy pizza making! (Confession: guilty of attempting to swirl the pizza dough in mid-air, pretending I worked at an Italian pizzeria) 🙂

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Designing a New Space: How to Make a Small Space Look Bigger

With the moving-in process coming along slowly but surely, the biggest challenge I’ve come to realize is finding furniture that fits into small rooms without making the space look overly crowded. There is no bigger frustration than finding a furniture piece you absolutely love, but your measuring tape delivers you the bad news of exceedingly large dimensions. Instead of mindlessly searching for furniture to fit our small spaces, why not help the situation by also making our rooms look bigger? For all of us small-room occupiers, I’ve found some clever tricks from blogs and from my own experiences to compile this list of tips to help make your space look bigger than it actually is:

1. Glass/lucite furniture is your friend. Opaque pieces look as if they take up a lot of space to the eye and abruptly break up a room. Transparent pieces create a wonderful illusion of occupying minimal space and give a continuous feel to the room.

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2. Incorporate hidden storage and multi-functional furniture pieces into your room. My condo does not come with a lot of storage space, so purchasing a bed with multiple drawers made sense.

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3. Use light/neutral colours for the walls and floor to open up a space.

4. Mirrors help reflect light and expand the room.

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4. Take advantage of natural light by keeping your windows clear.

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5. Use furniture with exposed legs. When searching for a sofa, I definitely noticed a difference in the space occupied by a sofa with a skirt vs. a sofa with legs!

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6. This may not be practical in some cases, but try and keep traditional doors to a minimum. Instead, sliding doors make a space look more expansive, because really, you’re technically connecting two rooms together!

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7. Don’t fill up every shelf in a room, leave some empty space on a shelf to give your room a more airy look to it.

8. Don’t go overboard with room accents/accessories! This is one of my greatest weaknesses as I’m currently designing my place. Isn’t it so easy for something to catch your eye as you’re browsing the aisle and become instantly convinced that it’s destined to be in your room all along? Let’s all walk away from those room accents that beckon for us, let’s remember -less is more!

9. Say yes to wall-mounting! Whether it be anything from lighting to shelves to a TV set, try to keep your floor space as free and open as possible.

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10. Most importantly, declutter your room! Yes, we all have at least 10 things in our room that we haven’t used in a year that simply take up wasted space. It’s difficult to say goodbye to things that have gradually grown to become a part of your room, but you’ll thank yourself later once your room doesn’t look like a cluttered thrift shop/garage sale anymore.

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Vancouver, BC Part 2: City Adventures

In my latest trip to Vancouver, BC, our family visited my brother who lives there, and he was our quintessential tour guide for our entire trip there! We visited a mixture of tourist and local areas in Vancouver and we also took a ferry to Victoria for a few days. My time in British Columbia was so incredible that I definitely know I want to move and live there for some time in my life! The people, food (refer to my post, Vancouver, BC Part 1: Food Diary), and the atmosphere made me feel right at home. I absolutely loved how no matter where you were, there was always a perfect balance of soaring skyscrapers and city life, local shops, and a breathtaking view of the North Vancouver mountains. And with that, let’s embark on my city adventures in BC!

First thing we did when we arrived? Ate lots of food, but after that, we took a relaxing stroll in the city and also near the water.

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On our walk, we passed by the torch that was lighted for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics!

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My personal favourite part of the trip was when our brother took us on a bike ride along James Bay. I think it’s the best to enjoy the view while bonding with family and getting some exercise (let’s ignore the fact how the bike ride was mostly downhill).

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The next day, we travelled to Victoria, BC via ferry. I quiet enjoyed Victoria -it was a quaint, beautiful place to spend a few days and unwind. We spent the day walking through the town.

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At night time, this building really stands out from the lights!

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Our hotel was right at the shore, so my sister and I spent a quiet morning on the rocks taking in the serene view.

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The last stop on our Victoria trip – Bouchart Gardens:

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When we returned to Vancouver, we decided to take on the challenge of climbing Grouse Mountain early in the morning! I’ve done hikes up a mountain before, but I was not prepared for what was to come! The Grouse Mountain climb is composed of 2830 steps, and by steps, I do not mean casual walking-up-stairs-in-the-house stairs, I mean really having to shift your body weight forward and work those quads in order to climb up the next step. It’s called “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster” for good reason.

I admit that I was the one holding up my entire family in the climb. Let’s just say my fitness level is not up to par with the rest of my family as I found myself having to constantly stop for a break every 10-15 steps. Even before we hit the 1/4 mark, I was ready to give up!! But with the wonderful motivation from my family, I made it up and the climb felt easier as you kept going up.

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Okay, I lied before. The Grouse Mountain climb might actually be my favourite part of the trip. No matter how grueling and physically/mentally challenging it was, the view at the top was spectacular. The view at the top is 853m high and overlooks Vancouver city in all its beauty. After taking a few minutes (actually half an hour, yes, I was exhausted!) to rest and regain my strength from the climb up, I took in the breathtaking view and stared in awe. And here I impart my cliche phrase of the week, but it’s true – the view at the top truly makes the climb all worth it!

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I’m already planning a future trip back to Vancouver -I’ve completely fallen in love with this city! I highly recommend venturing over to Vancouver & Victoria if you love good food, beautiful scenery and nature, warm people, and an overall wonderful atmosphere to surround yourself in.

This concludes my Vancouver & Victoria, BC travelling posts -I had an incredible time and will definitely be back! I hope you all are enjoying your day wherever in the world you are! Cheers!

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31 Things to Do This Summer

It’s that time of year again- yes, remember those long -20 degree-can’t feel your face winter days where you longed so very much for a warm summer day? Well that time is now and while it’s here to stay for only a few months, let’s not waste it! I’ve scoured blogs all over and also came up with a few of my own ideas to compile a list of things to do this summer. Break up with your bed and Netflix for a while and immerse yourself in the fresh air, warm sun, and free spirit summer has to offer!

31 Things to Do This Summer:

1. Find your summer theme song.

2. Try 5 new restaurants you wouldn’t typically go to.

3. Wake up early and watch the sun rise.

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4. Make a new friend.

5. Beach day.

6. Lie outside on a summer night and stargaze.

7. Plan a board games night with friends/family.

8. Read a book.

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9. Go on a bike ride with friends.

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10. Eat too much watermelon.

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11. Spend an afternoon of quality time with each person in your family.

12. Rollerblading.

13. Brunch with friends.

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14. Bake something.

15. Have a picnic in the park.

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16. Don’t complain for a day.

17. Get rid of a bad habit.

18. Gain a good habit.

19. Improve your vocabulary and learn new words.

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20. Get a new haircut.

21. Listen to a really old childhood song and have a 1-person dance party.

22. Discover an amazing summer drink.

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23. Actually clean your room, like you said you would several times before but never did.

24. Go on a hike or run a marathon.

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25. Dance in the summer rain.

26. Do one touristy thing in your own city that you’ve never done before.

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27. Watch a movie you’ve been meaning to see but haven’t gotten around to yet.

28. Watch the sun set with friends.

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29. Try a new sport.

30. Tis’ the season for ice cream/sorbet/frozen yogurt/popsicles.

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31. Plan a you day. Unplug from electronics, clear your schedule and spend a day to just be you and do something that you love/have an interest for.

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