Back on Track Trail Mix

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It’s been a while since I’ve had time to post anything, but things are finally starting to slow down and get back to normal. I’ve actually been working on a few posts here and there but they’re all unfinished as of yet.

Motivation? What motivation?

I think I’ve mentioned that just before our move back in June, we emptied our fridge and ended up living off of frozen meals… Lots of lasagna, pizza, and pierogi. During the move, we continued having frozen dinners along with eating out at fast food restaurants. The trend continued (although we did start cooking at home more and more) while my sister visited in mid-July. It’s not until then, though, that we really went back to eating healthy and cooking at home.

My big issue with all of this has been not being hungry. I went from being at home with my little one (and subsequently have 24/7 access to my fridge) to being at work for 10 hours a day plus about an hour and a half total commute time. I need quite a few options for food now.

I totally blame my office’s lack of built-in desk fridges. Those should be a thing. Right?

Right?

*crickets*

Ok fine.

My change in daily activities, though, does mean that I need to make sure to bring several snacks to work. If I don’t, the cafeteria downstairs ends up selling me one too many donuts. Totally their fault.

When I have a break at work, I like to browse the Oh She Glows recipes, and a couple of weeks ago I came across this post on a make-ahead lunch menu. Hidden in the yummy ideas was this Go Go Glow Mix. Can you say delicious?

I was feeling super-inspired by it, so the other day I trekked to the local Bulk Barn, grabbed a bunch of nuts, fruits, seeds, and some dark chocolate-covered espresso beans, and got to work.

This is what I ended up with.

Back on Track Mix

Yuuuuuuuummyyyy!

It’s not quite the same as Angela’s mix, but one of the great things about trail mixes is how versatile they are. You can keep what you like (or have around in your pantry) and leave out what you don’t want.

Here’s my version of the Go Go Glow Mix:

Yield: about 4 cups

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw mixed nuts (mine had no peanuts)
  • 1/2 cup dried goji berries
  • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate-covered espresso beans (or chocolate chips)

Directions

  • Pour all ingredients into a bowl or container (preferably with a lid).
  • Close the lid and shake to mix.
  • Enjoy!


I added about 1/3 of a cup to my packed lunch today and it was the perfect mid-morning snack. I ended up with about 3 of the espresso beans and it was just enough to give me a tiny caffeine boost without making me jittery or sick. I’m still breastfeeding so I’m making sure to have very little caffeine or none at all. I don’t even want to know what a cup of coffee would do to me now… I haven’t had one in over two years!

With things being more normal now, I’m hoping to be able to post more often. I’ve been trying out recipes and have a few backlogged posts I need to finish for you guys. Think refreshing summer salads, frosty smoothies, and even a short, tiny-bit-spoilerish-but-not-too-much-given-away review of the hottest book of the summer (if you thought Harry Potter and the Cursed Child you are correct)!

Hope to see you back!

*This recipe is my own and was created based on inspiration from the Oh She Glows Go Go Glo mix. The views and experiences above are mine and not endorsed/influenced by Oh She Glows or any other third party.

Do The Mash… The Potato Mash

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Another late post.

Well, at least this time I totally have a string of genuine reasons (and not excuses). Unfortunately I’ll be around sporadically until mid-July, but it’s the Saturday of a long weekend here in Canada, so I have some down time and can write a bit.

What have I been up to? Well, where do I start? The week before heading back to work, Hubby and I ended up buying a house (yay!). We weren’t expecting to buy until late summer, but an amazing opportunity came up so we took it (and all of the craziness it. Then right as I started back from Maternity leave, the little one got sick. She was down and out for two weeks, and of course as she began to feel better, Hubby and I got whatever she had. Ugh. And of course let’s add teething to the mix. Let’s just say I’m tired.

Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes
On a positive note, I’ve been trying out lots of recipes from Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows. I have her book, I have the app (and love it!), and I love the blog. What I really like about her recipes is that they’re mostly very simple to make, but they’re always super flavourful and very satisfying. I can make a vegetarian dinner (sorry, but I can’t say no to butter or cheese!) that’s filling and NOT just a pasta or plain salad, that Hubby and little one will eat, and that doesn’t take me 5 hours in the kitchen.

One dish that’s both in the Oh She Glows cookbook (page 207) and is on the app is for Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Love creamy, silky mashed potatoes with fragrant garlic? Love veggies? Or want to sneak in some extra veggies for your picky eaters? This is the recipe to try. You may never go back to plain old mashed potatoes again.

Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes
From the OSG app… yum!

Yield:

  • Original Yield: 4 cups
  • Actual Yield: 4+ cups

Prep Time:

  • Original Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Actual Prep Time: 20 minutes (peeling potatoes takes time!)

Cook Time:

  • Original Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Actual Cook Time: about 20 minutes

Notes or comments:

  • I’m the first to admit that my knife skills are quite lacking, so I love that this recipe calls for grating the garlic on a microplane. You can, of course, mince it by hand as well.
  • We’re not vegan, so I skip the vegan butter and use regular butter (obviously it works just fine).
  • I’ve also used both regular cow’s milk as well as unsweetened almond milk and both work very well here.
  • I’ve added a sweet potato to the mix once (I’m obviously a wild one!) and while it tasted amazing, I did have to end up puréeing the sweet potato to match the consistency of the regular potatoes and cauliflower.
  • I’ve never left out the garlic (we love the flavour), but I have added other herbs and spices to give us some variety, and even added some goat cheese once. Super yummy!

Verdict: Success! I’ve made this as a side at least 5 times now and we haven’t even thought of making just plain mashed potatoes. This has become our go-to potato side and I’m sure you’ll love it too. It’s an easy dish to customize, so feel free to put your own twist on it!

Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes

*Please note, the recipe and app image for Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes is in no way mine. The views and experiences above are my own and not endorsed/influenced by Oh She Glows or any other third party.

    Am I “Glow”-ing Yet?

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    Hello lovelies!

    It’s been waaaaaay too long since I’ve posted, and I’m very sorry about the MIA-ing here and there. Over the past month I was busy trying out new recipes on my Pinterest board and planning my little one’s first birthday party. I’ll do a post on that later, because why not (I used some Pinterest inspiration of course!).

    For today, however, I want to jump on the bandwagon of a VERY popular blog (and now cookbook and app!)… You guessed it. Oh She Glows.

     

    Oh She Glows cookbook
    My copy!
     
    Now let me start by saying that we’re neither vegan nor vegetarian, and we’re not following any specific dietary restrictions or fads. I’m just hell-bent on having us eat as healthfully as possible (without breaking the bank). I suppose that in loving the recipes we’ve tried so far, it’s a great testament that many (if not all) of the recipes are tasty and filling enough for the average omnivore.

    We haven’t had many of the recipes as of yet, and some I’ve modified a touch or added meat as the optional protein (hubby and tofu are not friends), but they’ve all turned out great and the modifications are such, that the recipe would retain the nutrition and flavour of the original.

     

    Raspberry Mousse Chia Bowl
    Screencap from the OSG app… yum!!
     
    Now, onto the first review: the Raspberry Mousse Chia Bowl. Now, I can’t seem to find this exact recipe on the blog, as I got it from the app, but the chia pudding component is here or here or on page 225 in the book and the mousse component seems to be in the app only. Sorry for not having any of my own pictures, I just always forget to take one before devouring this for breakfast.

    Yield:

    • Original Yield: 3 servings
    • Actual Yield: 3 servings

    Prep Time:

    • Original Prep Time: 15 minutes
    • Actual Prep Time: 10-20 minutes (less time if you skip the mousse)

    Cook/Chill Time:

    • Original Cook/Chill Time: 1 hour or overnight
    • Actual Cook Time: overnight (I found the chia pudding to not be quite as thick as I like it after just one hour with the given amount of milk)

    Notes or Comments:

    • I’m sure it’s been said a hundred times, but if you aren’t a fan of the tapioca consistency, skip this recipe. I love tapioca, so it was a win for me.
    • The first time I made this I was out of avocado so I skipped the mousse component and had the pudding with granola and fresh fruit. You NEED an acidic fruit like kiwi or berries for this pudding otherwise the creaminess can be a bit overwhelming. I ended up adding extra fruit half-way through eating. I’d skip the banana for this one.
    • If you make the mousse, you can go easy on the fresh fruit, as it’s the perfect compliment to the chia pudding.
    • I don’t have the time as of right now to make my own almond milk, so I’ve made this recipe with store-bought almond milk (if you use sweetened, skip the maple syrup sweetener!) as well as plain cow’s milk (I used half of the maple syrup). Both options gave me a creamy, decadent pudding perfect for topping with fruit, mousse, and granola.

    Verdict: Success! This is a delicious way to start your day (and it’s healthy! Yay!). This is a recipe that can be modified and adapted to your tastes (and available ingredients!). It’s simple and quick to make, especially if you’re not making your own milk, and sets up ready to eat overnight in the fridge. Just cut up some fruit, put everything together with your lunch, and you can have a filling and delicious breakfast without resorting to that box of Lucky Charms.

    **Please note, the recipe for Raspberry Mousse Chia Bowl is in no way mine. The views and experiences above are my own and not endorsed/influenced by Oh She Glows or any other third party.

    I’m Lucky :)

      
    Yesterday was pretty crappy. Not much sleep from the day before (little one’s tooth was cutting through, poor thing), that time of the month, sugar cravings, and a very clingy baby made me a very grouchy lady.

    What did I crave most of all? Gummy bears and cake. I had neither of course, and while I know I have ingredients to make cake, I didn’t want to do that and a normal cake wasn’t what I wanted.

    I wanted “fake cake”. You know, the white, preservative-filled cake with the over-sweet from-powder icing you can get at the grocery store bakery? Or the massive cakes at Costco? Yeah. That’s what I wanted.

    I had decided to get a Fake Cake when I stopped by the grocery store for berries today. But guess what? They had NO Fake Cake!!! I didn’t want some delicious, proper cake! I wanted Fake Cake!

    I went home dejected and texted the hubby about my dilemma. Then went on with my day.

    Hubby, though, is amazing, and decided that not only did I need cake, I also need flowers. So he bought me Fake Cake on his way home from work. And he got me those gorgeous flowers.

    Way to turn a grouchy wife into uber-happy wife. I’ve got the best hubby in the world. And it’s not just because of Fake Cake, but that’s one of the many reasons.

    Banana + Chocolate = Love

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    I’m sorry I’ve been MIA for so long. I’ve been meaning to get this post done for a couple weeks but the universe didn’t seem to agree. First we had a tooth come in (read: mom gets no sleep), then al three of us were sick, then we had an insanely busy week, and that all ended with another tooth cutting through yesterday. The whirlwind life of a (fairly) new mom, I tell ya. Anyways, I know you’ll all forgive me once I tell you about this to-die-for recipe I tried out.  

    Triple Chocolate Banana Bread 
    We’ve always loved banana bread. I’ve tried several different recipes for all sorts of kinds of banana bread. Plain, buttermilk, seven bananas, bananas and blueberries, oats, applesauce-based, chocolate, peanut butter… After all of that I’m still in search for the perfect plain banana bread, but lucky for me I stumbled upon and made this phenomenal Triple Chocolate Banana Bread from Spend With Pennies.

    Best. Decision. Ever.

    You could seriously take over the world with this stuff. Or at least become president or something equally as grand.

    The first time I made this, I skipped the chocolate glaze on top and it was still heavenly. The second time, I subbed the regular chocolate chips for larger, white chocolate pieces. That variation was my favourite… The white chocolate was nice and melted coming out of the oven (I only waited until it cooled enough for me to not get burned before cutting myself a generous slice), and once it cooled completely, it gave the bread a nice crunchy element… Like adding nuts, except so much better.

     

    Triple Chocolate Banana Bread
    Look at those chocolate chunks!
     
    Let’s talk details.

    Yield:

    • Original Yield: 1 9in x 5in loaf
    • Actual Yield: 1 loaf (about the given size)

    Prep Time:

    • Original Prep Time: none given
    • Actual Prep Time: 20 minutes

    Bake Time:

    • Original Bake Time: 50-60 minutes
    • Actual Bake Time: 55 minutes

    Note or Comments:

    • As noted above, you can easily swap out the chocolate chips for white chocolate (and I’m sure dark or semi-sweet chips would be lovely as well).
    • Also as noted, you can skip the glaze for a less-sweet option that is still decadent and super-delicious.

    Verdict: Success! If you love bananas, go make this now. If you love chocolate, ditto. If you aren’t a fan of bananas, this recipe will change you. And if you don’t like chocolate… Well, we can’t be friends. Sorry. Although I’ll accept a loaf of this bread as an apology and reconsider.

     Triple Chocolate Banana Bread 
    **Please note, the recipe for Triple Chocolate Banana Bread is in no way mine. The views and experiences above are my own and not endorsed/influenced by Spend With Pennies or any other third party.

      The Missing Orange

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      I’m sure you’ve all had a similar experience… You find a yummy-looking, fairly easy recipe in Pinterest that’s got quite a few repins and you decide to give it a shot you already have all of the ingredients, so it shouldn’t be too hard, right? You start working and everything seems to be perfect. You pop the stuff in the oven/pot/slow cooker, and wait.

      You check the timer/clock several times as the yummy smells fill your kitchen.

      Ding! Time to try this!

      It looks great, smells amazing, and you can’t wait to dig in. Maybe it needs to rest for 10 minutes or cool for an hour.

      You finally go to have your first taste and… Huh. It’s underwhelming. Boring. Plain. Too sticky. Too greasy. Too watery. Not bad, but not at all great.

       

      Greasy
      You can see the grease from one slice!
       
      Oh well. Maybe next time, right?

      I recently had this sad experience, and it sucks that it wasn’t the first time it’s happened to me with a Pinterest recipe. Now I’ve been lucky, because most of the recipes I’ve tried came out quite well, some much better than others, but very few have been complete flops or haven’t lived up to the hype.

      I had such high hopes for this Orange Pound Cake from Roti ‘N Rice, but it totally fell flat for me. Not only did it lack the orange flavour I had so wanted it to have, it came out very, very, greasy (the picture of the paper towel is the best I could do, but it was like blotting an oily pizza… You guys do that too, right?). From the pictures I can tell this this isn’t a standard pound cake (it’s definitely more moist), but it was just too much fat for me. When I took the cake from the oven there was some butter floating around the edges, like it does for a Dutch baby/Yorkshire pudding. Not at all what I was expecting. Also, the cake ended up having a bit of a crunchy crust (I’m going to fault the amount of butter floating around), which wasn’t bad the day after but was a bit off-putting the first time I tried it. Orange Pound Cake 

      Here are the details:

      Yield:

      • Original Yield: 1 8in x 4in loaf
      • Actual Yield: 1 loaf (about the given size)

      Prep Time:

      • Original Prep Time: 15 minutes
      • Actual Prep Time: 20 minutes

      Bake Time:

      • Original Bake Time: 55 minutes
      • Actual Bake Time: 55 minutes

      Note or Comments:

      • As I noted, this cake came out overly greasy from the large amount of butter (in proportion to other ingredients). To retain a texture that is less greasy but still moist, I increased the amount of flour to 8.1oz (2 cups + 1 tbsp). I have not tried to make this cake into a traditional pound cake as I don’t believe it’s meant to be that way.
      • My biggest disappointment was the lack of orange flavour in this cake. I doubled the amount of orange zest and added 1 tbsp of orange extract to get more of that flavour into the cake.
      • I fixed the crust issue by increasing the amount of flour and by ensuring that I don’t over-mix the batter.

      Verdict: Unsuccessful, Needs Modification. Even with the fixes I used, this isn’t my ideal pound cake. To be fair, I’m used to a pound cake that’s all soft, a little dry, and mildly flavoured. The changes I made made enough of a difference to me that I would try to play with the recipe more, so not all is lost. Roti ‘N Rice has lots of other delicious-looking recipes, and I won’t let this one flop stop me from trying some of the others!

      **Please note, the recipe for Orange Pound Cake is in no way mine. The views and experiences above are my own and not endorsed/influenced by Roti ‘N Rice or any other third party.

      I Go To The Bar(re) Five Days a Week

      It’s been three and a half weeks since I sat myself down and realised that the only way I am going to stop being critical of myself is for me to lose some of my pudge. I’m never going to be a size 2, but I’ve got some problem areas (don’t we all?). I know myself well enough to admit that going to the gym is never going to be my thing. Being on maternity leave means I can’t splash out on yoga classes, which I love, so I decided to do yoga at home while my little one napped. I used the flows I learned in the classes I used to take, but was always on the lookout for a new app or flow/sequence.

      After two days of doing yoga, I started to think that I might need something more. I had already added a couple of Pilates moves but I knew I needed to dial it up if I wanted to do more than just become more flexible and toned. My search that day brought me to Barre3. As a mix of the yoga I love, the Pilates that helps shed the weight, and the grace and flow of ballet, I thought it sounded perfect. Almost too perfect. I was afraid that it, like yoga, wouldn’t do a lot for helping me lose the fat that needed to go. I looked up some reviews, and no one seems sto have anything bad to say about it. My best friend has done even more research and thought the same thing.

        
      Barre3 Logo 

      I looked up the program and found that I had two options: pop into the only studio in Canada (which happens to be conveniently located about 5 minutes from my office and 20 minutes from my home!) or subscribe online and do the workouts at home like I had been. Money and child care being a thing for me, I took a peek at the online workouts.

      They have previews that you can see without signing up (and paying), but I wanted to try a workout or two before committing. The site does feature a free 15-day trial, but I would have to add a credit card and cancel if I didn’t want to continue… It’s a great option but I knew that I would forget to cancel if I didn’t love it and I was still a bit sceptical of it all.

      Lucky for me and my googling skills, I found a couple of free videos on YouTube. The next day, before doing my yoga routine, I fired up my iPad, found this video of Sadie Lincoln in NYC (my favourite even now!) and started my workout with Barre3.

      I loved that first workout so much I did it twice and cut my yoga sequence short! (As an aside, I’ll admit that Sadie is a lot of fun to have leading your workouts… She comes across as fun, bright, and has an infectious optimism that you can feel in her videos. The other video instructors are great, but I have to admit that I often choose my online workouts based on if Sadie is leading them or not!).

      Later that day I found another video (part 1 of a series of 3) and loved them as well. That did it. I decided to go for the free trial. I found a full one-month trial through Darling Magazine, and haven’t looked back since. Even with the USD being much higher than the CAD, it costs less than 3 Starbucks coffees a month to have access to all of the workouts (they’re divided into 10-minute, 30-minute, 40-minute, and 60-minute sections, so it easy to get right into a full, hour-long workout or to mix it up and do a few of the 10-minute workouts) as well as the yummy recipes available. I pay the same amount for my World of Warcraft subscription, and I think my health is a bit more important than hitting level 100.

      I really love how you can modify the workouts. Since I’ve been doing them five days a week for three weeks now and some days I just can’t do any more sumo squats. That’s ok. There’s always an option to modify the workouts to get results without the negative pain and injury. I also love that they have both pre- and post-natal exercises. I’ve tried one post-natal one so far and loved it, and I’ll be sure to try the others.

      Something else I love is how props are almost always optional. I’ve done the workouts without the yoga mat (I do recommend it for any floor exercises, though), without the weights and tension band and ball. The only real ‘prop’ you use almost every time is a ‘barre’, on a waist-high surface. I’ve used a chair, my kitchen counter, my wall, my bar stool… Whatever is there. Can you really go wrong with such a convenient workout?

      I’m definitely thinking of getting a ball and tension band, though, to help maximize some of the workouts later. I already have some hand weights. If you don’t have these, improvise. I’ve used small bean cans as light weights!

      The third part of all of this that I really like is that there is a bit of a nutrition component to the ‘Barre3 Lifestyle’ as I call it. And it works in perfect compatibility with my new friend Lark! Seriously. It’s like I was meant to find these two this year!! I can honestly say one of the best feelings lately has been having a healthy, balanced lunch after my Barre3 workout.

      To me, that’s crazy-talk! I’m NOT a health nut, or an exercise nut. I’ve already told you all about my loathing of calorie-counting. It just seems to me that this year, things came together in a way that allows me to become as healthy and fit as I can be without having to deal with the stuff I hate (how many sprouts make up 15 calories??)!

      I’m super happy to have been able to share my little ‘New Years’ wellness changes with you. I don’t buy into the whole “New year, new me!” craze that happens every January 1, and I would have done these posts anyways, even if I had found these new tools in July. Next time, I’ll be sharing my first semi-fail from a Pinterest recipe for the year and we’ll get back into our regular groove.

      Now, I need to upgrade my garrison and get my Druid to level 97. See you next week!

      **This is not a sponsored post. The views and experiences above are mine and not endorsed/influenced by Barre3, Darling Magazine or any other third party.