Monday, March 25, 2013

Snack time

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I remember as a kid, during the middle of the day I would tell my mom that I was hungry and that I wanted a snack. She would say something like 'have an apple'. I would probably cringe, and put up a fuss and whine and then probably just stay hungry. I remember thinking that apples were for my school lunch during the week - something that I probably felt forced that I had to eat - and definitely didn't want one as a snack.

I don't remember having a lot of snack foods in our house growing up. Not until I was a bit older - and I probably went grocery shopping with my mom and just put things in the cart. We didn't have a lot of processed foods either - oh except for the bologna and summer sausage (oh my) that was for  sandwiches for the school lunch. My mom baked a lot - so there were always fresh muffins, cookies, banana breads in the house. And by 'in the house', I mean - they probably lasted an hour until my brother found out they were around - and they were gobbled up.

Since there weren't a lot of tasty treats around the house - I mean like - chips, chocolate bars, pepperoni sticks (that is one thing our friends always had - that and ding dongs and twinkies - I was so jealous) - that is probably why I would hop my bike to the corner store and indulge. I am sure that is where bad habits formed about buying treats like that - on a 'whim'. Although my eating habits weren't atrocious - they weren't great. I almost would never buy junk food when doing a grocery shop - the treats were picked up on a whim when I (or we as in me and the husband) were craving treats. Or, when friends or family were coming for dinner and I wanted treats. I still tend to do that.

For the past 6 months, I have really changed how I eat. I find that planning my meals in advance and sticking to them has helped the most. And it has helped with my snacks - and wanting snacks. I find that if there aren't snacks in the house - then I will just make a healthy choice - making a snack something that is worth it and will energize me. Like an apple. I absolutely love Gala or Fuji apples right now. I love them sliced - and sometimes for an extra bit of goodness I add a bit of almond butter. Deelish. But like all things - sometimes an apple just does not cut it. Sometimes I want chips. Or a cream puff. Or a bowl of ice cream. And I am happy to say that within the past 6 months, I have not had a cream puff or a bowl of ice cream. I have, however, had some chips and a DQ Blizzard and a Qoola (frozen yogurt). And I am not going to beat myself up about it - because having chips a couple of times and an ice cream treat twice - is ok.

My husband will often ask 'You don't have any Lay's potato chips lying around here, do you?' I sometimes just simply reply 'No, sorry'. And sometimes, I just stare at him without saying anything, and he knows the answer. If there ever are chips in the house - we make sure to have a small bowl - instead of bringing the entire bag. I don't care what anyone says - polishing off a bag of chips while watching a tv show or movie is easy - if you're not thinking about it. It just happens. It's not something good that happens - but it does. So instead of setting ourselves up for a chip blowout - it's good to ration, and enjoy a few at once instead of the guilt for eating too many at once.

I have been trying a few snacks - and they are good. They aren't deep fried, covered in sugar or smothered in chocolate sauce - but they are a treat when you are wanting something different, and they are satisfying.

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Parmesan Lime Popcorn


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Pop popcorn - try using a pot or a pop corn popper instead of the microwave kind if you have the option. We have an old-fashioned crank popper - and it makes the best popcorn.

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Grate fresh parmesan cheese.

While the popcorn is still hot, top with the juice of half a lime and the parmesan cheese and give it a good toss. The fresh flavour of the lime mixed with the savoury taste of the parmesan - make this a deelish combo.

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Corn tortilla chips

We make fish tacos a couple of times a month. I love their freshness and they are so simple to prepare. I often have corn tortillas left over and have decided that instead of throwing them in the freezer or waiting for them to grow mold - that I would make chips with them.

Pre-heat the oven to 425.

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Using kitchen scissors or a knife - cut the tortillas into triangles or long strips.

On a lined baking sheet - lay out the tortillas in one layer. Using an oil spritzer, spritz the chips with a light vegetable oil. Sprinkle a dash of kosher salt over them.

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Bake in the 425 oven for about 18 minutes - or until they are nice and crispy. I like to have them with my Guacamole Sauce or on the side, almost like a cracker, with my Cabbage Roll Soup. Or just as is with a little diet ginger ale.

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Lime Almonds

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl add in two cups of almonds, the juice of one lime and about a tsp of kosher salt. Give it a good toss.

Bake in the 350 oven for about 13 minutes - turning them over half way.

I am always looking for great snack ideas, if you have some PLEASE SHARE.

Loves.

Enjoy!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

How to make a perfect salad.

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 Oh hello my sweet darling of love you.

This is our friend's Steve and Alanna's little one. She is precious. She is too cute. I sort of think that she is the 'poster child' for when people say 'cute baby'. I sort of think that all babies are cute to be honest, but there are some that are just hands down cuter than others. And I am pretty sure that this little bundle is one of them.

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She is pretty much the spitting image of her mama. It's the eyes. They are incredible. Uh, what exactly does 'spitting image' mean? Seriously? Should I be using phrases that I don't know what they mean? When I said 'spitting image' I sort of got grossed out. Ok, I don't want to say 'spitting image'. She resembles her mom so much. They are both lovely ladies.

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Having a little one around the house makes me miss what I don't have - so it's a treat to have friends with little ones that you get to visit from time to time. Speaking of - I just spent the weekend with my brother and his family. I tried to steal his kids and bring them home with me - but it didn't go over well. They are growing up so fast - I just love how their personalities are developing, how they are becoming these incredible people more and more each time I see them. I wish that they lived closer - but it just makes us have worthwhile visits when we visit.

It's been some time since I have written. I haven't been MIA - just been busy. Busy is good. Life is good. I am running lots. I am almost loving it too. Some days are more of a struggle than others - but for the most part - at the end of our 'Friday Night Run Club' (Tuesday and Friday editions) I feel exhilarated and that I have successfully accomplished something that I was set out to do. For me - that's a good feeling.

Another thing that I have done, is signed up for Dirty Girl in Seattle. Buh!! Not sure what I have done - but I am pretty excited for it. It's going to be a fun weekend - with a bunch of fun ladies - getting muddy. Today we ran up and down Mt. Doug - it was a bit muddy - and I didn't like it. I will have to get over the mud. Oh - when I say that I ran 'up' Mt. Doug - if you call short running stints up hill - as running 'up' Mt. Doug - then that's what I did. It was hard running up that damn mountain. I ran from the top all the way down back to the lower parking lot - and that was much easier. Thank you downhill.

I am all prepped for the week - well almost. I have made the standard dishes - cabbage roll soup and the chicken breasts for the week are cooked and cooling off before I wrap them up and put them in the fridge. My usual lunch throughout the week is a massive salad. Massive. I'm sort of hooked on them. They are full of goodness, full of deliciousness.

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How to make a perfect salad

The thing to keep in mind when making a salad is that all of your hardwork is completely worth it. I actually love salad - I know that not all people do - and it's one thing that I actually like to have at a restaurant because all of the washing, chopping and tossing was done by someone else. I have sort of changed my mind on that since I almost make a salad everyday. I used to think that it was a bit too much work to spend doing each day to prepare a salad for lunch. But now - I have my method down to a science - and it really is worth it.

I think that it's important to find vegetables that you love. And if it's easier for you to find things that are pre-cut, pre-washed, then give that a try. The possibilities to create a perfect salad are endless.

Start with your favourite things that you love in salad. For this salad, I used:

Romaine lettuce
Yellow pepper
Grape tomatoes
Celery
Roast chicken*
Raw pumpkin seeds
Goat cheese
Italian seasoning
Lemon juice

*Adding some sort of protein makes the salad a full meal. Roast chicken, hard-boiled eggs, salmon, tuna, ground turkey. So many options.

Before your start chopping and squeezing and tossing - give all of your vegetables a good wash and dry them off.

It's important to use a big enough container that will hold your jumbo salad. I prefer to use a glass bowl that has a sealable lid. This is not my usual container - apparently someone took my usual container home with leftovers in it - and they forgot to bring it home. :) It has since been returned.

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Next, roughly chop up your romaine lettuce. I tend to use a small romaine - and use the entire thing.

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Then chop up the celery. I LOVE celery. I usually add in two stalks. Add that to the romaine.

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Chop up the pepper. I like to Cut one side, and then cut around the inner core, one side at a time - so that nothing is wasted. I usually add 1/2 of the pepper.

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 Then chop it into nice small pieces.

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I love tomatoes - and I especially love grape tomatoes. Although they are tiny - I like to cut them in half. I usually add 10 tomatoes.

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Goat cheese. I can't say much more than that. I love it. I usually add about 1/4 cup - crumbled. If you don't have goat cheese, feta is also deelish.

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Add in the raw pumpkin seeds. They give the salad a nice crunch.

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Top with the italian seasoning - a tsp is plenty. Gently sprinkled on top.

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And then top with the juice of half a lemon.

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And finally add on top, roasted chicken. I use half of a boneless skinless breast that I do at the beginning of the week.

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Cover and it is ready for you to indulge on the next day. Or have it for dinner. Or have it for dinner and lunch. Or have it for breakfast. Ok - too far.

Alright friends - I hope that life is good for you.

Loves.

Enjoy!


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dancing for salmon

I don't have too much to write tonight - mostly because it's been a super busy weekend and I just want to curl up on the couch, watch the hockey game, snuggle with the pups, think about having a large bowl of ice cream. All of the above are true except for the last one. I actually don't really think about having a big bowl of ice cream, even though I LOVE ice cream. If it's not in the house, which it isn't, then I don't really think about it. If there was some in the house, then I would be doing everything in my power to not grab the carton, a tea towel to prevent frost bite on my fingers and a spoon. I would just eat it and love it. So, good thing that I don't have any. See! See how unexciting this is going to be.

What I really want to share is another recipe that I have been tweaking - something that are great as a meal - or a tasty appetizer. Fish Tacos. We had them for dinner last Saturday night, and then I served them up for an appetizer tonight before having Spaghetti Squash and Turkey Meatballs (you can find that recipe HERE).

Before I share the recipe - I want to show you a little something that will definitely confirm how good these were.

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When there is a promise for some salmon - the dancing shoes come out.

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She moves her feet and her arms to the same beat - she is very talented.

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Every 4th beat, she moves her head to the side - how she choreographed this - I don't know - pure, raw talent


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Fish Tacos

The good thing about these - are that you can make them with anything that you like - chicken, prawns, steak, scallops, tofu or just a bunch of vegetables.

Corn tortillas
Salmon fillet
Lettuce
Peppers
Guacamole sauce - see below

Cook your salmon however you like. I like to bake mine in aluminum foil with a bit of kosher salt and pepper and a squirt of lemon in a 375 oven for about 25 minutes. It's easy, and the salmon is always super moist.

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For the vegetables - and again - you can use whatever you like - tonight I used shredded cabbage and red peppers. Chop the lettuce and peppers into thin strips.

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Heat the corn tortillas in a skillet set to medium heat - for about 30-40 seconds each side. If you want to do a bunch of them before serving - you can wrap them in a tea towel to keep them nice and warm.

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Guacamole Sauce

2 avocados
1 large bunch of fresh cilantro
Juice of one lime
1/2 jalapeno (more if you like it spicy)
1 cup of non-fat plain yogurt
Kosher salt

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 Cut the avocados in half. With the sharp edge of the knife - tap the pit so that the knife is 'stuck' and gently pull out the pit. Using a spoon, gently scoop out the avocado from the skin.

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In a food processor, add in the cilantro, lime juice and jalapeno and chop/grind it up. Add in the yogurt and give it another pulse to mix it all up. Add in the avocado and pulse it up again so that it is nice and smooth.

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Because the avocados have citrus in with them, this will prevent it from browning - and will last in your fridge for a couple of days.

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And then put them all together. Corn tortilla, fish, salad and top with guacamole sauce.

Alrighty - I am about to enjoy this last bits of this weekend, before we do it all over again.

Loves.

Enjoy!