Fun in Fall

I bought a new camera a few weeks back and have vowed to start documenting the beautiful moments in our lives more frequently. For years I’ve had a great big DSLR that has provided me with tens of thousands of great photos, but the thing is so darn heavy that it only gets lugged out on special occasions. My cousin’s husband works for Samsung and convinced me that an NX300m is the way to go. It’s a mirrorless camera meaning it doesn’t required nearly the mechanical parts as a DSLR so it’s ultra compact. I also bought a pancake lens for it so the whole unit fits nicely in my handbag. So far, I’ve been so impressed with the photos and have been so excited to share these snippets of the fun I’ve had these past weeks.

My bridesmaid, Afshaan gave birth to Rayyan only a week before our wedding. A new mother of two, she was a total wonderwoman leading up to the wedding caring for her two children AND me, the bride. I am so blessed to have a friend like her and undoubtedly privileged to be known as “Auntie” to Zain and Rayyan.

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Autumn doesn’t get any better than in Edmonton. Though it can be blistering cold here for 6 months of the year, bearable for 3 and enjoyable for only 3, our fall season makes it all worth it. Here’s Dave on our walk through the river valley one Saturday afternoon.SAMSUNG CSC

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At our favorite taco bar with my brother, Donald, and his adorable girlfriend, Angela. Angela just moved here from Vancouver to study teaching. She’s got to be one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known. I hope Donald is good to her and she can be in our lives forever.SAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSC

Ken and I bonded in the MBA program over our grand appreciation for all things tasty and now have the pleasure of working together in real estate development. Ken used to have a terrible diet (e.g. daily soda, donuts and a mountain of cookies), but hanging with me has turned him into a daily juicer. Sure, we still go out for yam fries and endless desserts, but the goal is to eat healthy 90% of the time.

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Dave can be such a kid. He’s surprisingly good with a yo-yo, rode a unicycle at our wedding reception and got me out to fly kites this fall. He hasn’t said it, but I know he can’t wait until we have kids and he can take them to the hobby toy store to buy remote control cars, boats and planes.SAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSC

My cousin Tim and his wife, Leyla, had a handsome little boy, Sam, at the end of September. With a father who studied at Harvard and mother who researches infectious diseases as a doctor, we are all certain this kid is a genius.

Donald and I had to fight over who got to hold him more.SAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSCHe’s smiling. I think we’re friends.

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Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Mega Healthy Cookies

I’ve never been able to get the man in my life to eat any of my baking, even when I replaced practically all the sugar with healthier sweeteners. He has a zero tolerance approach to the sweetener unless it’s hidden in the form of my mother’s pies, but certainly makes no exception for my kitchen creations. Since it’s no fun for your tummy to eat an entire batch of cookies on its own, I caved and made a fiancé-friendly version for us to share and was ecstatic with the results! He joyously exclaimed that these are the only cookies he will ever eat and then proceeded to eat three of them right off of my beautiful photo display.DSC_0030

Mega Healthy Cookies

Not only are they delicious, but they couldn’t possibly get any healthier: sugar-free, gluten-free, oil-free and vegan!

If you’re looking for a slightly more decadent treat, add in 1/4 cup of 70% dark chocolate or carob chips.

Mega Healthy Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp vanilla vegan protein powder or 1 tsp stevia powder (optional)
  • 16 pecan halves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix all ingredients, except pecans, in a large bowl.
  3. Spoon 2 tbsp mounds of batter onto a parchement-lined cookie sheet and press pecans into tops of each. Bake for 15 minutes, let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information

Makes 16 cookies. Per cookie:

125 calories – 16 g carbs – 3 g protein – 6 g fat – 2 g fiber

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Carrot Quinoa Tofu Scramble

Since going plant-based I’ll admit I miss my scrambled eggs on occasion. Scrambled tofu doesn’t exactly taste like scrambled eggs, but the texture is pretty convincing and with enough flavours and spices you’re practically there. I particularly love this his version of the popular egg breakfast substitute as it combines beans, greens and a grain for a well-rounded start to your day and the toasted sunflower seeds add a lovely crunch to the otherwise warm and hearty bowl.

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Carrot Quinoa Tofu Scramble

Ingredients

  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cups chopped kale leaves
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, toasted

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients, except oil and sunflower seeds, in a large bowl and mix well. Feel free to do so the night before and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Heat oil in large frying pan over high heat. Scramble tofu mixture until tofu is firm and golden.
  3. Remove from heat and serve with a generous topping of sunflower seeds. Enjoy!

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Nutritional Information

Makes 4 servings. Per serving:

267 calories – 18 g carbs – 18 g protein – 15 g fat – 4 g fiber

 

 

Blogging, Habits and “I’m back!”

There exist a couple of reasons I left this blog to decay for 9 months:

  1. I came to terms with my outright inability run outdoors in the winter. Call it being a wimp, looking for an excuse or not being cut out for it, I just couldn’t get myself out there. I figure the labour of a run is tough enough to talk myself through, let alone under lung-frosting blizzard conditions (alright, it’s not THAT bad, but still…), so I conceded my defeat and cowered in shame from my blog.
  2. I signed up for the Nike Women’salf Marathon in Washington,DC last April, and was all stoked about getting back to trainingIMG_0987 IMG_0984and blogging until a knee injury decided to strike (actually, it was my fault but blaming the injury makes me feel a smidgen better) and completely derailed my training schedule and attitude towards running and therefore blogging about running. All I could manage on race day was to run the first 2 miles and walk the remainder. Which was very sad for me, but mostly painful: I didn’t realize the walking part would require any training and boy was I wrong! Power walking is NOT a natural movement and you DO need to adapt your body to it or you’ll end up like me: the weird girl who alternates between power walking and limp-running (because despite the knee pain, it gave my walking joints a rest) and much more sore than any running race can make you.

 

Now, there exist a couple of reasons why I’m back to my blog and promising to be much less absent!

  1. One of the last audiobooks I listened to was What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, which wasn’t mind opening enough for me to recommend it for anyone’s reading list, but it did inspire me enough to reflect on how my ideal mornings would play out. I decided it would be to always awake at 5:30 and either run or get my day going so I can have time to read or blog before starting work.
    Additionally, I listened to another audiobook, What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite, describing how contrary to the popular belief that it takes 21 days to create a habit, it actually takes on average 66 days for easier habits and 84 days for more difficult habits (exercise being one of them) to develop. Basically, if I want this early morning running thing to stick, I’m going to have to commit to at least 66 days…
  2. A couple of weeks ago TubbyPaul reblogged my last post and very encouragingly said he was “gutted Andrea has stopped updating this blog”, which firstly, made me remember about my blog and secondly, contemplate that hey, maybe some people actually enjoy reading about my love-hate relationship with running.
  3. I have another race to train for!
    Even after the late April race, I struggled with my knee for another 2 months and was so frustrated I almost gave up on running altogether. Finally, after admitting to myself that the injury persisted from a continued attempt to run too far too fast, and after many 1 milers, even more 2 milers and countless cringes on my foam roller, I’m happy to announce my knee is in tiptop shape and ready to take on training for this year’s NWM Half in San Francisco!

So with apology to any who wished I had posted these last months, here I go, ready to tackle 66 (or maybe 84) days of morning running and blogging!

When is your favorite time to run?
Is running a habit or do you have to talk yourself into it?
Do you have any book/audiobook recommendations?

Chana Masala

Oh man was I excited to learn chana masala was so quick and easy to make! Whenever I get the craving I visit my local chai bar for some satisfaction, but I find their version to be rather heavy (greasy). Don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious, but my stomach feels sluggish for the rest of the day. Luckily, this recipe delivers all the flavour, but still leaves me alert enough to finish the afternoon at work and energetic enough to get out for a run.Chana Masala

Chana Masala

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 3 jalapeños, minced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • chopped cilantro, to taste

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring chickpeas and salt to a boil in 6 cups of water. Reduce heat to low and simmer chickpeas until soft, about 2 hours. Drain chickpeas and retain 1 1/2 cups of cooking liquid.
  2. In a small frying pan, toast fenugreek, cumin and coriander seeds over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Using a food processor, grind seeds to a fine powder.
  3. In a large pot, stir onion, garlic, ginger and jalapeños over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add turmeric and ground spices, fry for 1 minute and add tomatoes, tomato paste, lime juice and bay leaves. Let simmer for 5 minutes before adding chickpeas and retained cooking liquid. Bring everything to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove bay leaves, service with rice and top with cilantro. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information

Makes 8 servings. Per serving:

261 calories – 40 g carbs – 12 g protein – 6 g fat – 16 g fibre

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Chipotle Baked Tofu Sandwiches

 

My meat-loving paleo brother and his vegetarian girlfriend (yes, they make an odd, but lovely, couple) came over for dinner while she was visiting from Miami. I wasn’t worried about feeding Megan, but I considered the possibility that my brother might order himself a bucket of chicken upon his arrival and discovery of tofu on the menu. Luckily, this spicy baked tofu was so flavourful, hearty and delicious that my little bro had not one, but TWO helpings.

This tofu would also make a great protein topping for a crisp summer salad or roll it up in tortillas for spicy fajitas.

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To keep things easy on a work day, I made the marinade the night before and tossed it in a container with the tofu to refrigerate overnight.

Chipotle Baked Tofu Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1 lb super-firm organic tofu
  • 1 cup Mexican beer
  • 3 tbsp chipotles in adobo, pureed
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Whisk together all ingredients, except tofu, to make marinade.
  2. Slice tofu into 1/2 inch wedges..
  3. Pour marinade onto small baking sheet, toss tofu until well coated and bake for 20 minutes at 400F. Flip tofu and bake another 20 minutes until marinade has been absorbed.
  4. Remove from oven and serve with soft whole-wheat buns smeared with refried beans and vegan mayonnaise, avocado slices, pickled banana peppers, tomato slices, shredded romaine and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Chocolate Coconut Quinoa Balls

This recipe combines two of my favorite snacking foods (chocolate and nut butters) into one convenient little bite. Super easy to make, they are creamy, nutty and just sweet enough to make you feel like you’re really indulging, but are WAY healthier than a chocolate bar or even a packaged granola bar. Carry a couple to energize on the go or take them over to your next tea party! I like to keep a batch in my freezer and grab a couple on my way to work to eat as a mid-morning snack that tastes more like dessert than a ball of quinoa.

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Chocolate Coconut Quinoa Balls

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients, except coconut, in a large bowl.
  2. Spread coconut on a large plate. Line a baking sheet in parchment paper.
  3. Form 1.5 tbsp balls in your hands, roll them in coconut and place on baking sheet.
  4. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to harden before enjoying.

Nutritional Information

Makes 20 servings. Per serving:

75 calories – 10 g carbs – 2 g protein –  3 g fat – 1 g fibre

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Panko Crusted Tempeh

This recipe makes a hearty meal paired with brown rice and a crunchy salad/slaw, but could also be served alone with a dipping sauce as a chicken finger-like appetizer. Marinating the tempeh overnight really helps camouflage that nutty mushroom flavour that some find off-putting in tempeh and the marinade is so good you could easily skip the breading step and bake it without – though the panko crumbs do give the tempeh fingers that crunch we so often crave in fried fast foods.

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Tempeh Marinade

Serves 4 generously

Ingredients

  • 8-ounce block of tempeh
  • 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin, Japanese cooking wine
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, grated

Directions

  1. Slice tempeh into 4 long pieces and place into a container just large enough to fit.
  2. Combine remaining marinade ingredients, add to container of tempeh ensuring tempeh is evenly covered in sauce. Cover and let marinate in the fridge overnight.

Sesame Panko Coating

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened soy milk, or any non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp corn starch or tapioca flour
  • 6 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • oil spray

Directions

  1. In a shallow bowl or plate, whisk together soy milk, lemon juice, corn starch and 2 tbsp of the flour.
  2. In a large plate, mix together panko crumbs, sesame seeds and oil. Distribute crumb mixture evenly over plate.
  3. Remove marinated tempeh from fridge and dust with remaining flour to absorb surface moisture.
  4. Dip each side of each piece of tempeh into soymilk mixture and then into panko crumb mixture, pressing panko crumbs around surface of tempeh.
  5. Arrange each piece of tempeh on a parchment-covered baking sheet and spray generously with oil.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, flip tempeh and bake for another 10 minutes until panko crumbs are golden.
  7. Remove from oven and slice each finger in half lengthwise into longer sticks. Serve with cabbage slaw, brown rice, a lemon wedge and Japanese BBQ sauce (recipe below).

Panko Crusted Tempeh - oven ready

Nutritional Information

Makes 4 servings. Per serving:

306 calories – 39 g carbs – 14 g protein – 12 g fat – 6 g fibre

Japanese BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup organic ketchup
  • 2 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin, Japanese cooking wine
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Sesame Kale Chips

Life has been a little CRAZY as of late, hence the 7 weeks that have swiftly elapsed since my last post. In all honesty I haven’t made any new recipes since then. It’s just been the same old vegetarian chili for 49 days, minus those where I’ve been away in Barbados, D.C., and Mexico. Having, alas, drained my vacation time for the next 8 years, you can expect an appreciable number of recipes to surface on this blog in the foreseeable future.

Figured I would take it easy my first day back in the kitchen, so as not to injure myself of course. Seeing as you can make kale chips without the use of a knife, they were an obvious choice for my rusty hands. Also, travelling can suck the health right out of you, so what better way to replenish it than with nutritional powerhouse of almighty kale!

Typically I wouldn’t speak proudly of eating an entire bowl of chips, but when they are made from kale and not from potato or tortilla, then I want to get on top of my soapbox (honestly, where would you even get one of these?) and preach the miracle properties of kale: MORE IRON than BEEF, MORE CALCIUM than MILK!

Sesame Kale Chips

Sesame Kale Chips

Serves 2 generously

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Spread kale over large cookie sheets and bake until crispy, but now brown.
  4. Remove from oven and enjoy immediately!

Nutritional Information

Makes 2 servings. Per serving:

226 calories – 25 g carbs – 9 g protein – 13 g fat – 6 g fibre

Quick Tomato Balsamic Salad Dressing

Often the only reason I skip out on preparing a salad is because I loathe making a salad dressing, except for this one. Typically dressings call for a couple of garlic cloves, which add that kick you need, but no matter the garlic peeler/crusher/contraption you have, it always leave your fingers sticky and smelly. Ingeniously, this dressing uses tomato paste to tantalize the taste buds, so it is garlic-free to keep your fingers clean; make it simple for those lazy days; and, most importantly, maintain your breath in an acceptable state to leave the house after dinner.

I find salads to be best when the greens are tossed in the dressing and all other veggies are laid beautifully on top. This concentrates the dressing on the greens, which typically demand the most flavour to counter their bitterness; gives your salad a more dynamic flavour profile and allows you to get a little creative with presentation.

Last night’s salad was a bit of a “clean out the fridge” meal, which happened me upon the concept of using parsley (unless tabouleh is on the menu) and cilantro as greens and not simply as a garnish. It’s a great way to make use of that enormous bushel of garnish you are forced to buy when your recipe calls for only 2 tbsps of it, plus they taste GREAT!

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Tomato Balsamic Dressing

Makes 1/4 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 medium lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Whisk together all ingredients, pour over greens and toss.
  2. Layer any veggies, grains or beans you like on top and enjoy!

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