Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My favourite wellness and nutrition blogs, Part 2

Early on in this blog's existence, I posted a little summary of some of my favourite healthy living blogs. Spurred on by a request, I thought I'd add to the list, and maybe revisit a couple, because they are what I consider the best of the best (that I've come across, thus far).

My New Roots
A Canadian holistic nutritionist and vegetarian chef living in Denmark. Great blog, lots of lovely recipes.

Cook Bake Nibble
Kristin is a natural food chef. She has great recipes, pretty much exclusively gluten-free and many grain-free.

Joyous Health
Joy is a holistic nutritionist based out of Toronto. She's got lots of great stuff on her blog, including recipes, healthy living ideas, and the mind-body connection. She's genuine; you can tell.

Gluten-Free Goddess
Karina seems to be the queen of all things gluten-free. She has a large following, especially in the Celiac community. Amazing recipes. Not the easiest mind you, but if you're more than a beginner baker, I'm sure you can pull her recipes off.

Inside-Out Nutrition
Josh is a clinical nutritionist. He knows the ins and outs of it. I've had great "aha" moments reading his posts. Things just make sense.

Comfy Belly
The blog of a mom with a sick child. She chronicles the recipes she's created to heal her child -- all gluten free!

Eat, Spin, Run, Repeat
Angela, based in Kitchener, Ontario, writes a daily blog about healthy eating and exercise. She's young and fun and so is the blog.

Ok and I have to mention again my healthy blog staples. Such amazing stuff here:

Making Love in the Kitchen
I'm such a Meghan Telpner fan. I read her blog religiously everyday. I can't get enough -- I even went to Toronto for a weekend to take in some of her healthy living/eating classes that she offers. So amazing, so inspiring!

Oh She Glows
Angela from Oh She Glows is the most amazing food photographer; she can make anything look good. But she doesn't have to because her stuff is so amazing on it's own. She blogs about a completely plant-based diet. I've tried many of her recipes, and no complaints here! Again, super inspiring Canadian woman.

Elana's Pantry
Elana has the simplest recipes I've ever come across. Very few ingredients, but maximum flavour. Her recipes are all gluten-free, but also grain-free as she eats according to the paleolithic diet. She also has a couple cookbooks, if you're so interested!

Please share with me your favourite blogs. I'd love to add more to my roster!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I won a giveaway!

I won my first blog giveaway! From one of my most favourite blogs!

A few weeks ago, Meghan Telpner from Making Love in the Kitchen held a giveaway for a great gift basket from Prana.

Prana is a fabulous little Canadian gem of a company, based in Montreal, that make great snacks (sweet and savory) from healthy and organic nuts, seeds and fruits.

I found out about the 'win' on a Monday, and by Tuesday my package had arrived. Now in my usual excitedness about getting packages in the mail, I tore it open before I even thought to take photos. I tried to stuff all my goodies back into the basket to take a photo but I couldn't do it justice; so just pretend everything is in the basket and it's all wrapped up in cellophane and some pretty ribbon. You'll also have to imagine I took nicer photos where I've taken care to make sure the background is clear of say Dyson vacuums. But at the time I didn't care about the quality of the photo, I wanted to EAT these goodies!

My loot!

Included were:

Sumsuma Sesame Squares
Ignore that the bag has already been
ripped opened in this photo
Chia Oil

    White Mulberries
    Brown Manuka Raisins
    Raw Walnuts

      Sundried Tomatoes
      Dried Apple Rings
      Dried Cherries
      Pumpkin Seeds

      They also included a lovely note and a coupon for 20% off an order from their online store.

      What a lovely gift! Let's just say the sesame squares were gone by the next morning. So good, but full of sugar, which is not good for maintaining a steady blood sugar, which then leads to cravings... So these will only be a treat.

      The chia oil is lovely. Lighter in colour and taste than a flax oil, but both are very high in Omega 3 fatty acids (an essential fatty acid that the body does not produce on it's own). I used most of it in my morning smoothies, but I also made a salad dressing with it and it was lovely.

      The rest of the loot (all the seeds, nuts and dried fruit) got poured into a big jar and shook up! Instant trail mix! I've been picking away at it for a few weeks. It nice when you get home from work and are hungry and need a little something to satisfy you while dinner is cooking. Due to the fact that there's a good blend of all three macronutrients (fat, protein and carbohydrate), it sustains and doesn't make you reach back for more and more. And plain and simple it's so darn good together. The different textures and flavours blend so wonderfully. One thing to watch for when purchasing dried fruits is that they are often loaded with sulfites to preserve them. Sulfites can trigger asthma and allergies in certain people. It's always best to eat the cleanest, most natural foods available. Prana delivers on this with all organic products.

      I've been really impressed with the pumpkin seeds as well as the raisins and dried cherries. I think my discount coupon will be spent on stocking up on those.

      Check them out and maybe order some items for yourself! Or find their products at a store near you.

      Thank you Prana for your gift. I thoroughly enjoyed and am continuing to enjoy it!

      Sunday, November 20, 2011

      Pumpkins aren't just for Halloween

      Until this year, I'd never cooked a pumpkin. But so far this fall, I've cooked two! And my oh my they are one delicious vegetable. I picked up my latest one at the Ottawa Organic Farmers' Market on Saturday.

      Cooking pumpkin or any kind of squash is so unbelievably simple:
      • Cut in two with a large knife (be careful, they're hard!)
      • Scoop out the "innards"
      • Lay face down in a baking dish with a bit of water (1/4 to 1/2 inch)
      • Bake at 350F for 45 minutes or so (depends on the size) until it's soft
      Roasted pumpkin. Ready to peel.
      • Let it cool for a quick bit and peel off the skin
      • There you have it, amazing, delicious, nutrient-dense pumpkin!
      Depending on what you're using it for, the instructions can change here. I like mine pureed, so I cut the peeled, roasted pumpkin up into large chunks, and tossed it in the food processor to puree.

      Pureed pumpkin.
      Keeps in the fridge for a few days, or freeze it for later use.

      Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, very low in sugar, an amazing source of vitamin A due to it's rich colour and full of lots of other nutrients that are oh so good for the bod, including vitamin C, iron, and B vitamins.

      So now what do you do with your pumpkin... Well a few ideas for you. Some tried and tested, some recipes to come this week, to use up that gorgeous bowl of orange goodness.

      Here's how they look. They taste AMAZING.
      Chia Pumpkin Muffins! Mmm tasty. A few changes to the recipe, as I have a slightly different paper version:
      • I used 2 tablespoons of ground chia, instead of one.
      • I used 1/2 cup brown rice flour and 1/2 cup of quinoa flour to make up the 1 cup of flour.
      • I used arrowroot flour instead of tapioca and only 1/4 cup.
      • I substituted the agave for raw honey, still at 1/2 cup.
      • I lowered the amount of maple syrup to just 1/4 cup.

      Other great ideas for pumpkin (that I have tried or will be trying):

      Have you any creative and good ideas for using the very stellar pumpkin?

      Sunday, November 6, 2011

      Organizing a small kitchen

      I love my little kitchen, but it's small. There are very few cupboards, so space is at a premium. I've taken to finding vertical space to solve some issues and make better use of the space I do have.
      The first thing that started my kitchen reorganization was the biggest super saver of space. I installed a pot rack I found on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond from the ceiling above my peninsula. Warning: attaching heavy things from ceilings is tricky; I measured and measured and never used my stud finder so much! But it got up and hasn't fallen down (knock on wood -- it's been several months now).

      I'm lucky (thanks to my generous grandmother) to own some lovely stainless steel pots that I'm more than happy to display. This one project saved me tonnes of space in my lower cupboard.

      But the pot rack left me with a problem. What to do with all the lids? I found this idea on Pinterest.

      However, I couldn't find the right magazine rack. This cupboard was also causing me a huge headache as it is pretty much my only lower cabinet other than the under the sink storage and it's a corner cupboard that's annoying to get into to boot! So I came up with this idea.

      I installed two Bygel rails from Ikea (only $2.99 each!) along the sides of the cupboard and paired them with some Grundtal S-hooks. Works for all my pots lids as well as a colander.

      The Dollarama has also been a great help. These racks to keep pans and cutting boards vertical are amazing. Getting these things in and out of my cupboard is so much easier thanks to these. I put two side by side and at only $2 each, no biggie!

      Next I made some extra space in my stack of drawers by cleaning out an entire drawer buy using this little gem of an idea, again from Pinterest.

      I used Ikea's Dokument magazine files in white for the job. They are great as they are a wire mesh and can easily be cleaned if something spills. It came in a pack of two, with one file slight smaller than the other. The smaller file was put to good use to corral take out menus, small recipe books as well as recipes printouts.

      To make better use of that drawer space I cleaned out, I found some small baskets at the dollar store (2/$1) to house some smaller items such as measuring spoons and cups, as well as some smaller tools. They help keep the drawers organized, therefore making things easy to find! Bonus.

      To make better use of some vertical space, I installed a Grundtal wall shelf so I could double the use of this piece of counter space. On the shelf I have two baskets I found on sale from Micheal's. One houses my supplements and the other my tea collection, with my pretty yellow tea pot in the middle. Underneath the shelf I have three bowls to keep fruits and vegetables that need not be refrigerated, such as lemons, garlic, ginger, avocados, and onions.

      The dollar store is also awesome for finding great glass canisters. I have some almonds and red and white quinoa in these ($2 or less each).

      Last thing I have to share with you is an unfinished project, inspired again by Pinterest, seen here.

      Here's my version, again, under construction. I picked up a piece of stainless steel in the plumbing department at Home Depot. Thanks to my Dad, I have quite the toolkit that includes steel cutters, so I was able to easily cut my sheet down to size. I sized it so that it could fit 28 jars, in an 7 by 4 pattern. However, not every project goes quite according to plan...

      The small 125ml mason jars are small, but still heavy... and one magnet didn't do the trick. I used hot glue to attach the magnets and that didn't hold up either -- now some magnets are falling off. I need to revisit this one... Maybe with a more heavy duty adhesive for the magnets. I also want to clean up the edges of the stainless steel sheet by applying a small strip of moulding. Stay tuned.

      Have you undertaken any kitchen organization projects? Have you any great ideas to share?