MIMM #9: Weekend Home

Early last week I started to miss my parents a lot. As beautiful as my residence room is, it still doesn’t feel like home. It’s not as though I haven’t made friends but our relationships naturally aren’t as close as those that I have back in Oakville. Thankfully the commute is only 2 hours and my mom was able to pick me up on Friday afternoon so that I could spend the weekend in my own bed.

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Coming home to parents who will cook you meals, clean up after you and chauffeur you around is pretty marvelous after living independently for 2 weeks. London is full of marvelous opportunities such as the Covent Garden Market but it is a bit of a trek to walk or bus everywhere and the rainy weather has discouraged me from venturing off of campus. IMG_8110

I had an incredibly marvelous weekend and it started out with some marvelous mail. Joyce knows my obsession with tea and owls too well which is probably she sent along this variety of David’s tea (there is an owl on the package). Joyce also wrote a beautiful card and enclosed it with Owl stickers and sticky notes. As well, I received my Vega One French Vanilla and Vega Sport Vanilla, Silver Drinking Straws from the Maine Drinking Straw Company and the book “Whole Foods to Thrive”. Charissa put so much work into hosting the Colourful Smoothie Contest and I am so thankful that I was able not only to participate but win a prize.IMG_8173

The marvelous-ness continued when my mom picking me up from Chemistry class. The fact that she didn’t make me walk up the Brescia hill was not kind but pretty good door-to-door service. We had so much to catch up on the drive flew by. I’m pretty sure I talked my mom’s ear off. IMG_8187

Marvelous is being given Moon Cakes to celebrate the Harvest Moon. Our neighbours, the same ones who gave us Lobster from P.E.I, surprised us with Moon Cakes on Friday evening. They are so generous and thoughtful.The flavour and texture is definitely acquired and I can’t say I’ve ever had anything quite like it before. The box they delivered the cakes in was beautiful.

554664_342894899179628_1807322675_nMarvelous is getting together with Chelsea because we seem to relate on so many levels. It’s pretty obvious Chelsea’s blog is one of my favourites so I never turn down an opportunity to meet with her. It’s also pretty evident that our preferred places to meet up include Kindfood and Whole foods so it should be no surprise that I tried my first quinWOW bowl and fell in love with the marvelous miso gravy.1234268_342894942512957_1400790597_n

Marvelous is also attending Yoga class with Chelsea. We wanted to add in an extra component to our usual lunch date but the weather forecast was not promising which ruled out our idea of apple picking, frequenting the farmer’s market or hiking. Thankfully Chelsea had heard Be Yoga and Wellness was celebrating their birthday by teaching free yoga classes. We weren’t sure how hard it would be so we decided to stick to Hatha 1, but neither of us were overly challenged so we agreed to try Aerial or a more difficult level next time. I could definitely tell that my Pilates workouts have helped strengthen my core because I found myself more balanced while holding the tree pose. I haven’t practiced yoga in ages which is probably why I woke up sore the next morning. Amanda, the instructor, had a beautiful voice and finished the class with a powerful chant. The class was accompanied by live music so you could really feel the energy waves and rhythm of the beat. I found it a bit distracting because I wanted to watch the drummer and singer, but it definitely made for a positive atmosphere.1260869_342894869179631_1096412141_n1239528_342894962512955_1285484907_n

Marvelous is also discovering new local bakers. Nourishing Nook was giving away free samples at BeYoga and Welless so I got to try my first Sweet Potato muffin. She had kale chips that I found to be quite good since they were had a bit of a spicy kick to their crunch. Chelsea and I each had a granola circle and tried to decipher the recipe but found ourselves finishing the last bite before we had identified all the ingredients. I guess that just means I’ll have to purchase some which is definitely not a complaint on my end since they were marvelous.1368914_342894759179642_443416321_n 1371409_342894762512975_659219238_n1375906_342894845846300_507576849_n

Marvelous is also meeting Caitlin for coffee or watching Lottie blow bubbles and giggle. It’s having my last ice cream cone of the summer and then huddling with a blanket because Fall is definitely not frozen dessert weather. It’s hugging Emma, seeing Nathan, getting advice from my Mom and grocery shopping with my Dad.  It’s waking up to the smell of breakfast food and a full stocked fridge and winding down the evening with a cup of tea and in the company of my family. It’s being given the opportunity to go to university and to study a subject I am so passionate about. It’s taking time for myself just to be and it’s finally catching up on blog reading after being so behind. It’s being able to participate in things such as Katie’s Marvelous in my Monday tradition. What was marvelous about your weekend? What is marvelous about this upcoming week?  ♥ Molly

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey 

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Fresh Spa Food

There is no denying in my mind, that soup is delicious. From creamy potato leek, to homemade chicken noodle, I love everything about soup. Hot or cold, chunky or smooth, the smell and flavour never fail to satisfy my needs and taste palette. It is a versatile item as it can be an appetizer, starter, snack or main course. There are even dessert soups!

IMG_5274Typically people think of soup as a rich, heavy substance so whenever summertime rolls around, it usually gets removed from our menus. Thankfully, there are variations of chilled soups that can be lighter options. Take for example this chilled cucumber soup, it reminds me of spa food! One of the great aspects of this chilled soup is that it is easy to cook. With a little bit of slicing, chopping, mincing and blending, this cucumber soup takes very little time to prepare as you don’t have to patiently boil a broth. Did you know that greenhouse cucumbers are not pollinated, so they are seedless? This recipe disposes of the seeds so why not pick up this type! When picking out my cucumbers at Longos, there was an Ontario Greenhouse fact sheet where I learned that the best cucumbers typically are bright in colour, fresh in scent, and firm but not too firm! Apparently cucumbers also thrive in cool, dry places so be sure to keep them in a crisper.

IMG_5259While my creation was a source of calcium and vegetables, it lacked protein, fats and carbohydrates and wasn’t substantial enough to be served on it’s own. I created a balanced meal by whipping up an adaptation of Tosca Reno’s “Ladies’ Lunch Quick Shrimp Ceviche Stuffed Avocados” and toasting whole wheat tortilla with garlic butter. In all, the meal was light but kept me full throughout my post-meal swim and evening. When I was fixing these dishes, I couldn’t help but notice that Shrimp is a great source of protein, as 8-10 of those little things pack in 15g and only 65 calories! On the other hand, avocados are great sources of lutein (a carotenoid that promote eye health), insoluble and soluble fibre (slows digestion keeping you feeling fuller), monosaturated fat (blood sugar stabilizer, heart heart, can lower blood pressure), folic (important during pregnancy) and oleic acid (lowers cholesterol). The subtle hints of citrus in both recipes were also sincerely enjoyed.

IMG_5285… But if the health benefits of the meal don’t interest you, I sure hope its flavour does. Enough information already, here are the recipes! ♥ Molly

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Serves 6, 1 cup servings, generously IMG_5271

  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (2 tbsp.)
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 ¾ cup 2% Greek plain yogurt
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 3 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, chopped (4 cups)
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic, stirring constantly. Cook until onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup water, reduce to medium low heat, and cook until onions are soft, about 2 minutes.
  2. Place chopped cucumber and sautéed onion mixture into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add in remaining ½ cup water, lemon juice, sea salt, and 1 ½ cups Greek yogurt. Process until smooth. Stir in ¼ cup parsley.
  3. Transfer to a container and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until cold.
  4. Serve, garnishing each bowl with remaining ¼ cup yogurt and ¼ cup parsley. You may wish to season with salt or pepper.

IMG_5260Avocado Shrimp Salad

Ingredients and Directions adapted from Tosca Reno’s “Ladies’ Lunch Quick Shrimp Ceviche Stuffed Avocados”, The Eat-Clean Diet

Serves 6, 1 cup servingsIMG_5258

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 lb. cooked shrimp, peeled
  • 1 red pepper, seeded, finely chopped
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup cherry tomatoes, halved (Or tomato, chopped)
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice, freshly squeezed (1 lime)
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  1. Remove shrimp tails and discard. Chop each shrimp piece into quarters.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together pepper, salt and both juices. Add in all ingredients, except avocado.
  3. If making “Shrimp Avocado Salad”, peel and cut both avocados into ¼ inch cubes. Refrigerate salad for a half an hour, allowing flavours to combine. Serve with a fresh slice of lime or orange and enjoy.
  4.  If making “Shrimp Salad stuffed Avocado”, slice avocados in half and remove peel. Scoop avocado halves out of their skins. Spoon the shrimp salad into the center of each avocado half, allowing overflow. Refrigerate for half an hour, allowing flavours to combine. Serve and enjoy!

IMG_5286 IMG_5293“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virgina Woolf

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Note: Before reading this, please realize that the opinions I mention are personal to me. We each are allowed our own viewpoints when it comes to reduced sugar, reduced fat or “diet” products. I am by no means telling you that your outlook is wrong, or even that my thoughts are correct.Words that are in brackets are stereotypical terms that which I am not necessarily in favour of. I had difficulty publishing this post as I worried about it’s controversy. The fact of the matter is, it was designed to spark ideas and get people reflecting on if their diets are meeting their personal needs and goals.

My parents used to tell me that when they were kids, PB&J sandwiches not only consisted of peanut butter, but also a layer of butter underneath. My initial reaction was “Eww, gross”. I still think that it is unnecessary to have that additional layer, but was their method of making this classic lunchtime meal wrong? Definitely not. In fact there are probably numerous individuals out there who continue to eat this version of a PB&J sandwich.

My Nana would be appalled if she knew I altered her recipes into “Black Bean Brownies” (Chocolate Brownies) and “Chickpea Burgers” (Ground Beef). She baked from the heart and believed in using as much butter, sugar, and white flour as she wished.

I truly believe that there is a fine (but present) line between disordered and clean eating. While some individuals are great at maintaining a balance of healthy replacements in their life, some fall off the bandwagon into yo-yo dieting.

Since when is eating “Splenda Enriched Yogurt” a substitute for “0.0% – 4.0% MF Yogurt”? Is drinking “Diet Soda” better for you than “Sugar Laden Cola” as some call it? The reality is, to me, low-calorie foods will never be as filling as “the real deal”.

While simple substitutes such as applesauce/avocado for butter, whole grain flour instead of refined flour, skim in contrast to homogenized milk, agave nectar/stevia vs. sugar are okay (in my mind), is it necessary to deplete everything of it’s natural calories? Who said you can’t make a “Betty Crocker packaged cake mix” and eat it too? Not me!

While this is a touchy subject for many individuals, it is something that needs to be addressed. Don’t get me wrong, even I fall culprit of choosing aspartame flavoured substances from time to time. Trouble is, I instantly live in regret as I am left feeling unsatisfied and bloated as a result of ingesting chemicals that I can’t even pronounce. I wonder what society would be like today if low-calorie alternatives had not been made? Would we still be putting butter and peanut butter (Not powdered, 85% less fat PB2) on those tasty sandwiches? Probably… and that is perfectly fine. Back then, when diet products were not as readily available, people did not mind consuming higher caloric versions as they needed sustenance to perform daily tasks. Cars were not as common as they are today. It was okay to indulge in proper serving sizes of “unhealthy” treats because most individuals were active enough to stay fit. This could still be the case, but unfortunately variety amongst grocery shelves isn’t the only thing that has increased in quantities; portion sizes have too.

I am willing to bet that many individuals choose to eat higher volumes of imitation foods instead of proper serving sizes of the original product. Are calorie free foods empowering people to feel as though they can have more than the recommended amount of servings? Just because it is sugar, energy and fat free, is it okay to chug a litre of “Coca-cola zero”? Would you feed “Hollywood Bread” to a growing toddler?

We all have our likes and dislikes and I agree that it is okay to disagree on taste buds and preferences. While I am not afraid to drink 2% milk, I honestly find skim milk more thirst quenching. Contrastingly, I am partial to regular ice cream opposed to the less fat alternatives. Would you choose to eat whole wheat pasta or Shirataki noodles? If you were offered a slice of toast or three rice cakes, which would you be more likely to pick? There is really no right or wrong answer.

By no means am I suggesting that you should give up healthy substitutions when baking or cooking. The point I am trying to make is that we shouldn’t be afraid to go back to our roots and eat the foods our grandparents consumed. No foods should be completely off limits, everything in moderation. Just because you aren’t “clean eating”, does not mean that you are not taking care of your body. It get our brains thinking when we turn an occasional dessert into an acceptable everyday snack, but it isn’t always necessary. ♥ Molly

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” – Julia Childs

Note: If you are upset by anything that was mentioned in today’s post, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or e-mail me at thehappinessrecipe@hotmail.com I am always open to hearing new ideas and perspectives. 

Tropical Treats

As a nutrition student, I read cookbooks like an individual majoring in English would devour a Shakespeare play. While most of the time I search for inspiration through Pinterest and Blogs, I probably flip through a recipe book at least every other day. Call me addicted, but the terminology is fascinating.

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When I am creating a recipe of my own though, I often seek guidance from my Nutrition textbook.

One of my favourite bloggers and good friend is great at informing her readers about great sources of various nutrients. This year, Chelsea completed her undergraduate in Food and Nutrition and received a dietetic internship for the upcoming year. Whenever I am in need of a new place to eat, I always ask her since is great at discovering new restaurants and shares similar nut allergies as me! Often she will do a breakdown of a certain vitamin or mineral and this week it just happened to be Iron. Something I should be more conscious about consuming within my diet.

When assembling a meal, I don’t simply cater to my taste buds; I also try to incorporate nutrients that I know I need. My blood work consistently shows a lack of Iron and since I don’t eat red meat, I am conscious about choosing leafy greens, legumes, tofu and of course occasional heme sources such as mussels and shrimp. Chelsea mentioned that seeds and molasses are also great sources for iron, so I might just have to whip up a batch of cookies!

Similarly, I don’t often drink milk, so I choose calcium rich and vitamin D dense foods such as yogurt, fish and eggs (the yolk included). Recently I took up an interest in swimming and since then, I have found that I am getting muscle cramps during the night. This can be a sign of a potassium deficiency as potassium is responsible for balancing water and acid in blood and in body tissues. Potassium is a trace mineral, which means quantity wise, I don’t need as much as a macro mineral. This being said, someone over the age of 14 should be ingesting 4700mg of potassium each day (Canada’s Food Guide). Bananas are one of the best sources of potassium as are lima and white beans, potatoes (with skin), squash, dairy (yogurt and milk) and apricots (fresh or dried).

Today, when creating a healthy snack, I decided to incorporate both Potassium and Calcium. While this recipe isn’t exactly a source of iron, Vitamin C does enhance non-heme iron absorption when eaten at the same meal. Last week my sister and I made yummy orange creamsicles, but to be honest, they weren’t exactly nutritious. In hopes of maintaing their flavour but cutting back on the fat and sugar, I created a delicious yogurt variation. I call them “Better than Tropicana” because they remind me of a childhood favourite; Tropicana “Strawberry Banana Orange Juice”.

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Better than TropicanaIMG_4644

Makes 6, 3oz Servings

  • 1 cup of Orange Juice (Freshly squeezed or Organic).
  • 1 cup Strawberry Yogurt (Greek or Regular, 0% or 2%)
  • 1 banana (Fairly ripe)
  1. Blend all ingredients together and pour into popsicle moulds. Let freeze overnight.

Note: If you wanted this to taste more like an Orange creamsicle, substitute vanilla yogurt instead of strawberry, and omit the banana. You could even add in some fresh orange zest, but beware it sinks to the end of the popsicle. To compensate for the missing banana ingredient, add an extra half a cup of vanilla yogurt. To pack in even more protein, you could add in 1 scoop of protein powder, decrease the amount of yogurt and increase the ratio of juice so that it isn’t too thick.

I think that the reason I enjoy making popsicles is because they aren’t messy (hello blender and spatula) and are very easy (only three ingredients). I am hoping to create Pomegranate Blueberry, Strawberry Basil, and Mocha flavoured popsicles in the near future. Making popsicles is similar to making a smoothie, only in solid form. The hardest part is definitely waiting for them to freeze and seeing them disappear quickly. You’ll be surprised at how filling they can actually be! ♥ Molly

Fun Fact: I fell in love with popsicles during the 2003 summer power outage. Everyone brought popsicles and ice cream out to the park since there was no electricity to keep the freezer cold! 

Oh My Heart

When I wake up in the morning, I always take a few minutes to quickly check Instagram before carrying on with my day. I become inspired by those I follow, and learn what is new with family and friends. I live vicariously through the adventures of others. Of course, some of my favourite photos on my newsfeed come from my sister Caitlin and her husband Aaron.

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On February 22nd 2013, Charlotte Pippa was born adding a fourth family birthday in a span of five days. We call her Lottie! I don’t know who is more blessed; the both of them for having a new bundle of joy in their life, or Lottie as she has two of the most wonderful caring parents in the world.  I may be biased but really, could she be any sweeter?

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Lottie is lucky to have a Dad who is exquisite at photography (Today’s pictures were taken by Aaron and Caitlin actually) and a Mom who is not only nurturing, but picks out the cutest little outfits. Together they make a great couple and capture her precious moments. Her expressions and hugs are oh so adorable. I am one very proud Auntie.

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I’d say she is pretty advanced for her age since she began smiling, laughing and vocalizing her thoughts through sounds very early on. She’s easy going and can definitely brighten anyone’s day. I get lots of Lottie snuggles as she is a fan of being held! Watch out because she is growing fast. With her length, she is bound to be a Runway Model or Basketball Player (Just kidding Lottie, you can be whatever you dream of!). I can’t wait to begin cooking her some baby food when she is a bit older. As part of a shower gift, I gave my sister this recipe book which specifies specific food groups for certain ages.

What do you think, is she not the most fun loving baby you know? ♥ Molly

There is no greater joy than holding your baby niece for the first time.

Summer Salads

Salads are my go to item at a restaurant, especially during the summer. Typically you can substitute toppings (If I am doing this, I normally am exchanging cheese or nuts) to customize the flavour to your liking. Salads aren’t too heavy but still pack in a lot of nutrients through added toppings.

Artisano: Baby Spinach and Arugula (No dressing and beets instead of pecans)

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Panera Bread: Half Barbecue Chopped Salad and Half Spinach Power Salad

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Whole Foods: Salad Bar

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 Garlic’s in London: Raw Root Salad

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If I weren’t allergic to nuts, my salads would definitely contain some slivered almonds, toasted pecans and candied walnuts. No fear though, I am a huge fan of chickpeas, endamame, beans, chicken, fish and of course tofu so I still manage to get some healthy fats and added protein.

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I tend to browse through all of the salads offered at a restaurant, to spark some ideas of my own. To make a salad, all you have to do is start with a big bowl of your favourite leafy greens (Sometimes I omit the greens and instead start with a grain such as quinoa or couscous), and toss in a rainbow of colour. From Mango Salad to Crab Salad, Strawberry Spinach Salads to Lentil Salad, the options are limitless. Some are served without dressing but if I am in need of a drizzle, this is my go to vinaigrette recipe:

Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp. Dijon Mustard (The Seasoning)
  • 2 tsp. Lemon Juice (The Juice)
  • 1 tsp. Maple Syrup (Sweetness)
  • 1 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar (The Vinegar)
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil (The Oil)
  • 1 pinch Ground Black Pepper (The Seasoning)

Note: I typically mix these ingredients in the order they are listed. I tend to leave the pepper for last, incase the dressing is already extremely flavourful. Using a small whisk, encourage the oil and vinegar to come together however they don’t mix, so they will separate. For this reason, I always re-stir right before tossing the salad.  

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This will be plenty for a family sized salad (Six generous helpings). I typically use this over my kale salads, to add a bit of sweetness in contrast to the raw toppings; peas, onions, tomatoes and mushrooms. It’s a perfect side to compliment a protein of choice.

Vinaigrettes are the easiest dressings to make and in my opinion, they enhance the ingredients already present within the salad. What is your favourite salad combination? ♥ Molly

“Freshens without enfeebling and fortifies without irritating.” –  Jean Anthelme Brillat- Savarin

Please note, all of these photos were self-taken. They were edited using an application created by Elsie and Emma