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

Color Me Rad

This past Sunday I participated in my first ever colour run! Words cannot even begin to describe how much fun I had! I was reunited with a friend that I hadn’t seen in over a year which made this “first” experience even more memorable. I also ran into some unexpected acquaintances which was coincidental and neat.

Color Me Rad1

While it was 5km (A decent length for “newbies”), it wasn’t a race to set a PR at. The layout was designed to challenge beginners, but for the more advanced you had the flexibility of setting your own pace. The race was definitely less about speed than it was about colour and amusement. In fact, a lot of parents brought their children as those under 7 ran for free. I was impressed at how many little kids were successfully running the full 5km. Sometimes I forget how much energy I had when I was younger!

Color Me Rad5

Color Me Rad is an organization that hosts races throughout Canada and the United States and the moment I heard they were coming to Toronto, Ontario, I signed up (It sold out so fast)! Downsview Park was an ideal location, as it is accessible by foot, car, bus and subway. It was a fairly flat course (Hooray!) and was mostly paved. The event was very hot as the trail was not shaded and the sun beamed at 40 degrees . In compensation I stayed extra hydrated even though I am not a fan of having much liquid (heavy) in my stomach when I run.

Color Me Rad4

Our location was sponsored by Larabar so they were handing our “Cashew Cookies” following the race. Unfortunately I am allergic to nuts, but I did manage to score a Vitamin Water that they were handing out. There was also the opportunity to participate in a “Pepsi Taste Challenge” or get free Red bull. For some reason those beverages never really appeal to me, especially pre or post-workout!

Color Me Rad3

For those of you still wondering what a “colour run” is, let me explain. The idea is that you start out very clean, wearing mostly white (for effect). We were provided with sunglasses that are designed to protect your eyes from sun and colour. I went as far as making white tutus for my friend and I to wear (they absorbed the cornstarch too) as the idea was to be “rad”. Many sported high socks, side pony-tails and white shorts as well. Throughout the run (in my situation it was each kilometer) you are coated with non-toxic, dry, coloured cornstarch. I was sprayed by wet coloured cornstarch at kilometers 2 and 4 which definitely helped to cool me down. At the end of the race I got my own “Colour Bomb”. This was similar to a ziploc baggy filled with a coloured cornstarch. We got our cameras ready and popped the bag for an ultimate explosion. My friend captured most of our memories, as I was too scared to ruin my phone! The organization also had photographers situated throughout the course and there was a photo booth at the end of it all. I can’t wait to see how those pictures turned out.

Color Me Rad2

Today I am still living a “rad” life as some of the colours have yet to come off of my stomach. Similarly, I got a mild sunburn on my arms and back so there is an outline from my black “rad” tattoo. I guess it protected my skin from the sun but I am hoping that the tan line soon fades. I am already looking into running another “themed” race, as “Color Me Rad” was very enjoyable. Thank you again to all that volunteered or helped organize Toronto’s event. From the Zumba warm-up class, to the colour bomb squad, every detail was well thought out and planned. It is a race I would recommend to anyone provided they aren’t allergic to cornstarch and don’t have severe asthma. There is really nothing I would change about the race, except maybe spelling “color” with a U since it was a Canadian location! I am so grateful for having been provided with this opportunity. ♥ Molly

Summer Solstice

Yesterday marked the first official day of summer. Hooray! I can’t say I enjoy any other season more than this one. Here in Ontario, Canada the rhyme  “April Showers” came true for the entire spring season. While May brought flowers, it also brought torrential downpours. I am hoping that summer brings warmth and sunshine so that those threatening clouds get the memo to head elsewhere. (I am thinking positive thoughts for those currently struggling in Alberta that search to find dry land and  escape the flooding.)

I love summer for so many reasons. It tends to be the warmest season, the days are longer, it’s the perfect time for summer “reads”, clothing prints are always brighter and the materials are lighter (Hello Summer Dresses), my birthday falls within it, bike rides are more enjoyable, popsicles become more popular, as a student I get it off from school and it is typically the month in which my family travels. My parents must have had a hectic job coordinating summer day trips and weeklong vacations when I was younger. As one of four, not only were vacations expensive but very busy! I have fond memories of driving to the east coast, visiting Montreal and touring Ottawa. As I have gotten older however, we’ve caught the “Travel bug” and have gotten out of Canada more often! I’m fortunate to have ventured through California, gone to New York City, and have even seen a fair bit of Europe. Last summer we spent a few days in Paris France before heading to the South of France where we rented a house. It was the perfect opportunity to experience french living and culture.

I wonder what is in store this summer!  My hope is for a sandy beach covered in seashells, warm water for swimming and interesting boutiques. I think I’ve had my fair share of museums and site seeing these past summers, so my wish is to go to a relaxing location with minimal walking. Lazy? Maybe! Peaceful? Definitely! To be truthful I don’t know if I am the type of person that can read by the ocean but I am definitely willing to test my patience and try! Someday I hope to stay in a resort in Hawaii so in the meantime I will have to work on lounging by a pool (coated in SPF 50 sunscreen of course).

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Officially 4 months old!

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Emma and Lottie!

Of course the first day of summer wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t swim in our pool! Yesterday was also special as it was Lottie’s first time swimming. She was so brave and loved the water. I think it reminded her of a big bathtub. She is already following in my footsteps and becoming quite the water fish. Summertime is just asking for memories to be created. ♥ Molly

“Some of the best memories are made in flip flops.” – Kellie Elmore