Apples

We often hear the old wise tale that “An apple a day will keep the doctor away” but do any of us stop to think about why this may or may not be true? Apple 4 Apple 3

Last weekend I returned home under some unfortunate circumstances but was delighted to have a fun opportunity presented my way. My Dad and I go apple picking at least once a year and welcomed the idea of my Mom, Caitlin, Aaron and Lottie joining us for a new tradition. We frequented “Willis Family Fruit Farm” which is in the outskirts of Oakville also know as Milton, Ontario! What I love about the farm is that it is family owned and those selling the apples are the same individuals that look after the apple trees throughout the year. It’s rewarding to show your appreciation for Ontario Farmers by supporting local produce. Ironically this week I was assigned to read a nutrition article that stated that individuals forget that food doesn’t just come from restaurants or supermarkets and instead comes from land and the sea. It’s so true that many of us pay little attention to our roots.Apple 1

By no means is apple picking any cheaper (quite the contrary) than purchasing apples at the grocery store but it makes for a fun excursion that provides plenty of fresh air, fitness and photo taking opportunities. Lottie got to measure herself with their “How Tall This Fall” board and she was just over 2 feet tall. It generously measured me at 5’3”! Willis Family Fruit Farm is one of the few farms in my area that doesn’t have an entrance charge plus they let you try samples of apples so that you can find your preferences. It’s nice that they have such a selection of apples from Sparten to Jonagold, Wealthy to Empire and of course the common Golden and Red Delicious. Typically I am a Royal Gala girl but this year I found the Honeycrisp and Gingergold to be equally enjoyable. Of course had I had time to make applesauce or apple crisp, I would have chosen softer varieties such as Mutsu, Macoun and McIntosh.Apple 10

So could an apple a day really keep the doctor away? I had a pretty bad cold last week and after eating 10 small apples in one week I am feeling better, but I don’t think that is enough proof to have the saying verified. What I can tell you is that apples are low in calories, free of fat, sodium and cholesterol and are an excellent source of fibre. Apples are packed with tons of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B6, Thiamine (Vitamin B1), Folate, Vitamin K, Niacin and Vitamin C. Many of these nutrients are found in the peel of an apple. Apples also contain Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium and even trace amounts of Iron. As well, apples are high in antioxidants (phytochemicals) which makes them effective in fighting various diseases. Antioxidants strengthen the body’s ability to shield off free radicals that are side products of chemical reactions within your body. These free radicals are what are known to trigger various illnesses. Apple 2

There have been so many studies done to…

  • Prove that chewing an apple reduces tooth decay because it stimulates the production of saliva in one’s mouth which wards off bacteria
  • Link the consumption of apple juice with a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s since apple juice fight the effects of aging (study involving mice)
  • Correlate the antioxidants found in apples with an added protection against Parkinson’s
  • Show that the flavanols in apples can reduce one’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer and that the apple peel helps with anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast.
  • Study whether women who eat at least one apple a day are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes
  • Assess how the phenolic compound found in apple skin prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery wallsApple 9

So many people fear apples because like most fruit, they contain a high amount sugar. However these sugars are natural and paired with the high-fibre content of apples, the sugar is released into the bloodstream slower which helps to keep blood sugar levels steady.Apple 6

Apples have always been my favourite year round fruit. I’ll never forget how my grade 1 teacher could twist an apple in half using only the strength in her hands and arms! In my opinion apples are great snacks and I enjoy eating them whole or sliced, heated with cinnamon, baked into a pie or cooked into oatmeal. I typically choose apples that look firm, are well coloured and have a smooth skin free of bruises. Apples have a long expiration period so they store well either in the fridge or in a fruit bowl on the counter for up to 90 or so days. The only unappealing part about apples is when their inside is exposed to air since it oxidizes to a brown colour. One tip is to dip cut apples into 1 part lemon juice, 2 parts water! Apparently orange and apple juice works just as well if you don’t like the taste of lemons.Apple 8

All round Apples are a fun food.  Does anyone else feel obligated to eat an Apple as they play the  game Apples to Apples? Easy to pick and even easier to eat, apples are nutritious and delicious. It’s been a while since I posted, let alone posted about healthy eating so I’m happy to be back with a fresh fall fruit. William Family Fruit Farm also sells pumpkins so I hope to visit the patch later in September. Fall definitely has its perks! What is your favourite apple variety? Do you enjoy the skin of an apple or do you peel it away? Do you believe in old wise tales? ♥ Molly

Fun Fact: The apple tree originated in Central Asia and today China is the leading producer of apples.

Myrtle Beach: WIAW

This post was intended to be published on Wednesday, August 28th 2013.

Today was my last morning in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. While I am sad to be back at home I must admit that I missed home cooked meals, my own bed and of course my family. I have so much to look forward in the upcoming week that I haven’t had time to dwell on the fact that I no longer overlook the ocean from my balcony. Blogging has also hit a low but I promise to update you on all of my adventures, starting with good eats since it is WIAW after all.WIAWbutton

With the exception of this morning and Cracker Barrel, breakfast was typically a smoothie, yogurt or cereal with fruit! I had the pleasure of dining at Cracker Barrel which was overwhelmingly busy but delicious none the less. It isn’t exactly fine dining but I did enjoy my scrambled egg, yogurt parfait and fried apples. In my opinion, fried apples are essentially the filing of apple pie. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t have the granola in the parfait since it was pre-made with nuts. Oh well! This morning I ate at the resort’s breakfast buffet. They had an omelette bar but I didn’t think I could stomach eggs before getting on a plane so I opted for an assortment of fresh fruit and mini waffle instead. I also had a bit of french toast that was just alright and I sipped on hot coffee throughout my meal.4 1208925_329880783814373_1198689563_n 13

Lunch was usually eaten in the room with an assortment of crackers, cheese, shaved meats, buns, salad, veggies and fruit. Surprisingly we found ourselves at the Tilted Kilt for a quick bite to eat one afternoon. It’s an interesting venue, probably meant more for males, but if you can get over the crop tops, short skirts and knee high socks the food is good. I ordered the Chicken Tendered Salad, which was served with a mustard vinaigrette. I wasn’t fond of the fried chicken but the dressing had a neat tang, which complimented the mandarin oranges well.6 15

Snacks included chips, popsicles, fruit and a drink from the tiki bar. Not my typical eating but it was vacation so I wasn’t expecting to eat purely clean. I am proud that I can finally order foods that aren’t necessarily grilled (fried) or bland (no seasoning or dressing). 10

Dinner was where the fun began. The Carolina Roadhouse was recommended to us on our flight down and it did not disappoint. In fact we ended up eating there twice. They are known for their croissants and prime rib, neither of which I am fond of, but I ordered a Grilled Rosemary Salmon Salad which came with a croissant that changed my outlook on white carbohydrates. Usually I pick breads with more sustenance but this was flakey and flavourful and when it melted in my mouth it also took with it my heart. I enjoyed my meal so much that I ended up ordering a similar meal the second time around. I was feeling a bit nauseous from the long car ride, so I just got a house salad but switched out the almonds, bacon and ham for shaved turkey. I am glad that the restaurant was so accommodating of my allergies and preferences. I also had a few onion rings and nachos prior to the meal, and a spoonful of Caitlin’s potato soup. I’d highly recommend this restaurant to anyone but be sure to book a reservation since it is very popular and overly crowded. Others at my table really enjoyed the prime rib, but be warned that medium is still very raw and red.8 16

We also ate at the Olive Garden twice because it is a family tradition to begin and end the trip with an Italian meal. On the first visit I enjoyed the soup (minestrone), salad (garden) and breadstick combination. The second time I ordered a plate of mussels steamed in a garlic wine sauce. I devoured them and still had room for a few BLANK which are Italian dognuts that we drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce.1 5 2 3

Other meals included take in pizza from Hungry Howie’s, shrimp and chips from Finn McCools and even a pirate feast at Pirate’s Voyage. The feast included a vegetable soup, chicken, corn, potatoes and an apple turnover. I tried my first glass (which turned into 4 glasses) of Unsweetened Cold Tea. It was so refreshing.14 88 7

We had a kitchen in our suite so we cooked two of our meals. One night we made fajitas which I ate without the tortilla as a mexican salad and the other day we had freshly caught shrimp. When the kids and dads were jet skiing the mom’s flagged down a shrimp boat and purchased 7lbs of headless shrimp. They then spent 2 hours de-veining which couldn’t have been fun or pleasant but it was well worth it because our meal of veggies, ceasar salad, old-bay seasoned shrimp and rice was delicious.9 12

Taking a break from reality is what a vacation is all about and that includes venturing out from home cooked meals that you are familiar with. So while I couldn’t have southern Pecan Pie because of my allergies, nor did I eat pan fried-pork, fatback or biscuits and gravy, I am glad that I was able to try a few southern favourites! ♥ Molly

“I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage.” – Erma Bombeck

Fresh Rolls

Thai food tends to be cooked with spices and nuts, neither of which I can have. Spices upset my stomach and leave my tongue on fire while nuts are an allergy I grew into in fourth grade.

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Of course the foodie in me doesn’t let Thai-peanut sauce stand in the way of me enjoying this type of cuisine. My dad makes a great homemade Pad Thai sauce and I love preparing Fresh Rolls. I find the crunchiness of the uncooked vegetable rolls much more refreshing than fried Spring Rolls don’t you? Which brings me to today’s post. Don’t hold your breath on a formal recipe because I truly believe Fresh Rolls can be taken in so many directions. While I usually use shrimp as my protein source, my dad prefers chicken and I’ve seen people roll salmon in as well! If I could, I’d probably throw in crushed peanuts or an almond-butter sauce for additional flavour. Since the rice paper never really expires making these rolls is usually a “last minute” decision so I tend to use whichever vegetables I already have on hand. A must-include is definitely Avocado! Regardless of the ingredients you decide to roll up, there is a basic formula for the preparation. I’ve also included an easy sweet and spicy thai-dipping sauce recipe. Sorry the pictures aren’t prettier – These rolls aren’t exactly fast to make (in the volume I needed) and dinner time was fast approaching so I I couldn’t set up a huge photoshoot. I hope you enjoy. Happy Friday! What’s your favourite combination of Fresh Roll? It’s not traditional but lately I’ve been enjoying shrimp, mango, carrots, red pepper and onion! ♥ Molly

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.” – Julia Child

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Fresh RollsIMG_6213

Suggested Ingredients

  • Rice Paper (Circular Wrappers)
  • Fresh Vegetables: Carrots, Red Pepper, Cucumber, Onion, Lettuce
  • Fresh Fruit: Avocado, Mango

Sweet-Thai Dipping Sauce Ingredients

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp chili sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp fresh ginger, diced
  • 2 tsp honey (Optional)
  1. Prepare all of your fillings to your liking. You can choose to slice, dice, sliver, shred, mash or grate the ingredients for inside of your rolls. I chose to use matchstick carrots and I also sliced avocado, mango, red pepper, cucumber and spinach. For protein I used whole mini shrimp and chicken breast slivers. Mint, basil, cilantro, and pre-made (chilled) rice vermicelli are also great fillers.IMG_6190
  2. Fill a large bowl or flan dish with boiling water. Carefully dip one rice paper into the warm water for about 30 seconds or until softened. Lay rice paper flat onto a clean cloth.IMG_6195
  3. In a row across the centre of the rice paper, leaving an inch at the top and bottom, place a combination of “filler” ingredients. Fold in the top and bottom. Fold one uncovered side (left or right) inward and then tightly roll the rice paper. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and rice wrappers.IMG_6201 IMG_6202 IMG_6203 IMG_6204
  4. Prepare dipping sauce by whisking together soy sauce, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar,  chili sauce, freshly minced garlic clove and diced  ginger. For sweetness, add in up to 2 tsp of honey.
  5. Serve Fresh Rolls with dipping sauce and chopsticks.IMG_6216

City Life and Shopping Tips

Today I am headed to Toronto. Despite living only about a half an hour way, I don’t make my way into the city that often. When I do go, the temptation of spending all my savings is so powerful as Toronto is home to some of the nicest shopping districts and boutiques in Canada. While I don’t exactly need a new wardrobe, I haven’t bought many summer items this year. My friend from High school, Megan, goes to the University of Toronto and has a Condo downtown. I see her on a daily basis as she is my gym buddy (she’s a great motivator and doesn’t take “I’m tired” as an answer), but the few breaks that we take in between laps at the pool don’t offer us enough time to catch up. We’ve been meaning to have a girls night for awhile now, and we decided that we wanted to escape Oakville for a fun shopping trip. I’ll be catching the train around 10:00 a.m. and then coming home tomorrow in time for my driving lesson at 3:00p.m. This leaves us lots of time to shop, chat, eat, and of course watch chick flicks. I really hope to go to Brandy Melville as I’ve never been, try out a Vegan restaurant called “Fresh” and then check out some of my favourite stores including Urban Outfitters and Forever 21. Since I have another shopping trip planned for later this week, I’m limiting my purchases to essentials only. I make myself sound like a “crazy” spender but in fact, I actually have trouble parting with money. I fall in love with so many clothes but by the time I reach the cash I’ve usually talked myself out of most of my finds. This being said, I do consciously think of a few tips before and during my excursions. I try to …

  • Shop with a list:  Today I hope to find a new sunglasses, a pair of cute sandals or wedges, a fashionable bathing suit, and a pair of shorts. These are all things that I need. Even though I probably have too many dresses, they are never frivolous purchases because they are something I wear frequently. I am going to try my best to refrain from buying one, but I won’t be that upset if I happen to find a cute maxi on sale.
  • Set a budget: I’m pre-setting a budget, because I don’t want to get caught up in the moment and overspend on things that I don’t need or won’t use. I’m going to try and use cash for clothing purchases as I find it helps me stay conscious of my total spendings. Did you know that statistics show that you are willing to pay up to 50% more for an item if you are putting it on your credit or debit card? Of course it’s not safe to carry too many lose coins and bills, so I’ll be using debit (lower limit) for food and travel expenses.
  • Start Early: We picked an early start time so that we don’t get stuck in traffic on our way into the city, the malls are less busy and we aren’t fatigued from a day’s worth of activities. We are also mid-week as opposed to the weekend in hopes of avoiding crowds since many will be working.
  • Set a timeframe: While we have all day to shop around the city, we have many areas to check out such as the Eaton Centre and Queen Street. We don’t want to be mindlessly wandering as we have other things on our to-do list.
  • Look Online: To be honest, I already have an idea of exactly what I want to buy. I’m not getting my hopes up since stores hardly ever have the exact item I am looking for, but it gave me a rough idea about sales, prices and what to watch for.
  • Pack Snacks: Nobody can have fun if they are hungry. Food courts don’t always offer the healthiest eats, and you don’t want to be wasting your time searching for a snack when you could be better using your time to try on clothes. I know that I get emotional if I am starving, and I don’t want to have a meltdown in the change room.
  • Trust my instincts: If you aren’t sure, put something on hold. It’s much easier to go back to a store than it is to make a return, especially if you only receive a “store credit”. Shop with a friend who’s opinion you value because it’s hard to trust a sales person who is more focused on selling than whether or not the outfit truly suits your body.

July Finds 2 July Finds July Finds 31. Brya Skirt 2. Solitude 3. Polka Dot Bikini 4. Antica Maxi Dress 5. Floral Wayfarer Sunglasses 6. Kimchi Blue Molly Jacquard Pinup Short

Happy Tuesday! What are you mindful of when going to a mall? Do you pre-shop online or do you like to be surprised when entering a store? What is your favourite trend right now? ♥ Molly

“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.” – Bo Derek 

Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp

We’ve never really had a vegetable garden per se. My parents take great care of their floral gardens, and while I do love the tulips, hydrangeas and peonies, it would be sort of neat to pick fresh tomatoes from your backyard. When I was little and still lived in Peterborough, we had great big snowball bushes surrounding our house. Nestled between two big bushes, you also could find a rhubarb perennial. Of course rhubarb is meant for baking, and its flavour was much too tart for my “young” taste buds to eat. Lucky for me, I had a sweet tooth, so I’d dip the end in sugar to counteract the sourness. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that dipping rhubarb in sugar isn’t exactly healthy or something that I truly enjoy as a snack. Even though I might not eat it fresh these days, I do like to have it in the form of a sauce, jam or pie. Want to know more about Rhubarb? Continue reading and you’ll be surprised to find some interesting facts, and a yummy dessert. Rhubarb has many nutritional benefits! ♥ Molly

‘Promises and Pie-Crusts are meant to be broken.” – Jonathan Swift

IMG_5885Fun Facts about Rhubarb

  • Rhubarb belongs to the buckwheat family so it is in fact a vegetable, not a fruit. It starts out as green and matures into a deep ruby-red.
  • This perennial plant grows thrives in moist soil.
  • Rhubarb is originally from China and Tibet and has been used in medicine for thousands of years.
  • The stalks of Rhubarb were first grown as edible vegetables in Italy during the seventeenth century.
  • It’s nickname is “pie plant” since it is commonly baked into pies since it’s tart flavour is too strong for most to eat fresh.
  • Wrapped in saran wrap, Rhubarb can keep for a week in the fridge after being cut.
  • When cooked for twenty minutes, the cancer-protecting chemicals that rhubarb contains increase.
  • The leaves of rhubarb are poisonous. Use this to your advantage to ward off flies and insects that attack your gardens. (Try making a spray by soaking the leaves in water for three weeks).

Fun Nutrition Facts about Rhubarb

  • Rhubarb is rich in antioxidant polyphenols, which help prevent the development of cancerous cells.
  • If you have a history of kidney stones or gout, watch out. Rhubarb contains oxalic acid in its stems, which prevents the body from absorbing the calcium and iron rhubarb naturally contains.
  • The leaves of rhubarb are poisonous.
  • Rhubarb is said to alleviate symptoms of acid-reflex.
  • It is an excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Manganese, Calcium and Potassium.

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Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp IMG_5926

Filling

  • 2 cups of rhubarb, diced
  • 2 cups raspberries, halved
  • Juice of 1 orange (approximately 3 tbsp)

Topping

  • ½ cup pitted dates (approximately 6 whole)
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup whole oats
  • 2 tbsp. Plain Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. Maple Syrup (optional)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a 9inch by 9inch baking dish, layer the rhubarb and raspberries on the bottom of the dish, and drizzle with orange juice . Set aside. (Note: A smaller dish such as the one I used, makes for a deeper crisp which is equally good!)IMG_5902
  3. In a food processor, pulse the dates into small pieces. Add in the remaining “topping” ingredients and process to combine. The mixture should stick together without being too moist or too dry.IMG_5893 IMG_5901
  4. Pour the topping onto the filling and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until crisp.IMG_5912
  5. Serve warm, alongside a glass of milk or ice cream.

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Fresh Fortifying Summer Salad

I try my best to participate in “Meatless Mondays” and consume plant based protein sources on a weekly basis. While I do enjoy barbecued chicken or baked salmon, you’ll hardly ever find me consuming red meat. Growing up if I didn’t like the way something looked, I wouldn’t try it! Vegetables never turned me off, however pork, ham and red meat never made their way into my diet. Thankfully the blog world (Pinterest!) is full of healthy vegetarian and vegan recipes. Unfortunately for me, common ingredients in these sorts of meals are nuts. “Napa Almond”, “Coconut Cashew”, “Maple Walnut” are all appealing flavour combinations, but are also off limit due to my allergies. Angela, from Oh She Glows, (The first food blog I ever read) recently created a “Rad Rainbow Raw Pad Thai”. The second I saw it, I knew I had to try it, but after looking into the recipe I saw that there were a few small problems. Firstly, I don’t own a spiralizer. Secondly, red cabbage is one of the only vegetables that upsets my stomach. Thirdly, and most importantly, I can’t enjoy the salad dressing as it is a “Peanut Lime” sauce.  Lucky for me, I’m used to modifying recipes, so I decided that I would create my own version. While Angela considers hers to be a pad thai (the zucchini strings really do resemble noodles), I’d call mine a salad. Regardless, the recipe  is nutrient dense, extremely flavourful and very filling. Enjoy!  ♥ Molly

“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.” – Fran Lebowitz

IMG_5836 IMG_5840 IMG_5846Fresh Fortifying Summer Salad

Makes 6 generous cupsIMG_5854

Salad

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 3 cups loose kale leaves, stems removed
  • 2 large carrots, peeled
  • 1.5 cups frozen endamame, thawed
  • 1.5 cups chickpeas
  • 3 green onions, chopped (or 1/4 cup red onion)
  • 1 bell pepper, thinely sliced
  • 4 tbsp. sesame seeds

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup (optional)
  1. In a food processor, pulse kale leaves until coarsely chopped. Change the blade to grate, and grate in carrots. If you do not have a food processor, finely chop and grate the ingredients by hand. Transfer to a large serving bowl and set aside.
  2. Using a mandolin, peeler or spiralizer, prepare the zucchini so that it is julienned. Transfer into the serving bowl, adding with it the endamame, chickpeas, onion and bell pepper.IMG_5831 IMG_5834
  3. In a small bowl, prepare the dressing by whisking all ingredients together. Pour over salad and toss to combine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.IMG_5858

Strawberry Fields

There is nothing sweeter than picking strawberries on a warm summer morning. On the way home, the delightful aroma filled the car, bringing with it fond memories of childhood trips to the strawberry fields. My sister and mom decided that it was time for a summer adventure and the idea of picking fruit sounded tasty, affordable and fun! We woke up extra early to beat the heat, and have a fresh selection. Of course, you can’t just pick a few strawberries when you go, because it is far too much fun. We ended up leaving with two full baskets, plenty to be eaten fresh, baked into a pie, blended into smoothies, sliced on top of yogurt or turned into sauces and jams. ♥ Molly

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama

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