Food Time Friday – Flavoured Cheese

It is that time of the week again when I attempt to bring you a delicious and healthful recipe.  This week is inspired by the Tea Party I had last weekend.  As the tea party landed right smack dab in the middle of the Gingersneezes Eats Clean challenge my co-host and I wanted to do our best to make sure everything that was served was clean, healthy, and most importantly delicious.  For the most part I would say we were wildly successful, however I think that I might need to work a bit on my “moose” for the next time, I have some good ideas I will be trying out in the future.

One of the recipes that I whipped up and was actually pretty surprised at how well it worked out was a flavour infused goats cheese.  Yes, of course you can just buy the cranberry or fig or herbed goat chesses in the store but with that comes some additives and likely some sulphites, so the morning of the party I decided I was going to give it a go and make my own flavoured goat cheese spread. It was ridiculously easy and super fresh and dillicious (I am dill-obsessed I couldn’t help but try and put it in). It went great with some Mary’s Organic Crackers (they are gluten, dairy and nut free), but would also be great with some veggies or rice crackers, and would also probably go great as a spread on toast.

Dill and Cucumber infused Goat Cheese:

Dill and Cumber Cheese

1 140g log (the small log) of plain goat cheese (organic if you can get it)
1/4 of cucumber
2 tbsp fresh dill (1 tbsp if using dried)

  1. Place goat cheese in a medium sized bowl and mash up so it is no longer in a log.
  2. Cut 1/4 of cucumber in half down the middle.  Remove seeds with a spoon.  Once seeds have been removed grate the cucumber with a cheese grater.  This should make about 1/4 cup of grated cucumber. Depending on the size of you cucumber you may need to cut more.
  3. Take grated cucumber and in a fine mesh colander press out access water. Once water has been drained place cucumber in the bowl with the goats cheese.
  4. Add in chopped fresh dill, and mix together until.  Transfer mixture to a small serving bowl and enjoy.  There is no need to let the mixture sit the flavours are so fresh they will burst through right away.
  5. This can be made the night before to save you some time when preparing for a party.

Hope everyone is looking forward to the weekend. I know I am, it is my 10k race this Saturday evening and I couldn’t be more excited for it!

Happy Friday!

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Food Time Friday – Kale

So I have experimented with kale in the past and I have never really been able to get it right. So I ended up reserving it for cooked casseroles and some of our juice cocktails.  But I had all but given up on making delicious salads with it.  I could never seem to quiet get the leaves to be as soft as I had read they could be or as delicious as my sister had made them this past summer, so I just gave up.

Last weekend however I had a girlfriend over who had a particular set of food restrictions for the weekend (she was cleansing) so I figured that I would test it out again and see if I could get it right this time.  Being successful in my attempt to make a kale salad I decided to give it another go and add some quinoa.  As it turns out the secret is to be a little unforgiving with the leaves and to give them some time to absorb the beating you have just given them.

So for any of you out there that have faced the same failures in your attempts to make delicious kale salads, don’t lose hope it is possible!

Kale and Quinoa Salad:

1 cup Quinoa
1 1/2 cups Vegetable Broth
1 Bunch of Kale
1 Lemon juiced
3 tsp Olive Oil
1 Red Pepper diced
1/2 Cucumber diced
3 Green Onions diced
4 Radishes, thinly sliced

1. Rinse quinoa using a colander, try and get off as much starch out as possible.  It also helps to soak it a bit so that it cooks more evenly and comes out less gritty.  Once quinoa is rinse place in a small sauce pan with vegetable broth (I use organic low sodium broth because it is gluten free and less salt is great for the heart).   Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to allow quinoa to simmer, stirring often to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.   Quinoa should take about 15 minutes, you will know it is done when all the liquid has been absorbed.   Remove from stove and allow to cool completely.

Quinoa Collage

2. In a non-reactive bowl (glass is great) add cleaned kale.  I use a salad spinner to soak and dry off the torn up kale and it works great.  Once the kale is in the bowl add juice from 1 lemon and really message the leaves.  They will turn from a pale green colour to a bright green as some of the tough fibers start to break down.

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3. Add pepper, cucumber, onion and radishes to the kale and mix in, being sure that all the vegetables are coated in the lemon juice.  Once all the vegetables are mixed in add oil and work it in with your hands. Working in the oil with your hands gives you another chance to massage the kale leaves, further tenderizing them.

4. Once the quinoa is completely cooled add it to the salad and mix.  Add salt and pepper to your liking and serve.

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Know that I know the secret of making a tasty kale salad you have better believe it will become a staple. Especially with the farmer’s market just around the corner!  Oh how I have missed the farmer’s market, I just can’t wait to see all the vendors again, and to have a fridge full of local, organic products!

Happy Friday everyone! 

Note: I have updated the Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner pages so if you are short of some ideas for meals this weekend check them out. 

A Weekend in Review

This weekend was a great one. The perfect balance of lounging around, running around, and sweating. I was going to start my weekend out with a nice long run on Friday but due to switching up my workout program at the gym my legs were more sore than normal. I know that every time I change programs/ start a new phase I whine about how much my muscles hurt, but this time I seriously wasn’t prepared.

I just finished the six month cycle workout program at my gym and I was starting back on phase one again so I figured it would be a breeze. What I hadn’t thought of was that for the past 3 months I have been doing high weight low rep workouts, and the first phase in the training program is conditioning which is low weight high rep. I figured it would be a walk in the park because it was low weight, but adding another 10 reps per exercise destroyed me (in a good way of course). It is funny how fast your body can adapt to something and forget how to do something else. Every time had to count up to 15 I remember thinking “what is this cardio?”. All of this aside two days after my workout my legs felt like it was the first time I had ever worked them out in life. It is great to know there will always be room for improvement when working out, and as long as I keep switching it up, my muscles will continue to respond.

So I started my weekend out with a rest day, full of foam rolling and stretching followed by going to meet some friend’s new baby girl. She is still brand new so she did a lot of being adorable while being completely passed out. She did wake up for a bit and let us see her eyes, which is always a treat when they are so young. Shortly after our quick visit it was time to investigate cameras.
photo 4 (1)For the past little while I have been researching cameras so that the quality of photos on this blog can get a bit better and so I have something to take pictures while in Costa Rica in November. So watch out readers the photos are about to start getting much better! Thank you for being so patient for so long.

The rest of my weekend was spent doing some running around with a girlfriend and getting some crafts and a wonderfully vegetable packed meal Saturday evening. To keep our Saturday healthy and light we decided to have a delicious kale salad, with grilled portobello mushrooms for my girlfriend and some grilled chicken for me. After many attempts and failures at kale salads I think this one was definitely a winner, a delicious winner.
photo 3 (1)This weekend also gave me a chance to get started on my Yoga for Runner’s book my dad gave me for my birthday. So far the book has been pretty great, when I get books like this I like to read them through instead of just jumping to the stretches, I feel like it gives me a good background to properly understand where the author is coming from, and why certain yoga poses have been selected.
photo 1 (1)Then I finished the weekend off with a nice 4 mile run Sunday morning, that finished right as some rain started to roll in. It was a fantastic run, and it is always so nice to see so many other runners out. This time of year on the canal is always so much fun because there aren’t many bikers or rollerbladers and it feels like the whole canal belongs to the runners of Ottawa.

Now it is back to ol’grind stone for the week and finishing sorting through my wardrobe to pick out the pieces that no longer fit me to find them good homes.

Happy Monday Everyone! I hope you are all ready for some sun and warmth today!

Protein: What is your Deal?

Ever since completing my course on Nutrition and Wellness I have had some friends come to me with questions about what they are eating; is it enough? Is it too much? is there anything missing? Knowing that no one is perfect I think as humans we are always looking for where there is room for improvement and what types of things we can fix. One of the things I have seen the most frequently and something that I personally struggled with was eating enough protein.

What is a protein anyways? Well there are two different types of protein: complete and incomplete. A complete protein is a food that has all 9 essential amino acids in balanced proportions, an example of this is would be eggs, eggs are basically amazing. An incomplete protein, you guessed it, lacks one or more essential amino acids, an example of this would be nuts or seeds. For meat eaters getting all of your essential amino acids really isn’t an issue seeing they are all present in meat (poultry, beef, pork, etc), for vegetarians and vegans or the meat adverse it might just take a bit of extra finagling to make sure you are getting all essental amino acids. A non-meat eater can do this by combining two or more incomplete proteins (e.g. rice and beans) to create one complete protein. There are also foods such as quinoa and soy which are non-meat forms of complete proteins.

Protein CollageNow that we know what a protein is, what are they good for? Proteins are used by the body for just about everything, from tissue (muscle) repair, to helping transport vitamins and minerals all over your body. When you think of all the things that proteins do it makes sense that they should be an important part of your daily meal planning. I believe it is also important to note that protein is essential for all people (sedentary to bodybuilders and professional athletes) the levels of protein your body needs to consume in order to operate at its maximum capacity just change based on your activity levels. It is pretty reasonable to think that a bodybuilder or a professional runner would require more protein than someone that spends most of their day working in an office and rarely makes time for exercise…but this doesn’t mean those who are more sedentary need protein any less for daily functioning.

The average person requires 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight, so about 0.4g per pound, depending on how active you are this number can go up (1.3g per kg if you are active or pregnant and 1.8g per kg if you are an athlete or training). For example if you are a 150lbs woman who is active on a daily basis you should be aiming to consume about 88.7g of protein each day.

How are you supposed to track this? How do you make sure you are getting enough? To find out the quantity of protein in something the first place I look is normally the nutrition lable, they break down how much protein (among other things) per serving and it will give you an idea of what you are feeding your body. Other useful tools for tracking your protein intake are apps such as Lose It that help you to log everything you have eaten in a day and it keeps track of your calories, protein, sugars, and activity levels. Personally I journal, I like the act of writing out the food I eat and I don’t calorie count because well it makes me totally crazy and I find that the ownership behind writing out your meals is enough to keep me on target to meet my goals. That being said everyone is different so be sure to find something that works for you.

When adding or changing anything in your life it is always good to do a bit of research to get a general idea of what is out there. For ensuring you are getting adequate amounts of protein in your diet it shouldn’t be any different. Go out and find out what some of your favourite foods have to offer in the way of protein and maybe check out ways of increasing it. Knowing the average amounts of proteins in food will make it a bit easier for you to plan your meals.

Here are a couple examples of foods and their protein levels; 1 cup of milk has about 8 grams, 3 oz of meat has about 21 grams, and 1 cup of dried beans can have about 16 grams of protein. Now there are other things that contain protein, such as vegetables (e.g. spinach, broccoli, and peas), nuts, legumes, quinoa, chia seeds, sea food (most would consider this meat), any dairy product, dairy substitutes like fortified soy milk or almond milk, the list is pretty endless.

If protein is so essential why aren’t we more aware of it? I don’t think protein avoidance is something that anyone tries to do; I believe that it comes down to education. I think a lot of us, especially meat eaters take for granted that we are getting enough protein because we eat meat, and I think some non-meat eaters may not be aware of the plenitude of options out there. Before I was given guidelines for healthy living I really just assumed my muscles were supposed to be sore for a week after working them out, it hadn’t occurred to me that maybe they needed something more to help them heal.

 Guidelines for Healthy Living

Armed with information I am able to make better choices for my body and I am sure my body and muscles thank me for making healthier choices. To help you make some healthier choices when it comes to protein intake I have included a list of protein packed foods for breakfasts and snacks. I am focusing on breakfast and snacks because I personally find that they can at times be the most difficult ones to figure out in terms of what to include to get your protein.

breakfast-egg

healthy-snacks-weightlossI hope these ideas help you in your own healthy meal planning, and I hope that despite the snow today you are having a great day!

Happy Tuesday!


References:

How Much Protein Should I Eat
Protein
Can You Get too Much Protein?
Vegetarian and Vegan Guide to Protein

Weekend Round Up – Party Edition

This weekend was so amazing and overwhelming I am not even sure where to start. So I think I might dedicate this weekend round up to saying thank you to all the amazing support and help that I received for the Gingersneezes anniversary party.

I would like to start by saying thank you to Epic Fitness Ottawa and Alannah for being huge supporters of me and for realizing all the potential within me even when I was unsure that it existed  Not only did they so generously offer up their space for the event they also contributed to the gift bags and contributed to door prize draw.
swag CollageA GIANT thank you to Lauren an old friend (we go way back to university) turned amazingly inspirational, motivational and energetic Zumba instructor. She created a great 30 minute demo to introduce some of the guests to Zumba, I definitely think she made some skeptics into Zumba enthusiasts this weekend. And to Johann-Lynn for filling in on short notice and leading us in a little stretching and yoga demo post Zumba.
lauren teachingTo Reassembly for donating so many amazing door prizes to the event, which I unfortunately didn’t remember to snap a shot of.  It was a great pleasure to be able to support such a great handcrafted product and to share it with some of my readers.

And most of all I am so grateful for each and every one of my readers and subscribers. I am so excited to have the opportunity to share with all of you and because of your support we have been able to start up a community of individuals who are interested in exploring a healthier more active side of life.
WO Gin Collage

The party itself was a pretty great success, it was great to get a group of people together to celebrate Gingersneezes turning 1, and I mean heck it is always more fun to sweat with a group of people. There were lots of laugh shared, some healthy jumping competition, and we all got to try out something new.

jump time Collageplay time CollageThe anniversary party was really a community effort with people pitching in to make deserts, help with set up and snap photos during the event it was quiet heart warming to have such a great group of individuals out supporting Gingersneezes and so motivational to definitely keep the blog posts coming!

I will be sharing some of the recipes from the event with you all in the coming weeks, as some of them were definitely keepers.

food Collage

 

So thank you again to everyone who was able to attend, helped out and contributed to not only the event but also to the Gingersneeze community.  I hope you have all had a lovely weekend.

Happy Monday!

Lets Get Stuffed

In the spirit of our annual feast, and seeing my American friends are having Thanksgiving this week. I asked a dear friend of mine if she and her husband would be willing to share their delicious stuffing recipe.  Every year for the feast the two of them make a ridiculous amount of stuffing for everyone in attendance.  It is definitely one of the dishes that everyone looks forward to year after year.   I hope some of you have a chance to try it out this year.

Here are some shots of them putting some elbow grease into the making of the stuffing.
bread collage for stuffingstuffing Collage
Yummy Stuffing – Courtesy of the Knowles’
Main Stuffing Image1 loaf dried bread
1 pkg sausage
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup butter
1.5 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp sage
Salt and pepper
Chicken stock or Veggie Stock

  1. The night before layout the bread so that it can dry out
  2. Cut up the bread into small pieces, set aside
  3. Take the sausage out of the casing, and fry it up in a pan breaking it down into tiny pieces. Remove from pan
  4. Fry up the onion, celery and butter until soft. Add the seasonings
  5. Mis together the bread, sausage, and onion/celery mixture. Add some chicken stock until the mixture is just moistened (you don’t want it to be soggy).
  6. Bake in a casserole dish for 45 minutes at 350F, mixing it once or twice (adjust cooking time based on depth of pan), should be a nice mix of crispy and soft.

This year for our Feast eight loaves of bread were used!  I think it was a new record!

Thanks again so much for sharing!!!

Happy Wednesday! We are halfway there!

Food Friday Has Arrived

Luckily this recipe really turned out well and I was able to mix two of my favourite vegetables mushrooms and brussel sprouts. So before we get into the recipes I am going to share some of the wonderful things I have learnt about brussel sprouts, besides their delicious flavour of course. Brussel sprouts are awesome because:

  1. they are a cruciferous vegetable which means they have amazing cancer fighting goodness in them, similar to kale;
  2. each serving of brussel sprouts (about 4 sprouts or 1/2 cups) has 2 grams of protein which is pretty great for a vegetable; and
  3. they give oranges a run for their money when it comes to vitamin C levels, so put them on your list of foods to eat when you are feeling under the weather.

Miso Glazed Brussel Sprout and Mushrooms:

Makes 6 servings
Time: approximately 50minutes


Ingredients:

1.5 cups brown rice
2 1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 block of extra firm tofu
1 lb Brussel Sprouts
12 oz Mushrooms ( 4 oz Shitaki and 8 oz Cremini)
1 Onion diced
2 cloves of crushed Garlic
1 tbsp + 1 tsp Rosemary chopped
3 tbsp Oil (olive or peanut)
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Miso
1 tbsp Water

prep tofu mushroom

  1. Begin by removing access water from the block of tofu and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add rice and broth to a broth cooker, should take approximately 40minutes.
  2. While that is happening trim and quarter the brussel sprouts, place them in a bowl large enough for tossing. Once all brussel sprouts have been trimmed at 1 tsp of oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp of chopped rosemary. Mix well and lay in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Place brussel sprouts in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes watching them so they don’t burn. There is no need to flip the sprouts, unless you feel they may burn.
  4.  While the brussel sprouts cook prepare the other ingredients, chop onions, dice mushrooms, and dice tofu into small cubes. Set prepared vegetables aside and whisk together oil, balsamic vinegar, miso and rosemary for the glaze. Once all ingredients have mixed together add water and continue whisking until glaze is thoroughly combined and set aside.
  5. Heat a large frying pan to medium high heat. Place tofu in oil-less pan and dry fry approximately 10 minutes.
  6. Once brussel sprouts are ready remove from the oven and place in a medium sized bowl. Add tofu to same bowl once it has finished cooking.
  7. Lower heat on pan to medium and spray light with oil. Place onions and cook until they become translucent (about 3-5 minutes) at this point add in mushrooms. Cook for another 5-7 minutes until juices begin to escape from the mushrooms. Add in tofu and brussel sprouts and top with miso glaze. Mix well to be sure everything is properly coated. Allow to sit and absorb flavours storing periodically for another 5 minutes.
  8. Plate by layering brussel sprout and mushroom mixture on top of rice, serve immediately.

*if you like a little extra sauce I would recommend doubling the quantities in the glaze.

final product supper final product supper 2

Information on brussel sprouts was obtained from Leslie Beck RD and Foodland Ontario