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Veggie-Loading

It’s no secret that I’m a serious carb whore.  I love carbs, bread especially.  If I had my way I would eat nothing but bread and pasta every single day, cheese too.

But, this isn’t the MTL Carbie, this is the MTL Veggie and it’s high time I featured a yummy veggie-loaded meal on here.

More often than not I get home from work anywhere between 7:00-8:00pm, later if I’ve been to a Bikram class that night.   This is mainly due to my half-marathon training, since I absolutely detest getting out of bed only to go the gym and then go to work.  So I usually hit the gym after.  Getting home so late usually means I’m in no mood to cook a large meal or even eat one, so my diners are usually pretty light like the one I’m about to show you.

Enter my favorite Banana Berry Green Smoothie

– Big handful of spinach

– 1/2 c. Mixed frozen berries

– 1/2 banana

1 c. Vanilla Almond Milk

Along with a monstrous salad:

Mixed greens with red bell pepper, tomato, avocado, blood orange, and almond slivers topped with a bit of olive oil and white-wine vinegar.  I love mixing avocados with fruit!!

This is actually a pretty common dinner for me as it’s light enough to guarantee I’ll sleep tonight but still substantial to give me the nutrients my body needs. Plus it’s pretty to look at 😉

In other news, I’m excited to announce my lovely friend Tess has finally started up her own fitness blog chronicling her journey to her 2nd(!!) fitness competition.  Here’s a shot from her first one, she came in 2nd in her category:

Do check it out as she posts excellent fitness and nutrition tips.

Well that’s it for me tonight, expect a fun post tomorrow with a Parisian flair.

Bon soir mes amis!

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The Single Girls Guide to Enjoying Valentine’s Day, part 2

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Hello again, I hope you enjoyed part 1 of the Single Girls Guide to enjoying Valentine’s Day solo? Now that we’re well fed and well rested, it’s time for some serious pampering.

To me Valentine’s Day has always represented a day of 2 divided camps: The Singles and The Couples, some years I’m in camp 1, some I’m in Camp 2.  This year I’m in Camp 1 and, to be honest, quite happy about it.  However, many in camp 1 view this as a time to lament on their single-dom and drown themselves in endless amounts of wine and chocolate.  While I have no problem whatsoever with indulging in copious amounts of liquor and dessert, I think you need to do it for the right reasons: to pamper yourself.

If you can’t devote your love to someone else on Valentine’s Day why don’t you go the fabulous route of loving yourself? You are an amazing person who works hard and treats others well, so dammit, you deserve a little spoiling in your life.

Don’t tell me “you’re too busy”, don’t tell me “you feel silly”.  You deserve this, and just like L’Oréal tells you: you’re worth it.

Here’s what I have planned for this evening, I highly recommend it:

5:00pm-6:00pm: work-out. I am training for a half marathon after all, and what better way to put yourself in a good mood than to get your endorphins pumping with a nice sweaty workout.

6:30pm- head home and listen to uplifting music while ignoring the stress of rushour traffic in Montreal. Feel free to belt out tunes while sitting in aforementioned traffic- don’t worry, so long as the windows are up, no one can hear you.

7:00pm- stop off at grocery store and liquor store and stock up on your favorites.  I’m sure you can only imagine what I purchased:

A little antipasto and brie anyone?

7:30pm- unload groceries, uncork your wine and draw yourself a nice bubble bath

7:45pm- prepare a plate of your favorite items and grab a favorite book, preferably one you’ve read about zillion times and still enjoy reading over and over again, my selection:

8:00pm- ? For however long you are able to enjoy the bath: eat, drink, read and be merry.

9:00pm: give yourself a facial, I like to use this home remedy and it’s great for all skin types:

1 tbsp ground oats

1 tbsp plain yogurt

A few drops of honey

9:15pm- 10:00pm: while administering the facial watch a movie/favorite TV show that no boyfriend would EVER let you watch regardless of what day it is. I’m opting for Gilmore Girls.

So there you have it: the complete Single Girls Guide for Enjoying Valentine’s Day.  I hope you enjoyed the tales of this single gal’s conquest to enjoy the 14th of February. I dedicate these two posts to all the single girls out there!

Happy Valentine’s Day! xoxo

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The Single Girls Guide to Enjoying Valentine’s Day Solo, part 1

I woke up yesterday morning slightly tired from Saturday’s skiing adventures and more than a little sick with a worsening chest cold.  With those two factors in mind I decided to do something I hadn’t done in far too long: sleep in and do nothing all day.  This sparked a revelation:

Today is Sunday, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day so that mean’s couples all over the world are going to be celebrating how much they love each other today and tomorrow so why don’t I do the same for myself?

Today’s post will feature part 1 and part 2: The Single Girls guide to enjoying Valentine’s Day Solo.

Sunday was the ultimate lazy day for me.  I lounged and slept for most of the day in my super comfy bed with my super comfy pillows not worrying about anyone hogging the blankets or really bad morning breath. Face it, it happens.

Dear god I enjoyed that!

By the time I decided to join the living, I was feeling 100 times better and was 100 times hungrier than normal.  I took a long hot shower, put on zero make up and went out to the grocery store on the hunt for the perfect Valentine’s Day meal for 1.

Note, you could easily make this for two, and the quantities I list actually are for two, I just had the 2nd portion for lunch today.

I started things off with a delicious salad featuring spinach, blood oranges, red onions and almonds.

To make really pretty orange slices, cut off both ends of your orange so you have a flat surface to work with.  Then with a sharp knife, follow the contours of the orange and remove the peel and pith so you have something the looks like this:

Now, slice in half and cut into thin slices of pure citrusy prettiness.

Add in your onions along with a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and allow mixture to marinate for a few minutes.

Heap the mixture onto plates of fresh baby spinach and top with slivered almonds.  This is sure-fire way to get your taste-buds going.

Next up, I needed a main course.  I decided spaghettini was in order because nothing is more decadent to me than a nice flavourful pasta.  Rather than plain old sauce I kicked things up a notch with a Serrano chile, smoked paprika and red pepper flakes for my own version of an arrabiata sauce:

The makings for a killer sauce

Chop up your shallot, garlic and chile (be mindful to wash your hands after handling) and sauté with 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat.

Stir for about 1 minute until nice and fragrant then go ahead and add in your tomatoes.  I used crushed tomatoes but you could use Diced if you prefer.  Add in a dash of red wine vinegar, your paprika, red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer, lower heat, cover, and let the flavours marinate while your pasta cooks.

Once your pasta cooked to al-dente add in your sauce and serve up with some fresh bread.  I used this fabulous Tuscan Loaf:

You can serve as is like I did, or top with some freshly shaved parmesan.

Now what meal is complete without dessert? I opted for the simple, mainly because a) I’m sick and not in the mood to bake and b) there is nothing better than a square (or 4) of dark chocolate.

So there you have it, the perfect balance of sweet and spicy for your fabulous single girls Valentine’s Day meal.  If you have a Single Girlfriend why not invite her to join you? After all, there’s nothing like indulging with the right-minded girlfriend.

Recipes:

Blood Orange and Red Onion Spinach Salada

1 Blood orange, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

¼ red onion thinly sliced

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 tbsp slivered almonds

2 cups baby spinach

Combine orange slices,  onions and vinegar, toss and let marinate for 5 minutes. Pour mixture onto beds of spinach, top with almonds.

Arrabiata-inspired Sweet and Spicy Spaghettini

1 can Crushed tomatoes

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large shallot, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 serrano chile, seeded and minced

1 tsp red wine vinegar

½ tsp smoked paprika

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

2 handfuls of spagettini pasta

Heat olive oil over medium heat, sauté shallot, garlic and chile for 1 minute until fragrant.  Add in your tomatoes, red wine vinegar, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, cover and let marinate.

Bring pot of salted water to boil, add in pasta, cook until al dente, drain and toss with sauce.  Serve with bread.

I hope you’re enjoying your Valentine’s Day and check back later tonight for part 2!

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The case of the chickpea addict


It’s no secret that hummus and I have a major love affair going on.

My first introduction to this delightful dip/spread/main course was back in my early adolescence.  There was this international/fusion place near my parents’ house called The Rude Native and they had amazing hummus.  Served on a warm plate loaded with soft and chewy pita breads, their hummus was piled high topped with light and tasty olive oil.  I don’t think any other dish sits so clearly in my mind, I can practically taste it as I type this.
Yes, I have issues, no need to remind me.

Sadly, The Rude Native is no longer the same, or even in the same location.  As many restaurants do, The Rude Native changed management, changed locations, and somewhere in the kafuffle the hummus was taken off the menu.  Devastating, I know.

But, I am no longer that bright-eyed naïve adolescent. Oh no! I have since learned how to make my own hummus ready to enjoy in a myriad of ways.

This past Sunday was the ever infamous Super Bowl Sunday and while I have zero interest in Football, besides seeing whose butt is the cutest, I have to admit I love the day just for the food. My friend Tania had us over for one of her glutton-fests and I naturally contributed in the way of my Mexican-layered dip:


and this fabulous roasted garlic hummus.

Please note, before going any further, that I went for a 4 mile run prior to the party in anticipation of the food.  Actually, it was in anticipation for my upcoming half marathon, but you get the picture.

Roasted Garlic Hummus

1 c. chickpeas drained and rinsed well

1/3 c. tahini

1 lemon, juiced

1 tsp sea salt

1 head of garlic

¼ c. olive oil, divided

Preheat oven to 400

1)      Roast your garlic: slice off the top of your garlic bulb, just enough that all the bulbs are exposed and peel off the excess papery skins.  Place the bulb on a sheet of tinfoil and drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Wrap up the bulb in a little package and roast for 30-35 minutes or until soft and golden like so:

2)      Toss chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, salt, garlic and remaining olive oil into a blender, blend until smooth.

Tip: To give your hummus that really nice creamy texture without going overboard on the olive oil: once you’ve rinsed and drained your chickpeas toss them back in the can and fill up with water, then toss water and peas into the blender. This way, you’ll get a bit more liquid to play with.

Well there’s another hummus dish for you to check out. I’m heading up to the cottage for some skiing action with some friends, but be sure to check-in Sunday for a special Valentine’s Day treat!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Jess xo

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A weekend of wine, girlfriends, and a really good vegetarian restaurant!

That statement pretty much sums it up.  This past weekend was crazy, delicious, and hilarious.  I don’t think I’ve had this little sleep since my university days.  But in the end, it was totally worth it.

It all began last Thursday when my friend Sam came in from Halifax for a long weekend visit which was super exciting as I haven’t seen Sam in about 3 years!

Me and Sam circa 2007

Oh and Tess decided to come up from Ottawa to join in the fun as well.

Proving to be an epic weekend in the making, no detail could be overlooked and no one could be left out.  That’s why Liz and I had a conference call to create a schedule of events where everyone could pick and choose when they’d like to participate. We’re not at all type A people…

Anyway, one of my favorite items on the itinerary was Saturday’s lunch.

Liz and I decided that we’d take everyone to this amazing vegetarian restaurant in the McGill Ghetto (student section) of downtown Montreal called Lola Rosa.  My friends, this is vegetarian comfort food at  its finest.  I’ve been three times now and have ordered a different entrée each time and not once, have I been disappointed.

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The first go-around I had their Veggie Burger which was probably the most unique I’ve ever tasted.  They used egg as their binder and so it had the texture of an omelet meets burger with plenty of veggies crammed in there, definitely worth trying out.  My only complaint was they served the burger with ketchup- I’m a mustard girl all the way, but I will concede the ketchup paired nicely with it.

For my next visit I had their Curry which was creamy, slightly spicy and oh-so perfect for a January evening in Quebec.  This past Saturday I debated between the Black Bean burrito and Hemp Burger and when the kind waiter/owner asked how hungry I was (with “sort of” being my reply) he promptly recommended the burger.  So I guess the burrito is for those “I feel like I haven’t eaten in days” moods.   That, or he underestimated my appetite- despite my size, I can pack it away.  Just ask Tess.

Regardless, when my burger arrived all burrito-centric thoughts quickly evaporated from my mind; I knew I had hit the jackpot.  Sitting prettily upon a crusty bun was a substantial looking patty topped with cheese, bbq sauce and sautéed mushrooms.  Oh.my.god. this was good! It was filling and flavorful with a bit of a spicy kick to it!

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Susan, I think this has become my #1 veggie burger, rivaling that of the Queen Mother Café’s…

QM Burger, you met your match...

Anyway, once I had licked my plate clean and wiped the drool from my mouth we all, naturally, ordered dessert.  On a previous visit Liz and I had shared their banana-chocolate tart which was light and chocolate-y with the flavours complimenting each other perfectly.  This time around, I opted for their Ginger-Basil crème brulée.  Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, you should be jealous.

Now, I am not the biggest dessert fan, I like it on occasion, but I never really “crave” sweet foods, I’m a total savoury girl.  But, desserts like this could convert me.

It was sweet, refreshing, and tantalizingly savoury all in one go.

Places like this only reaffirm my lifestyle as a vegetarian.  Lola Rosa shows you what it’s like to eat wholesome, flavorful (meatless) food that warms you up toes to nose.  It’s the perfect place to go and unwind after a busy day, or spend a giggly afternoon with some girlfriends all the while enjoying really good food in a relaxing atmosphere at a reasonable price.  Seriously, what more could you ask for?

Lola Rosa
545 rue Milton, Montreal, QC

Find them on Facebook!

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Chef’s Block

Chef’s Block

No, not a cutting board; I know you’ve all probably heard the term “writer’s block” before, but this week following my binge on Mexican food I experienced a total Chef’s Block.   I just could not for the life of me figure out what to make for dinner.  I blame this squarely on two things: neglecting my blog and foodie community in favor of my job that actually pays the bills and my evening workouts that cause me to become so famished that simple carbs and proteins are all that appeals to me. Hello Almond Butter and Toast.

Yeah, I know, boring!

So after wasting an entire lunch hour (and then some) scouring websites and blogs looking for inspiration to no avail, I finally sent an email to Tess for ideas.

Tess is my favorite person to discuss food with, we both love it; we both love to eat it.  We don’t always eat the same way, but we always drool over the other’s concoctions.  Anyway Tess sent me an email with one word that got the creativity flowing back: Soup.

For some reason that triggered a craving for mushrooms, and from there I thought, cream of mushroom? No, I need it lighter, but still warm and savoury.  From there, the recipe just came to be…

Visions of mushrooms and leeks began dancing in my head

Now, I don’t often make soup, especially on weeknights  Homemade soup for me is always interpreted as layer upon layer of subtle flavors coming together over a slowly simmering pot, aka a process that takes a few hours.  This one changed that game for me as it took 20 minutes to make. Seriously, I began chopping at 7:30 and by 7:50 I was slurping up some soup-y goodness.

So with that, I give you:

Mushroom and Leek Soup with Thyme

You will need:

1 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Tbsp butter (I used vegan margarine)

1 lb of mushrooms, sliced (I used mini bellas and white, but cremini’s would be an excellent addition)

1 medium leek thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic minced

3 c. vegetable broth

A few sprigs of thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat oil and butter in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Toss in your leeks and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes, then add in your garlic and stir for another 30 seconds.

Add in your mushrooms and let them cook for a good 5 minutes until softened and reduced in size.  You still want some of their liquid to be in the pan as this will simply add more flavor.

This smelled sooooo good!

 

After the mushrooms have reduced in size by half, add in your stock and thyme and bring a simmer.  Reduce heat, taste, and season with a salt and pepper.

Serve.

I enjoyed mine with a few slices of this delicious sunflower seed bread topped with roasted onion hummus. Which, by the way, you need try out asap if you haven’t already!

How could you say no to that?!

 

So happy my Chef’s block quickly disappeared with the help from my friend 🙂

Question: Do you ever find yourself lacking inspiration or in a cooking rut? What do you do to get re-inspired?

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