Jan 30, 2015

[Fit Friday] Introducing, Ashy!

So, as I mentioned in my first post, I never was one to make resolutions.  But, after talking to my bestie about my personal goal of hitting 265 meals this year, she revealed some of her own fitness goals.  Together, we started brainstorming on ideas and how to help each other reach them.  So - we decided to work together on them.  

Ashy has been a long-time bestie of mine.  We met in 2002 in college, when it seemed so easy to stay fit - all the while eating whatever we wanted (hello, pizza pizza and shanghai noodles!).  

Our plan is that while I am posting about food and new recipes (and perhaps introducing some other lifestyle goodies into the blog), she is going to do a monthly guest post on her fitness from the month, which will allow her to reflect on the past months workouts.

This idea was, of course, discussed over a delicious greasy breakfast at our local all-day breakfast spot.  Mmm mm. 

So, introducing Ashy.  Long-time bestie and partner in crime!

I am turning 30 this year (*sigh*) and have decided to up my fitness game to hit my goals by my birthday on September 1st… 

A little background on me; I have done sports all my life (baseball, basketball and dance – yes, dance is a sport), studied fitness and lifestyle management in college, am a Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor, teach CPR and work for the leading fitness certification organization in Canada! 

So, up’ing my fitness game should be easy, right?! WRONG!!! I am stuck in a rut and feel that I have done everything under the sun already but then a light bulb clicked when discussing this with a co-worker (her name is CH and yes, she has become part of the fitness game now).

We have decided that on our lunch hours, instead of going to the gym everyday to lift weights or go run the treadmill, we will try the old fitness trends and see what they were all about!!

In January, we tried Richard Simmons: Sweat and Shout and Tae Bo!!

Richard Simmons – LOVE, LOVE, LOVED IT!!! I have met him before, but never actually tried a workout! We searched YouTube (because who has a VCR anymore to play his videos???) and found a few options… we choose Sweat and Shout, which had a great mix of motown and fun moves! We thoroughly enjoyed the 1 hour workout, laughed, sweat and made the decision to do Richard Simmons workouts more often!! Such a great time!!!

Tae Bo – HATE, HATE, HATED IT!!! I seriously don’t know how anyone got in shape or motivated by these videos (sorry Billy Blanks). We started the workout with an optimistic outlook but about 5 minutes in, I wanted to shut it off… there was minimal music and they all just counted to 8 over and over and over again! But, CH said we have to push through and finish the workout (nice, thanks CH…) However, 20 minutes in we couldn’t take it anymore and went to the gym to run on the treadmill!!! Decision made – no more Tae Bo ever again!!

January is off to a great start and I am happy to say, I am 4 pounds down (sorry, not ready for an unveiling of the “before” picture just yet!!!)

Stay tuned for February’s post – CH and I plan to include more old school videos and hopefully, I drop a few more pounds!! WOOP WOOP!!! Having fun and getting one step closer to my 30th birthday “be in the best shape of your life” goal (The name is still a work in progress – feel free to leave a comment with another option! lol) 1 month down, 7 to go!!! 


Ashy xx


Jan 28, 2015

#16: Heavenly Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Who doesn't love breakfast for lunch (or even dinner!).

For today's lunch, I whipped up some chocolate chip pancakes.  Not the most healthy choice, but absolutely lip-smackering delicious.

You'll need:

1.5 cups all-purpose white flour
3.5 tsp baking powder
Sprinkle of salt
1 tbsp white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tbsp butter, melted

Ok, first - sift all the 'dry' ingredients - the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Once that is all mixed thoroughly, add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.

For the chocolate chips, I just eye balled as I poured them in.

I used a griddle, at 400 degrees.  Just keeping an eye on them, I flipped when they were browned on the bottom.  

Once all done, pile on a plate and smother with syrup.  Good to go!

Oh - and we got some succulents for the kitchen window sill.  I love these and itching to get some more!   The best part, is that they are incredibly easy to take care of.

Jan 26, 2015

#15 Ja, Schnitzel Time!

Who doesn't love a good schnitzel (unless you're a vegetarian, of course!)

With some family in town, Ken and I decided to host them for dinner.  Of course, being pretty new to hosting, and cooking an actual full meal for them...was pretty daunting!

Originally, we were going to have some glazed chicken thighs, but when the grocery store didn't have enough to serve anyone, I piled up on the chicken cutlets for some schnitzel.

Normally, I do schnitzel with pork or veal, but not everyone is a fan of those choices, so, we opted for chicken.

You'll need:
Your choice of chicken/pork/veal cutlets (the number will depend on how many people you are serving...)
Eggs (I used 3 eggs for 12 cutlets)
Splash of milk
Flour (I used approx 2 cups for 12 cutlets)

1. Pound the meat so that it becomes quite thin
2. Cover each piece of meat into the flour, dusting it off after it's fully covered
3. Dip the meat into the egg, completely covering it
4. Cover the meat with the breadcrumbs
5. Heat oil into a frying pan (I use vegetable oil)
7. Once the oil is heated, fry the meat until it is browned
8. Voila!!  Done!

Jan 23, 2015

#14: Avocado Tomato & Toast

Mornings are never very easy for me, but this breakfast helps get the day started!  With simple, fresh ingredients, I always feel great after having this.

You'll need (to make 2 servings):

Bread of your choice, toasted (2 per person)
2 Avocado 
1 Tomato 
1/2 Red Onion
Sprinkle of Garlic Powder
1 tsp Lemon juice 

1. Chop red onion as finely as possible
2. Cut avocado and put into a separate bowl.  Smash into a guac-like state
3. Mix in the red onion & lemon juice to the avocado
4. Sprinkle garlic powder over mixture & mix
5. Spread over toast
6. Cut tomato and put on top of toast/avocado
7. Enjoy!

Jan 21, 2015

#13 [oh she glows] Broccoli & Cashew Cheese-Quinoa Burrito

Tonight for dinner, was straight from the Oh She Glows cookbook.  It was delicious!

There are two parts to this:

Cashew Cheese Sauce
3/4 cup raw cashews
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1.5 tsps Dijon mustard
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the Burrito
1 cup quinoa
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1.5 cups diced sweet onion
sale and pepper
3/4 cup diced celery
2 cups diced broccoli florets

*the recipe calls for 3-4 tbsps of sun-dried tomatoes and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, which I didn't include.

First, you'll need to make the Cashew Cheese Sauce.

1. Put the cashews into a bowl and cover with water.  This will need to soak for 3.5 hours.
2. Combine the soaked cashews (after draining!) with the garlic, almond milk, yeast, mustard, lemon juice, onion powder and salt/pepper.

Moving onto the burrito bits...

3. Cook the quinoa and put aside..
4. Heat the oil in a pan, and add the garlic and onion until the onion is clear.
5. Add the celery, broccoli (and tomatoes, should you wish!).  Saute over the heat until the broccoli is soft.
6. Add the quinoa and sauce and stir to mix it in with all the veggies and quinoa.  Cook until it's all heated through.

Voila!  Spoon into tortilla wraps and enjoy!

Ken and I were brainstorming some extra things we could add in, and were thinking some peppers or some type of meat.  However, it definitely doesn't need it as it's very tasty already!

#12: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Last night, I dove into baking banana bread for the first time.  I'm such a rookie!  But, with 3 brown bananas on the countertop (with no hope of being eaten!), I rolled my sleeves up and got to bakin'!

You'll need:

1/2 cup butter 
1 cup sugar 
2 eggs, beaten
3 bananas, smashed
1.5 cups flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of Salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

I'm not sure why I haven't made this before, as it was very simple!

1. Cream together the butter and sugar
2. Add in the eggs and mashed bananas
3. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt, before adding to the mixture
4. Add vanilla, mix
5. Add chocolate chips (I eyeballed this!)
6. Pour into a greased loaf pan
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes

Delicious (especially when paired with a cup of tea!)

Jan 18, 2015

Oh She Glows

I haven't cooked much this weekend, as it was my boyfriend's birthday and we were out for his day!  We had such a great weekend celebrating, indulging in great company and great food. 

Although I haven't cooked a meal in a few days, I am very excited about my new cookbook that I just picked up today.  My cousin has recommended Oh She Glows, and swears by the recipes in it.

I've taken a look at some of the meals and snacks that the author/blogger [Angela Liddon] has included, and I'm not quite sure which one to try first as they all look so fantastic.

I'll get back with Meal # 12 soon, straight from the Oh She Glows book.  Can't wait!

Jan 16, 2015

Meal 11: Cucumber Salad

Growing up, cucumber salad was often at our dinner table, as a side to dinner.  It was a favourite in the house and it's no different now that I'm older.

Although it's technically a side dish, I often will whip it together for a quick lunch, when I'm not overly hungry.

As today was one of those days, I thought I would add it to blog.

You'll need:

1 cucumber (this will fluctuate depending on the number of people eating)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
Pinch of salt

First, you'll need to peel the cucumber, then slice it thinly with the grater.

Once the cucumber is all sliced, pour the vegetable and vinegar over top the cucumbers.  Sprinkle the onion powder and garlic powder over top, finishing with the salt.

You may need to tweak the amounts to your liking, so after mixing all the ingredients together, give it a little taste.  I normally tend to add a bit more of some of the above ingredients, before I'm happy with the result.

Jan 14, 2015

Meal 10: Avocado Pasta

I've seen this recipe floating around the internet lately, and I was really excited to try it.  I broke out the brand-spanking new Kitchen Aid Mixer, which was a gift for my birthday.

I find that avocados are so hit and miss, meaning that they are too hard for several days, then they all ripen at the same time - getting maybe 2 days (or 3 at most) of use.  As the avocados I have were ripe, I dove into this new and simple recipe.

You'll need:
  • 12 ounces spaghetti 
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, seeded and peeled  
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice 
  • Salt & pepper, to taste 
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

(Love a nice avocado!)

Combine the avocados, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper into a large bowl, getting ready to mix it.

Add the cooked spaghetti to the avocado mixture, and serve!

I liked this meal, but unfortunately, Ken wasn't a huge fan.  I can understand why as it wasn't as flavourful as I thought it may have been.  I will need to find some ways to pack some punch to this meal, otherwise this could be a one time thing!

Jan 13, 2015

Meal 9: Chicken & Black Bean Rice Skillet

So, not only was tonight's dinner extremely easy to make, but it was also delicious (if I do say so myself ;)

This reminds me of something my mom used to make - a yummy rice and sausage concoction that I will need to ask her the recipe for....

But until I get that, this meal will do!

You'll need:

  • 2 cups brown rice, uncooked
  • A few splashes of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup black beans, drained (about 1/2 15 ounce can)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 lemon, squeeze the juice!
  • 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken 
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce 
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  • First, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and heat cast iron skillet over medium heat, add oil.

  • Next, cook the rice and set it aside. When the oil is hot, add onion and garlic.  After about 5 minutes,  stir in cooked rice, black beans, cumin, lemon juice, chicken and hot sauce. Top with cheeses and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted. 
By looking at these photos, it doesn't really look that appetizing.  But I assure you - it was one that we'll be making again!

Serves 8 (for the two of us, I naturally halved this recipe!)

Jan 11, 2015

Meal 8: Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cupcakes!

Today's meal is a dessert!  Which totally counts as a meal, right?

I started last night, as I wanted to make sure the cupcakes were completely cooled before putting the icing on.

Normally, I like to bake from scratch, but I received some really cool mixes for Christmas that I wanted to try.  These cupcakes are from a Reese's Pieces Cupcake Mix.

Once the cupcakes had baked in the oven, I let them cool for 30 minutes before filling the centre with the peanut butter filling (from the mix that came with the set).

Since the cupcakes had cooled overnight, I used the French Vanilla Betty Crocker icing to put on top. I love icing but can't stand when there is more icing than cake, so I kept it minimal.

It was the first time I have used a proper icing "machine" (what are these things called, really!!), as I normally just use a spoon.  I think they turned out pretty well and cannot wait to jump in after dinner.

Jan 9, 2015

Meal 7:[failed] Golden Chicken with Noodles

This meal had so much promise and I'm so sad that I didn't read the instructions carefully!

Ken and I were headed to the Raptors Game last night (a great Christmas gift from his mom!) and so since I was working during the day, I didn't want to rush through dinner.  A slow-cooked meal was the perfect choice!

Or, so I thought.

I received a great cookbook for Christmas, which contains 3 cookbooks in one.  One of the books is called Simple Slow Cooking.  I laugh now at the irony of the Simple part.

Here is the recipe.
How dinner should have looked..

You'll need:
2 cans Campbells Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (this is where I messed it - I used chicken broth *face palm*)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon-style mustard
1.5 tsp garlic powder
8 large carrots, thickly sliced
8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 cups egg noodles

*I halved this for the two of us, before realizing halway through that I should have added the Cream of Chicken Soup.

Basically, you put everything in the slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 hours.  Add the separately cooked noodles and serve.

It looked delicious in the book!

onto the next one!

Jan 7, 2015

Meal 6: Chicken Broth Garlic Potatoes, Italian Chicken & Broccoli

Now that I am working from home 3x/week, I save quite a bit of time from not having a commute.  I decided to get a bit more adventurous with tonights dinner (although, to anyone who cooks on a regular basis, this meal could most likely be whipped up with your eyes closed....).

Chicken Broth Garlic Potatoes
You'll need:
4 Potatoes
Chicken Broth (I used 1 cup)
4 cloves of garlic, grated

1. Peel the potatoes & slice
2. Lay potatoes down in pan - I used two as my pans were not large enough to fit all the slices
3. Mix it the grated garlic with the chicken broth, and warm it in a saucepan
4. Drizzle the warmed garlic/chicken broth over the potatoes, finishing with about an inch of broth on the bottom
5. Put a piece of butter on top of each potato slice
6. Slide into a pre-warmed oven (350 degrees) for 40 minutes

 Italian Chicken

I am not a huge chicken enthusiast, but I am always looking for ways to make it a bit more interesting.  I stumbled upon this recipe and decided to give it a try.

You'll need:
1lb chicken filets
1/2 bottle of Italian dressing (yes, the salad dressing!)
4 tsp of honey

1. Mix the Italian dressing and honey together before pouring into a large ziplock bag.  Let the chicken filets marinate in the ziploc for about an hour.
2. Put chicken & marinate into a frying pan.  It should be very 'saucy' - this is ok!
3. Let the chicken and marinate cook together in the frying pan for approximately 40 minutes.  Keep an eye on it, flipping the chicken consistently.
4.  The marinate will thicken and stick to the chicken after a while.  The chicken will brown very nicely with this marinate.

We took our chicken out of the pan after 25 minutes b/c my timing was off with the potatoes.  The chicken was good, but not browned as much as I would have liked.  But, this way - we got to eat everything all together...

 For the Broccoli - I just boiled a cup for 5 minutes, before draining and adding some butter and pepper.

Done and done!