6 Things I Can’t Live Without

5. I got Betty Crocker’s Cookbook my first year of university when I started venturing into the world of home cooked meals [other than when my parents were out of town] from my parents. It was a stocking stuffer. Most times I buy cook books based on the amount of pictures, so it is a good thing I was given this one. Very few pictures, but EVERY. SINGLE. RECIPE. is rock-star amazing. I have yet to try something that wasn’t the best I’ve ever had. As you can see, it is WELL worn 6 years later. It is taped together, the back cover is missing, and many things are doggy-eared and flagged with post-it’s. This cookbook is one I write ratings in as well. For example, the chocolate chip cookies have a 9.5/10. The best I have ever had.

 

5. Wisk. Have you ever tried to get a sauce smooth without one? Ever tried to make meringue in a double-broiler without one? Good-luck. Whoever invented these things deserves a freakin’ nobel peace prize.

4. Silpat. First introduced to me on OhSheGlows. My introduction to the blog world. I yearned for one for years before finally handing over $49.99 for one this year. NOTHING sticks to this bad boy. Line your baking sheet with it in preparation for the stickiest, messiest, throw-out-the-pan worthy messes. They will fall off without effort. Only downside, its slightly tough to wash as even dish soap slides around like crazy, but TOTALLY worth it.

3. Kitchen Aid Food Processor. I make EVERYTHING in this bad boy. I chop, I grate, I puree, I blend. LOVE it. Only had it for a year and a half and it is already WELL-worn!

2. Mason jars! I have all different styles, shapes and sizes. I use them to store my pantry goods, to transport liquids to and from work, to store things in the fridge, shaking up sauces, flower vases, decorating….the possibilities are endless. I would love to own some vintage blue ball ones….I hear they are pricey though!

 

1. Kitchen Aid Mixer. Enough Said? If you know me, you know I would marry this thing if appliances could wed. Not only do I use it for mixing and fluffing, but I use it to tenderize ground meat for loaves, I use it to mash potatoes, I use it to knead, I use it to make pasta. Again, Endless Possibilities.

 

 

 

Organic Shopping(and my first DSLR post)

Today I went shopping at my favorite grocery store: Dad’s Organic. I like shopping here because it has EVERYTHING I could possibly ever look for all in one place, plus, locally raised meat and eggs!

Today was a steal. I must have walked in just as they put all of the weeks reduced produce out! Esentially, all of the ripe produce. I got two bags of carrots for $2, a bag of peppers for $2, a huge bag of assorted mushrooms for $2 and two bags of plum tomatoes for $3. Cheaper than I would have gotten them NON organic!=) Because there was obviously too much produce for my hubbie and I to demolish in the next couple days. I washed and chopped all of it and froze it for quick meals later on!

 

 

I often hear ‘I’d love to eat organic food but it is way too expensive!’. I understand that it is more pricey, but in my opinon, you pay for quality. Also, if you make smart purchases, and buy in bulk, it can reduce the price greatly [for example, freezing veggies]. I believe in pesticide, antibiotic, and hormone free food. This is not to say I eat strictly organic, but I would love to one day. Here is what about 70$ can get me at the organic store [including all the veg above, please note, these are our specialty items. With the except of veg and eggs, we do not buy everything on a weekly bases, more like a monthly to bimonthly bases! We top up with cheaper varieties week-to-week]. I also got about 30$ of skin-care products!
This bag is HUGE. For 12 dollars, I will probably have enough chia seeds for the next year and a half. My last container was about 3/4 this amount and lasted me one year. I use chia seeds to pack a nutritional punch to smoothies and baking, as a thickener, and as a vegan egg substitute. When mixed with 1 tbsp water, a tsp of chia seeds will become a gel-like consistency.

I like getting one treat at the organic store. Something that maybe not necessarily be ‘better’ for me, but that makes the shopping trip more exciting. I try to vary what I buy to try new things. These were $2.79. Bonus, they are 170 calories per 30 chip serving. I had some with my lunch and only felt the need for half a serving as they were so large!=)

We go through a lot of cheese in our house. This is a new brand for us…and a pricey brand for us. Our usual is from Sobey’s…but I hate making two trips. We usually get the organic swiss for $6.99 at Sobey’s, also 200g. This cheddar was $9.18 or something like that. I didn’t realize until I got home, but it is lactose free, which is a bonus: especially considering its made from milk, not soy.

Our FAVORITE greek yogurt. If you are still new to the greek world, try this one. Its the best we have tried [and we have tried a lot!]. It goes for $5.99 a container. This stuff is so rich, thick and creamy, I actually prefer it to treats like ice cream and cake!!

For protein this week I picked up some ground bison(local: 1 lb= $10), this canned smoked salmon, almond barney butter and eggs. I tried the salmon for lunch today. It is incredible. At 10$ a can, we will not be buying this often, but MAN is it good for a treat. I had 1/3 can(80 calories) atop a salad today and I loved every.single.bite. They also have a similar tuna for cheaper. Will try this soon. The eggs at this store are awesome. $4.99/dozen (much cheaper than $6.99 at Sobey’s)…and they are from a local organic free range farm! The yolks are so yellow and flavorful. There’s really nothing better!

I had also been looking for some sulphate-free (sodium laureth sulphate: a known skin irritant which is the #1 or #2 ingredient in most commercial cleaning products: I seem to be reacting terribly to it lately) soap, and found a reasonably priced ($4.97) bar here. It smells lovely, and is made of all natural ingredients.Today also marks the start of my natural-facial cleansing routine. I am trying the oil-cleansing-method which I have researched extensively. I have been starting it this week with coconut oil, but castor oil is an emollient for getting deep down in your pores which is required for it to work properly. I also got some tea tree oil for spot treatments, and some essential oil to add to the face-wash for piz-az! I will write more on this process in a few weeks and post pictures!

Now I am off to cook the day away for work all weekend. Graeme and I were going to put up the tree today, but have deferred that to next week! Hope you now understand where the big-bucks go in organic shopping! I also hope you enjoyed my first completely DSLR photo post! Hopefully these will become the norm! Still becoming comfortable with my skills! Happy Natural Eating!

Moderation.

Moderation is something I have been learning. I have a very addictive personality, so it is a constant struggle. This week I am learning that my freezer is my best friend!

We only have a small apartment-style freezer, but I have been loading it up. I used to make full batches of cookies/buns/soups etc. and then struggle to find places to store it….and the no-so-good-for-me stuff would get eaten to prevent spoilage.

Yesterday I made chocolate chip cookies. 109 calories each. Awesome if you can only eat one or two. Knowing myself, I tried freezing two dozen (the recipe made 4 dozen). It workd beautifully. I rolled the dough into perfect sized dough balls, and froze them in freezer-bags with the cooking instructions and nutrition stats. This did leave me with 24 whole cookies still though! Thankfully, my husband’s bible study class was having its closing class before christmas! Hallelujah!

Graeme came home from school and promptly asked “Can I take these tonight?”….I obliged and loaded up a tupperware. By the time he was ready to leave…I stuffed it full with what was left so I wouldn’t feel tempted.

So now, here we are. 2 dozen cookies in my freezer, and I feel confident in saying that this is one of my greatest ideas in a long-time! I can now just pull out ONE or two individually frozen dough balls when I am craving something sweet…and not feel tempted with an entire batch!

By the way: These are the best cookie I have ever made. Definitely #1 on my list….

Click for the recipe link!

 

Egg-In-A-Bag (Plain Cheese)

Today, I was craving protein like something mad, and was inspired by pinterest. The egg in a bag folks. This is not a new concept to me, back in my beginning camp staff days, egg-in-a-bag happened periodically through the summer. I was disgusted by it. As a 16-year-old who only ate eggs fried or boiled, a omelette had never crossed my pallet. I know. Sheltered. It only took one look at the picture of a perfect omelette in a bag to bring me back and excited this now-omelette-loving gal!

I gathered my things; eggs (2), cheese (2 tbsp shredded), salt, pepper, and a splash of milk( 2 tbsp) in a freezer bag [chosen due to its superior durability to a sandwich bag]. **NOTE** I put my bag into a bowl for easy-filling.

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Next, I shook those poor eggs to a pulp.

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Finally, I plopped the bag into a boiling pot of water, and let it do it’s thing for 14 minutes.

ImageThe omelette slid right out of the bag onto my plate after the cooking process. The first one I made, I forgot the milk, so the egg was a little denser [pictured above]. I loved it so much that I made a second WITH the milk and was blown away at a perfectly fluffy, full flavored omelette. FANTASTIC. I will definitely do this again. It was AWESOME to be able to walk away and just come back when the stove alarm went off! From what I understand, the more mix-ins you add, the longer it can take: up to 18 minutes. 14 was perfect for a simple egg and cheese omelette though! Below is the second WITH milk. One of these bad boys WITH the milk (skim) is only 171 calories! (160 without the milk)

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Spicy Coconut Chicken Strips

Spicy Coconut Strips

Makes 2 large portions

226 calories per chicken breast

2 skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into strips

2 tbsp low calorie ranch dressing

2 tbsp skim milk

1 egg

 1 cup cornflakes

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp shredded , unsweetened coconut

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 405 F.

Wisk wet ingredients in small bowl until creamy. In a re-sealable plastic bag, add dry ingredients. Crush with a kitchen mallet.

Dip chicken strips in wet mixture. One at a time, put chicken strips in plastic bag with cornflakes mixture and shake. Place coated chicken strip onto lightly greased pan, or pan covered with silpat [or other non-stick mat].

Bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. (depending on strip size: I got aprox. 8 strips out of each breast)

 

Morning Glory

Being a shift-working nurse definitely has it’s perks. You work your hiney off for 4 days at a time, with no social life….but MAN are the stretches off W.O.N.D.E.R.F.U.L! I have been sticking to a pretty normal sleep pattern this stretch [which is rare after nights], and it has been making my life so much better! I have been going to sleep around 2200-2230. Waking up around 0700-0800. Averaging about 9 hours/night, no alarms necessary [Yes, my body is most happy on 9 hours, not 7 like most adults!]. I get to see my hunny off before he goes to school, and I get to enjoy the quietness morning brings. Its wonderful.

I have been spending my mornings drawing out coffee time to somewhere around 1000 [with anywhere from 1-3 cups: creamer in the first, and they become stronger and stronger as I ‘top up’, until I have no cream, only coffee] while I browse all of my favorite blogs, and work on things for All Of Life’s Questions. Readership is growing, and I am so thankful! Its so nice to know that there are actually people reading, rather than being lost in the abyss of the techie world. I hope you all keep reading as I am enjoying writing immensely.

Yesterday I painted my nails after some blog work. Too bad I was too rushed to get dressed to run….I messed up 3 of these beaut’s!

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Turns out it wasn’t even worth it! We ended up staying inside and giving the Dancing With The Stars workout video another shot. We did the entire 45 minutes…all three dances. My review remains the same. We mostly flailed the entire time.

I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen this week as well. I have been enjoying making healthier versions of food x10. Its like a super-challenge, and I am totally UP FOR IT! Not only is it fun, but it fires me up to eat healthy. It makes it exciting! Yesterday for dinner I made these incredible Spicy Coconut Chicken Strips

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ImageFollowed by half of one of the almond butter cups I made! It was de-lightful. Way better than fast-food.

Thank goodness for cooking. It serves as  a temporary reprieve from the cold. Our thermostat is NOT working. It has been set to 90-100 all week, and it remains a chilly 60-65….sometimes 67 when cooking! At -25 C…this is NOT good.

This morning, I awoke to the chilly air, and decided to make a version of baked oatmeal I saw on pinterest.

ImageThis one definitely requires some tweaking before I post a recipe. A dab of butter greatly helped the flavors meld, but something was missing? Round two next week maybe?

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Today’s healthy lifestyle goals? Go to Yoga For Backs with some gals from work, get in a zombie march  run [I hate the darn treadmill…but I don’t think my asthmatic lungs can take -20 today], and try to reduce the salt I ingest: I awoke with slightly swollen fingers today, I can only attribute it to too much salt? hormonal variations? TMI?

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Here’s to another relaxing, joy-filled day….and wedding rings that fit!=)