It’s ok to say ‘no’ to balance.

Today I’m going to share a story while I think out loud

I’m not about restriction. If your diet has you cutting whole macro nutrient groups (i.e. carbs or fat - ps why is it never protein that these fad diets hate on?) you’re not going to be able to keep that change long term.

For one, nearly everything has all three macro nutrients (fat, carbs, protein) in it, for two by cutting macro nutrient groups you could be missing out on important nutrients that are found in these groups (i.e. fat soluble vitamins).

Restricting ‘treats’ can also lead to problems, but can be ok in some situations – i.e. if you eat a whole bag of cookies before bed every night, maybe cut it down to a couple, but never allowing yourself to enjoy decadent foods starts to put a strain on your relationship with food.

Food is about enjoyment and pleasure and celebrations. I’ve talked about this before, and I’ll continue to talk about it because food is such an integral part of human life. This is why balance is in my vocabulary. You need a little dark chocolate to go with the green smoothies. Do you feel me?

About 99% of the time I promote balance and this applies to most aspects of life – food, fitness, scheduling, working, ect. – but some times it’s ok to say no to balance. Let me explain…

Mr A and I went to a movie on the weekend, something we rarely do (we saw St. Vincent, it was so good!). Usually when I go to the movies I get popcorn. You guys…I love movie theatre popcorn. I love the saltiness, I love that I can add as much butter as I want (yes butter, not that margarine crap), and I love that I can take the left overs home and eat them the next (two) days. For me, getting popcorn at the movies is something that I see as balance because I rarely go to movies, hence I rarely get the popcorn.

This day was different. Something I had eaten earlier wasn’t sitting well in my stomach – it wasn’t crazy upset but I was feeling a little bloated.

This presented a problem: I could get the popcorn, achieve the ‘balance’ that I was out for, satisfy my craving, and not deny myself what I really, truly wanted in that moment OR I could skip the popcorn, feel sad about denying myself, but make my stomach feel better.

I chose to skip the popcorn and get a nice chamomile tea instead. Was I bummed? Of course! I seriously love that popcorn… But my body was thankful I skipped it, I would have walked out of that theatre with my belt undone for sure had I eaten it.

I wanted to tell this story because it can parallel so many other situations – think holiday baking or treats at work, sure they’re great, but maybe they’re not what you need right now? Just because balance says that you can eat whatever you want whenever you want it, doesn’t mean that you should.

Listen to what your body wants and hey….if it wants that shortbread cookie with green and red sprinkles on it, who am I to tell you not to eat it?

Thinking-Out-Loud2

 Have you ever struggled with balance? Do you love movie popcorn as much as me? - I seriously can’t be the only one…

WIAW: Sunday Eats

Sunday was an epic day of food. If you didn’t know….(good) food is invited to all of my celebrations. My motto is you can’t have a gathering of people without also having a gathering of food. #priorities

For this WIAW I’m going to take you through a couple of food filled celebrations that I was lucky enough to attend on Sunday. I’ll show you the spread and tell you my verdict on each event.

Cheers!

Sunday 10am//Girls Brunch

A reunion of the best school friends called for a potluck brunch of epic proportions.

Epic Brunch

The Menu: Bagels + cream cheese + raspberry jam, homemade bran muffins, scrambled eggs, pumpkin spice granola, plain and vanilla greek yogurt, assorted fruits. 

Bran Muffins

The Verdict: The meal could have used some pancakes. I kid! Although we were going to make pancakes too, we vetoed it when we saw how much food we had already. Nutrition students know how to do food.

Huge Bagel

Sunday 5pm//Birthday Celebrations

This weekend we celebrated Mr A’s birthday as well as little mango’s (aka my sister). The festivities were held at my mom’s place and she did not disappoint on the food front.

Birthday Food

The Menu: Assorted cold cuts (ham+turkey+Genoa salami –> my fav), cheeses (smoked gouda, havarti, applewood smoked cheddar), pickles, olives, breads and crackers, and an amazing Zuccotto Torte from La Grotta.

The Verdict: The applewood smoked cheddar was the favourite across the board and you better believe Mr. A and I took home leftover cake.

WIAW

Have you ever had a potluck brunch? Can you guess what I brought?

Ps Happy 200th to the WIAW Party! Make sure you head over to see Jenn and check out some other WIAW’s!

Learning to Cook Italian: Pasta Sauce

Homemade pasta sauce is one of the first things I learned how to make after I started dating Mr A. In fact, I’ve made my own pasta sauce since then (with a few alfredo exceptions), and anything out of a jar cannot compete.

You can use one of two methods when making a sauce and the one you choose depends on how much time you want to devote to the process.

1. Quick sauce: Just as it sounds – takes about 30minutes to make, but it could take longer depending on how you want the flavours to develop. I outlined the process for making this one in my Kitchen Staples Post.

2. Good Old Fashioned Pasta Sauce: to be good (and safe) this method takes at least an hours worth of cooking. Don’t worry – all this time cooking does wonderful, amazing things to the sauce and the time is not wasted.

Today I’m going to go over the method for making the good old fashioned kind because it’s my favourite, and when it’s done well, it’s fantastic!

Homemade Meat Sauce

1 Medium Red Onion, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 lb Ground Meat (we often use turkey)
1 28oz Can no salt added diced tomatoes
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
2 Carrots, whole
2 Celery Stalks, whole
1 Cup Mushrooms, chopped
Italian Seasoning
Kosher Salt
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
Basil
Oregano 
Thyme
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Canola oil

 1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot – dutch oven will work perfectly. Add in diced onion and minced garlic cloves and allow to cook until onion becomes translucent.

Onions and Garlic

2. Add the ground meat and break it up into small, even pieces. Add a thin layer of spices to the meat (see picture) – shake over the Italian Seasoning, Basil, Oregano, Thyme, garlic and onion powders and the black pepper. Also add a pinch of Kosher salt. Allow to cook until pink is gone (~10 minutes), while stirring ever once in a while to ensure even cooking.

Homemade Meat Sauce

3. Once the pink is gone add in the cans of tomatoes. Use about 1/3 of of a cup of water to rinse the crushed tomato can and add that to the pot too. Add another layer of herbs - Italian seasoning, basil, oregano, thyme. You may need to add a little more water if it looks too thick; don’t worry if you add too much it will boil out over time.

Homemade Pasta Sauce

4. Also add to the pot the carrots, celery, and mushrooms and give it a stir. These guys will add aromatics to the sauce and you can eat them when the sauce is done, if you want, the mushrooms are just for a nice nutrient kick.

4. Turn up the heat to medium high and cover with a lid. The goal is to bring it to a boil and hold it for at least 30 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally – you don’t want it sticking to the bottom of the pot. The longer you cook it, the better it will taste. If you can let it go for 40-45 minutes I would do that.

Homemade Pasta Sauce

5. After 30 minutes give it a taste. Does it need any more herbs/spices? If so, add them and let it cook for another 15 minutes or so. If it’s done, serve it on top of pasta.

Homemade Pasta Sauce

Beuno appitio

Find more info about Canned Tomatoes here.

Friday Favourites + Weekly Reads

Whoah, that week just blew by. I guess that’s what happens when the week starts on Wednesday instead of Monday! Despite it being a short week I got a lot of things done, which is perfect because I have about 400 things due at the end of the month.

I’m so excited to report I bought a new jacket last weekend!! It’s from McKinley and it’s perfect, and beautiful, and I love it. It’s a good thing I took this beauty home because it got COLD here this week.

McKinley Jacket

 

[ahhh as if I'm posting a picture of me wearing glasses...]

I have been loving mandarin oranges this week. One of the best parts of this time of year is having oranges that you can actually peel.

I’ve also had the opportunity to  spend some quality time with Mr A this week. We’ve both been so busy with work so it’s been nice to go on some adventures together and watch movies in sweat pants.

It was a pretty low key week so I don’t have any more favourites for you, but you can always keep up with my shenanigans on Instagram!

Weekly Reads

five-things-friday

What were you up to this week? What’s going on this weekend? I’m hoping some pancakes are in my future…

WIAW: All-day Grazing.

Tuesday was Remembrance Day here in Canada and Mr A and I had the day off from school and work. We spent the day puttering around the house: watching the Remembrance Day Ceremony on tv, laundry, caught up on Sherlock (finally!), and I worked on a presentation that I have to give in a couple days.

To be honest, much of the day was spent eating. Hi, my name is Melissa and when I’m home I’m an all-day grazer. Anyone else with me? 

Eating is so much more enjoyable when you can have multiple bites of different things. #amiright 

Speaking of bites, let’s get on with some WIAW!

BreakfastBreakfast// 2 eggs + sliced tomato + Tall Grass Bakery Sourdough Rye with homemade peach jam

Can we talk about that bread? Mr A and I took a trip to The Forks yesterday and one of the goodies we brought home was some bread from Tall Grass Bakery. We also got a Harvest Loaf. Hello lover! This stuff is amazing. Nice crusty top and so soft in the middle. Why can’t I make bread like this?

Snack [not pictured]//Mr A and I shared a fig bar (one each!) – he’s my partner in grazing crime

Pasta and SauceLunch// Pasta + homemade pasta sauce + homemade alfredo (aka a rose sauce)

All the SnacksAll the grazing//rice krispy square + banana + lemon yogurt topped with raw oats + mandarin and Peanut butter banana oat muffin

Don’t worry, I followed my own rules and had one of these snacks before and after getting my fitness on. After all of the grazing I did today I was pretty full and had a TINY (but delicious) dinner.

Salad and ToastDinner//Salad + havarti cheese + THAT BREAD with peanut butter

To round out the evening I had my favourite evening snack: cereal!

Cascadian Farms Oat and HoneySnack//Cascadian Farm Oat and Honey granola with almond milk

WIAW

Are you a grazer too? What’s your favourite bed time/evening snack?

How to Roast Vegetables

How to Roast Vegetables

Roasted vegetables are one of my musts when Sunday Food Prepping. It only takes a few minutes to get them going in the oven and when they’re done, they are a great addition to almost any lunch or dinner. Some of my favourite veggies to roast include peppers, eggplant, potatoes, zucchini, and squash.

Man are these guys delicious straight from the oven. 

Roasted Peppers

Here is my go-to method for roasting any type of vegetable. If you can master these 6 steps, there is no vegetable you can’t roast!

1. Pre-heat the oven: 375F should do just fine.

2. Prep the vegetable(s): wash and slice or chop into uniform pieces. See below for some delicious farmers market eggplant.

Roasted Eggplant

3. Put prepared veggies in large bowl: toss with oil of your choice (I use olive or canola) and spices. We use a combination of the following: garlic powder, basil, thyme, Italian seasoning, oregano, onion powder, black pepper. ALWAYS add Kosher salt to the dish – salt makes everything taste better.

4. Lay out on baking sheet or roasting pan: make sure to lay out veggies uniformly and use two pans if necessary.

Brussles Sprouts

5. Roast: check on them every 10 minutes or so and flip after about 15 minutes, or when you notice some browning. Because this method is for ANY veggie, the cooking time will differ depending on what you’re cooking. It’s best to keep an eye on them.

6. Eat!: Pull from the oven when they look nice and brown, then mange!

What are your favourite veggies to roast? What do you like to season them with?

5 Ways to Use Canned Tomatoes

5 Ways to Use Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are a great staple to have in your house. These guys are pre-cooked (all the lycopene!) and conveniently packed in larger and smaller cans, perfect for any recipe. Plus, if you’re worried about Bisphenol-A (BPA) you can look for BPA free varieties or tomatoes in glass jars.

They’re cheap.

They’re versatile.

They come in many varieties.

They have staple status in my pantry.

Homemade Pasta Sauce

My favourite go-to’s are diced, crushed, and whole. Make sure to look for no salt added if you can as you will likely be adding salt to your dish. I keep at least a can of each at my house, and if push comes to shove I’ll narrow my loves down to crushed and whole because you can always beat up the whole to make them more like diced –> an awesome trick we’ve used many times.

PLUS you can freeze any extras you have to use another time. What can’t these guys do!?

I’ve told you all about them, but what can you do with them? Here’s a list of my favourite ways to utilize these awesome pantry staples.

1. Make pasta sauce

(Diced, Whole, and/or Crushed)

You’ll never have to make your own pasta sauce again if you can master the quick sauce. I think I’ve talked about it in several posts, but seriously I haven’t bought jarred pasta sauce in years. You can also use a slower cook method if you plan to make it a meat sauce or with meatballs or if you have some extra time (flavours taste better if they’re cooked longer too!).

Homemade Pasta Sauce

2. Make curry

(Diced and/or Crushed)

The type you use will depend on the recipe. My go to —> Spinach and Chickpea Curry uses chopped tomatoes aka diced.

3. Make chilli

(Diced, Crushed)

You can always rock a pot of chilli with a can of tomaotes. What type you use will typically  depend on the recipe you’re using, but if you’re like me and you don’t follow a recipe use 1 can diced + 1 can crushed + your spices and veggies/beans. Here are some amazing recipes for inspiration:

One-Pot Beef and 3-Bean Chilli

Autumn Spiced Vegetarian Chilli

4. Make pizza sauce

(Crushed)

To make pizza sauce Mr A and I use one can of crushed tomato + garlic powder, basil, oregano, thyme, onion powder, salt, and black pepper in a pot over medium heat. Bring just to a boil and cook for ~15 minutes to get the flavour bursting out of those dried herbs. After a taste test to ensure deliciousness use for pizza and freeze the rest (or turn it into pasta sauce/chilli/soup?).

Pizza Sauce

If you like a bit of a chunkier sauce you can use a can of whole tomatoes beat up a bit – we did this for the pizzas pictured here, and we used San Marzano tomatoes (Mr. A’s fave). Why buy pizza sauce when you can make one that tastes 1 million times better?

Pan Pizza

5. Make soup

(Diced, Crushed and/or Whole)

My favourite, but least executed use of tomatoes. Again, the type will depend on what the recipe calls for but you can always beat up a can of whole to make them what you need. I’ve always wanted to make a pureed tomato soup so I added a recipe here for one you guys can try, and that kale soup is one of my favourites from Angela. Make it now, you won’t regret it.

Classic Tomato Soup

Spiced Red Lentil, Tomato, and Kale Soup 

Tomato and Kale Soup

What do you like to use canned tomatoes for? Interested in canning your own tomatoes?