Friday, 6 November 2015

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Roasted Chickpeas and Local Artisan Bread

It’s been a while since I have posted on the blog, but I guess better late than never!

A lot has happened since my last post in the spring.  I have been busy with family trips, moving, my sister getting married, starting a new business and trying to take on each challenge as it comes in the best way I can.


Life is so busy and I have realized lately that if we don’t take time for ourselves by reflecting on what we are grateful for, we can lose touch with what is most important around us.  Food can bring us together, divide us, start traditions and warm our soul.  Food is so important that I feel it’s underrated most of the time, to the point that food can be used as a weapon for judgement and harm.  When did we stop giving ourselves permission to stop enjoying our food in a healthy way, rather than using it as a weapon of psychological warfare on our self-esteem?  Food needs to be good again, and I’m not talking about fast food, I’m talking about the home-made/local options that are out there that give us so much more variety.



So this recipe is for the humble heart and warm soul seeking peace on a quiet fall evening.  I guess what I’m trying to say is… enjoy the small moments in life; we don’t get very much of them!




Enjoy!
Kyra

**This recipe can be found here: The Vintage Mixer
Note: I didn’t have enough carrots, so I had 1lb carrots and 1lb cauliflower.  The cauliflower helped with the creaminess of the soup and it tasted just as good :)

Friday, 8 May 2015

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


Life is busy as ever and I can’t keep up!  But there are great things in the horizon and I can’t wait to share them with you when the time is right.  Life has great opportunities and I’m trying to create a BEAUtiful future for myself and someday my family.  I’m taking on a new carrier path that requires a lot of time with women and inner beauty.  So keep your eyes peeled for more info to come in the future!


Aside from starting a new carrier path, I have had some time to do some baking and this week’s post won’t disappoint.  





Bananas… they are totally under rated and can be used in almost anything!  They are high in natural sugars which make them so great for baking with and adding some extra sweetness to your dessert of choice. When I need a tasty breakfast treat, I make banana bread.  It’s easy, you can add whatever you want to make it your own and it’s a good way to use up those extra banana’s that are sitting on your kitchen counter slowly turning brown rotting away.



This recipe is my go to recipe for easy peasy banana bread and it turns out every time.  You can add whatever you want such as walnuts, flax seeds, dried fruit etc.  I added chocolate chips to the batter and sprinkled crushed walnuts on top for added crunch in mine.


So I hope this puts a smile on that special lady in your life.  And just think she'll be so proud you cooked her breakfast, and even better... it didn't come from a box!








Kyra xo



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Kyra’s Easy Banana Bread 

Ingredients
1 egg
1/2 cup mayonnaise (any kind will do)
1-1/3 cups mashed fully ripe bananas (about 3)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions
Heat oven to 350ºF.
Beat egg, mayonnaise, vanilla and bananas in large bowl with a hand mixer until blended. Place a mesh colander over the bowl and pour dry ingredients (except walnuts) over the mesh colander.  Tapping sides of colander, let dry ingredients sprinkle into the bowl.  Blend everything together well, but be sure to not over beat.  Pour mini chocolate chips into the batter and mix with a spatula.  Sprinkle walnuts over top.
Pour into 9x5-inch loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 min, remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely.

Tips:
  1. For less sugar you can put a ½ cup instead of a full cup and it will still taste and turn out great.
  2. To make banana bread toast, just cut a thick slick, stick in the toaster and slab with butter once toasted to perfection.  The chocolate chips will be melted, the outside of the slice will be crispy and the inside will be warm and moist. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Life these last few weeks...


These past few weeks have been really crazy for me!  There have been some emotional up’s and down’s, unexpected sickness and lots of happy moments that involved the comfort of food and family.

So one of the big foodie events in Halifax was “Burger Week” which ran from March 19th-25th.  This is where everyone in Halifax comes out to enjoy delicious burgers of all shapes and sizes throughout the week at various restaurants.  This year was the city’s 3rd anniversary and each year, my husband and I notice more and more restaurants choose to participate in this monumental event of burger proportions.  This year we decided to go to three different restaurants, that way we could put our names in a draw for the grand prize.

Our first place was Flipburger, after we had got there it started to get pretty busy so we took ours to go.  The burger they chose to contribute for Burger Week’s events was The Big Smoke and it was pretty good.  I had a gluten free bun with mine, which is always good there and the highlights were: smoked gouda, bacon and even smoked tomato.




Our second place was 2 Doors Down, which they technically didn’t have a burger but a slider, but it was still really good.  They called it The Steakhouse Slider and it packed a punch of taste, Ben and I loved every bite!  Hand formed beef patties, sautéed mushrooms and three different cheeses sent us to burger heaven. 





…Unfortunately if we had known what awaited us a few hours later, we would have thought twice before diving in. 

At 3:30am I awoke to Ben puking in the bathroom quite violently.  Naturally I thought he was just having stomach problems and went back to sleep as there was not much I could do, and to be honest I can’t handle puke.  Tossing and turning I had trouble getting back to sleep, with hot and cold sweats keeping me awake not being able to rest for more than fifteen minutes at a time.  Then at around 4:30 am it was my turn to run to the bathroom, except Ben was already in there…the kitchen garbage had to suffice.  I had realized we both were sick with food poisoning from the 2 Doors Down burgers, as that was the only thing we both had ate that night.  I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but long story short I still have not had nor can look at another burger in the same way.  And unfortunately we never made it to the third restaurant and thus a sickening end to our month of March.

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With age comes change, and with change sometimes can come stress.  Thus my inner fat child has run rampant for the month of April and I am still recovering, trying to get back on track with healthy habits.  During these past weeks with my sugar binge, I had made a key lime cheesecake.  Unfortunately I over cooked the cheesecake and it was not very good, due to my mistake of course.  I had also had an unexpected stressful day this past Thursday, and I decided the only way to make things better was to eat comfort food.  This consisted of baguette, cheese, chips, root beer and strawberry shortcake. 



Even though these last few weeks have been stressful, I am grateful for the weekend, family, friends, my comforting husband and much needed vacation time!  I was able to take my best friend to the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market today, which she had never been too and I was way overdue for a visit.  We walked around enjoyed all of the local sites, and Lenora fell in love with the amazing things the market had to offer.  I myself love bramoso’s breakfast pizza which has spinach, sun dried tomatoes, bacon and an egg on top which is an excuse to eat pizza for breakfast any day J  I also got a cinnamon biscuit and a double chocolate cookie from The Cake Lady, which was amazing and I will definitely be back there again to indulge in another sweet treat.




Needless to say this week ended on a sweet note, and I enjoyed many tasty indulgences…probably too many LOL.  But I’m glad the weekend is here, and I hope you all have the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful weather.

Kyra xo


The websites for the delicious places I have mentioned are listed below:

Friday, 20 March 2015

Gluten-Free/Vegan Coconut Chocolate No-Bake Macaroons


It’s the first day of Spring, and we have so much snow that we probably won’t see green until May at this rate!  But at least it’s sunny outside, and that means the snow is melting slowly but surly J

So while I’m stuck inside I choose to make myself useful by doing the dishes, cleaning, baking and cooking up a storm.  I love making things from scratch when I have the time.  It allows me to use more wholesome ingredients, as opposed to pre-packaged instant products which can have added preservatives and sugars.  Taking that extra time in the kitchen to prepare all of your food ahead of time, is worth the effort and peace of mind.  Of course there are some foods we don’t always have the time to get or prepare ahead, so it’s best to read the nutrition facts and make sure what you are putting in your body will benefit you on a cellular level.  In other words, foods that will work with the nutrition your body wants, rather than working against the natural flow your body needs to function on a healthy level.

So I wanted to make something that would be beneficial to your health without all of the added sugars, gluten's or animal bi-products which we can sometime consume to much of.  It will also curb your sugar and chocolate cravings, without making you feel guilty about eating something sweet at the same time.


I was skeptical at first when I found this recipe, I thought it was going to be too bitter and not taste good at all.  But I was pleasantly surprised as this recipe had exceeded my expectations.  It’s very simple and you can even make these with your kids as a fun activity or mid-afternoon treat/snack.



Even though there is Maple Syrup in this recipe, please know that it is a natural sugar but still a sugary ingredient, so probably not the best idea to eat the whole batch all at once LOL!  You can also substitute a cup of the coconut for rolled oats, nuts (for more of a sweet salty taste) or dried fruit if you want more of a chewy texture to your macaroons.


I hope you enjoy these as much as I did and share with your friends <3





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Coconut Chocolate No-Bake Macaroons
Servings: yields about 40 macaroons
Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups unsweetened dried coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup almond flour*
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Directions:
Mix all 4 dry ingredients together well with a wooden spoon.  Then add all 3 wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients, mix well until fully incorporated.  Form into small balls using a spoon or cookie scoop, by placing on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Refrigerate until firm, you can also put in the freezer for an extra crunch.

*You can grind your own almond flour by placing whole almonds in a blender/food processor and blending until a fine meal. 
Note: You have to leave these in the fridge or the freezer to keep them firm, once left out for a few minutes they get too soft and messy.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The Faux Martha's Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake


This year is the Relief Society’s 173rd birthday! 



So naturally we have an activity for our ward to celebrate this monumental event every year.  Because there is cake served and because I love the making and consuming of cake… I volunteered myself to make this year’s birthday cake.

I scoured the many baking blogs I love so much and found the cake that would impress.  I decided The Faux Martha had this really lovely Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake that I had not made yet, but it was on my list of cakes to try.  The buttercream filling, chocolate ganache and the moist chocolate cake looked so tasty that it was a cake made for celebrating.



The Sunday before I had to present the cake which was on a Tuesday, I get a message from the activities coordinator touching base with me to make sure I’m still making the cake.  She also informs me that I need to make sure to have enough for 30-40 people….and I then realize, I’m not going to have enough cake!  Not baking down from a challenge, I decide to make double the recipe for the cake as my pans are about 9-10 inches wide.  I decided I would need to stack them to give the illusion there would be enough cake and of course impress with presentation.  The butter cream and ganache wound up being enough for the cake even with double the surface space.



I must say the Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream was the hardest part of the whole assembly of this cake.  I had to make the caramel by scratch like the rest of the cake, which I thought was not going to be so hard.  It took me 3 times to get it right, the first two times I over heated the caramel and I burnt it.  But when push came to shove, and it was the day of the event I was able to stack my cake 4 layers high, get all three components made, put together and presented in the best way possible. Yes I would have loved more time, but I was still pretty happy with the result, given the time and effort put into it. 





In the end, all of the ladies loved it, there was enough cake for everyone and I was glad to be able to put a smile on everyone’s face.  I felt accomplished and so blessed to have the opportunity to serve these ladies and share my backing talents with them.  







Happy 173rd Birthday Relief Society!


The recipe for the cake is found in the link below on The Faux Martha website J


Friday, 13 March 2015

A 10-Day Sugar Detox

For some of you sugar is consumed in small amounts, in others it comes in the form of chocolate but for most without even knowing it, sugar is consumed on a daily sometimes hourly basis!  That’s a lot of sugar!

I’m not just talking about the white grainy stuff; I’m talking about hidden sugar as well.  People don’t realize how much hidden sugar is consumed on a daily basis without even knowing it.  It’s in our energy drinks, “healthy cereals”, children’s snacks, smoothies, salads and much more.  You’re probably thinking “wear is all of this sugar coming from and how is it so easily consumed?”  Well it is in our sauces, juices, fibrous cereals, dairy product, non-dairy products, salad dressings and the list goes on and on.


If you really want to know how much sugar is in the food you eat, just look at the back on the Nutrition Facts of each processed or packaged food item.  It will tell you how much fat and calories you are consuming per teaspoon, tablespoon, cup or even gram.  But what people don’t always look at is the sugar content and the ingredients. Yes, this unfortunately is being over looked and people actually need to pay more attention to this section, this is wear all of the hidden sugars and harmful ingredients can reside in our food.

So you ask “where is all of this sugar hoopla coming from?”  Well, about a year ago I decided to watch a documentary called “Fed Up”.  This documentary focuses on how sugar has become some of the leading cause in childhood obesity and leading health issues in adults.  After watching the documentary it became quite an eye opener for me, in how much sugar we consume as a society, how easily it is passed down through the generations and marketed to our children.  I decided to learn more and picked up a book written by Mark Hyman, MD who was one of the doctors who helped produce the documentary.  His book is called “The blood sugar solution, 10-Day Detox Diet”.


I read the whole book and fell in love with DR. Hyman’s work and decided I would try the detox diet.  My first attempt didn't go so well, I wound up getting sick the first day, but not due to the diet mind you.  So time went by and I got busy and kept thinking about picking it back up and I just kept giving myself excuses not to do it.  So toward the end of February I decided to take it on and make sure to follow the diet as best possible. 
For the whole 10 days I didn’t consume a gram of processed or un-natural sugar.  I didn’t cheat once as I was determined to make it through to the end.  The last 3 days were hard as I became quite tired, but that was due to my fault as I decided to do it during a very busy week.  While I was on the detox, I did notice the following changes:
1.     I slept more soundly.  No waking up in the middle of the night or tossing and turning.

2.     My cravings went away after a couple of days.  They resurfaced again half way through as I was not balancing out my diet enough.  This was due to my error in poor planning.

3.     Bladder control.  This may be too much information, but I found I didn’t need to run to the bathroom as much, and my IBS symptoms had been reduced dramatically.

4.     Vegetables are my friend.  I realized you can never eat too many vegetables, as they were one of my staples in my diet.

5.     My mind was clearer.  I found that I was better at problem solving, thinking better under pressure and I didn’t feel a fog of confusion or delay in thought.

6.     I felt lighter.  I felt less sluggish and I didn’t feel weighted down or fatigued.  I was tired yes, but it was not anything debilitating to the point before the diet, where I would need to take a nap right away.

7.     No bloating.  Suffering from IBS can be quite unpleasant at times, so this was a plus for me.  Even with the constant consumption of vegetables, this was never a problem the whole time I was on the detox.

As you can see, there were definitely some plus sides to the diet and I’m glad I did it.  This has helped me with many health issues and I am now more conscious of the products I take into my body.  If you have any questions about this detox or health related concerns, I would suggest talking with your family physician or local nutritionist first before starting the diet.  And of course do your research, this may not be the right detox for you right now, read up on the information given and find out for yourself J

The links to Dr. Mark Hyman’s website and the Fed Up website are below:

Friday, 6 March 2015

Chocolate chip cookies

For my first food post I decided a good place to start would be chocolate chip cookies!  Everyone loves cookies, and even better… chocolate chip ones are the best.  Melted pockets of chocolate, gooey centers, crunchy edges and a perfect marriage of butter and sugar…YUM!
I had to do some research of my own to figure out which recipe I wanted to share with all of you, and which one would be worth a blog post.  After perusing my many cook books new and old, I found one that was blog worthy. 

I have never made this recipe before, but as it’s in the “All-Time Best Recipes” from Cook’s Illustrated I figured I had a pretty good chance of producing an amazing cookie.
Now normally I am one to be creative in the kitchen and take a basic recipe and give it a twist of my own, like adding more vanilla or chocolate.  But this time I decided to follow the instructions word for word and not veer from the recipe. 



Well it’s a good thing I followed every step, these cookies turned out better than I had expected and I loved every bit and had trouble not eating the whole batch! 
I would definitely make these again if I needed a really tasty go to cookie recipe to impress. 

Enjoy J










The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
Makes 16 cookies

*Avoid using a non-stick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the non-stick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is sufficiently browned.  Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry.

Ingredients:
1 ¾  cups (8 ¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
1 ½  teaspoon baking soda
14   tablespoons unsalted butter
¾     cup packed (5 ¼ ounces) dark brown sugar
½     cup (3 ½ ounces) granulated sugar
1     teaspoon salt
2     teaspoons vanilla extract
1      large egg plus 1 large yolk
1 ¼  cups (7 ½ ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
¾     cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chipped (optional)

Directions:
1.        Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
2.      Melt 10 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly, until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes.  Transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl.  Add remaining 4 tablespoons butter and stir until completely melted.
3.       Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla to melted butter; whisk until fully incorporated.  Add egg and yolk; whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.  Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds.  Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.  Using rubber spatula, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using.  Give dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.
4.      Working with 3 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll into balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
5.      Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are golden brown, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are soft, 10-14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.  Transfer baking sheet before serving. 

Friday, 13 February 2015

A new start!

It takes 21 days to create a habit…

But to take that first step, I believe is the hardest part!  Because once you take that first step you can’t do anything but move forward.  You look back and you think, “wow I have come all this way”, but then you look ahead and you think, “wow I have far to go!”.  That’s when you deprive yourself of all progress you have made.  You automatically cheat yourself out of going any further and possibly never reaching your goal.

I want to stop this cycle, move forward and choose to start accomplish the life goals I have set out for myself, by not living in fear of what may come or what may happen.   Boyd K. Packer said “Do not fear the future; go forward with hope and faith."  I have created this blog to share in health, food, photography and the many ways it affects my life. I want to use my talents and skills to help other people feel some commonality.  I also want to help fuel the fire of change in healthy habits, such as loving ourselves for who we are, being grateful for what we have, knowing how to make food work for us, getting the most out of physical activity and much more!

I believe change is good, it can make room for greater things and give us opportunities to grow as human beings.   Socrates said, "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new".  So take that first step, believe in yourself and look up… because you are never alone.

Kyra <3