Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bigass Salads

Happy Leap Day everyone!  Did any of you ladies propose to your men today?  I thought about jokingly asking Michael but then decided that wouldn’t really be so funny.  How mean!  (Not that he would have taken me seriously…I’m a terrible jokester!)

Since today is somewhat of a bonus day on the calendar (although I never feel like we gained anything…it is still just a Wednesday after all) I thought I’d just do a quick bonus post.

Bigass Salads in the Big Silver Bowl


The greens are usually either baby spinach, mixed baby lettuces, or a combo of the two…really just depends if something is on sale.  :)  The veggie combos also vary based on the grocery store sales, but just about always include carrots, radishes, tomatoes and yellow or orange peppers.  Today I have cucumber and cauliflower for something different.


The fun part is the protein topper!  My favourite is roast chicken breast from the grocery deli.  I peel the skin off then shred the meat onto my salad while it’s still warm.  So yummy and filling! 


Other easy favourites are boiled eggs, black forest ham, roasted beets and goat cheese, chick peas or tuna salad. Last week I actually had black beans and grated cheddar on my salad three days in a row!


For dressings I keep a couple of store bought varieties in my fridge but sometimes it’s the best way to get a healthy oil in for the day.  Depending on the toppings a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of coarse salt is all it might need!  Coconut oil is super deeeelish too.


Got leftovers?  Pile them on top of some mixed greens and call it salad.  :)


Last night I had some asparagus and mushrooms dying a rapid death in my produce drawer so I roasted them up, mixed them with goat cheese and piled it all atop a bed of greens and tomatoes.  Didn’t even need dressing.  So delicious!

What’s your favourite salad mix?  Favourite protein to build it up?  Do you eat salad because you love it, or because it’s good for you? 

Obviously I’m a fan.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Creamy Caramelized Onion Dip

This past weekend Michael was planning on heading out of town to visit family so I decided it would be the perfect time to hang out with some of my girlfriends.  It’s a rare event that any more than one or two of us have a free Friday evening so I was particularly impressed that four of us managed to make plans!

Perfect excuse to add to my Twilight Blu-Ray collection and break in my new-to-me 40 inch TV (thanks to my Mama!).


Movie Night!

I emailed the girls asking everyone to bring their favourite movie watching snacks and asked that if they planned on bringing anything unhealthy not to leave me with leftovers!  As always, the snacks did not disappoint!

  • Junior Mints
  • Twizzlers
  • Chocolate Fudge Popcorn
  • General Tao Chicken Potato Chips
  • Mini Eggs
  • Sour Patch Bunnies
  • Homemade Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips
  • Amy’s Organic Pizza (which we never got to)
  • Red Pepper Dip with Tortilla Chips
  • Chocolate Caramel Cups

Yowza!  Everything in moderation, right?

Of course, I couldn’t possibly host the girls at my place without putting together a homemade snack of my own.  I immediately went to Pinterest for inspiration and decided to make my own version of this Spinach and Caramelized Onion Dip.  Seemed like the perfect combination of creamy, healthy and delicious!


As always I had to take things into my own hands and only used her recipe as a guideline.  As it turns out I think maybe the original poster messed up her recipe quantities anyway because my ratio of onions, etc to yogurt was pretty much perfect and had I gone with the original recipe she called for far less yogurt to veggies.  Anywho, no matter!  Here’s what I came up with…


Creamy Caramelized Onion and Roasted Garlic Yogurt Dip

inspired by Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen

yields approximately 3 cups


  • 1 container fresh baby spinach (142 grams)
  • 1 1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp Epicure 3 Onion Dip Mix (or a combination of onion powder, chives, and onion flakes)
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic (prepared in advance), chopped
  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced very thinly
  • 1 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • salt and pepper


  1. Steam the fresh spinach until wilted.  Run under cold water to halt cooking process then drain and squeeze by hand.  Press between a couple of paper towels to remove excess moisture.  Chop and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together yogurt, mayonnaise, seasoning (including a pinch of salt and pepper), roasted garlic, and chopped spinach.  Use a fork to ensure spinach and garlic are not clumped.  Place mixture in fridge.
  3. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and stir to coat.  Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until soft, translucent and starting to brown and caramelize.  If pan becomes too dry use a little water to loosen things up.  When onions are golden brown and soft remove pan from heat and stir in pat of butter.  Let stand a few minutes to cool.
  4. Stir onions into creamy mixture.  Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.  Let stand at least 15 minutes or keep refrigerated until ready to serve.


MyFitnessPal tells me this dip is about 110 calories per 1/3 cup serving.  Awesome!  The only big variable would probably be the yogurt you use.  I used 3% so it wouldn’t be too thin (non-fat) or too thick (Greek).

We served our dish with fresh veggies and Nut Thins crackers, but the best bite of the night was when we got creative and used the Chicken Chips for scooping.  Um, holy deeelish. 

After making up a second batch for lunch taking photos I now have dreams of slathering this onto turkey burgers or grilled chicken breasts or even into a toasty garlic buttered bun with sliced beef.  Oh hell yes, I think I know what we’re making for Sunday dinner.  :)

It was the perfect healthy dish to eat up before settling in for Breaking Dawn and a dish or five of sugary treats.  Now if only this Twilight instalment hadn’t been quite so gross, and those friends of mine hadn’t left the leftover candy on my kitchen table.  Evil, pure evil.


{Edited: Just a note that this is definitely an “eat now” dish.  The texture and taste changed as leftovers so I suggest eating it up as soon as you’ve made it.}

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Monday, February 27, 2012

#FitFeb Do-over

I’m happy to report that my do-over week was a smashing success.  All three Winter Shape Up Week 2 workouts were completed as well as a great cardio day and a perfectly stretchy yoga class. 

Monday – oh hello squats…my hips hate you.


Tuesday – sweaty face cardio time…


Wednesday – tested myself with heavier weights…


Thursday – even sandwiched into a crowded room I got lost in yoga for a while…


Friday – just way too busy for a workout.

But that’s what Saturdays are for, no? 


I did skip out on a long walk or hike yesterday but in my defense I had a very important puzzle to deal with.  And it was cold outside.  And I had hot coffee.

What I learned re: WSU Week 2: Squats really do get easier. On day one I could barely get through the regular set but by day three I was handling the holds and pulses pretty well.  I actually missed the tabata skipping from week one.  I loved the Split-Squats with Bicep Curls.  Who knew?!

Week Three looks a little scary with it’s burpees (!!!) and frog crunches. Help!

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crispy Corn Flake Chicken Strips

Even as an adult one of my favourite foods to order in pubs and restaurants is chicken strips.  Of course, I’m no longer a big fan of those frozen pre-packaged numbers that many places served when I was a kid but I have to say some of the pubs sure have got it going on with the fresh home-style versions. 

Problem is those delicious, crunchy juicy strips are usually deep fried.  Yumtastic for the taste buds, but not so much for the love handles!  So many of us health conscious peeps have taken all kinds of steps to make a baked version and I think I finally nailed my recipe.


Remember that bigass box of Corn Flakes I bought the other day?  Well those were purchased so I could attempt this Weight Watchers recipe I came across recently.  I am fairly certain I may have actually had a copy of this back in my Weight Watchers days but never got around to making it.

Sadly that recipe was kind of a fail.  I made a batch the other night and while they tasted OK, the corn flakes really didn’t stick and the bottoms were all mushy.  No beuno!

Obviously I took this as a challenge to fix things up and make a recipe that works.  Same flavour profile, different process.  I’m super happy with the results and think you will be too.  I’m also glad to eliminate the use of bottled salad dressing and include more real food ingredients.


Crispy Corn Flake Chicken Strips with Easy Dijon Dipping Sauce

Yields 4 servings


  • 2 x boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx. 250 grams each), cut into strips (or buy chicken breast tenders)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp fresh dill (or 1/2 tsp dried dill)
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups Corn Flakes, crushed
  • 1 tsp paprika

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt or sour cream or mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp green onion, chopped


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil, then top with a baking rack sprayed with non-stick spray.
  2. Prepare dipping sauce by mixing yogurt, Dijon, honey, and green onion together and setting aside until ready to use.
  3. In a shallow bowl whisk together egg whites, Dijon, honey, dill and generous pinches of salt and pepper.
  4. In a separate bowl toss together crushed Corn Flakes and paprika.  (The paprika likes to sink to the bottom so make sure to shake it around when dredging the chicken.)
  5. One at a time, dip each chicken tender into the egg white mixture just until coated then dip carefully into the flakes.  Press the cereal into the chicken with your finger tips and gently turn over to coat both sides.  Place coated strips on sprayed baking rack.  Repeat with all strips.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes until Corn Flakes begin to brown.  Remove from oven and let cool just long enough to be able to carefully remove from baking rack.  Serve immediately with dipping sauce.


According to MyFitnessPal these lovelies clock in around 285 calories per serving without the dip.  The dip calories depend on whether you used yogurt, sour cream or mayo…but on average figure on another 100 calories or so.  And what’s a chicken strip without dip?!  Sad, that’s what!  :)


Simple ingredients I almost always have on hand (especially now that I have that bigass box of cereal) and very little prep work.  Perfect for a quick lunch or easy dinner.  Something we are all always happy to have in our repertoire, no?


Add a side of baked sweet potato fries or a dish of your own healthy slaw and it’s almost like you’re at the local pub.  Minus the grease and bad music.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Life Notes

** My submission for the #CanadianBloggerSeries has been posted over on Heidi’s blog.  Go check out my slightly over-the-top praise for Victoria.  :)  Oh, and my favourite self-portrait of all time.

** In writing that I realized that I never did tell you about last week’s post for the series.  Doh.  Rose from The Healthy Hipster wrote about healthy living in Toronto.  Who knew it could be such a pain in the azz?!

** There are currently six kinds of chocolate treats in my house.  Amazingly none of them seem to be calling my name or creating a binge.


** My body is definitely feeling yesterday’s workout.  So glad today is just a cardio day!

** Last night I completely stuck to my grocery list and except for tomatoes and onions, everything else I bought was on sale.  I LOVE when that happens.

** Thanks to that sale I have cottage cheese and kiwis in the house.  I imagine this will be my pre-gym snack every day this week.


** Tonight’s chicken strip recipe calls for Corn Flake Crumbs.  Those bad boys are $5.99 a box!  For a weeeeee box.  No way!  Instead, for $3.99 I got this jumbo box of store-brand corn flakes which I will gladly portion out and smash myself.  :) 


** I am already looking forward to Friday because I’m having a couple of my besties over to watch Breaking Dawn and eat tasty movie snacks. 

** I’m not really looking forward to Saturday because I’ve promised myself it is the day I will move my furniture and finish painting those damn baseboards.

What is your favourite at-home movie watching snack?

What else can I do with my excess of corn flakes?

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Fit-Sick February

Boooo.  Somehow I managed to catch yet another cold from my boyfriend.  That’s two since the New Year if anyone is counting.  Down with big offices full of germs, and up with more at home hermit workers like me!

So my Winter Shape Up Week Two ended up falling a little flat since I couldn’t breathe, let alone bang out sets of squats.  I ended up with three days off from the gym, but did manage to recoup a couple of cardio days later in the week.  I even drove in from Michael’s on Saturday to spend an hour at the gym.  I’m actually pretty proud of that!  (it’s really easy to just hunker down out in the burbs and avoid the real world!)

Monday – Winter Shape Up, Week Two, Day 1

Tuesday – hugging a box of Kleenex, and a wee walk to Starbucks with my funny Valentine…

Wednesday – more Kleenex and a walk to the park…

Thursday – thisclose to going to yoga, only to complete lose my steam an hour before class.  :(

Friday – sweated out the last of those cold germs during an hour long cardio session…

Saturday – make up cardio day…

Sunday – unless buying a new iPhone counts as exercise, rest day.  :)

So needless to say I’m starting Week Two over again.  Oh goodie, squats squats and more squats.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

11 Things You Never Wanted to Know About Me

Happy weekend everyone!  Hope you all have lovely plans and that the weather is great wherever you are.  It has been raining cats and dogs here.  Ew.

It’s been forever since I participated in a blog survey.  Seems these things come and go but this one managed to grab some attention and it’s making the rounds of blogland.  The lovely Elizabeth on Tap tagged me so here I am sharing 11 Things you may not know about me…



  1. Post these rules.
  2. Post 11 random things about yourself.
  3. Answer the questions the person who tagged you set for you in their post.
  4. Tag 11 new people to participate.
  5. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
  6. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them.

Well, fine.  If you say so!

Eleven Random Things About Little Ol’ Me:

  1. I’ve had my kitty, Mr. Stoop, for 17 years.  He’s my rock.
  2. His name is Mr. Stoop because apparently a 19 year old me wasn’t bright enough to change the name he came with…Stupid.
  3. I don’t have a microwave or a dishwasher and generally don’t miss either.
  4. When asked what my favourite colour is I can never decide.  Blue and green are my likeliest choices but pink has it’s place too!
  5. When I was 10 years old my Mom made me sign up for the community softball team.  At our first practice I got smashed in the mouth with the ball.  I had a retainer.  My tongue has never been the same.
  6. I don’t really work in my PJs although it’s tempting because I work at home.
  7. The reason I’m always whining about being broke is because the great contract job I’ve had for six years got cut back and I haven’t been able to find anything to supplement the missing income.
  8. My favourite restaurant dessert is crème brulee.  I can almost never pass it up.
  9. Having said that, my favourite baked goodie at home is chocolate chip cookies.  Again, I can’t pass them up.
  10. Recently I’ve become more of a beer girl than a wine girl.  Especially yummy specialty microbrews. 
  11. I secretly stalk Pinterest hoping people have pinned things from my blog.  Hint Hint!


Here are Elizabeth’s 11 questions and my answers:

  1. If you could pick your theme song, what would it be? I’ve thought about this for a week and have NO IDEA!
  2. What is your favorite local restaurant? Oh lordy, there’s so many. For sake of brevity how’s about I pick Ferris’ Grill as my fave casual spot, and Ulla as my fave special occasion place.
  3. What day of the week were you born? Saturday.
  4. Tea or coffee? Coffee, always coffee.
  5. Pants or skirts? Sadly, pants are just more practical for daily wear.
  6. Where would you go on your ideal vacation? Lately I’m coveting the idea of a cruise leaving from New Orleans.
  7. What’s your favorite day of the week? Sunday. It’s the one day that I really get to relax without chores, workouts, or anything pressing.
  8. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Night owl for shizzle.
  9. What is your favorite sport to watch? Hockey obviously. Go Canucks!
  10. Do you have a secret talent? Only if whining is a talent.  Oh wait, that’s not hidden.
  11. What is your go-to workout song? Recently, Moves Like Jagger…but I always recommend Here It Goes Again by OK-Go!

I choose to tag some of my Canadian blogger buddies:  

Amy from Amy’s Quest, Heidi from The Balance Project, Scott from Your Inner Skinny, Meg from A Dash of Meg, Lisa from Smores N More, Karen from Toronto Girl West, Amber at The Girl With the Red Hair, Jess at Truly Into Fitness, Tamara at Once Last Kick, Cali at Supercalifragilistic, and Kirsty at I Am the New Me.

Phewwwww.  That was hard!!


And to finish this all off, here are my questions for my tagged friends:

  1. Black or white?
  2. Day or night?
  3. Spring or Fall?
  4. Bacon or ham?
  5. Scrambled or over-easy?
  6. Vanilla latte or black coffee?
  7. Dogs or cats?
  8. Attached or single?
  9. Beer or wine?
  10. iPhone or Android?
  11. Fruit or veggies?

Get cracking kids, and get creative! 


Thanks for reading this crazy long post!  Hope you learned a little something more than you knew before.  And as always thanks for your bloggie support!!!  Luv to you all!

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Blueberry Brunch Muffins

When I was a kid my Mom would occasionally make blueberry muffins as a weekend breakfast treat.  Actually, it was probably brunch because I’ve always been a late sleeper but I suspect that when I was 10 I didn’t actually know what brunch was.

Funny how that works because now as an adult brunch is one of my favourite things ever.  Whether that be hitting up a cool restaurant for a plate full of hash browns or chilling in my pyjamas eating homemade muffins with my scrambled eggs.  Either way, brunch is the shiz.


Those little muffins my Mom made were delicious.  I remember them clearly as if it was yesterday.  Sadly there was no recipe (because they came from a package…shhhhhh) so when I got to thinking about them I had to do a lot of searching around to see if I could find something that even came close.

No healthy, flax filled, bran muffin was going to cut it here! 

Once I started looking I became inspired to change things up a little make my own version of brunch muffins.  Sure blueberry is nice…but how’s about something a little snazzier?  Gorgeous navel oranges were on sale this week which made for beautiful inspiration!


Oranges and blueberries piled into a perfect dome topped muffin?  I think so.  And while we’re at it, let’s dig out some almonds and add a little crumble to the top of these.  Oh, and if that isn’t enough let’s add Greek yogurt to the batter to really get things going. :)


Now these aren’t my Mama’s muffins but maybe, just maybe, these are my muffins!  Sunday pyjama brunch, look out.


Blueberry-Orange Yogurt Muffins with Almond Streusel Topping

inspired by My Baking Addiction

yields 12 muffins



  • zest of one navel orange
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • juice of two navel oranges
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Streusel Topping

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp cold butter
  • pinch of orange zest
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • drop of almond extract


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, blitz almonds until coarsely chopped.  Add remaining streusel ingredients and blitz to a combined coarse crumb.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. In a small bowl, combine orange zest and sugar. Mix with your fingertips until sugar is lump free and combined. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  5. In large bowl, beat eggs and sugar mixture with a whisk until thoroughly incorporated. Continue beating while slowly pouring in the oil. Stir in vanilla.
  6. Whisk dry ingredients into egg mixture alternating with yogurt until smooth. Gently fold in blueberries.
  7. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tin and top with a heaping tablespoon of streusel topping.  Press lightly with fingers.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until streusel begins to brown.  Do not overcook.  Let cool completely.



  • No food processor?  No problem.  Just chop your almonds by hand, stir dry ingredients together with a fork, then cut butter in using two knives.  Harder work but similar result.
  • Avoid using paper muffin liners.  The blueberries stick and that’s no fun. 
  • Mine were slightly overcooked on the bottom.  Ensure you use the middle oven rack (or higher even) and check for doneness at 16-17 minutes.

According to MyFitnessPal these beauties roll in at about 210 calories per muffin with the streusel, and about 260 calories with it.  Treat indeed!


I guess the next project will be to healthy up these little balls of white sugar and all purpose flour.  Or maybe some things just aren’t meant to be messed with.  Next you’ll be asking me to healthy up the bacon in my brunch.


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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Treats for my Sweetie


The first thing my darling sweetie gave me for Valentine’s Day was his cold.  How thoughtful!

Yeah.  I spent my day making best friends with a box of Kleenex and popping Tylenol Cold pills.  Tres sexy let me tell ya!

Thank goodness we actually planned to have our romantic dinner this Saturday anyway since weeknights are such a hassle for us.  So glad I didn’t have to cancel due to sickness!

But he did arrive at my door bearing a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and box of chocolates.  I can’t smell them but they sure brightened my day!


(That’s a lot of exclamation points for a sickypants like me.  Woah now!)


I was so glad to receive his lunchtime text that he planned to stop by here after work because the thought of having to get cleaned up to deliver his Valentine’s treats to his office was almost more than I could handle.  “Hello coworkers, how’s about some germs with your heart shaped cookies?”  Ew.

Instead I loaded up on meds, put on some real pants, braided my hair and crossed my fingers that Chocolate Cherry Kiss Cookies would keep him from looking at my sick face and ruining the romance.


Michael likes cherries and cherry flavoured things so when my first plan didn’t work out I happened upon this recipe I was sure it was the perfect treatie for my sweetie.  They came together rather easily and afforded me the opportunity to buy huge pile of chocolate kisses. 

This may have been the first time I’ve ever actually purchased maraschino cherries…I generally only consume them when served in a fruity cocktail. 


These cookies ended up not being quite what I’d hoped…too much like shortbread and dry in the mouth…but they still taste good and now Michael has extras to share with his coworkers.


Which is good because if he managed to give me a cold for Valentine’s Day I’m certain a few of his work friends probably got the cooties too.  He can now retain his office favour with cookie bribery.  See, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.


How was your V-Day?  Anyone else spend the evening cuddling the cat and hoping not to run out of Kleenex?

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