Saturday, March 31, 2012

Strength: Upper Body Burn

When I finished making my way through Fitnessista’s Winter Shape Up it was time to get organized and create a new set of strength training sessions for myself.  For this time around I’m doing one day of upper body, one day of lower body, and a few days of cardio (all with a little extra core work thrown in) each week.

I thought it would be fun to share my latest routines so I had my friend Tia, who is a personal trainer, have a look at my notes and approve everything as safe and effective.

So here we have a trainer approved Upper Body Burn!


Warm up with 5-10 minutes of moderate cardio.  Beginners do 2 sets of 12, Intermediate do 3 sets.

  • Chest Press on the Bench *
  • Incline Flies on the Bench
  • Hitchhikers *
  • Dumbbell Rows on the Bench *
  • Lateral Raises *
  • Front Raises
  • Bicep Curls *
  • Hammer Curls
  • Tricep Kickbacks *
  • One Hand Overhead Tricep Extensions

All exercises are with dumbbells (or bodyweight). Perform on non-consecutive days. Finish with 20-30 minutes moderate cardio and proper stretching.

In a time crunch?  Only perform exercises with the * asterix, but try to up your weight and do a fast cardio blast to complete the workout.

Want more sweat?  Add 1 minute of fast paced cardio after every second exercise (skipping, burpees, mountain climbers, high knees, etc).

Do you have a favourite upper body exercise?  I love bicep curls!

{Y’all know this already, but I’m just a blogger not a fitness professional so please make sure to consult your trainer or your doctor before following any new fitness regime. Safety first!}

Pin It

Friday, March 30, 2012


Goodie bag time!!  Last month I learned about a fun blogger pen pal situation that has been going on.  Why had I not been informed?!  Doesn’t the entire food blog world know how much I love a good foodie loot exchange?


It’s been a long time since I have had the chance to do an exchange with someone so I jumped at the chance to join in to this project arranged by Lindsay the lovely Lean Green Bean.


She has almost 400 people participating now!  With so many people involved she has decided to keep everyone matched with someone within their own country, so I was matched with two other Canadians…hilariously enough, both live pretty much in my back yard.

The partner I was given to send a package to is Tamara at You. Naturally. who lives just one island over from me.  And the gal who received me as their package recipient lives just down the country road from my boyfriend.  Remember when I lived in Metchosin a few years back?  Well, Gwen from Sweet Art Supplies can probably see my old house from her place.


So Gwen and I decided to save her the postage and met for coffee last weekend so we could have a little chit-chat and she could send me home with my #FoodiePenPals package.  I held on to the bag all weekend then happily tore into it Monday morning for a fun way to start off my week.


Clearly we are kindred cooking spirits!  I wonder if Gwen noticed how often I include paprika as a spice in my recipes?  It’s one of my faves and having a nice one on hand will be a real treat!  And who doesn’t want good vanilla in their baking cupboard?  I know I do.  Maybe now I’ll finally make vanilla cupcakes!


Just last weekend I began coaxing Michael into breaking out the BBQ grill now that sunny weather is trying to make an appearance around here.  I look forward to finding out if this seasoning mix will be the answer to my burger making prayers.


Did you see the cute note and magnet set above too?  Even with two computers and an iPhone at my disposal I’m still a hand written note and recipe girl most of the time so I know that set will be put to good use in no time.


Thanks Gwen!  I will indeed enjoy all of the goodies you picked out.  Yum!

Any of you baking enthusiasts should head over and check out Sweet Art Supplies.  She carries a huge variety of cute, hard to find baking supplies, designer cupcake liners, sprinkles, sugar and more.  Also make sure you pop on over to Tamara’s blog today to see what I sent her.  I had lots of fun shopping…she made it a challenge with her vegan and gluten-free eating! :) 

Thanks again to Lindsay for tackling such a huge project and to all of the other #FoodiePenPals keeping things fun for everyone. *high five*

Pin It

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Headache Inspired

** Awesome friend alert!  My favourite frequent border crosser, Ibby, brought me back a surprise from Trader Joe’s.  Cooooookie Butter! It’s as delicious as everyone says.


I provided him with a pan of Maple Bacon Sticky Buns as thanks.

Which reminds me…I posted those AMAZING bacon buns yesterday and I only got ONE comment.  Shocked!  I thought you guys would be drooling all over those.

** This morning I made the sad mistake of ordering a Starbucks muffin.  It was mediocre at best and barely the size of my palm.  Then when I looked it up it turned out to be a 400 calorie muffin.  400!!  How is that even a reasonable item to sell?  #@$%^&*!!!

** Tomorrow is #FoodiePenPals reveal day.  Check back here to see my fun foodie goodie bag.

** There was big plans on my workout schedule to finally try BodyPump tonight but I was thwarted by a weird, out of nowhere headache.  First I had a wave of light headedness, then kind of a wibbly eye thing that wouldn’t go away…so I relegated myself to the couch for a few hours and now seem to be fine.

** Gorgeous big pink grapefruits were on sale this week.  I bought a bag and spent three days trying to think of something creative to do with them.  Today I had a brilliant brainstorm.  Eat them!  :)


** I have missed a couple of weeks of #CanadianBloggerSeries shout outs.  Oooops!  Take a click on over to Heidi’s blog to check out posts by:

It’s so fun reading everyone’s different views of their place in Canada!

** Oh, I suppose I should mention The Hunger Games.  I was lucky enough to get a pair of passes to the advanced premiere of the movie so the other Jamie and I checked it out.  It’s definitely worth the hype.  Very well done.  I think I was at a bit of a disadvantage having just finished the book three days prior so I was picking apart the details and timeline a bit, but overall they did a good job converting the book to the screen.

I’m wondering if anyone who has not read the book has seen the movie yet?  And if you have, were you able to follow the story just fine?  I felt like you needed to know a fair bit from the book for the movie to make complete sense.  Or was that just because the book was so fresh in my mind?

I’m now [not so] patiently waiting on my friend’s boyfriend to finish reading book two so I can have it. 

** I finally gave in a got Draw Something Free for my iPhone tonight.  I’ve played like 15 hands and I’m terrible.  But I’ve had to draw fire twice so I guess that’s my current forte.  You can find me on there as bi0nicw0man if you want to test my mad finger drawing skillz.  I’d like to earn some new colours!

I just spent like 18 minutes trying to figure out how people screen capture things on their iPhones to post to their blogs and such and couldn’t do it. 

Help me!

Pin It

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Oh yes, Maple Bacon Sticky Buns

I love it when my bacon sits in a puddle of maple syrup alongside my pancakes or French Toast.  In fact, I have been known to order one lowly pancake alongside my scrambled eggs and bacon just so I have a normal reason to have syrup delivered to the table.  Because asking for a side of syrup for my bacon has gotten me some strange looks.


We don’t have any pancakes here, but what we do have is sticky buns.  Sticky Buns which include maple syrup.  Which by my reasoning makes these sticky buns the perfect place for some bacon to reside.  I know you are with me on this.


Whoever decided that baking with bacon was a good idea, I thank you.  We all thank you.  It won’t be long before we start finding bacon bits in the baking aisle.  We should get on that.  But first, we should make and eat Maple Bacon Sticky Buns.  I’m sure you’ll agree.


Maple Bacon Sticky Buns with Apples and Pecans

Yields 15 buns

adapted from


  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, soft
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Maple syrup
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 8 strips bacon, cooked crisp and chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted



  1. Dissolve the first teaspoon of sugar and yeast in the warm water.  Let stand until creamy, approximately 10 minutes.
  2. While the yeast works warm the milk in a small saucepan until bubbly.  Remove from heat and mix in the 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and salt.  Stir until melted.  Set aside.
  3. Attach the dough hook to a kitchen mixer (or work by hand).  In the mixer bowl add the yeast mixture, the milk mixture, the beaten eggs and 1 1/2 cups of flour.  Run mixer on low to combine.
  4. Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, running mixer on low after each addition to combine.  When the dough pulls together into a sticky ball, remove it from the mixer to a lightly floured counter and knead by hand until smooth and elastic (5-8 minutes).
  5. Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, turning the dough to coat.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about one hour.
  6. When dough is ready, melt the 2/3 cup of butter in a small saucepan.  Stir in the 2/3 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of Maple syrup, whisk until smooth.  Pour warm mixture into a well greased 9 x 13 baking pan.  Sprinkle mixture with a few apples, pecans, and bacon pieces.  Set aside.
  7. Melt remaining butter, set aside.
  8. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter, then roll with a lightly floured pin into an 18 x 14 rectangle.  Brush with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter leaving one of the long edges unbuttered.  Sprinkle the buttered surface with the remaining 2/3 cup of brown sugar, cinnamon, apples, pecans, and bacon.  Drizzle everything with the 2 tablespoons of Maple syrup.
  9. Starting at a long side, carefully and tightly roll up, using the unbuttered edge as a seem to pinch as a seal. Brush roll with remaining melted butter.
  10. Using a serrated knife, cut into 15 even pieces.  Place cut side down into prepared pan.  Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about one hour.
  11. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  12. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto platter or cutting board.  Scrape remaining filling from the pan onto the rolls (particularly the end pieces).

Serve warm and enjoy!!


Holy moly!  Now I know that looks like a daunting list of ingredients and instructions, but not to worry most of the time is spent waiting on the dough to rise…twice!  Damn yeast baking.  :)  But just make some extra bacon when you start and snack on that while you work.

Conveniently you’ll also have a bottle of syrup handy for dipping.


Not that you would ever dip bacon in syrup.  You’d just make these sticky buns so no one would give you the stink eye.  Right?  Right.

Pin It

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Finally!  A full week this month where I didn’t have to take time off for an injury.  My back is healthy and strong.  Huzzah!

Lots of activity and healthy eats with a few treats.  Last week I finally broke through a minor weight plateau and I’m really starting to feel a difference in some of my clothes (which is really my goal here…to wear the clothes I don’t fit into anymore).  I bought new jeans and whether it’s vanity sizing or not it felt good to buy a size smaller than I have being trying on lately.  I’ll actually do some measurements next week to see how things are really coming along.

Anyone else feeling some fitness milestones coming through these days??

Monday – upper body strength training and treadmill blast…

iPhone (312)IMG_0201

Tuesday – walk to and from my mechanic’s shop (in cold disgusting hail and rain I might add…ick)

Wednesday – lower body strength training and ARC trainer…


Thursday – gorgeous day for a long dog walk on the local trail…


Friday – cardio sweat session…


Saturday – after soaking up some amazing sun we took the dogs to the lake for a massive trail walk.  So lovely!


Sunday – had plans for a walk around another lake but instead found myself breaking a sweat helping Michael do some Spring cleaning around his place.  His kitchen cupboards are quite happy now!

Maybe a little light on the strength sessions but overall I’m so pleased with the mix of activities and the amount of outdoor time with the pupper.  Here’s to good weather…happy Spring!

Pin It

Monday, March 26, 2012

Embrace Monday!

Mondays get a bum rap.  Everyone is always all “booo, my weekend is over…I hate Monday”.  But really, isn’t Monday one of the best days of the week?  I’m not crazy…I promise!

Mondays can be great because they mark the start of something new.  A new day to start over.  A new day to keep going.  A new day to make plans.  A new day to kick some ass.  Mondays are motivating!!

Last Monday I started my week full of energy, enthusiasm and motivation to get things done!  While I got organized and started checking items off my to-do list I was tweeting my way through the day, and wouldn’t you know but other folks noticed my motivation and started tweeting back at me.  Turns out I’m not the only one that starts my weeks out with a positive bang!


Those tweets left me feeling warm, fuzzy and well…extra motivated!  All weekend I looked forward to my pending Monday morning (and I was having a great weekend too!).  My to-do list started forming in my head, I looked forward to writing out my workout plan, my meal ideas, my grocery list.  I looked forward to writing this post and sending out another batch of tweets to inspire and motivate not only myself, but all of my tweeps too!

So everyone, this is where you join in.

Let’s make #EmbraceMonday a real thing!  Every Monday I promise to keep tweeting about my day, my accomplishments, and whatever else fits in the motivation boat.  But in turn I need you all to do the same thing!  I will collect up your tweets each week and turn out a post full of positivity and encouragement to keep us all revved up for the rest of the week.

Sound good?  OK, great!  We have a deal!!

Starting next Monday morning send out your tweets with the hashtag #EmbraceMonday (you can find me @balanceblog if you haven’t already). 

Not on Twitter?

  • Post a picture on Instagram (hashtag it, or tag me: bi0nicw0man)
  • Leave me a comment on Facebook
  • Send me an email (embracingbalance at gmail dot com)
  • Leave a comment right here

Let’s make Mondays the happiest day of the week! 

{Note: Previous tweets by me were tagged #MotivatedMonday but it turns out that tag is already is use so I had to create a new hashtag for us.}

Pin It

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Some Life Rules

Randomly I gave myself some new life rules this week.

  • No more computer in bed.  I have developed a bad habit of catching up on missed TV shows and Google Reader after I crawl into bed each evening.  This leads to staying awake until 2-3am. 

For the last three nights I’ve gone to bed by 11pm and read until no later than midnight.  The result:  I’ve slept SO WELL.  Duh.

  • No more late night snacking.  You know what happens when you stay awake until 3am?  You are starving at 1am.  And then you eat cereal, or crackers, or cheese, or all of the above.

For the last three nights I’ve been asleep so no wee hour snackage. 

  • No more hitting snooze eleven thousand times.  Yeah.  That whole staying awake until 3am thing makes it really hard to get up when my alarm goes off at 8:30.

For the last three mornings I’ve been up, walked the dog, and poured my morning coffee by 9:15.  Yes, I do realize I have it good but hey man, that’s part of the reason I wanted this whole work-at-home gig.

  • No more waiting until 11:30 to eat breakfast.  I always eat three proper meals each day but my timing has been ABSURD.  Eating in the middle of the night, combined with getting up late, and my usual sleepyhead bleary-eyed morning funk leaves me not wanting to eat right away.

For the last three mornings I’ve made a point of making breakfast as soon as I finish my first cup of coffee, then eating lunch by 1pm (instead of waiting until like 3pm after my workouts) and making dinner at a normal time.  All this with a couple of light snacks in between has left me completely satisfied.

  • More reading, less TV. 

By not watching TV in bed I’m now behind on some of my shows but I’m not missing them too much since I have a couple of good books to read.  (Hunger Games anyone?)

None of these rules were on purpose really.  I had a good weekend and woke up on the right side of the bed this past Monday.  I felt motivated and my brain just formulated these plans for me without me having to really think about it.  I guess sometimes your body really does know what’s best for it!

Ever just wake up one day and feel like instituting some healthy new life rules?  Feeling motivated about life in general these days?  Share with us!!

Pin It

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Roasted Beet Quinoa with Honey Vinaigrette

Now that Spring is trying to show it’s face around here I’m wondering if my current obsession with roasted vegetables will start to slow down.  I am so in love with roasted veggies I don’t know if I’ll just let them go as the weather gets warmer or if I will tough out having the oven on no matter what.  Hmmm.

I suppose time will tell!  Until then, here’s another recipe with my favourite roasted vegetable…beets.  This one is easy, nutritious, tasty and can work as either a side dish or a meal.  Personally I just heaped a bunch into a bowl and called it dinner. 

quinoa_salad (9)

While writing this I’m trying to decide if this should be called a salad?  or more likely it’s a pilaf?  No, I mixed leafy greens into it?  That makes it a salad doesn’t it?  Can pilaf have leafy greens?


It’s tossed in vinaigrette so I suppose that solidifies it into the salad category.  Yes, quinoa salad.  We have a winner.

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese, and Pine Nuts

Yields 4 side dishes, or 2-3 good sized meals


  • 1 medium beet, peeled, cubed and roasted
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, thickly sliced and roasted
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 6o grams (2 oz) soft goat cheese
  • 2 cups assorted leafy greens (arugula and baby spinach are nice)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, cooked in 1 1/2 cups of water

Honey Vinaigrette:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp dill
  • salt and pepper


  1. Roast your veggies (toss in drizzle of olive oil and roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes).  While those are roasting, prepare your quinoa (bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for 10-12 minutes, let stand 5 minutes to absorb all water).
  2. In a large bowl whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together.
  3. To the bowl add the roasted veggies, then the greens, then the cooked quinoa.  The heat from the veggies and quinoa will help wilt the greens.  Add green onions and small chunks of goat cheese.  Stir carefully, being sure to get all dressing from the bottom of the bowl incorporated throughout the mixture. 
  4. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.

quinoa_salad (6)

Since I like it served warm maybe we can call it pilaf salad?  Whatever you call it, enjoy!  MyFitnessPal clocks this in at a lovely 330 calories if you do 4 servings.  So fill up your little blue bowl and go to town.  I sure did.

quinoa_salad (8)

Do your tastes change with seasons?  Would you abandon your favourite roasted veggies in lieu of something more Summery?

Pin It

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Definitely an Asics Gal

I know after yesterday’s post lots of folks are curious about my new running shoes so I thought I’d mention them.  I’ve been wearing the popular Asics GT series for about 4 years now.  I loved the first pair I had but the second pair I never cared for.  They were comfy but somewhere along the way the design got bulkier and being a gal with size 10 feet I don’t need help with making my feet clunky.

When I went in to check out the newest version of the GT I was pleased to see that it does seem a little lighter and less bulky this time around.  I was not, however, stoked to see the $180 price tag and wouldn’t even try them on.  Instead  I put the sales guy to work explaining other shoes and lower priced options.

I tried three other brands, some were running shoes, some training shoes and a couple of them were the newer ‘barefoot’ technology.  But in the end I didn’t love any of them and ended up going with the very first pair I tried on…another pair of Asics.

IMG_0237 (34)

This time I have opted for the lightweight Gel Neo-33…a new member of the Asics line with natural support and good stability.  The biggest difference for me is that these are neutral, as opposed to being designed to help with pronation.  Because I don’t run long distances and really don’t run outside I felt like these were the best alternative to my usual GTs.  The fact that they were $40 cheaper helped too.

IMG_0237 (36)

I’ve worn them running on the treadmill twice, the ARC trainer once and so far so good.  I want one more test run before I fully commit but at this point I’m quite happy.  As long as my joints and feet agree, we’re all good.

IMG_0237 (38)

A fun thing about them is that they actually came in a cool colour!  When he first showed me a black shoe I was a bit turned off but once I had them on I think they are super cute!  :)  And my feet don’t look like big white sleds!

Pin It

Monday, March 19, 2012

Motivated Madness

Well folks…I have to come clean and admit here that I had another kind of crumby week as far as March Madness goes.  For the second week in a row I missed a few workouts and I let it get to me.  I had a couple of down days and a busy day that messed up my schedule and I let that make me feel like I had failed.

It’s totally dumb because I really didn’t fail at all.  I just didn’t bust it out of the park. 

SO WHAT?!  Stupid guilt.  I still had three pretty great workouts!

Monday – upper body strength training and quick cardio…


Tuesday – totally just didn’t want to go to the gym, so took a walk to the park.  Lots of outdoor bootcampers braving the chilly air!

IMG_0237 (8)

Wednesday – decided to work at night to make time to fit in my lower body workout…

IMG_0237 (19)

Thursday – super “blaaaahhh" day…just could not make time for the gym and a was grump all day.  Noticing the blossoms during a quick dog walk helped.

IMG_0237 (21)

Friday – decided to be two hours late going to Michael’s so I could try out my new shoes and get in a cardio session…

IMG_0237 (40)

There was no way I was going into St. Patrick’s Day festivities without a bit of a burn the night before! “Will run for beer” comes to mind!

IMG_0237 (43)

We had a great weekend celebrating, hanging out with friends and family, eating yummy Chinese take-out and Sunday brunch, and just chilling out all day yesterday.  It was just what I needed to brush the slate clean and wake-up this morning feeling renewed and motivated.

I’m armed with a new workout plan for the week, a meal plan, fresh groceries and a good attitude.  It also helps that my back seems to have mended itself!  March Madness is Motivated!

Anyone else hit a rut in your workout mojo recently? Does an injury set you back?  Hit you hard mentally or emotionally?

Pin It

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Grown Up Pork Chops

Do you remember when you first left home?  Do you remember realizing that you had to cook for yourself?  Do you remember getting your Mom to clue you in on how to make something other than instant noodles or microwaved scrambled eggs?


I actually worked in a restaurant so I had a least one or two meals covered five days a week, thank God.  Like a typical teenager I was happy with cereal or toast or bowls of popcorn for dinner until I eventually figured out how to add microwaved bacon to my scrambled eggs.  I thought I was a big shot when I dropped gobs of margarine into my cheap Teflon pan and fried up frozen perogies.

Eventually I asked my Mom for help.  The first ‘real’ meal I got her to teach me was Pork Chops with Mushroom Sauce.  Turns out it was just Pork Chops with a Can of Soup.  Who knew?!  After a lot of overcooked pork chops and a couple of pans scratched while whisking with a fork this recipe became one of my staples for years. 


Eventually I started using olive oil instead of big scoops of margarine to cook the chops.  Eventually I discovered varieties of mushrooms other than the standard white.  Eventually I started to put my own spin on the sauce by adding garlic, onions, seasoning and fresh herbs.  Eventually I bought a rubberized whisk and stopped scratching the shit out of my frying pan.


Eventually I decided to be a grown up and ditch the soup can. 


Pan Seared Pork Loin Chops with Creamy Mushroom Sauce


  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 –4 boneless pork loin chops, approx 1 inch thick
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced (cremini, brown, white, or a combo of your faves)
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup dairy of choice (milk, cream, sour cream or plain yogurt)
  • seasoning of choice (I like Montreal Steak Spice, but dried thyme, oregano, rosemary and/or lots of cracked pepper work nicely too)


  1. Heat half of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Lightly sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides.  When oil is hot add pork chops and cook until browning around the edges, flip and cook other side.  Approximately 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove pork chops from pan and cover loosely with foil.
  2. In the same pan heat remaining oil.  Add onions, stir and cook one minute.  Add garlic, stir.  Add mushrooms, stir and season as desired.  As mushrooms start to cook down add stock then reduce temp to just below medium.  Let simmer 3-4 minutes until mushrooms soften and stock reduces by half.  Stir in grainy mustard.
  3. Using a shallow ladle scoop half of the mixture into a food processor or blender.  Puree until almost smooth then add back to the pan.  Add dairy, stir until incorporated.  Return pork chops to pan and continue to simmer on low heat until desired consistency is reached.  (If using yogurt, simmer first then add at the end).


Seen here with steamed spinach and roasted beets because that is what I had on hand, but this makes a delicious cozy dinner if served over rice or mashed potatoes. Fluffy carbs are always the best device for absorbing gravy!

I’m not sure 19 year old me could have pulled this recipe off but I am fairly certain she’d approve.  Eventually.

Pin It

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How To: Taco Seasoning

Over time I’ve come to realize that Mexican is my favourite go-to food choice.  There’s just something about it that is so comforting, filling and delicious.  (We’ll ignore the part about it usually being covered in melty cheeeese). 

I collect up recipes for enchiladas and burritos but honestly I love a regular ol’ taco!  The hard shelled kind.  I’ll eat a soft shell in a pinch but to me that’s more of a sad handheld enchilada.  I like to take my warm, crispy shells and pile them high with seasoned meat, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, salsa and my favourite, sour cream.  I suspect this is not very traditional in the Mexican community but it’s traditional from my childhood meal perspective.

Of course, my childhood meals were always made from those lovely yellow spice packets and shell boxes from the supermarket.  Now that I’m reading labels and trying to avoid things like excess sodium and MSG I thought it would be best to just make my own taco seasoning.  I’ve been using this one for a few years now and it works perfectly.


Homemade Mexican Spice Mix

Yields just a little less than one cup.  Keeps very well in a sealed container.


  • 1/3 cup chili powder
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried or ground oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp salt


  1. Mix all spices together and store in a sealed container. 
  2. To use:  Add 2 tbsp of seasoning mix per 450 grams of ground meat.  While browning the meat, add the seasoning.  If using lean meat you may add a few tablespoons of water or broth to help the seasoning absorb.


Lately I’ve been making Turkey Taco Salads.  I get more veggies this way and it’s fun to stir it all together and make a big mess before stuffing my face.


This way still seems fun and comforting (and totally deeeelish) without the added calories of yellow corn shells, heaps of cheese, or greasy ground beef.  Lean ground turkey breast, a lighter hand on the cheese, and multigrain tortilla chips are the way to go.  Add extra veggies by sautéing grated carrot, celery and onion into the turkey and piling cucumbers and yellow bells peppers into the salad with the lettuce and tomatoes.  No dressing needed!  That’s what the salsa and light sour cream are for. :)


Other fun additions to the mix:

  • Corn and black beans (add to the meat mixture)
  • Chickpeas and red onion (hot with the meat, or cool in the salad)
  • Avocado chunks
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh or pickled jalapeño pepper
  • Squeeeeeeze of fresh lime
  • Or make a creamy dressing of Greek yogurt or light sour cream with pureed avocado, lime juice, cumin and salt.  Drizzle away!
Pin It

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Let’s talk TV

  • They cancelled PanAm.  WTF?  Chalk that one right up there with Lipstick Jungle and Cupid for shows I love that the powers that be don’t.  Boooo.  I want to go back in time to 1963 and be Colette when I grow up.  Or at least have her perfectly lined eyes.
  • Did anyone see Cougartown last night?  Scrubs reunion!! 
  • Now that American Idol has finally gotten to the live TV performances I’ve started watching.  About half of them are really quite awesome (Colton, Skylar) but they should just hand Philip Phillips the title now.
  • I didn’t know it was possible for Brendan and Rachel from Big Brother to be any more annoying than they’ve always been, but holy shiz have you guys seen them on Amazing Race?!!  They are ruining my favourite show!!
  • Top Chef Texas was my addiction for the last few months.  I was watching it when it started in the US, then watched almost all of it again when it started on Canadian TV.  How awesome was it that they did the finals in Whistler and Vancouver?  I knew she wouldn’t get to the end, but Grayson cracked me up the whole time.
  • Oh right.  The Walking Dead.  WTF?  Just WTF?  The season finale had best explain WTF is going on. 
  • Twelve days until Mad Men.  The world is right again.
  • Thanks to Cely I’ve now fallen into the Downton Abbey haze. I watched one episode to make sure it was something I would like and ended up awake until 3am watching multiple episodes.


[source: Hey Lady – because Matthew Crawley is the Ryan Gosling of PBS]

Pin It