Plentiful Plants

Daily eats of a Torontonian student

Way, Way Up North May 31, 2009

You learn something new every day. Today I learned that Hudson’s (and James) Bay is considered part of Nunavut, and therefore Ontario and Nunavut share borders. I wouldn’t have guessed that off the top of my head had someone asked me yesterday. Though in my defense, Nunavut had only just become a territory when I was in elementary school, so our geography books were slightly outdated. Now why was I looking at Google Maps of the northern reaches of Quebec, that’s the last item on the agenda today, you have to wait and see.

Let’s start with breakfast. Twas simple, a Starbucks Raspberry Peach Yogurt Parfait. But it served me well on a shopping expedition with the roomie through the windy streets of Toronto.

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Just before leaving I had a few dates as well. I took said roomie to Whole Foods for the first time, and made him fall in love a little. Though he did an excellent job of making me spend a small fortune on tea, and I only got one box! We also enjoyed a few samples, but were stuck by the oddity of providing mustard samples on slices of hot dog in a semi-health food store that sells ample vegetarian products. I was expecting the lovely saleswoman to pull out a bag of pretzel sticks, and instead she surprised me by taking the lid off of a crock pot revealing an overflowing bowl of wieners!

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When we finally arrived back at the apartment for lunch I fixed up a mexican fiesta dipping bowl. In the dip went black beans, corn, red pepper, avocado, yogurt, lime juice, and pineapple salsa. And the dipping vessels of choice were zucchini slices.

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I tries to take and action shot but my camera was being uncooperative and refusing to focus, and I was hungry so I gave up trying.

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Then for dinner I stuffed a pita with spring mix, pickles, the last of the tofurkey, mustard and ketchup. And my sides were the last cheesy dinosaurs and a few juicy sweet apricots.

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Then there was dessert. I’d noticed a new kind of tea at Whole Foods a while ago, and while I was very intrigued, it was pretty expensive so I’ve been leaving it on the shelf. Today the roomie managed to convince my to buy it because a) there was a flavour sampler box, and b) it not THAT expensive if you compare it to buying a cup of tea in a coffee shop (which I rarely do, but that’s besides the point). In the end I’m happy I did because at least the flavour I tried tonight is pretty amazing. And it was $9 for the box if you’re curious, I usually pay $2.50, maybe $3 for a box of 20 bags of Stash or Yogi or other teas.

The tea is Northern Delight from Inukjuak, Quebec. They use plants from the arctic tundra to make traditional Inuit herbal teas.

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We randomly drew flavours tonight, I got Cloudberry, which was fantastic. It reminded me a lot of Teopia’s Matecchino (ironically enough, considering Krista’s recent purchase), except it’s even better than what I remember Teopia’s tea tasting like when I had it several years ago. The roomie drew Arctic Blend, and he really enjoyed it too.

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Now to head to bed for the start of a new work week.

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Mildly Fantastic May 30, 2009

Happy Weekend Bloggies!

This morning I started out with a deliciously murky green monster.  In the mix was kale, and apple, chia seeds, cocoa powder, and PB2.

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That moster provided excellent fuel for a morning of grocery shopping in which I picked up this week’s BSI ingredient, corn!  I bought one cob and proceeded to make the most amazing lunch ever!  I’ve had a jar of Simply Natural Pineapple Salsa sitting in the pantry for months but have been scared to try it because I’m not a huge fan of spicy, and store bought salsa tends to be too hot for me.  But Sophia‘s BSI choice provided the inspration to try it out.  So I took a look at what I had on hand and came up with what turned out to be a fantastically awesome (in my opinion at least) recipe for Corn Pancakes.

The ingredients for 4 3-inch pancakes (aka 1 serving):

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1/4 cup spelt flour (I’m sure regular whole wheat, or even ground oats would work too)
1 T cornmeal
1/2 t baking powder
3 egg whites (100g), lightly beaten
1/3 cup corn (1/2 the ear, fresh as it can be coming from the USA, raw, but frozen should work just as well)
1/4 cup diced red pepper
1/4 cup chopped chives (I keep a bag of them in the freezer)
a dash of salt

plus avocado and salsa for toppings (the salsa is a must, avocado good but optional)

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Mix the powdery ingredients together, then add the egg whites, salt and veggies.  The batter will be pretty thin, but it puffed up enough in the pan to surround the veggie pieces.  Then cook in a pan like any other pancake, and plate with toppings.

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The pancakes were great, the salsa was awesome (and actually mild, yay!), and together they made an fantastic lunch.  I loved the sweet bursts of corn in every bite.  If you’re not going to use salsa as a topping, I suggest adding more seasonings to the pancakes themselves along the lines of chili powder or onion, or else they might be a bit plain, but with salsa, the dish was perfect.

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The perfect bite.

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Then later in the afternoon I tried out a dessert I picked up for the first time because it was on sale for a ridiculously low price and I needed to satisfy my curiousity.  A Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich.  It was so good!  I haven’t tried them before because I figured, being a low-fat ice cream concoction, they would taste pretty weird like the other one’s I’ve tried in the past, but this succeeded in tasting like real ice cream!  I almost want to go back to the store tomorrow to see if they have any left so I can stock up for the summer.

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Now I’m off the meet some friends for a sushi dinner, so I’ll be back tomorrow 🙂

 

Happy warm and sunny Friday! March 6, 2009

The weather’s gone topsy turvy this week.  Monday it was -15 (-26 windchill), today it’s +18!   Too bad it’s not going to be so warm all weekend…and it’s going to rain…

This morning I grabbed a quick to-go breakfast of an Elevate Me! Matcha Green Tea and Cranberries Bar. This is probably my least favourite of these bars simply because I’m not a huge fan of matcha powder. But of course I still had to buy and try it, because it would have been just silly not to buy one of each flavour when they were so cheap, right?

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The lunch I packed the night before included left over stirfry (romanesco concerto veggies, corn, wax beans, tuna, teriyaki sauce) as well as the last piece of pizza crust flatbread.

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And for snacks I had an juicy Fuji apple, crunchy carrot, cucumber slices, and sweet red pepper strips.

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When I got home I grabbed a snack of  Kashi Seven Whole Grains and Almonds bar, ditched my long sleeve shirt for a tee,  and went out to enjoy the warm weather on a walk to the grocery store with the roomie (I kept the winter coat, unzipped, I’m not that crazy).

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I love that there is a large grocery store (Loblaw’s) that manages to have an abundance of reasonably priced organic produce.  The bananas, sweet potatoes, and onions were all the same price (or cheaper, for the potatoes) as the not-on-sale conventional items.

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I spent 4 cents shy of $20 on that lot.  The only non-organic item was the canned tomatoes, I chose to save a dollar, and some salt (mainly the salt).

When we got home I reheated the last of the tuna stirfry (it’s gone, I swear!), and later had a some of the Carribean Rice and Pigeon Peas that the roomie was cooking up.  It was really good, there was coconut milk involved.

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And now I’m going to relax.  I tried to do my taxes, and I mostly did them, but my school’s student services website is closed until the morning, so I can’t get my tuition amounts.  What website has opening hours anyway?  Oh well, I wasn’t going to file tonight anyway because I want to change my address first so my parents don’t need to continue to deliver my government mail to me, but I can’t do that until CRA mails me (aka the parents) a password to let me sign on online  to make the change  some time next week, I hope.  Why do governments have to make things so complicated?

 

Birthdays all around… March 5, 2009

It was a slow day at work today, all the junior type people were waiting for further instructions on various projects from the senior type people, who were busy in meetings and on the phones trying to come up with things for us to do. So I amused myself by reading up on the various news articles about the city that have been published recently to celebrate that fact that tomorrow is Toronto’s 175th birthday! These pictures were particularly interesting.

Any way, I really like yesterday’s breakfast parfait, so I continued the trend this morning with a mixture of Kashi Honey Almond Flax cereal and Seven Whole Grain Puffs, topped with plain yogurt mixed with a bit of melted mascarpone brown sugar ice cream. A nice crunchy breakfast.

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Lunch time featured sandwich made of pizza crust flatbread, Big Bull Steak Sauce, red pepper, and two fried eggs.

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The tasty sandwich was accompanied by a sweet organic carrot. I also brought along some fruit, honeydew melon, red delicious apple, and ugli fruit (aka Jamaican tangelo).

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I’ve never had an ugli fruit before…it was good, but not spectacularly wonderful, given the price (1.29 for one) I probably won’t bother buying it again. It tasted like a less sweet, not particularly flavourful orange (but definitely not sour). It did get points for being very juicy.

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Home time finally came around, and after the commute I set to work preparing dinner. I stir fried some freezer veggies with a bit of teriyaki sauce  and tossed in a can of tuna for a tasty bowl of goodness. In the mix went Europe’s Best Romanesco Concerto mix, corn,  homegrown wax beans, fresh sqeezed lemon juice, Kikkoman low sodium teriyaki sauce, and albacore tuna.   The freezer is starting to look pleasantly roomy too, which is good news because there’s something I’ve been wanting to buy that requires some ice cold real estate.

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I topped off the day’s eats with a decadent dessert of dates stuffed with raw almond butter.

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Now I must go call my family to wish my dad happy birthday!

 

Perhaps a bit premature… February 26, 2009

Summer is coming!

OK, not quite yet, we can work on spring first, but my breakfast tasted like summer, even if that flavour came via Florida.  And then when I went outside for work there was virtually no snow to be seen!  It had almost all melted, and it was above zero even though the sun had just come out.  Up where I work there was still snow.  In fact, it looked like it had snowed overnight, though it was starting to melt too…but that’s a different story…

My summer bowl of steel cut oats was mashed with a large helping of heated strawberries, and topped with goat cheese, flaxseed, and walnuts.  I’m really liking the goat cheese and something sweet oatmeal topping combination.

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I spent most of my day a work doing some serious engineering work which consisted primarily of photoshopping a bunch of images to match drawings I had in front of me but we can’t use because we’re required to make our own, identical versions.  Oh well, someone has to do it, and I am the student…

Lunch was a container of sauteed asparagus, pork tenderloin, onions, and mushrooms with balsamic vinegar.  There was also a sliced carrot involved, as well as a giant whole wheat matzo cracker.

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The cracker was hiding with a blood orange and a gala apple.

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I also enjoyed some Sahale Snacks Ksar Pistachios.

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Tonight I was in a weird food mood, I was hungry but didn’t want to eat or cook anything in particular.  Coupled with the fact that the fridge is looking rather barren, I ended up with a giant red leaf lettuce salad tossed with goddess dressing, and topped with grapes, corn, and the last of the pork tenderloin.  The corn and grape combination, though admitted odd, actually ended up being really good with the dressing.

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And finally, dessert was half a Cashew Cookie Larabar and a couple pieces of dried mango.  I’ve only had the banana cookie and chocolate mint Larabars before and wasn’t impressed with either, but I had stopped off to pick up some (sale!) Almond Breeze on the way home and this bar was marked down because it’ll expire soon, so I decided to give a nutty flavour a try.  It was pretty good, a bit dry for my tastes (though that could be because it’s old?).  I think it’ll make a good topping for tomorrows oats.  Overall, I don’t think I’m horribly enthusiastic about Larabars in general, but I’m not likely to say no it offered one.  For now I’d rather spend my money on other things.  Though I would like to try making my own, I do have a container of dates and lots of nuts and dried fruit in my cupboards….

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Testing new flavours… February 25, 2009

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So I’m a student, I’m careful with my money, I’m lucky enough to be very comfortable financially with no student debt. I’m willing the spend on some things, but there are others I just won’t dole out my hard earned cash for, my mother taught me to be thrifty. When it comes to food, I generally don’t buy what I can easily make myself much less expensively (and sometimes more healthily too). So while I don’t mind paying for a nice jar of organic peanut butter (chosing the most reasonably priced one), I can’t justify the purchase of another entire jar just because it has some simple flavouring added to it….at least not on a regular basis, a girl ocassionally has to treat herself…. So instead, I draw inspiration from tempting looking products and try replicating those flavours myself.

This morning I applied this method to my oatmeal, and it worked out wonderfully. The inspiration was the Peanut Butter & Co. Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter. The mixed bowl is above and it included a small banana mashed into my premade steel cut oats cooked in water, and mixed with PB2 (that I’m not a fan of reconstitued into regular peanut butter, but love mixed into things for the flavour), lots of cinnamon, and a big handful of raisins (mixed in, and on top). Delish, and kept me full for almost 5 hours, must have been the extra protein in the PB2.

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Lunch included a delightful mix of veggies and a huge dollop of homemade roasted garlic hummus. The veggies were the last of the mini bell peppers, steamed broccoli, and edamame. I love broccoli and hummus, the textures go so well together.

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Afternoon snacking included a pink cara cara orange, an organic gala apple, and a Toasted Nuts ‘n Cranberry Luna bar. I usually don’t eat many bars, but the Luna and Clif ones were on sale last week for a dollar each so I got one of each flavour that was a available. This means that I now get to try a whole bunch of flavours I’ve never had before (and bought a couple flavours I already know I like). So the nuts and cranberry flavour is new to me, and may I say holy yum? First of all it smells amazing, like a gourmet marshmallow, I was eating it extra slowly and holding it up to my face just to be able to smell it for longer. Luckily, I was sitting at my desk doing so and no one could see me and think I was too weird. And second, I liked that it was more like a typical granola bar without a coating on the top/bottom. It could have used a few more nuts (or they needed more toasting), there wasn’t much of a nutty flavour to me, but the cranberries were really good, not too sour. I’ll definately include this flavour next time I stock up.

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Dinner was another successful foray into the freezer, producing a wonderfully savoury meal.  On the left side is Europe’s Best Romanesco Concerto frozen veggie mix sauteed with shrimp, olive oil, garlic, and italian herbs.  On the right side is Europe’s Best frozen Baby Potatoes mixed with succotash.  Apparently not everybody knows what succotash is?  My roomie was thoroughly confused when I told him what I was making.  I made it the way my mom does, just corn, lima beans, a little butter, salt and pepper.  Wikipedia tells me you can add other veggies like tomatoes and peppers too and still call it succotash, and apparently, in Indiana, the lima beans are replaced with green beans.

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Succotash is especially divine when the lima beans are fresh.  Unfortunately, mine are a bit freezer burnt, but it was still okay.  On the other hand, I’m not at all likely to buy those potatoes again.  I think I got them because they’re precooked so I could add them to a fast meal, and I don’t eat potatoes very frequently so if I ever buy one with no clear plan for its use, it ends up sprouting on the counter waiting to be used, a fate the frozen variety would avoid.  But these potatoes had that offputting soggy commercial frozen veggie texture about them that I don’t particularly enjoy.  I’ll probably hide the rest in some pureed soup…

So the right side of the plate was alright, but the left side was downright delicious.

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A bar review, already? February 20, 2009

This morning I got up and enjoyed a crunchy bowl of Kashi Honey Almond Flax cereal mixed with All-bran Original and unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze.

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I then fought my way to work through the icy cold wind to work where, later in the morning, I had and Elevate Me! Banana Nut Bread bar.

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From their website, it seems as though these bars have been around for a while, but perhaps due to the fact they’re Canadian they haven’t made their way into the blogsphere yet?  Which is unfortunate because they seem like excellent candidates for general appreciation.  The bar is essentially a Larabar with a larger number of fruits in each flavour, mixed with whey protein isolate.  I find Larabars tend to be too sweet to eat all at once but I think these bars have a smaller amount of dates, which leaves room for more flavour from the other fruits to come through, and the protein powder gives the bar a bit of a creamy feel and more chew.  This particular flavour could either do with more banana, or could be renamed Apple Nut Bread.  It’s good, just not very bananay.  I’ve tried most of the flavours (missing the two with goji and acai berry) and so far I’ve liked them all.  While this bar isn’t my favourite, it’s in the upper half of the rankings.  I noticed these bars appeared in Whole Foods a couple weeks ago in Toronto, so perhaps they’re going to be widely distributed soon?  We shall see.

Later for lunch I had a spinach egg white omlette with a liberal dose of italian seasoning.

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Along with colourful bell peppers and celery with Nuts to You Nut Butter Inc. Mystery Butter 2

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What’s the mystery?  Peanut Hazelnut Butter, very tasty. (I don’t know why the picture shows almonds and cashews…that’s Mystery Butter 1…)

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Afternoon snack consisted of a blood orange (my favourite citrus fruit), a pear, and blueberries.

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Everything packed up.

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I got home late and  fixed up a quick stirfry to help in my quest to empty out the freezer that’s over flowing with oddly shaped packages that like to create avalanches every time my roommate or I open it.  The delicious plateful of food included extra firm tofu, cabbage, onion, carrot, corn, and edamame, all sauteed in sesame oil, lemon juice, and a dash of reduced sodium soy sauce.

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And now I think I’ll start to enjoy the weekend with a book and a nice hot cup of tea before bed.