sucky life challenge

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Can we press pause for a second and talk about this Whole Life Challenge thing? I need a moment to be honest about it.

It kinda sucks.

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I mean, at first it was sort of cool because even though I drank a ridiculous amount of water and peed every 3.7 minutes and missed jellybeans and took supplements that I’m not convinced did anything, I lost weight. Like 3.5 pounds in 3 days. That’s a lot.

But then it crept back up, and I was hovering around the net-minus-two-pounds range for a few weeks, and then I started to question the challenge. Like, why can I have sugar in my tea but not milk? And sweet potatoes but not normal potatoes? And corn tortillas and corn oil and fresh corn but not popcorn or corn taco shells? Who made up these ridiculous, arbitrary rules? (CrossFitters, that’s who.) And is gluten really the devil?

Pfft, no. Gluten is amazing.

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So basically I tried to fill the void in my life with a huge amount of paleo bread and paleo banana bread and paleo cookies. And they were okay, but they weren’t bread. So I’m kindof just over it.

(Also, what’s with the ridiculous amount of meat we have to eat? It makes me want to take a nap just thinking about it.)

I’ll be dreaming about gluten-filled cookies.

Like these ones.

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S’mores Cookies

Ingredients

one package graham crackers
three or four Hersheys milk chocolate bars, broken along lines
one cup butter
one cup sugar
one cup brown sugar
two eggs
one teaspoon vanilla
two cups all-purpose flour
one cup bread flour
one teaspoon baking soda
two teaspoons hot water
half teaspoon salt
one and a half cups chocolate chips
one and a half cups mini marshmallows

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet (I use 3 so I can rotate through) with parchment paper. Break graham crackers into squares, place on cookie sheet (I tried to leave about half an inch between crackers, but be warned they’ll slide all over) and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until combined.
In a small glass or bowl, stir hot water and baking soda. Add to butter mixture along with vanilla, and mix well.
Sift in flours and stir until combined. Fold in chocolate chips and marshmallows.
Scoop a large spoonful of dough onto each graham cracker – the marshmallows will be a bit of a pain, but don’t worry about them too much. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes.
Press Hersheys chocolate into each softened cookie, and bake for another 6 minutes, or until the edges are browning and the cookies look done. If the cookies have expanded over the crackers and they’ve all stuck together, it’s easiest to wait until they’re cool before breaking back into squares.

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peanut butter everything

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I keep getting sucked into pinterest and seeing all these beautifully heartbreaking quotes over instagrammed photos that make me want to curl up and cry. And maybe buy a few cats and get cosy with Netflix.

I refuse to give in.

I’m allergic to cats and I’m more than halfway through this ridiculous Whole Life Challenge and I can’t watch a television screen for longer than seven minutes before I think of eighteen other things I could be doing right that second.

So let’s battle this.

Starting with a chocolate peanut butter smoothie, because since the Whole Life Challenge started I eat peanut butter with everything, and, well… if I can’t have cats and Netflix, I should at least get chocolate.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

Ingredients

one and a quarter cups unsweetened chocolate almond milk (I like Almond Breeze)
one scoop chocolate protein powder (I use a whey-based protein because they taste better, but Vega makes good vegan ones)
one tablespoon cocoa powder
a huge spoonful of natural peanut butter
half a banana (frozen is better, if you’re planning ahead)
optional: a couple ice cubes (if the banana isn’t frozen)

Directions

Throw everything in a blender. Easy!

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the internet lately

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It’s fall, and these are the corners of the internet where I’d like to curl up with a mug of cream of earl grey and a West Elm throw and the dog.

For dreaming about next summer.

This makes me want to stay in bed and cry a little bit, but we’ve all been there.

For when you could use a good laugh or ten. (And to recover from the previous link.)

All fights should be resolved like this.

When you need a reminder that you aren’t missing out, despite what your Facebook feed might say.

Most days, most of us have no idea what the hell we’re doing… But this actually makes a lot of sense.

And this reminds us that it doesn’t matter that much anyway.

I’m doing my utmost to bring back exchanging greeting cards for all occasions, with handwritten messages inside. And no, “To [You], From [Me]” doesn’t count.

If you want to know how to approach someone or what their texts mean or how to make a relationship official… or if you just want to know what girls do when they go to the bathroom together.

And finally, because this is a space about food after all, this documentary is amazing and hilarious and heartbreaking and inspiring.

I’m ahead of myself again

You know what it’s way too early for?

Getting excited for Christmas.

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I’m upset that Christmas stuff is showing up in stores already, and yet… I have to admit it. I’m so excited. I’m excited for fuzzy socks and turkey dinners and movie marathons and finding the perfect gifts and ice skating and spiked peppermint hot chocolates.

Do you like how I just snuck ice skating in there all innocently, like I’ve actually gone ice skating in the past decade?

But hey – maybe this is the year.

And it wouldn’t be Christmas without cookies. Spicy, gingery cookies.

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So I’m making gingerbread, but I’m not bringing out my gingerbread man cutter yet. I’m rolling my dough extra thin and digging out some autumn leaf cookie cutters and hoping I can pass these off as gingersnaps.

Because it’s way too early to be getting excited about Christmas.

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Gingersnaps (vegan)

We’ve made these before. But that was Christmas, and this is… not. Yet.

Ingredients

two thirds cups canola oil
one cup sugar
half cup brown sugar
half cup molasses
half cup almond milk
one teaspoon vanilla
four cups all-purpose flour
one teaspoon baking soda
one teaspoon baking powder
one teaspoon salt
one teaspoon nutmeg
one teaspoon cloves
pinch all spice
half tablespoon cinnamon
one tablespoon ground ginger

Directions

Mix all your wet ingredients really well. Add in all the dry. Keep stirring until they’re all combined.
Scoop all of that out onto some plastic wrap, cover it up, and throw it in the freezer for an hour or a day or a week.
When you’re ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grab your dough (it may need a few minutes to soften if it’s been in the freezer for more than an hour) and roll it out to about a quarter of an inch. Cut out non-gingerbread-men shapes and put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Smush together all the remaining dough and repeat the process until you’ve used it all up. Bake each tray for about 10-12 minutes.

happy Sunday

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This feels like a good time to set some goals.

I’m not really sure why, since it’s not a new year or a new month or even a Monday. But here we are, so why not?

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I’d like to make it to 7am bootcamp twice a week, even though it’s dark and miserable and rainy and I’d really rather stay in bed.

I’d like to start taking dance classes again, and actually show up to class more than once or twice every couple months.

I’d like to get back on track with my eating – without going all-or-nothing crazy.

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I’d like to show more gratitude for and spend more time with my favourite people in my life.

And stop feeling pressured to hang out with people that I don’t love spending time with, whether or not they are wonderful people.

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I’d like to find more date-like things to do with the manfriend.

I’d like to finally check off items on my to-do list that have been there for 6 months.

I’d like to make Whole Life Challenge friendly muffins.

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Well, at least one of those is done.

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Banana Muffins (paleo, gluten free)

Ingredients

five ripe bananas
four eggs
quarter cup natural peanut butter
quarter cup natural almond butter
quarter cup coconut oil, melted
quarter cup coconut flour
quarter cup almond meal
one tablespoon cinnamon
one teaspoon ginger
quarter teaspoon cloves
one teaspoon baking soda
one teaspoon baking powder
one teaspoon vanilla
one teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin and set aside.
In a large bowl, mash bananas. Add eggs, nut butters and oil, and mix well. Stir in vanilla.
Sift in dry ingredients and stir until just barely combined. Scoop into prepared muffin pan.
Bake for about 22-24 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
These are best served right away (or re-heated later) with butter.

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self-psychoanalysis

I was reading an article not too long ago that said one of the key indicators of general well-being was knowing your history – in terms of family tree and ethnic background.

I know mine. My mom’s Chinese-Malay; my dad’s Hungarian. There were a few hiccups when I was younger, like when I asked my dad if he knew there was a country called Hungary and a country called Turkey, because if there were countries called I’m and For then you would have I’m Hung(a)ry For Turkey. Or when in grade 3 we had to colour flags of where our parents were from and I chose Japan because all I knew was that my mom was Asian and Japan had the easiest flag. But I’ve got it sorted now. I know how they got to Canada, and I’ve been back to Hungary and Malaysia multiple times and met all my grandparents and seen lots of old pictures.

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And yet… I think that might all be wrong. I’ve figured out my secret identity.

I’m actually a Jewish Italian grandmother.

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I think it’s my duty in life to feed everyone, and feed them well. I get offended when people don’t want to eat what I’ve prepared for them immediately after receiving it. If it weren’t generally considered rude to intensely stare at people and evaluate their level of enjoyment while they eat the food you’ve given them, I would be doing that.

So. Creepy.

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The manfriend texted me the other day to ask what I was up to after work, and instead of taking that like a normal person, I responded “I have dance. But there’s leftover ribs and mashed potatoes, taco salad and hamburger soup in the fridge. There’s also some frozen homemade bagels that you could top with peanut butter and jam, some healthy cookies in the freezer, and all the ingredients you would need to make pasta if you don’t want any of the above.”

His response was a loving version of “okay, crazy lady… I was just wondering what you had planned.”

So, yeah. That.

But this is what’s on the table tonight… Eat up.

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Blueberry Pie (vegan)

Ingredients

Crust:

two and a half cups all-purpose flour
half teaspoon salt
three tablespoons sugar
half cup margarine, cold (I use Earth Balance)
half cup shortening, cold
three tablespoons cold water
three tablespoons vodka
one tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Filling:

about seven cups of blueberries
two thirds cups sugar
two tablespoons tapioca flour
two tablespoons all-purpose flour
zest from one lemon
one tablespoon fresh lemon juice
pinch salt

Directions

Prepare crust first: sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter (and/or a fork), cut in margarine and shortening. In a separate glass, stir together water, vodka and vinegar. Pour into flour/margarine and mix with a fork until the dough comes together into one big ball (you’ll probably need to get in there with your hands – proper Jewish Italian grandmother style). Cut your ball roughly in half and wrap each in Saran wrap. Throw in the fridge (or freezer, if you don’t want to make the pie right away).
Now for the filling! This one’s easy. Throw everything in a bowl together. Stir until it’s all mixed up.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grab a 9-inch pie plate.
Pull out one of the balls of dough. If you can, grab the larger one first. On top of parchment paper or a silpat, roll it out (use lots of flour so it doesn’t stick!) so it will cover the entire pie plate (don’t forget the sides slope down, so you’ll need to make it a bit larger than 9 inches). Flip it over (this is where the parchment comes in handy) onto the pie plate. Load it up with your filling.
Roll out the second half of the dough until it looks large enough to cover the pie plate (no slopes this time – 9 inches is about right). Flip it over on top of the pie and crimp the edges. I like to roll mine and then do a 3-finger pinch that my mom taught me. Do whatever you like or can.
Note: if you want to use cookie cutters to make shapes on your pie like I did, do this just before you flip it, and then pray and swear and squeal and hope while you’re flipping that they don’t stretch too much. Also be aware that you’ll probably get juice all up and over the top of your crust. Whatever.
Go stab crazy with a fork before putting it in the oven – steam needs to escape.
Bake for 30 minutes, lower the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for another 30-40 minutes or until the filling (if you can see it) looks bubbly and the crust is browned.

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Guelph, Ontario

Way back in August (I know, I know, I’m behind) the manfriend and I headed across the country for the marriage of quite possibly the two coolest people on this earth, who are so perfect for each other it’s ridiculous.

I somehow managed to take lots of photos of food, and none of the couple getting married. This should surprise no one.

Congrats, Chris and Cayla. Love you both.

Should you ever find yourself in Guelph, I highly recommend:

With the Grain
OX