Chi Chi Chi Chia Chai Latte

Chia Chai

I wish that I could take credit for this fun little jingle, but alas, I am not that witty. Actually…you know those moments when your mind is blown by the simplest things? Yeah, chia seeds and I had this moment a while back. I had no idea that chia seeds were also the chia that grew grass on heads. And dogs. And cats. Sometimes I wonder how my brain and I have made it this far.

Christmas is almost here and it is exciting! I love Christmas and I am pretty much done all the shopping, but I still have to shop for the man. We decided to do a scale down this year. There is just too much STUFF (I capitalize because this is currently how I feel about it, it’s too big and too much!). I actually feel like this is the cause of cholesterol. STUFF. It just clogs your arteries and gives you heart disease. If we really wanted to go into a deep philosophical discussion about this, we could say that STUFF does clog our heart centre and cause disease. It fuels a cycle of materialism, blocks connection to each other and can be down right soul sucking. I do not need anymore stuff, he doesn’t and neither does D. I want to have a wonderful Christmas that is about family, fantastic food and laughter.

BUT, if a pair of Louboutin’s came wrapped in a box, well, I suppose I make room for those babies in my heart…err, my closet.

This fun recipe is great for breakfast, snack or a sweet treat. It is packed with spice and a special ingredient that you would not normally find. Fresh ginger. I think this makes all the difference. I had two awesome people test this recipe out and they gave me the thumbs up! Or actually, it was said that it was some yummy puddin. More wittiness that I cannot claim. Enjoy!

Chi Chi Chi Chia Chai Latte

Ingredients

1 can of whole coconut milk (the thickness of the pudding will vary based on different coconut milk)

1 cup of almond milk, unsweetened vanilla

6 tbsp of chia seeds

1/4 cup of honey

Spice mix

  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice

Method

1. Mix all ingredients together in a tall tupperware container. Mix really well so the chia seeds do not get stuck in lumps. Let sit in the fridge overnight. Open the fridge in the morning, give it a stir and it’s a breakfast NOM! Top with whatever you like or leave it as is.

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Chocolate Peppermint Energy Bars

Pep Choco Bars

Heyyyyyyyyy. Look who made herself some food boards? Yep, I did! They definitely make food look better. No wonder I want to eat all the time when people make food look damn sexy.

Have we talked about chocolate? Well, actually, my deep, long lasting committed relationship to chocolate. It’s a very intimate one. I have been in this rehabilitation program, C.A. (Chocolate Anonymous) for years. But they just don’t get what chocolate and I have. So I left and fully embraced my love and dysfunction. I feel like chocolate understands me. Is emphatic to my problems and is always there for me. In my cupboard. Honestly, I love chocolate. I eat it every day and this is a way of life people. Of course, I must quantify this. I eat damn good, well made, handcrafted chocolate. Yup, you can call me a snob. I own it. So, maybe it is my way of telling myself that it is good for me, but I still think that it is. So I eat it every day. And in many different forms.

This is one such form! Mmmmm, a paleo chocolate bar if you will, but filled with awesome, good for you, ingredients. I call these energy bars because that is exactly what they are. They are not meant to fill you up or keep you lasting all day like protein and fat. These bars are meant for pre-work out’s (me), mom’s starving on the go (me), people who might not get through the afternoon without stabbing someone in the eye (me as well). These bars will keep you going until you can crash and watch crappy television.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Peppermint Energy Bars

Ingredients:

2 cups of pitted, medjool dates

½ cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut

¼ cup of cocoa

½ tsp of peppermint extract

2 tbsp of coconut oil

½ cup of Enjoy Life Mega Chocolate Chunks

 Method:

  1. Place dates coconut, coconut oil and cocoa in a food processor. Process until all the dates have become smooth.
  2. Drizzle the peppermint extract onto the date mixture. Pulse a few times.
  3. Add in the chocolate chunks then pulse a few times.
  4. Place mixture in a square glass pan. Press it down and cover. Place in the refrigerator for an hour.
  5. Eat for all three meals and snacks. Well, okay, that might be a bit much.
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Bufala

Bufala

Let’s talk Pizza. Actually, after this experience, I think fantasize about pizza is more fitting.

Pizza is pizza is pizza is pizza right? WRONG. The set up might be the same: dough, sauce, toppings, cheese, but the taste and how it is executed is where you see the creativity and individuality of chefs.

I walked into the pizzeria, Bufala on a rainy Friday night to meet my partner in food crime. It was 5:30 in the evening, before the dinner rush, so we got a table right away. The tables were a rustic stained wood, but the place itself was an open concept of white tile and concrete. You could see all the happenings and the smells teased your palate.

Our server came up and she was just fantastic. She was sassy, knew her stuff and was delightfully engaging. She was very accommodating to our time limit, our requests and very friendly throughout service.

We started out with a glass of wine and the meatballs. We were told that each table always has the meatballs. Why mess around with tradition? The meatballs came. Three glorious mounds of ground beef, perfectly formed, drenched in a garlic tomato sauce. They were topped with fresh ricotta cheese and served with three garlic butter baguette slices. It was served steaming in a cast iron skillet. Now, I know this is a Paleo blog, but I dig the 95/5 lifestyle. So I ate the bread. I know. I am going to burn in hell. Pizza hell, and that is just fine by me. By the way, that bread was fantastic. Oozing hot garlic butter on a crispy, perfectly toasted baguette. NOM.

Next, la piece de resistance, the pizza. Our pizza came served on wooden boards and sliced into quarters. We got the Funghi with mozzarella (instead of goat cheese) and their ultimate, Vancouver famous Green Peas and Ham.

We dug into the Funghi pizza first. The curst was perfect. Baked in a brick oven, very thin and slightly crispy dough. The crust was bubbled up and a beautiful brown colouring. They give you four dipping oils for your crust. These people know how to do it right. There was a cream sauce on the bottom, topped generously with a mix of wild mushrooms and topped with a crispy layer or fresh arugula. It was all the right things. The earthy flavours of the mushrooms, surrounded by a delicate cream sauce but cut by the spicy arugula.

The next pizza deserves a post all on its own. We actually took a moment to not talk and just eat the pizza. In my word, to not talk is a feat. This pizza is what dreams are made of. In the first bite, my palate was hit was the warm creaminess of the sauce. Then the truffle oil made it’s appearance. The saltiness and thick texture of the smoked ham entertained my palate next. Just as I thought it was too good, the sweetness of the peas came in. It was the perfect bite. Of course, we polished off both pizza’s ourselves. We felt it was our responsibility.

To finish this all off, I ate pizza again last night. Honestly, I can never go back. If I eat pizza, I will only be going to Bufala. It has raised the bar and I am happy to keep it there. Bufala gets a solid 5 out 5 from me.

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Loaded Savoury Breakfast Muffins

Savoury Breakfast Muffins

Things have not gotten any better around here. We are still fighting the good fight with our little man waking up at 3am because he cannot breathe. Really kid? I can think of much better reasons to wake your parents up. Although, I think it might have broken in the afternoon. Out of nowhere, my little man got his gusto back. Let’s hope it was not a tease. Oh, and he started walking! EPIC. I have never been that excited to see anyone walk before. Can you imagine us cheering each other along on the street for just using our legs? I imagine some middle age person, minding there own business, then I come along like a varsity cheerleader on speed: Come on! You can do it! Cross that street! Look at you go! I am so proud of you! Ha. Frightening.

My dad is town at the moment. The man who started this Paleo journey for me. I love it when my parents visit, and wished they would never leave. Honestly. This is a fact. We have so much fun cooking together. What is even more exciting, and he does not know it yet, but I am going to make him paint my food boards. Yep! I am moving up in the blog world. I am getting on these boards. The picture above clearly screams “Use a food board!!” I’m on it people.

I love baked goods, but sometimes you just need some time away from the sweetness of it. Enter these babies. They. Are. So. Good. Again, I had to freeze them. Muffins are great for that because they do not taste good frozen. More like a hockey puck with cheese.

For these muffins, feel free the make them strict Paleo, vegan or whatever like. I just really enjoyed these flavours together and think you will too. Enjoy!! And do not be afraid to eat this with more eggs, bacon and cheese. In my opinion, there are never enough of these.

Loaded Savory Breakfast Muffins

Yields: 12 crazy awesome muffins

 Ingredients:

Dry:

½ cup of coconut flour

½ cup tapioca flour

1 tsp of baking soda

Wet:

4 eggs

½ cup of coconut milk

½ cup of coconut oil, melted and cooled

Add In’s:

1 medium yam or sweet potato, shredded

2 cups of raw spinach

½ cup of sundried tomatoes

3 pieces of bacon, cooked and diced

½ cup of sharp cheddar cheese

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Heat some coconut oil in a pan and cook the shredded yams for about 5 mins. Do not move them around a lot, otherwise they will become mushy. Add the spinach and cook until it is wilted. Set aside.
  3. In one bowl, mix the flours and baking soda. IN another bowl, mix the coconut oil, eggs and coconut milk.
  4. Put the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well.
  5. Throw in all your add in’s and stir well.
  6. Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop muffin batter into the muffin tin. I use silicone muffin liners (best purchase ever).
  7. Bake for 20-25 mins.
  8. NOM those babies down with some avocado on the side. And more bacon. I really don’t need to explain the need for more bacon.
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Cream of Broccoli Soup with Poached Egg

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Cat litter smells. You know in the Bugs Bunny cartoons, those smell waves you could see wafting towards you from Pepi Le Peux (sp?). That is what is coming at me from behind the sofa. I had to move the cat little inside so our apartment does not become the North Pole. When I keep the litter on the balcony, the door has to stay open so Theo (my Maine Coon) can do his business. While it significantly reduced the smell of cat ass, we were all dressed in Canada Goose wear every morning. So, in it came, and so did cat ass. Sigh. I have no better solution at this point. Suggestions welcomed.

D and I are out sick with this weird chest infection flu type thing. Everything hurts, and the cough is really gross. I will not enter into a paragraph description about phlegm. No one needs that, and yet I just about did. I know, you love that I did that.

So, needless to say, we have slowed down here this weekend and maybe that is a good thing. I am so busy and trying to keep up with my own expectations that I forget to slow down. Then I get sick and get a friendly reminder of how out of balance I can get. So I decided to take on some crafting projects for Christmas! Ha! I do not have enough on my plate right? What happens when you love it and want to do it all, all the time? Oh right. You get a stupid chest infection. With tons of phlegm. Alright! I’ll stop. I am just searching for some empathy over here.

Onto the food! This soup turned out great, first try too. I like the sweet potato (white flesh), it added some thickness to it, without a distinct taste; the broccoli does that on its own. If you can eat dairy, add the cheese. It takes it up a notch, but it is perfectly good without it too. Yes, yes. You read the recipe right. A cup of cheese. A whole cup. Damn right. We have already discussed my love of cheese and the soup is representing!

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Ingredients:

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

½ onion, diced

1 sweet potato, chopped

1 large head of broccoli, florets separated and stalk chopped (about 8 cups)

3 cups of water

1 tsp of sea salt

fresh ground pepper

1cup of full fat coconut milk

1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

1 poached egg (optional)

 

 Method

  1. Heat some fat of choice (I used butter, because butter and onions makes a home smell amazing) on medium heat. Add in the onions and garlic.
  2. Add the sweet potato and mix it all together so the butter and onions have covered it. Let it cook for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the broccoli and stir it well. Allow the broccoli to cook for 5 minutes
  4. Add the water, salt and generous amounts of fresh cracked pepper. Turn up to high heat, bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until broccoli is very soft.
  5. Using food masher of choice (I used an immersion blender), puree completely.
  6. Stir in coconut milk. At this point, if you eat dairy, stir in the cheese.
  7. To poach an egg, bring water and a 2 Tbsp of white vinegar to a gentle simmer. No bubbles rising to the top. Crack egg into a ramekin and pour it gently into the water. Let it cook for 6 minutes, without boiling. Scoop it out and top on soup. Top with a poached egg.
  8. NOM that soup down, preferably with a book and rain outside.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

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Tour De Vancouver: The Farmer’s Apprentice

FA

It is time to bring back to Tour de Vancouver reviews. After a very busy summer and too many commitment clashes for September and October, we finally got it together and to catch up for lost time, we went big. I am talking second best restaurant in Canada big. After an article released that The Farmer’s Apprentice got awarded the title of Canada’s runner up best restaurant, it was an easy decision to make this our comeback star. It is a farm to table restaurant with a contemporary flare.

We made reservations three weeks in advance to get in for their Sunday night cookbook series. They describe it as, “Every Sunday, we will be featuring a book from Books to Cooks Bookshop and gather inspirations from the author to compose a menu”. This was beginning to look very promising.

The restaurant is tucked in between two art galleries on West 6th Ave. It is unassuming and if you were not looking for it, you would miss it. When I walked, I felt like I just walked into a small village in the south of France. It was cobble stoned, wooden tables with a rustic France feel. We nestled into the first seat in the window, which was backed by a distressed wooden window. It was as if we were sitting outside on a balcony, looking over our lavender fields.

The server came up and explained the menu with confidence, knowledge and ease. She took our drink order and came back with an amuse bouche; It was an oat crisp with black malt and an oat cream. Our culinary adventure was beginning.

The next meal was the first of our five courses. This meal was an oyster on a bed of bacon and potato with a sea foam emulsion. The bacon and potato was done well, with a pronounced smoky bacon flavor. For this dish, the flavors were all present, but I was left wanting more texture. The combination of soft hash potatoes, a cooked soft oyster and seafood foam was too much softness and not enough crunch to break it up.

The next meal was mussels wrapped in raw razor thin sunchokes, with a tarragon pesto on the bottom and a sunchoke cream on top. The dish was served in a jar and was warm to the touch. The level of flavor complexity in this dish was outstanding. Your spoon dives in and you hit the rich and smooth cream, then the mussles and crisp sunchoke and to finish off a light, acid pesto that cuts the cream well. Again, this dish left me wanting texture. It was too much soft and not enough hard to balance it out.

The next meal was a plate of winter vegetable, with elder berries, mushroom strings and creme fraiche. This dish was outstanding and had a perfect balance of flavor and texture. The vegetables were infused with burnt hay, and it was so subtle, but added depth to the dish. Everything was sourced locally and the sweetness of the winter roots was balanced with the crème fraiche and sourness of the elder berries. The mushroom straws added the perfect crunch to balance it out. Plate perfect.

The final main course was a lamb neck with a poached egg. I love lamb and was quite excited to see this as our main. It was organic lamb, and I find organic lamb has a milder, less gamey taste than the non-organic version. The egg was perfectly poached and topped with toasted delicate breadcrumbs. The lamb neck was braised in a smoky and thick sauce. The lamb was rubbed with burnt hay, and it was more palpable this time, but not in the least overwhelming. The lamb melted in your mouth and with the sweetness of the yolk running all over it combined to make a very delicious dish.

To finish our tasting menu, our dessert was a simple poached pear with vanilla ice cream and walnuts. This dessert balanced out the richness and smokiness of the prior dishes, but I was underwhelmed. I did not find it to be on the level of the previous dishes. The flavors were delicate and light, but I was left wanting more.

The service was outstanding. I never needed to ask for anything, the staff was exceptionally knowledgeable about the chef’s process and could address my questions. They were friendly, personable and present without being overbearing.

The food was an excellent culinary adventure of flavor and texture. With this being said, do not go there expecting to be full. It is a tasting menu to experience the techniques that can be done with food, such as emulsions and froth. I left hungry and not satisfied. If you are in the market for an experience with culinary art, then this is the place to go. If you want a meal to treat yourself and eat satisfying food, this is not the place to go.

I rate this restaurant 3/5. They are the best at what they do, but I am in no rush to experience it again.

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Sticky Ginger Molasses Ribs

Sticky RIbs

It has been a beautiful week in Vancouver, but with beautiful sunny cold weather comes dryness. My skin looks like the desert sands of Bolivia. While beautiful as a landscape, it is not so beautiful on white pasty winter skin. Which brings me to my next caveat, Lush. Have you been in there lately? I have not been in ages and wow! They have such beautiful things right now. Luckily for me, I forgot my wallet while I was out. Otherwise it would have been an explosion of fruity smells, glitter and mud masks.

Recently I have been looking at articles that focus on what is exactly put in our food. I am astounded at the continual lies and deceit that continues to fills our foods. I suppose it is our job to be a conscientious consumer, but that can be exhausting. What did I learn today? That citric acid can be what it says it is, but it can also and more likely be a GMO black mould that comes from corn syrup. GROSS. Because I was really looking forward to eating black mood for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can read about that more here.

Living in today’s world can be overwhelming. There is a lot of hopeless scenarios and hopeless people out there that really makes you wonder what we are doing as human beings to each other and to our mother earth. It can also be overwhelming to think of how one individual can make a difference. The way I think about it is through the domino effect. I hope that I am making a difference in the lives of the youth I work with. It can be difficult because it is process based not outcome based. But through kindness, awareness and accountability, I believe we can continue to make a better world. At least I hope so. If not, well, I’m going out with a lot of shoes and a lot of food. Chocolate and wine specifically.

How does this all relate? Well, we are what we eat. You won’t find any citric acid in these babies. Or anywhere in my cupboards now. Yes, I went on a complete meltdown black mould finding mission. Safe to say, I actually did not have anything with citric acid in it. Paleo to the rescue! That is what happens when you eat whole, fresh, local, organic, whatever is not processed food. A little or all of the above categories. At least we are trying.

So you have a couple pounds of ribs hanging around? Make these babies ASAP.

Sticky Ginger Molasses Ribs

Ingredients:

3 lbs of pork ribs, sliced down the bone to make pieces

1 tbsp of grated fresh ginger

1 shallot, minced

1 head of organic garlic, crushed

1/4 cup of molasses

4 tbsp of coconut aminos

Method:

  1. Mix the ginger, garlic, shallot, molasses and coconut aminos together to make your marinade
  2. Mix ribs and marinade together, make sure they are all coated well.
  3. Let the ribs marinate for 2 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425.
  5. Cook the ribs for 30 minutes. The time can depend on how thick your ribs are.
  6. Broil them for an extra 2-3 minutes to get them crispy.
  7. Finger lickin NOM worthy.

Sticky Ribs

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