If you’re a fan of “salad” sandwiches (such as egg salad or chicken salad), then give this vegetarian twist a try! You can even make it vegan by using vegan mayonnaise. Piepie and Boss brought this to school in their YumBoxes and ate it with a spoon (they aren’t sandwich fans) – so that is a great option as well.
The best bang for your buck is to buy dried chickpeas and cook them, but if you’re in a crunch then canned ones will do the trick! I have to say, ever since I got an Instant Pot for Christmas, I don’t use the canned stuff anymore because it literally only takes 30 minutes to cook.
what you need:
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 celery stalk
1/4 small red onion
2 baby dill pickles
2 heaping tbsp mayonnaise (regular or vegan)
salt and pepper
what to do:
Mix chickpeas with mayo and mash about half of it with a potato masher (or a large fork) – to give it some different textures.
After washing the celery, dry on a dish towel. Dice finely. Chop the onion and pickles finely as well, trying to keep everything about the same size.
Add diced veggies to chickpea mix and add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon onto toast (spread with avocado optional!) and enjoy!
*Leftovers stored in an airtight container will last 5 days.
One of our go to brownie recipes is Smitten Kitchen’s “my favorite brownies” – it’s super easy and quick to make! Sometimes you want a rich sweet chocolatey bite. But sometimes – you want something to snack on, or something for your kids to grab after school, but not necessarily so heavy and decadent that it would spoil dinner! I am becoming a huge fan of dates because they add such a lovely sweetness to recipes (like in banana bread!) without being cloyingly sweet.
My little 8-week champ was pretty chill this morning so I had some time to play around in the kitchen, and here’s what came about – a brownie recipe that uses dates and coconut oil instead of white sugar and butter, baking up into a guilt-free brownie that I’m hoping the kiddos will love after school.
If you tend to need more sweetness, I would recommend using a different chocolate (maybe 60% or semi sweet chocolate). I’m digging these with a cup of tea, but I know my kids would enjoy it even more a touch sweeter.
*update! they loved it and want it in their lunch for tomorrow:)
what you need:
3 oz dark chocolate (I used 70% but you can use 60% or even semi sweet chocolate)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 cups pitted dates
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
what to do:
Prepare a baking dish 8×8″ by buttering it generously or lining with parchment paper. If you’re lining it with parchment, leave the ends long so that the brownie lifts out easily once it’s cooled – and butter the sides that do not have parchment. Preheat oven to 350 F.
Place dates in a bowl and cover with hot water (I used my kettle) – let it sit while you do the next steps.
Melt chocolate and coconut oil together using a double boiler method (in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan with gentle simmering water).
Combine flour and salt in a small bowl.
Remove water from dates (you don’t have to drain it completely dry) – then puree in a food processor until pretty smooth.
In a large bowl, combine melted chocolate with dates, mixing well (stand mixer with paddle attachment or use a hand mixer).
Add eggs and vanilla – beat, then scrape down the bowl and beat again, incorporating everything evenly.
Add flour and mix just until incorporated, using a spatula to finish (do not over mix).
Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and place in your preheated oven, middle rack, for about 15-18 minutes. It is ready when a toothpick comes out clean (a little underdone is okay because it continues to bake a little when you take it out of the oven).
Once it is cooled, you can remove it easily by lifting the parchment paper edges. Cut into squares and enjoy!
It’s hard to believe 6 weeks has gone by already since the birth of my 3rd, but here we are! We are doing well but of course the interrupted sleep and constant lifting / feeding / bending over the baby is starting to catch up with my body. Not to mention the whole 9 months of stretching and expanding…and then the intensity of labour to top if all off! But hey, we are built for this right ladies? And it is absolutely crazy, beautiful and scary all at the same time what our bodies can do. And our bodies can recover – we just have to give it some love and patience. I have to admit I wasn’t as patient with my first and second (even though I should have known better with my Physio and Yoga background) and it took longer for bleeding to stop and my pelvic floor to return to pre-baby function. There’s this tendency in the world of today (thanks a lot instagram) for instant results – an urgency or perhaps even a race to “get your body back”. Remember each individual and each body is different and we really shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to others. As they often say in yoga classes, be kind to yourself and own your journey, your own path.
Initially I wanted to teach a Mom & Baby Yoga class in the community again (@ Inner Revolution Yoga Studio, where I teach regular classes when I’m not on mat leave) but being on maternity leave and collecting “E.I.” means that anything I earn during this time is just subtracted from my E.I. pay. This is rather frustrating, and I think it is unfortunate to essentially get penalized for working. I think being off with your baby is fantastic but I would love to have the option to work a little to supplement the E.I. income. It must be especially hard for single moms. Several years ago, if you were on maternity leave you were allowed to receive up to a maximum of $125 per week before you got deducted. I don’t know why they decided to change this.
Anyway – since I am unable to teach Mom & Baby Yoga in the community without getting penalized by maternity leave employment insurance, I am going to post my practice online so that you can follow along. I will be posting one video a week. In a community Mom & Baby class, we would meet once a week at the studio, get to socialize with other moms and share a connection. Unfortunately we won’t have the physical face to face interaction here but we can chat and comment online and build a community. We also have the beauty of flexibility; you can get on your mat any day, any time. Make sure your baby is fed and in a clean diaper (and perhaps napping☺️) so that hopefully you won’t be interrupted! Obviously we cannot control when our babies cry, but the awesome part of doing this at home is that you can pause the video and get back to your mat when you can. Practice when it suits you!
Remember, if you are not 6 weeks postpartum yet – enjoy your baby snuggles and rest up as much as possible (when else in life are you told to take it easy and lie down?). If you are 6 weeks postpartum and cleared by your physician or therapist to do physical activity, then I hope you take some time to follow along weekly! Feel free to comment, ask questions, or post some requests. I’m really looking forward to our yoga practice together! ~Namaste~
Banana bread is a staple baked good at our house, but we were getting a little too used to sweetening with semi-sweet chocolate chips (and actually becoming a bit tired of it!). We have recently all become big fans of dates and their natural sweetness – it works really well in this recipe and gives it good body and moisture. You won’t miss the chocolate chips in this loaf!
prep time: 15 min bake time: 25 min yield: 1 regular sized loaf
what you need:
1 heaping cup pitted dates
3 large very ripe bananas
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
what to do:
Roughly chop dates and soak in about 1 cup of hot water (use your kettle not tap water) in a bowl.
Preheat your oven to 350 F convection. If you do not have a convection oven, then you will have to bake your loaf for longer at the same temperature.
In a mixer (or using hand-mixer), beat bananas with sugar until smooth and light.
Add egg, melted butter and vanilla to banana mixture and incorporate well.
At this point I like to use the melted butter remnants to brush my loaf pan to prevent the loaf from sticking.
In a separate bowl, roughly mix together dry ingredients (just a fork will do) – the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, chia seeds and salt.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and beat just until mixed (do not over mix!). Use a spatula to scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl.
Fold in greek yogurt.
Drain dates from water and add them to the mixture (they will be softened by now), Gentle mix / fold to incorporate dates.
Pour batter into buttered loaf pan (and place loaf pan on a cookie sheet if you wish for easier handling, especially if your loaf pan is silicone). Bake in centre rack for 25 minutes (45-50 minutes if you do not have a convection oven). It is ready when it is golden brown on top and toothpick comes out crumbly / almost clean.
When cool enough to handle, remove loaf and cool on rack – slice warm and ENJOY!
The freshest tomatoes are from your own garden! I am not good at gardening…yet! One day, I want to have a beautiful bountiful vegetable garden. For now, I have a pretty sweet hook up with a neighbourhood Ama (grandma in Taiwanese) who just happens to have rows and rows of delicious nutritious vegetables! My sister in law was out for a walk one day and this lovely adorable Ama just happened to ask her if she was interested in buying some garden vegetables. Now we get a variety of weekly fresh veggies!
Last week we got large yellow tomatoes. They have a milder taste than the usual red tomatoes and have a subtle sweetness. It works really well in this sauce. Of course you can substitute any tomato you have. For this recipe I would stay away from the canned tomatoes though, because you won’t be simmering the sauce for long and fresh ones have a lighter taste, making this sauce bright and fresh.
what you need:
4 large yellow tomatoes
1 large garlic clove
1 medium red onion (or any onion)
5 green olives, pitted and chopped roughly
1 pinch red chilli flakes
1 tbsp cooking oil (I use grape-seed oil)
1-2 tbsp finely chopped green onion
salt and pepper
6 basil leaves (chopped finely but save 1-2 leaves for garnish)
fresh parmesan cheese grated on top when serving (*optional)
what to do:
Wash tomatoes and roughly chop.
Dice onion (small pieces, not too big).
In a sauce pan or pot, heat cooking oil for 1 minute or two. Add onions and stir occasionally, preventing them from burning (keep heat at medium or medium low) – not quite caramelizing the onions but just cooking until they are slightly translucent.
Add tomatoes, stirring to mix everything. Season lightly with salt, pepper and chilli flakes.
Cover and turn the heat to low, about 10 minutes is enough, stirring 2-3 times.
While your sauce is simmering you can cook your desired pasta (I used bowties).
Remove sauce from heat and add chopped olives.
Drain pasta when it is cooked and add as much sauce as desired – toss gently with chopped basil, green onion. Garnish with basil leaves and grated parmesan over top and serve.
Enjoy! *Store left over sauce in mason jar or airtight container in the fridge for meals the next day!
This is a staple in our household, now with my own little family of 4 and when I was growing up. It’s one of those dishes that you can turn to when you have nothing planned; easy, makes use of the pantry, and any leftovers. The sauce is the most important part, which is mostly things you likely already have in your kitchen (peanut butter, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar) and some optional add ons for even more flavour.
In the recipe I’ve listed the ingredients I happened to use today, but honestly every time I make this it changes just a little bit! For example, last time I had zucchini and sugar snap peas to use up so those were the veggies that went into the noodles. You can use whatever you have in your fridge or buy your favourite veggies for it. I tend to have these flat noodles always available in my pantry (it’s called Wu-mu dry noodles, made in Taiwan – you can find it at Loblaws / Superstore in the international section or any Asian grocery store), but if you don’t have this you can most definitely use other dry noodles, such as linguine, rice noodles (think flat ones for pad thai), or even egg noodles. Just make sure you read the package for optimal cooking time for the noodles you’ve chosen.
comfort in a bowl
Saturdays are busy for us so this is a great go-to lunch on the weekend. It is also great on a weeknight if you have leftover protein from the night before but not enough for everyone to have a solid portion (let’s say, a chicken drum and half a chicken breast) – you can slice up the protein into bite size pieces and simply add it to your noodles. We’ve done left over pork, tofu, turkey, steak, even store-bought ham works. You can keep it super simple or jazz it up by adding in all the optional ingredients.
prep: 15 min cook: 10 min yield: 6-8 servings
what you need:
~8 heads of bok choy (equivalent of a typical package)
1 large carrot or 2 medium carrots
Wu-Mu Dry Noodles
dry noodles (about 2 handfuls)
2 green onions *optional
1 handful of cilantro *optional
peanut butter sauce:
2 heaping tbsp natural peanut butter
1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp naturally brewed soy sauce or Tamari
something sweet 1 1/2 tsp (honey, sugar, maple syrup, mirin, whatever you have)
zest of 1 lime and it’s juice *optional – instead you can use 1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger *optional – you could use garlic in addition, instead, or omit completely
1 red chilli (or something spicy like jalapeno) *optional – if you’re serving kids you can always add this only to the adult portion, or add desired hot sauce such as sriracha on top afterwards
what to do:
Fill your kettle to max capacity and boil water. Get a large pot on the stove with 4″ of water on high heat.
Wash bok choy thoroughly and slice thinly. Wash and peel carrots and cut into matchstick sizes.
Kettle is likely boiling now – add it to your large pot on the stove.
Combine sauce ingredients in a mason jar and shake really well.
Cook noodles according to package in boiling water. For the last minute of noodle cooking, add your chopped carrots and bok choy to quickly blanch the veggies.
Reserve 1 cup of noodle cooking liquid. Drain the rest and place cooked noodles and veggies in a large serving platter. Top with sauce and toss to combine. If it seems dry, add a little bit of the reserved liquid and toss again, until desired consistency.
Sprinkle chopped green onion and cilantro over top. ENJOY!