Saturday, 30 January 2016

A Slice of Paradise

or I should say a sip.

A few days ago a fellow blogger posted her vacation pictures. Not only did She look amazing but the scenery was breathtaking. For those familiar with Virgin Islands, you know what I am talking about. For the rest of us here is a sample:

When I look out the window, the view is more like this:

So I have decided to bring a feel of a tropical island up north.

Here is my Slice of Paradise Smoothie:
Makes 4 servings,  Prep time 10 min

2 cups of fresh pineapple, cubed
2 cups of frozen bananas
2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger (to fight colds)
Pinch of turmeric – optional
2 cups of water or coconut water

Blend all the ingredients together. 

This shake is really delicious and refreshing. I hope you will give this recipe a try.

Big thank you goes to Stardust for the inspiration!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

5 Late Night Snacks - The Healthy Way.

Are you a late night snacker? I am. Perhaps it is because I am busy all day, than run errands in the evening, leaving little time for eating, that dinner does not seem to fill me up. 
When 9 pm rolls around I usually feel that I need to eat something. It is really way too late to eat, since 3 hours before bedtime we should stop, but if I get too hungry there is no way I can sleep.

What we snack on is important. It is best to avoid foods that are loaded with sugar and carbohydrates. Veggies and fruits digest quickly and are filling, especially when combined with a bit of hummus or almond butter. 

Since kitchen is not a place where I want to spend a lot of time, I came up with a few snacks that I enjoy and are very easy and quick to prepare. I hope you will find the ideas helpful.

Remember to drink a glass of water before eating as it helps us to feel full faster.

Air popped popcorn. Ready in no time.

Hardboiled eggs with chives. I usually have a few hard boiled eggs in the fridge, so they can be easily added to salads or used as a snack.

Guacamole with corn chips. This girl needs her chips! Guacamole takes a bit of work but I am willing to spare a few minutes to make this deliciousness.

Hummus with vegetables. Cut up celery, peppers, carrots, cucumbers for a feast or use single vegetable. It is great either way.

Green apples with almond butter.

All these snacks are great to have anytime of the day so I hope you will incorporate them in your diet. Perhaps it is time to say goodbye to muffins and doughnuts.

Let me know what your favorite, healthy snack is.


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Best of 2015 – My Reading List

Since New Year’s weekend, when I finally had time to relax and do almost nothing, I have been in a slow mode. Cannot put my finger on it, since all the chores are done, dinners are cooked and I seem to have more free time than I did in a long time. I am not complaining! I like it a lot actually.
I have bought an extra bookshelf to house the books that have been piling up against a bedroom wall and in the process of shelving them, I got to revisit some of the good stories I have read last year.
I have always been an avid reader, reading on average one book per week, with my book tastes all over the place. In the last few years I have been reading mostly mysteries, suspense, historical fiction and some chic lit thrown in for a good measure.  There is a bunch of novels that makes it and of course non-fiction books on health etc.
Most of the books I read are from the library (let me tell you, Toronto has the best libraries ever!), are passed on from the fellow readers or I buy them. Often I get asked how I choose the books, and the answer is a) I reach for the authors I know and like and b) I happen upon them.
That means that half the books I get, are a waste of time because are not to my liking. I still read them though.
End of 2015 was the best in terms of the quality of reading material. One book after another was great and worth recommending.

Here is the list of 12 books that I have really enjoyed:

1. January’s hit “As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust“ by Alan Bradley. Cannot wait for the next installment of Flavia de Luce’s antics.

Yours truly with Mr. A.Bradley

2. Blunt Giles “Crime Machine” this Canadian writer brings us closer to fur trading industry in cold northern Ontario.
3. Blake Sarah “The Postmistress” set in England during The Blitz, with US connection.
4. Dedman Bill “Empty Mansions” about elusive heiress to one of the great fortunes of XIX century
5. Archer Jeffrey “Only Time Will Tell” part 1 of 5 of a family saga.
6. Nesbo Jo “The Son” dark and grim but engaging. I would trim it a bit and if you want to be picky some of the characters are not believable. It is fiction after all.
7. Hall A.D “The Coroner” first in the series, female coroner taking over the position in a small town. Trying to close down old cases.
8. Stachniak Eva “Empress of the Night” about Catherine the Great. It is a sequel to “Winter Palace”.

Eva Stachniak talking about creative process.
Yours truly behind camera only, due to a bad hair day.

9. Hawke Ethan “Rules for a Knight” The last letter that a father writes to his children. It is a very small volume that we all should read. Rules for the knight that apply now as much as 500 years ago! Beautiful story.
10. Gowda Shilpi Somaya “Secret Daughter” Story of love, life, motherhood and family relations. The only downside is that I do not want to visit India anymore.
11. Franklin Tom “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” solving decades old mystery in Mississippi.
12. Weir Andy “The Martian” I have not seen the movie and I do not think I will. Movies are usually loosely based on the books and I liked this one too much to have the vision ruined. Perhaps I am wrong. Will revisit the issue in a few months when book not so fresh in my mind.

Bonus: I reread “Bridget Jones Diary” after watching both movies at Christmas.

What was you favorite book?

Sunday, 10 January 2016

My Favorite Winter Comfort Food – Shepherd's Pie

We have been blessed with unusually warm weather so far. It is only a matter of time before the cold snap arrives and what is better way to manage than make some great food.
I love all kinds of stews and creamed soups but my absolute favorite of late is Shepherd's Pie made with sweet potatoes. This dish is full of flavour packed with fibre and can easily be made in meatless version as well.

Shepherd's Pie
Prep time 20 min., Cook time 20 min.,  Serves 6

Here is what you will need:               
2 large sweet potatoes or more
3 tablespoons of butter
2 heaping tablespoons of shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

1-1.5 lbs. (500-700 g) minced beef, lamb or any meat that you like (I mix beef with turkey)
1 cup of fresh or frozen green peas, canned would work too
1 large carrot, shredded (optional)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 table spoon of olive oil

Peel and cube potatoes. Cook till soft in salted water. Drain water. Mash adding butter and parmesan.  Salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm.

Heat oil in the frying pan. Add meat, stir breaking it down into smaller pieces until it starts to get brown. Add thyme, rosemary and garlic. Stir and let cook for a minute. Add a ¼ cup of water or a beef stock if mixture gets too dry. Add Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, peas, carrots and onions. Keep stirring.

Pre heat oven to 400F (205C). Spoon meat sauce into ovenproof casserole dish. Even out. Spoon potatoes on top. Make sure it is evenly spread. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 20 min. till potatoes are slightly golden.

Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes.


What is your favorite winter dish?