Raspberry Coconut Protein Overnight Oats

Half marathon training is bringing on the change and I only just finished week two!

I haven’t exactly reclaimed my motivation from the dream fatigue I wrote about last week but my determination is back in line after taking it easy in July. With a clear goal ahead, my vision is getting sharper—and one of the things I’m honing in on is nutrition.

It’s key to eat healthfully since my mileage is slowly increasing every week—running on empty (literally) is no longer becoming an option. As a result, I’ve been listening to some podcasts and reading lots about nourishment for distance running. I’ve been trying to keep up with protein, eat more greens, and experiment with “super” foods… Just like the small addition of matcha to these delicious, protein-packed overnight oats—

what a segue!

Raspberry Coconut Protein Overnight Oats
Serves 1
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3/4 c. unsweetened almond milk (or other milk of your choice)*
2 tbsp. vanilla protein powder
1 tsp. matcha powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)

1/3 c. steel cut oats
1 tbsp. coconut flour
1 tbsp. chia seeds
1/4 c. unsweetened coconut
1/2 c. raspberries
Hemp seeds or other seeds for topping (optional)
Maple syrup or honey (optional)

1. In a small bowl, whisk together almond milk, protein powder, matcha, and extract (if using). Taste and add maple syrup or honey to adjust to your desired sweetness.

2. Pour the protein’d up almond milk into the container you’re making your overnight oats in. (I’m impartial to the mason jar.)

3. Stir oats, coconut flour, chia seeds, and coconut into the almond milk until evenly distributed. Top with raspberries and sprinkle with hemp seeds.

4. Put into the fridge overnight! In the morning, mash and stir in raspberries! Add in nut butters or other toppings to your heart’s content. Nosh!

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Thoughts On: When the Dream Doesn’t Feel Like the Dream

August 2015, I tore a half marathon training plan from the monthly issue of Runner’s World and stuck it on my bulletin board—just in case. I didn’t see the training plan every single day, but on the ones I noticed it pinned there, another mental note would be scrawled and added to the pile with the others.

At some point, those ‘notes to self’ became IOU’s—which I’m now cashing in. I started training for that half marathon goal last week, using that very same plan. This is the embodiment of my 2017 resolution to take my dreams seriously, and an ambition I’ve held for a few years… But at the moment, I don’t feel energized or excited to be on this road.

Blame it on the hot, humid weather, or food, or sleep, but after some reflection this week, I broke it down to a simple truth: making your dreams come true doesn’t always feel like the dream. When picturing the race in October, I think about finally crossing that finish line—not the hours of running that will come before it, or the weeks of training I’m about to put into finally getting there.

And while many of us embrace that the journey is just as important (if not more so) than the destination, because it’s where the bulk of the transformation and learning happens, there’s an idea that every step towards our lofty ambitions will be made with skipping feet and a singing heart. Maybe there’s even a fear that waning enthusiasm means we aren’t on the right road, or chasing the right dream. This probably (definitely) isn’t true. Working towards your dreams is still work—even if it’s doing something you love. There are going to be days when your feet drag, and your song is silence. That’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with not being 100% enthused 100% of the time.

The trick is to recognize that you owe it to yourself to push through to the joy of it all again. You need to understand that this flattened feeling is only a temporary state, and to not take your attention and your intention off of the end goal—the dream. It’s that, or getting ready to write yourself a lot more IOUs…

Thoughts on how to reinvent the road:
• Connect with other people who have the same ambitions
• Give yourself rest days (dreaming downtime)
• Explore detours—find different routes, or other options to the destination (the goal)! There’s more than one way to make it happen.

Kombucha Pt. I: I Dream of SCOBY

Just like spiralized zucchini or unicorn-inspired nosh, kombucha is soooo trendy right now. (Note: unlike unicorns, you will find kombucha in your local grocery store.) However, rather than shelling out $6-$10 bucks for this fermented tea—a great pop substitute with apparent digestive benefits—you can start making kombucha at home and save those bucks for the Yeti Frappuccino or whatever they’re coming out with next.

I’ve been brewing my own kombucha at home for half a year now, which isn’t a ton of time compared to other people… This means I’m sure enough to know what I’m doing, but new enough to be thorough and exacting in my methods. I haven’t quite relaxed when it comes to brew management.

First step: to start making your own kombucha at home, you need a SCOBY—Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. Rubbery, jelly, slightly translucent, a SCOBY looks like a huge booger. I personally think they’re so-gross-they’re-cute and like to give them names… Everyone needs a hobby.

The reason you need one of these bacterial boog colonies is because, in short, the living SCOBY will nosh on the sugar and tannins in the tea mixture and turn it into gorgeous, fermented, bubbling goodness.

So how the heck do you get one of ’em?

• Buy them on the internet. Google around, look for sites with good reviews. I have no recs for this
• Find someone you know who makes kombucha and ask them for one of theirs. (Every new batch creates a new SCOBY, so usually habitual brewers have some spares around!)
• GROW ONE! (YAAAAAS. Yep.) 

Kombucha Scoby
Makes 1 Beautiful Booger Baby
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1 bottle of raw, store-bought kombucha (350ml – 470ml)
1 tbsp loose green or black tea
1/2 c. sugar (I use raw demerera)
1L water, filtered
White vinegar (for rinsing containers)

Equipment:
Large, wide-mouthed glass container (I recommend 2L)
Coffee filters
Rubber band
Strainer or loose leaf tea bags
Wooden spoon

1. Make tea. In a large pot on a stovetop, bring the water to a rolling boil. If you’re using unfiltered tap water, I like to add a little extra water in the beginning, and let it boil for a few minutes. I have no idea if this actually helps at ALL, but it makes me feel better. (Note: if using tea bags, add about 4 for the same potency as loose leaf!)

2. Turn off the heat, adding in the tea and stirring in the sugar until dissolved. Steep the tea for at least 30 minutes—you want it S T R O N G.

3. Cool the tea mixture to room temperature. Clean a large glass container (rinse with white vinegar) and then pour in the bottle of store-bought kombucha. Follow this with the tea mixture.

4.  The SCOBY needs to breathe to form, so cover the mouth of the container with coffee filters (or cheesecloth) and an elastic band to allow airflow, while preventing the invasion of dust or insects. Place it a warm, dark place where it won’t be disturbed.

5. In a few days, bubbles should begin to form where the liquid meets the container, and then depending on the warmth and other factors, a thin film should start to form and thicken within 1-4 weeks. When the SCOBY is substantial, at least a few millimetres thick, it’s ready to brew! (So stay tuned for part II.)

Special notes: 

SCOBYS do not like metal, so if you’re ever giving one away to a friend, do so with coffee filters as a lid, or a plastic lid.

When working with making or handling your SCOBY, make sure your hands and your work area are clean. I usually make sure everything is soaked and rinsed with vinegar.

Don’t be afraid! It’s way easier than it looks!

Fried Halloumi Salad with Wild Rice, Grapes, and Pine Nuts

Real talk: a slice of fried Halloumi is like a bread-free grilled cheese sandwich. Crispy golden outside, melted, salty, cheesy inside…perfection. For those who don’t know, Halloumi is a brined cheese from Cyprus with a high melting point, making it a dope candidate for the grill of your next summer bbq. (Or for frying and eating right out of the pan… what? Let me live!)

This salad is an adaptation of Allison Day’s Wine Country Salad from Whole Bowls, a cookbook that is so fantastic  I use it on a regular basis and actually follow the recipes! Some of the ingredients here are more pricy (looking at you, pine nuts), so freestyling for the budget is encouraged.

Some great substitution ideas:
• Sub romaine lettuce for whatever greens are on sale and in-season.
• Sub slivered almonds or salted sunflower seeds for pine nuts
• Sub wild rice for brown rice

You can also prepare all of the ingredients ahead of time, and toss this together quickly and easily any night of the week, for yourself, your fam, or any company stopping by.

Fried Halloumi Salad with Wild Rice, Grapes, and Pine Nuts
Serves 4
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For the salad:
4 c. (packed), romaine lettuce
3 green onions, sliced
1 c. wild rice, uncooked
2-3 c. red seedless grapes
1/3 c. pine nuts
250g Halloumi cheese

For the dressing:
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 heaping tbsp. dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse the wild rice and put it in a medium pot filled with water—bring the water to the boil and salt it like you would if you were cooking pasta. Boil, cooking until rice blooms and splits, about 40-50 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. While the rice is cooking, put together the dressing. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard. Add in the garlic, salt, and pepper—taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Set aside.

3. Dry toast the pine nuts by putting them in a small frying pan in a single layer over medium heat. (Pine nuts have a high amount of fat, so toss frequently to keep from burning until they are golden brown!) Remove from heat, save the frying pan.

4. In a large salad bowl add the lettuce, green onion, grapes, pine nuts, and wild rice. Cover with the dressing and toss to coat thoroughly. Divide into 4 bowls.

5. Cut 2 slices of Halloumi about a half-inch thick for each serving. Heat up the small frying pan over medium heat and create a single layer of cheese, flipping when one side is fried and golden. When each side is golden, and all the cheese is fried, top each salad and serve!

Birthday Cake Smoothie

On my birthday, my mom used to let me eat cake for breakfast.

She’d wake me up and bribe me down to the kitchen with it. CAKE! FOR! BREAKFAST! I’d leave school sugar high and pumped that I’d ditched the oatmeal for once. (Thanks for being cool, mom!)

Even though she doesn’t wake me up on my birthday anymore, the craving for that a.m. cake fix is a time-honoured tradition that I cannot and WILL NOT ignore. (I’m an adult damnit!) This smoothie is my 27-year-old compromise. It combines the YUM of cake mix with healthful ingredients like a l’il protein powder, yogurt, and frozen strawberries, a throwback to all the birthday breakfasts that have come before, covered in summer fruit. (Happy Summer Solstice, y’all!) I know, I know, healthy schmealthy… But a smoothie made with ice cream is just a milkshake, and that’s a different blog post.

Side note: lots of recipes I saw said sprinkles were optional… That is false. Sprinkles are only optional if you hate happiness or have food allergies to dye.

Birthday Cake Smoothie
Serves 1 (Easy to double and share the joy!)
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1/2 c. frozen strawberries
1/2 banana, frozen in chunks
1/2 c. plain or vanilla yogurt (regular or Greek)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 c. white or yellow cake mix, dry*
2 tbsp. vanilla protein powder**
1/3 c. cup almond (or other) milk
Sprinkles(!!!!)

1. Combine milk, yogurt, extract, and frozen fruit in blender until smooth. Add in protein powder and cake mix, blending again, scraping down sides if needed.

2. Add a few extra tablespoons of milk at a time if the consistency needs tweaking to your liking.

3. Top with sprinkles and a dusting of extra cake mix and enjoy! Happy birthday! …Or Wednesday… Or whenever you want this. Mama isn’t here to judge.

*If you’re wondering what to do with extra cake mix, Buzzfeed has lots of suggestions! Alternatively, you can go to your local bulk food store and buy a specific amount just for this! Or make this a bunch more times.

**If you don’t have protein powder just sub this with MORE cake mix!

Simple Asparagus with Roasted Feta

My mom does an amazing version of this dish where she uses shaved parm instead of feta—but I feel feta is a little more summer-y and fresh.  Either way, it was probably the only reason my sisters and I ever ate asparagus growing up… Cheese could talk me into anything! You could serve me shredded rubber tire-fire nachos with queso on top and I’d be delighted.

This recipe seemed almost too simple to post, and yet it’s stupid to avoid sharing an idea or a flavour combination because of its simplicity. “Blog food,” as I sometimes think of it, stresses me out in its attempts to be so unique that it becomes exhausting.

I also couldn’t go an entire spring season without posting a recipe featuring asparagus, It’s probably a law somewhere.

Simple Asparagus with Roasted Feta 
Serves 2 – 4
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2 bunches asparagus, rinsed
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 – 3/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
Coarse kosher salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (You may need more than one sheet, just make sure there’s enough room for the stalks to get roasty.)

2. Clean the asparagus by snapping off the bottom of the stalks, which will break at a natural point. Discard the inedible woody parts that break off.

3. Arrange the asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, tossing to coat. Lightly sprinkle with salt.

4. Place in oven and roast for 10-15 minutes or until just starting to brown.* Remove and sprinkle with crumbled feta. Return to oven for 10 minutes until stalks have some crispiness and feta has melted.

*Asparagus stalks can be very thick or very thin—adjust cooking times accordingly!

Buckwheat Pancakes with Strawberry-Ginger Compote and Date Syrup

Compote is lazy jam. Date syrup is dates blended with water. I’m telling you this because dishes with a bunch of components often sound more complicated than they actually are. Let me smash that: I went for an 8km run Saturday morning, and afterwards these pancakes came together before I was even tempted by my frozen donut stash.

The compote and the syrup are a (pan)cake walk with a little pre-planning. I made them in just minutes on Friday night, so they were table-ready and waiting for breakfast. Before anyone starts yelling about what’s wrong with good ol’ fashioned maple syrup, let me say that post-Whole30, sugar and gluten have become a little scary, so to ease back into grains and syrups, these are gluten-free and the toppings have no added sugar.

The juicy seasonal strawberries with warming ginger match the cinnamon sweetness of the syrup, and together, they lighten the heavier texture and flavour of the buckwheat grain. These pancakes are also BOMB with almond butter. HOW-EV-ER, these would be just as amazing with maple syrup, so pick and choose your components!

Buckwheat Pancakes with Strawberry-Ginger Compote and Date Syrup
Serves 2 (4 med-small pancakes per serving)
Adapted from Cookie and Kate AND Oh, Ladycakes
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For the date syrup:
8-9 medjool dates, soaked
1/2 – 3/4 c. water
1 tsp. lemon juice
Cinnamon (optional)
Vanilla extract (optional)

1. Soak dates in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain the water and put them in a blender with new water and blend on high until smooth. Start with less water and add more to get desired consistence. Add lemon juice and optional flavourings and blend again. Seal in a jar and store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

For the compote:
2 c. strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
2 tbsp. orange juice (or water)
1 tsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. chia seeds (optional)
1 pinch of pepper (optional)

1. Clean the strawberries and cut into pieces, depending on how you would like the final texture. For a slightly chunkier compote, halve them, for a smoother jam-like texture, try quartered or smaller.

2. Place the strawberries and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally, using your spoon to break up the mixture as it heats up. When the berries are soft and the rendered liquid is syrupy and bubbly, turn off the heat. Stir in the ginger, chia seeds, and pepper. Let cool slightly, and store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week.

For the pancakes: 
1 c. buckwheat flour*
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. buttermilk (I used almond milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice)
1 large egg
Ghee or butter for the pan

1. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together.

2. In a large measuring cup, pour your buttermilk, or put one tablespoon of lemon juice in and add 1 1/4 cup of whatever milk you’re using. Stir until thickened slightly. Crack the egg into the milk and whisk to combine.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until combined—it will probably be a bit lumpy, that’s okay! Don’t stress and over-mix!

4. Grease a griddle or frying pan with a little butter over medium heat. Stir the batter once more to make sure it hasn’t separated. Measure out 1/4 c. of batter per pancake and pour it into the pan. When some bubbles appear, and the edges of the pancake are matte, flip and cook for another minute until golden brown. Store in a stove set to 200 degrees on a sheet pan to keep warm (or serve straight away)!

5. Serve topped with compote and syrup, or whatever you like. Nosh!

*If you’re new to buckwheat and want to ease in, or just want fluffier pancakes, swap half of the buckwheat flour in these for AP flour!
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