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Planning With A Purpose

As a student living away from home, I cannot stress how important meal planning is. Not only is it a time saver, but it is the ultimate way to save money and eat well. Meal planning is different to each person, it could be writing down what you plan on eating for the week and what to buy for each meal, or it could be cooking things in big batches that will be divided up for the week. My version is a combination of the two because not only do I write a big list of what I need, I also cook up big batches.

This week instead of making a new recipe I thought I would share my tips and tricks when it comes to planning and preparing meals when you are constantly on the go. I read a lot about meal planning before I started doing it and many websites will tell you the same thing, cook enough that you can mix and match for the week, and cook with flavour!

For breakfast I alternate between making a big batch of oatmeal that I can divide up for the week or a batch of breakfast sausages and some sauteed vegetables. On the days I have oatmeal I add blueberries, maple syrup, cinnamon and a splash of milk- a very tasty and hearty combination. On the days I have veggies I crack two fresh eggs and fry them over easy until my veggies and sausage are warmed through. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day to me because it fuels you for whats to come. I find if I take the time to prepare some of my breakfast a head of time I can always be sure to start my day on the right foot.

For lunch I usually just have leftovers for dinner or a snack which usually consists of vegetables, hummus, cheese and cracker or an apple with nut butter. It all depends on the day of the week and what I have going on that day, but I highly recommend making up a few snacks all at once so you can “grab and go” as you’re rushing out the door.

As for dinner I base my dinner around protein, vegetables and once in a while, a carbohydrate. I utilize my deep freezer for most of my dinner options because I am a huge fan of making batches of chili or big meals and portioning them into baggies and containers to be stored until i need them on a busy night. If my week is not as crazy as it could be I make dinner about twice a week and enough for two-three days. I recommend making a huge batch of roasted, sauteed or grilled veggies and a flavourful protein such as chicken, beef or fish (my top three choices).

After you have decided how you eat and what you like to eat set time a side on your day or evening off and use your oven! I like to have my protein roasting in the oven by itself or along side vegetables and use the stove top for other side dishes. Let food completely cool before you portion it and store it in containers. After filling the containers pop some in the freezer for later (always be prepared!) and stock up your fridge. You are less likely to over eat or indulge in pricey takeout food if you know you have a meal waiting for you back home.

In conclusion meal prepping and planning is a lot of work but well worth it because of the time and money saved. As a student my wallet is thanking me and as a human my body thanks me. Do yourself a favour and take some time out of your day to even plan out two meals, the results will be rewarding and it will become a new attribute to your current lifestyle!

Have Your Brownie Pudding Cake, And Eat It Too

This past weekend I finally got the chance to go home and see my parents and my mother surprised me with the suggestion to make a Brownie Pudding Cake for dessert. This recipe comes from the good old Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. This cookbook is the one cookbook that both my grandmothers and my mom recommend for every kitchen. It has everything a person could want to cook- from basic sauces to complex dinners and desserts. Not only does this cookbook symbolize a homemade meal, but the Brownie Pudding Cake takes me back to myimg_2371 childhood, where I got to help my mom in the kitchen.

What is so fascinating about this recipe in particular, is that it becomes a science experiment in the kitchen. You start by combining the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, spreading it into a baking pan and then pouring the sauce on top. After baking the Brownie Pudding cake and letting it cool, you will see that the liquid mixture has moved itself to the bottom of the dessert and turned into pudding!!! The top layer is a dense chocolate concoction that somewhat resembles both a brownie and a cake. Either way, this recipe is very easy, delicious and a fun activity to do with kids!

What you need:
1/2 cup all-purpose flourimg_2373
1/4 cupĀ  sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup boiling water

What you do:
Stir together flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon of the unsweetened cocoa powder and the baking powder. Add milk, oil and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Add the nuts and spread mixture into a 1 quart casserole pan. Combine 1/3 cup of sugar and remaining cocoa powder with the boiling water. Mix until smooth. Pour evenly over batter and put in oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. When done, check by sticking a toothpick into the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done!
Serve warm on its own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Wimg_2385hat I did:
Since I have made this recipe several times before, I already knew what alterations I wanted to make. My first alteration was adding an extra half tablespoon of the unsweetened cocoa powder and my second alteration was adding chopped toasted hazelnuts instead of the chopped walnuts.

 

The Verdict:
Extra chocolate+toasted hazelnuts= heaven. There is nothing more to say.

This dessert was a great way to end my weekend, it not only brought me back to my childhood days, but also allowed me to spend some precious time with my mom, doing something we love most- cooking and eating!

 

PSP (Pumpkin Spiced Pancake)

With Thanksgiving over and done with and assignments coming out of my ears I wanted to make something that would remind me of the bliss a weekend that ended too soon. After some deep searching I stumbled upon a recipe for Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes that I thought would be the perfect fall dish to bring me back to all the pie I devoured this weekend. I found that there are many variations of pumpkin pancakes out there, but the one I chose from Balancedbites.com seemed the most straight forward and easiest to follow, not to mention I had the majority of the ingredients in my kitchen already (I only needed to go and grab a can of pumpkin).

 

img_2223What you need:
4 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree1-2 Tbsp of coconut flour
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp of maple syrup
1-2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch of salt

What you do:
Beat together eggs, pumpkin, vanilla extract and maple syrup. Sift in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Heat pan and add butter or oil, pour some of the mixture into the pan and let sit until edges dry out and top of pancake has a dry texture. Flip and let cook until golden brown. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon. (Makes about 6 medium sized pancakes)

What I did:
I blended the wet ingredients together, but then realized I did not have pumpkin pie spice or baking soda. Instead of quitting I left out the baking soda and made a spice concoction with allspice and cinnamon. After mixing everything together I tasted the batter and could not believe my mouth.. it tasted like pumpkin pie filling! I heated my pan to medium heat and added a little less coconut oil than the recipe asked for. I put two generous dollops into my pan and waited until they looimg_2232ked dry on the top and sides before I flipped them. Once the pancakes were cooked I served them with cinnamon, maple syrup and some cut up apples.

The Verdict:
Once again I could not believe my mouth and the fact that I have never made these before. If you love pumpkin you’ll love these, not only were they filling and delicious, but also incredibly easy to make. You could easily make up the batter a head of time and spoon some into a pan in the morning for breakfast. If you like pancakes and do not mind the taste of pumpkin and spices these are an excellent alternative because they are mostly made up of eggs, pumpkin, some spice and syrup (the coconut flour was optional, but recommended to ensure the batter had a pancake consistency).

What I Would Do Next Time:
As an avid pancake eater, I could definitely see why the baking soda is important to the recipe for both texture and flavour. When I make these again, (there is no if here, they tasted amazing and I have the rest of the pumpkin to use up) I will be sure to include the baking soda, as well as checking my spice cupboard beforehand and buying the correct spices so I do not have to improvise. Overall it was a great recipe, and my roommates cannot wait until I mix up another batch!

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Enjoying the pancakes

 

 

Playing with Plantains

I have a confession to make. I do not like bananas. It is not the taste nor texture, but the smell. Any recipes that call for banana I omit, as well as any food made with banana I avoid at all costs (no banana bread or chunky monkey smoothies for me!). I get frustrated with myself because bananas are an excellent source of vitamins, nutrients and quick energy. i just can’t get myself to eat them. Then came the plantain.

The plantain is a cousin to the banana, similar in texture and shape but has little to no taste or smell of banana. After a bit of research and watching my roommate happily fry her plantains in the morning, I decided to bite the bullet and try one out.

The recipe I chose was from a site called Stupid Easy Paleo

It called for:
1 Ripe Plantainimg_2203
1 Tbsp of Coconut Oil1/4 Tsp of Cinnamon
Sea Salt to taste

Instructions:
Peel and cut the plantain. Heat oil in a pan at medium heat, add the plantain. Fry Until golden brown on both sides, serve with sprinkled cinnamon and a dash of sea salt. Add natural sweetener if desired.

What I did:
Since I love cinnamon, I chose to add it to the pan with the oil and plantain. Once the plantain had reached a golden brown state I took it out of the pan, added more cinnamon and drizzled some maple syrup on it.

The Verdict:
My first thoughts after a few bites were that this is one weird food. It did not taste or smell like banana, yet it had the texture of one. You could definitely tell they are related. While I was chewing I decided that the plantain reminded me of a banana/potato hybrid. It was very interesting and I can really see why people would like to eat them. The texture was pleasing and it was a very hearty snack that filled me up after only a handful of pieces.

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What I would do next time:
After much contemplation I have decided that next time I would add more cinnamon and cook it longer. I think cooking it longer would give the dish a bit more of a crisp/crunch factor, one that would compliment the internal texture of the plantain which was baked potato like. Overall it was a fun, and “stupid easy” recipe to make. As a plus, I feel one step closer to potentially liking bananas.