Happy 1 Year to me! Let's celebrate with a giveaway

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Eric knows how to party

This blog is 1 year old! I can hardly believe it. It seems like yesterday I started this up as a way to connect to my members during the week and now it's turned into something so much bigger than that! Earlier this week I hit over 20,000 views which just blows my mind!!

I want to thank each and every one of you for reading, commenting and sending me emails. It really makes me so happy to connect with all of you and as a result I've learned so much. WW has taught me so much about myself and has helped me more on my life journey than just in weight loss. It has pushed me in directions I had no idea I would go in and introduced me to people I had no idea existed - but am so happy that I'm going there now. I also have to say that being a WW Leader is one of the best, most fulfilling jobs on the planet!!! My members continue to inspire me every single week and I am so grateful to lead such a phenomenal group of people. 

I've learned that no matter how far off plan you feel you've gone, you're never completely off the WW wagon. Sometimes you're in the driver's seat, other times you're holding on for dear life and there are times when you are running behind it trying to catch up. It will always be in your periphery, and just like the 'Footprints' poem a leader, receptionist, friend, fellow poster or even "Hungry" will always be there to carry you when you need it most.

This blog originally started as a way for me to connect with my members and other WW folks throughout but morphed into something entirely different when I was diagnosed with Crohn's. Thank you for your amazing support and continued enthusiasm for my blog as I've tweaked the format. I love all of my readers - the Weight Watchers, foodies, vegans, yogis, friends, family and everyone else!

Since birthdays are a festive occasion, I thought a giveaway would be in order!! To make it even more fun, there are two different things you can win!!

It's no secret that I love my Laptop Lunch. The lovely folks at Obentec (who make the Laptop Lunches) have graciously agreed to give one to one of my readers!! I am so excited to spread the Laptop Lunch love to one of you.

A second winner will also recieve a prize package with a few fun "Ashley's Choice" items in it. The contents haven't been confirmed as of yet but may include something like this or maybe a couple of my favourite things or maybe a book? I'm having a lot of fun putting it together!!

To win:
  • Leave me a comment and tell me which post over the last year was your favourite (and why)

  • Gain another entry by posting a link to this giveaway on your blog and leaving me a comment to tell me about it.

  • Gain a third entry by checking out the Laptop Lunch site and leave me a comment telling me which bento set is your favourite. (I love my pink set!)

The giveaway is open to readers in Canada and US. This giveaway will close next Sunday June 7 at 6:00pm EST. I will choose 2 winners through a random number generator and will contact the winners via email. Please be sure to include your email in your entries so that I can contact you easily if you win.

Thanks again to my Laptop Lunch friends for donating a bento box for one of you lucky readers!

And thanks again to all of you! I look forward to more blogging in the year to come...

Making Love in the Kitchen - Part 3

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cooking class on Thursdays is really starting to become part of my routine and I don't know what I'm going to do when it's over! We have such a great group of people and Meghan is such a fabulous teacher. The focus for last night's class was raw food, sprouting and dairy/calcium. This had been the class I had been looking forward to the most and I was definitely not disappointed.

We started off with a demo on sprouting. We had talked a little bit about it last week, but this week Meghan showed us how easy it was to sprout our own seeds. Sprouts are packed with vitamins, nutrients and enzymes, making them quite the little powerhouses!

I was really happy that Meghan covered calcium and dairy. Since cutting out dairy I was concerned that I wasn't getting an adequate supply of calcium in my diet. (It's all those milk commercials and ads I think!) She made an interesting point in class and on her blog:

Is there any single food on earth that we need to consume in order to obtain one particular nutrient? Is there any vitamin or mineral that is only available from a single source? So why would dairy be the only place we could get calcium?

There are so many foods that are rich in calcium and many of them have a higher absorption rate than milk. By demonstrating that we can derive calcium from other sources, I feel more confident that I am meeting my calcium needs. Meghan showed us how to make our own milk from almonds (which is actually a lot easier than I thought!) The result is a creamy, delicious milk that also has calcium, thanks to the abundance of almonds used. It's reassuring to know that those of us who can't have milk are not doomed to be calcium deficient. 

The Menu:
Walnut crackers with sprouted chickpea hummus
Carrot & Broccoli lentil soup
Baked veggie falafels with tahini
Balsamic roasted vegetables with walnuts
Chocolate pudding

I ended up on falafel duty as I was one of the only ones who had received the recipe (ah, technology) They were made from a mix of beans, grated carrots & zucchini, onion, flour and spices. They turned out well and were quite yummy!

I thought they looked like cookies.

The rest of the menu was quite delightful. The cauliflower couscous was so interesting! It really looked like couscous and had the texture of couscous but was made from little bits of raw cauliflower. I think this would make a great addition to a summer BBQ. Nicole and I enjoyed a wee bowl without olives.
The walnut crackers were kind of addictive. I can't wait to make them for myself especially with some homemade hummus!

I bought a food processor last weekend and I think some sprouted hummus may be the best way to christen it. Stay tuned!

Dessert was probably tied with the cracker/hummus combo. It was amazing!! The pudding was so creamy and smooth and the honey seed treats were fantastic.

All together looking delicious!

Only one more week - I can hardly believe it! I'm so happy that I signed up for these classes. I'm learning so much and meeting some wonderful people and making dishes that I will make again (and in some cases I have already!) 

What it means to be part of Gen Y

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If you had asked me 5 years ago where I would be in my life right now, I probably would have said that I would be working as an actor and doing some other work on the side. Wow, have times changed! The path that I have inadvertently taken in life is pretty amazing and I have to say that I'm very happy with the balance of things in my life.

From a young age, I started participating in many activities:

  • I was always an over-achiever in school, always striving to get A's or above 90% in all of my classes. I graduated from OAC with nearly a 90% average
  • I was a Brownie and a Girl Guide. I was never great at the cookie-selling, but I had a lot of badges
  • I took tap and jazz lessons from age 7 to 9
  • I was always in the school productions, choir and band
  • In junior high I was a Prefect
  • In high school I volunteered for a local youth crisis hot line and a youth choir
  • I got my first part time job at 17 and was promoted to supervisor within 7 months
  • I was yearbook editor for my final two years of high school

You get the picture.

This pattern has continued into my adult life - I constantly have a million things on the go. In talking to many of my friends, it seems that we are very similar in this way and I really thinks it speaks to our nature as Gen Y kids. We were children of the 90's and have adapted into a fast-paced, multi-tasking lifestyle that suits us just fine.

Where am I at in my life right now is a product of the journey that I have taken in life:

ashleys pie

(See the over-achiever in me? I couldn't just explain it, I had to draw a flow chart)

I have to say that I'm generally happy with the balance of things in my life:

ashleys pie 2

I have a good mix of work and play as well as many things that I am passionate about.
There are times when I feel stressed because I feel like I'm doing too much (usually when I am rehearsing for or performing in a show) but most of the time I think I do my best work when I'm kept busy. For this exercise I didn't even add Joey, my friends or family into the mix but they are a HUGE part of my life as well!

I feel as a Gen Y kid I can lack focus. I always have so many projects on the go and at times I think I lack direction. The conversations with my friends this week have been as a result of feeling that even though I divert my energy in a number of directions, that I'm not going anywhere specific with them. This week I got my act together and started to figure out what I'm doing and where I see myself going, which is why you see that purple box in the bottom corner of my flow chart - apply to nutrition school.

Nutrition school has been on my brain for awhile and it's a direction I've started to go in fairly organically. It's no secret that my eating drastically changed as a result of doing Weight Watchers and then even more so after being diagnosed with Crohn's and since working for Weight Watchers I've developed a big interest in all thing related to food, nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. I started to examine my options privately and after Joey and Lori both mentioned that it might be a good idea for me to look into it I started taking the search a little more seriously. I've come to terms with the fact that I won't be able to enroll until September 2010, but I'm excited nonetheless and feeling good about having a little bit more direction.

I recognize that registering for school means changing the arrangement of "my pie". I realistically won't be able to do a show for 2 years while attending and I'm okay with that. I will also need to take a little bit of time away from music but plan to continue dancing to help fuel my creative energies.

I'm really happy with all the things I've accomplished so far in life and I look forward to what is in store for me. I'm sure the things I'm doing now will lead me to new things and people and I find this prospect incredibly exciting. I have no idea where I expect to be five years from now, but I'm pretty sure that I will learn a lot along the way.

How do you find balance in your life? Five years ago, would you have imagined you would be where you are today? What has helped bring you to where you are now?

Sleeping Naked is Green -- Review

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I was chatting with my friend Lindsay on the weekend and I told her that I was reading a really great book. I pulled it out of my purse and showed her the cover and she said "Oh, I know Vanessa Farquharson. I read her blog". I laughed and said,
"then you probably know more about Meghan (my cooking class leader extraordinaire) than you think you do because that's Vanessa's best friend!"
"Oh, that Meghan!" she exclaimed.
We both laughed at the coincidence and Lindsay vowed to purchase the book the following day.

As I mentioned, Meghan is Vanessa's best friend and makes her first appearance in the book on page 5. The night of our first cooking class was actually the book's launch party here in Toronto and even though I was unable to attend I decided to buy it on Amazon after hearing such great things about it. I'm really glad that I did.

Sleeping Naked is Green is record of Vanessa's "green year". She began a blog a couple of years back and decided to make a green change every day that year. Yes, that's 366 changes (thanks to the Leap year) and each change had to be continued throughout the duration of the year once implemented. These changes ranged from switching to recycled paper towels and natural beauty care products, selling her car, turning off her freezer and later fridge, and "letting it mellow". The book is witty, intelligent and highly addictive (I finished it in a few days!)

Her book really helped me come to terms with something I had been thinking about a lot. With all of my food sensitivities, I was starting to beat myself up when I wasn't "perfect". If I had a banana or an apple I was suddenly slipping. Eating quinoa or beans by accident was a crime. I also started to think that I needed to go completely vegan and maybe high raw. Yes, I am feeling better as a result of my food sensitivities, I realize that I'm not going to stop eating all of the foods on my list forever. I think gluten & dairy are out for good and I'm really happy to have cut out refined sugar, but I'm going to give the other foods a shot. As for eating meat, I think I'm going to keep it in for now. I maybe eat meat once or twice a week at this point, and maybe someday I'll give it up, but for now it's okay. My body feels happy when I eat meat and I'm making a conscious effort to choose organic whenever possible. I'm also learning more about raw food and incorporating it into my diet because it's a fun, interesting technique and I know that I can benefit from the delicious health benefits of eating raw. Am I going to go completely raw? Most likely no. The choices that I'm making with my eating are so much better than they used to be. I have come so far and I'm so proud of the way I've turned my eating around and I'm so happy to be feeling so much better as a result of the foods I've eliminated (and in some cases, kept in).

Vanessa was reasonable in her green year in what she could and couldn't do, even putting off some of the tasks for as long as she possibly could (like trading in her vacuum cleaner for a good old broom and dustpan). It was really neat to see her paradigm shift over the course of the book. She ended up continuing with 271 of the changes once the year was over, which is pretty amazing. As a reader, I truly enjoyed reading about her triumphs and tribulations and in addition to re-assessing my own "challenge" it also made me think about some ways that I could be more green. While I won't be turning off my fridge any time soon, I do recycle, compost, use natural beauty care and cleaning products and I carry reusable bags in my purse at all times.

Sleeping Naked is Green is well-written, charming and hilarious. It was a great way to kick off my summer reading list. I look forward to spreading the green love to some friends by lending out my copy!

WMR - Week of May 17 - Kale Week

Friday, May 22, 2009

There was a meal plan this week AND a trip to the grocery store - hooray!!

Monday was Victoria Day in Toronto, so I had some time to take an amazing walk with Lori. Our intention was to find brunch, but we ended up walking 7.1 km to do that and come home!! We ended up eating at Joy Bistro on Queen Street East and it was really good! 

I thought I might have to pull some sides together like I did at Barrio, but they were able to make an omelet using only egg whites which was fabulous! When I said I didn't want toast, they offered mixed greens. Seriously, why can't I get customer service like this everywhere?? Check out Lori's giant pancake in the background!

I decided to make the lemon lentil veggie soup from last week's cooking class because I knew that Joey would love it. 
He was a little skeptical ("honey, am I going to taste all that kale?") but couldn't get over the amazing flavor and even went back for a second bowl. So did I! It's such an amazing recipe and I look forward to making it again.

Kale seemed to be a common theme in my meals this week. On Tuesday I made tortilla pizzas.
I spread some kale & arugula pesto on brown rice wraps with some sauteed zucchini and yellow pepper. I bought some vegan mozzarella cheez and added a few chunks. (I grated some very appetizing looking old cheddar on Joey's) I also made some yummy kale chips on the side.
I gotta say - vegan cheese just doesn't do it for me.

Maybe I need to try a couple of (casein-free) brands, but this one just tasted too "floral". It had the texture of cheese and it almost tasted like cheese, but it just wasn't the real thing and it kinda grossed me out. Luckily it didn't actually melt so I was able to pick it off easily. The rest of the pizza was yummy and I really liked my kale chips...

Hence why they made another appearance the next day as we bbq-d! 

My last Sol burger, with steamed broccoli & lemon, 1/2 a sweet potato and the kale chips - yum! For dessert we enjoyed vegan raw sugar free truffles! I decided to get off the streetcar a little bit early on my way home because it was such a beautiful day on Wednesday. I had stopped in at LPK's Culinary Groove once or twice before, but their sandwich board caught my eye - that sounds like something I can eat!! 

I ended up chatting with the woman who makes them and found out that she used to do the cakes and sweets at Live! She then went on to study traditional baking and found herself working at LPK. She is now trying to bring in more raw desserts which is amazing! The raw truffles were phenomenal. So chocolatey and smooth. They also contained blue algae which I wouldn't have known by tasting it. I'm looking forward to testing out more of the goodness from LPK's in the future!

I enjoyed some leftovers from the bbq in my Laptop Lunch the following day.

Since I would be going to cooking class on Thursday once again, I wanted to leave Joey with something to have for dinner. I decided to dust off my slow cooker!! I was on such a roll there, and I want to get back into it. Slowcooking is so easy and so tasty! I once again turned to A Year of Crockpotting for inspiration and made the Maple Dijon chicken.

(Eric hanging out while it was cooking - please ignore the mess)

Joey was crazy about this! I didn't really get to try it because I was stuffed after cooking class and Joey had already had two helpings by the time I came home and then needed lunch for Friday. I had a few of the sweet potatoes in my lunch and they were really yummy.

On Friday night I headed to the Carrot with a friend and enjoyed some more takeaway goodness. I had the honey garlic tofu, curried lentils, cauliflower, thai green rice and squash - yum!
On Saturday night Joey and I headed to Il Fornello for dinner. 

Il Fornello has both gluten free pasta and pizza which is great for me! I ordered the linguine capri without cheese or tomato and with gluten free pasta. It was delicious!!

It had a lemon olive oil sauce that was incredibly light and flavorful. I loved the spinach and the chicken! And the gluten free spiral pasta made me giggle.  Joey enjoyed his linguine carbonara with no substitutions. It was a really great meal and it's nice that I can still frequent some of my old haunts and customize the menu to suit my needs. 

Following dinner I went to my bellydance studio with my friend Lindsay for "Cabaret 101"

It was a lovely show! I was especially impressed with one of the students who drummed for another student to dance to - amazing! We have our studio recital coming up in June but I would really like to perform at one of these smaller studio shows. Another goal for me perhaps? 

Making Love in the Kitchen - Part Two

Despite being a short week thanks to Victoria Day, my week was busy and a wee bit stressful and upon arriving at Meghan's loft last night I realized that I wasn't the only one who was feeling the same way. It seemed that many of us participating in the session (Meghan included!) had had a bit of a rough day, so it was quite fitting that last night's theme was comfort food.

Meghan began with a talk about the reasons we turn to comfort food and the types of food choices people make when seeking comfort. This is something we've talked about many times at WW. Emotional eating is a habit that many of us need to work on. There was a great quote in our handouts: "we should not be getting our hugs from cake and ice cream". Oh so true!

There are so many non-food ways that we can seek comfort (or happiness, pleasure or whatever it is that we are looking for) and on a "bad day" it would more beneficial to take a walk, practice yoga, talk to a loved one or get a massage than turn mac & cheese or a donut. By practicing 'conscious eating' we can begin to tap into our feelings of physical hunger rather than emotional hunger.
We also talked about whole grains and spices. Meghan showed the group a variety of heritage grains and we discussed the benefits of soaking grains prior to eating (increases digestibility and begins sprouting process). Since going gluten free, it's been fun to experiment with new grains (buckwheat, teff, and amaranth so far) and I look forward working with more of them in the future.

The menu:
  • Quinoa sesame crackers with coriander pesto
  • Butternut squash, apple & ginger soup
  • Pear & avocado arugula salad
  • Cauliflower millet mash
  • Digestive Kichadi
  • Baked Apples
It was another great meal! I worked with Jillian on the digestive kichadi, which is a yummy stew with lots of veggies and freshly ground spices that is easily digested and can help to alleviate digestive problems. So far there have been no kitchen disasters except for the misprint in the recipe for the pesto which amounted in 1 1/2 tsp(!) of cayenne being added rather than a pinch - it was hot!!

Everything was really yummy! The salad was so pretty and I love the combination of the avocado and the pear with the greens.

The soup really reminded me of fall with the lovely combination of squash and apples. I really loved the texture and the creaminess of the cauliflower millet mash. The millet added volume and made it taste like it contained cream or cheese but didn't!

The kichidi was probably my favourite part (and not just because I helped to make it!). I loved all the veggies and the spices were incredible.

After having a bit of everything I was pretty full and decided to take my apple home to enjoy today.

It didn't make it to my house!

I ate my apple on the way home and it was incredible. It reminded me of warm apple pie - yum!

Overall it was another great class. It has been educational, delicious and somewhat therapeutic. Last night I really just needed to hang out with some fun people and enjoy good food. I am really looking forward to next week's class as we're talking about raw food and sprouting.

I leave you with a picture of my super tasty lunch and my reading material. It was a really great way to take a break from my day!

Summer Reading List

I have always loved to read. When I was in grade school I adored the Baby Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High series. During the summer I would join the Toronto Library's reading club where I would get stickers each week for all my reading after answering questions about the books. There was even a point where my mom thought I needed glasses because I was getting headaches all the time - but it turned out to be too much reading!

Here is a list of books I plan to read (and in some cases, review!) this summer:

  • Sleeping Naked is Green
    Okay, so I've already started reading this, but I guess that is my wishful thinking that summer is coming! I've already found myself laughing out loud and checking out some of the sites Vanessa talks about - so good!
  • Babycakes
    I borrowed this from one of my members last week and after checking it out ordered it on Amazon right away! I can't wait to try some of the recipes and I've already told Joey that we're making a stop at the bakery when we go to NYC.
  • The Writing Diet
    Julia Cameron is amazing and I had been looking at some of her books recently. One of my members recommended this to me and I can't wait to read it!
  • Ani's Food & Raw Food Desserts
    website is great and I am looking for more raw food goodness in my life especially as we head into summer!
  • The Queen's Fool
    I read The Other Boleyn Girl late last year, started watching The Tudors and then found out that I would be playing Anne Boleyn & Princess Elizabeth in a production of
    Rex in February 2010. Since being cast I've been reading tonnes of novels by Phillipa Gregory and Alison Weir and can't wait to start rehearsing for the show!
  • Bitter is the New Black
    I need some more Jen in my life.

Since I'm already 2/3 way through Book #1, I'm sure there will be others added to the list.

What are you reading? Any books on your bedside table or your Amazon wish list?

Isn't she lovely...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm feeling giddy!!! I love my new blog design so much. I've been in talks with the fabulous Traci of Sweet Cheeky Designs for a few weeks now. I saw her work on another blog and knew right away she was the right person to give my blog an identity of its own.

It is so me! I couldn't be happier with the design - it's very "me"! Thank you so much Traci!

I've also added some FAQ and you can grab my button for your blog if you're interested...

Sunday Brunch

Monday, May 18, 2009

I was so excited when my friend Laura mentioned that she was going to be coming to Toronto in May. Laura is one of my oldest friends. We met when my family moved to Belleville, Ontario in 1995. We were in the only grade six class in the school and Laura was the sweetest girl in the class! We kept in touch through letters, then emails and then facebook after I moved back to Toronto (the following year) I am so happy that we've remained friends and it was so nice to finally see her again! We realized that it had been five years since the last time - which is way too long!

Laura is a vegetarian and had asked for some suggestions when we decided to go for brunch. I immediately thought of Live! I thought it would be a good fit for her, something new for her to try and selfishly, I really wanted to try their brunch!! Laura and her friend Kristy decided they were feeling adventurous, so off to Live we went! (It seems I just missed Angela there by a few hours!)

The gals loved the fun decor and we chose a lovely seat by the window.  The Live brunch menu featured a ton of yummy sounding raw and cooked selections. I started off with a shot of peach-aloe vera.
Aloe vera is said to help aid in digestion and helps inflammation as well. It was tangy and a little bit tart, but I liked it! 

The girls had a bit of trouble deciding on just one thing - that is always a good sign. Kristy opted for the (cooked) banana french toast and Laura had the (raw) banana split. Both dishes looked amazing when they came out!

I decided to have the raw walnut crepes:

They were delightful!! They had the texture of a crepe with an amazing filling that was a little bit sweet with cashew cream that brought everything together. The home fries had a nice spiciness to them and overall I really enjoyed this meal. 

Laura reads my blog and said that she had realized what a change I had made in my eating when she had saw my post about Live and the amazing cashew sour cream. She said that I was the gal who used to get extra REGULAR sour cream on my fries when we went to New York Fries. Oh how things have changed!! With choices like that (on a regular basis) it's really no wonder I had 33 lbs to lose...

Since I was there already, I decided to pick up some more raw goodies:

I opted for more of the cinnamon raisin bagels & some walnut cookies - yum!! I really need to get a dehydrator so that I can start making goodies like this on my own...

It was so nice to see Laura (and Kristy!) and catch up in person. 

We vowed that it would not be five years until the next time we see one another (it's on the blog now Laura, so that means it must be true!) I'm going to make an effort to get up to Ottawa at some point to visit which would be great! I'm so happy that they both enjoyed their time in Toronto as well as their meal at Live. I can't wait to find another reason to go again... 

Weekly Meal Recap - Week of May 10

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I want to start by saying hello to anyone who is new to my blog as a result of my guest post over at Carrots n Cake. Welcome! And if you haven't seen the post yet, check it out for some of my tips for dining out. Special thanks to Tina for including it on her blog!

There was no meal plan this week. Yes, you read that correctly - no meal plan. Why? Because we didn't go grocery shopping!! This left me having to wing it most of the week as I picked up things a couple times this week. It worked out fine and we didn't go hungry!!

Last weekend I head to Oakville to celebrate the wonderful Jess' birthday! Congratulations are in order as Jess called goal on her birthday! I love this gal and I'm so happy that we met as a result of Weight Watchers!! I consider her one of my best friends and it was really great to spend some quality time with her. 
For the meal we went to Bahn Thai in Oakville - it was a beautiful restaurant! The decor was stunning and the food was delicious!! I chose the thai beef and was assured that there was no extra wheat or gluten added - hooray!
It was so nice to spend time with my beautiful friend and her friends and family!

Here are some meals that took me through the rest of the week including a bbq, a Laptop Lunch, another incarnation of the asparagus & tofu stir fry among others. 
On Friday Joey's bands were playing a show at the Press Club. 

*Warning: Giddy Girlfriend Gushing on the Way*

Joey is an incredibly talented musician. Before I met him, he was in a band called the Awesome Team and they put out some music, did a Canadian tour, played a lot of shows and even had a video on Muchmusic
I still love listening to the Awesome Team songs on my ipod and I'm really happy that Joey is still playing music.

Before the show, Lori and I headed out for some Indian food - yum! (Please note that I am wearing a shirt in that picture - it was a tube top that didn't show up in the picture!!)

The food was very yummy. We shared a bunch of vegetarian dishes including aloo gobi and a yellow lentil dish. Lori also had some palak paneer and naan

The show was awesome!! I love watching Joey onstage and bopping along to all the songs. They played a great new song and overall I really enjoyed the show. 

On Saturday Joey and I decided to be a bit adventurous, and headed out for some Ethiopian food. We've never had it, but heard that it was good. The people were right!!

When you have Ethiopian food, you don't get cutlery. Instead you eat everything with folded up pieces of injera - a type of flat bread made with teff flour, which is gluten free! Joey chose a beef dish and I opted for the vegetarian combo which included lentils, split peas, beets and various other veggie dishes. I enjoyed everything! The injera takes a little getting used to, but it's quite freeing not having to worry about cutlery. We did not finish everything that came on our platter, and our server seemed a little offended that we hardly touched the salad in the center. We will definitely go again!

I'm now off to write a grocery list and meal plan for this week. I missed it! I'm also having brunch with an old friend this morning so be sure to watch for another post about Live!! 

Making love in the kitchen Part 1

Friday, May 15, 2009

Yoga + delicious food + great company = one amazing night.

After work I headed to an AMAZING yoga class at Yoga Queen. If you are ever in the West end, you should definitely check out this studio. Heather was so wonderful and there were only 6 people in the class. It was challenging but revitalizing and I'm definitely feeling it (in a good way) in my muscles today.

After yoga I headed to my first cooking class with (my new hero) Meghan Telpner. I discovered Meghan's blog a few months ago and have been corresponding with her through email ever since. You can read Meghan's story, but to sum it up she was diagnosed with Crohn's, told she was going to have to go on a whole lotta meds, have surgery and basically just enjoy life and deal with her illness. Instead of going along with these recommendations she decided to move to California, change her eating, and receive acupuncture treatments and has now been symptom free for three years. Upon her return to Canada, she enrolled in nutrition school and is now a nutritionist and lifestyle consultant.

Meghan offers cooking classes each month and I treated myself to a 4-week session as a birthday gift to myself. The classes are small - 6-7 people max. and each week has a theme. Meghan discusses the week's focus and its benefits and then we get cookin'! Over the next four weeks I'm going to document the class and post pictures of all the yummy food we create. I told the other participants about my blog and that I'll be taking pictures of all the food and stuff going on in the class and they were perfectly happy to comply! (hi guys!)

Last night's class was all about the benefits of whole foods and the glycemic index. Meghan discussed some of the benefits of eating whole foods and foods from all colours on the rainbow and also reviewed the glycemic index. She gave us handouts with all the recipes were were going to make as well with a shopping list as more information about the evening's theme. Love it!

Our menu:
  • Sunflower seed pate on cucumber slices
  • Lemon & lentil vegetable soup
  • CranApple salad with honey apple dressing
  • Sweet potato kugel
  • Veggie rice paper wraps with almond dipping sauce
  • Coconut ice cream
  • Almond honey crisp
Are ya drooling yet?

We started with a demo of the rice paper wraps and each made one. 

Aren't they pretty? Colourful food is wonderful. 

They were super easy and I got the package so I can find them on my own. Rice paper wraps are gluten free (yay!) and have only 45 calories, (0 fat & fiber) making them a great vehicle for other things.

We each chose a recipe to make. I was partnered with Mark to make the sweet potato kugel

It was really easy (once we figured out the food processor) and this would be a great side dish for company or as a side for your lunch. It felt like dessert, but it wasn't and I enjoyed some leftovers for lunch today. So delicious!!! 

Everyone who attended the party was really nice and we all chatted about the food, our jobs, and various other topics (including Biggest Loser, Meghan's friend's book, macrobiotic cooking, and how they make the green coleslaw at KFC)

Everything turned out amazing! Check it out:

I was so excited to have discovered Meghan's blog and then signed up for her classes and now that I've got one under my belt I'm so excited for the rest!! I love Meghan's philosophy about food and it really aligns with the way my own eating has been going lately. I'm self taught when it comes to cooking and nutrition so learning new things is a definite plus and it's a really wonderful experience to spend an evening with lovely people preparing amazing food!! It has also been great to connect with someone who has taken such a holistic approach to their Crohn's. I recognize that everyone is different and what worked for Meghan, won't necessarily work for me, but it's just nice to have someone to relate to! I'm totally looking forward to next week's class and will be posting more recaps over the next few weeks. 

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