Friday: The Socialite

Caves & Caverns - Scenic Caves Nature Adventures - Collingwood

We have already explored the hills of Blue Mountain in Collingwood, but there is a place right around the corner that is yet to be discovered. It’s called, “Scenic Caves.” A five minute drive from the town, the caves boast fifteen kilometer hiking trails, comfortable picnic spots for the family, and a suspension bridge that poses the picturesquest 10,000 square kilometer forest view from above. Carved years ago by glacial ice, the caves run 70 feet below the surface with self-guided tours, and panoramic views of the Georgian Bay. It was once home to the Petun First Nations, who numbered approximately 8,000 in population size around the Niagara Escarpment in the early 1600’s.

Suspension Bridge - Scenic Caves Nature Adventures

In the summer there are many activities such as: Mini golfing, wagon rides, zip lining, and trails. In the fall, the view is spectacular from the bridge, with all of the rich colours of the season. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular winter activities, as well as special winter trails. There is a lot to do in Collingwood, and it being roughly a two hour drive from Toronto, you can be transported instantly to a whole new world in nature in no time. It would be be a real adventure that awaits you this weekend, if you pack up the car and just GO! Enjoy the last of the warm sun;) Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday: Do it Yourself Challenge!

4 Ways to Incorporate Turmeric Into Your Beauty Routine

I’ve mentioned the power of tumeric before, but now we will explore it as a prime ingredient of homemade facial masks! For those who are not aware, turmeric has medicinal properties such as: A strong anti-inflammatory agent that fights against foreign invaders, and also helps to repair any damage to tissue. It is an antioxidant, which assists in the protection of your body from free radicals (single atoms with unpaired electrons). There are so many more amazing things that turmeric can do, and using it as part of a homemade recipe for a mask, only seems fitting.

Turmeric is very good for clearing acne and dark spots, which is my topic for discussion today. If you are anything like me, the thought of a pimple makes you nervous because if they pop, they leave those pesky marks on your beautiful skin. I’ve tried a series of recipes that include fresh aloe vera, or lemon juice and tea tree oil. However, I have never attempted to put a turmeric mask to the test. One thing to remember about turmeric is that it stains easily, so if you don’t want to walk around with an orange face, you must add some sort of fatty barrier to help block your skin from the deep yellow colour.

I’ve collected 3 recipes that we will examine more closely:

3 Best Turmeric Face Masks to Remove Dark Spots and Acne Scars 2020

Turmeric Face Mask for Acne

  • 2 tablespoons turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour or chickpea flour
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt or milk (for oily skin) OR olive, coconut, or almond oil (for dry skin)
  • 1 tablespoon honey

*Recipe taken from cosmopolitan.com

Best DIY Turmeric Face Masks That Will Work Wonders For You

Turmeric Face Mask for Dark Spots

  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon of almond oil
  • 3 tablespoons milk

*Recipe taken from cosmopolitan.com

Probiotic Honey + Turmeric Face Mask — TORRSIM

Turmeric Face Scrub

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons almond milk
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda

*Recipe taken from helloglow.co

So, how long should you be using your face mask before you see the results? Well, experts say that if you apply your mask for about 10-15 minutes a day, twice a week, within 4-5 weeks you should see results. I will be making these masks/scrub over the weekend, and will gladly be the guinea pig for the experiment! I will chart my use and take pictures of my skin’s progress each week, starting on Sunday. You will discover with me, the power of turmeric! Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday: What’s Baking?

Soup is on! Pumkin is the name and flavour is the game. It’s amazing how many ways a pumpkin can be prepared, from tasty appetizers, to a beautiful pie, it has many different faces. I’m thinking that a pumpkin soup might be just what your Thanksgiving table needs to begin the festivities! Paired with crusty cheese twists, this soup will be a fabulous! However, this is not your ordinary soup; this recipe comes straight from Peru! Have a peak:

Peruvian Pumpkin Soup - Sopa de Calabaza in mini pumpkin bowls on a copper tray.

Peruvian Pumpkin Soup – Sopa de Calabazo

Prep Time 20 minutes Cook Time 45 minutes Additional Time 15 minutes Total Time1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 sugar pumpkin (or similar)
  • 1 bulb garlic, top of bulbs exposed
  • 4 roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 large yukon gold or red potato, sliced lengthwise (or 1/2 cup Peruvian dried potatoes pre-soaked)
  • 2 tablespoon coconut or olive oil (divided use)
  • 1 sweet onion, vertically sliced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 cups broth/stock
  • 1-2 tablespoons ají amarillo paste (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (to taste!)
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 2 cups coconut milk creamer (or half n’ half if you prefer)
  • cilantro (garnish)
  • scallions (garnish)
  • lime wedges (garnish)
  • cancha – Peruvian popped corn (see notes)
  • toasted pepitas
  • crumbled cotija (not DF and optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place squash/pumpkin wedges, tomato halves, garlic (with the tips exposed), and potato (if using) on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Roast until the squash is fork tender and beginning to brown. Allow to cool sufficiently to remove the skins from the wedges.
  4. To a Dutch oven, add the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and cumin for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add the broth/stock, ají amarillo, salt and pepper.
  5. Add the roasted vegetables (squeeze the garlic from its skins first!) and soaked dried potato (if using).
  6. Simmer soup until flavors are combined, and everything is very tender – about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Whisk in the coconut milk creamer (not coconut milk!) or half n’ half. Gently reheat. 
  8. Taste for seasoning.
  9. Ladle soup into bowls.
  10. Garnish with your choice of: Chopped cilantro, chopped scallions, canchita (see notes), lime wedges, toasted pepitas.
  11. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Substitute your favorite winter squash – butternut, acorn, carnival, etc. I still recommend roasting first for best flavor
  • To make this soup dairy free, use non-dairy creamer or milk (I like So Delicious Dairy Free Coconut Creamer as it adds more of the richness and thickness of half n half
  • Obviously cotija is not dairy free, and it is optional. Substitute a dairy free cheese if you wish
  • I do keep maiz chulpe in my pantry as I LOVE all things Peruvian. Many Latin markets now carry it. See this recipe for instructions on “popping” it. It doesn’t pop like “regular” popcorn.
  • If you’re serving the soup in mini pumpkin bowls, don’t forget to eat that yummy squash!
  • Remember: You can make this soup in advance. It works really well to go through to the immersion blender step, and refrigerate or freeze. Add the creamer or half n’ half as it is reheated prior to serving. You can also complete the recipe, saving the garnishes until service.
  • Macronutrients (approximation only from MyFitnessPal.com) Macros do not include garnishes.

*Recipe taken from https://beyondmeresustenance.com

I don’t know about you, but I will definitely be trying this spin-off for my table! How about the cheese twists? You don’t have to ask twice! I’ve got you covered:

Cheese Twist Snack - In Pile on Wax Paper

Puffed Cheddar Cheese Twists

SERVINGS: 4  PREP TIME: 10 MINS COOK TIME: 10 MINS TOTAL TIME: 20 MINS

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese (2.5 oz, by weight)
  • 1/2 cup flour (2.5 oz, by weight)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter cubed
  • 1 egg white (2 tbsp)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  • Combine the cheddar, flour, salt, and cayenne pepper by swirling it around with your fingers.
  • Add the cubed butter and work it into the flour mixture with your fingertips, working quickly (you don’t want to melt the butter).
  • Once the big butter pieces are broken down, stir in the egg white until evenly distributed. The mixture will be crumbly but you should be able to knead the mixture into a cohesive dough ball fairly easily (do not overwork).
  • Roll out onto a floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick.
  • Cut into long strips with a pizza cutter and twist them onto the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 minutes until crisp and a light golden brown. Let cool slightly, then enjoy!

*Recipe taken from https://www.fifteenspatulas.com

There are a million and one cheese twist recipes out there, but I especially like this version because the author uses real flour, as opposed to frozen puff pastry. Ain’t nothing like the real thing baby! I’m thinking I will have to do a trial run of these delicious recipes before the big day. I’m always looking for a good excuse to make soup, and with today marking the first day of Fall, it won’t be too difficult to find one:) Enjoy your night and happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday: Confessions of a Shopping Diva

It’s Monday! Time to get our shopping on! It is all about the skin today, and we are looking for up-and-coming, natural products that will take your body back to basics. The points of interest for the fall and winter seasons are products that help moisturize, and protect from severe wind damage. The deep cleansing of pores is another great way to keep the skin looking fresh and vibrant, even in the harshest of weather. I found a few keepers that I know you will fall in love with!

1. Organic Hemp Line (Moisturizer Cream)

A remarkable emollient, this skincare secret is an ideal natural moisturizer, with an optimal balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Drawing on the beautifying power of the 21 amino acids in organic hemp seed oil, this cutting-edge formula nurtures skin while promoting a soft, supple look.  Organic Hemp Line $51.90

Olive Oil Face Wash - Juniper Orange

2. Olive Oil Skincare (Face Wash)

Olive Oil Skincare Company – The ideal daily cleanser and tonic for maintaining healthy, smooth and radiant skin. Our blended face wash carries the woody, sweet aroma of Juniper and the fresh, crisp scent of Orange. It is rich in antioxidants and vitamins to help fight the signs of aging, promote the production of collagen and it is beneficial for skin conditions as eczema, psoriasis and acne. Cave Creek Olive Oil $13.50

Natural Face Wash - Organic Facial Cleanser with Bentonite Clay, Activated Charcoal, Tea Tree, Lemongrass, Oregano, Castor Oil - Acne Treatment, Pore Minimizer Soap for a Clear Skin. Gentle on Skin

3. Organics Holistic Apothecary (Face and Pore Cleanser)

Natural Face Wash – Organic Facial Cleanser with Bentonite Clay, Activated Charcoal, Tea Tree, Lemongrass, Oregano, Castor Oil – Acne Treatment, Pore Minimizer Soap for a Clear Skin. HOLISTIC APOTHECARY ORGANICS $9.95

4. Reliv Organics (Microderm Cleanser + Mask)

This nutrient-rich, gentle microderm cleanser doubles as a mask. It contains kelp, a type of seaweed that is high in vitamins A, C, B1, B2, and E as well as minerals iodine and zinc. Smooth the texture of your skin to allow for better penetration of your skin care products and a flawless finish to your makeup application, all while facilitating elastin production and combating inflammation. Reliv Organics $56.00

This image may contain Bottle Cosmetics and Perfume

5. Huxley’s Secret of Sahara Oil

After cleansing and toning, apply oil for an extra dose of moisture. This is a good habit no matter the season, but it’s especially helpful during the cold and dry months. It’s a clean-smelling, thin and viscous dry oil made from Sahara prickly pear cactus, jojoba, and sunflower, and skin drinks it up within minutes of applying. Huxley Skincare $58.00

Beauty is organic! Love your skin, and treat it with some of the best product lines inspired by nature. There must be a variety in our skincare products according to the season we are in. If your makeup colours change, shouldn’t your care products change too? Just a little food for thought as we barrel into the colder days ahead. Happy Monday everyone!

Reflections: Saturday

I’ve always wondered why New Years Day marked the first attempt at weight loss. The gyms and weight loss clinics have all their commercials all lined up for boxing day – right after the massive Christmas dinner. They remind us that we have a goal we need to meet, and we suck up the shame and whip our credit cards out! With Thanksgiving spearheading the eating games, we must take a closer look at the reasoning behind why our feasts are so out of control.

Saturnalia by Antoine Callet.jpg

If we go back in time to ancient Rome, there was a celebration called, “Saturnalia,” which commemorated the first day of the sun’s return. In honour of the Greek god Saturn, the people would take part in heavy drinking, gluttonous eating, non-stop gambling, and sexual orgies. Rome was known for their outlandish partying, and it became such a trend that the world followed suit.

When we sit at our celebration tables, we have to consider the historical influence of our modern traditions, and decide for ourselves what it will be for us. Coming together as a family, sharing in a meal, and celebrating our own beliefs is one thing. Going over the top because we can, almost seems excessive. We wouldn’t have to worry about our waistlines if we did things in moderation. If we also consider that so many of our fellow men are in more perilous conditions around the world, and are not able to partake in a simple meal, it would be downright disrespectful to stuff our faces.

So, the world encourages us to eat, and then turns around to make a mockery of our weight gain. They take ideologies from the past and make it our present, even if it has nothing to do with who we are today. I think it’s time to make our own history, and to make choices that reflect what we truly believe. All the best you, and happy Saturday everyone!

Thursday: What’s Baking?

I thought I’d be cheeky today and have a little bit of a bake-off between the traditional Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe, and the vegan version! We will square off the desserts, and may the best tasting win! Before we begin, I did want to take the time to thank my amazing reading audience for your unfailing support of my blog, and for making it a part of your everyday life! There are no words that could explain my gratitude for the joy you take in my passion as a writer. They say that those who have a knack for recognizing talent, also have gifts of their own:) I set a goal for myself in January, where I would accumulate 50 followers before the end of summer. I have to tell you that it was a very challenging six months, and I almost gave up hope of achieving my personal milestone. However, this morning I woke up to the notification of 50 followers strong!! Believe in yourself, and trust where the journey will take you.

Now, on to a stickier topic, Sticky Toffee Pudding! No, I am not English, but I do love the sound of a moist sponge cake, covered in a toffee sauce, served with custard or vanilla ice cream! I have to bow my head in shame to admit to you that I’ve never tried the dessert before, but I intend to rectify the matter this week! The problem is, which is the better dessert? Traditional? Or vegan-inspired? We must bring this challenge to the kitchen for combat, not leaving one detail out of the process. This is a fight to the taste testing!

Sticky Date Pudding | RecipeTin Eats

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Ingredients

TOFFEE SAUCE

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

CAKE

  • 6 ounces pitted dates, preferably Medjool (about 7 dates)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

How to Make It  

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/4 cups of the cream with the butter, corn syrup and sugar; bring to a boil. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until a deep amber caramel forms, about 40 minutes. Carefully whisk in the remaining 1 1/4 cups of cream. Strain the sauce through a sieve into a bowl.Step 2    

In a small saucepan, simmer the dates in the water over moderately low heat until the water is nearly absorbed and the dates are soft, about 15 minutes. Transfer the dates and any liquid to a food processor and puree until very smooth.Step 3    

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly butter six 1/2-cup ramekins. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then beat in the date puree. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter into the ramekins and smooth the tops. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean; let cool slightly.Step 4    

Using a small serrated knife, trim the tops of the cakes level with the rims of the ramekins. Unmold the cakes and invert them onto a wire rack. Slice each cake in half horizontally. Wipe out the ramekins and spoon 1 tablespoon of the toffee sauce into each. Return the bottom layers of the cakes to the ramekins, cut side up. Spoon another tablespoon of the toffee sauce into the ramekins and top with the remaining cake layers. Spoon another tablespoon of the toffee sauce over the cakes and spread evenly. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the toffee is bubbling around the edges.StepStep 5    

Let the puddings cool for 5 minutes, then run a thin-bladed knife around the insides of the ramekins; invert each pudding onto a dessert plate. Rewarm the remaining toffee sauce and spoon some around the puddings. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

*Recipe taken from foodandwine.com

Sticky toffee pear pudding 2016

Sticky Toffee Pear Pudding (Vegan)

Ingredients
8 small firm pears (we used Conference)
200g golden caster sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
6 cloves
1 lemon, zest pared
1 orange, zest pared
vegan ice cream, to serve (optional)

For the sponge
250g pitted dates
2 tbsp linseeds
300ml unsweetened almond milk
200ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
175g dark muscovado sugar
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground mixed spice

Method

  • STEP 1 Peel the pears and cut the bottom off each to give a flat base – cut them to a height that will fit snugly in your tin. Use a melon baller or small knife to cut out the pips from the base. Roughly chop the pear scraps, discarding the pips, and set aside. Tip the sugar, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, zests and 600ml water into a saucepan large enough to fit all the pears. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Add the pears, cover with a lid or a piece of baking parchment, and poach gently for 15 mins until a knife easily slides into a pear. Leave to cool in the liquid.
  • STEP 2 Now make the sponge. Put the dates and linseeds in a saucepan and add the almond milk. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cook for 2-3 mins until the dates are soft. Pour into a food processer and blitz until smooth. Add the oil and blend again, then scrape into a bowl and set aside to cool a little. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line a 20 x 30cm baking tin (a loose -bottomed one if possible) with a strip of baking parchment.
  • STEP 3 Put the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl with 1/ 2 tsp salt. Mix well, breaking up any lumps of sugar with your fingers, and shaking the bowl a few times to encourage any remaining lumps to come to the surface. Add the date and oil mixture, and stir well. Fold in the chopped pear scraps. Scrape the cake mixture into the tin, then nestle in the pears, standing straight up, so that the bottom halves are covered. Bake for 35-40 mins until the cake is cooked through. Insert a skewer to the centre to check – it should come out clean. If there is any wet cake mixture on the skewer, return the cake to the oven and bake for 10 mins more, then check again.
  • STEP 4 Meanwhile, bring the pear poaching liquid back to the boil and simmer until reduced to a glossy syrup. When the pudding is cooked, cool for 5-10 mins, then brush all over with the syrup, saving a little extra to serve alongside, with vegan ice cream, if you like.

*Recipe taken from bbcgoodfood.com

May the games begin in a kitchen near you! Let me know which recipe “takes the cake” for best dessert. Go ahead, get your bake on! Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday: Do it Yourself Challenge!

homemade baked bread recipe using kamut flour on a cutting board

I normally would have a great DIY for the home, but today I decided to make it a foodie idea! So, we talked about cleaner eating yesterday, and in keeping with the theme, the concept of “ancient grains” versus “modern day wheat” came to mind. There is so much information out there on how wheat has been tampered with for the purpose of supply and demand, which has had a negative impact on our digestive system, and our overall sense of well-being. I have attached a link for you to read up on some facts:

https://www.whitneyerd.com/2015/04/ancient-grains-vs-modern-wheat-whats-the-difference.html

When reading this information on the state of our food, I thought to myself that there must be a way to start taking back control over quality, and nutrition. After further investigation, I also found that there are people who have gone so far as to mill their own grain for cooking and baking purposes. How neat! It sounds pretty intense, but by the looks of it, it doesn’t seem too difficult at all. Take a look at the video below:

*Video taken from youtube.com

So, you may be thinking that this guy in the video is totally a professional baker, right? Well, maybe;) That doesn’t mean you cannot mill grain and make your own flour for baking. This definitely isn’t rocket science! I say we should give it a shot and see how well it all turns out. Now, it is important that we understand the differences in grain, and what types of grain would work best for certain foods. See the wheel below:

*Chart taken from pinterest.ca

Now that we have an idea of what ancient grains are, and what they are used for, we can now explore how to process them ourselves at home. The advantage of processing grain at home is that we can cut out all of the preservatives, and additives that are included when big companies prepare it in bulk. I’ve taken the liberty of including a video of the top five grain mill that might be of interest to you. You may want to study the machines for yourself so that you know which one would best suit your lifestyle.

*Video taken from youtube.com

With all of the knowledge that you now have on ancient grains, I suspect you will have some serious conversations at home about making the switch. Personally, I am thinking of making the switch because it has been really difficult to lose weight these last few years, and I’ve been developing too many food allergies over a very short period of time. I think my body has finally given up on digesting genetically modified food, and is now in rebellion. These are early signs that something might be wrong with the food I eat, and with all the diseases that we are all at risk for these days, a red flag is not to be taken lightly.

I also think about the health of my family, and I realize that we are all affected by the foods we eat. They are definitely a good enough reason to take this information to heart. I hope I’ve given you all a good head start on your investigative homework, and that you find value in knowledge shared today. All the best in your journey, and happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday: What’s for Dinner?

Okay people, I have to confess that after almost two months without red meat, I caved yesterday and made steaks on the bbq:( No judgements please! As you all know, it is extremely difficult letting old habits die. On the side of my meat eater friends, however, let it be known that it tasted damn good! As I gather my thoughts about a healthier lifestyle, I realize that it will take some time to allow new food discoveries to replace old recipes, and that’s fine with me. I hope that you all don’t mind going on the journey to cleaner eating because I will definitely need friends along the way.

If you know me, you also know that I am a huge fan of appetizers, and I happened to find a few exciting Vegan ones that incorporates clean eating, but also serves as comfort food. These apps would be great for guests when they arrive for Thanksgiving dinner, paired with a little cider of course! Take a look at the delicious menu:

Vegan Walnut, Sage & Cranberry Stuffed Holiday Mushrooms

VEGAN WALNUT, SAGE + CRANBERRY STUFFED HOLIDAY MUSHROOMS

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large cremini mushrooms or small portobello mushrooms (stemmed, 16 ounces, about 12 mushrooms with a 2-inch diameter)
  • 1 1/4 cups raw walnut pieces, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced shallots (about 2 medium shallots)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped sage leaves
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 sea salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes (for the walnut “parmesan”)
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, stemmed and finely chopped (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Use a small spoon to gently scrape away the gills from each mushroom. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll scrape out of those little mushrooms, and more space equals more filling!
  • Add 1 cup of the walnuts and the garlic to a small food processor and pulse 15 to 20 times, or until very finely chopped or coarsely minced.
  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil, walnut mixture, shallots, sage, rosemary, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon of the sea salt, and black pepper, and continue to cook for 5 minutes, or until the shallots soften and the walnuts are lightly toasted, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and stir in the cranberries and sherry vinegar. Taste and season with more sea salt and black pepper, if desired (I recommend adding another 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and another pinch of black pepper).
  • Prepare the walnut “parmesan” topping (if using). Add the remaining 1/4 cup walnuts and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt to a small food processor along with the nutritional yeast flakes. Process for 20 seconds, or until the mixture resembles finely grated parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  • One at a time, pick up each mushroom and use a small spoon to fill it. Use the back of the spoon to gently compact the mixture into the mushroom cap and transfer to the lined baking tray. Repeat, stuffing all of the mushrooms. (I find it easiest to hold the mushrooms over the pan with the walnut filling while stuffing. That way, excess filling falls back into the pan instead of on the lined tray.) Sprinkle the top of each mushroom with a generous pinch of the walnut “parmesan” (if using). (You’ll have quite a bit of leftover parmesan that you can use to garnish before serving.)
  • Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender and the top of the filling is golden brown.
  • If desired, garnish the mushrooms with another pinch of parmesan and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately.
A white bowl filled with pumpkin hummus and garnished with pumpkin seeds on a dark background.

Spiced Pumpkin Hummus Dip

INGREDIENTS

For the seasonings:

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Add chickpeas, pumpkin, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil to a food processor. Puree until smooth.
  • Add all seasonings to the food processor. Puree again until smooth, pausing once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Transfer the mixture to a lidded container. Stir in pumpkin seeds. Cover and refrigerate until cold.
  • For serving, optionally garnish with additional pumpkin seeds and ground paprika, and serve with crackers, baby carrots, or roasted vegetables.
Vegan Spinach Puffs Arranged on a Baking Sheet

Vegan Spinach Puffs

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 4-8 hours
  • 1/2 cup unflavored and unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 (17.3 ounce package) puff pastry (2 sheets. Check the label to ensure it’s vegan — many brands are.)
  • Olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° and lightly oil 2 standard-size muffin tins. (You’ll need 18 cavities, so you can use 2 tins, 1 tin with 18 cavities — if you can find it — or use a single tin but cook the puffs in 2 batches.)
  2. Place the cashews, milk, lemon juice, garlic, and salt into a food processor and blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Drain the spinach and squeeze it to remove as much moisture as possible. Add the spinach to the food processor bowl, along with the onion and dill. Pulse until the ingredients are fully mixed.
  4. Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 3 strips of equal length, and then cut each strip into thirds, making 18 squares. Place each square into the bottom of a muffin cavity, stretching it out just a bit by hand if needed so the corners reach a bit beyond the top of the cavity. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the spinach mixture into each puff pastry square. Fold the corners of each square inward and pinch then together at the center. Brush the top of each puff with a bit of olive oil.
  5. Bake until the puffs are lightly browned and puffy, about 25 minutes. Remove the tins from the oven and allow them to cool a bit before removing the puffs. Loosen the puffs from the tin by placing a knife down the side, between the puff and the tin. 
  6. Serve.

*All recipes taken from staceyhomemaker.com

For those of you who will be at someone’s house for dinner, you should definitely be the one to make the apps, the dessert, or the drinks;) I’ve set you up with some great ideas to run with, and you know what I always say, “Go ahead and take all the credit…you deserve it!” Take those Thanksgiving pics in the kitchen and remember to share them with all of us. We would love to know how it goes! I will also attempt a Thanksgiving prep video for you all in my own kitchen, so look out for that treat! Until next time, happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday: Confessions of a Shopping Diva

It is a fantastic day for shopping local, so we will be checking out Canadian-made for the best deals in town! Supporting our local retail stores gives our fellow citizens a helping hand in these difficult times, and also gives our own economy a bit of a boost. There are so many great stores to choose from, so forgive me while I overwhelm you with a list of of fabulous finds!

  1. Indigo Bookstore
How a Canadian Chain Is Reinventing Book Selling - The New York Times

Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.

Indigo $15

2. Roots Clothing Store

Roots Canada Is Having A Huge Warehouse Sale With All Sale Items Now An  Extra 50% Off - MTL Blog
Roots-Men Award Jackets-Roots Script Award Jacket-Charcoal-A

Handcrafted in Canada, our Roots Script Award Jacket features a woollen melton shell and Tribe leather sleeves with chenille patches. Fully lined, this iconic Roots style is designed with a snap front closure, leather-trimmed pockets and rib knit trim. Custom details available.

Roots $578.00

3. Deceim Skincare

Deciem Marks the PATH
Squalane Cleanser - 50ml

A gentle cleansing product formulated to target makeup removal whilst leaving the skin feeling smooth and moisturized. 

Deceim $7.90

4. Atmosphere Outdoor Apparel

Atmosphere - 10 Photos - Outdoor Gear - 3625 Shaganappi Trail NW, Calgary,  AB - Phone Number - Yelp
The North Face Women's Litewave Fastpack II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots - Grey/Pink

The North Face Women’s Litewave Fastpack II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots

Atmosphere $159.99

5. The September Name Brand Online Store

CANADIAN E-COMMERCE WEBSITE "THE SEPTEMBER" MAKES SHOE SHOPPING A BREEZE |  Vancouver Courier
Camilla White Rattan Round Bag

Handmade and handwoven by artisans in Bali, this circular rattan straw shoulder bag comes with a leather strap and fabric lining. A modern take on a classic style!

The September $120

There are so many online stores that we have yet to discover! I promise to dig deep and find some new Canadian online stores with a whole lotta pizzaz! If there are any Canadian stores you know and love, please share;) There is nothing better than adding to the list of Canadian-made! I hope you enjoy yourselves as you shop those deals! Happy Monday everyone!

Saturday: Reflections

Reinventing Community Planning: Sandtown, Baltimore | International Making  Cities Livable

In a few weeks, our friends in the US are going back to the polls to vote in a leader. The choice is never really straightforward, as there are pros and cons on every side. We live in a world where the love of money and power is the root of all evil, and when either or both are placed in the hands of people, it often spells disaster. If we are looking for human decency to rule in times like these, we are sadly mistaken. Decency begins with us. Our responsibility to the world is to take care of our neighbours. If we are looking out for the best interests of others, our neighbours will also be on the lookout for us too.

We have pockets of poverty in so many corners of our great countries, and we often wonder how to tackle the problem. Some say that the poverty is too great to meet their needs, but I say that there is much that we can do with our own resources to make a difference. If we take a closer look at the economic makeup of these areas in need, they are set up for perpetual poverty. It is up to us to work inside of these communities to give back in terms of healthy food, education, financial planning, and so much more. We are able to move mountains if we learn how to work together, one step at a time. I challenge you to look into your local community in need to find out what their biggest disadvantages are, and plan from there. Anything is possible if we put our minds to it, so let’s do it! Happy Saturday everyone!