Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday - Amping Up The Veg Factor

Welcome to the last edition of What I Ate Wednesday - Love Your Veggies!!!

I, for one, have been loving these veggie-themed posts! 

If you've been loving them as well, head on over to Peas & Crayons for lots of other veggie inspiration.

This week I want to show you just how easy it is to add more veggies to your daily eats. Did you know that it only takes 21 days to change a habit? Why don't you challenge yourself to increase the amount of veggies you have with each meal for the entire month of March and see how you feel at the end. I promise that you are going to notice some positive differences in the way that you feel (ie - I am less tired, full of energy and have a much better complexion) and if you love the differences, your new habits are well on their way to becoming part of your regular old routine.


If you follow me on Twitter, you know that my husband had a terrible sinus cold a couple of weeks ago and now is battling the worst cold/flu I have ever seen! I really, really do not want to get his germies, so I have been chowing down on tons of fresh produce to help strengthen my immune system.

Green smoothies are a common breakfast in this house and I've been making an effort to have one every single day. Check out all the produce in just one smoothie: a cup of baby spinach, a large banana, one pear, the juice of one small lemon and  a cup of natural spring water. Now that is ALOT of servings of fruits & veggies in one drink!


Most days I pack a salad for lunch. My salad always starts with some baby spinach and grape tomatoes and then I fill 'er up with whatever I have on hand. This one has baby carrots, goat feta cheese, raw sunflower seeds, alfalfa sprouts and peppers. As a dressing, I used a splash of EVOO and apple cider vinegar and dijon mustard. Squirting lots of dijon on a salad sounds a little strange I know, but please be open-minded and give it a try. If you love dijon you will LOVE this!!!! I got this 'dressing' idea from Kris at iheartwellness. If I wasn't surrounded by co-workers at lunch, I would lick my bowl clean ;)

Oh yea baby, I love me some dijon!!!

If you're looking to add a little protein, you could definitely add a hard-boiled egg, a handful of chickpeas or some sliced turkey.

Derek's been loving his salad with 2 hard-boiled eggs, some smoked turkey and Ranch dressing. He's a big guy with a big appetite and he loves to get this salad in his lunch!


On Monday, I made an extra special treat that I have been loving as my snack. Black bean brownies topped with some sugar-free raspberry preserves. This is a flourless, gluten-free recipe. They are fudgy, packed full of protein and taste amazing with the fruit. I am in love with this recipe which I found on Pattycake.


Instead of bread, pasta or some other type of grain, I've been trying to add a great big serving of veggies as a side  to my dinners. Usually I like a big plate of veggies roasted with a little coconut oil and sea salt or with some oil, dijon and sea salt. I was craving sweet potato fries recently, so I gave in and had a few from a bag I'd bought at the Superstore. They were so good and definitely satisfied my craving!  As my main meal, I finally remembered to buy wonton wrappers and I made Jen's spinach feta wonton cups.

Oh my goodness, her wonton recipes rock the house!!! I made these ones on Monday and I've already made my own 'veggie omlet' version. These wontons are definitely going to make a weekly appearance on our dinner table.

So as you can see, I can make delicious and filling meals that are filled to the brim with healthy vegetables and fruit. If I can do it, so can you.....and you are going to feel amazing!

What are you going to do so that you can eat more veggies?

Do you have a rotation of meals that you eat every week or do you like to experiment with new recipes and mix it up all the time?

I hope you have the best Wednesday ever!



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Adventures in Foodie PenPal-ing

When I was young, my parents sent us away to camp each summer and I made lots of fabulous friends that I stayed in contact with by exchanging letters and pictures and mixed tapes (do you remember those old cassettes that you would use to tape your fave songs right off the radio?! LOL) I've always loved mail and packages and corresponding with friends using the good ol' fashioned postal service.

A few months ago, I saw that some of my favourite bloggers had started participating in a foodie penpal program where they would exchange some fun foodie items and treats with each other and then everyone would blog about the goods that they had received. Of course, I wanted in on all the fun!

It took a few months for the foodie penpal phenom to spread to the Great White North, but I'm ecstatic to announce that it has arrived, so welcome to my first ever Foodie Penpal post. Thank you so much to Lindsay for creating this penpal party and for making the leap to include us Canadians!

Foodie Penpals

Seeking out some great treats to send and receiving some fabulous treats in return was so much fun....and I haven't even mentioned all the new bloggers I've discovered in the process! I've got to tell you that the blogging world is full of some amazing people and it has been so wonderful getting to connect with so many of you <3

My foodie package came from Erin from Saskatoon.

I picked up my package from the post office last week. I picked it up before I went to work and planned to wait to open it until I got home. Well, patience is not a virtue of mine, so as soon as I got my car parked at work, I dug right in to check out all the goods that Erin sent to me.

This is what I found...

First of all,  anything that contains a bakery box of chocolate macaroons is a huge WIN in my books. There might have been 5 chocolate macaroons in this box when I received it, but by the time I got home and snapped a pic,  there were only 3. Lucky for me Derek is not a huge fan of macaroons, so there was absolutely no sharing by this girl. I ate all 5 within the first day :-D They were really, really divine! The box quickly looked like this ;)

The next thing I dug into were the Honey Bars.

Finding protein-packed bars that are NOT full of dates can be tricky, so I was thrilled with these!! So far I've only eaten the apricot one and I have to tell you that it was amazing! I had it as a pre-workout snack one afternoon and not only did it taste great, but it held me over until later in the evening when I had time to get some dinner together.

Derek has been the taste-tester of the jam. I sent him a PB & J sammie yesterday for lunch and he really, really liked it! I had a little taste great big spoonful right out of the jar and I have to tell you, I love me some Saskatoon berries. Why have I never heard of these before?!  

Oh yeah, I totally did ;)

Lastly, Erin sent me a jar of curry paste that she found at a local craft sale. I haven't tried it yet because I'm saving it for a date night with Derek when I can hopefully wow him with some yummy Indian-inspired food. I'm totally intimidated by curry, so I'm thinking this is going to an awesome way to get my toes wet!

I love that Erin sent me so many "Made in Canada" products. It was a great reminder that we have alot of amazingness right here at home! I'm always drooling over products that I run out of that I can only find in the States and sometimes I forget how many great foodie items are available right here in Ontario.

If you're interested in seeing the goods that I sent out to my penpal, head on over to Christina's site for a peek.

If you love what you see and you're dying to get in on the fun, contact Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean by March 4th. This is one link up par-tay you do not want to miss! She will pair you up with another participant and provide you with their deets on the 5th. You have until the 15th to send out your package and then everyone blogs about their goods on the last day of the month. Sounds like fun doesn't it?!

If you were to send out one foodie item to a friend, what would it be?

Did you have a penpal when you were young? If you did, are you still in touch?

Enjoy your day!


Monday, February 27, 2012

Roasted Sweet Potato & Kale Soup + Winner!!!

Hi! Welcome to the start of a new week! Did you have a good weekend?

We had to attend a funeral on Saturday. A friend lost his long-fought battle with cancer, so it was a sad day saying goodbye and supporting our friends.

I went to a Total Body Conditioning class at the gym yesterday morning and then I was pretty much down for the count for the rest of the day. We just needed some quiet time.

Luckily, I did manage to find time to put together my soup recipe that everyone's been asking for since I posted about it last Wednesday. Sometimes I forget how therapeutic blogging can be ---- it makes me so happy to be able to share my recipes and love for food with you all <3

This is a creamy comforting soup for the soul. I had it at a restaurant one day for lunch and I knew instantly that I needed to recreate it. I had some serious success with this one if I do say so myself.

Roasted Sweet Potato w/ Kale Soup
Serves 3

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled & diced
2 tsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 - 3/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
3 c vegetable broth
2 c coconut milk
3 c chopped kale (do not use stems)

Pre-heat the oven to 425.

In a large bowl, combine the diced sweet potatoes, coconut oil, sea salt,  chili powder and cumin. Spread the seasoned potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer.

Roast the potatoes (now here is where I encounter a tiny problem as I forgot to write down the roasting time ~ woops!). I believe it will take 25 - 35 minutes to roast. You want the potatoes to be cooked through and starting to brown - see my pic below for reference. Make sure you flip the potatoes after approximately 15 minutes of roasting.

Once the potatoes are roasted, add them together with the vegetable broth into your blender. Of course, you can make the soup as creamy or as chunky as you like. Pour the sweet potato mixture into a large saucepan and start to heat it over medium-high heat. Whisk in the coconut milk and the kale.

Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Taste and adjust your seasonings to your taste. I added a pinch of sea salt, chili powder and a pinch of black pepper to my bowl.

This is what the taters should look like when they're roasted to perfection.

I just recently found this coconut milk at our local Bulk Store.
60 calories in a cup.

Top with a pinch of unsweetened shredded coconut and serve while piping hot!

I have one word.

YUM :)

....and now for what you've been waiting for all week...

the winner of my Pure Bar Giveaway is.....


Meredith said....
Ooh definitely Apple Cinnamon and Chocolate Brownie. I LOVE the photo you took--shows how REAL FOODS are the ingredients, just like the website shows.

Yahoo my sweet!!! I will send you an email later today to get your mailing details.

Now have a fabulous day everyone.

Let's start this week on the right foot!


Friday, February 24, 2012

High Five for this Short Week Friday!

Have I told you how much I LOVE short work weeks?! Friday came so quickly. I swear it was just Tuesday, then I blinked and here I find myself at the end of yet another week.

Here are some highlights from this super quick week of mine:

1. Fave (Must Try) Pancake Recipe

Red Velvet Pancakes
I really don't think I need to give any explanation on this one :)

(recipe & pic by Chocolate-Covered Katie)

2. Fave Must-Have Dress

I've recently discovered Dress 911.


3. Fave New Bar - Superfruit Nutty Crunch Bar

This bar is amazing! I received a bunch of Pure Bars in the mail last week and this is hands down my fave (with chocolate brownie coming in as a very close second). I have to admit that I kept the wrapper because I have plans to try to recreate this bar into a homemade version that I can have at home when I need a high protein snack.

Make sure you enter my giveaway for a 6 pack of Pure Bars. The giveaway closes tomorrow night and the winner will be announced on Monday.

4. Inspiration

I've had a few days lately where I've really needed this to push me to get to the gym!

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5. Tulips

What can I say? I have a serious case of Spring fever.

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What's made you smile this week?
Do you have Spring fever yet?

Thank you Lauren for continuing to host this high five par-tay!


Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

Welcome to Wednesday! It's come especially fast for me because Monday was  Family Day and I was lucky enough to have the day off. I love long weekends, don't you?!

Thank you once again to Jenn for hosting our What I Ate Wednesday shindig week after week. It's become a tradition that I love forward to each and every Wednesday.

We've been loving our veggies this month and as usual I've had absolutely no problems filling my meals with lots of produce. I even got a little crazy this week with a little 'restaurant recreation'.

Check out my eats:

I've been really sticking to my warm lemon water ritual every single morning. It's a nice clean way to start my morning and get my system revving for the day.

Instead of the usual green smoothie, I made myself a chocolate banana one for a change. 1 1/2 cups of original unsweetened almond milk, one large banana, 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa and a Body by Vi smoothie mix all went into the blender for a sinfully sweet and delish breakfast!

Yay! It's the return of my pink travel cup :)

Lunch here is where my restaurant recreation comes in. Last week my friend, Lisa, and I met at a fabulous little lunch place that's about halfway between our two offices. I was planning to go for a salad, but I couldn't turn down their soup of the day: Sweet Potato with Kale. It was a strange-sounding combo, but somehow these two veggies went together perfectly.

I took advantage of our holiday Monday and did a little bit of experimenting. What I came up with was a thick and creamy Roasted Sweet Potato & Kale soup that was delicious! I topped it with shredded coconut - DEE--VINE!!!! I promise that the recipe will be posted very, very soon.

As you know, I have been tasting and testing a variety of Pure Bars. I have been in love with Pure's Superfruit Nutty Crunch bar. How can you resist something so fabulous looking! You can literally see every nut, dried fruit and even the odd chia seed. IN LOVE. It was the perfect mid-afternoon snack before my evening workout.

I've been satisfying my love of dijon alot lately by adding it to some veggies (along with some EVOO and a little unpasteurized honey) and roasting them in the oven. It doesn't seem to matter what veggies I have on hand because this  is a combo that tastes amazing on everything! In addition to my veggies, I treated myself to some VeggiePatch Spinach Bites with Cheese. These are a treat that I only buy while on sale. They are a GREAT addition to any veggie-filled meal.

So how'd I do?? I think I do a pretty great job at incorporating fruits and veggies into every meal.

Do you like to amp up the amount of veggies you consume at each meal?
What was the best thing you ate last week?

Make sure you stop over at Peas & Crayons to get lots more veggie-filled inspiration.

I hope your day is fabulous,

P.S. - Make sure you enter my Pure Bar giveaway. Entries close on Saturday.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pure Bar Review + Giveaway

When I got home from work on Friday, I was thrilled to have a great big package waiting for me.

{Woot Woot!!! I LOVE packages, especially when they're filled with edible goodies}

When I opened it, this is what I found.

Bars. Lots and lots bars.

I got a box of Pure Bars and a box of ProMax Protein bars. If you follow me on Twitter, you have probably noticed that I LOVE the Chocolate Brownie Pure bars and whine and complain when my stock runs out.

Today it's all about the Pure Bars. I first discovered these bars last Spring when I won an auction bid in support of breast cancer research. In my package, I received 2 Cherry Cashew Pure Bars and 2 Chocolate Brownie Pure Bars. I've always been skeptical about healthy bars - I often  find them dry and tasteless or that they have an overwhelming flavour of dates and let's just say I am not a fan.

Upon tasting these bars, I was thrilled to find that I LOVED the flavour; especially the chocolate brownie {no big surprise there!}. After devouring the four I'd received, I immediately got online to find out where I could get my hands on some more. Unfortunately, I've been unable to find these bars in Canada, but lucky for me, I live only 30 minutes from the Michigan border, so I am able to slip over and replenish my bar supply every now and again.

Even luckier, the sweet people at Pure Bar sent me a big ol' box of Pure Bars to sample and share with you.

Of course I immediately tore into a chocolate brownie bar and Yep!, it's as good as I remembered. It truly tastes like a chewy gooey brownie. I've also tried an Apple Cinnamon and the Superfruit Nutty Crunch Bar.

The apple cinnamon reminded me of apple crisp. The flavour was really good, but didn't trump my chocolate brownie love.

The superfruit nutty crunch however was amazing! It's a combo of crunchy nuts with sweet hints of cranberry, blueberry and pomegranate. I also love that the ingredients include chia and coconut oil.

You can literally see all the pure and delicious ingredients in this bar!

Not only are these bars a tickle for the taste buds, but I also really, really love what this company stands for.

Their mission, as stated on their website is:

"Pure is dedicated to helping everyone live a pure, healthy life. We are passionate about
creating delicious, innovative products made with simple, wholesome ingredients.
We share our knowledge and ideas to inspire people to live a purer, healthier lifestyle,
and give back to the community in a meaningful way."

They make their bars out of pure, whole, healthy foods - you can read & understand every single ingredient in these bars! They are full of fiber, protein, antioxidants, and omega-3’s, which make these great for a pre- or post-workout snack or as a treat to throw in your purse on those busy days when you need a pick me up to tide you over until your next meal. Another bonus....they are gluten-free AND vegan and are certified Kosher. Some are raw as well. Awesome, right?!

As I read through the website, I quickly realized that there is no way I can tell you every single amazing quality of this company and their products, so please head on over and check it out for yourself. I guarantee you're going to be impressed with what you see.

I am extremely excited to be able to host a giveaway of 6 Pure Bars to one very lucky winner. In your package, you will receive one of each of these flavours: Peanut Raisin Crunch, Apple Cinnamon, Cranberry Orange, Cherry Cashew, Wild Blueberry and Chocolate Brownie (you`re lucky that I love you and am willing to part with one of my true loves LOL)

You can earn three entries for this very awesome giveaway:

1. Visit the website  and then leave a comment telling me which Pure Bar flavour(s) you would LOVE to try.

2. Leave a comment on Pure Bar`s Facebook page telling them that Andrea @ Vegvacious sent you.

Make sure you also enter their sweepstakes - All you need to do is tell them how you will live a greener, healthier, more pure life in 2012 and you'll be entered  to win a 5 day, 4 night trip for two to an eco-friendly resort  PLUS a one-year supply of Pure bars.  HOW AWESOME IS THAT!!!!!!

3. Tweet about this giveaway to your followers. Make sure you incorporate the handles @vegvacious and @ThePureBar.

IMPORTANT - Please leave a separate comment for each entry!!!

Contest closes on Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 11:59 p.m.
and winner will be announced on Monday, February 27, 2012.

Contest is open to US residents only.



PS - please note that the bars were provided to me by Pure Bar, but the opinions expressed in this post are completely my own.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Preppin' for Pancake Day

Good Morning! When you read this, I just might still be fast asleep in my cozy l'il bed because it's Family Day here and that means LONG WEEKEND!!!

Derek doesn't have to work until 5 p.m. today, so we're planning a lazy leisurely day. We rarely get to have days like this together, so I always make the effort to make a great big breakfast that we can enjoy together.

In the spirit of Pancake Day (or Shrove Tuesday as some of you may know it as), I'm thinking a little pancake action might be in order. Derek likes a traditional pancake, but I like to mix it up with all sorts of different flapjack variations.

Do you celebrate with pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?

Here are some of my favourite pancake recipes:

I just made these and they are INCREDIBLE!!! I didn't have berries, so I topped mine with maple syrup and coconut. TO. DIE. FOR.

her pics are to die for too, so check them out - they definitely put mine to shame ;)

If you're like my husband, and prefer what I would consider to be a 'traditional' pancake, here is a tried and true recipe that I've been using for years. I used to be a pancake mix or Bisquick kinda gal, but I much prefer a recipe from scratch now and this recipe won't disappoint. It makes a lot of pancakes and always results in a lot of  full and happy peeps :) ...and if you have leftovers, pop them in the toaster the next morning for a repeat breakie!

Best Ever Traditional Pancakes

3 c all-purpose flour
7 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp white sugar
1.5 tsp sea salt
2 beaten eggs
2.5 c milk (I use 1% dairy milk or almond milk)
6 tbsp melted Earth Balance (or organic salted butter)

Pre-heat frying pan or griddle to medium high.

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, milk and melted butter. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until smooth.

Brush your frying pan with butter (you can use non-stick spray, but the butter is much better!) and pour batter out in 4 - 5 " pancakes. Flip once pancakes are bubbly and starting to look dry along the edges.

Serve right away :) Tastes amazing with a little butter and maple syrup.

*Don't forget your maple syrup! We're lucky to live very close to some maple syrup farms that open their doors to the public in March and each year we're able to replenish our syrup supply. Doesn't everyone keep a 2 litre jug of maple syrup in the fridge???

What's your favourite pancake topping?

Do you have any Pancake Tuesday traditions?

Have a great day!


PS - don't forget to enter my Pure Bar giveaway!!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

High Five for Friday

Happy Friday!

It's the last day of work before a long weekend {woot woot}
Long weekends = par-tay, so let's start the weekend with five crazy fun
things that have brought a smile to my lips this week:)

Thanks again to Lauren for hosting this Friday shindig!

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Love this!

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

The epitome of comfort food - breakie style

recipe here

Fave outfit pinned this week.

I will definitely be going to a country music festival in this!
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Fave Pic I Took This Week

I love how bright and green my smoothie is. It was soooo goooooddddd!!!

EOS Summer Fruit Lip Balm


Leaves your lips so soft and smells amazing!

Summer Fruit Lip Balm Sphere

I have a lip gloss addiction. It's becoming a problem ;)

So there's a peek at my fave products, my fave "pins" and some awesome-possum food!

What's put a smile on your face this week?

Have a great Friday,


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday - Veggie-fied

Who am I kidding? It's always a veggie-fied party over here :)

Happy What I Ate Wednesday! There's been a lot of talk about love and V-Day and spoiling your sweetie, but I think it's important that we also remember how important it is to love ourselves. One thing we can do to show our bods a little love and respect is to eat lots and lots of fresh  fruits and veggies.  I try to fuel myself with lots of fresh and delicious produce, so this month's "Love Your Veggies" theme has been pretty darn easy to follow!

Check out my eats from Monday:
I've been staying true to my green smoothie ritual every morning. I make a batch that lasts for 2 days and store it in the fridge in a mason jar. This beauty contains baby spinach, celery, apple, pear, banana and lemon. 
It's as good as it is green ;-) 

I`ve been craving fresh salads alot lately, so that`s what I often pack for lunch at work. Baby spinach, olives, grape tomatoes, mushrooms, and a crumbled quinoa veggie patty was on the menu Monday. I top the salad with an olive oil and balsamic mix - and of course you`ve gotta add some dijon! This was amazingly delish!

Snacks are a must in the afternoon. Most of the time I reach for an apple or a banana and we`ve also been loving pineapple lately - only $2 for a peeled and cored beaut! 

I also had a mini raspberry cheesecake before I gave the rest away. looks like someone else really wanted a bite of that cheesecake!!!
(Look very carefully for a cute little puppy dog face)

And I also had to taste test my fresh baked banana bread before I posted the recipe yesterday! Add a wee bit of organic butter and you have a swoon-worthy snack. It`s so good that I ate it up before I could even get a pic! 
I`m still eating alot of lonely girl dinners - veggie scrambles (1 egg and a splash of almond milk scrambled up with some sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, goat cheese, baby spinach and green onions) and roasted butternut squash can often be found on the menu. 
I know you`ve seen this type of meal before, but I absolutely love it and the fact that it`s quick and easy makes it perfect for those nights when I`m cooking for one.

I think I`ve packed as much veggies as I can into one day of meals wouldn`t you agree :-)
If you`re looking for more veg-tastic meal ideas, head on over to Peas & Crayons and
check out what other bloggers have been eating this week.

Have a great day --- and go make yourself a green smoothie right now! Please, try one just for me and let me know how much you love it!

How do you incorporate more veggies into your meals.
Tell me the best thing you`ve eaten today.