My NEW Kitchen!!!

When we first got possession of our house it was a pretty sore sight for the eyes. Tenants had been living in it (and one even refused to leave for a while) so not only did the house need fixing up, it was also disgustingly messy. I wish I was exaggerating when I say that entire chunks of rotting food were on the kitchen floor, random piles of garbage were scattered about and the mold in the bathrooms was unreal. The basement had the strongest smell of cat urine I’ve ever experienced and I’m pretty sure there were some cat feces hiding down there too. Needless to say, we had our work cut out for us. Thankfully it was nothing that some blood, sweat and tears couldn’t fix. And I mean a lot of tears- if you had told me how much I would have been brought to tears when we were renovating our house, I never would have believed you. But DAMN, renovations are stressful and nothing feels better when you’re stressed than to let out a good cry. We are not done all of the renovations yet, but we’re done the main and second floor. The basement is still unfinished but I have hopes that the basement will be a less stressful renovation since it’s not an area we actually need right now.

My favourite room in our new house is obviously the kitchen. I’ve never had my own kitchen with actual countertop space before and now that I have it, I don’t know how I lived without it. We got our cabinets from Ikea and our contractor got us a sweet deal on a quartz countertop. I initially had my heart set on kelly green glass subway backsplash tiles but those turned out to be grotesquely overpriced. We ended up finding beautiful blue glass subway tiles that satisfied my need for a fun and bright kitchen and also saved us a nice chunk of change. We found our tiles on clearance for less than a dollar a square foot! We also found floor tile that looks like hardwood. I love the look of it and also how practical and durable it is. Last but not least, having the look out window has already proven to be very useful. I can be baking away and still keep an eye on our pups in the other rooms. When we’ve had friends over for dinner they can talk to me through the window while staying out of my way while I feverishly finish prepping dinner.

Okay, that’s enough talking, now for some pictures 🙂

Kitchen Reno

Did I mention that we got a dishwasher? I’ve never loved anything as much as I love that dishwasher. Actually, maybe I love our dual compartment oven just as much. It’s so convenient being able to cook at two different temperatures in one oven!

Kitchen Reno

We’re planning on getting a new fridge in the future so that all of our appliances can match, but the one we have came with the house and seems to be doing its job 🙂

Kitchen Reno

And alas, a pantry! A glorious pantry! Food storage should not be underestimated 🙂

xoxo Erin

7 Months Later…

Apparently I haven’t posted for 7 months. I suppose that’s kind of a long time, especially considering that I only started this blog two years ago. Life has been so gloriously busy that creating in the kitchen and posting about those creations has completely fallen off of my radar. I’m not sure what will come next year, but considering that I am my future sister-in-law’s maid of honour for her wedding next year AND am getting married myself next year, I’m not going to hold my breath for mega recipes to fly out of my brain in the new year. So why bother breaking my dry-spell of posting if I don’t even have a recipe to share?

Because I have the cutest puppy in the world, obviously. And our little fur-baby has been so helpful with our house renovations and move that he deserves some credit:

Wayne, the builder:

Wayne the Builder

Builder Wayne

Wayner

Wayne, the quality inspector:

inspector

Wayne, the moving truck driver:

Driver

Wayne, the unpacker:

unpacking

Wayne, the laundry folder:

laundry

Wayne, the recycler:

recycle

And of course, Wayne- the yoga instructor:

yoga pup

xoxo Erin

My Food Sensitivity Test Results…

So I’ve been pretty MIA lately. It has definitely not been intentional. Lots has been going on for me and developing and posting recipes has unfortunately taken a backseat. Some of what has been consuming my time has been very exciting! The house my fiance and I bought back in January is finally free of tenants (a lemon I had to make lemonade out of) and now we’re working on some renovations before we move in. My previous weekend routine of baking and going to spinning classes has been replaced with breaking up drywall and filling garbage bags with broken tiles. I’ve found it surprisingly entertaining and rewarding. There is something very therapeutic about breaking stuff and putting it into garbage bags. I don’t know why. I’ve also been feeling less than fantastic for the last little while so I began seeing a naturopath to see what was going on. One of the tests I did was a food specific IgG antibody assessment (a.k.a. food sensitivity test). Before I could take the test I had to eat all of the foods I had been avoiding so the test would be accurate. That was fun and delicious and actually less painful than I had anticipated.

And today I got the results back from the food sensitivity test. And my mind is exploding. Everything makes sense and doesn’t make sense at the same time. My test showed that I have a very strong reaction to the following foods:

  • cow dairy
  • eggs
  • cane sugar
  • beans

WHAT? BEANS?!?!

Not my beloved beans! Dairy didn’t surprise me. Eggs surprised me, but I’m over that. Cane sugar didn’t surprise me but is kind of annoying. But beans? Why beans? Delicious, protein and fibre packed beans? Tear*

I also had reactions to:

  • bakers yeast
  • goat dairy
  • almonds

Which means…yup, you guessed it, no reaction to gluten or wheat. So my experience of feeling better when I eliminated gluten still vey much happened but likely happened because when I took out gluten I unintentionally also took out bakers yeast. I remember that I started to feel better, but eventually started to feel less than great again. I took out dairy and cane sugar a month or so later and felt great again. It was also around this time that I got more interested in nutrition and learned about the benefits of a plant-based diet and significantly decreased my consumption of animal products, including eggs. I felt so great and had so much energy that I presumed I had figured out exactly how my body worked best. Over this past winter though I started to crave eggs and started eating them more often. I also started missing bread and started buying gluten-free bread (with bakers yeast). And now I understand why I had been feeling so blah lately.

So what’s next? Well I’ve got to focus on eliminating the foods I react to and see how I feel. To be honest, I don’t know what that means for this blog. I’ve clearly dedicated this space to being a gluten-free place and I honestly don’t know what I’ll do now. After I’m starting to feel more like myself I’m sure the answer will come to me 🙂

xoxo Erin

7 Tips to Get Rid of a Bloated Stomach

Do you ever have those days where you open the closet, and nothing feels good on you? Maybe you spend 45 minutes just searching through your clothes, just trying to find an outfit that will hide your bloated belly!

If you’re like 91% of women, dealing with bloat and other digestive issues is something that you struggle with on a daily basis. My friend Nadya Andreeva, certified wellness coach and author, struggled with feeling bloated for years — even looking 5 months pregnant at times. After years of research and testing, Nadya has created a manual for defeating bloating and healing your belly for good — her new book, Happy Belly: A woman’s guide to feeling vibrant, light, and balanced.

http://www.spinachandyoga.com/happybelly/

What most women don’t know is that the real cause of bloating is too much fermentation in the digestive tract. Some common triggers include: stress, a food sensitivity, a lack of enzymes, uncoordinated peristalsis, or eating too much fiber. By just adding a few small shifts to your meal habits, you can keep your belly happy! Here are some tips from Nadya’s book to help you beat the bloat:

  1. Allow your previous meal to digest before eating the next meal. Wait at least three hours between meals.

  1. Chew well and don’t talk while chewing. If you’re eating with others, put down your fork between bites and let the flavor and the experience of food be your only focus. Don’t eat and speak at the same time. Better yet, meet friends for walks or for a tea and keep social eating to minimum until your gut is healthy and strong.

  1. Be careful with your fiber. Coarse or poorly chewed fiber will delay passage through the digestive system and slow the rate at which the food is digested and absorbed. So if you don’t chew a slice of bread or a piece of potato properly, you’re leaving a lot more work for your stomach and it will take longer.

  1. Eat fruit at least 30 minutes before meals. Don’t eat fruits after a meal. This habit is gas-forming and leads to bloating.

  1. Don’t drink anything cold while eating. Ideally, limit cold foods as well. Fruits should be room temperature (not straight from the fridge). If you can’t live without your ice cream, have some ginger tea afterward.

  1. Chew on fennel seeds or sip a hot fennel and ginger tea. Prepare fennel tea by crushing one teaspoon of fennel seeds and adding it to one cup of water in a pot. Bring the water to a boil, cover and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool and strain. A traditional dose of fennel tea is about two to three cups daily. If you’re at a restaurant or don’t have fennel seeds, opt for a mint tea. It’s also soothing to the digestive tract. Another tip: carry tea bags in your purse so you’ll always have the kind you like handy.

  1. Go for a brisk walk. Aim for 30 minutes of walking. I also like to add a few jumping jacks or twists. This helps to increase blood circulation and to release gas.

I haven’t been able to put my copy of this book down since I received it. I highly recommend anyone who’s ever had a bloated belly pick-up a copy immediately! Not convinced? You can get two chapters free HERE. And after you get hooked by those two chapters, you can grab your copy of the book HERE.

xoxo Erin

When Life Gives you Lemons…

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

I’m sure most of you have heard this statement before. It’s basically a nice way to remember that when life throws you something sour, you can choose to make it into something sweet. Recently I’ve realized that I’ve been ignoring an important part of this statement.

I’ve been ignoring the fact that once those lemons arrive you have to work hard to make the lemonade. You have to cut into them and squeeze the living daylight out of them to be able to extract the sour lemon juice. Only once you have the juice can you start to sweeten it up with sugar. If you just dump sugar over the lemons you don’t have lemonade, you have sugar covered lemons, and that’s gross and weird. So even though cutting and squeezing the lemons is hard work and may not be fun, it’s worth it when you end up with something that you enjoy.

 So why am I being so literal in my analysis of this simple feel good statement?

Because I’ve been squeezing the crap out of some lemons in my life, one very VERY sour lemon to be exact, and I’m exhausted. I want that lemonade to be ready now, not later. But it can’t be ready now, so I’m finding comfort in over analyzing this statement. It has helped me remember that it’s not just the result of the lemonade that’s important, it’s the hard work involved in making the lemonade that makes it so damn sweet and satisfying when you finally get to take a sip.

xoxo Erin

My Gluten & Dairy-Free Birthday

I celebrated my birthday a bit over a week ago. It was a glorious day. I never cared much for birthdays because I always thought my mom should be the one celebrating. She was, after all, the one who did all the hard work on my birthday. But I thought I would try something new and spoil myself all day long this year. Wow, am I ever glad I did! I had the most relaxing day I could have ever imagined. I started by day off with a lymphomaniac facial from Pure and Simple. It was a standard european facial paired with a lymphatic massage of the face, breasts and stomach. I’d never had a facial, let alone a lymphatic massage, so it was definitely an interesting experience. After my spa experience I headed over to one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto, Fresh.  I decided to try something I hadn’t had and grabbed the California Classic Salad:

California Classic Salad

I enjoyed my lunch while hanging out with my little guy:

Erin and Wayne

Later in the afternoon I headed over to my favourite bakery, Bunners, for one of their mouth watering cinnamon buns:

Bunners Cinnamon Bun

While I was out I dropped by The Sweet Potato and found an awesome deal on organic pears and peaches:

The Sweet Potato Finds

Then I went to a bookstore and picked up a book I have been dreaming of since it was released in the summer:

Birthday Gift

When my partner got home from work (I had taken the day off) we went for foot reflexology. I love foot reflexology. It’s one of those things that can hurt like heck but feel good at the same time. We both felt like we were walking on clouds after our treatment. We decided to order in pizza from another one of my favourite Toronto restaurants, Magic Oven. I got the Black Magic Pizza (pesto, steamed kale, sundried tomato and daiya cheese):

Magic Oven

It was the perfect birthday. What made it even more perfect was that it turned into a two day affair as my partner and I went to go visit my parents the next day. My brother, his fiance and my best friend came over for dinner. We made a gluten-free vegan pizza, garlic bread, caesar salad, veggie stir-fry (and chicken cacciatore for the meat eaters). It was yummy. Nothing beats a homemade meal from my mom 🙂 I volunteered to bring dessert so I made a carrot cake using the recipe from this book. If you don’t have this book I highly recommend it. The cake was delicious. I don’t think anyone would have known that it was gluten-free and vegan unless I told them. There wasn’t much of the cake left over, but there was just enough for me to enjoy a big slice for breakfast:

Birthday Cake

Oh, and check out this amazing card my brother and his fiance got me:

Birthday Card Front

Inside Birthday Card

Hehe, I still laugh when I read it. What can I say, I love food humor 🙂 So that was my birthday. Thanks to everyone who made it that much more special! xoxo

The Versatile Blogger Award

I’m very honoured to be nominated for this award from Emma of Coconut and Berries. I’ve been blogging for about 9 months now and am really enjoying it. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I started this blog on a cold November evening and I’m still not really sure I know what I’m in now. Whatever it is though, I love it!

The Rules of the Versatile Blogger Award:

  • Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Acknowledge the blogger on your blog and link back.
  • Share 7 random, interesting things about yourself
  • Nominate up to 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award, provide a link to their blogs in your post, and notify them on their blogs.
  • Copy and paste the award somewhere on your blog.

So now is the time when I share 7 random things about myself and you can decide if they’re interesting or not 🙂

1.)    As a child I was scared of using our oven. I have no idea why. I remember helping my mom bake and refusing to put something in the oven or take it out of the oven. Thankfully my mom had patience and persistence with me and I eventually realized our oven was not the child eating monster I thought it was and was actually a beautiful appliance that turns mushy goo into fluffy cake.

2.)    I work full time as a Forensic Social Worker and absolutely adore the work I do. I have met some of the most amazing and resilient people and can’t see myself doing any other type of work, at least not on a full time basis.

3.)    I have a pet fish, her name is Izzy. She is cool. I kind of really love her. A few days ago my partner and I also got a puppy. He’s a Bichon Poodle named Wayne and words cannot describe how much I adore him. I’ve never cared much about having pets but boy I sure am enjoying having some!

Izzy

Me and My Boys

4.)    I have an addiction to small kitchen applications, which is a bit unfortunate seeing that my kitchen is not very large. I keep the majority of these appliances on shelves in our living room because there just isn’t space anywhere else.

5.)    I love knitting. I learned how to knit when I was working at a women’s shelter. One of the residents was an avid knitter and taught me one afternoon. Even though I love knitting, I really only knit scarves. I guess I enjoy the mindlessness of knitting a scarf and haven’t had the desire (yet) to venture out. My grandma was a very talented knitter and sewer. She loved making clothes for dolls and she definitely had the best dressed dolls in the neighbourhood:

Grandma Dolls

6.)    Speaking of crafty things, I love making things myself and I LOVE crafts. I’m that person who cuts an old pair of pants to turn them into a skirt or bag or whatever I think I need at that time. Oh and if I can use a hot glue gun on something- I am there! Boy, do I ever love hot gluing!

7.)    And last but not least…I’m a Libra. I don’t really spend much energy looking into zodiac sign stuff, but I do love balance and seeing that the sign for Libra is a scale- I presume my need for balance is somehow related to being a Libra.

That’s enough about me. Now onto some amazing blogs I’ve come across.

My nominations are:

–          Spiced Curiosity

–          The Frosted Vegan

–          Sandi’s Allergy Free Recipes

–          Cats in the Kitchen

–          Candida Diet Plan

–          Apples and Ginger

xoxo Erin

I’M BACK!!!

When I said I was talking a break from everything, what I really meant was I was embarking on a trip I’ve been dreaming of for years:

Iceland:

Iceland

Norway:

Norway

Sweden:

Sweden

Finland:

Finland

Estonia:

Estonia

My partner and I were gone for 2 weeks and explored 5 countries. It definitely felt like we were gone for more like a month. Every day was packed with sightseeing and adventures and I couldn’t have asked for a better vacation. Now that I’m back home I feel in a bit of a daze, I think I left my brain somewhere in the Baltic Sea. My daze might also have something to do with a 7 hour jet lag- although I think I am adapting pretty quick, I did still fall asleep at 8 PM last night and woke up at 4 AM this morning. I’m completely confused how it could be a Monday and I’m awake 4-5 hours before I have to be at work! Needless to say, I’ve decided to hold off on 5-Ingredient Mondays for another week when I’m more in touch with reality.

xoxo Erin