A Taste of the Real YEG

For those who don’t know, YEG originally, and is still, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) code for the Edmonton International Airport (EIA). Back in the day when I was in Travel Agent School, I had to memorize all the airport codes in the world, which served me well in my 10 years with Time Air, Canadian Regional and Canadian Airlines. After I left, I would only show-off my IATA airport code skills when travelling or writing in short hand, but now it has found a whole new use in Twitter. You are probably very familiar with #YEG after all. The fine people at EIA invited a bunch of us food bloggers out for a Taste of EIA, give us a sample of what’s available, and give us some interesting facts about the EIA to share with our readers. I pause here to make special mention of the pen we all got at the bottom of our swag bags. It is a pen of q-u-a-l-i-t-y… it has a real weight behind it, and came in a fancy velvet-like pouch. No, you may not borrow my pen. IMG_3992 Anyways, now that I’ve identified that I can be easily bought with a promo pen (quality promo pens, mind you), let’s get on with food experience! Come this way….

First stop – Chili’s: We were greeted with a table full of Very Large Alcoholic Drinks (they knew I was coming).    I selected the Coronita Beer Caesar, which is a new offering at Chili’s. You’ve seen the margarita’s with inverted beers, yes? Well, this is the same thing, but in Caesar form. It was delicious. IMG_3962 I also tried a wee bit of a Platinum Presidente Margarita – a big sized traditional margarita that is hand-shaken and served over ice. IMG_3969 For food, we were provided plates of delicious deep-fried goodness – onion rings, southwestern eggrolls, chicken wings, dry ribs, tostada chips, and the show stopper…. White Spinach Queso – which is white queso (cheese) and chopped spinach topped with shredded Monterey Jack, house-made pico de gallo (salsa), fresh guacamole, queso fresca (more cheese) and chopped cilantro, and wait for it….. served warm. This oooey gooey splodge was crazy delicious. Lactose intolerance be damned. I ate it anyway. IMG_3971 Second stop – Heineken: If you want to try something that is unique to Canada, try the Heineken lounge. It is the only one in Canada! And they serve more than beer. The menu offered some delicious food options, and around the table we had a generous serving of good old Mac ‘n Cheese (not the Mack Male and Graham Hicks kind either, but they would have been welcome), beside this was a decidedly smaller serving of cheese on a cheese board… but who wants to load up on cheese before a flight anyway? Also spotted was a chicken satay, waffle fries, a salad, a burger and my dish, the chicken curry served with pillowy soft naan, basmati rice and a mango/apple chutney. It was good, filling food.

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Last stop – Caffe Sorrentino’s: Now Caffe Sorrentino’s is interesting. As you pass by it, you might think they just serve coffee, gelato and a few beers. You would be wrong. They serve DELICIOUS coffee and gelato, yes, but they also serve grilled pannini, soup, salad, pasta, breakfast and desserts. By this time though, all I wanted was a decaf Americano, which was one of the best decaf/caffeinated Americano’s I ever had. So much so, I have decided to switch to Sorrentino’s downtown at Edmonton Centre East instead of Starbucks for my coffee fix. Arrivederci Starbucks (but I’ll still see you at Omega). IMG_3986 My blood orange sorbetto was a perfect sweet end to the evening. Was this it? No! Despite being full to bursting, who could say no when we were presented with an assortment of delicious desserts… I scored a dark chocolate layer cake which had to come home with me because at the table I poo-poo’d the idea of eating more that evening (but naturally the moment I got home and tea was poured, split the cake with Michael and finished it off in less than 30 seconds). I am not a fan of dense chocolate cakes, and although this LOOKED dense, it was quite light and not too sweet. It was perfect. I have become a new fan of Caffe Sorrentino’s. I look forward to my next visit. IMG_3989 Although I can’t speak for all Edmontonians, I suspect most of us race to the airport, race through security, race to the gate, and then sit and wait and fiddle with our phones for 45 minutes or more until our flight is ready to board. Next time, I will try to arrive a few minutes earlier and relax over a coffee and enjoy a nice meal before boarding. EIA has made the departure lounge a thing of beauty. Although they still have an abundance of the ubiquitous airport seating, they have also brought in comfortable seating where you can sit by yourself, NOT next to someone who carries all their luggage plus a cello plus a cat in a carrier and tries to read the free National Post while talking on their phone and eating a bagel. There is also cafe-style seating for those who want a table without having to buy a meal. Best of all, is the indoor vertical garden. It’s a 1,400 square foot Living Wall with 8,000 different plants which helps purify the airport’s air. You will find this right next to the Heineken Lounge, the Belgian Beer Cafe and Sorrentino’s. My thanks to EIA’s delightful Jacquie and Gillian for the invitation, as well as to fellow bloggers, Edible Woman, Marlow Moo and The Tiffin Box for the great company.

Posted in A Night Out, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Dining Out, Dinner, Drinks, Lunch, Snack, Supper | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yokozuna Japanese Restaurant – Edmonton

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Gyoza. More please.

Yokozuna Japanese Restaurant is a lot like the Tardis from Dr. Who. From the outside, it is part of an average looking strip mall, blending in with the scenery. Once you open the door though, it opens into a simple and tastefully designed space that seems far bigger inside than it does from outside.

We arrived on a Saturday around 7 pm, and had called ahead for a table. At the time we were told there would only be bar seats available, which we had no problem with. However, as it happened a table did open and we were sat immediately.

Yokozuna does have bar seating, open tables with chairs, enclosed tables with chairs, and the quaint zashiki style seating for those that can bend and flex.

Service was quick and efficient. We barely had time to review the sake menu when asked what we wanted for drinks. You will not find hot Gekkeikan on the menu here, instead you will find an overwhelming list of cold sake. We asked for a sampler and received, for $9.00 (each) three samples of their newest choices.

Michael and I are most used to hot sake, and dabbled just a few times before in cold sake. As time passes, we are enjoying the cold sake more and more. The differences in sweetness, alcohol, colour and taste, is amazing. There’s lot yet to learn here.

For food, we were disappointed to learn they were out of toro and hamachi, but only disappointed in that it derailed our usual pattern of what we ordered. Instead, we replaced the usual negitoro cone with California rolls, and the hamachi with unagi. These opportunities are great to try something new.

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California rolls with sesame seed option.

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Unagi and salmon

The food was delivered promptly. The gyoza were simply delicious and we both had to talk ourselves out of ordering a second order. The remainder of the sushi was fresh and delicious. The tuna sashimi was some of the best I’ve ever had.

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Tuna sashimi. More please.

If you are looking for a great Japanese food experience, I highly recommending finding your way to Yokozuna Japanese Restaurant. It is located at 4121 – 106 St NW, Edmonton, AB. Call 780-431-1508.

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Elk Island National Park – A Birthday Picnic

It’s 30C and smoky today. Environment Canada advises the air quality is poor and to lock ourselves into our homes with doors and windows closed. We could do that. But today is Michael’s birthday and burning eyes and scratchy throat be damned, we are going out into the environment and celebrating.

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Trail head at Amisk Wuche Trail 5

With some help from Facebook friends, came up with a simple picnic and headed 30 minutes east of Edmonton on Highway 16 to the beautiful Elk Island National Park. I made a pathetic attempt at researching Elk Island National Park’s history to dazzle you with information, but their website buries it in a dark corner, I couldn’t find it in less than 5 seconds. So I moved on. I will let you know what I know about this place.

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Fragrant Yarrow with Bug

What I know About Elk Island National Park

1) It’s a National Park. Buy a pass. It’s worth it. Sing O Canada.

2) There’s an island.

3) Bison are visible. Elk are not.

4) It’s beautiful. Those of you who have thrown out your:  Paper coffee cups, Coke cans, cigarette butts….. I sit here and silently scold you. Yes, my hand is on my hip and I’m wagging my finger at you.

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A Cattail in the marshy bits

We arrived and stopped in at the interpretive centre at the entrance. It’s always nice to speak with an interpreter and learn something new. What did we learn today? A bison’s head ALONE can weigh 600 lbs. In total, they can weigh over a ton!! Thankfully they are docile creatures and won’t eat us. But we sure like eating them!!! Nothing like a bison burger! Hm. Maybe not appropriate to discuss here while describing a National Park dedicated to educating and protecting these beautiful beasts, so let’s move on.

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Michael. Pointing. Because that’s what he does.

After leaving the interpretive centre we, and about six other vehicles headed north. We lost one or two on the Bison Loop, a side road which affords excellent bison spotting opportunities. It is a thing of wonder to see were these creatures roam, but no deer or antelope play.

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Here we see where the green stuff that “health nuts” pay money for to make them mighty comes from*. Notice the trail the water fowl leave behind. (Disclaimer: Do NOT drink this. It is NOT healthy).

Further along, we lost the remainder of our fellow travellers at the turn for Astotin Lake. Michael and I originally planned to join the multitudes here. Astotin Lake is beautiful. Meandering pathways, lots of picnic tables and shelters, nice washrooms, a beach, a playground… it has everything for the active family. Instead though, we headed further north to the Amisk Wuche Trail 5 picnic/hiking trail site.

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Looks easy enough to cross in a picture. But understand, I’m wobbly on concrete. I felt enormously smug once I got across. Mighty. But within seconds realized we were in an area jumping with baby frogs. I got the heebie jeebies, and any Might was replaced by suppressed shrieking and requests to “KEEP MOVING” lest one of the frogs decided to jump on my face.

We had this part of the park to ourselves. One clean washroom, one picnic table, and one 2.9 km pathway through beautiful trees, shrubs, wetlands, meadows, floating walkways, tricky walkways that made us feel tough and rugged, all surrounded by beautiful yarrow, young raspberries, cattails, purple vetch, the sweetest song of the White Throated Sparrow singing Oh Canada Canada Canada to us, while baby frogs jumped out of our way and little orange butterflies led us through the pathway taking our mind off the constant buzz of mosquitos and busy bees buzzing near our ears.

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Nice graffiti found in the wilderness.

At the end of our hike, we still had the place to ourselves. The heat and the mosquitoes prevented us from doing anything naughty that might bare a bum (not us! never! we’re old now!), so we unpacked our little picnic and had a feast of cheese, salami, crackers, olives, iced tea, sparkly water, and sweets. The idea of packing a bottle of an icy cold white was attractive, but per the previous sentence, we’ve gained some common-sense in old age and didn’t want to risk a ticket for open alcohol or bare bums in a National Park.

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The Italian Centre Shop proved to be a one-stop picnic provisioner. The cherries are amazing. Go and buy some if you haven’t yet.

Michael was delighted with the walk and the picnic, and particularly tickled with the many birthday wishes he received through Facebook via my page (he’s steadfast in his Luddite ways, and Facebook is something he continues to ignore).

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The bag you see there was Michael’s gift from a staff Christmas party. Called the 6-pack, it is intended for those who drink protein drinks and take supplements, and eat de-skinned chicken breasts, and edamame beans (for fun). I cleverly used the supplement container for sugary sweets found at Bulk Barn. As you can see, it made Michael happy.

He’s now settled in front of the TV watching Fawlty Towers, eating his birthday cupcake, whilst I sit here and drink the wine meant for the picnic and write this post, listening to iTunes radio marvelling at music I’ve never heard before.

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Added this picture only because the candy looks so pretty.

Happy birthday Michael Declan. Thank you Margaret and Stanley Walsh for creating this beautiful man.

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Syrahs of Jasper

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We selected Syrahs of Jasper because the sign outside told us it was their first year anniversary it promised dinner for two for $59. It got us in the door.

For a place named after a grape variety, I was disappointed by the wine selection. I did pick a Syrah, and although fine, I found it lost something in the cheap glass it was served in. You know the sort. The kind of wine glasses you buy at the dollar store and are so thick you could drop it from 10 stories and it would just bounce.

Things got much better with the bread served at the start of the meal. It was fresh, aromatic, warm, soft and was the perfect vessel to deliver the garlic butter.

Our appetizers had us in rapture. Michael had a delicious caramelized onion tart, and I had the elk carpaccio. Things were looking good.

Then our mains arrived. I had the very rich Sturgeon filet. It must have been the fattest fish in the school, and I hope my poor fella wasn’t picked on. I’ve never had such a fatty fish before. It was good and I definitely had enough Omega 3’s for the next six months.

Michael had the Smoked Venison Ragout, and it was a total miss. It wasn’t bad enough to send back to the kitchen, but what destroyed the dish was the strangest textured gnocchi we have ever tasted. It was pasty. It stuck to the roof of your mouth. We looked like a cat who was just given a blob of hairball medicine.

For dessert, I had a too rich double chocolate brownie. As it arrived, I said, “this is much too much…. I’ll just eat this corner”…. and 30 seconds later I’m looking at an empty plate wondering WTF just happened. Michael had the sweet pear tart, which was fair to middling.

Would we go again? Might do, because of the stellar bread and appetizers. But that gnocchi? Wouldn’t want to experience that again.

(Michael just proofed this for me and said, “You should write something about the staff, because the staff were good”. And they were. Friendly, helpful, and our waitress particularly delightful.)

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Patricia Street Deli

Wherever you are right now, whatever you are doing, stop. Start planning your first/next trip to Jasper, Alberta.

Jasper has mountains:

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Jasper has humour:

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Jasper has trains:

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Jasper has snow in May:

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Jasper has tourists:

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Jasper has trails to hike in those mountains:

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Jasper has wild animals:

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Jasper has rare orchids:

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Jasper has more mountains:

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But most important of all, Jasper has the Patricia Street Deli:

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Undeniably the BEST sandwich we have ever eaten, we found here at the Patricia Street Deli. You will find it tucked in and behind a building at 610 Patricia Street. Blink and you will miss it.

The sandwiches are made to order, the ingredients fresh, the staff super friendly, and owner makes you feel like you’ve been friends forever and conversation just picks up from where you left off the last time (even if there wasn’t a last time).

We found this place via Trip Advisor and were not disappointed. I had the roast chicken (they pick the chicken breast off the roasted chicken right before your eyes) sandwich with cranberry mayo because it came highly recommended. Michael had roast beef. They were wrapped in paper, and put in a brown paper bag for our picnic lunch.

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We found a nice picnic spot on the way home, pulled in, found a nice table and set out our lunch. The bread was fantastically fresh. The chicken fresh, the sweet of the cranberry and the tartness of the mayo came together beautifully. Michael didn’t really say much about his, but that’s because his mouth was full and kept grunting out mmmm mmmmm mmmm sounds. When I told him I was writing this blog this morning, he started drooling. We are planning our next trip to Jasper. For the mountains? Sure. But really to experience the Patricia Street Deli again.

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Glow Juicery – Raw Food + Juice Cleanse

Just recovering from another cold, it seemed a good time to do a top to bottom spring clean of my body by feeding it nutrient dense, raw, vegan food and juice. For three days. For three days, quinoa, cabbage, tofu, miso, squash, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens. For three days. I’m done. I plead mercy, and bow deeply to those people who eat this gorgeous healthy food as a lifestyle choice. You cannot be impulsive to do the Raw Food + Juice Cleanse through Glow Juicery. You need to book it in advance, and also start a pre-cleanse routine before you get your food. You do this by eliminated caffeine, processed food, wheat, dairy, sugar and alcohol two days before your cleanse. And yes, a person could save themselves $165 and just cut out those foods from their diet and feel mighty fine. But what does $165 get you? Three breakfasts, three soups, three salads, three “energy snacks”, bottles of almond milk, bottles of fresh juice, a menu plan and a recommended eating schedule. IMG_3464 The juices are terrific. Absolutely delicious. I am a convert and have felt great since drinking these. They are fresh, tasty, and just plain make me feel good about myself. The food. This was the Day 1 breakfast: IMG_3487 This particular item didn’t have a label on it, so I had to figure out what it was. On the base there, is a grain soaked in probably almond milk. I think I saw oatmeal and quinoa, possibly hemp. The topping was a delicious cinnamon infused fruit (apple or pear) and fresh walnuts. We were off to a good start. IMG_3490 For lunch, it was soup. This item had the ingredients, but did I have to sense to take a photo? Or write it down? No, but that could be because I was getting weak with hunger. All I remember about this soup is the main ingredient, kale, and the texture. And here is where things went sideways. Everyone has experienced overripe bananas right? Some like it, some don’t. I don’t. It has nothing to do with the flavour, I love banana, but it has to do with texture. It makes me gag. So here I am with my lunch. I did a few tentative stirs hoping it would suddenly become a warm cream soup, but it didn’t. It stayed cold and thick and mashed banana like. I took a few tentative licks off my spoon. It tasted great. Fresh. Healthy. A bit of zing. But could I stick a spoonful in my mouth? No. I had soup spoon yips. I’d get the spoon to my mouth, but just could not get it in. So I took tiny licks of soup for about 40 minutes, then gave up. I tried though. I tried. I thought my afternoon snack would save me. Here it is: IMG_3491 The promise of something chocolatey with coconut would warm anyone’s heart. So I was excited when 2 pm rolled around. I took my first bite. Chew. Chew. Stop. Do a few of those chews with the mouth open, hoping either the extra air will help the flavour, or hoping the food falls out. It had a very familiar taste, but not a taste one should be chewing. I thought about it and realized, Vitamin B! If you ever had a bottle of Vitamin B in your cupboard, you are probably aware of the smell. These three balls tasted what Vitamin B smells like. This isn’t a bad thing. It actually helps the whole “Look at me! I’m healthy! I’m eating Vitamin B balls!”. Supper was a pretty salad. IMG_3499 Now about supper. You’d think I’d be starving by supper time, but truthfully I was doing just fine. No, really. I’m not just saying that. In between there I had another juice which can be surprisingly filling. But then, it is Day 1, and Day 1’s are usually always successful for me. It’s about sustaining Day 2…. IMG_3495 Breakfast on Day 2 was a container of something (looked like tapioca), in almond milk. I love tapioca pudding. This wasn’t tapioca pudding. You can just see it there to the right of the red bottle of juice. I abandoned breakfast in favour of a juice, again, because of textural issues. Lunch was a salad. These take me an enormous amount of time and energy to eat. They are tasty. They ooze health, vitamins and energy. I’m a person who is used to tuna sandwiches or left over pasta. I struggled, but I ate it. IMG_3497 And then, supper. Here it is: IMG_3503 Another thick soup… this one was squash based and also very tasty. But the texture. I couldn’t do it. So I thought I’d have Day 3’s soup on Day 2: IMG_3504 No textural issues here, except with the seaweed. And the tofu. This miso based soup was mighty fine, but I gave it up and had another juice instead. Day 3 started with white toast with butter. I’ve packed smokies, white buns, ketchup, a bag of Lay’s potato chips and a bottle of red wine for our trip to Jasper. The remaining juices will be brought along. A raw food and juice cleanse is not for everybody, especially those of you who may have not eaten vegetables with any regularity since childhood. I just warmed up to vegetables in the last 10 years, and even now, they have to be done just right for me to eat them with enjoyment.  This usually means roasting peppers with olive oil, grilling asparagus and topping with olive oil and lemon, or tossing romaine lettuce with a generous glug of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Although I don’t believe in detoxifications as many health sites on the web will promote, I do believe in clean eating from time to time to treat the body to a little rest and relaxation. I am particularly impressed with Glow Juicery‘s core belief that food is medicine and fuel for our bodies. I wholeheartedly share that belief. If my relationship with food was limited to that statement, then I would have one awesome, healthy body. Fortunately, or unfortunately though, I also believe food is meant to be a pleasurable experience of taste and smell (like the smell of roasting meat, the taste of fresh baked bread), something to share with friends and family, and an excuse to open a bottle of wine. That is why my body is a little worse for wear, but I’m willing to make that sacrifice. Clean eating is a lifestyle choice for certain, and I admire those people who are able to do it with regularity. I can do it for a day or two, but the food-is-pleasure culture I’ve been exposed to since childhood usually wins out. Do try it for yourself. You may become a convert. Glow Juicery‘s staff are pleasant and will bend over backward to help you out. If anything, treat yourself to one of their fresh juices and feel better for it.

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Glow Juicery – Day 3

I apologise to the Glow Juicery people because being sick with a nasty cold is NOT the time to be doing a pre-cleanse or cleanse for that matter. But I am stubborn, and continue with it despite feeling sorry for myself (and at $8.00 a bottle of juice, I made a $48 dollar investment in my self created pre-cleanse, and the remaining three juices expire today. I am not letting that money go to waste).

So here I sit miserable, hoping this bottle of Vitamin G will have a miracle curative property.  Vitamin G is a lovely bottle of orange colour! Brightens even the most sulky of moods. It is made with orange, spinach, cucumber, carrot, lemon and ginger. I’m sure it tastes great, but because my senses are clogged, all I really get is a nice zing note from the ginger.

Here’s what Glow Juicery has to say about Vitamin G on their website (appropriate I thought):

Feeling a bit under the weather? This sunny glass of vitamin-rich juice will give your immune system the boost it needs to stay on top. Think of all those people depending on you, & give yourself a little Vitamin-GLC!

I’m crawling under the covers, turning on Netflix and waiting for the boost.

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Glow Juicery – Day 2

3:30 a.m. Up. Contemplate making sandwich, opt for a dose of codeine cough syrup. Make a second attempt to watch a show on Nova about the Hubble telescope without falling asleep. I fall asleep.

4:45 a.m. Move back to bed. Stare at husband and marvel how he can sleep so well. Give him a little poke because no one should sleep so well. He continues to sleep.

7:00 a.m. Wake up and read through Twitter and Facebook. Try to ignore posts and recipes of French Toast, Eggs Benedict, and best places to brunch in Edmonton and New York.

7:05 a.m. Staring at cursor blink on blog page waiting for inspiration.

7:10 a.m. Staring at cursor blink on blog page waiting for inspiration.

7:15 a.m. Staring at cursor…… husband sneezes! He’s awake! I run down hallway and bounce on bed to make sure he stays awake.

8:00 a.m. Drink Glow Juicery’s Glow Boost. My bottle is red. It is supposed to be green. Give it a good shake and like ancient alchemy the concoction turns green! This juice is made with spinach, kale, cucumber, broccoli, mint and pomegranate. This is the third juice in two-days, and although they are starting to taste the same, still feel good after drinking one.

Last night around supper time I had the Citrus Glow, a lovely mix of orange,  lemon, ginger and coconut water. This one is by far my favourite, but I do have to ignore the chunky bits that stick to the wall of the bottle.

Now that I am well into Day 2, my initial plan of drinking juice and eating salads before The Big Cleanse isn’t going over so well. I supplemented yesterday with a small serving of pasta, followed by cleaning out the small jar of Nutella. Today, by 9 a.m. I felt I could not face the day without an egg, especially after reading the Get Cracking article on their page Eggs 101, How to Fry the Perfect Egg.

I read these articles and say, “phffffft” in my head… I’ve been frying eggs since I could reach the stove top, what’s there to learn?  However, there is always something to learn I tell people, and the best way to learn is to do, so I found myself frying up eggs for breakfast. It was a Big Deal. I usually do my eggs over easy, today I was patient and left them sunny-side up. They were marvelous. The simplest thing in the world is an egg on toast, and so delicious! The sizzled lacy edge of the egg white, oozie yolk, hot buttered toast, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Yum.

5:30 p.m. If life went according to plan, I should be drinking my fourth pre-cleanse juice, but instead a 1.75 ounce pour of Auchentoshan Three Wood found its way into my glass. I did not protest. It’s not a glass of vitamins, minerals, and fibre that’s for sure, but since I’m still fighting this cold bug, there’s some medicinal and cozy warming properties in the alcohol. Cheers!

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Glow Juicery – Day 1

It’s been one of those Saturdays. You the know the sort, I’m sure. The previous week, I was away from home for business for four days, eating pub type food for most of them, all in the spirit of being social. Last week we hosted out-of-towners at work, which included an evening out eating pub type food, you know, to be social. Last night a group of friends and I got together for an evening drinking pints of Guinness followed by a supper and grill show at Japanese Village. Although the food was good (still believe they cook one of the best steaks in the city), the floor show and ambiance fell a bit flat. Being the troopers that we are, our group still had a nice time. But when we left, we carried Japanese Village with us in our clothes and hair. The ventilation fans weren’t working well and we sat within a grease cloud for the hour we were there. When we got home, Michael and I went through a routine similar to what you’ve seen Meryl Streep do in the movie Silkwood. Clothes stripped off, jumped in the shower to hose and scrub ourselves down, clothes in laundry, and jackets on the balcony to air out.

We are both battling our second and third colds of the year, and both woke up around 2:30 a.m. to coughing fits.  It was like duelling banjos.

After the coughing fits subsided (Michael won the duel, as he was able to go back to bed and sleep) I sat in front of the TV feeling hot-cold-sweaty-itchy and soothed myself by watching a week’s worth of Coronation Street on the PVR at 3:00 a.m., spooning Nutella into my mouth wondering why Ferrero even bothers with printing an expiry date on their Nutella lids. I had this thought, “I should be eating better than this”, then found the bag of caramel popcorn from Kernels.

Nothing sets off a healthy eating plan like desperation and despair. As soon as the clock ticked over to 9:00 a.m. this morning I headed over to the newly opened Glow Juicery in Old Strathcona. I bought six bottles of juice, and signed up a three-day raw food cleanse. Because it takes a few days to get the cleanse, I thought a pre-cleanse of juice and salads would be a great launch into my new Healthy Self.

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For good measure, I stopped in at Planet Organic, bought a bottle of apple cider vinegar, a jar of coconut oil, and a bottle of oregano oil. Why? Because health food nuts always have apple cider vinegar, a jar of coconut oil, and a bottle of oregano oil. I feel healthier already just having these items in the apartment.

The oregano oil, says my friend Suzanne, will get rid of my cold, and make me immune to them. I used the dropper and with clinical precision, squeezed four drops into two glasses of water. I took my dose fairly easily, but as the oregano oil floats on the water, got some on my lips, which burned. It’s only natural to think the burning sensation is also burning the sh*t out of the cold germs.

It took Michael a good few minutes to muster up the courage and settle a few pre-gag reflexes before he took his dose. Eventually he did, and we both feel exactly the same as we did moments before taking the shot. Of course, we will give it time and take a few more doses and see if it helps. And next time I think I’ll just squeeze the stuff directly under my tongue as recommended by Suzanne so I don’t go walking around with burning lips, smelling like roast lamb.

Still not feeling healthy, I thought it was a good time to have the first juice of my New Healthy Lifestyle. I selected the Earthy Glow juice, made with apple, beets, carrot, cucumber and ginger. If you are Weight Watchers follower, it works out to 6 points. I gave Michael a taste and he wasn’t all that impressed. See for yourself:

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I, on the other-hand, have become a big fan of the juicing thing thanks to my sister who introduced me to juicing months ago, so I am used to the bitter, sweet contrast of vegetable/fruit juice. I found Earthy Glow quite enjoyable – sweet with a nice zing from the ginger.

Do I feel healthy yet? No. All I want is a plate full of French toast, dripping with butter and maple syrup, followed by nap wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket and a sheet of Kleenex rolled up into a point and stuffed up my perpetually dripping left nostril. But it is only a half day into Day 1. I’ll give it some time.

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Enchiladas, Or Are They?

Friend Michelle Peters-Jones of The Tiffin Box shared The Kitchn’s recipes this morning via Facebook for 17 Budget-Friendly Meals That Don’t Involve Pasta. I was immediately drawn to Slow Cooker Enchiladas.

Before I embarked on my Enchilada Fiesta, I was concerned as I sometimes get about Truth and Knowledge. “What is the difference between an enchilada and a burrito?” I asked Google. Or, ¿Cuál es la diferencia entre una enchilada y un burrito? if we really want to get in the spirit of things.

I learned burritos are made with flour tortillas, and enchiladas with corn tortillas.

So what did I make? It is safe to say I made a baked dish vaguely flavoured with ingredients that can be found in or near Mexico.

Did Mexican grandmothers use slow cookers? Did they use the microwave to heat the tortillas for easy folding? Did they used a jar of President’s Choice salsa? Bags of pre-shredded cheese? I think not.

Here’s what I did (I opted to use the oven instead of the slow cooker because I learned via the Kitchn the results in the slow cooker can be mushy – I’m not opposed to mushy, it ends up mushed anyway, really, but as it happens I didn’t allow enough time to give it the 4 hours it would need on high):

I cooked up onion and green pepper in some olive oil. I added a can of rinsed black beans. To this, I added cumin, chile powder, and hot paprika. I set this aside. Had a nap. Went swimming.

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When I got home, I took out a glass casserole dish, put a thin layer of salsa on the bottom. Then I took a flour tortilla, heated it up in the microwave for 10 seconds (for easy folding said the comments at the Kitchn’s site), put about a third of a cup of the bean mixture in the middle of the tortilla, added a sprinkle of cheese, rolled and tucked it, then placed it in the casserole. I did this until I ran out of bean mixture. I wondered why I had two tortillas left over, then realized I forgot to add a cup of frozen corn to the mix, which would have bulked it enough to make an even 10 flour tortillas filled with bean things. The corn is going to be served as a condiment. There will be corn! I bought it especially for this dish you see. I even said to myself, “Don’t forget the corn!”. So I promptly forgot the corn. I do that from time to time and wonder if I shouldn’t be subscribing to Luminosity to help strengthen my brain cells.

Once the casserole was snuggly packed with flour tortillas filled with bean stuff, I poured the rest of the large jar of salsa over top, then emptied the entire bag of pre-shredded cheese over top.

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I put it in the oven at 350F where it will remain until it is hot through and the cheese is bubbly.

How’s that? It is as easy as it sounds. It is budget friendly. It’s in the oven right now and smells awesome.

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The thing is….

Michael is not too fond of hot (as in spicy heat) food. Um. Well, we’ll just have to see how it goes tonight in that respect. I added a very hot paprika to the bean mix. I did shout ¡Ay, caramba!  when I gave it a taste. The salsa is also labeled HOT, and to top it off the bag of pre-shredded cheese has spicy jack cheese. I do have cooling sour cream to serve on the side, which should help the more sensitive taste buds in the room.

(Michael just proof read this for me and argued that he does not in fact mind spicy heat, but it depends on the amount and strength and what it’s in etc. We’ll see. I might be eating a lot of left overs this week at work for lunch).

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