Lately I’ve been purposefully thinking about stress, and its effect on my life. Did you know that stress is actually adaptive for our bodies, and without it we wouldn’t be alive?
Stress exists to prime our bodies against a real or perceived threat. Your endless to-do list might be a “threat”, and your worry and anxiety about your to-do list would be the “stress” you experience. Stress is a reaction, not a situation.
Unfortunately, some of us are primed to have a difficult time shutting down the stress response. We can’t control it. In my case, when stress relates to a mental illness, it’s very difficult to turn off that reaction.
But none of us are immune to regular old kick-you-when-you’re-down stress that occurs due to major life events or changes, work stress, family problems — anything, really. We all feel it. We all wish we didn’t.
When I feel stressed, it feels like I can actually sense the cortisol running through my body. My chest tenses up, my mind loses focus, and I start fidgeting, talking really fast, or getting upset about small things. I’ve been thinking alot about how to reduce the amount of stress in my life, and to do that, I need to try to eliminate some of the situations that cause that stress. A good friend of mine gave me this sound advice. Continue reading Chocolate Dipped Funfetti Rice Krispie Squares + Some Thoughts On Stress
Have you ever taken a bite of something, only to instantly be transported into a dream-like memory that happened when you were only a child? I swear this happens to me multiple times a week. Surprisingly, there’s actually a word for this: olfactory memory. I definitely learned about olfactory memory in my university psychology classes, and promptly forgot the word for it after the exam. Thanks, Wikipedia.
The first time I had mini corn dogs was at a small family restaurant called “Yum Yum Tree”. The restaurant was a 10-minute walk from one of my childhood houses, and overlooked a canal where every once in awhile you’d see a kayaker slowly paddle by. Mini corn dogs and fries were one of the five kids’ menu options. I have no idea what the other four tasted like, as I never tried them, and continued to get the same dish no matter how many times we went. Old habits die hard, and I still gravitate towards the same restaurants, same dishes, and get so stuck on favourites that I might only try two items from a local restaurant even though I’ve visited 10 times. Continue reading Mini Corn Dogs
Food scents inspire strong emotions, differing from person to person. I remember one Christmas morning, my little sister, my uncle and I devised a plan to wake up my parents as they decided to “sleep in” (it was probably 6 a.m. but this certainly felt like “sleeping in” to an eight-year-old on Christmas morning). We brewed some fresh mugs of coffee and held them below the door, trying our best to waft the smell into their room. It worked, kind of.
When I was vegetarian, I couldn’t stand the smell of bacon. Crazy, I know. But I guess I got so used to not eating meat that I just became unaccustomed to the smells that went along with it. Nowadays, I eat meat nearly every day and savour it, and the smell of bacon makes me drool. Except when I’ve had too many margaritas…
Continue reading Cheddar Bacon Popcorn
I’ve been a little absent from the internet lately as I’ve started a new job. I’m back in the kitchen again! I love everything about working as a baker. The quiet early morning hours are soothing; it seems the world hasn’t quite woken up yet as I bundle up and scurry to the bus stop, trying to avoid the -40 C winds (that’s -40 F, too!) from biting at my nose. It’s all worth it as I step into the kitchen and start making cupcakes for the day. Thinking of the eager grins that are sure to ensue as little ones peer through the glass at the beautifully frosted cupcakes warms my heart.
As always, I’m a sucker for easy recipes that feel gourmet — it’s amazing knowing you can create something beautiful even when your feet are crying out in pain from a long day at work and all you want to do is collapse on the bed.
Continue reading Apple, Brie, and Honey Crostini
Being a military kid, I grew up in a number of places. I’m Canadian and have spent most of my life in Canada, though as a kid I was extremely fortunate to live in Hawaii for four years.
Since I was only seven when we moved there, it wasn’t the warm climate, salty air, or barefoot beach walks that caught my attention. It was the candy. Grocery aisles seemed to be exploding with chocolate bars, chips, and sweet bites in flavours I had never seen in Canada. Funyuns, anyone?
Fortunately my Funyuns days are behind me, but now that I’m back in Canada I have a special interest in American treats unheard of up north. Enter puppy chow.
Continue reading Chocolate Peppermint Puppy Chow
It was finished in 20 minutes. There’s something really magical about the combination of flavours and textures – sweet, salty, crunchy, buttery goodness.
I’ve been meaning to pull together a popcorn recipe for quite some time, as it’s my number one go-to “healthy” snack for when I have no junk food in my apartment (always) and I’m having a salty craving (always). Maybe I should start buying some junk food.
This pumpkin pie spice popcorn is super simple, and even easier if you have an air popper. I don’t, but it’s forever been on my “one day” list of kitchen appliances. It’s for those nights when cooking a meal is out of the question because your legs just won’t move to the kitchen, but your tummy keeps growling at you in desperation.
I started a new full-time job a week ago (yay!) and have been transitioning to a 9-5 schedule, far different from the odd hours I’ve kept for the past couple years. By 7 p.m. I am ready for bed (and a re-run of True Blood). Snacks like these are just what I need stashed away to keep my energy levels up in the evening.
Continue reading Sweet & Salty Pumpkin Pie Spice Popcorn
When I was a kid, fruit dip was a very special treat. It was like getting the toy in your box of cereal (do they even do that anymore?). Usually, it only showed up at birthday parties on the “healthy” table, but I would gobble that stuff right up.
I’ll have a little dip with my fruit, please.
Fruit dip takes an after-school snack from healthy to super special. You’ll love whipping this one up for your kids and seeing their smiling faces as they dip away. Or, whip it up for yourself and definitely don’t share. It’s too good to share. Find out how to make this treat here.
If you have yet to perfect roasted chickpeas, you are seriously missing out. This snack is incredibly addictive, incredibly easy, and does a fantastic job of satiating your hunger pangs. What more could you want from a snack?
The secret to getting perfectly crispy chickpeas is to ensure the chickpeas are completely dry before roasting them in the oven. All you need to do is rinse and drain the chickpeas, and leave them on a paper towel for about half an hour to air-dry. Give them another pat with a dry paper towel and you’re good to go. Thanks for the tip, Sally!
Whenever I make roasted chickpeas I think of the part in The Undomestic Goddess where Samantha, who is a terrible cook, burns chickpeas to a crisp and calls them “chickpea bullets”.
Chickpea bullets or roasted chickpeas, you’ll enjoy this salty, crunchy treat.
Continue reading Crispy, Spiced, & Roasted Chickpeas
There are times when I find out that something I always thought to be true is definitely not the case. This happens quite frequently with word pronunciation. Let me give you an example. Recently, I learned I had been pronouncing “fungi” wrong all my life. In case you were wondering, the word should be pronounced with a soft g (listen here). I had always said “fun-GUY”. Wrong.
Moments like these make me wonder: what else am I wrong about, that I am quite convinced I know to be true? The thought leaves me feeling unsettled, but quite curious.
Continue reading 4-Ingredient Pumpkin Date Bars
When I was trying to name these, I couldn’t stop thinking about that weird commercial with the cartoon bird who goes, “I’m cuckoo for cocoa puffs!”
These aren’t quite cocoa puffs. In fact, they’re a lot better.
Note: I’ve never had cocoa puffs.
Second Note: I’m a bit of a know-it-all when it comes to my baking.
You think cocoa puffs are better? Make these Choco-nut Squares. Take a bite. Let your teeth pull apart the chewy, gooey square as the chocolate and coconut melt on your tongue.
Continue reading Cuckoo for Choco-nut Puffed Millet Squares
Today I attempted one of my “brilliant” ideas in the kitchen, and it turned into a flop. A sticky, gooey flop.
Don’t worry. This shake was not that flop.
I’m not sure what happened, but my meringues didn’t form the soft and crunchy texture they were supposed to. I thought I did everything right. I let the egg whites get to room temperature. The mixing bowl and beaters were cold. I welcome any suggestions.
I know I’m not the first to experience a kitchen flop and I’m definitely not the last. When it happens, I like to make something I know will always turn out. That’s where this shake comes in.
Continue reading Very Vivacious Vanilla Spice Shake
Life moves fast. Breakfast shouldn’t.
I know in reality, it does. You’ve got to get to work, school, drop off the kids, get to the gym, get to the grocery store, tackle your hundred-page to-do list.
Just slow down. Appreciate the bread and butter of life. Pun intended.
I first made these scones (with my next-door neighbour, Shirley) when I was five years old. Which means you can make them too.
The last time I made these scones, was, coincidentally, when I was 5 years old. All I could find in my recipe box yesterday was some ingredients listed on a 4×6 recipe card and no directions. So you know what I did?
I slowed down. I figured out the directions myself, meticulously, so a five year old could make these with just a little help.
Continue reading Slow Down with Some Scones