I used to love mornings. But lately, I hate mornings. The rush, the waking up before the crack of dawn, the temptation to crawl back into my warm bed for an extra ten minutes of slumber.
I also have 1 and 1/2 hour commute to and from work, totaling 3 hours travel time. Every. Day. I know. I can be out of the house anywhere from 10 to 13 hours a day. It is brutal to make a living.
With the amount of time spent in transit and at work, I have to find creative ways to feed myself and to stay healthy.
This chia seed jam has become a household favourite. It literally takes 5 minutes to prepare. You can do it before you drag yourself to bed or even when you come home work.
The jam is sugar-free and packed with protein from the chia seeds. You can spoon it on toast, crackers, rice cakes, or layer it in a yogurt parfait. It’s great for breakfast or an after-work snack.
I used cranberries for this jam because that was the frozen fruit I had in my freezer, but really, any frozen fruit (preferably frozen berries) will work with this jam.
Healthy, any-fruit chia seed jam
Prep time: 5 minutes
- 1 and 1/4 cup of frozen cranberries, or any frozen berries or fruit
- 1/4 cup of water
- 3-4 spoons of chia seeds (the more chia seeds you spoon in, the thicker your jam)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (honey can be used as a sweetener as well)
- Combine all ingredients minus the chia seeds into a blender (I used a Magic Bullet) and blend until smooth.
- Pour mixture into a container and spoon in chia seeds. Mix well.
- Put container into fridge for a minimum of 4 hours.
Sometimes, it’s good to go back to the basics.
Simple, versatile, stir fry.
And apparently, nostalgic for me.
This stir fry dish was the very first recipe I put together in my first year of university.
Stir fries are easy because it’s a good way to get your protein and your veggies in a quick, easy and relatively healthy way. You can put pretty much any vegetable or protein you want, and categorize it as a stir fry.
In this recipe, I tried to combine a number of flavours: sweet, savoury and spicy. I find combining the stir fry with a fruit like pineapple adds some freshness as well.
Some juicy, ground ginger is a perfect pairing. I picked a small jar of ground ginger at a grocery store on a whim, and it’s always given this stir fry the extra punch of flavour that it needs. Some hoisin sauce (available at any Asian grocery store and most large chain grocery stores with an Asian food aisle) also adds some sweetness.
The more colourful the vegetables, the better!
Note: I added links to some of the ingredients I used in the recipe below.
Ginger pineapple chicken stir fry
- Prep time: 15-20 min
- Cook time: 10 min
- Serving size: serves 4-5
- 6-8 chicken thighs cut into half inch strips (chicken breast also works)
- 1 tablespoon of ground, minced ginger (I used the Derlea brand here)
- 2-3 bell peppers, sliced in strips
- 1/4 cup of diced onion
- 1 cup of diced, fresh pineapple
- 2 zucchinis cut into matchsticks, 2 inches in length
- Dash of Hoisin sauce (I used Lee Kum Kee brand here)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce (I used Kikoman brand here)
- 1/4 cup sesame oil (I used Kadoyda brand here)
- 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon of chili flakes (optional for additional spice)
- sesame seeds (for garnish)
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup of water
- Combine diced chicken, cornstarch, ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce in bowl. Stir and put aside.
- Heat vegetable oil on the frying pan over the stove on high. Ensure oil is spread evenly over the surface of the whole pan. Throw crushed garlic into the pan. Once it starts to brown, turn down the heat to medium high.
- Toss in diced onions and mix evenly with the garlic. Once the onions start to become translucent, toss in the rest of the vegetables and mix evenly with spatula. Pour a little bit of water if pan overheats.
- Flip spatula on all 4 corners of the pan to ensure an even cook on the vegetables. Pour all vegetables into a bowl and set aside.
- Toss in chicken in pan. Turn stove back on high heat. Use spatula and flip chicken until both sides are no longer pink.
- Pour vegetables back into pan with chicken. Use spatula and mix chicken and vegetables thoroughly on surface of pan. Flip spatula on all 4 corners of pan. Cover pan on stove with a lid. Turn stove down to medium low heat for about 2-3 mins.
- Uncover and stir vegetable and chicken to ensure nothing sticks to bottom of pan. Add water if necessary.
- Add pineapple and mix evenly. Pineapple should always go last so it stays fresh and crunchy.*
- Add hoisin sauce for preferred sweetness and chili flakes if you like spice. Add sesame seeds for garnish.
- Serve over rice and enjoy!
*Substitute pineapple with mango for a sweeter taste.
Meatballs are great. You can have them with pasta, in a hotdog bun as a sub sandwich, or just to have as a sidedish.
This is a thanksgiving-inspired side dish for anyone who wants turkey and stuffing in a bite-sized morsel.
I’ve made turkey meatballs before, but I wanted to add something a little different for a bit more flavour- sausage happened to be right by the ground meat section, so it was totally an impulse buy.
Ground pork sausage worked amazingly well to keep my turkey meatballs very moist and flavourful since ground turkey is quite lean and can dry out if overcooked.
The recipe is very simple and takes very little time to prepare. All these ingredients can be found at any grocery store.
Turkey and sausage meatballs
Prep time: 10-15 mins, Cook time: 20 mins
Ground pork sausage (500g)
Lean ground turkey (1 lb)
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (any breadcrumbs will do. Panko is nice and light, which is what I prefer)
3/4 cup dry parsley
1 tbs dry parsley for garnish (set aside till after meatballs cooked)
1/4 cup finely diced onion
2 tbs garlic salt
2 tbs dry oregano
1 can of any tomato sauce
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400F. Settings on “bake”.
- Mix well all ingredients together in large bowl. You can use your hands! (Or a big spoon)
- Lightly grease a baking sheet.
- Roll the meatball mixture with your hands into small balls and place balls into rows on baking sheet. Mine were slightly smaller than golf ball size.
- Once oven is fully heated, place meatballs into oven, and set oven for 20 mins.
- After 20 mins, take meatballs out. Test to see if cooked by placing toothpick or fork in centre. If it comes out clean, it’s ready.
- Heat up the tomato sauce in a pot on high. Once bubbly, set to low. Pour over meatballs.
My very long commute to work (1.5 hours 1-way, 3 hours total) makes it really hard to eat a good breakfast. I know I’ll be away from the house for at around 12-15 hours, so it’s really important for me to plan out my meals for the week.
All that commuting gives me time to think about how I’m going to fuel my body so that I’m not feeling gross, cranky or starving throughout the day.
Breakfast food for me has to be quick, portable, healthy and tasty. My breakfast time usually happens on the train, or else the 5 minutes I get to stuff my face in my office before anyone else sees me.
Loaf recipes are relatively easy to make, as long as you have a loaf pan. I’ll batch-make my breakfast over the weekend (usually it’s muffins or a loaf), and it doesn’t take much time and effort at all if you can find an 30-45 min on a Saturday or Sunday.
Here’s another loaf recipe that is fit for autumn and is 5-min-face-stuffing-appropriate.
Apple cinnamon loaf with maple syrup:
Prep time: 15-20 min.
Total cook time: 45-50 min.
Quantity: 1 loaf, cut into 6-8 slices (depending on choice of thickness)
3 apples of your choice (I like Mcintosh or Granny Smith because it gives it a crunchy, tart taste)
3 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 cups whole wheat flour
1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
1.5 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 cup of plain yogurt (if you have applesauce, that’s even better)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/4 cup maple syrup to sweeten (use more if you want it sweeter)
- Pre-heat oven to 350F. Set oven settings to “bake”.
- Lightly grease the loaf pan with a bit of vegetable oil.
- Put all dry ingredients bowl: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon.
- Put all wet ingredients in another bowl: 2.5 diced apples (diced into 1/4 inch chunks. I keep the skin on, but if preferred, apples can be peeled before diced), yogurt, vanilla extract, vegetable oil, maple syrup, eggs. Mix lightly together.
- Combine wet into dry. Mix well together thoroughly with hand mixer or stand mixer until batter is thick.
- Pour into loaf pan and make sure batter is spread evenly.
- Take remaining half-apple. Slice into thin wedges and place wedges into 2 rows on top of loaf. Brush apple wedges with maple syrup.
- Place loaf pan in oven for about 45-50 minutes. Use fork or tooth pick to see if loaf is ready (if fork/tooth pick is clean, then loaf is done).
- Sprinkle top of loaf with cinnamon for finishing touch.
This recipe literally came to me in a dream. Maybe it was the unusually cool weather that has suddenly set it with the start of September. I woke up from my dream and told myself, I must buy butterscotch chips today because it would be great with my pumpkin bread. True story.
Regardless of the source of inspiration, I was craving some kind of pumpkin-related snack to ease my mid-afternoon food cravings.
This recipe takes a while to bake in the oven, but it’s super-easy to prepare. Just set the timer on the oven, get some work done in the hour while you are waiting.
Pumpkin bread makes a great snack at the office or something quick to eat for breakfast in the morning while you are commuting to work or in front of your computer.
Prep time: 10=15 minutes
Cook time: 45-50 minutes
Serving quantity: makes 4-6 slices
2 cups whole wheat flour (white will work as well)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1.5 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
Half teaspoon of cinnamon to sprinkle on top
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup of plain yogurt (or any ¼ cup of milk of your choice, but I find yogurt makes it creamier)
2 tablespoons of maple syrup to sweeten (add more maple syrup depending on how sweet you want it)
¼ cup olive oil (or oil of your choice)
- Pre-heat oven to 325F.
- Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice and baking soda in a bowl
- Combine pumpkin puree, yogurt, eggs, vanilla extract, maple syrup, olive oil in another bowl.
- Combine both bowls and pour in chocolate and butterscotch chips
- Mix all ingredients with hand whisk or with stand mixer on low setting.
- Pour into loaf pan. Sprinkle top lightly with cinnamon
- Put into oven for 45-55 minutes.
- Take out of oven and let cool for 5 minutes