Photography Update

I've stalled on new blog posts, as I've been concentrating on photography for the last little while. I did my very first official wedding photo shoot this past Saturday, and have been working on the post-processing of these photos for the past 2 days. I thought I'd update with a blog post.

If you'd like to check out some of my wedding photos, please go to My Flickr Photostream.

Many thanks to everyone to helped make this wedding photo shoot a success, including Sylvia and Andrew for lending me some of their photography accessories, Michelle T. for trusting me with her External Flash with only having met me once, and Malcolm for helping me reach this point with his support!


Recipe #9: Spicy Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

If you like the mulligatawny soup recipe that I posted a few weeks ago, then you will probably like this soup recipe as well. If you don't like coconut, you should still give this recipe a try, because curry paste will undo a lot of the coconut taste. The balance between the coconut milk and the red curry paste is absolutely wonderful! We've only made this soup once, but both Malcolm and I loved this soup and we'll definitely make it again! This was also the first time that I baked sweet potatoes (with peel) in the oven, and was surprised at how easy it was to pull off the peel after baking. Prep & Cook Time: 50-60 mins Ingredients: - 1 1/2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes - 1 tablespoon vegetable oil - 1 onion, chopped - 1 (2 inch) piece fresh ginger root, thinly sliced - 1 tablespoon red curry paste - 1 (15 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk - 3 cups vegetable broth - 3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice - 1 teaspoon sea salt - 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil - 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Place sweet potatoes directly on rack and bake until tender enough to easily pierce with a fork (~45 mins). Remove from oven and allow to cool.

  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan (medium heat). Add the onion and ginger; cook and stir until tender (3-5 minutes).

  3. Stir in the curry paste and heat for 1 minute. Then, whisk in the coconut milk and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer for approx. 5 minutes.

  4. Remove the skins from the sweet potatoes and cut into bite size chunks. Add to the soup and cook for approx. 5 more minutes. Stir in lemon juice and mix.

  5. Ladle into bowls and, if desired, garnish with a drizzle of sesame oil and a little bit of cilantro.

Nutritional Info (per 1 cup of soup) Calories: 306 Total Fat: 20g Cholesterol: 0mg Recipe idea from http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/spicy-sweet-potato-and-coconut-soup/Detail.aspx


Recipe #8: Avocado & Tomato Sandwich (à la Heartwood)

A few weeks ago we went out to eat at the wonderful Heartwood Vegetarian Cuisine with some of our friends for a little reunion. We had been wanting to try this Cafe/Restaurant for a few weeks, after we were told about it by friends (thanks, Dave & Sunny). It is also great that they only use organic and local food for making their dishes. It is highly recommended!

While there, I ordered the Avocado & Tomato Sandwich, and I absolutely loved it. So much so, in fact, that I wanted to try to make it myself at home. So, the following is a mimic of the recipe from Heartwood.

- foccacia bread (baguette or other works too) - Cut in two
- lettuce
- ripe avocado
- tomato
- alfalfa sprouts
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp umeboshi dressing (type of plum vinegar)

I didn't have any umeboshi dressing at the time, so I just mixed a little bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and rice vinegar (you could use red or white wine vinegar too) together, to taste.

1. Cut up lettuce, tomato, and avocado into slices, thickness as desired.
2. Mix together olive oil and umeboshi dressing; drizzle over foccacia bread slices.
3. Add lettuce, tomato, avocado, and finally, alfalfa sprouts onto both pieces of bread.
4. Enjoy!

You could also just layer all of the veggies onto one slice of the bread and then make it into an actual sandwich, but I like having the two pieces separately.



Vote for Hero Hill: Best Canadian Music Website

Our friends Shane Nadeau and Bryan Acker run a fantastic Canadian Music Website, HEROHILL Music Blog, where they share reviews of a large number of different genres of musicians, albums, songs, and so forth. Basically anything to do with music.

CBC Radio 3 is currently undergoing a search for the best Canadian Music Website, and Herohill is currently in the TOP 20. Very exciting!

Without further ado, I would like to ask and encourage you to vote for Herohill. Voting is just a click of a button - it takes 2 seconds (literally!). Every vote counts!


Searchlight 2011

Photography:: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

I have been wanting to start shooting in RAW format instead of JPEG (thanks to Andrew K. and a recent NSCAD Photography "teacher" for the heads up), but have been somewhat intimidated by the whole process. Because of this, I've had my settings on the DSLR to shooting in both RAW and JPEG simultaneously, for fear of not knowing how to process the RAWs and losing some photos. Thus, before making the switch to RAW for the majority of my pics, I've been playing around with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (a 'professional use' photo management and editing software) a little bit in order to get used to the "lay of the lands" on the program and to become more comfortable with using it.

Here are some "BEFORE" and "AFTER" processing examples using Lightroom on some of my pictures. Click to enlarge, to see the full effects.

BEFORE increasing sharpness (left) and after increasing sharpness (right). It made more of a difference than I would have thought.

BEFORE increasing sharpness and without additional vignette (left) and AFTER increasing sharpness and adding additional vignette (right). Made a big difference in this salamander altercation capture.

BEFORE spot removal (left) and AFTER spot removal (right). I hadn't cleaned my lens in a while, and didn't notice these specks of dirt on the lens until after I had already taken this picture. I thought that it would take a large amount of work to remove these dirt spots, but thanks to Lightroom, it took only a few seconds. Pretty awesome what some of these programs can do without consuming a lot of time.


Recipe #7: Falafel Pitas

We love pitas, and wanted to try to recreate the delicious Falafel pita we usually get at Extreme Pita downtown. We've made falafels a number of times now at home, and have used two different methods. The first method is a very simple one: Buy a package of "Falafel Mix Prepatation" at a convenience store (Malcolm bought ours at Al-Arz Lebanese and Middle Eastern Food Store, though I think it can be found in the International Section at Superstore and Sobeys as well). We also usually buy our pita bread at Al-Arz Food. The directions on the box are very straight forward: Mix the Falafel 'preparation' with water and let sit for one hour; form little falafel balls; fry in oil; eat. We've only tried this method once, and the falafels were quite delicious. That being said, there's nothing more satisfying than making your food from (almost) scratch. So, we've made the amost-from-scratch Falafels more often instead.

Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (approx.)


- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 tbsps fresh parsley, chopped finely
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- Pepper, to taste (if desired)
- Oil (for frying)

1. Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, and pepper in medium bowl. Mash chickpeas so that ingredients mix together.
2. Add flour and continue mashing. If you have a food processor, I would suggest to use it - we don't have one and mix and mash it all by hand, but the Falafel balls usually don't stick together as well when we form them because the ingredients aren't miniscule. Ideally, you will end up with a thick paste of chickpea mush.
3. Form the mixture into small balls, and slightly flatten them.
4. Fry the Falafel balls in approx. 2 inches of oil until golden brown (5-7 minutes each, turning once one side is brown).

Almost-From-Scratch-Falafels (left) and Prepared-Mix-Falafels (right). Both are worth a try.

We've only made Falafel pitas, though the Falafel balls themselves can be served as a main course, as an appetizer (usually with hummus and tahini), or they can even be made into burger patties (if formed differently) for Falafel burgers. Maybe that's what we'll try next.

Once you're ready to make the actual pitas, this is what we suggest to include in the pita:
- Falafel balls (2-3 per pita)
- Hummus
- Tahina/Tahini (sesame seed paste).
- Tomatoes, finely chopped
- Cucumbers, finely chopped,
- Onions, finely chopped (though there are already onions in the Falafels already)
- Lettuce, finely chopped

I also usually add tzatziki, though the guy at Extreme Pita has told me that it doesn't "fit" with the Falafel pita. I believe he denied me tzatziki once, even though I had asked for it! Unfortunately I didn't get any pics of the made-up pitas, but I'm sure you can picture it.

Now, obviously this isn't the most healthy meal possible due to the frying in the oil, but of course the ingredients are very healthy, so I like to think that it evens out a little bit. =)

Recipe #6: Lemon Quinoa with Asparagus and Feta

I found this recipe online yesterday, when I was looking for recipes where we could use the last of our asparagus that has been sitting in the fridge for a few days. I ran across this recipe, and thought it sounded pretty delicious. We tried it, and we both really liked it! I had to leave out the thyme and the real juice of a lemon (instead, I used the commercial lemon juice out of the squeeze bottle, and it seemed to work out okay). Also, I used half of the original recipe ingredients, which was plenty for the two of us plus some left-overs. In the ingredients below, I have cut down the ingredients to what we used, which was plenty for two people. Also, I decided to use 1/2 cup red quinoa, and 1/2 cup regular 'white' quinoa... because it seemed like fun. =)

Time: 35-45 minutes

- 2 cups water
- 1 cup Quinoa
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 shallot, minced (we just used white onion; had no shallots at the time)
- 1.5 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme (didn't have this in the house)
- 4 ounces feta, crumbled
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (used lemon juice out of squeeze bottle)

1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in medium saucepan. Add the quinoa and stir. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until quinoa has absorbed all of the water (15-20 minutes). Set aside (covered).
2. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot and shimmering, stir in the shallot/onion. Sauté, stirring often, until the shallot/onion is light brown (5-7 minutes).
3. Add the asparagus and thyme (if you have it) and cook, stirring often, until the asparagus is tender but still bright green (8-10 minutes). Add 2-3 tbsps of water halfway through cooking to steam the asparagus a little bit.

4. When the asparagus is finished, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the quinoa, the crumbled feta, and the lemon juice. Season to taste with pepper, if desired.

Recipe idea from http://www.cookthink.com/recipe/3824/Lemon_Quinoa_With_Asparagus_And_Feta


Recipe #5: Rice Paper Wraps

Although this isn't really a 'recipe', it is such a fun (and fairly healthy) meal, that I wanted to share it on this blog. Malcolm and I first had these rice paper wraps when we visited our friends in Canmore, Alberta this past summer. Thank you so much Kimber and Steve, for introducing us to them, and for hosting us for a number of sleeps during our trip! We've made these wraps several times since visiting, and have introduced them to a few of our own friends as well, all of whom enjoyed them tremendously! These wraps, if put together wisely, provide one epic taste sensation explosion!

What You Need
- Fairly large plate (which curves up a little)
- Warm water
- A number of desired food ingredients (see below), diced and cut up into small bits; Obviously you can make a number of different combinations, and you could add a number of other ingredients or leave some out, but below is a list of things we almost always include in our rice paper wrap "buffet".

Food Ingredients
- Rice Paper Wraps (found at Superstore, in the international section, I think)
- Red or green bell pepper
- Onion (of your choice)
- Cucumber
- Avocado (ripe)
- Carrots
- Peanuts
- Garlic (pressed)
- Ginger (graded or cut into very small pieces)
- Lettuce
- Tomato
- Extra Firm Tofu (and/or cubed chicken, if desired... we usually alternate or have both); Cut extra-firm tofu into small cubes, pat them dry with a paper towel or other towel; marinate with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp of garlic powder (but do not let it sit too long, otherwise they will soak up too much sauce, and we like making them crispy); add to frying pan (with a little bit of oil) and fry until crispy.
- Rice Noodles (usually we have both regular and spinach rice noodles)

- Hoi Sin Sauce
- Spiracha Hot Chili Sauce (from Superstore)
- Soy Sauce
- Peanut Sauce (we make our own with regular peanut butter and water)
- Tzatziki
- Tahina (sometimes)
- Hummus (sometimes)

Home-made Peanut Sauce (left) and Extra-Firm fried Tofu (right)

Part of one of our rice paper wraps "buffet"

1. Take 1 rice paper out of package and place it into plate with warm water, so that all of it is covered with water. Let soak for a few seconds, ensuring all of the rice paper is soft. Do not let "soak" for longer than 30-40 seconds.
2. Place softened rice paper onto your own plate, and fill with desired ingredients. One tip is to put peanut sauce, tzatziki, and anything else with a little less viscosity first, then veggies, and then drizzle with Hoi Sin, Soy, and any other desired sauces. Warning: Do not use a lot of the Spiracha Hot Chili Sauce, because it is VERY hot!

Thanks again, Kimber & Steve - this post is in your Honour! :)

Malcolm, Kimber, and Steve during our "Rice Paper Wrap Supper" in Canmore, Alberta (Summer 2010)


Recipe #4: Roasted Garlic and Lentil Soup

This is one of my very favourite soups, and we've made it several times over the past few months. If you like lentils and rice, then this soup will be heaven for you! :)

- 10 small tomatoes (or 5 med tomatoes; the smaller, the faster they're ready)
- 10 cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (this is a must)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds (if available)
- 1 tsp ground ginger (I just shave fresh ginger with cheese grater)
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg (I usually add more)
- 1 cup red or brown rice (uncooked)
- 3 cups vegetable stock (I use the bouillon cubes)
- 1 can (540ml) lentils with liquid

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celcius)
2. Combine tomatoes, cloves of garlic, 2 tbsp oil, and rosemary in a pie plate. Bake for 30-40 minutes (until tomatoes and garlic are soft). Let sit to cool down.
3. In a large saucepan, heat 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onion, and fry for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally (until onion is soft).
4. Add cumin, fennel, ginger, nutmeg, and rice. Stir constantly for 1 minute, then add 2 cups (500 ml) of vegetable stock, and bring it all to a boil. Cover, reduce to low, and simmer for 30-40 minutes (until rice is tender).
5. When tomatoes & garlic have cooled down a little, pour them into a blender, along with remaining vegetable stock. Blend until smooth (1-2 minutes) on medium or high.
6. Add all of this to soup in saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes (until heated through).
I would suggest to add a little bit more water or vegetable stock, especially if you're going to store some of this in the fridge, as it will dry up somewhat while it is being stored. That being said, this doesn't necessarily have to be a soup - it can just be a rice/lentil meal, and it is just as good. Also, I sprinkled some cayenne pepper and fresh rosemary on top of the soup before serving.

I am so in love with this soup, so if you try it, let me know if you love it just as much! :)

Recipe idea from "125 Best Vegetarian Recipes" by Byron Ayanoglu


Recipe #3: Mulligatawny (Soup)

First off, THANK YOU to fellow teacher Natasha D., who was super nice to have shared this recipe with me! Were it not for her, I would still not know about this delicious soup. I'm not sure if this is a family recipe or a recipe she found online, but I hope it is okay to share it. Thank you, again!

Mulligatawny is a "curry-flavoured soup of Anglo-Indian origin" (wikipedia). I have only made this soup once before (a few days ago), but it suited my taste buds so much, that it was a MUST to share with you right away.

- 1 tbsp cooking oil (i.e., sunflower oil)
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) chopped onion (I would recommend sweet onion for this)
- 3/4 cup (175ml) sliced carrots
3/4 cup (175ml) sliced celery
- 2 garlic cloves (pressed or chopped finely)
- 2 tbsp ginger (fresh)
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 4 cups (250ml) chicken stock (I use the bouillon cubes dissolved in hot water for this)
- 1 cup diced, peeled potato (use sweet potato for a healthier substitute)
- 1 thinly diced tart apple (Granny Smith is great)
- 1 (14oz) can (398ml) coconut milk
- 1/2 cup-1 cup diced extra-form tofu (original recipe calls for chicken, chopped/cooked)
- 1/2 cup (125ml) sweetened apple sauce

The original recipe also calls for 1/4 tsp of salt, but I didn't add this. The soup has such a strong and delicious taste, that this wasn't necessary.

1. Heat cooking oil in large sauce pan on medium
2. Add onion, carrots, celery, cloves, and ginger. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until onion is softened.
3. Add curry powder. Heat and stir for approx. 1 minute until vegetables are coated and curry is fragrant.
4. Add chicken stock, potato, and apple. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Let sit (covered) for approx. 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potato is tender.
5. Add coconut milk, tofu/chicken, and apple sauce. Cooke for approx. 5 minuted until heated through.

If you're going to serve this to someone and worry about presentation, you can also sprinkle some fresh rosemary and either chili powder or cayenne pepper on the surface of the soup, though for taste alone, it isn't necessary. This is what mine looked like:

Nutritional Info (per 1 cup; with chicken)
203 calories
12.7g Fat
19.6mg Cholesterol
15g Carbohydrates
2g Fiber
9g Protein
493mg Sodium


Recipe #2: Sautéed Asparagus and Tofu Stir-Fry

This is a wonderful little addition to any meal (could be eaten with rice, perhaps even pasta, or any meat side if so desired). I love its 'unique' taste, and the fact that it is a superbly healthy meal. Prep time for this is approximately 15 minutes, and sauté/cook time is about 10 minutes more. Of course, the faster you chop, the shorter the prep time will be. I, however, am no pro chopper quite yet. :)

Ingredients (4 Servings)
- 1 onion (cut into slivers)
- 4 medium cloves of garlic (minced or finely chopped)
- 1 red bell pepper (cut thinly/julienne style)
- 1 tbsp vegetable broth (I use bouillon cubes dissolved in hot water)
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger (minced - I use a cheese grater for this, and grade it all)
- 3 cups asparagus (discard of the bottom bit and then cut into 3 equal parts)
- 1/2 cup - 1 cup of extra firm tofu (cut into small cubes)
- 1 tbsp tamari (soy sauce)
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- sesame seeds


  1. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable broth in skillet/frying pan. Sauté onion in broth over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add garlic, ginger, asparagus, and peppers; continue to stir-fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add tofu, soy sauce, and vinegar. Turn heat to low and cover for 2-4 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, yet still crisp (your preference).
  4. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
*Note: While the original recipe says to simply throw the cubed tofu in as is, I decided to crisp the tofu up a little bit before doing so. To do this, simply take a piece of paper towel and dab it several times on top of the tofu cubes to drain out some of the excess water. Put the tofu cubes into a bowl, sprinkle with garlic powder, and shake/mix until all cubes are fairly covered with the powder. Heat a tiny bit of peanut oil (or other vegetable oil, though peanut seems to work best with the tofu) in a frying pan, add the tofu, and let sit for several minutes, stirring occasionally to turn the cubes (5-10, depending on your preference - the longer, the crispier). Now you can add the tofu cubes to your stir-fry, or add them in at the very end to avoid them getting "un-crispy" again. Good luck! :)

Nutritional Info
(Per 1 serving; 1/4 of above amount)
98 calories
The original recipe also called for salt and white pepper to taste, but I didn't find this necessary. I avoid cooking with salt when I can, as it is found in nearly everything we eat already in the first place.

I love that the veggies are sautéed/stir-fried only in a bit of vegetable broth instead of in vegetable/cooking oil - makes for a bit of an even healthier meal. I think I will try this method from now on when making stir-fry. For our meal, I also made a bit of barbecue spiced salmon (bought fresh from Superstore), and they fit perfectly together. A small side salad would also be preferable, completing the meal.

Like? Dislike? Love? Hate? Let me know your taste buds' feelings if you try this recipe. I most definitely recommend it. It's a nice change from the usual. :)

Recipe idea and information from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=114&tname=recipe


Recipe #1: Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burgers

This is a fun and delicious meal, well combined with a quick and easy salad. The veggie burgers take about 30-35 minutes to make, including the prep time and bake time. A small amount of time to put into such an enjoyable meal!


1 (16 ounce) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp chili powder (up to 2 tbsp for increased spice)
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp thai chili sauce or hot sauce
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- sesame seeds (if desired)
- buns (PC 4-Seed Bagel Thins or other)


  1. Grilling: Preheat BBQ/Grill (high heat), and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. Baking: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet.
  2. In a bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty. This takes quite a bit of endurance, but keep at it - it will be worth it.
  3. Finely chop onion, bell pepper, and garlic. You can use a food processor here if you have one, but I just use a knife (the ceramic knife that my sister gave to me is awesome for this and a garlic press for the garlic). Combine these ingredients with the mashed beans.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the egg, chili powder, cumin, and the chili sauce.
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in the bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into 4-5 patties. I usually manage to get 5 patties out of this, or even 6, depending on how thin/thick you want them.
  6. I like putting some Sesame seeds on top of the burger patties as well. Last time I did this after baking, but either before or after should be fine.
  7. If Grilling: Place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If Baking: Place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.
  8. For burger buns, I usually use the PC 4-Seed Bagel Thins - a healthier substitute to regular buns.
I've never barbecued/grilled them before... I've only made them in the oven, and they've turned out great each time. The only thing you have to watch for, is that they don't stick to the sheet in the oven, because when you try to flip them over, this can cause a bit of a falling-apart effect. I'd say you could even go without a sheet and just grease a baking pan, or really make sure that your baking sheet is greased. I used aluminum last time, and they stuck to this like crazy - so try to avoid that! Other than that, all you need is a little light mayo, and some barbecue sauce or ketchup for those who want it, and a couple of pieces of lettuce (romaine or other) for inside the burger! Now they're ready to be eaten!

Side Salad

As mentioned above, these veggie burgers go very well with a nice, quick, balsamic vinegar based salad. I usually use Romaine or a mix of lettuces (Arugula is great) for the salad. For a very quick and simple salad dressing, I combine the following ingredients:

- 1 tbsp Olive or Sunflower Oil
- 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1-2 'squirts' of [Honey] Dijon Mustard
- Salad spices (mine is a fantastic mix from Switzerland, but any mixture of Italian Seasoning, Basil, Oregano, etc, works)

If you like, you can add minced garlic and/or finely chopped onion, which I add when I have time to chop them. I try to avoid salt, even though this is 'recommended' in the majority of dressings you see online. I don't think you need it at all... you can't taste a difference when you don't add salt, and the dressing is a bit healthier without it!

I hope you try out this recipe - let me know what you think!

Recipe Idea from http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/homemade-black-bean-veggie-burgers/Detail.aspx


Helpful & Motivational Websites

Here are a few very helpful, easily usable, and motivational websites if you are trying to keep track of what you are eating (whether that is for caloric intake/burning, nutritional information to ensure that you are getting enough of the vitamins and minerals suggested per day, or just out of curiosity).

1. Fit Day: http://fitday.com/
This is a fantastic [FREE and very easy to use] website where you can do all of the following:
- Daily food log (search for food OR create/input your own with specific nutritional info)
- Daily activity log (search activities and add to log, specifying time spent; Shows calories burned).
- Caloric Balance (shows calories eaten vs. calories burned)
- Weight log (keep track of your weight; daily/weekly/monthly; weight graph for an overview).
- Weight Goal option (input a 'weight goal' and a goal deadline; determine daily calorie restriction necessary to reach your goal within your chosen time period, tracks your progress via graphs/stats).
- Journal (entries about your progress regarding your eating habits, exercise, mood, or other thoughts).
- Additional 'features' include a calendar, a mood tracker (where you can input how you feel each day; shows statistics about your mood over time), options to input and keep track of body measurements and BMI, and more.

2. Nutrition Data: http://nutritiondata.self.com/
This is a neat and easy-to-use website that provides you with nutritional date of a huge variety of foods, including specific restaurant food (i.e., fast food places). It shows you an abundance of information on each food you search, including broken down, detailed nutrition facts, caloric ratio (what % of carbs, proteins, and fats the food is made up of), the food's protein quality, and more.


Food Staples & Upcoming Recipe Posts

So I've had this idea for a while, - to share some of the most tasty and healthy recipes that Malcolm and I have been trying out over the past few years.

Our eating habits have changed dramatically over the past 3 years. When I think back to how we used to eat 3+ years ago, it boggles my mind how we managed to go without eating the healthy and delicious food that we eat now. Sure, we always had a side of vegetables and a salad for 'dessert' (we almost never have actual sweet dessert), but the main staples in our daily meals back then included pasta, rice, potatoes, steak, chicken, beef, pork, and a number of fast food restaurant meals per week or month (unfortunately!). The A&W Teen Burger just couldn't seem to be resisted back then. :) Our main staples now are completely different. They consist of lentils, black/kidney beans, chickpeas, brown/long grain rice, and a huge load of veggies. I never thought I would 'survive' eating pasta only once every week and a half or so, but it seems that I have [survived this]. I can't remember the last time we made pasta here at home.

The thing about cooking (for most people, I presume), is that often the motivation to do so just isn't there. Excuses range anywhere from "I don't have enough time", to "I don't have the groceries I need at hand in the house", to "I'm not a good cook", to "I don't know what to make aside from spaghetti, pizza, lasagna, and meat & potatoes". If your excuse is any of the above, then hopefully the recipes that will follow over the coming days, weeks, and months, will give you that little piece of motivation to start cooking at home more often that you've been looking for.

One thing that is important to realize is that anyone can be a good cook. By this, I don't mean that anyone has the natural intuition about which foods go well with which food and drinks, or that everyone can simply whip up a new, creative, and scrumptious (oh, how I love this word) meal off the top of their head, or that everyone knows exactly how long to boil something, how long to bake something, or how long to fry something off the top of their heads. I simply mean, that everyone can follow a recipe and make a meal as delicious as what it looks like on the given photo that is being shown in the recipe heading. Agreed?

The second thing to remember is that it does take a number of 'staples' in your kitchen to have at least the basis of ingredients for many recipes (especially vegetarian). The majority of these items include spices and food that can be stored for a while, either canned, bagged, or otherwise. Of course there are always those ingredients (such as fruits, fresh veggies, and so forth) which you will need to pick up a a day or two prior to making your meal, but there are certainly a number of "must-haves" in your kitchen that will make the grocery shopping part of your recipe-following cooking experience that much more quick, enjoyable, and motivating.

I may add some more items to this list, but here is a core list of items/ingredients which Malcolm and I always have at hand in our cupboards, ready to be used.

Spices (my favourites have a * by them)
- Cumin*
- Thyme*
- Turmeric*
- Coriander/Cilantro

- Cayenne Pepper*
- Chili Powder*

- Cloves
- Nutmeg
- Cinnamon

- Oregano
- Basil

- Paprika
- Rosemary (though I would suggest getting it fresh rather than the dry - more taste in fresh).

I recommend just going out and buying one of those handy spice racks (if you don't already have one) that come with the spices themselves - it will make it easier/more fun to start using them!

(Canned or otherwise)
- Lentils (canned or dry)
- Garbanzo Beans/Chick peas (I suggest canned, as it is much easier and takes much less time)
- Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Haricot (white) Beans (all canned)
- Garlic Cloves (I recommend getting packs of 3 at a time - you will use them, guaranteed)
- Onions (depending on what we make, we usually use red onions or sweet onions)
- Ginger root (I've come to love cooking with this)
- Red/Green Bell Peppers (they last a while in fridge; we usually have up to 4 at any given time).
- Quinoa (a great substitute for rice)


- Bread crumbs (you can just buy these in a little container)
- Extra Firm Tofu (a great substitute for any meat dish, especially where diced/cubed, but also a great addition to any other meal such as stir-fry or rice paper wrap meals)
- Rice Paper Wraps

I could probably go on and on, listing things that I would recommend as being a 'staple' in your kitchen, but I think I'm starting to just list food that I like cooking with and that I like eating... so I will simply stop here! :)

Check back for some healthy, yummy recipes in the days to come!


"Head in the Cloud, Feet on the Ground"

This is a little late in coming, but I want to openly congratulate Malcolm on his new job at Upstart Industries as their newest full-time employee. Here is a little blurb that his new employers wrote up about him after he became a part of their team.

"Upstart Industries Hires New Senior Software Engineer"

I am sure great things are to come.

Congratulations, Malcolm!


Ringing in 2011

"An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves." ~Bill Vaughan

Every New Year's Eve, people make resolutions, look back fondly (or not so fondly) on the past year, and look forward to the new year with high expectations and a large amount of hope.

I had thought about listing all of the significant events of 2010 - the friendships made, the nieces gained, the 'firsts' and the 'lasts', the hopes renewed, the dreams which came true - but instead, I will simply say "HAPPY NEW YEAR and all the best" to all of you out there. Cliche, but it is from the heart.

All the best for 2011 - there will be good news, there will be bad news, and there will be a lot of in-betweens. May we all make the best of each day, as we should each year.