Go-To Smoothies/Shakes

I drink a smoothie pretty much every day; they’re perfect for breakfast, on the side with lunch, or as a midday snack. It’s my favourite way to get in a bunch of protein and other nutrients in a yummy, filling, healthy, quick, and super easy way. These are a few of the combinations that I like the best – I hope you enjoy. The method is the same for each one – just throw everything in the blender and blend until smooth!

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Greatest Green Smoothie 

My roommate literally thinks I’m crazy when she watches me making this, and I guess I can sort of see why. But I swear, it’s crazy green colour is not an indication of taste. It’s super creamy, a little sweet, and completely loaded with protein and other goodness. (I know, really original name for this one. And every other one…)

1 Banana, quartered

1 cup Fresh Kale, chopped roughly

1/4 cup Avocado

2 Medjool Dates, seeds removed

1 tbsp Chia Seeds

1 tbsp Nut Butter (I like PB)

1 tsp Vanilla

2 Ice Cubes

1 cup Vanilla Almond Milk

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California Coconut Date Shake 

I came up with this one when I first started trying to out “Date Shake” combinations about a month ago. Now, it’s one of my favourites in my smoothie rotation. Date Shakes are a specialty of the Palm Springs area of Southern California, where they apparently grow a bunch of dates. They’re usually loaded with ice cream, and while that would be delicious, I can’t exactly justify that in my morning routine. This version, I can.

2 – 3 Medjool Dates, seeds removed

1 tbsp Ground Flax Seeds

1 tbsp Coconut Manna

1 tsp Vanilla

2 Ice Cubes

1 cup Coconut Almond Milk

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Summertime Berry Smoothie  

This is basically everything healthy that you could possibly throw into a smoothie in one cup, but it just tastes like berries. I like using fresh berries, but of course frozen works as well.

1 cup Mixed Berries (Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries)

1 Banana, quartered

1/2 cup Spinach or Kale, roughly chopped

1 tbsp Chia Seeds

1 tbsp Flax Seeds

2 tbsp Hemp Protein Powder

1/4 cup Yogurt (your choice)

1/2 cup Coconut Water

1/2 cup Vanilla Almond Milk

1 or 2 Ice Cubes (if using fresh berries)

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Smoked Almond and Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

Are you guys ready for the best sandwich you’ll possibly ever eat? Something totally unique that you would never think of but just totally works? I can’t take credit for it; that’ll go to the hilarious, genius guys over at Thug Kitchen – specifically in their new cookbook  – Eat Like You Give A F*ck. I discovered this blog a few months ago – it’s the best contrast to how perfect everyone is always trying act in this big old food world of blogs and cookbooks and food shows. Their message is simple – think (and care) about what you are eating. There may or may not be a few f bombs thrown around in their book, along with simple and healthy but inventive recipes, and it reminds you that these people, these food bloggers with thousands of followers, they’re just like us! Cooking is not some crazy science. Anyone can do it.

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It actually inspired me to finally start cooking my own beans. I’d been wanting to for forever but was being rather lazy. I can hardly believe how much cheaper it is, though. I got a giant bag of organic dried chickpeas for $10 and using 1/3 cup of dry beans = 1 regular can of chickpeas. Plus, it’s so simple. It takes a bit of time (patience) but seriously no work at all.

Anyway. Back to the sandwich. I almost didn’t post this recipe because, well, my photos don’t do it any justice (it’s hard to make pretty!). But then I was eating the sandwich (I made an open-faced version) and I couldn’t not share it. The lemon with the dill with the smokey almonds blow every other boring sandwich outta the park. You need to make it. And then you need to buy this cookbook to make all of the other crazy recipes hidden inside. The end.

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Smoked Almond and Chickpea Salad Sandwiches 

Adapted from Eat Like You Give A F*ck 

Makes about 3 Sandwiches (and some extra almonds)

Almonds:

2 1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke

1/2 tsp Olive Oil

1 tsp Tamari or Soy Sauce

1 tsp Maple Syrup

2 tsp Nutritional Yeast

1 tsp Paprika

1 tsp Garlic Powder

3/4 cup Whole Raw Almonds

Chickpea Salad:

1 1/2 cups Chickpeas, cooked or canned

1/2 Avocado

1 1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice

1/3 cup Red Onion, diced

2 tbsp – 1/4 cup Fresh Dill, minced (depending on your tastes)

1 stalk Celery, diced

1 tsp Hot Sauce (I used Sriracha)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Sandwiches:

6 pieces of Bread, toasted

Dijon Mustard

Lettuce

1. Heat oven to 350. Lay some parchment paper over a baking sheet.

2. To make the almonds, combine the liquid ingredients in a small bowl, then combine the dry ingredients (minus the almonds) in another small bowl. Toss the almonds in the liquid ingredients, making sure that all of the almonds are covered. Then remove the almonds from the liquid bowl, and toss them into the bowl with the dry ingredients, stirring to coat the almonds completely. Scoop the almonds out of the bowl and spread them onto your lined baking sheet. Toast them in the oven for 10 minutes, then take them out and stir them around a bit, then put them back into the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

3. Meanwhile, combine your chickpeas, avocado, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Mash the ingredients together – this step is going to be a lot easier if you cook your chickpeas very well. It’s okay if your mixture is a little chunky, though. Next, fold in your chopped onion, dill, and celery, and then your hot sauce and some salt and pepper to taste.

4. Once the almonds are cool, roughly chop them up and add them to the mixture – I added a little more than half.

5. Serve the salad on toasted bread with some dijon mustard and lettuce. The sandwiches are best enjoyed right away, because the salad might start to lose it’s crunch if it’s in the fridge for a while.

Fish Tacos with Purple Cabbage Slaw

Fish tacos are kind of all the rage around here lately, aren’t they? (And by here I mean where I live in Canada…) Most restaurants seem to have their own takes on them, and I’m pretty much always tempted to order them when I go out. My favourite are from a place called Añejo in Calgary – they also have fantastic guac and margaritas, if you were wondering.

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I never really thought about making my own, mainly because I’m not very brave about deep frying things. But then I decided that maybe I didn’t actually need to deep fry the fish to make fish tacos. Maybe coating them with a little flour and spices and then cooking it in a pan with just a lil bit of oil would work just as well? (It did.) Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients here – all you need to do is throw together a quick slaw, cook the fish, and then you’ve got yourself a taco bar and your friends/family can build their own tacos with all of the fixings. Simple, right?

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I’d actually never made a cabbage slaw before I made these tacos. I kind of forget that cabbage does not need to be totally coated in mayonnaise in order to make it into a slaw. I actually really enjoyed this one by itself, not only in the tacos. Do you guys have any tips for “shredding” cabbage? A quick google told me that it was easiest not to “shred” it at all, but rather to slice it in a weird way… That’s what I ended up doing, and it worked alright, but I’m interesting in hearing about other methods!

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Fish Tacos with Purple Cabbage Slaw 

Makes about 12 Tacos 

Adapted from The Kitchn

For the slaw:

1 small Purple Cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)

1 small Carrot, grated

3 Green Onions, thinly sliced

1/2 Jalapeño, seeded and minced

1 clove Garlic, minced

1 tbsp Lime Juice

2 tbsp Mayonnaise (or alternative – vegannaise, lemonnaise)

2 tsp Honey

Salt & Pepper, to taste

For the fish:

1/3 cup All Purpose Flour

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Pepper

1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika or Chipotle Powder

1 – 1 1/2 lbs White Fish (sole, snapper, tilapia, etc.)

2 tbsp Canola Oil

To Serve:

12 Corn Tortillas, warmed

Torn Cilantro Leaves

Avocado Slices

Lime Wedges

Salsa

Sour Cream

1. To prepare the slaw, place the shredded cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Massage and squeeze the cabbage with your hands to help it release its liquid and begin wilting. Transfer the cabbage to a strainer set over a bowl and set aside to drain for about 15 minutes.

2. Squeeze the cabbage of its excess liquid, one handful at a time, and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the grated carrot, green onions, and jalapeño. Toss to combine. Whisk together the minced garlic, lime juice, mayonnaise, and honey. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the cabbage mix and toss to combine.

3. To prepare the fish, combine the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika in a shallow container. Pat the fish dry, then dredge it in the flour mixture.

4. Heat the oil in a heavy (preferably cast iron) pan over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmery and flows to coat the entire bottom of the pan. Add the fish to the pan — if cooking multiple fillets, arrange them in a single layer with a little space between. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, carefully flipping once with a spatula, until both sides are golden brown and the fish is opaque and flakes apart easily in the thickest part. Transfer the fish to a clean plate and flake into large chunks.

5. Serve the fish on a platter with the tortillas, slaw, cilantro, avocado, lime and salsa on the side, letting each diner assemble his or her own tacos.

Deutschland!!

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So I didn’t really know what to expect from Germany. I had never been, and it isn’t somewhere that people usually rave about a whole lot when they travel (aside from Berlin, of course). Besides bratwurst, beer, and pretzels, I just didn’t know a whole lot about it – which I suppose made me easy to impress. The landscape and weather in Germany is actually quite a lot like Canada (at least where I live) so I felt fairly at home. I also loved how each city I went to (Bremen, Berlin, and Hamburg) was totally distinct, yet equally lovely and interesting.

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The German’s are extremely modest, but always really friendly if you took a little time to talk to them. I actually had a few conversations with multiple people about the German’s typical attitude and outlook, and was really intrigued. One guy I met had travelled to Canada, and was basically accusing us of being artificially happy; he thought that our optimism and sometimes extreme outward friendliness was kind of an act – which I of course disagree with, but I can see why he thought this because of how reserved many of the German’s I met were. Another friend I met described to me how afraid of rejection the people tend to be – how people will not come up to you in a bar or in public to make conversation because they are scared of coming off wrong, but that often if you do the same, they will actually be really friendly. The same friend also talked about how German’s can often come across as rude because of their stubbornness and cynical humour. I think that these personality traits might put off some people, but I somehow found them both intriguing and endearing (I’m kind of weird that way?).

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Anyway, I adored Germany in a completely different way than I loved Spain, but they were probably my favourite countries from this trip. Germany – Hamburg in particular – might even be my top choice for a city to live in if I ever decide to move myself over to Europe. You never know, right?

Bremen 

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My first stop in Germany was the smaller (compared to the major cities), medieval, Northwestern city of Bremen. I came here entirely because this is where my best friend, Carley, is living for 8 months on an exchange-type program. I spent about 5 days staying with her, exploring the city while she worked and then hanging out with her and some of her friends during the evenings and on the weekend.

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We spent our first evening catching up and walking around Bürgerpark, a massive green space in the middle of the city full of fountains, lakes, spacious lawns, and unique statues. The next day, I spent time exploring the old city centre; I saw the town hall, the famous town musicians, the cathedral, plenty of statues, and tiny, medieval streets with adorable shops, such as the Bremer Bonbon Manufaktur on Böttcherstrasse, an old-fashioned candy store where everything is handmade and I picked up some German style candy canes. I also strolled through the city market, and then headed to the Das Viertel district. I had an amazing chicken curry bagel and a grapefruit smoothie at Coffee Corner, browsed through clothes, jewelry, and cute gifts at Kauf Dich Glücklich, wished that it was logical to purchase basically everything at Grün and Form, a local store with beautiful pottery/kitchen goods/gardening supplies, and drank tea and had flourless chocolate cake at Marianne. It was a busy but wonderful day, and I got to see 3 totally different parts of Bremen – the medieval downtown area, the up-and-coming (full of adorable cafes and shop, but also more graffiti than I’ve ever seen) area of Das Viertel, and the university area where Carley lives.

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Over the next few days we spent lots of time swimming and tanning at the lake closest to Carley’s place, watching football games at outdoor viewings – Germany was in the quarter finals at this point, and Carley has lot’s of Brazilian friends from work – and walking around the downtown area at a festival that was in town. Another (highlight?) of the trip was going to a very old-style German brewery and accidentally ordering the hugest currywurst that I have ever seen in my life. The thing was literally two feet long, and other people in the restaurant kept snickering as they passed our table, and some even asked to take pictures. I had an amazing time in Bremen, mainly because I was with my best friend who I had been missing dearly, but also because it is a beautiful city with lots of things to see and do, and hardly any tourists. I would definitely recommend stopping in if you happen to be in the area!

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Berlin 

I took a bus from Bremen to Berlin, the only city where I spent multiple days without friends or family. I was actually perfectly content to be alone, because I had a huge agenda, since Berlin is a massive city with SO many things to see and do.

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I got to Berlin in the early evening, and immediately met some American guys from my hostel to go for dinner with. We went to Dada Falafel, I place a couple blocks from our the hostel. This meal was among my favourite from my whole trip; I had fresh mint tea and a plate with falafel, shwarma, roasted aubergine, tabouleh, pita, and a range of dips. It was really good value, the restaurant was a nice, bright space, and the service was really good. Afterwards, I went to one of Berlin’s famous warehouse parties with a group of Aussie guys from my hostel – I didn’t get too crazy, because I wanted to be up early the next day, but it was really cool to see the nightlife (even on a Monday night!) and I had a good time hanging out with some new friends.

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On my first full day, I rented a bike because I knew I was going to want to see a lot. I stopped for coffee and a quick breakfast at The Barn, a cool cafe that roasts their own coffee – very similar to some of my favourites at home, which was honestly really nice. On my way to museum island, I got very distracted by passing through a shopping district and ended up stopping in a few places. My favourite was & Other Stories, a sister brand of H&M. I went from there to the Pergamon, a huge archaeological museum on what is known as “museum island”. It was pretty impressive, even though museums aren’t really my thing. It ended up absolutely pouring while I was in the museum, so I decided to ditch my bike and just walk with my umbrella, because that for some reason seemed easier. I ended up walking for quite a while, but saw the Holocaust Memorial (both the stone blocks that are above ground and the museum underneath), which was actually really, really cool. I’m really into WWII stories though. After retrieving my bike and walking around some more, I had dinner at an Indian place near my hostel, and then went and watched the World Cup Semi Finals at the Brandenburg Gate with the Aussie guys. This was actually one of the coolest experiences – there were literally thousands and thousands of people crowded in this huge space watching the game, and of course Germany beat Brazil 7 – 1, which made for a pretty crazy night.

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In the morning, I went to the bus station to buy tickets to get to Hamburg, and then tried to fit as many things into half of a day that I could, but since Berlin is so big, this was kind of difficult. I went to the East Side Gallery – the longest remaining portion of the Berlin Wall, which has been painted by artists, and then went up to the Prenzlauer Berg area for a take out lunch from Suicide Sue. This place was actually the coolest little sandwich/coffee shop, and Prenzlauer Berg is supposed to be a really cool area, so I was really sad that I didn’t have time to walk around any longer. Of course, I was far too over-ambitious with my time and ended up missing my bus and having to catch a train that was a bit more expensive.

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I honestly wasn’t sure what to think about Berlin. It’s not nearly as beautiful as so many other cities around Europe, there were a lot of tourists, and I felt extremely pressed for time. It’s just such a cool city though, and it has a sense of being very “up-and-coming”. I feel like I need more time to explore all of the different neighbourhoods, to see more, smaller museums, and to get a better sense of the city. More so than any other city, I don’t think it was fair to Berlin to spend such a small amount of time there.

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Hamburg

One of the things that I really wanted to try while I was in Europe was couch-surfing. Basically, there is a website of people who offer their couches to travellers for free. And it’s not nearly as sketchy as it sounds. Seriously. I got to Hamburg on Wednesday evening and met my host at a coffee shop/gourmet food store called Mutterland (it was the first place I found with wifi, but also had delicious pastries and some really cool food items like homemade marshmallows and dozens of local jams, etc.) He ended up being a really cool, super nice guy. After dropping off my stuff at his place, we went and walked by the harbour (which is lined by some cute restaurants and walking paths) and he told me about Hamburg and we talked about travelling. Since he worked in the morning, we had a pretty early night.

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The next day I walked around Hamburg, seeing Speicherstadt, Alsterarkaden, and a large portion of the town centre. I had lunch at Cafe Cholesterin, a nice little hidden bistro with lots of comfort dishes like quiche and lasagna, plus yummy chocolate cake and big latte bowls. When he finished work, my host and I rented bikes, stopped for some kebab, and rode up to Hamburg Stadtpark. We spent the evening talking, people watching, and picnic-ing. We had initially planned on swimming, but ended up opting out. The park was actually so beautiful and hardly felt like you were in the city, because you couldn’t see any buildings past the surrounding trees. There were so many interesting groups of people throwing frisbees, suntanning, picnic-ing, and just hanging out.

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I adored Hamburg because it has such a large harbour that it practically feels like it’s on the ocean (and really, it isn’t very far), it’s a large city with lots to do, it is super green with numerous parks, but it didn’t feel very touristy (and it was mid July). I think it probably helped that I was staying with someone who actually lives there, but it just seemed like a really nice place to live.

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I was actually pretty sad to leave Germany; like I said, it kind of felt like home compared to how different many of the other countries were, but I was so excited for my next stop – Denmark.

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