ITALY

I don't think I have to even try to describe Italy to you in this post. All I can say is that you should really make a point to go at some point in your life. It doesn't matter what age you are, if your young or older or in-between, you will be overwhelmed with the beautiful way of life there, the rich history around every corner, the color and art. It's one of those places that you think to yourself, 'people live here?' (in the best way possible).

If I were to recommend anything it's that you stay in Airbnb's. We stayed in completely different ones everywhere we went that were all incredibly unique and off the tourist beaten path. The one we stayed at in Venice was pretty bare bones, freezing cold and up 8 flights of stairs. But it was in a neighbourhood full of locals and very few tourists. The silence on that island in the evening was one I will never forget, and as soon as the sun rose you looked out the window and the alleyways and common areas in-behind the tall mazes of homes would come alive with people doing laundry, making their breakfast, buying their fruits and veggies from the stands in the street.

We spent a lot of time observing. Observing the culture and way of life. Everyday begun at a coffee shop. Espresso, only espresso. We searched every city for the best espresso. We would throw back two, sometimes three each, standing up at a bar every morning with a pastry, every single morning of the 16 days we were there. We'd spend the days walking 20-30km, sometimes with an itinerary, sometimes not. An afternoon snack usually consisted of cheese and charcuterie, a panini, or pizza and a spritz. Another two espresso to kill the spritz's buzz. Dinner, always three courses, usually pasta, fresh seafood in the right areas, and all the wine, and of course a mascarpone filled dessert. I didn't see a salad for two weeks. It was amazing.

As most small trips, we really just got a taste for Italy. It's funny how in life you dream of going to all these different countries and continents. You get to one and you become infatuated. You tear yourself away, back to reality, with 110% commitment to going back and seeing more of the said place. Your next trip will consist of this and this and this. But then you get home and you find your routine again, start work again, and realize, shit, I'm not going to get back there for a while, and there's so many other places I want to go...

It's for this reason that sometimes I think travel complicates my life more. For me, nothing feels better than packing a big bag, grabbing your passport and stepping foot onto a plane, it has got to be the best feeling in the world! But the feeling of leaving, it's like a really bad breakup.

Anyways, long story short. I need to go back to Italy, I need to back to India, and I want to go to a million places in-between.

To be able to do it all...this is what happens to me in the winter in Halifax! Lets just say I'm due for a trip soon, and there might be one or two on the horizon :)

xx

THE EASY COAT

The fall chill is settling in my bones and hibernation mode is kicking in, so I've started living in this warm wool coat of Maggie's. The pockets are everything, adding such a unique surprise to a classic shape and style. 

Mittens and toques are out! Ready to take you on, winter!
...well not really but trying to be optimistic here. Drinking all the tea, wrapping myself in all the blankets, sleeping a little bit more, slowing down. Fall can be pretty lovely sometimes, can't it?

Maggie Jayne Easy Coat, Club Monaco sweater, Top Shop jeans, Zara Mules, Sarah Sears Jewellery, backpack & hat from Urban Outfitters

Stay warm friends.

JAPANESE STIRFRY

Stir fry was on the weekly rotation in my house growing up. I remember my mom had an electric wok that she would always pull out for the occasion. It was a beef based stir-fry with a thick flavourful brown sauce, made with simple ingredients and a few vegetables. I'm sure I disliked it back then but I think of it often, and looking back on it I crave those dishes that I once loathed...funny how that works. Shout out to my mom for always having a well-balanced meal on the table for four ungrateful little mouths to feed!

I was lucky enough to find ALL of this beautiful veg (and the tofu of course) at The Local Source here in Halifax. The eggplant wasn't Japanese specifically, but it got the job done. 

I put kimchi on everything from my eggs to my peanut butter sandwiches. So I obviously added it to an Asian stir-fry. Although it's a totally different flavour and ethnic origin, it made for a great garnish. 
There's SO many great kimchi's coming out of Halifax right now, I love them all. Cabbage Patch Kimchi, Local Source makes a great one, Sour Beast Kimchi by Off Beet Farm, Zoe's Kimchi. They are all a little different but all amazing in their own way. 

Simple ingredients and methods always make for the best meals. This dish is bursting with flavour and really highlights these traditional Japanese ingredients. Hope you enjoy!

Japanese Stir-fry
Serves 2

Miso-Sesame Sauce
1/4 cup miso
3 tbsp water
2tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 garlic clove minced
1/4 tsp red chile flakes

Stir-fry
2 small Japanese Eggplants
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms
4 oz snow peas
1 x recipe baked tofu (see below)
4 heads of baby bok choy
1 bunch scallions
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp sesame seeds toasted
cooked brown rice or other favourite grain/noodle

Whisk together all your sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. If you want a really smooth sauce then blend it up!
Get your tofu in the oven (recipe below).
Cut eggplant in half lengthwise and make diagonal half moon slices about 1/4" wide. Stem Shiitakes and cut thick slices. String the snow peas and separate the leaves of the baby bok choy. Slice the larger leaves in half lengthwise. Slice Scallions into 1-inch lengths.

Heat a wok over medium high heat. Add the eggplant and shiitakes and stir-fry until tender. Add some water (or a splash of sake if you have it) to prevent from sticking to the wok. Add snow peas and tofu and cook for 2 minutes. Add bok choy, scallions and enough sauce to coat the veggies liberally. Cover and simmer just long enough to wilt bok choy. Serve hot over brown rice or noodle and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds for garnish. Kimchi- optional.

Baked Tofu
1 block firm tofu
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp cracked pepper

Cut tofu into 1/2" cubes. Toss with remaining ingredients, spread on an oiled baking sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

HOLLYHOCK BREAD

This year I made a small resolution to myself to only make my bread from scratch from here on out. I am a sucker for a loaf of locally produced bread, I often buy it, cut it immediately and freeze it as I don't consume enough bread to make it last. That's always the frustrating thing isn't it, you just want bread to be as fresh as it was when it came out of the oven come the second and third day of consuming! 

Another Hollyhock recipe for you guys! I am faithful to these cookbooks, they are wonderful wholesome recipes that I use often. 

The bread is definitely a little dense, but it's chock full of seeds and goodness and a local whole wheat flour by Speerville that I'm absolutely in love with. With a little butter this was heavenly coming out of the oven. I sliced and froze one loaf and picked away at the other through the week! Looking forward to trying a new recipe as soon as I finish up this stash.

Hollyhock Bread
Makes 2 loaves

2 cups warm water
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp molasses
2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup millet
1/2 oats
1/4 cup wheat bran or bran flakes
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup flax
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup white flour
3 cups whole wheat flour

Dissolve honey and molasses in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top of water and let sit for 15 minutes until foamy. Add your millet, oats, wheat bran, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax, salt and white flour and stir well with a wooden spoon. Slowly stir in your whole wheat flour, 1 cup at a time. 

When dough is firm enough to handle, turn it onto a dry surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until you can punch a fist in the dough and it comes out clean. Allow it to sit in a large oiled bowl in a warm spot, covered with a damp towel for one hour, until it has doubled in size.

Turn out your dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for about about 2 minutes, until all air pockets are gone. Divide your dough into two and shape into loaves, place in two lightly oiled bread pans. Score the top of the loaves with 3-4 slashes using a sharp knife. Re-cover and allow to rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 and bake the loaves until brown on the top, around 1 hour. Turn the bread out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool.

Don't know if your bread is cooked? Knock on the bottom of your loaf with a wooden spoon our your knuckle- it should sound hallow!

Eat up, get that winter coat on!

 

MIX VEG MASALA

We have completely fallen in love with the food here. I mean how can one not? We're picking up some routine eating habits like mixed fruit museli for breakfast, freshly pressed juices for $1 midday snack, what seems like free flowing chai all day everyday, fried up street food we don't know the name of only the taste, thaili, and curd! So much curd from our museli, to lassi's, to raita. Here in Pushkar everything is laced with rose water syrup made in the city from their plenty of roses and saffron, lots of saffron. So. Good. 

So, masala veg! Masala is just a blend of any Indian spices that can be used for sweet (chai) to savory (curry). These spices are pretty basic and you will have most in your pantry I'm sure. 

Serve this dish piping hot over basmati rice or with warm chapati and/or naan, or all three, go nuts. We ate it with veg Briyani (recipe coming next!), but plain rice is great too. 

Mix Vegetable Masala 

Serves 4-6

2 cups fresh spinach, chopped.

2 small eggplants (about 1 cup chopped)

2 carrots, diced

1/2 cup fresh peas (or frozen and thawed ahead of time)

1 cup cauliflower, chopped

2 small potatoes, diced

3 fresh tomatoes, diced

1" cube fresh ginger, sliced thinly 

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 small red onion, diced

1/2 or one whole fresh green chili, diced 

6 tbsp vegetable oil (don't use olive oil, trust)

1/4 tsp turmeric 

1  1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp chili powder

3 pinches garam masala (can definitely be found at Indian grocer on Robie, or in ethnic section at Sobeys or Superstore, if not just add 1/2 tsp more of chili powder, but masala will do you wonders)

Chop up all veg and put aside, leave tomato separate. 

Combine your ginger, garlic, onion and chili in a small bowl.

Heat up all that oil in a medium size heavy skillet over medium heat. Indians are quite liberal with oil in their cooking, go with it- don't be shy. 

Add your ginger mixture and stir until browned, around 2-3 minutes. 

Add all your veg except tomato. Stir well and leave for 2-3 minutes. 

One by one, start adding your spices (turmeric, salt, chili powder and garam masala). Stir to combine completely then add your diced tomato. Add 1/3 cup water and let mixture simmer, stirring occasionally until vegetables soften, about 8-10 minutes. If you want a more saucey base, add another 1/4 cup water. 

Voila! You can totally add tofu or chicken to this for some protein, just up your spices a touch. 

I hope yours turns out as good as ours! 

INDIA

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I'm in India for the next two months with some beautiful friends of mine. From the top we have Kaley, a textile artist, Maggie, a fashion designer, and Sarah, the jeweller and my dear sister. You will probably be seeing a lot of these faces in weeks to come! 

This trip is a bit of a search for inspiration for everyone, but also a chance to escape the winter blues of Halifax and do some exploring. We're currently in Goa and will be moving around the country quite a bit taking workshops, looking into local designers and eating some pretty amazing food.  

Internet is hard to come by so posts will be less frequent and short but sweet-encompassing daily style inspiration of the people and our confused Halifax meets India style we're discovering.

 

 

 

 

INDIA

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I'm in India for the next two months with some beautiful friends of mine. From the top we have Kaley, a textile artist, Maggie, a fashion designer, and Sarah, the jeweller and my dear sister. You will probably be seeing a lot of these faces in weeks to come! 

This trip is a bit of a search for inspiration for everyone, but also a chance to escape the winter blues of Halifax and do some exploring. We're currently in Goa and will be moving around the country quite a bit taking workshops, looking into local designers and eating some pretty amazing food.  

Internet is hard to come by so posts will be less frequent and short but sweet-encompassing daily style inspiration of the people and our confused Halifax meets India style we're discovering.

 

 

 

 

OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

These cookies are everything. This is adapted from my dearest Grandma's recipe and is pretty close to the real deal, just sans shortening. They are explosively delicious. I'm telling you, you will not need another chocolate chip oatmeal cookie recipe ever again. 

I like to use dark chocolate chips in my cookies but feel free to use whatever. They're crunchy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside.

I'm going to attempt to veganize these babies next, simply by replacing the one egg with a flax egg, I think they would still be equally delicious! Let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

Grandma's Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
makes 14-16

3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil (solid at room temp.)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp white sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla 
1 tbsp water
1 egg
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350F

Beat together your coconut oil and sugars for about 2 minutes until completely combined. Electric mixer or by hand works just as good.

Combine your dry ingredients in a small bowl and your wet in another small bowl, whisking both.

Add your wet ingredients to your coconut oil mixture until completely combined, then add your dry and mix until just combined!

Fold in oats and chocolate chips. 
*If you find your dough is a little too soft and sticky refrigerate dough for half an hour to let the coconut oil solidify a little more.

Drop onto a parchment lined or greased pan in 1-2 inch balls.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden! 

 

THE BEST VEGGIE BURGER & WARM BEET SALAD

I do appreciate a good veggie burger. A flavourful patty that stays together when you bite into it, and of course, some corresponding toppings to bring it all together. This burger is by far the best veggie burger I have ever made, and, I think I'm going to go as far as to say the best I've eaten. The ingredients may seem simple, and to be honest I'm not totally sure where all the flavour comes from, but they are perfectly balanced. And they stay together like a patty should!

As for this salad, well it's pretty straight forward. Similar to my kale salad posted last month. But a nice update. I love a warm salad in the winter.

Tofu Burgers (Veg, Vegan, can be GF)
yields about 8-10 (depending on size)
About 45 minutes prep, 35-40 minutes to cook


two 14-16 oz blocks of firm tofu (extra firm if you can!)
2 tbsp veggie oil
2 cups diced onions
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup seeded & diced bell pepper (red, yellow or orange)
1 cup coarsely ground toasted walnuts
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp dijon
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Okay, so you gotta press your tofu. This is an important step as it gets rid of all that water that will make your burgers fall apart when cooked. I place mine on a cooking sheet, cover with a few sheets of paper towel and place whatever heavy object I have on top of it for half an hour (large cans of food, a stack of plates, etc). 

While the tofu presses get everything else together. Warm the oil on low heat and add diced onions, salt and oregano and cook on low heat for 7 or 8 minutes, stirring here and there.
Add the grated carrots and bell peppers and cook, covered, until veggie's are tender, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl.

Discard the liquid from pressed tofu and grate it on a cheese grater (regular grate size). You might see some more water collected after you do this. I just took a few handfulls of the grated tofu and squeezed it over the sink to ensure all water was expelled.

Now throw everything together! The tofu, cooked veggies, walnuts, soy sauce, mustard, sesame oil, tahini, pepper and basil. Mix well!

This is also the step where you can chose to add bread crumbs. I've made these both with and without and they were just a little crumbly without them, but still great. You can definitely use GF bread crumbs if you have them. I added 1/2 cup of crumbs!

Preheat your oven to 375F, line a pan with parchment or oil and start making your patties. About 1 cup per burger.

Cook 30 to 40 minutes until firm and browned! You can flip, but you don't have to.

Voila! These babies freeze really great too. You can take them right out of the freezer and throw them in the oven at 350F for 20-30 minutes.

Top with your favourite toppings. I used smashed avocado, dijon and fresh tomato here. Plain and simple!

Warm Beet Kale Salad
Serves 4-6

1 small bunch of kale, washed and ripped into bite size pieces
4-5 medium beets (red, gold whatever you desire)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic 
1 tbsp honey (or maple syrup for vegan-ers)
salt and pepper to taste
Goats cheese (optional)
1/3 cup cashews, roasted and chopped

Peel and wash your beets. Chop up each into 4-6 pieces and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tbsp balsamic, and 1/2 tbsp honey. Salt and pepper to taste and throw in the oven on a parchment lined pan at 400F for 20-30 minutes! Until golden and cooked through.

Toss your kale with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tbsp balsamic and 1/2 tbsp honey. Salt and pepper. Get your hands in there and really massage that kale! Make sure it's well coated. Toss in the oven at 350F for 7-8 minutes, just until warmed throughout and wilted slightly. If you put it in any longer it will start to crisp up, which isn't the end of the world! 

Top warmed kale with beets, goats cheese and toasted cashews.



 

COCONUT CHAI ICE CREAM & GF BROWNIES

I apologize for the lack of presence I've had this week. I've been down and out with a miserable cold that sent me straight into hibernation. I did however get a craving to make ice cream and brownies while sick. Ironic, no?

I'm not going to lie, this sundae was so delightful. The ice cream is dairy free and can easily be made vegan if you switch out the honey for maple syrup. The chai spices add so much flavour and the brownies are the perfect ooey gooey consistency. The next time I make this I will definitely double the recipe up to have ample leftovers as it went too quickly!

Coconut Chai Ice Cream
serves 6-8

2 cans of coconut milk (not lite, not shaken)
2 star anise
1/2 tsp fennel
1 bag of chai tea
1/4 cup chopped candied ginger
1 tbsp honeybush tea (honey tea will do just fine)
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp pure vanilla)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 cup honey

Put your coconut milk in the fridge to settle and your ice cream mixer in the freezer the night before.
The next day coarsely  grind your stair anise, fennel and chai tea in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. 
Scoop out the coconut cream that has solidified on the top of your cans and set aside. You will be left with the coconut water which you will put in a medium sized sauce pan. Bring coconut water, spice mixture above, honeybush tea, cinnamon sticks, candied ginger, nutmeg and vanilla to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 15 minutes covered.
Strain spices and large bits through a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth so your left with just the liquid. Add the cream, salt and honey. I used about 1/3 cup of honey and it was more than sweet enough.
Transfer mixture to the fridge and allow to cool completely. I left my overnight but 4 hours will be more than enough. Follow the instructions of your ice cream maker. Put glass storage container in the freezer to transfer finished ice cream into. Serve right away or freeze further!`

GF Dark Chocolate Brownies
9x9 pan

6 tbsp coconut oil
6 oz. dark chocolate chopped
2 large eggs
2/3 cup coconut sugar (or cane, whatever you have on hand)
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350f
Line a 9x9 pan with parchment paper and grease the sides with coconut oil.
Add coconut oil and chocolate to a saucepan over low heat. Stir until chocolate and oil are completely combined then remove from heat to allow it to slightly cool.

Whip together eggs, sugar and vanilla with a hand mixer or kitchen aid until smooth and pale-ish. Add melted chocolate mix until combined then add your cocoa poweder, corn starch and salt mixing until well combined. It should be smooth and thick!

Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until the centre is set!
I would recommend waiting to cut until cool, but sometimes you just can't resist that ooey gooey goodness.


 






 

ENVIE'S WHEAT-FREE VEGAN CARROT SPICE MUFFINS

So I went to a cooking class at enVie this past week, and it was so good guys. I'm not a vegan, or even a vegetarian, but I appreciate the lifestyles of both and they have a huge influence on what I chose to eat and cook. The enVie crew know how to do vegan, let me tell you. It's one of my favourite places to eat at in this city.

So the cooking class I took was Breads, Quickbreads, Crackers, Dips and Spreads. We learned how to make 11 or 12 different recipes taught by the sous chef Lauren. She was great, the food was great and if I could afford it in my life right now I would be going every week and buying a Vitamix stat. Some day...

We got a nice booklet of all the recipes we made to take home, including some bonuses that weren't demonstrated in class.
I decided to tackle the Carrot Spice Muffins. They turned out better than almost any other muffin I've made and tasted positively delicious. I made a few additions/minor changes to the original recipe but nothing to drastic. 

EnVie Carrot Spice Muffins
Makes 12

1 3/4 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground flax
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp ginger (freshly grated or ground)
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup dairy free milk + 1/2 tbsp  apple cider vinegar 
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup grated carrots
1/3 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Streusel Topping

1/3 cup oats 
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 400F and line your muffin tins.

First prepare your dairy-free buttermilk by combining your milk with apple cider vinegar. Stir and set aside for at least 10 minutes.

Next over low heat, melt your coconut oil and throw your oats, sugar and cinnamon in. Set aside.

Whisk together all of your wet ingredients in one bowl and your dry in another. Make a well in your dry ingredients and pour your wet in. Mix until just combined and then add your grated carrots, walnuts and raisins, and fold into mixture.

Fill up your muffin tins and top with as much streusel as you desire. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and tops are firm!

Eat 'em up!

 

RIO: ROCK IN OPPOSITION

The girls at RIO are doing it right. In a tiny but beautiful little studio at the creative crossing on Charles and Agricola, this yoga/pilates studio has everything you could ever want. Owner Connie McInnes made pure magic when she created this space, fusing together yoga and pilates. They are also offer barre classes, juice cleanses, and some amazing workshops.
If you're a yogi, or a fan of alternative exercise, if you want to challenge yourself, or try something new, you'd be crazy not to pop in and try out a class. I dare you not to go back a second time.

I caught up with Connie and got a little glimpse into the brains and world of RIO!

Tell me a little bit about your background and how RIO was born.

After university I was in a bit of a state of chaos so I spent the summer in a small town with no phone or internet and just tried to ground myself down a bit. This was followed by a year of travelling and moving to Toronto where I pursued Public relations and event planning. A lot of self discovery happened in these few years. After working at FASHION magazine for a brief stint I decided the corporate world wasn’t for me, nor was dressing up every day for work. I would come home from interviews and people would say “That’s what you wore?” 

I didn't want to pretend to be someone I was not.

That was basically a turning point. I had begun Pilates classes at the same time and had been instantly captivated. Having been a competitive athlete my entire life it was amazing to find something that still challenged my body as much as it challenged my mind. RIO was born from a combination of a passion for community, a love for movement and music, and a desire to become a “free spirit."

Where does the name "RIO" come from?

When I was coming up with the studio name I wanted something untraditional and unrelated to yoga.The studio is heavily focused on the music we play and the role of that music in the class. This was an important aspect to include in the name.

Rock In Opposition (RIO) is a genre of rock and roll that came about from a collective of progressive musicians who were non-conforming to the industry. The RIO brand is really in line with what their message dictated. Opening up a door to something that is not necessarily the way that someone told us it should be or has to be. Inviting variation, creativity, change.
Daring to be different. That’s what RIO’s about. We are working in opposition to tradition. Being authentic to what we are, and not what we “should” be. And inviting everyone that comes in to do the same. You don’t have to succumb to the culture, be vegan or practice spirituality of the buddha. You can just be. No labels. No stereotypes.

Where do you like to go/what do you like to do for inspiration?

I have spent a lot of my life living in really small towns. I love the diversity and culture from big cities, but I have found my deepest self living in small communities. When I need to find inspiration I go to a small island with no electricity just outside the city. It’s my little sanctuary. I chop wood, I read, and I cook over a fire. It’s so therapeutic. I have only taken a select number of people here. Some day I will turn it into a retreat!

What are some of your favourite pilates/yoga tunes at the moment?

The music I play in classes is totally dictated by my music of the moment. I don’t look to traditional yoga or meditative music, but I infuse music that connects to me in my life. I want people to feel the music. Let it feed them. That moment when a song comes on that you really love, such a good experience.

I go to music festivals every year to draw inspiration. Right now my classes will have anything from Lorde, Florence and the Machine, Nicholas Jarr, Odesza, Macklemore, and anything Kygo. Just so juicy.

When your not doing RIO where can you can be found?

I am still very much in the honeymoon phase with RIO. I am a bit of a workaholic when I am passionate about something. So it occupies ALL of my time right now.

When not at the studio, I have been known to spend 10 hours straight at RIO’s neighbouring cafe/wine bar, Lion & Bright. I am really captivated with the vibe and culture that has been growing in the North End. There is such an eclectic theme of amazing antique and consignment shops, and fresh food. Other than that, eating amazing food enriched with palatable wine are at the top of the list. 

And kickboxing. Cyclone has an amazing class that helped me get through some stressful days leading up to this!

Best piece of advice that's been given to you?

Trust your gut. No one knows it better than you.

Three things you can't live without?

Coffee. A Bathtub. My blender.

What's your favourite thing about Halifax?

Community. Community. Community. I have travelled around the world. 
You just can’t find a better community.

THE BUDDHA BOWL

The Bhudda (Rice, Power, Energy) Bowl. The most versatile, adaptable, seasonal, comforting dish one can create. I'm sure many of you have created your own version of a bowl catering to your own tastes and preferences. I have to say that no two bowls I've ever made have been the exact same. Ingredients are always changing with the seasons. The sauce is always changing with whatever my taste buds are feeling. 

This is just a base, you can use whatever you want. You can put whatever sauce on top you desire. It's a blank canvas really. I will say that depending on the number of components you make, this dish can take a little bit of extra time and love. I make this when I want a nice wholesome meal to come home to at the end of the day all week long. I'll eat it for 3 or 4 days straight, no joke. If I run out of an ingredient then I'll whip up a little more or add something new.

Other suggested add-ins: Chicken for us carnivores, edamame, shredded carrots, zucchini (spiralized, if you have the jam), cabbage, cauliflower, anything and everything in your fridge.

So here is my recipe! It looks like a lot but everything is straight forward, I suggest making it with a side-kick so you can get the work done twice as fast. But sometimes it's nice to just chop, roast, steam and blend for a couple of hours by yourself. Throw on some music and escape into the kitchen abyss.

Buddha Bowl
serves...ehh let's say 4-6.

Bowl Contents
6 beets, peeled roasted and chopped*
3 sweet potatoes, peeled chopped and roasted **
1 can chickpeas (recipe below)
1/2-a whole bunch of kale, steamed 
1 head of broccoli, steamed
2 cups brown rice (or quinoa), cooked (follow instructions on bag)
Sesame seeds for garnish (any seed or nut of preference)

*Peel beets, wash and wrap individually in tinfoil and roast for about 25-35 minutes at 400F (time varies depending on their size). Remove from oven and tin foil. Chop once cooled slightly.
** Peel, chop and toss with olive oil, a little bit of salt and roast on parchment lined pan for 20 minutes at 400F. Take out and toss again, put back in for 10-15 minutes.

Roasted Chickpeas (all credit to Oh She Glows)
Preheat oven to 400F

1 can chickpeas
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne 
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil

Drain, rinse and dry off chickpeas (I know it's not fun but try your best to dry as they will roast better). Mix your spices in a small bowl. Toss chickpeas with olive oil then add spice mixture. Toss until coated and throw onto a parchment lined pan. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven, toss again and put back in for another 10-15 minutes. Donezo.

Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
4 tbsp tamari 
4 tbsp water
2 large garlic cloves
1 tbsp sesame oil
1-2 tbsp honey (maple syrup for vegan)
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
Fresh lime juice from 1 lime 

Throw it all in your food processor or blender until smooth and creamy goodness appears.

Order of Operation
1. Make your rice first. Brown rice takes about 45 minutes and is happy sitting alone on the stove top covered once finished. 
2. All of your chopping and roasting (beets, sweet potatoes, chickpeas)
3. While these are in the oven make your sauce.
4. Next get your water boiling for steaming and chop up your broccoli/rip up your kale. Steam broccoli first as it takes longer then kale.


Throw all your ingredients in a bowl or arrange strategically to make for a work of art. Down or drizzle with sauce. Top with nuts or seeds. Eat! With chopsticks is always fun.


 

CINNAMON ROLLS

Every Christmas on boxing day my mom makes her cinnamon rolls. You know those things that only your mom or grandmother bake or cook once a year that you absolutely cherish and savour? These are one of those things. Just once a year- a recipe that can't be beat! I mean, it probably could be, but the fact that they are made with love by my mom makes them taste way better, you know?

So this Christmas, the flu got to me on the 23rd. I then passed it on to my loving mother on boxing day. So cinnamon rolls were forgotten. Feeling better, I then decided to spend a free Sunday afternoon attempting the recipe on my own. She walked me through the steps of how she makes them and it ended up being a simple recipe in the end.

The dough is like biscuit dough- no rising, no kneading, super straight forward, and fast. I made my rolls really tiny (like 3-bite-sized) but you can roll your dough out into a smaller rectangle if you prefer bigger ones.

All the shortening, all the butter, all the flour, all the good stuff. Sometimes it's better not to mess with traditional recipes passed down from generations. But if you really wanted to, I'm sure you could substitute the shortening for solid coconut oil and the melted butter for earth balance. But I wouldn't.

Cinnamon Rolls
makes around 48 small rolls

4 cups flour
2 heaping tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 cup milk

Cinnamon Filling
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 cup melted butter 

Set your oven to 375

Filling first! Melt your butter over the stovetop and add brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix until well combined and take off heat.

Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl (flour, baking powder, sugar and salt). Cut up your shortening into small cubes and toss into the dry mixture. Take a pastry cutter and cut shortening into dry mix until completely combined. Like your making pie crust, you want all the shortening to disappear and the dry mixture to look like little tiny pebbles.

Mix your eggs and milk in a separate bowl. Make a hole in your dry mixture and pour in the wet. Simply mix with a fork and your hands until completely combined, might take a wee bit of kneading but not much! Do not over-mix as you risk a tough dough.

Cut your dough into two equal pieces. Roll out separately, about 1/2 inch thick, into an even rectangle. Spread half of your filling over dough and carefully begin to roll starting from the long side closest to you. Try not to roll too tightly so that they can unroll easily when you eat them!

Cut up with a sharp serrated knife, I made them about an inch and a half thick but if you like thicker rolls you can cut them larger (just bake them about 5 minutes longer)

Bake for 20 minutes and eat em up!

THE WEIRDO

This recipe is as simple as it gets, but the combination of these three simple ingredients makes for a party in your mouth and belly.

It comes from a restaurant in my home town, The Tall and Small, so I take zero credit. They named it the weirdo and I couldn't agree more with them, it's a weird sandwich. 

You don't need to be fussy with this recipe, any bread or peanut butter will work. I've played around with many different kinds from white, to kamut, to multigrain bread and from natural, to chunky, to kraft peanut butter. It always ends up working no matter what type of ingredients you're using. Sometimes I even use spinach or lettuce if I don't have sprouts on hand and I'm telling you, it's just as good!

The Weirdo
serves 1

Two slices of bread lightly toasted 
Alfafa Sprouts
Natural chunky peanut butter (any kind will work)
Banana Peppers

Lightly toast your bread. Spread each slice generously with peanut butter (I definitely use too much, but the more the better!). Top with sprouts and banana peppers drained of liquids. Sandwich, slice and eat up!
 

ALMOND CINNAMON GRANOLA

I'm constantly playing around with my granola recipes. I like to have a steady supply on hand as it's something I eat on a daily basis. Whether it be a topper on a smoothie bowl, with milk or, in this case, a pretty hefty fruit and yogurt bowl, it never fails to complete my breakfast. If you store it in an air tight container it will last you weeks (mine never makes it past the two week point)!

I once lived off of Nature's Path granola. Then I discovered how little time and ingredients it takes to make you own that is ten times better. My pantry is always well-stocked with the basics for granola recipes like oats, seeds, nuts, honey, dried fruit and maple syrup. And conveniently enough these are all items you can often buy in bulk or large quantities.  I prefer to make my own granola as the ones in grocery stores contain oodles of sugar. As I'm always mixing it will fruit and yogurt, sugar is usually pretty minimal in my recipes but you are always more than welcome to add more, if you like! 

Almond Cinnamon Granola 
about 4 1/2 cups

3 cups rolled oats (Bob Redmill's wheat-free, the best)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup roasted almonds, chopped 
1 cup ground or whole flaxseed
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp applesauce
3 tbsp maple syrup 
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 300°. Whisk liquids in a saucepan over low heat until just warm and combined- applesauce, maple syrup, honey, oil and vanilla. No more than 5 minutes!

In a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients except for raisins- oats, walnuts, almonds, flaxseed, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour wet into dry and fold until combined.

Spread evenly on a well greased or parchment paper lined pan (might need more than one pan). Bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Add raisins for 10 additional minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before storing.
I dare you not to have ten handfuls while waiting.