Tag Archives: healthy recipes

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts

2016.  Many people found 2016 to be a rough year, but I’m thankful that I seem to have emerged reasonably unscathed.  I feel really accomplished because I successfully blogged consistently for a second straight year.  I started this blog way back in 2009 (!) but I only buckled down and got serious with this site in 2015.  I have worked so hard and am proud of how far I’ve come.  My writing, recipe developing and photography skills have all improved and I continue to trouble shoot my own self-hosted website.  Social media is a whole other beast that I’ve had to conquer and continually battle, but I actually find that aspect of blogging really interesting, I just wish there were more hours in a day! When I looked at my analytics for the year, I was happy to see that they have all increased since 2015. I’m so grateful for new and old readers who dropped by my site this year, it’s a daunting web out there with so many blogs and social media avenues, I’m amazed and happy to see when one of my posts does well. These  2016 top food, travel and horror movie posts were the ones all of you kind and inquisitive folk enjoyed the most. 

My top post of 2016 continues to be my review of Gordon Ramsay’s Sticky Toffee and Chocolate Pudding, a post from my first year of blogging. I decided to reshoot this recipe because I cringe when I look back at my first attempt at food photos! I’m hoping my new and improved dairy free version of his sticky toffee pudding does just as well this year.

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

I was happy to see these new recipes in the top three food posts for the year:

Cherry Coffee Preserve Goat Cheese Crostini

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Cherry Coffee Preserve Goat Cheese Crostini

Cherry Coffee Preserve Goat Cheese Crostini

This year my friend and I expanded our canning repertoire and picked our own cherries. Many hours later we had an array of canned cherry products. I was really please with how these cherry coffee preserves turned out, and I was inspired to pair them with goat cheese on top of a crispy crostini. The result was a delightful bittersweet, creamy, crunchy bite, and made for a festive appetizer over the holidays.

Apple Cornmeal Flax Muffins

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Apple Cornmeal Flax Muffins

Apple Cornmeal Flax Muffins

I had been wanting to develop this recipe for awhile, as I loved the flavour combination of tart apple and sweet cornmeal. I still had some apples leftover from apple picking in the fall, so I was happy to finally make these muffins. Packed full of fresh, juicy apples, they made for a tasty high fiber breakfast or a yummy, healthy dessert.

Asian Sesame Sweet Potato & Squash Soup

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Sweet Potato Squash Soup

Asian Sesame Sweet Potato Squash Soup

I love incorporating my Japanese culture into my recipes, and this soup was a perfect example. I wanted to change up the usual butternut squash soup, so I added hints of sesame and topped the soup off with some nori. I also used miso instead of cream which made it lactose-intolerant-friendly for my boyfriend. A creamy, hearty soup that was really popular over the holidays.

As for travel, my big blog project this year was posting my two-week trip to Turkey. These posts took a really long time to put together as I diligently compiled all my thoughts and notes from diaries and photo logs. Many posts from this series did well throughout the year, though it made me sad to reminisce about this amazing trip with all the political turmoil this country has been through recently. I feel lucky we were able to travel to Turkey when we did, as we probably wouldn’t be advised to go there during these unstable times.

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Turkey in Two Weeks

How We Toured Turkey in Two Weeks

Speaking of Turkey, my top horror movie post was also Turkish, a hellishly creepy movie called “Baskin”.  I loved the surreal imagery in this film and the political analogies that are implied in regards to police brutality in Turkey. If you like H.P Lovecraft mixed with Dario Argento then this movie is for you!

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts "Baskin" Property of Film Colony, Mo Film, XYZ Films

“Baskin” Property of Film Colony, Mo Film, XYZ Films

I reviewed this film as part of my “Dinner and A Movie” category and paired this movie with a Turkish breakfast. My boyfriend and I still have a Turkish breakfast every weekend; a little part of Turkey that we brought home with us.

2016 Top Food, Travel and Horror Movie Posts Homemade Turkish breakfast

Homemade Turkish breakfast

So there they are!  My 2016 top food, travel and horror movie posts.  Thank you for visiting and hope to see you in 2017!

What were your top posts of 2016?  Did you accomplish your blogging goals?

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Chia Meatballs & Strawberry Basil Sauce

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Chia Meatballs & Strawberry Basil Sauce

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Chia Meatballs & Strawberry Basil Sauce

There are certain foods that I will always crave, and pasta with meat sauce is one of them, despite all the bad press they receive.  I love glutenous pasta drenched in a rich red meat sauce, and I stand by that statement loud and proud! Faced with a menu full of fancy dishes at an Italian restaurant, most of the time I’m just tempted to order good ol’ comforting spaghetti and meatballs.

However, despite my unapologetic love for carbs and meat, somewhere deep down I’m a responsible adult who does try to eat healthy (especially after a weekend filled with wine and cheese) and so I set out to make a healthier version of my beloved dish.

I’ve often used spaghetti squash as a substitute for noodles.  Hearty and easy to make, spaghetti squash is ultimately satisfying because you can pig out on a huge portion on very little calories.  For the meatballs, I gave up red meat for turkey and instead of egg and parmesan I used chia seeds and ground cashews as a binding agent.  Chia seeds and cashews have quickly become one of my favourite substitutes for eggs and cheese, they’re both great sources of protein and are packed full of nutrients.

Finally for the sauce, I wanted to balance out the heavy squash as well as add a touch of sweetness to compliment the turkey meatballs.  Combining strawberries and tomatoes made for a really lovely, light sauce and throwing in a handful of fresh basil really brought everything together.

I absolutely loved how this dish turned out, with hints of citrus and spice, this dish is full of bright summer flavours but also comforts the soul with the hearty vegetables of fall.  While nothing will ever take the place of meat and pasta in my heart, I will definitely be craving this healthy version for weeks to come!


Spaghetti Squash with Chia Turkey Meatballs & Strawberry Basil Sauce

Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 large spaghetti squash halved with seeds removed
  • extra virgin olive oil - for drizzling

For the Meatballs:

  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds - white or black
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup finely ground cashews
  • 1 finely minced shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and minced
  • zest from one whole lemon
  • 2 tbsp parsely - finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and minced
  • 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries hulled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • juice from half a lemon
  • sea salt and ground pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Whisk chia seeds and water in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes, allowing the chia seeds to gel.
  3. Drizzle the inside of the squash with olive oil and place face down on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes or until the outside of the squash is just soft enough to press.
  4. In a large bowl, combine chia gel, ground turkey, oats, cashews, shallot, garlic, zest, parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix until evenly combined, then form approx 16 meatballs by rolling the mixture lightly in between your palms.

  5. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Saute shallot and garlic until soft then add tomatoes and strawberries, breaking up the large chunks with a wooden spoon.

  6. Cook for 3-5 minutes until tomato juices have been reduced by half.
  7. Add basil and red pepper flakes. Cook about 5 minutes more until strawberries are soft.

  8. Pulse in a food processor or blender until mixture is a coarse puree, and pour back into pan.
  9. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.  Simmer on low.

  10. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When the skillet is nice and hot, place meatballs in the pan carefully and using tongs, rotate them every few minutes until they are evenly browned on all sides, approx 10 minutes.
  11. Place skillet in the oven and finish cooking the meatballs for 5 minutes.
  12. Remove spaghetti squash from oven and using an oven mitt and a fork, carve out the squash and place on plate like "noodles". Top with four meatballs and a generous topping of sauce.

Recipe Notes

This recipe comes together quite quickly, so it's important to prep all the ingredients ahead of time.


Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Chia Meatballs and Strawberry Basil Sauce

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Chia Meatballs and Strawberry Basil Sauce

What’s your favourite way to use chia seeds?  Let me know!

30 Minute Shrimp Fried Quinoa

Shrimp Fried Quinoa

Shrimp Fried Quinoa

I love being able to come home from work in the summer and head out for an evening run. The warm air along the lake cools to the perfect temperature as the sun sets on the horizon. I return home feeling so relaxed…and ravenous for dinner! On a night like this, I don’t have the patience for a complicated dish. This shrimp fried quinoa is one of my go-to post run meals, as I often have leftover quinoa in the fridge, and some frozen shrimp or scallops in the freezer. I like to add a lot of ginger to this dish because ginger is really good for muscle recovery, as it helps to reduce inflammation and is a natural muscle relaxant, as is lavender. I had some lavender salt from Prince Edward County Lavender, and sprinkled a bit at the end to finish off the dish as the mild floral infusion along with the thyme compliments the seafood nicely. Packed with protein and classic Asian flavor combinations, this shrimp fried quinoa is completely addictive. You’ll need to go for another run just so you can finish off this tasty dish!

Shrimp Fried Quinoa

Shrimp Fried Quinoa

Shrimp Fried Quinoa

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 large servings (or 4 small side dishes)
Calories 575 kcal


  • 1 package frozen shrimp or scallops thawed & drained
  • 1 cup dried quinoa
  • 1 yellow onion peeled & diced
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 red pepper cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 " inch piece of fresh ginger peeled & finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
  • 1-2 chili peppers finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme stems removed
  • lavender salt or sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper


  1. Cook quinoa and two cups of water in a rice cooker or on the stove top (covered, on medium high heat) approx. 12 minutes. Fluff with fork.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a wok on high until oil starts to smoke.
  3. Turn down to medium high and stir fry the eggs, set aside.
  4. Add remaining oil to wok and stir fry onion, ginger, garlic and chili pepper until onion is translucent approx. 4 minutes.
  5. Add red pepper and stir fry one minute.
  6. Add shrimp and toss, then cover wok for 4 minutes, tossing once at the two minute mark.
  7. Add cooked quinoa, eggs, soy sauce and thyme, stir fry for one minute.
  8. Remove wok from heat. Season with lavender salt and ground pepper to taste.

Recipe Notes

Quinoa can be made the day before.
Shrimp Fried Quinoa

Shrimp Fried Quinoa