Tag Archives: toronto

Pancakes – Summer Edition

 You’ve probably noticed by now that I post a lot of pancake recipes…what can I say?  Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and I love to indulge once and awhile.  From my classic pancake recipe to gluten free coconut pancakes, vegan chia seed pancakes and finally, everyone’s favourite blueberry pancakes, I really have expressed a lot of love for this dish!

Cherry Pancakes

Cherry Pancakes

This week, I happened to eat pancakes TWICE.  I’d like to say that this was because I felt entitled to a big breakfast after a hardcore workout, but sadly this was not the case. I went cherry picking a few weeks ago and on this particularly lazy summer Sunday, I decided to crack open one of the jars of preserved cherries and make some pancakes out of ’em.  I used my classic pancake recipe and sliced up a cup of cherries, reserving any extra juice.  I carefully placed the cherries on the pancakes after pouring the batter in the pan, to keep them evenly distributed.  I stirred in the reserved juice with a half cup of real maple syrup, which added an extra pop of cherry flavour.  Fresh cherry pancakes were a real treat, and made for a decadent breakfast!

This week was also my last day of my contract.  For the past year I’ve been producing a pre-school show called Creative Galaxy for Amazon Prime, and sadly, the show was wrapping up.  My director took us out for lunch to Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, or “b’lunch” as they like to call it (when did ‘b’lunch become a thing?).  I knew exactly what I wanted to order – their infamous blueberry pancakes.

Blueberry Pancakes, Mildred's Temple Kitchen

Blueberry Pancakes, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen

“Mrs. Biderhof’s Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes” are a must-have if you live in Toronto.  Thick, rich, fluffy cakes are topped with Lanark County maple syrup, wild blueberry compote and whipped cream.  I have a bottomless stomach, but even I was hard pressed to finish this tower or goodness (well, I also ordered a side of bacon…).  I’m not sure who Mrs. Biderhof is, but apparently she has been making people happy since 1989, so says the little caption on their menu.  Today she made me very happy, if not a bit sleepy!


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!

Restaurant Review: Michi

4848 Yonge Street, North York
Phone: 416-224-0075

When Michi opened earlier this year I was worried. Over the years, the strip on Yonge just north of Sheppard seemed to be a jinxed location, and with numerous Japanese restaurants right around the corner, I was curious to see what Michi had to offer. Michi, the Japanese word for “method”, is empty for a Friday night. Elegant and cozy, the restaurant is sparsely decorated except for a brightly lit Christmas tree. Seating is also available at the sushi and sake bar near the back.
Restaurant Review Michi
Service is prompt and polite and the waiters keep the green tea flowing into our ceramic teacups. We begin our quiet meal with some aged dashi tofu ($4.00) and nori dumplings ($6.95). The cubes of tofu are deep-fried in a bonito sauce. While the lightly battered cubes are piping hot, they sit in a lukewarm fish broth that is bland, adding little to the dish. The dumplings on the other hand, are like delightful seafood presents. Diced shrimp, scallop and shiitake mushroom are wrapped in seaweed and deep-fried. The soft seafood is enveloped in the crisp wrapping and somehow avoids being too salty.

Restaurant Review MichiRestaurant Review Michi

Michi offers a healthy selection of sushi and sashimi as well as a variety of noodle dishes. No bento box combinations are available for dinner, which suggests a higher standard is set for the quality of their food. While many old favourites are available such as the Dynamite or the Green Dragon rolls, a few new rolls intrigue me and I order the Yamaimo Spicy Tuna ($6.50). Chopped, spicy tuna with caviar is paired with crunchy mountain yam that has a similar texture and taste to sugar cane, and the slight sweetness offsets the spice nicely.

Restaurant Review Michi

A true test of any Japanese restaurant is their sashimi, and so as an early Christmas present to myself, I order the Chef’s Signature Sashimi dish ($17), and wait in anticipation for ten pieces of the chef’s special selection.
The price is right for the gourmet selection that is too pretty to eat. The chef’s sashimi is a colourful variety of fresh sake (salmon), ika (squid), maguro (tuna), uni (sea urchin) aji (horse mackerel), hotate-gai (scallops) tai (sea bass) and pickled herring that sit amongst red and green caviar and daikon (long white radish).

Restaurant Review Michi

The herring is wrapped in a crispy cucumber shell and the texture is nicely accented with bursting salmon roe. The horse mackerel is covered with a good dose of Korean barbecue sauce, giving the thick cut a tasty punch. The lightly grilled sea bass doesn’t need the smothering of oily sun-dried tomato-like dressing. Chewy and tender squid leaves a decadent silky aftertaste, the green caviar an extra bonus. The sea urchin wrapped in tuna however, disappoints an otherwise intriguing selection. The shiso leaf overpowers the tuna and urchin, with the final egg wrap leaving little complimenting flavour.

As I swim in my sushi and sashimi dishes, I’m concerned for my fiancée who has ordered the apple pork special ($11.95), and for a moment I think that we’ve accidentally ordered an appetizer as a main course. The two small pieces of slow cooked pork belly are said to be in an apple juice and sake reduction served with creamy miso, mashed Yukon potato, asparagus and mustard sauce. While I admit the sinfully fatty port belly is quite filling, I find only a faint apple taste stands out. The asparagus is crispy, but the thin layer of potato adds little to the dish or a hungry stomach.

Restaurant Review Michi

I’m excited to finish off our meal with some tempura ice cream ($5.50). This summer, I had deep fried breaded ice cream in Kyoto and have been dreaming of it ever since. However, this time, I’m disappointed to find the green tea ice cream melting in a thick breading that seems more frozen than fresh and lacking any resemblance to a tempura that has been deep-fried.

Restaurant Review Michi

Despite a few minor misses, I found Michi a refreshing addition to the strip and feel as though their “method” is striving for more than just another Japanese bento box restaurant. With gourmet fresh cuts and unique takes on some dishes, I feel as though Michi can beat the jinx.

Restaurant Review Michi

Lunch specials available.