Balinese Satay Chicken & Coconut Peanut Sauce

Coming to you is another travel inspired, globe trotting recipe immersed with Balinese culture and flavors! My recent trip to Bali this January was filled with a lot of culinary experiences, which included cafes to hidden gem restaurants! I once again had to reminisce back on every meal I loved and decipher which I wanted to bring to your plate. This, as you can imagine, was down right impossible! To choose from all the goodness Bali had to offer was certainly tough! But my mind kept going back to my first dinner on the East coast of Bali, a simple Chicken Satay, AKA, Sate Lilit Ayam. So that’s what it came down too, a beautiful way to share food and fill your belly is my version of a Balinese Satay Chicken & Coconut Peanut Sauce.

Bali has an intriguing combination of historical culinary influences, the cuisine consists of traditional Indonesian flavours, combined with Chinese and Indian flares. It is so apparent in the popular rice & curry dishes you can find in traditional restaurants. This stunning island is also populated with plenty of cafes and restaurants catered towards tourists. Some offer foreign flavours, some have poorly executed bland Balinese food, while others have beautifully melded new age modernized dishes with old school Balinese flavours which created magic.

The coffee industry in Bali has always been booming but cafes are bringing their robust beans to the next level. We loved taste testing every cup of java and cafe hopping! Beware of the coffee plantation tours and insane prices at the end of them. They boast their Luwak coffee (an animal which eats the coffee bean, then poops it out, yes poops it out!) It is quite the delicacy, but most of the Luwak beans we found out were fake and extremely over priced. These tours were an immersion into their coffee culture, but with caged up Luwak’s and insane prices in their boutiques, we had better luck buying real sumptuous coffee at Seniman Coffee in UBUD.

Our typical daily meals were starting the days with a cup of delectable floral coffee, fresh & sweet tropical fruit or bright smoothie bowls. After much exploring, snorkelling, monkey forests, temples, bike riding, waterfalls and rice fields, we would be famished. Lunch usually consisted of satays, fried rice, fresh coconut curries, laska soups, veggie bowls while sipping on fresh coconut water or lassi smoothies. Dinner was usually lighter with some grilled fish, veggie slaws, more fresh fruit and our favorite dessert, sticky rice pudding to end the day perfectly!

Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of Balinese food, I’m so thrilled to bring you my take on satay! My Balinese Satay Chicken & Coconut Peanut Sauce is perfect for sharing and bringing together those you love. Full of savoury spices with a rich peanut sauce to mop up with perfectly grilled chicken satay. Time to get the grill going again as summer nears again, although I BBQ in the snow, as most Canadians do, hehe! Alright, here is the recipe!

Here is your shopping list:

Ingredients:

15-20 Bamboo skewers – soaked

For the Chicken Marinade:

2 garlic cloves crushed

2 chicken breasts – cut into long thin slices

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp fresh ginger (or dried)

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp chili powder

2 tbsp tamarind (gluten free) or soy sauce

1 tsp shredded unsweetened coconut

For the Peanut Sauce:

3 tbsp peanut butter

2 tbsp roasted peanuts

1 garlic clove

2 tbsp tamari

1/2 tbsp lime juice

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/3 cup coconut milk

1 red chili finely diced

2 tsp honey (I used Drizzle’s Turmeric Honey)

1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut

Get Cooking:

Get your bamboo skewers soaking in water to avoid them burning on the grill.

Start by cutting your chicken breasts into long thin strips, thick enough to thread onto your bamboo skewer lengthwise.

Add all your marinade ingredients into a food processor or I pulled out my mortar and pestle and got smashing! Blend until marinade smooth and pour over chicken strips in a bowl, allow them to marinade as you make the peanut sauce.

For the peanut sauce heat your sesame oil over medium low heat, then add peanuts, garlic, chili’s and coconut, stir and heat for 3-5 minutes. Once fragrant, add your tamari, peanut butter, honey and coconut milk, stir and heat for another 5 minutes, add lime juice to finish. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool.

Next, take your soaked bamboo sticks and thread your chicken on, weave the stick through a couple times. Heat grill to 400 degrees, make sure your grill is oiled and put your chicken sticks on, cook approximately 5 minutes per side, flip and cook another 4-5 minutes or until done.

Pile up your chicken satay sticks, you can toss some cilantro and green onion on them and have your peanut sauce ready for dipping. My Balinese Chicken Satay with Peanut Coconut Sauce makes an amazing appetizer and great for social finger food! Get ready to be transported to Bali!

I cannot wait for you guys to try these little chicken sticks of DELICIOUSNESS! I love hearing from you guys and thank you for your continued following and support, it’s beautifully overwhelming, XOXO.

Continue Reading

A Taste of India – Red Lentil Coconut Kale Dahl

I am finally getting a chance to sit down and reminisce a little bit about my trip to India! Most of you know I had the opportunity to go for a medical mission in the Bengal region of India, I also had some time to explore the region as well as the excitement of the city of Kolkata. The seriously incredible cuisine and the beautiful hospitality of the Indian people has truly transformed me! As well, it’s what you’ve all been waiting and asking for… I am bringing you a delicious recipe that will bring India to your own table, no need for the 2 days of travel! It was ridiculously difficult to know where to begin on what recipe to create, there are so many flavours and dishes that I fell in absolute love with in India, choosing just one to bring to you today seemed literally impossible. In the end I decided to keep it simple and traditional with a dahl, a Red Lentil Coconut Kale Dahl to be more precise!

You are probably wondering, what the heck is dahl!? Dahl is a very common dish in India, usually served at pretty much every meal and incorporates some type of legume such as lentils, split peas or beans, it is then transformed into a punch you in the face (in a good way) with flavour, stew or soup! The flavours and presentation of dahl changes greatly from region to region in India, I was in the Bengal region and a lot of the dahl had a sweet undertone with coconut influence. I LOVE LOVE coconut and decided to elevate this recipe by adding shredded coconut to the stew itself, as well as start with some coconut oil for richness and finish with some hearty coconut milk for depth. I am so thrilled to share this Red Lentil Coconut Kale Dahl recipe with all of you, it turned out better than I could have expected!

I’m sure you have all had Indian food locally before (if you haven’t, drop what you are doing and go, now!) they are truly masters of spice and flavour combinations. The depth of flavour and complex layers in each dish fascinate me every time I take a bite, I am always mesmerized on how so many spices in a dish can meld and compliment one another, creating and delivering such a perfect bite! One of my main goals was to stock up on local spices in the markets, I hit the jackpot in the Kolkata wholesale market! My friend and I bought years worth of spices for around $10, my suitcase smelled of a fragrant spice bazaar everywhere I went thereafter, I’m surprised I got through the airport at all!

So back to the Red Lentil Coconut Kale Dahl I have created for all of you to try! I realize not all of you just lugged pounds of foreign spice back and you may not have an overly developed spice pantry, so I tried to keep the spice count as minimal in this recipe as I could, without sacrificing the flavour. So hopefully most of you can try and fall in love with this Red Lentil Coconut Kale Dahl recipe I have come up with! Dahl is typically eaten with a flatbread of some kind, na’an or roti are popular, as well as rice, to assist you in mopping up every last drop of succulent dahl on your plate! I had it for dinner over top of butter sautéed kale and it did not disappoint, so good. So here is the recipe and how to make it, in 30 minutes you’ll have yourself an Indian Red Lentil Coconut Kale Dahl feast!

Ingredients:

Makes 4 servings:

1 cup dried red lentils – rinsed & drained

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp cumin seed or 1/2 tsp dried cumin powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp dried ginger powder

2 green cardamom pods or 1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp red chili powder

2 cloves garlic – thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 medium yellow onion – diced

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 cups vegetable stock

1 cup lite coconut milk

Large handful of chopped kale

Get Cooking: 

5 minutes prep, 30 minutes cook time.

Heat coconut oil in deep sauce pot over medium/low heat.

Add all your spices except garlic, bay leaf & salt, sauté until fragrant approximately 2 minutes. Watch these closely, spices burn easily!

Add diced onion & salt to spices, saute for 3-5 minutes, until soft.

Add thinly sliced garlic and shredded coconut to mixture, sauté for 3-5 minutes, then add rinsed lentils, mix until well combined.

Pour in your stock and coconut milk, mix thoroughly, add your bay leaf & kale, bring to a boil then decreased heat to simmer, cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 20 minutes until your lentils are soft and a thick stew has formed.

Serve with your fav vessel to mop up all that flavour! Flat bread or rice, or some sautéed spinach/kale. Keeps very well in the fridge for a few days.

I hope I have brought a little taste of India to your plates, if you love it, share it with those you love! Thanks for trying my recipes and all your support in my food & travel blogging journey. Feel free to share on Facebook or Instagram! XOXO

Continue Reading

Coffee Chai Spiced Loaf

Do I need to say more after reading that title! You read it right, Coffee Chai Spiced Loaf! I literally put all my food/drink obsessions into a big bowl and baked it, chai spice, coffee, buckwheat, oats and crunchy walnuts. I mean tis the season for Coffee Chai Spiced Loaf while sipping on your favorite hot drink and reading a book, or perhaps Netflix catches your attention more so! I will also mention this loaf has a healthy ingredient list and adds a nutritional punch to your daily intake, who can say no to that.

Are you guys getting ready for the Christmas season?! I swore to myself that this year I would be pro-active in getting the Christmas season shopping started early and be mindful of the spirit of the season, not just the material gifts. I have to repent and tell you all that I used to dread Christmas, I was a female grinch, okay not that anti-Christmas, but I always felt that people missed the mark on Christmas, that it was about lavish gifts and get to as many parties as possible, I let this negatively affect how I felt about Christmas. I am here to declare, the grinchess is NO MORE! I am embracing the season and living it in the way I want it to be celebrated, everyone commemorates it in different ways and I will respect that! I will stick to a holiday which is full of love, tradition, gifts that may not be expensive but that are meaningful and the most important part of all, spending time with loved ones and of course sharing food prepared with love for all of us to gather around ♥ I even bought a stunning door wreath and some outdoor Christmas lights, watch out, soon my house will look like Christmas puked all over it!

So my first goal this season was to bring you all a little recipe gift and start the cheer with my Coffee Chai Spiced Loaf recipe. Easily whipped up in 10 minutes and baked in 35 minutes! For all you chai and coffee lovers out there, this will be potentially dangerous in your house, try to not eat the entire loaf in one sitting! Maybe it can be a gift you make someone as well, thoughtful and delicious.

Here is the ingredient list for one large loaf:

Wet Ingredients:

3 very ripe bananas – mashed

1/4 cup almond milk

2 eggs

2 tbsp instant coffee dissolved into 2 tbsp hot water (I use the Starbucks Via Instant Dark packets)

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:

3/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/2 cup oat flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

1.5 tsp chai spice (I use Silk Road Chai Spice Baking Blend)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup sugar free chocolate chips (I use Krisda sugar free chocolate chips from Superstore)

Optional:

2 tbsp stevia or sugar of your choice to make it sweeter if you prefer.

How to Make:

Turn oven on 350 degrees Celsius.

Mix all your dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl, set aside.

Mash your bananas (I like to mash them so there are still some chunks of banana), blend in the rest of your wet ingredients, I find a hand hend blender works best!

Add your dry ingredients slowly to your wet, bland until just mixed. Fold in your chocolate chips!

Add your batter to a lightly greased loaf pan, top with crumbled walnuts if you want.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clear with no wet dough.

Let cool for 15 minutes, slice, then drool, then EAT EAT EAT!

I really hope you guys love this Coffee Chai Spiced Loaf and that you all can celebrate the holiday season in a way that feels right to you, includes your traditions and surrounds you with those you love and care for! Thanks for taking the time to check out this post and tag me on Facebook or Instagram with your loaf if you make it! XOXO

Continue Reading

Crunchy Hazelnut Almond Chocolate Cups

Ohhh guys, do I have a treat for you with this recipe! With Halloween just around the corner and a lot of tempting empty candy calories staring at you… I have created these Crunchy Hazelnut Almond Chocolate Cups with healthy fats and no refined sugars to replace those temptations! Ridiculously tasty, easy peasy to make and made of crunchy creamy dreams!

I am slightly addicted to hazelnuts, aka filberts, a nut high in good fats, protein and fibre with a creamy texture. The leading producer of hazelnuts in the world is Turkey, who knew! I found a Hazelnut Almond Butter by Nuts to You Nut Butter Inc, a Canadian company, made with strictly only oven roasted almonds and hazelnuts, no added sugars or preservatives. I have been attempting to create a recipe with this buttery yumminess that highlights the hazelnut flavour! Hazelnut Almond Butter mixed into dark chocolate with a layer of seedy crunch, nothing better you guys!

So you want to know what you’ll need for this recipe, am I right?? Well here is the simple ingredients list!

Makes 12 cups:

Ingredients:

2 oz dark, no sugar added, baking chocolate

1 cup sugar-free chocolate chips (I use Krisda sugar-free chocolate chips from Superstore)

1/2 cup Hazelnut Almond Butter or nut butter of choice (found at Superstore as well!)

1 tsp melted coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup sunflower & pumpkin seed mix

How to Create your Crunchy Hazelnut Almond Butter Chocolate Cups:

In a small saucepan over low heat melt your chocolate, stir in the nut butter, coconut oil, vanilla and salt.

Line a mini muffin pan with mini liners, fill them half way with your chocolate mix, then pour approximately 1 tsp of seeds to create a layer, then top with another layer of chocolate mix. Add a tiny pinch of salt to the top of each cup, put into the freezer for 15 minutes until solid. Store in the fridge and enjoy at room temperature!

Everyone can make these effortless Crunchy Hazelnut Almond Chocolate Cups! Reach for them instead of the unhealthy chocolate bars this Halloween, trust me, they taste better anyways! Full of antioxidants from the dark cocoa, healthy fats from the nut butter & coconut oil, not to mention the bountiful amounts of amino acids and minerals from the seeds. You may have to hide them from others, they seem to go missing from my fridge in large numbers 😉 Happy Halloween and stay safe! XOXO

Continue Reading

Spiced Fall Fruit Cake

Apples, pears, plums, cinnamon & nutmeg, what else does this crisp…snowy… Fall weather bring! I’ve been taking advantage of the Saskatoon Farm’s fill a bag of veggies/fruit for $12, the last fill I got a bunch of little cute green pears and some crisp apples. I’ve been craving a warm spiced cake to nibble on between sips of frothy London fogs, so I created a Spiced Fall Fruit Cake, with a layer of caramelized apples, plums and pears, coated in cinnamon & nutmeg, topped with a dense delicious oat based cake. I made it for my family’s early Thanksgiving dinner and I think it was a hit! Easy to make and even easier to eat…

I’m pretty proud of this Spiced Fall Fruit Cake as baking doesn’t come as naturally to me as cooking does, I don’t have the self control to measure ingredients out perfectly and precisely. I love to throw together stuff and add what I want, when I want. You can’t do that with baking… I have learnt the hard way too many times 🙂 I displayed some discipline with making this recipe, although it does allow for some leeway, so we can all make it! Chop, mix, bake and serve with a big dollop of thick greek yogurt, or if your thing is ice cream, throw that on. A perfect cake to bring to your Thanksgiving dinner!

All you need are a few ingredients and your favorite fall fruit!

Ingredients:

2 large apples – peeled and chopped

2 large pears – chopped

4 plums – chopped

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tbsp honey

Wet Ingredients:

3 tbsp melted coconut oil

4 tbsp honey

1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)

Dry ingredients:

1 1/4 cup oats

1 cup almond or oat flour

2 tbsp ground flax

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

Handful chopped almonds

Instructions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lightly grease a pie shell, add your chopped fruit, 2 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice and 1 tbsp honey to the bottom of the pie shell.

In a separate bowl mix your dry ingredients.

In a small bowl mix your coconut oil, honey & almond milk. If your coconut oil is not melted, throw it in the microwave until melted.

Add your wet ingredients to your dry and mix thoroughly, your batter should be thick but slightly runny, pour it over your fruit and spread evenly.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly brown and cooked through.

Let it cool a little, slice and serve with your fav topping, enjoy everyone and Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you love this Fall Spice Cake as much and I do and have a love & food filled Thanksgiving wherever you are! Remember to love and be thankful for every moment you have with those that bring happiness to your life, XOXO!

Continue Reading

Zuchinni Mint Moroccan Soup

Soup season is upon us! I am that person that could actually eat soup everyday for a week, or even month and wouldn’t get sick of all soup has to offer. Growing up I had the luxury of eating my mom’s many delicious soup varieties and I find myself craving my mom’s vegetable soup on cold days, or any day for that matter. I decided to create a soup that was inspired by a zucchini soup I slurped up in Fez, Morocco, a few months back, the insane amount of zucchini’s and mint that my garden spat up this year were also inspiration! I love traditional Moroccan spices and the Moroccan’s have a way of pairing these with mint ever so well, I thought, maybe I can try! Well, I’d say my Zucchini Mint Moroccan Soup is a perfect balance of those warm spices and a little hint of freshness.

During my recent trip to Fez, Morocco, I had gotten lost in the medina’s winding and never-ending roads, every corner looks similar and it is extremely easy to lose your sense of navigation! I had been walking and bartering all day and my stomach was grumbling, I had made up my mind to try to get back to my riad (hotel) and I would order dinner from the chef there. Well, minute after minute I was finding myself not recognizing anything and seemingly feeling more lost than ever and then I noticed a small sign pointing me towards, The Ruined Garden, it caught my eye and senses for some reason and I thought, what the heck, let’s check it out. Turned out to be one of my favorite food finds during my trip in Fez! This stunning restaurant was truly a secret garden, an old refurbished merchant’s house made into a dreamy café/restaurant which also housed a bread making school! The menu was exciting and I wanted to try it all! I started with a zucchini soup, so beautifully seasoned and creamy, I still think of it to this day. I knew in the right time I had to try to create a version of this soup, well what better time when my garden grew plenty of juicy and flavorful zucchini. This Zucchini Mint Moroccan Soup is perfect to cozy up with and pair with a thick slice of bread with fresh avocado smothered on it, YUM!
Another reason I adore soup, most of them take less than 30 minutes and you’ve got meals for a couple of days at least. With just a few ingredients and no more than 30 minutes, you’ll have a pot of Zucchini Mint Moroccan Soup to curl up with as well!

Here is what you will need to make 4 large servings:

1 tbsp olive oil or oil of your choice (I use avocado oil)

1 medium yellow onion – chopped

1-2 garlic cloves – crushed

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

3/4 tsp turmeric

1.5 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

4 medium zucchini’s (approximately 5 cups) – chopped

4 cups of water

5 fresh medium mint leaves – diced

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Get cooking!

Heat oil in medium pot over medium heat.

Add chopped onions and garlic, stir frequently, saute/sweat for approximately 5 minutes.

Add all your spices to the bottom of the pot and let them heat up, 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add your chopped zucchini and mint, stir well, allow this mixture to cook for 5 minutes, stirring a few times.

Add your water, bring to a boil and simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes.

If you have a hand-held soup blender, perfect, blend up your soup in the pot until creamy. If you don’t (which I do not), ladle your soup carefully into your blender (it’s hot, be careful!) and blend on high until creamy, then pour back into your pot.

Add your fresh lemon juice, any needed salt & pepper, toast of that bread and mop that soup up!

Hope you all love my Moroccan Inspired Zucchini Mint Soup, let me know what you think when you make it! Tag me on Instagram of Facebook, I’d love to hear from you, xoxo!

Continue Reading

Mediterranean Tabbouleh Salad

Heya everyone, it has been way too long! I am sorry for my absence on the blog in the last few months, it has been a whirlwind! It feels great to be back and typing away here, reaching out to all you in need of a delicious summer meal, a Mediterranean Tabbouleh Salad coming right up for you guys. I have to be honest, in the last few months, I took a step back to remind myself of the important things in life, some self love and intertwined in all of that, travel to Liberia to see my sister, home renovations and lots of summer camping & hiking. Hopefully you’ve all been able to step back also and appreciate the important moments in your life, cherish moments with those that matter the most and create some summer memories.

Recently, my husband, our pup and I have taken every opportunity to get out into the mountains, pitch our mansion of a tent up and conquer many hikes. Nothing beats a summer camping trip, no glamping doesn’t count… I have to thank my parents for all the nostalgia surrounding camping, they took us camping as kids in the summers, all six of us stuffed into a tent and the days consisted of several day trips and hikes to tucker us out. I also love camping cooking, I love to get innovative and still enjoy a delicious, healthy & quick meal around the campfire. Tin packets are your best friend for those campfire meals! My husband had a good chuckle on the last camping trip, I asked him to find the salt and pepper as I was making dinner, he pulled out a beautiful grinder with pink HImalayan salt and some whole pink peppercorns for pepper, he looked at me and said, “you know your wife is a food blogger when…” I mean, who wouldn’t leave the house to camp without those two staples… 🙂

Alright, down to my latest creation, a fresh and addicting summer salad that I can’t get enough of. I’m all about trying to use up all my garden’s bounty, it’s been a perfect balance of sun and rain here and my garden is flourishing. I saw my parsley, mint and tomatoes needed to be used up, what can I make… DING, DING, tabbouleh! There are many types of tabbouleh out there, the first originating in Lebanon, a flavor packed salad that is so fresh on a hot day. I decided to put a little twist on my tabbouleh salad and added some Mediterranean flavors, because olives and feta are irresistible. I also switched out the traditional bulgur or cous cous base with my current addiction, jade pearl rice,

to make it gluten free. This Mediterranean Tabbouleh Salad couldn’t have turned out any better, I mean, not to brag or anything, but it’s seriously incredible.

So to the garden I went, cut some fresh parsley, mint, chives and picked some ripe tomatoes and got chopping! I usually make a large batch of jade pearl rice once a week and use it throughout the week, but the great thing about jade pearl rice, is it takes 10 minutes, tops, to cook! I get my rice at my nearest Planet Organic store, where they sell it bulk, worth the trip to your nearest health food store, I promise!

Ingredients:

1 large bunch of fresh parsley (approximately 2-3 cups) – diced

1.5 cup chopped cucumbers

1.5 cup chopped tomatoes (I used 2 variations of grape tomato, golden & cherry)

1/2 cup dry green jade rice – cooked

1/4 cup fire roasted tomatoes – chopped ( I find these in grocery store salad bars – CO-OP)

1/4 cup red onion – diced finely

1/4 cup fresh mint – diced

2 tbsp fresh chives – chopped

10 olives (I used a variations of green, black, brown olives)

1/4 cup light crumbled feta

Dressing:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp fresh mint – diced finely

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp lemon zest

Salt & Pepper to taste

Throwing it all together:

Mix all your vegetables together in a large bowl, add your cooled rice. Mix dressing ingredients well until all combined. Pour dressing into salad, add salt & pepper to taste, top with feta and olives! Easy as that, a Mediterranean Tabbouleh Salad fitted for a queen’s feast I’d say! Hope this helps you use up your garden ingredients and adds another staple recipe to your books. Have a beautiful and safe summer, another recipe to come soon!

Continue Reading

Isla Mujeres, Mexico – The Island of Goddesses

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit an island off of Cancun’s coast, Isla Mujeres, I wanted to share this gem with all of you as it left a lasting impression on me and hope you can to one day visit! The Island is the eastern most tip of Mexico and dates back over 1500 years, the island served as the sanctuary for the goddess Ixchel, the Maya goddess of the moon, fertility, medicine and happiness, hence known as the Island of Women. I wasn’t prepared for an undeniably unique island brimming with Mexican culture, quaint architectural character, bizarre yet stunning artwork and although small in size, this island has never-ending adventures at every turn! Who doesn’t love an island where getting lost leads too secret coves and the best guacamole that has ever hit these taste buds!

We (my hubby and four adventure ready friends) set out to explore Isla Mujeres on a paradisiacal balmy Monday morning,  just a hop onto a quick 20 minute ferry from Playa Tortuga Ferry Terminal, located on the Cancun strip. This cost about $11 US one way, with ferries running every 30 minutes until quite late! As we stepped off the ferry and made our way through the modern ferry terminal we were suddenly and I have to say quite unexpectedly, met with the island’s bustling town center! Splashes of vibrant yellow’s and blues on characteristic building’s were beautifully apparent with a contrast of the gray stone streets. I felt an immediate sense of island life, picturesque, laid back and inviting. Now it was time to rent the infamous mode of transportation the island has taken on… golf carts and mopeds! It wasn’t long before a local promised us the best ride for the best price, making our way through the streets and into a rental shop, after much deliberation, clarification and a stack of pesos, we had ourselves a four person golf cart and two adorable but bad ass mopeds!

The exhilaration of driving that golf cart on the open island roads and taking in the stunning surroundings are something I can’t put into words. We drove along the gorgeous coast line following the white sand beaches, turquoise blue waters, tropical vegetation, Mexican shops and quaint hotels passed us by. The salty breeze on my face, hair flying wild and all of our laughter due to pure joy and the adventure had just begun! First stop… TURTLES! Isla Mujeres is home to a Tortugranja (turtle farm), founded in the 1980’s by a local fisherman who recognized the need to provide a sanctuary for these turtles and a secure beach for hatchlings to be released (approx 125,000/year)! The farm is located about 5 km from the town center and pretty easily found thanks to signs at the islands driving circle! Be prepared for a golf cart specific parking lot and a self guided tour facility. We explored the outdoor and indoor exhibits where you can meet and feed the different species of adorable turtles, we explored the grounds and stumbled upon a pen they had set up within the ocean where you can get a glimpse of nurse sharks. Definitely worth the $3 dollars to go support the turtles, I highly recommend!

Next up on the list was to continue our exploration of the southern most tip of the island, where the Ruins of Ixchel Temple are located, a temple the Mayans built to worship the goddess of Ixchel (goddess of moon & childbirth). Unfortunately as of just recent, Hurricane Gilbert destroyed much of this temple in 1988, we were able to see some remains of the temple, it is slowly being restored today. I didn’t expect to find an array of scattered compelling and thought-provoking art exhibits from many international artists along the path to the ruins as well, I’d never seen anything like it! This is also where the Caribbean Sea and Mexican Gulf unite, looking over the cliff edges into the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean was simply freeing and breathtaking. Stone walls, art pieces, the beating sun, the ocean breeze and small shopping vendors completed my visit at this end of the island! This is also where I was determined to master the moped, a nearby police officer watched me intently as I excitedly went over the mechanisms of the bike and off I went, sailing the highway of Isla Mujeres on my moped and a ridiculous grin slapped on my face. Shortly thereafter,  it to all came to a halt, when I realized I was being chased down by the Mexican police and thought it would be wise to pull over, although a flash did go through my head of me revving full tilt ahead, hair blowing behind me, zooming away on a high-speed chase… then I remembered I was on a moped… in Mexico… not a movie scene… darn it. I was kicked off that moped and being yelled at in Spanish by a police officer, something about a licencia and accidente, well dreams were crushed and back on the golf cart it was… boo!

The town center was calling my name, meaning, shopping time! We headed back to where it all began, the island town center. A bustling marketplace of stoned streets, bursts of lively colored art painted the walls on old buildings with thatch roofs and the main shopping street of Avenue Hidalgo engulfed our senses. You want it, they have it, everything from art, clothing, souvenirs, trip needs, jewelry, Mexican sculptures, pottery, masks, folk art… the list goes on! I adore getting lost in these shops, but I have to say, some of the vendors were a little pushy and aggressive for my liking. We found if you ventured off the main shopping streets and into the more concealed small streets, it was much more laid back and authentic. Don’t forget to bring your best barter game with a smile, all part of the shopping thrill!

We had really worked up an appetite for some authentic Mexican cuisine, we meandered through the crowds and along the gorgeous coast until we hit Bally Hoo, a charming open air, beach vibe hut restaurant,  gazing over the clear blue waters, this is where the it is said, the islands best guacamole was waiting for us, or so I had read, I was certainly up to verify these rumors! Rounds of guacamole, house corn chips and ridiculously massive, fresh, mango strawberry margaritas were ordered and just as quickly devoured and slurped back. The guacamole was hands down one of the best I’ve ever had, damn delish, it was creamy yet chunky, full of velvety ripe avocado, bursts of red tomato, hints of onion, lime, cilantro and garlic… made with Mexican love, I couldn’t stop! Now, whenever I hear I can get the “catch of the day” at a restaurant, I jump on it, coming from a city where fresh seafood is hard to find, don’t have to ask me twice! I ordered up one catch of the day, a black grouper, grilled with a balanced and delicious citrus garlic sauce, a side of perfectly seasoned Mexican rice and fresh veggies. I let the flavors dance on my taste buds, the flaky perfectly cooked fish melted in my mouth with Mexican music playing in the background and the ocean surrounding me, I was in heaven. I was brought back to reality when the margarita bill came and that sucker was $18 a pop, holy sh*t! We missed that on the menu… otherwise, this restaurant is highly recommended!

Satisfied, full bellies and re-energized, we set out to discover this “secret beach” I had read about, if we could find it that was! All I knew is the pathway leading down to this caved and secluded beach location was nestled beside Joya Hotel, somewhere on the island! After re-routing a couple… or more times and looping the island twice, BINGO, there was Joya Hotel as well as a small beaten path leading to white stone stairs into the unknown… then there it was, a stunning, calm cove of turquoise waters, with a white beach riddled in seashells and mysterious rock side caves, this was paradise! We simply took all the beauty in took a dip in the crystal clear waters, take me back!

The perfect day was winding down to an end, our friends decided to head back to the mainland and my hubby and I decided it would be a shame not to stay and watch the sunset from such a magical island. We set forward to find “the spot”, where all comes together harmoniously as the sun drops and unimaginable colors set the sky on fire and dance on the water. We ventured through the streets, determined to seek out that sun set spot, after coming upon many closed or private patio spots, we were welcomed by a local younger gentlemen to sit down at his whimsical little restaurant overlooking the ocean. We were the only two there, we sat back, kicked up our feet, ordered a couple of mojitos and cervezas and watched that fiery sun dive into the ocean so elegantly and beautifully. We love to compare sunsets from around the world that we’ve had the opportunity to soak in, all so authentic and distinctive in themselves. We ensure to always remind ourselves how undeniably beautiful this world is and how lucky we are to be able to share in the culture of others, no matter where in the world we are! Thank you for joining me on my island exploration everyone, more island inspired food recipes to come shortly, xoxo!

Continue Reading

Tuna Slaw & Brown Rice Salad

You guys spoke and I listened! thanks for the overwhelming positive response on my Instagram poll today, clearly indicating to me you guys are craving my Tuna Slaw & Brown Rice Salad recipe to freshen up your lunch meals, this is a filling and scrumptious salad that you’re going to love. I am the type that typically gets addicted to a certain recipe I’ve come up with and eat it over and over again, I think I’ve had this salad almost every other day for 2 weeks now, until I make up my next recipe that over runs my kitchen and meals 🙂

This salad came together accidentally, one day I was clearing out my fridge with what I had left to try throw together a quick lunch, I had some left over cooked brown rice, a can of flaked tuna in water, a bag of broccoli slaw, celery, a few grapes and some fresh dill. I have to say, I am loving President’s Choice choices of slaw, they have three fresh varieties, broccoli, beet or kale slaw available for only $2.00, it’s a staple in my fridge and I stock up regularly. Typically, I love eating my tuna with a bit of Greek yogurt and mustard mixed in and placed on top of a rice cake with fresh cucumbers, I didn’t have rice crackers so I thought, I’ll throw together what I can find. I took one bite of my creation and I was hooked, it was so fresh, filling and packed with protein and healthy carbs, it’s also so versatile and I throw in whatever I have on hand and it always turns out yummy. Alright, here is the recipe!

Ingredients:

Makes 2 servings:

1 can (120 grams drained) flaked tuna in water, drained

1 heaping cup broccoli slaw (I use President’s Choice Broccoli Slaw)

1/2 cup cooked brown rice

1 stalk celery chopped

5 grapes halved

1 tbsp chopped fresh dill

2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt

2 tsp honey mustard

Salt & Pepper to taste

You literally throw all ingredients together in a bowl and toss with your Greek yogurt, mustard, salt and pepper to taste and there you have your Tuna Slaw & Brown Rice Salad! It keeps really well as leftovers for the next day, pack it for lunch, I’ve even topped it with a hard boiled egg and avocado for extra protein and healthy fats after a great work out. I make big batches of brown rice at the beginning of my week so I can whip this salad up on the go. Spring is coming and this fresh, bright salad is so fitting. Hope you guys have a beautiful rest of your Sunday and a great week before Easter hits us! Thanks for your support and following, sending lots of love!

Continue Reading

Two Ingredient Sweet Potato Gnocchi

How about some easy, Two Ingredient Sweet Potato Gnocchi to kick-start the official day of Spring! I know here in Calgary the piles of snow make it undeniably difficult to believe warm weather is coming our way, but it will, don’t you worry, we will be swimming in puddles before we know it! Now, back to the gnocchi, these bright and beautiful little pillowy bites of deliciousness were actually so fun and simple to make! Gluten free and healthy gnocchi has been on my, figure out that recipe list, for a long time, but it seemed rather daunting.  After a few test batches using different flours and thinking I needed more ingredients than I did, it turned out I only needed two main ingredients, a little less force when creating the dough and a very quick boiling time, then these little sweet orange guys were made and devoured!

I was inspired to finally delve into gnocchi making after a leisurely stroll through my favorite Italian market, the hubs loves gnocchi and I always buy him some from the market for an easy dinner when I am working evenings, then I thought to myself, alright, time to make your own fresh gnocchi already! Why would I use plain old boring white potatoes either, sweet potatoes are packed with nourishing nutrients and taste 100x better. Sweet potatoes are frequently made in my house, from breakfast through dinner, it’s a must have ingredient on my counter at all times, not to mention my pup ADORES sweet potato and would eat it until she turned orange I’m sure. Then the struggle became real when I stared at all my gluten-free flour options in the pantry, gluten-free baking flour, chickpea flour, spelt flour, oat flour, the list went on, then I considered egg vs no egg… my mind finally settled and I made a few batches and the winning recipe is the one I’m about to share!

All you need for this Sweet Potato Gnocchi recipe are some medium-sized orange fleshed sweet potatoes and brown rice flour (you can get a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Brown rice Flour at Superstore for cheap!), I did throw in some freshly grated nutmeg and salt for that extra BOOM, but optional! Literally, roast the potato, mash until smooth smooth and add your flour until it creates a non sticky dough! I also want to mention I don’t have official gnocchi making tools and I made it just fine with a little creativity and remembering the latest Top Chef gnocchi hack, when a gnocchi board wasn’t available the chef used his mandolin that had a textured rippled surface to roll his gnocchi out to create those lovely grooves (which are there to mop up and hold the sauce of your choice)! Thank goodness for my Top Chef addiction and the things I learn from that show, although I did not agree with the judges choice on the finale, SPOILER ALERT, Adrienne should have won, hands down, am I right!? Anyways, if you don’t have any type of textured surface you can always use a fork to create those lines with, don’t fret.

Here is how easy they are to make, this recipe made about 80 pieces!

Ingredients:

2 medium (approx 2 1/4 cup mashed) orange fleshed sweet potatoes – roasted, peeled & mashed very well

2 1/2 cups brown rice flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour)

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1 tsp salt

How to Make:

Easy as 1,2,3… Roast your sweet potatoes, set your oven to 400° F, prick your potato several times with a  fork and roast until they are very soft, usually 30-45 minutes is enough. Not going to lie, after a few batches I got tired of waiting for the potatoes to roast and I microwaved the potato, actually turned out great, had my cooked sweet potato within 8 minutes, worth it if you are restrained in time!

After your potato has cooled just enough to handle it, peel off the skin and put it through a potato ricer, push it through a sieve or simply mash the heck out of it with a potato masher until it is really smooth, I used a masher!

Once you have your smooth potatoes, measure out 2 cups of flour onto a clean surface, sprinkle in your salt and nutmeg, add your potato slowly to your flour and begin mixing with your hands and in time your dough will begin to form! Keep slowly adding flour until your dough is formed and no longer sticky, this is when it is ready, so the 2.5 cups of flour is give or take based on how your dough is feeling. Try not too work your dough too much, I made this mistake my first two times and they came out a bit too chewy, just mix until formed then no more kneading!

Cut your dough into 8 wedges and roll out a piece into a log approximately one inch in diameter, then cut your gnocchi into 2-3 inch pieces. Once you have them all rolled out and cut, roll them on a textured surface to create those grooves, or use a fork and press them lightly to create some indents.

Store them on a lightly floured pan, boil a large pot of salted water and add them when the water is boiling rapidly, boil 3-4 minutes or until they all start floating to the top! Strain them out and add to a lightly buttered pan, I added chopped up chives salt and pepper, they were glorious!

There you have your cute little gnocchi nuggets! They were so tasty, the sweet potato with the nutmeg is a match that can’t be beat, a little butter and chives, yum! They stored really well in the fridge for up to 3 days, make sure they are lightly floured then toss into a sealed bag. Happy Spring everyone and hopefully you get to make your own Sweet Potato Gnocchi to enjoy! Thanks for all your support, love and following, XOXO!

Continue Reading