Archive for June, 2011

We flew out last week to Calgary Alberta to visit our nephew Brian and his girlfriend Adrienne (plus I’ve never been, so it was a great excuse!) View the full album here.
The kids were charming hosts; on our arrival on Friday night they met us at the airport and we settled into their condo to catch up over wine. Lots of wine! It was a late/early night!
The next morning we were whisked away to the mountains to see every gorgeous site! We stayed 2 nights in Canmore (close to Banff but less touristy and way cheaper!) in a two-bed, two-bath condo – lovely!

The condo

The condo

It was a bit chilly, but fortunately we had been watching the weather, so we packed appropriately. The rain did not stop us from doing anything, but it would have been so lovely to see the sun!

We ate JTs birthday dinner at Trough; very nice! Trough overall rating (in my opinion): decor 4/5, service 3.5/5, food 4/5, Value 3.5/5, Noise: 3.5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being quiet).


On Sunday we drove to Banff to take in the lovely sites; I had 5 elk sightings in Banff National Park. Driving through the park, they have these wildlife overpasses! They are green and because the roads are fenced on both sides, the animals needed a way to get across the road, hence these cool overpasses! Way cool.

In Banff, we ate lunch at a very cool pub The Elk and the Oarsman. The food was great.

We toured Banff and the Banff Springs Hotel, it was lovely. The hotel is one of those old grand hotels of the late 19th, early 20th century.

Banff Springs Hotel

We even found a room specifically for me, how thoughtful!


After the hotel, we rode the Banff Gondola up to the top of of Sulpher Mountain — even though it was rainy and overcast, it was still spectacular!



There is an old Cosmic Ray Station at the summit, which was very cool.


We returned to Canmore for dinner at a tapas place, service was mediocre as usual, but the food was good! We returned to our condo and chatted ’till the wee hours!
On Monday the kids kindly drove us to Lake Louise and Lake Moraine-breath taking. We wished we had budgeted more time for hiking and exploring.



We ate a beautiful lunch at the Chateau Lake Louise and it was very civilized. We wished we had planned more time for hiking around, but that is just another trip.


We drove to Moraine Lake which we found even more beautiful than Lake Louise. There was only one hotel, and it was rather small scale. Apparently the roads are closed in the winter so there is no access by car! The water was a very rich turquoise colour, not very well depicted in the photos.

We returned to Calgary that afternoon, in time for cocktails! We ate dinner at a local place, food OK, service mediocre!

The kids returned to work on Tuesday and JT and I explored the city! We walked along Stephen Street a great pedestrian outdoor area with lots of shops and restaurants.


My new authentic Cowboy boots!


Lunch at the River Cafe – wonderful!


My Royal Farm Elk Carpaccio. Roast Garlic Aioli, Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Sesame  – most delicious!


JTs Driview Farms Roast Lamb Sandwich. Black Eyed Pea & Sprouted Lentil Salad


And in true tourist fashion, we had to check out the Calgary Tower for the views. Not quite as spectacular as the mountains, but scenic enough.


Until next time, Calgary, Banff and Lake Louise. Until next time.

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I love Tabouleh – absolutely love it. But bulgar is still a carb, so I don’t make it often. Recently I thought of Quinoa, why not? Searching for recipes, I found that I wasn’t the first to think of it. Oh well! I usually add any veg I have in the house, keeping in mind that you eat with your eyes first – I think it looks like jewels! And it’s a delicious, healthy salad – if you’re hungry, add grilled shrimp or tuna!

Serves 4

Quinoa Tabouleh with Lemon Garlic Grilled Shrimp


  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1/3 each red, yellow and orange peppers
  • 2 green onions
  • 10-12 Kalamata olives or sun-dried olives
  • 1 vine ripened tomato, seeded
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn (may be omitted)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 4-6 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Sea Salt
  • 10 grilled shrimp seasoned with lemon juice and garlic (juice of 1/2 lemon, 3 finely minced garlic cloves, sea salt to taste, 3 tbsp EVOO, well stirred; marinate shrimp for no more than 1 hour)


  1. Add salt to water and boil.
  2. Toast Quinoa for a couple of minutes in a dry pan – moving around so it doesn’t burn (when you hear it pop, count to 5 and remove immediately)
  3. Add Quinoa and cook for 12 minutes on a soft boil, or until all the water is soaked into the Quinoa.
  4. While cooking the Quinoa, add minced garlic to lemon juice, allow to sit.
  5. Remove Quinoa from heat and add lemon juice and garlic mixture, mix well. Allow to absorb and cool.
  6. Chop all veg into similar sized pieces (I like about 1/4″ dice).
  7. Chop parsley and mint finely.
  8. When Quinoa has cooled, mix everything together. Serve with grilled shrimp!


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I originally posted this recipe in November 2008, but it’s so tasty, I decided it deserved a post on its own!

Gluten Free Sesame Crackers

I’m baking them as a gift for our hosts in Calgary along with braised tomato and roasted red pepper jam. They are 100% gluten free.

Sesame Crackers (from Elana’s Pantry)

These are delicious!


  • 3 cups unblanched ground almonds
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 cup sesame seeds, I like black and white versions, toasted lightly.
  • 2 eggs, whisked until frothy
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (I use a flavoured olive oil)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together almond flour, salt, sesame seeds, eggs and oil until well blended
  2. Separate dough into two halves
  3. Line two large (12 x 16) stainless steel baking sheets with parchment paper
  4. Place one half of the dough in the center of each lined sheet
  5. Cut another piece of parchment paper and place it over one of the balls of dough (use the top of the first one for the second one!)
  6. Roll dough out between the two pieces of parchment paper, until it is ⅛ inch thick and covers the entire baking sheet; remove top paper and repeat process with the other piece of dough
  7. Cut the dough with a knife or pizza cutter into 2 inch squares
  8. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown (watch carefully, these can burn very very easily!)
  9. Cool and serve

Makes ~96 crackers

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Clothing sizing today.

When I was 20 I bought a very expensive dress at The Ports (wool, knit, made in Italy, but I digress!) and it was a size 8. I was ecstatic! Size 8! For the most part, I wore a size 10. It looked amazing!
Some years have passed, my weight has gone up and down. The majority of my clothes are now a size 6! WTF? I am no where near my university weight. What is going on with clothing sizes? I’m not complaining, my brain loves the size 6, but really? I can also set my scale back 10lbs and be really really happy – but it’s not real.
Well, back in the day I probably was a size 4 in today’s size. Maybe then I wouldn’t have been dissatisfied.

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Last night we took our dear friend’s Dave and MiMi out to the Fifth Grill on Richmond as a thank you for a mortgage referral that just closed. Needless to say we had wine (ooops!) I am really hoping I didn’t jeopardize my success with one night. Tomorrow will tell. We are back right on track today!
To mitigate the damage, we planned an activity-filled day with a trip down to the Toronto Islands. We walked over 10km from one end of the island to the other. It was great. We even packed a picnic lunch as these places have few healthy choices. We ate our lunch at a lovely picnic table about 10 feet from the water and a great view or Toronto! We are bushed; we had planned to BBQ a whole chicken with herbes en Provence for dinner.
Strip the skin off the bird; sprinkle generously with herbes en Provence and garlic. I have a chicken BBQ stand with a reservoir but you can also roast in a pan or rotisserie. I put chicken stock in the reservoir with a clove or two of garlic (this evaporates into the bird – it’s all about flavour). BBQ for 2-3 hours on 350F (depending on the size of your bird).
The slaw: 3 cups finely grated red cabbage, 1 cup finely grated radishes, 1 cup finely grated fennel bulb, 1 cup finely grated cucumber, 1/4 cup finely chopped green onion, 1/2 cup finely chopped dill. Toss all in a large bowl until mixed well. Set in the fridge.
The dressing: 2tbsp low fat mayo, 2tbsp Dijon mustard, 1tbsp horseradish (not sauce) 1tsp splenda, 1/4-1/2cup lemon juice. Mix well. Toss slaw with dressing when you are ready to serve. This makes enough for four meals. We’ll have chicken leftovers!




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Week one success!

Week one was a grand success! Both JT and I are following ‘the diet’ and are doing pretty well (with the exception of someone who had a glass of wine with HIS sister for lunch on Thursday – what? Me? Bitter?). Not with standing we’re each down 5lbs! Energy levels are very low; I have am appointment to see the Dr. on Monday, hopefully he will make suggestions.
Tonight we had dinner in our backyard dining room. It was sushi-grade tuna seared rare on the Barbie – and I made a tasty stir fry.

For the stir fry use only your favourite veg, no point in eating stuff you hate while you are on this thing! We used broccoli, cauliflower, celery, mushrooms, zucchini and onions (both green and Vidalia) – about 230g for each of us (it’s a lot, believe me).
Sauté onions with a squirt of Pam and a dash of LS chicken stock for a few minutes, add the remainder of the veg. Season with Chinese 5-spice (I make my own), freshly grated ginger and freshly grated garlic, salt sparingly. It was wonderful.

As a treat, we went to the movies to see Pirates of the Caribbean; I love Johnny Depp. Aaaaahhh!

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I’ve decided to get myself back on track after having fallen off track since December. I’m doing a very strict Dr. monitored diet for the next three weeks. I hope to drop 15lbs but expect 10lbs.
The diet is challenging not because I normally eat poorly or over indulge; it’s challenging because I can’t have wine!

All kidding aside, it boils down to about 800 calories a day made up of virtually no processed carbs or sugars: 100g of protein 2x a day, 230g of vegetables 2x a day and a zillion gallons of water!

Tonight we made a 400g lean roast loin of pork. Place pork in a Dutch oven with a quick spritz of Pam, and about 1/4 cup of LS chicken stock in a hot oven 350F for 20 minutes.
For the sauce, sauté 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions with a squirt of Pam and a dash of LS chickened stock, when translucent, add 1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms and 1-2 cloves of finely minced garlic, a 1/2 tsp thyme and 1tbsp Dijon mustard. Sauté until everything wilts and the mustard is evenly distributed. Add a 1/4 cup lemon juice and heat until warm. When the pork is cooked remove from heat and allow to rest. Make a nice bed of greens with arugula and spinach; slice the pork thinly and distribute 100g onto each plate with greens. Garnish with the warm mushroom and onion mixture, drizzling some of the liquid over all of the greens. Mmmmmm! It was deelish! Hope you enjoy.

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