Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Please DON'T pass the salt!

With an exam looming in the horizon the last thing I want is to be sick. So when I woke up this morning with a sore throat and a stuffy nose you can guess that I was less than impressed!

Noooo!! Body...why must you fail me now???

I automatically went into defense/sickly 5-year-old mode and subsequently skipped the gym, stocked up on Vitamin C and hand sanitizer, and decided to make some chicken soup. After a bit of digging in the cupboard I found an old can that was laying around in the back of my cupboard.

But there was a little dilemma...

See that number? The 890mg of sodium (37% of daily recommended intake)? Well multiply that by 2 because the value is only for half the can!

As much as I wanted to have a soothing meal, I really wanted to avoid sodium... more ways than one ;)

Instead I diluted the original stock with 3 cups of water (instead of 1 cup as per directions) and added my own ingredients for flavour!

A teaspoon of oregano here,

3 chopped carrots there,

And I found a good use for these fava beans I bought on a whim the other day!

Yes, they really are extra large! I was absolutely mortified when I opened the can yesterday!!

I also added a couple bay leaves and a chopped onion and let the whole thing simmer for a good 30+ minutes.

The results? Absolutely delicious! It definitely hits the spot as far as soups/stews are concerned. I didn't even miss the extra sodium because it was so full of flavour!

I guess that means I should go back to actually studying about salt disorders. Too bad I can't just cook for my exam :P.

Lower Sodium Chicken Noodle Stew
  • 1 can chicken noodle soup
  • 3 cans water
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can fava beans (optional...or you can substitute with any other bean)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
Add all ingredients except beans in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add beans. Simmer 30 minutes or until carrots are soft. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


While millions of people are watching the Academy Awards at this moment I'm still gloating about last night's epic show! Countless hours of hard work and dedication paid off when the Class of 2014 (yes, that's my class!) won the title of EUPHORIA CHAMPIONS!!

Judges announcing the Med II's win

To say that being a part of the show was a high is an understatement. All the little details we worried about during practice seemed to come together magically! And the audience was incredible...their energy was so high that it was hard NOT to smile during the performance.

I wish I could do the night justice...but I can't. However, thanks to a classmate putting up videos on YouTube (you're the best Tals!!!) and the power of screen shots, I've captured some highlights from each scene.

Oliver's Twoberty Party
(Please ignore projector pole in the middle of all these pictures)


The Mighty Jungle

Fighting Gravity

And we danced, and we cried, and we laughed, and had a really Really REALLY GOOD TIME!!

Some fun behind-the-scenes pics:
Trying on our frog costumes for the first time!!

What the...f'ostrich???

After the show, during intermission. I almost didn't want to take my costume off!! Except for the fact that it was basically a human incubator.

And of course, what is Euphoria without the after party? I may have gotten into some trouble with these sketchy characters :P.
A big shout out to ALL the med school classes for an amazing night! You guys are awesome!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Euphoria...for the win!

What could it be?

It's a secret, but all will be unveiled tonight at EUPHORIA!

What is Euphoria? 

It's an annual variety show we have at Dalhousie where all four Med classes compete for a good cause. Ok, ok...maybe we compete a BIT for bragging rights as well ;). The show involves singing dancing, videos, hilarious scripts and videos, and there is a lot of time and effort that goes into it. All of the proceeds raised go to charity and this year it's going to the Halifax Sexual Health Centre!

Another secret costume piece :)

To be honest, I'm a bit nervous. But it's a healthy level of nervousness :). There's a trend for Med II's to win since we generally have the most time to put into the show. We've also had the experience of last year's show under our belts and have learned a lot from that! Needless to say, there is a lot of pressure on us. But when I step back and think about what we have put together as a class I am already REALLY proud and blown away by what we have. 

Ok, I'll stop teasing you with these mysterious images :P

Med I's, III's and IV's: prepare yourselves. You have your competition cut out for you!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

To Lent or not to Lent?

Lent kind of has a special place in my heart. It actually marks the beginning of my healthy behaviours as a teen. When I was in Grade 12 I decided to participate in Lent for the challenge alone and ended up abstaining from all sweets, chips and pop. There was only one day where I had a little "slip-up" but it was planned: a small slice of cake on my mom's birthday.

Was it German chocolate cake? I actually can't remember :P. But this is one of my mom's favourites!

Yes, the first few days were hard but in a strange way I enjoyed being offered some ____ (coke, cookies, party mix, etc) and having the power to say no. It was almost easier than if I did it any other time in the year because I could just say "Sorry, I've given that up for Lent."

When I first decided to abstain from the aforementioned foods I had visions of myself pigging out and overindulging after the 40 days were up. But a funny thing happened...I  no longer craved those things. Fast forward to today (8 years later...eek! that makes me feel OLD) and I still don't drink pop. Unfortunately I can't say the same for baked goods :P.

So I have 2 questions today:

Will I participate in Lent this year?

If so, what will I give up?

In googling about this topic I found the picture below. Are there any that stand out to you?

Although my eyes fixated on chocolate and coffee I don't really feel compelled or challenged to give them up. Then I started thinking...

What if instead of NOT doing something, I do something that I normally wouldn't do?

I don't really know what this would look like. It could be anything from volunteering at a new place to focusing more on my spiritual life to writing letters to old (and new) friends. It's an interesting twist on the topic.

Soooooo you will probably hear fairly soon if I am "lenting" or not "lenting". It's a decision that part of me wants to cast to the side but another part knows that I will grow through the process. Stay tuned ;).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pancake craze!

I've recently gone on a pancake kick since trying a recipe on Chocolate Covered Katie. Growing up, pancakes were a staple to Sunday brunches and since moving out I haven't been able to enjoy them as much. Theoretically I could make up a batch, but when you're one person it's proportionally a lot of work...with lots of leftover batter.

Finally I found a flavourful recipe that makes a perfect serving for me (3 small ones). Say hello to Hot Apple Pie Pancakes :). Making them is as easy as 1-2-3.

1. Mix dry ingredients.

2. Combine wet ingredients.

3. Cook and eat.

Told you it was easy ;).

They don't even use eggs or oil so they're healthier than your typical pancake. The original recipe called for sugar but I decided to substitute with honey which turned out to be delicious as well.

Hot Apple Pie Pancakes (modified from Chocolate Covered Katie)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp oats
  • 1 small - medium apple, grated
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 tsp baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp honey (I tend to eyeball it)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use soy...amount of milk can be adjusted depending on how thick you like your pancakes.

1. Combine dry ingredients.

2. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix until flour is just combined.

3. Cook on low/medium heat.

4. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I betcha didn't know...

...that today was Valentine's Day.

Ok, ok...that is a bit of a loooong stretch. Plus I'm writing this post after midnight which means that technically yesterday was Valentine's Day. It's a little hard to ignore February 14th since it's so commercialized these days. It seems like the candy aisles turn red and pink shortly after New Years Day. I actually do have fond memories of Valentine's Day as a child. I always looked forward to decorating a paper bag "mailbox" that hung over the side of my desk for classmates to drop cards in.

I remember sorting through all my Valentines as a 10 year old and finding the one from the boy I was "in love" with (the feelings were not mutual) and over-analyzing the message inside. It probably said something along the lines of "Have a great day" but I somehow translated that to mean "You are the most amazing girl in the class". Ahhh...young love :P.

I have to admit that I miss exchanging Valentines so today was a pleasant blast-to-the-past with specially themed cupcakes and a card with chocolate just for me! And let me just take a moment to say how amazing these cupcakes were. Perfectly moist, not too sweet with a nice touch of indulgence from the creamy icing. Amanda, you are an amazing baker!!

Aren't they cute? I had to practice intense self-control to not have a second.

So, although I could go on and on about my true love (food), I decided to look up some random facts about this day, hence the title of this post ;).

I betcha didn't know...

1. The countries that celebrate Valentine's Day are Canada, the United States, Mexico, Australia, the UK, France, Italy and Denmark.

2. There is a heart-shaped island called Galesnjak in the Adriatic Sea. Apparently it's only accessible by small boat.

3. The phrase "wearing your heart on your sleeve" comes form the Middle Ages custom of knights wearing a coloured fabric from their love on the arm of their armour.

4. That every Valentine's Day the city of Verona, Italy is flooded with letters addressed to the fictional "Juliet" from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet"

5. That my roomie's dog Cocoa is the cutest in the world!

Fine, I made that last one up. She does give a lot of love though.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Source of facts...minus #5.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The best oatmeal raisin cookies...ever

These may be the most amazing oatmeal raisin cookies you've ever had...but don't take my word for it. You'll have to try them for yourself ;).

It's actually been ages since I've made these cookies! I used to bake a batch almost every other week - taking them to emerg for volunteering, bringing them to work at the IWK...baking 8 dozen for engineers at my dad's work. Hmmm...maybe I just needed a bit of a break :P.

The best thing is that they are easy peasy to make (see recipe at bottom)!

Combine butter, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

Mix until fluffy and light in colour.

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. Mix just until flour isn't visible. This is actually really important because overmixing will develop the gluten, making a tough cookie.

Stir in oats and raisins. I tried something new this time and soaked the raisins in hot water and a touch of rum...the result was delicious.

Drop on a cookie sheet and bake 11-15 minutes at 350F.

Remove from cookie sheet after 2 minutes and place on cooling rack.

Eat one...then eat another just to confirm their greatness.

Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies...Ever (adapted from this recipe)
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt (less if butter is salted)
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • hot water and 1-2 Tbsp rum (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Put raisins in bowl and fill with hot water until just covered. Add rum and let soak approximately 15 minutes.
  3. Combine butter, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, and eggs in bowl and mix on high until fluffy and the colour lightens.
  4. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and Kosher salt. Mix just until flour is not visible (or else cookies will be tough).
  5. Add raisins (strained of water/rum) and oats. Stir to incorporate.
  6. Drop onto cookie dough sheet and bake 11-15 minutes (it took me closer to 15 but I made mine fairly large and was using a gas oven).
  7. Eat and enjoy :).

Friday, February 10, 2012

The hills

In case you were wondering if I dropped off the face of the planet I want to let you know that I'm still alive and well. But what could I have possibly been doing since my last post on Monday? Well, I did make myself another portobello burger and bake a batch of Anne's favourite oatmeal chocolate chip cookies...

For the love of cookie dough!

But the truth of the matter is's study time


Yup, I'm trying to get into hardcore mode again and it surprisingly gets more difficult everytime! I think I'm going at a rate of approximately 2 lectures a week. Yes, I realize that needs to change considerably given that we have 1 month until our exam and already 2 months of material to master.

Maybe that explains my recent late-night baking urge as well as my sudden love for running outside in the cold. Today 2 classmates and I did a 7.32km run around the Halifax waterfront, the Commons, and Citadel Hill. 

It feels so good to be running outside, especially now that I have decent gear to do so! My only enemy is the hills. I think my body rejects even a 5 degree's pretty sad. So it wasn't too happy when it saw the incline in the picture below. In fact, I think my body was silently screaming profanities.

But to be completely honest, I do secretly love the challenge of hills (even though I crawl up them at a snail's pace) and I love the feeling of my legs being sore after a good run. I also love refueling my body with yummy snacks :P.

Mmmm...peanut butter!!!

7.32km seems like a far cry from a full marathon but hopefully my body will start accepting longer runs. Maybe I'll just have to start carrying snack packs of peanut butter with me for fuel...and maybe some chocolate as well ;).

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fungi for lunch

Mushrooms...they give me the creeps sometimes, especially the big ones.

Up until I was 7 years old I couldn't even stomach anything other than canned mushrooms. Sick...I know. I'm not quite sure how the transition happened but I'm glad that I learned to embrace fresh fungi (which doesn't even taste remotely close to what's in the cans!)

The first time I tried a portobello burger was about 2 years ago when I went vegetarian for a week, just to see if I could. It actually blew my mind that a mushroom could be so flavourful and sustaining. But I still enjoyed my meat so the portobello burger remained an isolated event.

Until now.

I found a recipe for portobello burgers a couple weeks ago on HowSweetItIs and knew it would be a winner. It gave me a perfect excuse to go to the Farmer's Market too ;).

The mushroom marinates for about 2 hours (although I've done it up to 6 before too), stem side up, in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, white wine (or cooking sherry), and slivered garlic.

1 tbsp wine for the marinade, 1 glass of wine for meeee (I kid...I kid!!!)

All set for the mushroom!

Then about an hour before eating, I drizzled 1 tsp olive oil over some garlic cloves, wrapped the whole thing in aluminum foil and baked at 375F for 45 minutes.

After sauteing a small onion in olive oil and butter (not pictured), I cooked the mushroom over medium heat for 5 minutes/side, starting with the stem side up. Speaking of stems, I chopped it off and cooked it on the side at the same time. 

After cooking both sides I flipped the burger again with the stem side up, turned off the heat, and put 2 slices of jalapeno gouda cheese on top of the mushroom to melt. Cheese makes everything better!

I also added a slice of avocado to the frying pan because...well, if you really want to know it's because the avocado was rock hard!!! I heated it with the hopes that it would soften up some...and it worked!

Then came the fun part: assembling the burger! I took the roasted garlic and spread it over a toasted English muffin then laid the portobello mushroom/jalapeno gouda cheese on a bed of spinach, sliced tomatoes, and avocado and then I topped it with the sauteed onions.

It was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S.

Are you hungry yet?

Portobello Burger with Gouda and Roasted Garlic (adapted from HowSweetItIs)

  • 1 portobello mushroom cap
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 thin slices of gouda cheese
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • a few leaves of spinach
  • marinade
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp white wine (or cooking sherry)
    • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 1 clove of garlic, minced
Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl 2 hours before serving and add mushroom, stem side up. Spoon some of the marinade over the mushroom and let it sit in the fridge for 2 hours.

About 1 hour before serving, preheat oven to 375F. Drizzle some olive oil (approx 1 tsp) over garlic cloves, wrap in foil, and roast for 45 minutes. Let it cool.

Sautee the onion in 1 tsp each of olive oil and butter (note: the olive oil prevents the butter from burning!) over medium heat. Let onions carmelize for 10ish minutes. Set aside on a plate and add the mushroom to the frying pan. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side (I started with the stem side up but it doesn't really matter). Finally, turn off the heat and add 2 slices of gouda cheese with the stem side up.

Toast the English muffins. Take the roasted garlic and squeeze it out of the head into a bowl. Mash it with a spoon and spread to the inside of the English muffin.

Now it's time to assemble your burger! Add spinach, tomato, avocado, mushroom, and onions to the English muffin. Take a photo (or two) and enjoy ;).