Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Hot Sauce

Habenero Hot Sauce | Sweet and Spicy

Some people looove hot sauce. I’m not one of those people. I am ok with spicy things, but I could take them or leave them, and rarely add hot sauce to my dishes. But when you have a big bag of habaneros that are quickly wrinkling up because you couldn’t resist grabbing them from the discount produce rack ($0.22 for so many peppers!), hot sauce seems like a good option.

I’d never made hot sauce before, but it’s actually super easy: wash, chop, blanch, toss, blend, pour, enjoy. The hardest part is getting through it all without crying and coughing once all that spiciness gets all up in the back of your throat, but pro tip: leave the kitchen while your fiancé takes care of the rest.

This habanero chili hot sauce, based on Pepper Joe’s Island Hot Sauce recipe, became Sweet + Spicy Pineapple Hot Sauce out of pure necessity. We ended up with nearly a half gallon of mega-spicy just-a-dab’ll-do hot sauce. We were planning on freezing a lot of it anyway, but we really didn’t need a 10-year supply of hotter-than-hot hot sauce, so I googled ways to bring down the heat.

Adding a big can of crushed pineapple seemed like the most delicious option. So rather than a 10-year supply of hot sauce, we have a large quantity of Sweet + Spicy Pineapple Hot Sauce that we can use a lot more liberally. So far, I’ve enjoyed it tremendously on my scrambled eggs, baked fish and pork chops.

Breakfast Burrito with Sweet and Spicy Hot Sauce | Pineapple + Habenero PeppersHomemade Hot Sauce | Sweet & Spicy

Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Hot Sauce
 
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Ingredients
  • 8-10 habanero chili peppers
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ tbs salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 can crushed pineapple
Instructions
  1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil over high heat
  2. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds (avoid touching eyes after handling peppers)
  3. Blanch peppers in boiling water for 30-40 seconds, remove from water
  4. Add onion, carrots and peeled garlic cloves to water and cook until soft
  5. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth
  6. Store in a glass jar or bottle in fridge, or freeze in batches

Homemade Hot Sauce | Sweet & Spicy Habenero Peppers

Birthday month stalled my weight loss (and why I’m ok with that)

birthday cupcakes boots and bourbon

March is birthday month in my group of friends, so we’ve been doing a lot of eating, dancing, drinking and celebrating lately!

For my own birthday, we went to Boots and Bourbon, a local country bar. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to ride the mechanical bull, but I had such an amazing time with all my friends that came out. I felt so loved. Thanks, y’all!

bday flowers

The downside of a month packed full of celebratory occasions, is that my weight loss progress totally stalled. It wasn’t just birthday eats, but also some stress-eating during a few emotional low points (wedding planning! work! friends! life!), which sabotaged my weight loss this month.

chill ice house

But I’m OK with it. I still tracked things pretty consistently on MyFitnessPal.com and stuck with my running program. Rather than letting myself get discouraged because I didn’t lose any weight all month, I focused on the positive progress I’ve been making (running 5K like it’s no big deal now, yeah!). And honestly, just that is progress in itself. Losing weight without being crazy about losing weight is just as big of a goal as dropping those pounds.

high tea birthday

Especially when trying to lose only a small amount of weight, the difference between maintaining and losing is only a few hundred calories per day, so it’s really easy to go over, especially when birthday cupcakes are thrown into the mix. A few extra dinners out on the town and an extra slice of cake can spell the difference between losing weight or not, or even gaining. So while the difference between losing, maintaining, or gaining can be super teeny tiny, the difference between losing my sh*t and just taking it all in stride is the biggest deal ever.

hollywood-birthday-party

Some days, weeks and months I’ll be able to stick to my diet and lose weight, and other times it just won’t happen. It could be social events, stress, hormones or a combination of all those things, like it was this month, but life happens and feeling bad about it isn’t going to help anything (and usually only makes things worse!). Weight loss isn’t linear, and the ups and downs are part of the process. The best thing I can do is just keep tracking, and keep coming back to my goals and keep working on my relationship with food.

newshoes

Another thing that I’m hoping will help me stick to my goals without getting totally crazy around food is Kimberly Snyder’s new book, Beauty Detox Power! I love her advice regarding super healthy food, but losing weight would be easy if it was JUST about the food.

The reason many of us run into trouble is because our relationships with food are SO COMPLICATED! And Kimberly Snyder’s new book promises to cover so much more about the mind-body connection. Can’t wait to learn more!

Also, with pre-order, Kimberly Snyder is offering the most insane giveaway including a chance to win 15 Vitamix blenders and a trip to Mexico! AND SO MUCH MORE.

Click here for all the details!

birthday flowers

From around the web:

About the psychology of eating.

Got food issues? Sign up for free coaching emails.

A journey towards IIFYM.

An honest post about binge eating.

And avoiding the slippery slope (and more tips).

Wedding Checklist: Save the Dates – Done and done

New Year's Eve Save the Date

Since we nailed down our venue, the next thing on our wedding to-do list was to send out Save the Date cards.

I don’t think Save the Dates are done very much (at least I haven’t ever received one), but because of our New Year’s Eve wedding date, we wanted to make sure to give all our guests ample notice. It’s a busy time of year, so sending out Save the Date cards would give everyone plenty of time to plan, especially for our guests from out of town.

Instead of sending snail mail, we used PaperlessPost.com to send out electronic Save the Date cards. It was so convenient and the designs are super cute and can be tailored to fit any theme. They have thousands of templates and designs to choose from, and it was so much fun to design a custom card that suited our New Year’s Eve theme.

I just uploaded a picture that was taken of us on our trip to Paris, where we got engaged, chose a template and added some text. In just a few minutes, I had our Save the Date ready to go. Although it’s not the same as getting a letter in the mailbox, you do get all the satisfaction of personalizing the card with a background, envelope and envelope liner, which your guests get to open electronically. Plus, you can track if your Save the Date was opened, so you know who to follow up with if you see that your less tech-savvy aunt didn’t check her email.

A really cool feature on PaperlessPost.com is that you can select an option to collect your guests’ mailing addresses, which we’ll need when we’re ready to send out the invitations later this year. Guests are also able to send you a message within the system to send their congratulations or to ask any questions they might have. Now that our guests’ email addresses are in the system, we can conveniently use it to send out individual or group messages throughout the year if there are any changes or if anything comes up closer to the wedding date. We’ll also be able to send little reminders to any guests that forget to respond with their address.

We’re planning to send hard copy invitations out to our guests in the mail later in the year, which can be ordered straight through PaperlessPost.com, too. Once our guests reply to the Save the Date with their mailing addresses, they’ll be conveniently ready to go for the invitations.

Save the Date Envelope

Running Update! (and Wedding Plans)

I ran 10K!

I’m really excited to share that I ran 10K for the first time ever on Saturday! I ran it in a slow 75 minutes, but I did it! I still have another two months before the SportingLife 10K to get my speed up, since my goal is to run it in under an hour, but it just feels great to know that I can actually run that distance. Honestly, guys, running for 5 minutes straight was a huge accomplishment for me last year. Running 20 minutes straight for the first time seemed crazy, and when I reached 30 minutes straight I was so amazed that my commitment was paying off.

Since January I have been running around 5-6K at least 3 times per week in accordance with my training plan from my work running group, and although I found it getting easier each week, I still didn’t see how I could possibly double that distance. But on Saturday, I slowly ran a full 10K and I’m still thrilled by this accomplishment.

I have never been a runner. When I was in 7th grade, I started running with the cross-country team and at our first race, I quickly found myself at the back of the pack. Only a few minutes into the race, I came around a bend and saw my mom in the crowd and just ran off the course to her, saying I didn’t feel well. And I never went to cross-country practice again.

The key to this recent success can be chalked up 100% to consistency. I have run at least 3 days per week, and usually more like 5, each and every week with a really gradual build-up that avoided injury and burn out so that I was able to stick to the program. Woohoo!
in it for the long run

Upping the Pace

I’ve now downloaded the next level training plan which will bring me to a half-marathon distance at the end of 8 weeks. Although the distance will increase over time, I’m mostly interested in the speed work components of the program that will help me pick up the pace so that I can finish the 10K race in under an hour. I have a really hard time pushing myself to go faster since most of the time I’m just pushing myself to finish, but just the way that my distance built up gradually over time, I know my speed will, too.

Wedding Planning Update

We have a venue and a date! I’m so so so excited! We’re going to be getting married on New Years Eve! I got the idea of a NYE wedding from an episode of the show “Four Weddings” that I saw last fall and just fell more and more in love with the idea as time went on. I am so excited to celebrate our wedding and then ring in the New Year with a big party and all our friends and family.

We’re going to be holding the ceremony and reception in the same place, which is exactly what I wanted. The venue we chose is so perfect for this because it’s a lounge with distinct areas that will accommodate the flow of the evening from ceremony to cocktail hour to reception.

Also, in other super exciting wedding news, I went wedding dress shopping for the first time! I was really nervous about it because I was worried that I wouldn’t find anything that looked good on me. I was dreading that frustration that I usually experience when clothes shopping where nothing looks good, but it was actually the opposite! I didn’t find the dress, but I have a much better idea of what I’m looking for, and I can’t wait to set up more bridal shop visits.

Next steps are to lock down our caterer, find a DJ/MC and send out those Save the Dates! And then onto the other million little decisions that need to be made that make this wedding planning thing so much fun :D

High Protein Biscotti

healthy-breakfast-biscotti

I work in an office, and out of habit and boredom, I’m a frequent snacker. I try to bring a big variety of healthy snacks to munch on throughout the day, but by the time 3pm hits, Starbucks treats are calling my name. Since 400 calorie muffins aren’t doing anything to help me achieve my weight loss goals, I know I need to find a way to kick that habit.

I’ve been logging my food on MyFitnessPal.com for nearly two months now, and I’ve noticed that my daily protein intake is quite low, often at only 40-50 grams per day, which is less that half of what I really need. No wonder I’m always snacking, right?

I was pretty surprised to see this, since I already drink protein in my smoothies, eat fish and chicken often, and snack on nuts. It’s still not enough! I’m going to be making a big effort for the next few weeks to double my protein intake to find out if I’m left feeling more satisfied and less snacky.

So while I find myself craving carby snacks like those 400 calorie muffins, protein has greater satiating power, meaning it keeps you feeling full longer. Since a cup of protein-packed cottage cheese doesn’t exactly seem that appealing when my afternoon munchies hit, I decided to arm myself with a higher protein baked good. I’m working towards progress, not perfection!

To help me along my journey, I made a batch of biscotti to enjoy at work each afternoon along with a big mug of herbal tea.

With double the protein for half the calories, a couple pieces of this High Protein Biscotti should help keep me full longer than my go-to muffin.

quinoa-flour

High Protein Biscotti
 
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Author:
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup (28g), quinoa flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg white
  • 3 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tbs melted coconut oil
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop (30 g) Vega Protein & Greens Vanilla protein powder
  • Mix-ins: ½ cup mixed nuts and dried fruit
Instructions
  1. To make quinoa flour, rinse well and spread in thin layer on an ungreased baking sheet
  2. Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven until dry and lightly toasted, about 15 minutes, remove and allow to cool before grinding in a coffee grinder or blender
  3. Pre-heat oven to 325F
  4. Add dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix to combine
  5. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, maple syrup, melted coconut oil and vanilla extract and beat gently
  6. Add wet ingredients to dry mixture and mix
  7. Stir in desired mix-ins
  8. Form dough into a long log (approx 4"x12"x1.5") on a non-stick baking mat or lightly floured baking sheet
  9. Bake for 25 minutes, remove from oven an allow to cool before slicing on an angle (approx. 10 pieces)
  10. Bake on each side for 15 minutes, until browned
Nutrition Information
Calories: 103 kcal Fat: 4 g Carbohydrates: 11 g Sugar: 5 g Sodium: 194 mg Fiber: 1 g Protein: 5 g Cholesterol: 19 mg

Based on Protein Powered Breakfast Biscotti from Powerhungry.com.

biscotti-high-proteinDo you worry about how much protein you get? What are you favourite sources of protein?

Healthy Valentine’s Day Dessert: Sweet Potato Chocolate Mousse

Valentines Day Sweet Potato Chocolate Mousse

We don’t really have Valentine’s Day plans this year, so I think we’re just looking forward to a nice relaxing long weekend at home. We’ve been so busy with work and life and wedding planning that it will be great to just have a few days of absolutely nothing except for quality time with my love and my Netflix.

For Valentine’s Day I do like to pull out all my heart-shaped cookie cutters, molds and dishes for romantic brunch for two: heart-shaped fried eggs, heart-shaped pancakes and heart-shaped toast. Nothing says romance like heart-shaped bacon.

For the occasion I’m sharing this dorky but sweet picture that we took when we stumbled upon some wedding decor while out on a stroll last fall. Might have to save this one for our wedding slideshow!

jill and mike

And now I’ll leave you with this healthy Valentine’s Day dessert, which is totally the type of dessert that is absolutely delicious when you’re trying to watch your weight, but still want to enjoy a little Valentine’s Day indulgence. Do it for love!

Wishing you all a weekend full of love and chocolate! <3

Sweet Potato Chocolate Mousse
 
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This healthy chocolate mousse is made with a surprising ingredient: sweet potato!
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 sweet potatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ⅛ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Add chopped sweet potato to a small pot and cover with water
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce and cook until tender, about 6 minutes
  3. Drain, set aside and allow to cool completely
  4. Combine all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth
  5. Refrigerate and serve chilled

healthy valentines day dessert

Running and Weight Loss Update

10K Training Update

This is Week 5 of my 10K training plan, which has me running a little over 5K. While it’s definitely getting easier, it still seems like such a stretch to double this distance in just 4 weeks, when I’m supposed to hit the 10K mark. But I’m just sticking to the program and keeping faith!

My training plan has me running 3 days per week and lately I’ve been doing most of my running on the treadmill due to the cold, snow and ice. Even with the distraction of the TV, time seems to go so much more slowly than when I get to run outside. But I do still love having my treadmill in our home gym, so that I can get those runs in.

Other than running I haven’t been doing much exercise except for the occasional trip to the wall climbing gym and a little snowboarding. I still have a gift card for classes at a local gym, so I’m going to aim to make it out to a pilates or yoga class just once per week. I know I haven’t been stretching enough at all, so it’ll be good to change things up a little.

snowboarding at blue mountain

Weight Loss Update

As I mentioned, I’ve started using MyFitnessPal.com to log my food and exercise. I’ve been using it for just over a month, and it seems to be working really well for me! I have it set to lose only 1 pound per week, so I’ve hard to make only really small and totally do-able changes to my diet.

I’ve lost a little over 5 pounds, which is right in line with the program. Using MyFitnessPal.com has been helping me be just a little more conscious in my food choices without feeling deprived. The smallest changes make the biggest differences. Eating my beef ragu over salad instead of pasta saves me whack load of calories and leaves room for an evening snack.

Even though it can be a little frustrating to take things sooo slowly, it’s the different between losing weight steadily and sustainably versus crash dieting my way to nowhere. It’s early days yet, but I do feel proud of myself for sticking to my running and diet goals.

For an easy snack that helps me stick to my goals, I’m loving these no-bake protein balls. These ones are based on this recipe from OhSheGlows.com. I skipped the rice crisp cereal and protein powder and used extra oat flour and toasted amaranth for crunch. I eat them straight out of the freezer and they’re so delicious!

chocolate-almond-balls

Southwestern Black Bean Soup

southwestern black bean soup recipe

Over the last few days I noticed that suddenly it’s no longer pitch black when I leave my office each evening, and that makes me so happy!

Here in Toronto we’ve been so lucky with the milder and much less snowy winter this year when compared with the awful one we had last year. But it’ll still be cold for a while longer, and today I have a healthy and delicious soup that’s just perfect for these cold winter nights.

I’ve been wanting to make a soup full of Mexican flavours ever since I saw a sign outside a restaurant last month touting their Tex-Mex tortilla soup as a “scarf for your belly”. Since I’m trying to cut the calories, I skipped the tortillas and… scarfed down a good 3 bowls of this hearty vegan and gluten-free Southwestern Black Bean Soup.

This recipe comes from the Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers Cookbook, which was gifted to us for Christmas by Mike’s mom, who volunteers with the non-profit, which supports needy women, children and youth. (Thanks, Gail!)

This soup is so packed with veggie goodness and just a little bit of spiciness from the jalapenos to help clear out those sinus passages.

That dollop of sour cream? It’s tahini! I just mixed a couple tablespoons of tahini paste with a small amount of water, a good squeeze of lemon juice and a little salt and pepper. It added a whole other dimension of flavour and creaminess to this soup. I love this easy and healthy alternative to the much heavier and time-intensive cashew sour cream!

healthy vegetable soup

Find the Southwestern Black Bean Soup recipe HERE.

Daily Green Smoothie – Weight Loss Goals

As I’ve mentioned on the blog a few times before, I love my green smoothies. They help set the tone for a healthy day, and they make me feel better on those days when they’re the only green thing I eat.

While I’ve been trying to go to bed earlier, I really struggle to get myself out the door in the mornings, and I think I’ve only ever succeeded once or maybe twice in making a smoothie before heading to work. It just doesn’t happen. So to make sure that I don’t miss out on my smoothie, I try to make a big batch once per week, so that my freezer and fridge are stocked and I can just grab-and-go.

green smoothies

Recently when I made a weekly batch, I decided to measure all my ingredients so that I’d be able to calculate the nutritional information. I’ve recently started using MyFitnessPal.com to log my daily food and exercise, so I wanted to be able to add a more accurate entry for my daily green smoothie.

Have you ever used MyFitnessPal.com before? I’ve used it here and there before, but I’ve found it hard to log consistently and I run into a bit of a challenge in finding that right balance of using it as a useful tracking and motivational tool versus getting a little calorie-counting crazy. That said, I’m giving it another shot, since I want to lose some weight this year for two big events: my trip to Costa Rica and, of course, my wedding. I have about 3 months until my trip to Costa Rica, so with some consistency, I should be able to slim down a little, so that I can look and feel great. That’s always easier said than done though, isn’t it?

My plan of attack is: green smoothies + MyFitnessPal.com + Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Lean Meal Plan + my 10K training. While I try my hardest to make all of that fit into my real world life, which is also full of social events and beer and the treat table at work, while maintaining my sanity and perspective.

Daily Green Smoothie
 
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Author:
Serves: 7
Ingredients
  • 3 heads romaine lettuce (1025 g)
  • a few handfuls of mixed greens (20 g)
  • 1 stalk celery (400 g)
  • 3 pears (300 g)
  • 3 apples (370 g)
  • chunk of ginger (50 g)
  • frozen banana (200 g)
  • Vega protein & greens (60 g)
  • scoop turmeric (15 g)
Instructions
  1. Blend in 3 or more batches
  2. Add greens to blender with 2 cups of cold water and blend until smooth
  3. Add remaining ingredients and blend
  4. Refrigerate or freeze in mason jars (allow room for freezing)
  5. Refrigerate for up to 2 days

 

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Sweet Potato Noodles

sweet potato noodles

It’s winter and it’s cold and it’s dark and it’s the time of year when I look for comfort in big bowls of hot and saucy pasta. But it’s also the New Year and only a couple weeks into January so it’s way too early to be giving up on those New Year’s resolutions, right? Eat healthy, eat less chocolate, hit the gym, all of that. Well thank goodness for my spiralizer because with these Sweet Potato Noodles I can dig into a great big bowl of pasta for only a fraction of the calories.

While I’ve been obsessed with my spiralizer for quite some time now, this is actually the first time I tried spiralizing sweet potato. So quick, so delicious. I tossed in a handful of edamame, which made this extra filling, but these sweet potato noodles can be dressed up in a million different ways, just like regular pasta. They’re even the perfect, healthy base to balance out that favourite heavy meat or rich cream sauce.

sweet potato noodles

Sweet Potato Noodles
 
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Author:
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and spiralized
  • ½ Spanish onion, chopped
  • ½ cup edamame
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1 tbs olive oil
Instructions
  1. In a small pot, bring water to a boil and add frozen edamame, cook for 4-5 minutes, strain
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pan
  3. Add onion and sweet potato and saute until tender, about 7-10 minutes
  4. Add marinara sauce, cooked edamame and spices

sweet potato noodles