Healthy Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Bark

I love dark chocolate.

I tend to be more of a salt craver. I don’t have an overly large sweet tooth — the exact opposite to my sugar-loving husband. I tend to choose chips over chocolate bars. Or even ice cream.

But I love dark chocolate.

This healthy chocolate pomegranate bark is made with coconut oil and cocoa powder and a mix of nuts, seeds and fruit |

Ruby red pomegranate and green pumpkin seeds make this dark chocolate pomegranate bark a festive and healthy addition to your baking trays.

I discovered it while on a trip to Europe the summer before I started high school. I don’t remember what drew me to choose that particular chocolate bar off the shelf, but I am glad I did. My love affair with this rich, bittersweet treat began.

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Orange Cranberry Almond Shortbread for Christmas

One of my favourite holiday activities growing up was making cookies with my mom and sister. Sugar cookies were my favourite, mostly because I enjoyed sneaking licks of the icing in between creating cookie masterpieces. Nothing seems to put me in the Christmas spirit like a day spent in the kitchen whipping up sweet treats. Especially when that day is spent whipping up these aromatic orange cranberry almond shortbread cookies. They fill your home with the aromatic smells of Christmas and delight your tastebuds with their fruity flavour and almond crunch.

Orange cranberry almond shortbread cookies |

Impress your guests this holiday season with these orange cranberry almond shortbread cookies. The dough can be made in advance and the cookies baked up just before they arrive, filling your home with the scents of Christmas

I love trying out new cookie recipes and my test subject (aka the husband) is more than willing to do his part and sample them. The other day I made these amazing shortbreads and some coconut sugar cookie cups for a cookie exchange at work. By the time the exchange rolled around, I was low on cookies and had to make more of each kind. I guess I can take it as a compliment, these cookies are good.

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Coffee shop style Chai Latte Smoothie with avocado

Avocado is one of those foods that took some coming around to. I’ve read that it takes three tries to transform your tastebuds into liking a new food, a theory I am going to be testing out. I am not sure how many tries it took me to enjoy avocado, but I am glad I did. This creamy, green fruit is a nutritional powerhouse and is a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. It makes a great addition to smoothies, packing it with multiple vitamins and healthy fats while adding a creamy texture. My favourite coffee shop makes a Chai Latte Smoothie that I absolutely love. But my wallet doesn’t like forking out the cash for it on a daily basis so I decided to improvise. While the coffee shop version doesn’t use avocado, my version does, and I can’t even tell the difference. It’s a perfect blend of Chai spices, creamy avocado, cashew cream, garden greens, probiotic yogurt and mango.

This creamy chai latte smoothie is so good you will feel like you are indulging in a calorie-laden dessert

This creamy chai latte smoothie is so good you will feel like you are indulging in a calorie-laden dessert

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I love squash: Bacon Butternut Squash Alfredo

The recipe I am going to share with you today is one I would never have willingly indulged in as a child. I mean, it has all kinds of icky things in it like squash, onion, cashew cream. But this butternut squash Alfredo sauce is also one that my mom may have been able to pull one over on me with. One thing I loved as a kid was pasta, but I was limited on what I would allow to top my pasta. My preference was butter and cheese but then I discovered Alfredo sauce and my life changed. This butternut version is everything I love about the original with the added sweetness and nuttiness of butternut squash. It’s creamy, dreamy deliciousness and the best part, it’s not so bad for the waistline. Instead of loads of butter and cream, this sauce is a combination of butternut squash, cashew cream, spices and a touch of goat cheese for added creaminess.

Creamy bacon butternut squash Alfredo sauce over quinoa pasta |

The creaminess of Alfredo sauce without all the cream and butter.

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How do we create change?

I have been having a lot of conversations around the idea of creating change lately. From living rooms to conference centres, there are many discussions taking place about how to create the change that we need in our world. A lot of these conversations have focussed on food, something that is vital to us all. A lot of those conversations have also focussed around change and how do we create change.

Just a few years ago, I thought “organic” was some trend of the elite. The letters GMO meant nothing to me. I was blind. I was content to see the world through my rose-coloured glasses and indulge in my genetically modified food stuffs, blissfully ignorant to what I was doing to my body. And then I had an awakening moment, and I could no longer ignore what was happening all around me. On my own property even. Since taking off those rose-coloured glasses, I see the world in a whole new light. What mattered so much before, means little to me now.

And I am not the only one. I have met so many people on my journey who are on similar journeys. They too are seeking a simpler kind of life.

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Inspired by Anna Olson (and a Triple Chocolate Brownie Recipe)

I’m feeling inspired.

Anna Olson's triple chocolate brownie recipe is the only brownie recipe you need |

After drooling over the food porn during Anna Olson’s presentation, I went home to make a batch of her incredible triple chocolate brownies

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a conference and hear the fabulous Anna Olson speak about her rise to the celebrity chef she is today. And I have to tell you, I am feeling inspired by Anna Olson. Anna was speaking to a room full of women entrepreneurs at the GWEN 2015 Conference (Growing Women Entrepreneurs) about building her brand. For Anna, that brand is based around respect: respect for the ingredients, respect for the technique and most importantly, respect for the people she is cooking for. Respect is at the core of every decision the seven-time cookbook author, cooking show host and pastry chef makes. While respect has always been at the core of what Anna has done, she never considered it to be her brand until she was asked to describe her brand in an interview.

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Hello Fall, warm up with Chicken Parmesan Soup

October came in with a sharp, crisp burst of air. Summer seemed to hang on until the last of September, but October 1 welcomed us with cool air, perfect for sweaters and tall boots. My favourite kind of days.

Warm up to fall with this comforting, cheesy chicken parmesan soup |

This cheesy chicken parmesan soup will be sure to keep your warm up on a crisp, fall evening |

Warm up to Fall with Chicken Parmesan Soup

Sure, I love summer. But there is something about fall that puts a smile on my face. Maybe it’s the beauty of the coloured leaves, the pumpkin-spiced everything or the cozy feeling I get cuddled up on the couch with a big sweater. Nothing warms me up like a big bowl of piping hot soup on a cool, fall evening. Throw in some bubbly, baked smoked cheese and homemade garlicky croutons and you have the perfect soup to welcome the new season. This chicken parmesan soup will warm you up from the inside out. It’s everything you love about the classic Italian dish tossed into a soup pot, ladled into bowls, topped with crusty croutons and smoky cheese and broiled until golden and bubbly. I want another bowl just from writing that description.

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Eggplant parmesan grilled cheese – my favourite sandwich

Eggplant. It’s on the list of vegetables I wouldn’t touch as a child. It was right up these with peas. But now, I love it. In fact, my favourite sandwich features this purple vegetable. Yes, my eggplant parmesan grilled cheese sandwich, which I am finally sharing with you, is my favourite sandwich. I could eat it every day. But I don’t. And my pants thank me for that.

This eggplant parmesan grilled cheese sandwich is everything you love about eggplant parm sandwiched between slices of buttery bread |

My mom never even attempted to get me to eat eggplant when I was at the height of my pickiness as a child. She knew better. I scoffed at any vegetable that wasn’t celery, lettuce or potato (there were probably more that I tolerated but those were the ones my parents didn’t have to bribe me to eat). I went more than two decades without eggplant in my life. That’s two decades of missing out on this incredible eggplant parmesan grilled cheese. Sigh.

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Change is hard when you are a picky eater

Some days, I feel like a complete fraud. I preach about the dangers of genetically modified foods both with my tongue and my fingers. But I don’t completely avoid them. And I knowingly don’t do so.

Sure, they scare me, but I don’t go to all costs to avoid them. I give in, too often. They are everywhere. Literally, everywhere. I am physically surrounded by them on my two-acre slice of paradise. At the brim of our property is a sprawling field of Round Up Ready soy. They are also everywhere in society: grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants and even the farm stands and farmers’ markets. The picky eater in me is far too content to stick to her old ways.

Food can be the best for of health care or the slowest form of poison |

You are what you eat. Choose wisely.

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What I’m Growing in my Fall Garden

I have a confession: I failed miserably at growing my own food this year.

A combination of a late start to the season, an unbearably dry summer and a lack of motivation killed my gardening dreams. While it is too late to start over with most fruiting plants, there is a second chance for many varieties I had planned to stock my fridge, freezer and pantry with. The fall garden is my second chance and I have been planting and seeding to get ready for it.

Growing your own vegetables is not an act that is sequestered to the warm summer months. Edibles can be grow in the fall and even winter if you plan ahead. Some varieties even prefer the cool and crisp fall weather to summer’s heat. Greens like spinach and lettuce wilt under the heat of the sun, while the fall garden provides an ideal growing environment. I’ve never had a problem with my kale in the summer, but it holds up equally as well in the winter. Last year, my kale survived until the snow hit and if I actually get things covered this year, it can survive right through the winter.

What to grow in your fall garden

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