August 20th, 2014

5 Go-To Entree Salads

Posted by Laurel

We may be starting to think about back to school around here, but i am always super reluctant to let summer go too easily. That includes what’s coming out of my kitchen. Fresh fruits and veggies are still in plentiful supply and i plan to make the best use of them for as long as possible.

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If i’m to be totally honest, i’ll admit that this summer has also been pretty rough in terms of eating clean. Travelling and spontaneous bbqs have been awesome but the side effects of eating out are beginning to rear their ugly head. Time to get back on track!

These entree salads are my go to recipes. They are packed full of healthy veggies, fruits and protein and bursting with both flavour and colour:

1. Jicama, Grilled Peach, Goat Cheese & Greens- Julienned jicama (or kohlrabi) is a unique addition to a salad due to its subtle flavor and crunchy texture. This is an incredibly fresh salad that is one of my favourites hands down. Combine the jicama, greens, chopped cilantro with an easy 2 ingredient dressing of olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. I used a lime olive oil and a coconut white balsamic vinegar, drizzling them atop the greens. So fresh! I marinated the chicken beforehand in coconut milk, minced ginger & garlic, chopped cilantro, pinch of cayenne epper, fresh lime juice and zest and honey. This marinade was a homerun!

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2. Paleo Taco Salad- this is the quickest salad i can get on the table…year round. I usually have some  Cilantro Lime dressing on hand, which is my favorite healthy dressing for taco salad. Mound ground turkey or extra lean ground beef atop your greens and sauteed veggies…leeks, mushrooms, peppers… and fresh veggies such as tomatoes and cucumbers to round it out perfectly. Homemade taco seasoning is so-o-o easy to make and takes literally a minute…click here for the recipe i use.  This salad is so good that i skip cheese or sour cream because it just doesn’t need it!

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3. Caprese Salad with Arugula and Kale Pesto- Bocconcini and tomatoes marinated in the delicious kale pesto are a delicious combination. I’ve shared this recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen before but it still remains a favorite. Look for heirloom tomatoes that come in different colour shades to make it even more colourful.  Add grilled chicken, steak or fish to make it a complete meal.

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4. Grilled Chicken, Roasted Peach & Avocado, Kale and Quinoa Salad- this salad recipe is a hearty one. The roasted peaches add a sweetness to the nuttiness of the quinoa and rougher texture of the kale. This dressing is flavor to the max..make extra because you will want to use it again! The roasted avocados are also a great pairing with the peaches. Add a glass of Pinot Grigio and you’re set…

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5. Blackened Steak Salad with Red Peppers and Feta- this has been one of our favorites for a long time. The blackening spices give a little kick to the dish…it’s a great salad to add whatever veggies you have on hand…grilled or roasted, use what you have: mushrooms, zucchini, squash, peppers to name a few.

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Pam and i are serious salad lovers, so we’d love to hear if you have a favourite one you make for dins. Let the repertoire increase!

 

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August 19th, 2014

Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Posted by Pam

Dyl rooster

 

The girls and I just got home from spending nine days in LA. They were there doing some dance training and so I had a ton of time to explore. We spent the first half of our time in Thousand Oaks and the second half in Newport Beach….I know I’ve said this before, but I am a Cali girl!!! Laurel’s sis-in-law mentioned that if we had a chance we should check out Abbot Kinney. I had NO idea what that was, but I knew she wouldn’t lead us astray. We decided to check it out on our way to the OC….off the Ratzlaff girls went on a little adventure!

Abbot Kinney Boulevard is a little street in Venice Beach lined with quaint boutiques, specialized eateries, eclectic art galleries and quirky murals.  The minute we  arrived I knew I loved it!

I had read that there was an Intelligentsia Coffeebar there, so that was a “must” on my list…you know we Sugar Plum Sisters LOVE our coffee!  And wow….the industrial-style architecture of the space and the openness was really cool!!  It’s a haven for the geek chic on the west side.  At Intelligentsia, they are uber serious about their coffee…in fact, I was actually a bit intimidated to order.  They had you a little clip board with the coffee menu and I didn’t understand a lot of it….but I got over myself and had the best iced almond milk latte!  It was rich, full bodied and not one bit bitter.

 

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We had a tough time choosing where to eat brekkie, so I went with my dad’s method….go where the most people are….that’s a sign of good food.  So, we found a long line of people at GTA..that was our place!   They have a variety of breakfast toasts available such as avocado, radish, sesame seed and lemon and also goat cheese with walnuts and honey on fruit & nut bread.  Don’t they sound amazing?!   I had the focaccia with egg, squash blossoms and cherry tomatoes…so good!

 

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There was a charming little outdoor space next to GTA where you would sit on a bench or crates and enjoy your eats. There are many of these cute little alcoves along the boulevard.  Not totally sure what that creature on the wall is…

 

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We happened upon an outdoor jewelry market.  I loved the way Truly Blessed Jewels displayed their treasures…

 

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There was an emphasis on nature and organic design…there was wood, greenery and succulents everywhere…

 

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We couldn’t leave without trying Van Leeuwen’s Artisan Ice Cream from their charming truck.  We had tea and coffee…espresso and Earl Grey Tea.  You could say we ate our way through the boulevard!

 

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream

 

I really loved the artsy vibe at Abbot Kinney….even a table and chair can be art…

 

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What a perfect place to stop and explore!   Thanks so much for the recommend Renee.  You were right on!!

 

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August 18th, 2014

Sweet Start- Q & A

Posted by Laurel

 

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I’m surprised at how often we’ve been asked lately if Pam and i are actually sisters. I’m betting i give a bit of a “really?” stare..oops! It’s safe to say that I’ve been assuming all who follow us know us. And it’s beginning to dawn on me that maybe that’s not the case. So to set the record straight, Pam and I are most definitely sisters. I’d ask you if you knew who was older and who was younger but that might ruffle Pam’s errr…our feathers!

Whether that’s news to you or not, i’m also surprised when people comment on how similar we are. And then have to remind myself that indeed we do like a lot of the same things! Having said that, we are quite different. I think that’s what makes us able to work together…and actually enjoy it! I’d like to think that we offset each other’s weaknesses. And play to each other’s strengths. And most definitely we have also complimented each others styles over the years:

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Ok, well maybe that last one was a wee bit of a stretch? Seriously, double breasted suits with collars that just don’t end… oh and one sweet perm. That was my fave high school “do”..it so shoulda been a “don’t”!

 

So here’s the 411 …if you think we’re 2 peas in a pod, you might realize we’re more like 2 pods with some of the same peas?? Or something like that…

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//PAM//

Current app you’re loving? Yelp and Trip Advisor. With the travelling we’ve done this summer, they are my go to for recommends for resties, a good cup of coffee and local joints.  And i always read the review to find out the specialties at each place.

Right now i’m snacking on…I’m loving making my own trail mix right now.  I mix up peanuts, almonds, ribbon coconut, pumpkin seeds, dark choco chips and add cut up prunes/dried figs.

Best vacation ever… It’s a tie! Turks & Caicos, as well as the British Virgin Islands by catered luxury catamaran complete with a gourmet chef!!

Best style advice you’ve ever been given…  Not all trends work on every body type.  Skip the trends that don’t do you any favours.  Play up your assets.

Favorite Indulgence… Movie popcorn with layered butter and anything peanut butter & chocolate.  My last fave of that flavour duo was the candy bar pie at Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC..killer!

I’ve got half an hour to kill so i’m going to…grab an iced almond milk latte and catch up on my Instagram feed or in the summer take my cruiser out for a ride with the kids to get them slushies and pick up fresh veggies for dinner

Words of wisdom that hit home…When looking at a situation, will this matter a thousand years from now? If it will, then make it a priority.  If it won’t, let it go.

Currently reading…Ok, I’m not really a reader. I know…tisk tisk! My guilty pleasure is a People mag when i travel.

I’m visiting Vancouver…where do i need to go? If it’s your first time to the city, you need to cover some of the basics: walk the Seawall or rent bikes to ride it. Take the Aqua Bus to Granville Island Market (weekday, not the weekend!). Go see Fly Over Canada at Canada Place. Grab a coffee in Gastown (Nelson the Seagull or Revolver). Have lunch from the food trucks at the Vancouver Art Gallery. And…after that..if you have time to drive up to Whistler, do it! It’s beautiful!

 

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//LAUREL//

Current app you’re loving? I’m a little lot  obsessed with Pic Tap Go…love layering the filters. Also love Open Table, where you can book online restie reservations when you’re on the go!

Right now i’m snacking on…coconut almond butter with apple slices. Killer combo.

Best vacation ever… a catamaran trip through the British Virgin Islands was a trip i won’t soon forget. But at the risk of sounding incredibly sappy, i’m happy whenever we are away as a family…the time we spend with our kids in amongst the busy-ness of life is a riot. They’re at the age where we can be adventurous and just go for it!

Best style advice you’ve ever been given…the most attractive thing you can wear is confidence.

Favorite Indulgence…besides fuzzy peaches? Homemade guac with taco chips is one of my serious weaknesses.. oh and chocolate. Himalayan Salted Caramels from Purdy’s to be exact.

I’ve got half an hour to kill so i’m going to… grab a coffee and a great book. If that fails, take a nap! Let it be known that neither of these end at just thirty minutes…

Words of wisdom that hit home… There are seasons in your life. Some require you to give of yourself to others by helping them along. The harder seasons in your life are the ones where you will need to accept the help of others. RECEIVE it.

Currently reading… And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I’m also taking my time working through A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

I’m visiting Vancouver…where do i need to go? Treat yourself to brunch at Cafe Medina…the Fricasse is to die for, as are their lavender lattes. Warm weather? Head to Spanish Banks where the beach opens up to brilliant views of the city and mountains. West 4th in Kitsilano is a great area to park and wander the streets for a coffee and doughnut (49th Parallel/Luckys Doughnuts), shopping, and dinner (Fable, Oakwood).  Take a moment to visit the Olympic cauldron and watch the seaplanes taking off and landing… and while you’re in that area, make a stop at Bella Gelateria for the best Italian gelato you will ever taste. Such a short list for an incredible city…

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August 15th, 2014

Friday Find ~ Best Hairspray

Posted by Pam

hairspray

I’ve been in mourning since Sebastian changed the formula of their Shaper hairspray.  I had been a devotee for the last 15 years….ugh!  I have read many hairspray reviews and have probably tried close to 10 different types in a quest to find something that holds without being crusty.  I’ve tried everything from drugstore hairsprays to expensive salon sprays.

After nine days in the Turks and Caicos, my hair was crying out from the sun, salt and wind….it was not happy with me! When we arrived in New York, I headed straight to Sephora to find something to quench my locks.  I bought this Restore Repairing and Damage Revering Travel Kit by Living proof  and loved the products!!  So, the next time I walked by a Sephora, I popped in and bought Living proof’s travel size Flex Shaping Hairspray…and….I’m in love!  I’ve already been back to buy a full size bottle!

This spray holds nicely without being stiff and there’s no build-up!  It adds shine and protects against humidity.  And I love that you can use it on damp hair to cut down styling time  and provide heat protection. It is very true to it’s name…flexible and shaping!  Whew…the search is over!  Count me in as the newest devotee!

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August 14th, 2014

New York Coffee Culture

Posted by Laurel

Pam and i love a good cup of coffee. Period. Problem is, we kinda fancy ourselves to be coffee connoisseurs, which means we need to actively seek out where we can get our hands on exactly that. A good americano isn’t available on every street corner if ya know what i mean!

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On our recent trip to NYC we made a pact to place a friendly ban on Starbucks (hold up…no dissing Starbucks, but we decided we needed to branch out and delve into the coffee culture in town). We had a ton of fun wandering off the beaten path and found some kick butt coffee houses in all parts of the city! We’re also happy to report that we now know where a ton of restrooms are too..ha!

Interestingly, we found ourselves in the company of many a Down Under accent.  Australians are bringing their coffee culture to new coffee houses in NYC. Bucking the “grab your watered down coffee and run” attitude, they are reviving the appreciation of organic, fair trade coffee beans. What i also love is that they are encouraging the social element of drinking coffee. Beautifully designed spaces…modern, organic, raw and bright spaces that make you want to have a sit down and stay for awhile. PS. just need to say that the aussies have to be the friendliest out there and made our coffee research (wink wink) all the more enjoyable! Here’s our list…enjoy!

 

1. Bluestone Lane -a West Village must stop if you’re serious about your coffee. Worth the splurge is the Aussie Iced Latte: a double shot of espresso poured over milk and ice cream. We kinda went crazy over it. For eats, think fresh Avocado Smash paired with tahini, heirloom tomatoes, sprouts, fetta and lemon, topped with delicate poached egg. Nuff said. Their seating areas are incredibly charming so give yourself time to sit down and take it all in. A back patio also has cozy tables, with string lighting and ivy surrounding..it’s an escape from the city for sure.

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Bluestone Lane’s inviting seating area…

 

2. Two Hands – Fell in love with this place…Located in Little Italy (bordering China Town), Two Hands was one of my very favourite breakfast spots. My iced almond milk latte was delicious..and i loved that it was served to me in a mason jar…hey, its all in the details! Their fresh fruit and veggie smoothies were a great option for those who aren’t coffee lovers.  Avocado toast or granola with yoghurt and fresh berries make it the perfect place to grab a fresh and healthy breakfast in short order.

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The perfect breaky to start our day of shopping at Two Hands Coffee..

3. Toby’s Estate Coffee-In the Flatiron district, this Aussie joint was bustling! Definitely more of a pick-up and go situation as there isn’t much seating. The building is charming with the tin-pressed ceilings and a huge vintage mirror for their menu board. Delicious lattes. For an authentic Aussie coffee, order a Flat White.

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4. Blue Spoon- a hipster haunt in the otherwise slightly sterile Financial District, they serve up some good beans..Intelligentsia coffee, which i’ve loved for a long time. Their honey lavendar latte is so-o good!  Another enticement is their use of Balthazar breads..best. bread. ever.

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Honey Lavender latte at Blue Spoon

5. Stumptown Coffee – located in the swanky Ace Hotel in the Flatiron district, this Pacific Northwest import serves a f-i-i-ne iced almond milk latte. Roasters of their own beans, they take coffee seriously!  Their baked treats are also delicious. The Ace’s incredibly rad lobby serves as a seating area..the free wi-fi made it a perfect chance to rest our weary feet, caffeinate and get our instagram on!

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We went old school when refuelling at Stumptown Coffee: Peanut Butter and Jam! There was some serious negotiating over that doughnut..
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Loved the warm yet clean aesthetic of Stumptown…

 

6. Dean and Deluca – a trip to New York City must include a visit to Dean and Deluca. Our favourite location is in Soho on Prince St. A bustling fine foods outlet, expect to feel the crowd, but they succeed in providing a European atmosphere which is worth the visit. We love to grab a latte and then browse their highly curated departments: produce, artisanal treats, cheeses, teas…they make grocery shopping look like a treat!

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image via

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Stroll the aisles with coffee in hand…. image via

I know this is just the tip of the iceberg. We had more on the list but literally ran out of time…well maybe ran out of patience on our hubby’s and kid’s part! Next time NYC…in the meantime, i’m in serious withdrawal. Help!

 

 

 

 

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