Taking Sides: A Tale of Peanut Butter

my new love. image courtesy of google

Hey guys!

If you, like me, take your nut butters seriously, then this one’s for you.

A few months (ish) ago, I can’t exactly remember when, I decided to try natural peanut butter. Gasp! I remember when I was younger great-grandma gave a jar of this stuff to my grandma, after which everyone declared the stuff “tasteless”. Haha!

Fast forward a couple of years and here I am, once again inflicting something ‘healthy’ and ‘natural’ (synonyms for gross in my family) on my poor innocent relatives. True to their nature though, the jar of peanut butter stays in the fridge for about a week before it’s completely empty. Barely enough in the bottom of the jar to feed a mouse (let alone a fridge-elephant!). This is what happens when I buy something ‘healthy’ that everyone claims to dislike: 1. food item gets brought home. 2. food item is claimed to be unfit to eat. 3. food item has disappeared by the end of the week.

Even I, ladies and gentlemen, cannot claim to have eaten a full 750 gram jar of goodness by the end of the week. Essentially, my family is a bunch of sneaks!! But, at least they’ve started to admit their likeness for my peanut butter ๐Ÿ˜‰

Something equally strange is, for my whole life I remember distinctly being a smooth peanut butter person. Arguments were literally had, such as the following, circa fifth grade.

small me: smooth peanut butter is the best!

classmate: I like crunchy.

small me: what’s wrong with you?

classmate: what’s wrong with YOU??

small me: SMOOTH!

classmate: CRUNCHY!!!

argument does not get resolved

Alas, I was a difficult child.

However, now, I actually prefer crunchy natural peanut butter! I was really upset when I found out I only had one jar left in my cupboard, and it was smooth. Sad face. But it’s still getting eaten! On toast, in sandwiches, in oatmeal, dipped with apples….straight out of the jar…. ๐Ÿ˜€

How do you like your nut butters? Do you use more than just conventional peanut butter?

Fall Family Bake-Off!!

Hey guys! How’s everyone’s transition into fall? Going smoothly? A wee bit bumpy?

Mine’s going pretty good, but I always find myself wishing I could get outside and enjoy it more. Especially with my recent move, I’ve been itching to get outside and explore my new neighbourhood but haven’t really started yet. In time, I suppose!

Anyway, I was home for the weekend, and this morning mom decided would be a bake-off. As in, we’re going to make like twenty kinds of cookies and stuff and then all just die from the visual explosion of fall goodness sitting on the table! Yes, it gets that intense.

By noon, she’d made my FAVOURITE, and proudly one of my first completely made-by-me recipes, my Soft Molasses Spice Cookies. These babies are to die for, so soft, and just bursting with that fall/winter/cold weather comfort food flavour. I think one of the things I love the most about them is how easy they are to tweak to accommodate food allergies and lifestyles.

Fast forward to 4 pm. I was outside for the afternoon, came back, and what did I see?

Well, it wasn’t the kitchen table, I can tell ya that!

Date squares, peanut butter cookies, biscotti, chocolate chip cookies, home made bread (sidenote: I actually made the bread in the morning, but it adds to the overall effect, right?), and chocolate crinkles. Plus, pumpkin pie in the fridge. Ahhhhhhhhh!

Grandma made apple streusel muffins too. Seriously, so many baked goods! We could’ve easily had a bake sale and all the fall cottage goers would’ve paid our hydro bill for the month.

I’d definitely say my favourite was still the good ole molasses cookie. It just can’t be beat. Add a cup of tea, and I’m done. See you tomorrow, it is officially chill time!

What are your fall favourites? Do you like to get outside and explore or enjoy the fall splendor from inside?

Fall Obsessions

Hi, I’m Shannon, and I’m obsessed with fall.

**Hello, Shannon**

Well, I’m glad we agree on that! Ha ha ๐Ÿ˜›

Some of you guys may have noticed that….well, I’m fall CRAZY! Name something about fall and guaranteed, I love it! I woke up to some crazy fall rainstorms this morning, and there’s probably nothing better to me than a (semi) peaceful rainy walk to school. Wearing my favourite flower pattern rubber booties (I should post a picture of them, they’re awesome! So funky and I always get so many great compliments on them!) and crunchin’ through the colourful leaves. Sigh.

Anyway, today in my grocery store I realized there’s a lot of seasonal fruits and veggies that are so available in fall that I hardly ever take advantage of! I’ve compiled a quick list as well as some prep suggestions for how best to use them.

1. Kale: such a big one. I actually have NEVER tried kale yet, which is weird considering I love me a good powerhouse smoothie. And the healthier, the better! I got my first bunch today though, so some experimentation is soon to commence! Suggestions: I’ve heard they make amazing baked chips, as well as parts of salads and even added into soups. Smoothies, obviously. I’m going to have a hard time deciding what to make first!

2. Black Grapes: I remember growing up my mom had a grape bush (vine? bush? I don’t know!) growing along one of our wooden fences, and they were to DIE for! So sweet, juicy, and tangy all in one! We used to get into trouble, my sister and me, for eating them all before she could pick them! I haven’t had any in years though since the bush died, and saw them in No Frills this morning kind of gave me a hankering. Suggestions: Eaten out of hand honestly seems like the best option, but cut up into a fruit salad would be nice. I saw a recipe for grape jam that sounded awesome too! Google is our friend, ladies and gentlemen.

3. Melons: When planted at the right time, you can grow watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon with minimum effort right in your backyard! The growing season extends well into September and October as well, and trust me when I say a home grown melon is millions and millions times more sweet, juicy, and just plain fantastic. Suggestions: Slice ‘er up, put ‘er in a bowl, and eat that sucker right away! Sooooo goood!! Apparently you can also pickle watermelon rinds, so for the more creative chef, maybe give that a go? I can’t say I’m completely sold on that idea yet.

4. Onions: So essential, yet so overlooked. The first time I made french onion soup (in the dead of winter), it definitely became a family favourite, but the flavour was nowhere near as amazing as a batch made with fresh onions did later. Onions are a staple in my household, and with good reason: they add tons of flavour while also serving up fiber and a host of phytochemicals essential to our health! Suggestions: Any savory dish, from sauces to soups to roasts to omlettes, anything can benefit from some chopped onion.

5. Yellow Raspberries: Bear with me on this one. My grandma had this raspberry bush that always came into full swing right in September, except instead of a ruby red, the berries were yellow! Say whaat? And they were delicious! They were a very pale yellow though, so don’t get too weirded out by the colour. The flavour is very mild compared to red raspberries, but the mellowness would perfectly complement a tangier partner, like a dark chocolate pudding or a balsamic vinaegrette in a salad. Suggestions: Eat them out of hand, add them to any fruit based desserts, pretty much whatever you’re feeling like! I rarely see these gems in the grocery store, so you might have to see if your local farmer’s market carries them.

What ways do you incorporate seasonal produce into your diet? Let me know what kind of fall recipes and ideas you love. We can fangirl (or fanboy) together!

Family Dinner Madness

Hey guys! How was your weekend? Do you use the time to wind down, or get busier than ever? While I prefer a more down-time themed weekend, I know a lot of us tend to jam-pack it with after-work work!

There’s a lot of birthdays in fall in my family, mine included, and so we usually try and pick one weekend where we get together, have a big dinner, exchange gifts, and generally have a good time. The number of people at our table has been growing recently; I introduced my serious boyfriend last Christmas, and my uncle introduced his girlfriend as well. They usually try and bring her little boy along, so you can imagine how packed it can start to get!

Great food, amazing people, and events to celebrate…sounds perfect, right?

Wrong!

How many of you guys tell yourselves you’ll stick to your healthy eating regime, and then grandma’s cooking sits under your nose at dinner and your best intentions go out the window? Yeah, me too. **sigh**

With this in mind, I compiled my favourite tips for staying on track–big ones, little ones, and everything in between! Let me know what your strategies are, and how these ones work for you!

1. Plan the Event into your week: yes, it’s hard sometimes to know when you’ll be in a tight spot healthy eating wise, but do your best to plan! Know Christmas dinner is in five days? Try and eat better the days leading up to the big event.

2. Veggies, veggies, veggies: you only have so much room in that stomach of yours, so fill it up with the good stuff first! An array of colourful vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates to fuel yourself the right way, while also leaving less room for those less healthy dishes (that darned gravy! So good, but sooo bad!) and the dessert table after. Score!

3. Keep hydrated: Nothing’s worse than filling up on heavy foods while also not maintaining proper hydration. Bodily functions are impaired at dehydration levels as low as 3%, so drink your water! If you do want to enjoy your alcohol as well, go for your healthier options: heart-healthy red wine, lower alcohol levels, or light beers.

4. Don’t starve: possibly the only thing worse than not staying hydrated is letting yourself get so hungry you’re literally feeling headaches and faintness! Keep those blood sugars stable with regular snacks such as almonds, fruits, and/or vegetables. Your body will benefit more from numerous smaller meals every couple of hours than one or two big meals spaced too much through the day.

5. Treat yo’self: this is the bottom line, folks. Let’s face it: Christmas, your birthday, thanksgiving…they all come once a year. So enjoy it! Don’t get hung up on one day where you overindulge a bit more than you wanted to. It happens! Life needs to be looked at in Big Picture format. Is that huge piece of cake you ate really life-ruining? Did it kill your quality-food kick for the week? No, it did not. Every minute after every moment is a chance to live in a way that fulfills you, so take it and make it your own. Capeesh?

Pumpkin Smoothie Inspired by Fall!

This morning was pretty interesting. I woke up with every intention of making a fabulous PANCAKE breakfast (very ambitious of me!), and I literally had all my pancakes made when all of a sudden my stomach said “nah-ah. Ain’t havin’ none of that!”

Does anyone else have this happen? All of a sudden you feel queasy and don’t want to eat? Weird.

So the pancakes got stored away for next time. But, as I have a class and a test later today that I can’t miss, I knew I needed something to give me energy. Thinking cap went on. BOOM. Pumpkin smoothie time. Obviously.

Easy to make, easy to digest, and (very) easy to eat! All while packing tons of nutrition and happiness with every slurp! I’ll try and get some pictures up with my next post, but this one was gone by the time I decided to share the recipe with you, haha!

Pumpkin Pie in a Glass Smoothieย 

serves one

1 frozen banana, cut into chunks

1/2 a cup frozen pumpkin puree (I prefer frozen to give the smoothie a really frosty texture)

1 1/2 tsp blackstrap molasses

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice*

1 tsp honey

1 heaping spoonful of greek yogurt

1 cup milk of choice (I use unpasteurized cow’s milk)

Place all ingredients in your blender and whir away! Try and keep the honey and molasses away from the sides of the blender as it likes to stick there, making it difficult to get your smoothie all mixed up. If you prefer a thicker smoothie, you can add the milk to taste to get the perfect consistency. I’m a thick smoothie kinda girl myself! Pour into a glass, garnish with some cinnamon, and enjoy!

*if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can always combine 1/4 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg

How’s that for a powerhouse breakfast? Molasses for iron and other micronutrients, beta-carotene and fiber from the pumpkin, and protein from the yogurt and milk! A perfect way to start the day! I also find it does wonders for those sugary cravings you get when cool fall weather hits…I told myself I’d get a brownie after class today since it’s Friday, but now I don’t even feel like I need it anymore. Woo-hoo!

So tell me, what’s your favourite fall breakfast? I usually alternate between a couple of basic meals, but this one was a bit of a switch up! What a wonderful switch it was, too! Happy cooking (and blending!).

Welcome to my kitchen!

Enjoy the amazing fall colours we're having!

Goooooood morning (ahem, afternoon) internet! And welcome to my blog, The Therapist’s Kitchen! This post is to give you an idea of what you’ll find kickin’ it here, as well as the face behind the creation.

I’m not a therapist. Say whaaat?? I know, it says it’s a therapist’s kitchen. But I’m currently in training. I know, unfair use of the phrase “the therapist’s kitchen”. But I just really liked it, okay?? I wanted to call it The (future, possible) Therapist’s Kitchen, but that didn’t seem to roll as well. So there’s your disclaimer, folks. I won’t be giving any relationship/family/friend advice anyway (unless you ask me), so we’ll leave it at that. Besides, there’s nothing as therapeutic as an amazing cup of chai and a homemade goody, right? It counts!

Recipes and food posts aren’t all you’re gonna find here. I don’t know about you guys, but there is so much more than just cooking and baking that goes on in my kitchen! I also read, do crafts, spend time with my loved ones, and just generally hang out in my kitchen. It’s pretty much a magnet for my soul. As per requests then, or, ya know, because I want to, I’ll also be writing about cool DIY’s I come across. Anything goes!

I grew up (and still consider myself to live in) my rural home town. I’m a farm girl. That means unpasteurized milk, free range eggs, and a whole lotta beliefs in how food should work. While decadence and downright deliciousness will certainly appear on the blog, I draw the line at pretty much all processed foods and ‘food-like substances’. Living a full and healthy life to me means putting the kind of fuel into one’s body that will enhance life, not detract from it. So get ready for tons of gardening posts, cute animals, and other agriculture-related info’s.

That’s about it for now, any questions can be left for me and I’ll do my best to answer them. I am SO looking forward to lots of fall-themed blogging in the next few months! Stay golden!