August 19, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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DK Publishing filed a missing persons report on me this past month. Yep. I haven’t had a chance to review their books since my mom’s fall but guess what? I’M SO HAPPY TO BE BACK!!

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They sent me a darling little book called CUPCAKES & MINI CAKES. It’s so adorbs it kinda reminds me of a book Barbie would buy to bake stuff for Ken. Right?

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And just look at the cover! It’s pink (my fave) and striped. Best of all, it’s loaded with over 100 recipes for little cakes, bars and cake pops.

I flipped through it and even though I was dying to make one of their cupcakes recipes, I opted for a muffin one instead. Most likely because over the past  month I have been baking cupcakes by the double dozen for the staff on the D3 Wing in the hospital. If I walked in empty handed (without sweets) they actually gave me a “stink eye”. Oh how I loved the day when I helped my mom escape from that place!

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Since I have been a bit tight for time lately, I chose one of the simplest recipes I could find in the book so that I could finally do this review.

Apple Muffins.

But wait.

Do these look like apple muffins to you?

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No.

Why?

It’s like this.

I had all the ingredients EXCEPT the apples.   Hang on a sec…..I think you know me by now. I love to improvise SO I threw in strawberries instead. Oh, and I also added some shredded coconut to the mix because why not? My mom always taught me that a “little of this” and a “little of that” makes the perfect recipe.

Then I thought to myself. SELF? Why not throw in some bran into the mix too. Bran is healthy and besides, if I’m going to fool around with the recipe why not add in a little extra fibre?

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So here you have it. The base of this recipe is on page 62 of the book. The rest came from my head. And lately my head has been full of so many things it’s a miracle these actually came out great.

Did you also notice I had to add in a cool butter recipe for these muffins? Well, ya. I made that up in my head too. Blueberry infused butter is a much needed accompaniment to take the yumminess of these muffins to a level 10. Oh ya.

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I know you are going to love this little cute pink book. There are so many recipes I still need to try. I’m specifically eyeing the granola bars.  This book is super easy to follow, beautifully written, tried and true.

CUPCAKES & MINI CAKES will not disappoint.

STRAWBERRY COCONUT BRAN MUFFINS WITH BLUEBERRY INFUSED BUTTER
-1 cup fresh strawberries, washed and chopped into chunks
-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
-¼ cup turbinado sugar
-1¼ cups all purpose flour
-¾ cup whole wheat flour
-¼ cup bran
-4 tsp baking powder
-1 tbsp ground mixed spice
-½ tsp salt
-½ cup pecans, chopped
-¼ cup shredded coconut
-1 cup milk
-¼ cup oil, I used avocado
-1 egg, beaten
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 400F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper baking cups and set aside.
2) Place strawberries in a bowl, add the lemon juice and toss. Add ¼ cup of the sugar and set aside.
3) Sift the flours, baking powder, spice, and salt into the large bowl. Add in bran. Stir in remaining sugar, coconut and pecans, then make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.
4) Beat together the milk, oil, egg and vanilla then add in the strawberries. Add the wet ingredients into the centre of the dry ingredients, and mix together lightly to make a lumpy batter. Try not to overmix, you want LUMPS.

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5) Spoon mixture into the prepared muffin cups about ¾ full. Optional to top each muffin with a slice of strawberry and an additional sprinkle of sugar and coconut. That’s what I did and they did turn out pretty darn stunning dontcha think?
6) Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tops are nice and brown. Test with toothpick for doneness. Cool on wire rack, serve warm or cooled.

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BLUEBERRY INFUSED BUTTER
-1 stick softened butter
-¼ cup blueberry jam or preserves

1) Blend the softened butter well with the blueberry jam. Roll in plastic wrap and chill until firm.
2) Serve with muffins while they are still warm.
3) This is the only way to live. Not joking.

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See you next week!

debi, @simplybeautifuleating
simplybeautifuleating.com

xx, Debi
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August 12, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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I’m sure you have been wondering where I’ve been over the past month.

Well.

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The love my life and inspiration for this blog (my 94 year old mom) has been in the hospital. On the day I completed this shoot, I got a call from her caregiver that she had a nasty fall in her bedroom. Her injuries included a broken hip and wrist which required surgery. The nightmare began on July 13th and hasn’t ended. She spent three long and grueling weeks in the hospital, suffered some physical setbacks and finally came home last week at her request.

She didn’t want any more medical interventions performed and frankly I couldn’t blame her. Sometimes hospitals are places that can perform lifesaving techniques and other times they wear you down to a point of exhaustion, especially at her age. Seeing that I’m her primary advocate, I needed to respect her wishes and set a goal to get her home as quickly as I could.

I fully renovated a main floor room in the home my father built for her. She calls it her palace. It’s a place where she feels safe, has many memories, and where she wants to be for the rest of her life. My promise to her is to keep her as comfortable as possible and to remain her voice when she is too weak to make decisions. She has the best care I could arrange. 24 hour nurses, personal support workers, physiotherapists and her full time caregiver of 7 years on staff. We have aptly named this crew TEAM FRIEDA.

I’m bringing you this recipe today with a heavy heart. She has really been struggling with the loss of her independent lifestyle and it’s taking the toll on her both physically and emotionally. I have spent loads of time with her every day since the fall. Holding her, talking to her and sopping up the precious moments that I can spend with her. She is my life, my love, my best friend and biggest fan. I hope and pray for a speedy recovery but only time will tell and heal.

She is truly loved by so many that know her and that know of her. Thank you from far and wide for your support, wishes and prayers. It means the world to me. xo

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Grilled Fruit Caprese Salad

3 peaches or nectarines, halved
6 – 8 medium sized bocconcini cheese balls, halved
8 cantaloupe balls
6 yellow cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh raspberries
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic reduction – store bought or homemade

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1) Prepare peaches or nectarines by coating them in olive oil and sprinkling with salt and pepper.
2) Heat barbecue or indoor grill pan to medium high heat. Place peaches or nectarines on grill and sear on both sides until fruit is softened. Set aside.
3) Place cheese, cantaloupe, tomatoes and raspberries on a serving plate along with the grilled peaches or nectarines. Drizzle with balsamic reduction. Toss and serve.

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See ya next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating
www.simplybeautifuleating.com

xx, Debi
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July 8, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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Okay guys. You know that I’m all about celebrating birthdays and other people’s holidays. Any reason to eat sweets is fine by me.

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I have so many friends and family members who live in the USA that it would be a crying shame not to have joined in on the 4th of July festivities. I know this post is going live after the fact but to be honest you can serve this tart any time of the year! It’s absolutely perfect for a warm summer night barbecue. I mean really? This is a “wowee” dessert.

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Not only is this delicious, I literally whipped this up in just a few minutes. A basic tart crust recipe, some whipped cream cheese with sugar and a toppling tower of berries. My kinda sweet treat.

Here’s what you’re thinking. Can I use any fruit or berry on this tart? Well, of course you can! Go wild.

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And it happens to be a classic old school recipe that I pulled out of my files from a Good Housekeeping Magazine circa 1979. I’m not joking here. I keep all my recipes in a binder with page protectors. LOVE THAT BINDER. Just love it.

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Excuse me while have my “piece of summer” and eat it too…..or three. Also, notice this “Care for Seconds?” coaster… It is so fabulous I could die.

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Double Berry Firecracker Tart

For the Crust
-½ cups all purpose flour
-⅛ teaspoon salt
-½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
-¼ cup granulated white sugar
-1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the Filling
-1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
-¼ cup sugar
-½ tsp. vanilla
-4 cups fresh berries or fruit

For the glaze
-¼ cup seedless strawberry preserves
-1 tablespoon water

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. Place the butter in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, and beat until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. Flatten the pastry into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or just until firm or if you’re in a hurry like I always am, you can place in freezer for about 15 minutes. I use coconut or avocado oil non stick and an 8 – 9 inch (20 – 23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Once the pastry has chilled, remove from fridge and evenly pat onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Lightly prick bottom of pastry crust with the tines of a fork (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes and you can also use pie weights and parchment paper to weight down the crust). Place tart pan on a larger baking pan and bake crust for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake the crust for about 15 minutes or until crust is dry and lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Can be covered and stored for a few days.

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Make your filling by beating softened cream cheese with sugar and vanilla. Spread over cooled crust and top with berries or fruit. Chill for at least one hour.

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For the glaze, heat preserves in microwave with water for 30 seconds. Pour over fruit and chill again for another 15 minutes or longer. Serve cold.

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See ya next week!

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debi @simplybeautifuleating
simplybeautifuleating.com

xx, Debi
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July 4, 2016

Ready, Set, LONG Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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Well, it’s been a while but I’m back into the swing of things again. My friends at DK Publishing sent me another stellar book to review and let me just say, I have a “gut” feeling you are going to LOVE it. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun and there’s more to come.

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So what is the Healthy Gut Cookbook all about? It’s a compilation of recipes and advice designed to help alleviate leaky gut syndrome and other digestive problems that can result in physical and physiological ailments. Just to clarify the term leaky gut, it’s not like a leaky faucet, which I keep picturing in my mind. No need to call a plumber, you can fix this by changing your diet and repairing your very long and winding digestive tract.

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There are over 150 “good for the gut” recipes that prove that your meals don’t have to be bland and boring.

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With a very interesting concept of “healing in stages”, this book lays out the foundation with 6 stages of gradually adding GOOD foods into your daily routine, ending with the “full diet” once you have completed the healing process. Stating that you must follow these steps very strictly, each stage has recipes that will not disappoint your palate.

I read this book cover to cover and found that the diet is very similar to the one I’ve been on for the past 3 months. With the Healthy Gut Cookbook, I have finally found some wonderfully delicious recipes to try rather than having to figure out what to do with a sweet potato and brown rice.

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This salad in particular caught my eye. A hearty mixture of kale and other good for you ingredients all melded together in one eye pleasing dish.

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I mixed up the recipe a bit to make it my own signature salad with the addition of avocado, goat cheese and topped it with a phenomenal coconut avocado yogurt dressing. Total yumminess and yes I threw some flowers into the mix for these photos because, well, I hadn’t killed them yet so why not?

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There is certainly nothing wrong with working towards a healthy lifestyle and clean eating. To be honest, I fell off the wagon a few times over the past week because it was my birthday and there was CAKE. Lots of cake in fact. So much cake that I actually don’t want to look at cake again for a while. Don’t get me wrong. It was so sinfully good but not the best thing to do to my body since I started this pristine diet. Think of it like wearing freshly laundered white pants then rolling in the mud. Uh ya.

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What amazes me is this – I had a great time stuffing my face with processed flour, refined sugar and lots of fondant roses BUT boy did I ever have a “gut” reaction to all that crap inside my body. I had visions that I turned into Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

You know what they say? You are what you eat. In my case, I was a giant white slab cake and I paid the price for it.

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NO guts? No glory. You need guts to try to change your lifestyle but I found that following this regimen wasn’t so gut wrenching.

Thanks for letting my spill my guts out to you today. I’m done.

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Calming Kale & Spinach Salad
-8 cups spinach or kale
-1 green apple, sliced
-1 cucumber, finely chopped
-2 avocados, pitted, sliced (or made into a rose if you dare)
-1 cup pecan halves
-1 cup green grapes, sliced
-4 – 6 oz crumbled goat cheese
-coconut chips for garnish – optional

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Coconut Avocado Yogurt Dressing
-1/2 cup coconut yogurt
-1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
-1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
-Zest of 1 lemon
-1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley or dill
-2 tablespoons avocado oil
-Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

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Plate all salad ingredients on a large platter or in a bowl. Using a blender or whisk, mix together all ingredients for dressing. Drizzle over salad, toss and garnish with coconut chips if desired.

See ya next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating
simplybeautifuleating.com

xx, Debi
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June 24, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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Let’s talk about watermelons. First of all, I don’t mind if it’s seedless chuck full of seeds. It just has to be ripe, red, sweet and beautifully refreshing. When I think of summer I automatically think of watermelon. The difference between buying these melons in the summer or the winter is simply this: Off season you will pay upwards of 15 bucks for a watermelon. STUPID. In the summer, it’s a free for all. They are anywhere from 2 to 5 bucks which is more like it.

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A perfect example of a watermelon bargain was at my local Walmart last week. I was walking towards the produce section and there were giant bins of watermelons set up near the front of the store. All I could see was butts. Yes, butts.

Shoppers were literally diving into these bins head first. That being said, there upper bodies were swimming amongst the watermelons while their butts were sticking up and OUT of the bins.

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Reminiscent of a bridal shower game I once got myself sucked into, I thought why not? As I approached the bin, I noticed that this wasn’t the kind of challenge I was comfortable playing in the middle of a Walmart store. Mostly because these “watermelon” divers had their game faces ON.

They bobbed in and out of the bins coming up with different sizes of melons. Once they grabbed a melon they didn’t stop there. They cradled, thumped, shook and measured their melons up against other divers finds. I started stepping away quickly when one diver decided to throw his melon back in the bin while someone’s butt was still sticking out. That meant, his head was clearly a target in the melon toss.

NO

THANK

YOU

BOB

I opted for a baby sugar watermelon instead. It was twice the price of the melons that were on sale in the bin. I weighed the risks of getting a watermelon thrown on my head and was satisfied with my decision.

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Now. How to choose a watermelon. There are tricks ya know. Mine usually involves asking the produce guy at my regular market to pick a perfect one for me. It works every time. The other trick is to let Steve pick one. He’s a watermelon aficionado. He knows how to shake, thump, rattle and roll his melons.

I held my baby watermelon gently in my arms. Gave it a little thump. Heard nothing and proceeded to do the rest of my shopping without giving it another thought.

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When I arrived home I unpacked my melon and placed it on the table. Steve looked at it with a raised eyebrow.

“You picked a watermelon by yourself”? He asked.

“Yes, I know how”. I answered.

Then I got that Skeptical Steve look. You know the one. It’s when he looks at you and THINKS to himself that there is no way on earth I could possibly pick a perfect melon without all the tricks.

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Well Steve?

Well?

I did.

And then, I put these watermelon wedges on pops and called it a day.

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Watermelon Pops with Yogurt, Feta and Pistachios

-10 – 12 watermelon slices cut into triangles
-Plain Yogourt
-Honey
-3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
-1/2 cup crushed pistachio nuts
-Popsicle sticks

1) Cut a small slit in the watermelon rind and insert a Popsicle stick in.
2) Drizzle with your choice of Yogourt, honey and sprinkle with pistachio nuts.
3) Could this be any easier? I don’t think so.

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See ya next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating
simplybeautifuleating.com

xx, Debi
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