AcroYoga Workshop and Pasta with Bacon and Greens

Over the weekend, I attended an AcroYoga workshop hosted by Queen Street Yoga. 3 hours of intense work-shopping. The workshop started with some of the less scary exercises to get us warmed up. Check out this super awesome people-stacking (plank pose)!

Photo credit to Leena and Emma from Queen Street Yoga

At one point, I tried to be the third person in the stack. Turns out it’s not so easy for a person of average height…

Chair pose – it was surprisingly hard to get to this pose, but fairly easy (at least for me) to maintain once there.

Photo credit to Leena and Emma from Queen Street Yoga

Transitioning from one pose to another was probably the most difficult part. It took a lot of strength (and trust) for both the “base” and the “flyer.”

Photo credit to Leena and Emma from Queen Street Yoga

Throne pose was probably my favourite one to learn at this workshop. It was stable. As the “flyer,” there was a lot of stretching and core work.

Photo credit to Leena and Emma from Queen Street Yoga

The class was so much fun! I got to catch up with a few of my yogi-friends before and after class. Learned some new yoga poses. Got a good workout. And most of all, had a lot of fun while learning! If you ever have an opportunity to try an Acro-Yoga class, give it a try! It’s very different from a more traditional class, but tons of fun.

Understandably, at the end of three hours I was exhausted… so I went to Dad’s for dinner (and had a long walk with the dogs). Thanks dad! I probably would not have made a nutritious dinner on my own that night, I very much appreciated having someone else cook for me. 🙂

What does this have to do with the dish I’m sharing today? Absolutely nothing. Except that, after this class, I was craving a meal that was both healthy and filling, which reminded me of this pasta that I made a few weeks back and am just getting a chance to share with you today.

Pasta with Bacon and Greens

Ingredients

  • 500 grams whole grain spaghettini – approximate cost $1.50
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.40
  • 6 slices of bacon, diced – approximate cost $3.00
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.15
  • 3 fresh eggs – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese – approximate cost $1.00
  • 4 tablespoons sea salt – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 cup Cookin’ Greens Athlete’s Mix – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 zucchini, sliced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 onion, diced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 300 grams crimini mushrooms, sliced – approximate cost $1.25

Method

  1. Cook the bacon pieces in a wok over medium-high heat.
  2. Remove the bacon pieces to a plate when crispy.
  3. Bring a pot of very salty water (about 4 tablespoons of sea salt) to a boil.
  4. Cook spaghettini according to package.
  5. Add diced onion to the wok, cook until softened (about 5 minutes).
  6. Add minced garlic to the wok, cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  7. Add slices of crimini mushrooms, cook until softened (about 4 minutes).
  8. Add slices of zucchini and Cookin’ Greens Athlete’s Mix, cook until softened (about 3 minutes).
  9. Return bacon to the wok and mix well with the vegetables.
  10. Remove from heat.
  11. Combine fresh eggs, Parmesan, and olive oil in a mixing bowl, whisk until completely combined.
  12. Place the cooked spaghettini in a large mixing bowl.
  13. Drizzle with the egg mixture, stirring constantly so the noodles are covered in the sauce and the egg cooks (pasta should still be hot).
  14. Add the vegetable and bacon mixture and mix thoroughly into the pasta.
  15. Serve and enjoy!

Makes about 3 servings (approximate cost: $3.57 per serving).

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Improv Challenge: Zucchini and Brown Sugar

I’m excited to be participating in another Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! Each month I strive to come up with something a bit more exciting or creative than the last. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, the challenge ingredients are zucchini and brown sugar.

My recipe this month isn’t exactly creative. Instead, I opted for something much more sentimental… my Nana’s Zucchini Bread recipe (with a slight modification). The original recipe calls for white sugar, I’ve substituted brown sugar for the purpose of the challenge, and it worked out great!

Nana’s not sure where the recipe comes from anymore. She thinks she might have got it from one of her sisters, who possibly got it from my Great Grandmother. Either way, it’s been in the family for a while and I enjoyed many many pieces of zucchini bread as a child, especially in the fall when Nana picked the zucchini fresh from the garden.

Growing up, I thought zucchini bread was one of the healthiest treats. Why? Because it’s got vegetable pieces in it. Therefore, it must be healthy. Right? I was a bit surprised going through the recipe when I saw how much sugar it calls for. Not exactly healthy. It won’t kill you to enjoy the bread once in a while either though. Just something I will likely choose to enjoy in moderation instead of abundance, like I did as a child.

I’ll likely experiment with making a healthier version of the recipe at some point. Substituting the white flour for whole wheat, or maybe a gluten-free flour. Try cutting out some of the sugar. But that’s for another day when I’m not scrambling to make something delicious for the Improv Challenge.

Excuse me while I got enjoy some fresh from the oven zucchini bread for breakfast. I just baked it this morning!

Nana’s Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs – approximate cost $0.60
  • 2 cups white sugar (I used brown sugar for the purpose of the Improv Challenge) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini, skin included – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 cup oil (I used canola oil) – approximate cost $0.40
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla – approximate cost $0.30
  • 3 cups flour – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 cup walnuts – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, and grated zucchini in a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix until well combined and set aside.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, cinnamon, and walnuts in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Mix until well combined.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  7. Pour the bread mixture into two (greased) loaf pans.
  8. Bake for 1 hour (or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean).
  9. Allow to cool before serving.

Makes 2 loaves, about 16 slices (approximate cost: $3.30 per loaf or $0.41 per slice).


Roasted Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Peppers with Thyme

Sunday, Dad decided to come home from the lake early, so I decided to go home for a family dinner (despite that there were already plans for all of us to get together the next day for Nana’s birthday). Because the plans were a bit last minute, dinner consisted of leftover shepherd’s pie that I had made earlier in the week, a few roasted vegetables, and pumpkin pie that dad picked up on his way home.

As usual, I made too much food. I find it hard to plan dinner for six. However, leftovers are always welcome, they get packed into lunches for the next day. And we usually sneak a treat or two to the dogs (they got a taste of Shepherd’s pie – Rascal loved it, Rebel picked out the carrots).

Roasted Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Peppers with Thyme

Ingredients

  • 1 large spanish onion, diced – approximate cost $1.25
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.20
  • 800 grams button mushrooms, sliced – approximate cost $3.50
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 green pepper, sliced – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 red peppers, sliced – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 orange pepper, sliced – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced – approximate cost $1.25
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.15

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the onion pieces and cook until softened.
  4. Add garlic and continue to cook until garlic is fragrant.
  5. Remove from heat and transfer to a large baking pan.
  6. Combine onion mixture, mushrooms, zucchini slices, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme in the baking pan.
  7. Mix well.
  8. Bake vegetables for 7 minutes (or until  they begin to soften).
  9. Remove from oven and add the peppers and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme.
  10. Mix well.
  11. Turn the oven temperature to broil.
  12. Return the vegetables to the oven.
  13. Cook for another 5-7 minutes (or until the vegetables begin to brown).
  14. Remove from oven.
  15. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 8 servings (approximate cost: $1.52 per serving).

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Uncooked tomato sauce served with raw zucchini or spaghetti noodles

This tomato sauce is among my favourite dishes. It’s easy to make, healthy, tasty, and versatile. There’s so many ways to present it and it can be enjoyed for either lunch or dinner.Since finding the recipe on TheKitchn last summer, I’ve prepared the sauce a number of times with slight variations each time to suit whomever is enjoying the dish.

Here are a few variations you can try:

  • Make it a raw meal by making zucchini “noodles” with a spiral turner
  • Serve with cold or hot spaghetti noodles
  • Make it vegetarian by excluding the meat
  • Include a salty, cured meat such as prosciutto, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • Use a blender to puree the ingredients into a sauce-like consistency (do this after marinating the mixture)

This sauce is fantastic because you can make a large portion, set some aside in a dish and pack it for lunch. By lunch time, it’s marinated enough to enjoy! You can also let it marinate all day and simply prepare your choice of pasta when you arrive home and dinner is ready in 15 minutes!

Try not to put the tomatoes in the fridge at any point. I find that chilling them takes away from the flavour of the finished meal. However, I do always store the leftovers in the fridge and let it warm to room temperature before enjoying.

Uncooked tomato sauce

Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 pint of mixed tomatoes (any combination of yellow, orange, pink, green, etc.) – approximate cost $2.00
  • 3 medium-sized Roma tomatoes – approximate cost $2.00
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely minced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 10 leaves of basil, cut into fine strips – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 cup olive oil – approximate cost $1.50
  • Salt to taste – approximate cost $0.05
  • 200 grams of meat, such as prosciutto or bacon (Optional) – approximate cost $3.50
  • Parmesan cheese (optional) – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Slice all of the various tomatoes into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Place garlic, basil, and olive oil in a large serving bowl. Stir mixture well. Cover with plastic wrap and allow mixture to sit on the counter for 3-4 hours.
  3. Place tomatoes in olive oil mixture. Stir mixture until all tomatoes are coated with oil and garlic is evenly distributed throughout the sauce.
  4. Recover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture marinate for 2-4 hours (leave on the counter).
    1. Note: If you don’t have time to marinate the basil in the oil before adding it to the tomatoes to marinate, you can skip this step and mix it with the tomatoes immediately. But there’s more flavour if you can include the step.
  5. Add salt to taste.
  6. Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles or spiralled zucchini “noodles” (for a raw dish) and, if desired, top with more fresh basil leaves, meat of your choice, and Parmesan cheese.

Makes about 6 servings (approximate cost: $1.55 per serving of sauce without meat, or $2.13 per serving of sauce with meat).

You can use almost any tomatoes you have on hand, but having a small variety of tomatoes tends to give the dish more flavour. If you’re not using smaller tomatoes, use 6-7 medium-large sized tomatoes.

Raw Zucchini Pasta

This was my favourite of the two dishes we prepared at the workshop. The zucchini was a tasty and healthy alternative to pasta for this entree. I’ll probably make this frequently during the summer. For now, I still prefer hot pasta when the weather is cool.

The recipes do not specify quantities, so I made this again at home and made my best guess at replicating the dish. I love it! Nana loves it! Bryan would rather have traditional pasta noodles and thinks the sauce is alright, but would prefer it warm, which is actually pretty easy to accommodate without a lot of extra work.

Raw Zucchini Pasta

Recipe by RAW food chef Renee Shaidle

Raw zucchini pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized zucchini
  • 2-3 medium sized tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 5-6 basil leaves
  • 3-4 oregano leaves
  • Sea salt (to taste)

Method

Pasta

  1. Shred 1 medium zucchini using a spiral spinner (such as this vegetable twister) to make a spaghetti-noodle-like shape.

Sauce

  1. Combine tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil, oregano, and a ½ tsp of salt in a blender.
  2. Blend for a few seconds so the sauce is still chunky.
  3. Taste the sauce to determine if more salt is necessary. If so, add a small amount and blend again.

“Cheese”

  1. Grind white sesame seeds in a coffee grinder until it takes on the texture of parmesan cheese.

Sprouts

  1. Buy a mixture of arugula, radish, and mixed greens.

Putting it all together

  1. Assemble like any other pasta: zucchini pasta topped with sauce, cheese, and sprouts.

If you’re interested in Renee’s raw food cooking class, see her website: http://beliveonline.com/events/ or, if you want raw cooking without the work, check out Marbles restaurant in Uptown Waterloo.

Pizza with Zucchini Slices

A friend of mine mentioned a while back that her favourite pizza topping is zucchini slices. At first, I was a bit skeptical, but when my aunt gave me a zucchini from her farm the other week and I was looking for something do with it, I decided to give pizza a try. It’s not that I didn’t think I would like zucchini as a pizza topping, I just thought I’d like the usual toppings –tomato, pepperoni, and green olives– more. Needless to say, it was fantastic! We will definitely be having this again.

Pizza with Zucchini Slices

Ingredients

  • Pizza crust (homemade and store-bought both work) – approximate cost $3.00
  • Barbecue sauce (I used a hickory-smoke flavoured sauce) – approximate cost $0.40
  • Mozzarella cheese – approximate cost $2.50
  • 200-300g thinly-sliced quick-fry beef – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1/2 zucchini – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 tomato – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 sweet onion – approximate cost $0.40

Method

  1. If you’re making your own crust, make this first (if you’ve bought a crust, take it out of the packaging) and place the prepared crust on a baking pan
  2. Thinly slice the onion, zucchini and tomato. Set the zucchini and tomato aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Cook the onions over medium heat with a small amount of olive oil.
  5. While the onions are cooking, thinly slice the beef and add it to the onions. Cook until browned
  6. Spread a generous amount of barbecue sauce on the pizza crust.
  7. Add the toppings in any order you’d like.
  8. Bake the pizza for 5 minutes on the tray, then carefully slide it off the tray and onto the oven rack. Bake for an additional 5-10 minute.
  9. Let the pizza cool on the counter for about 5 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $2.64 per serving).

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