Monday, December 30, 2013

6 Ingredient Granola Bars

Fancy granola bar! (it's not that big-- it's on a small plate)

I realized a few weeks ago that Jon and I had pretty much cut out all super-processed foods out of our daily diet except for one thing: granola bars. And we ate a TON of them. We started buying them by the big box (about once a week, sometimes more), and it began to worry me. I craved them like no other food, and their addicting quality was no doubt due to the fact that they had *tons* of sugar and salt in them. They were practically candy with little nutritional value. 

Their addicting quality plus the fact that I couldn't pronounce half of the ingredients, PLUS their added garbage because they were individually packaged made me want to start making my own bars. I researched granola bars on Pinterest, wanting to find a healthy, easy, and simple alternative that didn't have any crazy ingredients, and this recipe has been the best one yet!

The no-frills ingredients!

This is typically an easy recipe if I didn't spill oats!

Or spill honey on my sock! Gosh!

The "hardest" part about this is melting the coconut oil, and it's really not hard at all.

Mix it up sloooowly!

Pack that shit down, freeze, and done!


4 Cups Oats (Gluten-free if needed)
2 Cups Brown Crisp/Puff Cereal (Rice Crispies should work, too)
1/2 Cup Melted Coconut Oil
1 Cup Nut/Seed Butter (I used peanut)
1/2 Cup Honey (or Maple Syrup or Agave Nectar) 
3 - 4 Tablespoons of Flax or Chia Seeds (Optional)

Line a 9x13 pan with tin foil or parchment paper and grease it (I just used sunflower seed oil). 

In a large bowl mix in all the ingredients. If it's not sticking all together, add a little extra honey. 

Press granola mixture into the prepared pan, and flatten with a potato masher. Throw it in the freezer for about 10 minutes and then cut your pieces (as big or as little as you'd like). Store the bars in the fridge, covered. 

Voila! Done!

Recipe via Yummy Mummy Kitchen

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holiday Thoughts

While we have spent many Christmases together, this is me and Jon's first Christmas as a married couple, and our first Christmas we'll be spending all day with one another. Last year I went home for the holiday and Jon stayed in Boston to welcome Mr. Clemens into our lives, and the years before that we either split the day or spent it apart.  This year will be a happy, loving relief from wanting to see our families but also wanting to see each other because not only are we not going home, we're having some family coming to visit us! Jon's father and younger sister will be arriving on Sunday, and we anxiously anticipate their arrival!

This will be, by far, the most intimate Christmas I've ever had. My family is quite large, and each year I spent Christmas morning with my three siblings and two parents, were welcomed in the afternoon by my Mommom and my Aunt, and then all eight of us shuffled down a few avenues to my other Aunt's house for Christmas where we were greeted by anywhere between eight to twelve family members. I will miss my family sorely this year, but I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with Jon's family and showing them the city that has been becoming my home these last few months. 

In these last few days before Christmas, I have a lot to do (I have yet to do any gift shopping and have only written out half of my cards [and still haven't mailed the ones I wrote!]), but I feel more in "the spirit" of the holidays than ever before. I feel like we're making it our own and starting traditions that will be remembered for years to come. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Cousins! And Tucker the dog

Yesterday I came home from a wonderfully exhausting trip back to the east coast. I initially decided to buy the plane tickets so I could see one of my dearest friends get married, but it also happened to be American Thanksgiving that same weekend! I managed to see a lot of my family and some of my closest friends while I was home, and feel like it was probably one of the most satisfying and productive trips I've had home. 

After reflecting on this trip soon after I got home, I realized that I have a hard time recognizing my need to be sad. I like to distract, deny, "be strong," and make excuses to not be sad. When my sister and I hugged goodbye, we both got teary-eyed, and while she admitted it, I hurried off and turned on emotionless business mode for the next 12 hours. It wasn't until I became upset with Jon for not changing the (admittedly very smelly) cat litter that I realized that something was off. I felt like I wanted to cry without knowing why, but realized (after I thought of Kate, Rachel, and I laughing about stupid youtube videos and started crying) that I needed to be upset and I needed to cry about leaving home again. Just that small recognition, awareness, and leaky eyes made me feel a hell of a lot better, and I feel much more settled.

Delayed layover in Toronto. They stamped by boarding pass instead of my passport!

Beginning of Thanksgiving with our first (of many!) guest, Aunt Mary!

Getting our nails did before Tara's wedding!

Getting all done up!

<3 <3 

This trip also resulted in finding out that Jon and I have quite a few visitors coming around our way in the next few months! Jon's sister and father will be joining us for Christmas, my mom and dad will be coming in March, my Uncle will be in Portland in May, and my Aunt may be following him in the summer! But most recently, my good friend Dana is hoping to come over soon after the new year because of Alaskan Airlines' current promotion: $200 round trip tickets from Philly to Seattle (scoop 'em up while you can, it ends Dec 9th)!

More awkward photo opps to be had soon!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Brick Interior Walls

I helped some friends move into a new place today, and they moved into a great character building. Their place, although smaller than our's, has tons of more character with its exposed century-old wood and brick walls, and has some charming wheeled-out windows that peer onto the adorable street below. It made me wistful of the red brick that I'm used to from the east coast and excited for my trip back home in three days. Until then, I'll dream of some adorable apartments and houses with exposed brick and endless possibilities...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Exploring the Island (part II)

A view of the Vancouver Island Ranges on a Tofino dock

I've been spending the last few weeks getting to know the island a bit more intimately. I've seen the salmon spawn again, played on the abandoned railroad tracks of the island, travelled to the Gulf Island called Salt Spring, and took a five hour road trip up and across to Tofino. I'm growing every day in my love for this place, and I'm slowly meeting more interesting people to add to my growing perspective of the world.

Abandoned railroad tracks of Vancouver Island. No rail system is in place today.

What I love so much about this relatively small island is its diversity. I can go up a fairly easy mountain hike, to finding star fish by the sea, to petting the moss on a 800 year old tree, to traversing through temperate rain forest, to gazing at snow peaked mountains, all within a fairly reachable distance of one another. I may be romanticizing the place because I just moved here (actually, I'm certain that I am), but there really is a lot to do here if you enjoy the outdoors. Jon surfed for the first time while we were in Tofino and I've been hiking more than ever. As of right now, despite being underemployed, I couldn't imagine a better place for us to be. 

The 155 foot tall Little Niagara Falls in Goldstream Provincial Park

Sail boats on the way to Salt Spring Island

One of the many tiny vineyards on Salt Spring Island

Surfers in Tofino

Starfish on a Tofino beach

"The Big Tree": Over 800 years old, 250 feet tall, and 30 feet round.

Jon hiding away on a fallen tree

Glacier run-off pool. I've never seen water so clear.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Skillet Gardener's Pie

I learned two very important things while making this: 1) I need to learn to read directions more carefully and 2) You really can't screw up mashed potatoes. When making the mashed potatoes, I forgot the potato water *and* the almond milk, and ended up making them with vegetable broth and splashes of almond milk. They still taste like mashed potatoes. 

This dish is perfect for those blustery fall days and when you and your roommates/partner are in competition with mother nature to see how long you can hold out before you turn on the head. This is sans-meat and potatoes type of food that is full of wonderful veggies and will leave you happy and full!

Bad family photo. You can't see the potatoes, carrots, or onion!

This is how I measure "packed" spinach. 

Spreadin' on that good stuff!

All done!

2 pounds Yukon gold or red potatoes
2 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy milk
salt and pepper, to taste
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, diced
2 cups fat-free vegetable broth
16 ounces (1 can) or 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans, drained
2 cups green beans, cut in 1″ pieces (may use frozen)
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
2 cups baby spinach leaves, packed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water (or veg. broth)
extra rosemary for garnish

Scrub the potatoes and cut them into cubes. (I leave mine unpeeled, but if you want you can peel them before dicing.) Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender. Reserve a cup of their cooking water, if possible, and drain. Place in a large bowl, add the non-dairy milk, and mash until smooth, adding a little of the potato-cooking water if they seem too dry. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and set aside in a warm place (I put them in the oven on a low heat).
While the potatoes are cooking, make the “pie” filling. Heat a large non-stick or cast iron skillet on a medium-high burner and add the onions. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add the garlic, carrots and mushrooms, and sauté for 3 more minutes.
Add the vegetable broth, kidney beans, green beans, and herbs. Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes and all vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. There should still be some liquid in the pan, but if it has become too dry, add a little of the potato-cooking water. Add the spinach and stir until it’s completely wilted. Mix the corn starch with the water until smooth, and add it to the pan. Cook, stirring, until mixture has thickened.
Spoon the potatoes evenly over the top of the filling and sprinkle with chopped rosemary. If potatoes have cooled, put the skillet under the broiler for a minute or two. Serve immediately while hot.


Recipe via Fat Free Vegan

Friday, November 8, 2013


Butchart Gardens

Jon's mother and her partner were with us last weekend, and they had the special honor of being our first guests out west! It was so so nice seeing them and catching up while finding new restaurants, showing them around town, and exploring new (to us!) parts of Victoria. Jon and I haven't done much of the tourist-y stuff so far, so it was great getting to explore some of Victoria's well-known gems. Typically when people get here they do two things: have high tea and the Empress hotel and go to Butchart Gardens. I was happy to check both of those things off my "to do" list, but I'm sure we'll be back to both places as other guests slowly trickle in and out of the region. That being said, it was magical to have those experiences for the first time, and I'm so happy we had Laurie and Ralph to join us. 

We also got to watch the salmon swim up stream to spawn, which is something while not super tourist-y, was still very interesting and exciting. It was sobering to see some of the fish struggle up the river, and some of the fish who weren't as fit laid on the river banks dead. I went to the stream a few days later with another friend only to find more fish expired along the edges of the river, signifying that their trip uphill was possibly wrapping up. Jon had some morbid philosophical ideas and thoughts about the whole process, but I'll leave that job to him.

Our lovely guests

The Japanese garden