Fun at Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush!

Hey everyone,

Hope you’re all well and trying to stay positive despite the chilly weather we’ve been having here in Ottawa. Can you believe that we’re going to be getting a dump of snow this weekend? When will it end 😉 I’m hopeful that this will be the last of it and, on a more positive note, we will be very thankful for spring/ summer this year.

The last two weeks have been spent enjoying lots of time with family and trying to enjoy the great outdoors 😉 Today, I’ve decided to share with you our recent visit to Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush.

 

Fun at Fultons Pancake House and Sugar Bush

It’s been years since I’ve visited a sugar shack. Maybe even a decade. My mom called us a couple weeks ago and suggested that we take the kids for breakfast and a tour of the sugar shack. Of course, I thought that this was a fabulous suggestion since we hadn’t been in years, since our littles have never been and since the weather was cooperating so we wouldn’t freeze our butts off.

We made sure to arrive for when they opened at 9am so that we could beat the breakfast rush. So happy that we did since although the restaurant was full, it wasn’t filled to capacity so we were able to sit down and enjoy our cafeteria style breakfast. I don’t know what I was expecting but it was a cafeteria style meal. I have to say that this made it even more special 🙂 plus quick and easy for the kids! We were able to see our food options, choose what we wanted, pay for it and eat it right away.

We ended up trying a little bit of almost everything. Julien and the kids shared some pancakes, apple pie, beans, and breakfast sausage and I had their gluten-free (GF) waffles. Like any new GF dish, I didn’t know what to expect but for my GF readers, I’m happy to report that they were DELICIOUS!!! Seriously, they tasted like the real thing. We also had hot coffee and juice for the kids. Felt like we were eating breakfast at a very casual 😉 ski resort.

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Breakfast!

After filling ourselves up with sweets, we toured around the property. First on our to do list was a tour of the Heritage Maple Path which brought us to a cool teepee shelter, which the kids loved, and a cozy fire where an employee was explaining all of the old tools and techniques that were used to tap maple trees.

 

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We continued along the trail and there was a beautiful display of more of the old harvesting tools:

 

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Did you know that according to Iroquois legend, maple syrup was discovered by accident? To find out more, read the sign below.

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The sugar shack also offered a live demo on how they produce their maple syrup, they had a park for kids and sold delicious treats like cotton candy and maple lollipops. They also had a small shop where you could buy all sorts of maple syrup infused items such as bbq sauces, marinades, sweets and beauty products.

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Maple Shoppe!

I have to be honest here. I saw their beauty products but I wasn’t drawn to them until one of the employees recommended that I give their lotion a try. I’m so glad that I did because not only did it smell delicious, it was also super hydrating.  I was sold! I liked it so much that we ended up picking up a bottle of their lotion and a body scrub for my mother-in-law’s birthday.

Overall, our visit to Fultons was so much fun! The kids had a blast and it was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning. If you’re looking for something different to do this weekend, I highly recommend that bring your family and/or friends to Fulton’s for breakfast and to tour their properly.

I know that visiting the sugar bush is an annual tradition for some. If you are one of those people, I would love to hear about your favourite spots so please let me know.

That’s all for now! Hope you have a fabulous weekend.

Stay warm 😉 xo

GF Lemon Cake…#yum

Hey everyone,

Can you believe all of the snow that we received this week…What is going on!? I know it was naive of me to think that winter was over but I wasn’t expecting the downpour that we received in the last two days…On a more positive note, the snow is quite beautiful…right ;).

Last Sunday, our son and I tried a new GF cake recipe from this amazing recipe book that a couple of my girlfriends bought me for my birthday last year. It’s called “Gluten-Free Sweet Treat: cakes, brownies, cookies and more” by Emma Goss-Custard. Not sure that that’s her real name but it’s cute either way.

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Lemon Drizzle Cake

I’ve made a few of her recipes and, so far, they’ve been delicious. I find that they take longer to make than non-GF recipes but they’re worth it. This time we tried her Lemon Drizzle Cake and it was #delicious!!!

Today, I’m sharing her recipe with you.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, plus extra for brushing
  • 7.5 tbs GF flour of your choice (Tbs…I know, weird but her recipe uses them or ounces)
  • Finely grated zest from 2 lemons
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp GF baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I suggest using WAY less as the recipe was very sweet – maybe 1/2c max)
  • 2/3 cup ground almonds
  • 3 tbs polenta
  • 1 tsp lemon oil

Note: Rather than using the drizzle, I sifted icing sugar on top of the cake. I’m happy I did since the cake is pretty sweet.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter your 1lb loaf tin.
  2. Melt butter with the lemon zest, but don’t let it get too hot. I heated it slowly in the microwave. Then add your lemon juice and stir again.
  3. Crack your eggs in a large mixing bowl fitted with an electric mixer. Add your baking powder, sugar, almonds, GF flour, cornflour, polenta and lemon oil.
  4. Add melted butter and zest to the mixture.
  5. Using your electric mixer, beat on low speed and then on high until your mixture is smooth with a rich yellow colour.
  6. Spoon your cake mixture into the buttered tin and tap tin until batter is smooth.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, check and then cover with parchment paper, especially if the cake is getting too dark.
  8. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until springy to the touch.
  9. Remove from oven, let cool completely and then remove from tin.
  10. If you like, sift icing sugar above the cake for a nice touch and added sweetness.

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If you’re looking to try something new, I highly recommend this recipe, however, I would use 1/3-1/2 a cup of sugar rather than 3/4 since it was very sweet. I also suggest that you keep it refrigerated since it was a tad crumbly.

This recipe pairs well with a warm coffee in the morning or with an afternoon tea, which is when I tend to get my sweet craving ;).

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Voila!

For those who eat GF, what’s your favourite cake recipe? I would love to hear about it. Before going GF, I used to do a lot of baking but I haven’t been too interested in trying new recipes since I’m usually missing ingredients or I know that I’ll be the only one eating it.

If you do end up giving this recipe a try, please let me know what you think of it and whether or not you’d be interested in other GF recipes.

On a totally separate but very important note, I’d like to wish everyone a happy international women’s day. Today, I’d like to thank my sister, mother-in-law, female friends, family, role models and most importantly my mom who is truly my BIGGEST role model and inspiration. Mom, you are truly one of a kind and like no other. Since Chels and I were young you taught us the importance of being a feminist, of being kind, accepting and understanding and to stand up for injustice. I thank you today and every day for being the incredible role model and woman that you are!

“The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us but those who win battles we know nothing about.” A serious quote but one that struck home.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend spent with friends and family, eating great food.

Bon Appetit!

Ash xo

Mom’s 60th Birthday and BRCA results!

Hey everyone,

Hope the first week of February is treating you well? Although we’ve received a couple dumps of snow, here in Ottawa, the weather has been milder and so enjoyable. #grateful for this week’s weather and being able to enjoy some fresh air!

Last weekend, we celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday. As most of you now know, it’s been just over a year since she was diagnosed and underwent her debulking surgery 2 days before her 59th birthday. I remember her saying that she just wanted to be able to make it to her 60th. Well, I’m SO happy to report that she did, that she is doing SO well and was eager to celebrate her big day. Her 60th Birthday!

My sister and I decided to throw her a surprise party and invite her childhood friends. Some of whom she sees regularly, others only a few times a year. Little did we know, most of them had already set the day aside for her.

Chels and I made dinner reservations at the Big Rig Brewery, as per her request, and our immediate family kicked-off the evening by doing our first escape room at Jigsaw located in the Byward Market. If you haven’t been to Jigsaw, you totally have to check them out. The venue is really nice offering lots of seating with board games and they even have a bar.

As for dinner with her friends, we had asked her guests to bring an old photo of mom and to let us know which song best reminds them of her so that we could put both in a journal for her to read afterward.

Have you ever thrown a surprise party? If so, you know it presents some challenges but if not, *WARNING* it is not easy to do lol My mom is by nature a total control freak (as are we). She has always been the caregiver, planner, organizer etc and she likes to be kept in the loop about everything…and I mean everything, so planning this party was no easy task. A month before, she started asking a million questions. Are we going to big rig, will it just be the 6 of us, what time should I be ready for etc etc etc She absolutely hated not knowing what the plan was and not being in control.

Before getting into the evening itself, I thought I’d share with you a couple of the gifts we bought for her. As previously mentioned, we bought her this beautiful black Journal from Chapters that says “she was one of the rare ones: so effortlessly herself and the whole world loved her for it.” For those who know mom, you KNOW that she is totally one of a kind. The amount of quality friends that she has and the love that they all have for her is amazing and shows how incredible she is.

I also knew that I wanted to pick up a tacky gift, making fun of the fact that she was turning 60, so when I saw the cane in the picture below, I had to have it lol The cane came equipped with glasses, a horn, fan (for heat flashes), a pill container and a caution old lady crossing sign lol so funny, right!

You’ll also notice that I picked up a small pink book entitled “what I love about you and me.” It’s 50 pages long and you have to fill in the blank spaces and note 50 reasons why you love that person. For example: “I like the way….when you…” or “if we were a ….. we would … ” and “I’d love to … with you.” This was such a fun gift and got me thinking about some of my favorite childhood memories. We also treated her to a beautiful bottle of Cognac, the game, cupcakes, board games (her fav) etc.

As for the evening, it was so much fun. We met downtown in the Ottawa Byward Market and surprised her with an escape room. We choose the cabin and it was amazing. I knew that we had to find our way out but I didn’t think that it would be as hard as it was. These games are clearly well thought out. The cabin was a tough one. We all started in handcuffs and the room was almost pitch black. Although we worked hard and really well together, to bust our way out, we didn’t 😦 Apparently we were very close to winning but unfortunately couldn’t crack the last few clues. For those who are looking for a challenging escape room, I highly recommend this one as it has a 15% success rate.

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Jigsaw

Next up was dinner at the Big Rig. We walked in shortly after 7pm and everyone was already there, waiting for her. Watching mom walk in was priceless. She had no idea that we had planned to have her childhood friends there and, although she was pleasantly surprised, I think she was totally shocked. We spent the evening going through childhood pictures, listening to stories of her in her teens and enjoyed a good meal. Below is a pic of mom and her friends. How lucky is she to have friends that she has known for over 50 years.

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Overall, mom had a wonderful 60th birthday. Not only did she have a great time celebrating with her childhood friends and family, she was and is feeling healthy again. What better gift to receive for her 60th bday than the gift of feeling healthy 🙂 I’m so grateful for this and for her 🙂 Happy birthday Moomoo!

BRCA 2 results:

In a previous post, I shared with you that I would be undergoing BRCA 2 genetic testing for breast/ovarian cancer. After a 3 month wait, I’m happy and relieved to report that I do not carry the genetic mutation and, as a result, neither do my children. This news was and is such a huge relief for my family and I. The results showed that I’m not considered high risk. The general population’s risk of having breast cancer is 11% and mine has been calculated at 18%. As a result, and lucky for me, rather than waiting until the age of 50 to be screened, I will start annual mammography at the age of 37. For this, I’m also grateful.

For anyone with a close family history of breast and ovarian cancer, I highly recommend undergoing genetic testing. It isn’t for everyone but for those who woukd prefer to know and like to have control, like myself, I say go for it. These results have brought me much comfort knowing that my children and I aren’t at high risk and has allowed me to put in place the necessary steps to ensure that I will be properly screened.

For those who have undergone similar testing and would like to share about it, please feel free to leave a comment. Otherwise, I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend and I thank you for taking the time to stop by my blog and read my posts. I truly appreciate your support.

Remember to “look for something positive in every day, even if some days you have to look a little harder.” Life is great :)!!!

Talk soon,

Ash

Alpine Social – Fairmont Lake Louise

Happy New Year!!!

I can’t believe that a year has gone by already…Can you!? Before diving into this week’s post, I’d like to wish you all a healthy and happy 2018. You only get to live once so enjoy your time and make 2018 count!

This week I would like to talk to you about our dinner at Alpine Social, a restaurant at the Fairmont Lake Louise that you do not want to miss out on if you’re ever travel out that way. In December 2017, we spent two amazing nights at the Fairmont Lake Lousie and enjoyed all of our meals at the hotel. They were fabulous!!!

The hotel offers six restaurants, a deli, in-room service and afternoon tea. The cool thing about Alpine Social is that a friend of Julien’s started working there a few years back and runs both Alpine Social and Poppy Brasserie so of course, we had to pop in and say hi. We probably hadn’t seen Jamie in over 10 years, since Julien last coached his basketball team, so it was nice to catch up and see him in his element. He created the fabulous menu at Alpine Social which is both delicious and decadent.

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Unfortunately, when we arrived at the Fairmont Lake Louise, Julien had a full-fledged head cold but we made the best of it. We still went out to dinner, although earlier than planned ;). When we arrived at Alpin, we were so pleased with the atmosphere. It has a cool and laid back feel to it but still very beautiful. It also offers touches of the outdoors with its woodsy winter decor and live trees.

Jamie came to see us, as soon as we were seated, and kindly explained his delicious menu. Knowing that we liked meat, he took charge and suggested a few of dishes he knew we’d enjoy.

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Lucky for us, he treated us to the Crispy Pork Ribs which were to die for! Julien is a major rib lover and I think that he’s officially turned me into one as well 😉 these were insane. Crunchy on the outside and super flavourful and tender on the inside. They were served with a delicious coleslaw which paired perfectly with the meat. At the same time, we were served the seared scallops. Check these out. I think they were the best scallops I have EVER eaten:

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They were served on a curried cauliflower puree with a bacon jam, crispy leeks (OMG) charred cauliflower and chicharron! AMAZING!

Next were our mains courses: tenderloin and striploin. Each of the main courses are served with a blend of Canadian grains and a choice of two additional sides. Yep, I said two! We choose the sauteed rapini and maple glazed heirloom carrots:

I was never a huge fan of rapini, when I was younger, but I’ve really grown to love it. For those who haven’t tried it yet, it looks a bit like broccoli but it has a bitter taste. Also, the mashed potatoes that accompanied my beef were literally the best I’ve EVER eaten in my entire life and I like to think that we eat well. Jamie, I have no idea how you achieved the flavour and consistency but it was 100% on point. If you read this, please send me the recipe if you’re willing to share ;).

I’d also like to note that our waitress (whose name I, unfortunately, cannot remember) was fabulous. She was super sweet but also very knowledgeable about the menu and the wines offered at the restaurant. We loved her so much that Julien requested to be seated in her area the following evening. Why mess with a great thing, right!

Of course, our evening had to end with dessert. Unfortunately, Julien wasn’t feeling the hottest by the end of the meal so Jamie had dessert sent to our room. We got ready for bed, made some peppermint tea and our dessert arrived just as we got into our comfies. Jamie prepared a beautiful creme brulee for us. I never had a chance to ask him but I believe that it was prepared with quite a bit of lemon which made it unique. I was also surprised to find out, the next evening, that it was a cheesecake creme brulee. Why is this important, well because I HATE cheesecake…of course, Julien loved this 😉 this just shows you how good it was!

Dining at Alpine Social was a unique and tasty experience. The atmosphere, including a live band, was so relaxing and cozy and the food is exquisite. For those of you who are planning on heading to the Fairmont Lake Louise this year, I highly recommend that you stop by Alpine Social and taste some of the beautiful dishes on Jamie’s menu. You won’t regret it.

Have you stayed at the Fairmont Lake Louise? If so, what did you think? Did you have a favourite restaurant?

That’s all for now. Hope you have a fabulous weekend and for those of you who live in Ottawa, stay warm.

Ciao,

xo

 

 

 

Le Baccara – What a treat!

Hey guys,

Hope you’re having a great week! Can you believe that it’s December already! I don’t know about you but I’m ready and excited for the last month of the year. Along with December, comes Christmas and Christmas outings. The following is just one of many.

Last weekend, we had the pleasure of joining our friends, George and Chels for dinner at Le Baccara, a 5 diamond restaurant located in the Casino Lac-Leamy and what an experience it was. I had been to the Casino several times before but it had been at least 10 years and I definitely didn’t experience it like this.

As soon as we pulled up, I was in awe at how beautifully decorated the hotel and lobby were for the Christmas season. The grandeur of all of the decorations and trees was breathtaking.

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We started our evening at the Bacchus bar equipped with fabulous glass tables, large leather seats and an impressive, to say the least, fireplace. It was the perfect spot to sit and catch up over a cocktail. We sipped on a bottle of Champagne and caught up on our weeks. Not a bad way to end a busy week and kick start the evening right ;).

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Next stop was dinner at Le Baccara. We walked though the casino and past this beautiful tree.

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Isn’t it breathtaking? WOW.

The experience was fabulous from the start. As soon as we arrived, we were promptly escorted to our tables and within a matter of minutes, we were served champagne. We spent the next 45 mins sipping on it, in large comfy chairs knowing that we had a delicious meal ahead of us.

As for the meal, we enjoyed a six course meal. Each course was beautifully presented and paired with the perfect glass of wine. The service was fabulous and our sommelier, Danielle Dupont, was impeccable. She was able to describe our wines beautifully and was extremely knowledgeable which was great for Julien and George who love to ask plenty of questions about what they’re eating and drinking ;).

Our first course was by far my favourite. It was a beef carpaccio that was to die for. It was like no other. As you can see, it offered many elements, including sliced truffles. #yum

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Our second dish was a lobster tail, with tete fromagee (my apologies for the missing accents. I need to figure out how to use them on my new Chromebook).

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What I love about these dinning experiences, is that I get try foods I wouldn’t necessarily try or cook myself. Although I am not a picky eater, I enjoyed the lobster tail but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the tete fromagee (made with pigs feet). Maybe it’s an acquired taste ;)? Although it wasn’t my favourite part of the meal, I have to say that it was beautifully presented and very flavourful.

Next was a foie gras poele. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the actual foie gras lol but it’s because I was so blown away by its presentation as it arrived at the table :).

 

It was served with a glass of Sauterne. As you can see, Chels and I approved ;).

Next on the menu was a seared scallop with octopus. This scallop was cooked to perfection and delicious!!! Although I love scallops, I haven’t been brave enough to cook them myself. I find that there’s a fine line when cooking them. If you sear them too long, they’re chewy but if you don’t cook them enough they’re slimy. As for the octopus, it looked beautiful but I wasn’t a fan. Perhaps it too will grow on me ;).

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Second to last was pheasant with a potato puree and a baked apple stuffed with raisins. This dish was my second favourite. I had never had pheasant before and it was delicious. I highly recommend it for those who haven’t yet tried it. The veggies and potato puree were lovely but the stuffed apple offered a unique touch. It was sweet, almost like a dessert, and paired beautifully with the pheasant. Original and super tasty.

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Last, but not least, was dessert. By then, we were full and I forgot to take a picture. Yep, I’m totally regretting having not taken a picture but I’ve learned from my mistake 😉 and won’t forget next time we’re out. It was a baked apple served on top of a homemade cookie.

Overall, this evening was spectacular from start until finish. Le Baccara is definitely worth the 5 starts that it’s earned and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to celebrate an important milestone such as a birthday or anniversary. On top of all of this, they were very understanding of my gluten allergy and ensured that each of my dishes were GF. Merci Le Baccara!

For those who have been to Le Baccara, what did you think of this restaurant and what was your favourite dish?

That’s all for now! Hope you have a fabulous weekend.

Talk soon xo

Gluten Free Oatmeal and Raisin Muffins

Happy Friday!

Hope everyone had a great week and an even better Halloween! Just a note that this post is one of two up on the blog today. If you’re interested in knowing what my favorite facial products are, please check out my other post A review of my favourite facial products.

For those who don’t know, I’ve recently been diagnosed with a gluten intolerance and then, after running more tests, as either partially treated celiac or Crohns. Unfortunately, my GI doctor wasn’t able to diagnose it as one or the other but highly recommend that I start a gluten-free (GF) diet so I’ve decided to do so. I’ve only recently started going GF and let me tell ya, this is no easy task lol Well, not for me anyway.

I’m happy to report that I have been GF for a little over a week now. Although I’m struggling with not being able to enjoy my Costco size bread for breakfast or my Ace baguette with anything and everything that is spreadable 😉 I’ve found a few tasty GF breakfast options. One of them being a nice GF muffin recipe that I’m going to share with you below. Please note that I was inspired by a recipe I found on the blog Abbey’s Kitchen. I used her recipe for her Ultimate GF oatmeal muffins as inspiration and tweaked it a bit. Here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup lactose-free milk (we use 3% b/c that’s what our daughter drinks)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil or butter
  • 1 cup all purpose gluten free flour mix
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
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Oatmeal and raisin muffins

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin tin with 12 muffin papers.
  2. Slowly melt your coconut oil in the microwave. Once melted, let it cool down before using. Although I enjoy the taste of coconut oil,  I don’t always want to taste it in certain recipes. Next time, I will use butter.
  3. Using a mixer, mix your eggs, brown sugar, and lactose-free (or regular) milk. Once the ingredients are well-mixed, add in your cooled coconut oil.
  4. Then add your flour, oats, raisins, baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt to the wet ingredients. Mix until well blended.
  5. Pour batter into prepared muffin papers and bake in the oven for 22-25 minutes (depending on your oven).
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Oatmeal and raisin muffins

My son and I made these muffins and decided to only make 12 in case we didn’t like the recipe. I’m happy to report that the whole family enjoyed them so I regretted that we hadn’t made more. Also, Julien was working when we made these muffins so he had no idea they were GF. He ate two for breakfast the next day and was surprised to find out that they were. He had no clue.

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Oatmeal and raisin muffins

If you have any favourite GF recipes I would LOVE to hear about them so please do feel free to share them with me.  Finally, another shoutout to Abbey’s Kitchen for sharing her recipe for GF oatmeal muffins. I look forward to discovering more dishes on your blog.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Bon appétit!

 

 

 

Roasted carrots!

Hey all,

Now that fall is upon us, I’ve been trying to make more fall dishes. Here’s an easy and quick side dish that I made this week to go along with our beer butt chicken. I picked up these beautiful multi-coloured carrots from our local grocery store. Talk about an inexpensive side ;).

First, I peeled the carrots and cut off their tips. Then I cut them in half and lined them up for a nice picture lol

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I usually make our roasted carrots with maple syrup because, why not, but I decided to try something different. This time I tossed my peeled and cut carrots in a bowl with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh rosemary, garlic and salt and pepper. Warning: the aroma from simply tossing these few ingredients together is awesome!

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I then lined them up on my silpat lined baking sheet and roasted them in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. The end result was fabulous!

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These guys were so flavourful, even the kids enjoyed them. Ok, they may not have loved them 😉 but our son ate a few so that was a small parent win especially since getting him to eat a vegetable other than avocado, potatoes or soups with vegetables seems like an impossible task.

So, if you’re looking to try something new with your carrots why don’t you give this recipe a try and please let me know what you think. It’s quick, easy and super delicious.

What kinds of fall sides have you been making lately?

Talk soon,

Ash

With fall comes fall sides!!!

With Thanksgiving just around the corner I thought I’d share a couple of my favourite fall side recipes that we’ve made lately. They are quick, easy and super tasty.

The first recipe is sweet potato puree with maple syrup. I’m sure many of you have already made this recipe but for those who haven’t you should definitely try it out. Especially if you aren’t a fan of sweet potatoes. This recipe might change your mind about them.

I have to say that I’m bad with measurements. I kind of wing it when it comes to cooking but I will do my best to provide you with some direction. I made this sweet potatoe recipe tonight and our daughter loved them. Our son doesn’t seem to enjoy any veggies at this moment (I’m sure you parents out there with toddlers can understand ;)) but he tried them so I was happy about that.

So here’s the recipe for my Maple Syrup Sweet Potato Puree:

Peel and chop 1-2 sweet potatoes (tonight I used one big one). Add them to boiling water and cook until they are soft so for about 10-15 minutes. Once you can easily pierce a knife through the potatoes, strain them and mash with butter (1-2tbs depending on how many you’re making), approximately 1/3 cup of milk and 2 tbs of maple syrup because why not 🙂 Mash and add milk until you achieve the consistency that you like. Oh and don’t forget to add lots of pepper and some salt.

 

The second recipe I would like to share is maple syrup roasted Brussel sprouts. As you can tell, I have a thing for maple! We go through bottles of the stuff. It’s not only great for breakfasts foods but delicious in marinades and sides.

We recently picked up a beautiful bunch of Brussel sprouts from a local market. As a kid, I used to hate Brussel sprouts. My mom has always loved them and like other foods, these have grown on me and I really enjoy them now.

So here’s my “recipe” for the Maple Syrup Brussel sprouts:

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and wash the Brussel Sprouts and cut off the ends. Dry them off and toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. You want to use enough oil that they are coated but not drowning it in. Then toss with as much maple as you like 🙂 Drizzle a little at a time, toss and gage whether you have enough by looking at them. Again, you don’t want them to drown in the syrup. Once tossed, place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they are cooked and dig in!

Before

 

After

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What are some of your favourite fall recipes/dishes? I’d love to hear about them.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.

Bon appetit!

xo

Gluten or no gluten? That is the question!

Hey everyone,

Where has this week gone? I can’t believe that it’s already been a week since my last post. I’ve decided to focus this week’s post on a health-related topic that has been affecting me for over three years.Why are gluten intolerances/allergies so difficult to diagnose? For those of you who are reading this and are on a gluten-free diet by choice or because you’re celiac or have an intolerance, I would love to hear from you.

After our son was born, I started to have all these new symptoms. Stomach bloating, intense cramping, headaches and brain fog. All of which I of course associated with being a new mom. The stomach pain and bloating became so bad at one point that I decided to try gluten-free for several months. I can’t remember how long I was off but I do remember was that it was one difficult to do and two that I did feel better on this diet after a few months. What I found most difficult was inconveniencing our family and friends with my diet restrictions. I felt guilty especially since I hadn’t been diagnosed with anything. Months after going gluten-free, I became pregnant with our daughter and of course, I threw that diet out the window. It took everything in me not to throw up in the morning (too much info lol sorry ;)) and nothing satisfied me, during my first trimester, like toast with Cheeze Whiz. Yes, you read that right. Cheeze Whiz lol I NEVER eat that crap but I can tell ya I ate jars of it while I was pregnant with baby girl.

So, the gluten-free diet was thrown to the curb once I became pregnant. I did experience crazy bloating and stomach pains but I was so miserable that I didn’t care if the gluten was adding to it since I found it satisfying. Unfortunately though, six weeks after baby girl was born I woke up with the most unbearable pain that came in waves. I like to think that I have a high pain tolerance. I had two fast natural births and the stomach pain I was experiencing was comparable. I absolutely couldn’t bear it and had to call my mom in the middle of the night to drive baby girl and I to the emergency so that Julien could stay home with our son. The pain was so bad I that spent the night in the fetal position except for when I had to feed baby girl and when they ran their tests. The results came back that I had inflammation in my small bowel and elsewhere and that I should follow up with a GI doctor.

Months later, I asked my doctor to refer me to a GI doctor and I’m happy she did. Once he received my referral he scheduled a colonoscopy right away even before meeting me. Have you had a colonoscopy? Having one hadn’t even crossed my mind but I wasn’t worried about it. How bad could it be? They put you under and it’s a fast procedure lol I have to say that the actual procedure is easy. I remember them putting me out, waking up for a VERY brief moment saying that I was in pain and then I was out cold. Following the procedure, I had no pain BUT did I ever feel sick. The fasting process for the colonoscopy was INSANE. I had to start preparing for it three days in advance. This may not seem like a big deal for some but I found it brutal lol The third and second day prior to, I could only eat bland, white foods. I basically ate white rice and steamed veggies for two days YUCK and then I was on a fluids ONLY diet for the last day. This diet was by far the hardest part of the process. Following the colonoscopy, I spent the rest of the day in bed sick and didn’t feel like myself for at least two days afterward. Who knew!? For those of you who have had one, what was your experience like?

My colonoscopy results came in a couple of weeks later. They found the same inflammation and noted that the biopsies came back that I was gluten intolerant. As a result, they recommended that I have an endoscopy to rule out Celiac disease…. Seriously? I have to go under again!? Good news is that the endoscopy was super easy to prepare for and it didn’t make me feel unwell afterward.

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Luckily for me, the endoscopy results came in quickly and I was able to meet with my doctor two weeks after the procedure. It turns out that I may be partially Celia or have early Crohns. My doctor highly recommended that I start a gluten-free diet. He noted that it is very difficult to diagnose one or the other but that the results of the tests and biopsies suggest that it could be either. WHATTTTTT!!! This is so confusing. My hope was that I had nothing or that he would give me a concrete diagnosis but he couldn’t. He noted that he may be able to do so with time but in the meantime, I would greatly benefit from a gluten-free and low sugar diet. He also suggested that I take a digestive enzyme with each meal. For those of you who know me well and follow my blog and/or Instagram account regularly, you know that pizza is by far my favourite food. How will I manage going gluten-free?!

So here I am, a week later, still eating gluten and trying to figure out a game plan. After my last appointment with my doctor, I LITERALLY ate pizza that night and the two nights afterward. I ate so much pizza last week that I don’t feel like eating it tomorrow night (Friday night) which is unheard of lol

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This week was a very busy one for me, therefore, I wasn’t able to focus on educating myself about a gluten-free diet nor buy the right groceries but I think I will slowly start taking it out of my diet as of next week. I have to admit that I’m a bit nervous about this process but I’m hoping that I will be able to find some awesome recipes and good gluten-free bread. I love starting my day off with a good coffee and peanut butter toast so if anyone has any favourite gluten-free bread suggestions I’d love to hear about them. Finally, for those of you who are on a gluten-free diet or those who know of great gluten-free restaurants, resources and/or products I would LOVE to hear about them so please do leave a comment.

Wish me luck with the road ahead 😉 and big props to those out there (like my sister and friend Lauren) who are already living a gluten-free lifestyle.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Talk soon!

Ash

 

Dinner at Napolis

Super exciting!!! Last Saturday, my parents watched the kids overnight allowing Julien and I to go out for dinner with our friends AND sleep in Sunday morning. Sleeping in and not having to rush out of bed as soon as your eyes open is such a luxury nowadays. It’s like winning the lottery lol Since our daughter was born we’ve had three overnights to ourselves and I swear I am giddy about it each and every time. Of course, I miss the kids like crazy but it’s so nice being able to wake up, lay in bed for 45 mins, drink a hot coffee quietly and start the day slowly.

This time we were invited with friends to go to dinner at Napolis cafe in Stittsville. I hadn’t been in about six years and didn’t know what to expect but I knew that it would be good. Before leaving for the restaurant, we opened an awesome bottle of Graham Beck bubbly with our friends George and Chelsea, at our place, and enjoyed it out back in the sun. I know we didn’t have the greatest weather this summer but the weather this fall is exceptional! After finishing our bubbly, we left for the restaurant.

Once we entered Napolis, the Manager, Basil, welcomed us and brought us to our table for the evening. He set us up beautifully outdoors on his patio. We had a beautiful long table, with a firepit, and were surrounded by vines with grapes and tomatoes plants. As we walked towards our table, I noticed that he already had a bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne chilling. AMAZING. Once we sat down, he poured us a perfectly chilled glass of champagne. Enjoying that first glass was the BEST way to kick-start our evening. For those of you who have read all of my posts, you know that my favourite drinks are champagne and bubbly. There’s nothing better…Ok, I also enjoy a good rum and coke with LOTS of lime but we are getting off topic here lol 😉

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While drinking our first glass, our friends Nika and Quinton arrived and the six of us caught up over a variety of appetizers. We ordered their garlic and cheese bread, beef carpaccio, mussels and escargots. I eat pretty much everything except for yogurt, mussels and escargots so I, unfortunately, cannot provide you with comments on them (although the group seemed to love them) but the garlic bread and carpaccio were insane!

Following our appetizers we had our mains. Anyone that is looking to enjoy rich home cooked style Italian food you have to eat here. These dishes were incredible and the portions were huge. I ordered the Pollo Penne and OMG it was delicious!!! It was a pasta dish with chicken breast in a rosemary sauce with white wine, sundried tomatoes, spinach, and mushrooms.

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Some of the other meals ordered were veal parmesan, chicken parmesan, lamb, fettucini etc. Below are a few pictures of some of the dishes that we enjoyed.

Of course, our main courses were enjoyed with a couple bottles of fabulous red wine. The first was an Amarone and the second a Borolo from their cellars list of fabulous wines. #yum!!!

Overall, this was yet another successful night out spent with our fabulous friends over good food, champagne and wines. We enjoyed the entire evening outside and met the chef (who happened to be Basil’s brother) at the end of the night. Turns out the restaurant is a family affair and the owner’s daughters work there as well. The setting, food and drinks were all delicious and I have to say that this meal satisfied my craving for some good old rich Italian food. If you’re looking to satisfy a similar craving, I definitely recommend the food at Napolis. Finally, the owner, chef and staff were fabulous and made the evening exceptional so a big shoutout to them!

What’s your favourite Italian restaurant? Have you been to Napolis? If so, what are your favourite dishes?

Talk soon.

Ciao,

Ash