Monthly Archives: December 2012

Butternut squash mac ‘n cheese – two very different recipes!

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I LOVE Macaroni and Cheese, honestly who doesn’t.. So when I heard there exists a recipe for Mac n Cheese with half the calories and the goodness of butternut squash I had to try it out! The first attempt at Butternut Mac and Cheese was okay… Sure in all appearances it was mac and cheese but in flavor it was squash. Also the recipe used a lot of nutritional yeast, 3 Tbs, and having not cooked with it before I was a little weirded out by the yeasty flavor.  I got the recipe off my favorite vegan blog and I’m posting it HERE just in case you would like to try it out. All in all it tasted very good. I liked the chunks of squash and I looked forward to my lunch when I brought it to work with me but it was not macaroni and cheese. I was still left with a craving for creamy cheesy noodles.

Two weeks later I ordered another butternut squash in my organic box and decided to try again. My boyfriend begged me to make the real stuff but I was determined to deliver a passable butternut squash mac and cheese. A girl at work had told me she had a recipe she liked which used milk, yogurt and cheese (1/2 the normal amount) definitely not vegan lol. A quick search on the internet and I found a recipe, which of course I tweaked since I can’t seem to ever leave a recipe alone. This one I’ll definitely be making again!

Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheese

Adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny:
  • 1/2 cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1/2 a onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 box (500g) uncooked elbow noodles
  • 1/2 a package soda crackers
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cook noodles according to package instructions. I used brown rice noodles and they turned out great.
  3. In a medium saucepan (or saute pan, if you’re lucky like me and finally have a full cookware set!) saute the butternut squash until tender, about 10 mins. Add the onion and garlic and saute for a few more mins until browned.
  4. Add bouillon cube, milk, yogurt and cottage cheese. Pour mixture into blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Mix sauce with the cooked noodles and half of the cheddar cheese, season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.  Spread into 13 x 9″ casserole dish and top with crumbled crackers and the other half of the cheese.
  6. Cook for 20-25 mins on top rack.

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Enjoy your healthy mac and cheese! We did!

Christmas time and my new job!

Merry Christmas Everyone!! Hope you had a fantastic holiday time. This year we went down to Calgary to visit with some friends and also went to Lake Louise for some snowboarding. We brought our furry family member with us for the trip and she got to spend some quality time with her kitty friends. For Christmas Eve I decided to make a gingerbread dinosaur themed nativity scene. All our dinosaurs ended up being amputees but luckily the royal icing I made for decorating turned out more like glue than icing so we were able to put them all back together. We finally finished decorating the tree too and since it took so long I’ve decided to leave it up for a while, at least till after New Years. I got spoiled for Christmas this year and got a set of Cuisinart knives and an 11 piece Cuisinart stainless steel cookware set! I immediately ran to my kitchen to throw out all my old pots and pans, well by throw out I mean some got downgraded to camping cookware, and the rest will go to the secondhand store in town, but it was still very exciting! I can’t wait to try them all out!

Snowboarding at Lake Louise, beautiful day!

Snowboarding at Lake Louise, beautiful day!

Our beautiful Christmas tree!
Our beautiful Christmas tree!
Gingerbread dinosaur tracks.

Gingerbread dinosaur tracks.

Dinosaur Christmas! So much yummy candy..

Dinosaur Christmas! So much yummy candy..

I’ve been neglecting my blog lately and having nearly a week of work for Christmas has given me the perfect opportunity to catch up. I’ve been loving my new job so far but it’s been hard to get into a routine which involves me getting everything done that I need to get done for the week instead of collapsing on the couch after work and trying not to fall asleep before 9 pm.. (Which will happen when working at 6 am). Granted most things that I need to get done I’ve made a lot harder for myself lately. Supper and packed lunches mean cooking whole meals from scratch, and making homemade granola bars and other tasty snacks. We don’t have a dishwasher so having to do all the dishes I messed up to make these meals takes quite a while. Also instead of buying an energy wasting clothes dryer we built a drying rack and put up some lines in the basement. Having to hang up every individual article of clothing adds so much more time to laundry time.. Not to mention having to always wait at least 24 hours before clothes are ready to be harvested (it feels a little like harvest time collecting all the clothes lol). I’ve almost been tempted to go out and buy a dryer, or dishwasher numerous times but then not only would I have to spend money on these appliances our energy bill would go up too so I guess it’s worth the extra effort. I need to get into a routine of making large freezer ready meals on my days off. That would save so much time during the week and reduce the number of pizza nights at our house lately.

Kitty cuddles, I love how close they all are to each other even though there is a whole couch available.

Kitty cuddles, I love how close they all are to each other even though there is a whole couch available.

But enough complaining! I’m really enjoying being back at work and for once working somewhere that I’m proud of and using my science degree. I got hired on as a QA Specialist for Champion Petfoods a little over a month ago. If you haven’t heard of them they make the dog and cat food brands Orijen and Acana. Pretty much the best cat/dog food on the planet (yeah I’m biased cause I work there). But really, I get to see exactly what goes in the food and trust me, it’s all good, nutritious food, even good enough for people to eat. As QA I run around the place making sure all the formulas are testing within nutritional standards before packaging, analyze all the ingredients in the lab for food safety, and get in everyone’s way as much as possible lol. It’s a pretty important job ensuring that the food we produce is safe especially since Canada has zero guidelines in place for food safety in pet food.. Which is pretty hard to believe and one of the reasons why we follow Canada’s guidelines for human food production instead of non-existent pet food ones. It’s been really good so far, lots to learn, and lots to do. I’d like to move into Research and Development within the company one day to get involved in that side of things but for now I’m happy where I am ensuring the quality of our food! If you haven’t heard of Orijen or Acana I’m urging you to check out their site or google “what’s really in your petfood” to see what kind of garbage food other brands make for your pet. If you have heard of them you probably know that it’s pretty pricey. Honestly I think my pet is worth the extra money and the food being a little on the expensive side allows for use of superior ingredients. Like anything, when you cut the cost you can guarantee you’re also cutting the quality and the integrity of it’s production.

Enough for now, I’m off to make some butternut mac and cheese for supper! I’ll post the recipe after and the results =)

Green Smoothies

Green Smoothie aka Energy Boost!

Green Smoothie aka Energy Boost!

So unfortunately I have a coffee addiction.. I got hooked in college, like most people, and to this day I feel dead, tired and unmotivated before my first coffee. Some days I’ll be running errands with my boyfriend and all of a sudden become incredibly irritable and I’ll realize I forgot to have my morning coffee.. It’s really sad actually. I can remember being in Australia and even while backpacking always having to buy instant coffee to make in the kitchen in order to start the day. I’ve tried to quit over the years but it just seems impossible to do.  I’d start the days miserable, moping around at work until I’d finally cave grab a cup of joe and be back to my cheerful self. I tried switching to tea, many different kinds, but I always find tea makes me feel a little nauseous, especially when drinking 2-3 cups at a time or on an empty stomach. Recently I’ve noticed that if I forget to have a coffee throughout the day I get bad headaches. At first I had no idea what was causing them and I’d keep drinking gallons of water or taking Tylenol because the last thing you want when you have a headache is coffee. Finally I gave up and having nothing left to try I made a pot, instant headache relief.

One thing that does work as a coffee substitution is a green monster smoothie. I discovered these when a friend mentioned she was drinking green smoothies at work for breakfast and lunch. She explained that they were great for getting enough veggies as you literally drink your veggies yet mixed with fruit they taste delicious! I instantly went searching for recipes and for about a month I had green monsters for breakfast. I slowly got out of making them everyday but with the new job starting next week I decided it was the perfect time to get back into the habit. I switch up the ingredients depending on what I have, but for the most part it’s an apple, spinach, kale, celery, banana, yogurt(or honey), almond milk and hemp hearts. This combo gives me so much energy in the morning I don’t even think about having a coffee, until the afternoon that is.

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This week’s green smoothie ingredients.

Green Smoothie

Adapted from Oh She Glows Green Monster recipe. (I love ohsheglows.com! One of the best sources for vegan recipes I’ve found on the web. Plus the author is also Canadian so even better!)

  • 1 apple, de-cored but not peeled
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1-2 kale leaves chopped
  • handful spinach
  • 1/2 cup berry yogurt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 Tbs hemp hearts
  • 3-4 ice cubes
Throw everything in the blender (magic bullet) and blend away. Makes one large vitamin packed smoothie! Once you get over the initial skepticism of a vegetable smoothie it’s fun to experiment with all kinds of different veggies. I like to switch it up and have avocado smoothies one day, cucumber/celery the next and try out lots of different fruit-veggies combos. If they ever taste a little too “green” I’ll just throw in a Tbs of honey to sweeten things up. Lately I’ve been making them with chia seeds too!