Make your own Pho - it's easy, pho real!!

Pho, if you don't know, is a delicious Vietnamese noodle soup (also known as Tonkinese soup). I don't know if it's popular in every big city, but it's pretty huge here in Montreal.
It's served in wonderfully oversized bowls and topped with generous handfuls of fresh herbs and lime.  We lived off the stuff during our medical training - it is deeply satisfying.

And it turns out, really good Pho is actually really easy to make at home.
You'll need to buy some cinnamon sticks, star anise & fish sauce to make that authentic tasting complex flavoured broth. But it is so worth it!

Read on for the recipe...


On taking care of yourself, and the six-month wake-up call.

Noah hit the 6 month mark the other week. And that's HUGE for a mother. I did it! I survived the hardest part. Hooray, hoorah.
He can sit, he can eat, he can sleep, he can be entertained by his brother. It's great. Honestly, it's great.

and how cute, right?!

But, on the other hand, this 6 month mark came as a slap to the face.

I have no more excuses.

I've been on maternity leave for six whole months now. Six months!
I should probably be taking better care of myself by now.
I still spend most of the day in my pyjamas. Most days I shower, but not all.

And my body. Ugh! my poor, exhausted body - how I've neglected you. Two pregnancies and two deliveries later, things aren't the way they used to be.
It's funny how you can slim down to your pre-pregnancy clothes size, but nothing's the same at all. It's all loose skin and stretched out muscles. It's permanently hunched shoulders from midnight breastfeeding, and odd-looking gigantic arm muscles from carrying oversized babies all day long. It's skipped meals and too much late night snacking.
And why oh why can't I get my shit together and finally do some real exercise?!

And my brain. My poor, depreciated brain! I was a doctor once, right? Wasn't I?
I can't go back to work! Not like this. I don't remember anything!
And why oh why can't I get my shit together and finally pick up a medical journal from that mile-high dusty pile at my bedside?!

It's not like I don't have any free time.
I waste plenty of time zoned out on the computer. And I bake pies, for crying out loud! I definitely do not need to be baking pies. Or cakes, or cookies... ok I admit it, I'm a compulsive baking procrastinator.

But being a mother of two is insanely hard. And utterly exhausting. It is. It's true.
And it's the excuse I tell myself every day for not picking up that medical journal and for not exercising.

But the reality is that this is the life I chose for myself (I didn't exactly have two kids by accident). And so, this is the life I have to continue living.
And if I'm not taking care of myself now, when is that supposed to change?
I mean, it's not really going to get all that easier any time soon (maybe it gets easier when your kids are school-aged, but that's still years away. And then there will be new challenges, and new excuses).
I know deep down that I just need to get my priorities straight.

I'm not berating myself here. I've accomplished a lot in these past 6 months. I have a wonderfully chubby adorable baby to show for it, and a sharply intelligent, well-adjusted two-and-a-half year old. I still manage to cook great meals for my family on most days. I bake pies and fresh bread! I find time to play individually with both of my boys and to teach them all about this world and this life.
These are all very important things, and as a mother, I am proud of my accomplishments.

But I also know that there are other parts of me, parts of me that pre-dated motherhood. Parts that are being severely ignored. And it's time I started taking better care of myself, the individual, again.
Because if not now, then when?

So this is my 6-month wake up call.

I am halfway done my luxurious year-long maternity leave. This leaves me the next 6 months to whip my brain back into shape before I have to function as a doctor again. And it's high time I  got physically back in shape again too. I'm not talking about being skinny (because apparently you can be skinny and still be terribly out of shape). It's about being fit and leading an active lifestyle. Because being active every day is the single most important thing you can do for your health.
And while I realize this is thinking way in the future, but I have two incredibly beautiful boys now, and I want to be a witness to their evolving lives for as long as I possibly can!


My favourite way to eat leftover rice is for breakfast!

Being home alone all day with a baby does not make for the most inspiring cooking circumstances.

For one, cooking a meal for yourself takes significant motivation (because, let's face it, snacking directly from the fridge all day long is just so much easier!). And two, who has the time?!

But when I do take the time to prepare myself a decent meal (i.e., put something on an actual plate and eat it at the table like a respectable person), well I am always so happy that I did.

And this meal (the one I'm about to encourage you to try) is one of my favourites to make when I'm flying solo. Because it's simple, it's quick (like 3 minutes quick), and it's downright delicious.
All you really need is some leftover rice, which you press into the bottom of a frying pan until it sticks together and turns magnificently crispy, and an egg. Oh and sriracha! The Sriracha is essential. You could use any leftover grain really. I've done it with farro and quinoa too, and it was wonderful.

I'm not really sure what to call it, and I'm not quite sure if it should be classified as breakfast or lunch (probably brunch).... but let's call it Crispy rice pancake & eggs, and here's how you do it....

Crispy Rice Pancake & Eggs for One
  1. In a small frying pan, heat up a little olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Scoop a generous 1/2 cup leftover rice into the pan (pictured above is a blend of short grain brown & wild rice), and press it down and out into a thin even layer (using the back of a spoon or spatula). Keep gently pressing down all over (but don't stir it) for a few minutes until you hear it crackling and the bottom is turning golden.
  3. Gently crack one or two eggs on top, cover, and turn down the heat to med-low. Leave it like this until all the egg white has turned opaque. But don't overcook it, as you want to keep the yolk runny!
  4. Gently slide/push it onto a plate using a spatula (it should come off essentially intact - but don't try to lift it as it will likely fall apart). 
  5. Season with salt & pepper and Sriracha (or other hot sauce). If you have it, it tastes wonderful with fresh cilantro leaves and a tiny squeeze of fresh lime juice. Enjoy!


Recent Favourite things (family edition)....

Here's a little list of what we are currently loving these days, according to each member of the family...

Noah (6 months): So while Noah is still a bit young, he does have a few favourite things...
  • this teething necklace (even though he's not actively teething yet)
  • Eating sweet potato out of one of those mesh feeder bags
  • Being carried around in my new Didymos baby wrap (see below)
  • This Oball rattle is probably his favourite toy
  • watching his big brother run around and be his crazy self

Zachary (32 months):
  • Favourite books: Room on the Broom & The Snail and the Whale (anything Julia Donaldson writes is gold)
  • Homemade green smoothie pops (we use these adorable round mini pop molds). And going out for ice cream.
  • Riding his bike (with training wheels) around our basement, and riding his mini four-wheeler around our backyard. 
  • Doing anything his little brother is doing, like wanting to be worn in the baby carrier, wanting to sit in Noah's high chair, or to lie in his crib (Regression? We're definitely going through another phase of jealousy now that Noah is more interactive and playing with Zac's old baby toys). 
  • Barilla Plus pasta - I bought these accidentally the first time, and when I got home I was delighted to discover that these standard looking noodles are made from a blend of grain & legume flours (lentil, chickpea, oat & wheat) so they are high in protein and fibre. And they taste pretty close to regular pasta too. Zachary can't tell the difference anyway! I feel so much better about serving him pasta for dinner now! 

Adrien: So my wonderful husband is probably the most un-materialistic person I know. In fact, he hates "stuff"! But I did manage to think of a few of his current favourites...
  • Marrakesh Mint Tea - one sip of this delicious tea instantly transports us back to our time in Morocco... when we didn't have kids and life was so simple!
  • Apple Music -  we signed up for that 3 month free trial and we have been really enjoying it, especially Adrien. I love the curated playlists.
  • screen-printed T-shirts from this local Montreal artist
  • Charcoal grilling! We bought our fist ever barbecue this summer and Adrien has been channelling his inner Bobby Flay every weekend. He's becoming quite the grill-master.

  • My woven baby wrap is definitely my new favourite item. After I attended a baby-wearing workshop, I was sold on purchasing a beautiful & ethically made woven wrap. I still love my sakura bloom ring sling and my ergo carrier, but there is something magical about these woven wraps - I have no clue what it is - but I LOVE using it. 
  • Green Kitchen Travels Cookbook - I have been cooking from this cookbook all summer and it is so good!
  • High rise jeans + a slightly cropped top = my go-to summer outfit
  • Guilty pleasure: a handful of frozen milk chocolate Chippits straight from the freezer (why are they so much better frozen?!)
  • - this website offers FREE yoga classes for all levels (Also, that 7-minute workout app?!! I hate-love it!).

What are your recent favourites?


Healthy (Black Bean!) Chocolate Cake... Oh and it's gluten-free too

Healthy Chocolate Bean Cake

"This cake would be amazing even if I didn't know it was made out of beans", says my husband, after his second slice.

Meaning, it is truly delicious (and not just delicious for a "healthy dessert"). It tastes as decadent and as indulgent as any "normal" chocolate cake... only it isn't much of an indulgence at all. This cake is mainly made out of highly nutritious black beans - as odd as that sounds. The beans give the cake a wonderfully moist and fudge-y texture.

I was inspired to make this cake for my sweet-toothed toddler - as a way to sneak in some extra protein via the beans. I wasn't expecting to like it very much myself - but I LOVED it!
This cake is gluten-free too, as it contains no flour at all. It's sweetened with pure maple syrup and semi-sweet chocolate. And it's fantastic!

Healthy Chocolate Bean Cake

Read on for the recipe....


Backyard teepees & a recipe for campfire stick bannock

One of the definite perks of living in a northern native community is having lovely Cree neighbours who share their teepee with you. This is our third summer having a teepee in our backyard and we really, really love it!

The boys and I often hang out in there just to be outside and escape the horrendous black flies (for some unknown reason they don't come inside the teepee, even without a fire going).

But our favourite way to use the teepee is definitely for bannock hot-dog nights! 

We invite a bunch of friends over for a pot-luck teepee campfire. Our friends bring all the side salads and desserts, and we make the fresh bannock on sticks (and use them as buns for our roasted hot-dogs). We like to set up a table of all kinds of hot-dog toppings, like hot peppers, homemade quick-pickles, grated cheese, etc etc, and I love watching people build up crazy concoctions of toppings on their bannock-buns.

You don't need a teepee to make stick bannock, of course. You can do it on any old campfire. And you should! It's delicious!

So if you want to try it out, read on for the recipe.....

Raw Blueberry Pie & the world's best all-butter pie crust!

Raw blueberry pie recipe

The next time you come across perfectly plump fresh blueberries, do yourself the biggest favour in the world and buy 2 pints. And then go home and make this pie!
It's a game changer.
Especially when it's paired with this incredibly flaky pie crust.

fresh bluebrries for blueberry pie

What makes this pie so revolutionary, is that the berries aren't baked, which allows them to retain their integrity, their peak freshness and juiciness.

For those keeping score, this is not strictly a "raw" pie. The crust is baked. And a small fraction of the berries are cooked on the stove top to create a jam of sorts that holds the rest of the raw berries together.
It's unbelievably good. And I guarantee that you'll be making it over and over again once you try it.

Read on for the recipe...


Exile in Momsville & the light at the end of the tunnel

Life has been anything but normal the past few months. We are still very much in the fog of baby-induced sleep deprivation. And with Noah being 4.5 months old now, and still waking every 2 hours at night, well, that's a fairly big sleep debt we've accumulated.
It's pretty much impossible to feel normal under such circumstances.
But! Two nights ago, out of complete and utter desperation, we had an unplanned impromptu sleep training session (more on that below). And last night Noah had his best sleep ever! So things are starting to look up around here. And I am just praying to God that this is a turning point and not just a fluke one-night stand in Sleepsville.

Read more after the jump....


Quick and Easy Homemade Falafel

easy falafel recipe
To make traditional falafel, you need to soak chickpeas overnight and then grind them in a food processor, before mixing in your herbs and spices. This will make epically delicious falafel (so if you have the time, make these ones from Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook).... but it will also take up a lot of your time, and significant foresight.

And let's say you're a sleep-deprived mother of two, who can barely find time to shower, and suddenly you find yourself starving with 15 minutes to spare (shower or eat? Shower or eat?! That is always the question).... well you should whip up a batch of these super easy falafel and feed yourself already! They're delicious, and they feel kind of special.

They're made with chickpea flour, so there's no need to soak anything 12 hours in advance, and no need to break out the food processor. You should give them a try sometime.

easy falafel recipe

Read on for the recipe...


Healthier Florentine Cookies

healthy gluten-free almond cookies

I love florentine cookies. Because not only are they delicious, they're actually pretty healthy too... for a cookie, that is.  They're made almost entirely of almonds, plus a little egg white and sugar. That's it. No flour, no butter, no oil.

But I thought I'd try to make them even healthier by swapping out the sugar for less-refined pure maple syrup, and adding in various healthy seeds, like chia, sesame, pumpkin & flax.
It worked wonderfully. They make for a truly guilt-free snack. And they're high in protein, which makes them a great snack for kids too. My 2 year old loved them, so toddler-approved.

healthy gluten-free almond cookies

Read on for the recipe....

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