Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Turkeyed Out? Try These Recipes!

So. Much. TURKEY!

The Christmas shrapnel is put away, your guests have left, time to unwind *sigh*. Then it hits you: What am I going to do with ALL that leftover turkey!?!?!? And some of you are planning another one for New Year's!

Turkey soup or stew is a standard 'go to' and most families have their own recipes. But let's add a few healthy reminders to update Grandma's recipe:
- most soup bases use heavily salted broth so be sure to pick up the No Salt Added or Low Sodium options
- to add flavour remember that fresh parsley, rosemary, and thyme are great and VERY flavourful options instead of the salt
- choose lower fat or milk alternative options if making a cream soup

Googling recipes is a great and creative way to utilize your leftovers but when making your shopping list take the few extra moments to make healthier (low sodium, organic, fresh) options instead of buying items by rote.

To get your creative juices flowing here are a couple of turkey ideas and recipes to help you through the next few 'turkey overload' days:

1. Turkey Tortilla Bowls: Have shredded turkey over a small portion of brown rice with black beans, fresh pico de gallo/salsa fresca, guacamole and other fresh, healthy toppings. A little zing will make your bland turkey fun!
2. Turkey Wraps: Have shredded turkey in whole wheat or coconut wrap with great fillings like spinach, various veggies and a little balsamic vinegar as your topping.

There are a lot of great slow cooker recipes using chicken and turkey but to have recipes for left overs when the bird is already cooked? Have no fear- the Slow Cooker Queen is here for you!

Slow Cooker Turkey & Barley Soup

While most classic chicken or turkey soup recipes have a cream base or a noodle and veggie combo, I like this one as it has a great basil and tomato kick to it.

1 cup celery, finely diced                                           2 tbsp. dried onion
1 carrot, finely diced                                                 1 tbsp. No/Low Sodium tomato paste
1/2 cup pearl barley (NOT the quick cooking kind)   1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil                                                         1-2 cups shredded, cooked turkey
3 1/2 cups chicken broth *see our earlier Blog posts for a great home made recipe with your leftover bones or use Stock Exchange Chicken Bone Broth*           3/4 tsp. salt
3-4 Roma tomatoes, diced OR 14 oz. can No/Low Sodium diced tomatoes
1 tsp. fresh basil (dry works too)                              1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1. In small pot on stove top combine tomato paste, garlic, olive oil, basil, celery and carrots. Cook for approx. 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to slow cooker.

2. Add the onion, barley, turkey, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, salt, bay leaf and pepper in the slow cooker. Stir and cover.

3. Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours, until the barley is cooked through.

A healthy, 'not your regular' and flavourful turkey soup!

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Re-Introducing Your Slow Cooker

Staying on a Scheduled & Healthy Meal Plan During the Holidays

'Twas the week before Christmas
And all through the house,
Everyone was running around like crazy
Even the spouse!

It can seem almost impossible at this time of year to not only stay on a scheduled meal plan, but to have it healthy too?! Allow me to (re)introduce you to that wonderful kitchen appliance- your slow cooker!
As clinic "Slow Cooker Queen" we thought it was a great idea to share not only some quick, basic tips on this fantastic yet somehow underused & intimidating appliance, but also to pass along some healthy recipes that will save you time during this hectic period. A little pre-planning, sometimes as little as 7-10 minutes prep time in the morning or the night before and you & your family will stay on track and avoid grabbing food on the go!
So head down to the basement, dust off the box that has been sitting there since your bridal shower and pull our your newest friend- you'll thank me!

Slow Cooking 101

1. The Basics: Meat, vegetables/legumes, spices, some liquid: YUP, it is that easy!!! Whether making a stew, chili or a roast this basic recipe gets you through every time. Once you become a bit more comfortable you'll find this is literally what makes up any good meal.

2. Timing: Standard cooking times you'll see for recipes are 4 hours on high and 8 hours on low. These work great EXCEPT for white meat, especially boneless (i.e. chicken breasts, pork loin). I decrease the cooking time to 5 1/2-7 hours on low and 3-3 1/2 hours on high or else they get very dry.

3. Spice up your Life: Some recipes may look like they have a lot of spices but don't be afraid if you have a plainer palate. Don't forget that you are SLOW cooking for a long time so you need the flavour to be sustained.

4. Making Better Choices: A lot of recipes you'll see are the 'quick fix' for slow cookers i.e. using pre-made spice packets or "add a box of this, add a can of that" but beware: while this can give you the sense of scratch cooking don't be fooled, the sodium can be off the charts!  You can alter these and make them a healthier option: if you must add a can of something chose the 'no salt added/low salt' alternative and of course if you can grab organic all the better. 

5. Keeping the Flavour: If adding a large piece of meat such as a roast or large chops I find that searing all sides for 2-3 minutes each really helps to seal in the juices and keep it from drying out. Do this while prepping your vegetables and dinner prep can be as little as 10 minutes! For an added punch of flavour, any recipe that calls for onions, peppers etc... can be carmelized first before adding the slow cooker.

So there you have it. To get your feet wet I thought I'd start with that basic of basic slow cooker recipes. And what better way to welcome all of this snow? CHILI!

There are of course 1000s of ways to make chili so feel free to modify: remove the meat for a more vegan choice, add more beans or veggies of your choice, alter the spices etc...this is a great recipe for slow cooker newbies to play with and get more confidence. It also helps you start making better cooking from scratch or No Salt and Organic choices when at the grocery store instead of grabbing your regular items by rote.

Basic Slow Cooker Chili

1 lb ground turkey, chicken or extra lean ground beef                 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
5-6 freshly chopped roma tomatoes OR 28 oz. can No Salt Added/Organic chopped tomatoes*    
1 large onion, chopped                                                              1 tbsp. chili powder
1 green and red pepper, chopped                                              1 garlic clove, chopped
1-2 stalks of celery, chopped                                                    1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika                                                                        1 pureed roma tomato OR 1/2 cup                                                                                                               Low Sodium tomato puree*
14 oz.each kidney beans, black beans and/or chick peas, soaked overnight OR 14 oz. can of No Salt Added/Organic of each THOROUGHLY rinsed*

* you KNOW which one is the better choice ;)

- brown the meat and drain/rinse off any excess fat
- rinse the beans as directed if needed (or soak overnight the night prior)
- while meat is browning chop vegetables and add everything to slow cooker
- stir very well to make sure all ingredients including spices are well mixed; add meat and beans and stir again
- cook on LOW for approximately 5 hours
- serve with salad

SUPER EASY I promise! And the prep time is maybe 12-15 minutes on a slow day...12-15 minutes! Only! For your family to have a healthy, filling meal AND leftovers that is satisfying and so much better than food on the go. Plus the bonus: you get to sit down as a family and enjoy- isn't that what the season is all about?

Happy cooking and stay tuned for more healthy options from your slow cooker during the busy holiday season and upcoming cold winter months. 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Specialty Shops Gift Guide 


Uptown Waterloo 

We had so much fun doing our 12 Days of Local, Healthy Gift Guide, however, there are so many more than 12 amazing stores/products in Uptown Waterloo it was hard to choose! We tried to keep it to a 'general' gift theme, but we also didn't want to leave out some of the more 'specialized', local shops we have here in KW! So, this is our continued list of some of our favourite local specialty shops. This of course does not cover all the awesome shops we have in KW but hopefully it helps you (re)discover some of the great local places we are lucky to have here and if you are out and about, I am sure you will find even more than are listed! If you are still trying to figure out a gift for that hard to buy person on your list or if you still have those last minute gifts to buy- check out this list (and our 12 Days list) and get inspired to shop local this holiday season! (Oh, and if you didn't know King Street is open again!)

Channer's Men's Apparel & Shoes

At Channer’s, modern clothes, both business and casual, are their hallmark. Channer's has a great selection of men's must haves this holiday season from Saxx underwear, Stolen Riches dress and boot laces, beautiful cuff links, wallets and money clips, a wide array of watches and one of my favourite stocking stuffers: Robert Graham funky dress socks! Channer's is located in the heart of Uptown Waterloo, on King Street, Mark and the team will help you shop for that dapper man in your life! 

Store Hours
Monday- Wednesday 9:30am - 6pm
Thursday - Friday 9:30 am- 8pm
Saturday 9am - 5:30pm
Sunday 12pm -5pm


If cycling gear, bikes, apparel or products is what you are hunting for this holiday season you need to stop by Ciclowerks, on Regina Street behind Paul Punchers! This high end cycling boutique carries brands such as Cipollini, Argon 18, Pinarello and more. If a bicycle is a little big for under the tree no worries, you can get energy gels, fun printed jerseys, spare parts, gift cards or Chad's stocking stuffer Chamois Creme by Assos! Stop by, have an espresso while the bike junkie shops or get some great ideas from Paul and the team! 

Winter Hours
Monday - Closed 
Tuesday 12:00pm - 5pm
Wednesday 12:00pm - 6pm
Thursday - Friday 12:00pm - 7pm
Saturday 12:00 - 6pm
Sunday - Closed


If you have not visited Andie's uptown for the special ladies in your life, you must! They have beautiful, soft and cozy scarfs- which I have bought for many people already.  My staple bamboo undershirt tanks (which come in 3/4 length and long sleeves) and nearly 99 percent of my entire wardrobe. You cannot go wrong with something from Andie's! 

Store Hours 
Monday 10:00am - 5:00 pm
Tuesday- Friday 10:00am - 6:00 pm
Saturday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sunday - Closed

Alexandria's Shoes

Alexandria's is a unique stop for women's shoes and accessories in Uptown. Here you will find one of a kind and always changing stock of casual and evening footwear.  If you want to make a statement and still be comfortable and fashionable, you need to visit Alexandria's. Mary and team can help you find the perfect fit or special gift for that special lady in your life! Gift certificates are also available! 
Store Hours
Monday- Wednesday 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Thursday-Friday 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Saturday 10:00am - 6:00 pm
Sunday 12:00 pm - 5:00pm

Tadpole Children's Shoppe

Tadpole Children's Shoppe has been a favourite shop of mine since my kids were born! Carrying only high quality products you can find almost every baby necessity (and so much more) here. Their selection from brands like Aiden and Anais, Bugaboo, Diono, Maxi Cosi, Stokke, Plan Toys and more, is amazing. Nimira, the store owner is also extremely helpful and knowledgeable- just last week she was able to special order a Children's Bedroom set for my daughter's Plan Toys doll house that I could not find anywhere! This is definitely a store you will have no problem finding something for that little person!

Store Hours
Monday- Wednesday 10:00 am-6:00 pm
Thursday 10:00 am-8:00 pm
Friday 10:00 am-7:00 pm
Saturday10:00 am-6:00 pm
Sunday 12:00 pm-5:00 pm

Dana Shortt Gourmet and Gifts

This is a place that has literally so many beautiful things you will go in for one item and come out with a bag. They have an olive oil and balsamic tasting bar with over 40 different items. They have a seasonal selection that changes on the regular (right now their Christmas selection is unbelievable). They carry local chocolatiers like Ambrosia, Reid, Saxon and my personal favourite Rheo Thompson (I mean, come on, Mint Smoothies...). All of this can be arranged into a stunning gift basket (they also have a huge selection of pre arranged baskets). And if that all wasn't enough to want to stop by, Dana Shortt used to do catering and now still does a selection of fresh (made daily) and frozen foods from entrees to dessert to apps. (Also a great place to keep in mind when you are just DONE cooking after Christmas...haha). Check this place out- you will not be disappointed! 

Store Hours
Monday- Friday 10:00am - 7:00pm
Saturday 9:00am - 5:00pm
Sunday Closed

We hope you enjoy this list, but it's only a small selection of the amazing local stores we have here in KW, so be sure to get out there and enjoy a stroll up King Street! Happy local holiday shopping!

~The Coach House Team~

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

The holidays are here! This week for Wellness Wednesday we focus on some easy tips to help keep your diet and health on track while navigating all the holiday events and gatherings!

Tips for Indulging Sensibly:

  • Don't go to a party hungry- Cocktail parties and tonnes of apps are a common staple, but most apps won't be overly healthy and because they tend to be bite size, make it very hard to keep track of how much you are actually consuming. Eat a proper meal and have a few apps as a treat instead of going with the intention of making apps your dinner.
  • Don't stand next to the food table- This makes it way to easy to grab and eat mindlessly.
  • Use a plate and keep your proportions- Always use a plate. This allows you to keep track of the amount and what you are eating. Try to keep your plate to 2/3-3/4 filled with healthy, nutrient dense options (like veggies, meats, etc.) and save the rest of the space for indulgences.
  • Go easy on the dips- Dips are calorie pitfalls. Even seemingly healthy dips, like hummus, are not always the greatest choice. If it's a purchased hummus, it is usually made with unhealthy oils (like canola or soybean), high in sodium and contains preservatives. Even it if it homemade, hummus tends to be high in calories and high in starch with little protein so you don't want to over do it. Guacamole is similar- a great source of healthy fats, but also high in calories and can have extra sodium if store bought, so be mindful.
  • The Main Event- Similar rules apply when it comes to the main meal- try to keep your plate filled 2/3 to 3/4 filled with meat and veggies and save the rest of indulgences (like stuffing and cranberry sauce). Remember not all veggies are healthy options however. Green bean casserole made with cream soup is a common side dish but loaded with calories, unhealthy fats and sodium. Try sticking to roasted or steamed veggies if you have the option. Cranberry sauce is also pretty much just pure sugar so don't overdo it. However, by making your own you can at least control the amount of added sugar and type of sugar used. Homemade will also retain some of it's nutrients while the canned version is completely devoid. (Check out our recipes below).
Remember, it's fine to indulge once in a while, especially over the holidays but just because you indulge at an event one evening doesn't mean you need to continue that splurge into the next day. Stick to your normal, healthy diet the rest of the time and allow those splurges to be a treat in a healthy lifestyle.

Homemade Hummus Recipe

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas or 1 1/2 cups (250 grams) cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
1/4 cup (60 ml) well-stirred tahini
1 small garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) water
Dash ground paprika, for serving
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process for 30 seconds more. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini, making the hummus smooth and creamy. 
  1. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process another 30 seconds or until well blended. 
  1. Open, drain, and rinse the chickpeas. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, then add remaining chickpeas and process until thick and quite smooth; 1 to 2 minutes. 
  1. Most likely the hummus will be too thick or still have tiny bits of chickpea. To fix this, with the food processor turned on, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until you reach the perfect consistency.

For a delicious twist on the classic hummus check out this Sundried Tomato Basil Hummus.

Homemade Guacamole

2-3 ripe avocados
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 limes, juiced

Cilantro, finely chopped - to taste
1/2  small red onion or 3 sprigs of Green onions, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cut and remove avocados from peel. Place in bowl, mash avocados to desired consistency. Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and mix thoroughly. You can adjust the amounts to your taste. If you prefer a spicier guacamole, add a dash of cayenne pepper or 1 small jalapeno. 
Enjoy with corn tortillas or cut up vegetables such as cucumbers, celery or peppers.

Easy Roasted Green Beans

Green Beans
Cherry Tomatoes
(amounts can vary depending on preference and serving size desired)
Olive Oil

Remove ends of green beans and cut in half. Slice mushrooms and halve tomatoes. Toss everything in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and toss again. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast at 415F for about 15 minutes or until done. Stir half way through to help evenly roast.

Maple Cranberry Sauce

From Canadian Living
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries 
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken
pinch of ground cloves and pepper
In a saucepan, stir together cranberries, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves and pepper; bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 min.

On behalf of everyone here at the Coach House, we wish you and your families a wonderful and safe holiday season. We are so excited for the line up of Wellness Wednesday videos we have planned for you in 2017! 

Thank you so much for being part of our community! 

~The Coach House Team~

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Unique Hostess Gifts

'Tis the season for gatherings and social events, but what do you bring your gracious host? We have put together some unique gift ideas your host/hostess will love and are useful. Who knows these gifts might just be your ticket to another invitation next year ;) 

Homemade Jarred Goodies

Mason Jars are amazing. Easily dressed up and able to hold an assortment of goodies. Don't get me wrong a nice bottle of something, is a great staple when it comes to hostess gifts but a handmade/homemade hostess gift adds that little something extra. Here are some easy diy Mason Jar gift ideas:

  • Pickled Jalepeños: If you are attending a gathering and the host/hostess loves a little spice in their life, may I suggest some pickled jalapeños. Using the abundance of jalapeños I harvested this year, I decided to use a basic pickling recipe and save them for times like these or for a little spice on top of some homemade nachos. If you did not can any of your produce this year, you can find some homemade pickled goods at your local market or artisan show.  Simply wrap the pickled goods in a theme appropriate tea towel and tie with a bow. 

  • Homemade Vanilla Extract: This is actually incredibly easy and is BY FAR tastier than store bought vanilla. I made a simple vanilla cake for my daughter's birthday last year with RAVE reviews- when I said it was just a basic vanilla cake, the consensus was it must be the vanilla extract. I agree. Simple grab a few vanilla beans, open lengthwise, scrape out the bean pod and add the pod scrapings and pods to alcohol of choice (I used Smironoff vodka). Let the vanilla sit for 4-6 weeks before using. I just leave the pods in indefinitely as I use the vanilla which continues to extract vanilla into the alcohol. Yum! Cost Saving Tip- Vanilla beans are PRICEY, however, there are a lot of great online sellers who offer beans in bulk for a price that is much less per bean than the grocery store (Bulk Barn sells 2 beans for about $6, while online you can get 25 beans for about $35). Try Beanilla, Vanilla Food Company or World Class Vanilla Co. Also, for making vanilla extract, Grade B beans work fine!
  • Homemade Granola: This is a such a nice gift and super easy to mix up. Customize it with whatever additions you'd like- nuts, seeds, coconut, dried fruit, etc. I use one of two recipes from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, one which is grain based with oats (recipe here) or another which is grain free/paleo (recipe here).

  • Homemade Sauces: Mixing up some simple apple sauce, apple butter (sugar free recipe) or a cranberry sauce is another easy, quick, tasty hostess idea. Add to a mason jar with some ribbon or pretty fabric and you have a personalized quick hostess gift!

Hot Chocolate Gift 

When attending a winter party, there is nothing better than the gift of warmth and sweetness. This little hot chocolate package, chocolate spoon, (and optional mini baileys bottle) will help your host/hostess survive the holiday season! 

Coffee Cozy

Coffee, tea and hot chocolates are a great hostess gift staple. To make it extra personalized, add a homemade fabric coffee cozy. With some basic sewing skills you can whip up a cozy in no time at all. (Check out this easy tutorial). Make a few extra to keep on hand for a quick teacher gift or to add to a coffee gift card.

Amaryllis Bulb 

Give the gift of beauty to your host/hostess this year. An amaryllis bulb in a unique pot, which reflects your hostess' taste, is a lovely gift to receive this year. Each bulb will produce a 30- 60 cm tall stem with two or more funnel shaped flowers at the top. The flowers can come in multiple colours, such as deep red, red/white, pink/white, white etc, the flowers will be approximately 6 -10 cm in diameter. Simply have your pot, with holes for drainage on the bottom, fill it will moss and place the bulb in the centre, packing moss around it for stability. 
Tell the special recipient not to toss the bulb away once the flowers are done. Simply cut back and store in a dry dark place for next year. It may just come back to life next Christmas season! 

Holiday Stove-top Simmers
Fill your host/hostess' home with the smell of the holidays this year! This is an easy and chemical free scented gift to give to your host. Choose a bag/box to present your gift in such as a mesh bag, brown paper bag, box or anything you'd like. Next, you can dehydrate some oranges and cranberries, or any citrus or berries you like (or buy already dehydrated). Then add some spices. I chose anise stars, cloves, juniper berries, nutmeg nuts and cinnamon sticks. Finally add a twig of pine or cedar to the bag. You can customize a gift tag with the simple instructions to fill sauce pan with water and toss in contents of the bag. The colour combination is very appealing and the smell is heavenly.  

Paperwhite Bulbs

Another flowering beauty host/hostess gift! Fill a vase with some river rocks and place in the base of the bulbs. Paperwhites only need a little water for their roots to grow. The stems grow quite tall, approximately a foot in height with a cluster of white star like flowers at the top. The flowers bloom around Christmas and have a lovely, yet strong fragrance. Once the flowering is complete, the host/hostess can cut back the stem, remove the bulb from the water and store in a dark and dry place for the potential of next year the bulb coming back!  

Hopefully our list gives you a bit of inspiration this holiday season! 
~The Coach House Team~