All Posts By:

Elizabeth Nguyen

Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Chicken Avocado Bacon Salad

Chicken Avocado Bacon Salad

Hey everyone! So I’m just over a month postpartum with my second child and we are just starting to get into a routine. The past four weeks has just been filled with cuddles, feeding and just relaxing and recovering.

I am determined to start eating healthier. I was not healthy at all during this second pregnancy. I was too sick during the first trimester and too tired after that to exercise. And my diet was just atrocious – my intense craving for chocolate had me foraging all over my workplace for chocolate since I tried not to keep any in my office to tempt myself.

This is our last baby so I am anxious to start getting my ‘permanent’ body back. However, I am not going to rush the exercise as I need to fully recover from my C section for at least 6 weeks, and I just want to enjoy every lazy moment of cuddling on the couch and binge watching Netflix. (I have 15 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy to watch from the very beginning!) So, as a starting point, I’m going to start eating healthier. Keep in mind, this is not a diet – I need to eat healthy and I need to eat a lot because I am breastfeeding and breastfeeding burns up to an extra 500 calories a day. But I can cut out processed and junk food, sweets, and eat more fruits and vegetables.

Surprisingly, my husband is also onboard with eating healthier with me. He’s typically a meat and potatoes kind of guy, and he wants every meal to contain meat and starch. He is naturally athletic and fit though, and has a very physically demanding career, so he is always in shape despite eating and drinking whatever he wants. However, he has hit a plateau and wants to make some improvements in his fitness and he knows that a change in diet is the key.

So, although we will still have to make pasta dishes for our picky toddler, the two of us can start eating more salads. This chicken avocado bacon salad was my first attempt at making a meal-sized salad that is healthy and that would fill us up. The chicken, bacon and eggs provided loads of protein. Obviously, if you want it even healthier, you can eliminate the bacon or use turkey bacon instead. I would keep the bacon though – it really added amazing flavour when paired with the creamy avocado.

If you have extra time and want additional freshness, you can just dress the salad with equal parts freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. I just used store bought Italian dressing and it tasted amazing.

This was a huge hit with the husband so it looks like it’s on the weekly menu at least once a week!

Chicken Avocado Bacon Salad

Print Recipe
Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

  • 2 large cooked chicken breasts, chopped
  • 2 large avocados
  • 1 cup cooked corn (frozen, canned, or from a cob)
  • 5 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, quartered
  • 1/4 chives or green onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • one head of Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Dressing:
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • OR
  • Italian salad dressing

Instructions

1

Season and bake the chicken breasts, fry up the bacon, and boil the eggs.

2

Chop everything up and toss into a salad bowl.

3

Add dressing and enjoy!

Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I hope everyone had a good weekend! I had the most productive weekend – in addition to laundry and cleaning, I was able to test drive a couple of new recipes that I will be featuring on the blog this week.

First up is this recipe for banana chocolate chip muffins. I don’t know about you guys, but weekday mornings for me are a whirlwind of activity, especially if my husband is working too and I’m responsible for daycare drop off. On these days, I get up at 6AM to get ready for work. By the time I’m done, it’s about 6:45AM, and my toddler is stirring (she usually wakes up between 6:45AM-7AM). I head downstairs to get her breakfast ready (it’s just milk and an Eggo, because she gets a proper breakfast at daycare at 8:30AM), then I go upstairs to greet her, change her diaper and change her clothes. Then we head back downstairs and while she drinks her milk, eats her Eggo and watches Baby Shark on Youtube, I do her hair. Then, we rush out the door and into the van and off to daycare we go. I drop her off at daycare around 7:30AM, and then I rush off to work and try to make it there relatively on time. Every weekday morning at work, we have a daily 8:15AM meeting. And it’s usually AFTER that meeting that I’ll have to time to grab myself breakfast from my lunch bag (which is usually instant oatmeal and fruit, or a bagel with cream cheese).

Let me tell you, not having breakfast for more than two hours after waking up is not good for me. I get hangry and lightheaded, and I know it’s not good for the pregnancy. I wanted to make a relatively healthy muffin recipe, so that I can pack a couple in my lunch bag for these crazy weekday mornings. These muffins are easy to eat with one hand while driving to daycare or into work, so that I at least have something in my belly first thing in the morning!

Also, I had a few ripe bananas on my counter this weekend and two Paw Patrol vanilla yogourt cups that were about to expire in a couple days, so this recipe worked out perfectly in using up these ingredients! I hate hate hate food waste, so I’m glad I was able to salvage the bananas and yogourt without having to toss them in the trash!

There’s only one thing I would change in this recipe….I think next time I would add more chocolate chips. I had half of a little bag of chocolate chips left in my pantry and I tossed them all into the batter (just short of 1 cup). As you can see, the tops of some of my muffins look pretty bare. Next time, I’ll add another 1/2 cup maybe, and make sure I sprinkle some on the top of the batter in the muffin tins so that they turn out prettier.

Despite their anemic-lack-of-chocolate-chips look, they are absolutely delicious and I’ve already had two this Monday morning. Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Print Recipe
Serves: 12-15 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking power
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup yogourt (I used regular vanilla, but you can use plain regular yogourt, plain Greek, or vanilla Greek)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 almond extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (feel free to use more!)

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line regular-sized muffin tins with baking cups.

2

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.

3

In a larger bowl, cream together butter, white sugar and brown sugar. (I just used my hand mixer). Add mashed bananas, yogourt, eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract, and mix well.

4

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined. (I switched to using a spatula at this point). Stir in chocolate chips if desired.

5

Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup. I was able to make 15 muffins. Bake for 20 minutes until tops are lightly golden. Let cool in the muffin tins.

6

Enjoy them warm and store in an airtight container.

Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Broccoli and Cheddar Pasta

Broccoli and Cheddar pasta

Does anyone else have a super picky toddler? I swear, all my daughter wants to eat is scrambled eggs, toast with peanut butter and jam, pears, nectarines, yogourt and pasta. And not just any yogourt, but the Paw Patrol yogourt.  And not just any pasta – it has to be the tubed ones like rigatoni or penne. I try to sneak in veggies wherever I can – I scramble her eggs with chopped up spinach and I try to sneak in some veggies in her pasta dishes, but she usually just picks around them and just eats the pasta. Her daycare teacher tells me that she eats very well at daycare, but I find that hard to believe. Or maybe she enjoys eating with the other little kids, who knows. All I know is that dinnertime is such a hassle with her. My husband and I certainly don’t want to eat pasta every day, so what I end up doing is making a big pasta dish for her every other day, so that on the day that she’s eating leftovers, my  husband and I can actually eat something else for dinner!

This broccoli and cheddar pasta is her absolute favourite and she would eat it every day if I let her. When she sees me plating it up, she is grabbing at my leg, pointing, yelling “pasta, pasta!” , and can’t wait to sit down at the table to devour it. I don’t mind making this for her often because it is easy to make and takes only about 20-30 minutes. I sneak the broccoli in there but she just picks around it. I don’t mind though, because I like to eat all the broccoli out of it while she eats all the pasta. Win-win! I also like that you don’t have to cook your broccoli separately. I just cut it up into small florets, rinse them and leave them in the strainer. Then, when my pasta is done cooking, I drain my pasta through that same strainer. The boiling water from the cooked pasta will cook the broccoli just enough to turn them bright green but still retain some crunch.
Broccoli

I like to use Bothwell medium cheddar cheese for this recipe, but feel free to use marbled, mild or strong cheddar. I find that the medium adds just enough bite and flavour without being too bland or too overwhelming. I grate the cheese using the biggest holes on my grater – it just helps the cheese melt faster and more evenly. I use up the entire 170g block of cheese and you can often find these on sale at Safeway for about $4.99 for a small block.

Bothwell cheddar cheese

I highly recommend this recipe for picky eaters. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I’ll be making this again in the next few days so follow me on Instagram if you want to see the play by play on my Instagram stories!

Broccoli and Cheddar Pasta

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 20

Ingredients

  • Approx 500 grams of pasta (I buy the 454 gram boxes or packages of penne or rigatoni)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cup of half and half cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small head of broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • 170 grams of medium cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1

Chop your broccoli into small florets, rinse and leave in the strainer.

2

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook your pasta according to the package instructions; drain with the same strainer that the broccoli is in

3

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes.

4

Add in the flour and whisk for about 1 minute until lightly browned. Gradually whisk in milk, cream and Dijon mustard until it thickens, about 5 minutes. If you feel it is too thick, add in a little bit more milk. Season with salt and pepper.

5

Stir in pasta, broccoli and grated cheese until well combined, about 5 more minutes.

6

Enjoy!