Tag: veggies

Healthy Swellness: My Downsized Goals for 2021


I reached only one of the goals I’d set for 2020. And I’m totally fine with that. It was a year when doing anything took what felt like 100 times more effort so I’m really proud of having read 18 books when I set out to read a dozen. For the first few months I was ahead of my goal, and then when lockdown became stricter and I found it hard to concentrate on anything, I fell behind. But eventually I worked on cracking open a book more often and it was such a joy to reignite my love of reading, a pastime I’ve been passionate about since I was a kid but fell out of the routine for almost a decade.

My other goals? Well, I barely got started. I had planned to incorporate more cross-training into my routine, and aimed to do one workout a week that was not running. Instead, other than a few workouts before the pandemic (and a few virtual dance classes during lockdown), I focused solely on running (but at least I ran more than ever, completing the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee, and then ran and walked back across Tennessee). Running is what I know, what I can incorporate into my life without a ton of thought, it’s really just easier for me to wrap my head around even though I know in reality I can easily roll out my yoga mat and find a workout online for a yoga session, for one.

And my other goals to eat more veggies and learn how to use my camera? Well, my diet was all over the place last year (I craved comfort foods and nostalgic eats big time, plus I had a hard time finding time to cook so that impacted how I ate as well), and I simply didn’t have the energy to pick up my camera and take an online course.

And while I don’t set travel goals per se (although I did wish last year to go to Thailand and that came true in December, I’m convinced I manifested it!), because of the pandemic, my travel was downsized significantly last year. I went on a total of six trips; four by flight (Vail, Gimli, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and a cruise out of Miami) and two local road trips (to Prince Edward County and a camping trip just north of Toronto at Oastler Lake).

Anyhow, for this year, I just read this New York Times article about making 2021 goals small and gentle. And that really resonated with me. We don’t need to feel bad about not accomplishing a ton right now, living through this crazy time we are all just trying to survive. And they’ll be focused on setting a routine. I already started with including a few things to improve my mornings, and those small things bring a sense of relief in this harsh reality we are living in. Yes, the simple but delicious foamy latte I drink in the morning brings me so much more than just a delicious cup of coffee; there’s a sense of feeling able to take a deep breath and relax even for just a few minutes that comes with this ritual. I think I maybe especially appreciate it since my life has for so many years entirely lacked routine, what with juggling freelance and travel.

So my goals for 2021 will be small:

I will read 15 books—and will do so by reading at least 10 pages a day. I’m building on the one goal I achieved! I tend to go days without reading and then read a ton. But this year I will work on reading just a little each day as part of my routine. I’m thinking at bedtime (although I tend to fall asleep pretty darn quickly once I hit the sack!). I know I read more than 15 books last year, but I think that was largely because I read about four of them while on a cruise for a week. Above are some of the books on my shelf to read this year, plus I’ve got several on hold at the library.


I will make one meatless dish a week. I actually think I ate less veggies last year than ever. I tend to eat more of my veggies as part of my main, but there are loads of easy ways to enjoy vegetables as a side (sauteed green beans or roasted Brussels sprouts are so incredibly simple), so this will be something I can make a habit out of, and it’ll give me a push to look for delicious main dishes that make veggies and meat alternatives the star. Maybe I’ll finally try to make some dishes from this Ottolenghi cookbook; I’ve had it for years and yet have never cooked from it.


I will develop a gratitude habit. I like this idea of building off of the good habits you established last year as mentioned in this New York Times article. It also outlines why reflecting on the past year might seem like a bad idea but that it’s good for you (which I learned when I looked back at 2020). And the first suggestion in the article is to develop a gratitude habit. I have the Five Minute Journal, and haven’t been successful in writing in it daily since I’m often in a rush to get out the door in the morning, so instead as I make and enjoy my morning coffee, I will think of one thing I am thankful for, and take it one step further when it makes sense (say if I’m grateful for the delicious meal I’m picking up that day, then I’ll tip more than usual, for example, or I’ll text that friend I’m grateful for having in my life, both are ideas from that NYT article). This is all something I definitely did more of in 2020, but it was not part of an established routine. The one way I do express gratitude daily already? I do hug Billie Jean and Mya all the time and tell them I love them; I am grateful for them every damn day for the joy they bring me.

Have you set any goals or intentions for the year?

Leave a Comment January 3, 2021

Foodie Swellness: Food styling tips from Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers #SpringIntoFlavour


With sunny weather here, I’m looking forward to eating lots of fresh veggies grown locally and was excited when Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers reached out to me about a food styling session — featuring their delicious veggies, of course, to help me and you #SpringIntoFlavour!

Now, if you like me have never heard of OGVG, it’s a not-for-profit organization all tomato, pepper and cucumber growers in Ontario. So this includes the seedless cucumbers, tomatoes on the vine and red, yellow and orange peppers that I buy regularly and also mini and cocktail cucumbers, specialty peppers, beefsteak and specialty tomatoes. I especially loved to hear that the OGVG farmers are less than a day’s drive from the majority of markets they serve plus that it’s real farm families here in this province who own greenhouses that have been around for several generations.


I know I will have a whole new appreciation going forward for the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers I buy that are from OGVG. If you need a brief refresher on the health benefits and why you should include more OGVG veggies in your diet:

Tomatoes:Hello, lycopene! This antioxidant can reduce risk of some cancers and the effects of the sun’s UV rays. You’ll also get vitamins A, B6, magnesium and more.

Peppers: You probably think of citrus fruit when it comes to getting your vitamin C but peppers actually have 250 percent more C by weight. They, too, boast some of the same vitamins and minerals as tomatoes and also potassium.

Cucumbers: Hydrate your body with seedless cucumbers — they’re 90 percent water and also an excellent source of vitamin C, magnesium and silica.

Now as for how to style and take better photos of food? You have to start with great looking, unblemished veggies, of course. And a handful of the other tips from the session:


When featuring a recipe, style your photo with ingredients that have been used in the dish. Add in lifestyle elements to help create a mood or tell a story, too.

Blanch or undercook veggies to tender crisp; this little old best in photos.

Using a spray bottle filled with water and glycerin, spritz veggies so they look dewy and super fresh.

In a professional food shoot, they’ll use a stand-in plate as he shot is set up and only swap in the actual plate once they are ready to shoot (so that the best plate isn’t exposed to the lights, etc., until it is go time).

Ultimately, you’re trying to control how the food will look. So pie is amongst the hardest foods to style since it is hard to control how the crust will crumble, or how the fruit will ooze out, for example.

Use tools including inexpensive mirror card (or you can even use foil), black card, white card and even a cheap white shower to help you manipulate and create the lighting you want for your food photo.

If you’ve got a Toronto library card, you’ve got complimentary access the lots of free online photography courses on lynda.com. Yes. Free.

(I hope my friends are ready to hold up some foil the next time we go for dinner so I can get the best lighting for my shot! Just kidding…)

I hope these tips have been helpful to the foodies among you. The pics in this post are of the two dishes I styled while at this session, and I’ll be putting these tips and tricks to use going forward…but not to the point that I’m sacrificing taste or having a good time. I’m not shooting it for a client, after all, and ultimately it comes down to eating the delicious and nutritious tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers and enjoying a great meal with friends and family. I’m already thinking of and craving all of the simple dishes I can make using OGVG veggies such as Greek salad, bruschetta, fajitas, Pimm’s cup, stuffed peppers and more. Bon appetit!

For more about OGVG and to #springintoflavour, visit www.ogvg.com or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ONgreenhouseveg.com.

(This blog post was sponsored by Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers but the opinions are all my own.) 











Leave a Comment May 31, 2016

Foodie Swellness: Campfire couscous recipe

campfire couscous


In the summer, I tend to cook less often — I prefer to spend time out on a patio or at the park than in the kitchen. So simple dishes that are tasty and super quick to prepare are a must — and I’m adding this campfire couscous recipe to my rotation. I like the sweetness from the dried fruit, and the crunch from the peanuts (and remember, peanuts are healthy for you!) — and I’m always looking for carb recipes since I’m apparently always marathon training, haha.
(Oh, I added parsley to my dish, mostly because I wanted a bit more colour to the dish. I bet this recipe would taste just as good made with quinoa instead of couscous, too!)
Campfire Couscous
1 Tbs peanut oil
1 carrot, sliced
2 cups water
1 cup couscous
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ginger
Pinch cinnamon
Pinch cayenne
Pinch cloves
Pinch ground coriander (optional)
1/4 cup dried apricots or cranberries, slivered
1/4 peanuts, coarsely chopped
Heat peanut oil in pot over medium heat. Add carrot, cooking until just tender. Add water and bring to a boil. Add couscous and spices and stir.
Cover and remove from heat. Let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add in apricots or cranberries and peanuts.
For tips on how to switch up the dish a little, check out the recipe over on the Peanut Bureau of Canada site.
(sponsored post)

Leave a Comment August 25, 2014

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