"Tablespoon" Trail Mix (and a @naturespathorganic #OnMyPath Giveaway!)

It’s horrible how long it’s taken me to get back to writing – I don’t have much of an excuse other than laziness and a sprained wrist, but rest assured I’ve been blog-hopping as I doze my evenings away after work!

I’ve never been a “great” breakfast eater, even now that I start my days at 5:30AM. I don’t really get hungry until close to noon, but will enjoy a handful of dry, cold cereal on my way to work, especially if it’s chunky, crunchy and just barely sweet. “Cereal with milk” was never a part of my growing up, and I truly can’t get my head around the texture no matter what my friends and family say. While the “standard” cold cereals remain drowned in dairy around here, I think I may have found a brand to convert the die-hards: Nature’s Path.

BreakkieThis isn’t the first time I’ve written about my love for this organic, largely gluten free cereal brand, and for good reason. Ever since Nature’s Path cereal and granola entered my shopping cart a few years ago, I was hooked on the hearty whole grains, fruit and nuts in products like Flax Plus Pumpkin Raisin Crunch, Crunchy Vanilla Sunrise, and Summer Berries Granola. On the more decadent side, almost the whole Love Crunch® line soon fell into rotation as a topping for applesauce and yogurt at breakfast, “fake baked” (AKA microwaved) apple halves as a mid-afternoon snack or ice cream for dessert. Recently, my oatmeal-loving self has discovered their Gluten Free, Organic Homestyle Instant Oatmeal, which comes in a handy (if somewhat hefty, at 40g vs 28g) pre-portioned pack and  (unlike many other brands) doesn’t cause my skin to flare up like a bad sunburn after eating it. Finally, the kid in my still loves the sweet, cinnamon-toast crunch of Envirokidz Cinnamon Jungle Munch® Cereal, especially when I mix it with the “grown up”, plain Whole O’s™ for my on-the-road “faux-fast”.

With the Rise Up And Shine II Plan Canada Dance Fitness Fundraiser coming up (featuring my new role as a “Kiddie Korner” supervisor!), I’ve been playing around with various ingredients in the pantry to come up with an easy, filling, kid-friendly snack mix to serve (and have the kids take home as a “loot bag”). Since I needed to keep nuts out of the equation, and wanted to keep remaining allergens to a minimum, using Nature’s Path cereal was an easy choice – as was swapping in roasted chickpeas and soybeans for the traditional nuts. A mix of delicious dried fruit added chewy contrast and just a touch of chocolate bumped up the kid-pleasing power. Best of all, the recipe for one serving (as written here) is so simple it easily scales as you need it, and since all you need is a tablespoon there are precious few things to dirty along the way!

Make sure to stay tuned – more delicious and decadent treats with Nature’s Path cereals and granola are coming down the pipeline!

“Tablespoon” Trail Mix
Makes 1 serving
1 tbsp dry-roasted, salted chickpeas
1 tbsp dry-roasted, salted soy nuts
1 tbsp diced dried mangoes
1 tbsp diced dried apples
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp dark chocolate covered raisins (I found these vegan ones at the health food store and used them)
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) dry cereal (I used a mix of Nature’s Path Whole O’s™ Cereal and Envirokidz Cinnamon Jungle Munch®)

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a plastic bag or bowl.
  2. Enjoy!

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 276.1
Total Fat: 5.4 g
Cholesterol: 1.3 mg
Sodium: 161.0 mg
Total Carbs: 52.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.3 g
Protein: 7.4 g

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Now for the real treat… not one, but two, Nature’s Path #OnMyPath Giveaways!

Now that I’ve waxed poetic on the subject of these cereals, it would be totally unfair to keep it all to myself. Luckily, the super-awesome team at Nature’s Path have furnished quite the prize package for readers of this blog:

One winner will receive^:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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But wait, there’s more!

There’s also a grand prize for one lucky person out there*+:  

  • ORGANIC GRANOLA FOR A YEAR
  • A copy of DIY Vegan, by Nicole Axworthy & Lisa Pitman – a book I’m coveting that includes more than 100 ways to create an awesome plant-based pantry!
  • A copy of Un-Junk Your Diet by Desiree Nielsen, R.D. – how to shop, cook and eat to feel better forever (I have this and it’s a great read)
Does that sound awesome or what?

To enter the Grand Prize Draw:

Getting back on a healthy path? Running your first marathon? Trying a plant-based diet? We want to know!  

Tell us what’s on your path for 2016 by posting on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using both hashtags: #OnMyPath and #GranolaForAYear. 

^ Prize will ship on or after March 1, 2016
+ Grand prize contest closes February 28, 2016
*This prize is open to all blogs participating and their audiences. There will be one grand prize total.

Nature’s Path provided me with free product, but did not solicit any opinions or promotion of their giveaway. They’re just good people!
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Candy Cane Foot Soak

I count myself lucky that I don’t have to hit the malls at Christmastime to shop for gifts. To be fair, I do contend with my fair share of shopping centre parking insanity (thanks to my gym being in the mall itself) but I’m not waiting in lines, bags and boxes in hand, anxiously watching the seconds left to wrap and tag my purchases slip away while crotchety so-and-so in front of me tried to price-match her blender (not that I’m speaking from experience, of course…).Instead, I can quietly slip in and out of a secondary entrance and save my energy for when I get home to the endless gift boxes I give as gifts in lieu of purchased trinkets.

Candy Cane Foot Soak

Whether we’re spending the holiday week (or so) trekking the markets for the latest toys or gadgets for those on your list, in the kitchen cooking up batches of cookies, tarts, muffins, freezer meals and cakes, or hitting the gym because we finally have a few moments to ourselves (what?) our poor feet definitely take a beating this time of year. Throw in the high heels from holiday and New Years parties, stray bits of Lego, beads and bells underfoot and the occasional runaway ornament, and our soles will be beyond done come January 2. While we can’t always prevent tired tootsies this season, luckily it’s beyond easy to whip up a big batch of this sweet, minty, relaxing and detoxifying Candy Cane Foot Soak and keep it in the bathroom cabinet for whenever the need arises. If you’re feeling particularly Saint Nick-like, pass along a jar to a shopping buddy. That way, you’ll be ready to hit the Boxing Day sales (or the Resolution Rush at the gym) and your toes will smell fabulous too!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Candy Cane Foot Soak
Makes ~6 cups
4 cups Epsom salt
1 cup coarse sea salt
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tbsp pure peppermint extract
leaves from 1 peppermint tea bag (I used Candy Cane Lane Green Tea)
1 tsp red food coloring

  1. Place half the salt, sugar and peppermint extract in one bowl, mixing well to disperse extract. Set aside.
  2. Place remaining salt, sugar, peppermint extract, peppermint tea leaves and food colouring in another bowl, mixing well to disperse colouring, extract and tea.
  3. Layer scoops of coloured and white salt mixture in jars and store in a cool, dry, dark place.

To use:

  • Add 2 tbsp to a foot bath or basin of warm water and soak your tired feet for 10-30 minutes. Dry well and moisturize.

Qi’a Superfood Snack Bar GIVEAWAY! @NaturesPathOrganic #OnMyPath

Need a healthy snack to tide you over until dinner after the BBQ fest of the weekend? Or perhaps, like me, you’re one of the early morning gym rats who needs an empty stomach to work out but afterwards find yourself ravenous… either way, finding a nutritious, long-lasting snack is key to avoiding the sugar crash and subsequent pantry raids or break room treats. The folks at Nature’s Path sent me a few boxes of their new gluten free, vegan Qi’a Superfood Snack Bars to try out, and not only am I hooked, but I’ve got some of the trainers and instructors at the gym falling for them too! Each bar is packed with plant-based protein, fibre & ALA Omegas – not to mention just the right amount of decadence – thanks to ingredients like chia, hemp, coconut, dark chocolate, blueberries, hazelnuts and cashews. Hop on over to my nutrition blog – A NEW-tritious Digest – to read more, then come on back to enter a killer giveaway!

There’s also a great Instagram campaign going on – Simply upload your own #OnMyPath photos and tag @NaturesPathOrganic… who knows? You might see your Qi’a moment regrammed!
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Ready for the gym! #onmypath @naturespathorganic

After reading all about the fabulous benefits of Nature’s Path Qi’a Superfood Snack Bars on A NEW-tritious Digest,  you’re probably hankering for that giveaway I mentioned too. Well, your wait is over! Here’s your opportunity to score an awesome prize pack valued at $100!

Winners will receive:

4 boxes of Qi’a Superfood Snack Bars
1 copy of Desiree Nielsen’s latest book,
Unjunk Your Diet

Contest closes Monday, August 10 2015 @ 11:59PM. Open to Canadian and US residents only. US or Canadian shipping address must be provided.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Note: I was provided a prize pack for the purposes of testing and review by Nature’s Path, but did not receive any monetary compensation. Opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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Yummly!

Well, I’ve finally joined the recipe indexing world by signing up with Yummly. Yummly is the foodie equivalent of Pinterest, indexing all the info about a recipe for you to find it later. You can search recipes by ingredient, diet, allergy, nutrition, price, cuisine, time, taste, course and source. Tell Yummly your tastes and they find delicious recipes for you. For instance, you can search through all the recipes by me on my publisher page (and bloggers – Yummly automatically creates a page for you once someone Yums your recipe), click a tag to see those types of goodies, even see the nutritional info for a recipe before seeing the whole website it’s featured on! If you’re one of the jet-set foodies always off on a new adventure, just grab one of their Mobile Apps and recipe browse on the go! The apps also let you turn the handy recipe box feature into “smart” shopping lists organized by the sections of the grocery store.

http://www.yummly.com

Sounds great, right? And did I mention – it’s FREE? Why not pop on to the site and see just how easy it is to get started on yummly.

Dinner and Dessert with @GayLeaFoodsCoop Coconut Whipped Cream #giveaway

Whenever the holidays rolled around at home, you could count on my mom, grandma or I baking up grandpa’s favourite pumpkin pie, to be served with lashings of just sweetened whipped cream. Now, I was not a pumpkin lover by any stretch of the imagination, so the more cream I could pile on the better (sorry mom).

As the years went by, I made my peace with the squash, but developed an allergy to dairy products – leaving me “whip-less” when all I really wanted was a tiny dollop on my coffee or hot cocoa. Thankfully, those sad days are long behind me, and dairy substitutes are getting better than ever – even our go-to “butter and sour cream guys” Gay Lea have come out with a fabulous brand new topping option for vegan, cholesterol-free, lactose-intolerant or otherwise milk-avoiding folk – Coconut Whipped Cream.

Gay Lea’s Coconut Whipped Cream is made from pure coconut cream, which makes it a delectably flavourful topping for fresh fruit, shortcake, bread pudding, pancakes, drinks and (of course) pumpkin pie! Not only is it a fantastic (and easy to use aerosol) topping for your sweet treats, but it’s even great in savoury recipes too – just check out the Island Coconut Sweet Potato Mash featured below! Dollops frozen on a baking sheet make to-die-for “sneak treats” that melt in your mouth better than any ice cream (tip: freeze “topper” sized dollops and add them to a mug of cocoa or coffee – it’s a heavenly burst of creaminess that cools the drink to the perfect temperature!). With all that creamy texture and decadent flavour, you would never believe that is healthier than regular whipped cream, being cholesterol free, low in sugar and only 13% fat.

Think you’d like to try this twist on conventional whip yourself? Well all my Canadian readers (sorry US), can enter TODAY through Friday, December 5th for a chance to win a Gay Lea dessert prize pack! You’ll get 4 gorgeous dessert plates, 4 dessert forks, 4 napkins, 4 napkin rings, a pie lifter, and two vouchers for Gay Lea Coconut Whipped Cream! The RaffleCopter widget is below the recipe – enjoy, and good luck!

Island Coconut Sweet Potato Mash
(adapted from Gay Lea)
Makes 4 (1/2 cup) servings
2 lbs sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp jalapeno powder (or chili powder)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 green onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 1/2 cups Gay Lea Real Coconut Whipped Cream

  1. Pierce sweet potatoes several times and microwave on HI for 10 to 12 minutes – until very soft. Cool just until easy to handle.
  2. Scrape potato flesh into a bowl, discarding skins, and mash with spices, salt, green onion, garlic and lime. 
  3. Fold in Gay Lea Real Coconut Whipped Cream until combined. Serve immediately.


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Ever – Variable Cooking Creme (and a cookbook #giveaway!)

My family is going through a “mock-rosé sauce” phase. It probably started due to an overabundance of homemade ricotta in the fridge, which my mom started adding to every pasta dish for a bit of variety and tang, but when the homemade stash ran out the cravings were still there. My mom, being the main cook and grocery shopper, started buying tubs of processed ricotta as a substitute, but she kept complaining that they were a) expensive for how fast they went through them, b) they disappeared too fast (my stepfamily would gob it on their toast in the morning) and c) the storebought didn’t have the same fresh tang as my standard recipe. Normally, I’d be more than happy to whip up a batch, but knowing that I probably wouldn’t have time this week (darn that schoolwork) I suggested something I had heard about online but not tried yet – Cooking Creme.

It sounded like the perfect option for our on-the-go family: a semi-pourable creamy cheese designed for cooking, and I assumed it was just that – super soft cheese. When I checked it out at the store, though, I was balked as much by the host of non-foodlike ingredients as by the price tag. Over $5 for a teeny container of mostly unpronounceable chemicals? Come on. Then I saw a recipe on Finding Joy in My Kitchen to make you own – two ingredients, purely customizable, and cheap compared to the manufactured version.

Ever - Variable Cooking Creme

I did have to make changes to that recipe, though. The original used chicken stock as the cooking medium, which to me seemed too salty (even using a low sodium version) and definitely lacked the tartness my mom was looking for in her dairy addition. I considered yoghurt, but nixed it when I realized it might curdle too quickly. Then it hit me – buttermilk. Naturally thick, tangy, and perfect for melting with the cream cheese, it’s also plain enough that the herbs and garlic I added could be tasted without any off flavours. A short time later I had a good-sized container of my concoction mixed up and chilling in the fridge, perfectly ready by the time dinner was in the works. A couple spoonfuls added to the pot of marinara sauce added the perfect amount of creaminess for a weeknight pasta supper, and the fact that it keeps so well has earned it a spot in our condiment rotation.

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Ever – Variable Cooking Creme
Makes about 1 1/4 cups, 8 (2 1/2 tbsp) servings
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese (I used an all natural, low-fat kind), cut into pieces and softened
1/2 cup buttermilk
pinch salt
up to 1 tbsp dried herbs and spices (optional, see Tips)

  1. Combine the ingredients in a small saucepot over medium-low heat. 
  2. Cook, stirring, until melted and smooth (you may need a touch more buttermilk for consistency, I found 1/2 cup was perfect). 
  3. Stir in flavourings, if desired. 
  4. This will keep in the fridge for as long as the buttermilk’s shelf life.

Flavour options: 
Italian: 1 tsp oregano + 1 tsp basil + ½ tsp garlic powder + ½ tsp parsley
Southwest: ½ tbsp taco seasoning + 2 sundried tomatoes, minced
Roasted Garlic: 6 cloves roasted garlic, pureed
Greek: ½ tbsp dried dill, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp lemon zest

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 70.2
Total Fat: 5.0 g
Cholesterol: 16.2 mg
Sodium: 117.6 mg
Total Carbs: 2.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 3.4 g

Now onto the GIVEAWAY! You know how much I love making my own condiments and sauces, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Homemade Condiments: Artisan Recipes Using Fresh, Natural Ingredients to review on Reading, Writing and Cooking. Now it’s your chance to turn your kitchen into a gourmet pantry! Enter below – open to US and Canadian readers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Exciting News!

Check your address bar: What Smells So Good? now has a new home –


Only took me 6 years, but I’m finally my own domain!
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Update Your Readers!

If you haven’t been following the happenings with Google products over the past few months, you may be unaware that Google Reader has gone the way of the dodo bird. Never fear! You can still follow What Smells So Good? on Bloglovin. Hope to see you there!

*Note – I am not switching blogging platforms, you’ll still be able to find my “live” posts right here on What Smells So Good?. RSS feeds from Blogger won’t be going anywhere, you just need to make sure your feed reader clients are active (i.e. Live Bookmarks in FireFox). Thanks to David for the heads up, check out his post for a LOT of useful info.

Update Your Readers!

If you haven’t been following the happenings with Google products over the past few months, you may be unaware that Google Reader has gone the way of the dodo bird. Never fear! You can still follow What Smells So Good? on Bloglovin. Hope to see you there!

*Note – I am not switching blogging platforms, you’ll still be able to find my “live” posts right here on What Smells So Good?. RSS feeds from Blogger won’t be going anywhere, you just need to make sure your feed reader clients are active (i.e. Live Bookmarks in FireFox). Thanks to David for the heads up, check out his post for a LOT of useful info.