Arugula Salad with Grilled Peaches and Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese


“Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.” -Tony Robbins

For a little more than a year I have been changing my life by adopting a healthier diet and exercising more. For years I barely exercised because of time commitments, work, children and any other excuse I could come up with. Then I started to see the negative results of my sedentary life; I was diagnosed with hypertension. With a family history of cardiac disease I decided that was my wake up call.

I started exercising regularly, eating less carbs and bad foods and exercising portion control. I took up cycling, skating, running, power walking and Zumba. I feel 10 years younger and I have more energy than I have had in years. I have a whole new wardrobe that is 2 sizes smaller and more stylish. My doctor tells me to keep up the good work and to wear a helmet when skating.

It has been an amazing year!

My concern is that this past month I have been slowly losing my focus. I can give you lots of excuses why this has happened like work commitments, school, computer problems, bad weather and just plain laziness. They all sound quite logical but the truth is I need to give myself a shake and get back on track.

From now on I plan to get out running more and have started power walking home again. My wonderful bicycle, Victoria, is going to get a workout while I push her along the trails in the hope of beating my own distance record from last season.

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” Lou Holtz 1937 – American football coach

As I get back on track I will be eating some healthy dinners like this Arugula Salad with Grilled Peaches and Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese. I found the recipe on and changed it up by grilling the peaches and changing the dressing. The flavour of the peaches is enhanced by the grill and the honey adds a subtle sweetness to the dressing that works very well with the goat cheese.

My friends say it is the best tasting salad that I have ever made.

Arugula Salad with Grilled Peaches and Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese

Makes 4 servings


1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 4-oz. log goat cheese
6 cups baby arugula
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
4 firm peaches, halved and pitted
3 tbsp. honey


Place pecans in a frying pan and toast slowly over med-low heat. Chop finely.

Spread out chopped pecans on a cutting board. Season with 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper. Roll goat cheese log in the pecans to coat. Refrigerate the log until firm, if necessary, then cut into ¼ inch slices.

Grill peach halves until slightly soft, about 1-2 minutes per side.

Place arugula in a medium bowl. Whisk oil, vinegar and 1 tbsp. honey in a small bowl. Add to the arugula and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper.

Serve arugula in individual salad plates. Top with grilled peaches and goat cheese rounds and drizzle each salad with 1 tsp. honey.

Recipe adapted from one on


A Little Taste of Paris and Warm Apple Quinoa Crepes

Elora Mill

Elora reflections

A few weeks ago we were in an area north of Toronto for a family wedding. On the way home that Sunday we decided that since we were already in the area, why not go exploring some of the places that we never get to see. One place that came to mind was Elora, Ontario.

Elora is a historic village  1 1/2 hours north-west of Toronto that is nestled along the Grand River. It is well-known for the Elora Gorge Park and Quarrie, The Elora Festival and The Elora Mill Country Inn and Restaurant.  The village has become home to numerous artisans and performers and is a favourite spot for a weekend getaway.

The Elora Mill, at the head of the Elora Gorge, was constructed in 1833. It is considered one of Ontario’s finest historic mills and was made famous in the 1930s by a painting by Canadian Group of Seven artist A.J. Casson. When the mill ceased operating in 1974 it was turned into a lovely country inn and fine dining establishment.

Our original intent was to have lunch at the Inn while looking out over the river, but unfortunately it was closed for renovations. Still hungry, we started to wander along the shops that back onto the Grand River on Mills St. and came upon a quaint little spot called Cafe Creperie.

After choosing a cozy window seat we were greeted by a charming French gentleman who inquired as to whether we had tried their crepes before. We said that we had not and he just smiled and told us we were in for treat. As we waited I glanced around the room at the warm, rustic decor and small intimate tables. There was a collection of photographic portraits on the walls that showcased Elora’s talented artistic community.

The menu offered a variety of sweet and savoury crepes with wonderful fillings like goat cheese, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, chicken, etc. I ended up choosing the Provencal and my friend ordered the Tuscan crepe. Minutes later we were served the most delightful lunch. Let me start by saying I am a crepe lover from way back and I have tasted crepes in Canada and France many times. The crepes that we had this day were the best I have ever had!

The batter was exactly the right consistency and each crepe was topped with a sprinkle of fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper. It was light and flavourful and so very French. It was a little taste of Paris in Elora, Ontario.

As it turns out; our charming server was actually the chef, Jacques Dion. His warm demeanor, delightful smile and culinary prowess are a treasure to find in this little village. The restaurant often hosts artists works and musical events and contributes regularly to other village events. It is worth the drive next time you are in the area.

Crepe chef Elora


Although I was not able to get the recipe from Jacques for his wonderful crepes, I was able to find this one from one of my favourite cookbooks. These Quinoa Crepes with Warm Apples are a healthy option served with a dollop of vanilla yogurt and are vegetarian and gluten-free.


Warm Apple Quinoa Crepes

Apple Topping

Makes 6 crepes


2 tbsp. (30 ml) non hydrogenated margarine

4 apples, peeled and thinly sliced

½ cup (125 ml) brown sugar, packed

½ tsp. (2 ml) ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. (1 ml) ground nutmeg

1 ½ cups (125 ml) low-fat vanilla yogurt

Fresh mint leaves for garnish


Prepare Quinoa Crepes (see recipe below).

Add the margarine to a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the apples and sauté for 2-3 minutes until they are translucent.

Add the brown sugar, stirring to coat the fruit, and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until the mixture starts to bubble.

Add the spices and continue to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the apple slices are tender but not mushy. (Recipe can be made in advance to this point. Cool, refrigerate and then reheat before serving.)

To serve, fold the crepes in quarters and place on a plate. Add a few tablespoons of the apple mixture and a dollop of yogurt on each. Sprinkle with cinnamon and add a sprig of mint to each plate.


Basic Quinoa Crepes

Makes 6 crepes


¾ cup (185 ml) quinoa flour

3 large eggs

¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil

1 cup (250 ml) organic vanilla soy beverage


In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the flour, eggs, oil and soy beverage for 10-15 seconds, until smooth and lump free. Refrigerate batter for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Lightly grease a small 7-8 inch crepe pan with canola oil. Spoon 3 tbsp. of the batter into the pan and rotate the pan around so that there is an even coating on the bottom of the pan.

Turn the crepe after 30 seconds. Crepe will be lightly browned and will be flexible for folding.

Place cooled crepes on a plate lined with parchment pepper to cool. They can either be used in crepe recipes or frozen for later use. Freeze in small amounts, placing a small piece of parchment paper between the crepes and wrapping them in clear plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 1 month.


Recipe from The Vegetarian’s Complete Quinoa Cookbook edited by Marilyn Smith, PHEc from the Ontario Home Economics Association.



Seared Tilapia with Orange Salsa


It’s that time of year when I start trying to shed any extra weight that I may have packed on during the winter even if it is just a few pounds. The heavy comfort foods that I craved in winter no longer seem appealing. I have started craving salads and fruit and light dinners again.

I am spending time shopping for spring clothes and getting excited about the warmer weather. I love to get outdoors in the evening when the sun is still out. We miss having the sunshine at night during the winter and when it does come back I try to make the most of it. That can mean walking 5km home from work or going for a bike ride or taking part in other sports activities. The thing is; I like to stay active.

This Seared Tilapia with Orange Salsa is a fast and easy recipe that makes a nice dinner for guests or family. The Orange Salsa can be spiced up by adding some chopped chilis but I prefer it to be milder.

Seared Tilapia with Orange Salsa

Makes 4 servings


4 medium seedless navel oranges
½ red onion, diced small
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. lime juice
Sea salt
4 5 oz. tilapia filets
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil


Using a sharp paring knife, cut off the ends of the oranges to expose a circle of flesh. Stand each orange on an end and slice off the rest of the peel, including the white pith, in strips following the curve of the orange. Working over a medium bowl, carefully cut on both sides of each orange segment to free of from the membranes. Then squeeze the membranes over the bowl to collect the juice. Cut the segments into 4 pieces and return to bowl.
Add the onion, cilantro, lime, and 1 tsp. salt and gently stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.

Pat the fish dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Cook fillets 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side.

Transfer to dinner plates and top with salsa using a slotted spoon and serve.

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine- issue no. 121

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting















I have mentioned things that make me smile throughout my posts but today I thought I would share a list of some of my favourites. These are some things or places that I enjoy. I hope you enjoy some of them too.

Listening to this

Wonderful cake props

A photographer whose work I admire

The pot that I cannot live without

Toronto’s best little pie shop

Another blog that I enjoy

Where to find the best market in Provence

A great reference book for cooking like a chef

A great family movie for a long weekend

Algonquin park

Algonquin Park

Wonderful carrot cake


Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 large ripe banana, mashed
½ cup low-fat yogurt
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups grated carrots
2/3 cup raisins
½ cup canned crushed pineapple, drained
2/3 cup icing sugar
1/3 cup light cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp. low-fat milk or water


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch Bundt pan with cooking oil.

For the cake, beat the oil and granulated sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating the mixture well (it may look curdled). Add the banana, carrots, raisins, pineapple and yogurt. Stir until everything is well combined.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a separate bowl, mixing well. Add to the carrot mixture and stir just until everything `is combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack and then invert the cake onto a serving plate.

For the icing, beat the cream cheese, icing sugar and milk in a bowl or food processor until smooth. Drizzle over cake.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

Make Ahead: Keep for up to 3 days well wrapped, or freeze for up to 2 weeks.
Serves 16


Recipe from The Complete Light Kitchen by Rose Reisman

Mango, Avocado and Chicken Salad

I have had the gift of mentorship in many areas of my life.

When I was young and just starting out in my career I had a boss who saw something in me that nobody else had seen. He saw that I was intelligent and that I could learn quickly and that I understood accounting, intuitively. He taught me everything about being a good accountant for the next 8 years and I attribute my career success to his teachings.

When I decided to become a photographer my brother, who is a great photographer, spent hours teaching me about lighting, cameras and composition. He took me on a workshop with Moose Petersen, Laurie Excell and Joe McNally to learn from the best. Any time I have a question about what to use or what might not be working as I want it to, I can call my brother and he will spend hours walking me through the hows and whys of photography. I attribute my success as a photographer to my brother.

When I decided to become healthier and more athletic I was blessed with another mentor. My dear friend is an experienced coach and accomplished athlete in his own right. Thankfully, he saw something in me that nobody else had ever seen. He spent this spring and summer coaching me to push myself beyond the limits that I only dreamed of. He taught me about cycling, about running, about training properly and about being a better person. He taught me that “if you can see it, you can get there”. I owe my ability to reach these milestones to his coaching, although I am still learning.

Each of these people had an impact on my life in a profound way and they all had something in common. They gave of themselves to teach and coach and they believed that I could learn. Their patience, time and selfless efforts have enabled me to learn about reaching higher, working harder and becoming a better person. For that I am eternally grateful and I continue to work on these areas of my life so I can grow.

My first impression of Gordon Ramsay was not as positive. I remember watching episodes of Hell’s Kitchen where he was screaming and swearing at the chefs in training. I thought that his manner was rough but his standards were high. Lately, I am seeing a different side to Gordon Ramsay and it is a more humane, caring side. He is a first class, Michelin starred chef and a world-class restauranteur but he also cares about teaching others.

This amazing salad is from his cookbook called Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite. The book is a compilation of healthy recipes that are as delicious as one would expect from such an amazing chef. I substituted roasted chicken breast for the smoked chicken as recommended in the book simply because I was unable to find smoked chicken in my neighbourhood.

Mango, Avocado and Chicken Salad

Makes 4 servings


2 medium, firm but ripe mangoes
2 ripe avocados
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
10 oz. cooked chicken breasts
1 cup mixed salad leaves
2 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted


2 tbsp. orange juice
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. whole grain mustard
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. avocado oil
Sea salt and black pepper


Peel the mangoes and cut the flesh away from the seed into thin slices. Arrange onto four serving plates.

Halve the avocados and remove the pit. Peel off the skin and slice the flesh into strips. Squeeze over a little lemon juice and then arrange over the mango slices.

Cut the chicken into thin slices and divide between the plates. Neatly pile the salad leaves in the middle.

For the dressing, whisk the ingredients together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the dressing over the salad, top with a handful of toasted pine nuts and serve.

Recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite.

Bocconcini, Quinoa and Oregano Salad for a healthy life

“When your life flashes before your eyes, make sure you’ve got plenty to watch.” Anonymous

Spring is about new awakenings. Trees and flowers wake up from a long winter’s rest to bloom and grow, filling the landscape with rich hues and fragrant aromas. Animals and birds begin to show themselves to the world after a period of hiding or a long migration north. People who have spent their winter indoors are now outside enjoying the warm weather. They have turned off their TV sets and have taken their exercise routines out of the gym and onto the playing fields and streets.

Each day of this spring has been an awakening for me. My new healthy lifestyle has contributed to a fresh outlook and renewed confidence, but it is more than that. I realize that I have been holding back from making things happen out of fear of failing. I have started to look at my life differently and feel more confident that I can shape my future to what I want it to be.

I understand that if I can see my goals, I can reach them. Instead of just saying what I want to do with the rest of my life, I am going to stop talking; I am going to put my words into action. My close friend, coach and mentor tells me that a plan for a successful, meaningful life is:

”Say It, Mean It, Do It”.

I plan to use this motto to guide me.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to sound like a motivational speaker and I don’t expect the road to my goals to be smooth or easy. It is bound to be full of bumps, falls and possible road blocks. I have already fallen off of the bike once and will likely fall again before I am good at this. I also understand that you cannot be successful without first getting uncomfortable. That is why I have been pushing myself out of my comfort zone in all aspects of my life, be it physical, emotional, creative or mental. I will report back on my progress when I have been on this journey a little longer and can provide evidence of the positive change that I am beginning to experience.

“Action is the foundational key to all success.” Pablo Picasso

This Bocconcini, Quinoa and Oregano Salad is a good source of protein and vitamins. It makes a nice main course for lunch or dinner or a tasty side dish with grilled fish or meat.  I am really enjoying the Quinoa 365 cookbook for its versatile and inspiring recipes.

Bocconcini, Quinoa  and Oregano Salad


¾ cup quinoa
1½ cups water
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup diced red onion
½ frozen baby green peas, thawed
1 cup diced red bell pepper
½ cup diced yellow bell pepper
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
Pinch salt
Pinch ground black pepper
1 cup mini bocconcini cheese pieces, halved


Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 4 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork. Set aside to completely cool.

Combine the zucchini, tomatoes, onion, peas and red and yellow pepper in a large bowl.

Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and thoroughly mix all the ingredients. Add the quinoa and boccocini and mix until evenly combined. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Recipe from Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming

Figs with Young Pecorino and Honey

My life seems to be going through a huge transition at the moment. I have been taking stock of what is important to me and have started a whole new routine of exercise and health eating. I am feeling wonderful and strong and content with the direction that my health is going.

A few months ago I was put on medication for high blood pressure. For the doctor to tell me this was a huge wake up call. I come from a family with a long history of heart disease. I have known all of my life that I needed to take care of my health but I always thought any symptoms would show up much later in life. Now I am faced with the reality that I needed to change my lifestyle.

Part of the new regime is a renewed interest in cycling. I have finally found my self the perfect bike at a used bike shop. I took her out on her inaugural ride on Victoria Day so my bike is now known as Victoria. She is a lovely blue Norco hybrid that came with only the basics, but rides like a dream.

I scoped out some important accessories for Victoria last weekend by picking up some lights for night riding and pannier bag and a lock. I also bought some sporty bike gloves for me to wear as I navigate the city trails in style. I rode 47km in total last weekend and plan to get in regular trips all summer.

I also own a blue car that I named after Grace Kelly because it is a classic, elegant sports car painted in a rich Monaco blue. I have not driven Grace much over the past few months but plan to find a bike rack for her so Grace and Victoria and I can go on adventures together. Perhaps a cycling day in Niagara wine country or exploring Prince Edward County is in order.

My healthy eating regime is often supplemented by a protein shake which I am advised will help rebuild muscles. I continue to try new recipes that are healthy and easy to make. I purchased two cookbooks by Yotam Ottelenghi called Plenty and Ottelenghi The Cookbook. Both of these gorgeous books feature recipes from this famous London-based restaurant that are both a delight to the eye as well as the palate. I plan to try out more of the recipes in the coming months.

Figs with Young Pecorino and Honey

Makes 4 servings as a starter


2 tbsp. good quality honey
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
8 ripe green or black figs
10 oz. young pecorino cheese or similar cheese
½ cup fresh arugula
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
Coarse sea salt and black pepper


Whisk together the honey and olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut the figs into quarters. Use your hands to tear the cheese into large chunks.

Arrange the arugula, basil, figs and pecorino in layers on serving plates or a large platter. Drizzle over the honey dressing as you go along, and finish with some freshly ground black pepper.

Recipe modified from Ottolenghi The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Roasted Potato Salad with Feta and Mint

As I mentioned earlier, I have taken up cycling again. I used to cycle quite often until my last bike rusted out and died. I had such a glorious ride on Saturday so I rushed out Sunday afternoon to hunt for a new bike. I decided to test drive a hybrid bike from my local cycle shop. While riding down a side road the tire got caught in a rut in the road. I went down face first onto the pavement and I ended up with a badly scratched face and 2 black eyes. Thankfully no cars were coming and I did not break any bones.

Thankfully, the bike was not even scratched. I promptly returned it to the store and came home to find an ice pack.

I have spent the last few days explaining my new look to my colleagues at work. It is interesting to see people’s reactions to this. Some immediately thought the worst and assumed that someone had hurt me. Some hardly noticed. I must say that I am more amused by their reactions than by my own.

Now I know you must be thinking that this will make me give up on cycling, but my stubborn Scottish blood won’t let me. Now it has become a challenge that I must take on. I cannot let this get the better of me. I was back out last night hunting for a new bike.  I plan to keep at it although next time I will definitely wear a helmet.

When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
– Author Unknown

In addition to cycling I am walking, doing a Zumba work out and eating well. I still feel good about my journey in spite of this setback. I plan to report back in a month or two to say that I have reached my personal goal.

During the summer, I like to eat salads and light meals for dinner. This is a quick and easy take on a traditional potato salad. It makes a great week night dinner when you are in a hurry but still want to eat healthy.

Roasted Potato Salad with Feta and Mint

Makes 2 servings

6 fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and halved
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
sea salt flakes
1 cup frozen peas blanched
1 cup fresh sugar snap peas, blanched
2 oz. feta cut into large slices
6 slices prosciutto
½ cup mint leaves

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the potato on a baking sheet and toss with a little olive oil and sea salt.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden and tender. Set aside to cool slightly. To make the dressing, combine the oil, vinegar and mustard.

To serve, toss the potato, peas and sugar snaps with half of the dressing. Divide the feta, prosciutto, potatoes, peas, sugar snaps and mint leaves between serving plates. Spoon over remaining dressing and serve.

Recipe adapted from Fresh, Fast, Simple by Donna Hay

Chocolate Quinoa Crepes with Bananas (Gluten-Free Goodness)

What a great weekend! As I continue on this journey of getting fit, I have decided to take up cycling again. I went out with a friend last evening and cycled along the Toronto Beaches bike trails. Just as we were riding back home the super moon was hanging over the lake reflecting rich, golden hues into the water. What an outstanding night!

I plan to continue with this fitness program all summer and will report back periodically on how well things are going. So far I am feeling more alive and happy than I have in years.

I will also try to add more recipes for healthy eating as I go.

I was skeptical when I tried this recipe for chocolate quinoa crepes. I am a crepe lover from way back. When in Paris, I love to order Crepes Chantilly as a treat and I love savoury crepes for dinner. So here I am making crepes with quinoa flour. This is a very different style of cooking for me. Well, the truth is, it was the chocolate that got my attention.

I have to admit that they turned out so well my daughters ate them up in mere minutes. The great thing is that my celiac friends can also enjoy this great gluten-free dessert with bananas or another fruit. They are a real treat for anyone who loves crepes.


Chocolate Quinoa Crepes with Bananas


1/3 cup quinoa flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp. white sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbsp. salted butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 bananas, sliced
whipped cream
chocolate shavings


Combine the quinoa flour, cocoa and white sugar in a medium bowl, mixing well. Whisk in the eggs, then the melted butter, mixing gently. Slowly add the milk, blending until smooth.

Lightly grease or spray a small frying pan with cooking oil and place over medium heat. When the pan is hot, pour about 3 tbsp. of the crepe batter into the pan spreading evenly to coat. Fry until the edges begin to turn golden brown and flip, cooking about 30 seconds per side. Set aside on a plate. Repeat until all of the crepes are done (you will have about 6-8 crepes).

In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, brown sugar and vanilla to make the filling. Spread about 3 tbsp. of the filling onto each crepe. Add some sliced bananas. Wrap the crepe gently by folding in each side. Garnish with additional slices of banana, a tablespoon of whipped cream and some chocolate shavings.

Serve immediately.

Recipe from Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming