Strawberry Jam

Is there anything more delicious than jam? Ok, probably. But still, jam is so delicious! I have a particular preference for strawberry jam, but the amount of sugar found in most store-bought brands is such a turnoff. I’ve been searching for a sugar-free version for what feels like forever. With no such luck, I decided to experiment and create my own. The results are delectable!

Raw strawberry jam

It’s strawberry season right now, the perfect time to pick up fresh, sweet strawberries and make this super simple recipes. Although you could use frozen strawberries that have been thawed, I strongly recommend to use fresh strawberries. There’s nothing like fresh ingredients to bring out the best flavours. The great thing is that this recipes requires only a few ingredients (most of which you probably already have on hand), and no more than 5 minutes to prepare.

Raw strawberry jam

Raw strawberry jam

Raw Strawberry Jam
Makes 1 cup

1 cup of fresh strawberries
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp chia seeds
Squeeze of half a lemon
Maple syrup to taste (or agave syrup if you prefer)

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Wash strawberries and throw them in a small food processor or blender. Give them a whirl until you reach the desired consistency.

Next, add the water, chia seeds, lemon juice and maple syrup to taste. My strawberries were so sweet that I only had to add about a teaspoon or two.

Transfer to a jar, seal it up and set in the fridge for a few hours to give the chia seed time to set.

Enjoy on toast or on top of your Greek yogurt.

Bon appétit!

[All photos are my own and not to be used without permission]

Shades of summer

One of the things I love most about summer is all the colours that emerge. Bright, joyful hues pop up in everything from what we wear to what we drink. When it comes to makeup, I’m a very simple girl. I like to play around with different shades and shadows, but I love to play up my features in a natural way… except when it comes to my lips.

Shades of summer

I love the impact of a bright lip. Since the beginning of the summer, I’ve found myself reaching for one of the same five lip shades (truth is, you can most likely find all of them in my purse on any given day).

NARS Lip gloss in Sixties FanNARS Lip gloss in Sixties Fan swatch

NARS Lip Gloss in Sixties Fan
Don’t let the dark colour fool you. This gloss is a beautiful shade of pomegranate. It goes on sheer to give you a bright pout that’s perfect for day or night. And if you aren’t familiar with NARS lip glosses, you have no idea what you are missing. These glosses are amazing (and my ultimate faves). They are moisturizing (but non sticky) with gorgeous shine and pleasant, light scent. I can’t recommend these glosses enough.

NARS Lip Gloss in OrgasmNARS Lip Gloss in Orgasm

NARS Lip Gloss in Orgasm
One of the most popular blushes on the planet has now become a gloss. NARS Orgasm Lip Gloss is a peachy pink gloss with a hint of shimmer. It’s the perfect shade to complete that bronzy glow look that we love so much for summer.

MAC Lipstick ImpassionedMAC Lipstick Impassioned

MAC Lipstick in Impassioned
This is one of the brightest shades that I own, and one of the most beautiful. It’s a neon pink-red with a hint of coral. It’s a cream texture which gives it an opaque finish that glides on evenly and feels moisturizing. I love this shade so much. It just adds so much life to even the simplest outfits.

REVLON ColorBurst Lipstick in FushiaREVLON ColorBurst Lipstick in Fushia

Revlon ColorBurst Lipstick in Fushia
For days when I’m feeling more… pink, I reach for this vibrant fushia shade. Words can’t describe how gorgeous this shade is. The formula is rich and moisturizing and lasts for so long. No joke, I’ve only had to reapply twice during the day, usually after meals.

Clarins Clementine Rouge Prodige LipstickClarins Clementine Rouge Prodige Lipstick

Clarins Clementine Rouge Prodige Lipstick
This lipstick is a newbie in my collection. I’ve never been drawn to orange shades before, but there was something about this one that I just fell in love with. It’s a vibrant orange with a tinge of gold shimmer. It’s long-wearing, but extremely moisturizing. In fact, it leaves a slight gloss finish (which I love). It also has a slight scent that’s not overpowering, but rather quite pleasant!

What’s your favourite summer lip shade?

[All photos are my own and not to be used without permission]

BIG NEWS!

I am so happy to announce that I am now a regular contributor for Kitchen Daily Canada!

Kitchen Daily Canada

Kitchen Daily Canada features delicious culinary inspirations as well as expert tips and useful tools to make your meals that much more delectable. Much of the content comes from Canadian bloggers (such as myself), but also from an amazing menu of star chefs, including Cat Cora, Wolfgang Puck, Jessica Seinfeld and Curtis Stone (talk about being in great company)!

Kitchen Daily Canada

Kitchen Daily Canada

I am so excited to be part of this amazing team. I invite all of you to peruse Kitchen Daily Canada and discover a new favourite recipe, get inspired by unique dish and learn a trick or two to impress at your next get together. Not sure where to start? Here are a few of my favourite posts.

I’m dying to try this Homemade Maple Cinnamon Granola

20 healthy foods that are actually unhealthy (some of these surprised me!)

11 grilling secrets from Curtis Stone

The perfect summer lunch, a refreshing cucumber melon salad

A unique twist on your usual pesto, garlic scapes pesto

Learn the secrets to making the perfect cocktail

Discover 10 perfect pairings for cheese you’ll love

Looking forward to trying these vanilla strawberry pancakes this weekend

10 perfect recipes from Curtis Stone

Enjoy!

Meet My New Favourite Mascara

I never understood why people spent so much money on mascara. Although I believe in investing in your skin care and understand the difference when it comes to the quality of makeup, when it comes to mascara I always relied on my favourite drugstore brand to do the trick… until now!

Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara

Introducing Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara. Before I get into the nitty gritty, can we just take a moment to appreciate this beautiful packaging? It’s stunning. So sleek and simple, but so elegant. Can you tell that I’m a sucker for packaging? Ok, now let’s get down to business.

What is it?
A double-volumizing and lengthening mascara that delivers intense colour and 12-hour non-stop waterproof hold. Just what you need for summer. The formula protects lashes against moisture (think humidity and water), while protecting your lashes from the harsh effects of seawater, pool water and the sun.

Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara Brush

The brush is fairly simple in shape and size. But don’t let it fool you. It grabs each and every lash to evenly distribute the product with ZERO clumps. With other mascaras, once I’ve pulled the brush from the tube, I’ve had to wipe off the excess product before applying to avoid the dreaded spider lashes. But not with this mascara. The formula is evenly applied, defining each and every lash perfectly. The result is not only longer, more voluminous lashes, it’s longer, more voluminous lashes that still look natural no matter how many coats I apply.

Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara Brush Close-up

The verdict
I am absolutely in love with this product! It has become my FAVOURITE mascara. The colour is super intense and it just makes my eyes sparkle. I’ve had issues with other mascaras smudging under my eyes throughout the day, casting that less-than-flattering shadow under my eyes (think about the girl in the bad lighting in Seinfeld), but not with this one. It stays perfectly in place (seriously, I’ve worn it swimming) and comes clean off with waterproof makeup remover. Like what you’re reading? Then seriously get this mascara and get ready to fall in love!

The Truly Waterproof Mascara by Clarins is available in two shades, Intense Black and Curaçao, and is offered at the suggested retail price of $27 CAD.

Disclaimer: Although this product was provided to me for review by the brand, the opinions expressed are solely my own.

[All images are my own and not to be used without permission]

Spicy Salmon Soba Bowl

Spicy Salmon Soba Bowl

These days I’ve been a little stumped on what to make for dinner. Late nights at work over the past little while has made dinnertime almost non-existent. So when the day arrives that I’m home at a reasonable hour, I can’t seem to figure out what my go-to dishes were. Today I was inspired by my friend and colleague Alison. She has a wonderful blog called The Rooted Kitchen where she shares her delicious recipes made from real, whole foods. Today she popped in to work and told me about the Buddha Bowl she made for dinner last. What’s in it? Roasted vegetables, quinoa and tofu combined with a delicious tahini dressing. She told me that she simply improvised with what she had around her and a healthy dish came out of it. Seemed simple enough! So I decided to put that idea into practice. I looked in my fridge and found salmon, broccoli and soba noodles. The spicy salmon soba bowl was born!

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Spicy Salmon Soba Bowl

Spicy Salmon Soba Bowl
Serves 2

1/2 lb salmon filet, skin removed
Juice and zest of half a lime
1 1/2 tsp sriracha sauce
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
Good sprinkle of coarse sea salt
1 lb broccoli, cut into florets
1-2 tbsp grapeseed oil
A good pinch of red chili flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
Half a lemon
150 g green tea soba noodles (or soba noodles of your choice)
1 green onion, finely chopped
Cilantro, chopped
Sesame seeds

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Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a glass dish with parchment paper and set aside. 

In a small bowl, whisk lime juice, lime zest, sriracha sauce, maple syrup and salt. Place the salmon filet in the glass dish and drizzle the spicy lime sauce over the fish, reserving a little for later. Bake for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and dry your broccoli. Make sure the broccoli is very dry, this will give you the best results. Heat grapeseed oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the broccoli, red chili flakes and sea salt, and place the half lemon cut-side down in the pan. Leave it for 2 minutes. Resist the urge to shake it up, you want to wait until there’s a good char on there. After 2 minutes, flip the pieces over to char the other sides, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Once the broccoli is evenly cooked, remove from heat and squeeze the blackened lemon over the broccoli. Set aside.

Bring water to a boil and cook the soba noodles according to package instructions. Once cooked, rinse under water and divide the noodles into two bowls. Flakes the salmon and place over the noodles, drizzling the remainder of the spicy lime sauce on top. Add a few pieces of broccoli and top with cilantro, green onions and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Spicy Salmon Soba Bowl

Bon appétit!

[All photos are my own and not to be used without permission]

Be Happier Now

Are you happy? I mean… really happy?

I’ve always thought of myself as a happy person. But I still experience those moments every once in a while when feeling happy is really difficult. While it’s a natural reaction to get upset when life serves you the shit end of the stick, I’ve learned  a few lessons (that I continue to remind myself on a regular basis) that have made me a happier person.

1. Be grateful. Wake up in the morning and be thankful. Each day is gift. You have the power to create change and affect the world. So make the most of each day.

Happiness 1

2. Be mindful. We are so preoccupied in thinking about what will happen an hour, a week or a month from now that we forget to experience what is happening right now. What do you hear? What do you smell? How do you feel right now in this moment? Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, take a moment to live the experience. This moment will never happen again, so make the most of it.

3. Accept things as they are. There are some things that you can’t change. So there is no point in dwelling on them. The only thing you’ll accomplish is projecting negativity into the world, and we don’t need any more of that. Accept the things you cannot change and for everything else…

Happiness 3

4. Look for the solution, not the problem. Something pissed you off? Take a moment to feel what you need to feel, then move on and find a solution (and there’s always a solution).

5. Don’t hold grudges. Whatever is it, let it go. Holding on to the past will bring you down. Learn to forgive and feel the weight lift from your spirit.

Happiness 5

6. Smile. Being angry and unhappy is much easier than being happy. Plus, your negative feelings spread to your entourage and affect everyone around you. Next time you feel yourself feeling negative thoughts, immediately switch to a happy thought or memory and let yourself smile. Then watch it spread!

7. Work it out. We’ve all heard that exercise helps to release endorphins which leads to feelings of happiness. It’s true! It’s the reason why I begin each and every day with a run or workout. There’s something about starting the day with physical activity that makes everything else fall into place.

Happiness 7

8. Meditate. Just 15 minutes a day is all you need to rewire your mind and create a sense of calm. I’ve found that the days I’ve meditated in the morning made me less sensitive to the negativity projected by others around me. It created a feeling of zen that is unlike any other feeling.

9. Stop criticizing. After everything you’ve accomplished, all the goals you achieved and all the things you own,  you’re no better and no worse than anyone else. You’re different. Appreciate the differences in others instead of comparing yourself to others, and you’ll be happier.

Happiness 8

10. Let go of fear. Everyone is afraid of something – what might happen (or not), what we can change (or not), how other people perceive us (or not). So we do nothing. But time has a way of passing us by, just like our dreams. Don’t let fears hold you back. Whatever you want, start today and make it happen. The first step is always the hardest. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

[Photo credit via Pinterest]

Avocado Toast 5 Ways

I’m not quite sure when exactly I fell in love with avocado toast, but for some time now, it’s been my go-to dish for breakfast, lunch or snack. Filled with healthy fats, avocado toast makes me feel like I’m indulging , while I’m really doing something good for my body.

Avocado toast classic

My classic recipe involves one slice of Ezekiel bread, half and avocado, a spritz of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt and red pepper flakes. But every now and then, I want to hype it up a bit and try new toppings. Here are 5 recipes that give a new twist on a old fave.

Grapefruit avocado toast

Grapefruit Avocado Toast
Refreshing flavours with a crunch. Start by toasting your bread. Then spread half an avocado. Segment half a grapefruit and lay the slices on top of the avocado. Add roughly chopped almonds and a drizzle of olive oil and enjoy!

Avocado Toast Almondaise

Avocado Toast Almondaise
A deliciously vegan take on classic (if you omit the egg, of course).

Smoked Salmon and Avocado Tartine

Smoked Salmon and Avocado Tartine
Rich buttery smoked salmon on top of creamy avocado, what could be better!

Spring Radish Avocado Toast

Spring Radish Avocado Toast
Toasted bread, melted butter, creamy avocado, crunchy radishes and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Strawberry Ginger Mint Avocado Toast

Ginger Mint Strawberry Avocado Toast
Besides the beautiful contrasting colours, this recipe is infused with spring flavours that can be served in smaller portions as dessert.

Share your recipes with me on Instagram!

[Photo credit via Pinterest, my Instagram, Love and Lemons, Savory Simple, La Buena Vida, Healthy. Happy. Life.]

Urban oasis

Summer is finally starting to feel real, and with that comes the desire to create a beautiful outdoor space to retreat to and entertain friends. I live in the city where personal outdoor space is a luxury. Although we have a beautiful space with plenty of plants and flowers, it’s not as intimate as I would like it to be (it’s a beautiful, yet shared courtyard). Until we have a space we have an space that we can turn into our very our urban oasis, I am pulling inspiration from everywhere to create my very own oasis with what I’ve got.

outdoor space 2

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outdoor space 7 outdoor space 8

outdoor space 9

outdoor space 1

outdoor space 5

[Photo credit via Pinterest]

Chocolate Banana Bites

Chocolate banana bites

I’m one of those weird girls who loves to eat vegetables, fruit and generally clean, healthy foods. But the dark side of me loves sweets. Every once in a while, I get he urge to make treats to satisfy my cravings without undoing all the hard work I’ve put into my workouts and diet. These chocolate banana bites are the perfect thing. Made with ingredients that will benefit your body and satisfy your sweet tooth, they are easy to make and so delicious.

Chocolate Banana Bites
Makes 8 bites

 

Ingredients
1/2 cup raw cashews, unsalted (or any nut you like)
1 banana
1/4 cup dates, pits removed
1 tbsp natural peanut butter (I used crunchy)
1/2 cup panko
100 g. dark chocolate
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

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Directions

1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a food processor, pulse the cashews until you get a fine powder. Careful, any more than that will release the oil from the nut and start to turn it into a nut butter.

3. Add the banana, dates and peanut butter and process until the mixture is evenly creamy.

4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add in the panko.

5. Using a spoon, make eight balls. Place them on the parchment-lined sheet and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes to set.

6. In the meantime, melt the chocolate in a double-boiler. Once the chocolate is melted, dip each ball in the chocolate to coat evenly and place back on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle each immediately with coconut (the chocolate will set quickly, so sprinkle fast!).

7. Place the balls back in the freezer another 10 minutes to set, then enjoy!

Chocolate banana bites

Chocolate banana bites

Chocolate banana bites

Chocolate banana bites

Chocolate banana bites

Chocolate banana bites

Bon appétit!

[All photos are my own and not to be used without permission]

Skindinavia The Makeup Primer Review

Skindinavia The Makeup Primer

A good makeup primer is the secret to long-lasting, flawless makeup. I know this, yet I was always hesitant to commit to one. I’ve tried a few in the past, but the goopy textures made my skin feel like it was trapped and couldn’t breathe. When I was asked to review the new Skindinavia The Makeup Primer, I accepted for a few reasons. First, I had heard a lot of great things about the finishing spray, and second, the fact that the product was a spray intrigued me. So what think? Let’s start with a little background information.

What is Skindinavia The Makeup Primer?
It’s an ultra-fine mist that creates a smooth canvas for a flawless application that lasts for hours. The vitamin-based primer is clinically proven to reduce redness and the appearance of fine lines. It’s paraben-free, hypoallergenic and cruelty-free. Plus, it’s great for all skin types.

What makes it so unique?
The primer is silicon free. Although silicon is not necessarily bad for the skin, it can be for those who have sensitive skin or are prone to acne and imperfections. See, silicone sits on top of the skin, locking in moisture which can be great for some. However, it can also keep sebum, dirt and bacteria already on the skin trapped, causing some to break out. I personally prefer to skip anything that will prevent my skin from breathing and cause that mask-like effect on my skin.

The verdict?
The Makeup Primer spray is a refreshing step before my makeup application that kept my skin looking fresh all day. I don’t wear foundation on a regular basis and so I could really see the difference in my skin after applying this spray. My pores were reduced and any redness I usually have evened out. My skin looked flawless but still natural.

The one  disappointment is the claim that it reduced the need to blot your skin. My skin tends to get slightly oily during the afternoon and I was really hoping that this would reduce that, but sadly it didn’t. Mid-afternoon, I still needed to pull out my blotting powder to touch-up the shine.

That being said, I would definitely recommend anyone searching for a makeup primer to give Skindinavia The Makeup Primer a try. Now that you know what to expect, I know you won’t be disappointed.

Skindinavia The Makeup Primer is available at Skindinavia.com for $35 (4 oz.) or $49 (8 oz.).

[All photos are my own and not to be used without permission]