February 18, 2013

Valentine's Day recap

Another Valentine's Day has come and gone and today is Family Day in Ontario. It's a somewhat new holiday for the purpose of having an extra day--and a long weekend--to spend with family. And who can complain about another holiday in February? I know some people think "consumer" holidays are cheesy and overdone. I like any chance to celebrate though and I had a great Valentine's Day this year:

I had dinner cooked for me: Mustard Sage Porkchops with Israeli Couscous, Edamame and Pancetta. The pork chop even looks like a heart. Nothing says love like heart-shaped meat. Then there was a special delivery at the door on Thursday evening of fresh macarons from Petit Le Bon Bon. They are a local online macaron shop that delivers and they also have a macaron-of-the-month club. This month's flavours were Red Velvet and Chocolate Cherry. 

Although Mike joked that the whole concept reminded him of "2 Broke Girls," with two girls starting their own dessert business out of their house, these macarons are high class and some of the best I've had. They weren't too crunchy or chewy and were just the right size. Plus the flavourings, especially the cherry chocolate ganache filling, were light and beautiful. A huge thanks to them for delivering a dozen macarons on Valentine's Day as I'm sure they were extra busy that day. 

I suppose the macarons weren't a complete surprise as I did say, "Please order a dozen of these macarons for Valentine's Day." I have thoroughly enjoyed them though and will definitely be ordering from them again. They would be great to bring as a hostess or shower gift.

I had already baked some treats for the week as well, including the Jello Cookies and these Fresh Strawberry Squares. The squares tasted almost like mini Strawberry cheesecakes.

They were made with fresh strawberries, condensed milk and custard filling on top of a shortbread-type crust. I then decorated them a bit with some extra slices of Strawberries and icing sugar.

Instead of going out for dinner on Valentine's Day evening, we decided on going for weekend brunch. We went to The Early Bird Diner in London, Ontario. I have always been a fan of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" and have always wanted to go to a place that serves that special kind of epic food. The Early Bird definitely lived up to the hype I had heard about it. The diner is decorated with vintage and rock memorabilia and has a really neat vibe. I would love to go there in the evening as well for their famous appetizers including bacon-wrapped pickles and mammoth Grilled Cheese sandwiches. I think going here will only be a once in awhile occasion though:

Mike ordered the "Turducken Sandwich," a monstorous rendition of a club sandwich with panko-fried chicken, turkey and duck bacon along with a side of fries. After a few bites he said, "I don't want to alarm you, but I think I could finish this whole thing." We ended up sharing a bit of both entrees and had a lot of leftovers to take home.

I got the Pancake Stacker that was four large pancakes layered with potato hash, peameal bacon, smoked bacon, fried egg and maple syrup. I did not even make a dent in the stack and I felt somewhat silly for ordering fruit salad as my side. That's like asking for a Diet Coke with pizza.

And of course, I had to "instagram" my brunch as well. Turns out the diner has been featured on The Food Network on the Canadian version of "Diner's," called "You Gotta Eat Here." Even though the rich food and epic portions are not something I can really handle, I applaud the owners for their creativity and bringing such a neat local hangout to London.

I got another special delivery in the mail from Kashi. They sent me their newest flavour to try: Blueberry Oat Clusters and Flakes. One cup of the cereal has 45 per cent of the daily fibres needed to help lower cholesterol and six grams of protein per cup. Their new flavour contains whole grain oat clusters and sun-ripened blueberries. I have tried other "blueberry" flavoured cereals in the past, including Special K, and found them a little too sweet. The Kashi flavouring is just right and not overpowering. I find artificial blueberry flavours a little off-putting and resembling those generic blueberry muffins, but I liked that Kashi cereals don't taste artificial and contain all of that good stuff. 

Speaking of good stuff, let me tell you about the perfect pairing when it comes to breakfast. My dietician told me about the wonders of All Bran Buds and I have not looked back since. If you don't like the flavour of bran, you don't need to eat them on their own. Just sprinkle them onto cereal, yoghurt or in baked goods or bran recipes. They have 44 per cent of your recommended daily fibre and it's the good kind--soluble fire that keeps things going through you well, a little bulkier...which is great for digestion. What a perfect couple :)

Also, on the subject of loving yourself, I signed up for this 21-day meditation challenge by Oprah and Deepak Chopra. I'm not normally a "Hail Oprah" type of person although I can admit to watching her show at times. This challenge sounded right up my alley though and you receive daily mediations, inspiration and resources by email. Could be neat.

In terms of Canadian online health resources, CBC is launching their Live Right Now campaign again this year. I was so inspired by their "Village on a Diet" TV show a few years ago and the campaign has a lot of the same ideas for healthy living, eating and exercise. It's always great when you have online buddies rooting for you too.

Disclosure: I received a sample from Kashi for review purposes. The opinions expressed are completely my own.

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