Monday

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

kabocha squash pumpkin to make pumpkin puree

Call me basic, but one of my favourite things about fall is pumpkin everywhere! Orange is my favourite colour, and pumpkin pie is my favourite pie. But here’s a secret: I don’t actually use pumpkins themselves very often in my baking. Instead, I prefer a variety of squash that is more popular among Asians: kabocha. I grew up eating wedges of steamed kabocha with rice for breakfast, and in my opinion it’s sweeter and got a better flavour than regular sugar pumpkins.

I bought this adorable kabocha squash (look how perfectly round it is!) from Freshco for $4.20, and made about 1.5 L of pumpkin puree with it. At a time of year when canned pumpkin puree is $3 for a 600 mL can, that’s not bad! Plus you get the benefit of knowing there’s absolutely nothing in your puree except delicious roasted squash.

To make the puree, stab all around the skin with a sharp knife and place the squash, whole, on a baking pan (it should have walls because the squash will release water). Roast at 400 F for an hour. It will be fall-apart tender! Once it’s cool, scoop out all the seeds and stringy bits, then scoop spoonfuls of the flesh into a blender or food processor, and blend well until the mixture is smooth.

I filled up two containers with the puree and popped them in the freezer. Not sure when the pumpkin baking inspiration will hit, but I’ll be ready. 😀

Tuesday

Low-Carb Almond Loaf

low carb keto friendly almond flour bread

It occurred to me recently that I have way too many pantry items for my student apartment kitchen to handle. Ingredients are always stacked on top of each other, falling out of cupboards when I open them, blah blah. It’s stressful. So this term, I’m cleaning out my pantry with the goal of keeping only the essentials. You know what’s not essential? Almond flour. I bought a bag of it from Bulk Barn last year when I was really into keto baking for whatever reason (even though I could never go keto; carbs are amazing) and there was still half a bag left.

I decided to make an almond flour loaf, since bread seemed like something versatile I could eat all week. A lot of low-carb bread recipes are really complicated with all sorts of ingredients and steps, but luckily I found a super basic recipe with just seven ingredients. I used two eggs and supplemented the rest with 80 g of reduced aquafaba, and used just 30 mL of olive oil.

Even after baking for 50 minutes at 350 F, the loaf was still soft and moist inside, which wasn’t what I was expecting, especially since my unbaked batter was drier than the one in the recipe post. From the recipe, it looked like it had a dry crumb whereas mine was almost gummy. The crust didn’t get very brown, either. Maybe that was because of the aquafaba and the reduced oil. If I make this again (which I likely will unless I find another use for that almond flour), I’ll bake it at 375 F instead.

Nevertheless, it was still a super tasty bake! I sliced my loaf into eight pieces, which came out to 200 cal each. It’s no diet bread, but it is delicious. You can’t go wrong with that amount of fat!

Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Garlic No-Knead Bread

I followed up my almond bread with, yep, another bread! See, actually this one came first because I started it last night. But no-knead breads take a loooong time to prove, so I had to wait until this morning to bake it.

Although the original recipe called for roasted garlic, I didn’t have fresh garlic on hand, so I substituted two tbsp of dried minced garlic. I also chopped up the tomatoes a bit before incorporating them into the dough.

The proofed dough went into the oven at the 12-hour mark, and was baked lid-on for 50 min with another 20 min uncovered (at 400 F, since that’s as high as my oven will go). It was fully cooked, but the crust was nowhere near as dark as I’d have liked. In retrospect, I should have let it rest for another six hours or so, because the crumb was quite dense and I didn’t get as much rise as I wanted. I think the tomatos and garlic slowed down the fermentation, so I’ll definitely prove it longer next time.

Asian Glazed Salmon

oven-broiled asian glazed salmon for dinner

Well, my oven has failed me once again. It has a brown function, but it was absolutely useless tonight when I tried to make a broiled salmon. I used a recipe from RecipeTin Eats, a pretty reliable website especially when it comes to Asian-inspired food. I had it under the broiler for three times the length of time called for in the recipe, and the top wasn’t even beginning to brown! Tbh, I may have eaten some raw salmon just now. It didn’t seem quite hot enough to have been cooked through…?

I’m so mad right now. I cannot trust this oven to do anything but bake cookies and muffins, basically.

Wednesday

Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites

healthy study snack: starbucks bacon gruyere sous vide egg bites eaten at my desk

Once again, I found myself in that familiar Wednesday problem of being stuck on campus the whole day with no time to eat lunch. I ended up going to Starbucks and buying their sous vide egg bites. I was shocked to see that they took their Egg White & Roasted Pepper option off the menu! That was the only vegetarian one. I ended up getting the Bacon & Gruyere eggs instead, which sucks, but I was starving and the egg bites are the only healthy-ish snack they have. I’m pretty surprised that Starbucks is so bad with offering meatless options. Every sandwich and wrap I saw also had meat inside.

These two eggs together cost $5.10, and they are tiny. (The mini mouse in the picture makes them look bigger than they are.) The consistency was like a Japanese cheesecake, but savoury.

Next time, I’m just going to the food court in SLC and buying a meal there. Not gonna deal with the long wait and overpriced food at Starbucks again.

Thursday

Almond Bread Slice with Smoked Paprika Hummus

smoked paprika hummus with low-carb almond bread

This morning’s breakfast is verging on /r/shittyfoodporn territory. I tried my best to plate it nicely so it still looks respectable as a meal. The hummus was leftover from Monday, when I bought a beet chip snack cup on campus and there weren’t enough chips for all the hummus.

I’m not feeling this combo, tbh. The almond bread is rich enough and tasty enough toasted by itself, without the need for a spread. The slight acidity and cold mouthfeel of the hummus provide an almost jarring contrast. I’ll probably enjoy the remainder of the almond bread on its own from now on. It doesn’t need anything else to be a perfectly tasty and satiating snack.

Leek and Parmesan Bistro

leek and parmesan butter bistro danish

What the hell is a bistro, you ask? I had that same question, and I still have no idea. As far as I know, it’s just the name used for a savoury danish-like thing that our library cafe carries on its bakery aisle. I grabbed this very quickly on the way to my midterm; once again, I forgot to eat early enough at home. Pardon the picture, but that’s the kind of quality photography you get when you’re running late to an exam at 7 pm with just the streetlight to provide lighting.

Friday

Blackberry Protein Overnight Oats

high protein blackberry overnight oats in mason jars

How adorable are these mason jars? Half the reason I make overnight oats at all is to be able to use these jars. (Side note: I recently listened to a podcast about the upper middle class “appropriation” of rural American culture through the use of mason jars, but man, just let me use my jars fam. They’re so versatile.)

Anyway, I prepped these three jars of oats as quick grab-and-go breakfasts for the upcoming days. I’ll be bringing two of them with me to Toronto when I visit Kevin again this weekend. They’re 500 cal each with 36 g of protein! (EDIT: Oops, I miscalculated. They’re actually 410 cal with 29 g protein.)

Check out the recipe for these oats here, if you wanna make these yourself.

Zero-Waste Lunch from UWaterloo Campus Compost

vegan zero-waste lunch at uwaterloo campus compost

As part of a week-long zero-waste awareness initiative, one of our school services, Campus Compost, hosted a full day of convention talks and events today. The best part was this free vegan lunch! (There were a few meat options too, but I was happy to see that the majority of the offerings were plant-based.) It was a BYOBU (Bring Your Own Bowl and Utensils) affair, which meant my lunch today is entirely zero-waste, well, except for my napkin.

Besides a medley of fruit (I got strawberries, pears, and apples), there were several kinds of wraps available: I took a beetroot tortilla wrap and an Asian-inspired salad roll. They were a bit bland, and on second thought, I should have gotten some of the sauces to go along with them. But still a filling lunch nonetheless. Dessert was a lovely, soft, crumbly, date granola bar. I could have eaten a whole plate of these, but thankfully I only limited myself to one.

Chicken Adobo with Spinach and Rice

filipino chicken adobo with spinach and rice

I bought a huuuge 4 lb package of drumsticks from Dutchie’s this morning. It was finally time to try this Filipino Chicken Adobo recipe I’ve been thinking about for so long! Making the marinade was so easy. I combined all the ingredients in a large ziploc bag, then added half my tray of chicken (10 drumsticks) and sealed it shut. Then I repeated it with the rest of the drumsticks for another batch. The only change I made was using minced garlic instead of smashed whole garlic. I froze one bag and took the other one with me to Toronto to make Kevin’s dinner for the next couple of days.

In Toronto, the first thing I did was buy a wok. Our apartment there is bare of cooking equipment, and the only pan there was a cast-iron, which I didn’t want to use for cooking this dish since it was so acidic. Anyway, in my wok, I braised the drumsticks on medium heat (about a 6). I didn’t have any oil, but I will use some for next time because the chicken skin browned quickly and stuck to the wok. After pouring in the marinade and simmering for a while, I was able to deglaze most of it, though.

Kevin really likes the flavour of these drumsticks, which is great! This is my first time cooking with chicken drumsticks, and it will probably be one of my go-to’s from now on.

Quaker’s Crispy Minis

quaker crispy minis italian herb and olive oil multigrain chips with vegetables

I absolutely love these chips. They are Quaker’s Crispy Minis Italian Herb & Olive Oil Multigrain Chips with Vegetables. What a mouthful, right?!

They’re a bit healthier than regular potato chips (around 250 cal for this bowl), but taste just as delish. I portioned them out for snacking while Kevin and I watched TV this evening, and I was happy to have a satisfying, totally guilt-free snack that fits in my calorie budget!

Saturday

Spinach on Homemade Bread

wfpb spinach on homemade sun-dried tomato bread

This probably looks better than it tasted. Nothing more than a wad of spinach, no sauce, no seasonings, on the sun-dried tomato bread I made earlier this week. I know this is what people picture when they think about vegetarians!!

Chicken Adobo, Take 2

easy filipino chicken adobo with spinach and rice

This time, I simmered the chicken for longer, until the sauce was very reduced. Kevin still liked the taste, and didn’t seem to notice any changes, even though at this point this chicken had been marinading for double the length of time that the ones he ate last night had. You can definitely see an improvement in the texture of the skin; there is more browning and caramelization going on here.

The only issue is I overcooked it just a touch (whereas yesterday’s was just done bordering on undercooked). Next time I’ll try simmering for 10 minutes. That should give the perfect balance between good caramelization and tender meat.

Sunday

Machi Machi

machi machi fresh strawberry latte with panna cotta bubble tea drink (toronto)

Jumping on the hype train this weekend as I visited Machi Machi with Kevin! I’ll be posting a full review about this latest bubble tea shop to open in Toronto. Click here for my review!

Three-Flavour Pizza

pizza to share, with meat-lover's toppings, spinach and sun-dried tomato, and marshmallows and cookies and cream

Our last meal before I headed back to Waterloo was a homemade pizza. Kevin gave me the suggestion to do three flavours on one pizza: 1/3 with meat toppings for him, 1/3 with veg toppings for me, and 1/3 dessert toppings for us to share! He was inspired by an episode of the Great Canadian Baking Show we watched today (Bread Week in Season 1, for those who are interested). This guy is so cute. I love that he enjoys watching these baking shows as much as I do. It’s become one of my favourite things to watch with him.

Anyway, I used my regular pizza dough recipe, except for some reason this batch made less dough than last time…? It barely stretched to fit the whole pan, but I managed. At Kevin’s suggestion, I added whole cloves of fresh garlic to his third of the pizza. He loved it! Next time, I’ll be adding some bacon pieces as well, which I forgot this time around.

The dessert pizza had a s’mores theme going on, consisting of marshmallows and Hershey’s Cookies and Cream chips. It was pretty good for a first attempt, but Kevin said that it would be much better with some kind of chocolate syrup layer under the toppings to keep it from being so dry. More things to add to the shopping list!

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