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So I was talking to an old friend of mine, and she revealed to me something that shocked me to the core:

She doesnt enjoy smoothies.

Gasp!

As the smoothie-lover I am, I feel it is my duty to show this kind soul the light. So I am taking it upon myself to put out some delicious and nutritious smoothie recipes that will make even the naysayers go say YAY!

Enter the PB&J smoothie!

Rich, creamy, peanut buttery and INDULGENT, this is a long-time favourite of mine. It tastes just like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! I dont make it too often because it makes me feel like I’m having a sinful dessert. 

You will need:

- Almond Milk / Soy Milk
- 1 ripe banana
- 1/2 an apple
- 1-2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
- a handful of raspberries
- ice
- some honey if you like it sweet!

Blend away!!! Blend into oblivion for a minute. Stop blender. Taste. Go nuts (pun intended) and chug the whole smoothie from the blender itself! Or go the civilized route and pour into a glass to sip on like dessert!

<3 <3 <3 

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Good gosh, I am the worst at this.

This = blogging.

"Sabz, you’re never going to have an inkling of a blog if you do one post every 2-3 months!" I chide myself.

So lets get down to business and introduce y’all to my topic of the month: SMOOTHIES!

Ah, smoothies have been a long love of mine. During my short (read: 2 months) employment at Liquid Nutrition in Montreal during my 2nd year of university, I discovered the joys of dumping fruits into a blender and creating delicious healthy dessert. While I worked there, I also got a crash course in nutrition (for health and for bodybuilding), supplements, and smoothie-making. I learnt about whey protein powders, Vega, Omega 3-6-9, Spirulina, so on and so forth. And most importantly I learnt what makes a darn good smoothie.

So yes, I am your Smoothie Goddess. And I will take it upon myself to show y’all how to also make delicious, nutritious and FILLING smoothies!

I’ve recently even purchased a Magic Bullet. It is a GODSEND if you like less hassle, less clean-up and you’re a “run-out-the-door-in-the-morning-because-you’re-late-already” type of person. 

I will start off with one of my recent favourites: The Green Breakfast Smoothie. It’s sweet, filling and very very good for you. 

Curious as to why it is called the ‘Green’ Breakfast Smoothie? The answer: spinach. 

Hold on, don’t give up on me yet. The spinach works wonderfully in this smoothie. Its sweet and creamy and if you closed your eyes, you wouldnt even think you’re drinking greens for breakfast! Not to mention that now you’ve already gotten a headstart to getting in your veggies/greens for the day! Genius, hey?

Now, on to making the smoothie. You will need:

- Almond milk (about a cup)
- 1 ripe banana
- 2-3 handfuls of spinach leaves
- A bit of honey if you like your drinks super sweet. I don’t need it.

That’s it! Put into blender and blend away!

However, I try to add in one or more of these OPTIONAL ingredients also to get maximum nutritional benefits for breakfast:

- Blueberries or raspberries 
- Frozen mangoes 
- 1-2 tablespoons Greek Yogurt (protein, calcium)
- 1/2 teaspoon of chia seeds (protein, fibre, omega 3s)
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground flaxseed (protein, fibre, omega 3s)
- Peanut butter (healthy fats, and because it’s just plain delicious)

 

Pack the ingredients in there



I guess some people might be put off by the radioactive-looking colour of this smoothie, but I LOVE it!



Let me know if you try making a green breakfast smoothie, and if you love it!
 

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Its April 11th, and it is still snowing. Okay, I will give credit where credit is due: We had an awesome January and February - great weather, sunshine, hardly any snow. And now in April, we are getting all kinds of dreariness.

So here I am on Twitter and Danelle W mentions that this is a great day for soup. For some reason, the first thing that came to my mind was ‘Daal’. Quick education for those who don’t know: Daal is an Indian/Bangladeshi style lentil soup that can be consumed on its own, with rice, or with bread - all depending on how think you make it.

Anyway, the conversation went like this:

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So by the end of it, Jorge wasnt the only one salivating for soup, I was too. I love daal. Actually, I lie. I am a daal FANATIC. Whenever I make a pot of it, I always end up going overboard and finishing it within a day or two. 

Today I am going to share my daal recipe that I enjoy varying degrees of success with, depending on how long I manage to simmer this thing before I get impatient and take it off the stove to drink it all up. There are various types of daal, and the one I make is possibly the simplest, no-frills one. However, no matter how many times I try and make this, it never - NEVER - comes out as good as mom’s. :( 

Anyway, here goes. My measurements may not be accurate because I always eyeball everything and dont even own measuring cups or measuring spoons. But I’ll try my best to give you an idea!

How to make Daal - Bangladeshi style:

I use

- Red lentils (2 cups)

- Water (3-4 cups. You can always add more, depending on how the cooking is going)

- Salt (start with 1/2 teaspoon and adjust to taste)

For the ‘garnish’ or finishing, I also use

- 2-3 teaspoons of chopped up coriander/cilantro 

- 1 tablespoon vegetable or mustard oil

- 1 teaspoon sliced garlic

- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds

- 1/4 of a small/medium onion, sliced up thin

- 1/2 teaspoon of sliced green chillies OR crushed dry red chillies


Okay! And this is how you put this all together:

1. Put lentils in a pot. Wash 2-3 times till water is more or less clear. Drain.

2. Add in the 3-4 cups water. Add salt.

3. Bring to boil, then lower to medium-high heat. Keep pot uncovered.

PRO TIP: If you dont want a pot of water to spill over, simply rest a big wooden spoon across the rim. Not in the pot, but across the rim. The water will bubble on until it hits the wooden spoon, and then go back down! Its magic! You’re welcome.

4. Check water level. If it’s getting too dry, dump more water in there. Once it’s been mildly boiling away for 30 mins, lower heat to medium-low. Stir it for a minute or so. Don’t be shy, use your muscles and stir that thing!

5. Partially cover the pot. Let it simmer away for another 30-40 minutes AT LEAST.

I know. You want to eat already. While the daal is simmering away into oblivion, take this time to slice up your onions and garlic. 

 6. Let’s make the garnish! Take a frying pan, and put in the oil. Heat it for a minute and then put in the onions. Let is fry till it gets brown. Then put in the garlic. Let that also go until it gets brown. Now put in the nigella seeds and chillies. Stir it about for a minute and when your onion and garlic starts looking too dark for your taste, take it off. 

7. Now the fun part! Take your little frying pan and tip it over on top of your daal that is simmering away! Yep, dump the onion, garlic, nigella seed and chilli mixture into the daal, WITH the oil you fried it in!

8. Turn the stove off immediately and remove daal from the heat.

9. Dump the chopped up coriander on top of the daal.

10. Voila!! Dig in! 

Notes: You can adjust this to the desired thickness you want. If you like a thick soup, don’t add too much water in Step 4. If you like a runnier soup, feel free to add as much water as you’d like in Step 4. 

The LONGER you simmer the daal for in Step 5, the TASTIER IT WILL BE. 

You can enjoy the daal with rice or bread (if its a bit thicker), or by itself! Depending on my mood, I sometimes squeeze in some lemon in my daal and that just sends the flavours through the roof!

Variations: I sometimes like to cut up tomatoes and put them in my daal. I usually add them in Step 4.

Now I know what I am making for dinner tonight! :)

Happy Eats, loves! 

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The fiance and I met Chef Darren from Downtown Food at a dinner a month or so ago, and found him to be a hoot! After hearing him talk about his food and restaurant with so much passion, we felt like we had to go check out the place. So we thought a quiet dinner just the weekend before Valentine’s Day might be a good idea.

The restaurant itself was quite welcoming. Although I was not a big fan of the white chairs which reminded me a bit of The Brick, the room itself was quite lovely. The stone wall and the artwork of Calgary downtown was amazing. 

The host was very professional and helpful, and so was our waitress. She was friendly and warm, and had great hair!

So we told our lovely waitress to let the Chef know that we felt adventurous and he can feed us anything his heart desires. She disappeared into the kitchen, and came back smiling, and took away our menus. I guess our fates were in the hands of Chef Darren then! 

What came after was a stream of delicious amuse, soup, etc etc and soon our tasting menu turned to so many courses we eventually lost count and just drowned in the deliciousness that is the food at DTF.

What we ate: 

- The amuse which had shrimp and a tandoori popcorn and I popped it into my mouth so fast that I dont know what else was in it. Delicious.

- The beet tartare. Quite good, but not my favourite of the night.

- A compressed pear, apple, candied walnut and blue cheese salad. Very tasty, and fiance seemed to love it.

- The beef ravioli. Just on bite wasnt enough. I wanted more, it was so so good. The brought out fresh truffles that they shaved tableside onto my ravioli dish. Amazing! The broth it was sitting in was heavenly. I only had a fork so I couldnt scoop it all into my mouth and I half-debated asking the waitress if I could have a spoon so I could finish the broth. 

- The duck ‘ham’ and cheese, which is basically cured (I think) duck, cheddar and seared foie gras on a sliced baguette. It was a rich, and seriously good.

- The lobster soup. Holy, I could have an entire meal of just this. It was creamy, yet not too heavy, and very lobster-y. Chef Darren said he puts no white wine in the broth. He didnt need any, because this dish was to die for. 

- We shared two mains. One mains, we had the pan-seared sablefish with boy choy and mushroom marinated/glazed with miso and ginger and gojuchang sauce. It was served on this 2-foot long plate, which was quite funny. The fish was incredibly soft, tender and buttery. My fiance and I both absolutely loved it. 

- For our other main, we had the confit duck leg on braised cabbage. The cabbage was a cool - it look and served the purpose of pasta - but it wasnt! The cabbage was spicy, which was nice. The duck leg had a crispy skin on it, with the cabbage, was really good.

- For dessert we tried the lemon tart with cassis gelato; and the DTF s’mores with vanilla bean ice cream. I am a vanilla bean fiend, so I ate it all up even though my tummy was bursting at the seams by now. 

- We finished everything off with two little lemon macaroons, light and refreshing.

I also had the DTF farmers Martini, and 2 glasses of wine. The martini was awesome - cucumber, gin, sage and elderflower. I love refreshing, herby cocktails, so this was great. 

Some things to note about DTF: they make everything from scratch, right down to the bread they serve with butter. They put care into what they deliver, and it shows.

I bumped into an acquaintance in the bathroom and named off a few things for her to try, because she was vegetarian and didnt know what to order! 

All in all, this meal was absolutely terrific. Chef Darren came out to say hello and asked how we were liking everything. It was cool how he stuck around for a few seconds to chat because it is always nice to let the chef know you’re enjoying the meal! We could see that the staff - from the chef to the waiter to the host - all really cared about the customers. This place has tons of potential! I, for one, am waiting for another reason to visit! ;)

Clockwise from top left: Beet tartare; Foie gras ‘ham’ and cheese; lemon tart and cassis gelato; apple, pear and blue cheese salad, miso marinated sablefish, beef ravioli.


Clockwise from top left: DTF Farmers martini; duck leg confit; fresh truffles; DTF smores and vanilla bean ice cream; lemon macaroon and coffee!

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Teatro is easily one of the best fine dining restaurants in Calgary. We ccelebrated an anniversary dinner here last night and the experience was every bit as amazing as our first time. They went above and beyond every step of the way.

Since it was a Sunday, we took our own bottle of wine - its BYOW (free Corkage) on Sunday nights. This is a HUGE perk for a high-end restaurant such as Teatro, so do take advantage of it if you are thinking of going on a Sunday night. We happened to have the same waiter as the last time we were there, so that was a nice surprise. 

Now, let me indulge you in the details of our dinner. In short, my fiance and I were SPOILED. We were served bread and olive oil, both of which were delicious. Our waiter - Adrian - expertly explained every single detail to us about any menu item we inquired about. We ordered two appetizers to start - mushroom carpaccio and beef tartare. The mushroom carpaccio was an okay dish, and the beef tartare was delicious. It was served with some sort of crisps, thinly sliced pickles, and a creamy sauce and pickled caviar-type drops. Amazing.

Photo above: Mushroom carpaccio, with shaved truffle



Once we were done the appetizers and bread, Adrian our waiter brought us a small pasta course of lobster tortellini with lemon foam on top - on the house. We were pleasantly surprised. The tortellini was meaty, big-sized and substantial. The lemon foam was a nice touch.

For our mains, we ordered the seafood lasagna and quail. We chose a side of ‘cauliflower risotto’ off the menu, and the waiter suggested the mushroom risotto instead. “But we don’t see it listed on the menu”, we said. Adrian assured us not to worry about the menu, and if that is what we wanted, then that is what he will bring us. We agreed on the mushroom risotto, because it sounded like a winner.

When the food came, every single of the dishes exceeded our expectations. The seafood lasagne was creamy, abundant with lobster, shrimp, and scallop. My quail was amazing - crispy quail pieces sitting on top of soft pieces of pulled quail thighs, which was sitting on top of celeriac puree and root vegetables. Adrian drizzled the whole thing with foie gras jus infront of us. The dish was magnificent to say the least. I was already quite full after the tortellini, but the quail was so good I ate it up at lightning speed. The mushroom risotto - AMAZING. Thick, creamy, flavourful, PERFECT. And topped with thinly sliced truffle. 

Photo above: The seafood lasagne 

Photo above: Quail with celeriac puree 


The portions were so generous, I knew we could not finish it all. So, we reluctantly asked if it ‘was possible’ to take the mushroom risotto to go. I know, I know.. asking for a doggy-bag at a Teatro? Ridiculous! But Adrian made it seem completely normal and said “Everything is possible” and whisked the risotto away. 

I was too full to order dessert, but my fiance insisted on it. So we pondered over the dessert menu, wondering whether to order the Tiramisu, or the BC Quince with pear sorbet. Adrian our waiter described both to us and said they were both very good. We settled on the tiramisu, to share because we were very full. When Adrian brought out the tiramisu, to our surprise, he had also brought us the BC QUince and sorbet dessert - on the house! He said tasting the BC Quince dessert would be better than trying to visualize it with his descriptions.

Once again, we indulged. The tiramisu was great. A tad heavy, but that was because we were already stuffed. The BC Quince and pear sorbet was topped with ginger foam and was DECADENT. It was light, fluffy, sweet and just amazing. We finished both desserts. How our stomachs accommodated this much food, I can’t tell you.

In the end, my fiance ordered coffee. Once AGAIN, to our surprise, Adrian came around and said he had some 45-year old port left in a bottle at the bar, just enough for two people. And proceeded to pour us some - on the house. At this point, I was overwhelmed at their generosity and the amazing service we were receiving. As we sipped and savoured our ports, we wondered what we had done to be receiving such amazing treatment. 

We ended the night with some more good natured conversation with Adrian, looking at our bill in disbelief (it was WAY too little for everything we had received), and tipping Adrian HEAVILY. We took our risotto to go, which they gave to us in a little disposable lunch bag. Another nice touch, to add to the already heady experience we just had. 

True quality at every step, and every detail taken care of, Teatro is absolutely the ‘creme de la creme’ of Calgary.

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I left my work function last night, still hungry. The ‘finger food’ they had served was delicious, but there was just not enough of it. And I have um, a reasonable-sized appetite (that’s what I keep telling myself). So after I walked out of the hotel, all dressed up in my dress and high heels, I thought going home to eat a sandwich was a waste of a perfectly good outfit. 

…Yes, girls’ minds do work this way :)

Anyway, so in search of a place that sells tapas / appetizers late into the night, we drove past Cibo and found it to be open!

We ordered the 5 appetizer platter, and it was perfect for the two of us. We had the roasted eggplant dip, the black cod bacala, the shrimp, the arancini and the veal meatballs. It all came with crostini on the side.

My favourites of the night was the arancini and the veal meatballs a close second. The arancini (risotto balls) sat on this light tomato sauce and was just the perfect little bite! 

None of the five items were heavy or greasy, so we really enjoyed that.

The table next to us was having a MASSIVE party, so it was incredibly loud, but the food was so tasty, we would come back. 

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Today, I had the pleasure of meeting Lison from Pascal’s Patisserie at a Yelp Elite party. She had the most beautiful basket with an array of french croissants, pain au chocolat and cinnamon rolls.

Photo credit: Kate B from Yelp! (Link)

I gushed over the 5-items-only ingredients list for the croissant, and happily bit into the flakey, buttery, utterly amazing croissants. Lison talked about how croissant-making is a dying art, even in France, and I talked about how her basket of baked goods was transporting me into a little sidestreet cafe in Europe. That’s when Lison said “Food can do that. It can transport you to a different country, a different place altogether, just with one bite.”

That is so true. Earlier this year when I was in Istanbul, I feasted on all the kebabs and local food I could lay my eyes on, and all the local produce, cheese, etc. Everything was so fresh, so flavourful. 

Simple salads, but such fresh produce in Istanbul

Just a simple salad, but such fresh produce!

Yup, they’re as good as they look.

When I was back in Calgary, I was certain it would be difficult to find cuisine like that. That was until I stumbled upon Istanbul Kebab House. When I visited the restaurant, and tasted the food, there I was - instantly transported to the streets of Turkey. In my head I was back there, in sunny Istanbul with delicious local food on every street corner: kebabs, stuffed eggplants, salads, etc. 

Check out my review for Istanbul Kebab House here.

In conclusion, food can be a great medium for time travel!

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I think this is a very clever choice for a location. A block or two away from OEB, and across the street from Diner Deluxe can only mean one thing: all the frustrated overflow traffic from those two breakfast places just saunter over to Carino, which happens to be mostly empty!

And that is exactly what I did this morning. I had just picked up my family from the airport, and we were starving. Not wanting to wait for our food, we decided to give Carino a try. 

Carino is where AKA Winebar used to be. As we walked in, it struck me how similar it looked to AKA. They had not done much in the way of making it look different, and had left most of the decor exactly the same. Upon surveying the menu, I recognized a few brunch menu items which were the same as AKA as well. Had they decided to carry over those items into the new menu because they were popular? That is what I can assume.

One thing that bothered me before I even ordered was the strong smell that hit me as soon as I walked into the restaurant. I have a strong sense of smell, so that may be why it was so unnerving for me, but it took a lot of effort for me to look past it. But it was snowing outside and we were already seated with menus in our hands, so I decided to trudge through it. 

I ordered an Eggs Benedict with salmon gravlax, while the other parties at the table ordered the Arigato Omlette, and Fried Chicken and waffles (a menu item that was carried over from AKA Winebar). We were served coffee promptly, and it was good coffee too. 

The food arrived, after a slightly long wait. The quantities didnt look plentiful, but the presentation was pretty. My Eggs Benedict was cooked PERFECTLY. The yolks were soft and runny, and the hollandaise sauce just the right amount. 

The Arigato Omlette was interesting.. a thin omlette over some rice, bean sprouts and japanese sauce. Very tasty and filling! 

The chicken and waffles seemed to be the lesser loved of all the items. 

The price was pretty average. About $69 plus tip for all four of us.

Verdict: Would I be back? Maybe. The menu was small, but the items were well-prepared. If OEB and Diner Deluxe both had a lineups out the door, I’d happily come back to Carino. 

Note: Next time I will also take pictures! 

Carino Japanese Bistro + Wine on Urbanspoon

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Check out my (Yelp!) list of Sabz-approved places in Calgary that rank high on the ‘chic’ criteria! 

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I had a few girlfriends visiting me from out of town, and I really wanted to show them what Calgary was about. No, not the “Yee-haw!”s and line dancing at Ranchmans, but the new, vibrant side of Calgary which is brimming with an eclectic, high quality food scene.

80th and Ivy is a new restaurant in town, and I was looking for a reason to check them out. With my girlfriends in tow, off we went, and must I say, we had a very, very positive experience.


From the moment I walked in, Jamie, the bar manager introduced himself to me and was really friendly. The restaurant was empty, but the patio was full. It was windy outside, so we sat inside. The decor is fresh, simple and modern. Very cool place to get together with some friends or an informal date. The menu is interesting and varied. Our table of 4 ordered a bunch of different things to share: the arugula salad, the rotisserie chicken sliders, margherita flatbread, tuna and watermelon salad and herbed frites. All the dishes were good, and well-presented. By the end of the meal, we were all satisfied, and not overly-stuffed. 

We also ordered some cosmos and some glasses of Moscato D’Asti. The drinks were very, very good. The cosmos were different from ones I’ve had at other places. More fresh, fruity and refreshing. And the Moscato was AMAZING. Absolutely PERFECT summer wine. 

The main standout of 80th and Ivy, however, was the service. Our waitress Chelsea was friendly, warm and gave the right amount of space. She seemed genuinely interested in providing us with nice, attentive service. Jamie kept to check up on us again while we were eating. My friends thought I must have known Jamie from before, seeing as to how attentive him and his staff were to us. But no, this was my first time there, and we truly felt like valued patrons. This is a rare occurrence in this city. Well, in any city for that matter.

I would return to 80th and Ivy in a heartbeat. Fabulous atmosphere, excellent service and great drinks - 80th and Ivy is off to a superb start!


80th & Ivy Wine Kitchen on Urbanspoon