I grew up on an island in the pacific northwest, on the coast of British Columbia, Canada. Taking a ferry to the mainland (where I live now – in the city of Vancouver), through an archipelago of mountainous, treed islands was a regular occurrence – sometimes you could even spot whales!
The ferry passes through a grouping of islands called the Gulf Islands, and one of those islands is Salt Spring. Salt Spring Island is very small in comparison to the island I grew up on, with a tiny town, rolling hills of farmland, artisans, hippies, rocky beaches, and a very, very laid back lifestyle. (It’s a lovely place to vacation! You should go!)
Salt Spring Island has an incredible, incredible farmer’s market during the spring and summer – one of my favourite vendors is Salt Spring Kitchen, who sell artisanal preserves.
Last summer I picked up their Blueberry Basil Jam which has become a favourite to pair with a sharp cheddar cheese and cracker. The sweetness of the berries plays off a hint of refreshing basil – it’s a lovely sweet-savoury combination.
This pairing inspired me to re-create the same flavours in a Blueberry Basil Smoothie! I’ve added fresh basil leaves to a classic blueberry smoothie, creating a refreshing twist in this healthy breakfast smoothie.
I’ve been obsessed with breakfast bowls lately! They are such a simple way to combine so many flavours into one delicious bowl – and then you have the best excuse to load up on all your favourite toppings. I’ve been eating tons of oatmeal bowls and rice pudding bowls sprinkled with my favourite fresh fruits, crunchy granola, chopped nuts, drizzles of homemade jam… the toppings are the best part, really 😉
But for this recipe, the toppings definitely come second. This Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie Bowl tastes like DESSERT in a bowl. The first time I made this recipe and dunked a spoon in my blender to give it a taste, I actually audibly breathed, “OHMYGOD” and forced a spoonful into J’s mouth so he could taste it too.
Last week I waxed on about the perfect pairing of peanut butter and banana. Now let’s obsess about peanut butter’s other match made in heaven: JAM.
Peanut butter and jam is a classic pairing. PB&J sandwiches have been stuffed into kids lunch boxes since the beginning of time. It’s one of those classic combinations that is the perfect combination of sweet, salty, creamy, with a hint of peanutty crunch, and is just overall YUMS.
Peanut butter and jam isn’t just a great sandwich – it makes a fun oatmeal! Like eating a sandwich with a spoon! …Is that weird?
Do you ever wonder, if you were given a second shot at life, what career you might pursue instead? What you might study? What passion you might follow?
I’ve been watching a lot of the new Netflix documentary series Abstract: The Art of Design lately, and it’s been inspiring. My favourite episodes have been Paula Scher on Graphic Design and Bjarke Ingels on Architecture. Have you watched it yet?
In my alternate life, I would pursue design. As a kid, I doodled floor plans of houses, which often accompanied the fictional stories I wrote. I loved planning the entirety of a story: designing the home where the characters lived and even plotting their family tree.
As an adolescent, I was fascinated with web design and graphics. I taught myself basic HTML coding and loved messing around on Photoshop, playing with fonts, making logos, and editing photographs. (Nerd alert!)
Of course, this blog is an outlet for my passion for art and design, but it’s interesting to wonder what an alternate life might look like in a graphic design or architecture career.
What alternate career would you pursue in another life?
… and these thoughts have literally nothing to do with grapefruit! Ha! Boss ladies need quick breakfasts in the form of broiled grapefruit….?! 😉
Mason jar breakfasts may be my favourite thing. I’m always that girl at work, toting around my mason jar breakfast and my mason jar smoothie. #Basic much?
But seriously. Mason jars are so cute and fun and therefore mason jar breakfasts are in my permanent rotation. My absolute favs:
Today I’m comin ‘atcha with another mason jar breakfast: Strawberry Chia Pudding Parfait. This breakfast is similar to a yogurt and granola breakfast, but it’s dairy-free and so much healthier! Layers of thick Greek-style Vanilla Chia Pudding are layered with pureed strawberry and banana, all topped with fresh strawberry slices (and crunchy granola if you like!)
When the temperatures start dropping, I crave warm, cozy breakfasts. On this particular day, I had been out braving the cold on a drizzly morning run, the wind had blown me home through the front door, and my stomach was rumbling. I needed a warm, filling, and satisfying breakfast. Enter Hearty Autumn Stovetop Oatmeal.
Loaded with oatmeal, seeds, peanut butter, and chopped dates for sweetness, these Oatmeal Date Breakfast Cookies are a portable, healthy breakfast or snack you can stash in your freezer and take to go.
Cookies for breakfast!!!
I don’t know about you, but my office has a giant bowl of those mini Halloween chocolate bars sitting at the front desk, and every day it calls to me, “Eeeeeeaatttt me. Eeaaattt me!” (Side note: do you remember that Sex and the City scene where the sandwich calls “Eat me!” to Miranda?! The best.)
I’m just popping in quickly to give you a recipe for the end of summer – because the end of summer is all about fresh peaches!
For this recipe, I’ve grilled peaches on the BBQ. Have you ever grilled fruit before?! It is divine. The peaches get soft and melty and the sugars caramelize slightly, leaving pretty grill marks.
My two favourite breakfast foods to keep stocked in the house at all times:
- Homemade granola
- Muffins stashed in my freezer
Homemade granola is SO NECESSARY to have on hand. Sprinkle it on your yogurt! Douse it with milk, like a healthy cereal! Eat it by the handfuls and handfuls for snacks because you can’t resist! (Just me?!)
You’re in luck because homemade granola is also SO SIMPLE to make. There was a time when I used to eat yogurt and granola every day for breakfast, and I was ploughing through bags of store-bought granola. Those bags of granola from the grocery store are not cheap, and are full of added sugars and preservatives that your body can do without!
Once you try making your own granola (and I turn you into a granola snob!), there’s no going back to those store-bought bags!
Morning Glory Baked Oatmeal is a glorious way to start any day, combining the chewy texture of carrots with the wonderful flavors of apple, raisins, coconut, walnuts, and spices.
You know those moments that are cemented in your brains, where you can remember exactly everything about the moment – how you felt, what you smelled, what you tasted, what you saw? Those distinct, snapshot moments that become somehow pivotal in your life?
One of those moments for me was eating a Morning Glory muffin. I was in LA, for the first time, alone and all by myself. It was early morning, and I had a coffee in one hand, a bite of Morning Glory muffin in my other hand, a rental car with a sun roof, the sunshine and the salty breeze blowing through my hair, and the steering wheel on my knee.
I drove along the Pacific Highway, north to Malibu, the ocean stretched out around me, in all its brilliant blues, with the road dipping and curving lazily along the coast. In that moment, I felt pure freedom and undiluted giddiness. There was nothing in the world but me and that road.
It was truly a glorious moment.
I’ve just had the most lovely soul-reviving weekend. J was out of town and I was left with two glorious days with absolutely nothing on my calendar. It’s been a long time since I had a weekend so open! I did the perfect amount of errands and cooking and relaxing and am now approaching this week feeling rejuvenated.
On Saturday I knew I wanted to get an early start on some errands, and so I’d set Cherry Coconut Chia Pudding in my fridge the night before. Cherries and toasted coconut pair so lovely together, they were perfect additions to this chia pudding. I’m working through a giant basket of the first local cherries of the season – I just can’t get enough!
Overnight Oats, guys. I just can’t.get.enough.
Remember how I used to turn up my nose at Overnight Oats and how my world was changed back in February? Yep, I have only been eating Overnight Oats for four months, and I am completely obsessed.
In fact, Overnight Oats are now my favourite workday breakfast. They are just so easy and portable! I’ve been waking up early to run a few days a week lately (gotta get fit for my wedding in August!!), and Overnight Oats completely save me – I can jump in the shower, grab my Oats, and run out the door to work.
It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with Overnight Oats. They’re simple, quick, and filling.
But there are just some days when I’m not into eating cold oats. I’d way rather dive into a bowl of creamy, toasty warm oatmeal that is bursting with tropical coconut flavour.
I love coconut – and this Coconut Cream Baked Oatmeal has triple coconut flavour – coconut flakes, coconut milk, and a dot of coconut oil. Top your oatmeal with diced mango and you’ve got Hawaii in a bowl… (Mangos aren’t safe in my house because I eat them as soon as I possibly can, so I topped my bowl of baked oatmeal with sliced strawberries and more coconut.)
It’s no secret that I eat a Lara Bar pretty much every day. I love them for their simple, whole ingredients, but I don’t love the pricetag! My favourite flavour is the Coconut Lara Bar – so I knew I wanted to take that inspiration and make my own coconut flavoured snack bites! These No-Bake Coconut Energy Bites are inspired by Lara Bars, but are in no way supposed to be a copycat recipe.
I’ve paired coconut, dates, and cashews (the three sole ingredients in Coconut Lara Bars) with a few other nuts for a fuller flavour, and also added in my favourite spices – cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. The result is a sweetly spiced coconut energy ball – they make a great breakfast to-go and also a wonderful afternoon snack.
Chia, chia the magical seed. I’ve already talked about how much I love chia in Overnight Oats, and now we have this magical Vanilla Chia Pudding.
Why is it so magical, you ask? A sprinkling of chia seeds mixed with milk and thrown in the fridge overnight turns into a rich, thick pudding that is a great substitute for your morning yogurt. And, chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain health.
Sounds like it one-ups yogurt, wouldn’t you say?! 😉
Dudes. These. are. the. best.
The best as in I may have already inhaled 3 granola bars today. And one before I got around to snapping the photos (see how there’s only 5 bars in the pictures?!)
I have a granola bar addiction. I have granola bars stashed in my desk drawer at work, in our cupboard at home, and often I’ll throw one in my purse. You never know when hunger might strike – and since I turn into the grouch when I’m hungry, they’ve saved me on many occasions!
I’ve just found my new favourite flavour of Overnight Oats: Carrot Cake. Shredded carrots combine with plump raisins, fragrant cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, and mix together with oats and chia seeds to make Carrot Cake Overnight Oats!
Carrot Cake for breakfast?! There’s nothing better. And these oats are actually healthy – only sweetened with a tablespoon of maple syrup.
Sliced Apples! Peanut butter! Granola!
There are only three ingredients in these Apple Granola Sandwiches – my favourite being the peanut butter. Did you know I have an obsession with peanut butter? I eat it out of the jar like nobody’s business.
These cute little breakfast sandwiches are a cinch to make – just slice a whole apple into rounds, slather each slice with peanut butter, and sprinkle with granola. Press the apple slices together – and ta da! You have breakfast to go!
Granola is one of my very favourite breakfast foods to make from scratch – it’s so customizable and so much more affordable than buying a bag at the store! I love slipping in extra cinnamon or my favourite nuts – and it makes such a satisfying breakfast with a splash of almond milk or sprinkled over yogurt.
My granola game changed when I raided the bulk bins at the grocery store and found buckwheat. Buckwheat are cute little grain-like seeds, except they’re not a grain at all! They’re actually a fruit seed (?!). And if you’re gluten-sensitive, buckwheat is completely gluten-free.
I have a little notebook where I jot down recipes that are given to me by friends on scraps of paper, or from colleagues on post-it notes. Cooking is a favourite conversation subject of mine, so inevitably someone is always giving me a recipe to try. 😉
These Simple Homemade Granola Bars are a recipe given to me by a friend, during the time after university when I was single and learning how to cook for myself. (It was also during the time where me and said friend would get together for ‘Sex and the City’ parties, where we drank Cosmopolitans and watched through the six seasons together.)
So these granola bars really deserve to be called Laurel’s Granola Bars.
It’s a new year! I hope you had the happiest of celebrations. This year is going to be a BIG one for me – most notably because J and I are getting married in August! (Eek!)
I love the idea of a fresh start, of reevaluating where you’re at, and realigning yourself with what’s important. Although it’s cliched, every January I like to try out a few new healthy recipes and I appreciate my workout routine with renewed enthusiasm (although I detest how busy the gym gets!).
And just like that, Christmas is over! And what a whirlwind it was!
J’s daughter was with us for Christmas this year – she is with us every second year for Christmas (alternating with her mom) and I keep wondering if she’ll still believe in Santa in another two years when she’s 8?! Do you remember when you found out that Santa wasn’t real?
Knowing that this might be her last year of believing, we made sure to be extra festive – we ice skated with Santa, let her eat chocolate for breakfast on Christmas morning, sang tons of carols, did tons of Christmas crafts, and read tons of Christmas books. We also ate our weights in panetonne, pecan squares, gingersnap cookies, and eggnog.
Have you ever made homemade granola? It’s the best thing ever. I used to spend lots of $$$ on store-bought granola, even occasionally buying the super fancy granola from specialty cafes. There was a while when I ate yogurt+granola for breakfast every day, so my granola consumption was HIGH.
Then I realised – why can’t I make this? Granola is just oats, right? Pretty much. Oats, coconut, some spices, and a few liquids to hold everything together. My favourite granola recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook (original recipe is re-printed here).
Eggs are my favourite breakfast. Even if I’m rushing out the door to head to the office on a weekday morning, I make time for eggs. Usually I fry up a quick egg to put on avocado toast, or scramble a couple eggs for me and J, but my newest favourite egg breakfast are these Baked Ham and Egg Cups. They are so quick to assemble – and I love that once you pop them in the oven, you are free to go back to getting ready for the work day! The recipe is very hands off – so different than scrambling an egg! I’ll pop the muffin tray in the oven, go put on my makeup, and by the time I’m done, breakfast is served!