Watermelon Lime Gingerade

In exactly one week Sebastian and I will pack up our bags, our cat, our many boxes of books and travel 4,364 km from Montreal to Vancouver to start a new adventure.

There is a whole lot of excitement, expectation, fear, some sadness, and overall the feeling that I am doing something completely new with my life. Moving away for university was a big step, but it was padded with the comforts of a fairly regimented school structure and more friends coming along for the ride than I ever could have hoped for. It didn't feel so much that I had moved away, but more that my entire social life and most of my interests had just transplanted themselves into a new city. A city that was, in the grand scheme of things, relatively close to home. 

This is different. I am moving further away from my family, friends, and city than ever before. 

It is beautiful in a way, the experience of drastic change. It makes you re-examine your own habits and overhaul those long fermented routines. The opportunity to up-haul your entire existence and start new doesn't come around that often. Jobs become steady and hard to leave, relationships form, and that intangible feeling of home starts to settle around everything that was once new. Not to say that you should ever feel stuck, but only that it becomes harder and harder to leave a place the deeper your roots plant themselves (sometimes without you noticing). 

So here we are, stuck in between, waiting for this big change and completely uncertain about what is to come. It's a funny feeling, to be in limbo like this. It's been one month since I quit my job; one month since I had any semblance of structure to my days. I loved the initial freedom, but I work best and am happiest when I am busy.

On the other hand, I am so grateful I've had this time in Toronto to spend with the people I love. I am going to miss everyone so much, and my heart aches a little at the thought of leaving so many people I care so much about. But isn't that part of the magic of love? I know these relationships can withstand distance and I am sure that I will be back soon with all the hugs and love I have to offer.

So, cheers to newness and change! The next time I talk to you I will be in Vancouver. In the meanwhile I'll be here, sipping on this refreshing watermelon lime gingerade (maybe with a splash of gin), packing my bags and setting my sights on everything that is to come. xo

watermelon lime gingerade

Serves 2

This is also really nice with gin if you want to make it a cocktail :)

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Ingredients

  • 4.5 cups cubed watermelon (apprx. 1/4 of a watermelon)
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • juice of 1 lime 

 

Notes

Blend everything together in an upright blender on high for about 30 seconds. Serve cold over ice if desired. You can strain this if you prefer something smoother, but personally I like the pulp. 

Sun-Dried Tomato, Olive & Arugula Pesto Pizza

I've just come back from a week of sun, music, camping, new friends, lots of good food, and one of my favourite places to be: Bonnaroo! We got back home earlier today (Tuesday) and I am typing this out with simultaneous feelings of comfort and nostalgia. If you've ever been to Bonnaroo you know how positive and beautiful an experience it can be. Rolling onto the farm for only the second time in my life brought back all the feels from the year before. It felt instantly familiar and we fell into conversation with our camping neighbours within minutes. I already miss them.

It is a strange thing to feel like an introvert 51 out of 52 weeks in the year. Even though I know it is a continuum I generally get my energy and re-charge by sitting alone with a book or a cup of tea and some tunes. At Bonnaroo it is a completely different story. I find myself reaching out to everyone around me with open arms, mind, and heart. I can honestly say that I met friends at this four day festival (okay six days since we came to volunteer before the show) that I will never forget and plan to see again next year. 

I am writing this late at night and don't feel I have the distance or mental stamina to go through the whole festival yet. I want to share it all, but part of me is also content to let it live as a personal memory and something I experienced with some of my closest friends. Lets just say that I saw Chance The Rapper, Lorde, The Weeknd, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The xx, Noname, 2 Dope Queens, The Improvised Shakespeare Company (some of the best comedy I have ever seen) and many more. It was magical. 

Love and hugs (and pizza) to everyone ☀

This pizza!

I need to start by saying I've eaten more pizza in the past week than I have in the past six months! I made this pizza before I left for Bonnaroo though, so I feel a-okay about it.

I usually love a super saucy pizza with the sauce to crust ratio much higher on the former. However, this pizza with it's creamy, fresh pesto is perfect for summer. I still spooned on a good ratio of pesto to naan and it sits so well as a base for the rest of the toppings. 

I am always a fan of olives on pizza so I took that theme and ran with it. 

This comes together in just a few minutes because of the naan crust. I love the simplicity and ease of both the assembly and the flavours. 

I think you are going to love this. Let me know if you try it out! <3 

sun-dried tomato, olive & arugula Pesto Pizza

Makes 3 - 4 personal sized pizzas

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Ingredients

Arugula Pesto

  • 2 cups packed basil, washed
  • 2 cups packed arugula 
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt or more to taste
  • optional: 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Pizzas (all of these ingredients can be measured to your desired amounts)

  • whole wheat naan (as many pizzas as you want to make)
  • sun-dried tomatoes 
  • cherry tomatoes, sliced lengthwise 
  • kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • arugula 
  • sunflower seeds
  • olive oil for drizzling 

 

Notes

Preheat the oven to 450 and line a baking tray with parchment paper. 

In the bowl of a food processor combine all of the pesto ingredients and blend on high until smooth. 

Spread each naan with 1-2 tbsp pesto (as desired) and top with sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and olives. Place the naan pizzas on the prepared baking tray and bake in the oven for 6 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom. Top each pizza with arugula, sunflower seeds, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immedieately! These should last in the fridge for a couple of days, but are really best when fresh. 

Carrot & Cabbage Salad w/ Sesame Lime Dressing

Food is memory; it is the nostalgia of being held and fed by a parent, the memory of that perfect summer day picking plump, sun-ripened tomatoes from the vine, the perfectly sectioned packed lunch you brought to school on your first day of grade one (with the orange and the chocolate chip granola bar). 

The things we eat are emotionally and physically nourishing. A simple cup of tea and a square of silky dark chocolate in the evening is a ritual as much as a pleasure of texture and taste. A perfectly vibrant green pesto on crusty, just baked bread conjures up a string of images - backyard garden parties with smokey air and twinkling lanterns hanging from the trees, or that one day in December when you just can’t wait for basil to be in season and create a summer picnic scene in your cozy, dimly lit apartment, windows frosting at the edges. 

This isn’t a new idea - is anything really? - but it is one I feel gets lost so easily in the bustle of internet food trends and the constant need for rules about everything. To me, food is so tied up with family, relationships, and love. I learned to bake from my mom and grandmothers, discovered the joys of stinky cheeses and jasmine tea during long, intimate chats with friends, and grew up on those so-called hippy foods like flax, seaweed, and wheatgrass fed to me by my dad who is still the first to tell me about the health benefits of any given deep green veggie or bright orange root. 

It makes me sad, sometimes, to read about all the different ways people restrict themselves with food. I stopped eating meat when I was 9 years old. If I am honest, I didn’t do it for ethical, environmental, or health reasons. I just simply didn’t like meat and haven’t tried it since. I always want to be open and hospitable to people’s personal choices, but when those choices are coming from the newest fad diet or nutritionist super-star, it gives me pause. 

I think everyone should do what is best for their bodies, and I will always stand by that, but in the end isn’t real, whole food just good and nourishing? Do I really have to stop eating half the vegetables in my fridge because they might contain a certain protein that is hard to digest? I just can’t stand by that. And I find it hard to see so many people readily accepting every new diet trend that emerges. I often catch myself buying into it for a little while before I remember that what I am doing right now works so well for me. Again, what works for one body is so different from what works for the next. I’m not here to judge anyone, but I still have so many questions. I really want to hear your thoughts on this. 

This salad is meant for sharing. 

For as long as I can remember my mom has been making this for potlucks, family dinners, and simple outdoor summer meals. When I called her to talk about it she told me that it wasn't in fact her recipe, but our good friend Kelly's. I love the evolution of a recipe, all the hands it has passed through, and the variations it takes on. I think it is incredibly beautiful to think of all the people who have - metaphorically - touched a recipe and changed it in their own way.

So, all this to say, I hope you do the same. My biggest wish for the recipes that I post in this space is that they are changed and altered. I want you to think of them as the framework, the bones, to something that will ultimately be your own style. Nothing makes me happier than to see your interpretations of the things I make. 

Sending love, good thoughts, and good food your way. 

carrot & cabbage salad w/ sesame lime dressing

Serves 4

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Ingredients

Salad

  • half of a purple cabbage, sliced into quarters
  • 4 large carrots, washed (peeling optional)
  • 4 sprigs mint, washed
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

Dressing

  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tsp sriracha 
  • 1 tsp grated ginger

 

Notes

Add all of the dressing ingredients to a jar and seal tightly. Shake until combined. 

Using the grater attachment on a food processor grate the cabbage and carrots. If you don't have a food processor simply grate the carrots using a box grater and slice the cabbage into thin ribbons, chopping into smaller pieces if desired. Remove the leaves from the sprigs of mint and thinly slice by gathering the mint into a bundle and slicing lengthwise with your knife. Add the carrots, cabbage, and mint to a large serving bowl and toss together. Add the dressing (as much as desired, I used all of it) and toss until evenly distributed. Top with chopped peanuts and serve. Will keep in the fridge for 1-2 days. 

Spiced Lemongrass Coconut Milk Soup w/ Yellow Lentils & Roasted Purple Potatoes

I feel as if I have re-surfaced. There is a clarity present in my mind that I haven't felt for many months. I feel like myself again, a feeling I hadn't realized I was missing until it came back to me. Friday was my last day at work, at a job I worked for 7 months, 40 hours a week. This may seem like a short amount of time, but for me it was the longest consecutive job I've had in my life. The transition from working summers and student jobs to a more real "adult" working schedule hit me hard and I can't describe how freeing it feels now that it's over. 

Working full time can be so draining. I don't mean to complain here, but more to offer up this space as an invitation to add your thoughts on this. I don't know if I believe in the idea of a work life balance -- I understand the principle, but to me everything I decide to do with my time is also a part of my life. I know this is an idealized outlook, but I want my job to reflect my life style and values as much as my free time does. While this is undeniably a privileged position to hold, after my experience working somewhere that didn't fulfil me creatively I know that I have to do whatever it takes to make my job exciting and fill me with passion. 

Since I finished work on Friday, I've been trying to treat my days at home as work days: planning, scheduling, recipe testing, and photographing my meals. It's been pretty amazing. I know it isn't a possibility right now, but working for myself and doing freelance jobs seems like the ultimate dream. Today I walked 45 minutes (each way) to this zero waste grocery store I've been meaning to check out. I walked along a meandering bike path beside the railway tracks filled with green trees and the occasional chirp of a bird. It was lovely. 

I always feel like I write too much here, so I am going to leave it there for now. All this to say that I am loving life and just so excited for everything coming up in the future. Sending hugs and lots of soup (and crispy basil potatoes). xo

spiced lemongrass coconut milk soup w/ yellow lentils & roasted purple potatoes 

Serves 2 - 4

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Ingredients

Potatoes

  • 12 mini purple potatoes, sliced in halves
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Spiced Lemongrass Coconut Milk Soup

  • 1 can (400 ml) light coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric 
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika 
  • 6 sticks lemongrass
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes 
  • 2 tsp miso + 1 tbsp water (create a paste)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar 
  • juice of half a lime (plus more for serving)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 cup dried yellow lentils, rinsed 

 

Notes

Preheat the oven to 400 and line a baking tray with parchment paper. 

Add the lentils to a medium sized pot and cover with plenty of fresh water (at least 2 inches above the lentils). Bring to a boil and then reduce to a rapid simmer and cook for 25 - 30 minutes, until soft. Drain any remaining liquid. 

Toss the potatoes with basil, olive oil, salt and pepper and lay out on the prepared baking tray. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. 

To make the soup add the coconut milk and water to a large soup pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and then add the turmeric, smoked paprika, lemongrass, chili flakes, miso, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, and salt. Whisk together and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat until the potatoes and lentils are done (make sure to cook the milk with the spices for at least 10 minutes). Remove the lemongrass sticks before serving. 

To serve ladle equal parts soup and lentils into a bowl. Top with potatoes and garnish with basil leaves and lime. 

Frozen Banana Peanut Butter Caramel Cups

Is it not one of the best feelings to look out your window at 7pm and still see blue skies and sunshine? I am definitely stoked about it. I have this strange sense of guilt every time I am inside and it is beautiful outside. I feel like I am wasting the opportunity to feel sun on my skin and breathe fresh air. For example, today I walked to work and back again (45 minutes each way) but when I got home I felt a definite sense of agitation and the need to be outdoors. I was exhausted, but I still wanted to experience those last daylight hours to their fullest. At least in my mind. My body had other ideas (comfy clothes and a snack) so I compromised by making almond butter and opening all of the windows.*

This is an exciting week for me. Friday is my last day at work! First, I want to thank all of you for your kind messages and notes about last week's post. It really meant the world to me, and your support is so truly heartwarming. This week marks the beginning of a shift in my life. Even though I finished school in December, Montreal will always remind me of being a student. It is hard to shift my perception of the city into anything else. It's been a hard winter, but knowing that I only have a few weeks left in this city is making me sentimental. 

I have just over a week in Montreal once I am finished work. After that I am heading to Toronto, then to Bonnaroo (!!!), back to Toronto, and then finally flying out to Vancouver at the end of June to start a new chapter (for fear of being cliché) of my life. It is jam packed, crazy, and I am over the moon excited!

By the way, does anyone have tips on flying with cats?

I don't have many words today, but more a general sense of impending possibility. I'll talk to you next week from the other side of work (and a new stint of unemployment). Have a great week, babes. ♥

*UGH. I just got up from writing this to make a cup of tea and my cat knocked over a full glass of water that was on my desk into my open bag... Anyways, it is now 8pm and STILL sunny outside! 

Another dessert, you might ask? 

I don't usually post sweet recipes (or at least not as often as savoury dinner situation recipes) so two in a row is unusual. But really, why not?

I made your usual, run-of-the-mill homemade peanut butter cups last week and Sebastian loved them. He couldn't stop talking about how good they were, and why hadn't I made them before. He suggested posting the recipe in this space, but I just couldn't justify it, not when there are so many superbly delicious recipes for the same thing on the internet. 

Over a bowl of ramen (and ridiculously good cocktails) we devised this recipe. I have to give him credit for the peanut butter banana combo. I know it is a classic, but I don't usually gravitate towards banana in desserts. I was so pleasantly surprised by these. 

You know banana ice cream (or nice cream)? Well, these are basically like little nice cream bites, coated in chocolate and stuffed with peanut butter caramel. SO GOOD. 

They are incredibly simple and made up of only 5 ingredients! 

Please try them. Please love them. 

frozen banana peanut butter caramel cups

Makes 12 mini cups

If your peanut butter is unsalted add a pinch of salt to the caramel. If you prefer a sweeter chocolate, you can add an additional tbsp maple syrup, although I found it plenty sweet. A key to this recipe is slicing the banana very thinly. The thinner the banana slices the more evenly the chocolate will look on top (and the more caramel you can add). 

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Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter (unsweetened + a pinch of salt)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup, divided 
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder
  • apprx. half a banana sliced (12 very thin slices)

 

Notes

Prepare 12 mini cupcake liners on a baking sheet. To make the peanut butter caramel, combine the peanut butter with 1 tbsp maple syrup in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Once melted, whisk in the cacao powder and 2 tbsp maple syrup and remove from heat. 

Pour 1 tsp of the melted chocolate mixture into each mini cupcake liner. Place in the freezer and let set for 10 minutes. Next, add a slice of banana to each liner on top of the now hardened chocolate (read above notes on thinness of banana). Add a small dollop of the peanut butter caramel (1/2 tsp to 1 tsp) and smooth it evenly with a spoon or your fingers. Finally, fill the rest of the liner to the top with the remaining melted chocolate. It should cover the banana and caramel completely. Return to the freezer and set for at least 35 minutes (although the longer the better). Decorate with additonal banana if desired. Store in the freezer in a sealed container for up to (I would guess) two weeks. 

Fudgy Dark Chocolate Balsamic Basil Brownies (Raw)

There are so many places to begin this post that I am finding myself at a loss for words. I have two exciting things to share today, and while they are distinctly different and important in their own ways, I find them blurring together in my mind. I think it might be because they both represent the future in an abstract yet date specific kind of way. 

It is Spice & Sprout's 2nd birthday!

When I started out two years ago, I knew nothing of the blogging world. I read a handful of food blogs and spent all of my free time in the kitchen with messy hands and a full heart. I loved cooking and baking (I still do) and it seemed like the natural progression of my childhood and teenage passions to start this space. It's funny to be on the other side. While my passion hasn't dwindled, I do find myself motivated by different reasons. I would love to say that readers and followers don't factor into my feelings of self worth, but that would be dishonest. It can be hard to separate out external vs. internal validations. That being said, I am ever so grateful for the amazing community that I am now a part of.

I had no idea of the intense support system that exists in this community before I started blogging. I can honestly say that I have never felt competitive or jealous of the bloggers around me, but instead so completely inspired by the beautiful work that they all do. Every writer, photographer, recipe developer, cook, and stylist (because sometimes blogger feels reductive) is unique and has their own vision. I feel so lucky to be a part of this world and I want to send a big hug out to everyone who hangs out in this space with me. Thank you for your constant support, your sweet messages, and the brightness that you bring into my life. xo

I am moving to Vancouver!

It's happening! So soooooon! I am so ridiculously excited.

I don't know exactly why I wanted to share these two things in the same post, but they both feel important and monumental in my life. At the end of June, Sebastian and I will pack up the few belongings we own (plus our cat) and fly across the country to start a new adventure. 

I've spoken about my love for the outdoors here before and this move feels so intuitive. We are starting something fresh and new, in a city overflowing with green spaces and beautiful views. The mountains and the ocean. That's all I keep thinking of. It is not an exaggeration to say this takes up at least 50% of my headspace daily. 

I am sure I'll talk more about this move as it approaches. I can't wait to hear from all of you west coasters on the best places to eat, hike, and travel to. And I can't wait to meet some of you in person!

So many exciting things on the horizon, my loves. You all rule ♥

Did you think I was going to forget to tell you about these brownies?

They are kind of my idea of perfection. I would never claim to have made the perfect brownie recipe (who are we kidding) but these are a pretty joyous spin on the classic fudgy raw version. 

The actual brownie is spiked with balsamic vinegar. Amidst the dense chocolatey goodness you get hints of that almost floral brightness. A deep tang that lingers for just a moment after the chocolate disperses. 

Basil provides an earthy, bright contrast to the deeper flavour notes. It is infused in coconut oil and whipped into a creamy, rich ganache that tops the brownies. Personally, I think a raw brownie always deserves a little love on top.

The creamy layers are juxtaposed with bits of walnut, adding some crunch and texture variation. 

I cannot say enough good things about these brownies. I really hope that you try them out and let me know what you think. Remember you can always tag @spiceandsprout to show me your creations! 

fudgy dark chocolate balsamic basil brownies (raw)

Makes an 8x8 dish of brownie goodness! 

The hardest part about these brownies is the waiting. For the brownies to properly set, you really need to leave them for at least an hour in the freezer before serving. Keep this in mind when planning to make these treats! :)

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Ingredients

Brownies

  • 2 1/2 cups walnuts, divided
  • 2 cups gooey pitted dates 
  • 1/2 cup cacao or cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Ganache

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 5 basil leaves, minced
  • 50g chopped dark chocolate (I used 90% but anything over 70% works)
  • 1/4 cup cacao or cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • walnuts and chopped basil to decorate

 

Notes

Line an 8x8 inch baking dish with parchment paper (you can oil the dish if you want, it makes the parchment paper stick more easily). Set aside. 

In a food processor, combine 2 cups of the walnuts and all of the dates. Blend on high until it forms a dough that gathers into a ball inside the food processor (see photos 3 and 4). Add the rest of the brownie ingredients and continue to process until the dough is thick and slightly sticky (it shouldn't take more than a minute or two). Add in the remaining half cup of walnuts and pulse once or twice until they are mixed in but not blended. 

Press the brownie dough into the prepared baking dish and make sure it is evenly distributed and smooth on the top. Place in the freezer to set. 

To make the ganache melt the coconut oil with the basil in a double boiler (boil a pot of water and place a heatproof dish over it). Once melted add in the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts. Add in the cacao powder and maple syrup and whisk until thick and smooth. Remove from heat. 

Pour the ganache over the brownies and spread so that it evenly coats the top. Sprinkle on chopped walnuts and basil. Place back into the freezer and let set for at least one hour before serving. These brownies are super fudgy and will be too gooey to cut if they don't set for long enough. Store in a sealed container in the freezer for a couple of weeks.