Rooibos Hot Chocolate


Chances are you stayed up way too late last night and now you need something sugary to wake you up.  Wait – you had too much sugar during the holidays?  Nonsense.  You can never have too much sugar…

So, everyone’s all over the peppermint chocolate stuff at Christmastime.  Don’t get me wrong, I love peppermint and chocolate as a combo… but there comes a time when it’s overdone.  Over-the-top.  Halas (which means “finished” in Arabic)!

Seeing as it’s now January 1st, and definitely not Christmas anymore, I decided to whip up a hot chocolate that involves roobois tea.  I love tea.  I love chocolate.  Combine them in a drink, and I’m a happy camper!  It’s a good way to start 2013.


Rooibos Hot Chocolate:

  • 1 tbsp. rooibos tea (either 1 bag, or in loose leaf form)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/8 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used rice milk)

Bring water to a boil and steep the tea for 6-8 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a small saucepan.  Simmer gently, while stirring to combine the ingredients.  Once the tea is finished steeping, pour it into a mug, pour the hot chocolate mix on top, and use your hand frother (or a whisk) to mix them up really well.  Enjoy!  ~Makes 1 serving.

Christmas Classics

Seriously, how are we half-way through December?  I feel like I say this every month.  Gosh, I wanted to bake Christmas cookies, make some new traditions…but quite frankly we’re just lucky that I get up each morning and stay awake all most of the day!

Even though I haven’t made any new traditions, I’m happy to say that these old ones are pretty fabulous and delicious.  Pound cake and spiced orange juice are two of my husband’s childhood favourites and so being able to make those makes our Christmas just a little more special.


Perhaps if you’re still looking for something new to try you can give these two a whirl!  They’re in the December issue of Faith & Friends magazine that I write recipes for.  Enjoy!

Food in Jordan

I thought I’d do a brief pause in the midst of these Jordan updates to focus in on some of the food that we had in Jordan. Although it’s still focused on the trip, it’s a little bit of a different vibe, so hopefully it gives your brain a break. :)

We ate some AMAZING food on this trip. And can I just say, I feel like the hummus was served differently everywhere we went!! It gave me a new appreciation for hummus (I already loved it), and I realized that there are so many options for “dressing it up.”


We had bought canned hummus at a roadside convenience store in order to have something when we got to our bedouin camp in Wadi Rum (more details on that here!), and we all just planned scooping the hummus out of the can with the flat bread we had. But I mentioned a few days ago in the end, not only did the Bedouins provide us with a bowl, but they spruced up our hummus too with some zaatar (I love that herb blend!) and served us a plate of cucumber and tomato too!!! How amazingly generous. And delicious!!


At one place we had a bowl of hummus that was topped with minced green chiles, whole chickpeas and the typical olive oil which gave it a wonderfully zesty flavour. I’d never had hummus that way before!


And of course, simply served up with a drizzle of olive oil, and some cucumbers and tomatoes:


Nevertheless, besides hummus we ate the most AMAZING fish in Aqaba. Seafood is apparently “the thing” to eat there, and so we were all determined to eat some. We had a restaurant close by to our hotel called “Floka” that offered up a traditional Jordanian fish and rice dish. We had some other stuff with it too, but let’s be real: the fish was where it was at!! The boys got the full fish on rice, and us girls had a filet of fish on rice. I’m glad I got the filet because the whole fish included the head…teeth and all!!!!! Regardless, it was absolutely amazing and I’m so glad we got it.


Here’s a photo montage of a random sampling of foods we ate as well while on the trip:


We also went to a trendy restaurant called “The Blue Fig” where I ordered my usual lemon mint drink, along with a cheese platter. About a year ago I had one at a restaurant for the first time, and ever since then I’ve vowed to order it off of any menu that offers it since they’re usually so different but so yummy! I’m glad I stuck with my intuition, because this was super good. The two chutneys were not at all what I expected just from seeing them, so that was kind of fun! The reddish one was more of an oniony chutney and the orange one was like a ginger flavouring. I especially loved the candied pecans. They were sweet and spicy which was good.


And aside from the lemon mint beverage I usually ordered, they do some amazing fruit juices. Honestly, you could juice up any fresh fruit and I’d be super happy. But I love pomegranates, and so this juice was fantastic considering we’d hiked through Petra and were really thirsty.


I also had freshly blended strawberry juice one night as well which was totally delicious!!


And, last but not least, what meal would be complete without some fresh mint tea? Always a staple in the middle east, and one that I absolutely love.


*Read previous posts on Jordan here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4

What’s in Our Cupboards?

You’ve seen what we have been eating around town, but I haven’t told you about what we’re eating in our own home! To be honest, there haven’t been too many huge changes. We typically ate “differently” than most North Americans anyway, so now I think we fit in, haha.

We eat breakfast at 5:00 a.m. each day – well, slightly after that when we get up – and it’s either yogurt (the equivalent to Greek yogurt) and fruit, or oatmeal with raisins (Peter) or oatmeal with peanut butter and date syrup (me!). I know that for myself the oatmeal is fantastic and it tides me over for about 5 hours, which is great, especially since I’m up so early.

As I mentioned in our school post, we don’t have a “lunch time”, so we both eat whenever it’s convenient in our schedules, so we bring munchie food to keep us going. So far this includes, flat bread and hummus, fruit, raw veggies, almonds, 1.5 litres of water each (no joke, it’s so warm that I finish one during each work day). This keeps us going until we get home and then we usually dive into our dates…


There is honestly no better food in the entire world than fresh dates. I’m soooooooo addicted to them. Since coming to Kuwait 2 years ago I’ve been DREAMING of these dates FOREVER, and no that I have them I can’t get enough. SO delicious.

We eat dinner around 5:00 p.m. every day and it’s vegetarian. It’s not that we’re vegetarians, but honestly, the type of meat we like to eat is easily ordered from any restaurant nearby for very cheap, so when we do eat meat, we eat it out. It’s just easier for us this way, and also cheaper. Plus, we don’t eat meat that much. So, we stick to lentils, chickpeas, and I’m experimenting with other legumes that I find locally. This means we eat quite a bit of curry (both “Indian” and “Thai”…and I say that loosely because I’m not an expert in those styles of cooking) and it’s usually a one-dish kind of meal. So rice with a chickpea curry, noodles with coconut milk curry, baked sweet potatoes topped with a sloppy lentil type dish… you get the idea.


Here’s a quick peek into our cupboards and fridge. They might look bare to you, but they’re just full enough for us.



Where do we get our groceries? There’s lots of options throughout the city, but right now, for where we’re living, we use the bakala, which is a small convenience store that sells minimal produce, but lots of spices, legumes, etc. We also use a few larger shopping centres that require a taxi. But essentially there’s nothing we can’t get. If anything there’s lots more here that we want to try than when we were in Canada! Not just that, but the cost of food here is MUCH cheaper, for which we’re grateful.

So there you have it! A little look into our daily food lives.

Rainy Day Activities

I find that sometimes August can bring a few more showers than July.  It can be frustrating as you realize that the summer is slipping away, but you’d rather be outside than inside due to rain.  In any case, here are some fun rainy day activities for adults and kids alike!

1. Go outside and dance in the rain! Why stay indoors? Either suit up in all your rain gear, go out dressed as is, or put on your bathing suit, and just enjoy getting wet!


2. Grab a cup of tea and a good book, curl up in a chair with a cozy blanket and relax. Listen to the sound of the rain pelting on your window.

3. Do one cleaning task that you wouldn’t normally want to do on a sunny day when you’d rather be outside. You know, vacuum, clean your toilet, do a load of laundry. Get it done while you’re stuck indoors and then you can have fun outside when it’s sunny again!

4. Help your kids get a little crafty. Have them draw some new art for the fridge, or give them a dollar store canvas and some paints and let them create a masterpiece! If you are really into displaying art, give them specific colours that match your home decor, tell them to create, and then you can hang it up somewhere prominent! They’ll feel super special.

5. Go to a local pond and feed the ducks. They’re used to being wet, so a little rain won’t scare them away. It’ll be fun to watch them enjoy the rain!

6. Learn something new. Grab google, wikipedia or youtube and look up how to do something you’ve wondered about but never thought to try. It might be a cooking technique, how to play an instrument, or the history of a type of species. Whatever it is, expand your knowledge a bit!

7. Have a picnic indoors. We love doing this! Set up a space in your home with a table cloth or blanket on the floor. Serve up some fun picnic foods (like curried devilled eggs or Greek bean salad) and pretend like you’re outside! If you really want to make the experience exciting you can download some soundtracks of the ocean to play – it’ll sound like you’re right there!

8. Weed your garden. It might get messy, but it’ll be easier to pull some of those tough weeds when the soil is wet rather than when it’s hardened by the summer sun.

9. Make chocolate chip cookies. Is there anything better on a rainy day?

10. Make a pot of soup. Rain makes you feel like you want to be a bit cozy, so a pot of soup is perfect. It’s easy to simmer on the stove all day, and you can stay warm and dry.


Or, go for a drive.  Just not in traffic, or you’ll hate the rain even more.  :)

Quebec: Montreal – Day 2

After attempting to get myself to sleep the night before, we all arose on Day 2 of our Montreal adventure with the anticipation of heading to the Jean Talon Market.


Not only was I super excited because it’s supposedly the largest open-air market in North America, but also because it was the starting location for our foodie tour!!!  2.5 glorious hours with a local tour guide to take us through the nooks and crannies of the market and the surrounding area of Little Italy and to show us some of the delicious tastes of Montreal.

Amazing, right?  Umm, yah, totally amazing.


Despite the calm exterior, I promise I was going crazy with excitement on the inside.


We got to the market a little early and we wandered through on our own  for a bit just cruising up and down the aisles of over 300+ vendors.  We paused to grab me a chocolate-almond croissant from Au Pain Dore and then we sat down for Peter to enjoy his crepe.


Eventually though we met up with Lise, our foodie tour guide for the afternoon!  There were 10 of us in the group, and it was a great size.  Any bigger would’ve been too chaotic in the already-busy market.



Our first stop was at “Pâtisserie le Ryad” to enjoy some Turkish delight.  We had passed the booth earlier in the day and I remarked to Peter how much I liked Turkish delight and how I wanted to buy some, but we resisted… But I still got to try it in the end!  It was very yummy.


Our next stop was to try some sparkling rhubarb juice (no picture) along with pickled fiddleheads and dried beef jerky.  It was all soooo incredibly tasty.  I really loved the juice, and the fiddleheads had a nice texture and “bite” to them.


Then we paused at a little sausage vendor where we were allowed to try one piece of sausage each.  The options were abundant: duck, bison, pig, cow, lamb, turkey, tofu, venison…and more I can’t recall.  I ended up choosing the duck sausage and Peter had a venison sausage.  We split them together and they were both so tender and flavourful.


One of my favourite stops was the little Mexican restaurant called “Maya Croustilles.”  The sweetest little lady put together small soft corn tortillas (made there on location!) with a flavourful filling of green peppers, tomatoes, etc. done like a salsa.  She included a dark mole on the side which I put inside my tortilla and it was soooooo fantastic.  It had just enough “kick” to it and it was hearty but not overdone.  And she also gave us handmade tortilla chips to try, which were just as wonderful!


It was at this point that we did more walking through Little Italy.  Lise told us about the history of the neighbourhood, including a local cathedral (where we witnessed a young Italian couple getting married!) which was all intriguing and informative.


Our tour ended at a small Italian restaurant where we had the best cannoli on the planet.  Seriously.  Okay, so maybe it’s better in Italy itself, but seriously – this stuff was divine.  The made it fresh to-order when we all arrived.  Incredible.  Have I used that word enough??


Well, despite our official foodie tour being over, our food ventures didn’t stop there!  As if we hadn’t sampled enough food throughout the day, we actually continued on to the famed “Schwartz’s.”  It’s a Hebrew Delicatessen.  Apparently there is always a line-up from the moment they open until the moment they close, so we joined up the line and waited our turn.

We actually didn’t wait that long because space for 4 opened up pretty quickly!  We were seated at a table for 6, along with another couple.  Everyone in there eats with someone else in order to make the line-up go quickly.  It was a fun experience!


We had the typical smoked meat sandwich (beef) that comes either lean, medium or fatty.  Everyone says medium has the best flavour, so we went with that!  And we ordered a side of coleslaw and fries.  It wasn’t exactly health conscious, but it was so very tasty and we all were really happy to have tried it!!

On the Sunday we made our trek back to Ontario.  Can I just say, that not only did I wake up with a nasty cold but I also got to drive in the worst weather we’d had all weekend.  It was pouring rain.  And I have this “joke” with Peter that I only ever drive on our road trips in the really bad weather or the boring scenes.  For example: during a bad snowstorm on our way to New York City in 2006.  Or driving through the flat prairies for HOURS.  Or in this case, being pummelled with rain.


Despite the rain, the best part of the trip home was that Peter and I got to stop in Picton, ON to meet up with one of his older sisters, Rachel and her hubby Brian and their super cute kiddos, Olivia and Nathaniel.

We had a delicious dinner at “The Barley Room Pub” and then we finished up the rest of our trip back home.  It was a fun trip through Quebec and I’m so glad we had the chance to do it!

Colds. What are they good for?

I’m going to interrupt my updates on our trip to Quebec (Part 1, Part 2) with a rant on having a cold.

I’m seriously grateful that my cold didn’t surface until the day we were driving home from Quebec.  But seriously?  Being sick at all in the summer seems totally wrong.  It’s warm and sunny outside…and inside I feel warm and…cold?!  Gross.  Granted, I rarely get sick anymore…not like when I was younger and I was constantly battling strep throat or tonsillitis.  Both of which resulted in me having my tonsils removed at the age of 18.  Yah.  Super fun.  You want to know what’s even more fun?  Having them removed at 35 years old.  Yup, that was my brother.  We have awesome tonsil genes.

ANYWAY, I thought I’d share a couple of tips for those of you who might also be suffering a summer cold.

Wash your hands frequently.  It can’t be said enough.  Use soap and warm water and keep washing!  Oh, and apply some hand cream here and there, or your skin will totally dry up.


If you’re feeling up to it, get out of the house and at least walk around the block.  It’s warm enough that you don’t have to bundle up like when you get sick in the winter, so do a little trot around the block and get your legs moving.

You will inevitably have to blow your nose a gazillion trillion times (yes, that’s an accurate number).  If you’re fancy schmancy you might have those special aloe vera tissues.  But if you’re me, then what you’ll do is apply coconut oil to your nose here and there throughout the day.  It softens your skin keeping it nice and moisturized, but it also is naturally anti-bacterial so it’ll keep the germs at bay.

Get dressed.  I don’t care if you just put on clean pyjamas or new sweat pants, but at least get out of whatever you slept in.  You’ll feel slightly more human.  If you can, kick it up a notch and shower!

Drink clear liquids like they’re going out of style!  A concoction that I find particularly helpful when I have a sore throat or cough in conjunction with a cold is: 1 cup of hot water + 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar + 1 tsp. honey + 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon.

Avoid dairy and meat.  This is hard for me because I love my dairy… But if possible, avoid them both as much as you can.  They both create extra mucus, and no one wants extra mucus…

Rest.  Luckily for me I’m unemployed right now so I don’t have any major commitments, so that means my number one priority is getting well.  This means I’ve had the occasional nap.  It’s especially helpful if you’re not sleeping all that well at night.  Just sleep when you can.  Your body will thank you!

Don’t eat sugar.  It’s not good for you on the best of days, but it’s especially bad for you when you’re sick.  It feeds off of those little germies inside of you and can actually make you more sick.  So lay off the chocolate bars and ice cream for a few days, k?

If you’re sick, get well soon!  And if you’re not, I’m infinitely jealous of you right now.

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