Food | Shrimp Cakes


I spent the better part of last week lamenting about my boredom with food; the first week of cleansing went well, I was coming up with some amazing food ideas. But in week two, I lost the zest, if you will.

They say that week one is the hardest part of a cleanse; but I think “they” have never done a cleanse for longer than a week. Week two was filled with slip ups- cake, chocolate, chips- and plateaus- I went 3 days with no weight loss. Yes this cleanse is for my health but it’s also in the name of vanity, I will admit that free and clear. So yeah, I wanted to quit; but it’s a journey. And having been overweight as a child, I know that that for me personally, this will be a lifelong journey.


I went to a movie on Saturday and I had a whole bag of popcorn, not just 15 kernels; and Sunday I woke up feeling like I needed to dig myself out of this cleanse rut. So I thought to myself, what do I want to eat- REALLY want to eat? I initially thought of pasta, but then I thought, I could really go for a crab cake with spicy aioli- why a crab cake? I have no idea. But I set out to make this classically heavy, mayo laden, and creamy dish into something that even we cleansers can enjoy.


For the dressing, I swapped out the mayo for Greek yogurt. I made homemade ancient grain breadcrumbs from toast and I used egg- not mayo- to bind the cakes together. Although a bit time consuming, because of the shrimp peeling, breadcrumb making, shrimp cake resting- it was the most satisfying meal I’d in had in a week. It was new, it was fresh, and it was cleanse friendly. Just call me Stella, because I’ve got my groove back!

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Shrimp Cakes
16 cooked large shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled, deveined
1 large egg
1 green onion, sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
4 pieces of flax bread, toasted
1 tbsp canola oil

Dipping Sauce
1 cup Balkan style yogurt
¼ cup minced cilantro
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
½ tsp lemon juice

To make breadcrumbs, toast 4 pieces of bread until really toasted. Cool and then crumble into crumbs. Easy, no? Yes.

In a food processor add 1 cup of breadcrumbs and the rest of the ingredients and pulse until incorporated, but still chunky. Roll into balls and flatten. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the yogurt, cilantro, pepper sauce and lemon juice. Set aside. Heat oil in a non stick skillet on medium high heat. Roll the chilled shrimp cakes in the breadcrumbs and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Serve with a dollop of yogurt sauce.


Pictures | An Afternoon With The Pups


You might be wondering did Bianca cook dog this weekend, caused by delirium from carbohydrate withdrawal. Nope. Although in some cultures it’s completely acceptable to eat the canine species, you won’t find puppy chow on this blog- but I pass ZERO judgment.

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Food posts are slim pickings around here; because honestly I have been eating the same variation of the EXACT same thing for the past two weeks- them the breaks on a cleanse.

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This past Saturday I spent the afternoon at my parent’s house and I couldn’t help but turn it into a puppy photo shoot. My “puppies” are actually full blown adults- twelve and thirteen years respectively- but they’ll always be puppies to me. As much as I love them, shooting animals reminded me why I love to shoot still life and food- they don’t move; animals do. At one point I had to hold my eldest dogs face in between my knees in order to get a snout shot- good god I love puppy snouts. I’m a sucker for a snout.

By the end of the impromptu shoot, my dogs were WAY over me following them around the house and snapping away- my female dog Ginger is deathly afraid of a camera lens- I have no idea why; but she’s got to get over it. I like pictures, I like dogs and she’s my dog- so too bad Gingey, willing or not, you are going to be one of my animal subjects.

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I promise a food post very soon;)

Spring Cleaning | The Cleanse Week One

Cleansing isn’t easy.

As I write this, I am on day eleven; I’ve lost 7 lbs so far and the cravings have begun to subside; but with that being said, day one and two were extremely hard. Was it the box of cookies sitting on my counter or the sight of my roommate enjoying a brownie? Who knows, but my will survived and I made it through.

They say the first week is the hardest, but day three was when I thought I had it all together, the cravings had seemingly subsided and I thought I was going to sail through the rest of the cleanse no problem. Then day four hit the skids, I was tired, I wanted coffee with cream and bread dripping in butter- and I don't even like butter that much. It was rough; and in truth I wanted to quit, but since I had written a blog post and told almost everyone I knew that I was cleansing, my pride prevailed- thankfully.

Day five was much better, I went to a movie; but I broke the rules slightly and took 1 ½ cups of air popped popcorn and 1 small square of dark chocolate in my purse. And I even allowed myself 15 kernels of movie popcorn- I couldn’t resist the smell of warm movie popcorn wafting my way, so I savored those 15 kernels like it was my last meal. It all worked out fine, I still managed to weight lose that day- winning! Day six was smooth, no cravings and very few temptations- yes the cookies and brownies were still on the counter, but I had made peace with them on day three.

Day eight I had to work in a restaurant and holy hell that was like being thrown into the gauntlet- I broke. I had popcorn, and it was AMAZING. It was as though there was a sale on it- everyone was ordering it; so I had the equivalent of about 2 cups because sometimes life demands a rule break. Day nine I impressed the hell out of myself; I deejay’d that night and I typically drink my weight in alcohol, but on this, the ninth day, I did not have one drop- not one. I woke up Sunday like a gem and even went to the gym- yay me!

To say that week one was full of ups and down would be a gross understatement; I repeat cleansing isn’t easy. During week one I found myself grocery shopping LOTS. Since my diet consists of mainly salads, lean meats and fruit, freshness is paramount; so for the sake of freshness I’ve come to terms with the fact that the grocery store and I are going steady for the next 2 weeks. It’s fine, he’s cute anyways.

I knew that I would miss certain foods, but, man, I missed sugar like something fierce; enter cinnamon. I’ve started steeping my tea with cinnamon sticks and sprinkling it on my strawberries; and I don’t know if my taste buds are just dying to have something- anything- sweet, but cinnamon adds a nice hint of sweetness. It has been my savior.

Since salad dressing is out of the question and salt is very minimal, I have found that a fresh salsa or bruschetta topping makes for a delicious dressing and topping for fish, chicken or beef; it also reminds me of the wonderful salsa I voraciously devoured in Mexico- minus the chips and guacamole ;)

My mother- who is also cleansing- mentioned that she is bored with food; and I can’t blame her. For myself I have found that I am cooking a lot; and for someone like my mother who doesn’t cook very much it’s easy to get bored and demoralized with options. So here’s what I made in week one to keep myself satisfied. Be warned the stove is going to be your ball and chain, learn to love it.


Steak Salad
1 palm sized grilling steak
1 ½ cups spring mix
¼ cup fresh salsa
In a non stick pan heated to medium high heat, sear the steak on both sides- about 4 minutes per side. Remove from heat and allow to rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss greens with salsa and season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice the steak into strips and add to salad.


Chicken with caramelized onions and fennel
1 onion, sliced into thin half moons
1 fennel bulb, core removed and sliced thinly
1 chicken breast, cut into strips
¼ cup bruschetta topping
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/3 cup chicken broth
Season chicken with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. In a non stick pan heated to medium high heat, add the seasoned chicken and cook until chicken is white all the way through- about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cover. Add the onion and fennel and cook for 8 minutes- tossing as needed, so they brown but do not burn. Deglaze with chicken and cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Top with chicken with the onion/fennel mixture and bruschetta mix.


Shrimp Toss- a bit of a rule breaker. I needed carbs so I figured as long as it was a good carb- Quinoa- that I would be in the clear.
¼ cup cooked quinoa
½ cup shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ cup bruschetta mix
3 spring onions, chopped
In a non stick pan heated to medium high heat, cook shrimp until pink and almost opaque- about 5 minutes. Add the bruschetta and quinoa to the pan. Toss and taste for seasoning. Garnish with spring onions.


Halibut with Roasted Asparagus and Fennel
1 halibut steak (6oz)
20 asparagus spears
½ fennel bulb, core removed and sliced thinly
¼ cup fresh salsa
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt + 1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper + 1 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 400degrees Celsius. And heat 1 tsp olive oil in a nonstick pan on medium high heat.
In a bowl toss fennel and asparagus with 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Place on a baking and sheet and bake in oven- tossing periodically- for about 12 minutes. Meanwhile season the halibut with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper sear on both sides. IMPORTANT the fish will release with it is ready, resist the urge to peel it off to flip it, trust that it will release. When it is ready, flip the fish. The same rule applies for the both sides. Serve the fish with fresh salsa.

Fresh Basil Salsa
1/3 cup (75 mL) olive oil
4 tbsp (60 mL) freshly chopped basil
1/4 tsp (1 mL) white or freshly ground black pepper
6 ripe plum tomatoes
2 tbsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
generous pinches of salt, freshly ground black pepper and granulated sugar
If tomatoes are firm, peel skin using a vegetable peeler. Or cut an X in bottom of each tomato and place in a large saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds. Immediately plunge tomatoes in cold water and peel. Cut into quarters, then remove and discard seeds. Finely dice. In a medium-size bowl, stir remaining oil with 3 tablespoons (45 mL) basil, lime juice, onions, garlic, salt, pepper and sugar. Stir in tomatoes.

Week one-done. Here's hoping week two is just as inventive!


Spring Cleaning | The Cleanse

“So long as a person is capable of self-renewal, they are a living being.”

Henri Frederic Amiel

Spring has sprung; the thaw has begun, the layers are- slowly- beginning to come off and the time for skimpier clothes is almost upon us. I know for myself that the dawn of spring and the subsequent summer sends a small shiver up my spine; I, like many others, gain a little winter padding to help me through the winter months; if not for the lovely comfort foods, winter would be unbearable.

I will confidently admit that I eat my winter feelings.

After a lovely week in Mexico, that consisted of far too many Long Island Iced Teas and 4 meals a day, spring cleaning is taking on an entirely new meaning. I can be drastic at the best of times, and when I saw the number on the scale when I returned from Mexico, it had become the worst of times.

It is time to cleanse. My body is screaming out to me in the form of breakouts and side aches; and it has become time for action. Nature is renewing itself, and so must I!

When I proclaimed to my friends that I was taking on a 21 day cleanse, thoughts of lemon juice and cayenne pepper crossed people’s minds; but alas, I’m drastic, not crazy. And although the aforementioned cleanse “works”, I prefer to a) do this for health and not necessarily weight loss and b) avoid being unbearably cranky and mean, as I live with roommates and it is simply not an option.

I searched the internet’s many resources for a cleansing program that would work for me and my goals; and what I ended up doing, was taking parts from several cleanses and custom creating my own. My main goal was to get as many vegetables into my body, up my water intake and cut the white stuff- sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Here’s the breakdown

• As much green tea as I want and ½ gallon to gallon of water per day.


Lean beef, skinless chicken, buffalo, flounder, sole or shrimp- cooked without the use of butter or oil. Seasoned with lemon, pepper, salt*, and any herb or spice I desire.


*maximum 1tbsp of salt per day, which I have found to be rather generous.

• Spinach, any type of lettuce, chard, beet greens, tomatoes, celery, fennel, onions, radishes, cucumber, asparagus and cabbage- steamed or grilled without the use of butter or oil.


The only fruits are grapefruit, apples and strawberries.


30 minutes of brisk walking 3 days per week.

I am determined to attack this cleanse with taste in mind; I know most would look at the list of food and think “ damn that’s skimpy”, but I’ve got some tasty tricks up my sleeve, that should make this 3 weeks a delicious time.


Pictures | Mexico 2011

What can I say, Mexico is amazing. I will forever be astonished at the fact that a mere 6 hour plane ride away is a completely different world. Edmonton -30 degrees Playa Del Carmen +30 degrees, a full 60 degree swing.

I went on this good time galavant with my family.

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We ate…

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And drank...


Like kings and queens.

We saw the sights; marveled at nature; swam in a lagoon- this water baby was in heaven; lounged like legends; and wondered in amazement at how a person is able to make animals out of towels.

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I had so many things that I planned to write about this trip- there was an abundance of hilarious stories; but it really can be summed up in to one word, EPIC. I bonded with my step siblings and cousin- which was long over due; and I fell in love with my parents all over again- they are the masterminds behind this trip and they're a blast. I couldn't ask for a better hand to be dealt in life. On this trip I was reminded, again, what life is about- family.

I hate to be sappy- but vacations do that to me; I had an amazing time with my family, away from the internet, Twitter, the blog and everything that seems so important all the time; it was nice to just spend time with people that care about so much.

With that being said, I think I made far too many trips to the buffet and drank about a thousand too many Isla Larga's (long Island Iced Teas) for the next 12 months.