Friday, September 27, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls

Continuing on with my desire to bake everything pumpkin, I left the world of bread and moved to another breakfast-y option, one which I have experimented with before.
Cinnamon rolls!
The pumpkin gave it a nice almost savoury flavour but the cream cheese and the white chocolate chips I added gave it the sweet edge one normally expects in a cinnamon roll.
Worth giving a try and this recipe would perfectly compliment a pumpkin spice latte.
You will need:
  • package package fast-acting active dry yeast
  • 1-1/4 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2/3 cup warmed almond milk (120 degrees) *I used vanilla soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon earth balance butter spread
  •  1 egg
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons butter
    In a large bowl, stir yeast, white whole wheat flour flour, 1 cup of all purpose flour, pumpkin pie spice, sugar, and salt together.

    In separate bowl, mix pumpkin puree, butter, almond milk and flaxseed meal mixture together. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until well blended. Turn out onto counter coated with some of the remaining flour. Knead the remaining flour into the dough until it is used up and you have a smooth, elastic dough.
    Put dough into a bowl coated with cooking spray and lightly spray the top of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
    Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped walnuts and raisins in a small bowl, set aside. Transfer the risen dough to a work surface, and pat or roll it into a 16" x 12" rectangle. Spread softened butter over dough and then sprinkle with the sugar mixture.

    Roll the dough into a log the long way. Next, cut the rolls into even slices Place slices in a greased 8 inch squar baking pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap (not tightly) and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until they turn golden brown across the center.

    Remove from oven and let cool about 15 minutes. Drizzle with white chocolate chips and cream cheese icing.

    Wednesday, September 25, 2013

    Pumpkin Spice Bread with Cream Cheese

    This week I've been baking up some pumpkin recipes. Some have worked quite well, others.... ended up in the garbage.
    The first that I came across was one that reminded me of an autumn version of banana bread.

    • Preheat oven to 350F; lightly grease 3 mini loaf pans with butter.
    • For the cheese batter, use a handheld electric mixer to beat together 1 pkg cream cheese, room temperature, 1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract  
    • In another bowl whisk together 3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed with 2 large eggs until light and fluffy. Stir in 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, 2 tbsp. canola oil, and 1 tsp vanilla. 
    • In a separate bowl, sift together 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour, 1 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ginger, and 1/8 tsp cloves.  
    • Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix together.
    • Divide the pumpkin batter between the 3 loaf pans, then pour the cheese batter on top. Bake until golden around the edges, about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean or with just a couple crumbs.
    • Cool 10 minutes in the pans, then remove from the pans and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
    This recipe got good reviews and in my opinion is best served still warm out of the oven.
     Take advantage of pumpkin season and find ways to incorporate it into your favourite recipes.
    More to come!

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    Easy & Low Calorie Banana Pancakes

    If you're anything like me, you've come home from work and made pancakes.
    Or been watching tv and decided, hey, I'm going to make some pancakes.
    Or looked in your fridge/cupboard and found items that make you say, "these would go great in some pancakes."
    Basically I love pancakes.
    They're so versatile. They're a delicious medium for most other types of food: add fruit or berries, add bacon, add candy, even add cheese.
    The only problem is that the amount of wheat and sugar isn't so great for you.
    I saw a recipe on Pinterest awhile back which suggested that banana pancakes could be made using only 2 ingredients.
    I was skeptical.
    But last weekend I finally got around to trying it out and the results were delicious.

    It's really, really simple to make these.
    You'll need:

    (the pinterest recipe called for a 1 banana: 1 egg ratio but I was successful with the extra banana).
    So that's 2 bananas and 1 egg.

    Pre-heat a frying pan and if it's not non-stick then make sure it's sprayed or buttered.
    Pour the banana mix in and let it cook until it can be flipped, just like a regular pancake.
    The banana tastes so good when it starts to caramelize from the heat. You almost don't even need to add any syrup.
    And the bonus is that at a total of only 285 calories for the entire batch of pancakes (mind you I got about 3-4 pancakes out of my mix), you're also getting a lot of protein from the egg and potassium from the banana.
    Plus with the calories you save you can eat an entire pack of bacon to balance things out.

    Tuesday, September 17, 2013

    Adventure Afternoon: The Warsaw Caves

    If you ever find yourself in the Peterborough area of Ontario, I highly recommend checking out the Warsaw Caves Conservation Area.
    (website with much more information can be found here)
    After visiting with some friends (and an unfortunately unsuccessful hunting trip in the morning for the boys), we headed to the caves to check them out.
    There are 7 in total (on the map, the boys found and explored more unmapped ones) and many of them connect so you can go down into Cave 1 and come out of Cave 3.
    The park is beautiful, the ground covered with these giants stones out of which grow massive trees.
    Some of the openings are so tight you wonder how a person could possibly squeeze through.
    But after sending in our guinea pig (John) we followed him into the dark and squeezed our way through the cold rocks into every single cave.
    At times we could walk, but more often than not we found ourselves crawling on our hands and knees or flat on our stomachs to wiggle through very narrow openings.
    For someone who isn't crazy about the dark, nor small spaces where an exit isn't always readily visible, the experience was amazing.
    I had so much fun, I'd recommend it to anyone.
    Plus I didn't see a single bat or animal and only saw 2 somewhat large spiders (who minded their own business and didn't try to attack me as I feared they would).

    After exploring the dark caves we walked down to the water and took in the scenery. The boys attempted to find new caves (I was content to stick to the ones that were on the map) and climbed up onto some of the larger rocks.

    Highly recommended.
    The park is open for camping, canoeing, hiking, picnics, fishing and swimming as well so I may be back next summer to check out the other activities.

    Thursday, September 12, 2013

    And Now For Something Completely Different...

    This post is a little different from the standard fare of recipes & food, crafts, events, etc but it's something I'd like to share.

    This week at work was particularly tough - physically and emotionally.

    Death is nothing new to me. In my few years as a student and as a nurse I've seen, prepared, and often shrouded roughly 50 people. It does get easier the more times you do it but it hasn't become so easy that I ever feel completely comfortable doing it.

    It's weird knowing that someone who was just there with you isn't there anymore.

    The death of a patient (thankfully in my case all my patient deaths have been expected or at least not a complete surprise) becomes even less comfortable when the family are there. It's more emotional and I know nothing I can say or do will make things any easier.

    I think I wanted to write this as a way of saying that while it is (usually) always way more emotional for the friends and family of the dying person, there is also a team of health care professionals who are emotionally involved as well.

    Unfortunately it isn't always the case, but in a lot of circumstances it is and if people reading this can take away only one message from this post I hope it is this:

    Your loved one, in their final moments, even if you're not there, is not alone.

    This past week I had a patient who had been admitted for palliative care about 2 months prior. Generally a 'palliative' diagnosis means 3 months or less. I've seen people pass away quicker and I've seen people fight a lot longer. This gentleman seemed like he might be one of the ones who fought for longer than 3 months. He was weak and quite sick but got up to the bathroom independently and would go out for smoke breaks occasionally or out to picnics and other events with friends.

    He also had some of the most intense wounds I have ever cared for. I obviously can't reveal too much for fear of somehow breaking confidentiality but this involved a stage 4 sacral ulcer (google it if you're not too queasy), an incredibly deep rectal cavity wound (which required frequent cleaning from bowel movements and then packing with antibiotic-impregnated gauze or packing tape) as well as wounds on the penis, through which the patient's bowel movements eventually began to exude thanks to a fistula. Wound care was not a quick endeavour. And worse, you can probably imagine how painful it was for the patient.


    We do our best to manage it but sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it's frustratingly hard. This particular patient went through trial after trial on a number of medications, none of which seemed to adequately manage his pain. Especially once he really began to deteriorate. Over the weekend he really began to take a turn for the worse, refusing to eat and barely taking in any fluids. Doing his wound care was absolute agony for him and we all kind of weighed which was the lesser of two evils: making him suffer through an incredibly painful half hour or leaving him to sit in a dirty incontinence brief. When I came back after a day off he had become mostly unresponsive, meaning verbal stimuli and even tactile stimuli wouldn't bring him into a more alert state. But he spent the entire day in undeniable pain despite regularly scheduled medication, breakthrough pain medications, and new orders for other pain meds on top of that. Nothing was working and as the person who was directly responsible for his care that day, I felt awful. Knowing that someone is suffering and you are supposed to be there to ease that suffering is incredibly hard to stomach. Not for the first time and I'm sure not for the last, I silently wished for my patient to just slip away as soon and as peacefully as possible.

    The next day he was less responsive and all signs pointed to the end of his suffering coming soon. I gave him as many pain medications as I could even though he didn't look as uncomfortable as he had the day before. I gave him any medication that I thought would help. Something to relax his stiff muscles, something to try to dry up the chest secretions that cause the death rattle.

    And I sat with him.

    I sat with him for most of the morning, getting up every now and then to check on my other patients. I held his hand and I rubbed his arms and I talked to him. As we tell an unresponsive patient's family and friends, hearing is often the last sense to go.

    Eventually his breathing slowed significantly. The health care aide who had come in to sit with me noticed it and we both looked at each other, knowing. We held his hands, told him he had fought bravely and that he could go home for a well deserved rest. Within minutes his chest stopped rising and he had gone. There was no dramatic last breath, no dramatic anything. Just peace.

    I think it's been on my mind because of the 50 or so people I've seen die, this was only the second death that I had been physically present for. And it made me think of my own grandfather who passed away in an ICU several years ago. He was lucky to be surrounded by his family, although I wasn't there.

    I'm not sharing this to have people say "oh you're so wonderful, how caring of you to be with him in those final moments." That's my job. I'm sharing this because I've seen this many times with other nurses, social workers, doctors, health care aides, and others being there in the final moments.

    I'm sharing this to try and make the dying process a little easier for those of you who have or who have had someone they love pass away in the hospital.

    I have had a few patients pass away alone, in the early hours of the morning, often when we thought they had more time. I've had patient's go when I was helping another patient. I've had it happen in the time it took me to leave the patient's side to call the family to tell them they should come in. There is no way to say accurately how much time a person has left, and it is similarly impossible to predict exactly when a person who is dying will take their last breath.

    But these patients, these mothers/fathers/brothers/sisters/aunts/uncles/children/friends never die alone. They are so many wonderful health care providers who do their best to manage pain but also to manage fear and anxiety and make the unknown a little less scary.

    This may sound like a weird thing to say, but death is inevitable and I know in my line of work I'm going to see a lot more of it before I retire. So I'll say it.

    I hope I get to hold the hands of many, many more people in their final moments.

    Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    Seafood-phobes: There's Hope Yet

    As you may know, I am not a fan of seafood.
    I've tried.
    I will eat shrimp, crab, scallops and lobster on occasion but they're never my first choices.
    Yesterday for dinner I was feeling kind of sick of the standard chicken/beef dishes I've been making.
    I decided to venture outside my comfort zone a little and buy some fish.
    I'm trying to up my protein intake a bit and fish is great with all it's protein and omega 3s and 6s.
    While perusing the frozen section I came across these little beauties by Cedar Bay:
    I bought one of each, figuring if I was going to try to be a fish-phile I'd need something heavily seasoned, spiced, and flavoured.
    I overcooked them a bit which (for me) turned out to be a blessing.
    I actually enjoyed them.
    The Sugar & Spice seasoning was delicious but I have to give the top award to the Applewood with Orange & Ginger flavouring.
    It was delicious.
    I ate salmon and didn't make a face once.
    I even ate everything on my plate!
    Maybe my palate is growing up?
    For someone who hasn't liked seafood ever in their 28 years on this planet (save for the fishsticks I ate as a kid which doesn't count cause I was young and those things are so heavily breaded they couldn't taste bad) this is a miracle.
    For anyone else who dislikes fish but wants to incorporate it into their diet: don't give up! There's hope!
    Look for these cedar planked salmon packages in the frozen fish section.
    There's a bunch more flavours on the website that - so strangely in my mind - I want to try.
    Give them a try!

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

    Another Month, Another Fitness Goal

    As seems to be the trend at the beginning of each month, I have once again resolved to live a bit healthier.
    This means being more active on a regular basis and eating more home cooked meals instead of opting for the easy but costly (and terrible for you) drive-thru purchases.
    I have challenged myself to run 75 km this month.
    I have signed up for bootcamp classes.
    I want to see if I can do yoga once a week.
    And I got this great app that walks you through a bunch of exercises as well as short workouts.
    It's called My Fitness Buddy and it might be my new favourite.
    I did one of the glute workouts, an 11 minute series of exercises doing 20 reps of each with 15 second rests.
    You can choose to use your body weight or to add weights.
    There are a pretty decent number of workout routines to choose from that I don't think I'll get sick of it for a long time.
    It doesn't give you any cardio though so you have to incorporate your own.

    As I mentioned before, it walks you through each exercise which is perfect for people like me who know all of 5 exercises to do in the gym.
    I'm hoping in the next 2 months to put on some muscle and to get in the habit of incorporating strength training into my routine.
    I'm very excited to try this bootcamp out today.
    I anticipate being very sore tomorrow.
    And maybe crying a little bit.
    I don't do well with being yelled at.

    1st Anniversary Gifts: Part 1

    **For some reason this was saved in my drafts and was never published! Oops!
    Enjoy belatedly :)
    As the big day draws closer I've been putting the finishing touches on John's anniversary present.
    Sticking to my theme of the paper card encompassing the 5 ways to show your love, I present to you my 'Acts of Service' contribution.
    I made a few coupons for John to use to 'get out of jail free' with respect to household chores.
    I tried to pick some of the more common ones that we do.
    I google image searched for the famous Monopoly card and opened it in picmonkey to customize it.

    The other gifts I'll be keeping secret until after the big reveal for fear that John will read all about them before hand.
    Some of his co-workers have been reading the blog [Hi! I promise to keep stuff more impersonal ;) haha] and I fear he's worried about what I'm posting for them to read and therefore might pop on to see what's new.
    Feel free to copy and print these coupons if you think you'd use them.
    I can make more too!