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The Active Pursuit Of Joy

I believe in compassion, kindness, and self-love. I seek joy through generosity to others and myself. I love swimming, biking, books, music, and cooking delicious food for my loved ones.


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A Healthy Happy New Year

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Hello, friends! A very happy new year to all of you! I hope you all had a wonderful festive season with your loved ones! I definitely did. Christmas was full of excess, as it often tends to be. By the time New Years rolled around, I, like many of us, was feeling pretty heavy and gross, and was done with the week long carb party that the holidays embody.

I usually like to be low-key at New Years. I have done the go out on the town thing and partied it up, but I find that it is a lot of money without the equivalent amount of fun to justify the expense. Typically, my best friend Lily and I spend the night in. We cook good food, sometimes others join us, sometimes not. Generally we sing karaoke; I highly recommend bringing in a new year singing. It’s good for the soul.

This year, Lily was in Toronto for NYE, and I learned that another dear friend, Ryan, was visiting from Honduras. He was attempting to coordinate plans with various friends, so I offered to host a small New Years party, basically building on the plans I’d already made. Those who know me know that I love to host parties. Sometimes my party menus are more indulgent, but for this new year’s party, I figured that everyone would want to have some nice, healthy food following a very indulgent Christmas season.

One of the most important parts of throwing a party is planning how you’re going to get your food out on time, and also get ready and dressed for the party yourself. As a result, I carefully consider what can be made ahead, and how. This minimizes the hosting burden when you actually have guests there. Another word to the wise that I have learned the hard way: always give yourself two hours more time than you think you need. Trust me.

When throwing a party that is not a dinner party but will include food, you should always stagger your food throughout the evening. People come and go throughout the party, and you don’t want to have big heaps of food at the beginning that are left cold for people later. For my new years party, I did all appies, but I still staggered them. I also ended up re-plating the first course over and over throughout the evening.

For the first course, I put together two very simple dishes, green mango salad, and avocado-tuna poke bites. For a little added protein, I included a big bowl of salted edamame in pods. Here’s what you need:

Green Mango Salad (serves 10-12 appetizer portions, at about 4-5 per person)

  • One Green Mango, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • Two red peppers, cored and cut into matchsticks
  • One 5 inch piece of daikon, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup peanuts, chopped

For the Dressing

  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp coconut cane sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix vegetables separately from dressing. Add dressing to vegetables, toss to combine. I let this sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving, which lets the flavours gel.

Avocado-Tuna Poke Bites (serves 10-12 appetizer portions, at about 4-5 per person)

  • Two large avocados, cut into small cubes
  • 16 ounces of sashimi grade tuna, cut into small cubes (I used two 8oz steaks)
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • Black sesame seeds, to garnish
  • Chopped nori, to garnish (optional)

Sauce

  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the tuna and avocado together, set aside. Mix together the sauce and add to the tuna and avocado. Add cilantro and mix together. I set this in the fridge for two hours for the flavours to come together. When I plated it, I sprinkled black sesame seeds on top. In order to be more authentic, nori (or seaweed) would also be great to add on top, if one liked that kind of thing (I very much do not, and I only cook what I like!)

For the second course, I decided that I wanted to do wings two ways with a twist that one set of the wings would be cauliflower wings. My cauliflower Buffalo wing recipe has proven to be one of the most popular ever on my blog. Since I was doing an Asian-inspired menu, I used that same basic technique, but instead, I did sesame-five spice cauliflower wings with a maple-lime-ginger sauce. Paired with that are the delicious, wonderful, fall of the bone tender crock-pot pineapple five-spice wings.

Sesame-Five Spice Cauliflower Wings (serves 10-12 appetizer portions)

  • One large head of cauliflower
  • One cup garbonzo bean flour (or other flour of your choice, but the garbonzo bean flour gets nice and crunchy)
  • 1 tbsp five-spice powder
  • One cup water
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Cooking spray
  • ¼ cup cilantro (garnish)
  • ¼ pomegranate, seeded (garnish)

Sauce

  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp maple
  • 1 tsp tamari
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450. Cut cauliflower into small bite-sized florets, set aside. Mix flour, water, sesame seeds, and spices together, until you get a thick mix, similar to pancake batter. You don’t want it to be too thin, or it won’t stick to the cauliflower. Toss the cauliflower florets in the batter, and spread on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Spray the cauliflower with cooking spray. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, remove from oven, turn, spray with more cooking oil, and return to oven for another 20 minutes. When finished, toss with sauce, add garnish, and serve. Note, I made these earlier in the day by cooking them halfway. That way they only had 20 minutes of cooking left to do later.

Pineapple Five Spice Crock Pot Chicken Wings (Serves 10-12 appetizer portions)

  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp garlic
  • 2 tbsp ginger
  • 2 lbs chicken wings
  • 2 tbsp five spice powder
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Cilantro, diced, for garnish
  • Green onions, diced for garnish
  • Pomegranates, seeded, for garnish (optional)
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Before getting going on this one, credit where it is due, I adapted this recipe from this one that I found ages ago. The crockpot makes this recipe a breeze. Basically, put all the ingredients up to the cornstarch in a crockpot, and cook on high for three hours. If your chicken wings are bigger, or your crockpot is a little crowded, you might need four. Usually I kind of shake them and see if the chicken is loose, since I like my wings to fall right off the bone.

When your chicken is cooked, prepare a cookie sheet with tinfoil and some cooking spray, then use tongs to spread the wings out. Put your broiler on high to heat up. Then, transfer the sauce in the crockpot to a saucepan on the stove, and mix cornstarch with another small amount of pineapple juice, ensuring you remove all the lumps. Add to sauce on stove and cook on med-high, stirring frequently while sauce thickens. Once thickened, baste the chicken wings, and broil on high for 5 minutes. Every five minutes, remove the wings from the oven, flip them, and baste them with the sauce again. In my oven, it takes about 20 minutes to get them where I want them to be, but since broiling is imprecise, I recommend just keeping an eye out. When they look nicely browned to you, they’re good to go!

Sprinkle wings with toasted sesame seeds (forgotten on new years. Oops), green onion (also forgotten. Left chopped in my fridge) pomegranate and cilantro. Use remaining sauce as a dipping sauce for the wings.

The food for my new years party was a huge hit, and we sang the night away until the wee hours of the morning. It was a fantastic new years, just the kind I like. I hope this new year finds you all healthy and happy, and ready to take on your goals, whatever they may be!

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The Active Pursuit Of Joy

I believe in compassion, kindness, and self-love. I seek joy through generosity to others and myself. I love swimming, biking, books, music, and cooking delicious food for my loved ones.

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