Test Kitchen Tuesday – Kitchen Sink Soup

a.k.a. Veggie Stew

So it’s Test Kitchen Tuesday again! Okay fine it’s Wednesday, but I’m traveling so cut me some slack!!


I’m in London, Ontario visiting my parents and in-laws among many other activities that will keep me SUPER busy for the next two weeks.

But for now, I’m at my mom’s house, and it’s just what I needed. My mom and I are best friends, she is my hero and also she makes me laugh, like, all day.

So here I am, and of course, the woman who taught me everything I know in the kitchen has the same specialties as I do. She is making Kitchen Sink Soup. Which is when you empty out the fridge and make an unbelievably delicious pot of soup.

I get if from my Mama. I love to make soup. And I love to eat soup. And when I don’t know what to eat/cook, I empty my fridge and pantry and make soup.

It is SO comforting to come here. And this is exactly why I call soup “comfort food”. I know comfort food gets a bad rap. Like it’s the pint of ice cream you eat when you get dumped. But I’m talking about the comfort food that reminds you of home. That makes you feel like a kid in mom’s kitchen. That makes you feel like you stayed home from school.  I wrote a whole blog about it that you can read here, because I’m genuinely passionate about food and the comfort it can provide.

Before I get too carried away talking about how much I LOOOVE being at my mom’s house, I’ll share this recipe with you. It’s. so. damn. good.

First, she makes the roasted tomatoes. I mean. YUMMM.

I’ve never done this before so I had to ask for the specifics. This is straight from the lady herself.


Garlic & Basil Roasted Tomatoes

  • 2-3 lbs roma tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup torn fresh basil
  • 1 head of garlic,  peel cloves and toss in whole

Put all these things in a large roasting pan.

400F for 1 hour, stir at 30 minutes.

After one hour, take them out and stir, pull off the tomato skins (they will fall off) and then puree. Voila!

This will make enough for 2-3 batches of soup.


And now, the one you’ve been waiting for! We named it Kitchen Sink in honour of my hubby’s favourite pizza and the first thing we get when we come to London(if you haven’t been, check out Joe Kool’s the next time you’re in South Western Ontario). Also, the obvious; this soup has everything but the kitchen sink!


Kitchen Sink Soup

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups roasted tomatoes
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 small or 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 cup corn (we used frozen, fresh would be AWESOME)
  • 1 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1/3 cup barley, cooked
  • 2 Italian Sausages, cooked and cut into pieces

In a large pot, mix broth and tomato puree and bring to a boil.

Once it boils, add carrots, celery, sweet potatoes and reduce heat to medium.

After about 15 minutes add green beans and cauliflower.

After another 10 minutes add barley, sausage and zucchini.

Let it cook for 5 minutes, add the corn and some fresh ground pepper.

Remove from heat and enjoy IMMEDIATELY! With sourdough for dipping if you have any.


We just finished talking about how we like soup really thick and maybe we should change the recipe, so you guys don’t get freaked out! But I’d rather just give you the warning. It’s thick, it’s like a stew. And every bite is full of flavour.

Best of all, everything in it is good for you! 100% healthy food you can eat any time and feel good about it.

So go on, make it, eat it! You know you wanna!

xo JB

8 hours of sleep… In your dreams


Last week I went on holidays and got 8 hours of sleep for 4 nights in a row.


For the first time in long over a year.


I have two kids, they get up in the night. If not one then both. If not every other hour then they wake for the day at 4 am.


I don’t get 8 hours of sleep.


My husband works on pipelines so he is gone away working most of the year. I wake up multiple times a night in complete panic for the safety of my family.


I’d love 8 hours of sleep.


When my husband is home, it takes a while for both of us to get used to sharing a bed again. We wake eachother up with knees and elbows.


8 hours of that is far from restful.


I like watching the Kardashians, and will stay up way past my bedtime to catch up on the last few episodes on my PVR. I don’t do it all the time, but I like my shows.


And I wasn’t sleeping 8 hours anyway.


Studies show that people are far more likely to listen to a study about sleep than to actually take note of the way their own body reacts to different amounts of sleep.


I personally would like to sleep to 10-14 hours alone in a king size bed with a fluffy duvet up on a cloud with Boyz2Men singing “I’ll make love to you” softly in the background.


But typically I get about 6 hours of sleep, over a 8-9 hour stretch, broken up by the cries of my children, the anxiety caused by the responsility of being a parent, and my own persistent bladder.


Some nights I only get 3 or 4. That’s why I stopped wearing my FitBit to bed.


Nice idea guys, but I don’t need to be reminded that I only slept 3 hours and 56 minutes, was awake 7 times and restless another times. I know. I was there.


All that honesty aside, I do think sleep is incredibly important.


I prioritize sleep HIGH on my list of the things I NEED to keep myself well. I know that seems obvious because we can’t actually live without sleep, but I truly believe how you feel about sleeping can make all the difference.


I love sleep. Sleep keeps my grounded. Sleep makes me happy. Sleep is my best friend. I don’t always want to hang out with my best friend, sometimes I want to hang out with my other friends, the Kardashians, for a little while. But then I want to get back to my old reliable, safe friend, sleep.


Everyone knows I like to get up early in the morning. I have a lot on my plate and if I don’t at least get a little head start on my kids I will spend the whole day – that I should be enjoying with them – stressing over the things I didn’t do and the ones I need to do before the end of the day. I want to be present and engaged with my kids, not a real life version of a frazzled cartoom mom. So I get up early, and strike some items off my list.


In order to do that, I need to go to bed early as well. Now this may sound simple, but in order to get 8 hours sleep, I count backwards from the time I plan to get up, and decide to be asleep 8 hours before that. Far out, right? So if I’m setting my alarm for 5 am, I need to start sleeping at 9 in order to get my 8 hours in bed.


And there you have it folks, 8 hours of sleep. You’re welcome.


HA! Gotcha.


Obviously not. I’m not a complete asshole. I get in bed and play on my phone, read on my tablet, wonder if that dress still fits, try it on, get mad cause it doesn’t, get back in bed, feel itchy, slather myself in lotion, get back in bed, google skin conditions, curse myself for being awake still, get up to pee, etc. until I eventually pass out 10 minutes before one of the kids wakes up.


I’m human, all the experts that tell you to sleep for 8 hours with your phone at least 100 metres away with only a white noise machine to soothe you to sleep, they’re human too. They just figured out what works for them, so they decided to tell you about it.


I know I’m going to dick around for 45 minutes before I actually get to sleep, so I plan for that too. YES I often go to bed between 8 and 8:30 pm. And it’s okay. I don’t do housework ( except folding laundry cause I actually enjoy it) after my kids go to bed, and I don’t watch much TV. I have a couple exceptions, as mentioned above, but mostly I’d just rather be asleep.


Mostly because I’m not nice when I’m not rested. And if I’m not nice, my kids aren’t nice. And if my kids aren’t nice then no one is sleeping. And if no one is sleeping then we all get sick, and we can’t do anything, no matter how much we sleep, because kid germs are nasty.


So I prioritize sleep. I prioritize sleeping.


Do I get 8 hours of sleep? Rarely. Actually less than rarely.


Do I try my damnedest every night? Most of the time.


That’s the best I can do. I’m human, I’m a mom, I love Khloe Kardashian. What do you expect?


I got 8 hours of sleep 4 nights in a row last week. And you know what? I still woke up just as tired as I do when I get 4. It’s going to take years for me, and all the other moms out there, to make up for the all the sleep we’ve lost in the early years of motherhood.


But that’s not going to stop us from enjoying our lives today.


Yes, sure, 8 hours would be dandy. But we only got 4. And maybe tomorrow we’ll get a whole 7! But it’s not the end of the world, it’s not going to take years off your life, and it’s not going to throw your whole health and wellness out the window. It’s not the tipping point in your healthy lifestyle. It’s just what’s going on right now.


Sleep if you can. Rest when you can. Don’t stress about it. We’ve made it this far (almost 4 years for me) with less than adequate sleep. We’ve survived, and we will continue to be OK until the time comes when we do get those glorious nightly 8 hour sleeps.


Try to get some sleep, but don’t beat yourself up if it’s not 8 hours.


Even if we’re dirty and disheveled. Even if we’re whining about our lack of sleep and inevitable coffee addiction. We’re living the dream and we know. Don’t believe everything you see. We’re happy. We’re right where we want to be. And we won’t remember being tired. We’ll remember midnight lullabies. We’ll remember 12 hours of cuddles with a feverish toddler. And we’ll be grateful for it, even if we don’t show it now


It will come. You will sleep. Maybe not in the clouds, maybe not with the ideal soundtrack, but in the meantime, enjoy yourself, laugh at yourself and your fellow exhausted parents. Come on, it’s kinda funny.


And just think… in ten years we’ll be shaking teenagers out of bed at 10 am telling them to get up and do something already.


Yep. Payback’s a bitch 😉


xo JB

The 80/20 Rule Wants You To Fail

I call bull sh_tThere is a very popular concept when it comes to diet and nutrition, called the 80/20 rule. It’s pretty simple, which I guess is what  people like about it. Or maybe the name just sounds good? Either way, I’m not falling for it.

The 80/20 rule is bullshit. It’s a recipe for disaster and inevitable guilt.

So what is the 80/20 rule? I thought you might ask.

This concept says that by eating an 80% clean diet, you can then “indulge” in the other 20%. It is built for people who have 3-5 meals a day, and I am guessing people who have lots of time to think about, plan, and create their ideal menu.

This rule is bullsh*t.

I said it. And I mean it.

Training your body to eat “good” sometimes and “bad” others is just asking for trouble, especially, ESPECIALLY if you have kids.

Flip-flopping back and forth between clean eating and cheat meals is just like the classic diet cycle, only we are supposed do it every two – three days instead of 6 months or a year. We’re still restricting for 4 meals in order to get one “cheat”. And we’re calling it “cheating”. Yuck.

Just by calling it an indulgence or a cheat meal creates a mentality of doing something wrong, or bad, which automatically creates guilt. And then there’s the physiological repercussions of that cheat meal, bloating, upset stomach, fatigue, stress.

The 80/20 rule says you only have to eat 4 healthy meals to earn your 1 bad meal, and that you have to eat that bad meal to maintain balance, and then you have get right back on track on your next meal.

Seems like a simple equation, but it just doesn’t add up.

Think about being home with our kids, is it possible for us to eat 4-5 perfect meals in a row? To eat for two days never grabbing a cracker, a bowl of cereal, but instead making fresh leafy salads with lightly seasoned grilled chicken and a low-cal vinaigrette? And if we did manage to do it, for the whole weekend, would we not go absolutely nuts on those potato chips on sunday night? Thats is, after the pizza, wings and beer that comprised our cheat meal. Would we not wake up Monday morning feeling like a hangover from the bad decisions, with a bloated tummy and exhausted from a terrible sleep.

But that’s okay, because according to 80/20, we’re only going to eat steamed vegetables and salmon until Wednesday morning.

Do you see the flaw here? It’s just a glorified binge and restrict cycle. It’s the same cycle that happens when we’re trying to stick to an 8 or 12 week plan, or follow a new diet. We can’t have something, until we can. But if you’re anything like me, when we can, then we can’t stop.

The only way for us moms to manage our nutrition is to give ourselves a little grace.

Everything in motherhood is about lowering our expectations, and in nutrition it’s no different.

We’re not helping ourselves by following a system that says to eat perfect 80% of the time and then reward your restriction with a cheat meal. We must expect to eat as well as we can, with what we have, as much of the time as possible. But to be aware, and mindful of everything we put in our bodies, 100% of the time.

So we make the best choices, with what’s available, whenever available.

That being said, when I say the “best choices” I mean the most nutrient dense and the best tasting. If each meal we eat is both satisfying and satiating, you won’t feel deprived at all, and you won’t need to indulge later.

Here’s an example:

I like to make lunch my largest meal of the day. It’s after my workout, so I’m good and hungry, but I still have a lot of day ahead of me, so I need to be fueled and satisfied.

When we eat a delicious and satisfying meal, at every meal, we don’t need to have that “cheat meal”. Our bodies and our minds are satisfied all day, instead of feeling like we are constantly missing out on something.

Even the term “cheat meal” has all kinds of bad feelings attached to it.

Just calling it a cheat creates all kinds of bad feelings. How does eating become cheating? When did eating become a bad thing? I just can’t wrap my head around that kind of mentality about food. It’s not how I want to live.

If I were to eat a cheat meal, which I don’t, I would feel guilty before I even started.

We need to be 100% okay with 100% of what we eat, 100% of the time.

This doesn’t mean we should “eat clean” 100% of the time. This does not mean we should restrict all the time.

What it means is that any choice we make, whether it’s our nutrition or anything else in life, we must feel 100% good about it.

We should never eat a food that we feel bad about, and we should never feel bad about eating food. Even indulgences, cheats, treats, whatever you want to call them, are part of our nutrition because by having those foods, we are choosing to live a balanced life and consume a diet that contains both nutrient dense and not-so-nutrient-dense foods.

I don’t want to feel good about 80% and bad about 20%. And neither should you.

So what now, we’ve said “f*ck it” to 80/20, what DO we do?

  1. Make your own rules. Decide on 3-5 daily nutritional commitments you will stick to every day. Make sure they’re something you can do, and want to do, and are willing to do.
  2. Write them down. Tell someone else. Make yourself accountable. 100%.
  3. Give it 100%. Every day, stick to your guns. Do whatever it takes, bend all the other rules in order to stick to your own. Everyone else’s opinion is BS, you are a nutritional genius because you are following your own rules.
  4. Live happily, try new foods, eat cake ( or whatever makes you happy), move daily and surround yourself with people who lift you up and make you want to do your best, every single day, 100%.

We can’t let someone else’s rules dictate how we eat. It’s the major flaw in the diet industry. We have to listen to our bodies and take responsibility for learning how to eat the best way for our bodies and our lifestyles.

Start right away, start at your next meal. Be all in, don’t wait for Monday.

That being said, if you go to a party this weekend and there’s champagne, and if you love champagne like I love champagne, drink the damn thing. With your whole heart. And enjoy yourself, by your own rules.

I know I will.

xo JB