How to: Use Walmart.ca Grocery Pick-Up and Make Grab-and-Go Breakfast Frittata

December can be a real son of a gun.

I won’t lie friends.  As I write this post, I have about 86 things on-the-go and I’m struggling to get my act together. Don’t get me wrong, decorating the tree, using copious amounts of butter for my holiday baking and watching my 1-year-old lose her mind (in a bad way) on Old Saint Nick’s lap, totally gives me the Christmas warm and fuzzies.

But having to juggle all that with work, commuting, holiday parties, dog walks, exercise, laundry, dinnertime and grocery shopping? How ‘bout no?

PS, I’m calling your bluff if you tell me you don’t hope for your kid to be a little scared of Mall Santa. Why? Best photos ever.

Point is life is busy. Add a hectic holiday schedule in to the mix and, well, my Christmas goose is cooked.

Lately I’ve been looking for ways to streamline…life, in any way I can, so when Dara and I were approached to work with Walmart Canada in promoting their urban Toronto Walmart.ca Grocery Pick-Up service through Penguin Pick-Up, I thought, “Gee, what perfect timing.”

I know Walmart Supercentres (which carry groceries) have been a thing for a long while, but in my 13 years of living in the heart of this great city, I haven’t lived close enough to one to consider them a viable option. Having somewhere to grocery shop close to home is #1 on my list of “Reasons I Shop Where I Shop.”

With their new walmart.ca grocery pick-up locations at Yorkville, Yonge & Davisville, Leslieville and Harbourfront, Walmart is now officially in the hunt for my hard earned grocery dollars.

First, let me briefly tell you how it works. Then, I’ll give you the inside scoop on why it’s kind of great. Finally, a recipe (obvs)!

You can visit Walmart.ca or download the Walmart Canada app on to your Smartphone. The app will take you through a quick tutorial to show off some of its cool features.

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The online shopping aisles, which allow you to browse by category, are both intuitive and easy to navigate. You can also browse by Rollback items (sale items) in each category, so it’s like you’re carrying the flyer in one hand and pushing your cart with the other (that’s what I call streamlining).

If you know what you’re looking for, you can also use the search engine.

*Warning: if you search ‘yogurt’ be prepared for over 200 hits! The variety is actually staggering.

Add and remove items from your virtual cart as you go and when you’re all set choose a location  and a two-hour time window for pick-up. You can even pick up same day via Penguin Pick-Up, for orders placed before 11 am.

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Side note: If you’re feeling weird about someone else picking produce for you, let me tell you that, first, I totally get it (I was there too) and second, don’t. Their experienced shoppers are awesome and pick the best of the best. Truly, I couldn’t have picked better myself.

I picked up my order at the Leslieville Penguin Pick-Up location, where the entrance and parking are well marked.  A nice young man came to greet me at my car window with a tablet and confirmed my order with a piece of ID then proceeded to load up the trunk.  I was in and out under 5 minutes. Guys, 5 minutes!!! (more streamlining!)

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On top of the obvious time savings, another reason I like this service is the quality guarantee. If you’re not totally happy with any product in your order, you’ll be credited or refunded without fuss by calling customer service. I was even reminded of this when I picked up my order.

Finally, and this is the big one, you save money. Like, a seriously decent amount. With Toronto real estate and rental rates soaring and the cost of food also on the rise, peeps like Dara and I, who also appreciate good quality fresh food, are looking outside the box to find new options. The prices online are the same great in-store prices Walmart is known for.

Here’s a new recipe using fresh groceries from my most recent pick-up order. I wanted to choose something that showcases fresh produce, you know, the me being-a-dietitian thing.

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These simple grab–and-go breakfast frittatas are a quick, healthy, get-out-the-door-before-traffic-is-a-disaster breakfast. Make 12 at a time and freeze what you don’t eat within a couple of days and heat them with a quick zip in the microwave when you’re ready for more.

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Customize as you will, but always be sure to cook your fillings thoroughly before adding the egg and baking. You want to avoid too much moisture.

 

img_0609img_0613img_0617I wish you luck in your holiday streamlining too, friends!

Erin

Grab and Go Breakfast Frittatas

Serves 6
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 9 Large eggs (beaten)
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 Tsp salt (divided)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 Small onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 red bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 227g cremini or white mushrooms (finely chopped)
  • 3 Cups fresh chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 75g)

Note

I love this Bon Appetit Guide to Making a Perfect Frittata and used their great guidelines to make these.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and a 1/4 tsp of the salt.
2. In a large frying or sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and mushroom and cook until most of the moisture is cooked out and they begin to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add red pepper and cook until softened, another 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, mix in spinach and remove from heat once it begins to wilt. Season with the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt.
3. Spray the inside of a 12 cup muffin pan thoroughly with cooking spray or brush with butter. Divide the vegetable mixture among the cups, about 2 tbsp each. Using a ladle, pour egg mixture over top, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way. Sprinkle each with crumbled feta cheese.
4. Bake for 18-20 minutes until frittatas are puffed and very lightly browned around the edges. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, and run a small spatula or knife around the edge of each cup to remove them.
5. Eat within 2-3 days if refrigerating or freeze in packs of two, first by wrapping them in paper towel and then transferring to small freezer bags. Reheat in microwave for about 1 minute on high in the paper towel (depending on your microwave you may need more or less).

 

How to: Make your own – Shortcut Chicken Pot Pie

I’m in a chicken pot pie phase. If that can be a phase.

I hope it’s a phase everyone has to go through in life because, damn, it’s awesome.

I’ve been flirting with the idea of posting a chicken pot pie recipe for such a long time. It’s one of those recipes that when made from scratch, takes a whole lot of steps. And while totally worth it, it doesn’t really fit the How to Eat MO of simple, easy, fast.

Until now.

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My little cheater short cuts for this recipe are:

a. Use fully cooked, store bought rotisserie chicken.

b. Use store bought puff pastry

These two little pot pie hacks mean this fabulous homestyle classic can be in the oven in less than 30 minutes and on the table within an hour.

Giving you more time to read, relax, do some yoga or catch up on Netflix. Or if you’re me, (and let’s face it, probably you too), scoop dog poop, clean crusty food off the floor, fold laundry or scrub a toilet bowl. The glamour of it all!

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However, who needs glamour when you’ve got chicken pot pie? Not I.

This is a very basic pot pie recipe.  The flavour comes from the veggies and whatever broth you decide to use.  If you’ve got some homemade stock in the freezer, even better!

You can even make your own with the leftover rotisserie chicken carcass and freeze it for your next chicken pot pie.

Then you too, will officially be in your own chicken pot pie phase.

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Don’t be shy to switch up the suggested filling, either.  Parnsip, squash, turnip or sweet potato could easily replace (or complement) the carrots or potatoes and spinach or arugula (chopped up) could easily work instead of peas for some greenery.

You can even switch up the shortcut. Above, I’ve pictured another pot pie made in a store bought frozen pie crust.  They come in packs of two, so use one as a base and the other as a top. We’re basically pastry chefs now.

And pot pie connoisseurs.

Erin

Shortcut Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 Small onion (chopped)
  • 2 Medium carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 2 Small thin skinned white or red potatoes (chopped)
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2-3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken (meat from 1/2 - 1 chicken)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (thawed on the counter for about an hour or overnight in the fridge)
  • 1 egg plus 1 Tbsp water (beaten)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375F
In a large pot over medium heat, heat canola oil and butter. Add onions, carrots, celery and potatoes and cook until they are softened but still have 'bite', about 7-9 minutes.
2. Sprinkle flour over softened vegetables and stir, cooking for 1-2 minutes until flour is well absorbed. Slowly add chicken broth, while stirring and cook for 2-3 more minutes until sauce is thickened.
3. Remove from heat and add chopped chicken and peas, stirring until well combined. Transfer filling in a 2-2.5L baking dish. A 8"x11" lasagna type pan or an oval Corningware dish works well.
4. Sprinkle some flour over a clean dry surface and roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle that will slightly overlap the edges of your baking dish.
5. Dip your finger in some water and rub the rim of the baking dish to moisten. Top the baking dish with the rolled puff pastry pressing down along the entire rim to secure it. Cut a few holes for the steam to escape with the tip of a knife. Brush the surface of the puff pastry with egg wash.
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until pastry has puffed (it will be more noticeable around the edges) and browned. Cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

How to: Make your own – World’s Simplest Tomato Sauce

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This summer has been such a scorcher.  Way back in June, I couldn’t wait to dive head first into Ontario’s summer bounty. For months I’ve been in LOVE with fresh summery salads and grilled everything, but now that September is here, the honeymoon is kinda over.

This Labour Day weekend, we travelled to my BFF’s cottage with a small group of friends.  We always meal plan in advance and decide who will take charge of certain meals.  We chose Sunday night dinner and when I asked my husband Rory if he had any ideas or cravings, he busted out ‘SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS!’. An odd choice since we usually BBQ everything and keep it super simple to maximize outdoor time, but I have to say I was totally on board!

The comfort food cravings are slowly but surely sneaking in.

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In the end we shoved our ‘keep it simple’ rule aside and decided on spaghetti with homemade beef/pork meatballs, eggplant parmesan, homemade garlic bread and a tomato/basil salad with homemade balsamic reduction.

It was a feat and it was just what the doctor ordered for the cool northern summer night.

The one simple thing that absolutely made the meal?  The tomato sauce.

I’ve been making this recipe for years.  It’s a classic by Marcella Hazan, author of the famous cookbook Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

Can you even believe the simplicity?! It still blows my mind each and every time I make it.  Friends: Do NOT skimp on the butter.

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The recipe calls for ‘your favourite canned tomatoes’. I’ve read many blog posts and recipe comments that insist on using canned San Marzano tomatoes, which are grown and packaged in a specific part of Italy and carry a DOP certification (as does Parmigiano Reggiano) ensuring they are grown and packaged locally.

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I’ve used a variety of canned tomatoes and I always find the sauce delicious (though sometimes I modify it slightly with herbs/garlic/spices).  I’ve always been curious what a side by side comparison of San Marzanos (double the price at least!) and standard Canadian canned tomatoes would reveal. So here it is!

The San Marzanos are canned with a basil leaf and the Canadian’s are not, so I placed one basil leaf in the Canadian batch. The Canadian tomatoes contain citric acid, calcium chloride and almost double the salt in addition to the tomatoes and tomato juice.  I added an extra ½ tsp of salt (to taste) to the S.M. tomatoes in the end.

The verdict:

After a blind taste test Rory revealed his clear winner to be the SM tomatoes.  He described the sauce as sweeter, less acidic and more well rounded.  I couldn’t agree more. The consistency and texture was better too, as the SM tomatoes broke down more easily.  I ended up using a potato masher to break down the Canadian tomatoes in the end.

Are the worth more than double the price? Maybe. If you’re planning to make this sauce in advance, I would probably say go ahead and get the SM.   If you need a last minute dinner and there’s a can of Canadian tomatoes in the cupboard, do not hesitate, make the sauce anyway! It’s simple and delicious no matter the variety.

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Buon appetito!

Erin

World’s Simplest Tomato Sauce

Serves 4
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Website Marcella Hazan via NYT Cooking

Ingredients

  • 28 oz. can can of whole tomatoes with juices
  • 1 Medium cooking onion (halved and peeled)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • salt (to taste)

Directions

1. Combine the tomatoes, their juices, onion and butter in a saucepan.
2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, uncovered for 45 minutes stirring occasionally and mashing any large tomato pieces with a spoon.
3. Remove and discard (or eat if you wish!) onions before adding salt to taste. Toss with pasta.

How To: Kitchen Tip – Multi-Purpose Spice Mix for Meal Prep

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We have obviously been inspired by summer to light up the grill. Or in my case, turn on my electric stove and bust out the indoor grill pan. Whatever method you choose, this do it yourself seasoning mix and meal prep tip will become a staple in your house too.

Prepping a batch of freshly grilled and seasoned protein of your choice ahead of time will help you to create healthy and well balanced lunches and dinner meals throughout the week. They are great added to a salad, wrap, pasta, soup…really any meal you need an extra punch of protein.

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This seasoning mix is one that is so flavourful and versatile. Cumin, chill powder, garlic powder, paprika and good old s & p combine with lime juice to create a Mexican inspired taste. You could also double or triple (or if you love it quadruple) the spice mixture so you don’t have to mix it up every time you need it (and you will need it!)

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I chose to use chicken breasts, but this seasoning and cooking method would also work great on any firm fish fillet or tofu. After a dip in the marinade and some time on your grill, the chicken is ready to be chopped and devoured. You could pre-portion the strips in the fridge for easy use throughout the week or use your extra large batch of spice mix to grill up an extra large batch of chicken and freeze for those emergency dinner situations when grocery shopping just did not happen this week.

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Here I topped a bowl of quinoa with the spiced and grilled chicken, veggies, avocado, and  an extra squeeze of lime to create a fajita bowl.

Cook once, or should I say grill once and eat all week? Nothing bad about that.

Dara

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Grilled Taco Lime Chicken, Fish, or Tofu

Serves 2-4
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Salad
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable
Website Adapted from Picky Palate

Ingredients

  • 1 Tsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 Tsp paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tsp pepper
  • 2 limes (juiced)
  • 2-4 chicken breasts, fish fillets, slabs of tofu

Note

You could double or triple this recipe and grill up a large batch of chicken/fish/tofu to have for the upcoming weeks lunches. Or freeze it for whenever you need a quick meal. The spice mixture can also be made ahead and stored in a sealed container to be used whenever you need. Chop up your protein of choice and use it in salads, tacos, sandwiches, stir-fries, soups….or eat as an on-the-go snack.

Directions

1. Combine all spices in a small bowl and stir to combine.
2. Place protein of choice in a ziplock bag and add spice mixture. Toss to coat.
3. Add lime juice and toss again until coated. Marinate in the fridge for as little as 30 minutes or up to 6 hours.
4. Preheat grill over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. Grill chicken/fish/tofu for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Serve as desired.

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How To: Kitchen Tip – Healthy Afternoon Snacks

If there is one thing that has surprised me about motherhood it’s how absolutely ravenous I get oh, about every hour. I thought pregnancy was bad with the need for a night time snack of peanut butter popcorn or an afternoon yogurt bowl. But let me tell you, feeding another human being sure makes you HUNGRY!

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A key thing for me has been to have easy access to healthy snacks to help keep the 3 or 4 or 5pm hunger at bay. So, I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite snack combos that you could easily keep in your fridge or desk at work or store in your car to get you through that afternoon hump, without resorting to the Timmie’s line up…not that there’s anything wrong with an apple fritter now and then!

1. Apple and Peanut Butter (or almond butter)

So easy! Slice an apple, spread with nut butter, and eat. You can even top it with some raisins or granola or have it straight up. This combo is a classic and perfect for fall when the apples are so delicious.

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2. Carrots and Hummus

Make our easy roasted garlic hummus or keep your favourite store-bought brand on hand for this snack. You can also keep a large tub at work and bring in different veggies every day – cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, and grape tomatoes make excellent dippers. The combo of protein and fat from the hummus will help keep you feeling full too.

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3. Cheese and Crackers

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This was my go-to snack at work. I kept a bag of crackers in my desk drawer and simply brought in some cheese every day. I love the babybell cheeses that are already individually packed and just need to be tossed in my lunch bag.

4. Yogurt and Fruit or Yogurt and Cereal/Granola

Another one of our favourites! You can portion out your yogurt snacks for the week or go with the individual yogurt cups if that’s easier. Top it with fruit or granola for extra fiber and staying power and you’re golden.

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5. Dried Fruit and Nuts

Pick your favourite nut, toss in some dried apricots, raisins, and cranberries, and pack it up in a ziplock bag and you have an easy and satisfying snack at your fingertips. Jazz it up by mixing in a few chocolate chips or m&m’s….salty and sweet!

This is definitely not a complete list…I’m sure you’ve all stashed away some of our homemade muffins and granola bars in your freezer, which would also make a great afternoon snack. But these are some of my favourites and they also require no cooking or assembly and most can be stored at room temperature.

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We’d love to hear some of your favourite afternoon snacks! Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s feeding time again…

Dara