Brussels

A lesson in freshness…or maybe size really does matter!

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Recipe:

  • brussel sprouts cut into quarters
  • avocado or olive oil (just a sprinkle)
  • tbsp seedy mustard
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • a little sea salt
  • I made these for the family so on the adult side I sprinkled some chili powder

I roasted them at about 350ºF until wrinkly and golden…not more than 10 minutes!

Confession:

They were bitter and awful!  But it’s not the recipe that failed me it was the actual veggies. I have made this before and they usually come out buttery and delicious. I think where things went wrong was I purchased a prepackaged bag of local but probably not fresh brussel sprouts. I was also given some helpful tips from fellow cooking enthusiasts that choosing the smaller sprouts is the key to avoiding the bitterness. 

You can’t win them all!

…we will try again 🙂

Plant-based comfort food

At the beginning of the year the Canada Food Guide released some new recommendations to give Canadians the best chance of staying healthy and disease free. One major change that became a hot topic for discussion was the recommendation that “among protein foods, consume plant-based protein more often”.  Well this is a little vague for most of us since the media has taught us that the word ‘protein’ is synonymous with ‘meat’. So what exactly does “plant-based protein” look like on the dinner table? Below is a family favourite that include plenty of plant-based protein.    

chickpea spaghetti

I chose this recipe to share because it’s important to make familiar yet nutritious food for not only the kids but also adults that are interested in making some changes.  Making dietary changes to improve your health and the health of your loved ones doesn’t need to take away the comfort of food. This meal contains leafy greens to provide the valuable vitamins and minerals that we need, chickpeas are an excellent source of protein and the onions, garlic and nutritional yeast not only create anti-inflammatory reactions within the body but are also a great boost to your immune system.  

 

Prep: 10 mins Cook: 30 mins

Ingredients: tomato sauce, spices (oregano, thyme, basil, nutritional yeast, chilli peppers, paprika, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, clove), garlic, onions, red peppers, canned chickpeas (drained and rinsed), fresh parsley, spaghetti 

Directions: Boil the spaghetti in water with about 3 bay leafs to give the pasta nice flavour – I also put about a tablespoon of a basil, thyme, oregano spice mix into the water – while the pasta is boiling. Between boiling water and waiting for pasta to cook this should be enough time to make your sauce.

Sauce – chop onions and garlic and start frying them on low heat, add a small splash of water and then add your spices:

  • a healthy tbsp each of oregano, thyme, basil, turmeric and paprika
  • a dash of black pepper (you only need about 1/8 of a tsp to ensure proper absorption of the turmeric) 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp clove

Let these fry up over low heat until you see the onions starting to become clear, add your sliced red peppers, tomato sauce and chickpeas.  These should have time to simmer together while the pasta cooks.

Taste it – if you like your pasta sauce a bit on the sweet side I recommend a splash of maple syrup! 

Serve it with some fresh parsley (or herbs of your choice) and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast on top (like parmesan!)

RECIPE ALERT!

My daughter and I were invited to a summer’s end potluck and this recipe popped into my mind.  I had made it in the past but somehow even though my family loves it, I had forgotten about it…until now!

CURRY CHICKPEA PITA

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You can find variations of this recipe in plant-based cook books but personally I like this combo best 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 green onions (chopped)
  • 1/2 large carrot (shredded)
  • handful of cilantro (chopped)
  • handful of sunflower seeds
  • handful of pumpkin seeds
  • handful of dried cranberries
  • handful of daiya cheese (optional)
  • 2 or 3 chopped pickles
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp yellow curry
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 lemon slice freshly squeezed
  • black pepper
  • a few blobs of vegan mayo… you’ll have to just mix it and decide how creamy you like it.  

There is no method, just mix it all into a bowl!  That is about the best I can do with measurements 🙂  I just eyeball, dump and shake while I cook.  Don’t be afraid to taste it and add more or less of those flavours you love.  There are lots of veggie options that make a nice addition like sweet red pepper, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, fresh garlic, etc.  Have fun!

We stuffed this mixture into a pita for our potluck but it can be eaten straight up, with crackers, or on spaghetti (which is how we ate the leftovers).

This salad tastes great when you make it, awesome when you arrive at your potluck and even better the next day as the spices give out more and more flavour.

Meal Prep

Last week I had the chance to work with an amazing woman who organizes meal prep for families.  I love this concept… you sign up and pre-pay online, you choose how many meals you would like to take home and freeze for easy whole food family dinners.  On her sign up page there is a drop down menu of 4 meals to choose from, pick your favourites and show up!  She has all the recipes broken down into steps and how you need to chop – cook – or mix the ingredients!  BRILLIANT

It’s so easy to just do the step on the little sticky note and then move onto the next sticky note, meanwhile we all got to chat and get to know each other 🙂  The final step is assembling the meals in freezer ready packaging that includes cooking instructions.

3 hours later 8 women had prepared and packed 71 plant-based meals!

During this meal prep we made Roasted Yam and Black Bean Burritos, Lentil Soup, Sweet Potato Pineapple Indian Curry and Plant-based Chickpea Burgers

Fusion Noodles

Another leftover creation that turned out so delish, that I will just make it on purpose and not wait for leftovers!  A little Italian, a little Asian – win win!

Of course I had sprinkled everything on top, really pretty, to take an appetizing Insta-pic but then I stirred it and started eating it before I remembered to take the PICTURE!!

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We like the really thin spaghettini or vermicelli noodles when we are eating pasta.  I  love to have just a little taste of noodle and mostly taste the veggies and sauce that I’ve dressed it with.

Since, I was starting with leftover spaghettini that had been in the fridge, it was cold and I decided to roll with it and make a cold noodle ‘salad’.

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I added my seed mix. This SUPERFOOD mix I’m trying for the first time.  Usually I just add hemp hearts and the “salad topper” from Costco that has pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries in it.  Either way these seeds are a healthy source of fat, great fibre and add a nice crunch.  I also sprinkled some chili powder, S&P and chopped up fresh basil.  For a little moisture and some salty asian flavour (because that is what I love, give me heat and salt and I’m a happy girl!) I added a splash of tamari. Tamari is fermented soy sauce.  Because of the fermentation, the salt doesn’t effect your blood pressure the same way that it would with other salty products and it is gluten-free if you need that.

 

If you decide to give it a try I hope you like it as much as I did!

Bowtie Pasta

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Sometimes my kids want crazy shaped noodles… part of being a kid I guess.  They picked this bowtie pasta out at the grocery store and I thought…what the heck am I going to make with this?!  This adorable shape made me start dreaming of pesto but I didn’t like the ingredients in anything from the store… so I thought, I’ll just make it myself.

Let’s say this is a loose interpretation of pesto since it’s very basic and quite clean tasting …really I just wanted that sweet fresh basil flavour!

Green ‘Pesto’ Sauce: handful of fresh basil, handful x2 of spinach, 1 avocado, a splash of coconut vinegar, a splash of water and a squeeze of lime.  A dash of pink Himalayan salt to bring out the flavours and into the blender it went.  It was bright green perfection!   I put the leftovers in the fridge and it was even better the next day after the flavours had time to marinate with each other.  I did choose to skip the garlic in the sauce since I knew we wouldn’t use it all up at once and I find that fresh garlic the next day is super overpowering and I wanted to enjoy the clean flavours of the fresh greens and herbs.  

The Veg: I fried up some mushrooms, onions, garlic and canned chickpeas (drained and rinsed) in a little avocado oil, S&P, and nutritional yeast. The nutritional yeast gives it the wow factor, a salty – cheesy flavour without the actual salt and cheese.

In the end, kids got their cute pasta and mom got her fresh ‘pesto’ sauce!  WIN WIN 🙂

Some Nutritional Facts:

  • chickpeas are a great source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and an excellent source of plant based protein.
  • mushrooms are anti-inflammatory making them great for your heart and blood vessels.  There is also new research showing their benefits in improving cognitive function.
  • onions and garlic are a no brainer! Immune boosting, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory along with providing many vitamins and nutrients such as B1, B6 and vitamin C.
  • spinach is a great source of vitamins namely vitamin K, important for bone health.
  • basil is a good source of magnesium and vitamin A, promoting healthy blood flow.

 

Tiny Tacos

TACOS

This one was quick and easy since jackfruit comes in the can and doesn’t really need to be cooked.  I just pulled apart the jackfruit and fried it a little in some sweet and tangy BBQ sauce with a handful of smashed black beans.  To boost the flavour even more I added some onions, garlic and mushrooms to the frying pan.  Onions and garlic are not only great for the immune system but are also powerful anti-inflammatories, lowering inflammation in your gut and throughout your body.

DID YOU KNOW: Mushrooms relax your arteries lowering your blood pressure!

We love our homemade guacamole! Avocado is rich in oleic acid – a healthy fat – and we try to consume it as much as possible  — our guac is just squished avocado with some S&P, a splash of pickle juice and scoop of nutritional yeast —  For the rice I always cook it in broth and often will add some cumin or coriander for added flavour.  If you add the spices to the water then the rice (or any grain you cook) takes on the flavours as it’s cooking and soaking it all in.

We topped it all off with a little salsa and some fresh cilantro — cilantro is great at soaking up and naturally removing any extra heavy metals from our body. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • rice
  • guacamole – avocado, pickle juice, nutritional yeast
  • jackfruit
  • black beans
  • onions
  • mushrooms
  • garlic
  • salsa
  • BBQ sauce

Sweet Potato Curry

Ahhhh a warm and comforting bowl of curry in the belly… I’m sure most plant-based eaters can agree but even for those of us who aren’t as plant-based the warm spices, sweet flavours and wafting aroma that comes from a curry can be so enjoyable. As a mom who is always making sure that whatever I make my kids will eat and enjoy too, I usually add sweet potato to the curry to give it that extra family friendly sweetness and pack it with extra nutrients!

Sweet Potato Coconut Curry with cilantro and fresh mung bean sprouts

Recipe:

  • 2 large or 3 small sweet potatoes peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 can of chick peas drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 of a fresh pineapple cut into cubes
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp yellow curry
  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk (read the label you can find coconut milk that is pure and doesn’t have any additives or preservatives)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 or 3 tables spoons of tomato paste or 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 2 blobs of maple syrup (yes that is an official maple syrup measurement 😉

Method:

Chop onions and garlic and fry them on low heat with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil or some bouillon if you are staying away from oil. Once the onions start to become translucent add in the dry spices and continue to fry on low, stirring so that the spices do not burn. Toasting the spices like this will enhance the flavour and remove the bitterness. After a few mins you can add the potatoes and all remaining ingredients, except for the pineapple. Stir thoroughly so that everything is well blended together and you have a creamy soupy consistency. You can play with the amount of water that you would like to add depending on how thin or thick you would like your curry. Simmer your sweet potato curry on med-low heat long enough that the potatoes are cooked thru, about 20 mins. Then add the fresh pineapple. Taste your curry and add a dash of salt, or an extra blob of maple syrup if you like. Adjust it to your personal taste 🙂

*Serve over a whole grain of your choice such as brown rice, quinoa, barley or simply dish it into a bowl and throw in some sprouts or spinach or herbs of your choosing!

*So many of the spices and veggies in curry are anti-inflammatory in our bodies such as turmeric, onions and garlic. The pineapple contains the powerful enzyme bromelain which aids in digestion, helps to reduce bloating and is another anti-inflammatory. Sweet potatoes have too many nutrients to list! Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein as recommended by the Canada Food Guide and coconut milk is a great healthy fat to feed your brain 🙂

ENJOY!!

 

Christmas Eve Pumpkin Pancakes

pumpkin pancakes  These pumpkin pancakes drizzled in maple syrup were dinner Christmas Eve at our place!  The kids had eaten a lot of candy at school and then right into the weekend with company coming over and party food on the menu.  Our digestive systems needed some stability but our tastebuds still wanted to know it was Christmas Eve 😉

Pumpkin is loaded with disease fighting vitamins and antioxidants. Along with plenty of dietary fibre to feed beneficial gut bacteria pumpkin aids in digestion to keep things moving along in the digestive tract.

Recipe:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 can organic pumpkin puree (425g)
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup oil (I like avocado)
  • 1/4 cup plant based milk
  • 2 cups ground oats
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda activated with apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soaked raisins

Top with maple syrup, fruit, jam, chickpea chocolate, coconut flesh, …I will let you imagine 🙂

*gluten free       *vegan

Kale… yup I said the K word

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Kale is just one of those foods, you either love it or you hate it.  Some people have the ability to eat it despite their dislike but I am a strong believer that there is enough variety out there, you can always find something with the same health benefits that you love…

You should always love what you eat and eat what you love! 

I am a kale lover!  This pic was from a hot salad that I made myself for lunch today. I steamed the kale and mushrooms in a little bit of miso broth and added fresh tomatoes and spicy banana peppers on top…a personal love of mine.

But the benefits of kale are worth it in spades even if you only like it a little.

  • Lowers LDL cholesterol – after just 14 days of adding kale to the diet of people with high cholesterol they saw a 20% drop
  • Immune booster – adding kale into your diet exponentially increases your white blood cell army (your disease fighting immunity cells)
  • Loaded with vitamins – iron, protein, folate, magnesium, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, calcium,  …the list goes on!
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • A great source of dietary fibre
  • Detoxifying chlorophyll

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Kale can be a bit bitter uncooked, so I recommend eating it steamed. Lots of fresh foods lose many of their nutritional benefits during the cooking process but kale is not one of them. So go ahead and steam, bake or even boil your kale.

Spice it up, season it, sauce it – discover how you love it and then eat it often!

 

 

TIP: If you’ve given it an honest try and aren’t a kale lover/liker you can give purple cabbage a try and reap many of the same rewards 🙂