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!

So 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 think 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 🙂 

Mango Rice with a little spice ;)

This is a quick and easy go to supper or lunch for the whole family.  Back in my childcare days rice was a great meal for the kids.  I found that lots of kids like rice (especially if you put ketchup on it…shhhhh) and you can chop up veggies that they might other wise reject and mix it all together – stir-fry style.  By choosing a brown rice you don’t get that blood sugar spike that you do with white rice and it’s a healthy source of energy, protein and fibre.

Hubby cooked lunch with a side of kombucha! 😍  Brown basmati rice cooked in bouillon, garlic (a powerful immune booster and anti-inflammatory), shiitake mushrooms (lower your blood pressure by relaxing artery walls), onions (too many benefits to list 😉, black beans (an excellent source of protein), S&P, No Salt Added Costco spice mix, corn, parsley, dill and fresh mango (loaded with fibre, live enzymes to promote good digestion and of course vitamin C!).

…for the adults a few chilli flakes on top! 

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TIP: cooking your grains in bouillon gives them huge depth of flavour and can really change your mind when it comes to the umami factor of a simple grain

A Classic Snack

Salsa and guacamole a classic snack available at almost any restaurant …but even better when made at home!

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This healthy snack is perfect for a night on the couch or to set out when friends drop by. By excluding the cheese and preservatives we only have healthy fats and fresh nutrient dense, enzyme rich veggies for dipping!  I sliced up some whole grain tortilla shells and popped them into the toaster oven for a few minutes – these are so thin it doesn’t take long for them to crisp up.

TIP: When buying food in a package from the store like tortilla shells, read the ingredients to choose the ones that have the shortest list and the most words that look familiar to you.

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THE GUAC:   Guacamole is very often a personal preference, maybe you like it with tomatoes or onions, chunky or smooth. But no matter how you like it, it is a really great source of healthy fat.  People often shy away from foods they know contain high amounts of fat but there is good fat and bad fat and avocados are one of the best! Fats not only help you stay warmer in cooler weather, giving your body sustained levels of energy, they slow the uptake of sugar into your bloodstream, reducing fatigue and stabilizing your mood. Most importantly fats are needed to maintain the connections in your brain, helping you to remember your old memories and develop new ones.

Here is how my family likes guac…

  • 3 avocados
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 small green onions or 1 large
  • a splash of pickle juice from your favourite pickles
  • 1 tsp vegan mayo
  • pepper
  • a hand full of fresh dill

blend it all in the food processor …smooth, creamy guacamole in under 5 mins!

 

salsa

THE SALSA: Unfortunately tomatoes aren’t in season where I’m living right now so I tend to add a little extra spices to the salsa than I would in the summer…those summer sweet tomatoes can’t be beat! But the health benefits of eating out of season tomatoes are worth the sacrifice in flavour.  Tomatoes are a great source of potassium which lowers your blood pressure reducing your risk of heart disease. Tomatoes contain vitamin C and are a powerful antioxidant – these two properties contribute to its role in cancer prevention triggering apoptosis (cell death) in diseased cells.  Along side tomatoes you have other nutrients like onions and garlic (anti-inflammatory), dill and cilantro (these herbs detoxify heavy metals from your body) and lemon the powerful liver cleansing fruit.  

  • tomatoes
  • garlic
  • onions (I used green but you can use any kind you like depending on your love for onions)
  • herbs (cilantro – if you can find it and dill)
  • juice from half a lemon

wiz it a couple times in the food processor so you keep it chunky and don’t end up with tomato sauce!

Making your own dips with fresh food ensures that it is full of all of it’s natural and powerful digestive enzymes, essential to good digestion and the growth of healthy gut bacteria.  

Barley salad is barely salad!

This is such an amazing and simple fall meal. Great for easy school lunches or a quick dinner on a busy evening.  The bright red pomegranate not only looks great in the picture but gives this hearty meal a fresh, juicy pop that my kids love 🙂

barley salad

**barley is a heart healthy whole grain, full of many vital nutrients such as vitamin B6, chromium, potassium, folate, etc.  It promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and is a great source of dietary fibre promoting good digestion **

After the barley was washed and rinsed I covered it in about 2 inches (5cm) of water and added a teaspoon of bouillon.  It cooks very similar to rice in that the water gets absorbed into the grain, therefore the flavour that you add to the water also gets absorbed!  The barley alone was so good that my little girl had a mini quick bowl with nutritional yeast (she eats almost everything with nutritional yeast, it’s like her ketchup)  while she waited for me to chop the veggies for supper.

I chopped up some fresh veggies that my family loves such as cucumber (B vitamins), tomatoes (antioxidant), dill (aids digestion), green onions (immune boost, stabilize blood sugar), carrots (vitamin A), and pickles for that salty crunch.

Pomegranates are in season right now and I like to take advantage of including fresh seasonal fruits and veggies whenever possible.  They are a powerful antioxidant and a great source of vitamin C…  not to mention fun to eat!

asparagus-barley

Leftovers for lunch!  I added a little cilantro to the barley salad and I never seem to be able to get enough steamed kale and asparagus with a squeeze of lime 🙂