Posts tagged healthy
Posts tagged healthy
Easy summer supper: caprese salad
I love it when the ingredients for a dish you’ve been craving simply fall right into your lap when you least expect it! That’s what happened when I made this caprese salad while my mother was visiting recently.
I had been craving a caprese salad for a while, but I hadn’t quite figured out how I wanted to pull it all together. Well, my mother helped to clear it all up by bringing fresh tomatoes and basil from her and my Dad’s garden, and a bottle of amazing olive oil from her trip to Spain as a gift to the husband and I. All I needed was some fresh cheese, and I knew exactly what I wanted: President’s Choice’s new formaggio di bufala mozzarella!
The directions for making caprese are fairly self-explanatory, so I won’t bore you with how I did it. But I will say that I thought that interchanging the green and purple basil leaves made for an even prettier presentation! I also drizzled my salad with some balsamic vinegar and some of the olive oil from Spain. It was delicious! It is one of my favourite ways to enjoy the summer bounty of tomatoes and fresh basil from my parent’s garden. (P.S. - the zinnias in the background are also from my parent’s garden. So pretty!)
Weeknight summery supper: pork and mango fresh spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce
The husband and I love to order fresh spring rolls when we go out for Vietnamese food, and our love of these delicious rolls inspired me to try to make them on my own. My sister had made them for my family a long time ago, so I had seen it done before, but I still wasn’t sure I could pull it off. I was also inspired by a few of the food bloggers that I follow who had made posts about them in recent months (see here and here).
I knew I wanted my rolls to have some sort of meat in them, along with mango. There is just something about mango that I think works so well in these savoury rolls. I also wanted to add some lettuce for texture and freshness, and vermicelli noodles to make them filling (and vermicelli is a pretty typical ingredient in these rolls).
After preparing my ingredients, I set out to start rolling. It took me a few tries on the first wrap, but I got the hang of it surprisingly quickly, and the rolls came together quite nicely. The husband and I both loved them! The flavours came together wonderfully, and we were so pleased with how they turned out. We have since made them again, and will continue to make them in the future!
Pork and mango fresh spring rolls
Ingredients - for two, to make about 6 small rolls
- 2 to 3 boneless pork chops, bbq’d, cooled and sliced into strips
- 1 Atalufo or regular mango, peeled and sliced into thin, long strips (you will have leftover mango)
- 4 to 6 pieces of romaine or red/green leaf lettuce, washed and de-stemmed
- 1/4 package vermicelli noodles, cooked, drained and cooled
- fresh cilantro, washed and dried (use as much or as little as you like in each wrap)
- 1 package of rice wraps (you’ll have lots leftover for future use)
Lay out all of your prepared ingredients. Fill a large, flat bowl (I had to use a frying pan as I don’t have a bowl that large and flat) with very warm water to use to soften the rice wraps. One at a time, soften a wrap, then fill with ingredients (be careful to not over stuff the wraps as you’ll have more difficulty rolling them up. Use a burrito rolling technique for an effective roll.
Once rolled, enjoy immediately or refrigerate. I recommend eating them within the same day, or the next day.
We love having our rolls with homemade peanut dipping sauce, and I can recommend this recipe that I have tried from the lovely How to Eat blog. Trust me, these wraps just LOVE this dip - don’t eat them without it! Enjoy!
Loooooove Saturday mornings ❤️
Stock your pantry: homemade toasted oat and coconut muesli (recipe from Joy the Baker)
I love all things oatmeal, and I had been toying with the idea of making my own muesli to use for various breakfast and snack recipes. Sometimes I find that eating my oatmeal hot in the summer can be trying, so having a different option is key for maintaining my routine for a quick and healthy breakfast.
I am also obsessed with cold overnight oats (see here and here), so I thought that making my own muesli would be the perfect way to enhance my overnight oats. What better way to start than with a delightful recipe from the Joy the Baker blog?
Click here to see Joy the Baker’s recipe. I made it exactly as described, except for the following changes: I halved the recipe (which worked very well), and I used pre-toasted, sweetened coconut as it was all I could find at my local Bulk Barn. One thing that I really loved about this recipe is the toasted oats: it adds a subtle depth of flavour that is so tasty! And, when you see the recipe, you will see that toasting your oats is as easy as turning on your oven.
I’ve had this for breakfast for a few days now, and it is deeeeelicious! I have been using an 8 oz/ 1 cup/250 ml mason jar. I fill it about half way with the dry muesli, then top it with 1% milk until it is completely immersed. Lastly, I added fresh blueberries to fill up the rest of the jar. It sits overnight in the fridge, then I have a tasty and cool breakfast all ready to take with me to work! What could be better or easier?
Weeknight dinner: roasted salmon and asparagus with quinoa
With a beautiful piece of salmon sitting pretty in my fridge last week, I looked to Martha Stewart for some recipe inspiration. I also had some fresh asparagus, which I knew would pair well with the salmon.
After finding this recipe on Martha Stewart’s website, I got to work. Martha’s recipe says to pair the salmon and asparagus with couscous, but all I had was quinoa, so I made that instead. This dinner came together very quickly, and was delicious in a simple and fresh way.
Roasted salmon and asparagus with quinoa - slightly adapted from Martha Stewart (click on my photo to link to the original recipe)
Serves 2 with leftovers
For the salmon:
- one small to medium piece of salmon (I used a piece from which I was able to cut four portions like the one in my photo)
- 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 to 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (I find this oil very strong - use to taste)
- 1 lb fresh asparagus, washed and woody ends trimmed
For the quinoa:
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- lemon juice to taste
Make quinoa according to package instructions. Set aside. Right before serving, drizzle with lemon juice and add cilantro and mix.
Whisk together the soy sauce, lemon juice and sesame oil in a bowl. Preheat your broiler. On a foil-lined baking sheet, lay out your salmon and asparagus. Brush the soy sauce mixture on the asparagus, and then on the salmon. Broil until desired doneness (until the asparagus is tender and the salmon is opaque) about 6-8 minutes.
Serve with quinoa and a lemon wedge for extra freshness if desired!
Weeknight supper: curried sweet potato soup
Here we have yet another highly successful recipe from the fantastic Toronto Star Cookbook. The author, Jennifer Bain, promises in the introduction to this recipe that it will be creamy, yet there isn’t a single drop of cream (or milk for that matter) in this soup. Let me tell you: she is right. I don’t know how, but this is the most velvety, creamy soup, and it is completely dairy free! It is amazing! It is definitely going to be my go-to root vegetable soup from now on. The recipe is incredibly simple, but the results are wonderful.
Curried sweet potato soup - serves 4
From the Toronto Star Cookbook
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 3 cups chicken broth, homemade or store-bought, plus more if needed
- 1 tsp liquid honey
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
In a large soup/stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until softened, stirring often (about 5 minutes).
Add the sweet potatoes, 3 cups broth, curry powder, ginger and honey. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the sweet potatoes are tender, 3 to 40 minutes.
To blend, you can either transfer the mixture to a blender in batches or use a hand-held immersion blender (I used an immersion blender). Puree until completely smooth.
Return to the pot to keep warm for serving. If the soup is too thick for your taste, add a bit more stock until the desired consistency is reached (mine was great as it was).
Serve with cornbread if you like!
Weekend breakfast: toasted steel cut oatmeal (with leftovers for work lunches!)
Who knew that such a simple thing as toasting your steel cut oats could completely transform the flavours? I didn’t figure this out until recently when I tried yet another recipe from what is quickly becoming one of my all-time favourite cookbooks, Jennifer Bain’s Toronto Star Cookbook. I will now be toasting my steel cut oats every time!
The toasting of the oats imparts a deeper, more rich and earthy flavour, which I loved. I changed the cooking process from the original recipe a little bit but I think this works even better, plus you don’t have to dirty a pot AND and frying pan this way! Feel free to change up the toppings/add-ins to anything you like in terms of dried fruit, nuts and other delicious goodies. Enjoy!
Toasted steel cut oatmeal - very slightly adapted from the Toronto Star Cookbook
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
Pure maple syrup for serving
In a large non-stick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. When it begins to foam, add the oats, then cook, stirring constantly, until oats are golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the water and cranberries to the same skillet, and simmer over medium heat, uncovered and without stirring (or very minimal stirring), until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes. Then add salt (if using) and stir lightly.
Continue to simmer until the oats have absorbed most of the water but are still slightly chewy, about another 5 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and let stand, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes to thicken.
Serve warm, drizzled with maple syrup. Refrigerate any leftovers and reheat easily in the microwave (add a splash of water for moisture if you desire).
Weekend breakfast: mocha crunch steel cut oats and a 5-minute quinoa flake bake
I’m always looking for ways to spice up my steel cut oats, so when I came across this recipe on The Kitchn website, I was pretty excited to give it a try (click here to link to the recipe). Chocolate and coffee are two of my most favourite flavours, especially when it comes to oatmeal. This recipe uses unsweetened cocoa powder to create the deep, dark chocolate colour and flavour. This also allows you to control how sweet you like your oatmeal. I added just a very small drizzle of maple syrup as topping, but I did not add any actual sweetener to the oatmeal mixture.
This oatmeal was delicious! A total treat, I wouldn’t make it all the time, but for something different, it is perfect. I adapted the recipe slightly from the original to suit what I had on hand, and my adapted version is below.
Mocha crunch steel cut oats - serves 2 to 4
Slightly adapted from The Kitchn
-3 cups water
-1 cup steel-cut oats
-1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
-2 teaspoons instant espresso
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup roasted pecan pieces
-1/4 cup cinnamon chips
-Milk or cream, to serve
Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons sweetener (sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, etc.)
Bring water to a boil. Stir in oats, espresso, cocoa powder, and salt. Bring back to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the oats reach your desired tenderness. Remove from the heat and stir in sweetener of choice.
Meanwhile, while the oatmeal is cooking, mix the pecan pieces and cinnamon chips in a small serving bowl.
When the oatmeal is ready, serve hot with milk or cream on the side, and sprinkled liberally with the pecan and cinnamon chip topping.
The other part of this post is my 5 minute quinoa flake bake, but I won’t go into detail about how mine turned as this was my first time attempting to make this. I bought a large sack of GoGo Quinoa Flakes recently and I have been looking for interesting ways to put it to good use. I used this recipe from Healthful Pursuit, and I liked it, but am still tweaking it. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Weekday lunches: quinoa salad served over spinach
During the last few grueling weeks of cold, snow and general yucky weather, all I was craving was the fresh, bright flavours of salad. I think my tastebuds were trying to demand that springtime get its butt to Ottawa and fast!
So I turned to my newest cookbook (see here) for some inspiration and found this delicious quinoa salad. It has colourful veggies, seeds and quinoa, all tossed in a fresh, homemade vinaigrette. I decided to serve the quinoa salad on top of a bed of baby spinach to add some green goodness. This salad totally quenched my craving for the fresh and bright flavours of spring!
Quinoa salad - adapted from the Toronto Star Cookbook by Jennifer Bain
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup organic quinoa (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
For the Dressing
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp honey
- salt and pepper to taste
Make the quinoa: bring the water to a boil, lower the heat to medium and add the quinoa. Cook for about 12 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and keep covered for about 15 minutes.
Make the dressing: combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well mixed.
Toss carrot, bell pepper, cranberries and pepitas in another bowl. Add cooled quinoa and dressing and toss. Serve on top of a bed of fresh baby spinach or as is.
I ate this over a span of a few days for my work lunches and the flavours got better as the mixture had a chance to rest and mix together.
Weekend baking: apple cinnamon oatmeal muffins
I like to keep a stash of healthy muffins in the freezer to toss in my work lunches. Sometimes my craving for something baked to go with my morning coffee is just too overwhelming to ignore, and having one of these little gems on hand to satisfy my craving is for the best.
I came across this recipe on the lovely Steph’s Bite by Bite blog, and you can click on my photo above to link to her site. I followed her recipe as written with two exceptions: I used regular milk (instead of almond milk) and I used vegetable oil (instead of canola oil).
These are definitely healthy muffins, but I think they’re great! I like the flavour and texture (the texture is a bit more dense) and they aren’t too sweet, which I prefer. A great snack and baked good to pair with your morning tea or coffee!
Weekday lunches: kale, bacon and white bean smash
Is this a pretty little dish or what? I was looking to try something completely different for my weekday lunches recently, so when I stumbled across this recipe on the President’s Choice website, I decided to give it a try.
This dish is very simple, and uses many pantry staples like canned tomatoes and beans. But its flavour also comes from a few fresh ingredients, like bacon, onions and the superstar veg kale! I have a rough time digesting raw veggies (TMI?) so I have been looking for ways to incorporate cooked kale into my daily diet. This recipe is excellent for that since, as you know, greens tend to wilt down quite a bit, so a LOT of kale becomes a little after being heated ever so slightly!
This recipe is fantastic! It is simple, quick, healthy and delicious. I found that the flavours were even better the next and subsequent days. I’d even recommend waiting to eat this until the day after you make it! Click on my photo above to link to the recipe - I made it exactly as described on the President’s Choice website. This is the perfect light stew for a cold late winter morning! (Yes, I know, it is spring, but not in Ottawa!)
Weeknight supper: honey dijon baked salmon with walnuts
One of the quickest weeknight dinners that I know how to make is baked salmon. Pair it with a salad, and voila: dinner is ready! The other great thing about salmon is that it can be seasoned with so many different flavours to keep your taste buds interested.
One recent weeknight (while the husband was filling his craving for a pizza) I decided to top my salmon with a mixture of honey Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper, and then top it with chopped walnuts. I baked it at 425° for about 15 minutes (bake for more or less time depending on how well done you prefer your salmon - I don’t mind if mine is just slightly underdone in the middle) and served it with a side of Farm Boy’s freshly prepared Mediterranean orzo salad. This is definitely one of my new favourite ways to season my salmon! What’s yours?
I’m trying out this new President’s Choice Italian farro today in a vegetarian stew I’m making to freeze for my work lunches. Have you tried it? I’m very curious as I have never before tried farro. I think it will be very similar to wheatberries or barley in texture (and which I have tried). I will keep you posted, as always!
Weekend baking: pineapple muffins
Well, we made it through January. It is supposed to be the worst month of the year, right? Funny that my birthday also falls within the supposed worst month of the year: I do agree that celebrating your birthday in January in Ottawa isn’t the most fun. Snowstorms, freezing cold temperatures and other weather-related events can easily foil the most well thought out plans.
I needed a little tropical infusion to help brighten my January, so I went on the hunt for a pineapple muffin recipe. I found this delightful recipe on the Yankee Kitchen Ninja blog, which is one of my favourites.
This recipe requires a little bit of extra effort (yup, you have to get out your food processor) but it is worth it! I followed the Ninja’s recipe exactly as described, so click on my photo to link to her site for the recipe. You won’t be disappointed! I love that these muffins are a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flour: it just adds a nice texture and flavour.
These muffins were just what I needed to brighten up this most frigid and snow-covered January!
Sunday supper: chicken with balsamic bell peppers
Recently, I decided that I was going to face my fear of pan-frying chicken and finishing cooking it in the oven. You might even call it a New Year’s resolution. You see, we don’t like to bbq in the winter: it is just too cold and too annoying to strap on your boots and put on your big coat and stand outside and freeze to death. This presents a problem as eating baked chicken breast gets really boring pretty quickly. Enter the pan-fry technique, which allows you to get a nice crisp, brown crust on your chicken (which, although not totally like bbq’d chicken, is along the same lines) while keeping it moist inside by finishing the cooking in the oven.
I felt better about facing this task after finding this recipe (click on my photo above to link to the recipe) on myrecipes.com. A little trick that I figured out for myself is to use chicken breast cutlets: the ones that I found at my local grocery store (Farm Boy) are about the same size as a regular chicken breast, but about half the thickness. This makes cooking the meat easy and safe since you don’t have to worry as much about cooking through a thick chicken breast.
The other great thing about this recipe is that the pan-seared chicken is then topped with bell peppers and onions that have been simmered with balsamic vinegar for for a delicious kick. I served the chicken with a side of whole wheat couscous spiked with herbes de provence, lemon juice and olive oil. This was one delicious healthy Sunday supper, and now I’m excited about trying this cooking technique again soon.