Category Archives: antioxidant

Recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts were not on my list of regular veggies for a long time. My mom served them boiled a few times during my upbringing, no one liked them and I stayed away for a long time. Even delicious versions of brussels sprouts at Campagnolo and Momofuku Daisho did not motivate me to cook them. We had roasted brussels sprouts with Christmas dinner and I discovered they were tasty!!

Brussels sprouts are of the cruciferous family of vegetables with sinigrin and sulforaphane as antioxidant, detoxifying nutrients in addition to vitamin A, C, E and lutein. Roasting (caramelization improves the flavour) and sauteing are the best ways to go with cooking brussels sprouts. Lemon juice, vinegar, and nuts are good accompaniments. Here is a super simple recipe:

1 pound brussels sprouts, washed, and cut into halves or quarters for even size pieces

1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil

1/4 cup dried cherries (optional)

salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss brussels sprouts in shallow baking dish with oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with dried cherries if using. Roast for 10-15 minutes until desired doneness. Season further with salt, pepper and lemon juice as desired. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Roasted brussels sprouts with dried cherries

Roasted brussels sprouts with dried cherries

Recipe: Coconut Black Rice

Black rice is something I have tasted sporadically over the years in various forms of Asian  fusion cuisine. Earlier this year, I had coconut black rice served with fish in Kauai and then as coconut black rice pudding at Foxley.  Both were delicious and I had to learn how to make it. Black rice contains fiber and antioxidants in addition to its interesting taste and texture. Here is my recipe for coconut black rice, a dessert I have served topped with mango and strawberry to delighted guests. The rice also makes a nice alternative breakfast topped with fruit and nuts. The grated fresh coconut is a nice touch and dry shredded coconut works as well. Omit the sugar and cook for less time if you wish to serve it as more of a savoury side dish.

1 cup black rice, soaked overnight or a few hours in water and rinsed

2 cups water

1 cup coconut milk

2 tablespoons of organic sugar

1/4 cup grated fresh coconut or shredded unsweetened coconut

Bring rice, water and coconut milk to a boil in a pot. Remove the lid and simmer on low heat until water is absorbed or rice is desired tenderness, about 45 minutes. Stir periodically, check for doneness, and add more water if necessary. Stir in sugar and coconut before serving. Serve warm, topped with fresh mango and/or strawberries if desired. Enjoy!


Recipe: Sauteed Kale with Apple

Here is a recipe that I have used for a few years inspired by Eating Well magazine and Feeding the Whole Family cookbook. I generally like organic black kale best for the milder flavour and texture. The mix of butter, brown sugar, dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar brings the flavours of kale and apple together very nicely. This is a veggie side dish that is finished up quickly!

1 bunch organic black kale

1-2 royal gala apples, cored and sliced thin

1 tablespoon of salted butter

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat, saute apple slices and sprinkle with brown sugar for 2-3 minutes. Add kale and saute until kale is bright green and desired tenderness, 2-3 minutes. Stir in dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar.  Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Sauteed Kale with Apple

Sauteed Kale with Apple


Recipe: Sweet Potato and Rapini Mash

This is a nutrient packed vegan dish I first tried in the fall of 2012 at Mela Cafe. I was told it was yummy, which it absolutely was with the sweet potato balancing the slight bitterness of the rapini in a addition to a topping of homemade tomato sauce. The delicious combination of sweet potato and rapini is a super dose of beta carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, lutein and vitamin K. Here is my simple version:

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 bunch rapini, chopped

Homemade tomato sauce

In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook the sweet potato until soft. Drain potatoes and put back into the pot. Using an immersion blender, mash sweet potato to desired consistency. Stir in coconut oil, bring back to medium heat and stir in the chopped rapini. Cover and heat until rapini is bright green and cooked through.

Heat desired quantity of homemade tomato sauce in a saucepan. Serve the sweet potato and rapini mash topped with the tomato sauce.-Enjoy!


Veggie Inspiration: Choi Sum

It seems highly appropriate to introduce Choi Sum, a Chinese green vegetable during  Chinese New Year. Choi sum is mild in flavour, somewhat similar to bok choy. It is part of the mustard family of greens and is a source of vitamin C, soluble fibre, calcium and phytonutrients such as indole 3-carbinol, which helps cells repair their DNA.

Baby Choi Sum

Baby Choi Sum

Choi sum came to my attention in Hawaii while I sampled the incredibly diverse and blended Asian food on Oahu. I found choi sum as a tasty cold salad at a Korean place in the food court at Ala Moana Mall. I believe the choi sum was steamed and seasoned with sesame oil and soy sauce among other unidentified seasonings to create the ‘salad’. I also enjoyed and ordered extra portions of choi sum in tan tan ramen (a spicy sesame infused broth for ramen and a new favourite food!).

With these sources of inspiration, I procured some tender baby choi sum with a little help. It’s an interesting leafy green vegetable to have, which works well for healthy eating and fat loss. Look for baby choi sum, or choi sum that is bright green at your local Asian grocer. Try it stir fried, lightly steamed and enjoyed hot or cold dressed as a ‘salad’, or in a noodle soup.


Papaya: A fruit to try

I have never liked papaya, until I tried one in Hawaii. The papaya tastes entirely different there, fresh and sweet with minimal musky flavour. Perhaps it is also the freshness from the crop being grown on the islands. Papaya contains papain, an enzyme that aids in digestion, which helps the body obtain optimal levels of nutrients. Papain is is used as an ingredient in digestive aid/enzyme supplements. Papaya also contains lycopene, lutein, calcium, potassium and arginine.  I would suggest consuming fresh papaya for the taste, nutrients and digestive enzymes.

Apparently, much of the papaya crop is genetically modified. Natural, unmodified food seems ideal to me. However, this can become a complex issue, that is beyond my scope of practice. I can say that it is a best practice for us all to learn where our food comes from and pay attention to how we feel after we consume various foods. Some foods have more of a positive effect than others. I feel great after I eat fresh papaya from Hawaii and Jamaica-I enjoy the taste of these papayas best. See what types of papaya you enjoy and how you feel…

Jamaican Papaya

Jamaican Papaya

Recipe: Sauteed Callaloo

I developed a love for callaloo while I was in Jamaica. It has to be one of the tastiest green veggies around and it is so easy to eat a good volume of it. I have found it here in Toronto at Caribbean Corner in Kensington Market, so look for it at a Caribbean grocer near you.

There is some technique to handling this plant once you have it in your hands. Separate the leaves and the stems throughout. Use a paring knife to remove the fibrous outer coating from the stems.

Sauteed Callalloo

1 bunch of callaloo, stems and leaves separated

1 clove garlic, slivered

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to your taste

Cut the stems and leaves of callaloo into small pieces. See below for a visual:

In a large pan, heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Add cut callaloo, saute for 2-3 minutes or until leaves start to wilt. Cover pan and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper or any other seasoning to your taste. Enjoy!



Veggie Inspiration: Callaloo

Callaloo was a most delicious green veggie I tried while I was in Jamaica in March. I was told it was like spinach, but a bit milder. I first had it in a mixed vegetable curry, which I quite enjoyed. I had it again for breakfast in a dish of poached eggs and steamed callaloo.

Callaloo provides vitamin C, folic acid, iron and calcium. I found it to be delicious just steamed, so I highly recommend it as a green veggie to have regularly-it tastes good! Having more greens is a tried and true strategy for better health and fat loss. This concept gets much easier when there is a green that is this tasty.

A Jakes employee showed me callaloo growing wild by the side of the road. This is unlikely here in Canada, but be sure to try callaloo if you have the opportunity to do so in the Caribbean. Or at a West Indian restaurant in Toronto. Or try to buy some at a specialty market-I will do so and report back.

June 16, 2012

I got my hands on some callaloo at a Caribbean store in Kensington market. It was imported from Jamaica, but it was definitely a fresh cut plant. I cooked it with the help of a good friend yesterday and it was delicious!

5 Everyday Antioxidant Foods

Eating foods rich in antioxidants can help prevent illness and slow the aging process. The question what is oxidation, is one I am asked frequently. An easy visual example is imagine cutting an apple in half. What happens in half an hour? The apple starts to turn brown and maybe dry up a bit. This is due to exposure to oxygen and the chemical reaction that occurs in the presence of oxygen (the chemical reaction is oxidation).

We need to eat foods with antioxidants to counteract the environmental stressors our bodies are exposed to such as, alcohol, sun, smoke, pollution, and various other forms stress we experience.
There are various ways to measure antioxidant content in foods, but vitamin C, vitamin E, betacarotene, and selenium are the main nutrients to look for.Here are 5 everyday foods that are high in antioxidants:

1. Oats-are a source of selenium, vitamin E and soluble fibre, which also helps lower blood cholesterol.

2. Berries-blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries are rich sources of vitamin C and many other  beneficial phytochemicals. They are a fruit that is lower in sugar and easy to eat.

3. Broccoli-is rich in vitamin C and indole-3-carbinol, a cancer fighting phytochemical. Try pre-cut broccoli slaw mixed in with your regular salad. If you will not eat broccoli, try other dark leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, watercress, bok choy.

4. Carrots-are a food that most people like to eat raw, so enjoy regularly for its betacarotene, precursor to vitamin A content. If you do not like carrots, try fresh carrot apple juice.

5. Dark chocolate-(try one with a lower sugar content, less than 5 grams of sugar per serving) is fun to eat and contains vitamin C and is a great source of flavinoids, another type antioxidant compound.

Salad Inspiration: Mijita jicama salad

The jicama salad at Mijita in the Ferry Building of San Francisco is an all time favourite salad of mine. Mijita is a casual taqueria opened by chef Tracy Des Jardins. This salad has the perfect blend of flavour, texture and nutrition. There is vitamin C and other phytochemicals in both the jicama and grapefruit. Healthy fats are found in the avocado and toasted pumpkin seeds. The taste and texture of it all is outstanding! I have written in to Bon Appetit RSVP to try and get the recipe.

April 20, 2012. Just an update. Chef Melissa Saunders made my wish come true. She created a version of this salad for her menu this week. Her jicama salad was super outstanding!!! Even tastier than the one pictured above…maybe more zing in the cilantro lime dressing? Try her for the recipe (that might not happen) or order it from her like I did