Category Archives: healthy recipe

Recipe: Banana Chia Pudding

This summer my good friend K offered me a chia pudding cup. I never got around to eating it, so I asked her what it was made with and she said banana. The next time I came across some ripe bananas, I figured I would make my own banana chia pudding. I had full fat coconut milk on hand, so I mashed the banana, added coconut milk and Coconut Dream to make my chia pudding. I swirled in some strawberry jam as sweetener and found a tasty snack, or breakfast or alternative to yogurt. Chia seeds also have the added benefit of aiding digestion by moving through the intestines. I prefer whole chia seeds. However, this week, I showed a client how to make this pudding and found she had only ground chia seeds, so we made pudding with just banana and added coconut water as liquid with a touch of cinnamon plus maple syrup to sweeten. Quite pleasant tasting…

I am not going to include a photo of either forms of pudding as they actually look a bit like barf. Think of chia pudding as an alternative to yogurt or a tasty medicinal digestive aid, so give it a try. This is so easy to make that I will suggest you create your own recipe to suit your tastes:

3 tablespoons whole white chia seeds

1/2-1 whole mashed ripe banana

1/4-1/2 cup coconut milk (from a can)-optional

1/4-1/2 cup non dairy milk of your choice or juice or coconut water

Mash banana in a medium bowl, stir in chia seeds, add liquid to create a pudding like consistency. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight, When ready to serve, stir again and add more liquid for desired consistency. Sweeten with jam, maple syrup or honey. Top with granola, nuts or fruit and enjoy,

Salad meals…we make our own

I have always wondered how a person could eat a salad for lunch or dinner, as it has always been an unsatisfying meal for me. I have ordered salads from all sorts of restaurants and specialized ‘healthy’ food places to feel disappointment in having a salad as a light lunch, never mind as dinner. A UK trainer friend shared the nutrition and healthy lifestyle tip of learning how to make your favourite food very well as a way of motivating yourself to cook. In my case of having a salad for a meal, the idea always sounded good, but it never worked until I started making lunch salads myself.

After a year of getting into the habit of having salads for lunch on a regular basis, I maintain it is best that you make your own to suit your own tastes, nutritional and digestive needs.  Salads are a great way to enjoy raw foods, in other words, natural, whole foods with the only processing being chopping. Selection of the raw foods makes a difference in digestion and energy levels when you pay attention, as every person is different. Here are some salads I have found be  satisfying meals:

pear arugula salad

Arugula and pear salad

Arugula pear salad with honey, shaved cheese and pecans: The combination of sweet, tart pear with the bite and slight bitterness of arugula is a classic combination. Dress the arugula leaves with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Then top with sliced pear, a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of honey then shaved grana padano cheese and pecans.

mixed green salad with slow cooked chicken, avocado, mango, cilantro and lime

mixed green salad with slow cooked chicken, avocado, mango, cilantro, lime and a sprinkling of string cheese

Mixed green salad with slow cooked chicken and mango: This salad is a fusion of several sources of inspiration. I ate the most delicious Mexican taco salad with slow cooked chicken at the San Francisco airport this year and I came home and wanted to make my own slow cooked chicken right away. Chili infused macadamia oil is a discovery I made in Hawaii a few years ago then mixed together with cilantro and lime from a farmer’s market for a most delicious, fresh salad dressing. This salad of chopped romaine and any other mixed greens on hand, is topped with green onion, sugar snap peas, cucumber, avocado, cilantro. Dressed with salt, pepper, a drizzle of chili infused macadamia oil, a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice, tossed and topped with slow cooked chicken, fresh mango pieces and a sprinkling of string cheese (just happened to have it on hand from a Lebanese store).

Greek salad with grilled halloumi

Greek salad with grilled halloumi

‘Greek’ salad topped with grilled halloumi cheese:

A Greek friend explained to me years ago that a greek salad is dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and oregano. I have taken creative liberty with this concept and my greek salad consists of romaine lettuce (other greens if available), green onion, cucumber, cherry tomato, chopped olives, fresh mint, parsley and oregano, seasoned with salt and pepper, drizzled with olive oil, a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice, tossed and served with grilled halloumi cheese.

I hope the salads I mention above look appealing and inspire you to create your own. What the salads have in common is a slightly longer list of fresh ingredients with flavour and the technique of salting the salad greens first (a key step in bringing out the flavour of the greens), drizzling with oil then citrus juice. Also works the same way with any other type of dressing. The possibilities in making your own salad combinations are unlimited in your choice of greens, other veggies or fruit, protein sources, flavourful  toppings like fresh herbs, cheese, olives, crunchy toppings like nuts or seeds. Enjoy!

 

A Taste of Morocco: Orange, date and mint

On a recent trip to Morocco, I noticed that there was an abundance of oranges. Seville orange trees, fantastic fresh orange juice at breakfast, and offerings of sliced orange topped with cinnamon as a dessert option (which I did not order, as pastries beckoned). Dates were also widely available in many varieties. Mint tea was a beverage of choice for refreshment of the palate and to aid digestion. Orange, date and mint, tastes of Morocco.

Looking through recipes when I came home, one that immediately appealed to me was a date and orange salad in Plenty More, and of course it was almost featured in an episode on Morocco. I made my own version of the salad with sugar snap peas, orange, dates and mint, which was tasty, but I felt I would prefer the orange, date and mint on its own…possibly as a healthy dessert

I really enjoyed the pure flavour combination of fresh orange, chopped dates, fresh mint and a dash of cinnamon as a refreshingly delicious dessert. Here are the preparation guidelines for a single serving (multiply as needed for additional servings)

One orange

1-2 dates, chopped

5-6 fresh mint leaves

dash of cinnamon

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Slice the top and bottom off the orange, then remove the skin following the curve of the orange. Slice orange across the segments and arrange on a plate. Top with chopped dates, sprinkle cinnamon to taste, then top with chopped fresh mint, and enjoy.

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Recipe: Chickpea pancakes

I have never been a fan of savoury breakfasts. However, the January issue of Bon Appetit magazine was full of various healthy eating ideas and one recipe that caught my interest was squash, leek, and chickpea pancakes. I made them this week and loved them! They remind me of one of my favourite Chinese appetizers, green onion pancakes, but healthier, since these pancakes are made with chickpea flour and also contain veggies. Having made them with both carrots and squash, I must say I prefer the taste and texture of the carrot pancake. Plus, I am curious to try this recipe as a sweet carrot pancake…(shallot and salt need to be omitted for that experiment)

3/4 cup chickpea flour

1/2 cup water

1 egg

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt to taste

1 cup grated squash or carrot

1 shallot finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

plain yogurt and chopped parsley for serving

In a medium bowl, stir together chickpea flour and water, whisk in egg, olive oil, baking powder and salt. Let batter stand, as you cook the veggies.

In a oiled skillet over medium heat, saute shallots and squash until cooked through, about 2-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir cooked squash and shallot into chickpea batter (can be refrigerated overnight). Batter should have a thin, pourable consistency, add water if necessary.

Heat an oiled skillet (same one as above) over medium heat. Spoon 1/4 cupfuls of batter into skillet. Cook until bubbles form in the pancakes, flip and cook until browned. Repeat until batter is finished, about 6-8 pancakes. Serve immediately topped with yogurt and chopped parsley. If you have any leftover pancakes, they can be refrigerated and heated up in the toaster (homemade toaster pancakes!)

 

chickpea pancake topped with yogurt and parsley

chickpea pancake topped with yogurt and parsley

Recipe: Chia Pudding

I have tried a few chia pudding recipes and found them to be lacking in the taste department and wondered how the name pudding could be applied to the recipes. While in London, my great friend K bought me a coconut chia pudding from Le Pain Quotidien despite my reluctance. This pudding was delicious!! We looked up the recipe and I tested it as soon as I returned home. There are only 2 ingredients to work with to your liking, canned coconut milk and chia seeds. Coconut milk contains healthy medium chain fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids are found in chia seeds. In addition, this pudding feels like a dessert without any added sugar.

For one serving (use a ratio of 1 part chia seeds to 4 parts coconut milk to make your desired quantity)

1 tablespoon chia seeds

4-5 tablespoons canned coconut milk (full fat tastes best)

In a small bowl, stir together chia seeds and coconut milk. Refrigerate overnight or for at least an hour. Stir, add water if needed, for desired consistency. Top with chopped strawberries, shredded coconut, fruit of your choice, or passion fruit butter for an ultimate rich taste. Enjoy for breakfast, as a snack or dessert.

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Recipe: Banana Oatmeal Cookies (vegan)

In light of declaring love for the Cookie Monster, I must share this new discovery for a vegan oatmeal cookie (Cookie Monster’s second favourite cookie after chocolate chip). These cookies are made with unprocessed, whole foods and are delicious enough to feed the cookie monster inside any one of us. Oats are naturally a gluten free food, but may come into contact with gluten during processing. Purchase gluten free oats (they are more expensive) if you have that degree of sensitivity. I tend to have Bob’s organic rolled oats in my kitchen most of the time.

I ordered the Oh She Glows cookbook on the based on the inspiring appeal of this oatmeal cookie recipe http://ohsheglows.com/2014/01/17/banana-bread-muffin-tops/. I made them right away, repeated the tasty success several times over, so here is my adaptation of the recipe:

3 ripe bananas

1/2 cup pitted dates, packed (soak dry dates, and a mixture of medjool and other pitted dates is nice)

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 cups rolled oats, separated into 1.5 and 0.5 cups

1 tablespoon shredded coconut

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional, freshly grated is best)

1/4 cup currants

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, mix together dates, bananas, and coconut oil to a fairly smooth consistency. Add 1.5 cups of oats, shredded coconut, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, pulse until oats are ground. Power off food processor and remove the blade. Stir in remaining 0.5 cups of oats and currants into the bowl of the food processor.  Spoon batter onto a baking sheet and flatten slightly with a spatula. Bake for 12 minutes, remove and rotate tray, bake for 12 more minutes or until the desired level of browning is achieved. Makes 12-16 cookies.

Enjoy fresh or within 2-3 days or freeze for a week in an airtight container.

Enjoy vegan banana oatmeal cookies warm off the baking sheet!

Enjoy vegan banana oatmeal cookies warm off the baking sheet to indulge your cookie monster-

 

Recipe: Chickpea Salad (sandwich)

The Oh She Glows cookbook by Angela Liddon and blog www.ohsheglows.com recently came to my attention through my sister. I found the vegan recipes to be inspiring, so I ordered the cookbook, then made some oatmeal cookies from the blog the next day. I have enjoyed the cookbook so far and particularly liked a recipe for chickpea salad. I must admit that I used regular mayonnaise. However, you can purchase vegan mayonnaise at the health food store or make your own with a blender and Angela Liddon’s recipe in the cookbook.

Here is my version of the Oh She Glows chickpea salad. A delicious vegetarian alternative for a classic ‘salad’ sandwich. I much prefer home cooked chickpeas. The Old Bay seasoning really adds a great flavour.

2-3 cups cooked chickpeas (canned is alright if you wish)

2 stalks celery, diced

2 green onions, chopped

2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise (vegan if you prefer)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (optional, but tasty)

Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, mash chickpeas with a fork until half are mashed and half are still whole. Add celery, green onion and mayonnaise to the chickpeas, mix well. Season with dill, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, salt and pepper to your taste. Enjoy as a sandwich or over a bed of greens as a salad.

Delicious chickpea salad on rye toast

Delicious chickpea salad on rye toast

 

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: Cabbage Soup

While I was in Italy this summer enjoying quantities of parmesan cheese with my dear friend JK, he mentioned that his family makes a great soup with parmesan rinds. I had veggie stock in need to a soup recipe last week and came across a cabbage soup with parmesan in the cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. Here is the recipe inspired by Plenty. I must say this cabbage soup was a delicious surprise. Omit the chili if you prefer no spice, however, I believe it adds a special complexity to the flavour of the soup.

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 red chili pepper, finely chopped seeds removed

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 medium napa cabbage, cut finely or shredded

1 medium potato, peeled and diced finely

4-5 cups vegetable stock

1-2 parmesan rinds

salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon to taste

In a large pot, over medium heat, saute onion, garlic and chili until soft. Add diced potato and cabbage, saute for a minute or so. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add parmesan rinds reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow the soup to sit covered until it comes close to room temperature. Remove and discard the parmesan rinds. Using an immersion blender or a food processor, pulse until soup is fairly smooth. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste-enjoy!

Recipe: Kale Salad

Kale salad is something that I eat occasionally, and enjoy the most at Foxley restaurant in Toronto. My good friend Kathryn recently served me a kale salad in Tuscany based on the salad she frequently orders at a Toronto restaurant. Perhaps it was the Italian kale-her salad was a vast improvement on the restaurant version and inspired me to make it! This salad is incredibly easy to make and a delicious, healthy choice of greens. Kale contains vitamin A, K and C, antioxidants we all need. I brought home some fig flavoured pecorino cheese from Italy, which was a special touch. Otherwise pecorino cheese works well.

1 bunch of black kale, stems removed, cut very finely horizontally across the leaf

Juice of 1 lemon or more to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons currants

Grated pecorino cheese, to taste

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

Fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix together kale and lemon juice thoroughly with your hands (‘massage’ the kale with the lemon juice). Drizzle olive oil and mix well. Mix in currants and toss with grated pecorino. Let stand for 15 minutes, or refrigerate covered, overnight. Add sunflower seeds and ground pepper before serving, enjoy.