Orange Cinnamon Orange Pekoe Tea

The other day while waiting for some water to boil over the stove (because somehow I still don’t own a kettle), I started thinking about alternative ways to sweetening teas. I have never personally been one to add milk or sugar to my tea, but I understand a lot of people do. I wanted to find a way to make a sweeter, dessert-like tea to enjoy before bed, without the added sugar–because a teaspoon of sugar here, and a teaspoon of sugar there will certainly start to add up! Especially when drinking tea in copious amounts like me. :-)

orange cinnamon orange pekoe tea

This recipe is super simple, and uses common ingredients you most likely already have on hand. It’s a great way to spice up traditional orange pekoe tea. The added ingredients bring out the subtle and mild flavours of the tea, so it’s perfect for those times you want a more powerful tasting drink, without the added sugar that comes along with other beverages.

Orange Cinnamon Orange Pekoe Tea

Makes One Cup of Tea

Ingredients

  • 1 orange pekoe tea bag
  • 1 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2-3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Few drops of vanilla extract

Prepare tea, and stir in orange juice, lemon juice, and vanilla. Top with orange zest and cinnamon to serve. Garnish with a slice of orange or lemon. Note: the orange zest sinks to the bottom, so don’t worry about them in your drink.

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The Ultimate Guide to Powerhouse Salads

I got a request to write a post about building up your pantry to be prepared to make a power salad any day. There are virtually unlimited different salads to make, but these are some general things I try to always keep on hand to be able to make a super power house salad at any time, without having to plan ahead to buy ingredients. I would recommend choosing at least one from each category to start, and build up from there. Fruit, veggies and sprouts will vary depending on what’s in-season, but the rest are things to just slowly build up in your pantry while experimenting and trying out different recipes and combinations. :) Using this guide you will be able to use your creativity in endless ways! I apologize for the length of the post, it somehow turned in to a novel when I started writing…

Grains:

I like to add grains of all sorts to salads, whether it be sprinkled on top of a bed of greens, or used as the base of the salad. Grains are great for adding protein, but also add variety with texture and flavour. There are all kinds of grains to use, still many I hope to experiment with! But here are a few to start with.

  • Quinoa (an ancient grain with lots of protein, similar to couscous but a bit nuttier in taste and texture, great as a healthier replacement for pasta in pasta salads, in garden salads, in warm salads, etc)
  • Cous Cous (kind of like a tiny version of rice, opt for whole wheat if possible, again great for all kinds of salads)
  • Rice: wild, brown, basmati (I generally use brown or wild rice, great in bean salads with corn)
  • Barley: pearl, pot (again opt for whole wheat, goes great with steamed beans or other cooked veggies mixed with greens, but also has a ton of options for use)
  • Amaranth (high in fiber in protein, very small and fine, can be used as a rice replacement or added to general salads)

Nuts and Seeds:

Nuts and seeds are generally my favourite part of any salad, I rarely make a salad without roasted nuts. I love pairing a fruit with a roasted nut on a bed of greens with sliced red onion topped with a balsamic vinaigrette for a super quick and simple, but still delicious salad. Nuts add a nice crunch, and when roasted (I always roast mine), their flavours are enhanced and bring a whole new punch to the salad. I always make sure I have nuts in my house, as they have a long shelf life and they are super easy to sprinkle on top salads to add extra protein and variety. Seeds are also super easy to sprinkle on top as a finishing touch without the extra step of roasting. I always opt for raw, unsalted nuts and seeds, to avoid the extra unnecessary sodium. There are obviously many others, but these are some of my favourite nuts and seeds to use in salads.

  • Walnuts: whole, chopped (great paired with apples or strawberries)
  • Almonds: slivered, sliced, whole (I use slivered almonds the most, but I do enjoy sliced almonds sometimes, as well, great in both warm and cold salads)
  • Pecans: whole, chopped (great with orange or mandarins, apples, peaches)
  • Pine (they are very expensive, so I don’t use them as often, but they go excellent in warm salads)
  • Cashews (awesome in cabbage salads, or salads with a sesame oil-based dressing)
  • Pistachios
  • Pepita Seeds (pepita seeds are no shell seeds of a squash or pumpkin, I love adding them to pretty much any salad)
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Hemp Seeds (very fine, great sprinkled on green salads)

Sprouts:

I’ve only started experimenting with sprouts recently, but I think they make a great addition to cold salads. If you’ve never tried growing sprouts at home I highly recommend giving it a try! It’s super easy and inexpensive, and there are tons of different things to sprout. All you need is a mason jar, mesh to cover the top, and an elastic band to hold. These are the most common seeds I’ve heard of sprouting, but I know there are tons of others as well.

  • Alfalfa
  • Chickpea
  • Lentil

Greens

Many salads use a bed of greens as the base, or greens chopped or shredded and mixed within. Even this alone provides so many options for experimentation and variability as there are multiple varieties of greens. Simply just changing up which you choose to use will completely change the overall taste of a salad. I like to mix it up quite a bit and change what I buy from week to week to avoid boredom and repetition, but these are what I generally use regularly.

  • Spinach: Baby and Regular (Super versatile, can be used as a base, wilted and cooked with warm salads, chopped and mixed into grain-based salads)
  • Arugula (very distinct taste, can be used like spinach in most cases)
  • Cabbage: Red or Green (super easy to shred, can be used for both warm and cold salads)
  • Swiss Chard (soft texture, similar to spinach but known for having a beet-like flavour)
  • Kale (the “nutrition powerhouse”, endless options for use, but make sure to rinse thoroughly before using)
  • Lettuce: Iceburg and Romaine (I use lettuce the least as it’s the least nutritious and mostly water, but I do enjoy the crisp-ness every once and a while)

Beans

Beans are a vegetarian and vegan’s best friend! Full of protein and fiber, beans are an awesome nutritional addition, or even base of any salad. Warm salads, cold salads, grain salads, green salads, beans go with it all. I love changing it up and using different beans from salad to salad, but I do admit to having an obsession with chickpeas… I tend to buy canned beans (however I would like to start cooking my own from dried), but I always make sure to check the sodium levels and opt for zero sodium added varieties. These are some beans that are awesome for salads.

  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Black Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Edamame (I buy them frozen)
  • White Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Mixed Beans (I usually buy a can or two of mixed beans for the times I can’t decide or am not quite sure which type would go best.. :)

Dried Fruit

I use dried fruit sparingly because most dried fruit has a ton of added sugar. That being said, I still love adding a few here and there to sweeten or add flavour to a salad, too. They are also easy to just keep on hand in your cupboard alongside nuts, without worrying about using them up for a specific time.

  • Dried Cranberries
  • Raisins: golden, sultana, dark (I don’t really have a preference in type, but I prefer raisins in warm salads)
  • Currants (awesome in quinoa or cous cous salads)

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

This area is obviously the largest with the most variability, however I do have a few staples I tend to keep on hand at all times. These include:

  • Red/White onion (I use white more for cooking, and red in raw salads)
  • Tomatoes (cherry, field, and heirloom varieties)
  • Cucumber
  • Peppers (red, yellow, orange, and green)
  • Carrots
  • Celery (not as much for salads, but they are one of my staples)

Other vegetables I try to buy depending on the season, or just switch up from week to week. Unfortunately I don’t have room to buy every vegetable every week, otherwise I would.. but this way I can focus on working with different veggies from week to week. Either way, I always have a fridge stocked full of them! These are some I buy at least once a month (sometimes two), or depending on the season.

  • Leeks
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli and Cauliflower
  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Turnips
  • Mushrooms (all different varieties)
  • Corn
  • Green Beans
  • Avocado
  • Zucchini
  • Squash (all different varieties)

Fruits are something I find a lot of people shy away from using in salads, but I personally love fruits in salads! They go great paired with nuts in both warm and cold salads, acting as a natural sweetener. These are some fruits I would recommend trying at least once.

  • Berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries (great in spring salads)
  • Apples (different kinds will bring different flavour, I like to switch it up, try pairing with walnuts or pecans)
  • Oranges (awesome paired with almonds and balsamic vinegar based dressing, but can really be used in a variety of salads)
  • Peaches (best when in-season)
  • Pears (I prefer using them a little less ripe in salads, they go great with cranberries, red onion, and pecans for a simple salad)

Herbs

Herbs are also something I notice a lot of people skip, but I promise you, once you start adding fresh herbs to salads, you’ll wonder how you ever went without them! Whether you grow them at home (ideal), or buy them fresh at the store (note: you can freeze leftovers to avoid them going bad), fresh herbs can completely transform a salad adding a powerful punch, while bringing out the flavours of the existing fruits and veggies as well. These are my favourites to add to salads, but I’m still getting familiar with using and cooking with fresh herbs, myself!

  • Cilantro (I’ve learned you can never, ever have too much of it, and it will pretty much go good in anything)
  • Basil (Very strong flavour, can make an otherwise bland salad spectacular)
  • Parsley (light and versatile)
  • Dill (For a while I was using dill thinking it was parsley when I was just learning about fresh herbs.. But it stuck because I still use it in salads! Strong flavour, so a little goes a long way)
  • Mint (Wonderful in summer salads!)

Dressing

Last but not least, is the dressing. There are millions of dressing recipes that are crazy complex and wild, and sometimes I do love to follow one and give it a try, but in general, I prefer simple dressings that won’t overpower the flavours of the salad itself. These are some easy go-to recipes that will work for a variety of salads.

  • Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil (Standard, I use 1 part water 1 olive oil 1 part balsamic vinegar to cut down on the olive oil. I also tend to add a teaspoon or two of dijon mustard and lemon juice if I want a more powerful dressing, and a few drops of maple syrup for a sweeter dressing)
  • Avocado Tahini Dressing (Great healthier alternative to a cream based dressing, and super easy to prepare. You can use the recipe on my blog, “Avocado Topped Tomato with Green Onions and Cilantro” and add a bit of water to thin it out.)
  • Asian Dressing (Olive Oil, Soy Sauce, Ginger, Maple Syrup, water)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing (basic ingredients are apple cider vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, garlic, lemon juice, water, maple syrup, I usually just taste as I go and play around with the measurements until I like it if I don’t feel like following a recipe)

Salads are one of my favourite things to make because there is so much room to be creative and change things up. I try not to make the same salad twice, because I know there will always be another one to try or create! I find I need to remind myself that sometimes the simplest salads are the best salads. It’s so easy to get carried away with all sorts of ingredients, but I’ve learned from experience that it’s not as much what you choose to include, as to what you choose to exclude that will make or break a salad. I hope you have fun creating, and building up a pantry prepared and ready for anything! :-)

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Over the weekend, I purchased some apple butter for the first time. I had never tried it before, but I had read about it and thought it sounded quite good! So when I saw it at Bulk Barn while I was picking up various nuts and grains, I knew I had to buy some. I brought it home, but I didn’t really know what to do with it, so with a quick search of the internet I discovered it goes great in oatmeal! And on my own, I have discovered it also goes great stirred into vanilla yogurt… yum!!

apple pie oatmeal

Dessert for breakfast anyone?! This recipe actually tastes like apple pie or apple crumble.  I loved every bite, it was just so flavourful and sweet–and perfectly in season with fall apples! :-) The apple butter added a whole new level of deliciousness, while the cinnamon and fresh apples gave the desserty flavour. The walnuts were the perfect topping, adding a nice crunch to finish. (I wouldn’t recommend skipping them!)

apple pie oatmeal 3

apple pie oatmeal 2

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Makes One Serving

Ingredients

  • 1/2 apple, chopped
  • 1/3 cup steel cut oats (or other type of oatmeal)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon apple butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
  • 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
  1. In a medium sized pot, bring water to a boil. Add oats, reduce to medium-low, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until oats are cooked and water is absorbed.
  2. While oats are cooking, in a small bowl stir together yogurt and apple butter until combined.
  3. Transfer cooked oats into serving bowl, and top with apple butter and yogurt mixture, and chopped apples.
  4. Finish bowl with cinnamon and chopped walnuts to serve.

Warm Spring Salad Served Cold

All day yesterday I was looking forward to dinner. It was one of those days where I had decided what I was going to make for dinner, before I had even thought about what to have for breakfast. This obviously lead to high expectations when dinner actually came, but because this recipe was adapted from a recipe on my all-time favourite recipe blog, ohsheglows.com, I knew it would exceed these expectations! I’ve been following Angela’s blog for over a year now, and I have fallen in love with every single one of her recipes that I have tried–and there are still many more I hope to try! This salad recipe is adapted (only slightly) from her Warm Spring Salad. Even though it’s not spring, I came across this recipe and just knew I had to make it for dinner. Maybe eventually I’ll get the hang of cooking in-season…

Warm Spring Salad Served Cold

I changed the dressing to a raspberry-lemon balsamic vinaigrette because I had just bought some fresh raspberries from the farm (yum!), and the dressing turned out super spectacular! I was really impressed at how easy and simple, yet so flavourful it was. I thought the raspberries complemented the strawberries nicely in the salad, and the lemon added a subtle tartness, which was also quite nice. I also used edamame beans instead of peas, red onion instead of leek, and served the entire salad mixture cold over a large bed of spinach, instead of hot out of the pan. This salad easily wins the salad of the week award!

Warm Spring Salad served Cold 2

Warm Spring Salad Served Cold

Makes Two Large Servings- With Leftover Dressing

Ingredients
For the Dressing

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2 tsp agave nectar, or liquid sweetener of choice

For the Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 15 asparagus spears, lightly steamed and chopped into 2 inch pieces
  • 10 fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 medium-sized red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 edamame beans
  • 4 cups baby spinach

1. Combine dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until combined. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, asparagus spears, strawberries, red onion, and edamame beans until well mixed.
3. Split quinoa mixture over 2 plates, each with 2 cups of baby spinach.
4. Drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons of dressing and enjoy!

Avocado Topped Tomato with Green Onions and Cilantro

Often when I buy avocados, they unfortunately either go bad, or they get turned in to guacamole. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because I do love guacamole, but because I’m not too familiar with avocados I find it hard to be creative and use them in other recipes.  So lately I’ve been reading about all sorts of recipes featuring avocado to get more ideas to experiment with in my kitchen.

avocado topped tomato 1 tomato topped avocado 3
A common one I’ve been stumbling upon involves mixing avocado and tahini to make a dressing or dip, which inspired me to create my own variation. It’s super simple (I didn’t even have to pull out my food processor for it!) and can easily be modified for all sorts of other uses–as a spread for sandwiches, thinned out for a salad dressing, as a healthier alternative for Alfredo sauce on pasta– the ideas are endless! I’m obviously not the brilliant creator, but I thought I would share my variation to others to encourage them to try it themselves. After trying my own spin on it, I can certainly say I will be making it way more often!! tomato topped avocado 2

This recipe is perfect as a snack between meals, or as an appetizer before a large family dinner as it’s super fast and easy to prepare, and great for presentation! I added chia seeds because you can’t really taste them and they add an extra nutritional kick. You could also blend the cilantro and green onion right into the avocado mixture, I just kept mine separate to use as a garnish to make it pretty for pictures. :) Enjoy!

Avocado Topped Tomato with Green Onions and Cilantro

Makes Three Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1-2 cups spinach or field greens
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground chia seeds
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • Pepper, to taste

1. In a blender (I used my magic bullet), blend avocado, lemon juice, and tahini until well blended. Add field greens, garlic, and chia seeds, and blend until a thick mixture is formed.

2. Slice tomato into thin slices. Make sure you slice it width wise, or the tomato slices will fall apart.

3. Garnish with chopped green onions, cilantro, and pepper to taste!