Tag Archive | Vegetarian

Oatmeal Bliss & Instagram

So I spent some time on the weekend helping my aunt and cousin design a website for their new business, and I started feeling incredibly disappointed in myself for abandoning my blog for so long. It was something I had been so excited about, yet I somehow just let it fizzle.

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So I’m back :) and hope to stay back for good!

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I have, however, started an Instagram blog, under the same name, and have been posting (somewhat) regularly there. (That’s where the photos are coming from).

I’ve been really lovin’ oatmeal lately (as usual I guess…) so here are two pretty awesome combos I’ve enjoyed recently. They correspond and match with the photos I’ve posted above.

Strawberry Banana Coconut Almond Crunch

Add:
-1 tsp almond extract

Top with:
-Sliced banana
-Granola
-Roasted coconut chips
-Cacao nibs
-Sliced strawberries
-Almonds
-Dried Cranberries

Lemon Lover

Add:
-1 tsp lemon extract
-lemon zest (as much as you like)
-1/2 mashed ripe banana

Top with:
-Sliced banana
-Sliced kiwi
-Buckwheat groats
-Dried cranberries
-Chia seeds
-Buckwheat groats
-Slivered almonds

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Roasted Vegetables

Roasted vegetables are one of my absolute favourite dishes in the fall and winter, or anytime really. It’s warm and comforting (which I’ve certainly needed a lot this winter!), and it’s so quick and easy to prepare, with almost no extra work needed for spicing or flavouring because roasting the vegetables brings out all their wonderful natural flavours, that are really just delicious on their own. This is one of my favourite roasted vegetable dish, but there are so many others out there. Root vegetables work great for roasting, (potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes, red onion, etc.) but I like to use other vegetables  (peppers, brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, squash, zucchini, cauliflower etc.) as well to mix it up.

roasted vegetables

Roasted vegetables work great as a side dish, but I also love experimenting with the addition of different beans and nuts to add protein to make more of a complete meal (possibly paired with a salad), and to add some variety in taste and texture within the dish. Lentils and walnuts are excellent in roasted vegetable dishes, but chickpeas, white beans, pine nuts, slivered almonds, pecans all go great too! This recipe is debatably even better with 1/2 a can of lentils, so don’t be afraid to try!!

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Warm Roasted Vegetables for Cold Winter Days

Ingredients

  • 5 golden beets
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 large carrots, or about 10 miniature
  • 1/4 large red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, mixed with 1/4 cup water
  • 1 medium-large turnip
  • Handful of fresh herbs (I used basil and thyme)
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 can of lentils (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Thickly slice onion. Chop beets, potatoes, and carrots into about 2cm cubes.
3. Toss chopped veggies with garlic and water mixture, and pour into baking pan. (The water should sit about 1/2 inch at the bottom of the pan, so adjust accordingly)
4. Top veggies with fresh herbs, and roast in oven for 30-35 minutes, or until soft and cooked through (I use the fork test). For best results, turn vegetables after 15 minutes, and place back in oven.
5. Season with ground pepper to serve.

5 Salad Recipes in Under 5 Minutes

Salads are a go-to when it comes to dinner for me. Often, I rely on a powerhouse salad for the bulk of the meal, but sometimes I just want a light salad to accompany and compliment whatever else I’m choosing to make, just as a side. Yes I am a vegetarian, but no I do not only eat salad. ;-) 

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Whether it be a tofu stir fry, or spaghetti squash casserole, I don’t think an extra salad on the side could ever go wrong. These are some of my favourite “easy to whip up in a hurry just before dinner is set on the table” salads, that have never failed to disappoint! You can add as much as you want, or keep it plain and simple, but either way I love using this simple formula as a base for nights I’m in a rush or craving a salad as a side to my meal. The formula can be used to create countless other combinations, but I’ve listed my favourites that I think work best together below. Enjoy, and be creative! 

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Basic Formula: (slightly modified for a couple, but this is where to start) Bed of greens + thinly sliced red onion + sliced fruit + roasted nut + dressing + dried fruit (optional)

1. Spinach-Orange Zinger

Spinach + thinly sliced red onion + sliced orange or mandarin + roasted slivered almonds + balsamic vinegar dressing

2. Berry Bliss

Arugula + thinly sliced red onion + strawberries + roasted walnuts + raspberry vinaigrette dressing

3. All Peared Up

Mixed greens + thinly sliced red onion + sliced pear + dried cranberries + roasted pecans + balsamic vinegar or raspberry vinaigrette dressing

4. Pistachio Dream

 Kale + + thinly sliced red onion + avocado + blueberries + pistachios + lemon avocado tahini dressing or balsamic vinaigrette dressing 

5. Classic Apple Walnut

Spinach + thinly sliced red onion + sliced apple + roasted walnuts + raisins + apple cider vinegar dressing

**Note: The pictures are courtesy to the amazingly talented photographer Michael East (AKA Dad). You can visit his own personal site to see more of his awesome work here michaeleast.zenfolio.com. The recipe for the pictured salad will be posted soon!**

 

 

Curry Amaranth and Vegetable Stuffed Carnival Squash

T’is the season of the squash! It seems everywhere I look I’m finding all sorts of stuffed squash recipes, so I thought it was about time I posted my own. Stuffed squash is incredibly easy and simple to make, and there are endless ways to mix and match through spicing, vegetable combinations, and different grains and nuts. It’s a great meal to make when you don’t have a meal already planned, as its super easy to adjust based on what ingredients are available to you. (The amaranth could easily be swapped for cous cous or quinoa, and the veggies could be adjusted accordingly). Pair it with a salad, or even just eat is as a complete meal, and you are good to go!

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This was my first time trying  carnival squash (fresh from the farm!), and I was very pleased. I originally bought it for it’s prettily striped rind for decoration on my counter, but I knew I should eat it eventually. It does taste quite similar to butternut squash, but with a little less sweet, nuttier flavour. Although I’m no squash expert, I’ve read that choosing a squash that’s heavy for its size is the way to go, and it worked out great for me! So I’d definitely recommend keeping that in mind when choosing your own.

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A lot of recipes ask for vegetable broth for cooking the grain in, but even the low sodium varieties are often still very high in sodium. For added flavour without the use of vegetable broth or bouillon, I  like to saute my veggies in the pot I plan on using to cook my grain in, and add my water and grain right in once they are cooked. This way the grain can really absorb the flavours of the veggies. The walnuts were originally added as a garnish and weren’t going to be a main ingredient, but I ended up adding more once I took a bite because they added so much to the dish. So don’t skip out on them! Also, don’t feel the need to follow the recipe strictly, I just used vegetables I had in my fridge. It will work well with most vegetables (as long as you like the kinds you use!), so just use this as a guideline. :-) Happy squashing!

Curry Amaranth and Vegetable Stuffed Carnival Squash

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized carnival squash
  • 1 cup dry amaranth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup broccoli
  • 1 leek
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut off top of squash, remove seeds, and scrape clean. Place face down on pan with 1/4 inch of water. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until soft.

2. Chop up broccoli, leek, red pepper, and red onion. Saute chopped vegetables with minced garlic and olive oil in a medium sized pot over medium-high heat. Once cooked, add curry powder, water, and amaranth, cover, and let simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.

3. Once the squash is cooked, remove from the oven. Spoon amaranth mixture inside squash, packing it down with the back of a spoon. Cut squash into desired amount of servings (the amaranth mixture should stick if packed tightly). Note: There may be extra amaranth. I just packed the extras away in the fridge to use the next day.

4. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts to serve and enjoy.

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! :-)