Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gwyneth's Turkey Ragu

Another recipe from Goop. The first time I made this was just before my sister gave birth to her first baby. I cooked up a big batch of ragu, packaged it up in zip lock containers and sent it to her house to freeze until it was needed.

This time around I tinkered with the ingredients a bit, adding extra veggies and herbs. My changes are marked with an asterisk (*).

Turkey Ragu

1 lb. ground turkey (at room temperature)*
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 medium or 1 large onion, diced
1 stalks celery, diced*
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4-6 white mushrooms, sliced*
2 15 oz. cans plum tomatoes
2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 tsp herbes de provence or Italian herb blend* or 1 tsp oregano* and 1 tsp basil*
1 tsp. fennel seeds
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup red wine
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil for sauteing

1. In a sauce pan over medium low heat, saute the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in olive oil. Cook until soft.

2. Add the red pepper flakes and fennel seeds (bash a bit with back of a spoon before adding). Add the mushrooms, basil and oregano.

3. While the veggies are cooking, brown the turkey in a skillet over medium heat. Add the herbes de provence or Italian herb blend.

4. Season well with salt and pepper. Stir well.

5. Add the tomatoes and stir well. If desired, blend the sauce using an immersion blender. I did this because I prefer the texture of a less chunky sauce. It's also a good trick if you have picky kids because the vegetables become "hidden".

6. When turkey is browned and cooked through, add it to the sauce. Mix well and bring to a boil.

7. Add the red wine, stir well then bring to a boil again.

8. Turn the heat down to low. Partially cover the sauce pan. Let the sauce simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.

9. Taste often and adjust your seasonings as needed.

10. Serve with pasta of your choice. I used a mix of whole wheat and brown rice penne.


-Eliminate the turkey for a delicious vegetarian Arrabbiata sauce.
-Turn your ragu into a classic meat-lovers Bolognese Sauce by adding ground veal to your ground turkey.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Coconut Curried Butternut Squash, Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup

Fall is finally here in Vancouver. They skies are gray and the rain is falling. The change in weather has me thinking more about "eating in season". I've been trying to pick foods and plan menus based around fall and winter vegetables and fruits. It's tough because the foods offered at this time of year aren't my favourite. Eating in season has it's benefits though - on our health, our environment and our wallets. When food is purchased in season, it is fresher and more nutritious, travels less of a distance to market and is often cheaper than at other times of the year.

Fall and winter foods are known as "warming foods". Think of the fall harvest. Squash (butternut, acorn), pumpkin, sweet potatoes, onions, cauliflower, parsnips, apples and pears are all in abundance right now.

See a more comprehensive list here.

Coconut Curried Butternut Squash, Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (about 2 cups)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 medium local apples, such as Braeburn or Royal Gala, peeled, cored and diced
3 cups low sodium, gluten free vegetable broth
1 1/2 tsp red Thai curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen)
1 can light coconut milk
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
sea salt & pepper to taste
handful fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger and curry paste. Stir and cook until onion is soft.

2. Add the broth and the rest of the vegetables. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low Simmer until vegetable are tender and a fork can easily be inserted (about 30-40 mins).

3. Remove the pot from the heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth. Some chunks are okay if you like it more rustic. I prefer a smooth puree so I blend the *bleep* out of it.

4. Put the pot back on the stove over low heat. Stir in the coconut milk and agave syrup (see note below). Season with salt and pepper and add more fresh grated ginger if you like.

5. Spoon into bowls and top with fresh cilantro leaves or a dollop of low fat plain yogurt.

A Note About Ingredients: The two apples in the recipe add a good amount of sweetness to the soup. If you would like it a bit more sweet, you can also add a tablespoon of agave nectar, honey or pure maple syrup. Using honey will remove the "vegan" designation though. Taste a spoonful of the finished soup to see if more salt, pepper, ginger or sweetner is required.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Healthy Eating "Rules"

The following list of rules if from my current read, In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. His motto for life is "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants". By food he means real food. Natural, unprocessed, unrefined food.

"Avoid food products containing ingredients that are A) unfamiliar, B) unpronounceable, C) more than five in number, or that include D) high-fructose corn syrup."

If it has those features, it probably can't be considered real food. I would also like to add, avoid food products that contain hydrogenated oils. That's the number one source for trans fats. If you aren't a label reader, now is a good time to start.

"Avoid food products that make health claims."

According to Pollan, these claims are "often founded on incomplete and often erroneous science."

My favourite faux health claim is by Kellog's Special K cereal. Have you heard about the Special K Challenge? It guarantees that you'll drop a jean size in two weeks. All you have to do is eat a bowl of Special K for breakfast, a bowl of Special K for lunch then have a healthy dinner. For snacks you are allowed two Special K products (cereal, snack bars, crackers or protein mix) per day. Really sounds like a healthy way to lose weight, doesn't it? Sounds more like a marketing ploy to sell more Special K products.

Cheerios claims to help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Cheerios boxes even carry the Health Check symbol from the Heart & Stroke Foundation, despite having 9g of sugar per serving in Honey Nut Cheerios. Frosted Cheerios does not earn the Health Check symbol with 10g of sugar per serving, but it does claim to be "low in fat", an "excellent source of iron" and "made with whole grains". Does any of that matter when you're eating a bowl of sugar for breakfast?

Read more about misleading health claims on cereal boxes. You can apply the same guideline to all manufactured food products.

"Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle."

We've all heard this before. The fresh, "real" food offered in the produce, meat and dairy sections are usually found around the walls. The processed and manufactured food is stored in the aisles. Pretty well The only time I frequent the asiles is to get rice, pasta, canned tomatoes, canned tuna, olive oil, vinegar, tea, honey, spices and asian or mexican food supplies. Although sometimes a carton of frozen yogurt is a nice treat.

"Get out of the supermarket whenever possible."

Kins Farm Market is a great source of local, fresh produce. Coquitlam has a farmers market every Sunday at Poirier Rec Centre. It runs from 9am-1pm but only until October 25th. Meridian Meats has a small selection of free range beef and chicken. Hopcott Meats in Pitt Meadows offers free range, hormone and antibiotic free beef, pork and poultry and all the cattle is grazed on the family farm next door to the shop. Can't get much more local than that!

For more local meat, dairy and produce, check out the BC Farm List and the BC Farmers Market website.

For more tips and information about the manufactured food industry and the evils of the Western diet, buy the book.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vegan Double Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies, courtesy of Goop, are wheat free, gluten free and dairy free but they definitely aren't flavour free. They also aren't fat free or sugar free, so go easy, okay?

Don't be scared of the coconut oil either. While it's true ninety-two percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated, they are in a healthy class of fatty acids called MCT's. I'm no expert so, read all about the science and the health benefits of coconut oil here. Make sure you get virgin or extra virgin coconut oil NOT hydrogenated.

Double Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup coconut oil
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour*
1/4 cup flax meal*
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum*
1 cup dark chocolate chips

*All of the Bob's Red Mill products are widely available at most larger grocery chains. I purchased all of mine at IGA, but they are also sold at Superstore and Planet Organic. Oddly enough, I didn't find any Bob's Red Mill Products at Safeway.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. (I used 2 small cookie sheets and ended up with square cookies all baked together!)

In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, applesauce, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, flax meal, baking soda and xanthan gum. Using a rubber spatula, carefully push the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and combine until dough is formed. With the same spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chips just until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Using a melon-baller, measure out the dough and place on the prepared baking sheets. Space the portions 1-inch apart. (There should be 18 on each cookie sheet.) Gently press each with the heel of your hand to help them spread. Bake the cookies on the center rack for 14 minutes, rotating the trays 180 degrees after 9 minutes. The cookies will be crispy on the edges and soft in the center. Remove from the oven.

Let cookies stand 10 minutes. They’re best served warm, but to save them use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely before covering. Place in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.


See this and a couple other gluten free and dairy free baking recipes in this weeks Goop's newsletter. It also has a good Q&A interview with the recipe creator and founder of Babycakes Bakery in NYC.

In case you didn't already know, Goop is a pretentious and often contrived e-newsletter written by Gwyneth Paltrow. Every Thursday Gwyneth's advice about dining, cooking, fashion, books, travel and parenting graces my inbox. It's quite something and there are loads of critics, but I enjoy her recipes so I keep my e-subscription going.

P.S. I'll admit that these cookies were not well received by my family. My sister said they were "okay" and my mom said they "weren't her favourite". It's to be expected. When you are used to the taste of refined white flour based cookies, it's tough to find a suitable alternative. As for me, I enjoyed the cookies. For being "free" from so many things, they still satisfied my sweet/chocolate craving. My one complaint is that they are a little greasy feeling. Next time I would cut back on the coconut oil or maybe sub in another oil.

Update: I took the cookies to work today and they were very well received. Even the guys who aren't into "granola stuff" ate them and enjoyed them. So there you go.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wine Poached Salmon & Asparagus in Honey Mustard Sauce

A quick, easy, delicious and very healthy dinner for my last night off before heading back to work. I'm also co-baby sitting my neice tonight so quick and easy was necessary when you have an almost one-year old in the other room waiting to play.

Serves 2

Wine Poached Salmon:

2 small fillets of wild salmon, skin removed
2 cups dry white wine
2 sprigs of any fresh herb of your choice (I used basil. Last time I used thyme.)

1. Pour wine into a deep saute pan over medium heat. Add fresh herbs. Bring to a low simmer.

2. Reduce heat to low. Add salmon fillets. Cover and let simmer on low for 10-15 minutes until salmon is cooked (should all be light pink & flake away with a fork). Salmon is one fish that is better when cooked to medium but since it's poached in liquid, it will be tender regardless.

3. Remove salmon from the pan and arrange on plates. Discard the cooking liquid and herbs.

Asparagus and Honey Mustard Sauce:

Medium bunch fresh green asparagus
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed (or any herb you like)
1/2 small shallot, diced
pinch salt
two twists fresh ground pepper

1. Wash and trim asparagus.

2. Steam asparagus over stop top or in microwave until cooked.

3. For the sauce, add the last 6 ingredients to a small bowl and mix well.

4. Place asparagus on plates with the salmon.

5. Top asparagus and salmon with a generous drizzle of honey mustard sauce.

No Fuss Clean Out Your Fridge Stir Fry

A few nights ago, my first day off and coming off a night shift, I didn't feel like making dinner. It was one of those days where you feel like eating but can't find anything to eat even though your fridge and freezer are full. I kept opening the fridge door, rummaging around and closing the door again. By 730pm I still hadn't made dinner. I had not eaten since lunch and was on the verge of having 2 scoops of frozen yogurt and calling it a night. Somehow, somewhere I found the motivation to cook. I pulled out all my near wilted vegetables, improvised a sauce and made a pretty decent vegetable stir fry.

Make your own No Fuss Clean Out Your Fridge Stir Fry very easily. Use whatever you have.

Mine looked like this:

2 cups broccolini
1 cup snap peas, trimmed
1 cup green beans, trimmed & cut in half
1/4 red onion, sliced
2 white mushrooms, quartered (more would have been nice, but it's all I had!)

For the sauce I mixed the following:

1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce (like sriracha)
1/2 tbsp minced ginger
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
pinch salt (because I used low sodium soy sauce and felt the sauce needed salt)

I blanched the green beans and broccolini for a couple mins then added them with the snap peas to a hot wok with a drizzle of peanut sauce. After stir frying for a few mins, I added the onions and mushrooms. After another couple minutes I added the sauce and stirred to coat the veggies, then lowered the heat and simmered for about 8 minutes while the accompanying buckwheat noodles cooked on the burner next door.

Total prep and cook time, about 25 minutes.

For a sauce, if you don't have those ingredients, just add a bit of vegetable broth, garlic and soy sauce to the pan. Or use a bottled stir fry sauce. If you have chicken or beef or tofu, throw that in too. Use whatever veggies you have on hand. Serve it on rice, noodles or all alone.

Stir fry is an anything goes meal. So take whatever you have and go with it! Much more satisfying than 2 scoops, pizza delivery or drive through fast food.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Zesty Brown Rice Vegetable Pilaf

While brown rice is not the first rice choice of most, it is the better choice. Brown rice is a whole grain. It is unrefined and has 3 times as much fiber per cup as white rice. It has been said that fiber leads to the feeling of fullness which leads to eating less which could lead to weight loss so maybe brown rice isn't so bad after all.

Makes about 3 cups (6 servings)

1 cup dry brown rice,cooked

1/2 cup green beans, trimmed, cut in half & blanched
1/4 cup snap peas, cut in half
2 green onions, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 red onion, diced
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and sliced into strips
handful flat leaf parsley, rough chopped
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half 1 lemon
pinch of salt

1. Cook rice according to package directions. Once cooked, set aside for a few minutes to cool.

2. While rice is cooking, prepare the vegetables and seasonings. Place chopped veggies into a serving bowl. Grate lemon zest and squeeze juice into the bowl.

3. When rice has cooled slightly, add to serving bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Fold the rice into the veggies and mix gently.

4. Serve immediately (should still be warm, but can be served cold too).


- For a Spanish kick,instead of parsley use cilantro and instead of lemon, use a lime.
- Use bell peppers instead of snap peas and green beans.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spicy Asian Chicken Drum Sticks

I've been craving chicken wings. I hate chicken wings. Actually, I don't hate chicken wings. I hate eating meat off the bone, especially in public. But since wings are most often eaten in pubs, I pretend to hate chicken wings. I never order them. I never eat them. So why the heck am I craving chicken wings?

I decided to give in to my craving and re-invent my Dad's famous Asian style chicken wings. My Dad is an excellent cook and specializes in Chinese cooking. He's famous among dozens for his cooking skills.

For this recipe I used chicken drum sticks rather than wings - full size ones, not those drummettes, but you could use drummettes too. I also removed the skin. I test baked a batch, some with skin and some without and I found the "without skin" variety turned out better. Plus you save on the fat scale by removing the skin.

This recipe makes enough marinade for 6 large drum sticks (serves 2-3), or 1-2 lbs of drummettes. Double your marinade for more.


1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp cooking sake or rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp honey
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced (about 2 inch piece of ginger)
2 tsp Thai garlic chili sauce
1 Thai red chili, seeded and diced fine (optional)

1. Combine marinade ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

2. Remove the skin from your chicken drum sticks.

3. Add the drum sticks to a large zip lock bag.

4. Pour the marinade over top of the drum sticks.

5. Place the zip lock bag in the fridge for at least 1 hour. The longer the better. I marinaded mine for about 3 hours. Every once in a while shake the bag & massage the marinade into the chicken drum sticks to ensure they are well coated (I did this twice).

6. When ready to cook the chicken, pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

7. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Place chicken drum sticks on the foil. Discard the bag of marinade.

8. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes then turn the drum sticks. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until a safe internal temperature is reached. I cooked my large drums for 35 mins.

9. Remove the drums from the oven. Baste with more reserved sauce and place on a serving dish. Finish by sprinkling with chopped green onion.

They're good cold too so pack up your drum sticks and go on a picnic!

A Note About Wine:

I paired my chicken with a crisp and fruity Gewurztraminer. I picked it up from Summerhill Pyramid Winery while I was in Kelowna a couple months ago. It was the perfect wine for this spicy and flavourful chicken, although a Riesling would have been nice too.

Strawberry Dessert Soup

After a failed experiment making vegan black bean cakes (think crab cakes but with black beans), I needed something sweet to cheer me up. From The Healthiest Meals on Earth comes my version of Strawberry Soup. Made with a mix of fresh and frozen berries, probiotic yogurt and raw honey, this soup was the perfect pick me up. It's also the perfect make ahead dessert.

Serves 4-6 or 1 with lots of left overs!

1 1/2 heaping cups fresh strawberries, washed & trimmed
1/2 heaping cup frozen assorted berries (I used blueberries, blackberries & raspberries)
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
2/3 cup plain organic pro biotic yogurt
1/4 cup raw honey (raw = unpasteurized = unprocessed! Look for unpasteurized creamed honey in the store.) You could also use agave syrup.

1. Puree berries in blender with orange juice. Add yogurt and honey and blend on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth. You want the consistency of a thick, pureed soup. If the consistency is too thick (more like a smoothie), add a tablespoon of water or orange juice.

2. Pour into glass serving bowls and serve immediately. Garnish with sliced berries or fresh mint leaves.


- Do as the french do and add a splash of sparkling wine to each bowl when serving, making a fun bubbly treat.
- Do as the original recipe called and add 1/4 cup dry red wine to the finished puree and stir gently to mix (omit the orange juice).
- Add a 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, cardamom, or other sweet spice to the blender, or even a splash of vanilla.
- Instead of serving as a soup, pour into a glass bowl, cover and freeze for 2-3 hours for a fresh, fruity frozen yogurt/sorbet.
- Make a dessert smoothie by lowering the liquid to fruit ratio to produce "soup" with a thicker consistency. Pour into glasses and serve with a straw.

Or do as I did... dessert soup the first night and frozen yogurt/sorbet the next!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Green Thai Chicken Curry

This is a simple and delicious Thai curry that you can customize to suit your taste for spiciness. To multiply the recipe for more guests, just add more chicken and veggies and use the whole can of coconut milk. The rest of the sauce ingredients do not need to be multiplied.

Serves 2

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into chunks
1 cup light coconut milk
1 tbsp Thai green curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen. Careful though, it's spicy!)
1 tsp agave syrup
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves or a strip of lime peel (I use dried lime leaves, available at T&T market. Soak them in water for 30 mins before using to rehydrate).
1/2 fresh lime
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, cut into strips (I didn't use this but it adds nice colour)
1 cup snap peas, trimmed
1/4 small red onion, sliced
1 thai red chili, seeded and diced small

optional garnish:
small bunch fresh thai basil leaves, cut in half (thai basil is sweeter than regular basil but you could use regular basil as well)
small bunch fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 large fresh green chili pepper or 2 red thai chilis, cut into strips


1. In a fry pan, brown the chicken on both sides. It does not need to be cooked through at this point. Once browned, removed from heat, place in a bowl and set aside.

2. Add coconut milk to the pan and stir until heated. And curry paste and mix well. Do not allow the mixture to boil.

3. Add the fish sauce and lime leaves. Squeeze in juice from 1/2 fresh lime. Simmer sauce of 2-3 mins.

4. Add green beans and bell pepper and simmer for another 3-4 mins.

5. Add the chicken back to the pan along with the snap peas, onion and red thai chili. Simmer for another 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

6. Check the seasoning. If the sauce is too spicy, add agave nectar 1 tsp at a time until your desired level of spice is reached. The sweetness of the agave nectar will cut the spiciness of the curry paste. If your sauce is not spicy enough, add a bit more curry or another red thai chili.

7. Remove the lime leaves and discard.

7. Serve with jasmine rice. Garnish with basil, cilantro and more chilis.


- Use red Thai curry paste instead of green
- Omit the chicken and add more veggies for a vegetarian dish
- Exchange green beans for carrots (or whatever veggies you would like!)
- Serve with rice vermicelli noodles instead of rice.

Did you know:

Left over coconut milk can be frozen for use later. Pour the extra milk into ice cube trays and place in freezer. Once coconut cubes are frozen, place in zip lock freezer bags and store in freezer until ready to use.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quinoa Vegetable Salad

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WA) is an ancient grain (actually a seed) that is super nutritious. It's high in protein and iron, low in sodium and has high amounts of 7 major minerals (more than found in wheat, barley or corn). It also has 5g of fiber per half cup! And it's super easy to make and use. It cooks like rice and is just as versatile.

This recipe was adapted from Michael Smith's, the Chef at Home.

You will need:

-Quinoa (either packaged or bulk)
-assorted veggies (carrots, cucumber, onion, celery, radish, green pepper, red pepper
-fresh parsley
-1 can of mandarin orange segments, with juice reserved
-1 fresh lemon
-grape seed oil (or olive oil)
-raspberry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
-salt & pepper

1. Cook 1 cup of quinoa per package directions. Some guides say 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water. The brand I use calls for 1 cup quinoa to 1 1/4 cup water. Either way, rinse your quinoa before cooking. I also cook mine in an automatic rice cooker and it comes out perfect every time. Once cooked, fluff with a fork, set aside and let cool.

2. Chop assorted vegetables of your choice into small pieces and throw into a salad serving bowl. I always use carrots, cucumber, tomato and red onion. For the batch in the photo I added radishes and celery.

3. Coarsely chop a bunch of parsley and add to the salad bowl.

4. Grate the zest of your fresh lemon directly into the salad bow, then cut the lemon and squeeze in the juice from both halves.

5. Add your salad dressing ingredients directly to the bowl and mix well. Generally the ratio of oil to vinegar is 3:1. Measure in tablespoons and make as much as you need. Add a splash of mandarin orange juice from the can. I find this salad takes a bit more salad dressing than more salads because the quinoa soaks it all up. Be generous!

6. Season with salt & pepper and toss all the veggies with dressing.

7. Add the quinoa to the salad bowl and mix well.

8. Add the mandarin oranges to the bowl and turn gently to incorporate, careful not to break the pieces.

9. Chill in refrigerator before serving.


-Greek Quinoa Salad: Use cucumber, bell peppers, tomatoes, black olives, feta and a basic balsamic vinaigrette.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Roasted Beet & Sweet Potato Salad

This salad is so delicious but it takes a bit of time to prepare, most of it inactive while you wait for the veggies to roast. An hour to prepare a lunch dish can be a little unreasonable. If you have the time, definitely do it. If not, I suggest making roasted veggies for dinner the night before then use the left overs to make the salad for lunch the next day.

Serves 2

1/2 large sweet potato (or 1 small), peeled and cut into chunks
2 small beets (or 1 large), trimmed, peeled and cut into chunks (use gloves to avoid red hands!)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 avocado
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
1 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp goat's milk feta cheese
3 cups mixed greens (baby spinach, spring mix, arugula etc)


3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
pinch salt
pinch pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Arrange sweet potato chunks on a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Arrange beet chunks on a separate baking tray and drizzle with the other 1 tbsp olive oil. Separate trays are necessary otherwise your lovely orange sweet potato will turn pink.

3. Roast veggies in the oven until tender, about 30 mins-40mins.

4. While veggies are cooking, roast pine nuts over medium heat in a dry skillet. Remove from skillet just as they start to turn golden brown. Do not leave unattended as they can burn quickly and you will need to start over!

5. In a glass container with a tight fitting lid, mix dressing ingredients and shake well.

6. Arrange the lettuce on two plates. Top with red onion slices.

7. When cooked, remove veggies from oven.

8. Peel, pit and slice the avocado. Arrange avocado pieces on top of lettuce (1/4 avocado on each plate).

9. Arrange roasted sweet potato and beet pieces on top of salad (1/2 on each plate).

10. Sprinkle pine nuts and goat's feta over top of each salad.

11. Finish each salad with a drizzle of dressing.

12. Serve immediately, while veggies are still warm.

13. Sit and savour. Smile at the gorgeous, healthy meal you have created.


- Use walnuts instead of pine nuts
- sub butternut squash for the sweet potato
- try blue cheese instead of feta or...
- omit the goat's feta for a vegan dish

The possibilities are endless!

Glossary of Terms - "Health" Foods

My aunt e-mailed me last night to ask what "sucanat" is and I realized many people may not know about some of the "health foods" used in the recipes. These are the "healthy" substitutes I use most often. This list will be updates as I come across new products.

Agave Syrup is a sweetener that is made from a cactus-like plant. It is sometimes called agave nectar. It is much sweeter than either honey or sugar and has a lower glycemic index than other sweeteners. When substituting for other sweeteners in baking, you only need 1/3 cup of syrup for each cup of sugar. It is high in fructose and highly processed, so use sparingly. From

Chia is a plant in the mint family, native to South America. Chia seeds are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They are also a source of antioxidants and a variety of amino acids. Chia is also a good source of dietary fibre (soluble and insoluble). Chia is sold commercially as seeds or oil and is a good alternative to Flax. Some say it is better than Flax because it does not contain the naturally occurring estrogens and phytoestrogens that flax seeds contain. And unlike flax or hemp seeds, the oil in chia seeds does not go rancid, due to its high antioxidant content. There is no need to refrigerate your chia seeds or oil. Just be aware, chia seeds contain Phytic Acid, a naturally occurring compound found in the hull of most seeds, grains and nuts. Phytic acid blocks the absorption of certain minerals, such as calcuim zinc and iron, into the intestines. Use the seeds sparingly or soak for a few hours prior to use. From Wikipedia and High on Healthy.

Ghee is clarified butter, most often used in Indian cooking. The milk proteins are removed in the clarifying process so it is mostly lactose free. The result is pure butterfat which makes it perfect for shallow pan frying and other cooking. Since the milk solids are removed, Ghee does not burn like butter can. From

Greek Yogurt has the whey filtered out, to produce a thicker, creamier yogurt. It is also referred to as Strained Yogurt or Yogurt Cheese (Labneh in the Middle East). You can easily make your own by straining plain yogurt through cheese cloth for several hours. Greek yogurt has nearly twice the protein per serving as conventional yogurt, is lower in carbohydrates and its creamy texture makes it the perfect choice for dips and sauces. Most Greek style yogurts are very high in fat. Liberté makes one of the only 0% MF commercially available yogurts in Canada.

Kefir is a fermented milk beverage. It's thicker than traditional milk, but not as thick as yogurt. Kefir is a natural pro-biotic and is said to have antibiotic, anti-fungal and antioxidant properties. It also contains many vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WA) is an ancient grain (actually a seed) that is super nutritious. It's high in protein and iron, low in sodium and has high amounts of 7 major minerals (more than found in wheat, barley or corn). It also has 10 grams of fibre per cup! It's super easy to make and use. It cooks like rice and is just as versatile. In fact, quinoa is so versatile, it can be used in soups, salads, casseroles, stir fry and even baking.

Sucanat is non-refined cane sugar. Sucanat is generally accepted as a substitute for brown sugar and contains a smaller proportion of sucrose than white cane sugar. From Wikipedia.

Turbinado Sugar is low-refined cane sugar, produced from the first pressing of the sugar cane. It has larger crystals than regular granulated sugar and teaspoon for teaspoon has less calories than granulated sugar. It is generally used as a finishing sugar to sprinkle over cookies, cakes and other sweets or stir into beverages. Also known as Raw Sugar or Golden Cane Sugar.

Wheat Germ is the very nutritious inner embryo of the wheat kernel. Unfortunately when wheat is milled into flour, the germ gets discarded. Wheat Germ contains 23 nutrients and has more nutrients per ounce than any other vegetable or grain. It is also very high in protein. Store your wheat germ in the fridge or freezer otherwise it goes rancid quickly.

All of these things can be found in your local health food store or good grocery store.

10 Cent's Chili Lime Prawns

This is a version of 10 Cent's recipe. I added a bit of ginger and garlic to my marinade otherwise it's the same.

12-18 large uncooked prawns, peeled & de-veined
4-6 bamboo skewers soaked in water (optional) *i used an indoor grill so skewers weren't necessary. when bbqing skewers make it much easier to handle & flip your shrimp.

Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar or mirin
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, rough chopped
1 tsp chili pepper flakes or 1 thai chili, chopped (more if you like it hot)
4 slices of fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, cut into thick slices
1/4 cup peanut oil or sesame oil
splash of gluten free soy sauce

1. Combine marinade ingredients. Place shrimp in a shallow bowl or zip loc bag and pour marinade over top. Marinate in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. Do not marinate for longer than 30 mins or the lime juice in the marinade will start to "cook" the shrimp.

2. Pre-heat BBQ or indoor grill to high heat.

3. If using bamboo skewers, thread 3-4 shrimp onto each skewer. Oil the grill and place the shrimp or skewers on the grill.

4. Cook no more than 2 minutes per side, for a total of 4 minutes of cook time.

5. Remove from grill and serve hot, warm or cold!

6. Makes a great addition to salad!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cranberry Orange Muffins

The muffins contain no refined sugars, no refined flour and only a small amount of (healthy) added fat. They are easy to make and taste pretty darn good for something with hardly any sweetener.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Yields 12 muffins

1 1/4 cup bran cereal (I used 1 cup Special K 5 Grains plus 1/4 cup All Bran Buds... because that is what I had)
1 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1 egg
Zest and juice from one orange
1/4 cup honey
1/4 coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup wheat germ (if you don't have wheat germ and don't want to buy it, you can use 2 full cups of whole wheat flour.)
2 tsp baking aluminum-free power
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non fat cooking spray.

2) Combine cereal & yogurt in a large mixing bowl and let sit for a few minutes.

3) Stir in egg, orange zest, orange juice, honey and butter.

4) Add each dry ingredient to the bowl separately and mix to incorporate before adding the next.

5) Add cranberries and mix to incorporate. Mix will be lumpy.

6) Spoon mix into muffin cups, diving evenly. Be aware that cranberries float so stir the batter every few minutes to ensure each muffin has cranberries in it!

7) Bake 25 mins until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean and tops are golden brown.

8) Enjoy!

Five Spice Beef & Broccoli

This is a two part recipe, as with most stir fry recipes, because you deal with the meat and the veggies separately. It's still pretty quick and easy and tastes delicious.

Makes 4 servings


3/4 lb sirloin beef, cut into strips (i used prepared stir fry beef to save time)
2 tbsp macadamia nut oil, divided
2 tsp Chinese five spice
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup water
1 lb broccoli florets, sliced carrots, pea pods, sliced celery
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup vegetable broth (or beef)


1. Mix beef with 1 tbsp oil and Chinese five spice. Use your hands to get the rub into the beef. Marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature (room temp meat cooks more evenly & faster).

2. Heat large fry pan or wok on medium high heat. Add remaining oil and beef. Stir fry for 2-3 mins until beef is mostly no longer pink. Add garlic and stir fry another couple minutes until beef is no longer pink. Remove from fry pan and set aside.

3. In same fry pan or wok, add vegetables and 1/4 cup of water and stir fry/steam over medium heat. Until veggies are fork tender (fork inserted easily but still has some crisp), approx 5-7 minutes. If any water remaining in pan, drain off before proceeding.

4. In a small bowl, Whisk cornstarch, vegetable broth and oyster sauce.

5. Add beef and sauce mix to the fry pan. Stir on medium low for 5 mins until everything is coated, heated through and sauce thickens a bit.

6. Serve over rice or noodles.

7. Try to use chopsticks and laugh at your ineptitude. :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mint & Chive Potato Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Serves 2

8 - 10 new potatoes (small white or red or a mix!)

1/2 small red onion, diced
4-5 mint leaves, chiffonade
small bunch of fresh chives, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
1 tsp sucanat
1 tsp dijon mustard
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

1. Cut potatoes into quarters or bite sized pieces. Boil in pot of water until fork tender, about 20 mins.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the onion, chives and parsley. Add to a serving dish.

3. Mix the vinaigrette ingredients together in a container with a tight fitting lid. Shake to mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste.

4. Once potatoes are cooked, drain. Add to serving bowl of onions, chives and mint while still warm. Toss to mix.

5.Spoon vinaigrette over top of salad to suit your tastes. The warm potatoes will soak up lots of dressing. Use as much or as little as you like. I used about half of what the recipe yields.

6. Serve warm or cold.

7. Best when served while sitting on a blanket, outside, under the sun.

Cat Cora's Seared Scallops Over Buckwheat Noodles

See Cat's recipe here. My version is slightly modified to simplify cooking. You could also use rice vermicelli noodles if you can't find buckwheat noodles.

Serves 2-4

3 oz brewed jasmine tea (strongly brewed)
4 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup mirin or rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp gluten free soy sauce
2 tbsp agave syrup or honey
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

16 large scallops
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil

enough buckwheat or soba noodles to serve your guests

1 cup sliced sugar snap peas or sliced green beans, blanched
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 green onion, sliced, for garnish

1. can be made in advance. mix all ingredients in a jar with tight fitting lid. store in fridge until ready to use.

1. cook noodles according to package directions, drain and rinse. Place in bowls and coat with some of the dressing.

2. season scallops with salt & pepper. heat olive oil in a pan. sear scallops 1 1/2 - 2 mins per side. Remove from pan and place on paper towel to remove excess oil.

3. toss veggies in bowls with noodles. place scallops on top. drizzle with more dressing. garnish with sliced green onion.

4. slurp your noodles like when you were 6 years old!

Monday, September 14, 2009

By Popular Demand...

Several friends and family members have been asking about my cooking and requesting recipes. This seemed to be the best way to get the word out and spread the healthy cooking bug. Many of the recipes I post are adapted from or inspired by several very talented, wonderful food bloggers or professional chefs. Some are created by me and I hope to create more original recipes as I learn more and improve my cooking skills. If you want to know why I make the things I do and with the ingredients I do, read the About page or pick up some of the books on the "Required Reading" list. Especially recommended are "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth" and "In Defense of Food". You will change what you eat, I swear.

Experiment. Eat. Enjoy.

Those are your new words to live by.
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