Spring is really, truly here and I can’t help but get inspired by the pops of colour filling the streets. And no…I don’t mean the tulips on the ground or the premature magnolias blooming in the trees.
Now bikes on trees? There’s something really special…I am totally in love with the idea of this suspended makeshift bike rack.
Not to mention all things neon…
And of course I love colour on my plate too. As many colours as I can fit into one bowl is really my ideal scenario…
Where else would I go but my beloved Hibiscus for the dreamiest bowl of rainbow coloured food heaven. (And in case you’re wondering…that’s sweet potato, broccoli, beets & tofu topped with kelp noodles. YU-UHMM!)
Unfortunately my own kitchen is very sparse right now as I am smack dab in the middle of moving week so I’ve been making due with a single pot and a boxed up pantry all week….
NO KITCHEN + INTERMITTENT INTERNET + EPIC PACKING = THE GROUCHY HIPSTER!
But as usual I’m making due amongst the chaos…Tonight’s dinner? Taco salad! Served in a stainless steel mixing bowl of course…
In the (mixing) bowl:
- Sweet Orange Bell Pepper
- Black Beans
- “Baked” Sweet Potato (prepared in the microwave)
- “Scrambled” Egg whites (also prepared in the microwave – 3 minutes or so at 70% power)
- Chipotle Salsa & Greek Yogurt
Did the trick! 😉
What are your favourite no-cook meals?
And how do you feel about moving? Do you love the change or hate the hassle?
For a lot of North Americans, enjoying a “tapas” or “small-plates” meal means going to a bougie, overpriced restaurant that bullies you into ordering 3 unsatisfying micro-entrees rather than 1 (less expensive) meal-sized one. However, after living in Spain for quite some time, I can assure you that authentic tapas is a lot less fussy…
Tapas began as salty snacks (like olives, potato chips or cured meat) given out for free at bars to encourage…well…heavy drinking. Nowadays it still serves that purpose, but has expanded into a small but tasty late night meal eaten hours after the Dionesian Feast that is Spanish lunch. Believe me, if you ate the way we did between the hours of 2-4pm (lunchtime where I lived in Oviedo), you wouldn’t have much of an appetite by “dinner hour” either.
Tapas bar culture. Nothing opens until at least midnight and you’re lucky if you find a place to lean.
When in Spain I definitely encourage you to sample all the delicious deep fried, sodium-laden tapas fare you can get your hands on. But in the meantime…here is a recipe that is similar to the traditional Spanish albondigas, but lightened up by using chicken instead of pork and even adding a little green for good measure. Serve with a side salad and roasted potatoes for a healthier take on albondigas and patatas bravas. Don’t skimp on the glass of red wine though…For the antioxidants of course 😉
Tapas-Style Chicken & Spinach Meatballs
- 1 package extra lean ground chicken
- 1/2 package frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
- 1/2 onion, diced finely
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup egg whites OR 1 whole beaten egg
- 1/4 cup oat bran (or rolled oats, ground coursely in a coffee grinder)
- 1 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast (or parmesan)
- 1 heaping tsp sweet paprika
- 1 heaping tsp dijon
- a few dashes of soy sauce/braggs
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup cooking sherry OR white wine
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- Add all the ingredients and seasonings for the meatballs in a very large bowl and mix well with your hands until combined.
- Scoop meatballs using a 1/4 cup measure (you wont need to fill it all the way) and roll into balls.
- Fry meatballs over medium heat in a very large skillet until just browned then set aside until you’ve gone through the whole batch.
- Add 1/4 cup or so of cooking sherry or white wine to the bottom of the pan to scrape off any brown bits then add meatballs back to the pan along with 2 cups broth & 1 cup crushed tomatoes.**
- Simmer on low for 30-40 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.
**If your pan isn’t big enough you can transfer wine, meatballs, broth and tomatoes into a large pot instead.
Here are a few things that I came to realize this weekend….in no particular order.
1) I only want meals in bowl-form lately.
1.5 servings rolled oats cooked in soymilk for some extra protein, topped with 1/2 banana and 1/4 cup trail mix
2 Whole Eggs Scrambled with Curry Powder, Mushrooms and Spinach. Served over a (buried) sweet potato and topped with 1/4 avocado, 1/4 cup hummus and some more trail mix
Kale Caesar Salad from Live Organic Food Bar with Eggplant Bacon, Raw Croutons & Marinated Tempeh
2) Rest days are my new best friend.
The past week or so I have been taking more days off the gym than on because my life has been so hectic and I’ve been doing a lot of walking around the city on my search for a new place to live. Also a lot of anxious fretting…does that count as a workout? Anyways I was pretty sure my first day back this morning was going to be brutal but to my surprise I had much more energy and stamina than usual. I even managed to complete a set of full bridges (also known as full wheel in yoga or sometimes reverse pushups) which is huge for me. A lack of upper body strength made bridges the bane of my existence during my days as a dancer.
This little personal success reminded me that giving your body extended time – not just a day but a whole week or two off – to rest and recover might be just what you need to avoid burning out and help you break through your own fitness plateaus.
3) I can still stay out past 2am.
Unlike many folks my age I wake up early. And do things. Things like cooking breakfast, reading the newspaper, moving my body in some way, grocery shopping and (very occasionally) cleaning my house. I get razzed about this all the time but honestly I like my morning routine and lovingly accept myself for the nerdy proto-grandma that I am. But I definitely can’t (nor would I want to) keep this schedule all the time…Sometimes it’s a Saturday night and one of your favourite bands is playing and your friends are out and you just want to dance till an unreasonable hour….
TRUST LP RELEASE PARTY @ WRONGBAR. TORONTO, ON.
STILL GOT IT.
I apologize for being a little late for Pancake Tuesday but since I’m not much for Lent maybe you can forgive me? In return I’m giving you a totally guilt-free (not to mention allergy-free) recipe for savoury pancakes that you can enjoy on Pancake Tuesday and then every day after that since they are free of animal products, fat, sugar and pretty much anything else you might want to give up! As for me, I’ll be enjoying these with a big slather of earth balance, a side of caramelized onions & some freshly smoked salmon…plus a
few squares bar of dark chocolate for dessert. To each their own. 🙂
If you’ve never had a traditional blini the concept of a savoury buckwheat pancake might sound a little strange. But when you think of it as chewy, warm, fresh cooked pan bread…things start to sound a whole lot more delicious. I even managed to sneak some extra veggies into this recipe too…cause I just couldn’t help myself.
So go ahead…try something new for dinner this week! Who knows? You might just want to eat them for 40 days straight…
Savoury Blini Pancakes
(Vegan & Gluten-Free)
- 3 tbsp buckwheat flour, ground fresh from buckwheat groats for a lighter flavour
- 1 tbsp coconut flour
- 1 tbsp ground flax
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup mashed cauliflower
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp seasoned sea salt like herbamare
- 1/2 cup + 2tbsp hot water
- Stir dry ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl.
- Add water stir until well combined.
- Scoop batter using a 1/4 cup measuring cup and fry on a lightly oiled/sprayed griddle or pan for 2-3 minutes/side.
– if you don’t have coconut flour use extra buckwheat or gluten-free flour
– swap out whatever leftover veggies you have on hand for the cauliflower: mashed potatoes, squash, pumpkin or carrots would probably work well
Check out this post for more information on the nutritional benefits of inexpensive, high protein, whole grain buckwheat…it’s definitely one of my all time favourite grains when prepared correctly. Even more reasons to eat pancakes for dinner! 🙂
The crockpot doesn’t always get a lot of play on the weekends as it has a reputation of being used exclusively for Monday-Friday (aka. boring) dinners. But I think it’s actually a great idea to prep yourself a simple crockpot meal on a Friday so that you can something wholesome and delicious in the fridge before the busy weekened hits. For me, having food like this prepared at home helps me avoid mindless spending on lunches and dinners so I can save your pennies for the fun stuff like cocktails, movies, galleries, concerts and general weekend fun and/or debauchery.
As an added cost-saving bonus, this was a great way to turn my two organic, free-range, locally sourced and ridiculously expensive chicken breasts into 4 meals rather than two by adding vegetables and protein-rich white beans.
Chicken and White Bean Chili Verde
- 2 whole skinless boneless chicken breasts
- 2-3 tbsp flour (unbleached white, spelt or GF rice flour)
- salt and pepper
- 1 can of tomatillos, mashed very well or quickly run through a food processor
- 1.5 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp chili seasonings (1.5 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, .5 tsp paprika)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 1/2 zucchini, diced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1.5 cups cooked white beans
- Dredge chicken breasts in flour mixed with a little salt and pepper. Add to a slow cooker.
- Cover chicken breasts with veggies, beans, seasonings, vegetable broth & crushed tomatillos.
- Cook 4-5 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.
- Remove chicken about 30 min- 1 hr from the end of cooking and shred in a bowl using two forks. Return to crockpot.
Yield: 3-4 servings.
Serve with nachos, on brown rice or on a bed of lightly steamed kale. Top with salsa, greek yogurt, hot sauce, fresh cilantro or cheese.
At a loss for what to serve for lunch today? Look no further. Korean bulgogi beef is usually made of finely sliced rib-eye that marinates for hours before flash frying. This dish is similar…to that last step only. I took out the meat and the hours of marinating and was left with a tasty vegetarian main dish that is highly adaptable and could be added to a rice bowl, wrap or hearty salad. Ready in less than 10 minutes so its perfect for lunch or dinner!
Simple Bulgogi Tofu
(For 1 serving):
- 1/4 block tofu, cubed
- 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 tsp sriracha hot sauce
- sprinkle of fresh ginger (I usually use fresh ginger that has been frozen and grated)
- 2 small green onions, chopped (include the white parts)
- sprinkle of sesame seeds for garnish
- Pan fry plain tofu in a dry, nonstick skillet over medium high heat until browned on all sides.
- While tofu is cooking prepare marinade by dissolving sugar in soy sauce and then adding sesame oil, garlic, ginger and hot sauce.
- Add cooked tofu and chopped mushrooms to marinade and let sit for 3-5minutes.
- Return tofu and marinade to the skillet pan and cook on medium heat until liquid is dissolved and mushrooms are fully cooked. Add green onions during the last minute of cooking and stir well to combine.
I served mine over steamed broccoli and kale tossed in a liberal amount of flax oil (this is my favourite combo) and then mixed with saurkraut (my in-a-pinch substitute for kimchi). Then I paired it with some leftover Japanese pumpkin (kabocha squash).
My house smells amazing right now and its all thanks to these bad boys…
TWICE-BAKED APPLE CIDER BRUSSEL SPROUTS
- 1 pound of brussel sprouts (about 4 cups), trimmed and halved
- 2 tbsp apple butter (agave, maple syrup or honey would also work)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- sprinkle of sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt coconut oil, cider vinegar and apple butter together in a large mixing bowl or pot. Add brussel sprouts and stir until well coated.
- Using a slotted spoon transfer brussel sprouts to a tin foil lined baking sheet, reserving the leftover oil/cider coating. Sprinkle with paprika, salt and pepper.
- Bake for 20 minutes or so, until just browning. Remove the brussels from pan and toss one more time in the leftover cider mixture.
- Return brussel sprouts to the pan and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes.
I am not even the biggest brussel sprout fan but these are HEAVEN. Enough to make you rethink the whole “side dish” paradigm in the dinnertime hierarchy. NOM.
Do you have any tricks to jazz up some of the less palatable veggies?
Dunk em in mashed potatoes was always my trick when I was a kid but I try to be a little more creative these days… 😉
The first snowfall of the year always seems to take me by suprise, but this icy rose looked even more shocked than I was when big fluffy flakes filled the sky around 11am this morning.
Never fear, little rose. I have a winter-friendly comfort food recipe ready and waiting to perk you up and get you excited for (or at the very least resigned to) the chilly months to come.
This recipe is inspired by the time I spent living in the Netherlands. Dutch food is often very simple – consisting of potatoes, greens and some kind of protein (usually pork) that is flavoured with some combination of vinegar, mustard or kraut. Perhaps one day I’ll post one of the more “authentic” Dutch recipes I still cook up once and a while…but for today I’ll just pass along the Dutch inspired meal I whipped up this evening.
Me on my old street in Utrecht overlooking the Dom Tower. I was such a baby! Also why on earth don't I still have that trenchcoat...
Dijon Chicken (or Tofu) & Greens with Rutabega Mash
- Peel, cube & steam for approximately 10 minutes or until tender
- Mash with 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup vegetable broth, 1 tbsp coconut oil/butter/earth balance, salt and pepper
Dijon Chicken (or Tofu) & Greens
Sear and Steam Technique
- This is not so much a recipe as a preparation method. I like to sear my protein and steam my veggies in the same pan to save time and dishes. Its also a great way to infuse the whole dish with slow-cooked flavour without the time commitment!
- Slice chicken breast or tofu into 2 inch slices (1 serving of either will make about 4 slices)
- Coat your protein in salt, pepper, paprika and creamy dijon mustard. Allow to marinate if possible.
- Add a small drizzle of oil or cooking spray to a non-stick skillet bring to medium-high heat.
- Add chicken or tofu to the heated pan and sear until browned on all sides but not yet cooked through (2-3 min/side).
- Add 1/4 cup onions and 2 cloves minced garlic to the pan and cook an additional 2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add in a few handfuls of greens (collards, chard or kale would work nicely) along with 1 bay leaf, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 1/2 cup veggie broth. Cover pan and reduce heat to simmer. Steam for a few more minutes to cook the greens and finish your protein while infusing flavour.
- Use kitchen tongs to remove greens from the pan. Toss just the greens together with a scoop of the cooking liquid and an additional spoonful of dijon.
- Serve greens on top of rutabega mash with chicken on top and a side of your favourite saurkraut (I use an apple cider vinegar variety common in Dutch cooking)
So good. Already looking forward to the leftovers! 😉
How are you feeling about the transition to root veggies & savoury winter eats?
Its a chilly morning here on the island so a bowl of piping hot oats for breakfast seemed like a no brainer.
1/2 cup rolled oats with almond milk, chopped banana and egg whites cooked in at the end. Topped with a scoop of peanut butter, jam, a small handful of frozen raspberries, toasted almonds and a buncha cinnamon.
That is pure breakfast comfort food right there.
Now when I think of suppertime comfort food I usually think of the cheap, filling, one pot meals my grandma made for us growing up.
My favourite of these meals: Tuna Helper. Don’t ask me why but I was crazy for the stuff…like…for years. Tonight as I looked through my grandmother’s cupboards – full to the brim with all of the pre-packaged food items I grew up loving, I got it in my head that I could make better tasting and better for you version using the whole foods we had in the house.
I swapped the tuna for omega-3 packed wild salmon, the noodles for brown rice and the laundry list of preservatives and sodium for spices and sea salt. Feelin pretty pleased with myself indeed.
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 2-3 cloves crushed garlic
- 1/2 red pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped roughly
- 3/4 cup dry brown and wild rice blend
- 2 cups chicken or veggie broth (if using water, you’ll need to add boullion)
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp rosemary
- 1.5 cups chopped asparagus or broccoli
- 1 can of wild salmon (I used one large can, maybe add 2 if using small ones)
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- Heat a medium-large sized pot over medium heat
- Add a drizzle of olive oil along with onion and celery and sautee for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
- Add the peppers and mushrooms and cook for another few minutes until softened.
- Add all seasonings, liquid and rice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to very low.
- Cover and simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until rice is cooked through.
- If there is some liquid left in the pot, simply raise the heat again and add in chopped asparagus or broccoli. Cover and allow greens to steam in the rice liquid for 2-3 minutes. If rice has absorbed all the cooking liquid, just add an extra 1/2-3/4 cup water/broth/milk and then do the same.
- Stir in canned salmon and dijon and stir until heated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a side of steamed veggies or salad and eat tucked under some kind of large fluffy blanket…preferably with something trashy on TV.
What’s your favourite grandma style comfort food?
When I was living in Spain, Pimentón (better known as smoked paprika) was a table spice. It came in two varieties: sweet & spicy, though they were most often used in tandem to give all those traditional spanish dishes the vibrant colour and depth of flavour they are so known for.
Well this morning as I was whipping up an extra batch of stuffing (made special for my gracious hostess can’t tolerate the gluten) I couldn’t think of a better way to season it than with that delicious Spanish spice, with a Thanksgiving twist!
Pimentón & Rosemary Millet-Rice Stuffing
- 1/2 cup millet
- 1/2 cup brown rice
- 1 heaping tbsp coconut oil, earth balance or butter
- 2 leeks
- 1 medium carrot
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika (any variety will do)
- 1/2 tbsp ground rosemary
- 1 palmful of salt (I used seasoned Herbamare)
- a few shakes of salt-free vegetable seasoning (optional)
- 1/4 cup toasted almonds
- Cook millet & brown rice separately in lightly salted water with a bay leaf in each pot. (Millet usually takes about 30 minutes, brown rice may take 45. Don’t worry if the grains are a little al dente as they will cook more when you add them to the veggie mix)
- Add leeks, carrot, celery, mushrooms and garlic to a food processor and pulse until the veggies are evenly chopped and combined.
- Melt coconut oil/earth balance/butter in a large skillet. Add veggie mix, salt, paprika and rosemary. Cook on medium high heat for about 5-7 minutes until very fragrant.
- Add rice and millet (with the bay leaves) to the skillet along with an additional cup of water. Simmer on low for around 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
- Pulse the toasted almonds in a coffee grinder (you could also crush them in a bag using a wine bottle). You don’t want to completely pulvarize them – the result should be about half almond flour/half almond pieces.
- Add nuts to the stuffing and adjust seasonings to taste.