In keeping with my theme of Whole Grains, I’ve decided to share a simple recipe for a veggie stir fry. Stir fries have been featured quite a bit on this blog mainly because they are so easy to make and … Continue reading
One of the things that I had time giving up, and this may sound disgusting to some, was the Canadian classic, Kraft Dinner. Even just talking about it makes me want to bust open a pack of KD and throw in some butter, some whole milk and then, after it’s been cooked and that powdery “cheese” goodness has been lovingly mixed in with those enriched yet bleached wheat noodles, I’d drench it in ketchup (and maybe add some hot dogs to it).
Now that I know better – that sounds like a recipe for disaster – even though my stomach is growling at the thought.
I’ve had to come up with other creative ways to include my love for pasta and my love for gooey cheese in a nutritious dish.
This, my friends, has become an oldy but a goody!
NOTE: If you don’t like broccoli, I won’t hold it against it you. You can always substitute it for spinach or even roasted green or red peppers or even zucchini – actually, any veggie that you think would be delicious. But I wanted to keep this somewhat simple, so I went with broccoli.
- 2 cups of brown rice pasta (spirals, penne, whatever you prefer, just not spaghetti – doesn’t bode well).
- 1/2 head of broccoli
- 1/2 of a large portabello mushroom or 3 baby bellas – chopped
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
- 1/3 large red onion – finely chopped
- 1 cup of goat mozerella cheese – shredded
- Olive oil
- 1/4 tsp of black pepper
- 1/4 tsp of sea salt
- 1/2 tsp of coriander
- 1/2 tsp of chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp of 0regano
- Garlic (2 cloves, minced)
Boil water and cook the rice pasta. TIP: Add a table spoon of olive oil to the water so that the pasta doesn’t stick together.
While the pasta is cooking, steam the broccoli (should take about 10 to 20 minutes, but keep an eye on it). When it’s tender, it’s ready!
Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
In the meantime, in a medium frying pan, heat 1 table spoon of olive oil and add your spices. Let them simmer for about a minute or until fragrant. Then add your onions and stir until they become soft.
Then add the mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and garlic. Let this simmer for about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Layer so that the rice pasta goes in first, then the veggies, then the cheese.
When the pasta has finished cooking, drain it and add it to the frying pan. Same goes with the broccoli. TIP: Once the broccoli florets have been steamed, cut them into smaller pieces or in half.
Mix all ingredients together. Let the flavour soak in for a couple minutes then transfer to a medium sized baking dish. Add the shredded goat mozerrella cheese on top and bake for about 10 minutes or until cheese starts bubbling.
Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Serves between 2 and 3. Serve with some chicken or fish and salad or on it’s own – why not?
Cook time: 30 to 40 mins
I experimented with some new rice last night. I had found it at the most magical place on Earth – the Bulk Barn (more on that later). I was getting bored of the same old brown rice and brown rice pasta so I decided to mix things up a bit. Living on the wild side, I know!
It’s called: Whole Grain 5 Blend (long grain brown rice, grano, Colusari red rice, sprouted brown rice (YES PLEASE!) and wild rice).
The verdict? Delicious! Definitely loading up on more of that stuff on my next trip to the Bulk Barn.
- 1/4 tsp of pepper, chili powder, turmeric
- 1/2 tsp of coriander and paprika
- 2 tbsp grape seed oil (olive oil or coconut oil as a substitute)
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 smal onion, chopped
- 1/2 a chicken breast chopped
- 1/4 cup lentils – cooked or canned
- 1 lime (juice)
Veggies of choice:
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- small handful of baby carrots
- 2 handfuls of baby spinach
- 1 romano tomato diced
- 1 generous handful of sprouts
- 2 baby potatoes, chopped
- Rice – 1/2 cup of cooked rice (brown, wild, mixed, brown rice pasta)
Cook rice (as per the instructions) while you prepare and cook your stir fry (takes about 30 minutes).
Put the oil in the pan, then spices, then chicken. Next, add your onion, tomato, potatoes, garlic and lime juice. Let simmer for a few minutes. Flip over chicken pieces when they are a brown on one side. While they are simmering, add red bell pepper, spinach and sprouts. Let simmer and mix occasionally. When the rice has cooked add about 1/2 a cup (or however much you prefer) to the pan along with the lentils. Stir and let it sim-simmer (you want the flavours to mix).
This is enough for 2 servings (one for dinner and one for lunch).
Day eight of the detox. I’m starting to notice more of a difference especially in my energy level and mood. I initially did the detox because I was feeling sluggish and a bit depressed. I thought that by not only feeding my body properly but also focusing more attention on myself, I would start to feel better – and it’s working.
I have a few challenges up ahead, notably, this weekend is my mom’s birthday and I’m not sure how well the conversation will go with my “meat and potatoes” Irish descendant parents about why I am not partaking in birthday cake. I can hear their pleading yet mocking voices now, “One little piece won’t kill you…..” Sure, it won’t kill me, but it will kill all of my hard work so far. By then, I would be on day 13 – so that’s nearly 2 solid weeks of sacrifice and thoughtful planning down the tubes. Once you eat anything on the “no no” list, it’s over. I wish we had a dog. Or more kids in my family (I’m an only child) so no sneaking the cake to a sibling or pet.
I could always do like in that one Seinfeld episode when Jerry doesn’t want to eat the mutton so he spits it out in Grandma Memma’s napkins. Please tell me you know what I’m talking about! If not, here’s a clip (sorry for the poor quality).
Anyways, the fact that I’m already feeling so much better has been totally worth it and after another week or so, I’ll feel even more better. So that’s exciting!
I’ve also started my running challenge and I even pushed myself to get up a bit earlier this morning to get my run in. For those that know me, they know that I am NOT a morning person. Snooze and I have been intimate lovers for many, many years –
possibly my longest relationship. BUT, despite my everlasting love for Snooze, I just forced myself to get up and get out the door as quickly as possible.
My roommate saw me in the hall and was very confused, “Yo…it’s not even 7:30am and you’re up?!”. All I could mutter, more to myself than to him was, “Yup. Yup, I’m up.”
On the bright side, by the time my workout was over, I was just starting to wake up and I had lots of energy for most of the day. The exhaustion didn’t hit me like a brick wall until a couple of hours after lunch. But even though my body was tired, my mind was alert and the afternoon passed quicker than it usually did sans exercise. It’s enough to motivate me to do it all over again tomorrow. I know, I’m definitely on fire this week!
Wish me luck!
So, I’m on a massive stir fry kick these days mostly because by the time I get home after a long day (especially one like today) and Mondays are killer for me too. Stir fries are quick and relatively easy to prepare. Plus, you get to be as creative as you like with ingredients.
Here’s what I made tonight:
- 2 tbsps onion diced
- 1 roma tomato diced
- 1 clove diced
- 3 skinless, boneless, chicken thighs chopped
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/4 thyme tumeric
- 1/3 tsp thyme
- 3 tbsps of oil (olive, grapeseed, coconut – any one of these is great)
- 10 baby carrots chopped
- 1/3 red bell pepper chopped
- 1/2 floret of brocoli chopped
- 1/3 medium sized zucchini chopped (I left the skin on but you could always peel it off you don’t like it)
- 1 handful of sprouts
- 1 handful of baby spinach
- 1 cup of brown rice pasta (I just bought fussili but use whatever floats your boat)
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the spices. In the mean time, cook the pasta. Chop the onion and garlic and add it to the frying pan. Stir the ingredients in the spicy oil. In the meantime, chop the chicken and add it to the pan. While the chicken is simmering away, grab a medium to large sized bowl and chop all veggies except the sprouts and spinach and add to the bowl. Pour a bit of oil on top of the veggies and stir it around.
This is great time to check on the chicken. Grab a pair of tongs and flip the chicken over and let it cook for a few more minutes. While I wait, I usually do some dishes quickly to kill some time. Once the chicken has cooked enough (brown on the outside) add the veggies to the pan. Then add spinach and sprouts on top and let it sit for a minute or so. The pasta should be ready by this time. Drain it and add it to the stir fry. Stir all the ingredients around with the tongs. Let simmer and stir off and on for another 5 to 8 minutes.
You’ll know it’s ready when the sprouts and spinach are limp.
This should serve about 2 or 3 people OR enough for a second helping and lunch the next day. The entire process should take about 20 to 30 minutes.
What a week! I only had a three day work week but Heaven knows that it felt like at least a six day week compressed into three. I think it was mainly because of the adjustment to the detox diet and the fact that I had four glorious days off – which meant lots of sleeping in and lounging about, then when that alarm goes off for work I had to snap back into reality and get with the program: work, errands, house work, obligations. Not complaining – but I’m glad it’s Friday!
One aspect of the detoxing that I really like is that it gives me the opportunity to just take a break and do things that I don’t normally get the opportunity to do (scratch that – allot myself the opportunity to do). This weekend, for once in a long time, I don’t have any serious plans. No scheduled dinners or birthday parties, no events or trips out of town to make. I just get to be at home all weekend and hibernate if I want to. And I just might. I have a mountain of laundry that needs some attention and I need to organize and clean my room before I trip and break my neck. I also want to spend time to catch up on some reading that I haven’t had the energy to do lately. Mainly, I just want to catch up with myself.
But the detox does have its drawbacks. I don’t want to paint this super rosy picture that this week so far has been a breeze. Frankly, it’s been quite challenging. There’s nothing I wanted more, most mornings, than a nice cup of chai tea with soy milk. Or one of my roommates fresh (?) buns that taunt me when I open the fridge to grab some spinach for my stir fry (that I’ve had for dinner and lunch two days in a row). Or the overwhelming craving for a nice, cold, pint of beer after a long week. Instead, I came home, had a nap and went for a run. Then I rewarded myself with a spinach salad with some smoked salmon on top (the recipe is below). It was AMAZING and very satifsfying! Almost made me forget about that pint that I was so looking forward to. But, there’s light at the end of the tunnel: I’ll be finishing my detox in time to celebrate my Irish heritage on St. Paddy’s day and will hopefully be feeling a lot less sluggish and shed those few pounds that I gained over the last month. More importantly, I hope to have regained some better eating habits instead of resorting to pizza when I’m starving after work.
Here’s that spinach salad I was gloating about:
- 2 or 3 handfuls of baby spinach
- 8-10 baby carrots (chopped)
- 1 slice of red onion (chopped)
- 2 handfuls of sprouts
- 1/4 of an avocado
- 1/4 of lemon (juice)
- 1 lime (juice)
- Salmon (sliced)
- Olive oil (3 tbsps)
- Chilli powder (1/4 tsp)
- Black pepper (1/4 tsp)
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the spices once the oil is warm. Let the spices simmer for a minute then add the salmon. Let cook until the meat darkens. While this is cooking, grab a large bowl (you can either eat this as a meal or make it and share it with a friend). Layer the spinach, carrots, onion, avocado and sprouts in the bowl. Squeeze the lemon slice and the lime over top of the salad. Sprinkle the dried oregano on top. Once the salmon has finished cooking, place the salmon on top of the salad and drizzle the spicy oil on the salad. Mix it all together, and voila!
Of course, you can add or replace whatever veggies you like but I found that this combination was very satisfying. Next time, I’d definitely add cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. If I weren’t detoxing, I’d add some goat cheese or feta, too. If you wanted to add some grains, you could always mix in some cooked quinoa. Why not? AND you could always replace the salmon with chicken (chopped up and fried in the same oil). Okay. I’ll stop and let you try this out for yourself.
The one thing that I’ve come to enjoy about cooking is the creativity aspect of it. I love having a whole bunch of ingredients in front of me and trying to come up with something healthy and delicious to make. Last night, I had some tomatoes to clean up so I decided to make a tomato-based curried stew. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of spices, which is funny because I grew up in a household where paprika was considered exotic.
When I went to India, last year (I can’t believe it’s been almost a year already!) I felt right at home with their food – the spicier the better! The people I was staying with were amazed that a white girl could handle all the spices and chilli. Honestly, I was a bit amazed too until the end of my trip when my stomach began to revolt against me. Needless to say, it took me a few months to recover and to be able to eat curry again.
How could I ever stop, though?! Which leads me to today’s leftovers – Curried Veggie Chickpea Stew.
Here it is in the bowl, ready to eat for dinner!
Chickpeas are a Godsend and are a super healthy alternative to eating meat.
Here are the ingredients:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 red bell pepper
- 1/4 chilli flakes
- 1/4 garam masala
- 1/2 curry powder
- 1/4 paprika
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1 and 1/2 tomatoes chopped
- 1/2 head broccoli steamed (this was left over from the other day)
- 1/2 carrot peeled and chopped
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 small potato, peeled and finely diced
- 1/2 can of chickpeas (drained)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup of brown rice
- Cook the rice as directed.
- In the meantime, in a large sauce pan or pot, heat the olive oil then add the spices. Stir in the oil until fragrant.
- Add the onions and stir so that the spices mix in with the onions and let simmer for a few minutes, then add the garlic and stir. Let simmer for another minute.
- Add the tomatoes, red peppers, and carrots. Let simmer for a few minutes.
- Add the water, chickpeas and broccoli. Stir all contents together and cover for 10 minutes. Cook until the tomatoes have “melted” and until it is lightly boiling.
Serve over brown rice.
This was definitely amazing as a left over meal. It’s nice and light yet filling and I don’t feel sleepy or sluggish after lunch. I will definitely be making this again! Next time, I’d like to try it with water chestnuts or even some small apple pieces to add some sweetness.
What will you experiment with?
Day two! Seriously, there is nothing better than waking up and realizing that your lunch is already made. Actually, the next best thing is waking up and realizing that it’s Saturday.
I was so tired this morning that it took me at least 3 minutes to figure out where I was and what day it was. That’s normal, right? But after a couple of cups of tea, I’m feeling more energetic and able to keep up a conversation without struggling, well..sort of.
Is it lunch time, yet? Home time? It’s only Tuesday, right?
Last night, I had a tonne of errands to run, since I was so lazy on Sunday and needed to make something quick. I realized that I had some salmon to clean up so I decided to make baked salmon in a bit of lemon juice with spices and then a veggie stir fry and all over some rice noodles. I was going to make some brown rice, but I dropped the ball and thought of it a bit too late – so noodles it was!
Here’s how to make it:
Ingredients for the salmon
- 1 Salmon fillet
- The juice of 1 lemon or ¼ cup of lemon juice
- ¼ cup of water ¼ tsp of thyme
- ¼ tsp of chilli flakes ¼ tsp of black pepper
- ¼ tsp mustard powder
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
- Put the salmon fillet in a baking dish and pour the water and lemon juice in the base of the dish.
- Sprinkle the spices on top of the fish. Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes.
Ingredients for the stir fry:
The beauty of stir fries, is that you can seriously make them with any combination of your favourite veggies and spices. Be careful of sauces as they often contain extra sodium and sugar and preservatives which totally defeats the purpose of making a healthy stir fry in the first place!
- 1 red bell pepper (chopped into strips)
- ½ head of steamed broccoli (chopped)
- ½ peeled and chopped carrot ¼ of an onion (chopped)
- 1 clove garlic (chopped) 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp paprika 2 tbsp of olive oil 2 tbsp of soy sauce or I recommend Liquid Aminos
- 1 cup of rice or any rice noodle that you prefer
- Prepare the rice or noodles as directed and steam the broccoli.
- While that is cooking, heat the oil in medium or large frying pan (whatever you prefer).
- Once the oil has heated, add the black pepper and parika. Stir the spices in with the oil until fragrant. Add the onions and stir until they are soft then add the garlic.
- After a few minutes, add the red peppers and stir, then add the carrots and the broccoli (after it has been steamed).
- Stir in the soy sauce or liquid aminos and let simmer.
- When everything is ready, cut up the salmon and place veggies over the rice and serve.
Serves about 2 people.
Well, I have been slacking this week. There really isn’t any valid excuse that I can give other than I have been taking a lot more time for myself these days and honestly, I’m loving it! In January, I’ll be starting my courses at Humber to be a project manager and between that, work and my Toastmaster responsibilities, I’ll be busy. Better to enjoy some down time now!
As today is Monday, I’d like to begin, or rather, re-begin (is that a word?) my “lunch a day” for a month challenge.
Today, my leftovers were chickpea coconut curry. YUM! It was Sunday evening, I had no desire or motivation to go the store so I scrounged up whatever I had in my cupboards and fridge and I came up with this little number.
- 2 small potatoes (finely chopped)
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 1 ½ large tomatoes (finely chopped)
- 1/2 an onion (minced)
- ½ can of chickpeas
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- ¼ tsp of black pepper
- ½ tsp coriander
- ¼ tsp tsp thyme
- ½ tsp curry powder
- ½ tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp turmeric
- Chilli flakes to taste
- ½ cup cooked quinoa
- 2 tbsp of grape seed or olive oil or coconut oil (I used grape seed
This looks like a lot of ingredients, but it was SO easy to make!
- Cook the quinoa as directed.
- In a large sauce pan, pour the oil in and let it heat up. Then, add the onions and cook until they are soft. Add the black pepper, chilli flakes, coriander and thyme. Cook for a couple of minutes (until fragrant). Add the garlic and stir.
- Once this has simmered, add the potatoes and ¼ of the can of coconut milk and stir until simmering. Then, add the curry powder, garam masala and turmeric and stir. Let it simmer and add the other ¼ of the can of coconut milk. Cover and let simmer for a few minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, the chicpeas and the other ¼ can of coconut milk. Let simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Stir the pot and add the quinoa and the rest of the coconut milk. Stir again and let simmer for about 5 minutes.
This may look kind of weird, but it was absolutely delicious and tastes even more amazing the next day.
If I could, I would have added spinach to this, but I ran out so I had to do without. Shredded carrots would also be amazing in this too – or any other veggie that you love and cannot live without. I find that by layering the ingredients, you get a fuller flavour and a more cohesive sauce/curry. If you don’t have quinoa, you could always skip the step and serve over brown rice.
Let me know what you think and share with me any variations that you may have tried.
How many of you out there buy your lunch everyday? How much money do you spend, on average per day? How about per week? Luckily, where I work, we have a cafeteria subsidized by our company, so lunch, on average, costs no more than $4 a day…so $20 a week…and roughly $1,040 a year (maybe a bit less if you have vacation days).
What if you worked for a company where they didn’t have a caf? So, if you bought your lunch from outside you’d probably be paying about $10 a day…that’s $50 a week…and about $2,600 a year! PLUS you don’t know 100% for sure what you are eating, since you didn’t prepare it yourself.
Until my health scare in March, I was just like some of you: I could not be bothered to make my lunch and thought I was pretty clever for buying it everyday; less to carry and no dishes to do. But, not only did those pounds creep in, I also would feel ill after eating…probably because I was eating an ingredient that didn’t agree with my system (most likely sugar, wheat or dairy). Does this sound like you? Looking for a change but don’t know where to begin or how to get motivated?
Well, starting today I will posting “A Lunch A Day” for the month of November to give you all some ideas of what to bring for lunch.
I was a bit busy yesterday and did not get a chance to post yesterday’s lunch, so here it is:
Leftover gnocchi from the night before, with an apple, some nuts (to add protein with the apple), and a berry protein shake (for the afternoon).
Here is the recipe for the gnocchi (vegetarian and gluten free!):
- 1 package of rice gnocchi
- 1/2 can of chickpeas (drained)
- 1 medium sized tomato, chopped
- 2 cups of spinach
- 1/2 medium sized onion
- goat cheese (cheddar) – half a stick or as much as you need to make it cheesey (shredded)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped finely
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 cup of low sodium organic chicken stock
- Boil the gnocchi according to the cooking instructions on the package. Preheat the oven to 350f.
- In a medium/large sized pan (depending on what you have), put the onions and half of the chicken stock in the pan. Let it simmer until the onions are clear. Then, add the spices and cook until the onions are almost a golden brown. Then, add the red peppers and spinach and the rest of the chicken stock.
- While this is simmering, blend the tomatoes, garlic and chickpeas. Add either water or chicken stock to get a creamy consistency.
- Grate the cheese.
- Once the gnocchi is boiled and the veggies are cooked, layer the ingredients in medium sized casserole dish, as follows: gnocchi, sauce, veggies, cheese.
- Bake in the oven at 350f for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
- Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Serves 2-3 and is GREAT the next day for lunch! Serve as a side with salad or soup or as a main.
For me, one of the easiest and satisfying things to make is soup. If you have a steamer and a blender or food processor, then this will really simply your soup-making life!
Since it’s fall (sorry for those that may still be in denial – especially those of you who push it and wear shorts until the first few snow flurries fall from the sky), I wanted to make some butternut squash soup. YUM! Since I try to avoid dairy at all costs, I had to research a way to get that creamy goodness of soup without adding cream. I discovered cauliflower!
But of course!
I also wanted to add some protein and fiber to my soup, so I experimented and added lentils.
With soups, I try to add the ingredients in batches since the ingredients rarely ever all fit into the blender at once. But that was fine…it was definitely worth the extra effort!
I was worried that the soup would lose its sweetnees because of the lentils, but really, it had a nice “earthy” flavour to it and was quite hearty.
Here it is:
Some quick health benefits of lentils, in case you’re dying to know:
- lowers cholesterol
- balances blood sugar
- high in fiber
- full of minerals
- good source of protein
More great benefits are listed here.
So now, I try to incorporate this magical fruit into soups, stews, stir fries, salads, sauces to get my fiber and protein. Every little bit helps, right?
Here’s how to make it…
Butternut Squash and Cauliflower with Lentil Soup
- 1 medium butternut squash, cut in half and cooked with 1 tsp of butter and 1/4 tsp of cinamon in each half
- 1/4 cup of brown lentils – cooked
- 1 cup of cauliflower florets – steamed
- 1 garlic clove – steamed
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 1 cup of water
- 1/4 tsp of chilli flakes
- 1/4 tsp of garam masala
- 1 tsp of all spice
- 2 tsp of coriander
- 1/4 tsp of salt
- 1/4 tsp of pepper
1. Cut a medium sized squash in half and scoop out the gooky stuff in the middle. Add 1/4 tsp of cinamon and 1 tsp of butter to each half. Place the halves in a baking dish with 1 cup of water in the dish so that that squash does not dry out. Bake for 1 hour at 350F.
2. Cook the lentils.
3. Steam 1 cup of cauliflower.
4. When the squash is cooked, scoop out the squash and place in a blender of food processor. Add the cauliflower and lentils, and gradually add enough chicken stock so that it blends.
5. Add garlic, chilli flakes, garam masala, spice, salt and pepper.
6. Blend and serve immediately.
Serves 6 to 8