Recipe: Asaparagus with Lemon and Garlic

What a busy week! Between work, exercising, errands, cooking, writing, socializing, cleaning, commuting, reading and sleeping, I’m spent by Friday. I’m tired just writing this!

If your weeks are anything like mine and even if they’re not (who am I kidding?) you’ll be excited for this recipe. It’s easy and ready within 20 minutes – a fantastic side to any sort of meat dish, too!

Asparagus is great, especially when you buy it fresh. According to this website, here are 8 benefits:

  1. can detoxify our system
  2. has anti-aging functions
  3. is considered an aphrodisiac
  4. can protect against cancer
  5. reduces pain and inflammation
  6. can prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis
  7. reduces the risk of heart disease
  8. can help prevent birth defects

Not too shabby, eh? Since it’s an aphrodisiac, why not load up on this super food with someone special and reap the benefits together. I have to say, asparagus combined with garlic will be the newest power couple in the veggie world. Not only will this make one excellent dish but it’s good for your health, too!

Ingredients:

  • Asparagus (cut ends off and then cut in half)
  • 2 tbsp of butter (organic, unsalted) – melted
  • 1 clove garlic – chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • Chili powder to taste
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Wash and cut the asparagus (make sure you cut those ends off and discard).

Place in a medium-sized baking dish.

In  small bowl, mix the lemon juice, melted butter, spices and garlic (use a whisk if you have one or a fork if you don’t).

Drizzle over the asparagus and cover the dish with tinfoil (shiny side down).

Bake for 15 minutes.

At the half way mark, turn the asparagus using tongs.

Serve as a side dish!

I served mine with coconut chicken (inspired from Thursday’s recipe) mixed with quinoa.

TIP! Combine this GLORIOUS juice with some cornstarch (just add a little at a time until it thickens) in a separate bowl and drizzle over your asparagus.

Serves 2

Cooking time:

Prep: 5 minutes

Baking: 15

Enjoy!

Stay tuned for my next post where I talk about ginger!

Curried Veggie Chickpea Stew

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

Method:

  1. Cook the rice as directed.
  2. In the meantime, in a large sauce pan or pot, heat the olive oil then add the spices. Stir in the oil until fragrant.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the tomatoes, red peppers, and carrots. Let simmer for a few minutes.
  5. 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?

Enjoy!

Baked Salmon and Veggie Stir fry

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

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  2. Put the salmon fillet in a baking dish and pour the water and lemon juice in the base of the dish.
  3. 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

Method:

  1. Prepare the rice or noodles as directed and steam the broccoli.
  2. While that is cooking, heat the oil in medium or large frying pan (whatever you prefer).
  3. 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.
  4. After a few minutes, add the red peppers and stir, then add the carrots and the broccoli (after it has been steamed).
  5. Stir in the soy sauce or liquid aminos and let simmer.
  6. When everything is ready, cut up the salmon and place veggies over the rice and serve.

Serves about 2 people.

Enjoy!

Chickpea Coconut Curry

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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!

Method:

  1. Cook the quinoa as directed.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, the chicpeas and the other ¼ can of coconut milk. Let simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. 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.

Enjoy!

Lunch! Veggie Gnocchi

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!):

Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

  1. Boil the gnocchi according to the cooking instructions on the package. Preheat the oven to 350f.
  2. 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.
  3. While this is simmering, blend the tomatoes, garlic and chickpeas. Add either water or chicken stock to get a creamy consistency.
  4. Grate the cheese.
  5. Once the gnocchi is boiled and the veggies are cooked, layer the ingredients in medium sized casserole dish, as follows: gnocchi, sauce, veggies, cheese.
  6. Bake in the oven at 350f for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
  7. 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.

Enjoy!

Magical Fruit?

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

Method:

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

Enjoy!

Back to Tuna

Today was one of those glorious fall days where it was warm enough to not see your breath but cool enough to have wear cozy layers. If I didn’t have to go to work today, it would have been glorious day to be curled up on my couch with a nice, hot cup of tea and a good book!

I had a few errands to run today after work and ever the multi-tasker, I thought it would be wise to get all of my shopping done before heading home. Did I mention they were calling for a rain storm this evening? I had to go to the dollar store and buy enough plates, cups, napkins and cutlery for 100 people (my Toastmasters club is hosting the Division contest tomorrow!) and then I needed a few things at the grocery store. I was on my way home, when I realized that I had to pick up a parcel from the drug store’s post office. So, in the cold rain, I have a massively awkward box under one arm and in the other, my purse, lunch bag and a huge plastic bag from the Dollar Store. Sometimes I daydream that a devestatingly handsome man will offer to carry my bags home for me. But instead, I get dirty looks from oncoming pedestrians as I take up half the width of the sidewalk because the box that I’m desperately clinging to is large and in charge.

By the time I made it in – I was drenched, hungry and miserable! I knew just the thing to make for dinner…an oldy but a goody… You may know her as Tuna Casserole.

Having fish for dinner tonight really tied in well with my nerdy, internal debate: Flax or Fish oil: Which one is more beneficial? Yes, these are the thoughts that occupy my mind. Scary? Sad? I can’t think of another “s” word so I will end it there. My good friend, who works for an Omega-3 company, informed me that though flax has ALA, which is needed to help convert the omega 3, it has a lower level of DHA and EPA than fish oil. BUT flax has other benefits like fibre and magnesium and aids in the absorption of calcium. BUT the whole point in me taking these oils was to get more Omega 3, so once I’ve finished this flax bottle, it’ll be back to ole fishy oil. UNLESS, I take Omega 3-6-9 capsules and the flax oil to help with the absorption… SEE?! Not straightforward. Or is it?

Back to Tuna.

One thing about me is that, when I’m hungry and tired, I don’t often make the best decisions…

Here is an example:

That’s 2 cups of shell pasta in the smallest pot I own. WHY? I do own other, larger, more useful pots. It all turned out for the best, though, but seriously…seriously.

Back to Tuna.

Here’s how to make the casserole that saved my sanity!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 tsp of oregano, chilli powder, paprika, salt, pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of corriander
  • 2-3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion (cooking or red)
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/2 peeled zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup (packed) spinach
  • 1 can of flaked tuna (packed in water, not oil)
  • 2 cups of brown rice pasta
  • goat’s cheese (cheddar or mozerella), grated
  • sundried tomatoes, chopped

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350f. Then, in  a large pan or skillet, pour the oil until heated. Then add the spices and stir until fragrant. (about 3 minutes). While this is heating, start to boil water for the rice pasta and prepare this on the side. See the above photo! But please, use a larger pot.

2. Add the onions and cook until they start to become transparent.

3. Add the diced tomatoes. Stir in with the onions and spices. Let the tomatoes simmer until they start to become juicy. About 3 minutes.

4. Add the zucchini and stir it in with the tomatoes, spices and onion. After about 3 more minutes, add the spinach and stir in gradually. It will look like this… but as the heat and juices rise up, the spinach with shrink and it will be easier to stir it in. I PROMISE! But you have to be patient!

5. Once the veggies are stirred and the pasta is cooked, you can then add the following to a medium-sized casserole dish: Layer : pasta, tuna, veggies, sundried tomatoes, grated cheese.

6. Bake at 350f for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

The end result should look something like this!

Serve as is or with a side of your choice. This would go well with a salad or even a creamy soup (like cauliflower or something seasonal like butternut squash or sweet potato). This also would have been amazing with a nice glass of merlot…but my hands were way too full to carry anything else home. This weekend, I’ll be sure to stock up!

Serves 2-3.

Total time: 45 minutes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook Time:
Rice Pasta: 20 minutes
Casserole: 10-15 minutes

Enjoy!

I’m back!

September proved to be a very hectic month both personally and professionally. When I wasn’t travelling around for work, I was working hard as the club president of my Toastmasters club, doing a 30 day running challenge with my friend and just trying to catch up on some rest.

Now that things have calmed down and the hoopla is over (for now), I’ve settled into a routine and I’m able to dedicate some time to blogging.

Over the weekend, we had some pretty disgusting weather here in Toronto. Nothing like walking around the city with an armload of groceries while gusts of wind are pushing against you. By the time I got home, I felt like I had a workout!  I was so glad to be home and relax but as soon as I unpacked a few things, I realized that I forgot dish soap and lightbulbs. Since there was enough dish soap left to wash a spoon and 2 out of 3 light bulbs in my kitchen had burnt out, I had to suck it up and get back out there. The fun never ends.

The upside? Yes, there is an upside! Now that the weather is cooler and I don’t need to strategize what time I can cook without melting (I suffered without A/C this summer), I get to bust out my skillet and crock pot and make yummy warm foods without sweating buckets in the kitchen. Like I said, the fun never ends! Stay tuned for new recipes that I’ve been working on for fall.

On Saturday, after running errands and buying groceries, I made myself a nice, veggie lunch. I just bought some Ezekiel bread (the seseame kind) so I decided that I would make myself a sandwich. Then, I realized I had some left over avocado and some cucumber, which would go perfectly.

Here it is in its finished state:

How to make:

Veggie Sandwich

Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • 2 slices of sprouted grain bread toasted (I use Ezekiel).
  • Butter
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Mustard Powder
  • Goat’s Mozerella Cheese
  • Zucchini
  • Sun dried tomatoes

Method

Lightly butter the toasted bread and sprinkle the spices on the melting butter. Add a few slices of zucchini and sundried tomato and some cheese (enough to cover the veggies). Put the second slice of bread on top and broil in the oven at 350F for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Slice in half and enjoy!

Avocado and Cucumber Salad

Ingredients (serves 1 or 2):

  • 1/3 of a cucumber (sliced into small pieces)
  • 1/2 an avocado (sliced into small pieces)
  • Garlic power
  • pepper
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of rice wine vinegar

Method

In a medium sized bowl, toss the cucumber and avocado pieces with the spices, olive oil and rice wine vinegar until coated. Then, chill in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes (this could be done while your sandwich is heating up in the oven). Serve as a side dish or eat as a refreshing snack!

Enjoy!

Just left of leftovers.

What’s so great about leftovers? Especially a mish-mash of veggies sitting in your fridge that don’t quite fit into any other recipe?

You know what?

What?

They’re great for making soup!

The other day, when I was looking through my fridge, I noticed that I had about a handful of spinach, half of a head of cauliflower and a half a bag of baby carrots that weren’t going to eat themselves and I couuldn’t think for the life of me what I could use these for. Then it hit me…I decided to get creative and make a soup out of them. Yes! Genius! I know it’s about 40c here, BUT I couldn’t let these go to waste and it’s SO easy to make soup. Plus, I’m feeling pretty confident these days about my mad cooking skillz so I decided to try out my very own original recipe (though I’m sure someone has made this at some point in time). Anyways, it was easy, and delicious!

If you love creamy soups with a bit of kick, then this will totally be up your alley.

Ingredients:

  • ½ head of cauliflower
  • 1 cup of baby carrots
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 TBSP of chopped ginger
  • 1 TBSP of chopped jalapeno pepper (don’t feel pressure if you don’t like it hot)
  • 1/3 TSP of all spice
  • 1/3 TSP of paprika
  • A pinch of salt or salt to taste
  • 1 cup veg broth or enough to add consistency
  • A dollop of goat cheese (optional, but amazing!)

Method:

  1. Steam the cauliflower, carrots, ginger and jalapeno pepper until soft. Test it by sticking a fork in the carrots and cauliflower.
  2. Add some of the steamed veggies, the spinach and spices to a blender. Slowly add the veggie broth to blend. Slowly add broth and veggies until all ingredients are mixed.
  3. This will be a hot soup, so make sure that your blender or food processor can handle the heat.
  4. Serve immediately and add that dollop of goat cheese and mix it in the soup.

TIP: Freeze extra portions for later!

Serving: Makes about 4-6 cups.

Time: However long it takes to steam your veggies plus 10 minutes of blending.

Enjoy!

Lamb Coconut Curry

One new recipe that I tried recently, is lamb coconut curry. In fact, this was my first time EVER cooking lamb. And you know what, not that different than cooking beef. It was kind of a hybrid between chicken and beef. It was some good times and very easy. This recipe is simple and delicious. I will definitely be including it in my regular rotation.

This website acutally has a ton of great recipes. Don’t be put off by the fact that it is targeted to people with candida, these recipes are nutritious and suit a variety of tastes.

Here’s a pic of my masterpiece:

Enjoy!