Homemade Chocolate Turtles

6 Dec

turtles 1Turtle chocolates are a favourite of many during the holidays. Since December is a time for indulgence, I wanted to try a healthier version of this sweet treat. There are simply 3 ingredients: dates, pecans and chocolate. And unlike most homemade Christmas treats, you don’t even need to turn on the oven or use piles of dishes and utensils (like I always do :-)).

These little delights make great Christmas gifts!

turtles 7

turtles 8

turtles 9

turtles 6

turtles 2

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Homemade Chocolate Turtles

Makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 48 pecan halves
  • 12 medjool dates
  • 3/4 cups chocolate chips, melted (your choice or dark or milk)

Directions:

  1. Cut dates in half lengthwise and remove pits. Shape each piece into a circle with your fingers. Place the date circles on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, sticky side up (see photo above).
  2. Press 2 pecan halves into the center of the date circles (see photo above).
  3. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or in a glass bowl in top of a saucepan with boiling water.
  4. Spoon ½ teaspoon of melted chocolate into the center of the pecans. Place in the freezer for 5 minutes to harden.
  5. Once the chocolate has hardened, flip the turtles over so that the pecans are on the bottom. Coat each turtle with a spoonful of melted chocolate. Repeat with remaining and let cool in freezer for 10 minutes until the chocolate hardens.

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Curried Roasted Chickpeas

15 Nov

Roasted chickpeas 1

Are you snacker like me? Well, I’ve got just the thing for you! Contrary to popular belief, snacking is a healthy practice, as long as you’re choosing the right snacks. These roasted chickpeas are so simple, healthy and most importantly delicious! Once they are roasted, chickpeas become crunchy and flavourful, which makes them the perfect pop-in-your-mouth snack.

The high protein and high fibre benefits of chickpeas help to control hunger by keeping you feeling full and satisfied. Their high amount of soluble fibre helps to reduce cholesterol levels, and they also offer a good dose of both iron and folate.

Pack in airtight containers for work/school lunches or on-the-road snacks. You can also freeze them in an airtight container and re-roast for 5-10 minutes.

Roasted chickpeas 1

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Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • 1 19 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp Camelina oil (or any oil of your choice)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
  2. Pour the rinsed and drained chickpeas onto a tea towel on the counter. Place another tea towel on top and gently roll around until the chickpeas are dry. Transfer the chickpeas to a dry cookie sheet.
  3. Combine the oil and spices in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the chickpeas and stir around until chickpeas are coated. Be sure that the chickpeas are spread evenly on the cookie sheet in a single layer.
  4. Roast until golden and crispy, 25 to 30 minutes, shaking the tray to toss after 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the chickpeas to a serving bowl.

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Cinnamon Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

6 Jul

Chia seed pudding 4Do you remember the days of chia pets? And that commercial that just stuck in your head: Ch-Ch-Ch Chia! Chia seeds are now not only known as a fuzzy green pet, but more recently for their great taste, versatility, and impressive nutritional benefits!

These unprocessed seeds have been around for thousands of years. They come from a flowering plant in the mint family grown in Mexico, and were a staple in the diet of the ancient Mayans and Aztecs. Chia seeds were thought to have magical powers. Aztec soldiers would grind up the seeds and eat them for a boost of energy to sustain them over long periods of time.

Chia seed pudding 2These little seeds — which come in 3 colours: white, dark brown and black — contain a powerhouse of nutrients. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and omega-3 fats. Chia seeds also contain a punch of protein and have a very high fiber content. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 10 grams of fiber (40% of your daily value!),  and 20% daily value for calcium. Unlike flaxseeds, they don’t have to be ground in order for you to absorb the nutrients.

Chia seed pudding 3Chia seeds can absorb up to ten times their own weight in liquid. So, when you put the seeds in some sort of liquid like milk, yogurt or water, they expand and take on a gel-like quality after soaking for just a few hours. Chia seeds are so versatile. I add them to oatmeal, salads, granola and baking.

Chia seed pudding 1

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Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Makes: 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup skim milk (or milk alternative)
  • 1/2 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • any toppings of your choice: fruit, granola, nuts, shaved coconut

Directions:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl, cup or jar. Cover and refrigerate. After 45 minutes, whisk again to disperse any seeds that have settled to the bottom. Cover and refrigerate for 7-8 hours, or overnight. Add toppings and enjoy!

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Oven ‘Fried’ Halibut & Chips with Tartar Sauce

14 Jun

Halibut & CHips 1Fish & chips are a favourite meal for many, especially here on the West Coast where we’re lucky to have access to fresh fish for many months of the year. I love fish and chips just as much as the next person, but I sure don’t like the heaviness of a deep fried batter. S0 the question is… how can we indulge in the texture and flavour that we love with traditional battered fish & chips, but without all of the fat and calories?

Halibut & CHips 3The trick is preparing a flavourful homemade coating, and baking the fish at an extra high heat to help achieve a crispy texture. Adding spices to the breadcrumb mixture adds flavour, and using whole wheat breadcrumbs and flour adds some fiber.

Halibut & CHips 4So out with the bad fats and in with the good fats! Halibut contains a variety of healthy fats, which help increase our good cholesterol levels, helping to prevent against heart disease. The process of deep frying produces unhealthy fats that are not good for the heart.

Halibut & CHips 2

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Oven-Baked Halibut & Chips with Tartar Sauce

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

For the fish:

  • 4 halibut fillets – (1 lb/500 g total) (or any fish of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • lemon wedges for serving

For the Tartar Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dill pickles, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp green pickle relish
  • 1 tsp capers, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Click here for delicious baked yam fries

Directions:

  1. Mix all prepared tartar sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Place oven rack on top shelf. Preheat oven to 500 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil and place a wire rack on top. Spray or brush rack with oil.
  3. Mix together flour, breadcrumbs, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and lemon rind and place in a pie plate or shallow dish. Whisk together egg white and buttermilk and place in a shallow bowl or dish.
  4. Slice fillets into long pieces. One at a time, lightly coat each piece with the breadcrumb mixture, then dip into buttermilk mixture, then coat with breadcrumb mixture again. Place on cooking rack.
  5. Spray or brush prepared fish with oil. This step is essential for crispy fish. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until coating is golden coloured. Serve with tartar sauce.

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Lightened Up Pad Thai

25 May

pad thaiPad thai, Thailand’s most famous noodle dish is the perfect balance of salty, sour, sweet and spicy. It’s really tough to beat! When I go out for Thai food I, without fail, always order the pad thai. But after thoroughly enjoying every bite…crumb…speck on the plate, I usually end up with a stomach ache, and am guzzling water for the rest of the day – a result of the rich, creamy sauce and mounds of sodium. That is why pad thai is one of my favourite food makeovers!

pad thai 2Firstly, I only used a very small amount of oil, a bit for sauteing the onions and garlic, and a bit for the sauce. I used brown rice noodles instead of white rice noodles, and my favourite trick of course, I added plenty of vegetables!

You can swap the shrimp or tofu for a different protein like chicken or eggs. And those who can’t tolerate gluten would just need to modify the sauce, as the noodles are naturally gluten free.

pad thai 3

 

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Lightened Up Pad Thai

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp grated gingeroot
  • 200 g (8 oz) dried wide brown rice noodles
  • 2 tsp cooking oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 10 uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 2 medium zucchini, grated
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup peanuts (unsalted)
  • 1 fresh lime

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine all sauce ingredients and set aside.
  2. Place rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak for ~7 minutes. Drain. (Be careful not to oversoak).
  3. Heat cooking oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are tender. Add tofu and shrimp. Cook shrimp until no longer pink. Cook tofu until each side is light brown and crispy. Add noodles, sauce, carrots, zucchini, bean sprouts and green onions. Continue to saute until mixture is hot. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, fresh lime juice and serve.

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Overnight, Slow Cooker, Maple Banana Steel-Cut Oatmeal

3 May

oatmeal 1How would you like it if your breakfast was being prepared while you were sleeping?  I thought this would be an appropriate time to share with you my favorite breakfast! Tomorrow I’m running the BMO Vancouver Marathon, and this is certainly the type of hearty breakfast that I need to get me through a 4 hour run. I just love waking up to the scrumptious smell of cinnamon and maple syrup. In other words, let your slow cooker do all the work while you get your beauty sleep =)

Make this oatmeal your own by adding all of your favourite toppings including: any type of nut/nut butter, seed, dried fruit, fresh fruit, dried coconut flakes, cocoa powder, different types of milk (coconut milk is delicious!). You may even look so forward to it that you’ll be jumping out of bed when the alarm goes off at 6:oo am.

oatmeal 3So what’s all the hype about steel-cut oats as opposed to quick oats or old fashioned/rolled oats? Steel cut oats are the least processed of them all. They’re whole oats that have been cut by steel blades into small pieces. Old-fashioned/rolled oats are steamed and rolled/flattened, allowing them to be cooked and digested faster. Quick-cook oats are cut into small pieces before being steamed and rolled. This means they only take 5 minutes to cook. Because the steel-cut oats are minimally processed, they take longer to digest, meaning that they’ll keep you feeling fuller for longer, and they have a lower glycemic index. In general, oats are high in fiber and can even reduce cholesterol and control blood pressure.

oatmeal 2

 

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Overnight, Slow Cooker, Maple Banana Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 3.5 cups skim milk (can use any type of milk you like such as coconut, almond, etc)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cups raisins
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 bananas

Directions:

  1. Coat the slow cooker with cooking spray or butter to prevent the oatmeal from sticking.
  2. Put all of the ingredients except the raisins and bananas into the slow cooker, stir, and put the lid on. Set it to the low temperature and cook for 7-9 hours.
  3. In the morning, add the raisins, fresh banana slices and any of your favourite toppings. I usually sprinkle on some chia and hemp seeds. The leftover oatmeal can be portioned into containers and refrigerated to be reheated and enjoyed for 3-4 days.

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Healthy “Fried” Rice

21 Apr

asian fried rice 2

This recipe was featured in the Huffington Post

Most people don’t associate the words “fried” and “healthy,” but with a few simple modifications, fried rice CAN actually be healthy!

asian fried rice 4Restaurants typically make fried rice by adding white rice to a skillet full of oil, and frying it to get a crispy texture and tossing in a few vegetables. I used higher fibre brown rice, added loads of vegetables, aiming for more vegetables than rice, and sauteed the vegetables in a small amount of omega-3-rich cooking oil. You can also substitute the egg for another protein food such as chicken or tofu. Fibre + protein + healthy fat + plenty of vitamins and minerals = the perfect main course or side dish!

asian fried rice 5I was tempted to call this dish “Fridge Cleaner Fried Rice” because that’s basically what it is. It’s a great way to use up those extra vegetables in your fridge before they spoil. You know, that 1/2 a red pepper and lonely onion just chillin’ in the chiller…

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Healthy “Fried” Rice

Makes approximately 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 whole eggs
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice (I used parboiled brown rice)
  • 3 tsp flaxseed cooking oil, divided (or any cooking oil of your choice)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 6 button mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 cup broccoli, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cauliflower, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2  cup corn
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce

Directions:

  1. Cook brown rice according to package directions.
  2. Whisk together eggs in a small bowl. Heat an 8-inch skillet and drizzle with 1 tsp of oil. Add eggs and cook as you would an omelette (without stirring) until the underside is cooked. Then flip over and cook the other side. Remove the egg and chop into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining 2 tsp of oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Saute onions, garlic, mushrooms, and ginger, until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes.  Add broccoli, cauliflower, carrot and bell pepper and saute for about 5 more minutes. Add peas and corn and cook until just heated through. Stir in cooked rice, egg, green onions, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and rice vinegar. Mix together until all ingredients are heated through.

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Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

6 Apr

Viet spring rolls 5This recipe was featured in the Huffington Post

Spring is upon us, and I cannot think of a better way to embrace it than with these Vietnamese spring rolls!  They’re not only super tasty, but also healthy and packed with layers of flavoursome, crunch. They’re also a refreshing change from the usual fried spring rolls. They’re great as a cool summertime appetizer, or even as a main dish, especially when dipped in this homemade zesty peanut sauce.

Viet spring rolls 3Spring rolls are so versatile because you can put whatever you want in them. And they’re a great way to use up use up veggies in your fridge. Instead of prawns, try chicken or tofu. And for an extra punch of colour try thinly sliced roasted beets, or braised purple cabbage. Switch up the greens by adding different types of lettuce or even cilantro.

Viet spring rolls2

Viet spring rolls 4

Viet spring rolls 6_________________________________________________________________________________

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Source: Carolyn Berry

*Makes 8 rolls

Ingredients

For the rolls:

  • 8 (8-1/2-inch) round rice paper wrappers
  • 4 oz brown rice vermicelli noodles
  • 8 large cooked shrimp – peeled, deveined and cut in half OR 24 small cooked shrimp
  • 1 avocado, sliced lengthwise
  • 16 fresh basil leaves(2 for each roll)
  • 16 fresh mint leaves (2 for each roll)
  • 1 small bunch spinach
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced very thin and seeds removed. Length should be ~5 inches long (I used approx 1/3 of the cucumber)
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced very thin
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced very thin
  • 1 carrot, sliced very thin (~5 inches long)

For the peanut sauce:

  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 tsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp thai chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp warm water

Directions

For the rolls

  1. Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Arrange all prepared salad roll ingredients on a large plate or tray.
  3.  Fill a medium frying pan or wide, shallow dish large enough to hold the rice paper wrappers with hot tap water. Completely submerge 1 wrapper at a time until it is soft and pliable, about 15 seconds. Remove the wrapper from the water and place it on a large cutting board.
  4. Click here for a step-by-step tutorial with pictures. On the bottom center of the rice paper place 2 shrimp halves beside each other, cut side up,  leaving about 1 inch of space on each side. Layer a few sticks of carrots, red and yellow peppers, and cucumber on top of the shrimp. Then add 1/4 cup of the rice noodles over the vegetables, followed by a few bean sprouts, 2 of the mint leaves, 2 of the basil leaves, and 2 large spinach leaves. Add in 1 slice of avocado wherever it fits.
  5. Fold the bottom half of the rice paper wrapper over the filling. Holding the whole thing firmly in place, fold the sides of the wrapper in. Then, pressing firmly down to hold the folds in place, roll the entire wrapper horizontally up from the bottom to the top.
  6. If not serving immediately, keep the rolls tightly covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 hours. Serve with the peanut sauce for dipping.

For the peanut sauce:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.  Add more warm water if needed to achieve your desired consistency.

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Beet Pesto Pasta

23 Mar

beet pesto pasta 2

This recipe was featured in the Huffington Post

This may be the first time I’ve used the word “stunning” or “striking” to describe a pasta dish, but ohh wow, look at that colour!!

This dish gets me really excited! Many pasta sauces are high in salt (tomato-based sauces) or high in fat (creamy based sauces), but not this one, thanks to the beets.

beet pesto pastaBeet’s high natural sugar content satisfyingly sweetens soups, salads, and even desserts! You can also eat them raw (juiced or grated into salads), baked, steamed, pickled (and check out this delicious beetroot hummus). But what’s sweeter is the incredible nutrition they boast. Beets are packed with fibre, vitamins, minerals and unique plant derived antioxidants. They also have special anti-inflammatory properties that can help fight heart disease and certain cancers.  Beets also act as detoxifiers on the liver  Can’t beet that!

beet pesto pasta 3

Did you know that beets were originally grown only for their leaves? Their edible leaves can be prepared just like Swiss chard or spinach. Like the root, they’re also rich in nutrients.

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Beet Pesto Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb red beets (4-5 medium), trimmed and scrubbed
  • 1 bulb garlic, slice the top off to expose all of the cloves
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup roasted pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (I used flaxseed oil)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 lb (450 g) whole wheat spaghetti (or any other pasta)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle beets and garlic clove with oil. Individually wrap tightly in foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Remove from oven, remove foil and let cool. Peel skin off beets with fingers (or a peeler) and coarsely chop. Remove the roasted garlic from the clove.
  2. In a food processor combine roasted beets, garlic, oil, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Pulse until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and return to pot.
  4. Toss pasta with the beet mixture. Garnish with pine nuts, parmesan cheese and fresh dill.

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Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread

16 Mar

irish soda 1In honour of St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make a loaf of rustic Irish soda bread. This traditional Irish loaf is moist, extremely dense, and unmistakably satisfying. It’s also incredibly easy to make! With no yeast or rising time required, and minimal kneading time, it only took me 10 minutes to throw everything together and into the oven it went.

irish soda 2The currants give a subtle sweetness and the wheat flour, wheat bran and flaxseeds add heartiness (and fibre too, of course). Add grated cheese and chives for a different flavour combination, or swap the currants for raisins, cranberries or chopped apricots. Serve alongside a bowl of steaming stew, with a smear of butter or jam, or……….with a mug of green beer =)  Cheers!

irish soda 3

 

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Irish Soda Bread

Source: Carolyn Berry

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran or oat bran
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cold butter
  • 3/4 cup dried currants
  • 1-1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp milk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Stir together the flours, wheat bran, flaxseed, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter. When the butter pieces are about the size of green peas, add the currants and stir. Add the buttermilk and stir only until all the ingredients are combined (do not overmix).
  3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly until it is smooth. Form into a flattened ball, about 2 inches high. Place the dough on a greased baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the milk over the top and sides of the dough. With a sharp knife, cut an “X” on the top (not all the way to the edges), about 1/4 inch deep.
  4. Place in the oven and bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, approximately 30-35 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven, cool slightly on a rack. Serve warm.

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