Festive Winter Salad with Winter Spice Seasoning

Festive Winter Salad with Winter Spice Seasoning

It’s the holiday season and with this season comes all the fun, hustle and bustle that’s associated with it, notice I included fun, because if you’re not having fun why do it!?

Food! That’s what any holiday revolves around, but who wants to spend all their time in the kitchen? I was sponsored by FeedFeed and Vitamix to share the newest addition to the Vitamix family – the Ascent series.  This new series is just as great as the other blenders in the Vitamix world but with some extra added tech – a touch interface, digital readout and programmable timer. The Ascent 3500 comes with 5 program settings: smoothies, frozen desserts, soups, spreads and self cleaning – it takes the guess work and time out of trying to figure out how long and what speed to use. All you do is add in your ingredients, set the timer, press start and off you go, giving you less stress and more time to have fun!! Visit Vitamix for more information about this blender and the others in the Ascent lineup. Included with the blender is a beautiful recipe book full of tempting creations that you can make using the blender.

Vitamix has an amazing new spice recipe that is perfect for the winter holiday season, bringing all the spices and flavours we associate with winter together in one versatile blend – Winter Spice Seasoning.  The combination of flavours in this blend smell so good, I have opened my mix and just smelling -mmmmmmmmmm getting in the festive mood just from the smell. You may need to make a trip to your local Bulk Barn for some of these ingredients in the amounts you need, nut the trip will be well worth it. This versatile blend can be used in a variety of dishes from poultry to pasta to spicing up your potatoes – so many possibilities but of course I opted to make a dressing for…yep you guessed it, a salad!

 

You know how much I love my salads and getting creative with my own dressings to dress them up so what better way for me to showcase this great new blend. Making your own dressing does take a couple of extra minutes but the benefits of knowing exactly what is in your dressing is so worth the time and energy, plus you get to customize the amount of salt, spice and flavours to your preference. This spice blend made me think of a light and creamy sauce mixed in a bowl of greens with my favourite winter ingredients.

Festive Winter Salad

  • mixed field greens
  • chopped cucumbers
  • chopped tomatoes
  • chopped red onion
  • butternut squash spirals (sautéed in ghee, sea salt and black pepper)
  • micro greens
  • pomegranate arils
  • raw pumpkin seeds
  • crumbled cranberry goat cheese (*optional)

Layer all the above ingredients and add the Winter Festive dressing a little at a time, toss well, taste and add more dressing as needed.

* addition of goat cheese is optional can be substituted with just cranberries

Festive Winter Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. plain full fat yogurt (*optional)
  • 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. Winter Spice Seasoning 

Add everything into the blender and blend for 30 seconds till everything is well combined.

 

Winter Spice Seasoning Blend:

I made this blend at home and found all the ingredients that I didn’t have in my kitchen at my local Bulk Barn, best part was I could control the amounts I purchased – I don’t often use candied ginger so just needed enough for the recipe. Due to my dietary restrictions I subbed the brown sugar with coconut sugar which works better for me and my body, recipe can be altered to meet your personal needs and tastes but try to stay as close to the original as possible.

Recipe for the Winter Spice Seasoning blend can be found here.

With this scrumptious smelling blend in my kitchen I decided to experiment with it and added it to my homemade cashew milk, base recipe for the milk is here and I added 1/2 tsp of the winter spice blend instead of the salt (you can add more or less according to your personal preference) – such a decadent treat on its own warmed up with a stick of cinnamon in the cup 😉

Since I had this fresh festive cashew milk and it was late afternoon the obvious thing for me to do was to add it into my afternoon matcha latte creating a festive matcha latte – oh my, so good!

Festive Matcha Latte:

  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup festive cashew milk (see above)
  • sweetener of choice (optional)

Add matcha powder to mug, pour in boiling water and stir well.

Heat cashew milk and add to mug of matcha.

You can use either a hand frother, a frother or a blender to mix up the drink.

Sprinkle on some cinnamon.

You have the perfect afternoon pick me up, full of natural energy and antioxidants! More benefits of matcha to follow soon…

 

Needless to say I had a fun time experimenting with this blend, just smelling it puts me into a festive mood.  With so many possibilities of where and how to incorporate this blend flowing around my head there will be more fun recipes and creations to come 🙂

One of my New Year goals is to get back to blogging more and sharing recipes, health tips and health products with you – stay tuned. Thanks for hanging in here with me.

Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season and all the best for the New Year!

xo

 

Vegetables in the Winter

Boy it’s cold outside, and we have another 6 weeks of winter to look forward to!

I find that I have a harder time getting my full daily servings of vegetables in my diet during the winter months, all I want to eat are warm comfort foods – cold salads and smoothies just don’t do. I am trying to make more of an effort to incorporate sautéed and roasted vegetables into my meals to make up for the lack of greens and coloured vegetables that I eat more of in the summer months. The best part is that you can prep and cook vegetables and enjoy leftovers for a couple of days, great for meal prep time.

My favourite is to toss some seasonings on vegetables and roast them in the oven. With some items requiring less time than others I add different items at different times (estimating the extra time required) and by the end they are all perfectly done and ready to enjoy. Try to avoid over roasting them – soft, limp veggies are just no fun!

I’ve also been trying to get more creative with my vegetable selections, the above tray has roasted: sweet potatoes, fennel, Brussel sprouts, beets and okra. Don’t be afraid to try something outside your comfort zone, as I tell my kids – you’ll never know till you try it.

I love to use leftover roasted vegetables to make Goodness bowls for a quick meal.

Goodness bowls are a great lunch or dinner idea, add a bottom layer of greens, then add in a layer of whole grains (this bowl had ancient grains) add in your warm roasted vegetables, you can add a protein and drizzle on a favourite dressing. Your dressings can be home-made or ready-made, in the above bowl I used an avocado jalapeño lime dressing that I made – recipe at the end of this post.

Get creative and have fun with your vegetables, the more variety you add the less likely you’ll be of getting bored with the meals.

A few warm vegetable recipes to follow:

 

Roasted Vegetable Platter:

Cauliflower “Steaks”:

  • olive oil
  • Montreal steak spice
  • garlic powder
  • sea salt

Parmesan Carrot “Fries”:

  • olive oil
  • dried garlic and herb seasoning
  • parmesan cheese

Roasted Vegetables:

  • sugar snap peas, red pepper and red cabbage
  • Sirracha pink salt
  • minced garlic

Oil and season the vegetables separately and place them on a lined baking tray. Roast in the oven at 400ºF for 15 minutes, gently turn over the cauliflower steak and toss the other vegetables half way through cooking time. Return pan back to oven and continue roasting for an extra 10 minutes.

** you do not need to use the same seasoning I did, use combinations you enjoy, and don’t be afraid to experiment with new flavours.

Skillet Vegetables:

Another fun way to prepare veggies on a cold winter day – skillet fried. Wash and chop up some of your favourite vegetables and sauté them in a skillet.

In the above picture I used:

  • sweet potatoes
  • carrots
  • Brussel sprouts
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • red onion

Heat skillet and add 1 tbsp. coconut oil or ghee, add fresh minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute,  add in your vegetables and sauté.  Add in your seasoning of choice (I used sea salt, black pepper and dried basil) and continue to sauté till the vegetables are cooked to your preference.

Enjoy the vegetables on their own or as a side dish with some lean protein.

Avocado Jalapeno Lime Dressing:

  • 1 avocado
  • 2-3 jalapeno slices ( more or less to taste)
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients into a blender and pulse till smooth.

 

REMEMBER: get creative, have fun and the more varied colours of vegetables you include the more phytochemicals your body receives to help fight off infections and free radical damage. Refer to Eat The Rainbow for more information about the antioxidant properties of various coloured fruits and vegetables.

 

 

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

Sometimes it’s the easy recipes that turn out the best. You don’t need to over think what ingredients to add just think about flavour profiles that you like best and go from there.

This recipe came about because I had some extra cilantro that I wanted to use up before it went bad. I know that I love the combination of cilantro and lime so I thought I would mix the two flavours with some spice.

I’m the only one in my family that enjoys seafood, especially shrimp so the recipe was designed for 2 servings (I’m a big fan of leftovers 😉 but amounts can be adjusted to suit you.

These were so versatile, they could be eaten on their own, added into a pasta, enjoyed on top of rice, or added into a Buddha bowl (recipe below)- endless possibilities.

Give this easy recipe a try and let me know what you think.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp:

  • 15-20 shrimps (mine were pre-cooked and I removed the tails, if you use fresh you will have to cook them for a little longer)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil (I used one that is garlic infused)
  • 1 green onion chopped fine
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp. chopped cilantro (More or less to taste)
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 1/2 -1 fresh lime juiced

20161104_132633-1

Heat oil in skillet and add in garlic and onions, sautee till onions are translucent.

Add in shrimp and sautee till heated through and cooked.

Add in fresh spinach, lime juice, salt and cayenne, toss till everything is mixed and spinach is cooked.

Add in cilantro and remove from heat.

Enjoy!

 

Cilantro Lime Buddha Bowl:

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa grains
  • Cilantro lime shrimp (recipe above)
  • Baked asparagus, sweet potatoes, broccoli, grape tomatoes – marinate with fresh lime juice, garlic and tex-mex seasoning. Bake in the oven at ° for 20 minutes, turning it all halfway through cooking time.

Add everything into a bowl, top with some crumbled feta cheese and fresh chopped cilantro.

Enjoy!

Cilantro Lime Buddah Bowl

 

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Hi everyone, sorry its been such a long time since I shared anything here, its been a pretty crazy couple of months, but hopefully things are slowing down a little and I can get back to sharing recipes and health tips more routinely with you.

The weather is cooling down on this side of the world, and as soothing and comforting a warm bowl of soup tastes on a cold day, we should still try to include fresh salads with lots of raw vegetables. Our bodies absorb nutrients better from some vegetables when they are raw and others when they are cooked. The best way to ensure you’re getting the most absorbable nutrients is to try and incorporate a variety of vegetables (in a variety of colours) into your meals daily – both raw and cooked. Remember when cooking your vegetables the best methods are steamed and quick boil, refrain from deep frying and over boiling the vegetables.

Here is a list of some vegetables that release more nutrients when consumed raw:

  • beets
  • broccoli
  • onions
  • red peppers

Vegetables that release more nutrients when consumed cooked:

  • asparagus
  • mushrooms
  • spinach
  • tomatoes
  • carrots

For more information about cooked vegetables vs raw click here.

This salad is a delicious way to enjoy some fresh raw vegetables and high fiber beans and corn.

Black Bean and Corn Salad:

Salad:

  • 1 can black beans rinsed
  • 1 can corn niblets rinsed (or 1 1/2 cup fresh corn sliced off the cobb)
  • 1/4 red pepper chopped
  • 1/4 yellow pepper chopped
  • 1/4 red onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach

Toss everything together well

Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 limes juiced
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (or oil of choice)
  • 1 fresh garlic clove minced
  • 1 tsp. Tex-Mex seasoning
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Whisk dressing ingredients together well and pour over salad. Toss well till everything is combined.

Place the bowl in the fridge for at least 1/2 an hour to allow all the favours to combine and settle.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Enjoy.

 

 

Grilled Chicken and a Light Creamy Pasta

Grilled Chicken and a Light Creamy Pasta

1471309951290Sometimes a nice creamy bowl of pasta is just calling your name, and there is no reason why you can’t indulge guilt free.

As time goes on I have noticed that the family seems more and more willing to try to enjoy the same foods I do, which is really just modified versions of what they eat. The other night we were all craving pasta so I decided to have them try my light cream sauce, and they loved it! They had their regular pasta and I had mine on a gluten-free quinoa pasta but it was the same sauce for all! Next we try the same pasta for all 😉

We added some grilled chicken for protein and a side salad – it was a complete meal enjoyed by all.

Grilled Chicken:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together and marinate the chicken breasts. Let rest at least 30 minutes.

Bake the chicken in the oven at 375° F for 20 – 25 minutes.

Let the chicken cool, slice into thin strips.20160908_164303

Light Cream Sauce:

  • 1 green onion chopped fine
  • 1-2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • salt to taste
  • sliced grape tomatoes
  • chopped red pepper
  • cooked pasta of choice

Heat oil in skillet and add in green onions and garlic, sautée till translucent.

20160908_164241

 

Whisk in the cream cheese and broth till smooth, stir in yogurt and spices and continue whisking. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil and add the fresh spinach. Reduce heat and allow the sauce to simmer till spinach is cooked.

Add sauce to cooked pasta, sliced tomatoes and chopped red pepper, toss well till coated.

20160908_164348

Transfer desired amount of pasta to a plate, top with sliced chicken and fresh basil.

Enjoy!!

 

 

Pistachio and Seed Brittle

Pistachio and Seed Brittle

We love eating nuts in our house, we enjoy them raw, in our baked goods, in our trail mixes and mixed into our foods. I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to incorporate these nutrient rich nuts into our foods.

One of my favourite treats are nut brittle, crunchy sweetened nuts…yum what could be better? I came across a recipe for a nut brittle and adjusted it to add in some extra goodness with sesame seeds and chia seeds (read here for more information on benefits of chia seeds). the result was a delicious treat that could be munched on or added on top of yogurts, parfaits, cereal and smoothie bowls!

Give this simple and delicious recipe a try, you’re going to love it. We ended eating up most of this right away, the kids couldn’t stop snacking on them!

Pistachio and Seed Brittle:

  • 1 cup raw pistachios
  • 2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp. chia seeds
  • 2 tsp. hemp hearts
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. raw honey

Add raw pistachios to a heated skillet and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, keep stirring to prevent burning.

Add in chia and sesame seeds, continue to cook for another minute or 2. Add in cinnamon powder and vanilla, mix everything together well then add in hemp hearts and honey.

Mix well till everything is well coated. Reduce the temperature to low and cook for an extra minute till all the liquid is dry and the seeds and nuts are stuck together.

Remove from heat and let the brittle cool for 2-3 minutes. Remove brittle from pan and transfer onto a sheet of wax paper and let it cool completely.

Once the brittle has cooled down, break it into desired size pieces and store it in an air tight container.

Give this a try and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

Yerba Mate Tea

20160816_121111

I was recently introduced to Yerba mate tea and have been trying to learn more about all the health benefits of drinking this tea. The more I learn the more I want to drink it and now I want to share it with you.

Yerba maté is said to “contain the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea and the euphoria of chocolate” (1) It’s a great all in one drink that can be enjoyed daily.

Yerba maté (also referred to as mate) is made up of dried leaves of an evergreen holly shrub that is local to Central and South America and has been used for centuries to treat people from all types of alignments from fatigue to a weakened immune system. Yerba maté has caffeine and is a known stimulant, but the chemical compounds makes this one of the most balanced stimulants providing smooth energy increases and nutritional benefits.

Benefits of Drinking Yerba Mate tea:

  • provides a gentle increase in energy ( not an immediate spike)
  • can increase brain activity and mental clarity
  • loaded with 24 vitamins and minerals and 15 amino acids (more below)
  • has a large amount of antioxidant and polyphenol content
  • helps strengthen the immune system
  • can aid in weight loss
  • used to help with digestive issues
  • helps strengthen bones
  • heart health
  • a nerve tonic for pain, fatigue and depression
  • can aid in destroying certain cancer cells

Vitamins and Minerals found in Yerba Mate tea:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5
  • vitamin E
  • calcium
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • manganese
  • phosphorus
  • potassium
  • selenium
  • sodium
  • sulfur
  • zinc

As with anything in life too much of anything may cause side effects, and remember what works for one person may not work for another. BUT, saying that, with all the benefits associated with this tea I recommend giving it a try to see if it works for you.

This tea can be brewed and enjoyed hot or cold, and can be sweetened to your personal preference.

I got this beautiful tea infusing bottle and a bag of Yerba Mate tea to enjoy, and have fallen in love. All I have to do is fill the infuser compartment half full with tea leaves and seal the bottom of the bottle, then I fill the rest with water. I let it sit for an hour and start sipping from it. The best part is that I can keep refilling the bottle with fresh water throughout the day and I still get the great flavour and amazing benefits, just a little more diluted. The beautiful glass bottle is easy to transport and fits right into my bag and car cup holder.

20160816_121019

Visit H2Yerba for more information about Yerba Mate tea and how you can order a bottle like the one I am enjoying.

Use coupon code “Health15” for a great introductory price to help you get started.

Let me know what you think.

Please note that all products that I share and promote on this page are products that I use and feel that you would benefit from as well.

Fiesta Chicken

Fiesta Chicken

With our crazy, busy lives I am always on the look out for new recipes that are quick, easy and family approved, this one inspired by my friend Fit SlowCooker Queen  fit the bill perfectly. Visit her page for the original recipe, which I had to make adjustments to because I hadn’t gone to the grocery store first.

If you have a slow cooker you absolutely have to try this recipe, its so versatile and can be used in different ways throughout the week. We’ve enjoyed it on top of brown rice, in quesadillas and finally wrapped into croissants for lunch. Awesome for meal prep, get creative.

Fiesta Chicken:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 onion sliced
  • 1 15oz can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cup corn kernels (canned, frozen or fresh off the cob)
  • 2 tbsp. Tex Mex seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 lime juiced
  • 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro

Add the can of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste to the bottom of the slow cooker pan, place rinsed chicken breasts on top. Add in all other ingredients except for the lime juice and cilantro. Cook on high for 3.5 hours or low for 6. once cooked, shred the chicken with a fork and add in the fresh lime juice and cilantro.

As I mentioned above this versatile dish can be used in a variety of dishes, we enjoyed it served on rice, in a quesadilla and stuffed into croissants.

fiesta chicken stuffed croissants

fiesta chicken croissants

 

fiesta chicken quesadilla
fiesta chicken quesadilla

Did You Know … Chia Seeds are a Nutritional Powerhouse

Did You Know … Chia Seeds are a Nutritional Powerhouse

Chia Seeds - Nutrtional Powerhouse

Chia seeds are referred to as a nutritional powerhouse due their high nutritional content. These little seeds are loaded with fiber and are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids and so much more.

Chia seeds can also be used in a vegan diet as a substitute for eggs and butter.

These little seeds can be added into our daily foods, add them into your smoothies, your salads, onto your toast and your oats. They are very hydrating so add some into your water bottles for the day or after an intense workout. These seeds can be used to make a natural fruit jam in place of pectin or added into your baked goods, granola bars, granola and homemade snacks. You can add them right into your overnight oats, which is one of my favourite ways to enjoy them. The possibilities are endless.

Please note, as with everything we eat moderation is key, too much of anything (even a superfood) is not a good thing.

Including chia seeds in your diet can:

  • Help control appetite
  • Balance blood sugar levels
  • Lower cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Helps control sugar cravings
  • Aid in digestion and weight loss goals
  • Provide high amounts of antioxidants and strengthens the immune system
  • Improve memory and mental clarity
  • Help cleanse the colon
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Help maintain healthy hair, skin and nails

These little seeds are jammed packed with an abundance of nutrients and contain more vitamins and minerals then many of the common foods we eat.

Chia seeds have:

  • 15 times more magnesium then broccoli
  • 8 times more omega-3 then wild salmon
  • 7 times more vitamin C then oranges
  • 6 times more protein then kidney beans
  • 5 times more calcium then milk
  • 3 times more iron the spinach
  • 3 times more antioxidants then blueberries

So get creative and have fun with these powerful seeds.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream Cake

Dark Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream Cake

 

dark chocolate cherry ice cream cake

Over the years, many people have approached me and said that they feel bad that I don’t get to eat desserts and that I am missing out. I reply that I’m not missing out at all, I do enjoy a variety of wonderful desserts and the best part is they are guilt free and they leave me feeling great. Healthier desserts do take a little prep work and time, but hey I’m worth it and so are you!!

Here is an example of one of those great desserts – a delicious ice cream cake that I created and the entire family enjoyed.

I have said this before but eating healthy can be fun and delicious – just get creative and have fun!

This ice cream cake is delicious, especially now during these hot summer days and the amazing cherries that are available.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream Cake:

Chocolate Base Layer:

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup dates (softened in water)
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp hemp hearts
    Put all ingredients in your the blender and pulse till smooth.
    Add mixture to the base of an individual spring form pan or use silicone muffin cup liners in a muffin cup pan. Press down firmly.

Ice cream cherry  layer:

  • 1 chopped frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup dates (soaked and softened)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
    Add everything into a blender and pulse till smooth.
    Fold in chopped cherries
    Pour ice cream mix over ready bases. Add a few chopped cherries over the middle.
    Place the pan in the freezer for 2 hours.

Raw chocolate sauce: Dark choc

  • 1 tbsp. melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
    Mix everything together till smooth.
    Remove pan from freezer, drizzle raw chocolate sauce over the top of the cherries and cake.
    Return back to the freezer till ready to enjoy!

Will make 1 small 6″ cake or 4 individual cakes (muffin cup portion)

This ice cream cake was approved by the whole family, give it a try and let me know what you think.