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.

 

 

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.

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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.

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

Enjoy!!

 

 

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

Cold Spring Rolls

Cold Spring Rolls

Summertime fun all wrapped up!

A refreshing way to add vegetables and a variety of colours to your diet – get creative and have fun.

These colourful fresh rolls are a favourite appetizer (sometimes meal) of mine and I’m sure you’re going to love them as well. They make a great addition to summer BBQs and picnics.

Cold spring rolls are easy to make and so versatile, you can add in any ingredients that you have on hand and they always turn out delicious. All you need to do is a little chop, chop, chopping and the rest is easy. The rice paper wraps are a little sticky to work with, just be gentle and patient with them and I’m sure you’ll get the hang of rolling them. I have included a quick video clip below to show how I wrap them. These can stay in the fridge for a day or two as long as they are tightly sealed.

I have made a few different versions of these depending on what ingredients I find in my fridge, some include chicken, some shrimp and some are just filled with vegetables. A few different examples are shared below, but you can add in or delete ingredients to your personal preference. Dipping these rolls into a sauce just makes them even more delicious, below I have included 3 different dipping sauces I have made and loved.

The first thing to do is collect your vegetables and cut them into long, thin pieces, also if you are using noodles or a protein, prep and cool them first.

I bought a pack of rice paper wrappers at my local Asian market and they have lasted me a while. The rice paper wraps are hard and need to be soaked in a shallow bowl of water for about 10-15 seconds until softened. Once softened, handle them with care, they can rip easily. I usually soak one at a time, then stuff and wrap it before soaking the next one.

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Add your fillings into the middle of the wrap leaving room at the edges.

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Gently roll the wrap at the sides, then from the bottom, try to roll them as tight as you can keeping the wrap sealed at the edges.

 

Here are a few of the different variations that I have made and enjoyed:

Cold Spring Rolls

These were stuffed with:

  • fresh mint leaves
  • sliced red pepper
  • sliced carrots
  • sliced green onions
  • sliced cucumbers
  • chopped spinach
  • lemon pepper shrimp (sliced in half lengthwise)

 

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These were stuffed with:

  • chopped Romain lettuce
  • sliced carrots
  • sliced green onions
  • sliced cucumbers
  • shredded Sriracha chicken

 

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These were stuffed with:

  • sliced avocado
  • sliced spring onions
  • sliced yellow peppers
  • sliced carrots
  • chopped spinach
  • fresh mint
  • spinach rice noodles
  • cooked shrimp (sliced lengthwise)

 

Combination possibilities are endless…

 

Dipping Sauces:

Peanut Ginger Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. ginger powder
  • 1 -2 tsp Sriracha sauce (to taste)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil,
  • 1 -2 tbsp. water

Mix together well till smooth.

Creamy Spicy Sauce:

  • 1 -2 tsp. Sriracha sauce (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp. plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Mix well till smooth

Sweet and Spicy Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1-2 tsp. Sriracha sauce (to taste)
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar (or white or apple cider will work as well)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground garlic
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (optional)

Add all the ingredients into a sauce pan and heat on lower till sauce thickens.

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Enjoy!

Note: * foodfitnesshealth.ig was my previous Instagram name, all pictures are mine 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Bit of Everything BBQ Platter

Everything BBQ Platter

Sometimes its fun mixing everything together, all the flavours and textures and seeing how it all works together. Get creative and don’t be afraid to take a chance in the kitchen.

We had a BBQ for dinner the other night and I decided to take everything we were having and mixing it together on a bed of greens. The result was amazing. Fun way to enjoy delicious flavours. Since I was fasting I had been planning the sides all day and loved how they all turned out 😉

I’ll break down the individual components that I used, but really you can add in anything you’re having – just have fun and get creative.

Little Bit of Everything BBQ Platter:

A bed of mixed greens topped with:

Grilled Chicken

  • marinated with: garlic, ginger, lemon juice and spicy lime seasoning
  • grilled on the BBQ or oven
  • sliced

Spicy Sautéed Vegetables

  • you can use whatever vegetables you have, I used a combination of yellow pepper, red peppers, sugar snap peas and onions
  • sautéed in a little olive oil and a spicy seasoning blend – I used some Nandos seasoning

Corn niblets

  • I used canned corn but if you have fresh corn, grill it on the BBQ and cut off the niblets

Roasted Sweet Potatoes:

  • I used both orange and white sweet potatoes; sliced thin
  • toss slices with a little olive oil, garlic salt and paprika
  • bake in the oven at 400°F for 20-25 minutes, turning once half way

Hasselback Baked Potato: (my new favourite)

  • use a small potato and peel the skin or leave the skin on and wash well
  • thinly slice the potato making sure not to go through the bottom, leaving the potato whole but segmented
  • cover the potato all over with olive oil
  • sprinkle on seasonings of choice well; I used garlic salt, dried basil and chili powder
  • make sure oil and seasoning are all over including inside the segmented areas
  • bake in the over at 400°F for 30-40 minutes ( check to make sure they’re cooked through to the bottom)

Add some sliced grape tomatoes

Drizzle a balsamic glaze ( I got mine from well.ca and it’s become one of my favourite toppings)

Give this idea a try, you’ll love it!

Garlicky Lime Ancient Grain Salad

Garlicky Lime Ancient Grain Salad

Salads are a great way to get in your daily vegetables and the many nutrients they offer. Get creative with your salads they don’t have to be the same boring ones everyday, add in some fun and nutritious items to mix up your regular bowl of green giving it some extra pizzazz.

This salad can be made with cooked quinoa if you do not have ancient grains. Quinoa and ancient grains are a very nutritious add in to any meal, and with a little meal prep you can add them in at the last minute and save some time and effort. Cook a large batch and portion pack them into smaller bags/containers and freeze them. Take them out when you want to add them into your meals, they can be defrosted and tossed into a cold dish, or you can heat them to enjoy them warm. The ancient grain mix I use is made by Trù Roots and contains white quinoa, red quinoa, millet and buckwheat, a high fiber nutritious blend.

When making a salad remember to add in various coloured vegetables and fruits, the more colours you eat the more phytochemicals and antioxidants your body absorbs and the better able it is to fight off unwanted toxins from within. More about the many benefits of eating the rainbow here.

Benefits of Quinoa:

  • high in protein; a complete protein containing all 9 amino acids
  • contains almost 2x the fiber as most other grains
  • good source of iron and magnesium
  • contains lysine; important for tissue repair and growth
  • helps control blood sugar levels
  • high in antioxidants
  • gluten free

Garlicky Lime Ancient Grain Salad

Salad:
(These are the veggies I had on hand, you can add whatever you have)

  • 2 mini cucumbers chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper chopped
  • 1/4 sweet onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic chives chopped
  • 1/2 cup cooked ancient grains (or regular cooked quinoa)

Gently mix it all together.

 

Garlic lime dressing:

  • 2 tbsp garlic infused extra virgin olive oil (or just extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1 small clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 tbsp lime and spice seasoning (can substitute for 1 tsp fresh lime zest and crushed red pepper to taste)
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Whisk well (I usually add dressing ingredients into a jar, close the lid tight and shake, shake, shake).
Add dressing to vegetable mix and toss well. Let rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours for flavours to infuse.

Enjoy!

If you remake this recipe let me know your thoughts, I love hearing from you!:)

Caprese Stuffed Chicken Breast

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Who said eating healthy is boring or time-consuming? All you need is a little creativity and you can have a healthy version of your favourite foods, or enjoy something completely new.

I have taken baby steps with the family for the past few years, making little changes here and there with our meals, sometimes they notice the changes or substitutes and sometimes they don’t but they always eat it. I try to get at least one “experiment” meal in a week, I make adjustments to a favourite or just think up something new. After these meals they will let me know if it’s something to add to our regular roster of meals or not – this chicken was given thumbs up all around, good thing it was easy to make 😉

Caprese Stuffed Chicken Breast:

4 boneless chicken breasts – washed and butterflied (sliced lengthwise down the middle but leaving one side joined)
1-2 fresh garlic cloves minced
1 tsp dried onion powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
Salt and pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste.

Rub the butterflied chicken breast with seasoning mix all over. Set aside.

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Stuffing:
Fresh basil leaves chopped
Fresh mozzarella cheese sliced
Tomato slices
Take each breast and spread open.
Layer tomato slice, cheese slice, chopped basil, another cheese slice and tomato slice on one half and fold the other side over.
Repeat with other breasts.

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Heat a non-stick skillet with a 1 tsp oil on med-high heat. Add in stuffed chicken and pan sear each for about 2 minutes, turn and search the other side. A quick search to lock in the juices and flavours.

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Preheat the oven to 400°F and place the seared chicken breasts on top a lined cooking sheet. Bake in oven for an extra 15 minutes, check to make sure juices run clear.

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Note: cheese will melt out, you can try to re-stuff the cheese or just cover the top of the chicken with it.
Drizzle cooked chicken with balsamic glaze and serve warm with pasta, zoodles or a salad.

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Recipe for the creamy avocado zoodles pictures above can be found here.

Enjoy 😉

Sweet Potato Nachos

Sweet Potato Nachos

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

In the spirit of this holiday I thought I would share one of my favourite Mexican recipes.

I’m not of Mexican decent but I do love all Mexican foods: fajitas, burritos, tacos, chili, taco salads, salsa – but most of all I’m all about nachos! Mmmmm, mmmm, mmm! Something about the mix of flavours and the fun toppings…yum! We have least one Mexican dish a week, luckily my family enjoys it as much as I do.

Here is a fun, healthy twist on Nachos, same great flavour blends but without the corn tortilla chips, we use sweet potato chips. This recipe does require a little more prep work but trust me it is so worth it, you’re going to love them.

Sweet Potato Nachos

Sweet Potato:

  • 1 sweet potato (as thinly sliced as you can, I use a mandolin slicer. The thinner the slices the crispier the chips are)
  • 1 tsp oil of choice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

Slice the sweet potato (remember as thin as you can) and toss the slices with oil and sea salt.

Spread slices out on a lines baking sheet and bake them in a preheated oven at 400°F for 15 minutes, turn slices over and continue baking for another 10 minutes (keep watch so they do not burn). Remove and let them cool.

Shredded Chicken:

This is an optional addition, you can make the nachos vegetarian or add this chicken or seasoned beef – they all taste great.

  • 1 boneless chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp. Tex Mex seasoning
  • 1 tsp oil of choice

Marinate chicken with seasoning and oil, bake in the oven the sweet potato slices. Once baked, chop the chicken into small pieces or shred it.

Toppings:

  • shredded chicken (from above)
  • corn niblets
  • black beans (rinsed well)
  • chopped tomatoes
  • chopped green onions
  • chopped jalapeño
  • shredded cheese

(amounts and topping selection are to personal taste)

In a lined baking sheet arrange the pre-baked sweet potato slices together with a slight overlap of slices. then begin layering the toppings. I like to start the layers with some cheese then add in the others and top with more cheese.

Bake in the oven at 375°F for 5-7 minutes – keep an eye on them to ensure they do not burn.

Remove from oven and top with chopped cilantro.

Enjoy these with a side of fresh salsa, guacamole and Greek jalapeño yogurt.

ENJOY 🙂

 

 

Creamy Avocado Pesto Zoodles

Creamy Avocado Pesto Zoodles

I find zoodles a great alternative to pasta, just substitute them in any recipe you would otherwise use spaghetti, linguini or fettuccini pasta. For those of you who are unfamiliar with zoodles, they are made from zucchinis that are shredded using a spiralizer, and the results are long swirly strands the perfect substitute.

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I find that there are days when I am craving pasta, more the sauces that are mixed with pasta and that’s when I pull out my spiralizer and satisfy my cravings. The other day it was pesto sauce that I really wanted so I started experimenting in the kitchen and ended up with a healthy pesto sauce. Not only was this sauce delicious tossed with the zoodles but I made a few adjustments to the sauce and used leftovers as a salad dressing and as a base for egg salad. One recipe used 3 different ways – definitely a winner.

It’s a quick and easy recipe with minimal clean up – just the way I like it 😉

Creamy Avocado Pesto Sauce:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 fresh garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 lime juiced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or oil of choice)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (or pine nuts if you have)
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional or to desired taste)

Place everything into a blender and pulse till smooth. Add a little water (or milk for a creamier sauce) till desired consistency is reached.

This sauce can be tossed cold with cold zoodles for a crunchy cold salad or heated in a skillet with zoodles for a warm meal.

I added in some chick peas and grape tomato halves for a warm meal.

 

Creamy Avocado Pesto Dressing:

Use left over sauce and add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil to thin out the consistency. Add dressing to your salad and toss well.

 

Avocado Pesto Egg Salad:

Add 1 hard boiled egg chopped to any leftover sauce and mix well and top your favourite bread or crackers for hearty healthy lunch.

 

Enjoy 🙂