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.

 

 

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!!

 

 

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

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.

IMG_0177  20160411_180252

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 🙂

 

 

Black Bean and Corn Tortilla Soup

Black Bean and Corn Tortilla Soup

We love Mexican food at our place, and one of our favourite recipes is this black bean and corn tortilla soup. This quick and easy recipe is perfect for the cold weather or whenever you crave a bowl of deliciousness. We usually enjoy this soup with a big plate of nachos for a fun family night dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. of oil
  • 1 green onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 2-3 tbsp. chili powder (not spicy)
  • 2 cups of broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 can (or 1 cup) of black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup frozen corn niblets

Directions:

  • Heat oil in pan and add in chopped green onion and garlic. Sautee for 1-2 minutes, until onions are translucent.
  • Add in chili powder and oregano and mix for a couple of seconds. Pour in chicken stock, extra water and tomato sauce – bring to a boil.
  • Add in rinsed black beans and frozen corn. Stir and bring back to a boil.
  • Serve hot with toppings.

Topping:

  • Shredded cheese
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Jalapeño Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Chopped jalapenos (if desired)
That’s it, a quick and easy dinner that’s delicious and full of goodness.

Try it – you’ll love it as much as we do 🙂

 

 

Asian Sesame Salad

Asian Sesame Salad

Not the same old boring salad.

Salads are a great way to include greens and vegetables into your daily diet.  However, to keep them interesting and desirable they need to be changed up with different ingredients and dressings.  Here is a colourful and delicious salad with an Asian twist that would be a winning addition to any meal.

Mixed greens topped with: (from the outside in)

  • Shredded red cabbageAsian Sesame Salad
  • Sliced almonds
  • Chopped cucumbers
  • Chopped carrots
  • Chopped sugar snap peas
  • Chopped clementines
  • Sprinkle of sesame seeds
Dressing:
  • 1 tbsp. Oil of choice
  • 1 tbsp. Sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. Rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Soya sauce
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
Place all ingredients into a jar with a lid, cover and shake well.  Pour dressing and toss right before serving.