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

 

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!!

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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!:)

Energy Balls and Protein Bars

Energy Ball and Protein Bars

It seems by mid-afternoon many of us need a quick little energy fix to keep moving, but rather then heading over to the vending machine or grabbing a pre-packaged snack try one of these. One of these energy ball or protein bars is all you need to put the pep back into your step.

I made a batch of both before Ramadhan started this year. We always open our fast with dates, but I thought we could add in some almonds and chia seeds as well to get an extra punch of nutrients and benefits. We now enjoy an energy ball when we open our fast to help jumpstart our metabolism and give our bodies the energy it needs to begin the digestion process. At Suhroo (early morning) time, right before we close our fast we try to have a protein bar to provide our bodies with some extra protein, fiber and natural sugars to help us get through the day.

Both treats contain dates, almonds and chia seeds which all contain an abundance of health benefits that are important to our diets while fasting.

Benefits of dates:

  • high in fiber
  • help the digestion process, relieves constipation
  • great source of energy
  • high in vitamins and mineral
  • reduce the risk of heart disease
  • can help reduce blood pressure
  • is an anti-inflammatory

Benefits of almonds:

  • high in nutrients
  • loaded with antioxidants
  • help control blood sugar levels
  • can lower cholesterol
  • high in magnesium
  • helps control blood pressure levels
  • can reduce hunger

Benefits of chia seeds:

  • easy to digest super food
  • high in nutrients
  • loaded with antioxidents
  • high in dietary fiber
  • high in omega 3
  • lots of protein
  • helps feel fuller longer
  • high in calcium
  • hydrating

Almond, Date and Chia Energy Balls

  • 1 cup almonds coarsely ground in blended
  • 1/2 cup dates (soaked and softened) blended in the blender
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Mix all ingredients together and place in fridge for an hour.
Remove and roll into balls and roll into shredded coconut or ground nuts for an extra treat.

Almond, Date And Chia Energy Balls

 

 

Vanilla Protein Bars

  • 1 cup oats, coarsely ground
  • 1 cup almonds, coarsely ground
  • 1/2 cup cashews, coarsely ground
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder **optional

Mix everything together,

Add in:

  • 1 cup dates (soaked and softened) blended
  • 1/3 cup nut butter of choice (I used a coconut cashew blend)

Mix everything together well.

Pat flat onto a lined tray and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove and cut into desired size bars.

Vanilla Protein Bars

 

Bounty Bites

Bounty Bites

Mmmmmm…chocolate, who says you can’t have chocolate while trying to eat clean and healthy!

I know I keep saying this, but I really do mean it – eating healthy does not mean giving up your favourite treats, it just means you may have to get a little creative and have fun. It may take a little more effort then grabbing a convenient snack but you’ll save all the time regretting your bad choices.

I have always loved Bounty chocolate bars, the deliciousness of the chocolate and coconut combination…mmmm! There was one of these bars in my kitchen for the past couple of days, just sitting on the counter looking at me and calling my name. I was so tempted to reach out and devour it, but knowing what would happen to me after, it just wasn’t worth it. But I didn’t want to deny myself, that just makes sticking to your goals harder, I decided to get in the kitchen and experiment a little. These Bounty bites were born and they tasted great – craving satisfied!

Raw Bounty Bites:

Coconut filling:
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1-2 tsp coconut sugar (or sweetener of choice)
Mix everything together and make small little balls. Place in the fridge to harden.

Raw Chocolate:
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2-3 tbsp pure maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
Mix all ingredients together.

I use a silicon ice tray when making chocolate bites.

Fill each section half full with chocolate.

Remove coconut balls from fridge and place one into each section of chocolate.

Fill the sections with remaining raw chocolate.

Place tray in the freezer for 1-2 hours.

Remove tray from freezer, pop them out of the tray and keep them stored in a sealed container in the freezer.

That’s it, now you have a healthy treat you can indulge in completely guilt free.
Yum 😉