Sara's latest recipes

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    Roasted Beet Salad with Balsamic-Orange Vinaigrette and Candied Walnuts

    Normally when I post a recipe I highlight one or more of the ingredients, so today I’m going to talk quickly about walnuts.  I find that walnuts don’t get the attention they deserve … when we talk about nuts in our diet it often comes in the form of peanut butter, or maybe even almond butter.  I often toss a handful of slivered almonds on my salads, but this time I’m taking the road less traveled and adding walnuts. Walnuts are a good source of something called ‘phytonutrients’.  Simply put - phytonutrients are the extra-healthy nutrients produced by plants; we can call these “plant based nutrients”.  More specifically, walnuts are high in ‘phytosterols’ … if we break the word down, you notice that both words start with “phyto”.  Now we can assume now that this is also talking about something made by plants. Any guesses for the second half? If the second half of the word ‘sterol’ sounds familiar, and the word “cholesterol” came to mind, then you’re on the right track.  Put “phyto” and “sterol” together and you get a cholesterol produced by a plant – and this is the best part:  it is cardio-protective.  Unlike cholesterol from meat products, which we try to limit (but not eliminate, our body still needs a small amount!) in our diet, plant sterols are heart-healthy. If that wasn’t enough, walnuts are also a source of protein, magnesium, vitamin E, fiber and potassium.  As usual, there is such thing as too much of a good thing.  Limit your serving size of walnuts to 1oz, which is about 8 walnut halves as nuts are a good source of energy (calories). Roasted Beet Salad with Balsamic-Orange Vinaigrette and Candied Walnuts Salad: 5 cups shredded romaine lettuce 3 small beets 1 pear, diced* ½ cup orange segments, cut into small pieces 2 green onions, diced 1/3 cup walnut pieces, toasted 1 tsp maple syrup ¼ cup feta cheese ¼ cup dried cranberries Dressing: 2 tbsp olive oil 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 1 tbsp maple syurp 2 tsp orange zest Directions: 1. Preheat the oven to 400F and while the oven is heating make a tin-foil pocket for the beets.  Once oven is to temperature, place foil-wrapped beets in the oven to roast for approx. 40 minutes or until tender (you can stick a fork through the centre).  Remove beets from the oven and allow to cool. 2. Prepare to toast the walnuts by heating a skillet on medium-low.  Add the walnuts to the skillet, stirring frequently until they become aromatic, about 5-10 minutes. 3. Add 1 tsp of maple syrup to the walnuts and mix well, continue to stir over low heat for another 5 minutes. 2. Once beets are cool, peel and dice into bite size pieces. 3. Combine lettuce, beets, pear, orange pieces, onions, feta cheese and dried cranberries in a large bowl.  Add the walnuts. 4. To make the dressing whisk together all ingredients and toss into salad. * to bring out the flavours in the pear you can also lightly bake it in the oven at 400F, wrapped in tin foil for 5-8 minutes


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    Sundried Tomato Hummus

    Before I dish out recipes I always like to add some tid-bits of nutritional knowledge and hopefully its something that many readers don’t already know.  At first I thought about the ingredients in this hummus and what topics I could highlight: the vitamin C content in tomatoes or how chickpeas are low-fat, high fiber and high protein which make this a healthy snack option. I’ve talked before about pulses (lentils, chickpeas, ect) and their health benefits, you can read a bit more by clicking here in my post about Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, or here in another recipe for Sweet Potato Lentil Meatballs. For this recipe I thought I’d talk a bit about lycopene which is quite fitting as in my last few posts I’ve been discussing antioxidants and eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies! Lycopene is a red-orange carotenoid found primarily in tomatoes, tomato-products and in other fruits such as pink grapefruit, watermelon and apricots.  Evidence suggests that due to its antioxidant capacity, lycopene plays a role in reducing risk for prostate cancer. If heart health is something you’ve been thinking about, you’ll find it interesting to know that lycopene may also have beneficial effects on lowering risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Clinical trails are still needed to give us more details, but data from some studies suggest that high lycopene levels may be associated with reduced CVD risk.   Sundried Tomato Hummus   Ingredients: 1 cup chickpeas, cooked or drained and well rinsed from a can 1/3 of a large tomato, diced ½ tsp garlic ¼ sundried tomatoes (packed in oil) 1 tbsp of the oil from the tomatoes ¼ tsp chili-garlic sauce (or more if you like things spicier) 1 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste) 2 tbsp lemon juice   Directions: Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth,   Enjoy!!!


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    Peanut-Lime Rainbow Salad

    Now that Spring is here, it seems like perfect timing to share this colorful salad.  One of the hashtags I often use is #eattherainbow - I know it's the Skittles tag-line but it's also fitting for brightly colored fruits and vegetables. There is one vegetable in particular I've been adding to everything lately, not only for its bright purple color, it also adds a great crunch! Red cabbage. Its bright color comes from a compound called a polyphenol, more specifically, anthocyanin.  What does this mean? It means that the cabbage has disease fighting antioxidant properties.  I’ve discussed the role of antioxidants in older posts, you can read them by clicking here for my recipe for Chocolate Hummus, or here to read about how I've incorporated cranberries into my 'detox' protocol. Broadly speaking, highly colored vegetables and fruits have antioxidant properties.  Generally speaking, it's in our benefit to eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies - colors come from the foods’ natural compounds, each offering us its own unique benefit. Different colors mean different benefits to us, for example, think about orange fruits and vegetables. Some things that come to mind are oranges, carrots, squash or sweet potatoes.  These all contain carotenoids.  Have you ever heard that carrots help protect your eyesight? They do, thanks to the carotenoids… Bugs Bunny knew what he was doing when it came to food.  Cabbage, Brussel sprouts and broccoli are all part of the cruciferous family, meaning it can cause some gas or bloating if you’re not used to eating them, but quickly blanching them can help (boil a pot of water, drop the veggies in for three minutes then strain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process). So why not eat the rainbow, this bright salad will brighten moods and pack along some nutritional benefits too! Peanut Lime Rainbow Salad Serves 2-3 people Ingredients Marinade: 1.5 tbsp soy sauce or tamari 3 tbsp lime juice 1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar 1 tbsp olive oil 1/2 tbsp finely grated ginger root Dressing: 2 tbsp natural peanut butter 2 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp finely grated ginger 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar 4 tbsp water 2 tsp honey 1 tsp chill garlic sauce Salad: 1/2 cup broccoli slaw *see note at bottom 1/2 cup cabbage/kale mix (I use Mann’s Power Blend) 1/2 cup matchstick carrots, 1/2 cup thinly sliced red cabbage 3 green onions, chopped 2 avocados 1/2 red pepper, sliced thin Handful parsley Handful cilantro 1 1/4 cup cooked rice or cellophane noodles 1 cup cooked green lentils 1/3 cup peanuts Directions: Cook then noodles and cabbage according to package directions In the meantime, prepare the marinade Once noodles and lentils are cooked divide the marinate equally between both and let sit for at least 2 hours or overnight in the fridge Prepare the salad by mixing all ingredients in a large bowl Add the noodles and lentils to the salad bowl Prepare the dressing and toss into the salad


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    Easy Mushroom Stew

    When the weather starts getting colder, many of us start to crave hearty meals.  One of my favourites growing up was stew… it was always filling and it is warms you up quickly when its cold outside.  With our recent temperature drop to -30C it left me craving childhood favourites.  The catch? I have been a vegetarian for two years.  I thought to myself, “how can I still make a stew that resembles my childhood favourite?”  Then the answer came to me: mushrooms! Mushrooms have an earthy flavour and meaty texture, so they seemed like a perfect substitute for beef for a vegetarian hearty stew.  Mushrooms are also a source of vitamins and minerals.  Did you know that just 4-5 medium sized mushrooms contain 20-25% of the daily value for each of the B-Vitamins: folate, pantothenate and riboflavin? As well as 15% of the daily value for both selenium and copper.  Not just a source of vitamins and minerals, a serving of 4-5 mushrooms also has 3 grams of protein.  That may not sound like a lot – but when you eat a serving of mushroom stew you’ll get at least three times that, bumping it up to around 9 grams of protein per serving.  In this recipe I also added mashed kidney beans, not only does this up the protein and fiber content, it helps to make a thicker-heartier stew! Mushrooms are also very low in sodium and carbohydrates, and have no fat or cholesterol.  Besides these health benefits, mushrooms have also been the topic of some research that looks further into the health benefits eating of mushrooms.  In two studies, it was concluded that mushroom extracts may stimulate the immune system.  Now that I’ve talked a little about the health benefits of mushrooms, here is the recipe!   PS – Did I mention this is a slow-cooker meal?  Slow-cooker meals are my favourite for hectic days, you can put it on in the morning before work and come home and dinner is ready! (Also perfect for the holiday season when you’re busy preparing for Christmas!) You can check out more tips for surviving the holiday season by choosing low calorie cocktails, how to make social gatherings healthy, avoiding (and accepting) indulgences and more tips to still eat healthy with the chaos of the busy holiday season. Click on each of the links to read more! Mushroom Stew Ingredients: 4 cups diced cremini mushrooms 4 cups diced white mushrooms 3 cups diced Portobello mushrooms 2 cups of mixed diced vegetables (I used a frozen carrot, pea, corn blend) 3 TBSP tomato paste 4 cup diced potatoes 3 tsp crushed garlic 2 cup diced onion 1 tsp oregano ½ tsp savory 2 bay leaves 1 tsp salt 2 tsp pepper 1 cup of packed kidney beans (mashed or blended in a food processor) 4 tsp balsamic vinegar 2 tsp woychestershire 3 cups broth (I used vegetable broth, but you could also use beef broth to get a more traditional beef-stew flavour) 1/8 cup red wine vinegar 1 tsp soy sauce 6 TBSP corn starch Directions: 1. place all ingredients except for the corn starch in a slow cooker 2. turn the slow cooker on the low setting for 6-8 hours 3. when ready to serve, make the stew thicker by mixing the corn starch with a small amount of water to get a thin paste and then stir this into the stew, wait a few minutes and stir again.  Its ready to serve! References:   Lull C, Wichers HJ and Savelkoul HFJ.  Antiinflammatory and Immunomodulating Properties of Fungal Metabolites.  Mediators of Inflammation. 2005;2:63-80.   Ahn WS, Kim DJ, Chae GT et al.  Natural killer cell activity and quality of life were improved by consumption of a mushroom extract, Agaricus blazei Murill Kyowa, in gynecological cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.  Int J Gynecol Cancer.  2004;144:589-94.  


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    No Bake Pumpkin Spice Energy Bites

    All you need is a blender or food processor. No oven required! These don’t taste like they should be healthy. They taste like mini pumpkin cakes! I came up with this recipe when I ran out of the Fruit and Nut Bites I made earlier this year. For me, foods like this are incredibly handy, because 1) I travel A LOT, and 2) with being ill my appetite isn’t always great, so these are easy to grab and they give me a kick of calories, protein, fiber and healthy fat without having to eat a lot. In developing this recipe, I also had a co-pilot in the kitchen – my mom! She did all of the hard work. I sat in a chair, wrote out what and how much of the ingredients and she whipped them up for me (BTW – incredibly easy to make!). The first batch lacked flavour, so I made some alterations to the recipe, handed it to my mom and went back to bed. When I woke up a I found that this had recipe made the best pumpkin spice bites I could have imagined! Not only are these really handy for travelling, they are also great to toss into lunch bags or for after school snacks before running the kids to gymnastics or hockey practice. These pumpkin spice bites are full of fiber and healthy fats! Loaded with nuts, seeds and other good-for-you ingredients (ok… there are some chocolate chips, so these are decedent healthy treat!), but they aren’t only a source of fiber and healthy fat, they also pack a bit of protein with each bite. This recipe is naturally gluten free, and can be lactose-free as well by replacing the chocolate chips with a dairy-free version. Just remember, ‘energy bites’ are called ‘energy bites’ for a reason! Some people hear “energy bites” and think that by eating these you’ll get a boost of energy. This, while some-what accurate is a stretch from the truth. Let me break it down… Calories are the body’s source of energy; they are what fuels our body. Just like gasoline fuels our car. Eating an energy bite won’t give you the same result as drinking a Red Bull (which by the way, I don’t recommend). Energy bites are simply just a high calorie bite of food. Per serving (1 bite): 97 calories, 5g fat, 3g fiber, 3g protein Pumpkin Spice Energy Bites  Ingredients: 15 prunes 1 cup puree pumpkin (canned is fine) ¼ cup chia seeds 2 cups oats 2/3 cup ground flax 1/3 cup hemp seeds ¼ cup shredded coconut ½ cup coconut flour 2 tablespoons maple syrup ½ cup peanut butter 1/3 cup chocolate chips 2.5 tablespoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg ¼ tablespoon ground ginger ¼ tablespoon ground cloves Directions: 1) Combine pumpkin and chia seeds and let sit for at least 15 minutes 2) Using a food processor or blender pulse the prunes to make it into a paste 3) Transfer prunes to a large bowl and add the dry ingredients to the prunes (oats, flax, hemp, coconut, coconut flour, spices) 4) Mix well 5) Add pumpkin chia seed mixture, maple syrup and peanut butter, stir well to combine 6) Mix in chocolate chips 7) Use a tablespoon to scoop and roll into balls Yield: 35 table-tennis sized bites NOTE: these store great in the freezer!


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    The Easiest (& Most Delicious) Roasted Tomato Soup

    Every year my in-laws grow so much produce that I’m always coming up with ways to use it all and be able to enjoy it long past the harvesting season.  We store vegetables in a lot of ways, canning, freezing, making soups and stews… the possibilities are endless.  One of the things we get from their farm is tomatoes.  The taste of farm-fresh tomatoes can’t be beat.  When it comes to tomatoes, I’ve typically done one of two things to preserve them: 1) freeze them and when making sauces, stews or other recipes tossing them in, and 2) making batches of spaghetti sauce and freezing them into dinner-sized portions for a quick easy spaghetti dinner. This time was different.  And I stumbled on this by accident, but it turned into a genius way to make the best ever creamy tomato soup! I’ve tried for years to find a healthy tomato soup recipe but have never quite enjoyed any.  In the past I’ve stewed the tomatoes down, added spices and pureed it – which wasn’t bad BUT it is nothing compared to this incredibly easy, accidental tomato soup! The first step was roasting tomatoes.  One day I found myself with far too many tomatoes and a few had cracks in them, so I wanted to use these fast.  I roasted the tomatoes then put them into the blender.  I’m not actually sure what I thought I was going to make, but I think it was a sauce?  Once I pulsed the tomatoes a couple of times they broke down so beautifully the only option was making soup.  Next I had to duplicate it, writing down the steps and ingredients… I also added lentils to add some protein and thickness. It turned out to the best EASIEST and TASTIEST tomato soup EVER. Ingredients: 2.5 cups roasted tomato, approx. 5-7 medium tomatoes ¼ cup roasted onion 1 tbsp crushed garlic 1 cup cooked red lentils 2 tablespoons fresh basil 1 teaspoon dried oregano ¼ teaspoon garlic salt 1 tablespoon olive oil Directions: 1) First roast the tomatoes and onion.  Turn the oven onto 375F and place the tomatoes and onion on a baking sheet, putting it into the oven once it has heated. Allow to roast for about 30-40 minutes, 2) Cook the lentils as per the package directions, 3) Allow the tomatoes and onion to cool for 15-20 minutes, 4) Combine the tomatoes, onion, lentils and remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse until you get a uniform, smooth texture. Makes 2 servings


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Our Latest Recipes

Roasted Beet Salad with Balsamic-Orange Vinaigrette and Candied Walnuts Normally when I post a recipe I highlight one or more of the ingredients, so today I’m going to talk quickly Read More
Sundried Tomato Hummus Before I dish out recipes I always like to add some tid-bits of nutritional knowledge and hopefully its something that many readers Read More
Peanut-Lime Rainbow Salad Now that Spring is here, it seems like perfect timing to share this colorful salad.  One of the hashtags I Read More
Easy Mushroom Stew When the weather starts getting colder, many of us start to crave hearty meals.  One of my favourites growing up Read More
No Bake Pumpkin Spice Energy Bites All you need is a blender or food processor. No oven required! These don’t taste like they should be healthy. Read More
The Easiest (& Most Delicious) Roasted Tomato Soup Every year my in-laws grow so much produce that I’m always coming up with ways to use it all and Read More

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