Butternut Squash Moroccan Style Soup

19 01 2012
How are you enjoying the weather :). If you are in Calgary then you are probably getting a bit tired of the extreme cold. However, I see my friends in the West are getting hit with snow. The cold makes you slow down which isn’t a bad thing right?
I made this soup up the other day and ate it all this week for lunch. I wasn’t feeling like the usual butternut squash soup, although so delicious. I wanted to use other veggies and add some protein to it. It’s got a bit of Moroccan flair with the cinnamon. Cinnamon goes great with any squash. Squash is abundant right now and full of vitamins. I picked this one up, yup you guessed it my favourite market KFM. I did this soup sans onions and garlic, but if you like that, add it in. I was going for a warming sattvic like soup. Try it and let me know if you like it.
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil, Ghee or Olive Oil for sautéing
  • 2 large stalks of Celery, diced large
  • 3 large Carrots, diced large
  • 3 medium Parsnips, diced large
  • 1 medium Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded and cut up into 1″ cubes
  • 1/2 tsp dried Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried Thyme
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 5 Black Pepper Corns
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 cube or tsp Low Sodium Veggie Stock (or veggie stock if you have it)
  • 7 cups of filtered Water
  • 1 398 ml can (or more) cooked Chickpeas
Heat the oil in soup pot, add the carrots and celery, sauté on medium-high heat for about 5 min. Just so they start to sweat a bit. Add everything else but the chickpeas and bring to a boil, cover and turn the heat down to a good simmer for about 30 min or so. Test the veggies for softness. Add the chickpeas and cook uncovered for about 5 min, so everything is warm. Serve on its own or over rice of your choice. I had it with a fragrant jasmine rice a few times. Perfect for these cold days in Calgary (or anywhere).
Eat well, Be well (and stay warm),
Nat




Citrus Salad and Merry Christmas (again)

7 01 2012

Merry Christmas (again). If you are Ukrainian, you still have your Christmas tree up and the lights on for the last days of the season. Today is Ukrainian Christmas and the big feast was last night, Christmas Eve, based on the Julian calendar (today we use the Gregorian calendar which lines up the solstice’s or solar seasons more accurately, so Wikipedia says). My first post on this blog was a celebration of my Food Spark and the traditions of my family, including Ukrainian Christmas, which we celebrate on Dec 24. Growing up January 7 was recognized in some way, mom would make Latke’s or we’d have a mini Ukrainian feast again.

Our Ukrainian Christmas Table

This time of year oranges of all sorts are abundant. T just brought home a box of juicy california oranges. What to make? A salad. I recently made this super simple dressing and salad. I love this dressing, it is light, healthy and if you are vegan, you can replace the yogurt for your favourite non-dairy replacement.

In a bowl mix together;

  • 1 small to medium head of Romaine lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
  • 1 large navel Orange, segmented and chopped (google how to segment an orange, easy and tastier way of adding citrus to a dish)
  • 1 Avocado, scoop the flesh out into bit size chunks
  • 1 small Cucumber, chopped

Shake together the dressing ingredients. This makes more than you need, so store it in the fridge to use on a couple more salads;

  • 1/4 tsp Tarragon (dry)
  • 1/2 tsp Basil (dry)
  • 1/8 tsp fresh cracked Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 cup non-fat plain Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/8 cup Olive Oil

Mix about a 1/4 -1/3 of the dressing and salad ingredients together. Top with more fresh cracked pepper.

Citrus Salad

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





(Re)Start Your Engine

30 12 2011

Soon we will be saying farewell to 2011 and hello to 2012. How’s that feel? Another year to reflect on and another year to look ahead to. Lots to think about… I like the week between Christmas and New Years, lucky for me I usually don’t work so it is time to dig into books, my yoga practice, kick up the healthful routine and spend quality time with friends. The weather here has been so amazing, walks with good friends and tea dates have been a good way to spend the time. What have you been doing?

Great cup of Tea, Crazyweed, Canmore

I stuck to my green smoothies throughout most of the holidays, this routine is so important and if you haven’t tried it, maybe next year ;). Green smoothies are a good way to pack in the vitamins and nutrients any time of the year. Here is an easy recipe: 1 small or 1/2 large banana, 1/2 cup frozen berries of your choice (makes the smoothie not so green though), 1 stalk of celery, 2 cups water and a few big leaves including stems of swiss chard. If you don’t have a good strong blender you might have some clumps, but whatever, it tastes good and it’s good for you. Maybe next year you’ll buy a Vitamix as well!

In the fall I picked a bunch of mint from the garden and dried it out. I like mint tea on its own, but I thought I’d experiment and mix it with other flavours. I grated the zest from three organic lemons and let it dry and bought dried grated ginger from Life with Style from my favourite market, KFM. I mixed equal parts mint, ginger and lemon together to make an herbal tea. Turned out pretty good.

Mint, Ginger and Lemon Zest Tea

One of the most popular recipes on this blog is the Spicy Black Bean Soup – I made a pot of it the other day, mmm good and nourishing. Froze some for work next week. I gotta say though, I couldn’t find a sweet potato near by, so I used a regular potato, it turned out fine but you certainly miss the flavour of the sweet potato. I also toasted a new jar of mixed seeds and nuts to put on my whole grain breakfasts. Although I love sprouting grains, good old oatmeal has been my fave these past few weeks, easy and warming. Lightly toast roughly chopped walnuts, almonds and pecans in a medium-high dry pan, stirring often. Add pumpkin and sunflower seeds, toast until you hear them pop. 1/2-1 cup each nut and seed. Let cool and store in air tight jar. Order organic from Real Raw Food.

Ready to go, toasted seeds and nuts

Thumbing through the newest City Palate get’s my cooking juices going…time to get back to the kitchen and experiment with more healthful eats.

Wishing you all a healthful and happy New Year.

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Feeling a bit Nostalgic

13 12 2011

The Winter Solstice is around the corner. The holiday season is among us. A New Year is coming. I am personally looking forward to the break. To family, friends and down time. I am sure you are too. Life continues to provide its ups and downs and as of late, I feel my heels dragging along. In times like this I find myself yearning for comforts and memories come to mind that warm.

As usual, I was driving home the other day and listening to CBC, to a story about kids writing letters to Santa. I guess today it’s quite high-tech and you can email him. Canada Post apparently has volunteers that help Santa with all the responses. Whether you agree with the idea of Santa or not, I smiled remembering the days when we’d get a call Christmas Eve from Santa (aka Grandpa K). We’d be celebrating Ukrainian Christmas Eve at Baba and Dido’s house, the phone would ring and Tim and I would get our few minutes with the big guy. I think I learned who the ‘real’ Santa was when I was in my teens <head shake, so silly>.

Do you put up a Christmas tree? I have antique tree that belonged to my great-grandfather. It is silver and I have memories of being in his little house and the tree sparkling at Christmas. I inherited the tree a few years ago and cherish it. Each year I buy a few new ornaments and have collected them throughout my travels. This year I bought three really pretty green and blue ornaments that are bunches of butterflies. Somehow they reminded me of my dear friend Jodie. This time of year has lost it’s meaning in mainstream. Focusing on family and friends, tree or not, is what this season is all about.

Sparkle and Shine

Another thing that I love this time of year, food related and healthy of course, are pomegranates. I love, love, love whole pomegranates. My dad use to cut them open for us and pick out the seeds into a bowl. Each of us with our own bowl of pomegranate seeds, sitting on the couch being super careful not to spill, eating them a few at a time. This fruit takes patience but it is so worth it. No juice from any bottle or pre-packed seeds even come close. Go out, buy some and enjoy the fruits of your labour (pun totally intended).

Best Christmas Snack

The shortest day of the year draws near, the Winter Solstice on Dec 21. This time of reflection is a gift and should be cared for. T and I were married on the longest day of the year, June 21, and we always take a moment to reflect on the last six months and the six months to come. How are you spending time to take care?

Eat well, Be Well,

Nat





Chipotle Veggie Chili

27 11 2011

Nothing warms up the soul like a bowl of chili and this recipe’s got heat, that’s for sure. I think I added one too many chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, so that’s your fair warning. I searched for hearty veggie chili recipes and found one called ‘Ultimate Vegan Chili’ and when I saw the use of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, I knew it had to be good. If you like the Spicy Black Bean Soup from my blog, you’ll love this chili. I love it because it is another way to use those yummy chipotle peppers. Remember you can freeze what you don’t use and thaw a bit to use again.

I hate chili that relies on onions for bulk or main ingredient, so I didn’t go that route. I used a small onion and added celery for the texture. The original recipe called for seitan, a gluten based protein substitute. I couldn’t find any, but I wanted to try it. I figured for all those out there that are gluten intolerant, it wasn’t necessary to use it, so I opted for soy based veggie round. Here is my adaptation of the chili:

  • 1 small Onion, diced
  • 4 stalks Celery, diced
  • 2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1-3 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 or 2 (not 3 like I did) Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, minced
  • 2 cups finely chopped Mushrooms (use crimini, button or Portobello)
  • 1 pkg veggie ground round like Yves Original
  • 1 small can Tomato Paste (or 3-6 Tbsp if you have some in a tube. I bought Italian tomato paste in a tube from the farmers market. It’s handy, just keep it in the fridge)
  • 3 tsp Smoked Paprika (a good addition to your spices)
  • 2 tsp dried Oregano
  • 2-3 tsp Mexican Chili powder seasoning
  • 1 tsp of Sea Salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 14oz can Diced Tomatoes (with liquid)
  • 3 19oz cans of cooked beans, drain half the liquid (choose from Pinto, Black and Kidney and mix it up)
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped Carrots
  • 2 Tbsp Tamari, Soy Sauce or Braggs
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Heat the olive oil in a big soup pot over medium-high heat, add the onion and celery and saute until soft and the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and chipotle peppers and cook for another minute, stirring. Add the mushrooms and saute until cooked down and liquid is released, about 4-5 min. Add the veggie round, tomato paste, paprika, oregano, chili powder, salt and water, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 min.

Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 1 hour stirring occasionally. Chili is ready when carrots are tender. Serve with slices of a toasted baguette (we love the Turkish bread from Cobbs) and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese (or your vegan choice).

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





The Easiest Pumpkin Pie Ever

15 11 2011

It’s that time of year, pumpkin everywhere. I was at Sunterra Market in Calgary a few weeks ago and they had organic unsweetened pumpkin pie puree on sale. So of course, I stocked up. I have made pumpkin pie from scratch, and there is nothing like it. Well, having cans of pumpkin ready to go makes using this healthy ingredient (pumpkins are full of important vitamins) that much easier.

This pumpkin pie recipe comes from the same great gal who gave us Chia Seed Pudding, Kathy Patalsky from Healthy-Happy-Life blog. It is vegan and only has four ingredients, well five including the pie crust.

  • 1 can unsweetened Pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup Maple Syrup (not Aunt J’s)
  • 1 1/4 cups soaked Cashews (plan ahead you need at least 8 hours)
  • 2 tsp Pumpkin Spice

That’s my kind of recipe, especially when you are experimenting. There is nothing worse than trying a recipe with a bunch of ingredients and steps and it doesn’t turn out all that great. Blah. This pumpkin pie recipe delivers. I experimented with a rice flour pie crust because I am making this for a gathering of friends and one has celiac. I didn’t love the pie crust, but hey, it did the trick. I picked up the rice pie crust from Planet Organic and noticed they had whole wheat pie crusts as well, two in a pack, mmmm.

mmm, Pumpkin Pie filling

For the original recipe go here. My adjustments and notes:

  • I had more filling than the pie crust could hold – but the rice crust is a bit smaller. That didn’t matter, I ate it right out of the Vitamix!
  • I made my own pumpkin spice, see below. It gave me the opportunity to use the whole nutmeg I got in Mexico last year, fresh ginger and Mexican cinnamon.
  • Because the pie was a bit full, I had to bake it twice as long, 65 min. The crust was tough, but softened the next day. I will try not pre-baking it for 8 min next time. If I have a regular crust, I’ll try the pre-bake again.
  • We didn’t try it with coconut whip, but will next time. I looked up that whipping gadget she uses and it is TWICE as much on Amazon.ca than Amazon.com. Annoyed. Maybe The Bay will have it. I also so want a jar of vanilla bean specks, that’ll get me to the mall and Williams and Sonoma.

A very full pumpkin pie ready for the oven!

Pumpkin Spice:
  • 1 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground Nutmeg (fresh ground is so much better)
  • 1/4 tsp ground Cloves (use a mortar and pestle to easily ground the cloves)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh grated Ginger (invest in a fine grater for things like nutmeg and ginger)
TIP: I freeze my ginger whole, and grate as I need. Perfect way to always have it on hand. If you buy a fine hand grater, then it is a cinch to add in a zip.

Fresh Baked

Seriously, make this. It is guilt free, vegan, naturally sweetened and makes you happy.
Eat well, Be well,
Nat




The Beanpod and a Podcast

1 11 2011

I had the great pleasure to visit Fernie this past weekend with some very special and remarkable gals. We did the same trip last year and I had forgotten how nourishing the mountains and good friends are on the soul. I needed it, really needed it. You know who you are, thanks ladies.

On our tour we hit up main street for some shopping, tea, coffee and treats. You can not go to Fernie without visiting the new chocolatier called Beanpod. Seriously, so good. The quality of this chocolate is exceptional. T schooled us on how to taste chocolate, she learned on a tour she got the day before. Although we were super sad that they had sold out of their Salted Caramels, I took home a dark bar with almond and a dark salted bar, they are both incredible. The girls got coffees from there as well, not only are they roasting chocolate beans, but also coffee beans. You must go if you are in Fernie.

On another note, driving home from yoga practice on Sundays, I listen to the Vinyl Cafe on CBC. A couple of Sunday’s ago I was so moved by this story of Stuart Maclean visiting Fromagerie du Presbytere just outside of Montreal. Apparently it is national vegan day today and this post is in no way meant to disrespect 🙂 but I couldn’t help but share the podcast with you. Stuart Maclean has such a beautiful way of telling stories, this one of a small cheese producer, who won best cheese in Canada, Grand Champion this year with their Blue St. Elizabeth. I am now on the hunt. His retelling of meeting the brothers who walk the warm milk from one farm to the other to make cheese each day is delicious. They have line-ups of hundreds of people long on summer nights for their fresh curd. Stuart also meets Marie Chantal, a young cheese maker (and best in the country), who use to go from farm to farm to make cheese out of her van for dairy farmers  who otherwise would have to discard their overproduced milk (they have limits).

I highly recommend you spend 10 minutes listening to the podcast and let me know if you get to try this cheese. You can find the podcast here. Skip ahead to the 26 min mark, but the rest of the podcast is lovely as well. You can’t beat Stuart Maclean.

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Recipe Share: Veg Lentil Soup

24 10 2011

I love how this soup has friends, family and community farmers all in one pot – metaphorically speaking. Our friend Dan gave us a big ‘ole container of green lentils grown on his wife’s family’s farm in Saskatchewan. I have been looking forward to making a pot of lentil soup for some time. My dear friend Kelly shared this recipe with me. It is a family favourite. Her and I were out for a leisurely tea remembering her sister and my good friend Jodie who passed away a year ago. Among many things, we shared nourishing soup recipes and ate a cookie in her honour, Jod loved cookies. As well, our family suffered the loss of my cousin in recent weeks, he was known to be the cook in the kitchen himself (runs in the family eh) – so it seemed fitting to put a pot of soup on the stove this weekend in remembrance.

This couldn’t be a simpler recipe, and as Kelly says, she rarely follows the recipe, so I did the same. Here is the recipe and my additions below.

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped (I omitted this)
  • 1 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin (fresh ground is best)
  • 1/2 cup diced Carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced Celery
  • 1 cup diced Potato
  • 1 cup dry Green Lentils
  • 4 cups or so of stock (use chicken or veggie, I used Veggie cubes)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Hot Sauce

I more than doubled the recipe and also added;

  • Diced Parsnips
  • Zucchini (which I added with the stock)
  • Chopped Parsley (I always have some frozen in the freezer for soup)
  • 1 tsp hot Chilli Powder

Saute the veggies first, until they start to sweat. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to boil and simmer on a low boil until lentils are soft. Add the lemon and hot sauce, serve.

Oh yeah, hello fall.

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Next Time You Buy Tomatoes

8 10 2011

I can’t type fast enough today. This is a quadruple rant post. A couple of weeks ago I read an article by Chris Hedges called Tomatoes of Wrath. If you love food and want to be more conscious of choices, read the article. I was going to post about my sweet tomatoes that I am still plucking from the vine, all cozy and covered up at night, but there are more important things out there today. There is a simple tomato recipe below though.

I know we can’t solve all the worlds problems in a post or article. I don’t write these things with any of those delusions, but it is important that we as citizens of the world understand more about where our food comes from and the impact our choices have on other people and nations. AND just because the tomato article is in the US doesn’t mean it doesn’t impact us. It does. When we (a collective humanity) permit regulations and laws to go unchecked we give permission to repeat the same offences. Not convinced? Love the rose-coloured glasses? That’s fine. I do recommend reading Chris Hedges’ book Empire of Illusion and Chris Parenti’s The Face of Imperialism. That’s just a start. Truthdig.com and Commondreams.org are also two sites important to add to your regular web time. Harsh reality or a more balanced approach to understanding the world? Inquire.

Then yesterday CBC, our beloved CBC, has Kevin O’Leary from Dragon’s Den interview Chris Hedges about Occupy Wall Street. It was deplorable, embarrassing and if you are as pissed as I am (and a gaggle of my friends are) write a letter to the CBC Ombudsmen as I did this morning asking for the removal of O’Leary from their ‘news programs’. He is NOT a journalist. ombudsman@cbc.ca

Link to Chris Hedges/Occupy Wall Street interview on CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/Business/1239849460/ID=2149202610

A respectful interview with Chris Hedges/Occupy Wall Street for a Russian news channel. Short but insightful: http://t.co/fCbiJSn2

Why Occupy Wall Street is important: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK1MOMKZ8BI&sns=em

So much going on this week, the twitterverse was a buzz of Steve Jobs passing. He offered creativity to the world we need. A favourite Jobs quote: “from creativity comes everything”. Last week a colleague at work shared this with me, thought is was a sweet homage (pun intended).

Three apples that changed the world: 1st one seduced Eve, 2nd one fell on Newton, 3rd given to the world, half bitten by one Steve Jobs.

Simple Tomato Salad 

Mix together 5 fresh garden Tomato’s, chopped, like for greek salad. 1/2 tbsp of chopped fresh Oregano . 1 tbsp of some good Olive Oil. A sprinkle of Course Sea Salt. This is a simple salad in Portugal. If you go there, buy their dried full leaf oregano to bring home, it is more delicate. I have never looked for seeds to grow on my own here, maybe next year. You can use your regular dried oregano as well.

If anything, go to your favourite farmers market today, buy some tomatoes, think about the folks that picked them for you, where they came from and how much better we can do as a human community.

Now to finish harvesting the garden and giving thanks.

Eat well, Be Well,

Nat





Chia Seed Pudding

1 10 2011

October 1. No snow on the ground. Good. Although I am dreaming of big pots of warm soup and the smell of curries on the stove. What I love about fall and winter is that cooking gets a bit easier but more creative at the same time. There is so much to be made on the stove and in the oven, which we try to use less of in the summer. The BBQ reigns supreme from veg to fish and fresh salads are a staple. The markets are full of root vegetables and squash at the moment. We ate a medley of fresh beets from our garden and baby potatoes last weekend, cooked on the BBQ of course.

I did get some food experiments in the last few weeks. My favourite has been Chia Seed Pudding. I bought chia seeds in my last nut and seed order from Real Raw Food months ago, but they can be found at most health food stores now. Chia seeds are all the rage at the moment in healthful cooking. You’ll remember the sprouted version as ‘chia pets’ growing up. These little tiny seeds are packed with omega 3-fatty acids and a-linolenic acid (ALA), both essential fatty acids believed to be important for metabolism. I did a bit of research on what to easily do with them. Adding them to my green smoothies or to my breakfast seed/nut mix was too easy. Then I came across this fun chia seed pudding recipe from Happy Healthy Life vegan blog. A sweet blog with a bunch of great recipes and healthful advice. I highly recommend it.

It was very cool how over night the chia seeds expanded and thickened the liquid, like little baby tapioca’s. T said they looked like snake eyes, ah, okay. T being my adult husband ;).

Here is my rendition of her recipe for Chia Seed Pudding:

  • 2 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1 cup Vanilla Soy Milk (I used a 250 ml tetra pack)
  • 1 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon

Mix the ingredients together. Cover and put in the fridge. I checked on it once or twice the first day, and gave it a bit of a stir because I saw the seeds settling to the bottom. After a day or so in the fridge it was ready to eat. You have to try this. It was delicious. A perfect dessert and if you have kids, a perfect kitchen experiment to understand the cool things food does.

I don’t usually buy sweetened soy or almond milks, but this was an exception. I will try making it with unsweetened and add my own vanilla flavour. I don’t think my home-made almond milk would work well, it tends to separate a bit and I have to shake it each morning to use. I’ll keep experimenting though.

Happy October everyone!

Eat well, Be well,

Nat