Top it with Tahini

9 04 2012

I just ate this and I don’t think I was breathing while doing it:

It was good while it lasted but I think I am having heart palpitations now. Have you read the recent articles on sugar addiction. ūüėČ No joke.

Good thing we have healthy recipes to bring us back to life. A popular recipe on this blog is the Tahini dip/dressing, go here to read again. It is so good on so many things. My last post was about an experiment with sea kelp noodles, go here to check it out. If you made that recipe (or used brown rice instead to make that yummy bowl of veg and tofu), you should have had tofu left over. What to do with it? Grill it up and serve over a chopped salad and drizzle with tahini dressing.

Make enough tahini dressing to use again. Next day, make or buy some falafel’s and warm them up, throw them onto a salad with tahini dressing and fresh cracked pepper.

And another way to use the tahini, spread it on a whole grain wrap, add veggies and tofu (these are the tofu snacks from Planet Organic) and roll up and press in a Panini press or warm it on a stove top grill pan. Its a good quick lunch. Finally, here is another tahini recipe from 2010. So many ways with tahini…what’s yours?

3 tbsp Tahini
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Maple or Agave Syrup (or jaggery if you have it, asian sugar cane)
2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil (or olive oil if you don’t have it)

Hope you had a nice long weekend,

Eat well, Be well & Aloha (more on that later),

Nat





Discovery: Sea Kelp Noodles

1 04 2012

Birds are singing, guess it’s time to go outside and take the ‘once gorgeous holiday planters’ apart. Spring is here! Well sort of, Calgary spring anyhow. Time to at least ponder what we’re going to do in the yard this year, cause some stuff is still frozen and snow will arrive again I’m sure.

Stuck in the house on a recent cold day, time to experiment. I bought sea kelp noodles from Real Raw Food awhile back. Remember to check them out for all your nut and seed needs. I blogged here about them. Not a regular accompaniment to the dinner table, sea kelp noodles took some getting use to. I used them in place of rice in a veggie bowl dish and well, they were good. Strangely crunchy, they have no flavour on their own, but pick up the flavours of what you add to them or cook them in. In this case it was yummy miso gravy. It made the meal altogether lighter. I read a lot about the goodness sea vegetables have, iodine, a multitude of vitamins and other minerals. I haven’t seen these anywhere in town, but have only looked at Planet Organic, maybe Community sells them? Let me know if you see them. There is a bunch of stuff you can do with them, I think salads and stir-fry’s make the most sense from a texture perspective. I’d try them again for sure.

This veggie bowl recipe is so simple. I didn’t make my own miso gravy, although I know it is better than bottled, but hey, this is quick and good for you. I buy Naam Miso Gravy from Planet.¬†For two veggie bowls:

  • Marinade a block of tofu, cut into triangles. Cut the block in half lengthwise, then into four squares and then cut those into triangles. Marinade them in 1/4 cup of Bragg’s (or Tamari) 1 tbsp Sesame Oil, 2 tsp ground coriander, fresh cracked pepper and enough filtered water to cover the tofu. Let it sit in the marinade for a couple of hours if possible. The longer it sits the better the flavour. You won’t use it all up but keep in the fridge for the next meal or two.
  • Slice thick a small eggplant, red or yellow pepper and one firm tomato. Brush them with a bit of olive oil. Grill 8 slices of tofu and the veggies while you heat 1/2 cup or so of miso gravy on very low heat, stirring now and then, don’t let it bubble. Grill everything so there are grill marks – you might need to grill the tomato a little less so it’s still a bit firm. I use a stove top grill, a good investment!
  • For the sea kelp, I cut them up with scissors, heated a pan and stir-fried them with 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 1/4 cup of water, covered and let warm and soften a bit. Tossing now and then.

  • To serve it up, in a big bowl add the sea kelp noodles, arrange the veggies and tofu slices on top, drizzle with the miso gravy and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

  • Now if this sea kelp idea is a bit funky to you, make some flavourful brown basmati or jasmine rice instead. This is a super comforting dish.

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Roasted Chickpeas

26 09 2011

How has your week kicked off? The weather continues to be balmy here in Calgary. Now that the busy summer is over, I have been enjoying trying a new recipe here and there. The other weekend I tried one of Mark Bittman’s recipes for Roasted Chickpeas. I was looking for something simple and healthful to bring to a certain someone’s non-birthday party and I knew an experiment would be okay with this crowd. For his actual recipe and blog click¬†here.¬†I adapted his recipe to my tastes and seasoned with hot smoked paprika and sea salt. Smoked paprika is popular in Spanish foods. It is super flavourful. I picked some up after taking a Spanish cooking class with Tony before our honeymoon to Almeria, Spain a few years back. At the cooking class we made toasted blanched almonds with smoked paprika and sea salt, which were amazing. I figured it would make¬†chickpeas¬†exciting too.

  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 can, 398ml, drained cooked / canned Chickpeas
  • 1 tsp minced Garlic
  • Fresh cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp or more Hot (or mild) Smoked Paprika

Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Heat the oil¬†over medium heat in an overproof fry pan/skillet that is large enough for the chickpeas to be in one layer. If you have a pan with a handle that might be sensitive to heat, I have seen chefs wrap tin foil around it. Once the oil is hot, add the chickpeas, garlic, half the salt and some cracked pepper. The garlic and chickpeas will crackle a bit, shake the pan so the chickpeas are coated. Place the pan in the oven. Roast in the oven for 20-30 min (mine took 30 to get a crunchier skin), shaking the pan every 5 min or so. When they’re done, sprinkle with the paprika and the rest of the salt, toss, taste, adjust and serve.

Smoked Paprika Roasted Chickpeas

I found the crispness didn’t last very long, but everyone that tried them said they were good and would be good on a salad too. Tony kept eating them in the car on the way to the party (bad distracted driver).

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Hungarian Lesco

19 09 2011

How was your weekend? Mine was filled with cooking, eating and visiting. It was nice to spend time with friends and family and have few things to achieve. What I love about this blog is sharing traditional recipes with you, ones that are passed down through the generations. Today Tony and I made Lesco (Lecho in English, pronounced lech-oh). Lecso is a Hungarian pepper stew. I am lucky to have a husband that finds this to be a comfort food like I do. He was on and on about making some for winter, so we headed out to the farmers markets Saturday in search of sweet yellow Hungarian peppers, paprika and onions. Now when I say we made lesco, we made A LOT of lesco.

A sink of peppers and tomatoes

While at yoga T washed and prepped the peppers, 25 pounds of Hungarian peppers and a pound or two of hot banana peppers. I got home and it was straight to work. In two hours we chopped, sautéed and stewed. We kept some aside for dinner and packed the rest up in freezer bags for winter.

T prepping hot peppers (gloves a must for contact wearers ūüôā

My mom taught me how to make lesco a couple of years ago, she learned from grandma and developed our family recipe I grew up eating. This was my first attempt on my own, easy peesy, and it tastes just like moms :).

Sauteing Peppers

Here is my family recipe for Lesco (I’ve given you a smaller portion size here):

  • 2 bags sweet Hungarian Peppers (the produce bags you get from the grocery/market), seeded and chopped
  • 5 hot Banana Peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 medium or 3 small sweet White Onions, chopped
  • 5 medium Tomatoes or 8 Roma or 1 can Whole Tomatoes
  • 4-5 tbsp Hungarian or Spanish Paprika (sweet, red and full of flavour)
  • 3/4 – 1 c Sour Creme
  • Olive Oil for saut√©ing
  • 2 tsp Sea Salt

BIG pot of Lesco

Blanche the tomatoes, remove skin, chop. Saute the onion in olive oil until transparent. Add 1-2 tbsp of paprika and 1 tsp salt, mix. Add the tomatoes to the onion mixture, warm through. Set aside. In the meantime or after the onions are done, saute the chopped hot peppers in one pan and the sweet peppers in another large pot in olive oil. That way you can add the hot peppers to the mixture a bit at a time. Saute peppers until al dente. Add tomato-onion mixture to the sweet peppers, mix over low-medium heat. Add small portions of the hot peppers and taste until you have a heat level you like. If you don’t like hot, do add at least one hot pepper, it gives it flavour. Add 2-3 more tbsp of paprika, 1 tsp or more of salt to taste. Stew low-medium heat for 15-20 min. Add the sour creme, stir well.

Lesco Packed up for Winter

Eat fresh with fresh sour dough bread, mmmm. We had ours for dinner and packed the rest up for the freezer.
If you are in Calgary and want Hungarian paprika, I found gorgeous paprika it at the Crossroads Market, at the Hungarian Deli.
What traditional foods bring you comfort?
Eat well, Be well,
Nat




Goddess Dressing

6 07 2011

So I planned on just doing a quick post on a simple salad I made…nothing ever turns out simple though AND I learned something of course :). Most nights after work we eat a big salad. I think I have mentioned before that I eat lots through the day and wind it down at night. I sleep better when I don’t eat complex carbs after 4PM (complex carbs = flour, potatoes, grains etc). This is important when you are going to bed early and getting up early for physical activity, in my case ashtanga yoga. Eating lightly at night lets the system rest and not spend the night with a slow metabolism trying to crank through a big bowl of pasta. If you are one of those that can do that (aka my husband) good on you, I can’t. I eat my whole grains, the more the better, veggies and such through the day and finish the day with a bit of protein and a salad.

Salad dressings around here are quite simple. The kind you throw many ingredients into a jar and shake. We use a lot of olive oil and different vinegar’s, apple cider being a favourite. Piri Piri olive oil, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper is a staple too. Sometimes I make blended dressings, made with cucumbers, avocados and a variety of nuts. For a treat and a quick go to dressing I grab Simply Natural’s Goddess Dressing. In writing this blog entry, I of course googled it to find a picture and fell upon a gaggle of goddess type dressings. Apparently ‘green goddess dressing’ was a big trend in the late 70’s. It is a mayo, anchovy and herb dressing. Some include avocado, others have dropped the anchovy and all of them include a different variety of herbs, giving it a green hue. Huh.

Anyhow, in a snap, Simply Organic’s Goddess Dressing makes any salad a big yum. The other day I threw together a bunch of veggies I had in the refrigerator like shredded red cabbage, chopped cucumber, shredded carrot, diced red pepper, sliced avocado, a radish from the garden and a diced tomato. I warmed up some falafel’s and threw them on there with some Goddess Dressing. The dressing has tahini in it so it is perfect with falafel’s. I get mine at Planet Organic, and I am sure you can find it near you in an organic section.

Eat Well, Be Well,

Nat





Lunch at Work v.5 – Rice Salad Bowl

6 06 2011

How has your week started off? Soggy if you’re in Calgary. I was going to blog again¬†about the miracle lettuce yesterday. I took a picture of the little greens yesterday morning and was convinced they hadn’t grown since the first picture was taken almost two weeks ago. Well after a day in the sun low and behold I swear the miracle lettuce grew (and everything else around me). So, I’ll give it another soggy week and see what happens. I sowed some lettuce seeds right beside it though so I have a control group and something to compare. ūüôā

Lots going on in the food world these days. An important debate we must pay attention to is the conservative governments work to end the Wheat Board in Canada. Listen to a podcast on CBC about it here. There are two very different sides to this story and although it didn’t make much press prior to the federal election, it sure is now. I continue to research this issue – it and the GMO challenges companies like Monsanto create makes for the business of food something to stay alert to. See my last post on the geopolitics of food.

Recently I heard a great story on CBC Calgary on how to truly buy community supported and wild sourced salmon. Karen Anderson, a CBC regular and city ‘food finder’, brings us Skipper Otto’s Wild BC Salmon in this podcast. I know I don’t talk meat on this blog often, but renewable, local sourced foods are important, especially if you eat meat (for articles about this read Mark Bittman¬†in the NYTimes¬†here). I will think about signing up with the Skipper. You can follow the fishing season on his blog.

Well, I couldn’t just give away a recipe without directing you to a few bigger issues, so there you have it and now here’s a recipe for work. I am a bit notorious when it comes to eating this. I hadn’t blogged about it because it seemed lame, but I am sharing it because it is healthy, lasts a week, packs well and in a pinch fills the belly and keeps you satisfied. I have said that I am a mono-dieter at times, this is a good example of a lunch I don’t think much about and when I am busy, comes in very handy, over and over again. Use your imagination on this one, the options are endless (hence why I eat it so regularly).

Rice Salad Bowl

  • 4 cups Cooked Brown Rice of your choice (or half quinoa or grain of your choice; try soaking the rice for a day, makes the cooking time way quicker)
  • 1 can Organic Beans of your choice (garbanzo, black, pinto, butter, kidney, etc, etc)
  • 1/2 cup Carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup Celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup Red or Green Bell Peppers, diced
  • Add any kind of veggies you like, fennel, broccoli, radishes, sprouts, cauliflower, cucumber, mushrooms, cooked yams, zucchini, etc, etc.
  • Season with something simple like Olive Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, Salt and Pepper or chop up Parsley, Basil, Cilantro, what ever you have. Add your favourite salad dressing, but keep it natural.
I mix the rice, veggies and spices/herbs together in a big bowl and refrigerate that. I scoop it into my lunch container each night and add the dressing. It packs well so no need to refrigerate. I sometimes saute or steam some of the veggies first and then mix things up. Recently I sautéed almond meal (from making almond butter) with some veggies and added it to the rice. Make it your own, whatever you like. If you keep the dressing simple you are adding a very clean, healthy and whole food meal to your day that fills you up and feels good.
Eat well, Be well
Nat




KFM: Southwest Coleslaw

24 04 2011

Well spring is finally starting to bloom in Calgary, although we have about 2 feet of snow piled up in our back yard that still has to melt. Not sure how the gardening is gonna go this year, although I have my sights on a greenhouse this year, hope to share that with ya’ll.

What to make for dinner this week? How about coleslaw. It sits well in the fridge for a day or two and is a bright and healthy addition to any meal. We love cabbage and have been buying some great red and green cabbage from the KF Market lately. I found a few recipes on-line, the best one was from Vegetarian Times, but I thought it was a bit bland so I spiced it up (do I ever follow a recipe?).

I used Piri Piri sauce in this recipe. Piri Piri is a Portuguese chili. They are very flavourful and some hotter than others. I have been cooking with piri piri a long time with our family travels to Portugal. I bought whole peppers this last time and put them into some Portuguese olive oil to flavour the oil. I saw this a lot over there. Piri Piri is becoming more popular here, I have bumped into once in a while, if you see it, try it out. If you don’t, use Tabasco or Franks Hot or any other tangy chili sauce you like. You could use fresh grated horseradish in this recipe instead of the piri piri, would be delicious. That’s an idea from my bro, who was over for dinner last night.

  • 4 cups Shredded Green Cabbage (I used half red and half green)
  • 1 cup Shredded Carrots
  • 1 Red Pepper, sliced thin

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp Mayonnaise (use what you prefer, I buy Organic Spectrum brands, use a vegan version if you like)
  • 1 tbsp Light Sour Creme or Plain Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 2 tbsp Whole Grain Mustard
  • 1 tsp Piri Piri Sauce, Tabasco, Horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp Dill (dry is fine)
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
Shred the cabbage and carrots using a food processor if you have it, so easy. If not a mandoline works. Whisk the dressing ingredients together. Add to the salad and mix well. Chill in the fridge at least an hour before serving (or not, and dig in). The chilling will allow the flavours to set, and a bit of the cabbage to soften a little as it releases water, adding to the dressing. Enjoy!
I hope you enjoyed the long weekend…did you know it was Earth Day on April 22? Might have been overshadowed by all those Easter Bunnies running around (remember last year, click here).
Eat well, Be well,
Nat




KFM: Red Cabbage

8 02 2011

If you like red cabbage, you’ll really like this recipe, if you don’t, try it, it might change your mind about cabbage. Red cabbage is so sweet and in a Calgary winter it is one of the few ‘close to home grown’ veggies besides root veggies that you can find. We picked up this big delicious red cabbage at the Kingsland Farmers Market last weekend and last Monday, the New York Times health section printed this recipe (a good link to follow on Twitter). Match made in heaven. I usually saute cabbage in a bit of olive oil and butter and fresh ground pepper or use it raw in salads in the summer. The NYT recipe was easy, sounded good so we tried it. It was the perfect accompaniment to our dinner on Saturday night.

Red Cabbage is a¬†cruciferous vegetable, and in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and radishes. It is high in vitamin C, fibre and phytochemicals, those chemical compounds found in fruits and vegetables that are cancer fighting. If I wasn’t so excited about the cabbage on Saturday night I would have remembered to take a photo of it :). It made for great left overs the next day, just warmed it up.

I have changed some of the ingredients based on taste. Next time I would use four eggs for that much cabbage. As well, I sprinkled some cheese on the top, or nothing would have ‘browned’ as it said. If you want the original recipe, it is in the NYT link above.

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small – medium Onion, finely chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced small
6 to 7 cups shredded Red Cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tbsp chopped fresh Dill or 2 tsp dried Dill Weed
2 tsp sweet or smoky Paprika (I used 1 tsp of both)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp of Cayenne pepper (add this for some zip)
3 Free Range Eggs
1/2 cup organic Milk
1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, grated
1/2 tsp Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart gratin dish. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about five to 10 minutes. Add the red pepper. Cook, stirring, until the pepper is tender and the onion is beginning to color, about five minutes. Stir in the cabbage, dill, paprika and cayenne. Add salt to taste, and cook, stirring, until the cabbage begins to wilt, about five minutes. Cover the pan, turn the heat to low and continue to cook for another five to 10 minutes until the cabbage is tender. Remove from the heat.
***If you don’t cool this mixture ¬†and add the eggs, the eggs will cook, not good. I put the whole pot outside to cool it down to avoid this. Something the recipe didn’t mention

2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, and whisk in about 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Whisk in the milk, and stir in the cabbage mixture and the cheese. Scrape into the baking dish.

3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for 10 minutes or longer before serving. Add fresh cracked pepper to the top to serve.

Yield: Serves four to six.

Advance preparation: You can make this through Step 1 hours or even a day before assembling and baking. The baked gratin will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, and it can be reheated in a medium oven.

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Spaghetti Squash Aglio e Olio

27 01 2011

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. It is a very simple recipe, cooked spaghetti, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes. We don’t eat a lot of pasta, especially at night, it is just to heavy. If we do it is usually brown rice pasta. The only way I like to eat regular pasta is if it is REAL Italian pasta, made fresh, then it’s worth the pound of dough in your belly ūüôā

I picked up a spaghetti squash, a favourite,¬†at the market last week. I made a version of this classic Italian recipe swapping out the pasta for the squash, it is delicious and a great accompaniment to your dinner plate. Squash takes a bit of time to cook, but it’s worth it. By the time you do everything else to prepare a meal, it is ready AND you can eat it for dinner or lunch through the week, just put in the fridge.

1 Spaghetti Squash
1-2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 clove minced Garlic (you can skip for sattvic)
2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 tsp fresh or dried Oregano (my edition)
1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the stem end off the squash and slice lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. In a roasting dish place them cut side down, add about 1/3 cup of water to the pan. Bake until they are tender, but not soft, about 1 hour. I check them at 45 min by removing the pan from the oven, turning one¬†over and lightly scraping the squash and tasting a strand or two to check the consistency. You don’t want to over cook or it gets mushy, yuck. When it’s done, al dante, let it sit for a moment or put an oven mit on to hold the squash while you scrape the flesh out using a fork. Go right to the skin, lengthwise putting the stringy squash into a bowl. If using the garlic, then in a saute pan heat the oil, add the¬†pepper flakes¬†and garlic until lightly brown, add the squash and oregano, toss and serve. If you are not using the garlic, just add the pepper flakes, olive oil and oregano right to the squash and toss in the bowl, that’s what I did. Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, or toss together.

Eat well, Be Well,

Nat





Spicy Black Bean Soup

13 12 2010

Oh Hi, still there, it’s bean awhile, sorry, couldn’t resist the pun to the blog title. But it has been some time since my last blog, they say time makes the heart grow fonder, or in this case, the tummy hungrier ūüôā

I have made this bean soup over and over again, Tony loves it, I love it, it is just so good. It is from a cook book¬†that will remain nameless but I think with my edits we’re safe. I make it using Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce. You have probably seen this can to the right when perusing the grocery isles? I picked it up at Planet Organic awhile ago knowing an opportunity to use them would come along. Does anyone else do that, just buy different food ingredients in hopes to use them one day? My favourite thing to do when travelling is grocery shop, I have got some of the best stuff that way!

I tried this recipe for the first time last winter and when it asked for chipotle peppers, jalapeno peppers that have been smoked and dried, I was stuck. Until ‘Oh yeah, I have a can of chipotle in adobo sauce’! What’s adobo sauce? It’s a general Latin American sauce of tomatoes, garlic, vinegar and spices (so says Wikipedia). I thought, that’ll work. What I love about using these is they go a long way and I freeze the rest (not in the can).

  • 1 small Onion, chopped (I don’t skip the onion in this recipe, but if you want to make this sattvic, than skip, I’m sure it would be fine. I don’t add garlic, but you can do that too, 2-4 cloves)
  • 1 stalk Celery
  • 3 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, chopped (if you don’t like spice, maybe try 1-2 peppers for first pot of soup; if you do have dried Chipotle Peppers, use them instead!)
  • 2 cans of Black Beans (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tsp white wine or regular white Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground Cloves (about 8 whole cloves)
  • 2 small Sweet Potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp ground Pepper
  • 6 cups Vegetable Stock (2-3 low sodium cubes and 6 cups boiling water)

In a soup pot, saute the onion and celery (and garlic if using it) in the olive oil until soft. Add everything else, including the vegetable stock, stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and cook uncovered until the sweet potatoes are softened, about 10-15 minutes. Once sweet potatoes are soft, take it off the heat and puree with an emersion blender. You can use a regular blender but remember not to close the lid tight, better to let the soup cool and then blend, the steam can cause an explosion. Bad for hands and ceiling. I have also seen cooks put a dish cloth between the blender and lid so the steam escapes and is not trapped when blending. Whatever you do, be careful and if you make soup now and then, go get an emersion blender, the best kitchen investment you’ll make.

I like to serve this soup with diced tomatoes, red peppers or avocado on top with a splash of lime juice and tortilla chips.

Eat Well, Be Well,

Nat