Peonies, Dad, Lettuce and Asparagus

19 06 2011

June is slipping past us and a sign that the weather is different is in the peonies. Our wedding anniversary is on Tuesday, June 21 and peonies were the flower of the day. At our wedding in 2008 I was able to cut one to bring with me, placing it on a chair as a symbol of those who were no longer with us. White peonies are my favourite. Big white flowers with their enveloping scent. A sign summer has arrived. We have three beautiful peony plants in our yard, and they are tall with big flower buds, but no sign of blooming, maybe by Tuesday? We’ll see. The sun is peeking out from the clouds and the rain has stopped (sort of) today, crossing fingers we’ll dry up a bit.

Memorable Peony

June is also the month for Fathers Day. Wishing the fathers out there a wonderful day. Here’s one of my dad and I from the archives…food related of course. 🙂 Love you dad.

Me and Dad

How’s the miracle lettuce you ask? Well it is a miracle. Growing and should be ready to eat in a few weeks (you can see the little spinach sprouts on the left and more lettuce on the right in the picture below). Can you believe it? I am going to leave the plants in this fall and see if we can have an early harvest again next year. Must have been all that snow that insulated it, it’s good for something!

Growing 'Miracle' Lettuce

Nothing says spring like asparagus. In Alberta we are seeing local crops at the farmers market. Asparagus is a flowering perennial that is picked before it flowers. Only in the spring is asparagus in season and lucky for us in Alberta we see asparagus from April through July because of all the ‘springs’ we can take advantage of! I picked up some local asparagus at the Kingsland Farmers Market on Friday and roasted it last night. It is so nice to grill asparagus, but it was pouring rain outside. If you are in Calgary enjoy the local harvest, it is good for you. Asparagus is full of vitamins and minerals.

  • A bundle or two of Asparagus, snap the ends off
  • Olive Oil
  • Course sea salt
  • Course cracked pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Creme Balsamic Vinegar
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place asparagus on a cookie sheet, in one row. Drizzle with olive oil. I used my Piri Piri Olive Oil, I use it on EVERYTHING. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Roast in oven for 15 min, turning over half way. Don’t over cook, I like them bright green and a bit firm. Take out of the oven, place in a dish, shave or sprinkle with parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar. If you don’t have creme balsamic, use regular, but I highly recommend getting a bottle of the creme, it’s so good on fresh tomatoes and basil in the summer. (and check out my attempt to use the photo app Hipstamatic to capture the asparagus)
June 21 marks the first day of Summer, the Summer Solstice. Wishing you a lovely and bountiful season.
Eat well, Be Well,

Parsnip Soup

19 01 2011

I recently went to NOtaBLE for lunch with a fellow Health Food Junkie and we had the most amazing parsnip soup (followed by a killer grilled cheese, not so healthy, but satisfying :)). The soup was very simple, parsnip, apple with a blue cheese creme fresh on top, yum. I hadn’t made parsnip soup before, so I looked around for recipes. I found this recipe on Food Network Canada and it looked great, developed by a holistic dietician. I made a few changes based on taste. With the research I did I can experiment with recreating the parsnip and apple soup now too.

There is so much to love about this soup recipe.

1. I love parsnips and could eat roasted parsnips every winter day. Mmmm, roasted with carrots and beets. Parsnips are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. I got these fine organic parsnips from my favourite market, the Kingsland Farmers Market.

2. It calls for coconut oil. According to some health practitioners coconut oil is the most healthiest of oils. It is a saturated Medium-Chain Fatty Acid (MCFA) and is metabolized differently then saturated and unsaturated Long-Chain Fatty Acids which is what animal and vegetable fats are. Although saturated they do not negatively effect cholesterol. I won’t bore you with the science, but it is worth looking into for yourself and while you’re at it, look into why you shouldn’t be congesting margarine and oil like products. Some fats are good for you, investigate this, it is part of healthy digestion, metabolism and weight management.

3. It has white cannellini beans so it is a hearty soup, with a good source of protein and fibre.

4. It is so easy to make! You don’t even peel the carrots or parsnips. Buy organic and scrub them a little with a veggie scrub.

1 cup dried White Beans, Navy or Cannellini, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
1 Yellow Onion, chopped (for sattvic, skip)
2 stalks Celery, chopped
1 Carrot, unpeeled, chopped
4 medium Parsnips, unpeeled, chopped
1 clove Garlic (or 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder, or skip for sattvic)
2 tbsp Organic Coconut Oil
1/2 tsp fresh or dry Thyme
1/2 tsp fresh or dry Sage
Sea Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
5-6 cups of Filtered Water

  • In a soup pot, add the coconut oil, carrots, celery and onion over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until the vegetables start to brown, about 5-10 min.
  • Add the beans, garlic, thyme, sage, salt and pepper, stir well. Cover with water, about 2-3 cups. Bring to boil and then turn down to simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add parsnips to pot and cover with water plus two inches over the top of vegetables, about 2-3 cups. Bring to boil and then turn down to simmer for another 20 min or so, stirring occasionally. When both the parsnips and beans are tender remove from heat.
  • Using a hand blender, blend the soup until smooth (or let soup cool and use a blender). If the soup is thicker than you’d like (and it will thicken a bit more) add a 1/2 cup or more water. Adjust with salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  • Serve with homemade or sourdough bread. Yum.
  • If you want to make this same day, replace the dried beans for 2 cups of canned beans, do only one boil/simmer step, add the beans 10 min into simmering and then blend when the parsnips are done. That should work but dried soaked beans are always better – keep them in the fridge for a day or so if you run out of time to make the soup.
  • I doubled the recipe, made a nice big pot!

Eat Well, Be Well,


Bean and Feta Wrap

14 06 2010

I am always experimenting with lunch ideas. I am getting ready to start another year-long contract, so the lunches have to get portable again. I hate eating out at work. In all the years I’ve spent in corporate Calgary I think I ate out 1-2x a month. The rest of the time I brought my own healthful meals. After all these years, I have the quick go-to’s, the weekly mono-plan made on Sunday and the tried and trues. The trick is to keep the house stocked with fresh veggies and fruit, healthy grains, tuna, beans and the like. Don’t get me wrong there are days when it’s veggies and humus, a handful of rice crackers and an apple. But this to me is way better than having to forage at the company cafeteria or head to a restaurant.

I have recently enjoyed a new wrap, adapted it from a recipe I have. The original is a bit bland, so I’ve changed it enough to call it my own and have some ideas on how to repeat this with other additives. Even though I warm this on my stove top Panini grill, you can make the filling, bring a pita, bread or rice crackers and eat it on the go.

1 can shelled Fava, Lima/Cannellini or Butter Beans (my fav) Beans

3/4 c Crumbled Feta Cheese

2-3 tbsp Lemon Juice

4 tbsp Olive Oil (I replaced half with Coconut Oil)

1 tbsp fresh Oregano (or 1/2 tbsp dried)

3 tbsp fresh Parsley (optional)

2-3 tbsp chopped Black Olives

Pinch of Salt, lots of fresh cracked Pepper

Drain and rinse the beans. In a bowl, mash the beans using a fork. Once you start mashing, add the oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. The beans don’t have to be smooth, choose a consistency. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, taste and adjust. Spread on a whole wheat/grainy wrap, top with spinach, roll up, folding in the sides. Warm on a Panini or in a fry pan until grill marks/toasted. The sandwich isn’t hot, just warm to your liking. Serve with a salad or a stack of carrot sticks (remember this is supposed to be easy for lunch).

Eat Well, Be Well,



13 04 2010

I was in Fernie the other weekend with some amazing gals from Leadership Calgary. We ate, we drank, we talked, we drank (oops already said that). Healthful living is not about drinking too much wine, but we drank responsibly, went for an amazing hike and attempted to solve some of the worlds problems as we did it, so it was a wash. Anyhow, we all pitched in to serve meals throughout the weekend. We had an amazing cedar planked BBQ salmon, tons of veggies, green smoothies for breakfast accompanied by an amazing bowl of raw sprouted quinoa with fruit and seeds. One night we did tapas that included Thai green curry mussels, cheese, veggies and dips (and a great pairing of wines). One of the dips was a tahini dip I made. I love tahini. It is so versatile and healthful. It adds richness and protein to anything.

I have two staple tahini dips I make. Both of them I learned while in Goa from a vegan chef. Now, the amounts are what ever you want to make them, I use a regular soup spoon and scoop and pour using it as the measure. Play around with the amounts for taste and thickness. These are both good thicker as dips or a bit thinner as salad dressings/sauces. I especially like them spooned over salads full of veggies and sprouted legumes and seeds.

Tahini Dip/Dressing #1

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

Mix together in a small bowl, incorporating all the ingredients. This will be a thicker dressing/dip so add a Tbsp of water at a time for the consistency you’d like.

Tahini Dip/Dressing #2

3 Tahini
2 Lemon Juice (add some zest too)
1 Olive Oil
Pinch of sea salt
Mix together in small bowl. Double or triple the recipe to make as much as you like. Add this to cubed and cooked squash or pumpkin and a can of chickpeas. Serve warm with brown rice.
I am experimenting with different veggie pate’s using almond meal (from making almond ‘milk’) and tahini, i’ll let you know what my favourite one is soon enough. So much to eat, so much to share…
Eat well, be well,

White Bunnies and Easter Goodies

6 04 2010

As if, I wouldn’t eat bunnies for dinner. In fact, when I was a kid (like 5 or something) I remember my old great uncle Mike was a rabbit farmer. When he came to town he brought the bunnies with him. I played with them in my baba’s (grandmother’s) backyard. They even had a little wood house for them. We ran and played until we tired, both the bunnies and I. At dinner, I think Easter, the food was served. Inquisitive as I was, I said, as my mom was dishing a meat thing on my plate, “what is that?”, mom said “rabbit, what do you think it is” (because an urban Hungarian-Polish-Ukrainian kid is suppose to think like a farm kid). Well I think I screamed, at least that is my memory, and never touched rabbit again. 10 years later cows and pigs ‘fell off the plate’.

Anyhow, I was working in the house on Good Friday, and out the front window, running down Elbow Dr. was a herd of rabbits. White rabbits just given’r like they were running for their lives. It was hilarious. Go bunnies Go!

Easter morning we went to grandma K’s for a waffle breakfast. She made like 100 waffles, they kept coming out of the oven “eat, eat”. She makes her own jam, like many people do. She experiments with ‘low sugar’ or substitutes, you know to “watch the calories”. She made the yummiest jam ever, prune jam. I love prunes, we always have a bag in the cupboard, so good for you and keeps you regular. She took soft, dried prunes, chopped them up, added Welches unsweetened prune juice and cooked it up into a jam. Into a jar and into the fridge to spread on waffles, toast and whatever else you like. Try it, it is good!

Hope everyone has a nice long weekend.

Eat well,


Fast Food

21 03 2010

Friday night was our first night back and we were craving fast and comforting food. I love Mexican but unless you are buying and cutting up veggies like we did, plentiful veggies are hard to come by eating out. We were foggy headed on Friday – got home at 2AM, into bed by 3AM and gone by 9AM and dealing with daylight savings, that happens April 4 in Sayulita. I made it to Planet Organic for groceries and looked in the freezer and fridge to sort out dinner. Before Mexico I threw leftover cooked quinoa and brown rice in the freezer. Along with the veggies I picked up I made this healthful bowl for dinner, it was great and hit the spot.

2 cups cooked Quinoa and Brown Rice

3-4 Sun Dried Tomatos in oil, finely diced + tsp or so of the oil

3 Yellow Beets, cubed

3 small Sweet Potatoes, cubed

1/2 Red Onion, chopped

1 Red Pepper, chopped

1 Zucchini, chopped

3 Tbsp Olive Oil, salt & pepper and various spices like oregano, dried basil, thyme and rosemary

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Heat oven to 425F. Place beets, sweet potatoes and onion in a roasting dish, toss with olive oil and spices and roast for 45 to 60 min, stir occasionally. Roast until veggies start to soften, add the red pepper and zucchini, roast a bit longer, say 15-30 min, depends on the dish you use and how cooked the veggies are. Just aim to have them all about the same texture, soft not mushy. When they are ready, in a heated saute pan add the rice, quinoa and sun dried tomatoes with oil and stir-fry till hot. In a big bowl add the rice, spoon over the veggies and top with feta, as much as you like. Garnish with fresh cracked pepper. Dinner is served.

Eat well, Nat

Just Eat It: One Pot Moroccan Goodness

10 03 2010

This month’s recipe for the Shala’s ‘Just Eat It’ column is a real simple, hearty and healthful Moroccan stew. Winter is coming to an end, give the winter veggies one last hurrah before the change in seasons – the veggies here are definitely negotiable and I love that this recipe can change with the seasons. The sweetness of the dried fruit and the warming of the coconut milk and curry make for a comfort food in our home.

Both cumin and turmeric are considered medicinal herbs. Cumin has long been used all over the world as a digestive aid and is a source of iron. Turmeric a popular ingredient in salves and an aid to injuries throughout Asia. It is an antioxidant, antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Curry powder is mix of spices and can include these spices but can also includes coriander, fenugreek, ginger, cardamom and mustard seeds to name a few. Curry powders are prominent across Asia, are full of goodness so choose your favourite to use in this recipe.

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Red Onion (small onion or skip if you are anti-onion), chopped up

2 large Carrots chopped up

2 cups Vegetable Stock (homemade is best or use a low sodium, organic veggie cube in 2 cups warm water)

1 400 ml can Coconut Milk

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Cayenne

1-2 Tbsp Curry Powder (depending on how strong your curry powder is and what you like)

4 Tbsp ground Cumin

1/2 tsp Turmeric

Veggies to pick from, add at least 4-5 items, cut them into chunks, skin and all: 2 Potatoes, 1 Sweet Potato, 1 Yam, 1 Eggplant, 2 Green Pepper, 2 Red Peppers, 1 Zucchini, 1 cup Cauliflower, 1 Rutabaga, 1 Turnip – sky’s the limit!

1 400 ml can Chick Peas (or 2 cups cooked from dried)

1/4 cup raisins or chopped unsulphured dried apricots

1/8 cup dried grated Coconut (unsweetened)

Sea Salt to taste

– Add the onion and carrots to a large pot with 1/2 cup of stock and olive oil. Cook over medium heat until onion softens

– Add the spices, stirring for a minute, add the coconut milk

– Add the veggies that take a bit longer to cook like potatoes, sweet potatoes or yams and the rest of the stock, cover and cook for 5 minutes

– Add the rest of the veggies, chickpeas, raisins/apricots and coconut, cover and cook until veggies are soft but not over cooked, about 15-20 minutes. Flavour with sea salt

Serve over quinoa, brown basmati rice or on it’s own. Garnish with a few sprinkles of coconut and eat it!

Eat well, Nat

Dani’s Egg Salad

8 03 2010

My friend Daniella ‘the pastry chef’ and Super Mom in Arizona (whose pastries you might have heard me boast about) gave me an Egg Salad recipe years ago. It’s been awhile since I made it, but we are going to Mexico and I wanted to use up the eggs in the fridge and a few other things, de-licious.

Dani’s Egg Salad:
6 hard boiled eggs, diced

1 small onion, diced and sautéed in a bit of olive oil. Cool off and mix with the rest of the ingredients

3 Tbsp Mayo

Salt and Pepper

Mix and mash all the ingredients together.

What I added/changed looking in the fridge:

2 Tbsp Mayo instead of 3 (I use this organic ‘real mayo’ that doesn’t have much zip and can seem eggy)

1/2 Tbsp Prepared mustard (bit of a kick to compensate for the eggy organic mayo)

I used scallions instead of onion (left over from Wagamama night, see earlier post), sautéed them

1/2 Tbsp of chopped cilantro also left from Wagamama night

Mix and mash the ingredients all together, serve on toasted grainy bread with sliced tomatoes on the side. Lunch is served!

Thanks Dani 🙂

Eat well,


Just Eat It: Kale Chips

14 02 2010

My good friend Dana owns the Yoga Shala in Calgary. In her monthly newsletter there will be a section dedicated to good food, it’s called ‘Just Eat It’. This month we published Kale chips. I adapted this recipe from a raw food class I took. I really enjoyed the raw food class, some of it was basics I had known and other things I had just not bothered to try. I have been experimenting with raw food recipes for awhile now. I don’t eat all raw, there is something so nourishing about a good bowl of soup in the winter that I have a hard time giving up. I’d say raw is more prevalent in the summer months for me. But I have replaced my ‘fruit+hemp powder morning shake’ with a ‘green smoothie’ (fruit+lots of spinach or kale or any leafy green+water). I feel a big loss if I miss out in it in the morning. It is simply the easiest way to get 1-2 servings of fruit and 2-4 servings of veggies and all before lunch! Keep increasing the ratio of greens to fruit, it helps maintain blood sugar levels. Sip throughout the morning.

Kale chips seem to be a popular raw food snack. It is so easy and so good for you. Kale is a leafy green and is high in vitamins K, A and C, fibre and an antioxidant. This veggie packs a healthful punch and even Dana liked them (maybe because they are disguised like chips).

1 bunch organic curly leafed kale, washed and dried

1/8 cup walnut oil

1 Tbl lemon juice

1/2 tsp sea salt

Pinch garlic powder or 1 clove minced garlic (optional for sattvic yogis)

Tear kale off the thick stem into bite size pieces, place in bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients. ‘Massage’ the oil mixture into the kale, so it is evenly coated. Place in single layer on sheets in dehydrator for 2.5 hours. Or, preheat oven to lowest setting (150F-175F), turn oven off. Place kale in single layer on baking sheets, put in oven. If you have an oven thermometer, check the temperature every 30 minutes and warm oven again when it drops below 90F. Your finished when kale is dry and crisp, about 2 hours. I have an oven that heats to 150F, I just leave it on, flipping and moving the kale around every 30 min. If you are a raw food purest, this would be inappropriate, but drying kale in the oven is still more beneficial than eating potato chips! If you love them, double or triple the recipe. Eat it.

Eat well, Natalie