Recipe: Roasted Kale with Pumpernickel Croutons

Roasted Kale with Pumpernickel Croutons

Continuing along on my attempts to come up with some healthy alternatives to some of the typical holiday dishes, I wanted to try something that could replace stuffing. I’m not saying that anything in life really REPLACES stuffing, but instead of a high fat, high carb, high salt dish, this is a delicious and easy alternative. If you don’t want to replace your traditional stuffing(because you’re not insane), then this makes a great recipe for a vegetarian side dish! I think I’m going to take this one to next week’s first Christmas party of the season!

Roasted Kale with Pumpernickel Croutons

Directions: Remove spines and chop a whole head of kale into medium sized pieces. Place in a large baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Add a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes, some crumbled feta, sliced almonds and set aside. Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, place half a loaf of pumpernickel bread, chopped into crouton sized pieces. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and a dash of sea salt. The bread will really soak these things up, so stir until you feel like most pieces of bread have some oil and vinegar soaked into them. Add them to the kale. Squeeze half a lemon over the kale and roast until mostly crisp, about 45 minutes.

Recipe: Veggie Cakes

veggie puree and chickpeas

This recipe was inspired by a formula that goes something like this: tired of my usual bean recipes + conversation with a friend re making healthier food for the holidays + random serendipitous colliding of ingredients = Veggie Cakes!

These yummy little treasures are beyond easy to prepare. We ate them tonight as an entree(by we I mean me and Sexy Husband. Kids were not even willing to try it, Monkeys), but I think they would make a perfect holiday appy! They are the same size and texture of a crab cake or fish cake and the recipe makes about 12. They are vegetarian, very low fat, high fibre, high protein, completely clean and could easily be made gluten free by using gf bread crumbs.

Here’s my goal this holiday season: to cook food that makes those around my table feel comforted and cared for, that is healthy for their bodies, to serve delicious appys at parties that aren’t utterly unhealthy, to give those who are interested some ideas on how to do the same, to indulge just a tiny bit in the most special of treats(think Christmas Cookie Exchange), and to breathe in every moment with my Dearest Ones.

Veggie Cakes

Makes 12

3 cups cooked chickpeas

3 cups spinach

1 cup broccoli florets

1/2 cup crumbled feta

sea salt

2 eggs, whisked in a bowl set aside

2 cups(approx) bread crumbs in a bowl set aside

Directions: In a food processor on high, puree the spinach, broccoli and feta. Add in the chickpeas and  pulse until chickpeas are starting to mash, but are not pureed, still chunky, about 5 pulses. Sprinkle with sea salt. Take a handful of the chickpea mixture, gently squeeze it together in your hand to form it into a ball. Roll ball in egg and then in bread crumbs. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet. Flatten slightly to be a cake about 4 inches in diameter. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, flip and bake 10 minutes more. Serve warm with a dipping sauce. We dipped in homemade tzatziki!

***here’s a little tip. Dried chickpeas are extremely inexpensive and have way less sodium than canned chickpeas. Buy them in bulk and soak them overnight for quick cooking. If you don’t remember to soak them, you can cook them easily in a slow cooker. Cover the chickpeas with a couple of inches of water and cook on high until tender, about 2-3 hours.***

veggie cakes

Recipe: Bruschetta Baked Omelette

Bruschetta Baked Omelette

My cousin Alex Neary, has been a really big inspiration to me with the healthy cooking business! The best meal I’ve EVER eaten was cooked by Alex. When I decided to write a cookbook, the first thing I did was email her and ask for the 4 recipes she made that meal! Alex finished the same holistic nutritionist program as IronSister, so she’s a wealth of information. She also recently launched her photography business, Wild Eyed. If you are in the Toronto area and need a photographer: check. it. out. I asked Alex to be a guest blogger and the recipe below looks amazing. I think I might just make it myself tonight!

When Alison asked me to contribute to her blog I couldn’t decide on which recipe to write about. After much deliberating I decided on the one dish that I make at least once a week. It’s easy, has little clean up and includes one of the most perfect foods. Eggs. Delicious, nutritiously dense and perfect for any time of the day.

Eggs have a bad reputation. They’re accused of intensely raising our cholesterol, causing heart disease and making you fat. When in reality, they don’t! Only 15% of cholesterol is dietary, the rest is produced by our body from saturated fats. So, saturated fat intake plays a far more significant role. What do people usually eat eggs with? Bacon, sausages, hollandaise sauce, fried hasbrowns….coincidence? Research shows that other factors such as obesity, sedentary lifestyles, poor diet and smoking have a far greater impact on cholesterol levels than eggs do. That being said, there is a small amount of cholesterol present in eggs, but not enough to have a significant impact on your body. To confuse you even more, high cholesterol isn’t even a disease. Heart disease is, but high cholesterol is not. When I was in Nutrition school I remember one of my teachers saying ‘LDL (bad cholesterol) is like a fire alarm, when it’s raised it’s letting you know there’s a fire somewhere that needs to be put out.’ So in other words, if you have high cholesterol, there is a huge chance there is an underlying reason causing it and if you deal with that reason, your cholesterol will lower naturally.

Another issue that seems to arise when it comes to eggs is the yolk. A few days ago I was at the grocery store and was looking at some items and came across a carton of egg whites. My first beef with that is, how is it anymore convenient to open a carton than crack an egg? But I’ll leave that alone. The real problem with this is…where’s the yolk? Eggs are a whole food, so when you take the yolk away, they simply aren’t whole anymore. They were made to be eaten as a whole food! The yolk is where the majority of the goodness is. Yolks contain more than 90% of the calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, B6, folate, and B12, and panthothenic acid of the egg. In addition, the yolks contain ALL of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K in the egg, as well as ALL of the essential fatty acids (EFAs). Eat your eggs as nature intended!!!!

Now that I’ve cleared that up, I’ll share with you my recipe. It takes no time at all to prepare, it’s satisfying and makes delicious leftovers!

Bruschetta Baked Omelette

Beat together 5-6 eggs until they are thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl, combine;
3 diced tomatoes
1 minced red onion
5 chopped garlic cloves
a handful of basil chopped up (more if you like, I usually do A LOT!)
and some goat feta cheese crumbled up (I usually do A LOT of this too)

Add the bruschetta mixture to the eggs and stir it all together. Pour into a cast iron skillet (or any round oven proof dish) and season with some freshly ground pepper. Bake at 350 for approx 40mins (give or take). To be honest with you, I’m the type of chef that forgets when I have stuff in my oven but always seem to remember exactly when it’s perfectly done so I’m not entirely sure how long this takes to cook!

Easy Peasy….Bon Appetit

cast iron skillet

Recipe: Tomato Feta Confit

tomato feta confit

Confession: I don’t really get that excited about the slow cooker. I know…gasp…right? I use the slow cooker for the odd meal, most frequently to cook beans, but I think I associate the slow cooker with meaty dishes. You know, stick a roast and some potatoes in, and by the end of the day…dinner! And definitely the slow cooker comes in handy for this, but I make so few meat dishes that usually I choose other methods to prepare it when I do. I also probably don’t use it that often because meals for me are not about how quickly and conveniently I can make something. I like to cook, and usually have or make the time to do it. However, slow cookers are great for a number of reasons, including the convenience piece. They use a FRACTION of the energy that heating an oven requires. To have the slow cooker on all day is still significantly more green than using the oven at all! Slow cookers also seem to represent those recipes we all want when we are cold or tired or needing to be comforted. It seems fallish doesn’t it?

Kristy-Anne is away for a couple of weeks(sniff…sob) but she left me a huge bag of tomatoes from her aunt’s garden. They are so red and so delicious and I’ve enjoyed cooking some tomato based meals this week. Today I whipped up this little recipe and it is so easy, about 5 ingredients, slow cooker friendly, and perfect fall comfort food. I hope you enjoy it! The potatoes and tomatoes combine to be perfectly falling apart but not too liquidy. The feta makes it a bit creamy, and the greek oregano makes the house smell too delicious for words.

Tomato Feta Confit

Serves about 4

approx 2 lbs new potatoes, quartered

approx 6 medium tomatoes, quartered

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup crumbled feta

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp oregano(or a greek spice mix)

sea salt to taste

Directions: In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients. Heat on high until bubbling (approx 1 hour) and then low until you’re ready to eat (or low all day). Serve with a salad for a vegetarian entree, or as a side dish!

Confession: I scooped some out to take a picture(above) and promptly ate the whole bowl. Random afternoon snack!

Recipe: Leek Potato Cauliflower Soup

warm soup on a cold day

Tricky as it’s proving to be, I have tried very hard today to have a good attitude about the snowy rooftops that greeted us this morning, the dreary grey forecast and the slight blue tinge to my fingers. The day started off well with a trip to the Farmer’s Market. Always a highlight. Usually we go as a family, but today, Picky Princess was busy at preschool, so Sexy Husband and I took Foodie Baby for a morning visit. We don’t get to do a lot with just her and she clearly loved all the attention, being extra sweet and charming. After a predictably great coffee from Phil & Sebs, inspiration greeted us in the form of produce that just seemed to be begging to be turned into soup. This recipe is what came from our need to be warm, comforted and together around the table. So tasty, so easy.

Leek Potato Cauliflower Soup

Serves 4

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 leeks, pale green and white parts coarsely chopped

1 large russet potato, coarsely chopped

2 cups (approx) cauliflower, coarsely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

sea salt

1/2 tsp red chili flakes (I used Aleppo chiles)

3 cups water

shredded parmesan

Directions: In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add all the vegetables, sea salt to taste and chiles. Saute for a few minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add water and simmer until potatoes are soft approximately 20 minutes. Using a wire whisk, smash large chunks of vegetables so that soup thickens a bit. Serve garnished with shredded parm.

Recipe: Roasted Pepper Hummus Stuffed Potatoes

hummus stuffed potatoes, braised cabbage and apples, fried cauliflower

Because Sexy Husband is a gracious foodie who is willing to try anything, it has been an easy evolution to becoming a “vegetarian” family. I put vegetarian in quotes because we do eat meat every once in a while and I feel like the “v” word sets you up for scrutiny. No thanks. So we eat vegetarian probably 6 out of 7 days a week. And when we do eat meat, it’s fine, we like it, whatever.

This weekend Sexy Husband and I were away for a couple of days and found a FABULOUS restaurant called Nuba. It was described as Lebanese food in the tradition of the 1940s when Lebanon was considered the Paris of the Middle East. Even the description sounds fabulous. We went with another lovely couple and pretty much ordered one of everything on the menu and shared it all. Such a fun way to eat. Highlights included but are not limited to the following: apple lime sangria, tomato feta confit, fried cauliflower, lentils, hummus, tabouleh, baba ganoush, falafels. Seriously it was SO good. So I came home and promptly wanted to incorporate some of those tastes into my week. Here is something I whipped up that is a delicious and nutritious vegetarian entree. Give it a try!

Roasted Pepper Hummus Stuffed Potatoes

Serves 4

4 russet potatoes

2 sweet peppers (I used one orange, one yellow)

2 cups cooked chickpeas

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove

juice from 1/2 lemon

sea salt to taste

1/2 cup crumbled feta

Directions: Preheat oven to 400. Roast peppers in a baking dish. At the same time wrap potatoes in foil and bake until soft approx 45 mins(you can do this in a microwave if you want it to be faster). Peppers are done when they are soft and turning golden, 30-45mins. This could definitely be done ahead.

When potatoes are done, cut them in half and scoop out most of the potato, reserving it for the hummus. Leave enough potato in the skin that it retains its shape. In a food processor combine all the ingredients including the scooped out potato and the peppers. Process until combined and becoming smooth(keep it as chunky as you like!). Scoop hummus into potato skins and return to the oven to keep warm until you serve.

Think Fresh: Kamut

Mushroom Spinach Kamut

What the heck is kamut right? Kamut is an ancient form of wheat. Similar to spelt. It pops up in ancient writings such as the Bible(rumored to be the grain Noah kept on the ark). It is high in protein, and very high in selenium. While it is not gluten free, because it is a form of wheat, it is more tolerable to people with wheat sensitivities than many other forms of wheat. It is super easy to cook and delicious! The best part is that…it’s LOCAL! Yes! Grown right here in Canada, it is an Artesian Acres product I bought at a little market in Salmon Arm, BC. So I’ve had this big bag of it for some time and have wondered what to do with it. I have baked with kamut flour before but never used the full grains which look a lot like rice. I had a very hard time finding other recipes for cooking kamut so thought I’d try to whip something up.  Kamut is so shockingly easy to make…ready for it….get a pen….Step 1. Soak grain in water.

That’s it. No step two. You soak it until it softens a bit, overnight or so. I soaked it two nights so that it sprouted. It still retains a nice kind of crunch to it, no mush at all. Once you’ve soaked it, follow this super easy recipe and you will have a delicious risotto-like entree or side dish!

Mushroom Spinach Kamut

Serves 2 entrees or 4 side dishes.

Saute one chopped sweet onion, one clove of garlic and 3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until onions begin to soften. Add 2 cups of sliced mushrooms and saute until they also start to soften. Stir in 2 cups of soaked and sprouted kamut kernels. Add 1/4 cup of white wine and 1 cup of vegetable stock. Simmer until the liquid has evaporated and broth becomes quite thick, approx 20 mins. Stir in 1/2 cup coarsely shredded parmesan cheese and 4 cups spinach. Stir until spinach wilts, 1 minute. Serve!

Kamut is available at most health food stores. It’s so mild that I think it would turn nicely into a breakfast dish, porridge style. Let me know if you give it a try!

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