Tag Archives: onion

Spiced Cabbage Soup with Lentils and Sweet Potato

7 Jan

Happy New Year! I’m not the greatest at making (or keeping) New Years resolutions, but most years I have vague aspirations to engage in some sort of healthier behaviour. This year, I’m motivated to do more batch cooking so that I’m not left scrambling to buy my lunch or pull together a last minute dinner after a busy day.

Thanks to having an extra-long weekend with not just one but TWO days to recover from New Year’s Eve, I was able to kick-start my pseudo-resolution with a simple yet flavourful cabbage soup from the new Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook. The cookbook was a Christmas present stolen from me (then lent to me) by my oh-so-generous brother, so I plan to churn out as many dishes from it as I possibly can before he asks for it back.

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If you’re groaning at the thought of another watery, bland cabbage soup, take note: this one’s anything but. It has lentils for added protein and fibre, sweet potato (because every soup can use a little sweet potato), and a 9-spice mix containing both sweet and smoked paprika. It’s simple to prepare but full of flavour. And perfect for the horribly cold weather that we’ve been hit with this week. For an easy make-ahead lunch, pair it with whole grain bread or crackers.

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Metabolism-Revving Spicy Cabbage Soup
(from Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook)

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons 9-Spice Mix, or more to taste (recipe below)
1 pound (1/4 large head) green cabbage, cored and finely shredded (about 5 cups)
14-oz (398mL) can diced tomatoes, with juices
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup uncooked red lentils
1 sweet potato, chopped into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5-6 minutes, until the onion is softened. Stir in 2 tablespoons 9-Spice Mix and cook for a minute or so, until fragrant.
  2. Add the cabbage and diced tomatoes with their juices. Simmer over medium to high heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, red lentils, and sweet potato. Stir. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the lentils and sweet potato are tender.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, or add more 9-Spice Mix. Serve with a dollop of Cashew Sour Cream, if using (for a non-vegan option, use plain yogurt or sour cream). The soup keeps in the fridge for a week, and freezes well for 1-2 months.

Makes 4 large servings. Per serving: 278 kcal, 5 g fat, 47 g carbohydrate, 14 g fibre, 11 g protein, 596 mg sodium

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9-Spice Mix (makes approximately 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Vegan Thanksgiving Eats: Pumpkin and Cranberry Baked Beans

10 Oct

For the first time in 4 years, I’m not away at a conference over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. Huzzah! I should have spent the weekend preparing for said conference (which is in a few weeks) but instead decided I would roast a turkey for a motley crew of friends and family.

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My sister is vegetarian, so she offered to bring a dish that she likes to make on holidays where turkey is served: pumpkin baked beans. As a turkey lover who was vegetarian for a few short months, I can attest to the fact that they’re super satisfying and almost won’t make you miss meat. They’re sweet yet savoury, loaded with fibre and protein, and the flavours scream autumn. Prep is a cinch, and they can easily be made in advance. Everyone enjoyed them, so much so that J’s plan for a week’s worth of leftovers was thwarted.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Pumpkin and Cranberry Baked Beans
(from OhSheGlows.com)

You may be able to get away with reducing the maple sugar in half and cutting down on the salt for a slightly less sweet/more healthy version. If you’re using canned beans with salt added, you will definitely want to cut down on the added salt.

3 (15-oz) cans navy beans, drained and rinsed (preferably no-salt-added)
1 sweet onion, chopped finely
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp blackstrap molasses (use fancy molasses if you don’t want to buy blackstrap)
4 tbsp pure maple syrup, to taste
1-1/2 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste

  1. In a pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cook over low heat until thick, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or for J’s variation: place in a slow cooker on high heat for 2 to 3 hours. The cranberries will plump up really nicely and the flavours will develop a little bit more. You can also make this the night before and leave it in the fridge, then reheat before serving.

Makes 6 generous servings. Per serving: 305 kcal, 2.6 g fat (0.3 g saturated), 60 g carbohydrate, 12.6 g fibre, 11.5 g protein, 490 mg sodium

Healthy Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

30 Apr

Canada’s Food Guide recommends that we eat 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. For many people, getting in enough fruit is no problem. Sweet and portable, it makes an easy snack. Vegetables, on the other hand, tend to be harder to squeeze in. That’s where an easy, yet tasty and healthy dip comes in handy.

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When I don’t have the energy to plan out my lunches for the week, I tend to throw together a picnic of sorts. This usually consists of an easy protein like hard boiled eggs or canned tuna, whole grain bread or crackers, and two to three cups of chopped veggies with dip to meet my daily quota. But it’s hard to find a truly healthy vegetable dip. Most are mayo or sour cream-based, and loaded with fat and calories. So I turned to the Internet in search of a tasty yet healthy make-at-home option.

I was initially drawn to this ranch seasoning recipe because of the blogger’s stunning photos (which I poorly tried to recreate at home). But once I tried it out, it became clear that this recipe is a winner. Buttermilk powder forms the base (found at bulk food stores) and is pumped up with onion and garlic powder, and dried herbs like parsley, dill, and chives. As a bonus, the seasoning mix can be made in bulk and stored in the fridge to be used whenever you need a quick and easy dip.

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Low-fat Greek yogurt is the perfect foundation for any vegetable dip. It’s thick and creamy, yet low calories and high in protein. For the best flavour, I’ve found that adding a dollop of light mayo adds just the right amount of tang for a next-level vegetable dip. Low-fat sour cream can also act as a healthier dip base, but lacks the nutritional boost that Greek yogurt offers.

If you’re not meeting your recommended daily vegetable quota, try throwing together a batch of this skinny ranch dip. It will make raw veggies sing!

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Healthy Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

2 tbsp homemade ranch seasoning mix (see below)
1 cup 2% plain greek yogurt
2 tbsp light mayonnaise

  1. Mix ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Can be served immediately or left overnight for flavours to meld.

Makes 1-1/4 cups. Per 1/4 cup serving: 91 kcal, 3.3 g fat (1.4 g saturated), 7 g carbohydrate, 0.5 g fibre, 8 g protein, 106 mg sodium

 

Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix (from www.gimmesomeoven.com)
1/3 cup dried buttermilk powder
2 tbsp dried parsley
1-1/2 tsp dried dill weed
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried chives
1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Brilliantly Bright Borscht

10 Feb

My job has serious perks.  As a food lover, it hardly feels like work to sample an array of vegan products that I may eventually recommend to my patients or feast on a spread of Mardi Gras-themed dishes that may make their way onto the cafeteria’s menu.  Lucky for me, I had the pleasure of doing both this week.   Events like these are side projects that our dietetic interns are involved with over the course of their training.  As a former intern not too long ago, shopping for interesting food products and perusing the web for recipes was a nice break from the clinical work, case studies, and research projects.

In the fall, an Ontario borscht was sampled at an event that I was unable to attend.  It received such rave reviews that the recipe was sent out to all of the dietitians.  Earlier this week, I stumbled across it in my inbox so I made it my mission to cook up a pot this weekend.

Borscht

Never having made borscht before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The colour is stunning (never wear white when cooking or eating borscht) and the flavour was more complex than I anticipated.  Beets can be overpowering but subtle potato and cabbage flavours shone through.  It’s a shame that I couldn’t taste all of the different vegetables in this dish (there were a lot!) but I was reassured by knowing that I was getting all of their nutrients.  Best of all was the texture.  In this particular recipe, the cabbage retained a bit of crunch and provided nice contrast to the rest of the softer vegetables.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s lunch, since I read that borscht is supposed to taste better the next day.

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Ontario Borscht
(from Foodland Ontario)

Since it’s the middle of winter, I wasn’t able to use nearly as much Ontario produce as the recipe calls for.  This is the perfect autumn dish, when everything is in season.

2 tbsp (25 mL) butter
6 Ontario Beets, peeled and shredded
4 Ontario Leeks, chopped
2 cups (500 mL) sliced Ontario Mushrooms
2 Ontario Carrots, shredded
2 cloves Ontario Garlic, minced
1 Ontario Onion, chopped
1 Ontario White Turnip, peeled and shredded
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 Ontario Potato, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
7 cups (1.75 L) beef or vegetable broth
2 tbsp (25 mL) tomato paste
2 cups (500 mL) shredded Ontario Cabbage
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp (50 mL) red wine vinegar – I used 4 tbsp
1 tsp (5 mL) granulated sugar
Salt and pepper
Sour cream and snipped chives or green onion tops

  1. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add beets, leeks, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, onion, white turnip, celery, potato and bay leaves; cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
  2. Stir in broth and tomato paste. Bring to simmer and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in cabbage and beans; cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Season with vinegar, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste, adding more vinegar and sugar if needed (there should be a nice sweet and sour balance).  Discard bay leaves. Place dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of chives on each serving.

Makes 8 to 10 servings. Per serving (based on 10 servings): 157 kcal, 3 g fat, 25 g CHO, 7 g protein.

Make-ahead Breakfast Strata

28 Dec

Happy holidays!  It’s been a busy yet relaxing week filled with many Fs: family, friends, fun, and fabulous food.  I feel particularly thankful around this time of the year as I know there are many less fortunate than myself.  Despite living in different cities, my immediate family was able to connect again this year.  As we get older and life gets busier, work may not always allow us to travel to spend the holidays together.

Sand-sculpted nativity scene spotted on the beach on Christmas Day

Sand-sculpted nativity scene spotted on the beach on Christmas Day

Christmas morning is the perfect time for a wholesome, make-ahead breakfast to balance the feast that follows later in the day.  This year my mom suggested a strata and I had the perfect recipe in mind.  If you’re not familiar with the term, a strata is essentially just a savory bread pudding.  This strata uses whole grain bread, an equal ratio of egg to egg whites, and is brimming with veggies.  Outside of the holidays, this recipe is perfect for cottage weekends– a bit of quick prep the night before and the dish is ready to go into the oven the following morning. No fuss, no dishes to wash.

I wasn't able to sneak a photo before we dug in-- everyone was too hungry!

I wasn’t able to sneak a photo before we dug in– everyone was too hungry!

I recently bought myself a new camera (Merry Christmas to me!) so you’ll have to bear with me and my many photos as I learn to navigate its settings.  Stay tuned for a few more recipes over the next week or two.  It’s been a treat having the time to cook proper meals!

Layers of goodness

Layers of goodness

You may want to keep an eye on the strata at the 45 minute mark to prevent charring on top!

Keep an eye on the strata at the 45 minute mark to prevent charring on top!

 

Broccoli, Mushroom, and Cheese Breakfast Strata
(adapted from Foodnetwork.com)

4 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups), and preferably a sweet onion, e.g. Vidalia
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups (8 oz) sliced mushrooms
5 cups cubed, whole grain bread
8 eggs and 8 egg whites
2 cups low-fat milk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1o oz frozen broccoli, thawed (or you can steam fresh broccoli, then cool)
1/3 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated extra-old cheddar cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced sundried tomatoes, reconstituted
2 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp salt  (the original recipe calls for 1/2 tsp but some reviewers said it was too bland)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 1 minute. Transfer the onion mixture to a medium bowl and allow to cool.
  2. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in the skillet and saute the mushrooms until they release all of their water, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  3. Spray a large rectangular glass dish (9″x13″ or larger) with cooking spray. Arrange the bread cubes in the dish.
  4. To the onion mixture, add mushrooms, broccoli, and sundried tomato.  Pour over bread cubes, ensuring vegetables are evenly distributed.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, egg whites, milk and mustard until incorporated.  Add Parmesan and cheddar cheeses, thyme, and salt and pepper and stir to incorporate.
  6. Pour mixture over vegetables and bread, making sure liquid saturates bread.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours.
  7. The next day: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the plastic wrap from strata and bake for 60 minutes, or until top forms a light brown crust and no liquid remains when knife is inserted into centre. You may want to place a baking sheet under the dish to prevent any spillage. An extra 15-20 minutes may need to be added to the baking time depending on the size/depth of your dish – cover dish with foil during this period to prevent the top from burning.

Makes 9 servings. Per serving: 297 kcal, 22 g CHO, 4 g fibre, 15 g fat (5.1 g saturated), 21 g protein, 710 mg sodium.

Mission Accomplished: the “Gala”-ctic Apple Frittata

1 Oct

It’s been a very exciting couple of weeks for me with adventures that have all shockingly(!) revolved around food.

The first exciting outing was a trip to the Ontario Food Terminal.  Last Saturday, for the first time in history, the terminal opened its doors to the public.  I’ve always dreamed of setting foot inside the terminal, curious to see the inner workings of the place that houses all of the produce that eventually makes its way onto our grocery store shelves.  The day did not disappoint: there were tours, cooking demonstrations, ample opportunities to chat with vendors, and free food.  I was on cloud nine!

My second thrill was being served dinner by Lynn Crawford (of Food Network fame).  When I booked E’s birthday dinner at her restaurant, I secretly hoped we would catch a glimpse of her but never expected that she would be waiting on us: filling our glasses with water and delivering our main course and dessert.  She described the food with the same enthusiasm that she does on TV.  It was totally surreal.

Finally, for the past two weeks I’ve been partaking in weekly ‘Food Missions for Food Lovers’ organized by the National Post newspaper.  I’ve been published in the paper both weeks, and I even got my own ‘Gastrosketch’ last week (sadly, cartoon Lisa appears to have a mustache).

Mission #17: Your Favourite Food

Mission #18: Taste Something New

This week’s challenge is to eat something with apples.  Challenge?!  Ha.  Apples just happen to be one of my favourite foods and they’ve made it into several recipes that I’ve posted on my blog since its inception.  Wanting to do something a little bit different, I decided on a frittata recipe that combines vegetables (potatoes, carrots, celery, and jicama… again!) and fruit (apples).  The result is a very hearty, satisfying dish with a delicate balance of savory and sweet.  It was a bit of a pain to prepare so I’ve included some tips that may (or may not) make the process less aggravating.

Don’t be alarmed, the purple flecks are from an heirloom carrot

 

Stovetop Potato & Apple Frittata
(from Clean Eating magazine, January 2011)

3/4 lb Idaho or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
3 tsp olive oil, divided
4 eggs
4 egg whites
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
2 stalks celery, minced, leaves reserved and minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 c peeled and grated jicama, placed into a bowl of cold water to prevent it from browning
1 large firm Gala or Fuji apple, unpeeled
1/2 Spanish onion, sliced into thin rounds

 

  1. Thinly slice potatoes by cutting them in half, placing them flat side down on a cutting board, and then using a very sharp knife to make thin, even slices. As you finish cutting the potato halves, push the slices back together to prevent them from browning.
  2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a 10 or 12 inch thick bottomed nonstick pan over medium high heat for 1 minute. Add potatoes in a thin layer, so each slice is touching pan’s surface. Cook potatoes undisturbed for 5 minutes, then flip each slice over and cook for another 4 minutes. (The edges will brown and the centers will be nearly translucent when done). Work in batches, if necessary, placing each round of cooked potatoes on a cool plate and setting them aside. [Lisa’s aside: it would have taken me 5+ batches to get all of the potatoes cooked using this method.  I ended up microwaving the sliced potatoes in a dish with a bit of water (in 2 batches), then I quickly browned the potatoes in the pan to remove some of the moisture]
  3. Meanwhile, crack eggs and egg whites into a large bowl and break up yolks with a fork. Stir in carrots, celery stalk, and salt. Squeeze water out of jicama and stir jicama into egg mixture.
  4. While last batch of potatoes is cooking, thinly slice apple. Transfer final batch of potatoes onto a cool plate and set aside. Then add 1 tsp oil, apple, and onion to same pan used to cook potatoes. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apple and onion slices are nearly translucent.
  5. Add potatoes to egg mixture then stir in apple and onion. Add remaining 1 tsp oil to same pan, pour in egg mixture and cover. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes or until edges brown and begin to pull away from pan. As you’re cooking frittata, slip a heat proof spatula around its sides once or twice and jiggle pan to make sure frittata isn’t sticking. Invert frittata by removing the pan from the heat, placing a large plate over the pan, and flipping frittata onto the plate. Slide frittata back into pan, uncooked side down, and cook, uncovered, for 5 more minutes. Slide frittata back into pan and onto serving plate. Garnish with reserved celery leaves.  [The frittata was way too massive and heavy to flip… plus, I’m not that skilled!  Instead, I cooked the frittata with a lid to help steam the top]
Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 246 kcal, 8 g fat (2 g saturated), 30 g CHO, 5 g fibre, 13 g protein, 422 mg sodium.