Mexican Bur-raw-tos

The internship I did this past Fall really took my healthy cooking skills to the next level. I thought I knew a lot before heading off to Toronto, but when I came back, I was a whole new plant-based, chocolate-y raw, business savvy woman. A little trick I learned along the way was using walnuts in replace of ground beef…

Why Walnuts?

  • walnuts are a good source of monounsaturated fats which promote cardiovascular health and lower cholesterol
  • they are rich in Omega 3 (high in ALA which is the pre-cursor to EPA & DHA), providing anti-inflammatory benefits
  • excellent source of phytonutrients and powerful antioxidant activity
  • concentrated source of the sleep-promoting amino acid l-tryptophan

When you grind walnuts they resemble the meaty texture of ground beef, without all the saturated animal fats. Spice them up however you like, whether it be parsley and basil for spaghetti and walnut balls or chili powder and cumin for a raw home style chili.

But for me, nothing beats authentic Mexican food. Except for this recipe 😉 Take out the freaky hormonal ground meat and the salty melted cheese and you’ve got yourself some raw burritos.

Raw Burritos

Ground Walnut Meat

1 1/2 cup walnuts, soaked

1/2 onion, chopped

2 tbsp cilantro, minced

2 clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions

– rinse soaked walnuts and pulse in food processor until crumbly in texture.

– add all other ingredients and pulse until well mixed, scrape sides a couple of times.

8 collard leaves

Toppings

1 cup fresh pico de gallo (diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime, s&p)

1/2 cup sour cream, which is my red pepper mayo minus the red pepper

1 small avocado, sliced

Directions

– wash collard leaves, scoop walnut meat onto each leaf and top with pico de gallo, sour cream, and avocado. Roll up and munch.

Restaurant Review: Zen Kitchen

Tweet this @ZenKitchen613

I had a friend coming into town who had done the CNE course with me, and knew exactly where I wanted to take him. I’ve been wanting to try this restaurant forever (since I watched the TV show on their crazy restaurant adventure), and who better to enjoy it with than a fellow culinary nutrition expert.

The Zen Kitchen is a gourmet vegan restaurant in Ottawa, located just outside of Chinatown on Somerset St. Ottawa is a little behind in the holistic nutrition movement, so it is nice that we have at least one vegan restaurant to go to (a raw one will be opening very soon if I have anything to do with it!). We got there early and were the first ones in the restaurant for dinner, but it filled up quite quickly. So I definitely suggest making a reservation! We quickly skimmed the menu, but Dominic and I are total foodies who are up for anything. So the chef’s tasting course it was! We had 5 delicious courses and got the wine pairing to go with; a beautiful, smooth Australian Red. The owner Dave was great, checking up on us and getting our feedback with each course. We felt like quite the vegan food connoisseurs!

First was the amuse-bouche, a vegan cream cheese filled endive leaf. To be honest, neither of us are fans of vegan cream cheese. Remember the flexi rule, just because it’s vegan does not make it good for you!  The endive did have a nice crunch and it looked pretty so they get points for that.

Next was a salad, with carrots, dates and cara cara oranges. The sweetness of the dates went well with the saltiness of the dressing; really refreshing. We had never heard of cara cara oranges before. They look like mini grapefruits with a sweet, but tangy zing. You learn something new everyday!

Next up was a take on french onion soup. I forgot to take a picture of this one before I dug in, but it had caramelized onions in a dark, rich broth with a cute little crostini on top. Nothing really compares to real french onion soup, but they did a nice job trying.

The main was both of our favorites. They made us qunioa and crumbled smoked tempeh filled cabbage rolls in a tomato sauce, with a side of homemade potato perogies with roasted pearl onions and a cashew sour cream. My mouth is watering just thinking about it again. I think I am going to make crumbled tempeh everyday for the rest of my life now…

Of course we were absolutely stuffed by the end of this course, but there is always room for dessert right?! We had pecan pie with coconut ice cream, dragon fruit, and mint syrup. Probably the best pecan pie I have ever had, but would have been that much better if they had served it warm. Maybe next time?

Overall it was a great experience, with even greater company. I definitely recommend it to all vegans, veggies, flexis, and foodies alike. It’s a place for anyone who is in the Ottawa area and wants a yummy plant-based meal with a fancy, gourmet twist. Thanks again Dominic!

Quickie Quinoa Stir Fry

I have been SO busy lately it’s crazy. Two weeks ago I was just your average natural foodie, dreaming of the day when I would start blogging about my recipes and get my plant-based career moving. I was taking so many pictures of food but not really doing anything with them. Fast forward to two weeks later…

Now I am working every day of the week, blogging, demo-ing locally made quinoa snack crisps, cleaning pulp off the ceiling, recipe creating at 6 am, making enough onion bread to always be smelling like onion bread, have a website in the works, and in my spare time shopping for industrial juicers and glass straws online and designing my business card. I am loving life right now, but with everything going on I can barely find time to make food for myself – sounds extremely ironic I know. One can only survive off smoothies and kale chips for so long (actually one can survive off of smoothies and kale chips nutritionally, but I love my variety and foods with texture).

So one night after an all-day juice grind, my body was craving a solid meal. It wanted protein, it wanted fiber, it wanted colour, and it wanted it NOW! I needed something quick and satisfying. There is nothing quicker and more satisfying than a stir fry. Stir frys are great because you never really need to follow a recipe. You can throw the kitchen sink in there and it will always taste delicious and nutritious. There are 3 components you need for the perfect stir fry:

1) Veggies – throw in whatever veggies you have in the fridge; roots, greens, night shades, whatever

2) Grains – quinoa is super easy and super fast to make. 12 minutes and you are done! It’s also a complete protein and high in fiber.

3) Protein – organic sprouted tofu is non-GMO, easy to digest and a good source of calcium.

It’s that simple. No recipe required, just plants. And soooo good. That’s what you call staying flexi.

Quickie Quinoa Stir Fry

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 package organic sprouted tofu, cut into chunks

2+ cups fresh veggies, chopped (I used onion, broccoli, red pepper, spinach, and kale)

1 clove garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp sesame oil

cayenne pepper to taste

Directions:

– mix one cup quinoa and 1.5 cups water in a pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 12-15 minutes.

– while quinoa is cooking, heat a pan over medium heat. Add oil, garlic, and onion (if using) and sautee for 2 minutes

– add rest of the chopped veggies and cook for 8-10 minutes, until veggies are tender. Add greens last

– stir in the cooked quinoa, tamari, and sesame oil.

– serve and enjoy!

Kale Chip Addicts Anonymous

I’m a sucker for chips. Those salty bites of pure bliss are sometimes just too hard to resist. The second that MSG touches my tongue I am a goner. Like any other addict, you can’t just stop at one. Those damn Lays people knew what they were talking about!

Thankfully, I have found my cure. Still a chip yes – but flexified. But unfortunately once an addict. always an addict. I introduce to you kale chips; my new drug of choice.

Cheezy Kale Chips

1 head of kale

1/2 cup cashews, soaked

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp sea salt

Directions:

– wash and dry kale. Break into chip sized pieces

– in a blender (magic bullet does the trick), blend together all other ingredients.

– pour mixture over kale, and mix with your hands until kale is all evenly coated.

– put kale on dehydrator racks or a baking sheet

– dehydrate for 3-4 hours in dehydrator OR bake at your oven’s lowest temperature for 3-4 hours (leave the oven door open a crack for moisture to escape)

– enjoy!

* WARNING CONSUMPTION OF KALE CHIPS MAY CAUSE IMPROVED HEALTH AND OVERALL WELLBEING.

Peanut Butter Love Cups

It’s that special day of the year again (heart eyes emoticon)! As taboo as it is, this is my favorite holiday. I’m just so full of love!

As the hopeless romantic that I am, just like all other women in the world, there is nothing better than getting a sweet box of chocolates from your honey bunny. There is just something about eating a chocolate out of a heart-shaped box guilt free and not having to feel like a big fat piece of poop. Oh but wait a second. You always DO end up feeling like a big fat piece of poop because those chocolates you are eating aren’t actually chocolate, they are processed sugar, caramel colouring, poly-chemical pieces of death wrapped up in pretty red foil wrappers.

So all you men out there, you’re right about getting us chocolates for Vday, but how about this year you get us the real thing? Or even better make it (made with love converts into love making). I’m talking about REAL raw cacao. Some benefits?

– highest food source of antioxidants

– super high in magnesium. That’s why us women crave this stuff around that time of the month-the magnesium soothes cramps and gets rid of the headaches.

– prevents heart disease, promotes a healthy heart…especially around Valentine’s Day!

These peanut butter love cups are like Cupid’s crack. Make them for that special someone and they will instantly fall in love…

Peanut (or any other nut) Butter Love Cups

1/3 cup cacao butter

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/2 cacao powder

1/4 cup raw honey + 1 tsp honey

2 tbsp natural peanut butter

1/8-1/4 tsp arrowroot powder (for thickening)

Directions:

– in a double boiler (pot with water, smaller pot inside pot of water over low heat) melt the cacao butter, coconut oil, cacao powder, and 1/4 cup raw honey together until smooth.

– using a popable ice cube tray, or mini muffin cups, spoon chocolate mixture into the cups just so each of the bottoms are covered. Freeze or refrigerate for 10 minutes.

– …meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together peanut butter, 1 tsp raw honey, and arrowroot powder together until you are able to roll the peanut butter in your hands with out sticking all over the place.

– take chocolate out of freezer, and place a small amount of peanut butter into each of the cups. Pour the rest of the chocolate mixture over cups, until peanut butter is completely covered.

– freeze for another half hour.

– put them in a pretty box and give them to a special someone.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Curing Hangovers With Artichokes

Artichokes are one of those fancy vegetables that looks really pretty  but you have no idea what to do with it. I didn’t even know that this was an artichoke until about a year ago…(I always thought they came in those tiny little jars packed in oil).

But since going Flexi, I always am choosing the fresh over the packaged. So bundled little bulb looking things – bring it on!

I had to do some research about how to tackle these prickly little monsters, and let me tell you it ain’t easy! But the end product is soooooo worth it.

Steps to making artichokes edible

  1. Cut off all the prickly tips around the artichoke.
  2. Pry it open by pulling all the leaves back.
  3. Scoop out the furry scary hairy centre (this is the artichoke heart)
  4. Drizzle with lemon so it doesn’t go brown.
  5. Boil or steam for 30-40 min.

Artichokes are  a vegetable that should be included more often in everyone’s diet. They are a great source of fiber and aid in digestion. Artichokes are also high in the antioxidant silymarin, which is SO important for cleansing of the liver (think milk thistle). And you know me, I’m all about cleansing! Oh and by the way, cleansing of the liver = hangover cure. So try making these stuffed artichokes at your next dinner party and you will be curing the hangover before it even starts 🙂

Stuffed Artichokes

2-3 cooked artichokes

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

1 cup quinoa, cooked

1 1/2 cup spinach

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp tamari

1/4 cup bread crumbs (gluten free if you wish)

any left over white wine

Directions

– preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add garlic and onion and sautee for 5 min.

– add all other ingredients and sautee (except bread crumbs and wine) until spinach is cooked.

– place artichokes in 9×9 baking pan, and add 1/4 cup water tot he bottom of pan. Divide quinoa mixture evenly among the artichokes, stuffing the centres and in between the leaves.

– sprinkle with bread crumbs and drizzle of white wine.

– bake for 30 min, then broil for 3 min.

Serve as an appetizer if artichokes are small, or a main.

Healthy Food Cook Off

Thanks for all the support from yesterday’s post everyone! I’m getting a lot of interest – I think juicing is going to become my full time job. But until then, I’ll stick to my job at NutriChem Pharmacy

I’m really lucky to be able to work in a place that values health and wellness as much as I do. Like myself, NutriChem is open to all types of healthy diets and lifestyles – we are just here to support you in the journey. My co-workers have similar values (and love of food) as me too, so we thought why not have a healthy food cook off! We are all interested in bettering our health and always trying the newest, wackiest cleanses. Have you ever heard of the N.A.S.T.Y diet? (no alcohol or sugar this year). Really, we’ve tried them all. So we decided to have a challenge of who could make a dish that was both nutritious and delicious.

Sheiglah's Vegetable Salad

Nora's Cucumber Salad

Sarah's Popcorn

All the food was amazing! It was great to taste all the different dishes and of course I made everyone go around and tell me why they think the dish is good for you. We gotta learn don’t we!

Tim's Turmeric Rice

Emma's Veggie Rice Wraps

Suki's Herbed Tomato & Cottage Cheese

Now I obviously know how easy it is to make healthy food taste good, but I was up for the challenge (quick fact, I’m probably the most competitive person you will ever meet). Keepin’ it flexi as always, I decided to make a plant-based version of the classic BLT. So let’s do a comparison shall we…

Classic BLT

– usually made on toasted refined white bread or bagel = insulin spiking glycemic index, absolutely no fiber and no minerals.

– bacon = saturated fat for days, artery clogging, why not just eat the salt off a spoon?

– egg mayonaise = makes you fat.

– tomato and lettuce = woo hoo, a sprinkle of measly lettuce and you are lucky if you get more than one slice of tomato

Flexi BLT

– made on homemade onion bread = raw, boots immune system, high in fiber.

– tempeh bacon = plant based, natural source of enzymes, high protein content.

– red pepper “mayo” spread = raw, high in vitamin C, made with good-for-you fat.

– lettuce and tomato = hydrating romaine and a thick juicy slice of tomato (yay lycopenes!).

Which one will you be eating?

Flexi BLT

2 slices of onion bread

2 strips of tempeh bacon (recipe to follow)

1/2 tbsp red pepper mayo (recipe to follow)

slices of tomato

romaine lettuce

Directions:

– assemble as you would a classic BLT!

Tempeh Bacon

block of organic tempeh

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp tamari

Directions

– slice tempeh into strips

– in a pan over medium heat, add tempeh. Pour olive oil and tamari over tempeh.

– grill each side until crispy

Red Pepper Mayo    – adapted from Meghan Telpner

1/2 cup cashews, soaked

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup red pepper

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

sea salt to taste

Directions

– put all ingedients in a blender/food processor. Process until smooth.

Oh and by the way, I won!

Super Bowl Sundae

I don’t usually do a lot of football watching, but I must admit I am a sucker for the Super Bowl. It’s probably because it’s an excuse for me to cook food. And lots of it.

This year I made Super Bowl Sundaes. Now the difference between my sundae and a sundae you would get at a restaurant watching the game, is that mine is actually good for you. Obviously. All of the ingredients are foods that your body can actually use as fuel. This is what the players should be eating before the big game. It’s jammed packed with good-for-you fats, plant proteins, antioxidants, and a touch of natural sweetness.

The base of this sundae is my homemade ice cream. Who knew that you could make ice cream without dairy? Or an ice cream maker? The creaminess of the coconut milk and the light hint of vanilla makes this ice cream just melt in your mouth. This recipe is SO good and even easier to make. You’ll never buy the real stuff again. This is the real stuff now, because it’s made with real food. Satisfaction guaranteed. Go Giants!

Coconut Ice Cream

1 can organic coconut milk

1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup raw agave syrup

1 tbsp vodka (or any other liquor – this helps the ice cream to stay creamy and not freeze solid)

1 banana, optional (if you want coconut banana ice cream)

Directions

– put all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth

– pour 3/4 of mixture in popable ice cube trays and freeze. Put remaining 1/4 mixutre in the fridge

– once frozen, put everything back into the blender or food processor and process until smooth

* if using a blender, you may have to smoosh the mixture a couple times with a wooden spoon (if you have a Vitamix then you’re golden).

For sundaes, scoop ice cream into a bowl. Top with coconut syrup, banana, cacao nibs, crushed nuts, goji berries, etc.

I’ve Got The Blues-Berry Muffins

With all the excitement going on this week with launching my blog and some new work projects to look forward to, I was still feeling a bit blue – the boyfriend is away. So what better thing to make than a big ol’ batch of muffins to cheer me up. They are (what used to be) my guilty pleasure. No need for kleenex, sappy movies, and a carton of ice cream. Make me a dozen muffins and I’m happy as can be.

Muffins are one of those foods that makes everyone smile. They are given as gifts to the new neighbours next door (usually made by Brie Vandercamp), eaten at high tea while catching up with your grandmother, and who doesn’t love watching a baby eat a muffin? Total cuteness.

But the thing about muffins is that they make us happy for a reason. That is because most muffins nowadays are one of the worst artery clogging diabetic coma inducing foods out there. They loaded with saturated fats, processed sugar, and white starches. The worst! I don’t know where the connotation came from that “muffins are healthy” because in most cases, you are probably better off just eating a doughnut. (For reals! A Tim Hortons Apple Fritter has 300cal, 11g fat, 49g carbs whereas a whole wheat carrot muffin has 408cal, 20g fat, and 51g carbs…don’t even get me started on the sodium content).

So since going flexi, I had to find a way to still indulge in my guilty-pleasure muffins without feeling guilty. No problemo my friends. All you have to do is substitute with:

plant fats: coconut oil is an amazing source of medium-chain tryglycerides, which release energy slowly and aid in digestion; almond milk doesn’t have the acidic side effects that dairy milk does.

natural sugars: raw honey is a great unprocessed sweetener, with immune boosting properties; blueberries are super high in antioxidants which aids in disease prevention and brain health.

gluten-free flours: brown rice flour is similar to taste as white flours but much easier to digest; ground flax is an excellent source of omega 6 and helps you poop.

And voila! Now we have a muffin that not only satisfies our feelings, but our bodies too. Great with a hot cup of vanilla tea and the newest episode of Desperate Housewives.

Blueberry Muffins

makes 10-12 muffins

1 cup almond milk (or any other non-dairy milk)

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup raw honey

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups brown rice flour

¼ cup ground flax seed

1 1.2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sea salt

1 ½ cup fresh blueberries

Directions

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin pan with coconut oil.

– Mix all wet ingredients in a bowl.

– In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients.

– Combine wet mixture with dry mixture. Stir in the blueberries

– Scoop out mixture into muffin pan. Bake for 20 min.

* Let cool before eating. Since they are gluten free, they are a bit crumbly when hot.