• Creamy Kale Salad - A recipe to support good heart health!

    How can a healthy whole foods plant-based way of eating affect heart health? This is something I get a lot of questions about, so I decided to do a series of videos about it as part of my YouTube Series In My Plant-Based Kitchen.

    This week I'm tackling hypertension, or high-blood pressure, and in the coming weeks I'll talk about cholesterol, oxidative stress and inflammation. We're getting into the nitty gritty details about the foods that support good cardiovascular health, and each of these aspects, in particular, and it each episode I'll demo a delicious recipe that uses the particularly helpful ingredients (and share nutrition and cooking tips along the way).

    In today's episode, part 1 of the series, I cover:

    • how food can impact high blood pressure
    • tips for reducing sodium in your kitchen
    • ideas for increasing potassium in your diet
    • foods that can be helpful to include regularly for those who are dealing with hypertension

    Join me in my kitchen to learn more, or get inspired!

    Ready to get cooking? Here's the recipe:

    Creamy Kale Salad

    Serves 2 (double all ingredients for more servings, but adjust the onion, lemon juice and salt to taste as doubling them might be too much)

    Ingredients: 

    • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and finely chopped
    • 1 cup grated carrots OR beets
    • 1/2 avocado, peeled and pitted
    • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion or 1 shallot, minced
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • A sprinkling of sea salt (1/8-1/4 tsp, to taste)
    • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
    • ½ cup white or other beans, roasted with a pinch of salt and mixed Italian herbs (optional)

    Directions:

    1. Chop kale and place in a bowl. Massage it until it starts to soften.
    2. Toss the rest of the ingredients except the sesame seeds into the bowl and use your hands or the back of a large spoon to thoroughly mash avocado into kale and mix everything together.
    3. Serve into bowls, garnish with sesame seeds and eat immediately, or store in the fridge for up to 2 days.

    Note: for variation you can make this salad with other greens (don't massage unless it's a hardy one though...), lime juice or apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice, switch up the carrots for beets and the sesame seeds for another seed/chopped nut of your choice.


  • What's all the fuss about Nooch?

    If you've been around the vegan world for a while you have undoubtedly come across the ingredient nutritional yeast, otherwise known as NOOCH. Many people love it, some people hate it. But it's an undeniably handy and nutritious ingredient that you'll want to know a bit more about, if you're not already familiar. 

    I often get questions about nutritional yeast:

    • What is it?
    • Is it different from Brewer's/Baker's Yeast?
    • Do you have to refrigerate it?
    • Is it good for you? (and if so why)?
    • What are some ways to include it in your diet?
    • Can you eat it if you have Candida or a yeast allergy?

    I answered some of those questions as part of this week's episode of In My Plant-Based Kitchen

    But I thought I'd also provide some of the answers in a blog post here today. AND I'm going to share one of my favourite recipes featuring nutritional yeast, my NOOCH Dressing.

    So, what is Nutritional Yeast? And is it different from Brewer's/Baker's Yeast?

    In a word nutritional yeast is the deactivated form of yeast that you’d use to make bread (baker’s yeast) or beer (brewer’s yeast). Nutritional yeast is grown specifically as a food product and it tastes very different from baker's or brewer’s yeast, which tend to be bitter -- so don't buy one of those and put it on your popcorn! They are NOT the same.

    Nutritional yeast Is grown on cane sugar and molasses, then harvested, washed and dried into flakes. After harvesting it is washed and pasteurized to make sure it won’t keep growing.

    Is it good for you? (and if so why)?

    Yes! It's very...well nutritional! Or nutritious, let's say :-) It's an excellent source of protein and a rich source of B vitamins, which are important for energy production, helpful in the metabolism of protein, fats and carbs (meaning they help us to better use the fuel from our food), and they're important for helping us to manage stress too. Nooch is known for its B12 content (notable since B12 is difficult to get without supplementation on a vegan or vegetarian diet); however, since B12 deficiency is not something you want to wrangle with don't rely solely on nooch for your intake -- just take a supplement. :-)

    Finally, nooch contains a variety of antioxidants, which we can all use a little more of.

    It IS important to note though, that some nooch is fortified with additional nutrients, and some are not, so read your labels to make sure you know what you're getting.

    Nooch is thought to be helpful for immune health, heart health, liver health and more. In short, yes! It's very good for you! Eat it!

    What are some ways to include it in your diet?

    Nooch has a delightful cheesy, nutty flavour that is great

    • on popcorn (sprinkle with apple cider vinegar first to make it stick)
    • in dressings and sauces (see recipe below)
    • sprinkled on salads or savoury oatmeal
    • mixed into anything you want to add a little cheesi-ness too
    • used to make lots of vegan cheeses
    • great as part of a coating on air-fried or roasted tofu!

    Can you eat it if you have Candida or a yeast allergy?

    Though the yeast cells of nutritional yeast are killed during manufacturing, to be on the safe side people who are allergic or sensitive to yeast are advised to avoid nooch. 

    Do you have to refrigerate it?

    You don’t need to keep it in the fridge, but do store in a cool dark place and it will last for about 2 years.

    Now that you know all about Nutritional Yeast, time for a recipe!

    Nooch Sauce/Dressing

    Makes about 600 ml

    Ingredients

    • ½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
    • ¾ cup water
    • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
    • ½ cup cooked chickpeas
    • 1/3 cup braggs soy alternative or coconut aminos (lower sodium)
    • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 2 cloves garlic

    Directions

    Place all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. Make sure you give this enough blender time to get SUPER creamy – you will know it is ready when a little bit between your fingers feel smooth and not at all gritty. Use as a salad dressing, over steamed broccoli or cauliflower, roasted vegetables, rice bowls, or even as a vegetable dip. Keeps in the fridge for a week; also freezes well.

     

     


  • Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies & Vegan Desserts

    It's the last week of Veganuary and it's time to talk about dessert!

    Desserts, baking and snacks can be a healthy and delicious part of a plant-based lifestyle, and I think it's important to have a few AMAZING recipes in your arsenal - crowd pleasers that you can pull out when you want a healthy treat. The recipe that I'm sharing today is one I created a few years back and it's a firm favourite in my family, and has received rave reviews from everyone I've shared it with too!

    In this week's episode of In My Plant-Based Kitchen (Episode 27!):

    • 🍪 ideas for healthy snacks and desserts
    • 🍪 tips for substituting eggs, butter and more in your baking
    • 🍪 how to pack your treats with nutrition so you can feel GOOD about eating them
    • 🍪 natural sweeteners - how to use them successfully

    And we make my More-ish Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies, illustrating all the tips! Here's the recipe for you:

    More-ish Chocolate Almond Cookies

    Makes 14-16 cookies

    Ingredients:

    • ¼ cup spelt flour
    • 2 tbsp wheat germ
    • ¼ cup rolled oats
    • 3 tbsp shredded, unsweetened coconut
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/8 tsp sea salt (optional)
    • 1/8 – ¼ tsp ground cardamom
    • ¾ cup mini dairy-free chocolate chips (dark)
       
    • ¾ cup almond butter
    • ½ cup date paste (see how to make date paste below)
    • 2 chia/flax eggs (2 x [1 tbsp ground chia/flax seeds + 3 tbsp water])
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well (start with just ¼ cup of spelt flour and reserve the other 2 tbsp in case the mixture seems wet)
    3. Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl and mix well (use a mixer if necessary to get the mixture really smooth.
    4. Combine the dry and wet mixtures, and mix until well incorporated.
    5. Either drop the cookies onto the cookie sheet, or for a less rustic look, form them into balls and press gently into a cookie shape.
    6. Bake for 12-14 minutes, remove from oven, cool and serve.

    Date Paste

    Fill a jar as full as you can with pitted dates. Fill the remaining space with water. Cover and soak overnight. Place everything, with a splash of vanilla and a small pinch of salt (optional) into a food processor and process until smooth. Store, covered in the fridge – or, if you’re not going to use it within a couple of weeks, place into ice cube trays and freeze, removing as necessary for use.


  • Veganuary - week 2 - what's for lunch?

    It's week 2 of Veganuary! How's it going so far? Have you mastered vegan breakfast? Did you try the savoury oats? I'd love to hear how it's going for you!

    This week let's talk about lunch...

    Lunch can be a challenge for people when they are transitioning, especially if you're used to whipping up a sandwich for lunch. So, it's time to think a bit outside the box!

    In this week's episode of In My Plant-Based Kitchen (Episode 25!) I dish (get it? haha) about...

    • 🥦the place of "transition foods" i.e. vegan lunch meats/cheeses/animal food replacements in a healthy diet (pros and cons)
    • 🥦lunch ideas and inspiration
    • 🥦tips for making healthy lunches easy
    • 🥦I walk you through making a template meal "grain salad" (I make a Mediterranean version, but share tips and ideas on how you can switch things up to use what you've got in your fridge and/or what you like). This is a great, versatile meal idea to keep in your pocket for dinner, and then use the leftovers for lunch!

    Even though we talk about lunch ideas in more details in the video I wanted to share a few of my faves with you here:

    • 🥦Leftovers - chilis, curries, soups/stews, loaves -- anything that can be portioned up into lunch containers and reheats well!
    • 🥦Wraps -- stuff with greens, hummus, and veggies -- or leftovers!
    • 🥦Keep it simple – hummus and veggies – if you cut the veggies up ahead of time and keep them in water (this works well with harder veggies like carrots and celery, not as well with peppers) this can be a great grab and go lunch!
    • 🥦No “tuna” salad – this is my favourite oil-free version - great to use in sandwiches and wraps

    And the grain bowl we made in the video is another favourite! Here is today's version:

    And here is the recipe/template:

    (as I cover in the video, this is completely versatile - you can use different grains/beans, and vegetables (cooked and/or raw), even dressings - the idea is just to use the grain as the base and make sure you get a good diversity of foods in there -- see the video for more details.)

    EXAMPLE - MEDITERRANEAN QUINOA BOWL/SALAD

    Combine (amounts are simply guidelines -- I'd keep the grain and beans about the same, but use more/less of other things, depending on what you have/like):

    • 1 cup uncooked quinoa or another grain of your choice (makes about 3 cups cooked) *
    • 1 1/2 cups or 1 can chickpeas, roasted with italian seasoning mix (roasting is optional)
    •  ½ head cauliflower, roasted with Italian seasoning mix
    • 1 small-med zucchini, roasted with Italain seasoning mix
    • 1 orange pepper, diced
    • 2 stalks celery, diced
    • 1 bunch green onions, sliced (white part) and julienned (green part)
    • 1/2 cup Kalamata Olives, chopped (or sundried tomatoes, rehydrated
    • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes. halved

    * I like to cook my quinoa with a ratio of 1 cup dry quinoa: 1 ¾ cups water (with the juice of 1 lemon/lime incorporated into the water)

    Dress with a combination of:

    • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tbsp aquafaba or olive oil
    • salt and pepper to taste (I usually use about 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper)

    Once everything is mixed up garnish with additional tomatoes, chopped cashews and/or some vegan feta

    A few key tips for lunch success:

    1) Plan ahead - I can't stress this enough! Taking a few minutes on the weekend or in the evenings to think about the types of lunches you might want to have makes a BIG difference. Even thinking about it the night before and packaging up some leftovers in a wrap or container that you can grab on your way out the door in the morning really helps.

    2) Batch cook so you have leftovers - get in the habit of making a few more servings than you need, and portion them out for lunch. This makes lunch SO EASY. WRAPS are one of my favourite ways to make leftovers/batched cooked food feel like something different and new for lunch. :-)

    3) Get yourself a good thermos that will keep things warm for you, if you're not in a place you can heat your lunch up.

    Do you have a great lunch tip/recipe to share? Leave it in the comments below!


  • Veganuary is here! Resources & BREAKFAST...Loaded Savoury Oatmeal

    I don't know about you, but starting a new year always gives me a fresh infusion of energy! Time to clean the freezer out, find some new inspiration in the kitchen, and get back on track with healthier food choices after the holidays. And since it's VEGANUARY I have decided to do a series of videos on my YouTube Channel about transitioning to a healthier whole foods plant-based diet.

    But before we get into that, I want to tell you about a video I published this week about my GO-TO resources for healthy plant-based eating and living. This is by no means a complete list - there are SO MANY great resources out there, but these are some of my favourites, and I talk about why in Episode 23.

    Watch it here.

    And TODAY I am publishing a second video, the FIRST in the Veganuary Series. In this series I am going to be sharing:

    • Transition approaches and strategies
    • Pitfalls to avoid
    • Thoughts on how to make the change not just easier, but fun and enjoyable too
    • Recipes!
    • Inspiration!
    • And more tools
    • I'll also be addressing some of the questions that have been coming in from viewers in the past few weeks.

    I'm kicking it all off today with Episode 24, where I'm talking about plant-based breakfast ideas, making savoury oatmeal. 

    You can watch Episode 24 here.

    I also offer

    • how to make healthy breakfasts quick
    • links to recipes you can try out
    • thoughts on why breakfast is such an important meal of the day & how your body uses it to fuel your daily activity (with links to more info on that too!)

    Here's the recipe:

    Loaded Savory Oats (Inspired by Oh She Glows)
    Serves 2
    Ingredients:

    • 1/3 cup rolled oats*
    • 1/4 cup red lentils
    • 1 3/4 cups vegetable stock
    • 1/4 small onion, minced
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1/8 tsp powdered turmeric
    • ¼ tsp black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary (or leave it whole and remove before eating)

    *You can use steel cut oats or quinoa instead if you like -- you'll just have to cook them a bit longer.

    Directions:
    Add all ingredients to a small pot, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer about 8 minutes, until the consistency is to your liking.

    Top with your choice of:

    • Shredded purple cabbage or sauerkraut
    • Shredded carrots/beets and/or sliced cucumbers
    • Avocado or hummus
    • Cherry tomatoes or fresh peppers
    • Salsa

    Load with toppings of your choice and enjoy!



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