• A Feast of Antioxidants: Zingy Black Bean Salad

    For the past few weeks of In My Plant-Based Kitchen we've been talking about nutrition and recipes to keep your heart healthy and strong! 

    In episode 31 (part 3) we're talking free radicals, antioxidants, oxidative stress, inflammation, and how they're all related to heart health. Oh, and we make a scrumptious antioxidant (and nutrient)-rich Zingy Black Bean Salad too (recipe below)!

    In this episode we cover:

    • what oxidative stress is, how it is created in your body, and how it contributes to inflammation
    • how free radicals work in your body, and they part they play in oxidative stress
    • how antioxidants are related to oxidative stress
    • how we can keep our bodies in a state of oxidative balance, and why that's important
    • which foods are helpful and harmful when it comes to creating free radicals in your body
    • where you find antioxidants, and ideas for getting more of them into your daily diet
    • and more!

    This is an info-packed session, and I hope you enjoy it!

    Zingy Black Bean Salad

    Serves 4

    • Ingredients
    • 2 handfuls of spinach/mixed greens, roughly chopped if necessary
    • 1 15-ounce can black beans
    • 1 lime, juiced (about 2 tbsp)
    • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
    • 2 green onions, white parts thinly sliced, green parts julienned
    • 1 roma tomato, diced small
    • 1 yellow/orange pepper, diced small
    • ½ tsp smoked paprika
    • ½ tsp chili powder
    • ¼ - ½ tsp salt, to taste
    • 1 large avocado, diced

    Directions

    1. Drain and rinse the beans thoroughly and chop the rest of the ingredients.
    2. In a large bowl add the greens, beans, cilantro, onions, tomato and peppers and toss well.
    3. Add lime juice, smoked paprika, chili powder and salt (or salt alternative). Toss again until well mixed/
    4. Add avocado and serve!

    NOTE: I love to put a bit of tomato, pepper and avocado aside to top the dish to make it look a bit brighter presentation-wise.

     

     


  • Foods to Lower Cholesterol -- Part 2 of the Heart Health Series

    Episode 30 of In My Plant-Based Kitchen is part 2 of a short series I am doing about heart health and nutrition.

    In part 1 we talked about hypertension and blood pressure (check out that episode here: https://youtu.be/62k4zZpxWs0) and this week we are talking about cholesterol!

    In this episode we cover:

    • how what you eat can affect your cholesterol levels (helpful and harmful)
    • how saturated fat and trans fats affect your cholesterol levels
    • which plant foods you want to be careful with when it comes to cholesterol
    • which plant foods to make a priority for great heart health and healthy cholesterol levels (and why)

    And we make one of my favourite breakfasts (and talk about why the components are so heart healthy and how you can adapt it to  your tastes/make it part of your meal planning routine):

    Overnight Oats

    Overnight oats are a simple, healthy breakfast that you can make ahead for busy mornings. The recipe below yields 1 serving, so make as many servings (each in a separate jar) as you’d like. Overnight oats will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

    Ingredients

    • 1/3 cup rolled oats plus ¼ - ½ tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon
    • 1 tbsp chia seeds or ground flax
    • 1 tbsp almond butter or peanut butter (or another nut/seed butter)
    • 2/3 cup soy/almond milk
    • load it up with berries and other fruit -- I love pear and blueberries

    Instructions

    1. In a jar or bowl (a 1-pint mason jar is perfect), combine the oats and cinnamon, chia seeds and nut butter. Add a splash of the milk and mix the nut butter into the oats. Then add the rest of the milk and stir to combine.

    2. Top with your fruit of choice. (If you’re using fruit that doesn’t store well, like sliced apple or banana, wait to top the oats until you’re ready to serve.)

    3. Place the lid on the jar and refrigerate overnight, or up to 5 days.


  • 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.



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