New Site

I am very excited to announce that as of tomorrow I will be unveiling my brand new website! I have found another hosting platform that allows me to more easily create the site I’ve envisioned since I first launched my blog. I will no longer be on WordPress, however my domain name will remain the same (www.juliettelacroix.com). In addition, I will have a fancy shmancy new email newsletter, which I am pretty psyched about.

Please check back tomorrow for the new site, and thanks so much for all of your support to date!!

Juliette

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Midnight Miso & Kinpira

Midnight Miso

Just when I thought spring was upon us with its corresponding smoothie and salad cravings, a Newfoundland style Sheila’s Brush descended with a cold, wet and bleary day more reminiscent of November than March. As a result, I found myself reaching back in the fridge for my grounding root vegetables and miso paste.

When it comes to late night snacking, I have been know to reach for a lovely bar of dark chocolate, especially if it happens to come from The Chocolate Project. But more often than not, during the fall and winter months I find myself preparing a warm and nourishing bowl of what I lovingly refer to as “Midnight Miso” instead. One of my intentions for this year was to give myself the gift of rest by going to bed earlier. A good night’s sleep happens more often than it has in the past, but I still find myself stirring a pot of miso goodness during the wee hours more often than I would like to admit. But when it comes to late night snacking you could definitely do a lot worse than miso soup!

This recipe is flexible and can be made with whatever veg and protein you happen to have on hand. I love using grounding root veggies, like Burdock, Daikon and Carrots, and I often pair this soup with Kinpira, a delicious macrobiotic dish first introduced to me by my good friend Jessica Sodor-Duncan. Her blog, The Dainty Pig contains an abundance of wonderful recipes and information on all things Macrobiotic related. You can find her fantastic recipe for Kinpira here. As I mentioned, it pairs beautifully with Midnight Miso, especially since both dishes take a mere 20ish minutes, plus chopping time to prepare. Sounds like a wonderful anytime snack/meal to me!

Midnight Miso

Ingredients:

3″ piece carrot, finely diced
3″ piece of burdock, peeled and finely diced
3″ piece of daikon, peeled and finely diced
Handful organic shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1″ piece of ginger, grated
1 350 g package organic tofu, cubed (or protein of choice) and/or 1 cup edamame
6 cups filtered water or Nourishing Vegetable Broth
2 tsp 5 Mushroom Dual Extract Powder (optional)
1 Tbsp Sea Veg Blend (or seaweed of choice)
1/8 cup tamari, plus more to taste
3 tbsp miso paste (organic chickpea or soy)
1 package rice noodles or rice ramen (I love the Lotus Brand Organic Millet & Brown Rice Ramen)

Directions

Combine all ingredients except the miso paste and tamari in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Let simmer for 15 minutes, to allow flavours to integrate.
Remove from heat and add Tamari, whisking to combine.
Ladle some of the broth into a bowl and whisk in the miso until no chunks remain.
Add the miso/broth mixture back into the soup pot and stir to combine.
Serve immediately, with some thinly sliced green onions and sesame oil (chili infused sesame oil is even better!)

What is your favourite late night snack?


Tackling Nutritional Overwhelm

Tackling Nutritional Overwhelm

Generally speaking, I am happy with how we eat. We follow a whole foods, plant based approach because this is what we’ve found works best for us. I incorporate lots of superfoods, as a nutritional boost, and follow the latest news in health and nutrition to keep abreast of what is new and exciting in the field. Are there things we can do differently? Of course. There are definitely  things I would like to do better, but I generally feel good about where we’re at. I also am aware of perfectionist tendencies within myself, and try to keep tabs on how much I am indulging them where nutrition is concerned, as I know it can be a dangerous road that leads right to orthorexia (aka an unhealthy obsession with eating foods that are perceived to be healthy).

Last week I found myself challenged, in a really big way. I picked up a gorgeous new cookbook, full of amazing and exciting information about a way of eating that is pretty far removed from where we are at. I started out feeling really inspired, but the more I read, the more I felt doubt creeping in. Is this what we really “should” be doing? Am I not doing enough? What about where my kids are concerned? There were aspects of the book that were in complete contradiction to what I believe is healthy (it was anti-fermented foods, no mushrooms), but that didn’t seem to matter, I still felt the ugly seeds of doubt seeping their way in.

My intention was to make this fabulous new book the basis of our weekly meal plan, but instead I found myself sitting at the table in a bit of a daze, leafing through jaw droopingly beautiful pictures for the next half hour. I felt at a loss as to how to fit this brand new and shiny philosophy into our current lifestyle. We’ve found a food approach that works for us, that accommodates the fact that we have young children, a strict food budget and a crazy busy homeschooling lifestyle. The vast majority of the food we eat is made from scratch out of whole foods. I felt really good about all of this, until I started leafing through my new cookbook. I put the new book aside and went on with my weekly meal planning, feeling all the while that I was somehow falling short of the mark.

When my husband got home, I had a long discussion with him. He kindly asked me if I felt so uncertain about how we eat that I would allow this to drastically get in the way of my confidence. He also reflected that the author had found their “niche market”, which was an important reminder to me that this is just one way of eating, not the ultimate, “right” way. It is simply another approach. One of the most important things I took away from IIN is that there are a billion and one different ways of eating out there and that each of those approaches can sound very convincing, but at the end of the day it is about what works best for your individual client. Or in this case, for us. Meghan Telpner often says “labels are for tin cans”, which is another reminder that it is not the label you attach that matters (gluten free, vegan, alkaline, paleo) but rather finding a label-free way of eating that works for you, ideally within the parameters of making healthy choices. Stress is a huge factor in healthy digestion (and a healthy life in general), which makes stressing out about what you are eating pretty much the worst thing you could do.

It is also important to keep in mind that the very idea of what constitutes “healthy” will shift and change over time. Kale is a superstar one week, the next it is demonized because of a new study that has emerged in main stream media. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Maybe, but apparently only if you eat the right kind of apple, paired with the right foods to avoid a blood sugar spike. The sky is the limit when it comes to food philosophies and studies touting what is healthy and what is not. So much comes down to the philosophy of the person writing the article, and the outcome of a very specific, targeted trial that focuses on one outcome and may not take into account a wide range of different factors. Not to mention the industries funding these studies, who may very well have their own agenda propelling the research. At the end of the day we are all unique human beings, with our own unique combination of requirements when it comes to food intake. It is up to us to determine what that combination should be.

After a lot of reflection, I realized that it is not about being “perfect”, within the context of yourself or someone else. It is about finding what works best for you, at this point in time. There are so many considerations to take into account, food sensitivities, family food preferences, time availability, budget, geographical location, food supply and emotional attachment to specific foods. I have found my way around the latter by recreating foods that I used to love in a healthier context. Does that mean they are perfect? Probably not, but nor do they need to be.

Will I be donating this shiny new cookbook at my earliest convenience? Surprisingly, no. When I finally dug myself out of my cavern of doubt, I realized that we can easily incorporate some of these wonderful recipes into what we are already doing. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We are doing the best we can, and that is enough.

What are some of your biggest challenges when it comes to health and nutrition? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

* As a footnote, there is a webinar happening tomorrow night on this very subject, entitled “Jude Blereau on food culture, food guilt and stress!” Jude Blereau is the author of some excellent whole food cookbooks, and also has a fantastic website:
http://wholefoodcooking.com.au. You can find a link for the webinar here.


Vanilla Citrus Explosion Smoothie

Vanilla Citrus Explosion Smoothie

Cherry blossoms, green sprouts and warmer temperatures abound here in Victoria, making it clear to me that we are moving out of the rainy season and into spring! The recent shift in weather has led to a shift in our eating patterns. I like to try and follow the seasons (guided by fresh local produce availability) and chose to embrace the new lightness we are all feeling with a creamy and delicious citrus smoothie.

Over the last few weeks we have ordered a mixed fruit box from Spud.ca along with our food order, and this week’s selection came with a lot of delicious organic oranges. They are a big hit with my kids, they happily eat them raw, and we also mix things up by creating sparkling orange juice (thank you glass bottled Soda Stream!) and other delicious concoctions. One of these creations just happened to be the Vanilla Citrus Explosion smoothie we thoroughly enjoyed this morning.

I absolutely LOVE smoothies, because they facilitate the intake of high levels of nutrient dense foods in a small and easily consumable format. My kids are still in what I like to call a “selective phase”, which makes smoothies especially appealing as I can be sure to have the majority of their nutrient bases covered in one go, just in case a usual favourites don’t fly later on in the day.

I have included a bunch of protein and fibre rich superstars, including ground flax, sesame, sunflower and hemp seeds. I paired this with Vitamin C rich goji berries, camu camu & acerola cherry powders and fresh squeezed organic orange juice. I rounded this off with a bit of Vitamineral Green powder, as citrus and green leafy veg work brilliantly together to maximize nutrient absorption. The final touches were some antimicrobial and enzyme rich raw honey and some gorgeous vanilla bean powder. The tangy citrusy deliciousness could have included a creamsicle tag, however I have a sneaky suspicion that’s been done before, and besides, how often do you get to use the word “explosion” in a good context?

Vanilla Citrus Explosion Smoothie

Ingredients

3 cups filtered water
4 oranges, juiced (makes about 3/4 cup)
2 tbsp goji berries
2 tbsp fresh ground flax seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp camu camu powder
1 tsp acerola cherry powder
1 tsp vanilla bean powder
2 tsp Vitamineral Green powder
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp coconut manna
2 tbsp Honey (or whole food sweetener of choice)
5 drops tangerine essential oil (optional)

Directions

Combine ingredients in a high speed blender and process until smooth.


Cheesy Roasted Broccoli

IMG_1328

Snack time this afternoon ended up being a heaping plate of roasted broccoli. I am pretty thrilled that my kids enjoy broccoli so much. I make a point of mixing the seasoning up and ensuring it is not over cooked (aka mushy) for maximum enjoyment all around. This recipe can be prepared in a sauté pan as well, however I like having the inactive roasting time and free burner if I happen to be preparing this dish as a side with dinner.

Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, brussels sprouts and kale have huge nutritional benefits, which is why I love eating them so much (in addition to the fact that they taste great!) Unfortunately they also contain oxalates, which can inhibit iron and calcium absorption. Thankfully cooking them and/or serving them with some kind of citrus helps to offset the oxalates and maximize absorption of these important minerals. I love the tangy combination of lemon and garlic, although I suspect other kinds of citrus would be lovely too.

I purposely let the mixture sit for 10 minutes before putting it in the oven. If you do this with crushed garlic before heating it, you will still fully benefit from its allicin, the cancer fighting compound that is optimized with raw consumption. As much as I love garlic I am not a fan of eating huge quantities of it raw (nor is my husband!) and I love that letting it sit for 10 minutes after cutting and pre cooking produces the same beneficial effect.

I added the lemon and hemp seeds after removing the broccoli from the oven as this optimizes the vitamin c in the citrus and the essential fatty acids in the hemp seeds, both of which degrade when exposed to heat.

This recipe works great with lots of different vegetables. I sometimes do a mixed pan of broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. It works well with kale as well, although I would prepare this in a sauté pan when using leafy greens as your vegetable base.

Cheesy Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients

2 heads broccoli
Avocado oil (enough to lightly coat)
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1/2 lemon, juiced
Generous pinch chili flakes (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Cut broccoli stalks and stems into equal sized pieces.
In a large mixing bowl, coat broccoli with enough avocado oil to lightly coat (the amount will vary with the size of your broccoli).
Add crushed garlic, sea salt and nutritional yeast and stir to combine.
Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
Spread the broccoli mixture on baking sheets and roast in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the broccoli is lightly browned and still a bit firm when pierced with a fork.
Remove the broccoli from the oven and toss with hemp seeds, lemon, and chili flakes (if desired) and serve immediately.


Decadently Delicious Lasagna

lasagna

Lasagna has to be one of my favourite things in the entire world. If it wasn’t so labour intensive we’d be eating it all the time! My lasagna recipe tends to change slightly every time I make it, usually depending on the ingredients I have on hand. I guess you could say the basic idea stays the same, with a few minor variations. In this case I was curious to see if I could come up with a nut based ricotta, to replace the tofu based recipe I usually use. We do eat organic soy a couple of times a week, but I find our digestive systems tend to handle nuts better overall. Especially when combined with noodles. I guess there is something to that food combining thing after all!

This particular batch of lasagna was the result of a birthday request made by my daughter. She shares my love of lasagna and would have it every week if she could. I really enjoy making this particular dish with my kids, it is fun to get them involved with making each of the different elements. I paired the pasta with her all time favourite caesar salad, from Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet. I have tried a bunch of different caesar salad recipes since we adopted a plant based diet, and hers is by far the best.

For the Basil and Nut Ricotta I used a blend of organic raw cashew, macadamia and pine nuts. They are  not inexpensive, but for a special occasion it is definitely worth it! I am sure cashews alone would work well also. I have been known to add a layer of daiya mozzarella on top, but decided to forgo that element this time around in favour of a simple topping of Vegan Parmesan once the lasagna had come out of the oven.

Decadently Delicious Lasagna

Ingredients

1 package Tinkyada Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles (or gluten free lasagna noodles of choice)
1 batch Shrek Spaghetti Sauce
1 batch Basil & Nut Ricotta (see below)
1 batch Garlicky Mushrooms and Kale (see below)
1 batch Vegan Parmesan

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.
Prepare fillings and set aside.
Prepare noodles according to package directions.
Spoon a thin layer of Shrek Spaghetti Sauce on the bottom of a 13″ Lasagna pan.
Add a layer of lasagna noodles, topped with half of the Garlicky Mushrooms and Kale, followed by half of the Basil and Nut Ricotta. Top with a layer of Shrek Spaghetti Sauce.
Repeat with another layer of noodles, Garlicky Mushrooms and Kale, Basil and Nut Ricotta and Shrek Spaghetti Sauce.
Bake lasagna for 30 minutes. Remove and let sit for 10 minutes. Top with a generous layer of Vegan Parmesan and serve immediately.

Basil & Nut Ricotta

Ingredients

1 cup cashews
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil (+ more as needed)
1 head roasted garlic
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup fresh basil
1 Tbsp hemp seeds
1\2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Soak nuts for 2 hours.
Roast garlic, covered, in a 375 F oven for 25 minutes.
Strain nuts and add to a food processor with the roasted garlic.
Add nutritional yeast, basil, hemp seeds, lemon, garlic powder, sea salt and pepper.
Process until mostly smooth, with some texture remaining.

Garlicky Mushrooms & Kale

Ingredients

2 Tbsp avocado oil
3 cups thinly sliced mixed mushrooms (I used shiitake, oyster and king oyster)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 head organic kale, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
Sprinkle sea salt
Drizzle of truffle oil (optional)

Directions

Warm avocado oil over medium heat.
Add mixed mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are browned and moisture has evaporated.
Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute or so.
Add kale and sauté until it is bright green and slightly wilted.
Remove from heat, add lemon juice and sea salt and stir to incorporate.
Finish with a drizzle of truffle oil, if you are feeling particularly decadent!

What is your favourite way to make lasagna? Are there any must have ingredients you simply can’t live without?


Super Berry Milkshake

IMG_0081

Tonight after dinner my kids were still hungry, so I decided to put together a dessert to wrap up the meal. I debated between a few different options, all of which ended up being too time consuming, before pulling out a binder given to me by a close friend several years ago. In it I keep a record of my recipe creations, including this Super Berry Milkshake.

Milkshakes are usually made with a base of ice cream, but I have bypassed this rather time consuming step by using thick, full fat coconut milk and frozen berries. I found the end result to be as thick and creamy as its ice cream based counterpart. We are all in recovery mode after fighting off a nasty cold virus, so I wanted to pack this drink as full of nutrient dense foods as I possibly could. I included essential fatty acid rich hemp seeds, which in addition to being protein rich are also one of the few alkaline seeds out there. I also added immune boosting, antioxidant and amino acid rich, lycopene and beta carotene filled goji berries, polyphenol, anthocyanin and Vitamin C rich macqui berry powder, antioxidant and Vitamin C rich acerola cherry powder, and last but not least camu camu powder, which contains large amounts of easily absorbed Vitamin C. I elected to use vanilla bean powder and maple syrup as my sweeteners of choice to round out the tangy flavour of the powders I was using.

I was very pleased with the final result – delicious and good for us to boot. My girls gave it two thumbs up, they said it was “just as good” as the vegan strawberry milkshake we sometimes treat ourselves to at the Interactivity Board Game Cafe here in Victoria. At $7 a cup for the vegan friendly option they are definitely an occasional treat. I am happy to have arrived at an option we can easily make at home, with ingredients I typically have on hand. The superfood berry powders I mentioned above are far from cheap, but a little goes a long way, and the super boost of nutritional goodness definitely offsets the price tag.

Super Berry Milk Shake

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups frozen mixed organic berries (I love the Organic Moov Berry Cherry Blend from Costco during the wintertime)
1 can organic coconut milk
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp hemp seeds
2 Tbsp goji berries
1 tsp macqui berry powder
1 tsp acerola cherry powder
1 tsp camu camu powder
1 tsp vanilla bean powder

Directions

Combine in a high speed blender and process until smooth.


Professor Cayenne Caesar

professor cayenne ceasar

A couple of months ago we made up a batch of Professor Cayenne in my Herbal Apprenticeship class with Betty Norton. I was excited to learn that Professor Cayenne has a multitude of benefits. It packs a powerful punch, and helps to hear up the body in order to sweat out toxins. It also helps to clear the sinuses and the lymphatic system, and is also wonderful for circulation (thanks to the cayenne, which has a plethora of health benefits). You can take this as a preventative measure, or to help ward off illness at the first sign of a bug. It is also great for helping move an illness through the body once it has set in.

After hearing about all of the benefits of this tonic, I was inspired to make up my own batch. I used a 64 oz mason jar for my home batch, which was much smaller than the jar we used in class. As a result my home batch ended up crazy potent! I have a high heat tolerance and was happy to drink the class batch straight up in a shot glass, but found my home batch worked best when mixed with some hot water and a touch of honey. To my mind a more concentrated batch equals more potent medicine and can always be toned down, so I have included the proportions I used at home. I also wanted to mention that I invested in some plastic lids for all of my home remedies. I avoid plastic wherever possible but chose it in this case as there is no chance of rust. Keep reading past the Professor Cayenne recipe for a recipe variation that gives a traditional Caesar a run for its money! Who says medicine can’t be delicious?

Professor Cayenne (care of Betty Norton)

Ingredients

3 heads garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Ginger (to fit the palm of your hand)
Horseradish (to fit the palm of your hand)
2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 bunches parsley
1/4 – 1/2 cup cayenne powder
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, to cover

Directions

Peel and chop vegetables and roots and add to a 64oz (1/2 gallon) mason jar.
Pour in apple cider vinegar until all ingredients are fully submerged.
Shake the jar daily for one week (making sure the lid is securely fastened – I learned this the hard way!)
Let the mixture sit in a cool, dark cabinet for an additional 5 weeks, checking the mixture periodically to ensure plant matter is fully submerged (I had to add a bit more apple cider vinegar at one point).
Strain and store in a 1L mason jar at room temperature.

We have been drinking this tonic off and on for a couple of months now. One night as we were sipping it win out customary hot water and honey, my husband mentioned that it would make a great base for a Caesar. This used to be one of my all time favourite drinks, before we adopted a plant based diet and started avoiding preservatives in our ingredient lists. My creative juices started flowing and I came up with the recipe below. It is a very close approximation, which I was pretty thrilled about. We were running low on our Wizard Brand Vegan Worcestershire, so I tried my hand at making a version from scratch. It definitely fits the bill, although a little goes a long way! You can thin it a bit with filtered water, as desired.

Professor Cayenne Caesar

Ingredients

1/4 – 1/2 cup professor cayenne
3/4 cup filtered water
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp organic crushed tomatoes
1 tsp vegan worcestershire (recipe below)
1/4 tsp smoked sea salt
1/2 tsp honey

Directions

Assemble ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.

Vegan Worcestershire

Ingredients

1/4 cup tamari or braggs liquid aminos
1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp blackstrap molasses
1/2 tsp smoked sea salt
1/2 tsp 5 mushroom blend (optional)
1/2 tsp sea veg blend
1 tsp coconut sugar
1/8 tsp liquid smoke
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground orange peel

Directions

Assemble ingredients in a small blender (our Nutribullet worked great) and process until smooth.
Store the sauce in a small bottle in the fridge, and be sure to shake before serving!


Chinese New Year Dumplings

Dumplings

This year Chinese New Year coincided with the Family Day Holiday in BC. We decided to mark the occasion with some culinary exploration, en famille. I found a great book at the library entitled Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats, which we used for recipe inspiration and to learn a bit about New Year’s stories and traditions, which helped inform our experience of the occasion.

We decided to make up some dumplings last night, as according to the book they are one of the traditional foods served at midnight on New Year’s Eve. We didn’t stay up that late with the kids, instead we enjoyed the dumplings while immersing ourselves in the often philosophical and always hilarious exploits of Kung Fu Panda. I appreciate that the films touch on themes of mindfulness and inner peace, presenting these concepts in a way that is accessible and makes sense to kids. I am planning to revisit parts of the second movie in order to write down some of the teachings as I feel they would be beneficial for all of us, pinned up on the wall.

I made up a couple of different components for this recipe, the first being an umami filling meant to take the place of the pork traditionally used. I also made up a vegetable filling, making use of nutrient rich and highly beneficial root vegetables like daikon and burdock. We are using these fillings for a couple of different dishes. The umami filling will go in the middle of sticky rice packets, and the vegetable filling will be paired with vermicelli noodles and rice wrappers to make up homemade spring rolls. I also have a chill garlic dipping sauce in the works, which I will include in another post.

I used a gluten free vegan rice pasta dough recipe care of Something Vegan, which turned out really well, although the dough is not as pliable as its gluten counterpart and needed to be rolled a bit thicker as a result. Another gluten free vegan dough we have tried with success is the one from Allyson Kramer’s Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats. This one contains xanthan gum, which allows for a bit of stretch, but still not a lot compared to dough containing gluten. I am curious to explore this further, to see if it is possible to create something that works properly when rolled to a thinner consistency.

Umami Filling

Ingredients

1 package smoked tempeh (I love the one by Green Cuisine, available at grocery stores in Victoria)
1 cup shiitakes soaked in 1 cup hot water
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup tamari or bragg’s liquid aminos
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp Five Spice Powder
2 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions

Marinade 2 hours or overnight.
Strain tempeh and mushrooms.
Melt coconut oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.
Add tempeh & mushroom mixture, cooking until mushrooms are soft, tempeh is cooked through and any moisture has evapourated.

Vegetable Filling

Ingredients

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 leek, washed & finely diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2′ piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup oyster and king oyster mushrooms
2 lg carrots, peeled
1 six inch piece daikon, peeled
4 six inch pieces burdock, peeled
1/2 savoy cabbage
1/4 cup tamari or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp coconut sugar

Directions

Grate carrot, daikon and burdock (I roughly chopped mine and put it in my Nutribullet!)
Finely chop savoy cabbage.
Finely dice mushrooms and set vegetables aside.
Whisk together tamari, sesame oil and coconut sugar and set aside.
Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Once coconut oil has melted, add leek.
Cook over medium heat until softened, about 8 minutes.
Add garlic and ginger, stirring until fragrant (about 1 minute).
Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are soft and liquid has evapourated.
Add carrot, daikon, burdock and cabbage, stirring until vegetables are softened, about 8-10 minutes.
Add seasoning and stir to incorporate.

Dumpling Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp braggs or tamari
1 tsp chili flakes (optional)

Directions

Whisk ingredients together and serve in small bowls for dipping.


DIY Tahini & Mexican Inspired Hummus

DIY Tahini & Hummus

I came up with this recipe a week ago, to pair with my Smoky Southwest Mixed Bean Soup – I had a huge bunch of organic cilantro on hand, and Southwest/Mexican cuisine on the brain! The sky is the limit, you can easily switch up the herbs and spices you are using and take your hummus recipe on a culinary adventure around the world.

Hummus is a staple snack in our house; it is nutrient dense, can be paired with veggies or crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers are our favourite!) and my kids love it. When I went to put this batch together, I realized that I was out of tahini and checked out a bunch of sites on the internet to see how difficult it would be to make my own. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it is not that hard, and is a lot less expensive than buying the organic jars at the supermarket.

I love sesame seeds and include them in a lot of my cooking. Sesame seeds contain oleic acid, which helps to lower LDL (aka bad cholestorol), folic acid, niacin and a variety of health supporting minerals, including copper, magnesium and calcium. Sesame seeds can be included in homemade nut milk recipes, sprinkled over mixed salads, and included as a topper on asian inspired soups, rice dishes and noodle bowls. I make up a sea veg and gomashio blend that I put on rice with a bit of sesame oil and tamari for breakfast for my kids. It is nice to have nutrient dense, savoury breakfast options I can give them to change things up a bit.

DIY Tahini

Ingredients

1 cup raw organic sesame seeds
1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

Toast sesame seeds in a dry pan until lightly browned and fragrant. You can skip this step and keep them raw, however the final product is more bitter in taste.
Add sesame seeds to a small blender, and process until ground.
Add olive oil and process until smooth.
Store your tahini in a labeled mason jar (date included!) for up to a month.

* I tried this in my food processor first, but the end result was not as smooth as I would have liked. I transferred the mixture to my NutriBullet and ended up with the smooth consistency I was looking for – next time I will skip a step and follow the directions indicated above!

Mexican Inspired Hummus

Ingredients

1.5 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 14 oz can)
2 Tbsp tahini (home made or store bought)
2 Tbsp hemp seeds
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp smoked salt (regular also works)
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp each ground cumin, ground coriander & chili powder
Handful cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water

Directions

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
I found using a blender and all of the water listed above led to a smoother consistency. I used hemp seeds in this recipe, to add a nice boost of omega 3 fatty acids. Feel free to leave the hemp seeds out and replace some of the olive oil with hemp or flax oil for a smoother final product that still includes an omega 3 boost.

What is your favourite way to mix up herbs and spices in your hummus?