Keep it simple…

It has been a while since my last post.  While thinking about what to write about next I realized that  we eat quite simply. I have shared many of our favorite recipes and for the most part I stick to doing pretty much the same thing. I have been close to ending my blog but then I bump into someone who encourages me to keep at it, that they check in regularly and love it. So…..I will endeavor to keep it going, with one simple thought each time and  a recipe we love.

FISH……….

We  still eat fish, though only about twice per month. I still am not sure where I stand on this issue, it’s one of those, should we or shouldn’t we? Is it healthy or is it not healthy?  When we do eat fish I make sure that I spend the money and buy fish that is oceanwise approved. See the link if you are not sure what that means.

http://www.oceanwise.ca/about

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/omega-3/HB00087

 

Our serving size is limited to about 4 oz or the size of a deck of cards.

Broiled Salmon or Artic Char with Herb Mustard Glaze

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

3/4 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

3/4 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 tbsp dry white wine

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp honey

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp whole-grain mustard

pinch salt

fresh ground black pepper

In a mini food processor combine the garlic, herbs, wine, oil, honey,  Dijon and 1 tbsp of grainy mustard. Grind until the sauce is combined. Transfer to small bowl and stir in the remaining tbsp of grainy mustard.

Preheat the broiler. Line the bottom of a heavy baking sheet with foil. Brush with a little olive oil. Place the fish on the baking sheet, skin side down, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and the fresh ground pepper. Broil for about 2-3 minutes. Spoon over some of the mustard suace and continue broiling for another 5 minutes. Add more sauce and broil until the fish is just cooked through.  This can vary depending on the type of fish and how thick the fillets are. I have found it can take anywhere from another 2-3 minutes to 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on the fish as it cooks. The sauce may start to burn.

Serve with fresh lemon wedges on the side, with a large salad and dinner is served.

 

 

 

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Miso, Tahini, what in the world?…

Are ingredients I had never heard of until we started our healthier eating journey. Almost 9 years later, I don’t know what I would do with out them. Miso, a traditional Japenese food,  is a high protein seasoning made from soybeans, cultured grain, salt and water. It’s many uses include adding it to soups, or as a sauce, gravy or dressing. There are different types but most importantly I choose one that uses select organic ingredients including, non GMO whole soybeans. I have stocked both “white miso”, which has a mellow, slightly sweet flavor and “amano miso” or “barley miso” which is a naturally aged blend of pearl barley and soybeans with a full-bodied flavor.

Miso soup which is traditionally served with every meal in Japan is delicious, easy to make and loaded with vitamin D and healthy vegetable protein. I made this a few days ago when I feeling a little under the weather with flu-like symptoms. It was just what I needed…nutrition packed, chasing the flu away.

MISO AND MUSHROOM SOUP

Makes 4-6 servings

5 cups vegetable broth

1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms or 2 cups thinly sliced cremini (brown) mushrooms

1/2 cup thinly sliced leek (green part mostly)

1/2 pound firm organic, non GMO tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 sheet nori, cut into 1-inch squares (nori-dried seaweed)

2 to 3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 cups small broccoli florets or bok choy chopped large pieces

1 cup julienned or grated carrot

3 to 4 tablespoons white miso or 3 tbsp barley miso

Pour the broth into a large pot, bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Add the mushrooms, cover, and let stand for 20 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened. (if using dried shitakes) Remove the mushrooms from the broth with a slotted spoon. Cut off and discard the mushroom stems. Thinly slice the caps and set aside. If using fresh sliced mushrooms, add them to the broth together with the leeks,  bring to boil then simmer for about 5-10 minutes or until softened

Add the tofu, nori, and ginger to the broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms (if you had removed them), broccoli, and carrot. Cover and simmer for 1 minute, just until the broccoli turns bright green. Transfer 1 cup of the broth to a measuring cup and stir in the miso with a fork until it is completely dissolved. Pour the dissolved miso into the soup and stir until it is well incorporated.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator, Miso Soup will keep for up to 3 days.

Note: Do not boil the soup after the miso has been added, as high heat will destroy the beneficial enzymes in the miso.

Tahini, (raw and organic) is made using mechanically hulled sesame seeds. It is naturally low in saturated fat, and is an ingredient found in many asian foods. Instead of the high salt versions of teryiaki sauce, or soy sauce dressings and sauces, I have found a great recipe for topping stirfrys using tahini, a “no salt” added, surprisingly yummy sauce. There are a few ingredients in this sauce you may not normally stock and can be a little pricey.  They last a while when stored correctly, are healthier than the traditionally stocked condiments in your refridgerator and will open wide your taste buds to some unique and wonderful flavors. Try some new flavors in 2013!

Yummy Tahini Sauce

 1 small onion or ½ cup shallots roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 tbsp dark toasted sesame oil

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tbsp Braggs ( low sodium soy sauce available in health food stores)

1/3 cup raw sesame tahini

1 tbsp maple syrup

½ cup vegetable stock (low sodium)

¼ cup olive oil

1/8 cup flax or hemp oil (found in health food stores in refridgerator)

 With a blender or food processor, blend all of the ingredients until smooth and creamy.

A little  goes a long way with this sauce. Try topping brown rice, lentils or quinoa and steamed vegees starting with  a tbsp at a time. The flavor is rich and delicious! I usually toast  raw sesame seeds and top it all with about a tbsp per person. Yum!

 

Vegetable Barley Soup….another delicious and nutritious grain

It is snowing, lovely and white and the perfect time for a hike outdoors then a steaming hot bowl of yummy soup.  I have adapted this recipe to exclude the beef and added in more vegetables. It is hearty and delicious. Barley, especially in whole-grain form (hulled or “pot barley” ) is an excellent grain to add to your repertoire. It is more flavourful and has a chewier texture than white rice, with a more subtle flavour than brown rice.

barley_pot

Barley is versatile: and like oats, it is an excellent source of soluble fibre, which can help in lowering blood cholesterol levels and is high in thiamin and fibre.

One serving of 1/2 cup cooked barley provides 97 calories, 1.8 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 3 g fibre.

Whole grain pot barley contains high levels of numerous vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin E, niacin and folate.

This recipe is easy to make. I like to make the soup in the morning (20  minutes tops), and adding it to the slow cooker. No matter what the rest of the  day looks like, whether off to work or out for a hike, a ski, snowshoeing or skating, nothing beats coming home to a hearty bowl of hot soup with a thick slice of whole grain bread.  Enjoy:)

Vegetable Barley Soup

 1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ tsp salt

1 lb mushrooms, sliced (any variety –white, cremini, shitakes, oyster or portobellos or any combination of)

1 each carrot and celery stalk, chopped

1 small turnip, diced

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried

2 tbsp no salt tomato paste

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 cups low sodium vegetable stock

3 cups water

½ cup pot barley

1-2 bay leaves

1 can (540 ml) black beans or white cannellini beans or combination of

 

1. In a large deep pot, heat oil over medium heat and sauté onion and garlic with salt until onion is soft. Add mushrooms, carrot, celery, turnip, thyme and cook for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated from the mushrooms.

 

2. Add the tomato paste and  vinegar; stir to coat the vegetables. Add stock, water, barley and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes or until barley is tender or after boiling, transfer to a slow cooker, set to low for about 3 hours.  Add beans and heat through. Remove bay leaf before serving with fresh ground black pepper. Makes 4-6 servings.

Soups On…fresh tomatoes, red wine… Minestrone Soup

This soup is worth the effort, especially now when the ingredients are all fresh,  local and in abundance!  Tomatoes… I think I planted a few too many this year, though there is nothing that tastes so wonderfully fresh than a tomato! I have diced and measured out many bags for the freezer already and I know I will be glad when January rolls around and grocery store tomatoes just don’t taste like tomatoes anymore.

I hope you enjoy this Minestrone recipe.  The wine adds something special:)

Speaking of wine, we are off on our very first Bike Tour to the Napa Valley in California. We will cycle (yes, on peddle bikes) an average of 65 km per day on rolling hills through vineyards, see the redwoods and do a little wine tasting. Can’t wait:)

 

MINESTRONE- SERVES 6-8

 

2 cups cannellini or white kidney beans, fresh, canned or dried and soaked overnight

2 bay leaves

2 fresh tomatoes, squashed ( I use a potato masher)

2 small potatoes, peeled and cut in half

Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

4 small red onions or 1 large walla walla onion, peeled and finely chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped (large chunks)

4 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped

1 head of fennel, chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 small bunches of fresh basil, leaves and stems separated (finely chop the stems only)

5 cups fresh Roma (or a combination of) tomatoes diced or 2 cans of good quality no sodium added  plum tomatoes

4 small zucchini, quartered and sliced

2 glasses of red wine

1 good sized bunch of swiss chard or spinach, washed and roughly chopped including stalks

4 cups vegetable stock

4 oz dried whole wheat spaghetti pasta

Grated Romano cheese, to serve (optional)

Your favorite hot sauce

 

  1. Beans- Cover the dried cannellini beans with a generous amount of cold water in a bowl overnight. (make sure the water is at least 2 inches above the level of the beans). In the morning, drain the water and put beans into a good sized pot with fresh water, again covering them with water by at least 2 inches. (If you are using fresh or canned cover with water- start now)  Add the bay leaves, squashed tomato and potato. Cook for 30 minutes to an hour (less if fresh or canned) or until tender and soft but not mushy. Keep an eye on them making sure there is water always covering them, and check by tasting after about 25 minutes to see if they are done. Drain, reserving about a cup of the cooking water, and remove and discard the bay leaf, tomato and potato. Season with the salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil and set aside.
  2. While the beans are cooking, heat a glug of olive oil in a stock pot and add the onions, carrots, celery, fennel, garlic and the finely chopped basil stems. “Sweat” on low heat, with the lid left ajar for about 20 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the diced tomatoes, zucchini and red wine and simmer gently for another 15-20 minutes.
  3. Add the chard or spinach, vegetable stock and the seasoned beans. Put the dried spaghetti pasta into a plastic bag and gently bash with a rolling pin to break the pasta into pieces. Add to the soup pot. Stir and continue to simmer until the pasta is done.
  4. If the soup is too thick add a little more stock or the reserved bean cooking water to thin it down. Season to taste with a little more salt and pepper if needed.
  5. Serve with torn up Basil leaves, a little grated Romano cheese and a few drops of hot sauce. Yum!

Quinoa salad… this is a good one:)

This is a very yummy quinoa salad…There are lots of recipes out there to try. I found this one and made it for lunch today. It was easy to make. I prepared it this morning before work. While I was eating breakfast, I had the quinoa cooking, soaked my oil packed sundried tomatoes in boiling water& toasted the almonds. Then after a bike ride and showering I finished the rest. (I already had corn on the cob leftover in the fridge.  I served it on some greens, and had a big, crunchy, local in season Honeycrisp Apple for dessert!  Click on the link below and enjoy:)

http://inpursuitofmore.com/2012/09/24/recipe-super-powered-super-protein-quinoa-salad/

Beets, wild rice and kale…

Another great salad recipe that uses fresh, in season,  beets and kale from what is becoming my favorite cookbook….

3 medium beets, sscrubbed then roasted in the oven wrapped in tinfoil at 400 degrees for about 45min-1 hour, then cooled and cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup wild or brown rice, cooked and cooled, set aside

4 kale leaves, picked  from thick center stem then chopped.

2 green onions chopped finely

2 tbsp goat feta

1/4 cup pecan pieces toasted

1 cup chickpeas drained and rinsed

In a separate bowl make the dressing:

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2tbsp maple syrup

1 garlic clove, crushed

salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the beets and rice and once cooled put into a serving bowl together. Add chopped green onions and chickpeas.

In a small separate bowl combine the chopped kale with about 1 tsp of ready dressing. “Massage” the leaves with the dressing using your hands.

Add the kale to other salad ingredients. Toss together with a couple of tbsps of dressing at a time until it seems well mixed in, but not heavy with dressing. (I still had quite a bit of dressing left over to use again or on another salad. Serve topped with pecans and feta.

Double this up and bring it to a pot luck bbq. I guarantee it will be a hit!

Three meals, trying my best to be local and healthy..

Hippie Pancakes were first up this morning. For the past almost 9 years, we have had a special breakfast every Friday morning.  It was pancakes, waffles or french toast.  I decided to try a new pancake recipe, a bit of a risk, but delicious. My husband loved them, Kirsten probably would have had I not told her what was in them. I served them with sliced local strawberries I picked earlier in the week, sliced bananas, maple syrup, a few toasted pecans and a sprinkle of freshly ground flax seed.  You could add a tablespoon of your favorite healthy plain greek yogurt if you wanted,

but then you might not taste the yummy pancake:)

Hippie Pancakes 

1.2 cup steel-cut oats

1/2 cup quinoa, washed and rinsed three times or until the water runs clear)

1 cup water

1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

3 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

Small scoop of coconut oil, melted or unsalted butter

In a blender add the oats, quinoa, water and yogurt, cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning add the remaining ingredients. Blend on low to combine all the ingredients, then move the setting to high or puree and blend for a minute or more, until the batter is smooth.  (It will be runny).  Heat a scoop of coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, pour in about 1/3 cup of batter slowly, so it does not run all over the pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Flip the pancake and cook the other side for another 3-4 minutes or until cooked through. These are not the big fluffy kind of pancake but delicious. Enjoy.

Noodles and Greens Salad was up for lunch. We had both our girls home, rare these days and what a treat it was. I served up this salad and felt good about feeding my family and healthy meal.

Serves 4

1/2 box whole wheat spagettini, cooked a la dente, rinsed with cold water and set aside

1 avocado chopped

1 mango, peeled and chopped

2 green onion, chopped(locally grown)

1/4 head savoy cabbage, thinly sliced

2 carrots, shredded (locally grown)

1/4 cup toasted cashews

1/2 red pepper chopped

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

handful of snap peas, washed, stems removed and cut in half (locally grown)

4-6 cups assorted greens, including kale (*from my garden)

4 tbsp crumbled goat feta cheese (optional)

Once everything is all chopped and prepared, arrange 4 plates starting with greens at the bottom, then cabbage, then spagettini, then everything else with cashews, green onions and mango at the top.

Top with Honey Mustard dressing:

4tbsp orange juice

4tbsp olive oil

4tbsp apple cider vinegar

3tbsp liquid honey or agave syrup

4tsp Dijon Mustard

 Whisk all ingredients together.

Homemade Pesto Vegetarian Pizza served at supper for just the two of us. Using a whole spelt grain pizza crust topped with made from scratch arugula/basil pesto (see previous post)and a little (about 1 tbsp tomato paste) at the bottom.

Toppings:

1 red bell pepper, thickly sliced

3/4 green bell pepper, thickly sliced

1 walla walla onion, quarters (locally grown)

splash olive oil

fresh ground pepper.

Toss vegetables with olive oil and pepper and put on barbeque to roast for 10-15 minutes. Remove and slice peppers and onions into thinner strips.  Add to pesto base. Add 1 tsp capers (optional), handful of sliced cherry tomatos  and 1-2 tbsp grated romano goat cheese (optional)  Bake 10-15 min 375 degree oven. *  This pizza would be even better when peppers and tomatoes are in season here in the okanagan. At least the  pesto was made with local and fresh basil and arugula.

At the end of the day, not alot of work, but we ate well with fresh and homemade ingredients.