Juicy Pears with Nut Butter

Sometimes the most delicious food is the simplest food.  Taking fresh seasonal pears and pairing that with some earth nut butter and you have yourself an amazing snack or part of a breakfast or lunch!

I have been obsessed with having this for breakfast the past couple of weeks!

Simple and delicious – simply spread nut butter into a pear for a satisfying snack.

Easy Apple Cider

I needed a nice hot Christmas-y drink to warm up this blustery winter day outside.  This recipe fit the bill.  Most apple cider recipes call for “cider” to start out with…but I haven’t been able to find cider in my town.  This one uses apple juice instead and it’s really tasty!  It looks really nice too – great for a dinner party or Christmas gathering!

Based on the recipe from www.asweetpeachef.com/drinks/hot-apple-cider-recipe

Ingredients:

2 liters 100% apple juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 apple, unpeeled and cut in half
1 small orange, unpeeled and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
2 tsp. whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks, broken
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice

Directions:

1. Carefully insert the whole cloves into the apple on both the flesh and skin sides (see picture).

2. Heat apple juice over medium heat in a large pot.  Once heated, add the brown sugar and stir to dissolve.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Promptly remove the apple halves, orange slices, cinnamon sticks and any clove remnants from the pot (the fruit is tasty to eat too!).   Serve hot.

Enjoy!

How to make perfect brown rice

I make this recipe every week.  It’s really good and I tell people this cooking method for brown rice all the time.  Sorry it’s a bad picture, I was just figuring thing out back then!  But the recipe is still good, trust me!

When I talk to people about whole grains and particularly brown rice, the usual response is that they don’t like the texture of it when compared to white rice. This way of preparing whole grain rice makes it tender, delicious and fluffy.

Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice as it is higher in fiber, it’s less refine (the whole grain is intact), has more vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and plus it has a delicious nutty flavour!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup brown rice (or substitute 1/2 cup of that for wild rice)

2 1/2 cups water

2 teaspoons of margarine or butter

Dash of salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Boil water.

2. Rinse rice and add to casserole dish.  Add the butter/margarine and salt.  Pour boiling water over everything and stir well.

3. Cover dish and heat in oven for 60 minutes, until tender.

4. Remove baking dish from oven and uncover. Fluff rice with fork, cover again and let rice stand 5 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew

Tabitha:

Source: http://aspicyperspective.com/2012/03/ethiopian-recipes.html

Our weekly potluck had an Ethiopian night.  My friend Adrienne cooked up a red lentil stew which is a staple in Ethiopian cuisine – this stew is called Mesir Wat (pronounced me-sir wot) is loaded with onions, ginger, garlic and lots of spices.  Most recipes call for berbere paste, a hot spice blend made of  chiles, paprika and too many spices to count. As berbere is not commonly found in most grocery stores, this recipe uses a combination of garam masala (an Indian spice blend), paprika, turmeric and tomato paste to replicate its flavor.  The rich blend of flavors is a real treat of the senses.

Ingredients:

2 cups red lentils

1 large onion, chopped

3 tbsp oil or butter

2 tbsp fresh grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp paprika

1 tsp tumeric

1 tsp garam masala

2 tbsp tomato paste

Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Place a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add the oil or butter and chopped onions and saute for 3-5 minutes, until soft. Add the ginger and garlic and saute another 2 minutes.
  2. Next add the spices and tomato paste along with 2 tsp of salt. Mix well, then add the lentils and 6 cups of water.
  3. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Uncover and stir the lentils, then continue to cook uncovered for another 10-15 minutes until a thick porridge-like consistency is reached.
  5. Remove from heat and cover until ready to serve.

Colourful Wild Rice Salad

Tabitha:

I made this salad for work – incorporating traditional food ingredients to the Kenora area.  Wild rice is grown all around this region and is a nutritious alternative to brown or white rice which is higher in carbohydrates.  I added lots of vegetables to make this even more nutritious.   I adapted this from food.com.

Ingredients:

1 cup wild rice (uncooked)

2 cups shredded carrots

3 green onions, chopped

1 chopped red pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 tbsp honey

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup toasted sunflower seeds

Directions:

1. Cook rice according to directions on the package.

2. Drain rice well and place in large salad bowl.  Refrigerate until completely cooled.

3. Mince carrots, onions and red peppers.  Add into bowl with rice.

4. Mix olive oil, honey and vinegar together in small bowl.  Whisk in salt and pepper to taste.

5. Pour dressing over salad, mixing thoroughly.

6. Add fruit and sunflower seeds, stir in.

Makes a lovely potluck dish!

Homemade Apple Sauce

Tabitha:

I had some apples going soft on my counter…what better way to use them up but as applesauce!  One of the easiest things to make!

Adapted from allrecipes.com

Homemade Apple Sauce

Ingredients:

4 large apples (I used 8 tiny macintosh apples)

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup of brown sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

1. In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon.

2. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft.

3. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.

Enjoy!

Oat Bran Pancakes

Yesterday was a cold cozy kind of morning so my husband and I decided to have some pancakes for breakfast.  It sure hit the spot.

Pure white flour pancakes are not great for you as most of the goodness is taken out of the flour, it’s low in fiber and doesn’t keep you full for very long as a result.  That being said, making your own pancake mixture is much better than the store bought stuff.  I like to try a little extra nutrition boost to my pancakes either by adding some flax, oatmeal, whole grain flours or in this case, oat bran.  It add a nice texture and some fiber to make them more satisfying.  Try it out for yourself!  Just like any other pancake mix feel free to add any extras like blueberries, apples and cinnamon, etc that your family likes!

Ingredients:

1 cup of buttermilk (or milk plus 1 tbsp vinegar)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg

1/2 cup oat bran, certified wheat free

1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour mix

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

1. Beat together wet ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Mix dry ingredients together and add to wet ingredients just until moistened.

3. Heat pan with a little bit of oil. Each pancake is about 1/4 cup.  Drop onto hot skillet and heat each side until browned.

4. Serve with maple syrup and thawed frozen berries!

Easy Stove Top Popcorn

Tabitha:

Popcorn CAN be a nutritious snack – it is after all a whole-grain which helps to add to your daily fibre quota.  However, some microwave popcorn can tip the calorie and fat scales!  It is worth being mindful of the type of popcorn you make and eat.

Have you ever cut open a bag of microwave popcorn and seen what is inside?  In the extra-butter flavours you’ll find tons of hard fats coating the popcorn kernels (the picture below is from: http://www.quinnpopcorn.com/2010/12/popcorn-bag-dissection/.)  Those hard fats are full of saturated and trans fats – the two fats that are known to clog arteries and raise cholesterol levels.

Instead – I opt to make popcorn on the stove-top.  Then you can control how much fat (and the type of fat) you use and how much salt.  Plus its really tasty and costs a fraction of what microwave popcorn costs per bag.

Because you have to heat the oil to a high temperature – olive or vegetable oils or butter will start to smoke and burn.  Instead I use peanut oil – which is high in monounsaturated fats (mono- and poly-unsaturated fats are the healthy fats) and also has a high “smoke point” which means you can heat it to a high temperature before it will burn.  Gives the popcorn a nice flavour too.

Stovetop Popcorn

Ingredients:

1. 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels.

2. 2 tbsp of peanut oil (poured off the top of my natural peanut butter).

3. Pinch of salt (if desired)

Directions:

1. In large pot with a lid – add oil and salt and three popcorn kernels.  Heat on medium until the three popcorn kernels have popped.

2. Then add in the remainder of the kernels and immediately remove from heat.

3. Shake the pot (with lid on) for 30 seconds.

4. Return to heat and shake every so often to prevent burning.

5. Keep the lid slightly off to allow for steam to escape and keeps the popcorn more crispy.

6. Remove from heat once popcorn stops popping!

Tip: rather than using butter on the popcorn add some popcorn seasonings to the oil before popping.  I use Mrs. Dash seasonings or my own mix of spices to flavour it.

Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad with Bocconcini Cheese

Tabitha:

This week I was invited to a potluck and had planned to make a salad dish when I got home from work.  Problem was I came home from work really late and had 3.5 minutes to prepare a salad!!  Yikes!!  Thankfully I whipped up a super quick and delicious salad using 4 simple ingredients – broccoli, cauliflower, bocconcini cheese and Italian dressing.  The bocconcini cheese is delicious!  Classically served sliced with basil and tomato as a popular appetizer, it can be served raw or melted in the oven.  I had the mini balls of this cheese which worked perfectly in this dish.  Great way to get in those vegetables!  I had some purchased pre-cut broccoli and cauliflower that I used to save time.  They are much more expensive than buying the whole head and cutting it up myself but sometimes convenience wins over cost-effectiveness.  Who says healthy food has to take a long time to cook?  Beautiful and delicious salad in 3.5 minutes…or less!

 

Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad with Bocconcini Cheese

Ingredients:

Cauliflower florets

Broccoli florets

Bocconcini cheese

Italian dressing to taste

 

Directions:

1. Chop up broccoli and cauliflower (if not already precut).

2. Add cheese balls and drizzle with Italian dressing.

3. Serve!  Note this is really tasty if let to marinade in the dressing for a few hours or even over night.