Simple pleasures: baked sweet potato



Baked sweet potatoes, where oh where have you been all my life?!? 

Had I know what a delight they were I would have been devouring them years ago!  Of course I have eaten my fair share of sweet potatoes in my life but usually in the form of my favourite lentil sweet potato slow cooker curry, mashed with potatoes or roasted in the oven with other root vegetables. 

The beauty of the baked sweet potato?  Not only do you not have to peel it, you don’t have to do anything to it (other than wash it)!  Wrap it in tin foil and bake in the oven for an hour to an hour and a half and VOILA!  A fluffy, moist, sweet and creamy delight will be ready to be unwrapped and devoured!  We enjoyed this with some steamed kale and a spicy italian sausage….the contrast of all the flavours was just lovely 🙂  Also if you are hosting a dinner with people with food allergies and sensitivies, you can’t get much simpler for a side dish! 

Nutritionally?  Well Canada’s Food Guide recommends everyone to eat an orange and a green vegetable everyday.  Why are orange vegetables, such as carrots, winter squash or sweet potatoes important?  It has a role in fighting disease, keeping your eyes health, reproduction, and maintaining the funtion of all the organs in your body. In fact half of a medium sweet potato is enough to provide over twice the amount of vitamin A that you need in a day! 


As many sweet potatoes as you need (I baked two medium sized ones and we had enough for six good sized servings)


1. Wash sweet potatoes.  Wrap in tin foil.

2. Bake in a oven preheated to 425F, seam side up so any juices that come out don’t leak all over.  Bake for 60 to 90 minutes depending on the size (larger/thicker will need 90 minutes).




Chicken Enchilada Casserole (Dairy + gluten free)


I’m a big fan of casseroles and particularly….making casseroles the night before and having them ready to go in the oven when I get home from work!  For this one I made extra chicken and rice for supper and then assembled it while I was cleaning up from dinner!  How efficient?!

I based the flavours of this casserole on a chicken enchilada but made it simple, easy and with rice instead of tortillas.  To amp up the nutrition factor, I substituted the ample amount of cheese and “enchilada sauce” that is usually in an enchilada recipe for some cashew cream and blended salsa!  I also used brown rice….shhhhh you’d never know!  Casseroles are very adaptable….add some cheese, beans or other veggies if desired.


4 cups cooked brown rice (I always bake mine in the oven and find it’s very fluffy that way)

3/4 cup frozen corn or 1 can corn kernels

3 chicken breasts, diced

1 large ripe tomato, diced

Cilantro or parsley to garnish


1 cup cashews and/or sunflower seeds soaked for a few hours to overnight

1 cup of water

1 cup of salsa

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste


1. Cook rice and chicken breast until done.  Set aside to cool.

2. Soak the cashews and/or sunflower seeds overnight.  Drain.  Add to blender with water, salsa and spices.  Blend for 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy.

3. Dice chicken and tomatoes. Add to casserole dish.  Add rice and corn.

4. Pour blended sauce over top and mix well to combine.

5. Bake covered in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes until hot and bubbly.  Sprinkle with cilantro or parsley before serving.



Try a turnip! They’re terrific!



Have you ever tried a turnip before?  It was a vegetable that I didn’t grow up eating so my eyes always just slid past them in the grocery store.  I try to get different produce from the grocery store every week that I’ve never tried before to make sure I’m not getting into a rut!  This week was turnip week.  I love how they look, smooth, round with a pleasant purple colour.  I’ve eating a lot of rutabaga so this just looked like a young, smaller cousin!

Season is October through the winter but can often be found throughout the year.

Nutritionally?  Well being a vegetable it’s low in calories, full of vitamins, minerals (calcium, phosphorus and magnesium) and fibre!

Flavour?  It has a slightly spicy, tangy flavour which is dependent on how fresh or large it is.  Apparently boiling it with a little sugar can help making it sweeter tasting.

How to use it?  Think of it like a potato and let your imagination guide you!  Looking on Martha Stewart’s website, some ideas include:

– Cube and roast in the oven with some oil and seasoning

– Boil and mash turnip, season with a little butter and nutmeg

– Mash along with potatoes for a shepherd’s pie topping

– Bake with a crunchy breadcrumb topping

– Mix turnips with potatoes for hash browns or potato patties

– Slice young small turnips very thinly and serve raw with salads or on vegetable platters

– Add to vegetable soup or stews

Pumpkin Maple Pecan Granola (GF)

DSC07574_convertedPhoto credit:


My fellow dietitian blogger Jessica Penner of Smart Nutrition in Winnipeg posted this recipe to her blog….and boy am I glad that I tried it out!  Of course I’m on a pumpkin food jag at the moment so it wasn’t a tough call. 

What I love about it is that it’s really simple and easy to make, doesn’t make a lot of dishes, and the flavour from the toasted pecans, spices and pumpkin is really amazing!  All week I’ve had it with some almond milk for breakfast and sneek handfuls out of the container when I pass by it on the counter…..mmmmmh.

  1. 1/4 cup coconut oil
  2. 1/4 cup maple syrup
  3. 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  4. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  5. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  6. 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  7. 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  8. 1/4 tsp salt
  9. 3 cups rolled oats (wheat free if needed)
  10. 1 cup pecans
  11. 1/4 cup raw or roasted pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas)
  1. Combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, pumpkin, and brown sugar in a large pot. Heat over medium low until the oil has melted and all ingredients are well combined.
  2. Next, stir in the spices and salt.
  3. Then add in the oats, pecan, and pumpkin seeds. Stir to combine well.
  4. Pour onto a large baking sheet. Spread evenly.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Stir and bake another 10 minutes.
  7. Granola is done when it is just starting to turn brown (look for a golden colour). If it’s not done yet, stir, put back in oven, and check at 3 minute intervals.
  8. Store in an airtight container.

Easy Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie



 Gluten free thanksgiving round 2!  One thing we definitely miss is my Mom’s famous homemade pumpkin pie!  I do not enjoy making gluten free pie crust as it’s really finicky and iffy in the taste department….and baking it without the crust just feels like something is missing.
Hence my excitement when I found this recipe off of digestive health dietitian Stephanie Clairmont’s website ( )   This recipe was simple – using crushed up gluten free cookies and butter for the crust!  Why didn’t I think of that before?!  So I whipped up this recipe and the response from hubby was *muffled with a mouthful of pie* “This is phenomenal”!   I’ll be making this again.


For the cookie crust:

16 Udi’s Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies
2 Tbsp GF vegan margarine or butter, melted

For the filling:

2 cups pureed pumpkin
1 cup canned, unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp corn or tapioca starch
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves


1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Place the Udi’s Snickerdoodle Cookies in a food processor and pulse to form fine crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the melted vegan margarine or non-dairy alternative, combining well. Press the dough evenly into a 9 inch pie plate with your fingers to form a crust, pushing up the sides and pressing firmly. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until crust begins to brown. Set aside to cool.

2. Reduce the oven to 325°F (165°C). Make the filling by combining all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and beating or whisking until smooth and well combined. Pour into the baked crust and bake for one hour or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before serving (about 2 to 3 hours). Serve cold or reheat in oven at 350°F (177°C) for 15 minutes.


Pumpkin Spice Smoothie



Simple delights of autumn….pumpkin!  Whirl it up in a smoothie for a delicious start to your morning that’s high in fibre and vitamin A! 🙂


2 cups vanilla almond milk (or plain cow’s milk/substitute with a touch of vanilla and maple syrup)

1 banana or 1/2 cup canned peaches

1/3-1/2 cup pureed pumpkin

1-2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

4 ice cubes

Optional – spinach for a vitamin boost!


Add ingredients to a blender.

Blend for 1 minute or until smooth!



Easy Pumpkin OR Apple Chickpea Cake (Gluten & Grain-free)



Apple cake


Pumpkin cake


I found this recipe on pinterest!  It’s kind of like a blonde version of our favourite black bean brownies!  I was excited because instead of flour and oil in conventional cake, it uses chickpeas which provide a rich and moist flavour and texture to them!  After I made it I thought that pumpkin would go very well with the texture and boy did it 🙂  Try it either way for a nice high protein and satisfying treat!  The flavours of the ginger and cinnamon go nicely with this cake and it keeps well in the refrigerator for work snacks!  Happy autumn!


1 can of chickpeas, rinsed

3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce OR pumpkin puree

4 eggs OR 3 eggs and 1 flaxseed egg (1 tbsp ground flax plus 3 tbsp water)

1/2 – 3/4 cup white sugar (depending on how sweet you like it – I used half a cup and it’s mildly sweet)

1 tbsp finely grated ginger or 1 tsp dried ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1. Add applesauce or pumpkin, rinsed chickpeas and eggs/flax egg to a bowl.  Blend with an immersion blender or use a conventional blender, scraping down the sides as needed.

2. In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients together.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Grease a 9X9 inch square baking pan.

4. Mix dry ingredients with the wet ones, note it will look more like pancake batter but that’s okay!  Pour batter into pan.  Drizzle with a little maple syrup on top if desired.

5. Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean!