Black Bean Salsa


Are you a salsa person?  My husband definitely is, a bit of a salsa snob, if I can be so bold. Not saying that’s a bad thing, we definitely don’t buy the commercial shelf stable stuff, opting for fresh salsa like from the farmer’s markets or the deli.  If I am feeling really energetic I’ll try to make my own, especially with garden tomatoes!

Black Bean Salsa

Ever tried black bean salsa before?  Don’t be scared away, it’s just like normal salsa…but it has black beans in it!  It’s a deliciously sneaky way to add more fiber, protein and pulses to your diet!  Did you know that the United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulses?  The goal is to increase awareness of the nutritional benefits and how pulses are an important part of a sustainable food system.  Learn more here.

What is a “pulse” anyway?  Are they good for you?  

Pulses are a family of plants including:

– Dried peas (think split pea soup)

– Dry beans (think pork and beans you take camping)

– Lentils (small disc shapes you might see in soups or stews)

– Chickpeas (think hummus)

Things you may know:

  • Pulses are high in fibre!  This helps with regularity, keeping you feeling full longer and many Canadians are not getting the recommended amounts of fibre in each day.
    • The recommend daily intake of fibre is 38 g/day of total fibre for men and 25 g/day of total fibre for women.
  •   Pulses are a good source of protein!  Making them a great plant based alternative to meat or animal products.

Things you may NOT know:

  • Pulses have a low glycemic index, meaning that they are digested and absorbed slowly in the body and help to keep blood sugar levels more stable.
  • Pulses can help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the body, because they contain soluble fibre.
  • Pulses use half the non-renewable energy inputs of other crops and have a low carbon footprint!   For more information click here.

Information based off of Pulse Canada.  For more information check out their website! 

Tomatoes and Lycopene:

Let’s also talk tomatoes.  Garden tomatoes in season, taste fantastic (like they should taste), but store bought ones out of season….generally taste and look bland.  The key to any recipe is fresh ingredients!  In the winter and spring I prefer to use canned tomato products because they are harvested and preserved at the peak of ripeness.  Did you know that the heating process involved in canning tomatoes increases the amount of “lycopene” in tomatoes by about 7 times?

Lycopene is an antioxidant that is strongly linked to preventing cancer!  Lycopene is particularly well known for the protective effects it has against prostate cancer.  Tomatoes are by far the winner when it comes to lycopene content of food or consider canned tomato products a nutritious option.

Information based off of the Canadian Nutrient Files 

 Salsa recipe ideas:

Serve this salsa with lettuce and veggies, avocado, chopped cooked chicken, corn for a simple Mexican salad.

Top your favourite burrito or taco filling with this salsa for a high fiber punch.

Add salsa to scrambled or poached eggs and serve on toast for a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Spoon salsa over white fish or chicken before baking in the oven.

 black bean salsa

Black Bean Salsa

Recipe sourced from: Dietitians of Canada Cookbook, Simply Great Food, by Patricia Chuey, Eileen Campbell and Mary Sue Waisman

Makes enough to feed a crowd


3 cups tomatoes, diced (if in season) or 750 mL can of diced tomatoes (you can drain the juice if you like your salsa more chunky than wet)

1 small red onion, finely minced

1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, minced (optional)

1 can of black beans, rinsed

1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional if you aren’t a cilantro fan)

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

Juice of 2 limes


  1. Chop tomatoes, if using, or empty canned tomatoes into a large bowl.
  2. Mince onion, jalapeno and cilantro and add to the tomatoes.
  3. Rinse black beans and add to the salsa.
  4. Add olive oil, salt and freshly squeezed lime juice. Stir well to combine.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.  Enjoy!





Gluten Free Paska (Easter Bread)

paska slice

Paska, or Easter Bread, is a serious staple in my family around this time of year!  Particularly on the Mennonite side of my family.  If you don’t have Eastern European roots and aren’t familiar with it, paska is a delicious slightly sweet, rich bread made with eggs and is delicately flavoured with citrus peel and some lemon and/or orange juice.  At least that’s how my family makes it.

Also in the style of Eastern Europeans, my family paska recipe makes enough for about 20 (if not more) loaves of bread.  I’m serious.  It’s an all day affair of kneading (by hand!) and waiting for the dough to rise.  My recipe?  I made enough for one loaf of bread.  And it only took me about 30 minutes of prep time.  I was happy with that.

Paska can also have raisins or candied fruit added to it.  My family calls paska with raisins hot cross buns…but my husband’s family, Ukrainian background, insists that it should have raisins.  So I’ll leave that important decision up to you!

Paska is always eaten on Easter morning and usually served as a dessert as well with Easter dinner.  In my family it’s usually smothered in a simple white icing sugar glaze with sprinkles and served with a sweet cottage cheese, egg, whipped cream spread called glums.  Believe me, glums is delicious but definitely a “once-a-year-kind-of-food”.  If you are interested here is the recipe.  Paska also tastes amazing slightly warmed with butter melted over it….mmmmh.

Enjoy the recipe and the wonderful smell that fills your house while you are baking this special bread!  Happy Easter to you!

This recipe adapted from Mennonite Girls Can Cook recipe and my family recipe.

This recipe makes enough dough for 2  small loaves of bread in a standard bread pan or 8 mini loaves.  It can easily be doubled or tripled to suite your needs.


  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp unflavoured gelatin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp regular/traditional yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk or milk substitute if needed
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 – 1 whole lemon – juice and zest (depending on how citrus-y you like it, I use the whole fruit for zest)
  • 1/2 – 1 whole orange – juice and zest (same as above)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum* if your flour mix doesn’t include it
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups gluten free flour mix (such as my Essential Mix) or (Better than Cup 4 Cup)

paska doughDirections:

  1. Mix sugar, gelatin and yeast in a medium sized bowl.  Heat milk in the microwave for about 1 minute or until just barely steaming but not too hot. Whisk into yeast mixture and let proof (bubble up) until about doubled in size.
  2. Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, butter, lemon and orange juice and zest in a medium sized bowl.  Add into mixer if you have one.
  3. Add proofed yeast.
  4. Blend together all the dry ingredients until well combined.
  5. Add dry ingredients all at once to liquid ingredients in the mixer and beat on high for a couple of minutes.  The gluten free bread dough should look like cake batter and not typical bread dough, as seen in the picture above.
  6. Spoon into desired well greased pans or tins (smooth tops with wet fingers) and let rise in warm place for about 60 minutes until doubled in bulk.  I used mini bread loaf pans but muffin tins or bread loaf pans would work fine.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
  8. Let sit in pan for a few minutes before removing to cool on rack.
  9. Let cool completely and then ice with white icing and decorate with sprinkles – coloured or chocolate if desired.
*If you are not eating it the same day, freeze until needed. Thaw on the counter at room temperature before eating.