Zucchini Galore = A Good For You Zucchini Banana Bread

Monday’s Monday’s, gloomy Monday’s, NOT TODAY! You know why, I have for you a recipe to use up all those zucchinis that you may have stockpiled from your garden, went crazy at the market buying, or like me, you may have been lucky enough to have received a generous, over sized, beautiful, baby like, yellow zucchini gift from a co-worker! I had several recipe ideas whirl through my head as I cradled this massive zucchini in my arms and I thought it was about time I tackled a scrumptious loaf of some sort, I’ve been shying away from this as for me baking doesn’t come as easily as cooking, I mean who wants to actually stick to measuring and mixing and watching through a tiny oven window… Well with it being right after zucchini galore season = A Good For You Zucchini Banana Bread was in order, boy did it turn out unreal, I’m glad I took it on!

 

You know me, always trying to tackle the impossible and create a “feel good” recipe with my own healthy flair for common recipes out there. I know there are thousands.. probably more, Banana Zucchini Breads out there, but this one is infused with my love, a serving of hidden veggies and a moist, give me another piece now, kinda feel. I think I even shocked my husband with it, I fed it to him and he said, that is gluten free… and healthy? YEP, SURE IS! The loaf was gone within a day and a half! It truly turned out unreal you guys. I substituted regular flour with Teff flour, a teeny tiny gluten free grain that packs huge nutritional benefits despite it’s tininess! I’ve baked and cooked with it before and thought, let’s try it out in creating my Banana Zucchini Bread, it’s mild nutty profile would compliment banana and chocolate well! It also is the leading grain for calcium content, 1 cup of cooked Teff has 123mg of calcium, what’s not to like about that?!  I find Teff at almost every grocery store now a days, Bob’s Red Mill brand is lovely, or you can find it at Bulk Barn.

 

I try and bake with veggies whenever I can, zucchini is definitely a vegetable to cook with, it infuses itself and takes on every other flavor surrounding it and allows this bread to be so moist, it’s miraculous that it even holds together! You also will feel more than inclined to eat a piece or two, all in the name of getting your veggies and that calcium content in your diet, am I right? I also felt that I didn’t need to load this recipe up with sugar, the bananas and chocolate chips lend the perfect balance of sweetness, you don’t need a cup of sugar, I opted for 2 tbsp of coconut sugar due to it’s caramel taste/sweetness, it can even be omitted if you don’t like overly sweet treats. My Banana Zucchini Bread is also super easy to create, get your little minions (children or SO) to mash those bananas and grate up that zucchini for ya and it’s just mixing after that 🙂 Done and done. Well, here is the recipe for the masterpiece, oh and I suppose you want to know how to make it as well, yeah? Keep reading!

Look at that sucker!

Here is what you’ll need to make my delicious Good For You Zucchini Banana Bread!

Wet Ingredients:
2 large ripe bananas – mashed (plus an extra sliced banana for topping if you want, it’s so pretty!)
1 cup loosely packed- finely grated zucchini (I used yellow, green will also work)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of your choice)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Dry Ingredients:
3/4 cup (120 gram) Teff flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand at most grocer’s or Bulk Barn)
1/2 cup (45 grams) rolled oats
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I use Krisda or Foley’s no sugar added chocolate chips, cheapest in Save on Foods bulk section)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Make – Mix & Bake!

Preheat your oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
Grease a standard 8×4 loaf pan well, I use avocado oil.
Mash bananas and add to finely grated zucchini, along with all your other wet ingredients, mix well.
Mix all your dry ingredients together except the chocolate chips.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.
Fold in chocolate chips or mixing of your choice, walnuts are also delicious!
Bake for 45-55 minutes, it will vary on your oven, use a toothpick to check, when the toothpick comes out clean with no wet better, it is done.
Let it cool then remove from pan and slice/serve!

BOOM, there it is! How stunning is that! Now get in there and enjoy 🙂 Thanks for following and trying my creations, sending my love to you all, XOXO! I hope the rest of your week is lovely, bring it on Fall!

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Black Rice Pudding With Spiced Stewed Plums

PLUM SEASON IS HEREEEE and I’m surrounded by every type of plum in the markets, you bet I’ve taken on the challenge of tasting every plump plum out there, well almost 🙂 I’m not ready for PSL’s or pumpkin anything quite yet (but very soon), I’m easing into fall flavours and produce with this next recipe, which clearly has to make plums the star since I just announced my plum love… I have combined my infinite love for rice pudding, black rice, comforting sweet fall spices and those juicy black plums, out came a spoon licking, mouth-watering, smile making, Black Rice Pudding with Spiced Stewed Plums, OMG so delicious!

I walked into the Italian Centre Shop the other day and my eyes immediately gazed towards all those plums for sale, I ran over like a kid in a giant candy shop and started to load every plum I could get my paws on into my basket, then I proceeded to take pictures of and get a little Insta story video all within seconds, multitasking at it’s finest I’d say. I then looked up to an employee staring at me dumbfounded… he then asked if I was finding everything I needed, I laughed nervously, grabbed another quick handful of prune plums and dashed away just as quickly as I had come in. What, I can’t be the only one fondling & taking videos of plums right? Am I… oh boy. I guess this is why my husband prefers when I do the grocery shopping, alone, haha. Well, what I ended up with in my hurry were Italian prune plums, AKA Empress plums, that have a yellow flesh when cut open, then they transform into a stunning fuchsia when cooked, they naturally have a high sugar content, great for baking, drying, preserves and clearly perfection being stewed in spices. I also love their small elongated shape and how well they hold up when cooked!

I discussed black rice, aka emperor rice, a couple posts back, I still can’t get over its deliciousness and it proves to be so versatile in recipes and I mean how fitting that I have combined the empress plums with the emperor rice! I substituted the typical white rice in your standard rice pudding with this gorgeous dark grain and it didn’t disappoint whatsoever, it brought this rice pudding to the next level and another added bonus are its nutritional benefits over white rice. I can never seem to do things the “standard way”, my life has always been like that, but it keeps things interesting don’t ya think!? Black rice has this slight chew to it and a nutty flavor that compliments the warmth of cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom and cloves so well. I used canned lite coconut milk and a blend of unsweetened coconut/almond milk for the pudding base. I knew the rice would release some of its deep violet colour, due to the anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant, (look at the picture below!) and sure enough, this pudding has a stunning dark hue and topped with those fuchsia plums, so beautiful and mysterious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the rice cooks away in one pan you can get your plums stewing away in another with fragrant fall spices, your kitchen will smell unreal! The combination of spices I used were cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom pods and cloves, I love using whole spices and fresh vanilla when possible but I know it can be tricky to locate, you may need to explore a couple of stores, but instead of cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods or fresh vanilla pods, you can use ground cinnamon powder, pure/extract vanilla liquid and ground cardamom, they are just as delicious if you have that kickin in your pantry! But I do typically find all of these at bulk barn, the Italian Centre or the Silk Road Spice Merchant in the Farmer’s Market, if you want to go on an adventure spice seeking trip hit those stores up. Typically rice pudding is over loaded with sugar, I didn’t add any sweetener to the rice pudding itself, with the raisins for a pop of sweetness and then the stewed syrupy plums, it’s not needed and is surprisingly very naturally sweet. My Black Rice Pudding with Spiced Stewed Plums is pretty darn easy to make and stores so well in the fridge for next day enjoyment, if you don’t eat it all in one sitting that is!

Here is what you will need for this Black Rice Pudding with Spiced Stewed Plums:

Ingredients:

Rice Pudding:

1/2 cup black rice (find in the bulk section at planet organic & community foods)

1 14 oz can lite coconut milk

1 3/4 cups almond/coconut milk blend (I use Dream Blends unsweetened Almond/Coconut Milk)

2 tbsp golden raisins

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

2 pods cardamom or (1/4 tsp ground cardamom)

1.5 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

Stewed Plums:

6-8 prune plums (or plums of choice) pitted & halved

1/2 cup water

2 tbsp. maple syrup (I use ED Smith no sugar added Maple Syrup)

1 tsp cinnamon

2 pods cardamom or (1/4 tsp ground cardamom)

2 whole cloves

3/4 vanilla pod, seeded or (2 tsp vanilla extract)

How to Create:

Heat deep saute pan over medium/high heat & add all ingredients for pudding except raisins, bring to a boil then turn down heat over medium/low and allow to simmer. Stir frequently until the rice is chewy and you have a pudding texture, approximately 25-30 minutes, don’t over cook it or your rice will absorb all the liquid. Add raisins half way through cooking.

Approximately 15 minutes into the rice pudding cooking, add all ingredients into a separate pan for stewed plums over medium heat. Allow plums to cook down, carefully mix plums around, be careful not to break them down too much. Once they are stewed down and created a syrup, remove the cardamom pods & cloves and remove from heat.

Your rice should be done at this time, remove cardamom pods. Spoon that lovely dark rice pudding into a bowl and top off with stewed plum mixture and some syrup, devour and enjoy!

There you go, an ease into fall recipe using seasonal produce, nothing makes me happier than sharing this with you guys, I hope you can try this and let me know how it turned out! I served this to my husband a top a little ice cream because he LOVES his ice cream and he inhaled it 🙂 I love getting all your messages, questions, feedback and your own take on my recipes. Tag me on Instagram, Facebook or drop me a comment on the site/below! Thanks for your love and support everyone, living my dream everyday with this food blog, truly surreal, XOXO.

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Spiced Cod on a Warm Leek, Mushroom & French Lentil Salad

Well September is here and I feel like I have permission to slowly return to my daily routine after an overly busy summer filled with change, a new home, numerous renovations, new adjustments, sporadic road trips, the company of tremendous friends, summer events, festivals and a lovely end of August vacation exploring Canada’s West coast. I’ve always found it pressing to have to let go of summer months and face another Canadian winter, but I’m learning to embrace what each season brings, as it is inevitable! With inspiration from the West Coast, a change in season’s, that brisk bite to the air in the evenings and a longing for the savory comfort foods that come with fall, I have created a dish that envelopes this all, Spiced Cod on a Warm Leek Mushroom & French Lentil Salad for my next recipe!

My husband and I spent over a couple of weeks via road trip with the good ol’ Flagstaff tent trailer not far behind, travelling and delving into the culture, food, seasonal produce, hiking and golfing scenes that British Columbia has to offer. We often try to stay off the beaten path and get recommendations from the locals on where we can find prime food, hiking, secret spots etc. I mean, sometimes you just have to do the touristy thing because it’s famous for a reason… but many times there is so much more to be found and treasured. Our countries beauty never ceases to amaze me and now more than ever I can appreciate the diversity and uniqueness of the bountiful produce Canada provides. I wanted my next recipe to be a representation of Canadian grown produce and I tried to captivate the beautiful seasonally available fresh picked mushrooms, fresh and wild caught cod as well as Canadian grown lentils. It all led to a healthy, earthy and nature inspired recipe that I know you guys will adore to celebrate the summer memories we created and to open our arms and minds to a hopefully warm and bright fall.

The Rainforest Loop outside of Tofino.

I’ve wanted to create a lentil recipe for quite some time now, than summer hit and the lentil inspiration fell off my radar! Then while hiking through the lush and green temperate rain forests on the West Coast Trail, my craving was re-ignited, after many kilometers of coastal forest and the salty ocean breeze, I was suddenly longing a nutritious, earthy, protein packed meal and I thought of lentils and the main fish catch at this time in and around Tofino and Ucluelet is white, flaky Cod. Then I was educated about the competitive and bountiful mushroom foraging scene near Tofino, chanterelle mushroom season (aka the white gold rush) starts in mid August, so I thought, why not throw some mushrooms in the mix as well, who doesn’t love mushrooms! I was able to get my hands on some chanterelle mushrooms while there for a pretty penny (I wasn’t brave enough to pick my own as apparently it is quite the competitive and territorial sport), but I wasn’t able to find them here in Calgary, so I went with lovely oyster and brown cremini mushrooms instead for this recipe.

The Lighthouse Trail in Ucluelet.

Lentils are particularly impressive you guys, so packed with protein that they count as a meat alternative on the Canada food guide! I chose French Lentils for this recipe because they are, what I think, the gold standard of lentils, they have a unique speckling in colour and they absorb flavor so well, they are a little peppery with an earthy flavour. I found them at Planet Organic in the Bulk section, for I believe under 50 cents/100 gram. I also love that they are locally sourced, did you know Canada is now the world’s leader in lentil export to the global marketplace, 99% grown in Saskatchewan and that 1% in Alberta, woohoo! They are truly complimented by the garlic, Dijon and sautéed leeks, it’s so delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Spiced Cod on a Warm Leek, Mushroom & French Lentil Salad is ready in under 30 minutes, it’s hearty, filling, packed with protein, classic flavors and it’s great re-heated for lunch or dinner. You can make it a vegetarian dish by omitting the fish or swap out your favorite protein like chicken, it’s so versatile. Now let’s get to cooking this end of summer and intro to fall dish!

Makes 4 servings:

Ingredients:

2 cups dried French Lentils

4 pieces of fresh wild Cod – rinsed

1/2 tbsp avocado oil (or oil of choice)

2 cloves garlic – minced

1.5 large leek (white part only) – finely sliced (approx. 1 cup)

2.5 tbsp. fresh chopped thyme (or 1 tbsp. dried)

2tsp paprika

1.5 tsp salt

1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper

1 cup cremini brown mushrooms – sliced

1 cup oyster mushrooms – chopped

3 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

3tbsp. seedy Dijon mustard

1/2 cup vegetable stock

For the fish (per fish fillet)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp caraway seeds

course ground pepper to taste

Now, how to cook lentils, I personally soak my lentils prior to cooking, but it isn’t necessary. I find that when I soak them beforehand they cook quicker and I like to soak them in water with apple cider vinegar to help break down the starches, which then aids our bodies in digesting the lentils when cooked, it’s totally up to you whether you want to give these bad boys a soak beforehand. I soaked them for no longer than 8 hours which decreases the cooking time quite a bit. But again, this is not necessary. After the soak, I rinse them well and add them to a pot with salted water (3 cups of water to 1 cup of lentils) & 3 whole sprigs of thyme, let it come to a full boil then turn down the heat so a calm boil remains and cook for 20-25 minutes or until your desired consistency is met.

While you are cooking your lentils, in a large sauté pan add your leeks to heated oil, garlic, fresh thyme, paprika, salt & pepper and sauté over medium heat for approximately 8-10 minutes until the leeks soften, then add your chopped mushrooms, sauté another 5-8 minutes until your mushrooms begin to soften. Add the Dijon mustard and lemon juice, mix well, then add the vegetable stock and allow it to simmer and develop the flavours. Your lentils should be done, strain and add them to your mushroom/leek mix, mix in well.

Take your cod and sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and caraway seeds, make room in your pan and add your cod directly onto the heated pan over medium heat, cook cod for about 4-5 minutes per side or until opaque and flaking. You can cook your cod in a separate pan if you desire, but I’m all about less dishes… remove your cooked cod then dish out desired amount of warm lentil salad into a bowl and top off with cod! There you have it, your own Spiced Cod on a Warm Leek, Mushroom & French Lentil Salad! I hope everyone’s post Long Weekend and intro into a new routine has been lovely, let me know what you think of this recipe! XOXO

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Black Rice Salad with Apricots, Beets, Herbs & Goat Cheese

Hey everyone, sorry for the delay in new recipes… project reno house has been rather time-consuming, but don’t you worry I’ve got you covered with a new recipe for the week. Have you seen all the stunning stone fruit flowing in from B.C. at the markets?! I can’t get enough of all the local produce I can get my hands on, its endless and I wish we had it all year round. I bought a huge flat of apricots from B.C. as they are my absolute fav, then after eating them straight up and like I’d never see them again… I decided to get creative and create something filling and fresh to share with all of you, how about a Black Rice Salad with Apricots, Beets, Herbs & Goat Cheese?! I also received an incredibly beautiful and bountiful herb basket from a very thoughtful colleague at work and knew I had to incorporate it somehow! I love the idea of a grain salad with fruit, herbs and crunchy salty nuts combined into a glorious salad, so that’s how this Black Rice Walnut Salad with Apricots, Beets & Fresh Thyme Goat Cheese was born. Wait until you taste this combination of earthy and fresh ingredients!

I stumbled upon black rice aka Forbidden Rice at Planet Organic a few months ago, I had to try out this dark and mysterious rice, I was so positively delighted and my senses were captivated by this little deep purple grain, I’ve been dying to use it in a recipe to spread the word of its existence! I wondered where it came from, how it differs from regular white/brown rice and did it have any added health benefits from regular rice? Well, I did some research and legend tells us that black rice was once only served to Chinese royalty back in the day, oh and it does have some impressive health benefits. Black rice has this rich, slightly sweeter and nutty flavor, it’s becomes soft and sticky when cooked and really shines in the nutrient department. This forbidden black rice holds powerful disease fighting anti-oxidants, it is rich in fiber, iron and a good source of plant-based protein, it smokes white rice off the charts! It’s popularity is gaining and I’m seeing it pop up in health food stores around Calgary, your best bet is Planet Organic in the bulk section! Cook up a pot of this black rice and watch it turn deep purple after it’s cooked, it’s amazing!

Now for the rest of this salad! As I mentioned before, I had an entire flat of apricots to put to good use, I’m a huge advocate of fruit in salads, trust me, the combination here of the nutty and slightly sweet rice, with earthy red beets, the unique tart nectarous flavor of the apricots all topped off with fresh soft goat cheese coated in fresh thyme and those crunchy salty walnuts… we are talking serious salad business! I was leaning on the more traditional dijon, balsamic dressing for this salad, but I wanted the rice to have a light coating of something creamy… a thought came to me, what would happen if I mixed balsamic and TAHINI!? It sounded odd, it couldn’t possibly work… only one way to find out! I whipped together tahini, dark balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, honey, fresh thyme, salt & pepper, drizzled it over my salad, closed my eyes and took a huge bite, OMG YUM, it was marvelous! The flavors of roasted sesame from the tahini just enhanced the earthiness of this salad even further.

Alright, enough talking and more recipe blogging! Here is how to make this beautiful Black Rice Walnut Salad with Apricots, Beets & Fresh Thyme Goat Cheese!

For the Salad, approximately 4 servings:

1 cup of black rice (I find it at Planet Organic or Community Health in the bulk section)

2 medium red beets – roasted & chopped

2-3 fresh apricots – chopped

2 tbsp soft crumbled goat cheese

1 sprig of fresh minced thyme

Handful of halved walnuts

Pinch of salt

Freshly ground pepper

For the Tahini Balsamic Dressing:

1.5 tbsp dark balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp tahini

1/2 tbsp warm water

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp honey (I used Drizzle Spring Honey)

1/4 tsp salt

Ground fresh pepper

Pinch of fresh minced thyme

How to create your own Black Rice Walnut Salad with Apricots, Beets & Fresh Thyme Goat Cheese:

Turn oven on to 425 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash and cut end off beets, place in an oven safe dish, fill with water until just under half of the beets are immersed in water, cover with lid/tin foil and roast for 45 minutes or until a fork is easily inserted into beet.

Add 1 cup of black rice to a pot, add 2 cups of cold water and 1/2 tsp of salt. Bring to a slight boil then turn down to low and cover with a lid, cook for 30 minutes.

Once your beets are roasted, the skin should peel off very easily, chop them up.

Chop up your apricots.

Crumble soft goat cheese and make them into mini balls, roll them in the fresh minced thyme.

Mix together the cooked rice, beets, apricots and top off with herbed goat cheese, halved walnuts, salt & pepper.

Mix all your salad dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and whisk until well blended, pour over salad and toss!

I make extra rice and roasted beets so I can throw this Black Rice Walnut Salad with Apricots, Beets & Fresh Thyme Goat Cheese together for quick lunches and dinners!

There you have it, your own beautiful salad for dinner! Let me know what you think, I absolutely love hearing from all of you and seeing how I’ve inspired your dishes each and every day, nothing makes me happier. Have a lovely week and enjoy everything our last days of summer have to bring, xoxo!

 

 

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Chia Hemp Saskatoon Berry Jam

Long weekends rule and so does jam, am I right! I loveeeee jam, any sorts of jam brings me happiness, I remember always having a jar of jam in the fridge growing up, so much nostalgia in a jar of jam. There is something about fruit preserves made into a sweet jelly that is so yummy and versatile, I particularly adore it mixed into plain yogurt, on buckwheat crepes and layered on bananas, mmmm. How can we forget about our childhood PB&J sammies when we opened up that lunch pack!? I have never attempted to make jam but I pay a hefty penny for a jar of organic, refined sugar-free jam, so the incentive to make my own jammy jam was high! So, with bags upon bags of Saskatoon berries from my bushes I decided to create a juicy, deep purple, lightly sweetened and super food infused Chia Hemp Saskatoon Berry Jam!

Sorry for the delay everyone on the jam recipe, I teased with this jam picture post earlier in the week, now here is the recipe for instant, healthy and nutty flavored jam, just in time for the August long weekend. No matter what you’ve jammed into your long weekend (haha see what I did there…) jam is sure to enhance it, right!? Now I have to say, it took me a couple batches to get the consistency right, but now I’m half through my jam jars… just so delicious! So I started with picking the juiciest of juicy Saskatoon berries, now those were way up high on the top of the bushes reaching to the sun, I have picked the bottoms bare! One day while my mom was visiting we were standing in an upstairs bedroom and looked out the window and took note that the large, bursting berries were just an arm’s length away through the window, we laughed that I could simply pop the screen out and go to town on berry picking through my bedroom window! Well the next morning, I layed there and stared at those berries, taunting me waving in the breeze, so I jolted out of bed, grab a huge tupper-ware, knocked that screen out and plucked those fat berries for my jam adventure! I may have frightened my neighbor hanging out my window…

Here are the simple and gorgeous ingredients to make your own jam:

4 cups fresh Saskatoon Berries (or berry/berry blend of your choice)

1/4 cup water

4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

3 tbsp honey (I use Drizzle Summer Honey)

1 tbsp chia seed

1 tbsp hemp hearts

I started by washing up those beautiful berries and heating a large pan over medium heat, then I threw 4 cups of Saskatoon berries on in with a 1/4 cup of water. I watched the berries begin to break down and turn into a lovely compote over approximately 10 minutes, then I added 4 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3 tbsp of Drizzle Summer Honey, 1 tbsp of chia seeds and 1 tbsp of hemp hearts. I then muddled the berries and mixed everything together well and allowed it to cook down for another 10 minutes on medium/low heat until I reached the consistency I love in my jam! I mean, how easy was that! I let the jam cool then I spooned it into adorable little mason jars. We have now made jam! I let it cool then popped them into the fridge and the jam lasted well over a week, I’m sure even longer, if I hadn’t, I mean if my husband hadn’t eaten it all…. 😉

This jam is packed with super food chia seeds that aid in digestive health, give us boosts of energy, not to mention the positive impact on our skin and aging with all those antioxidants! I also threw in those hemp hearts as they are rich in protein, omega and have a creamy nutty texture and flavor that compliment these berries tremendously. Jam is typically fruit floating in white sugar…not this one, it’s lightly sweetened with the lovely local Drizzle Summer Honey collection that I can’t get enough of! It’s a sweet creamed honey with notes of wildflower, oak and clover, it sealed this jams perfection. So, now its your turn to make some super food infused Saskatoon Berry Jam! I think my favorite way of eating the jam so far has been stirred into thick greek yogurt, fresh fruit and topped with crunchy roasted almonds! Let me know what you think of the jam and your fav way of enjoying it!

Happy and safe August long weekend to everyone! XOXO

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Spiced Chia Pudding with Honeyed Saskatoon Berries & Apricots

Good Sunday morning everyone! It’s officially berry season and I am in utter dreamland with sweet, juicy and perfectly ripe berries of all sorts! The markets are overflowing with baskets and flats of berries, my mind wandered to countless potential recipes using the traditional berry blends, compotes, jams, crumbles… I came home wondering what I was going to create and decided to meander outside into my backyard to get inspired. I had been recently inspecting the trees in my backyard that was producing gorgeous plump blue/purple berries that peppered my sidewalk, after some research I realized I had struck gold and have four Saskatoon Berry Bushes! This is when my Spiced Chia Pudding with Honeyed Saskatoon Berries & Apricots recipe hit me in the face, I immediately began picking the lovely berries as quickly as I could… half in my bowl, half in my tummy!

Look at those Saskatoon Berries, aka, Prairie Berries! I hadn’t appreciated the beauty and unique flavor of Saskatoon berries until a couple of years ago, when I filled up my pail full of the berries at the Saskatoon Berry Farm U-Pick, I was in love. They have such a unique, sweet nutty flavor, a mix of apple and berry essence and you can pick even pick them slightly under as they continue to ripen after picked. Saskatoon berries are highly known for their antioxidant properties, high calcium value and what sets them apart from other berries are their anti inflammatory properties that have been tested in medicinal treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. Wow, I mean, how incredible are these little purple balls of packed goodness!

Picking them Saskatoon Berries!

I had to incorporate the berries unique flavors and health attributes into a recipe abundant with some of my favorite spice blends that compliments the berries almond nut influence. I couldn’t leave out one of my absolute adored in season stone fruits, apricots! I picked out a large bags worth of seasonal, organic and vibrant B.C. apricots at the farmers market this week. Apricots have that tart and musky flavor with a smooth bite, I could eat a trees worth in one sitting! I certainly get my fibre and carotene intake in a day I’d say. My mouth was watering when I thought of mixing apricots, Saskatoon berries, roasted salted almonds chunks and a pinch of cinnamon coated in local honey, Drizzle’s Summer Honey, a sweet creamed honey you will not get enough of with notes of oak, wildflower and clover and use it to top off a delicious spiced pudding, it doesn’t get any better than this!

Now let’s get to the spiced chia pudding, I know most of you have had some variety of chia pudding, it’s popularity has definitely risen and is a healthy alternative to sugar filled puddings. I love warming spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and ginger, I then infused them into this chia pudding with a base of almond and coconut milk, along with some dates for sweetness and I snuck in some ground flaxseed to thicken up the pudding. I’m sure you all know by now that flaxseeds have an incredible amount of plant-based omegas that keep your nails, locks and skin healthy and luscious (maybe that’s my secret to this head of hair :)) This chia pudding is a breeze to create, throw everything in a large mixing bowl and let it set for at least 4-8 hours, I like my pudding a little thicker, so I let it set overnight and sometimes even add an extra tbsp of chia or flaxseed, you can adapt my recipe to your pudding preference!

So how do you make this Spiced Chia Pudding with Honeyed Saskatoon Berries and Apricots?! Keep reading my friends, this recipe really comes together quite simply and you can make it in large batches that last a few days in the fridge!

Spiced Chia Pudding:

1 cup unsweetned vanilla almond milk

1 cup unsweetened vanilla coconut milk

4 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

3 large pitted dried dates – diced finely

2 tbsp maple syrup (if you like a sweeter pudding add, if not leave out)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp pure vanilla

1/2 tsp fresh zested ginger (or 1/4 tsp dried ginger powder)

1/4 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp pink himalayan salt

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of ground clove

Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until well mixed, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for

4-8 hours or until your desired consistency of pudding reached (the longer it sits, the thicker it will become).

Honeyed Saskatoon Berries & Apricot Topping:

2 ripe apricots – diced

1 cup ripe Saskatoon berries

2 tbsp roasted & salted almonds – roughly chopped

1 tbsp Drizzle Summer Honey

1 tsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Pinch salt (omit if almonds well salted)

Add all ingredients except honey in a bowl and mix, melt honey until just turning into liquid form and pour over mixture, toss in honey until evenly coated. Spoon spiced chia pudding into bowls when set and top off with the crunchy, sweet, spiced honey berry & apricot blend, YUM! A great recipe to make in batches and have as breakfast, dessert or a snack! This recipe will keep you full and energized during these beautiful summer days, hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend and summer so far, try this recipe out and tag me or leave a comment below, I love hearing from all of you, xoxo!

 

 

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A Trio of Easy Grilled Skewered Vegetables

The last couple weeks have been an absolute whirlwind for me, half the time I don’t know the date or time, it has been moving/renovation week for us and life as a homeowner has been both gratifying and terrifying all at the same time. With a house in reno mode, full of unpacked boxes and an unorganized kitchen, madness has ensued and I have been utilizing my BBQ more than ever for quick and nourishing meals on the go. I wanted to inspire you with my favorite beautiful fresh produce that transform into a trio of easy grilled skewered vegetables that compliment any protein of choice. A delectable grilled trio of Maple Rosemary Garden Carrots, Paprika Honey Dijon Brussel Sprouts and Baba Ganoush Inspired Grilled Eggplant.

These are truly three of my all time favorite side dishes that utilize some of my favorite produce and grill up wonderfully in no time at all for those meals in a hurry. They aren’t your typical go to skewer veggies, I realize that, but I’m all about exploring food and its cooking versatility. So I have tried to grill almost everything… and these turned out to be very impressive I must say :). It’s garden carrot season, I’ve been getting local carrots bunch after bunch as they are so darn yummy, marinated in fresh rosemary from my lovely herb box, good ol’ Canadian Maple Syrup, then caramelized and grilled to perfection… so simple but my goodness you are going to love them grilled! They melt in your mouth with hints of woodsy rosemary and then the sweet maple, mmmm. These Maple Rosemary Grilled Carrots pair so well with a juicy grilled chicken breast! Here is how to make them!

Maple Rosemary Grilled Garden Carrots:

1 bunch of small fresh carrots (approx 10 small carrots)

1.5 tbsp fresh diced rosemary

1 tbsp maple syrup

Light drizzle of your favorite oil (I used olive oil)

1/2 tsp salt

Ground black pepper to taste

Wash carrots well & trim off ends, add carrots to a microwave safe bowl with an inch of water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 3 minutes or until just softening. Drain water (careful it’s hot!) and add rosemary, maple syrup, salt and pepper and toss well until carrots are coated. Thread carrots onto a skewer and grill on low heat for 5 minutes, then flip, grill another 5 minutes. You’ve got yourself some gorgeous grilled carrots, enjoy! You will have left over marinade, don’t throw it out, I like to drizzle the remainder on my grilled carrots when they are done!

Next up are these mini green cabbage like veggies, brussel sprouts, most people say they despise these cute lil’ things, well that’s because you’ve probably had them over boiled and served bland, yeah? I beg you, give this recipe a crack, you will change your mind about brussel sprouts I swear and then cry during the winter when you can’t grill them up like this, although I do make this same recipe in the oven when I have withdrawals in the winter! These Paprika Honey Dijon Brussel Sprouts are AMAZING! They get a crispy outer layer from the grill and the Paprika Honey Dijon marinade caramelizes beautifully, if I haven’t convinced you with my words yet, just try them already! Here is how.

Paprika Honey Dijon Brussel Sprouts:

1/2 pound brussel sprouts (approx 10)

2 tbsp of your favorite Dijon mustard

1 tbsp honey (I use local Drizzle Spring Honey, so good!)

1/2 tsp smoked paprika (regular paprika will do, but I love the smokiness smoked paprika gives)

1/2 tsp salt

Ground black pepper to taste

Mix dijon, Drizzle honey, paprika, salt and pepper to create a marinade. Wash brussel sprouts well & trim off the hard end, add them to a microwave safe bowl with an inch of water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 2-3 minutes or until just softening. Drain water (careful it’s hot!) and add your marinade to them, add salt and pepper and toss well until sprouts are evenly coated. Thread brussel sprouts onto a skewer and grill on low heat for 5 minutes, then flip, grill another 5 minutes. I love these with a side of grilled chicken or even a poached egg!

Last, but definitely not least, aubergine… eggplant… whatever you want to call the stunning purple bulb is up next! Eggplant is another vegetable I get asked a lot about, how to cook & season it, so here is one of my favorite ways of making them. I get so delighted when I come across Indian Eggplant, the small little individual bulbs that are so perfect for two bite sized sides, just cut them in half and smother in my take on a Baba Ganoush marinade. The garlic tahini marinade with a kick of chile powder, when grilled, makes a crispy and delicious outer crust with a creamy middle. These Baba Ganoush Inspired Grilled Eggplants are going to be a frequent on your dinner menu after you try them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baba Ganoush Grilled Eggplant:

6 Indian Eggplants (If you can’t find Indian Eggplant, normal eggplant cut into chunks will do!)

2 tbsp tahini

1 clove garlic – crushed

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp chili powder

Black ground pepper to taste

Mix tahini, crushed garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest and chili powder to create a marinade. Wash eggplant well & trim off top, then cut in half. Thread eggplant onto a skewer, salt & pepper them, then smother them in the tahini marinade. Grill on low heat for 5-6 minutes, then flip, grill another 5 minutes. I love these with a side of grilled fish!

There you have it, a trio of vegetable for you to skewer up and grill up! Give one, or all of these a try during these busy summer months! Let me know your favorite side and what you paired it with, tag me on Instagram @apinchofnurse or Facebook. Enjoy this hot weekend to come everyone and if you’re hitting the Stampede grounds have a blast, fill up on carny eats and I’ll be here for ya when you need a lighter meal to detox :)! XOXO

 

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Maple Oat Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait for Canada’s Big Ol’ Day!

From July 1, 1867 to July 1st, 2017, a pretty monumental day, as we all know, it is Canada’s 150th Birthday today! We live in an exquisite, diversified, peaceful and stunning country that I cannot even begin to describe how fortunate I feel to be born and raised in. I think Canada’s Big Ol’ Day deserves some recognition and celebration don’t you agree? The only way I want to honor this day is through food, simple, raw, locally grown, sustainable Canadian ingredients and made with love food, because food is what gathers us together in moments of celebration. So, keeping it fresh, simplistic and color coordinated, I bring to you my Canadian inspirited Maple Oat Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait and let’s admire those Canadian views!

Prairie View Hike, Kananaskis, Alberta

 

I feel like the hype up to this day has been ongoing for a while now with so many perks along the way, I mean who doesn’t love free admission to National Parks, get out there and explore your backyard, literally and exponentially! I initially though I wanted to bring to your plates a grand recipe for Canada Day, something elaborate, fitting for 150 years as a country, our country.  But then it hit me, as I was watering my garden this morning some beautifully rich red stalks of rhubarb glistened in the sun, the day prior I picked out a basket of perfectly sweet Canadian grown strawberries and I had a tub of B.C. made Tree Island yogurt (hands down the best cream top yogurt ever!), keep it simple and let our produce shine. A few ingredients that proudly state, grown/made in Canada, turned into a scrumptious Maple Oat Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait, it felt so comfortable and perfect for today, I hope you all feel the love in this recipe and can kick back with my parfait in hand, watch the sun rise or set over mountains or lakes, in your backyard or wherever you may be and throw a Happy Canada Day Eh Cheer!

I see a parfait as a every meal type of deal, they can be a great start to your day, filling and energizing, they can be a mid meal snack in mini version or they can fulfill that sweet craving for dessert! There is something about layers in a clear glass and seeing my spoon scoop up all that goodness that is so satisfying… anyone else think so?! Well, my Maple Oat Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait is really pretty simple to whip up and layer up. One saute pan, a few ingredients and a tall glass with an elegant long spoon, you’re set (I guess the elegant long spoon is optional :)) Look at those white and red layers of yumminess and of course that Canadian maple syrup taste to bring it all together. You can make a double batch of the compote and maple oat crumble and have yourself a couple of days worth of parfait ingredients on hand for a quick meal as well. The compote keeps in the fridge well and even works wonderfully as a jam or top your oats as well, the options are endless. How do I make such a parfait masterpiece myself you ask? Simple as these steps!

You will need the following:

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote:

2 cups chopped Canadian strawberries (I got some B.C. strawberries)

1 1/2 cup fresh diced rhubarb (picked from my garden this morning)

1 tbsp Canadian maple syrup

2 tbsp water

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pinch cardamom

Pinch of salt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maple Oat Crumble:

1/2 cup oats (I use Dan-D Pak Canadian Quick Oats)

4 dates pitted and diced

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 tbsp Canadian maple syrup

Pinch cinnamon

Pinch salt

1 – 500 gram tub of Tree Island Cream Top Yogurt from grass fed dairy farms in B.C. (I use their plain or honey cream top yogurt, I have found it at Planet Organic, Community Foods and Bridgeland Market in Calgary, it is divine!)

Throw all your compote ingredients into a saute pan over medium heat and let the strawberries and rhubarb soften. It’ll start to smell like fruit and maple heaven in no time and melt together into a delicious compote after approximately 8-10 minutes, pour into a bowl and place in refrigerator while making your maple oat crumble!

In the same saute pan throw together your crumble ingredients except the maple syrup. Allow the oats and almonds to toast up and the dates to soften, after approximately 5 minutes of toasting add your maple syrup and mix well. Saute for another 5 minutes until a nicely toasted crumble comes together.

Time to layer up, my favorite part! Grab a glass or mason jar of your choice and layer some compote on the bottom, then add a layer of yogurt, then add some maple oat crumble, more compote, yogurt and finish off with a thick topping of maple oat crumble and fresh strawberries, stand back and admire your piece of art! Then scoop it up in satisfaction with that long elegant spoon, haha! YUM!

Now I think that this is a recipe to celebrate Canada with, don’t ya think?! Look at those gorgeous layers of red and white! I hope you all get a moment today to celebrate in a way that is meaningful to you, whatever that may be. Happy 150th Birthday to what is simply the best country in the world! Tag me on Facebook or Instagram @apinchofnurse and let me see how your recipe turned out! XOXO

 

 

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Blackened Salmon and Crispy Canadian Kale Bowls

Can you believe we are into another week of June, why do summer months always melt away before our eyes!? I’ve been ridiculously busy as my husband and I made the official leap into adulthood and FINALLY bought our first home… ahhh! With the insanity pursuing and a never ending to do list looming over, healthy and quick dinners are the key to keep me level headed and on top of it all. As you can probably tell with my latest posts on Instagram and Facebook, I have a slight, okay massive, obsession with glorified nutrient packed bowls of wholesomeness. Continuing on with my ode to Canada for it’s upcoming big bash birthday, I am putting the spotlight on our community grown produce and supporting our local vendors! So what’s hearty, nutritious, a super food and most importantly… grows in and tastes better with a touch of Canadian frost? The fabulous kale! You guys have got to try my Blackened Salmon and Crispy Canadian Kale Bowls, it is ready in under 30 minutes, get’s you outside to grill and hits all the check marks on the delicious, balanced and nourishing aspects, and look how pretty it is! 

With all the hype surrounding kale lately, I think we are all aware by now that kale is truly an immensely nutrient baring and versatile vegetable, the king of green leafy vegetables I’d say! Kale comes in many assortments, from deep tuscan green, curly leafed, baby, even purple, the list goes on, all unique and delicious in their own ways. I see kale as being the perfect Canadian vegetable as you can grow it from early Spring into late fall, it doesn’t need a lot of attention, in fact, it gets sweeter with a touch of frost, I don’t think we could ask for anything more foolproof in our Albertan gardens, eh? I have to say, my straight up favorite kale is from a local Albertan grower, Gull Valley Greenhouses, located in the Calgary Farmer’s Market. They sell massive bags of green curly leaf kale where the leaves are soft with a subtle sweetness, while still providing that nutty leafy kale profile, mmm. I go through two bags a week of this stuff, at least! I also have kale in my garden and it’s my least demanding vegetable, no fuss!

I’ve had kale prepared in countless ways, in my salads, smoothies, sauteed, baked… I thought it was time to change the tempo and try it on the grill, oh goodness, we’ve all been missing out! I was grilling up some gorgeous salmon with my blackening seasoning and thought, why not blacken my kale as well? I ran into the house, grabbed a giant leaf of kale, tossed it in lime and a touch of oil and massaged it with my blackening seasoning and threw it on the top rack of the grill, closed that lid and hoped for the best! About 10 minutes later I had a crispy, fragrant and stunning leaf of kale that tasted even better than I could have imagined! What else can I blacken I asked myself!? Sweet potatoes! Well, you get the point, I tossed it all in my flavor packed blackening seasoning (that seriously tastes incredible on everything) and threw it all in a bowl, topped off with fresh ribbons of silky zucchini, sweet red tomatoes for some acidity (and the red splash of color for Canada!), as well as avocado (a clear must) and called it dinner!

Blackened and grilling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This dinner bowl is simple yet hits you with so many enticing and spicy flavor profiles, the salmon has a crispy blackened layer and then melts in your mouth, the kale is crunchy and reminiscent of a large chip! The blackened sweet potatoes are creamy on the inside with golden brown skin and we all need more avocado in our life… so throw that on top, you guys, we have got ourselves, Blacked Salmon and Crispy Kale Canadian Bowls of goodness for din din! Join me in my dinner bowl infatuation, you’ll understand why I can’t stop! Go grab your kale or try growing it yourself this season, you have plenty of time to harvest this magnificent super food. Check out the recipe and let me know what you think, sorry if you run out of bowls… Have a beautiful week everyone! XOXO

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Celebrating Canada with Banana Rhubarb Date Muffins

We’ve made it half way through our week everyone! With the gorgeous forecasts we’ve been having means some local vegetables are sprouting and ready for us to enjoy! Since we are nearing Canada’s 150th Birthday, I want to dedicate this month’s blogs and recipes to Canada, pay homage to our bountiful country and the gorgeous produce we yield. First up and ready for harvest is the ever so versatile, vibrant and delicious rhubarb stalk. So keeping with the season and celebrating Canada, I made for you some Banana Rhubarb Date Muffins that will have your taste-buds rejoicing with every bite.

Did you know rhubarb is actually a vegetable, it grows reliably (maybe even a little too much) and is a hearty staple in Alberta gardens? You can harvest it starting in the Spring all the way through the summer and early months of fall, yum, rhubarb all summer long! But don’t eat or juice those leaves, they are slightly toxic! I have to be forthright, I really didn’t bother much with rhubarb until recently, I always saw it as a “stuff into pie only” kinda item, until I started to come to the realization that this hearty vegetable is so versatile, so I got innovative in the kitchen! I have created strawberry rhubarb compotes to stuff my buckwheat crepes with, devoured rhubarb infused oats, made a rhubarb dijon vinaigrette, used it as an addition to my smoothies and now I’ll share with ya all my tasty Banana Rhubarb Date Muffin recipe that turned out heavenly, it would be a shame not too share. This recipe is as easy as it gets when it comes to baking… throw all ingredients together, except that rhubarb, mix well, then fold in rhubarb and bake!  I am ecstatic to share with you a video tutorial on how easy these are, now on my Facebook account as well! I had a blast making this video, more videos to come in the near future!

These Banana Rhubarb Date Muffins are not your typical sugar and butter packed muffins, they are exceptionally better and guess what, gluten and refined sugar-free! Made with quick oats, some bananas and dates that lend a natural sweetness with the tart and fresh rhubarb that cuts through that with its tang. I love pumpkin in virtually anything… who doesn’t need the extra fiber and it makes these muffins extra moist, so I threw that in as well. With hints of cinnamon, cardamom and topped with oat flakes soaked in vanilla, need I say more? I have this obsession with baking things in mini size, I’m not sure why… they are adorable and the perfect pop in the mouth muffin, I also have the mentality, oh it’s so little, I can have another 🙂 They make for a pretty superb breakfast with fruit and yogurt, a handy on the go snack, healthy for the kids and a quick grab for those pre or post work outs on a busy day.

So thank you Alberta for the perfect rhubarb climate and an abundance of gorgeous red stalks all summer long! You will see them all over grocery stores and markets, go support your local vendor and buy a stalk or two. If you do succumb to these delectable mini Banana Rhubarb Date Muffins, I’d love to hear your feedback, snap a shot of the masterpiece and tag @apinchofnurse on Instagram or Facebook! Thank you everyone for your love and support always, much love xoxo.

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