Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Russian Pelmeni and Tomato Lentil Ragout

One of the most exciting conclusions of my world travels is that virtually every country or culture features a dumpling dish. They are all a little bit different, with slightly different sizes, shapes and of course flavours, but there is no mistaking it: humans just love the textures of a richly spiced ground meat enveloped in a warm, soft dough then either dunked in a soup or topped with some kind of gravy or sauce.

Russia (and also Ukraine and Eastern Europe in general) is no exception to this rule. Pelmeni are bite size dumplings, filled with ground beef typically, but I prefer ground chicken. For a quick weeknight supper, I prefer to use the handmade pelmeni by Marina's Cuisine which is sold at the Italian Centre. The chicken inside is chewy, with hints of vinegar and onion. Delicious.

When I lived in Russia, the pelmeni I had was always topped with butter, sour cream and sometimes dill. Delicious. But tonight I shook things up a bit by making a tomato lentil stew with finely chopped grilled mushrooms, and then garnishing with a yoghurt, pink Himalayan crystal salt, cracked black pepper, basil infused olive oil and chopped basil.

So. darn. tasty. The only danger with this dish is that you just can't stop.


Thursday, 22 December 2016

Vegan Lemon Christmas Balls

There are so many delicious sweets to choose from at Christmas time. My favourite are always the lemon: lemon squares, lemon tarts, lemon pound cake, the list goes on. But, have you seen the ingredients in those? Now, when it's just for Christmas it's totally ok, but I always like to have a few sweet recipes that are wholesome enough to make (and eat!) all year around.

You can imagine I was pretty happy when I stumbled across The Healthy Family and Home's simple, tasty, 7-ingredient recipe for Raw Vegan Lemon Meltaway Balls. Gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar free and raw? Yep! These babies are suitable for virtually every nutritional need (sorry, though, there are lots of nuts in here).

Great with a steaming cup of green tea or milky chai, and even better as a gift. These will definitely be on my Christmas baking list every year going forward. Click on the link above to get the recipe.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Chocolate Avocado Pumpkin Spice Smoothie Jar

We're a smoothie family, and we love experimenting with different flavours, textures and ingredients. A blended beverage is an awesome way to pack your breakfast with a nutritious punch. This morning I made a chocolate, avocado pumpkin spice smoothie jar. It's vegan, high protein and super delicious.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Two scoops of chocolate protein powder (I use Arbonne because it is made from 100% vegan, plant-based pea protein)
  • 10 almonds
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 2 tsp ground flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp all-natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice 
  • 2.5 cups of ice cold water
Blend all of the above ingredients in your high-powered blender (I always use our Vitamix - it's great for pulverizing the almonds!), pour and garnish with almonds and a teaspoon of organic chia seeds.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Chicken Pot Pie? No, it's Fish!

If your house is anything like mine, your kids will love fish, especially the easy-bake, breaded traditional fish and chips style. Being landlocked in the prairies makes it virtually impossible to have a proper British fish and chip dinner though.

Tonight I experimented with the concept of a fish pot pie to try and increase the nutritional value of a breaded fish-based meal that my daughter would still love. Limited to the ingredients I had in the fridge resulted in the following:

  • 1 large and 1 medium potato, peeled and grated
  • 4 small onions and 3 cloves of garlic, sauted in organic grapeseed oil (you can use raw onions if you'd prefer not to have any oil in your dish)
  • 1 can of red kidney beans, drained
  • 6 eggs, beaten together with approximately 3 tbsp of almond milk
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp red chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 English-style breaded fish pieces (I had Captain High Liner in the freezer, but for an even healthier version you can use haddock or cod filets)
In a small square casserole pan, spread the grated potatoes on the bottom, then sprinkle the kidney beans on top. Spread the sauteed onions all over so that every inch of the potato shavings is covered. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper. Then pour the egg mixture into the casserole pan, letting it seep evenly into the potatoes. Then lay the fish filets on the very top, pressing them down a bit so it all sticks together (the fish is acting like the crust in a traditional chicken pot pie). Bake for roughly 30 to 45 minutes at 425F until the fish is crispy and golden, and the egg is fully cooked.

Casseroles are a great way generally to sneak in nutrition that your kids might normally balk at! I used what we had in the fridge, but I think that if you added mushrooms,  broccoli, cauliflower or even asparagus, that this would be even tastier! I served it with raw veggies and a sweet potato hummus. It was absolutely delightful. Even better, it was dairy free and can even be oil free if you choose to use raw, rather than sauted, onions.

And one of the best things about it was that altogether it cost roughly $12, and made dinner for 4 and then a leftover lunch for 2, making it roughly $2 per person per meal. Nutritious and budget friendly!

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Chicken and Spinach Pizza Wreath with Sriracha and Za'atar

Are you watching the Grey Cup today? Well, we're not! Truth be told, I didn't even know that it was game day today, until I saw someone tweet about it. It just so happens that what I made for Sunday brunch today is a perfect party appetizer!

You could mix up any filling really, but I shredded some yummy leftover fried chicken (two breasts and one thigh - the breading when baked gives this dish an amazing texture), three cups of spinach, one cup of mushrooms, two small diced onions and about half a cup grated mozzarella. For added flavour, I mixed in two tablespoons of BBQ sauce, two tablespoons of Sriracha sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

Roll your dough into a nice, thin circle and  cut a cross-like shape in it for easy folding. I made my own dough, but you could also use any pre-made dough like Pillsbury pizza dough, for example. Spoon your filling in a nice circle shape, leaving enough room on both sides of the dough for folding.

Fold the dough up, from point to side, making for a nice and simple wreath shape. Brush a tiny bit of oil (I used basil and chili pepper infused olive oil) over the dough to ensure a nice golden crispy dough, and then sprinkle with your choice of herbs. I used Za'atar, a Middle Eastern wild thyme and sesame blend. So delicious! Slide your wreath onto an aerated pizza pan and on 425F for roughly 30 minutes, turning to ensure an even colouring.

Serve with your choice of dips and sides! Here I used a spicy Sweet Potato and Harissa dip which has a hummus-like texture. You can make your own quite easily, but this one is from the President's Choice Insiders' Collection.