All posts by Tamara Green

Tamara Green is co-founder of The Living Kitchen, and a Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Cook. She combines her knowledge of nutrition and passion for cooking good food to work with clients to create lasting changes in their lives.

The Top 5 Kitchen Utensils Every Home Cook Needs

An equipped kitchen is incredibly important for any home cook. Imagine baking a cake without mixing bowls or chopping veggies for a stir-fry without a knife. Whether you’re moving into a new home and need to stock your kitchen or you’ve been living with an ill-equipped cooking space for years – now is the time to take charge! While there are many cooking tools and equipment you can buy, here is a list of the top five utensils every kitchen needs.

Related: Do You Really Need an Air Fryer? (And 5 Other Kitchen Essentials You’ve Been Eyeing)

wooden-spoons-in-mug

1. Chef’s Knife

I’m not just talking about any old chef’s knife, I mean a good-quality one. Trust me, this is one tool that is worth the investment. A knife is the most used utensil in the kitchen, and having a sharp knife that properly slices, dices and chops is a key component for cooking. Higher-quality sharp knives are actually safer than dull, cheap varieties because they’re less likely to slip and cut you. A paring knife is also a great and inexpensive investment. It’s very sharp and great for chopping smaller veggies and fruit.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: ZELITE INFINITY Chef Knife 8 Inch, Amazon, $190.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Mercer Culinary 3.5-Inch Forged Paring Knife, Amazon, $31.

Related: Top 5 Kitchen Knives Every Home Cook Should Own

2. Mixing Bowls

Mixing bowls are like your kitchen’s hands. You use them for just about anything, from storing to cooking to baking and everything in between. Having varying sizes is important because you will likely need a small, medium and large bowl depending on what you’re making. If you have a big family or often make large quantities of food, I highly recommend purchasing an extra-large bowl. I personally love stainless-steel, but any variety will work. If you tend to store food in your bowls, consider purchasing silicon lids: they’re reusable and easy to clean!

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Luvan Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls with Lids, Set of 5, Amazon, $28.

3. Cutting Boards

A kitchen is not complete without cutting boards. Where are you going to chop your onions – on the counter? I don’t think so! Similar to mixing bowls, having varying sizes is important for any home cook. It’s also great to get a variety of materials such as wood, plastic or glass. Some people love to leave out a large all-purpose cutting board on their countertops, too.  It’s a good idea to have designated cutting boards for meat and veggies/fruit to prevent any cross-contamination.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Home Organics Bamboo Cutting Boards, Amazon, $20.

Related: Your Ultimate Guide to Cooking and Baking Conversions

4. Wooden Spoon & Spatula

A home cook’s kitchen is not complete without spoons and spatulas! How are you going to mix your batter, sauté your onions or scrape your leftovers without them? A wooden spoon is a great all-purpose cooking utensil; it doesn’t scratch pots and pans, which makes it safe for frying and sautéing. It’s also a great baking utensil perfect for mixing and scraping. A spatula carries out many of the same tasks as a wooden spoon, especially if you get a silicone one. Spatulas are great for lifting and flipping. Get a spatula with a thin front edge rather than a thicker one so that it easily slides under food.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: 6-Piece Natural Teak Kitchen Utensil Set, Amazon, $35.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: KitchenAid Silicone Mixer Spatula, Amazon, $24.

5. Measuring Cups and Spoons

It doesn’t matter if you’re baking or cooking, measuring out flours, grains, spices, sweeteners, vinegars and oils is important for crafting a delicious dish. Eyeballing when cooking is a wonderful skill to have; however, sometimes it’s important to be precise with the amounts you’re putting into your dish. Measuring cups and spoons will give you the precision you need (although some baking does require a scale) and you won’t have to worry if you added way too much of one ingredient. No one wants a meal that is overly spiced or seasoned.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: U-Taste 10-Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons Set, Amazon, $35.

Looking for more tips? Learn which kitchen tools you should toss right now, plus the cooking “rules” you should actually be breaking.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy through links in this article, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Sugar Detox: Nutritionist Explains How to Reset Your System (And Fight Cravings!)

Although some cleanses rely on fasting and calorie restriction as the primary focus, that often isn’t the healthiest approach. The main aspect to focus on during a sugar detox is keeping the body well fed and hydrated. Sugar imbalances hormones, mood, energy, blood sugar and suppresses the immune system. It’s well known that sugar feeds bad bacteria, and it has even been compared to cocaine because it’s so addictive—yikes!

It’s now time to crush that sugar habit once and for all. Follow this 3-Day Sugar Detox and you will start feeling the effects immediately.

What to Focus On:

1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Keeping the body properly hydrated encourages oxygen to flow freely throughout the body. This allows you to be more attentive, alert and focused. Water itself is a powerful detoxifier because it assists the kidneys and colon to eliminate waste. Hydration means drinking water (not coffee, caffeinated teas or energy drinks). Although these drinks are comprised of water, they can also be dehydrating for the body. Drink 6-8 glasses (250mL) of water per day. Don’t drink water with meals because it dilutes stomach acid and leads to poor digestion. Add a squeeze of lemon into your water for added benefits and some flavour.

Related: 10 Foods That Can Help Aid Digestion

2. Protein & Fat Are Your Friends

Eating tons of sugar creates a cycle of low blood sugar and intense “hanger” (hungry + angry). One way to break the cycle, besides eliminating sugar, is to eat meals that contain tons of good protein and fat (nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, etc). Protein and fat are more difficult to digest, making you feel full for longer periods of time.

3. Taste the Rainbow

Focus on eating colourful foods. When you eat vegetables and fruits in a rainbow-bright assortment of colours, you are getting a whole array of antioxidants and phytonutrients that all have specific jobs to keep the body healthy, skin vibrant and eyes strong. Again, this detox is not about deprivation, so when you’re hungry, eat! Just make vegetables the star of the plate.

Related: A Nutritionist Reveals 10 Best Natural Foods for Dewy, Glowing Skin

4. Prepare Yourself

The key to any good detox is to be prepared. Look over the menu below and see which ingredients you need to buy, and which foods you need to prep ahead of time. Prepping lunches the night before is a great way to save time in the morning. It’s only 3 days—you can do this!

3-Day Sugar Detox Plan:


Day 1

Wake Up: Drink Lemon Water (250mL)
Breakfast: Celery, Cucumber & Kale Smoothie
*Add a scoop of protein powder or nut butter to increase fat and protein content
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Morning Snack: Chia Pudding Cup
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Lunch: Salmon and Greens with Cumin Dressing
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Afternoon Snack: Hummus with Sliced Carrots, Cucumbers & Celery
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Dinner: Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts with Wild Rice, Artichoke & Kale Salad
Water Break: Hot Water with Lemon

Day 2

Wake Up: Drink Lemon Water (250mL)
Breakfast: Blueberry Ginger Kale Smoothie
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Morning Snack: Handful Roasted Spiced Almonds
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Lunch: Thai Glazed Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Afternoon Snack: Apple with 2 Tablespoons Almond Butter
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Dinner: Oh My Chickpea Goodness Burger (no bun) with Gluten-Free Tabbouleh Salad
Water Break: Hot Water with Lemon

sheet plan chicken dinner with sweet potatoes and fennel


Day 3

Wake Up: Drink Lemon Water (250mL)
Breakfast: Green Smoothie
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Morning Snack: Handful of Strawberries and ¼ cup Almonds
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Lunch: Citrus Roasted Tilapia with Greek Quinoa Salad
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Afternoon Snack: Guacamole with Sliced Veggies
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Dinner: Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggie Dinner
Water Break: Hot Water with Lemon

Looking for more healthy recipe inspiration? Here’s how a nutritionist meal preps every Sunday, plus 20 healthy meal prep ideas to get you through the week ahead!

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Win Dinner With These Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

A satisfying dinner with a real Tex-Mex vibe, these slow cooker sweet potato enchiladas might just become a part of your weekly menu. We’ve made our own enchilada sauce, which is smoky, silky and hits all the right flavours, but if you’re stretched for time, a store-bought version or your favourite salsa will do the trick. The enchiladas are topped with queso fresco, a fresh and salty Mexican cheese that holds up to the heat, keeping its shape without melting. If you can’t find queso fresco, swap in feta, cheddar or skip the cheese altogether. Any way you build them, serving these enchiladas with a big scoop of avocado to garnish is an absolute must!

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
Filling:
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp granulated garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp regular or smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Enchilada Sauce:
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp granulated garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne, to taste (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

Assembly and Topping:
8 to 12 corn or flour tortillas, divided
1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled, divided
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1 lime, quartered

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Directions:
Filling:
1. Add red pepper, sweet potato, onion and beans to a large bowl. Toss with garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, cumin and salt. Set aside.

Enchilada Sauce:
1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes, until fragrant and starting to turn translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, until fragrant. Stir in chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne, to taste, if using, salt and pepper. Toast the spices for 30 seconds, until fragrant and sizzling, then pour in crushed tomatoes and broth. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
2. Carefully pour the enchilada sauce into a blender or food processor, or use a hand blender directly in the pot, and blend on low speed (low speed important for hot mixtures) until smooth.

Assembly:
1. Pour 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of your slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

2. Working on a clean surface, lay out 8 tortillas without overlapping. To the centre of each tortilla, add a scant 1/2 cup filling, tuck in two sides, then place the filled tortilla seam-side down in the slow cooker on top of the sauce. If you have extra filling, repeat this step with more tortillas, then layer them on top of the first round of filled tortillas. Or, skip the additional tortillas and scatter the additional filling over top.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

3. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas and crumble 1/4 cup of the queso fresco evenly over top. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set to cook on high for 2 hours, until the filling is tender and sauce is bubbling.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

4. When the timer runs out, remove the slow cooker lid and gently plate 2 enchiladas per person (they will be very soft and tender from slow cooking, so do this carefully). Top enchiladas with cilantro, avocado, remaining 1/4 cup of queso fresco and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Ready for more wholesome slow cooker solutions? Reignite your love for this retro kitchen appliance with our healthiest slow cooker recipes ever.

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin

Your Weeknight Needs This Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin Recipe

Perfect for a gathering or a simple weeknight dinner, this meat-and-veg meal always impresses. Slow cooker pork tenderloin is incredibly tender and moist so you can forget all about dryness.  What’s more, the leisurely braising brings on a sweet, caramelized flavour as the balsamic vinegar and maple syrup work their magic on the pork tenderloin. Finally, seasonal vegetables add pops of colour and a welcome earthiness to this hearty meal. While oven baked pork tenderloin is delicious we’ll be making this easy Crock Pot dinner all winter long.

Slow-Cooker-Pork-Tenderloin-2

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin with Winter Veggies

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours on high, 4 hours on low
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes on high, 4 hours 10 minutes on low
Serves: 4
Slow-Cooker-Pork-Tenderloin-3

Ingredients:

1 (2 lb) pork tenderloin (see Notes below)
3 red potatoes, cut into 2-inch cubes
3 stalks celery, chopped into 2.5-inch pieces
2 carrots, sliced into 1-inch circles (we used a mixture of purple and orange carrots)
1 red onion, sliced into 1-inch half-moons
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp grainy mustard
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
ground black pepper, to taste
fresh thyme leaves, to taste
fresh chopped parsley, for serving

Directions: 
1. Add all ingredients except parsley to a large slow cooker, positioning the pork tenderloin in the centre and surrounding it with the vegetables. Replace lid and cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours.

Food-Network-pork-tenderloin-2

2. Once the cook time is up, transfer pork to a cutting board and slice into medallions.
3. Dish up the vegetables along with those delicious slow cooker juices onto plates or into shallow bowls, top with pork tenderloin medallions, then garnish with parsley. Serve warm.

Slow-Cooker-Pork-Tenderloin-Recie

Notes:
To enhance the caramelized flavour in this stew, you can sear the pork in a skillet before it goes in the slow cooker. To do so, add olive oil to a skillet set over medium-high heat, then brown each side of the pork tenderloin until desired colour; continue with the remainder of the recipe.

Soak up all of those mouthwatering juices on your plate with a warm slice of Chef Michael Smith’s Pot Baked Bread with Homemade Butter.

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup is Fiesta Flavour Without the Fuss

This zesty and warming soup is just asking to be on your dinner menu this week. Toppings of tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro and lime add incredible flavour and texture to a big, comforting bowl of slow-cooked shredded chicken, sweet potato, black beans and tomatoes. To make this into a vegan or vegetarian soup, simply skip the chicken, toss in another can of black beans and replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth.

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours on high, 4 hours on low
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes on high, 4 hours 20 minutes on low
Serves: 4  

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:

Tortilla Soup
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 small or 1 large yellow onion, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt

For Serving
1 lime, quartered
1/2 cup (about a handful per serving) tortilla chips
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 avocado, pitted and diced

Directions:
Tortilla Soup
1. Stir to combine all tortilla soup ingredients (except for toppings) in a large slow cooker. Replace lid and cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours.

2. After time is up, shred the chicken using two forks and stir to coat with remaining soup ingredients.

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

For Serving:

1. Dish the tortilla soup into bowls and top each one with a squeeze of lime, tortilla chips, cilantro and avocado. Serve hot.

For tortilla soup outside of the bowl, try this family-friendly Chicken Tortilla Casserole (aka Mexican lasagna!) from The Pioneer Woman.

Slow Cooker Saag Paneer

Slow Cooker Saag Paneer is the Tastiest Way to Eat Your Greens

Looking for new and exciting ways to eat your greens? We’ve got the perfect healthy slow cooker recipe for you. This saag paneer is loaded with spinach, fresh cheese, spices and a hint of lime juice, leaving your taste buds happy. We’ve given this traditional Indian dish a twist by omitting the heavy cream that’s commonly used and replaced it with coconut milk to add natural sweetness. A big bowl of saag paneer will definitely warm you up on a cold day, especially if you have some naan handy to heat up and dunk in!

Slow Cooker Saag Paneer

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours on high, 4 hours on low
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes on high, 4 hours 10 minutes on low
Serves: 2 to 3 as a main, 4 as a side


Ingredients:

2 small or 1 large yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
3 tomatoes, diced
2 bunches fresh spinach
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
3 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
1/2 lime, squeezed
3 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp coconut oil
1 brick of paneer (fresh Indian cheese), cubed
1/4 cup toasted shredded coconut

Directions:

1. Toss all ingredients except coconut oil, paneer and toasted shredded coconut in a large slow cooker. Replace lid and cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours. When the saag (spinach) mixture has about 15 minutes left to cook, make the paneer.
2. Heat a large skillet (non-stick ensures easy turning) over medium and add coconut oil. Place the cubed paneer into the skillet and fry until golden, flipping around every so often until most sides are brown, about 7 to 10 minutes. Set aside pan-fried paneer while you puree the saag mixture.

3. Once the saag mixture has finished cooking, use an immersion blender to puree inside the slow cooker until smooth, or carefully transfer to a blender, puree and add it back to the slow cooker to keep warm. The green colour will have dulled but the flavour is huge.
4. Add the reserved pan-fried paneer to the slow cooker with the pureed saag and stir until combined and warmed through. Or, keep pan-fried paneer on the side and add on top of bowls of saag right before serving, like we did in the photo.
5. Divide saag paneer into bowls or enjoy as a side dish. Garnish with additional cilantro and toasted shredded coconut. Serve warm.

Cool things down after dinner with Indian-inspired Mango Coconut Ice Pops.

Red Thai Curry Slow Cooker Soup

Slow Cooker Thai Red Curry Soup That’s Easier (and Better) Than Take-Out

Thai curry is all about layering flavours, and slow-cooking the ingredients allows everything to fully meld, creating a rich, complex dish without standing at the stove for hours. Chicken, vegetables, brown rice and roasted peanuts make this bowl a complete meal, while prepared red Thai curry paste keeps things simple. With this spicy, coconut milk and chicken soup, you’ll skip the take-out once and for all.

Slow Cooker Thai Red Curry Soup with Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours on low, 4 hours on low
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes on high, 4 hours 10 minutes on low
Serves: 4


Ingredients:

Thai Red Curry Soup with Chicken
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp red Thai curry paste
2 Tbsp coconut sugar
1 Tbsp tamari (a gluten-free soy sauce)
1 large or 2 small yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2-inch piece ginger, minced
1 cup broccoli florets
2 carrots, sliced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For Serving
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime, quartered


Directions:
1. Whisk the coconut milk, broth, curry paste, coconut sugar and tamari together in a large slow cooker. Add the remaining soup ingredients and stir to combine. Replace lid and cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours.

2. Once cooked, shred the chicken using two forks and give the soup a good stir.

For Serving:
1. Ladle soup into bowls and top each one with cooked brown rice, peanuts, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Serve warm.

Looking for more Thai curry recipes? Try these 26 Thai Recipes to Make at Home and forget about take-out.

Vegan Cookie Dough You Can Eat By The Spoonful

Everyone knows the best part about baking cookies is eating the dough. But we also know that eating it raw can be dangerous. So what’s a cookie dough lover to do? Make vegan cookie dough instead! No eggs, no flour, just pure deliciousness.

vegan chocolate chip cookie dough5

Close your eyes when you take the first bite; you won’t believe it’s vegan. Chickpeas offer the perfect smooth, creamy base while also providing much fibre and protein. So whip up a batch next time you’ve got a cookie dough craving, and dig in!

vegan chocolate chip cookie dough1

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1, 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup almond butter
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp coconut sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in the food processor, except for the chocolate chips.

vegan chocolate chip cookie dough2

2. Pulse until the mixture is well blended and smooth.

vegan chocolate chip cookie dough3

3. Remove from the food processor, fold in chocolate chips and enjoy with a spoon!

vegan chocolate chip cookie dough4

Want more? Check out: 40 Vegan Desserts Even Non-Vegans Will Love.

Photos by Sarah Grossman.

vegetarian-Cacciatore-recipe

Vegetables Star in This Healthy, Comforting Cacciatore

Known as a “hunter” style meal, this Italian classic is typically made using chicken or rabbit, but our rustic take serves up vegetables as the star.  A mix of veggies and wine simmer together to create layers of flavour that become a perfect pair with pasta.  We’ve intentionally used an array of vegetables to offer lots of textures and tastes with each bite, but if you’re not particularly fond of one veggie, omit and replace with what you love.

vegetarian Cacciatore

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 2 to 4

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb mixed mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, button), sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red pepper, sliced into strips
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 zucchini, sliced into semi-circles
1 Tbsp capers
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp sea salt
Pinch pepper
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped, for serving
2 to 3 cups pasta of choice, cooked

Vegetarian Cacciatore6

Directions:
1. Place a pot or deep skillet over medium heat and coat the pan with olive oil.
2. Add mushrooms and allow them to cook for 10 minutes, so they’ll release their moisture and begin to brown.

Vegetarian Cacciatore5
3. Add onion, garlic, red pepper, celery, carrot, zucchini, capers, oregano, chili flakes, sea salt and pepper and allow to cook for 7 minutes.
4. Pour in the diced tomatoes, vegetable broth and white wine. Cover the pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Vegetarian Cacciatore3
5. Top with fresh basil and re-season with sea salt and pepper to taste.
6. Mix with your favorite pasta and enjoy.

Vegetarian Cacciatore

Looking for tastier veggie-filled dinners? Try our All-Time Best Vegetarian Recipes.

black-icing-halloween

How to Make Black Icing for Naturally Spooky Halloween Treats

Using coconut butter and activated charcoal, we’ve created a smooth, luscious dark icing, with no food colouring, that is the perfect addition to any Halloween treat.

Despite its deep, dark hue,  charcoal — which you can buy with coconut butter at health food stores — doesn’t have a funky taste. Instead, this icing is sweet, rich and maple in flavour.
You can feel good serving this to your kids, knowing it’s a fairly healthy recipe. Scroll down to find a fantastic way to use it in spooky, desserts.

Black Icing1

Prep Time: 7 minutes
Total time: 7 minutes
Serves: 4 to 7

Ingredients:
1 cup coconut butter (also known as coconut manna)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut milk (from a carton, not a can)
1 tsp activated charcoal (in powder form)

Directions:
1. If the coconut butter is solid in a jar, break it up into larger chunks and measure out 1 cup.
2. Place all ingredients except the activated charcoal in a food processor and blend until smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes. You may need to stop and scrape down the side.
3. Add activated charcoal and blend for another 2 minutes until the icing turns black.

Black Icing2

Time to put your spooky black icing to use! Turn cupcakes into a tasty cemetery using black icing to set the scene with this recipe for Pull Apart Graveyard Cupcakes.

Food Network Kitchens Pull Apart Graveyard Cupcakes

Food Network Kitchens Pull Apart Graveyard Cupcakes

Looking for more spooky recipes? Try these Scary-Good Halloween Cakes.

Slow Cooker Chicken Coconut Curry

Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry is the Easiest Healthy Comfort Food

Are you craving a warming, deeply delicious curry that is slow-cooked to perfection? This coconut chicken curry has the bold, creamy flavours we love in restaurant versions, but is a cinch to make at home, and far healthier. The method is as simple as adding ingredients to your slow cooker and setting the timer – you come home to a beautifully cooked meal that’s especially satisfying to eat as the weather gets chilly. Served on a bed of whole grain quinoa or rice and topped with refreshing cilantro, it’s healthy comfort food done right.

Slow cooker chicken curry 3

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours on high, 8 hours on low
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes on high, 8 hours 10 minutes on low
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
2 Tbsp mild curry powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp sea salt
1 heaping cup of baby spinach
Warm cooked quinoa, for serving
¼ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Curry ingredients

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients except baby spinach, quinoa and cilantro in a 6-quart slow cooker. Mix well to combine, cover and set on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

Slow cooker chicken curry-1

2.  When ready to serve, open the lid and stir in baby spinach to wilt. Ladle curry over cooked quinoa or rice with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. Serve.

Slow cooker chicken curry-2

Spicy-hot curry is all about the cooling condiments. Smooth things out with this refreshing mint, yogurt and cucumber raita.

Looking for more slow cooker ideas? Try these tasty chicken slow cooker recipes.

Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas

No-Mess Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas Will Change Your Dinner Game

Are you looking for a satisfying, flavourful dinner with barely any clean up? If so, sheet pan chicken fajitas is the recipe for you. Simply toss all ingredients on a baking sheet and pop in the oven for an easy, healthy and delicious meal. With very little prep and minimal clean-up required, you’ll surely be adding this dish to your family’s weeknight supper schedule.

Sheet-Pan-Chicken-Fajitas Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 27 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes
Serves: 2 to 4 

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
1 yellow onion, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 red onion, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into ½-inch strips
1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into ½-inch strips
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
1½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp granulated garlic powder
¼ tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
4 to 6 tortillas
1 avocado, diced
⅓ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. On a large rimmed baking sheet, add chicken, onions, peppers, oil, chili powder, paprika, cumin, granulated garlice powder, salt and pepper. Toss well.

Sheet-Pan-Chicken-Fajitas Recipe

2. Bake for 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Stack tortillas and wrap securely in foil.
3. Remove cooked chicken and vegetable mixture from oven and make a clearing to add on tortilla package.

Sheet-Pan-Chicken-Fajitas Recipe

4. Set oven to broil. Return sheet pan with chicken and vegetable mixture and tortilla package to oven. Broil for about 2 minutes, until chicken and vegetables are slightly crisped and tortillas are warmed through.

Sheet-Pan-Chicken-Fajitas Recipe

5. Unwrap tortilla package. Build fajitas in tortillas with chicken and vegetable mixture, avocado, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Serve.

Take your dinner chicken from ordinary to extraordinary tomorrow night, too, with these tasty recipes.

This Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Will Change Your Life

Have you ever dreamt of eating a cookie that’s actually good for you? Well, your dream is now a reality with this life-changing chocolate chip cookie recipe. These simple cookies are flourless and refined sugar-free, using tahini (sesame seed butter) as their base to create a rich treat with a welcome nutty taste and bone-building calcium. A sprinkle of coarse salt before baking takes these already-epic cookies to another level. And, not only do they taste sensational, they’re also stunningly beautiful, with their rustic crinkles and bursts of dark chocolate. We think you may never go back to the standard chocolate chip cookie again.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Makes: 18 cookies

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies - Tahini

Ingredients:
1 cup tahini
½ cup coconut sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp baking soda
1 (100g) 70% (or higher) dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk to combine tahini and coconut sugar. Whisk in egg, followed by vanilla and baking soda. With a spatula, fold in chocolate until evenly incorporated.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies - Dough

3. Scoop 1 Tbsp-sized portions of cookie dough and add to prepared baking sheet, leaving about 3-inches of space around each cookie, as they will spread quite a bit. Do not flatten cookies. Sprinkle a small amount of coarse sea salt on top of each cookie.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies - Dough on Baking Sheet

4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until dry on top and spread, rotating pans halfway through if oven racks are staggered. Cool cookies on pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Serve.

Put that leftover tahini to good use and make super-creamy homemade hummus, another nutritious snack option.

gremolita-pasta

Savour Summer with Garlic Scape Gremolata ‘Pasta’

It’s officially garlic scape season! Garlic scapes are the gorgeous, winding green stalks that twirl above garlic bulbs buried beneath the soil. They have a milder, less pungent garlic taste and can be stir-fried, stewed, grilled, minced, blended, turned into pesto, pickled and fermented. You can find garlic scapes at many grocery stores, farmers’ markets or for lucky gardeners, your own backyard.

Garlic scapes are a vibrant addition to classic gremolata, a zippy, chopped herb condiment that pairs well with sweet potato and zucchini “noodles,” juicy grilled shrimp and plump cherry tomatoes. This healthy dish is so fresh and zesty, it’s basically summertime in a bowl.

garlic scape shrimp 3

Garlic Scape Gremolata Grilled Shrimp over Sweet Potato and Zucchini Noodle Pasta

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes
Total Time: 33 minutes
Serves: 2 to 4

Ingredients:
Gremolata:
6 (6-inch) garlic scapes or 6 peeled cloves garlic
1 bunch curly parsley, tough ends discarded
Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 Tbsp)
Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Noodles:
1 large zucchini
1 large sweet potato, peeled
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Shrimp:
Olive oil, as needed
15 raw, peeled and deveined shrimp, tails intact
3 to 4 Tbsp Gremolata (recipe above)

Assembly:
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
Hulled hemp seeds, to taste

Directions:
Gremolata:
1. Add garlic scapes or garlic and parsley to a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and pulse until fully combined, leaving some rustic texture. If you don’t have a food processor, mince ingredients finely by hand and stir together in a bowl.

garlic scape shrimp 2

Noodles:
1. Using a spiralizer, spiralize zucchini and sweet potato into spaghetti-style pasta. Or use a vegetable peeler to make thin, long strips. Or use prepared spiralized vegetable noodles, which can be found at most grocery stores.

garlic scape shrimp 1

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add oil, followed by noodles. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender but not falling apart. (You can skip cooking and eat raw, if you prefer.) Season with salt and pepper. Remove noodles from heat.

Shrimp:
1. Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high and lightly brush with enough oil to coat grates.
2. In a large bowl, mix to coat shrimp with 3 to 4 Tbsp gremolata.
3. Grill shrimp for 3 minutes per side, or until bright pink and firm.

Assembly:
1. Place noodles in a large bowl and top with cherry tomatoes and shrimp. Spoon 1/4 to 1/3 cup of additional gremolata overtop bowl and gently mix everything to coat. Divide between serving bowls, sprinkle with hemp seeds, to taste and serve. Store any extra gremolata airtight in refrigerator up to 1 week.

Garlic lovers, rejoice! Here are 20 more zesty recipes featuring the flavour-packed bulb. 

paleo breakfast recipes without eggs

5 Eggless Paleo Breakfasts Plus an Epic Grain-Free Granola

A lot of people are ditching grains these days in favour of a paleo or keto-style diet, making a replacement for traditional carb-heavy breakfasts, like toast, bagels, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches and oatmeal, a real challenge. For this reason, grain-free breakfasts almost always consist of eggs: scrambled, poached, over-easy – you name it. But eating eggs every day can become tedious.

Luckily, there are plenty of healthy and exciting egg-free options to get to know. Think outside of the egg carton with 5 healthy paleo breakfast ideas to spruce up your morning, without a yolk in sight.

Set Strawberries Coconut Cream

Coconut Strawberry Chia Bowl
Blending coconut cream, chia seeds and strawberries is basically like eating (a super-healthy!) dessert for breakfast. When combined with a liquid, or in this case, blended strawberries, the chia seeds thicken to resemble an indulgent pudding. This is a great paleo-friendly breakfast that will give your body the energy boost it needs in the morning.
Get the recipe for Set Strawberries with Coconut Cream.

Cucumber Salad with Fresh Coconut

Salad for Breakfast
Salad for breakfast has been embraced globally, so why not try it for yourself, right at home? Eating vegetables in the morning provides a boost of fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients – all components your body is craving to get up and go. Give salad for breakfast a chance, and add a blast of freshness to your morning meal.
Get the recipe for Cucumber Salad with Fresh Coconut.

Hungry Buddha Smoothie Bowl

Smoothies & Smoothie Bowls
Smoothies and smoothie bowls are quick to make, easy to take and very nutritious. Blend together kale, spinach, banana, berries, nuts and protein powder, and you have a deeply nourishing morning meal. To assemble your own Instagram-worthy smoothie bowl, pour your blended creation in a cereal bowl and decorate with superfood ingredients like hemp seeds, bee pollen, blueberries and chia seeds (or the Paleo Granola recipe below). Before diving in, don’t forget to take a picture! Enjoy an entire gallery of gorgeous and delicious smoothie bowls to inspire your creation.

Paleo granola in a bowl with fruit

Dairy-Free Yogurt with Berries & Nuts
One of our favourite go-to paleo breakfasts happens to be the quickest and simplest: a bowl of dairy-free yogurt topped with blueberries, strawberries, almonds and walnuts. Of course, that’s the skeleton of the recipe – feel free to spruce it up with a drizzle of honey and sprinkling of cinnamon, raw cacao powder, pomegranate seeds and hemp seeds. For the yogurt base, if you’re eating paleo, dairy is out, though there are many tasty dairy-free yogurt options made from plant milks (usually coconut or almond milk) that can be found at your grocery store, many of which still provide belly-friendly probiotics.

Paleo-GranolaFood Network 40854

Paleo Granola
Most granola is made with oats (a grain), but this paleo granola recipe replaces them with toasted coconut chips, nuts, seeds, cacao nibs and raisins for a grain-free, naturally sweetened, protein-packed breakfast.  

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
3 Tbsp coconut oil, very soft or melted
1 to 2 Tbsp maple syrup, less or more for desired sweetness level
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened toasted coconut chips or pieces (not shredded)
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup cacao nibs

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Paleo Granola

2. Scatter hazelnuts, walnuts and sunflower seeds on prepared baking sheet. Toss nut and seed mixture with coconut oil, maple syrup and cinnamon. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until lightly browned (watch closely to be careful not to burn the mixture).
3. Remove nut and seed mixture from oven. Mix in coconut chips, raisins and cacao nibs. Cool before serving, if desired.
4. Serve granola in a bowl with dairy-free milk of choice and fresh fruit.
5. For storing, cool granola completely and keep in airtight jar at room temperature for up to one month.

Paleo Granola

Looking for paleo lunch and dinner recipes? Explore these grain-free zucchini noodle recipes, and kick carb cravings to the curb.

Dinnertime Done Right: Coconut-Crusted Cauliflower Tacos

Are you ready for some crispy, flavour-packed cauliflower tacos? We are, so we’re serving up this incredibly bright and delicious recipe to satisfy your taco needs. When the weather is warm, most people tend to crave zesty, fresh and light flavours and this vegetarian dish delivers just that. Make it for dinner this week — you (and your belly) will be very pleased.

cauliflower-tacos7

Prep Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Serves: 3-6

Ingredients:
1 small cauliflower, chopped in florets
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp sea salt

Avocado Crema:
1 avocado
1/4 cup plain, unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 small clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Sea salt to taste

Mango Cabbage Slaw:
2 cups finely chopped purple cabbage
1 fresh mango, chopped in small cubes
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp maple syrup
Pinch sea salt

6 corn tortillas (or use sprouted corn tortillas)

cauliflower tacos1

Directions:

Coconut-Crusted Cauliflower:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Combine shredded coconut, almond meal, garlic powder, chili powder, turmeric and sea salt in a bowl.
3. Place coconut milk in another bowl.
4. Chop cauliflower into florets.
5. Coat each floret in the coconut milk and then dip in the shredded coconut mixture.
6. Spread coated florets of cauliflower out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
7. Bake for 35 minutes, until the outside is crisp and the cauliflower is soft.

cauliflower tacos3

Avocado Crema:
1. Meanwhile, prepare avocado crema by blending the avocado, coconut milk, garlic, lime juice and sea salt together in the food processor until creamy and smooth.
2. Place avocado crema in a small plastic bag and squeeze toward one of the corners of the bag. Eventually, you’ll snip a very small hole on one of the corners, right before you’re about to squeeze the crema over (in a few steps).

Mango Cabbage Slaw:
1. Chop purple cabbage finely, cut mango into small cubes and chop cilantro.
2. Combine purple cabbage, mango and cilantro in a bowl together with lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, maple syrup and sea salt.

cauliflower tacos5

Assembly:
1. Once the cauliflower is cooked, warm up tortillas for a few minutes in the oven.
2. Place a layer of the mango cabbage slaw down the centre of each tortilla.
3. Add some roasted cauliflower on top of each one.
4. Snip a tiny hole in the corner of the bag and gently squeeze the avocado crema to drizzle over top.
5. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

cauliflower tacos6

Watch this video to learn how to properly dine out at a Mexican taqueria.

No-Churn Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

This easy, no-churn vegan ice cream is going to become your new go-to treat this summer. It’s creamy, minty, refreshing and totally dairy-free. No need to feel guilty after eating a whole pint either; it’s sweetened only with dates and packed with nutrient-rich avocados, cashews and coconut. Top your bowl with a healthy drizzle of melted chocolate and you’ve got the perfect no-bake dessert.

vegan-mint-chip-ice-cream5

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes

Ingredients:
2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1 14 oz can full fat coconut milk
1 cup cashews
1 Tbsp coconut oil
10 dates
1/4 cup cacao nibs
3/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp liquid chlorophyll (for colour, optional)

vegan-mint-chip-ice-cream1

Chocolate Sauce Topping:
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp coconut oil

vegan-mint-chip-ice-cream4

Directions:
1. Place the can of coconut milk in the freezer for 2 hours or in the fridge overnight.
2. Soak the cashews for 2 hours and soak the dates in warm water for 15 minutes.
3. Once the coconut milk has chilled, open the can and remove the hard coconut cream from the top and pop it into your blender. Reserve the liquid, you can use it to make smoothies.
4. Drain the cashews and dates and add them to the blender with all ingredients except the cacao nibs. If your blender comes with a plunger use it to push the ingredients towards the blade while it’s blending. Or continue to stop, scrape down the sides and mix. This will take about 3-5 minutes.
5. Pour the ice cream into a parchment-lined loaf pan, using a silicon spatula to ensure you get it all out of the blender.
6. Mix in the cacao nibs until they’re well incorporated.
7. Cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap and freeze for 4 hours or until you’re ready to eat.
8. Make homemade chocolate sauce by melting chocolate chips in a double boiler, then spoon in coconut oil until silky; drizzle it directly on top of ice cream.

vegan-mint-chip-ice-cream6

Get 40 more delicious vegan dessert recipes here.

Photos by Sarah Grossman.

Why Sweet Potato Toast is All the Rage (+ 2 New Recipes!)

Sweet potato toast is all of the rage right now. Why, you may ask? Well, it’s paleo-friendly, inherently gluten-free, Instagram-worthy and just darn right delicious. Some people don’t feel great after eating bread first thing in the morning, and sometimes complain of crashing, bloating or feeling foggy. Sweet potato toast is a creative and nourishing alternative that provides your body with immune boosting antioxidants and helps regulates blood sugar. This makes it a perfect breakfast (or snack) for starting your day off on the right foot.

sweet-potato-toast-3

Show us your sweet potato toast creations @foodnetworkCA and tag #MyFNCRecipe.

Ingredients:

Fried Egg & Avocado Sweet Potato Toast:
2 sweet potato slices
1/2 avocado
Pinch of sea salt and pepper
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sunflower sprouts or pea shoots
2 eggs
1 Tbsp butter

sweet-potato-toast-1

Almond Butter, Apple & Banana Sweet Potato Toast:
2 sweet potato slices
2 Tbsp crunchy almond butter
1/4 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
1/3 banana, sliced
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp hemp seeds

sweet-potato-toast-4

Directions:

Fried Egg & Avocado Sweet Potato Toast:
1. Cut a sweet potato lengthwise into slices that are 1/4-inch thick.
2. Place 2 of these sweet potato slices in the toaster and toast for 10 minutes, flipping them after 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook 2 over-easy eggs. Heat 1 Tbsp of butter over medium-high and swirl around to coat the pan. Crack each egg into a small dish, like a ramekin, and pour into the pan. Flip the eggs after about 15-20 seconds and then cook for another 15-20 seconds. Remove the eggs and place on a separate plate.
4. Once the sweet potato slices are toasted, fan the avocado slices over them and place the over easy eggs on top.
5. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper over. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and pea shoot sprouts.

sweet-potato-toast-5

Almond Butter, Apple & Banana Sweet Potato Toast:
1. Cut a sweet potato lengthwise into slices that are 1/4-inch thick.
2. Place 2 of these sweet potato slices in the toaster and toast for 10 minutes, flipping them after 5 minutes.
3. Smear crunchy almond butter over the toast.
4. Fan a granny smith apple over one slice and bananas over the other.
5. Drizzle honey on top and sprinkle with cinnamon and hemp seeds.

Watch this handy guide to all things sweet potatoes, including how to select, store and cook them.

Photos by Sarah Grossman.

10 Food Scraps You Should Never Throw Away

Many of us are stuck in the conventional ways of food prep  throwing out rinds, tossing away stems and peeling off skin. Without knowing it, we’re discarding the best parts of fruits and veggies. In fact, some of the least thought about pieces have the most nutrition and flavour. Next time you’re cooking, make use of these nutritious fruit and veggie scraps.

888_keep-fruit-veggies

1. Apple Skin
Apple skin is often the first to go when using this fruit for cooking or baking. However, the skin actually has slightly more nutrition than the flesh. Rich in insoluble fibre, soluble fibre and vitamin C, these nutrients work to clean out the digestive system, remove toxins and waste from the body. The skin is also rich in quercetin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can reduce inflammation in the body. Most recipes call for removing the skin, but try leaving the skin intact — you may be surprised by the outcome!

2. Orange Peel
Most of the orange’s incredible nutrients actually lie in the peel and the pith, which is the white stringy part around the flesh. The pith contains a herperidin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and inflammation. The pith and peel also contain pectin, known as a fruit fibre, which helps to keep the body full while suppressing hunger. When peeling an orange to eat, remember to keep the pith layer on, and use leftover orange peel in baked goods, zested on chicken or fish and tossed into smoothies.

3. Fennel Fronds
Fennel is a delicious bulbous vegetable that tastes just like licorice. The fronds actually contain just as much nutrition as the bulb; however, they are often discarded along with the leaves and the core. The whole fennel plant is rich in vitamin C with potent anti-inflammatory compounds. The fronds, leaves and core should be kept to flavour soup stocks, baked goods and even fermented foods like sauerkraut.

4. Kale Stalks
While people love the nutritious leafy green, most tend to discard the stalks and only make use of the leaves. The stalks are loaded in insoluble fibre, which acts like a bristled sponge cleaning out the walls of the digestive system. Eating various parts of plants — leaves, stalks or stems — also provides the body with a mixture of different phytonutrients. Use kale stalks in soups, juices, smoothies and chop them finely to put in salads or sautees.

5. Cilantro Stems
When using herbs, we tend to only use the leaves and throw away the stems or roots. Cilantro stems and roots carry nutrition while also providing bold flavor and texture. This tasty herb helps control blood sugar and free radical production. The stems and roots are best used blended into soups, stews, salsas, guacamole and can even be juiced.

6. Broccoli Leaves and Stalks
Broccoli leaves and stalks are usually the first to go but they make a versatile, delicious and nutritious ingredient. The stalks have a ton of fibre, which is important for keeping the body regular. The leaves contain beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, antioxidants and folate, which supports red blood cell production. It’s no wonder broccoli leaves are being touted as the next kale! Use them in salads, steam them, sauté them, juice them and toss them into smoothies.

7. Celery Leaves
When eating celery we rarely think about celery leaves. Celery leaves look like a lighter version of flat leaf parsley and most of the time they are tossed away. The leaves have vitamin C, potassium and calcium which all work to support the immunity, healthy skin, the kidneys and control blood pressure. Celery leaves are perfect in soup stocks and great for juicing.

8. Beet Greens
Most people throw away the leafy greens that come with bunches of beets. These beet greens are very similar to Swiss chard in colour, flavour and nutrition. These greens contain a phytonutrient that keeps eyesight strong and prevents degeneration and cataracts. They also boast an array of vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein. Beet greens can be used for soups, sautées, smoothies, juices and salads.

9. Watermelon Rind
Watermelon is always a go-to snack in the summer, but the rind is usually left in the compost bin, with the white flesh intact. Citrulline, the nutrient in the white flesh is super powerful at fighting free radicals, preventing cancer and improving blood circulation. Some people even believe it to be a natural Viagra! Next time watermelon is on the table, remember to eat the white part too, or blend it up with some lime and mint for a refreshing beverage.

10 Cucumber Skin
The dark skin of cucumbers is often peeled off and tossed out, but the it contains more nutrition than the flesh. Cucumber skin contains vitamin K, which supports proper bone health and healthy blood clotting. If using the skin, wash the cucumber really well since it is often coated in a wax to prevent bruising during travel. Add to your smoothies, salads or make it into a cool soup.

6 Ways to Boost a Bland Recipe

We’ve all been there; after we’ve cooked up a storm, we go to taste our finished dishes only to find the flavour falls, well, flat. Something is missing, but we’re not quite sure what it is.

Our taste buds or receptors have five main components: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. When trying to identify what’s missing from a meal, it’s a good idea to think in terms of taste: does it need more sweetness, saltiness, etc. Next time your dish seems to be lacking flavour, reach for one of the six ingredients below.

888_boost-bland-recipe-new

1. Vinegar
Vinegar is the most common ingredient to boost a bland recipe. The acidity of vinegar can actually help to balance out the five tastes. My personal favorite is balsamic vinegar, as it not only adds acid but also adds notes of sweetness as well. An acid, depending on which one, can work to increase sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami tastes. Other wonderful vinegars include apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar and rice vinegar. Each of them have their place in boosting the flavour for particular cuisines – for instance, rice vinegar is very good at enhancing Asian fare. Vinegar is strong so if adding it to a dish, go slowly, you can always add more but you can’t take away!

2. Lemon
Lemon is one of my favourite ingredients to use to enhance a recipe. The acidity and sourness of a lemon works similarly to vinegar to boost and bring together flavours. You can even use the zest of a lemon to enhance a dish. Zest adds a refreshing flavour with hints of sweetness. If lemon isn’t your thing, try using limes, grapefruits or oranges for varying levels of acid and flavour.

3. Sea Salt
Salt is a classic seasoning to add to any dish when it is bland – but be careful, adding too much salt can ruin a dish. I have included sea salt instead of table salt because it has more of a boldness in flavour. Table salt has also gone through more processing and bleaching. Salt helps to bring out all other flavours while also adding saltiness. If you have specialty salts such as truffle salt, garlic salt or herb salt try using those to add different layers of flavour. Always remember, you can add more but you can’t take away!

4. Mustard
Mustard is a fantastic emulsifier that adds a creamy texture as well as a sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavour. A squirt of Dijon or whole grain mustard can go a long, long way. I especially like to use it in Mediterranean style dishes. There are many different mustards to choose from that can add a whole array of flavour to a bland dish.

5. Tamari
Tamari is a Japanese style soy sauce that can be gluten free and is usually a by-product of miso. This is one of the best ways to enhance a recipe. Simply because it is an Asian ingredient, it doesn’t need to be reserved for Asian cuisine only. Tamari is not as salty or harsh as traditional soy sauce, although it is quite salty. It has a natural sweetness and just a teaspoon can enhance a flavour profile hitting sweet, salty and umami notes.

6. Honey
Honey is a classic sweetener, it is not refined, like white sugar, although it is still incredibly sweet. Sometimes, a dish is simply missing more of a sweet flavour. Honey is so rich and sweet that only a little bit needs to be added. Take a bite of your recipe and if you feel like it’s missing a touch of sweet, slowly add honey half a teaspoon at a time. Remember the golden rule – you can always add more but you can’t take away!