All posts by Valerie Azinge

Valerie Azinge is a cookbook author and the founder of My Digital Kitchen, a food blog and dessert catering company with the mission to cater to multiple diets and happier, healthier lives. She has been featured in several publications like BuzzFeed, Food Network, The Huffington Post and many more.
West African mafe AKA peanut lentil stew - in a bowl

Vegan West African Peanut Lentil Stew: The Comfort Food You Need

This hearty and flavourful stew, also known as mafé, is one of many delicious delicacies that hails from West African cuisine. Traditional West African peanut stew uses ground peanuts and contains beef, but my Can You Vegan It? spin uses natural peanut butter since it’s more accessible, as well as lentils for extra protein. However, the sweet potatoes in this quick 45-minute dish perfectly seal the deal.

West African mafe AKA peanut lentil stew - in a bowl

West African Peanut Lentil Stew

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 tsp crushed red pepper (plus more to taste)
1 tsp kosher salt (plus more to taste)
½ tsp ground black pepper (plus more to taste)
2 tsp cumin (optional)
½ tsp cardamom (optional)
5 cups low-sodium vegetarian broth
1½ cups red lentils
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
1 (16 oz) can crushed tomatoes, with liquid
1 cup natural raw peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
Fresh chopped parsley for topping (optional)

West African mafe AKA peanut lentil stew ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, garlic and ginger in the hot oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with the crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, as well as the cumin and cardamom (if using).

Related: Best Vegan Soup and Stew Recipes You’ll Crave All Winter

2. Pour the broth over the mixture. Stir the lentils and sweet potatoes into the liquid and bring the mixture to a boil; reduce heat to low and cover the pot partially with a lid. Cook at a simmer for 15 minutes.

West African mafe AKA peanut lentil stew - in a bowl

3. Stir in the tomatoes and peanut butter. Turn up the heat slightly to medium-low. Cover the pot and continue cooking for another 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top with chopped parsley and serve.

West African mafe AKA peanut lentil stew - in a bowl

Like Valerie’s vegan mafé? Try her healthy sriracha-honey oven-fried chicken or her spicy vegan cassoulet.

vegan cassoulet in white dish

This Cozy Weeknight Cassoulet is Given a Spicy Vegan Makeover

A cozy weeknight favourite with a vegan spin, this French-inspired dish is booming with flavour and wholesome ingredients, while topped with a light panko crumb crust to add a nice crunch. While cassoulet traditionally contains meat, this Can You Vegan It? recipe gives the classic a plant-based twist. This recipe calls for harissa paste for a bit of a spicy kick, but if heat isn’t your thing, substitute black pepper in place of the paste. Plus, an added bonus: this meal all comes together in one pot and it takes just an hour to whip up!

vegan cassoulet in white dish

Spicy Vegan Cassoulet

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

3 medium leeks
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 large carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp ground cloves
1-1 ½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp harissa paste
3 (19 oz) cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups of water
1 ¾ cups organic panko crumbs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme

vegan cassoulet ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Cut and discard the green part of the leeks, leaving only the white and pale green parts to work with. Halve leeks lengthwise, then chop crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Place chopped leeks in a bowl or large strainer and rinse thoroughly until the sandy particles are gone.

2. Place a large Dutch oven pot over medium heat and add ¼ cup olive oil. Once heated, add leeks, carrots, zucchini, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, cloves, salt and harissa. Stir occasionally until veggies are semi soft and golden, about 15 minutes; then add in beans and water. Cook covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s One Pot Recipes That Will Make Dinner a Breeze

3. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, toss panko bread crumbs, 2 Tbsp olive oil, garlic powder and thyme. Place it on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes until toasted and light brown, stirring occasionally. Set aside and let it cool.

panko breadcrumbs roasted on cookie sheet

4. When the cassoulet is ready, discard bay leaf and parsley sprigs and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Top with toasted garlic panko before serving.

vegan cassoulet in white dish

Like Valerie’s vegan cassoulet? Try her low-carb vegan ramen or her healthy Sriracha-honey oven-fried chicken.

Plate of healthy fried chicken

This Healthy Sriracha-Honey Oven-Fried Chicken is Simply Delish

For all the fried chicken lovers out there who are looking for a much healthier way to enjoy delicious chicken — this paleo Sriracha-honey oven-fried chicken is right up your alley. It’s spicy, sweet and savoury, extremely flavourful and there’s no deep frying or oil required.

Plate of healthy fried chicken

Healthy Sriracha-Honey Oven-Fried Chicken

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serving: 4

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour
1 tsp flaky sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 eggs
1 lb chicken breasts or thighs (4-5 pieces)
⅓ cup Sriracha hot sauce
⅓ cup pure honey
1 tsp garlic powder
Fresh chives or parsley, for topping

Ingredients for healthy fried chicken on countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt and pepper. In a smaller bowl, whisk eggs.

Related: Our Best Budget-Friendly Chicken Recipes to Have on Rotation

3. Dip each chicken breast in the whisked eggs, then coat with almond flour mixture and place on the lined baking sheet. Store any leftover almond flour mixture in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator. This can be reused within 3 days.

Healthy fried chicken in batter on baking pan

4. Transfer the chicken to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

5. In the meantime, combine Sriracha hot sauce, honey and garlic powder in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the honey is melted and mixture is smooth. Turn off the heat and set the sauce aside.

Sauce for healthy fried chicken in pot

6. When ready, take the chicken out of the oven, then turn the oven settings to broil. Using a pastry brush, brush the Sriracha-honey sauce on the surface of the chicken until coated. Place the chicken back in the oven and broil for 3-5 minutes.

Pan full of healthy fried chicken

7. When ready, top with fresh chives or herb of choice. Serve immediately.

Like Valerie’s healthy Sriracha-honey chicken? Try her low-carb mint lamb burgers or her low-sugar persimmon creme brulee.

Ramen with tofu and bok choy in white bowl

This Hearty 20-Minute Vegan Zucchini Ramen Noodle Soup Will Not Disappoint

No matter what, you always found yourself eating ramen out of a microwaved bowl in college. It was soupy noodles and not much else. Imagine if you found a veggie-based recipe that was full of flavor, packed with protein, low carb and delicious. That’s exactly what this ramen is: healthy good food. In this Can You Vegan It? recipe, we swap eggs for tofu — further transforming this classic comfort food.

Ramen with tofu and bok choy in white bowl

Zucchini Ramen Noodle Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

¼ cup sesame oil, divided
4 baby bok choy, quartered
2 Tbsp yellow miso paste (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, chopped
2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
¼ cup coconut aminos
8 cups vegetable broth
½ tsp kosher salt
4 zucchinis, spiralized
4-6 omega-3 eggs, boiled, peeled and sliced or cooked tofu
2 3-oz (85 g) packages enoki mushrooms
1 cup scallions, diced

Related: Genius Ways to Hack a Pack of Ramen Noodles

Directions:

1. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bok choy to the skillet and cook for roughly 2 minutes on both sides until lightly charred. Remove the bok choy from the skillet and set it aside.

2. Add the remaining oil, then add the miso (if using), garlic, shallots, ginger and coconut aminos. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add the broth and salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, then add the zucchini. Let the soup simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with the bok choy, eggs (or tofu), enoki mushrooms and a topping of scallions.

Like Valerie’s ramen noodle soup? Try her zesty lamb burgers or her low sugar persimmon creme brulee.

front cover of 30-Minute Low-Carb DinnersReprinted with permission from 30-Minute Low-Carb Dinners by Valerie Azinge, Page Street Publishing Co. 2020. Photo credit: Valerie Azinge, Yasaman Shafiei and Kabir Ali.

30-Minute Low-Carb Dinners, Amazon, $23.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

The Perfect Fall Dessert: Healthy Low Sugar Persimmon Creme Brulee

This unique twist on the traditional creme brulee is an egg-free and sugar-conscious alternative that fits right into your fall dessert menu. Not only is it healthier — it mostly relies on a ripe persimmon for that creamy butterscotch-like sweetness — there’s no baking required. This dessert is a fun and fancy way to utilize persimmons during the fall season, especially since they are only around for a short time.

persimmon creme brulee

Persimmon Creme Brulee

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours, 35 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 medium very ripe persimmon, chopped
1 cup half and half creamer
⅓ cup + 4 Tbsp golden monk fruit sugar, divided
⅓ cup cornstarch
½ cup water
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Creme brulee ingredients

Directions:

1. Place the persimmon, creamer, ⅓ cup monk fruit sugar, cornstarch, water, sea salt and cinnamon in a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth. Pour the puree into a medium saucepan over medium heat and whisk until it thickens like a smooth custard and has no lumps. This should take about 25 minutes.

Persimmon creme brulee ingredients in blender

2. Divide the mixture between four ramekins that are 4 oz each. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight until solid.

Persimmon creme brulee ingredients divided into ramekins

3. When ready, let the creme sit at room temperature for 2 minutes. Top each ramekin with 1 Tbsp of monk fruit sugar, making sure the entire surface is equally coated. Melt the sugar with a brulee torch until golden brown or slightly darker if you prefer. You will get a golden brown-orange colour, since this is not a regular creme brulee.

Related: 17 Low-Sugar Dessert Recipes to Get You Through the Holiday Season

4. Let sit for 5 minutes until the sugar has crystallized. Garnish with persimmon slices and serve.

Like Valerie’s low-sugar creme brulee? Try her easy paleo butternut squash or 30-minute low-carb zesty lamb burgers.

Easy Paleo Butternut Squash Tart Recipe: Your Fave Seasonal Squash Transformed!

We can all agree that the fall season is popular for all things pumpkin, particularly pies and tarts. However, you can also enjoy delicious fall desserts by transforming another seasonal favourite into a tasty tart. Introducing this rustic paleo butternut squash tart, made with a grain-free crust and a decadent buttery filling. It’s easy to make and a great way to enjoy butternut squash all season long.

Paleo Butternut Squash Tart

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 55 to 60 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8

Ingredients:

Crust
1 ¼ cup almond flour
½ cup arrowroot starch or tapioca starch
1 Tbsp cane sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 stick unsalted cold butter, cubed
¼ cup ice water

Filling
2 cups cooked and pureed butternut squash
½ cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp paleo-approved brown sugar
4 ½ tsp arrowroot starch or tapioca starch
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted room temperature butter
2 eggs
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ cup warm water

Tip: To save time, you can purchase frozen prepared butternut squash cubes. Heat them up with 1.5 Tbsp of water in the microwave on high for five minutes. Puree in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Directions:

1. In a large bowl or a food processor, start by combining the almond flour, starch, sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter until the batter is crumbly. Add in 1 tsp of ice water at a time until the dough starts coming together. You may not need the full ¼ cup of ice water in the event that your dough already sticks together, so play it by ear. Once your dough is formed, but not too sticky, flatten it out into a 1 inch disk and wrap in saran wrap. Refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

Related: The Ultimate Squash Guide: All the Varieties and Their Best Uses

2. When your dough is ready to roll out, remove from the fridge and preheat your oven to 350°F. Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper into a 10 inch round disk. If you find that the dough is too hard to roll, leave it at room temperature for about a minute. Remove the parchment paper and transfer the dough into a greased 10-inch round tart pan. Press the dough into the pan until all the edges are covered, then return it to the fridge.

3. Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, mix for 3 minutes until you get a smooth batter. It’s normal to see tiny clumps of butter in the batter after mixing.

4. Pour the filling into the tart crust and place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Place the tart in the oven and bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. When ready, cool the tart on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Serve with toppings of choice.

Like Valerie’s paleo butternut squash tart? Try her 30-minute low-carb lamb burger recipe.

BBQ These 30-Minute Low-Carb Mint Lamb Burgers for Dinner Tonight

“This heavenly, satisfying burger is one of the many reasons I look forward to eating dinner at your house.” A true quote from my dear mother, who is also happy being my guinea pig whenever I’m testing meat recipes. These juicy, hot off the grill, zesty mint lamb burgers will have your mouth watering before they even hit your plate. Added bonus: they’re low-carb and can be made in 30 minutes!

Related: Satisfying Weeknight Recipes Where Veggies Replace Carbs

Zesty Mint Lettuce Lamb Burgers

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 burgers

Ingredients:

Burger
1 lb (454 g) ground lamb
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp (6 g) chopped mint leaves
1 shallot, minced
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch kosher salt and ground black pepper

For Serving
1 head butter lettuce
1 red pepper, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
2 cups (400 g) store-bought zucchini chips (optional)

Related: Our 80 Most Popular Burger Recipes

1. To make the burgers, fire up the grill or grill pan to medium heat. I used a grill pan for this recipe. While the grill pan is heating up, mix the ground lamb with garlic, mint, shallot, lime juice, salt and pepper. Form 4 equal-sized lamb patties.

2. Now comes the fun step: grill the lamb burgers for approximately 4 minutes per side, making sure to only turn them once. You can also enjoy listening to the lovely sizzle in the pan while these burgers are cooking.

3. When the burgers are ready, it’s building time. Layer the lamb burgers on the lettuce leaves with red peppers and onions. Serve with zucchini chips, if desired.

Want more summertime grilling recipes? These pork banh mi burgers and grilled stuffed zucchini boats are sure to impress.

Reprinted with permission from 30-Minute Low-Carb Dinners by Valerie Azinge, Page Street Publishing Co. 2020. Photo credit: Valerie Azinge, Yasaman Shafiei and Kabir Ali.

30-Minute Low-Carb Dinners, Amazon, $23.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.