Category Archives: Healthy Eating

The Perfect Vegan Lasagna

It’s a vegan lasagna! I’m sure Italians would kill me for putting vegan and lasagna in the same sentence, but it’s delicious and very easy to make.

It may look like a lot of work, but the only thing that takes time is the baking of the lasagna. Everything else is just prep, and you can do it all in 25 minutes. If you plan ahead, you can make both sauces and the tofu ricotta, and keep them in the fridge until your ready to assemble and bake the lasagna for dinner.

Vegan-lasagna-recipe

Tomato Sauce Ingredients:
1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp light vegetable oil (sunflower or grapeseed oil)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp each of fresh chopped basil and parsley
1 Tbsp fresh or dried oregano
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground pepper

Directions:
1. In a heavy sauce pan, sauté onion in oil for 1 to 2 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and herbs and stir into the onions and garlic sauteing for another 2 minutes.
2. Next add the crushed tomatoes, sea salt, and ground pepper. Simmer on low heat for 30 to 45 minutes while you prep the rest of the components for the lasagna.

Note: You could also just buy a jar of your favourite pasta sauce and use that.

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Tofu Ricotta Ingredients:
1 block extra firm tofu, crumbled
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Directions:
1. Crumble the tofu into small pieces (resembling ricotta cheese) with your hands. Add in the remaining ingredients and combine with a fork.
2. Keep in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the lasagna.

Note: Tofu ricotta is optional. Alternatively you could use ONLY daiya mozzarella shreds in the layers, in which case you’ll need to use 1 whole bag instead of 1 cup as listed below.

Bechamel (White Sauce) Ingredients:
1/2 cup silken tofu
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions:
Put all these ingredients in a blender and combine until smooth.

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Layer Ingredients:
1 pack of ready-bake lasagna noodles (gluten-free brown rice noodles also work well)
1 cup daiya mozzarella shreds
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp vegan parmesan (optional)
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 cup carrot ribbons
4 cups baby spinach
1 tsp light cooking oil (sunflower or grapeseed oil)

Directions:
1. You can make nice carrot ribbons using a vegetable peeler or you can shred the carrot with a cheese grater.
2. Partially cook the zucchini and carrot in a pan over low to medium heat with 1 tsp of sunflower or grapeseed oil. Set them aside on a dish and use the same pan to cook the spinach.
3. Get the spinach wilted and soft but don’t overcook it. It should still be bright green. If you want to use frozen spinach just make sure you thaw and drain out the water.

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How to Layer the Lasagna:
Once all your ingredients are prepped and ready, use a deep 9-inch glass baking dish to assemble the lasagna in. Lightly coat the inside of the dish with 1 Tbsp of olive oil you can spread around evenly with your hand.

The lasagna can be assembled however you want, but here’s what I did:
1. Pour a quarter of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the dish and spread out an even layer with a spoon.
2. Add one layer of noodles across. You might need to break them in half and you can overlap the noodles if they don’t fit perfectly in the dish.
3. Then take half the amount of tofu ricotta and spread it evenly over the noodles (if you’re just using Daiya then skip this).
4. Take 1/3 cup of Daiya mozzarella shreds and sprinkle over top (if you’re only using Daiya than you can use more to your liking here).
5. Use up all the spinach as the next layer.
6. Pour half the white sauce evenly over the top being sure to get some of it down the sides of the dish.
7. Add another quarter of the tomato sauce.
8. Add another noodle layer, turning the noodles the opposite direction from the first layer.
9. Use the other half of the tofu ricotta as the next layer (if you’re just using Daiya skip this).
10. Take another 1/3 cup of Daiya mozzarella shreds and sprinkle over top of the tofu ricotta (if you’re only using Daiya than you can use more to your liking here).
11. Add the zucchini and carrots in an alternating fashion as one layer.
12. Pour the remaining white sauce evenly over top.
13. Add another quarter of the tomato sauce on top of the white sauce.
14. Then add one more layer of noodles and the remaining tomato sauce on top.
15. Add the last 1/3 cup of Daiya mozzarella shreds and vegan Parmesan as the topping.

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Directions:
1. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400°F covered with foil for 40 minutes. Then remove the foil and turn the broiler to high and bake for 10 minutes.
2. Allow the lasagna to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting and serving.

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gluten-free-eating

8 Great Tips for Going Gluten Free

In a column I once wrote for Food Network Canada, I used to sign off with a jokey bio: “Devon will eat anything except roasted silkworm and bananas.” To me, that was a punchy way of expressing my food philosophy — that eating is not just a physiological necessity, but an opportunity for adventure.

I’ve approached food like that my whole life, from my early days as the kid who breathlessly described her first sushi dinner to her disgusted small town classmates (it was the 80’s, and sushi was still weird in rural Ontario), to the grown-up who suffered multiple bouts of food poisoning in search of Asia’s best street food (mango sticky rice in Chiang Mai? Crispy kimchi pajeon in Seoul? I can’t decide.)

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Anna Olson’s Vegetable Pad Thai is gluten-free.

So learning that I have a severe gluten intolerance has been a blow to my identity as a culinary adventurer. If you’re reading this today because you can’t eat it either, I feel for you. Yes, there are worst problems, but food restrictions are not fun, especially when that restriction covers so many delicious items and especially when you’re a die-hard foodie.

But I’m not going to stop exploring new culinary frontiers just because my eating passport is missing a few visas, and you shouldn’t either. Here’s what I’ve learned in my first year of gluten-free eating.

1. Get Tested

Testing for celiac disease requires a gluten-filled diet, since current tools measure inflammatory reactions, either in the blood or gut. If, like me, you stopped eating gluten before being tested, the only way to get accurate results is to start eating it again. In many cases that’s not medically advisable. When I tried reintroducing, my reaction was so severe my gastroenterologist advised me to stop. As he said, it doesn’t really matter whether I have celiac disease or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) — an emerging, though still poorly understood diagnosis — because for reactions like mine, the prescription is the same; no gluten.

If you’re celiac, tests will confirm that eating gluten is dangerous to your health and you can never eat it again. But, if you’re not, there’s a possibility you might have some latitude, for instance, you might be okay eating whole grains, like simple barley, but not more processed products, like pizza crust. Or maybe you have a wheat allergy, but can still tolerate grains like rye — it’s always best to check with a doctor to help find out.

Balance Cookie

Anna Olson’s Balance Cookies are gluten-free.

2. Hone Your Elevator Speech

Missing out on your favourite foods is hard, but it’s not the hardest part: social eating situations are. I hated losing my identity as a non-picky eater, and in the early days of my intolerance, I’d do anything to try and keep it. At restaurants, I’d inform servers that I couldn’t eat gluten, then qualify the warning with something that made me feel less difficult, like “but it’s not an anaphylactic thing, so I won’t die if you mess up.” Although true, that little qualifier meant staff didn’t take me seriously, and predictably, I got sick. Bottom line: celiac disease and NCGS are serious conditions with real health implications that deserve attention. These days I call ahead to let kitchen staff know about my restrictions. Sometimes I’m disappointed to discover restaurant staff are ill-informed and ill-prepared for my dietary needs, other times I’ve been pleasantly surprised, like when I recently learned my favourite Dutch-Indonesian restaurant cooks with gluten-free soy sauce.

I do the same thing ahead of parties, although with private events, I’ll offer to bring my own food if the host is unable or unsure how to accommodate. Bottom line: don’t be shy to voice your needs, and do be prepared to educate others on what a safe meal means for you.

3. Stick to Naturally Gluten-Free Foods

These days you can’t cruise a grocery store aisle without seeing an advertisement for a gluten-free product, but not all gluten-free foods are created the same. Most treats that aim to emulate their gluten-filled counterparts — think bread, cake mixes and pizza crusts — rely on super-refined flours and artificial stabilizers. They’re fine for the occasional treat, but the tastiest (and healthiest) gluten-free foods tend to be the ones that never needed gluten in the first place. Choose starches like corn tortillas, crunchy seed crackers, fluffy rice and quinoa or flavourful buckwheat pancakes. Enjoy the fact that meat, fish, legumes, cheese, fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free.

4. Know Your Allies

Start on a restricted diet and you’ll soon learn just how many people avoid select ingredients, whether they do so because of allergies, intolerance, or religious and ethical considerations. In my experience, your fellow restricted dieters are often the most accepting and helpful; the more niche their diet, the more helpful they’re likely to be. In other words, vegetarian restaurants are good, vegan, paleo or raw restaurants are better. I’ve discovered a whole new world of delicacies — like rich hemp seed ice cream — because they were produced with vigilance.

Beet Risotto

Anna Olson’s Beet Risotto is gluten-free.

5. Eat These Cuisines 

In areas where corn is a staple, like Latin America, much of the food will be naturally gluten-free. Plus, it’s hard to feel deprived when digging into a cheesy corn-tortilla nachos or a saucy arepa.

Same goes for India, where rice and lentils are prominent, or Ethiopian food with its teff-based injera. A word of caution: many Asian cuisines that seem gluten-free employ soy sauce, which is typically cultured with wheat. That said, Vietnamese pho, rice noodles and rice wraps are generally a solid bet, as is a much Thai food, which is often seasoned with fish sauce instead of soy. Surprisingly many Italian markets and restaurants offer solid choices, since awareness of celiac disease is quite high in that country. Cuisines that focus on simple preparations of meat, fish and vegetable, like Greek or Japanese food, often have tasty options.

6. Read Labels and Ask Questions

Just because you had a fabulous gluten-free injera at one Ethiopian restaurant doesn’t mean they don’t add wheat flour at another. Know the tricky ingredients — packaged soup stocks, sauces and spice mixes can contain unexpected gluten — and be prepared to educate friends, family and servers about them. Packaged ingredients can change, restaurant management can turn over, friends can forget, and cross contamination is real, so be vigilant. It never hurts to stash an emergency snack in your car or purse, just in case.

7. Experiment

Bakers beware: Although there are many gluten-free flour mixes, whether store-bought or homemade, each behaves differently, depending on its exact composition. In the beginning, it’s best to start with one, learn its properties and master a few recipes before moving on to the next blend and finding the one you like best. Be prepared to experience the frustrations and joys of learning to bake all over again. And don’t forget to search Foodnetwork.ca for gluten-free baking tips:  Anna Olson has some particularly drool-worthy recipes.

8. Explore

I’m still holding out for the day researchers develop a gluten-busting pill that works like Lactaid does for the lactose intolerant, but until that day comes (and there’s reason to believe it may be soon), I’m not going to stop exploring. In many ways, gluten-free eating has forced me into a new era of creative cookery, as I try to recreate favourite flavours and seek out new, safe, treats. Focus on what you can eat and as much as possible, try to emphasize discovery over deprivation. Happy eating!

Vegan Cashew Cheese

Making Vegan Cheese at Home is Easier Than You Think

You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy vegan cheese, but it helps if you crave a rich, creamy spread that’s easy to make and works in a variety of recipes and applications.

If that sounds delicious, well, it is. Just ask Toronto chef Doug McNish. The classically trained chef turned vegan, and author of Vegan Everyday, says that in addition to great flavour and texture, swapping dairy for nut or seed-based cheese carries significant health benefits, too, as they’ve got lower cholesterol and heart healthy fats.

Once-upon-a-grocery-store, waxy, highly processed iterations were giving vegan cheeses a bad name, but these days chefs are concocting ambitious non-dairy cheeses, aging and fermenting them into fanciful creations like vegan Bries and Camemberts, and even vegan blues. They’re delicious, but McNish doesn’t recommend replicating them at home — unless you have a science degree and a cheese cave. For most of us, a simple, spreadable soft cheese is a great starting point.

McNish’s cashew ricotta (see below) is a classic entry level recipe, made by soaking raw cashews until soft, then blending them with lemon juice, sea salt, red peppers, garlic and cheesy tasting, B12-packed nutritional yeast. The resulting spread tastes great on crackers or toast, and makes a hearty, filling lasagna ingredient.

Cashew Vegan Cheese

Experiment by adding herbs or roasted vegetables, or swapping pumpkin seeds for nuts (just be sure to add a glug of olive oil to make up for the lost fat when substituting seeds). Cashews are the easiest, creamiest nut to work with, but any high-fat, raw nut will do.

Doug McNish’s Herbed Cashew Ricotta Cheese 

Ingredients:
4 cups raw cashews, soaked for 30 minutes and divided
1 cup red pepper, roughly chopped
2 tsp dry dill
1/2 cup lemon juice, divided
4 peeled garlic cloves
1 Tbsp fine sea salt
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup water, divided

Directions: 
1. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process red pepper, dill, 1/4 cup lemon juice, garlic, salt, nutritional yeast and 1/4 cup water. Process mixture until smooth with no large pieces remaining. Add 2 cups of soaked cashews, and process again until smooth, stopping the machine as necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula. Remove from the food processor and transfer to a mixing bowl.
2. In a blender, combine remaining cashews, lemon juice and water. Blend until smooth and creamy, stopping the machine as necessary to scrape down the sides. Combine the pureed cashews from the blender with the cashews from the food processor. Using a rubber spatula fold the two together until well combined. Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the cashews to chill and slightly firm up. Serve immediately or store refrigerated for up to 7 days.

Tip: To soak the cashews for this recipe, place in a bowl and cover with 8 cups water. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes or overnight. If storing overnight, refrigerate. Drain, discarding soaking water.

Looking for more delicious recipes? Try these 25 Vegan Desserts Even Non-Vegans Will Love.

Does Chicken Soup Really Cure a Cold?

Cozying up with a bowl of chicken soup certainly feels good this time of year, whether you’re on the mend or feeling in top form. If you happen to catch a cold, you’re probably looking for anything that will help ease those aches, soothe your tender throat and clear your sinuses. And while chicken soup is certainly comforting, can it really help make you feel better?Here, we dive into the facts to uncover the truth behind this old (and tasty) kitchen remedy.

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Fact: Chicken soup helps relieve congestion.

Enjoying a bowl of chicken soup can help ease congestion, according to Mayo Clinic. Warm liquids, like the savoury broth in chicken soup, make your nose run (in a good way), working to clear uncomfortable nasal congestion. The more your nose runs, the better, as this means the virus has less contact time with the lining of your nose.

Try this recipe: Tyler Florence’s Chicken Noodle Soup

Fact: Chicken soup can rehydrate you.

Eating and drinking when you have a cold can seem highly unappealing, but staying hydrated is key to a quick recovery. Chicken broth delivers hydration along with a bit of salt so your body retains the liquids more effectively.

Try this recipe: Ina Garten’s Chicken Soup 

Fiction: Chicken soup can boost your immune system.

You can’t truly “boost” you immune system, but you can support it — and chicken soup may help in this area with its rich mineral profile. Your body needs energy (calories) for recovery, and chicken soup brings this in a highly digestible form, especially helpful when you don’t feel like eating. And, the ingredients in chicken soup, like garlic, onion and carrots contain potent immune-supportive compounds.

Try this recipe: Michael Smith’s Roast Chicken Noodle Soup

Fact: Chicken soup has medicinal properties.

Surprisingly, it might. A study published in the journal Chest discussed blood samples of volunteers given chicken soup. These samples showed that the soup lessened the movement of neutrophils, which may be beneficial to the upper respiratory tract (where colds tend to linger). While this is just one study, it may make that soup you’re eating taste just a little better.

Try this recipe: Ricardo Larrivée’s Chicken Noodle Soup

Fact: Chicken soup eases an upset stomach.

A common cold can make your stomach ache, and while inherently flavourful, a classic (not spicy!) chicken soup is mild, cold-friendly food. Homemade versions, made with chicken bones, have the added benefit of gelatin, which can nourish the intestinal tract.

Try this recipe: Chuck Hughes’ Chicken Soup with Ground Chicken Meatballs

Fact: Chicken soup makes you feel better, faster.

While researchers realize there’s a bit of a placebo effect going on, slurping up chicken soup may help to speed up recovery thanks to its rich protein content, a macronutrient needed in larger amount for those who are sick.

Try this recipe: Awesome Chicken Soup for the Lazy Soul

Verdict:

Though it may not “cure” the common cold, research shows promise that the combination of the mineral-rich broth, lean protein and easy-to-digest cooked vegetables helps to make you feel better in an almost magic way.

Even if you’re on the fence about the science, it’s tough to argue about the comfort food factor chicken soup brings in both its aroma and taste. Enjoy one of our many chicken soup recipes and get well soon.

How to Decode Food Labels Like a Pro

There are dozens of unregulated, meaningless terms that pop up on food packaging. It’s not just convenience and processed foods that have hard-to-decipher nutrition labels and buzzwords — whole grains, eggs, milk and more display this industry slang — leaving many consumers confused about what they’re actually eating.

We’re constantly wooed by food packaging, with terms like “superfood” and “fresh” catching our eye, which is exactly what they’re designed to do. Even if you know better (for the most part), it’s easy to be swayed into purchasing something (expensive or unhealthy) that you don’t actually need.

Consider this your back pocket guide to deciphering food buzzwords like a pro.

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Food Packaging Terms:

Natural/All-Natural
Natural and all-natural labels are unregulated terms that mean absolutely nothing, and are frequently used in the wellness sphere. Packages will often showcase pastoral images of grass and farms, while keeping the colour palette in “natural” pastels. Skip anything that’s parading this label around, and look at the ingredient list — the briefer, the better.

Superfood
Another unregulated term that doesn’t legally mean anything. Superfoods often include things like cacao nibs and goji berries, which are nutrient-dense ingredients, but they won’t make you healthier per se. Eating foods rich in nutrients, like fresh vegetables and berries, is a tastier, more economical way to enjoy superfoods. Of course, if you love the taste of cacao nibs and goji berries, go ahead and eat them in moderation as part of a balanced, whole food diet.

Organic/Certified Organic
This term is very tricky and differs in Canada and the U.S. In Canada, by law, foods displaying the organic claim need to contain at least 70 per cent or more organic ingredients (grown according to organic standards), and must also mention who certified it. Foods that voluntarily stamp on the Organic Canada logo must contain at least 95 per cent organic ingredients, all of which are certified by the Organic Canada Regime. The organic ingredients in these products must be produced in accordance with Canadian Organic Standards. Imported products, from the U.S. and beyond, that claim to be organic and display the Organic Canada logo, must include the words “Product of” with the country of origin or state that it was “Imported.”

Finally, “organic” does not mean a product is healthy. A box of organic cookies and non-organic cookies will be identical in terms of sugar, fat and calories — the organic version is just more expensive.

Multigrain
Most shelf-stable bread is full of sugar and preservatives, with “multigrain” varieties rarely being the healthiest option. Many whole wheat, whole grain and multigrain varieties often have food colouring added to make them appear browner. Multigrain doesn’t always mean that the product is made with the whole grain or whole grains. Words such as “bran,” “wheat germ” and “enriched flour” may sound healthy, but they’re never used to describe whole grains.

Instead of shelf-stable varieties of bread, go for a local, naturally fermented sourdough. It’s tastier, easier to digest and won’t leave you looking for a post-carb nap. This bread can be sliced and frozen as it won’t keep on the counter for more than a day due to (thankfully) lack of preservatives.

Reduced Fat
Food product labels claiming to be “reduced fat” often have more calories, additives and stabilizers than their original version. This is most prevalent in peanut butter and cookies, with reduced fat products delivering more calories, sugar, carbohydrates and chemicals than your body knows what to do with. We suggest making your own cookies and choosing a one-ingredient peanut butter.

Immune Boosting
You can’t actually boost your immune system, so back away from any food claiming to do so. You can certainly support your immune system with a healthy diet rich in vitamins, minerals and probiotics, like these fun (label-free) Strawberry Kiwi Greek Yogurt Popsicles.

Gluten-Free
Those with celiac disease must avoid all gluten-containing grains, making the popularity of this food trend a good thing for improved accessibility and awareness. However, with only 1 per cent of the population having celiac disease, it’s likely more of a marketing move to make consumers reach for it as the “healthier” option. Like organic cookies being equally as unhealthy as the non-organic version, gluten-free foods can be more refined, sugary and chemical-laden than their gluten-containing counterparts. Head to the produce aisle for honestly gluten-free foods like kale, bananas and beets.

Fresh
When you see the word “fresh” on a food label, which is unregulated and means nothing in terms of nutrition, put it back on the shelf. For truly “fresh” foods, shop the perimeter of the grocery store, choosing foods such as vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, eggs and dairy.

Next time you head to the store, arm yourself with this cheat sheet and choose more wholesome ingredients to cook from scratch. Luckily, we have hundreds of delicious recipes to get you started with this — and that’s a statement you can trust.

11 Easy Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

When you’re off to college or university for the first time, you have to take care of a few things, like tuition and books. But don’t forget to take care of yourself when it comes to a healthy diet. Eating nutrient-dense foods also means better brain health, so you’ll be able to ace those exams with your eyes closed. Of course, eating wholesome, nutritious foods can be quite expensive — unless you follow these nutritionist-approved tips.

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1. Make a Meal Plan
Sketching out a meal plan for the week is essential for focused, affordable grocery shopping. If you don’t have a plan of what you’re going to make for dinner and pack for lunches, you’ll likely run out for convenience food, which costs far more than a homemade meal. If you have roommates or housemates, get them involved as well; this will make the task more fun and you can split the grocery bill.

2. Embrace Plant-Based Protein
Meat and seafood can be expensive to eat every night, so rely on canned beans and dry lentils, both wildly affordable, for a plant-based source of protein a few times a week. Canned beans can be enjoyed in a salad, dressed up with a bit of spice for a salsa or mashed as a quesadilla filling. Lentils cook up in less than 30 minutes, and can cost less than $5 for a large bag at the grocery store.

3. Make Coffee At Home
Make coffee at home throughout the week and save your café-going for weekends and exam season. Depending on your order, you could be saving about $20 per week. You don’t even need a bulky coffee machine, just a kettle and French press. This guide from Detour Coffee shows you how to make a French press coffee at home (or in a dorm room). Pack in a travel mug and you’re all set for that early morning lecture.

4. Cook Once, Eat Twice
Make a double batch of your dinner and stop paying upwards of $8 for lunch tomorrow. Though I’ve been out of university for many years now, I’ve kept to this this habit in my working life. I make a large stew, like this Spicy Red Lentil Vegetable Stew (serves 8!) on Sunday to eat for lunch the following week.

5. Invest in Locking Glass Containers
These can cost a bit more than plastic containers up front, but unless you break the glass (which is very hard to do), you don’t have to replace them as often, if ever. I’ve been using my glass containers for many years and continue to pack them up with homemade meals for affordable days out and about. Pack yogurt, fruit and granola in them for breakfast, grain salads, sandwiches or leftovers for lunch, or snacks for late night cram sessions.

6. Stick to Classic Superfoods
Healthy ingredients like broccoli, bananas, beets, onions, sunflower seeds, raisins, eggs, lentils, black beans and plain yogurt aren’t expensive, and remain some of the most wholesome foods you can eat. You don’t have to eat all those hyped-up superfoods to be healthy, so keep it simple with the classics.

7. Skip the Pre-Packaged and Prepared Foods
You can make a salad yourself for about $1 (maybe even less) and skip the $8-plus pre-made salad from the store. Buy a large pack of lettuce to last the week and garnish with hardboiled eggs, chopped cucumber, sunflower seeds and dried fruit. Olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a bit of salt are all the ingredients you need to dress it up. Some salads, like this hearty Kale and Quinoa salad from Valerie Bertinelli, can be kept pre-made in the refrigerator all week long.

8. Visit the Bulk Food Store
I love getting spices from a bulk food store or bulk bins at the grocery store. I can purchase very small quantities if I know I’m not going to use it very often or I’m just looking to “sample” it in a new recipe. Small quantities of spices, which can really add a load of flavour to a meal, can cost under a dollar, compared to jarred spices, which can run you $5 or more per jar.

9. Your New Favourite Snack
Apples and peanut butter are where it’s at. Go for natural, unsalted peanut butter, and season it yourself. If you have it handy, a sprinkle of cinnamon makes this feel gourmet. Protein, fibre, healthy fats and a bit of salty-sweet crunch make apples and peanut butter a snack that almost feels like dessert.

10. Eat Seasonally
Eat produce that’s in season and local in your area. In-season foods, like apples appearing in fall, for instance, are often more affordable than out-of-season produce or produce flown from across the world.

11. Student Discount Days
Often, university and college towns and cities will have days of the week (usually a weekday), where students are offered a discount. Though you’ll likely face a crowd, this savings can really pay off on your final bill.

Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Ice cream equals summer. But for those that can’t enjoy dairy versions, there’s an extremely healthy solution to satisfy your ice cream cravings.

This vegan peanut butter chocolate chip ice cream uses frozen bananas as its base, creating the smooth and creamy texture of regular ice cream, just without the cream (and calories!). You’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven after you try this.

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Ingredients (1 serving):
2 sliced and frozen bananas
2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
3 Tbsp raw cacao nibs
Pinch sea salt
Drizzle of agave (or maple syrup), optional

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Directions:
1. Place frozen banana slices in a food processor and run the machine until it resembles a crumb like consistency.
2. Add peanut butter, cacao nibs, sea salt and agave, and whiz a little longer until you get a soft-serve ice cream consistency.

Tip: You can add many other things to this frozen banana ice cream base. Try candied nuts, almond butter or another favourite nut butter, cinnamon, frozen blueberries, chopped dates, candied ginger… The options are endless.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

11 Tasty Ways to Eat More Broccoli

We’re always on the lookout for quick and easy recipes that pack a punch when it comes to both flavour and nutrients, so it’s no surprise that broccoli landed on our list of must-eats. Here are some of our favourite ways to add more of this vibrant green veggie to your diet.

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1. Broccoli with Bow Ties and Peas

2. Mean Green Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Recipe

3. Broccoli Frittata Recipe

4. Beef with Broccoli

5. Mini Chicken and Broccoli Pot Pies

6. Broccoli Dust Recipe

7. Broccoli Orecchiette, Courgette & Bocconcini Salad, Prosciutto & Melon Salad

8. Fresh Broccoli Salad

9. Chinese Crispy Beef & Broccoli Noodles with Kung Pao Chili Oil

10. Mae’s Broccoli Cheddar Salad Recipe

11. Chinese Broccoli Recipe

BBQ Tempeh Banh Mi with Pickled Carrots and Cabbage

You can enjoy the fresh flavour combination of a traditional Vietnamese-style banh mi — but with no meat at all! This simple sandwich is a great meatless Monday option and you’ll be craving the left overs all week. You’ve probably seen a vegetarian take on the classic banh mi made with tofu, but we like the heartiness and bold flavour of tempeh. Smothered with sweet BBQ sauce, it goes perfectly with a quick-pickled cabbage and carrots, crunchy cucumbers, spicy jalapenos and citrusy cilantro.

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 4 sandwiches

Ingredients:
1 brick/package tempeh (250 g)
½ cup favourite BBQ sauce
¼ cup water
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup carrot ribbons (or shredded)
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp raw sugar
½ tsp ground mustard
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
1 long French-style baguette (divided into 4 pieces) OR 4 crusty rolls
½ cup vegan mayonnaise
3 field cucumbers, thinly sliced or shaved
¼ cup pickled jalapenos
1 cup cilantro leaves

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
2. Slice tempeh into approximately ¼” thick slices. Whisk together your favorite BBQ sauce with ¼ cup water and marinate tempeh for 20 minutes in the fridge.
3. In small pot combine white wine vinegar with ½ cup water, minced garlic, raw sugar, ground mustard, cumin seeds, sea salt and ground pepper and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat, and submerge cabbage and carrots in the liquid. Refrigerate until ready to assemble sandwiches.
4. Lay marinated tempeh slices onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through baking time.
5. Prepare the baguette/buns by spreading 1 Tbsp of vegan mayonnaise on the inside of each side of the bun.
6. Shake excess liquid off pickled cabbage and carrots, and place a small handful on the bottom bun. Place a couple slices of baked tempeh on top and add cucumber, cilantro and pickled jalapenos.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

Fizzy, Fermented Kombucha 101

Perspective is everything when it comes to kombucha, a fizzy fermented tea and ancient drink that is trendy (again).

Is it a cure-all, a probiotic health elixir that combats digestive issues? Is it an expensive and over-hyped panacea? Is it – a drink that’s fermented by adding a slimy symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast to sweetened tea – just a little bit weird?

SCOBY

The SCOBY, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, is responsible for fermenting the kombucha. Image courtesy The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

You’ll have to decide for yourself, but one thing is for sure: kombucha is delicious, and despite the high cost of buying it in health food stores, it’s cheap and easy to make at home.

Kombucha is created by adding a culture, called a SCOBY, to caffeinated, unflavoured, sweetened tea. As the SCOBY eats the sugar, the tea becomes tart and fizzy — the longer it’s left to ferment, the tarter and fizzier it becomes, eventually turning into vinegar. Once the initial fermentation is complete — in anywhere from five to 14 days — the kombucha can be enjoyed as is, or flavoured with fruit and herbs, and fermented a second time for a naturally fizzy, flavoured drink.

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Kombucha can be flavoured with fruits and herbs. Image courtesy The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.
From The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

All you need are clean glass jars, sugar, plain green, white or black tea, and a SCOBY, and you can easily be making this bubbly, trendy brew at home. The easiest way to grow a SCOBY is to order one online or get one from a friend. Each new batch of kombucha will produce a new SCOBY, so one is all you need to get started. SCOBYs can sometimes be grown from a bottle of store-bought kombucha, although this method is less consistent.

Image courtesy The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

Image courtesy The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

If you’ve never tried kombucha before, it’s a good idea to sample a few varieties first. Kombucha is infinitely customizable, and knowing how you like yours is the starting point for delicious flavour experiments.

Kombucha can be brewed in large continuous batches for an everlasting supply (continuous method) or in smaller batches (batch method). Although the supply list and method can seem a bit daunting for first-time fermenters, it’s actually quite simple once you get into the swing of things.

Ready to try brewing your own kombucha? We’ve got you covered:
How to Batch Brew Kombucha
How to Brew Continuous Kombucha

10 Pantry Staples This Nutritionist Can’t Live Without

Keeping a well-stocked pantry is always a top priority — menu planning and impromptu meals are made easy when I have what I need at hand. Building a healthy pantry takes time and can be overwhelming to shop for in one go, so start small. Go for one or two of the following recommendations and before you know it, a treasure trove of healthy cooking goodies will be at your disposal. The bulk food store is your best friend in the case for many of these goods, so stock up.

From canned beans to oils to grains to natural sweeteners, here’s a list of nutrient-filled pantry stars you should bring into your kitchen today.

1. Coconut Oil

The virgin variety of coconut oil, known for its luscious tropical taste, is heat-stable up to 350°F. I like to use this in place of butter for dairy-free baking, in smoothies, to sauté vegetables and as a foundation for coconut milk-based curries by toasting the spices in it. Coconut oil is one of my favourite ways to incorporate some healthy fats into my daily diet.

Try coconut oil in place of butter in pastry: Vegan Sweet Potato and Kale Galette with Pistachio Parmesan

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2. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

EVOO contains anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats and cell-protecting antioxidants. I use the extra-virgin variety for salad dressings, to garnish soups and grains, and even bake with it. More refined “light” olive oils are better for high-temperature roasting (325°F plus) as they’re less likely to oxidize.

Try baking with EVOO: Zucchini Olive Oil Cake with Mandarin Orange Glaze and Walnut Olive Brittle

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3. Apple Cider Vinegar

I keep apple cider vinegar handy to perk up just about any savoury meal. It goes especially well in salad dressings, and can brighten up a bean soup without added salt. “Raw” unpasteurized apple cider vinegar contains probiotics for a healthy immune system, making it a pantry must-have.

Use apple cider vinegar to brighten up a whole grain salad: Quinoa, Roasted Eggplant and Apple Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

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4. Raw Nuts and Seeds

I keep raw chia, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin and hemp seeds in my refrigerator for quick nutrient boosters for any meal, whether it’s a bowl of oats or addition to a salad. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and cashews get a workout in my homemade granolas, trail mix and homemade nut butters. Nuts and seeds are rich in healthy fats, protein and minerals, so I make sure to have at least a handful (all unsalted) every day.

Turn chia seeds into a creamy, dairy-free dessert: Berry Chia Seed Pudding

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5. Chickpeas

If I don’t have beans and legumes in my cupboard, I may go into full-on panic mode. I buy canned chickpeas (and cook my own when I’m feeling ambitious) for quick soups, stews, salads, vegan “fudge” and homemade hummus. Instead of egg or chicken, I mash chickpeas with mayonnaise and lemon for a chickpea salad to add between whole grain bread or tuck inside a wrap – it’s a quick, make-ahead lunch.

Have chickpeas this weekend for brunch: Smoky Chickpeas on Grilled Toast with Poached Eggs & Zahtar

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6. Whole Grains

I buy whole grains in bulk so I can try a small portion of each one. Millet, quinoa, short-grain brown rice and large-flake oats are my top picks, all delivering a unique nutritional profile. If you have a blender, you can grind your own gluten-free and whole grain flours for baking (for this, I recommend oats, millet or quinoa). Build a grain bowl, make a porridge or pudding, bake a cake, toss a salad, stir into a soup or stew — the sky’s the limit with whole grains.

Replace white rice with whole grain millet in risotto: Millet, Kale and Lemon Risotto 

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7. Whole Grain Pasta

Sometimes, only pasta will do. I buy spelt, kamut or gluten-free brown rice noodles in every shape and size available (I really love pasta!). To watch portion size, I’ll enjoy 2 to 3 ounces (dry weight) and fill it out with plenty of low-starch vegetables and some protein, like a fried or poached egg — and probably some cheese on top.

Bulk up whole grain pasta with lean greens and meaty mushrooms: Whole Grain Spaghetti With Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

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8. Maple Syrup

I have a moderate sweet tooth and usually try to satiate it with fresh fruit (apples or bananas with peanut butter is my afternoon go-to). However, I always keep real maple syrup, preferably grade B “medium” for its full-bodied taste, in my kitchen. It is a great addition to granola, sweetening up Greek yogurt, baking, stir-fry sauces, beverages, as well as an obligatory topper for whole grain spelt pancakes and waffles.

Enhance your healthy comfort food dinner sides with maple syrup (and EVOO!): Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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9. Dried Herbs & Spices

If I want to add flavour to any meal and also bump up the nutritional prowess, I head on over to my spice cabinet. Like whole grains, I buy small portions of dried herbs and spices in bulk, for the most variety and best price. Dried herbs and spices contain lesser-known antioxidants that support good health. Cinnamon is great for sweet treats or Moroccan-inspired savoury dishes, cumin is always added to hummus, dried thyme tastes wonderful in roasted potatoes and chili powder helps to build a flavour-packed chili.

Give omega-3-packed salmon a hit of smoky, earthy spice: Blackened Salmon

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10. Sea Salt

I choose unrefined sea salt for its mineral profile and clean, crisp taste. Fine-grain sea salt goes well in baking and flaky salt adds texture to just about any food, both savoury and sweet.

Skip store-bought trail mix and make your own sweet and salty, heart-healthy walnut version: Maple-Glazed Walnuts with Sea Salt

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Want more pantry staple ideas? Check out 18 Staples You Should Always Have in Your Pantry and 11 Clever Ways to Use Pantry Staples

How to Fake Bacon Using Coconut

There’s a healthier alternative to pork if you’re craving some bacony goodness. From a vegan breakfast to a BLT sandwich, coconut bacon is a wondrous substitute that’s easy and cheap to make at home. There are brands you might find in specialty stores, but don’t bother — they’re way too expensive! Try out this recipe instead.

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Ingredients:
3 cups flaked unsweetened coconut
3 Tbsp gluten-free tamari (can substitute in soy sauce)
2 Tbsp liquid smoke
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp smoked paprika
Sea salt to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a mixing bowl whisk tamari, liquid smoke, maple syrup, and smoked paprika together. Then add the flaked coconut into the mixture and lightly toss with a spoon to coat evenly.
2. Spread out evenly onto a baking sheet (or 2), heavily greased with coconut oil. Bake for 20 minutes but toss the mixture on the sheet every 5 minutes. Make sure you set the timer so you don’t forget and burn the whole batch (which we have done before!)
3. Sprinkle with sea salt right out of the oven and remove the coconut bacon from the baking sheet — it’ll be very hot and will continue to brown. Dump it onto a large plate or another baking sheet to cool.
4. Store in an air tight container or jar and use it on everything: kale caesar salad, avocado toast, a bacon mushroom melt, or even maple bacon scones! The possibilities are endless.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

Why Sap Water is the New Drink Craze

Coconut water had its moment, but now it’s time to add some new, plant-extracted thirst-quenchers to the mix: birch water and maple water. Unlike coconut, birch and maple water provide a much smaller environmental impact, with some companies making them right here in Canada. And both birch and maple water are far lower in sugar than coconut water — something the tropical drink is often scrutinized for. Before you tap into this health trend, here are some nutrition facts and faults to see if there’s a clear winner.

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Health Benefits of Birch Water

Birch water, also known as birch sap, is derived from tapping birch trees to release their liquid. Over the winter, birch trees store a great deal of nutrition, which is released in their sap (or water) once mild, springtime temperatures begin to thaw the frost.

Birch trees are commonly found in Canada, Russia and Scandinavia— and the water has been used as an energy tonic centuries prior to it becoming the health food we know today. As the spring thawing commences, the birch water in Canada begins to run, so now is the time to get your fix.

Related: Sensational Canadian Cocktails

The sugar produced by birch trees, xylitol, is used as a natural, low-calorie sweetener in chewing gum and other candies. This is what is naturally sweetens birch water, satisfying your sweet tooth without being overwhelming. Because xylitol is low in calories, birch water is a much less caloric drink option than many other natural waters on the market. With only two to three grams of sugar per cup, it beats maple water in this regard. Minerals found in birch water appear in trace amounts, though it does deliver several phytochemicals (plant nutrients) and amino acids that may be beneficial to your health.

What Does Birch Water Taste Like?

With a gentle, sweet taste (when purchased “pure”), many find birch water a refreshing, crisper-tasting option to plain water.

Where to Buy Birch Water

In Canada, birch water can be purchased directly from the company producing it (online or in-person). A leader in the Canadian birch water producers is 52º North, located in British Columbia. 52º North has flavoured birch waters, but a natural option without flavouring (and added sugar) should be your go-to for the most nutritious option. Due to the delicate, seasonal nature of birch water’s extraction, it’s a pretty pricy beverage.

Related: Sweet Maple Recipes to Celebrate Syrup Season

Health Benefits of Maple Water

Like birch, maple water is the liquid that’s extracted when a maple tree is tapped. Boiling this liquid down results in something we’re all familiar with: maple syrup. Maple water is far more sustainable than other natural waters, with a minimal environmental footprint (if consumed where it’s produced — like Canada, for instance).

As maple trees store nutrition over the winter during their sleepy hibernation, the sap that results from the springtime thaw is loaded with nutrition, but in small amounts. Maple water is higher in bioactive compounds than birch water, but is slightly higher in sugar, with three to five grams per cup. And, maple water has a richer electrolyte profile, making it a lower-sugar sports recovery drink option if you’re exercising for extended amounts of time, or recovering from the flu.

According to Canadian maple water company SEVA, maple water contains 46 bioactive nutrients, including minerals, amino acids and organic acids. Maple water contains abscisic acid (ABA), a plant hormone that may help plants adapt to stress. In humans, ABA may help to balance blood sugar. As this is a fairly new, buzzed-about product, more studies need to be done before it’s established as a cure-all.

What Does Maple Water Taste Like?

Maple water has a soft, maple flavour and delicate sweetness. It’s crisp, clean and refreshing. Many find maple water far more palatable than coconut water, both in taste and texture.

Where to Buy Maple Water

Unlike birch water, maple water is becoming far more common in the everyday grocery store. Look for it in the natural food aisle, right next to the coconut water. Online retailers are also getting in on the trend, with giants like Amazon carrying this trendy new drink.

How to Drink Birch Water and Maple Water

Beyond sipping it straight from the carton, birch and maple waters can be used to make coffee, tea, smoothies or cocktails. You can also try cooking oatmeal or other grains in the waters for a fun twist. As minerals aren’t destroyed by heat, warming the water won’t kill its nutritional properties.

Related: Recipes That Pair Maple and Bacon Perfectly

The Healthier Choice: Birch Water or Maple Water?

Both birch and maple waters will provide trace amounts of nutrition, but like all beverages, it’s best to limit your intake due to their sugar content. Additionally, natural waters and juices are devoid of fibre, so they won’t fill you up. However, they’re both far better for the environment compared to coconut water, as birch and maple waters can be harvested sustainably. This means the trees can provide a source of income to companies and farmers without deforestation.

Both beverages remain a lower-sugar, sustainable alternative to coconut water, which is reason enough to give them a try. So, next time you break a sweat, see which option you like best. Enjoying either birch or maple water in moderation won’t hurt — but the verdict is still up in the air on whether they really help.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The 10 Healthiest Whole Grains and How to Cook Them

Whole grains come in all shapes, sizes, tastes and textures. With a myriad of B vitamins, fibre, iron, plant-based protein and minerals, each tiny grain delivers a hefty nutritional punch. A whole grain has its natural bran, endosperm and germ intact, which hold a good portion of its nutritional value.

The complex carbohydrates present in whole grains digest more slowly than refined versions, keeping blood sugar levels (and cravings) regulated for sustained energy. They’ve also been shown to reduce LDL (“bad” cholesterol), help to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, as well as lower heart disease and diabetes risk.

With whole grains, you’ve got many options not only in variety, but versatility in the kitchen, too. From breakfast to dinner and everything in between, there’s a grain out there for every time constraint, cooking level and craving. Here are the 10 most nutritious whole grains with tasty ways to add them to your daily diet.

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Warm Brown Rice and Wheat Berry Salad Bowl

Millet
Not just for the birds, millet is a gluten-free whole grain containing amino acids, complex carbohydrates, fibre and a range of minerals. Its tiny, bead-like appearance makes it a whole grain alternative to couscous (refined white pasta), can be ground in your blender to make gluten-free flour for baked goods, and can be turned into a creamy grain main like this Millet, Lemon and Kale “Risotto.”

Quinoa
Quinoa’s superfood status is reputable, with complete plant-based protein containing all essential amino acids, fibre, iron and slow-digesting carbohydrates. The original fast-food, quinoa cooks up in 15 minutes and can be used in lieu of oats in porridge, tossed in a leafy salad, served as a simple side dish or as the main such as this cozy Avocado, Kale and Quinoa Salad.

Oats
Bran, rolled, steel-cut and whole groats are all the same grain presented in different ways. They’re high in soluble fibre, helping to lower cholesterol, improve digestion, help manage a healthy weight, reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and more. An everyday pantry staple that makes not only a fantastic warm breakfast cereal with rolled oats, but also risotto with steel-cut or pilaf with whole groats. They’re also star players in desserts, like this healthier recipe for Honey Oat Roasted Pears.

Farro (Spelt)
A popular grain in Italy long before it appeared on the everyday North American table, farro is an ancient wheat with a chewy, rice-like appearance that comes in three varieties; farro piccolo (einkorn), farro medio (emmer) and farro grande (spelt). Its ability to stay intact makes it the perfect pasta substitute in cold salads, like this veggie-packed Farro Salad with Radishes, Arugula and Feta.

Freekeh
A whole grain with a funny name, freekeh is a low-glycemic, naturally low-carbohydrate popular for its earthy taste and stellar nutritional profile. With four times the fibre of the same amount of brown rice, freekeh keeps you fuller for longer. It’s roasted, allowing it to work as a bold base for hearty pilafs. Try freekeh in a substantial bowl of greens and grains like this Carrot, Spinach and Freekeh Salad with Miso Vinaigrette.

Corn
Not often thought of as a whole grain, corn’s bad-boy health persona should be limited to the refined versions of itself (i.e. high-fructose corn syrup). Its standout nutritional features are lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that help eyesight. As a whole food, corn is a unique grain in that it’s eaten fresh from the cob, as well as dried in the form of cornmeal and flour. For an elegant and healthy vegetarian entrée with corn, try this Veggie Ragu on Blue Cheese Polenta.

Brown Rice
Whole grain brown rice is a low-allergen, gluten-free whole grain high in B vitamins, selenium, fibre and slow-digesting carbohydrates. Many varieties of white rice can be readily found in whole grain brown rice such as basmati, short grain and long grain. Combined with a legume or bean, brown rice turns into a complete plant-based protein, as showcased in this recipe for Goat Cheese, Lentil and Brown Rice Rolls.

Black Rice
Inky-black with a slightly sweet, grapey taste, this dark-coloured whole grain is one of the highest sources of antioxidants in any food, even more so than most fruits and vegetables. It’s excellent as a side dish, used as a bed for curries or made into a healthy dessert like this Black Rice Pudding with Mango, Lime, Passion Fruit and Coconut.

Barley
Nutty, tender barley is best known for its role in wholesome soups and stews. Containing high amounts of B vitamins, magnesium, selenium and fibre, barley is an everyday, economical pantry staple. As it’s not gluten-free, barley isn’t suitable for those with celiac disease. Employ this pleasingly chewy whole grain as a complete-meal like this simple Slow-Cooker Bean and Barley Soup.

Wheat Berries
Unrefined whole wheat (used to make whole wheat flour) makes up wheat berries, which have a fruity, delicate flavour and a texture similar to barley. This slow-digesting, energy-boosting grain delivers a host of B vitamins, as well as fibre and magnesium. Use as a cold or warm breakfast cereal served with fruit and almond milk, or try this superfood-packed, double-grain Warm Brown Rice and Wheat Berry Salad Bowl.

10 Healthy Ways to Use Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a staple in healthy eating, stepping in as a lean, creamy alternative for breakfast and dessert, as well as a nutritious swap for mayo in savoury dishes. Along with its delicious tangy flavour, Greek yogurt provides protein to keep you fuller longer, calcium and vitamin D for strong bones and teeth, and probiotics for immune support, nutrient absorption and enhanced digestion.

When buying, choose plain, no-sugar added varieties without thickeners (like cornstarch), and a fat percentage that aligns with your personal diet. If you’re looking to get more Greek yogurt into your daily regimen, look no further than these fresh, wholesome recipes.

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1. Smoky Tomato-Greek Yogurt Crema
Capitalizing on Greek yogurt’s blank canvas persona, this healthy salsa and yogurt sauce pairs perfectly with grilled vegetables and fish.

2. Waffles with Greek Yogurt
If you’re looking for a new way to eat yogurt in the morning, give these soft, fluffy waffles a try. A protein-packed stack to carry you through until lunchtime.

3. Healthy Chocolate Muffins
Instead of a muffin with loads of oil, Greek yogurt stands in its place for a rich, moist and chocolatey breakfast on the go that will satisfy even the biggest chocoholic.

4. Banana and Matcha Green Tea Smoothie
Antioxidant-loaded matcha gets the smoothie treatment. Here, it’s combined with Greek yogurt for a protein-loaded breakfast or snack that tastes like a milkshake.

5. Strawberry Kiwi Greek Yogurt Popsicles
Tasting like the most decadent vanilla ice cream and enhanced with vitamin C-rich fruit, these Greek yogurt popsicles make the ultimate after school (or work) snack.

6. Roasted Carrots, Spanish Spices, Yogurt, Harissa
There’s nothing plain about this Greek yogurt recipe. Sweet roasted carrots receive the star treatment with a punchy yogurt cream sauce (hold the cream) bursting with bold spices and fiery harissa.

7. Grilled Vegetables with Cilantro-Yogurt Dressing
A raw veggies and dip makeover, leftovers will be a thing of the past when this lean, mayo-free Greek yogurt dressing comes into play.

8. Souvlaki-Style Nachos with Greek Yogurt Feta Sauce
Greek yogurt contributes a cooling component in lieu of traditional sour cream in these nouveau nachos. Use whole grain pita chips for an even healthier dish.

9. Valerie Bertinelli’s Herbed Mashed Cauliflower
Mashed potatoes are lightened up with cruciferous cauliflower in the humble spud’s place. Instead of tons of cream, Greek yogurt is used for a side dish that won’t weigh you down.

10. Strawberry Rhubarb Greek Yogurt Fool
A tangy treat that skips the saturated fat, this recipe employs Greek yogurt instead of whipped heavy cream. Use frozen fruit when fresh isn’t in season as the health benefits are the same.

Spicy Pumpkin and Sausage Soup

Whenever Fall rolls around, I start to go a little soup crazy. The spicy Italian sausage adds nice heat to this hearty, vegetable-heavy bowl of goodness. With the chickpeas, chunks of zucchini and kale and thick broth, this soup almost feels more like a stew. Needless to say, it is best enjoyed with family or  friends.

pumpkinsoup

Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 5-6

Ingredients:
3 cups fresh pumpkin (1 cubed)
2 large Italian sausages (casing removed)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 yellow onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups zucchini (halved, 1/2 sliced)
3 cups kale (stems removed, loosely chopped)
1 14 oz can chickpeas
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Directions:
1. Start with preheating your oven to 400°F. Toss the chunks of pumpkin with a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and let them roast in the oven until they’re fork tender, about 35 minutes.
2. While that’s happening, cook the sausage in a large pot on medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spoon as you go, until well-browned. De-glaze the pot with the red wine, then add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes or so.
3. Next, pour in the broth, remaining vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Once the pumpkin is ready, remove from oven, place into a food processor or blender with cream and purée until smooth. Stir the pumpkin puree into the pot, along with remaining ingredients. Let simmer for another 20 minutes.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper to finish.

Healthy Peanut Butter and Jam Squares

This delectable sweet and healthy dessert comes from Toronto’s own earth and city. Oats, almonds and dates are mixed together for the base, then topped with a layer of natural peanut butter blended with banana and sea salt, a layer of jam and finished off with the remaining crumble.

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Ingredients (makes 12 squares):

Crumble:
3 1/2 cups gluten-free oats
2 1/2 cups raw almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
4 cups dates, pitted

Filling:
2 cups natural peanut butter
2 ripe bananas
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cups dates, pitted
2 Tbsp water
1 cup jam of your choice
3 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)

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Directions:
1. Grind almonds in a food processor until it becomes a fine meal and place into a mixing bowl. Grind oats the same way, then add the almond meal back in.
2. Add cinnamon and sea salt, and with the food processor running add in dates a few at a time, until the mixture starts to come together. Press 3/4 of this mixture into a parchment lined 9″ x 13″ pan.

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3. Blend peanut butter, bananas and sea salt together in a food processor.
4. In the same style as the almonds/oats mixture, feed the dates in a few at a time until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture seems too thick to spread with a spatula, add a little water as necessary.
5. Spread this mixture over the pressed base in the pan.
6. You can mix chia seeds into the jam if you like, then spread the jam over top of the peanut butter layer.

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7. Then add the remaining crumble on top.
8. Refrigerate overnight and cut into squares. Store squares in the fridge to prevent melting.

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See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

Creamy Vegan Mushroom Fettuccine Alfredo

Sometimes all you need is a big bowl of creamy, comforting pasta for dinner. This week, shake things up with this healthy, vegan and gluten-free take on fettuccine alfredo: it incorporates all the great flavours of white wine and mushrooms, but we’ve replaced the dairy with cashews and veggie stock for the sauce!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

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Ingredients:
400 g brown rice fettuccine noodles
1 ½ cups raw cashews (soaked for 3 hours minimum)
1 cup water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup finely chopped white onion
2 large portobello mushroom caps, thinly sliced
4 cups thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
4 cups fresh baby spinach
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup vegetable stock
½ cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried parsley
2 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground pepper

Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook noodles to al dente. If using brown rice pasta, you’ll need to rinse the noodles when draining to keep the firm texture. Just before adding them to the sauce, rinse them again with cold water to prevent them from sticking to the pot.
2. Meanwhile, rinse and drain cashews from soaking water and add to a high-powered blender along with water, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Blend until very smooth.
3. In a large pan over medium heat, sauté onion in olive oil for 2 minutes until soft and fragrant.
4. Add mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes. When mushrooms are half cooked and start to release some moisture, stir in minced garlic, sea salt and ground pepper, and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
5. Once mushrooms have shrunk and released all their water, add white wine and simmer for 7 minutes.
6. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in fresh basil and dried parsley, and cook for 1 minute.
7. Mix in the cashew cream, spinach and slowly stir in 1 cup of vegetable stock, stirring for about 4 minutes.
8. Add noodles to the pan and toss to combine everything well, coating noodles in sauce, for 3 minutes.
9. Top with vegan parmesan cheese and more ground pepper or sea salt as desired. Serve immediately.

Tip: If reheating leftovers, heat in a pan adding small amounts of vegetable stock, a bit at a time, while tossing the noodles to thin out the sauce again.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

Crispy Tofu with Sweet and Sour Sauce

This Meatless Monday we’re keeping things easy with this recipe for lightly crisped tofu doused in traditional tangy sweet and sour sauce! It’s perfect served over rice or with sautéed chinese broccoli or bok choy.

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Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe

Makes: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

Sweet and Sour Sauce:
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
¼ teaspoon chili pepper flakes
1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
½ cup water
½ cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Tofu and Batter:
1 brick of medium firm tofu (or firm tofu)
3 cups vegetable oil for frying
1 cup brown rice flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup cold soda water

Directions:

1. Drain the brick of tofu from the packaging water and cut into bite size cubes. Allow the cubes to sit on a clean tea towel or paper towel to get rid of excess water while you prepare the sauce.
2. To make the sauce mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl and set aside.
3. In a small saucepan heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Add minced garlic, ginger, and chili pepper flakes. Stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic or ginger.
4. Add in remaining sauce ingredients and whisk together over medium heat until just bubbling. Then whisk in the cornstarch and water mixture. Whisk frequently for 10 to 12 minutes until slightly thickened and reduced. Remove from the heat and set aside while you prepare the crispy tofu.
5. Heat 3 cups of vegetable oil in a medium sized pot to 375°F.
6. Prepare the batter by combining rice flour, cornstarch, sea salt, garlic powder, and ground pepper together in a mixing bowl. Do not add the cold soda water until your frying oil is ready.
7. When you’re ready to fry, stir in soda water to the flour mixture and combine well.
8. Using your hands coat 3 to 4 cubes of tofu and drop each one in the frying oil delicately. Fry for 2 to 2 ½ minutes. If some stick together you can gently separate them in the frying oil with a slotted fryer spoon. Remove crispy tofu from the oil with the slotted spoon and let them sit on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Continue this process with remaining tofu cubes.
9. Heat up the sauce again if needed. In 2 to 3 batches you can coat the crispy tofu with sauce by adding some sauce to a large bowl and tossing crispy tofu cubes until coated evenly. Serve over rice or vegetables.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

Grapefruit and Pistachio-Crusted Avocado Salad

The warm weather isn’t here to stay for much longer, so we’ve created a fancy summer salad with grapefruit and pistachio-crusted avocado to accompany all your grilled faves at your last summer BBQ.

The juicy grapefruit is not only in the salad, but we’ve made a vinaigrette from the juice too. Grapefruit pairs well with bitter greens like arugula, but you can definitely create a bed of greens to your liking using romaine, kale, mesclun or spinach.

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Ingredients:
(makes 2 entrées or 4 appetizers)

For the salad:
8 cup salad greens
1/4 cup fresh dill
1/4 cup finely chopped basil leaves
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 grapefruits
1 avocado
1/4 cup salted pistachios, shell removed

For the dressing:
1/4 cup grapefruit juice (using half of 1 grapefruit from above)
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/3 cup cold-pressed olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Directions:
1. In a jar, combine all the dressing ingredients and shake well.
2. Mix together salad greens, dill, basil and red onion.
3. Peel and segment the remaining 1 1/2 grapefruits. Using a sharp knife, cut the top and bottom off so the grapefruit can sit flat on a cutting board, and then cut off the peel and pith around the circumference of the fruit. Place the knife between the grapefruit segments close to the membrane and lightly push the flesh out removing it from the membrane.
4. Cut your avocado in half, then in quarters and remove the peel. Finely chop pistachios or run them through a coffee grinder to get a coarse meal. Dredge the quarters of avocado through the pistachio meal.
5. Dress the greens mixed with herbs and red onion with half the dressing. Place grapefruit segments and pistachio crusted avocado on top. Sprinkle with any remaining crushed pistachios and serve immediately.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.