Tag Archives: healthy-eating

roasted cauliflower with tahini

This Middle Eastern Roasted Cauliflower With Tahini is What Vegetarian Dreams Are Made Of

If you’re serving up a vegetarian side, don’t settle for boring. Take it up a notch with this easy recipe! Cauliflower is the perfect vegetable to serve in the fall — and roasting it brings out its nutty and sweet flavour. It is typically mild in taste and can use some spices to jazz it up. In this recipe, it’s marinated in olive oil and warm Middle Eastern spices, then roasted to perfection. The key to roasting cauliflower is to use a high temperature so the outside can caramelize, while still maintaining a bit of a bite. But we’re not done yet. Serve this cauliflower with a luxurious drizzle of tahini sauce and garnish with parsley, cilantro or flaked almonds. Then just watch it disappear off the plate.

roasted cauliflower with tahini

Middle Eastern Roasted Cauliflower With Tahini

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

Ingredients:

Cauliflower
1 large head of cauliflower or 2 small ones (roughly 600g without stems)
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp salt + more per preference

Tahini Drizzle
½ cup tahini paste
3 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
1 small garlic clove, crushed
5-7 Tbsp water, per preference

Garnish
Handful of parsley or cilantro (optional)
Flaked almonds (optional)

roasted cauliflower with tahini ingredients

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Wash the cauliflower and pat dry using a paper towel. Trim off the ends and green stems. Cut into florets.

chunks of cauliflower on baking tray

2. Prepare the marinade by mixing together the olive oil, onion powder, cumin powder, chilli powder and salt.

roasted cauliflower with tahini marinade

3. On a large sheet pan, toss the cauliflower with the marinade ensuring they are well coated. Do not overcrowd them on the pan. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until they are caramelized. Toss around halfway through baking time.

roasted cauliflower on baking tray

Related: How to Grow Fall Vegetables and What to Do With Them

4. Meanwhile prepare the tahini drizzle by mixing together the tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic. Whisk everything together using a fork. The tahini will thicken a lot and seize up and it will seem like it is ruined. However, keep whisking and gradually add water a few Tbsp at a time, until it becomes smooth again. Adjust the thickness of the sauce to your preference by adding more or less water.

white bowl filled with tahini

5. Take the cauliflower out of the oven and taste for salt. Add more if required while they are hot. Toss in lemon juice if you desire. Serve the cauliflower with the tahini sauce drizzled on top. Garnish with parsley, cilantro or almonds if using.

roasted cauliflower with tahini

Like Amina’s Middle Eastern roasted cauliflower recipe? Try her curried roasted Brussels sprouts.

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.

These Healthy Apple Oatmeal Cookies Are the Perfect Breakfast Sweet Treat

If you’re anything like me and have a weakness for cookies, the thought of a healthier option is exciting, but it can also make you wonder: Will they taste good? Will my friends like them? Will they actually taste like cookies? Enter these Baking Therapy healthy apple oatmeal cookies. They’re soft, chewy and loaded with goodies like cranberries, coconut and chocolate. Sweetened with date sugar and maple syrup, they also boast a hint of caramel flavour. Trust me: they’re the perfect healthy breakfast treat!

apple oatmeal cookies on cooling rack

Healthy Apple Oatmeal Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 15-20 minutes
Bake Time: 15-17 minutes
Total Time: 40-47 minutes
Servings: 16 cookies

Ingredients:

½ cup date sugar
½ cup maple syrup, room temperature
½ cup coconut oil, softened
½ cup unsweetened apple butter
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups spelt flour (or whole wheat)
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups large flake oats
1 cup (about 1 medium apple) finely diced apples
½ cup dried cranberries
⅓ cup dark chocolate chunks or chips
¼ cup shredded coconut

apple oatmeal cookie ingredients on white counter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the date sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil and apple butter. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.

Related: Anna Olson’s Lighter Dessert Recipes to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

3. In another bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Add to the stand mixer and mix until just combined. Fold in the oats, apples, cranberries, chocolate and coconut.

apple oatmeal cookie dough in stand mixer bowl

4. Scoop the cookie dough into 2-inch balls and place them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Freeze for 15-20 minutes, slightly flatten each cookie before placing them into the oven. Bake for 15-17 minutes until golden on the edges. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

apple oatmeal cookie dough in balls on baking sheet

Like Sabrina’s baking? Check out her ginger molasses cookiessticky toffee pudding and pumpkin pie squares with candied pecans.

This Vegan Pumpkin Soup Has a Super-Secret Immune-Boosting Ingredient

Pumpkin soup is the quintessential autumn dish. It’s sweet and creamy with earthy tones and can be pantry-friendly or not, depending if you’re using canned or fresh. This vegan pumpkin soup recipe is a bit different because we’ve snuck in immune-boosting foods inside. Most soups start with a base of onions, garlic and ginger, just like this one — but did you know, these ingredients have antiviral, antibacterial and antioxidant properties? They’re also loaded with nutrients like vitamin C, selenium and zinc. But the super-secret immune-boosting ingredient here is… turmeric. That golden, bright spice has been heavily studied for regulating the immune system. It’s important to add a pinch of black pepper when cooking with turmeric to make it more absorbable in the body. This soup will warm you up in cooler weather and definitely send you back for seconds and thirds.

Vegan Pumpkin Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 bowls of soup

Ingredients:

Soup
1 medium pumpkin (red kuri or kabocha squash also work well) or 3 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree (2 x 398 ml canned pumpkin)
2 tsp coconut oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tsp minced ginger
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ to 1 tsp sea salt, depending on taste
Pinch pepper
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup coconut milk
1 ½ cups veggie broth

Optional Garnish Toppings
2 tsp maple syrup
Drizzle of coconut milk
Squeeze of lime or lemon
Fresh cilantro, mint or parsley
Pinch of unsweetened shredded coconut
Small handful chopped walnuts

Directions:

1. If you’re using fresh pumpkin or squash, peel it, de-seed it and cut it into chunks.

2. Place a large pot over medium-high heat and add the coconut oil.

3. Toss in the onions, once they become golden, add in the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

Related: 20 Hearty Vegetable Soup Recipes Just in Time for Sweater Weather

4. Mix everything around so it’s coated in the spices. If your pot is becoming too dry, add a bit more coconut oil.

5. Drop in the carrots and if you’re using fresh pumpkin, add in the chunks. Toss to mix.

6. If you’re using canned pumpkin, spoon it in now, then pour in the coconut milk and broth. Stir. Bring to a boil, cover the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

7. After 20 minutes, blitz the soup until it’s creamy. If you’re using a blender, be very careful as the soup will be scorching hot.

8. Once blended, taste and re-season with salt and pepper if needed. For an extra hit of sweetness add a few tsp of maple syrup. Top each bowl with a drizzle of coconut milk, a squeeze of lime or lemon, fresh herbs, shredded coconut and chopped walnuts if you’d like.

If you enjoyed Tamara and Sarah’s vegan pumpkin soup recipe, be sure to check out their simple miso chicken or no-bake chocolate oat bars.

This Easy Ethiopian Mushroom Stir-Fry Will Be Your New Fave Weeknight Meal

Tibs are a quick, easy and delicious Ethiopian-style stir-fry traditionally made with beef or lamb. Mushroom tibs are one of my favourite ways to make a tasty plant-based alternative to this popular dish. It is super flavourful and perfect for a quick lunch or weeknight dinner. Tibs are typically served with injera (a spongy fermented Ethiopian flatbread), but can also be enjoyed with rice, fonio or quinoa.

Vegetarian Mushroom Tibs Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4

Ingredients:
450 grams mushrooms
1 tomato
1 yellow onion
1 ½ bell peppers (different colours)
1 jalapeno
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ Tbsp berbere (Ethiopian spice blend)
1 tsp ground korarima (Ethiopian Black cardamom) (optional)
1 sprig rosemary
Salt, to taste

Directions:
1. Begin by prepping all of the vegetables. Clean mushrooms thoroughly and remove the stem (save stems for another dish). Slice mushrooms evenly and set aside.

2. Dice tomatoes, thinly slice the onion and bell peppers and set aside. Remove the seeds from the jalapeno and thinly slice.

3. To a hot pan, add the sliced mushrooms. Cook down on medium-high until it reduces in volume. Drain the excess liquid and remove the mushrooms. Set both the liquid and mushrooms aside for later.

4. Now add oil to the heated pan and sauté the onions.

5. Once the onions begin to become translucent, add the berbere spice and stir. Pour back in a few spoons of the liquid from the mushrooms as needed.

Related: 20 Easy Plant-Based Recipes for Beginners That Will Make You Drool

6. Add the minced garlic to the pan, stir and add the diced tomatoes. Next add bell peppers and stir.

7. Add the mushrooms, jalapenos, korarima spice, rosemary and stir.

8. Garnish with rosemary or thinly sliced jalapeno (in Ethiopian cooking, jalapenos are both an ingredient and garnish!). Serve with fresh injera, rice, quinoa or fonio. Enjoy!

Tip: Tibs are all about your personal preference. If you’d like this dish to be a bit less saucy, add half of the tomato instead. Many berbere spice blends have salt within the mix, so be sure to taste your stir-fry as you go and salt to taste.

Like Eden’s mushroom tibs recipe? Try her vegan sloppy Joe sliders or teff breakfast bowl.

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!

This is the Right Way to Freeze Vegetables and Fresh Herbs

Whether you stocked up on too many fresh vegetables at the market or your summer vegetable garden is growing wild, I am here to show you how to properly freeze your vegetables and herbs. There are a few simple steps you have to take to ensure they will stay vibrant, fresh and full of flavour. It will also give them a much longer shelf life than if you just placed the veggies and herbs straight into the freezer. Just be sure to use ripe produce. OK — let’s get freezing!

Related: Can I Freeze This? How to Freeze Fruit, Cheese, Leftovers and More

Step 1: Chop Vegetables and Herbs

If you’re planning to use the veggies or herbs straight from the freezer as a side dish or stirred right into your pot or pan, I recommend chopping them into bite-sized pieces first.

Step 2: Blanch Vegetables

Blanching is an important step to freezing fresh vegetables as it will stop enzyme actions that result in a loss of colour and flavour. This will also clean the vegetables. This step is not required for herbs. To blanch, simply bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and drop in the vegetables for 2 to 4 minutes. The timing will depend on the type of vegetable being blanched. For example broccoli and asparagus will be on the shorter end, whereas carrots will take a bit longer.

Related: Time for a Pasta Maker? (And 9 Other Kitchen Essentials You Deserve Right Now)

Step 3: Shock Vegetables

Once the vegetables are blanched, immediately strain and submerge them into an ice bath. This will halt the cooking process so the vegetables do not cook any further and it’ll keep them vibrant. This step is not required for herbs.

Step 4: Dry and Portion Vegetables and Herbs

Strain the vegetables from the ice bath and transfer them onto a kitchen towel to dry. Place them on a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for 60 minutes. Portion them into desired freezer bags and label with the packaged date. Transfer back to the freezer and use when needed! Vegetables will stay fresh for up to 12 months. For herbs, transfer them to an ice cube tray and fill with water. This way they are ready to go for soups, sauces and stews.

Related: The Ultimate Herb Guide: Varieties and Best Uses

Looking for more sanity-saving kitchen tips? Here’s how to organize your Tupperware drawer once and for all, plus the best way to prevent freezer burn for good.

Bread Baking for Beginners: How to Make the Perfect Sourdough Loaf

There’s nothing like the smell of homemade bread in your kitchen, and the taste of a fresh sourdough loaf is always so much better than store-bought. While there are some bakeries that sell traditionally made sourdough bread, it’s not always common to find. Besides, it’s actually easy to make your own bread at home. With a few readily available ingredients and a little bit of time, you can learn the basics of working with sourdough. The slow fermentation process of sourdough makes the bread easier to digest, and tastes absolutely delicious. We know you’ll love it!

Sourdough Bread Recipe: Bread Baking for Beginners

The Perfect Fermented Sourdough Bread

Prep Time: 20 hours
Cook Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:
1 ½  cups sourdough starter
½  cup water
1 cup spelt flour
½  cup rye flour
½  cup white flour
1.5 tsp sea salt
1 cup white rice flour for sprinkling

Related: Can’t Find Yeast? 12 Yeast-Free Bread Recipes You’ll Love

Directions:
1. Combine the starter with water and the different flours in a large bowl. Gently mix with a wooden spoon until incorporated evenly. The dough should be a bit sticky.

How to Make Sourdough Bread

2. Let the mixture sit in the bowl for 30 minutes, covered with a towel. You’ll want the room temperature to be warm, around 25°C (78°F).

3. After 30 minutes, add in the sea salt. You can gently rub the salt into the dough with your fingers.

4. Place the dough on a clean counter or a large cutting board, and lightly flour the surface. Here’s where you’ll do a technique that’s called “slap and fold” for around 5 minutes: Stretch out the dough into a rectangular shape and slap this against the surface.

Related: 15 Things You Can Make With Your Leftover Sourdough Starter

Once the dough is laying flat on the surface, fold the bottom end over into the center. Stretch out the dough again and repeat several more times in the 5 minute period. You’ll find that the dough starts to hold together better and is smoother after this process.

5. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Place it back in the bowl, and cover with a towel for this resting period.

6. After 30 minutes of resting, you’ll do a set of what’s called “stretch and fold.” This is more gentle than the “slap and fold.” Stretch the dough into a rectangular shape and fold the bottom edge into the centre. Then fold the upper edge into the centre.

7. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with the towel to rest for another 30 minutes. Repeat another set of stretch and fold after the 30 minutes.

8. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with the towel to rest for another 30 minutes. Repeat a third set of stretch and fold after the 30 minutes.

9. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with the towel, and this time let it rest for 2 to 2.5 hours. During this time you should see the dough rise, about 30-50%.

Related: Our 16 Carbiest Breakfast Recipes, From Croissants to Pancakes

10. After resting, place the dough on your clean countertop or cutting board again and lightly shape into a round. Experienced sourdough bakers call this the pre-shape step. You can let this rest for 20 minutes. While the dough is resting, line a colander or bowl (or use a proofing basket known as a banneton, if you have one) with a towel and lightly flour it.

11. Gently reshape the dough into a round and then place this into the lined strainer, bowl or banneton. Cover with a towel and place in the fridge overnight for around 14 hours.

12. In the morning, preheat the oven to 450°F, placing a Dutch oven with its lid (without the dough) inside the oven for 1 hour.

13. Take the dough out of the fridge. Place a piece of parchment paper (you’ll want to trim the paper to make sure it fits in the Dutch oven) on top of the dough, and then invert the strainer, bowl or banneton to flip over so the dough is resting on top of the parchment. Use a small sifter to sprinkle white rice flour over top of the dough. Then score the top of the bread, using a razor blade, bread lame or really sharp knife. You can do one simple line down the centre, or you can try doing other more creative scores (simply look online for “how to score sourdough”).

14. Carefully transfer the dough into the heated Dutch oven and cover with the lid. Be careful, since the Dutch oven and lid will be very hot.

15. Bake for 20 minutes. Then uncover and turn the heat down to 400°F. Bake for another 30 minutes, or until the crust is a nice golden colour.

16. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 2-3 hours before slicing.

For more must-bake bread inspiration, browse these brilliant banana bread recipes, or try your hand at this no-knead olive za’atar bread.  And don’t toss that sourdough discard! Instead, make these easy five-ingredient sourdough discard crackers.

How to Always Make the Perfect Veggie Burger (Plus One Easy Recipe!)

Regardless if you’re vegetarian or not, veggie burgers are the perfect main to accompany any side dish (especially french fries!). They can usually be made with pantry staples you already have on hand and are filled with whole ingredients. But, there is an art — or rather a science — to making a good veggie burger. You’ve likely eaten or made a veggie burger before that was too mushy or fell apart immediately after taking a bite. Or maybe it was too dry or completely bland and flavourless (read: cardboard patty). Veggie burgers require more thought than typical beef burgers, because you need to consider texture and flavour that much more. So we’re offering up tips to crafting the perfect patty, as well as one of our favourite recipes: The Southwest Burger! We also adore the Crunchy Sunshine Burger and Cashew Mushroom Slider.

Veggie Burger Rules

1. You Need a “Binder” and a “Dry” Component
● If you want a veggie burger that holds together, use binding agents like cooked grains (rice, quinoa, millet), eggs, flax eggs, bread crumbs, oats, flour or nut/seed flours like almond flour.
● The amount of grains or flour will depend on the recipe, but it’s usually anywhere from ¼ to 1 cup.

2. Any Bean Will Do
● Truly any bean you use will be great, whether it’s chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, white beans, mung beans, lentils or a melange of beans.

Related: Dinners That Start With Frozen Veggies (But Don’t Taste Like It)

3. Choose the “Right” Veggies
● Water and excess moisture will drown your burger in mushy sorrows, so choose veggies that have a low water content, like sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, broccoli or cauliflower.
● If you choose veggies like zucchini, grate them first, then squeeze out the excess water. This is a must!
● Or if using mushrooms, cook them first to release the moisture.
● It’s always good to start a veggie burger with onion and garlic as the flavour-base.

4. Make it Flavourful
● It’s really easy to wind up with a bland veggie burger. Beans don’t have a high fat content, like ground beef, which is where most of the flavour comes from in a traditional burger.
● It’s important to rely on flavour-bombs like:
– Spices (cumin, coriander, garam masala, curry powder, chili powder, paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric).
– Fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, mint, dill, thyme, rosemary, basil).
– Nut or seed butters (tahini, almond butter, pumpkin seed butter).
– Condiments (balsamic vinegar, tamari, hot sauce, mustard). Tip: use these sparingly if liquid so you don’t add more moisture.
– Others (sun-dried tomatoes, olives, feta, nutritional yeast, roasted red pepper).

Related: 10 Veggie-Forward Grilled Skewers and Kebabs to Try This Summer

5. Resting and Cooking
●  Once shaped into patties, let the burgers rest in the fridge, if only for a few minutes, this will help them stick together.
● Most veggie burgers are not grill-able, because their texture is fragile. They may fall through the grates, so we recommend baking or pan-frying. If you desperately want to grill, bake them first then finish them on the BBQ once they’re a bit more solid.

6. Toppings
● Of course, toppings only add more flavour, crunch and excitement.
● Obvious ones are pickles, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, mustard and ketchup.
● Not as obvious ones are avocado, guacamole, BBQ sauce, cashew mayo, salsa, sprouts, sauerkraut and caramelized onions.

Related: 20 High-Protein Vegan Meals That Are Beyond Tasty

The Southwest Burger

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Rest Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 75 minutes
Servings: 4 burgers

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp ground flax
2 Tbsp water
½ yellow or red onion, roughly sliced (about ½ cup)
1 garlic clove
1 small sweet potato (about 1 cup chopped)
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp granulated garlic
1 x 19 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or 2 cups cooked beans)
½ cup cooked brown rice
3 Tbsp oat flour
Olive oil for brushing the burgers

Directions:

1. Combine the ground flax with water to make a vegan “egg.” Let it sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients so it congeals.

2. Using the S-blade of a food processor, run the onion through. Then move it to one side or take it out and squeeze it to release excess liquid. If there is liquid pooled in the food processor, gently pour it out without losing any onion.

3. Turn the processor back on and run the garlic and sweet potato through. Pulse it a few times until the sweet potato resembles little rice kernels.

4. Next, add the spices, beans, rice, oat flour and flax egg. Pulse until everything is combined. If you like a more “textured” burger, then you can leave some of the beans unprocessed and whole.

5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take out 4 equal parts of the burger mixture and shape them into 4 patties.

6. Place the uncooked burgers in the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes. During this time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

7. Brush the tops of the burgers with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, then flip, brush the other side with oil and bake for another 15 minutes.

8. Let them sit for 5 to 10 minutes so they can harden. Top with your favourite toppings.

Want more summertime recipes? These vegan sloppy Joe sliders and strawberry chia frozen yogurt pops will surely be a hit.

These Crunchy Salad Ideas Are Perfect for When You’re Running Low on Greens

It’s finally summer and that means we’re craving all that fresh produce and seasonal salads. But what happens when you run out of greens mid-week and you can’t bare another stress-inducing trip to the grocery store? Maybe it’s time to turn your attention to some of the overlooked, heartier vegetables in your refrigerator. Almost all of the produce we think of as “winter” vegetables can be turned into a salad with nothing more than a sharp chef’s knife and a tangy dressing. We’ve created three crunchy salads starring celery, carrots and cabbage, but you can use this template for celeriac, beets, mushrooms… pretty much any vegetable you’d normally eat in the middle of January. The key points to remember are: slice your veg thinly, season aggressively and have fun with the add ons (cheese and nuts are always welcome!).

Celery Salad
In a medium bowl, whisk 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar with 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil and ½ tsp kosher salt (or ¼ tsp fine sea salt). Thinly slice 4 stalks of celery on the diagonal (you should have about 2 cups), then add to bowl with dressing. Toss with 2 Tbsp chopped and toasted walnuts or pecans and 2 Tbsp golden raisins. Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates, then drizzle with olive oil and top with as much shaved ricotta salata or Pecorino Romano as you like. Serves 2 as a side dish.

Carrot Salad
In a medium bowl, whisk 1 Tbsp lemon juice with 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tsp honey and ½ tsp kosher salt (or ¼ tsp fine sea salt). Thinly slice 1 bunch of heirloom carrots on the diagonal (you should have about 2 cups) then add to bowl with dressing. Toss with 2 pitted and finely chopped dates and ¼ tsp sumac. Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates, then sprinkle with ¼ tsp more sumac and 2 Tbsp crumbled feta. Drizzle with more olive oil, if desired. Serves 2 as a side dish.

Cabbage Salad
In a medium bowl, whisk 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar with 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, ½ tsp kosher salt (or ¼ tsp fine sea salt) and half a small garlic clove (about 1/8 tsp) finely grated. Tear the leaves of a napa cabbage into bite-sized pieces and thinly slice the stems until you have about 6 cups. Add to bowl with dressing. Toss with ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan and as much freshly ground pepper as you’d like. Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates, then top with more Parmesan and 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds. Serves 2 as a side dish.

Craving more summertime meals? Try this baked salmon with spicy mango avocado salsa and mint and lemon pearl couscous salad.

Snack Plates Are the Easy Dinner Option You Need This Week

We’ve been at home for months now. We’ve brushed up on our cooking skills, baked enough to open a bakery (are you also a banana bread connoisseur?) — but, some days, the thought of cooking one more meal that ends in a mountain of dishes is too much to handle. And as the weather gets warmer, we’d rather be spending our time outside and not chained to a hot oven. So, here’s the solution: make snack plates for dinner a thing every week.

Snack plates are essentially the way toddlers eat (not a bad thing!) and make perfect sense for adults as a simple, vibrant and ultimately exciting meal option that promises a myriad of flavours, textures, colours and nutrients. Start by selecting items that already live in your fridge or pantry. Remember: the plate is still supposed to resemble a meal, so even though it’s snack-style, ensure there’s colourful fibrous veggies and fruit, protein and healthy fats.

Related: How to Prep Slow Cooker Freezer Meals to Get Through the Week

What to Put on Your Snack Plate

Veggies:
● Choose veggies that have texture (good crunch), colour and can be grabbed easily.
● Some great examples are carrots, cucumbers, celery, radishes, fennel, bell peppers and snap peas.
● You can also BBQ, roast or saute veggies like onion, zucchini, eggplant, broccoli , cauliflower and Brussel sprouts.

Fruit:
● It’s officially the season for fresh fruit, so add it generously.
● Use fresh mixed berries, sliced apples and pears, pineapple, peaches, nectarines — the list goes on!
● Cut everything small enough so it’s easy and quick to grab.

Dips:
● If there are dips in the fridge, use them; if they’re half finished or need a little bit of love, drizzle some oil on top, add toasted seeds or nuts, mix in fresh herbs and even sprinkle some spices on top.
● For example, a half eaten hummus container in the fridge can easily be revived by adding some chickpeas, sesame seeds, parsley, tahini, lemon and za’atar on top.
● Or make dips like pesto, roasted red pepper and beet hummus.

Protein:
● You can keep it vegetarian or use animal proteins (the snack plate is yours to design).
● Ideas include crispy chickpeas, grilled skewers, hard-boiled eggs, sausages, sliders, cooked chicken or fish, lox, tofu or tempeh.

Grains:
● When choosing a grain, try to find one that’s rich in fibre.
● You may want something that acts as a vessel for dip, stuffed with other ingredients or just added for carby-deliciousness.
● Think: crackers, sliced bread, pita, tortillas, chips, cornbread or savoury muffins.

Related: Our Fave Food Trends to Come out of Quarantine, From Pancake Cereal to Bread Art

Extras and Bonuses:
● These are little delicious bonuses that add punchy flavour or satisfying crunch.
● Things like olives, pickles, toasted cashews, tamari almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, dates or raisins.
● You can also add sweetness with dessert-inspired bites like chocolate chips, truffle balls and brownies.

Plate Themes:
● You can theme your plate based on cuisines you love or based on leftovers that need to be revived.
● For example, if you already have leftover falafel or chicken shawarma, you can make a Middle Eastern plate and add hummus, pitas, pickled veggies and crudite with drizzles of tahini and fresh parsley on top.
● Or if you have leftover ginger soy salmon, you can create an Asian-style theme and add nori chips, steamed dumplings, kimchi, sesame crackers, edamame and lettuce leaf wraps.

Related: Middle Eastern Sumac Chicken With Date Syrup, Lemon and Pecans

How to Assemble It:
● Depending on how many mouths are being fed, choose the size of your plate accordingly. It can be a big platter, a few platters or just a normal size dinner plate.
● This doesn’t need to be Instagram- or Pinterest-worthy, but bonus points if it is!
● Start by adding one item at a time, placing each item either in a few different spots on the platter or in one dedicated spot.
● Your snack plate can be as elaborate or as simple as your heart desires. Then, enjoy yourself an easy, clean-up friendly dinner!

Want some more easy dinner ideas? Try this baked salmon with spicy mango avocado salsa and mint and lemon pearl couscous salad.

We Tested 5 Vegan Egg Substitutes — This One is the Winner

There are so many options these days when it comes to replacing eggs in your vegan baking. So, we decided to test a whole bunch of substitutes to see which ones went boom and which ones went bust. We chose to test them all with the same brownie recipe, since we know brownies can be quite forgiving and almost always delicious (and it meant we got to eat a lot of brownies!). We deliberately left out commercial, store-bought brands and tested the most common egg replacements you probably already have stocked in your kitchen pantry. Let’s introduce you to our five vegan egg contenders.

Chia Egg

Both flax and chia eggs are classic substitutes used in vegan baking. We find them to be quite interchangeable so we only tested this recipe with chia. To make a chia egg, add 1 Tbsp of whole or ground chia seeds to 3 Tbsp of water. Whole chia seeds can easily get stuck in your teeth, so we recommend using ground unless you’re in a pinch (you can blitz them in a coffee grinder!). Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, until it becomes gelatinous and thick. The reason why this works well in most baked goods, like muffins, cakes, breads and brownies, is because it adds moisture while also acting as a binder and not imparting any flavour. The downside is that because both chia and flax are darker in colour, they’ll change the colour of certain baked goods that are lighter, like cookies or cakes.

Result: The chia brownies came out gooey, fudgy and resembled a more traditional brownie texture.

Related: Common Ingredient Substitutions That Will Bring Your Recipes to Life

Aquafaba

Aquafaba is newer on the vegan baking scene. It’s the reserved liquid from a can of chickpeas. So once you drain your can of chickpeas, keep the liquid and measure out 3 Tbsp to replace one egg, then whisk it until it becomes frothed. If you put this into a stand mixer for about 3-5 minutes it will become whipped and resemble whipped egg whites with stiff peaks. When it’s that whipped, it’s more ideal for making meringues or macarons. So, we just frothed it. Aquafaba doesn’t tend to give off much moisture, sometimes leading to a drier baked good.

Result: We were really excited to see how the aquafaba would turn out, mainly because it’s so weird and interesting. But unfortunately, it was a bust. The texture was tough and lacked any sort of fluffiness. It also didn’t rise and had a layer of tiny holes on top. This may be because too much air was incorporated into the batter while mixing and became trapped, making it dense and bubbly on top. This is possibly because aquafaba acts more like egg whites, rather than a whole egg.

Arrowroot Starch/Powder

If you don’t have arrowroot, you can replace it with potato starch, cornstarch or tapioca starch. Arrowroot is gluten-free, grain-free and vegan. To replace one egg, make a slurry by combining 2 Tbsp of starch with 3 Tbsp of water. Arrowroot acts as a great binder and thickener, which may change the texture of your baked good to be a little on the drier side.

Result: This was the best looking brownie, but it had a drier, cakier texture and wasn’t as fudgy. If you like a cakier brownie, this is a great egg substitute for you.

Applesauce

Applesauce is a classic substitute for a few different baking ingredients: eggs, sugar, butter and oil. The reason why it works well as an egg replacement is because it adds a lot of moisture, making for a fudgy texture. Use ¼ cup of applesauce to replace one egg.

Result: The applesauce made a great fudgy brownie, but not quite as gooey as the chia brownie. Sometimes applesauce can impart a strong flavour, but we didn’t find that at all and found it was barely detectable. It also had a bit more rise than the chia brownie.

Mashed Sweet Potato

Mashed sweet potatoes are an amazing egg substitute, they offer a natural sweetener, while adding moisture to create a fudgy texture and are thick enough to act as a binder. You’ll need ¼ cup of mashed sweet potato to replace one egg.

Result: The sweet potato brownie came out fairly similar to the applesauce one in terms of fudgy texture and rise, but you could definitely taste the sweet potato, which may or may not be appealing to you.

Related: You Won’t Believe These Fudgy Sweet Potato Brownies Are Totally Gluten-Free

Overall the Winner is…

The chia egg brownie! It had the best texture, was moist, had a good amount of rise and tasted sweet, decadent and chocolatey. If you want to make the brownies yourself, here is the recipe we used.

The Best Vegan Brownie Recipe

Prep Time: 7 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes
Servings: 9 brownies

Ingredients:
2 vegan eggs
½ cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup coconut sugar
⅓ cup cocoa powder
½ cup spelt flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line an 8-inch brownie pan with parchment paper.

2. Prepare your vegan eggs and combine them with the coconut oil and vanilla in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Then add the dry into the wet until well combined, but not over-mixed. If you like, you can fold in chocolate chips.

4. Pour the batter into your brownie pan, shake the pan around until the batter is evenly spread out.

5. Bake it in the oven for 30 minutes, allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

Want more vegan baking ideas? This carrot cake recipe and this raspberry cheezecake recipe are so good even non-vegans will love them.

The Healthy Loaded Oatmeal Cookie You’re Meant to Eat for Breakfast

Cookies for breakfast? You heard us right. Think of these healthy baked goods as chewy (portable) granola, sweetened with maple syrup and packed with wholesome ingredients, like chia seeds and walnuts. The cookies are also gluten-free – the batter uses oat flour instead of all-purpose, but you’d never know it!

Don’t have oat flour on hand? Make your own by grinding whole oats in a food processor until the mixture resembles a flour consistency. Just be sure to measure the oat flour after you grind it, not before. To turn this recipe into a dairy-free breakfast, simply substitute the butter with equal parts coconut oil. Pairing these cookies with your morning coffee will make everything that much sweeter.

Related: Healthy High-Protein Oatmeal, Dressed Up 3 Delicious Ways

Gluten-Free Breakfast Oat Cookies

Prep Time: 18 minutes
Chill Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12 cookies

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
¼ cup maple syrup
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups gluten-free old fashioned oats
1 cup gluten-free oat flour
1 Tbsp chia seeds
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp fine salt
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Related: Green Banana Flour is Here to Stay, And This Pancake Recipe Proves It

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, maple syrup, egg and vanilla until well blended.

3. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the oats, oat flour, chia seeds, cinnamon, baking powder and salt until combined.

4. Fold in the cranberries, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.

Related: 3-Ingredient Breakfasts That Will Make Mornings a Breeze

5. Using a large ice cream scoop, evenly divide mixture into 12 rounds. Let chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

6. Transfer dough to a prepared baking sheet and press each round to flatten.

7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.

8. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For more inspiration, here are our best high-protein breakfast recipes, the only make-ahead breakfast ideas you need, and a look into what healthy people eat for breakfast.

Green Banana Flour is Here to Stay, And This Pancake Recipe Proves It

With the popularization of plant-forward, gluten-free and dairy-free eating, many are swapping their traditional beloved foods for more nourishing alternatives like “milk” made from oats, “yogurt” made from coconut, “cheese” made from cashews … and now “flour” made from green bananas! And, green banana flour is as its name suggests: green bananas are harvested and milled into a flour that is actually incredibly healthy for you.

The flour is rich in resistant starch, meaning it resists digestion and feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Since it bypasses digestion, banana flour doesn’t spike blood sugar or insulin after it’s consumed. It’s also grain- and gluten-free, not to mention environmentally friendly, since many green bananas aren’t suitable for export or sale; but they’re perfect for grinding into flour. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the texture and lightness of pancakes made from the starchy fruit – you may never go back to using other flours again!

Gluten-Free Green Banana Flour Pancakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: Makes 8 small pancakes

Ingredients:

Pancakes
¾ cup non-dairy milk
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup green banana flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp sea salt
2 eggs
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted + more for frying
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Toppings
Banana slices
Crumbled walnuts
Maple syrup

Directions:

1. Combine the lemon juice and non-dairy milk in a bowl and let it sit and curdle for 5 minutes.

2. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and sea salt.

3. After the 5 minutes are up, whisk in the eggs, maple syrup, cooled liquid coconut oil and vanilla.

4. Slowly pour the dry mix into the wet and fold the ingredients together.

5. Heat a griddle or frying pan on medium, melt coconut oil to coat the surface and then drop about ⅓ cup of batter down.  Allow to cook for about 3 minutes, you’ll see bubbles and the edges will begin to solidify, then flip for another 3 minutes. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn.

6. Once all the pancakes have been cooked, dress them up with your favourite toppings like caramelized banana slices, walnuts and maple syrup.

On a healthy baking streak? Try your hand at these 3 no-bake cookies (they’re healthy enough for breakfast!) together with this nourishing apple pie oatmeal bake. For more inspiration, here are 10 things healthy people eat for breakfast every morning.

This 20-Minute Tuscan White Bean Skillet is a Dinner Winner

Tuscan cuisine is known for humble and delicious food, relying on impeccable regional ingredients. Don’t let this super quick vegetarian dinner recipe fool you: it’s substantial and nutritious, and the trick is to let the flavours of the marinated vegetables meld and intensify the kale and beans.

When it comes to the veggies starring in this vibrant dish, tuscan kale (often called cavolo nero or dinosaur kale or even lacinato kale) is more tender than the curly variety and is enriched with an abiding sweet and earthy flavour. Its versatility is highlighted in this quick sauté with marinated artichokes and sundried tomatoes, turning simple ingredients into a most satisfying supper.

Related: Our Easiest 5-Ingredient Dinner Ideas

20-Minute Tuscan White Bean Skillet Dinner

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

2 ½ Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 cups torn Tuscan kale (see tip)
Pinch each salt and pepper
½ onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 oil-packed sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes or can cherry tomatoes, drained
170 ml jar artichokes in oil, drained
540 ml/19 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
⅓ cup shaved Pecorino cheese or Parmesan cheese

Chopped parsley (optional)
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Artisanal loaf (optional)

Directions:

1. Heat 1 ½ tsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add kale, and using tongs, toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with 2 tsp water to steam, tossing until wilted, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl.

Tip: To prepare kale, wash and drain. Tear kale away from the rib.

2. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of oil to the pan; add onions and cook, stirring until softened, 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and sundried tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Add cherry tomatoes and cook until almost softened, 3 minutes.

Variation Tip: Swap out sundried tomatoes in oil for roasted red peppers or marinated eggplant and swap out Pecorino cheese for feta or goat cheese.

3. Stir in beans and artichokes; cook, stirring to combine. Return the kale and cook until warmed. Top with cheese and sprinkle with parsley and drizzle with more olive oil.

4. Serve with crusty bread to round out the meal.

Dinner doesn’t have to be daunting. Here are Alton Brown’s quickest dinner ideas, 20+ tasty mains ready in 15 minutes and the most affordable healthy suppers to make at home.

The Sweetest Homemade Candy Heart Kombucha Gummies

This Valentine’s Day, make some sweets for your sweet! Creating your own gummies at home may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite simple, and only requires a few ingredients. First, you’ll need to find a silicone heart mould, which you can buy at a kitchen store or online, and then you’re ready to go. Infusing kombucha into gummies is a super creative way to support your gut health, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to devour healthy candy? Since these mini heart-shaped sweets are Valentine’s Day themed, we gave them a pinkish-red hue, so berry or rose flavoured kombucha is key. Once you whip up a batch, you’ll soon realize the world is your gummy oyster, where you can flavour and colour these little gems with a myriad of juices and fruits to your heart’s desire.

Homemade Candy Heart Kombucha Gummies

Prep Time: 40 minutes*
Fridge Time: 1-2 hours
Servings: 165 gummies

*The prep time may take longer depending how many moulds you have, since you may need to work in batches

Ingredients:

2 cups berry-flavoured kombucha
8 Tbsp grass-fed beef gelatin
1 ½ cup chopped strawberries (frozen or fresh)
½ cup raspberries (frozen or fresh)
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup water

Directions:

1. Pour kombucha into a bowl and whisk in the gelatin until combined. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

2. In a blender, blitz the berries, maple syrup, lemon juice and water and pour into a pot.

3. Place the pot on the stove over low heat, then add the kombucha and gelatin mixture until it fully dissolves. Don’t heat too high or you will damage the live bacteria in the kombucha.

4. Use a gummy dropper, syringe or small spoon to pour the liquid into the moulds. Don’t attempt to pour it in with a measuring cup, we did this and it was too messy!

5. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until gummies have hardened. To store, place them in an airtight container for 5 days.

For more desserts that’ll give you major heart-eyes, make a batch of no-bake strawberry “cheesecake” bites, an easy stovetop s’mores dip or one of these sinful chocolate dessert recipes.

I Went Keto for 3 Months and Got Gout. Here’s What I Wish I’d Known

My friend walks into a bar – glowing, leaner and the happiest I’ve ever seen her in our 12 year friendship. “Keto,” she says, anticipating the ‘What are you doing?’ question, “I basically eat a lot of Caesar salad – I’ve lost 25 pounds.”

We’re in our thirties, and every year it feels like there’s another ring around the trunk. While I’ve picked up rec sports like ball hockey and practice yoga semi-regularly, I’ve never been on a diet and haven’t put any actual effort into slimming down. My friend, Janna, and I have always had similar palates: we love bread, pasta, sandwiches, sauce, potatoes and most comfort foods on the regular. “You should do it,” she said, “You can eat so many things — I feel amazing.”

Why I went keto

As an intersectional-feminist who promotes body positivity, I hate how this story starts. It was one long look into my bathroom mirror after a shower when I cried — unhappy with the aged, unfamiliar woman staring back at me. I decided, at that exact moment, that I was going to try keto, as Janna had done.

So, I started the following Monday. I took the weekend to consult with Dr. Google so I could hunt and gather at the grocery store for my new and very first diet.

The ketogenic diet is attractive to people like me (read: who have the palate of a 13-year-old boy in the 90’s with a love for beige food and grease) because you never have to go hungry or calorie count, and you’re allowed to eat bacon, burgers, butter and other foods typically considered unhealthy. It’s a high fat, moderate protein, zero-sugar, low-carb diet. I don’t even like baked goods or sweets.

But I do like bagels, dumplings, corn and other carbs you’re not allowed on keto. Starchy carbs were off the table — so were fruits (including the melon family, mangoes, pineapple, apples etc.) and even a variety of vegetables had to be limited.

Related: From keto to whole30 to vegan. What is the best healthy diet? 

What a typical day of eating looked like for me

Like Janna, I ended up eating a lot of Caesar salad with chicken on the regular. Breakfast was all about bacon, eggs (cooked in butter), spinach and avocado. On offer at lunch was usually more leafy greens, roast chicken (sometimes hot, other times cold), cheese and nuts. For snacks, I ate more nuts, more cheese, and sometimes I’d even eat raw spinach out of the bin and call them “keto chips”. Blackberries were a green-lit treat, and very dark chocolate is also OK in moderation. I learned to like cream, and sometimes butter, in my keto coffee.

I also learned to drink so much water, and I peed on a keto strip every morning to make sure I was still in a state of ketosis. Being in the state of dietary ketosis is key to the weight loss benefits of the diet — it means your body is no longer fueled by carbs and is instead running on stored fat (hence the high fat part), producing ketones, so your brain still gets the energy it needs. To enter ketosis, I had to deprive my body of carbs (keeping the serving under 20g per day). The process took about three to five days, which is when I got what’s dubbed the keto flu and lost seven pounds by day six.

Some challenges I faced while on keto

I made the mistake of going on a road trip to Michigan within my first weeks of keto. Translation: burgers with lettuce, meat sticks, cheese and nuts were pretty much all I consumed that weekend. My mother commented on my appearance: “It’s working. I can see it in your face.” I was thinning out.

Related: How to develop healthy eating habits that actually last.

They say you stop craving carbs — that never actually happened for me. I didn’t need them, but if I saw my co-worker eating pizza, I knew I’d rather be sinking my teeth into a slice than stabbing at a bowl of cold, raw vegetables.

Keto became a way of life. At post ball hockey drinks, I’d have water and eat a burger in a lettuce bun with celery (no illegal carrots because of the sugar). But I knew this couldn’t go on forever. While editing a story on celebrity diets, I discovered the 80/20 diet and decided to try carb cycling.

Related: What is the flexitarian diet, and why are people doing it?

What I wish I knew when I got gout

Carb cycling and keto may increase the risk of gout. I wish I’d talked to an actual expert and registered nutritionist before I’d participated in a fad diet to explore the potential risks for myself. For this article, I talked to Julie Mancuso, the weight-loss expert and owner of JM Nutrition.

My friends are doing it, my coworkers are doing it — it works great for them, so it’ll work great for me, is something Mancuso hears all the time from first-time dieters. “Even though we have the same composition, we all have a different makeup, and your friend may not have any pre-dispositions to health issues,” she explains.

It turns out gout runs in my family. I was the first female to get it in my known bloodline — a glass ceiling I really didn’t need to break. But after attempting (and failing) carb cycling, drinking wine and building up too much uric acid, I found myself hopping on one foot with the rich man’s disease. I gave myself gout. It was already in my genes and it was triggered by my diet.

“With keto, you actually get most of the calorie consumption from fat,” says Mancuso. “If someone is predisposed to gallstones and you’re eating an abundance of fat — and [the] body can’t keep up with that — that will cause a problem.” Another thing to note is that spinach is very high in oxalate, the number one cause of kidney stones. So, at least I didn’t get gallstones or kidney stones, right?

Related: A nutritionist reveals 10 best natural foods for glowing skin.

How I would do keto differently

The next time I submit to my insecurities and decide to attempt a drastic diet change, I will consult with a nutritionist or dietitian to help me better my relationship with food.

According to Mancuso, there are many healthy and sustainable changes people can make to their diet that will help with weight-loss — people don’t need to jump into keto. But many lean towards diets like keto, including Atkins, Paleo and South Beach, because the results are typically fast, and starting something so strict and seemingly effective can be motivating.

“Our culture is like that — when we want something, we want it now,” says Mancuso, who often works with clients and encourages them to start slowly with new diets. She likes to take the time to assess and provide people with a better understanding with how diets and weight-loss actually work.

“What I don’t like about keto is that it’s very restrictive,” explains Mancuso. “The biggest problem is that people have trouble sustaining this diet… what diet restricts broccoli?”

Related: Nutritionist reveals 10 secrets to keeping energy levels up all day long.

What people should keep in mind if going keto

“Keto works for weight-loss” says Mancuso. “What I like is that it steers people away from eating carbs and sugar.”

She would recommend nutritionally balanced keto — which, according to the weight-loss expert, is moderate protein and plenty of vegetables. If the aim is weight-loss, the sugar has to go, and the carbs have to be cut down. As it turns out, there really aren’t any shortcuts or hacks for leading a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.

Feature image courtesy of Getty Images. 

Healthy High-Protein Oatmeal, Dressed Up 3 Delicious Ways

You’ve heard it before and we will say it again: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But the kicker is, your go-to morning meal should feature nutrients to keep you satiated and satisfied (sugar-laden cereals just won’t cut it). Today, we’re sharing three protein-packed oatmeal recipes that promise to keep you full. It’s a healthy – and delicious – start to the year that belongs in your breakfast rotation. And with three exciting variations to choose from, you’ll never get bored.

Winter Citrus Oatmeal

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup orange juice, store-bought or freshly squeezed
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 Tbsp vanilla protein powder (optional)
1 Tbsp hemp seeds, plus more for topping
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup, plus more for topping
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch fine salt
1/2 tsp orange zest
Orange slices, for topping
Blueberry jam, for topping
Chopped pecans, for topping

Directions:

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the almond milk, orange juice, oats, protein powder, hemp seeds and maple syrup.

2. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for an additional five minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, salt and orange zest. If oatmeal appears thick, add an additional splash of almond milk.

4. Stir in orange slices, blueberry jam, pecans and maple syrup.

Cranberry, Coconut & Chia Oatmeal

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 Tbsp vanilla protein powder (optional)
1 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup, plus more for topping
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch fine salt
Fresh cranberries, for topping (can substitute dried)
Flaked coconut, for topping
Roasted almonds, for topping
Maple syrup, for serving

Directions:

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the coconut milk, oats, protein powder, chia seeds and maple syrup.

2. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for an additional five minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and salt. If oatmeal appears thick, add an additional splash of coconut milk.

4. Stir in cranberries, coconut, almonds and maple syrup.

Chocolate, Banana & Peanut Butter Oatmeal

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 Tbsp vanilla protein powder (optional)
2 Tbsp honey, plus more for topping
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch fine salt
2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
1 banana, sliced
2 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 pinch flaked salt, for topping

Directions:

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the almond milk, oats, protein powder and honey.

2. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for an additional five minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and salt. If oatmeal appears thick, add an additional splash of almond milk.

4. Stir in peanut butter, banana and dark chocolate. Top with flaked salt.

Restore your relationship with breakfast with this vegan apple pie oatmeal bake or these creative chia puddings 3 ways. These 3-ingredient breakfasts will also make mornings a breeze.

The 30-Minute Instant Pot Curry a Nutritionist Makes Every Week

Once a week, I make a large batch of healthy, vegetable- and protein-filled curry in my Instant Pot. It’s a top pick in my house and feeds us for lunch a few days after it’s made. Cozy, adaptable to any dietary preference and made in about 30 minutes (give or take five to 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure and the steam to release), it’s a staple in our weekly rotation. And clean up is a breeze!

Along with the chicken curry recipe below, you’ll find ways to switch it up, which I often do, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or omnivore. I also have a few suggestions for my personal favourite part of the curry: the toppings.   

Instant Pot Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry (Adaptable)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 

Ingredients: 

Curry
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, left whole (scroll to bottom for plant-based and pescatarian options)
1 white or yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium red new potatoes or 2 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp kosher salt
1 (14 oz) can full-fat coconut milk
1 (5.5 fl oz) can tomato paste
⅓ cup water or broth
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, ghee or coconut oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice, plus more for serving

Toppings and Serving Suggestions
Naan or roti
Cooked white or brown basmati rice
Plain yogurt, raita or cottage cheese
Lime or lemon juice
Fresh cilantro or mint
Mango chutney or sweet chili jam
Raisins
Ghee or butter
Nigella seeds
Toasted chopped cashews
Diced fresh chili or red pepper flakes

Directions: 

1. In your Instant Pot, stir to combine chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, potatoes, garam masala or curry powder, cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper, coconut milk, tomato paste and water.

2. Seal the lid and sealing switch on top. Cook on High Pressure for 15 minutes (Manual). After the time is up, turn the sealing switch to release the pressure, and then open the lid.

3. Remove chicken, shred or chop and add back to the pot with butter, ghee or coconut oil and lemon juice. Stir everything to combine and serve with any of the suggested toppings and accompaniments.

Tips for Modifying the Recipe:

1. Add more vegetables
Replace the new or Yukon gold potatoes with ½ head cauliflower cut into florets and stir in ½ cup frozen peas or a few handfuls of spinach right before serving (press Sauté to warm through if the frozen peas cool the curry down too much).

2. Make it vegan
Replace the chicken with 1 (19 oz) can drained and rinsed chickpeas, 1 block extra-firm tofu, or ½ large head cauliflower cut into florets.    

3. Make it vegetarian
Replace the chicken with with 1 (19 oz) can drained and rinsed chickpeas and top with a poached or soft-boiled egg. 

4. Make it pescatarian
Replace the chicken with peeled and deveined shrimp, adding only after cooking the curry base and vegetables. Once the pressure is released, press Sauté, add shrimp and cook, stirring often until cooked through, about 2 minutes.  

You’ll want to add this recipe to your roster of healthy Instant Pot meal ideas. And if you’re on a belly-warming recipe kick, try these slow-cooker curries along with The Pioneer Woman’s best soups and stews.

The Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Menu With 5 Ingredients Per Meal

Have you ever looked at a gorgeous recipe photo and thought, “I’m definitely making that tonight!” only to become way less enthused when the cooking instructions call for 20 ingredients or more? We’ve been there. So, we’re giving you the opposite: a day’s worth of meals with only five ingredients required for each one. Not only are these breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes a cinch to make, they’re winter-proof (meaning they’ll warm you right up while nourishing you in the process). One housekeeping rule: oil, salt and pepper don’t count toward the five ingredients. Okay, that’s it. It’s time to get cooking!

Breakfast: Maple Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Prep Time: 12-15 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Serves: 1


Ingredients:
¼ cup quinoa
¾ cup non-dairy milk
¼ – ⅓ cup toasted walnuts or almonds, roughly chopped
¼ cup blueberries (or your favourite fruit of choice)
Splash of maple syrup, to taste

Directions:
1. Place the quinoa and non-dairy milk in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 12-15 minutes until fluffy and all the milk is absorbed.
2. Pour the quinoa into a bowl, top with walnuts or almonds, blueberries and a hearty drizzle of maple syrup. Feel free to add more non-dairy milk.
3. You can replace the quinoa with brown rice or oats. If you already have these grains pre-cooked, simply toss them in the saucepan with just a bit of non-dairy milk to heat up.

Lunch: Quickie Grains, Greens & Beans Bowl

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
½ cup cooked brown rice or cauliflower rice
½ cup chickpeas
1 cup baby kale, mesclun greens or baby spinach
½ green apple or avocado, sliced
2 Tbsp creamy tahini
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:
1. If you’re using brown rice and it’s not cooked yet, do so according to package instructions. For a grain-free option,  use cauliflower rice.
2. Place the rice or cauliflower on the bottom of a wide bowl or reusable to-go container if you’re taking this lunch with you.
3. Pile the chickpeas together in one area of the bowl.
4. Place the greens in another area of the bowl. Then add the apple or avocado on top to create a picture-perfect meal.
5. Drizzle tahini, olive oil, salt and pepper, then mix. If you’re taking this lunch to-go, you can dress it beforehand or place the dressing components in a container on the side.

Dinner: Sheet Pan Miso Salmon

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:
1 bunch broccoli, chopped in florets
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2.5 oz pieces of salmon
Pinch of sea salt and pepper
2 Tbsp white miso
3 tsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp sesame oil

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
2. Place the broccoli florets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toss with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
3. Push some florets to the side and place the salmon in the middle of the baking sheet, so the flesh is facing up. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Place in the oven to roast for 15 minutes.
4. While the broccoli and salmon are baking, prepare the miso marinade by whisking miso, maple syrup and sesame oil.
5. Take the salmon out of the oven when it’s done (you know it’s done when a fork gently flakes it apart) and immediately brush or spoon the miso marinade over top.

For more easy-breezy recipes, here are our best one-pan dinners with 7 ingredients or less, along with more healthy 5-ingredient lunch ideas and 3-ingredient breakfasts for better mornings.