Tag Archives: vegetables

crustless quiche in white serving dish

Savour Spring Veggies With This Crustless Quiche Recipe

Quiche for breakfast? You bet! A great way to utilize your spring veggies is to use them in a quiche. I’ve used spinach, onion and zucchini here, but you can easily use whatever spring veggies you have on hand: asparagus, fiddleheads, kale, etc. You’ll love this crustless, low-carb flavourful quiche with smoky hints of paprika, the tartness of Dijon and the creamy texture of sharp Cheddar.

crustless quiche in white serving dish

Crustless Veggie Quiche

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium zucchini, chopped
⅔ cups frozen spinach, defrosted
1 small onion, sliced
3 strips chicken bacon, chopped
6 large eggs
1 cup half and half
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp paprika
1 tsp Dijon mustard
⅔ cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
Chopped parsley, for garnish

crustless quiche ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a round 9-inch baking dish.

2. Place a skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Saute the zucchini, spinach, onion and chicken bacon in the skillet for about 2 minutes, until cooked. Remove from heat and transfer the ingredients to the prepared baking dish.

crustless quiche ingredients cooking in pan

3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, half and half, salt, pepper, paprika and mustard. Add in half of the cheddar cheese and whisk until incorporated. Pour the egg mixture into the prepared baking dish on top of the sauteed ingredients. Top with the remaining cheese.

Related: Quick and Easy Low-Carb Recipes From The Pioneer Woman

4. Bake for 35 minutes. Top with parsley and serve.

Like Valerie’s crustless quiche recipe? Try her healthy Sriracha-honey oven-fried chicken or her spicy vegan cassoulet.

What’s in Season? Your Guide to Canadian Fruits and Vegetables

Crisp lettuce and juicy tomatoes in your favourite salad. A ripe peach fresh from the farmstand. Sweet, earthy leeks in a creamy soup. Is your mouth watering yet? As Canadians, we have a plethora of seasonal produce at our fingertips throughout the year and knowing what and when to buy seasonally empowers home cooks with the best local flavours possible. Whether you are looking to shop local or support Canadian farmers across the country,  make food shopping a breeze all year round with our Canadian seasonal produce guide covering January to December.  Grab your tote bags and get shopping – bounty awaits!

What’s in Season in  Winter

The dead of winter brings the blahs for most of us. Winter fare, however, can be quite inspiring. Think warm soups and stews, gorgeous roasts with luscious mashed or roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and rutabagas. Fry onion rings and add sauteed garlic to everything. Braise cabbage or roll it around meat and rice filling for cabbage roll perfection. Dream even bigger with a moist, cream cheese frosted carrot or parsnip cake (yes, parsnip cake!) or rich, dark and dreamy chocolate beet cake. With dishes like these, winter won’t seem long enough!

potatoes-white-red-in-basket

What’s in Season in December

Pears, Brussels Sprouts, Rutabagas, Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Pears

What’s in Season in January

Rutabagas, Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes

Related: The Best Ingredients to Cook With in Canada This Winter (Plus Recipes)

What’s in Season in February

Rutabagas, Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes

What’s in Season in March

Rutabagas, Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes

What’s in Season in Spring

As the seasons change, so does the fresh produce. Asparagus arrives in April in British Columbia, May in the rest of the country, continuing into July towards the East Coast — along with fiddleheads, radishes, spinach and later peas, beans, cauliflower and broccoli. We begin to see fresh lettuce and radicchio, along with celery and fennel in British Columbia, following in July in the rest of Canada. Fruit also begins with outdoor rhubarb, as well as strawberries and cherries in May, continuing into July. Make the most of these months with light pastas, simple salads, pies, tarts and where weather allows — a little grilling.

asparagus-cooked-sauce

What’s in Season in April

Asparagus, Radishes, Fiddleheads, Spinach, Fava Beans,  Rhubarb, Peppers (greenhouse), Tomatoes (greenhouse)

What’s in Season in May

Asparagus, Radishes, Fiddleheads, Spinach, Rhubarb, Kale, Salad Greens, Morel Mushrooms, Arugula, Swiss Chard, Green Onions, Peas, Cherries

Related: Our Fave Spring Dishes That Celebrate Seasonal Vegetables

What’s in Season in June

Asparagus, Radishes, Spinach, Rhubarb, Kale, Salad Greens, Arugula, Beets, Lettuce, Green Onions, Gooseberries, Saskatoon Berries, Strawberries, Broccoli, Celery, Swiss Chard, Garlic (Fresh), Peas, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips, Zucchini, Fennel, Cherries

What’s in Season in Summer

As summer hits, things kick into high gear with seemingly unending produce options. Stone fruits like peaches, plums, apricots and later nectarines burst onto the scene, tending towards an earlier arrival in British Columbia, soon ripening across the country and finally arriving in the Atlantic provinces in September. Berries also arrive this time of year, making it the perfect opportunity for crumbles, preserves and general good eating. Melons are now in full bloom, begging to be soaked in summery sangrias, wrapped in prosciutto and added to salads. And early pears and apples make their way onto the scene in late August, rounding out fruit season. Vegetables like homegrown corn, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and rapini are now in their prime. It’s also the start of leek and eggplant season in August.

fresh-strawberries-in-a-basket

What’s in Season in July

Gooseberries, Saskatoon Berries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Currants, Cherries, Blackberries, Apricots, Nectarines, Green Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Celery, Swiss Chard, Cucumber, Garlic (Fresh), Leeks,  Lettuce, Green Onions, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes (New), Radishes, Rhubarb, Salad Greens, Spinach, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips,  Zucchini, Beets, Peaches, Watermelon, Kale

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Summer Dinner Recipes

What’s in Season in August

Raspberries, Currants, Cherries, Blackberries, Apricots, Apples, Crab Apples, Blueberries, Gooseberries, Melons, Nectarines, Pears, Plums, Prunes, Strawberries, Artichokes, Green Beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Celery, Swiss Chard,  Corn, Cucumber, Garlic (Fresh),  Leeks,  Lettuce, Green Onions, Parsnips,  Peppers,  Potatoes (New), Radishes, Rhubarb, Rutabagas,  Salad Greens, Shallots, Spinach, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips,  Zucchini, Beets, Eggplants, Grapes,  Peaches, Watermelon, Kale, Pears

What’s in Season in Fall

We end our big season on a high note with pumpkin, leeks, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, crabapples and the continuation from August of muskmelon and grapes. We begin to crave in-season apples and pears — and as cool weather approaches, so does the need for warmer dishes. Back indoors, get set for roasting, holiday feasting and all of the apple desserts.

fall-apples-on-a-cutting-board

What’s in Season in September

Cranberries, Apples, Crab Apples, Blueberries, Grapes, Melons, Pears, Plums, Prunes, Artichokes, Green Beans, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Celery, Swiss Chard, Corn, Cucumber, Garlic (Fresh), Leeks,  Lettuce, Green Onions, Onions, Parsnips, Peppers, Potatoes (New), Pumpkin, Radishes, Rutabagas, Salad Greens, Spinach, Tomatoes, Turnips,  Zucchini, Beets, Eggplants, Nectarines, Watermelon, Kale

What’s in Season in October

Cranberries, Apples, Crab Apples, Pears, Quince, Artichokes, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Celery, Swiss Chard, Corn, Garlic (Fresh),  Leeks,  Lettuce, Green Onions, Onions, Parsnips,  Peppers, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Rutabagas, Salad Greens, Spinach, Turnips, Beets, Eggplants, Kale

Related: Our Most Popular Fall Recipes on Pinterest

What’s in Season in November

Cranberries, Pears, Quince, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Rutabagas, Turnips, Apples, Beets

What’s in Season in Canada Year-Round

Don’t forget about options available regardless of the season. Take mushrooms, for instance, which are grown year-round and across the country. In addition, many greenhouse farms are using methods that help cut down on waste and reuse water, soil and energy, producing year-round. Cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and lettuce are excellent greenhouse-bought options in winter when local outdoor choices have dwindled so you can enjoy a taste of summer, whatever the weather.

mushrooms-crimini

Published May 5, 2018, Updated April 7, 2021

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Metis Herbalist and Educator Lori Snyder on Urban Foraging and Food Sovereignty

If you seek to better understand urban foraging, in all its intricacies, Metis herbalist and educator Lori Snyder can show you the path.

But when it comes to urban foraging, what exactly is on the menu? Think: wild plants and weeds growing in the city or suburbs that you could easily come across while out for a stroll.

“We need to be mindful of creating foraging corridors in our cities,” Snyder explains. “How can we be put all this really fantastic food and medicine in our backyards, back alleys, schoolyards and on the edges of parks? We could be growing tons of food that would also benefit insects, birds and other creatures. You have to reconsider what is in your garden that you didn’t realize you could eat, like dandelions and horsetail — stuff we think of as weeds, but our ancestors ate.”

While Snyder points out that there are some potent plants that could do major damage if you’re unfamiliar with them, the majority of the edible and medicinal ones can be found in city parks and right outside our front doors — and each comes with its own unique flavour and texture that we should teach ourselves to acclimate to.

“We’re all about sweetness and the sugar and why is that?,” she muses. “It’s probably because we’re not cultivating enough sweetness in our life. Very gently I remind people that sugar is a colonized food — it actually has a horrible history involving slavery. So here we are eating this part of history that is really very dark. So now I educate my palate about different flavours that aren’t so common in our diet, but were common in our diet once because they’re the wild foods our ancestors ate.”

We recently chatted with Snyder about her urban foraging journey, the meaning of food sovereignty and the one woman who influenced her life’s work.

Related: The Dark Side of Trendy Superfoods (and What You Can Do to Help)

Tell us about the path that led to your journey as an herbalist and educator.

I was born and raised in Squamish, just outside of Vancouver. Where my parents built their house was the beginning of a housing development and behind our home was an incredible forest. We had all kinds of wild animals coming into our yard – like bears and stags. Our next door neighbours who bought the lot beside us were Danish and Irish. My sense of Mrs. [Maude] Bruun, because she was from Ireland, was that she didn’t know the plants that were growing here on this continent. What she would do is walk us kids up through the back trails and introduce us to the cottonwood tree, the salmonberry, the miner’s lettuce, the birch tree — all the incredible species and diversity of plants that grow in this part of the world.

When I do teachings I’m always sharing more pathways for people to discover. [The documentary] My Octopus Teacher shows us that the world around us is always in service of teaching us how to be as two-leggeds. What I’m seeing is that we have moved away from our true way of being on the planet. So I’m really grateful for Mrs. Bruun for imprinting that introduction. Once we start to learn to identify plants and other creatures, we get more curious and want to learn more about them. Once I get to know who they are [the plants], then it’s about ‘can I eat you or use you for medicine?’ Although I don’t like that word ‘use’ — it’s more ‘how can I get in relationship with you so that I can honour the gifts you bring.’

In Indigenous cultures, we didn’t have anything written — it was all oral. It was about using all of our senses so that we understood the world. I didn’t grow up knowing about my Metis history and ancestry. We could ask our own selves, how have I been colonized away from this deep relationship my ancestors have carried since the beginning of time? We’re talking about urban foraging — the reason that is starting to happen [more often now] is because we’re getting more curious [about the land we live on]. It’s either ego-centric or eco-centric. That’s what we’ve been – we’ve been so self-absorbed and distracted by entertainment that we haven’t even noticed someone has been cutting down the forest behind us.

Related: How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You

What are some common cross-Canada plants that are edible and/or medicinal that many of us aren’t even aware of?

Stinging Nettles [pictured above] are an amazing plant. They are hard to find in Vancouver because we get rid of it — because people think it stings and it’s a weed. But when you take the time to learn about her you realize she’s a superfood. It’s got tons of vitamins and minerals — and it’s so delicious when you cook her, it’s unbelievable. You can get fibres made with her, you can harvest the seeds and it’s considered an adaptogen. It’s also great for the prostate gland and inflammation – and this is just a snapshot of what she can do. The other piece that is so important is that she’s a host plant for five different species of butterfly here in this region. When we don’t [take the time to] understand the native plants, we destroy their habitat.  [Stinging nettle] tastes earthy and woodsy. It’s such a unique flavour.

Saskatoon/Serviceberry we can find across the country. [They resemble blueberries and are both sweet and nutty like almonds in flavour. They’re also high in fibre, protein and antioxidants.]

Strawberries – oh my goodness, what an incredible medicine they are! They help regulate our menstruation — they’re good for cramping. What are us women taking? We’re taking pharmaceuticals which can be hugely detrimental to our health and can have side effects, but can also stay in the body because so many of them are fat-based. Plants are water-soluble, so they move through the body.

Purslane is [a green, leafy vegetable] like a succulent and it’s crunchy. It’s so good for the brain and, of course, there are a ton of vitamins and minerals.

Oxeye Daisy — her leaf is out of this world [delicious] and indescribable. To be able to add her to your salads [or desserts]  would be amazing. The weeds outside our door just offer so much.

Rosehips — now here’s a plant people could be looking for right now all across the continent. [pictured above] They’re abundant, go harvest them. They are beautiful and high in vitamin C, iron and zinc. There’s your coffee right there — a nice stimulus that is good for the heart and good for the muscles and repairing collagen. And she taste beautiful as tea, syrup, jelly or jam.

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus, What Canadians Can Do About It)

Can you speak to food sovereignty and its link to injustice in the food system?

Food sovereignty appears to me to be political in its design. When you kill off all the buffalo or chop down the forest you impact Indigenous communities’ ability to feed themselves. We are not children asking for handouts. We are strong, capable people who can feed ourselves as we have done prior to the arrival of a new order. We see this tactic again and again all over the planet. All people need to take back their responsibility in their relationship to the land which feeds and nourishes us. We might consider growing our own foods, sharing the bounty, saving the seeds, teaching our children this ancient art of growing food. Not only do we grow food, but we grow a living ecosystem around us that feeds all life. Let’s deal ourselves back into the web of life and drastically reduce our food footprint by transporting food all over the planet. We can do this — take the power back and have sovereignty again for all nations all over the planet.

I don’t want anyone having power over me. I want my autonomy. I want sovereignty in how I’m eating, I want sovereignty in the choices I make. I don’t want to be a consumer, I want to be a citizen. We are consuming because we think we’re not enough. We are the ones we have been waiting for. Let’s wake up, my friends.

Related: Vegetable Garden Planners to Help You Grow All Year Round

What is the biggest takeaway you hope people have from your work?

We’ve been colonized away from nature and for us to really cultivate our reverence and gratitude and know that we’re just part of the web, I have this responsibility. I’ve had people tell me they look at the plants everywhere they walk now… that they’re seeing the world differently now… and of course it sets them on a culinary exploration. It opens you up to all these amazing possibilities.

Want to learn more about plants and urban foraging? Lori Snyder recommends:

The book called Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The braiding of sweetgrass involves three strands — scientific knowledge, Indigenous ways of knowing and plant wisdom. [Kimmerer] refers to the plants and animals as our older brothers and sisters which, to me, makes complete sense because they were here before we ever arrived. If we look at Indigenous ways of knowing, so much of that comes from the land and the animals.

There’s also a beautiful book called The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival by Katrina Blair. Wild weeds are essential for our human survival. I take so much [knowledge] from others that are sharing this important way of being.

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

Photo of Lori Snyder courtesy of Belinda White at Apple Star Photo; plant photos courtesy of Getty Images

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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: These are the Best Foods to 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: 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: Pan-Seared Salmon with Kale and Apple Salad
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Afternoon Snack: Homemade hummus with Sliced Carrots, Cucumbers & Celery
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Dinner: Slow Cooker Chicken Breast with a Healthy Grain 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 Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Afternoon Snack: Apple with 2 Tbsp Almond Butter
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Dinner: The Perfect Veggie 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: Cold-Busting Citrus Smoothie
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Morning Snack: Handful of Strawberries and ¼ cup Almonds
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Lunch: Citrus Rainbow Trout and Quinoa with Roasted Butternut Squash
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 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.

How to Make Vietnamese Bun Cha, The Rice Noodle Salad Your Lunch Bowl is Craving

This vibrant rice noodle salad boldly features Vietnamese-spiced pork patties, thin rice noodles, fresh vegetables and herbs, spring rolls and a salty-sweet sauce. It’s the lunch bowl you’ll be returning to again and again. The best part? You can meal prep all the components on the weekend, pack them up and enjoy throughout the week. You’ll be the envy of your co-workers!

Vietnamese Noodle Bowls (Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio)

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Pork Patties
1 lb ground pork (use regular or lean for the most flavour, not extra-lean)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp lemongrass paste
1 Tbsp honey

Nuoc Cham Dressing
½ cup warm water
¼ cup honey
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup fish sauce
1 small red chili pepper, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced

Noodle Bowl
Approx. 4 cups cooked rice noodles
4 large (or 8 small) cooked spring rolls, cut into small pieces
1 lettuce head (like Boston), with some leaves intact, some shredded
1 large red pepper, cut into matchsticks
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 large English cucumber, cut into matchsticks
approx. ½ cup chopped, unsalted peanuts
large bunch fresh cilantro, for garnish
large bunch fresh mint, for garnish
limes, quartered, for garnish

Directions:

Pork Patties
1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and use your hands to mix to make sure ingredients are well combined.

2. Use a 3-tablespoon cookie scoop to make 16 patties, flattening them slightly with your hands.

3. Place patties on a plate, covered in the fridge, until ready to cook.

4. Pre-heat a non-stick frying pan (preferably one with griddle marks) over medium heat.

5. Cook patties until a meat thermometer inserted in the middle reads 160˚F.

6. If not using straight away, set patties aside to cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

Nuoc Cham Dressing
1. Whisk all ingredients in a small jug until combined. Some honey will produce a dressing that’s a little cloudy – that’s fine! Set aside until using (can be refrigerated).

Noodle Bowl Assembly 
1. Gently reheat pork patties and spring rolls in a slow oven or microwave.

2. Line the bowls with one large lettuce leaf each.

3. Add shredded lettuce, cooked noodles, vegetables, pork patties and spring rolls.

4. Sprinkle over peanuts, cilantro and mint.

5. Serve with the lime quarters and dressing on the side and allow people to season with these to taste.

Tip: You can prepare all ingredients in advance and simply assemble when you’re ready to eat. For an amazing desk lunch, pack separate containers with noodles, vegetables, dressing and pork patties/spring rolls, and simply assemble for a meal to remember.

Here, we reveal the healthiest meal-prep lunches that won’t get soggy, plus our best no-heat lunch ideas to avoid that dreaded office microwave line.

7 Healthy Food Mistakes That Are Making You Bloated

It’s happened to many of us: you pride yourself on eating healthy – you drink superfood smoothies, eat dark leafy greens or a hearty chickpea salad, and still, somehow, a swollen belly pops out, forcing you to unbutton your pants and sit in bloated discomfort. Bloating isn’t as surprising when you consume foods you know aren’t good for you, but it can be an incredibly frustrating feeling when you do your best to eat healthy.

The gut is made up of billions of microflora that maintain your health – they support the immune system, help with weight loss, prevent disease and uplift your mood. Bloating is usually associated with poor digestion, bad diet, and an overgrowth of unwanted bacteria in the gut, but sometimes even healthy eating habits can lead to that unwanted protruded belly. Here are the top seven healthy culprits triggering a bloated tummy.

1. Cruciferous Veggies

It’s common knowledge that cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, are some of the most nutritious and antioxidant-rich foods, but they also have a bad rap for inducing a bloated belly and embarrassing gas. These veggies contain raffinose, an indigestible carbohydrate that passes through the digestive system without being broken down. When it reaches the large intestine, bacteria feed on it, releasing gas and causing a bloated belly.

This isn’t a reason to remove these veggies from your diet. Sometimes lightly steaming or cooking these vegetables make them more digestible and easier to chew, so they can break down further. Populating the gut with good bacteria through fermented foods like kimchi, kefir or sauerkraut can also help.

2. Superfood Smoothies

Smoothies are an easy way to get powerhouse vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and fibre all in one quick drink – but, sometimes when all of these ingredients combine together, a distended belly is the result. For some, combining fruit and protein or fruit and fat is a digestive nightmare.

To make your smoothie more gut-friendly, try adding fermented protein, fermented greens powder, kefir, dairy-free coconut yogurt or digestive spices like ginger and turmeric.

Related: Healthy Smoothies to Boost Your Immune System

3. Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit

Everyone knows this rhyme because beans, like chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils and soybeans, are notorious for causing bloating and gas. Many vegans and vegetarians subsist on beans as an essential plant-based protein source. They’re also packed with heart-healthy fibre, minerals and vitamins, making them an optimal choice for any healthy eater. But, like cruciferous veggies, beans also contain raffinose, an oligosaccharide that remains undigested until it reaches the colon, when gas-producing bacteria feed on it, and voila, the bloat and gas duo begin.

Luckily, soaking dried beans overnight helps to reduce the gassiness. Cook them with seaweeds like kelp or kombu to increase their digestibility further.

4. Refreshing Watermelon

Watermelon may be a refreshing summertime fruit, but it’s also a bloating nightmare for some. You think you’re being healthy by skipping out on sugary dessert and opting for this juicy treat instead, but sadly, you may end up in a post-meal bloat-fest. Watermelon contains a variety of short-chain fermentable carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed by the gut and then fermented by bacteria, causing unwanted abdominal bloating.

Try fruits like pineapple or papaya instead, which contain natural enzymes that help with digestion.

5. Whole Healthy Grains

Whole grains like whole wheat, spelt, kamut, rye and barley can be found in salads, wraps, bread and pasta. These fibre-rich grains help eliminate waste and toxins from the body, but they also contain gluten and fermentable carbs like fructans. If there’s an underlying gluten sensitivity, which many people have, these gluten grains can cause mild to severe abdominal pain and bloating. The gas-producing bacteria in the colon will feast on the fructans, also leading to bloating and unwanted gas.

Switch to gluten-free recipes (check out these delicious gluten-free dinner ideas) and grains like quinoa, rice or gluten-free oats as a healthy alternative that will beat the bloat. Or, try spelt, wheat or kamut in a sourdough or sprouted bread to increase the digestibility.

6. Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic are the base ingredients of most dishes, adding flavour and also immune support, but, like other foods on this list, they contain fructans that poorly pass through the small intestine and are then fermented by gas-producing bacteria in the colon, leading to bloating and flatulence.

Switch to other alliums like chives, or the green tops of scallions and leeks that are easier to digest. Use different flavours to build your dish like ginger, cumin or turmeric.

7. Drinking Too Much Water During Meals

Most people are dehydrated and, in an effort to consume more water, drink lots of fluids during meals. Drinking while eating actually dilutes important digestive juices, so food doesn’t get digested properly, which leads to bloating. Slowly sipping small amounts of fluids during a meal, drinking before eating or at least 30-60 minutes after a meal will help prevent bloating.

Not everyone will experience bloating from these healthy foods, but if you feel the bloat coming on, it’s usually a sign your gut needs some love and support. Remember to eat fermented foods full of good bacteria (think kimchi, kefir and sauerkraut), try a probiotic or eat a low FODMAP diet that limits bloat and gas-producing foods, like the ones mentioned above.

Looking for more gut-friendly tips and recipes? Here are the tastiest ways to eat more fermented foods along with the most flavour-packed recipes to boost gut health.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Two Ways to Roast Peppers Perfectly (Every Time!)

Roasted peppers have a wonderfully sweet, caramelized flavour that makes for a tasty accompaniment to many dishes. They’re rich in vitamin C and packed with antioxidants and we’ve got two easy ways to cook the colourful capsicum.

Green, Yellow, Orange or Red?

All bell peppers come from the same plant, with each colour representing the different points of maturity. Green peppers are basically unripe, lack sweetness and can have a subtle bitter taste at times. This is why green peppers are cheaper to buy than red peppers and are a despised ingredient among many chefs. Orange, yellow and red peppers are matured green peppers and have a much fruitier, pleasant taste, though most argue that red peppers are the sweetest.

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Using a Gas Stove

If your house has been blessed with a gas stove, you also lucked out on the fastest and least messy way of roasting peppers. Simply turn on the burner and place one or two whole peppers directly on the flame. Using a pair of tongs, rotate the peppers to ensure all sides are blackened. The more charred the peppers, the easier they’ll be to peel later.

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Using an Electric Stove (or Toaster Oven)

Unlike most vegetables where you simply roast them at 375°F, bell peppers are best cooked using the broil setting. Broiling is like using an upside-down BBQ; the heat comes from above and will char the surface of the food, which is what you want when cooking peppers.

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Give your whole peppers a very light coating of oil and then place them on a lined baking sheet (it gets messy when the peppers’ juices start leaking out). Set the oven to a high broil and place the pan of peppers inside. You’ll see the skin start to bubble and then blacken. Flip the peppers every so often to ensure they get an even char on all sides. This should take anywhere between 40 minutes to 1 hour.

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Cleaning the Peppers

Once the peppers are completely blackened, place them in a large bowl or pot and cover with plastic wrap for 15 minutes to steam. This steaming process loosens up the skin to make the peeling process easier. When they’re done steaming, slice open the peppers (be warned, there will be lots of juices spilling out) and clean out the seeds, ribs, and stems. The charred skin should slip off easily. Do not rinse the peppers under running water in an attempt to make the skin flake off easier, as the water will simply wash away the pepper’s sweet juices. Slice the peppers to desired thickness.

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Store the peppers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Use them for sandwiches, salads, an addition to your homemade hummus or in the following recipe for roasted red pepper soup, which pairs superbly with a grilled cheese sandwich on a chilly afternoon.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

2 pats of butter
1 cup chopped white onion
1 cup chopped potato
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 medium-sized red bell peppers, roasted, cleaned and diced
4 cups no-salt added chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream, whole milk, or coconut milk
Salt, pepper, and chilli flakes to taste

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Best Soups and Stews

Directions:

1. In a soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the onions until they begin to sweat and turn translucent. Add the potatoes and garlic and continue to cook for five minutes. Add the peppers, broth and cream/milk. Stir, cover and bring down to a simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Using a blender, blend everything until it reaches a creamy and smooth consistency.

3. Season with salt, pepper and (optional) chili flakes to taste.

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4. Serve immediately or let cool completely to room temperature before storing in airtight containers in the fridge for up to three days.

Published November 18, 2015, Updated January 2, 2019

Colourful Roasted Vegetables and Garlic Quinoa is the Perfect Weeknight Dinner

The leaves have fallen off the trees and the skies are consistently grey. It’s time to head to the farmers’ markets for a dose of colour! Vibrant heirloom carrots, creamy parsnips, ruby red beets and yellow and red mini potatoes are in season now, so a colourful roasted vegetable platter will impress at the dinner table (or Christmas table for those already planning menus). Serve it with a side of this garlicky quinoa and grilled chicken seasoned with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning for a meal that you can also pack for lunch the next day.

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Colourful Roasted Vegetables and Garlic Quinoa

Ingredients:

1 bunch baby heirloom carrots, peeled and cut into smaller sticks
1 bunch baby parsnips, peeled
2 whole garlic bulbs, tops sliced off
4 whole beets
24 red and yellow mini potatoes
1 cup dried quinoa, rinsed and strained
1 ½ cups water
Vegetable or avocado oil (Avoid using olive oil when cooking or roasting at high temperatures. Olive oil smokes and becomes bitter when exposed to high temperatures, so use oil that has a higher smoke point like vegetable or my current obsession, avocado).
Salt and pepper
Italian seasoning

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven at 400°F.

2. In a pot of salted boiling water, blanch the potatoes for five minutes. Drain and let dry.

Tip: Blanch the potatoes first to give them a head start at cooking. This will give the potatoes their pillowy, almost mashed texture inside and a crispy skin on the outside.

Related: Simple Food Swaps That Will Save You Money

3. Toss the parsnips, carrots, garlic bulbs, and potatoes with oil, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning in a large bowl.

4. Wrap whole, unpeeled beets individually in aluminum foil.

5. Place all the vegetables in a single layer on two large baking trays lined with parchment paper. Bake for an hour until the vegetables are soft, begin to appear wrinkled, and become fragrant.

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6. In the meantime, bring 1 1/2 cups of salted water to a boil in a small pot over medium heat. Add in the quinoa, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the water has evaporated and the quinoa has a fluffy texture. Remove lid and fluff with a fork.

7. When the vegetables are done roasting, remove from oven. Take three or four garlic cloves from the bulb and dice (or mash) into smaller pieces. Add the garlic into the pot with the quinoa. Gently toss with a fork.

Tip: Leftover roasted garlic cloves can be added to soups, hummus, spreads, other roasted vegetables, grains, heck, it makes everything better.

8. Remove the beets from the aluminum foil and peel off the skin. Slice the beets into thin slices. Arrange the vegetables on a platter and serve with the garlic quinoa. Serves four generously.

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November 17, 2014, Updated November 30, 2018

Thanksgiving Sides Pairing

10 Perfect Pairings for Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving dinner is about more than just the turkey — we also come to expect to see the table creaking under the weight of all manner of delicious side dishes paired with the juicy roast bird. From old standbys such as creamy garlic mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce to new favourites like roasted, caramelized Brussels sprouts, check out these drool-inducing ideas to pair with your turkey on Thanksgiving day.

1. Ree Drummond’s Best Ever Green Beans

cooked green beans with sauteed onions and red pepper in white bowl on table

Few vegetables pair so perfectly with turkey as green beans, and Ree Drummond’s version gives the humble vegetable something to brag about. This kicked-up recipe adds butter (or bacon grease), onion, red pepper and garlic, cooked to perfection in a skillet.

Get the recipe for Ree Drummond’s Best Ever Green Beans

2. Guy Fieri’s Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are practically a given at any Thanksgiving dinner, and there are seemingly endless variations on how to prepare this tasty tuber. Rather than simply baking or mashing, Guy Fieri serves up this twice-baked recipe that adds extra texture thanks to chopped pecans, all topped with a brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon crust.

Get the recipe for Guy Fieri’s Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

3. Bobby Flay’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

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Once upon a time, Brussels sprouts were those soggy, boiled-to-mush vegetables that kids would try to hide under their napkins — but no more. Bobby Flay turns that idea on its head with this Thanksgiving-ready side dish of perfectly caramelized and crispy mini cabbages with rich pancetta bacon. Don’t be surprised if this fall side becomes your family’s favourite new holiday side dish.

Get the recipe for Bobby Flay’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

4. Ina Garten’s Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

Instead of the same old dinner rolls, kick your Thanksgiving dinner into overdrive with Ina Garten’s easy-to-make biscuits, delectably infused with the taste of sharp cheddar cheese.

Get the recipe for Ina Garten’s Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

5. Ree Drummond’s Cranberry Sauce

Thanksgiving Ree Drummond cranberry sauce recipe
Thanksgiving turkey without cranberry sauce is like a ski vacation without snow, and Pioneer Woman host, Ree Drummond offers her own creative take on this time-honoured sauce. With orange juice and maple syrup adding extra sweetness and some grated orange rind for extra zest.

Get the recipe for Ree Drummond’s Cranberry Sauce

6. Giada De Laurentiis’ Roasted Root Vegetables

No Thanksgiving table should be without a healthy serving of colourful, roasted root vegetables. Giada serves up a simply prepared but undeniably delicious combo of potatoes, parsnips, Brussels sprouts and carrots, roasted together to mouth-watering perfection.

Get the recipe for Giada De Laurentiis’ Roasted Root Vegetables

Sausage and Herb Stuffing; Ina Garten

7. Ina Garten’s Sausage and Herb Stuffing

Stuffing is a Thanksgiving dinner favourite, and everyone seems to have their own unique tried-and-true recipe. It’s pretty much a given that the Barefoot Contessa would have a killer stuffing recipe up her sleeve. If you’re looking to try out a new recipe to pair with your turkey this year, look no further than this savoury sweet stuffing by Ina Garten featuring diced apples and spicy Italian sausage.

Get the recipe for Ina Garten’s Sausage and Herb Stuffing

8. Ree Drummond’s Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Simple but delicious, Ree’s recipe for mashed potatoes adds half-and-half cream, butter, cream cheese and tons of roasted garlic for a savoury side dish that will pair perfectly with any turkey. But be forewarned: don’t be surprised if guests come back for a second helping of these fluffy, flavourful spuds, so you’ll want to make plenty!

Get the recipe for Ree Drummond’s Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Thanksgiving-Tyler-Florence-gravy

9. Tyler Florence’s Roasted Turkey Gravy

Nothing on the Thanksgiving table pairs more perfectly with everything than gravy. Whether it’s mashed potatoes, stuffing or turkey, a classic gravy is a tasty addition to dress up any dish. Tyler Florence’s drool-worthy sage- and thyme-flavoured gravy recipe will produce about three cups of aromatic sauce for your lip-smacking pleasure.

Get the recipe for Tyler Florence’s Roasted Turkey Gravy

10. Ree Drummond’s Mushroom Pilaf

In addition to recipes that offer new spins on old favourites, this filling side dish by The Pioneer Woman is bursting with the rich, savoury flavour of shitake mushrooms.

Get the recipe for Ree Drummond’s Mushroom Pilaf

Looking for some main-spiration? Look no further than our best Thanksgiving turkey recipes and the most delicious uses for leftover mashed potatoes.

Breakfast Skillet With Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

If you live in Toronto, you know that grabbing brunch can sometimes be a three-hour endeavour and it’s nearly impossible to go anywhere with more than four people. If you do, you know you’ll be waiting. And after a full night of drinks, you’re body does not want to wait to be nourished. Hanger kicks in. Through my frustration, I decided that I should be making more brunches at home. Those are the times when I concoct my one-pot breakfast skillet. It’s always a mashup of what I’ve got in the fridge or pantry, with the addition of some eggs.

This recipe is one of my favourites. Sautéed mushrooms and wilted, garlicky spinach are the perfect (and quickest) accompaniments to eggs with a runny yolk. Yes, there are a ton of other great ingredients that can be used as well, like potatoes, corn, beans, zucchini, chorizo… the list goes on. But this is what I just happened to have in my fridge one day and now I continue to go back to this.

Breakfast skilled served onto two plates

Breakfast Skillet With Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

350 g cremini and/or baby bella mushrooms, sliced 1/3” thick
3-4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
2-3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
100 g baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
6-8 eggs
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
Toasted sourdough grain bread or bread of choice

Directions:
1. Over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet with a tight fitting lid.

2. In batches, sauté the mushrooms. Make sure not to crowd the pan so the mushrooms crisp up evenly.

3. Sauté for 4 minutes, flipping the mushrooms halfway through and seasoning with salt and fresh black pepper, to taste.

4. Add more butter and olive oil as needed for the second batch of mushrooms. Remove from the pan as well after seasoning.

Related: The Best Ways to Prepare Eggs Around the World, From France to Japan

5. Add a bit more olive oil and butter to the pan and toss in the spinach and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.

6. Add the mushrooms back into the pan and create pockets for the eggs. Crack an egg into each pocket and cover immediately with the lid.

7. Let the eggs cook for 2 1/2 – 3 minutes. Do not lift that lid! This ensures the egg whites cook from the top as well as the bottom. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.

8. Crumble goat cheese over top and serve with toasted bread.

Breakfast skillet in pan

how-to-make-cauliflower-rice-and-flavourful-recipes

How to Make Cauliflower Rice (and 3 Flavourful Variations)

Cauliflower has gained a lot of popularity among healthy eaters for its fibre-rich and disease-preventative benefits. As well, it’s a bit of a chameleon when it comes to nutritious meals. This cruciferous vegetable has a mild, agreeable taste that can take on any flavour and be transformed into risotto, pizza crust and cauliflower “rice” — all without the hefty dose of carbs!

Cauliflower rice in a bowl

If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make this sneaky healthy side dish with a knife or box grater. Here are a few easy ways to make the perfect cauliflower rice, and a few simple seasoning ideas.

Three Ways to Make Cauliflower “Grains”

Food Processor Method:

1. Cut cauliflower into several rough pieces and remove the tough core.

2. Working in 2 batches, add to a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and pulse until the size of rice or couscous. Add to a large bowl.

3. Repeat with the second batch of cauliflower.

Box Grater Method:

1. Cut cauliflower into several rough pieces and remove the tough core.

2. Working in several, manageable batches, grate cauliflower on the medium-sized holes of you grater. Add to a large bowl.

3. Repeat with remaining pieces of cauliflower.

Knife Method:

1. Cut cauliflower into several rough pieces and remove the tough core.

2. Make small slices crosswise into cauliflower pieces.

3. When entire head is slices, chop until fine, roughly the size of rice or couscous.

How to Cook Cauliflower Rice and Flavour Variations

Cauliflower rice is a nutritious addition to meals whether served raw or cooked. Add your uncooked rice into salads, soups or bake into casseroles for textural delight.

Simple Rice: Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower “grains,, sprinkle with salt and cook covered for 8 minutes until fluffy. Serve as a side dish or bed for curries and stews.

Roasted Rice: Roast rice until crispy and use as a crunchy topper for avocado toast or hummus. For more flavour, try roasting the rice with cumin, cinnamon and thyme.

Southwestern Cauliflower Rice: Saute onion, red bell pepper and garlic with cumin, chili powder and smoked paprika. Add cauliflower rice and cook until tender. Season with a squeeze of lime juice, salt and chopped fresh cilantro. Serve inside tacos, as a side dish or toss in black beans to make it the main event.

Chinese Fried Cauliflower Rice: Sauté onion, carrot, ginger and garlic. Add cauliflower rice and cook until tender. Season with soy sauce or tamari, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and Sriracha. Stir in diced green onions and serve inside lettuce cups with shredded cooked chicken or duck.

Greek Cauliflower Rice: Sauté onion, garlic, dried oregano, a pinch of nutmeg and chopped fresh rosemary. Add cauliflower rice and cook until tender. Season with salt, lemon zest and lemon juice. Remove from heat and stir in pitted black olives, seeded and diced Roma tomato, chopped fresh dill and crumbled feta. Serve with pita and hummus.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Published June 10, 2016, Updated June 1, 2018

Zucchini Noodles With Spinach Pesto is a Yummy Weeknight Dinner

This easy vegan spinach pesto recipe is perfect if fresh basil is out of season, above your budget or difficult to find. Pair it with traditional noodles or enjoy with fresh zucchini noodles for a healthy alternative. Note: a food processor is required for this recipe.

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Zucchini Noodles With Spinach Pesto

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups fresh spinach (firmly packed)
1 clove garlic (optional)
2 ¼ tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp sea salt
½ cup walnuts
⅛ cup olive oil
2 medium zucchinis

Directions:
1. Add spinach, garlic, lemon juice and salt to your food processor. Process until spinach is completely processed and garlic is reduced (about 45 seconds).

2. Add remaining ingredients (walnuts and olive oil) to the food processor mixture. Process again until walnuts are fine, resembling pesto.

Related: Best-Ever Pasta Recipes for Easy Dinners

3. To make your noodles, peel your zucchini (remove outer green peel).  Use a clean vegetable peeler (or a vegetable spiralizer if you have one) to slice zucchini into “noodles.”

4. Place noodles and sauce into a large bowl and gently stir using two spoons until well combined. Enjoy immediately.

Tip: Spinach pesto keeps extremely well in the fridge for up to 4 days. If making in advance, store sauce in fridge. Then make fresh zucchini noodles at the last minute and assemble.

Published August 11, 2015, Updated May 29, 2018

Top 10 Organic Fruits and Vegetables You Need to be Eating

We all know we need to be eating organic but there are several reasons we don’t. One of the main ones being cost and that for some it’s inaccessible. Choosing organic means we’re selecting items that are free of pesticides and harmful chemicals that have been linked to cancer and hormonal disruption. While many of us may not be able to eat organic all the time, the Environmental Working Group put out a list that highlights the different types of produce that with the highest pesticide concentrations. This allows us, as shoppers, to make selective and informed decisions to go organic when we need to. With the promise of fresh fruits and vegetables as the weather warms up, we thought we should have another look at the list of these top 10 organic fruits and veggies that we all need to be eating. Have you made the organic switch?

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1. Apples
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away…well, maybe not if it’s a conventional apple. Apples are number one on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list, meaning they’re the most heavily sprayed with pesticides. According to the analysis, 99 percent of apple samples, after washing, tested positive for at least one pesticide residue. The pesticides sprayed on apples, such as Syngenta‘s Paraquat have been associated with developing Parkinson’s disease and is banned in the EU. Other pesticides such as Chlorpyrifos can damage the nervous system. Organic apples won’t break the bank so it’s definitely a good idea to make the switch to organic as soon as you can.

2. Strawberries
Strawberries are a beloved fruit and since they’re so delicate and soft, they’re often prone to fungi attack. For this reason, farmers usually spray fungicide on them. Forty-five other pesticide residues are also found on strawberries and some have been researched to be carcinogenic, hormone disruptive, neurotoxic and toxic to honey bees. Strawberries are one of summertime’s most refreshing fruit and organic strawberries can also be quite pricey. If you can’t find fresh organic strawberries, look for cheaper organic frozen ones.

Related: Healthy Foods That Are Actually Worth the Splurge

3. Celery
Many people think that celery doesn’t do much in the nutrition department but it does pack quite a fibrous punch, and it’s a phytonutrient superstar. Celery made its way onto the Dirty Dozen list because it contains 64 pesticide residues, 27 of them being hormone disruptors. Choosing organic celery is definitely a good idea and can be found relatively inexpensive.

4. Cherry Tomatoes
These bite-size tomatoes are excellent sources of lycopene, which is known to protect against osteoporosis and prostate cancer. Cherry tomatoes are another item found on the Dirty Dozen list for having 69 different pesticide residues. The majority of these pesticides are suspected to be hormone disruptors, neurotoxins and toxic to reproductive health. According to the Environmental Working Group, a single cherry tomato contains 13 different pesticides on it.

5. Cucumbers
Cucumbers are one of the most widely eaten fruits (yes, fruits!). According to the USDA Pesticide Data Program, cucumbers contain 86 different pesticides. Many of these pesticides are known carcinogens and many of them are also incredibly harmful to the environment. Conventional cucumbers are also covered by a synthetic wax to protect the fruit during shipping. The wax is made up of chemical contaminants so if you’re opting for non-organic cucumbers, remember to remove the skin. To avoid the pesticide residues and the synthetic waxes completely, go organic.

6. White Potatoes
White potatoes are a staple in many North American households – many of us grew up eating the classic meat and potatoes dinner. White potatoes are often demonized for being incredibly starchy and lacking much nutrition. They do, however, contain quite a bit of fibre. These tubers have also made their way onto the Dirty Dozen list; this is because they contain 35 pesticide residues many of them suspected for being hormone disruptors. According to the Environmental Working Group, the average potato contained more pesticides by weight than any other produce item. These are not to be mistaken with sweet potatoes, which are actually on the “Clean Fifteen” list. This list is comprised of fifteen fruits and vegetables with the lowest concentrations of pesticides.

Related: Here’s How to Save Money on Your Next Grocery Bill

7. Spinach
Spinach is a versatile leafy green that is one of the healthiest vegetables containing vitamin A, vitamin K and iron. However, it’s also highly sprayed. It lands at number seven on the Dirty Dozen list, meaning it doesn’t contain as many pesticides as produce higher up on the list, but it still has harmful pesticide residues. Spinach contains 54 pesticide residues and many of them are neurotoxic and toxic to honeybees. The pesticide permethrin, used on spinach, is an insect repellent and is found to be carcinogenic, hormone disruptive and toxic to honey bees.

8. Imported Snap Peas
Imported snap peas have made their way onto the Dirty Dozen list. Snap peas are a good source of vitamin C and fibre, both helping to support the immune system. Snap peas contain 78 pesticide residues, making it one of the highest on this list. Most of these are suspected endocrine disruptors, which control hormones within the body. Hormones are like messengers that send out important functional messages all around the body. If hormones are disrupted by synthetic chemicals like pesticides, that means that messages will not be sent and received properly leading to irregular body functions. Similar to cherry tomatoes, a single snap pea contains about 13 different pesticides.

9. Grapes
Grapes can be sweet, tart, soft or crunchy, but mostly they’re just delicious. Unfortunately, they are quite high on the Dirty Dozen list. Most fruit is heavily sprayed with pesticides since its quite sweet, making it harder to protect from insects and fungi. Grapes contain 56 different pesticide residues. The main pesticide used has harmful environmental affects. It’s a powerful insecticide that kills honey bees and other important pollinators.

10. Kale
Everyone’s beloved leafy vegetable has found a place on the Dirty Dozen list. Kale is nature’s superfood – it’s high in fibre, it protects against cancer, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes, yet it’s one of the most heavily sprayed crops. According to the Environmental Working Group, kale has been found to be contaminated with insecticides that are toxic to the human nervous system. Kale contains about 55 pesticide residues. Organic kale is not hard to find and is only about $1-$1.50 more than conventional kale, so it’s absolutely worth making the switch.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Published April 13, 2015, Updated May 2, 2018

Absolutely Addictive Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

Cauliflower’s reign continues with this amazing recipe. This healthier version of the classic pub favourite is starting to pop up in restaurants all over the place. Try it and you’ll be surprised by how “meaty” cauliflower really is.

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Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (can substitute for gluten-free rice flour)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp of paprika
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
1 cup Frank’s red hot sauce

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Directions:

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 450°F. Wash and cut cauliflower head into small bite-sized pieces.
2. Mix all the ingredients (minus the Earth Balance and hot sauce) into a mixing bowl.
3. The batter will be thin enough that it runs off your fork and the cauliflower florets. Dip each floret into the mixture and coat evenly. You can shake or tap off the excess on the side of the bowl.
4. Lay florets in an even layer on the parchment lined baking sheet.
5. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
6. While the cauliflower is baking get your ranch dip and wing sauce ready. In a small saucepan over low heat melt Earth Balance and mix in hot sauce, bringing to a low simmer before removing from the heat.
7. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and put all the baked florets into a mixing bowl with the wing sauce and toss to coat evenly. Then spread all the florets in wing sauce out onto the same baking sheet. Bake in the oven for another 25 minutes.

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Ranch Dip Ingredients:
1 cup Wildwood zesty garlic aioli (or vegan mayo of your choice)
1/8 cup non-dairy milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp dill
1 Tbsp parsley
1 Tbsp chives
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Note: If you use a regular vegan mayo you might also want to add 1 tsp of garlic powder.

Directions:
1. Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 30 mins before serving.

Tip: The wings can be made with any sauce so try it with your favourite BBQ sauce or a nice version is lemon and pepper. For a milder salt and pepper wing just toss them in salt and pepper right out of the oven — no need for the second baking…the options are endless!

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

The New Year, New You Easy Green Smoothie You Need

It’s a new year and chances are you are A) still nursing one heck of a hangover or B) making a resolution of some sort to eat healthier. Smoothies are a great way to pack in lots of veggies when you don’t have the time or appetite to munch on a salad and unlike a juice, you get all the healthy fibre from the skin and pulp, making you feel fuller longer. In this smoothie, the sweetness of the apple juice helps temper the bitterness and grainy texture of kale, while the frozen blueberries keeps the smoothie cold and adds a tinge of tartness. Ginger has long been used as a home remedy to help with an upset stomach, but more importantly, its spice adds a nice kick to every sip.

Related: Cold-Busting Citrus Smoothie That’ll Save You When Sick Season Hits

Feel free to adjust the amounts of each ingredient to your taste and experiment with other greens and fruits you have on hand. Smoothies are also a great way to use up greens that are starting to wilt and would otherwise look sad in a salad. If you want to cut down on the amount of sugar, replace the apple juice with almond or coconut milk and add an additional teaspoon of maple syrup or honey. A scoop of unflavoured protein powder would also make this a nice breakfast option on the go.

Green Smoothie

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:

1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 ½ cups kale, stems removed and chopped finely
½ cup baby spinach leaves, chopped finely
½ cup frozen blueberries
1 cup apple cider or juice
1 tsp maple syrup

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Directions:

1. Peel ginger by scraping the skin off with the edge of a spoon.

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2. Blend all the ingredients in a blender until everything is well mixed and liquefied. Drink immediately.

Published January 5, 2015, Updated January 1, 2018

Vegan Sweet Potato and Kale Galette with Pistachio Parmesan

We’re in the full swing of fall now and hiding away in the kitchen to make some comforting meals is just what you need. Making your own dough doesn’t have to be a hassle either. Try our easy recipe for this sweet potato and kale galette with a flaky coconut oil and rosemary crust. You can even fill it with other seasonal vegetables like butternut squash or finely chopped Brussels sprouts — it’s up to you!888_sweet-potato-and-kale-galette

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 2-4

Ingredients:

Pistachio Parmesan:
¼ cup roasted & unsalted pistachio nut meat (can sub roasted almonds or cashews)
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp sea salt

Crust:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
5 Tbsp solid coconut oil
2/3 cup cold water
¼ cup all-purpose flour (for rolling dough)

Filling:
1 sweet potato
2 cups roughly chopped kale leaves (stems removed)
¼ cup thinly sliced white onion
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
2. In a coffee grinder, combine the ingredients for the pistachio parmesan and grind into a fine meal. Set aside.
3. Thinly slice the sweet potato and onion with a mandolin. Coat with 2 tsp olive oil and set aside.
4. Massage lemon juice into roughly chopped kale and set aside.
5. To make the crust, blend together 1½ cups all-purpose flour, rosemary, sea salt and ground pepper in a large mixing bowl.
6. Using a pastry blender, cut in coconut oil until the mixture looks like crumbs.
7. Make a well in the middle of flour mixture and add cold water. Fold it only a few times with your hands to mix the dough until it just comes together. Be careful not to over mix.
8. Lay out a large piece of parchment paper onto a flat, dry surface. Dust the parchment paper with some all-purpose flour and place dough on top. Dust a rolling pin with flour as well, and gently roll out the dough to approximately a 15” oval or circle. It doesn’t have to be perfect as this is meant to look rustic. Note: rolling it out on parchment paper makes transferring it to a baking pan much easier.
9. Sprinkle about ¾ of the pistachio parmesan mixture on the entire surface of the dough.
10. Slightly overlap the thinly sliced sweet potatoes in the centre of the dough, leaving a 2” rim of dough all around.
11. Add a little more pistachio parmesan on top, and then add kale, onion slices and remaining thinly sliced sweet potatoes (you might only use ¾ of the sweet potato depending on its size).
12. Fold the 2”-edge of dough over top of the vegetables and pinch together any excess creating a crust.
13. Take 1 Tbsp of olive oil and brush the edges of the crust with it and drizzle any remaining oil on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle remaining pistachio parmesan all over crust and on top.
14. Lift the sides of parchment paper and gently place the galette on a large baking sheet or pizza pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

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A Classic Green Goddess Dressing That Goes on Everything

Salad dressings don’t usually get their start on the stage, except for the classic Green Goddess, that is. Created in 1923 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, this verdant dressing was made to celebrate a stage production of the same name. Unbeknownst to the creator at the time, the simple blend of mayonnaise, fresh herbs and anchovies would become a staple in North America throughout the 20th century. The best part of this particular salad dressing, aside from its amazing deity-provoking name, is its remarkable versatility. Its first calling may be to tenderly coat greens, but try serving it alongside grilled chicken, steaks and pork or with roasted potatoes and cauliflower. The list of uses runs longer than the dressing’s history. Without further ado, here’s how to make the famous Green Goddess dressing at home and our favourite salad to serve it with.

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Classic Green Goddess Dressing

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1½ cups

Ingredients:

¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves
¼ cup fresh chervil leaves
¼ cup fresh chives, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
5 anchovy fillets
Juice of 1 lemon (about ¼ cup)
⅔ cup mayonnaise
⅔ cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
⅛ tsp salt

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Directions:

1. In a food processor or blender, add tarragon, chervil, chives, garlic, anchovies and lemon juice. Blend until a thick paste forms. Pulse in remaining ingredients and blend until full combined and pastel green in colour. Store airtight in refrigerator up to days.

Tip: Ripe avocado adds creaminess to a Green Goddess dressing, typically in lieu of mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt, and is an especially ideal substitute when egg or dairy allergies or are involved or those following a vegan diet.

Related: Homemade Salad Dressings and Vinaigrettes

Tip: Many Green Goddess recipes call for parsley instead of, or in addition to, chervil. Although chervil looks similar to parsley, the taste and texture of the fresh herbs are quite different. Chervil has a more subdued, fresher taste compared to that of parsley and boasts somewhat of a licorice flavour, similar to fennel. Find chervil at specialty grocers, farmers’ markets or your own backyard.

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Roast Chicken, Almond and Currant Salad With Green Goddess Dressing

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Rest Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Servings: 4 to 5

Ingredients:

Roast Chicken
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 cup raw almonds
⅛ tsp salt
⅛ tsp ground black pepper, to taste

Currants
1 cup dried currants 
⅔ cup water
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar

Salad
6 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
6 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 avocados, pitted and flesh cubed
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
Classic Green Goddess Dressing, as needed (recipe above)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Add chicken to a baking dish and roast until skin is crispy and interior is cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate to cool. Once chicken is cool, remove skin and separate meat from bones into bite-sized pieces. Discard skin and bones or save for use in another recipe. Reserve meat.

2. Place almonds into same baking dish (containing chicken drippings), season with salt and pepper and return to 400ºF oven. Roast almonds for 10 minutes, or until fragrant and beginning to brown. Transfer almonds to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess fat. Once cool, roughly chop almonds. Reserve almonds.

3. Add currants to a medium heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring water and vinegar to a simmer and pour over currant. Let sit for 10 minutes, strain and reserve currants.

4. In a large bowl, add lettuce, celery, avocado, tomatoes, cheese, chicken and currants. Add dressing to coat lettuce mixture and gently toss. Transfer salad to a serving platter, top with almonds and serve.

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Spaghetti Squash Fritters

3 Delicious New Ways to Eat Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is known for being the healthy alternative to carb-heavy pasta, but it can take on more than its traditional garnish of tomato sauce and meatballs. Spaghetti squash also happens to be a rockstar ingredient that can be used in a variety of fresh, inventive ways. From a sweet slice to a salad topper to a snack-sized fritter, check out these three creative recipes that champion spaghetti squash as the hero, all without a meatball in sight.

Cooking Tip: Microwave, steam or bake spaghetti squash until tender before you start the following recipes.

 

Squash-Salad Topper

Middle Eastern Spaghetti Squash Salad or Sandwich Topper
Mix 1 cup cooked squash with 1/4 cup almond meal, 1 tsp ground cumin and a few pinches of salt. Use to top a salad or layer onto your favourite sandwich for a healthy, nutrient-packed vegetarian meal. Serve warm or chilled. Serves 1 to 2.

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Spaghetti Squash Fritters
Mix 1 cup cooked spaghetti squash with 1 large egg and 1/4 all-purpose flour. Stir in 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese and 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley. In a non-stick skillet over medium, heat a knob of butter. Cook batter in batches, like pancakes, until browned on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Serve warm with Greek yogurt and fresh lime. Serves 1 to 2.

Spaghetti Squash Quick Bread
Give zucchini bread a break and whip up this cozy, spiced loaf for a subtly sweet breakfast or teatime treat.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour
Cooling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Makes: 1 loaf

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, more for pan
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp orange zest
2 large eggs
2 cups cooked spaghetti squash
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole or chopped pecans

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a standard loaf pan with a bit of butter.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and orange zest together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and continue to beat until mixture is combined.
3. In a separate large bowl, mix together squash, yogurt and baking soda. Stir squash mixture into butter mixture.
4. In a medium bowl, mix to combine flour, cinnamon and salt. Stir flour mixture into butter and squash mixture until just until combined. Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan and evenly top with pecans. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve.

From breakfast to dinner, discover a dozen more ways to use magical, healthy spaghetti squash in your favourite meals. 

Spring Appetizer: Crudités with Preserved Lemon Guacamole

Spring is perfect for al fresco dining; the outdoors providing a bright, natural setting for any dishes you’re serving. Next time you are entertaining, rather than spending hours on prep, try a simple yet impressive crudités platter. Typically filled with fresh, seasonal vegetables and a dipping sauce, this stunning appetizer is sure to delight your guests.

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Creamy, crunchy, spicy and tangy, this guacamole has got it all going on. Finely diced preserved lemon brings both a hit of salt and a good dose of acidity to this perfectly balanced dip. A rainbow of spring produce alongside the guacamole makes this vibrant appetizer the star of any spread.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

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Ingredients:
3 firm-ripe Hass avocados
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 of a preserve lemon, rinsed
1/3 cup minced sweet white onion, such as Vidalia
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Assorted spring vegetables, such as baby carrots, snap peas, young asparagus and radishes

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Directions:
1. Cut each avocado in 1/2 lengthwise. Remove the pit and discard. Scoop the flesh out of the peel with a soup spoon and place in a medium bowl.
2. Pour the lime juice all over the avocado and then mash them to a pulp. I like to use a pastry cutter for this job; a fork works just fine, too.
3. Finely mince the entire preserved lemon (rind and pulp) and remove any seeds you encounter. Add to the mashed avocado, along with the minced onion, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mash everything together, then taste the guacamole and add additional seasoning if desired. Since we are not serving this dip with salty tortilla chips, I find a little extra salt in the guacamole goes a long way.
4. Scrape preserved lemon guacamole into a serving bowl. Garnish with a fine dice of preserved lemon rind if desired. Serve immediately with a platter of spring vegetable crudités.

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