Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Balm Pesto

White bowl with zucchini noodles, lemon balm pesto, roasted peppers and fresh tomatoes, topped with goat cheese and pine nuts
Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Balm Pesto

Have you tried zoodles? It might surprise you how delicious zucchini is as a noodle!  There are many ways to make them into a noodle; with a spiralizer, vegetable peeler, julienne peeler or a mandolin.  Zoodles can be enjoyed raw in salads or cooked with water, lightly fried with oil or baked.  Fun and flavourful, they are completely delicious combined with pesto, fresh or roasted vegetables, pine nuts and creamy cheese.

Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Balm Pesto

1-2 zucchini, spiralized or made into noodles with a vegetables peeler or julienne peeler

2-4 tablespoons lemon balm pesto or your favourite pesto blend

tomatoes, chopped

roasted peppers, chopped

pine nuts, lightly toasted

goat cheese or cashew cheese

Directions:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place zucchini  noodles in a single layer on baking sheets and bake about 10-12 minutes until tender. Add pesto to medium size bowl and mix well with zucchini noodles (silicone tongs work well). Add tomatoes and roasted peppers.  Put into serving bowls and dot with goat or cashew cheese and garnish with pine nuts and fresh herbs.

Lemon Balm Pesto

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Lemon Balm Pesto

Lemon Balm is a perennial herb from the mint family.  It grows very quickly and is quite a beautiful plant.  It has a refreshing light lemon aroma and flavour and many believe it aids digestion, and has a calming affect. It attracts bees, butterflies and birds and is a lovely addition to any garden.  

It is probably most commonly used in tea or ice tea but it really can be used anywhere in cooking where you want a light lemon flavour.  Mixed with butter it is wonderful to add to potatoes, asapargus, or any spring vegetable.  

Lemon Balm can be used in many ways and here I have combined it with green garlic (the tender young shoots from planted garlic cloves), pine nuts, olive oil, and salt for a delicious light lemony pesto. (Please note that you can use garlic chives or garlic cloves to substitute for the green garlic.  The green garlic or chives give a lighter garlic flavour whereas the cloves would be a stronger garlic flavour.) This pesto is incredible mixed with goat cheese or yogurt cheese, tossed with potatoes, pasta, rubbed onto salmon, chicken, or anywhere you would use pesto. 

Lemon Balm Pesto

1 cup lemon balm leaves
1/4 chopped green garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
Put everthing into small bowl of food processor and process until smooth.  

Chive Blossom Yogurt Cheese

So pretty, these little purple flowers add pops of mild Chive flavour to this delicious fresh Yogurt Cheese
Chive Blossom Yogurt Cheese

I love the pretty purple flowers on chives this time of year and love finding new ways to use them during the short time they bloom.  They add special touches to dips, spreads, salads, potatoes, etc.  Combining chives and a soft fresh cheese is a natural combination and is a perfect sandwich spread to top with cucumber, tomato, avocado, roasted vegetables, sprouts, etc.

A perfect cheese to highlight chive flowers is yogurt cheese.  It is so easy to make. Similar to quark cheese, this simple, light cheese is very versatile and can be used in place of butter, margarine, cream cheese, etc.  Yogurt cheese is low in fat, is a source of protein, has many nutrients and also has gut friendly beneficial bacteria.  

To make yogurt cheese you will need plain yogurt, a sieve, cheese cloth and time. Line a sieve with a few layers of cheese cloth and place it over a bowl.  Empty one container of plain yogurt (750g) onto the cheesecloth lined sieve, cover and place in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours.  The longer you leave it, the firmer the cheese will be.  It is important to use a yogurt that contains no gelatin. Once the cheese is made you are ready to add flavours.   

Chive Blossom Yogurt Cheese

Yogurt cheese

1/4 cup tender chives and chive blossoms, finely chopped

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Black Pepper

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt cheese, chives and chive blossoms.  Add 1 tsp olive oil and fresh cracked pepper.  Mix until well combined.  Place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours for flavours to develop.  Garnish with chive flowers and a little more olive oil. Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.

Ranch Salad Dressing or Dip

Ranch Salad Dressing

Ranch Dressing has the classic flavours of chives, parsley, and black pepper.  This one is simple to prepare and easy to vary.  It comes together in minutes and can easily be a dip or a dressing.

1/2 cup greek yogurt

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

fresh lemon or lime juice

finely chopped chives, parsley, garlic chives

fresh ground black pepper

Refridgerate to blend flavours


To make a thinner dressing use more buttermilk, to make thicker use more yogurt or a thicker greek style yogurt.


Variations – add feta cheese and oregano

                   – add cilantro and hot or smoked pepper sauce

Mexican Rainbow Salad Bowl

Large salad with carrots, cucumbers, corn, avocado, tomatoes, black beans and coucous with a dressing in the middle
Mexican Rainbow Salad Bowl from www.makinghealthychoices.ca

Bright and colourful, this Mexican Salad comes together quickly.  Layer bottom of salad plate or bowl with romaine lettuce.  In a rainbow pattern, add Mexican Spiced Whole Wheat Couscous, Mexican Spiced Black Beans, Cooked corn, chopped cucumbers, grated carrots, sliced avocado, and quartered tomatoes.  Serve with pepitas and Ranch Dressing

Mexican Spiced Whole Wheat Couscous

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 cup whole wheat couscous

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons cilantro

1 tablespoon chives

salt and pepper

lime wedge

Add 1 cup boiling water and mix well.

While stirring add 1 cup whole wheat couscous, cover and let sit for 20 minutes.

Fluff with a fork and add olive oil, chives, cilantro,a spash of fresh lime juice, salt and pepper.

 

Mexican Spiced Black Beans

1 cup cooked black beans

1 cup homemade salsa or your favourite prepared salsa.

For this recipe I prefer a more sauce like salsa.  Mix together and refridgerate for 2–3 hours for flavours to develop.

Raisins

 

a collage of 6 pictures of recipes that highlight raisins
Recipes with Raisins

Raisins bring back childhood memories for me.  My Mom used them a lot, from snacks to baking and even in salads and savoury dishes.  I especially remember her carrot coleslaw, topped with raisins, probably to trick us kids into eating more vegetables.  These sweet little gems are delicious and flavourful, providing natural sweetness along with vitamins, minerals and fiber.  They are a concentrated energy source of primarily sugar, so keeping portions modest is advisable.

For raisin inspiration check out these ideas.  I’ve teamed up with some terrific ladies to bring you some new ideas and remind you of some old favourites too.  I have updated my Mom’s coleslaw by adding super healthy kale, complete with kale massage to sweeten and tenderize it in my Kale Slaw with Apples, Carrots and Raisins.  For a super healthy whole grain salad try this Indian Style Lemony Quinoa and Chickpea Salad from The Tiffin Box where raisins add sweetness to compliment the light curry flavours.  It’s a delicious salad, I added 2 grated carrots, double the raisins and also chopped pecans.  Make Ahead Breakfast Cookies from Kitchen Frau and Raisin Bran Muffins from Within the Kitchen are perfect to have on hand for a grab and go breakfast or snack.  The cookies are substantial, filled with seeds, whole grain flours, and dried fruit including raisins to provide energy and sweetness. I made both of these recipes with less sugar than called for with perfect results. I also reduced the dried fruit in the Breakfast Cookies to 1 cup of each.

Recipes that work for breakfast, snacks or dessert are total wins for busy schedules.  Swirls and Spice created this terrific Carrot Spice Granola, where the cardamom adds a sophisticated flavour. It would make a wonderful Mother’s Day gift. Creamy and delicious, the Brown Rice Pudding from Our Fresh Kitchen is so comforting!  I subbed the rice with barley, which works equally well.

What are your favourite recipes with raisins?

 

Kale Slaw with Apples, Carrots and Raisins

Kale Slaw with Apples, Carrots and Raisins

Kale is delicious is this bright slaw combined with carrots, apples and raisins.  The secret is a Kale massage!  Some varieties and especially mature kale leaves can be thick and tough.  Massaging with vinegar, salt and olive oil tenderizes the leaves and enhances the sweetness. The combination of a dark green leafy and bright orange vegetable is superhealthy and a very refreshing light dish.  


Kale Slaw with Apples, Carrots and Raisins

1 bunch Kale, stems removed and cut into small pieces.  

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

Place kale in a bowl and add vinegar, olive oil and salt.  With clean hands massage until kale is shiny and bright green.  Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients and the dressing.

1 apple cored and diced

1-2 carrots grated (about 11/2 cups)

2 chives minced

1/2 cup raisins

Dressing

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp honey or sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper

Mix everything together in a bowl or small jar.


Add apple, carrots and chives to kale and toss.  Add dressing and toss until well combined, topping with raisins.  Enjoy!

Tropical Smoothie with Spinach and Mint

Tropical Smoothie with Spinach and Mint

Leafy greens are just so important in our diet we should aim for 1 serving every day!  Sometimes it is not easy to fit them in and an easy way is to include them is in a smoothie for breakfast, a snack or anytime throughout the day.  Adding mint brightens the flavours and adds a refreshing energizing taste.

Tropical Smoothie with Spinach and Mint

1 frozen banana

1 cup frozen mango

2 cups fresh spinach

2 cups coconut milk

10 fresh mint leaves or to taste

Blend everything together until smooth, adding water or extra milk to thin it if necessary.

Spring Greens Layered Salad

Spring Greens Layered Salad

Fresh Spring Greens highlight this beautiful layered salad! Blessed with an extra warm sunny spring, my garden has perked up early this year. I was delighted to pick some beautiful greens and herbs to create this gorgeous salad.  

 

A simple salad, lightly dressed highlights the flavours of the herbs and tastes like Spring!   Start with greens to cover the salad plate (tossed with dressing or spritzed with flavoured olive oil and balsamic, salt and pepper), layer or arrange other vegetables or fruits on top. I used tomatoes, grated carrot, sliced avocado, and grated beets. I love this salad platter from The Gourmet Warehouse which shows it off beautifully.

Pecan Date Granola with Carrots!

 

It’s ‪NationalPecanDay‬ ! Try this amazing Pecan Date Granola sweetened with dates, honey and cinnamon with an extra nutritious boost from carrots!
Pecan Date Granola with Carrot

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup pecans
1/3 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup pureed carrot
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chopped dates

Mix oats, coconut, pecans and wheat germ into a large bowl and stir until well combined.
In a small saucepan add carrots, coconut oil, honey, salt and cinnamon. Heat gently over low heat until well combined and coconut oil is melted. Add vanilla and then add mixture to dry ingredients and mix well.

Spread out onto cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees F for 35 minutes, checking every 15 minutes to stir it and spread out again. When it is almost done, add dates and bake another 5 minutes.