Black Bean, Corn and Red Pepper Tacos

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This taco recipe started out as a dip.  It was so popular and well liked it turned into a main mix for a few different Mexican style dishes.  It has evolved a little over the years, but always starts with the same foundation.  This versatile mix that can go a lot of different ways depending on what you have on hand, what ingredients are in season or what your preferences are. We use it for tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and as an ever popular dip for parties and potlucks. This recipe definitely has increased our use of black beans. Continue reading Black Bean, Corn and Red Pepper Tacos

Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad

Summertime…when the living is easy.  Salads like this and summer meals in general often come together almost intuitively, simply by picking what is fresh, ripe, colourful, and appealing.  There is nothing quite like the taste of a tomato or peach or English pea that is picked at its peak, bursting with luscious flavours.  Summer is for savouring these tastes that we have waited a long time to taste again. Continue reading Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad

Lentil Amaranth Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

This recipe for stuffed portobello mushrooms is elegant and completely delicious.  Using both lentils and amaranth, these are a  great source of plant based protein and packed with many valuable nutrients.  Adding roasted peppers compliments the meaty flavour and texture of the portobellos and the tangy, creamy goat cheese brightens the dish.  To make this meal vegan, pine nuts would be a suitable substitute. Continue reading Lentil Amaranth Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Whole Bowls by Allison Day


Whole Bowls Cookbook by Allison Day

I was pretty excited to review “Whole Bowls” by Allison Day. As a nutritionist I tend to seek out other nutritionists or dietitians or those with a strong health focus. It is just my natural affinity.  I enjoy her blog, Yummy Beet, which is fun and friendly and has terrific recipes, all written with her easy going style. Continue reading Whole Bowls by Allison Day

Edamame Hemp Heart Hummus (Edamammus)


Edamame Hemp Heart Hummus (Edamammus) edamame, hemp hearts, olive oil (or avocado), garlic, lemon juice, salt, paprika or smoked paprika
Edamame Hemp Heart Hummus (Edamammus)

Quick, easy, simple, delicious, healthy; this hummus is a must try.  Smooth and creamy like you expect hummus to be yet has the light mild flavour of edamame. Adding protein rich hemp hearts in place of tahini, boosts the protein and adds healthy omega 3 and 6 fats.  This mixture needs a little extra processing time to smooth out the hemp hearts but the result is smooth and creamy. It is perfect as a spread on crackers, pita or in a sandwich. Continue reading Edamame Hemp Heart Hummus (Edamammus)

Thai Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry

A bowl of Thai Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry with 2 wedges of fresh lime
Thai Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry
The other day my sister showed up with a bag of unique ingredients and a magazine I had never heard of. Some people bring flowers or chocolates or wine; my family brings me ingredients. They know me so well!  It was the perfect gift.
The magazine is Arabia Food and Travel. It has a picture on the cover of a gorgeous Pumpkin and Coconut Laksa. In the bag were some of the more exotic and interesting ingredients I needed to make it, and I could not wait to see what I could come up with.  Although my recipe is quite different from the original, it definitely provided inspiration.  
The curry paste is strong and spicy with lots of lemon grass and ginger and just enough heat that everyone in the family will enjoy it. The fresh turmeric, ginger, chili peppers and cilantro give it an extra brightness. Make the curry paste first and the rest comes together quickly.
This soup is truly delicious. The fresh lime leaves elevate this lovely curry so that it saturates your taste buds with sweet, spicy, sour and salty components. It is almost like a health tonic and perfect for giving the immune system a boost to stave off a cold or flu.  A great winter lunch or dinner.
Thai Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry
Curry Paste
3 stalks lemon grass, chopped, outer tough leaves and ends trimmed
1 1/2 fresh small red Thai chilis deseeded (or more for extra heat)
1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled
3 inch piece of fresh young ginger, washed, roughly chopped
1/4 cup cilantro
5 small fingers of turmeric (about 5 inches) washed and trimmed and roughly chopped
Pinch salt
Directions:  Place lemon grass in small bowl of food processor along with 1/4 cup water.  Process, stopping regularly to scrape down the bowl until it is a paste.  (This will take a little time) Add everything else and process until everything is  mixed well.  Add more water if necessary.  You will not need all of the paste for this recipe. It is a wonderful curry paste to have on hand and you will find all kinds of ways to use it.
Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced small
1/3  cup curry paste
1 liter vegetable stock
1 small can (160ml) coconut milk 
6 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup yellow lentils (toor dal)
4 lime leaves
Directions:  In a large saucepan, heat coconut oil.  Add onion and cook a few minutes.  Add curry paste and cook until fragrant.  Add vegetable stock, coconut milk, lime leaves, sweet potatoes and lentils and cook until sweet potatoes are tender and the lentils are cooked, about 25-30 minutes.  Remove lime leaves and serve. Garnish with minced fresh red chili peppers, coconut butter, cilantro,and lime wedges. Serve with rice, other grain or noodles.



Pear Cardamom Granola with Pecans

Bowl of granola with pears, pecans and cranberries, large container of granola in background
Pear Cardamom Granola with Pecans

There is something about cardamom that is hard to describe.  At first it is a spicy peppery taste that makes me think of savoury dishes, but then there is a hint of sweet and a nut taste too.  It is a unique powerful spice that is very aromatic.  I love it.  I keep finding more and more ways to use it.  Cardamom is delicious in coffee, hot chocolate, warm milk or of course chai tea.  It is wonderful in combination with apples, pears and oranges and it goes very well with ginger and cinnamon.  Much more commonly used outside of North America in India, Asia, Sweden and Finland, it isn’t a spice I know very well, but I am looking forward to trying more recipes with cardamom as it makes dishes extra special.

This granola is extra special.  Spicy, sweet, crunchy, nutty; it is one terrific bowl of cereal that is hearty and satisfying.  Perfect for busy mornings, it provides a nutritious breakfast that is completely delicious.  Filled with toasty oats, coconut, pecans, just enough sweetness and lovely warm spice from cardamom, cinnamon and ginger it is great for cold winter mornings. I usually make a batch on the weekend to last for a couple of breakfasts throughout the next week or so.

Speaking of batch cooking and planning ahead, that is my January project. There is something about the New Year that makes me want to get organized.  Determined to do meal plans, cook ahead, and organize the kitchen it helps us to save money and time, reduce our food waste, plan to include lots of colours and increase variety in our diets. Make ahead breakfasts, crock pot dinners, batch cooking – it all just helps so much to reduce stress and provide healthy food for our busy family even on the most hectic of days.

Pear Cardamom Granola with Pecans 

Makes 12 servings (1/2 cup)

4 cups oats (Large Flake or Old Fashioned Oats) *

1/2 cup coconut

1/2 cup pecans

1 cup pear sauce (or apple sauce)*

2 tablespoons oil

1/3 cup brown sugar*

1 tsp ground cardamom

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees and prepare cooking pans by lining them with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, mix together oats, coconut and pecans and set aside.  In a small saucepan mix together pear sauce, oil, brown sugar, spices and salt.  Heat over low heat until sugar is dissolved.  Pour sauce mixture into oats and stir well.  Spread out onto prepared pans.  Bake for approx 45 minutes until toasty.  Stir every 15 minutes and add the dried cranberries during the last 10 minutes of baking.  Let cool completely and store in a jar. Makes approx 6 cups granola.

*To make gluten free ensure gluten free oats are used.

*To make pear sauce, wash pears, core and chop.  Add to small saucepan with a little water and cook on low until tender.  Mash or blend.

*Substitute 1/4 cup honey or 1/4 cup maple syrup if desired.



Creamy Carrot Soup with Coconut Milk

Bowl of Creamy Carrot Soup pictured with crackers
Creamy Carrot Soup with Coconut Milk

This creamy carrot soup is so perfect for these cooler fall days when you want something comforting yet nourishing.  Made with rice to thicken and is creamy and delicious with the added coconut milk.  Simple yet elegant it is complimented perfectly by any variation of fresh herbs.  


Creamy Carrot Soup (with coconut milk)

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion

2 garlic cloves

4-5 small fresh thyme sprigs 

4 cups chopped carrots

6 tbsp white rice

4 cups vegetable stock

1 1/2 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)

salt and pepper 

Garnish with coconut butter and finely chopped fresh herbs.



Melt coconut oil and heat along with olive oil in large saucepan, over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent and slightly browned.  Add thyme, carrots, vegetable stock and rice.  Bring to boil and then simmer until vegetables are very soft and rice is well cooked, about 1 hour.  Cool slightly, then puree.  Return to saucepan and add coconut milk, adding extra coconut milk or water to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste . 



Artisan Bread meets Craft Beer

Beautiful Artisan Easy Sour Dough Bread pictured on a gorgeous cutting board
Artisan Bread with Craft Beer

If you have not heard about this incredibly easy recipe for Artisan Bread, here it is.  It is one of the most popular recipes that was EVER published by the New York Times, The No Knead Bread. Thank you, Jim Lahey, this bread has improved our lives! So easy, my kids can both make it and I have made it many times, with many variations trying to add whole grains and healthy things into it, sometimes with epic fails. This time I tried it using beer to replace the water.

Beers adds something extraordinary to bread. Using a local craft beer instead of the water and the addition of currants and pecans results in a completely delicious gift worthy loaf.   We have also tried it with hazelnuts, dried cherries and dark chocolate with a dark beer and it is awesome*! (It went so fast I couldn’t take a picture of it.)  Beer adds terrific flavour to breads and with so many different styles and flavours in beer, there is an endless variety of options to experiment with.  A dark porter or stout beer will yield a darker bread with more pronounced flavours.  The bread will have all the flavours in the beer but will be much less intense.  As tempting as it will be to save the whole loaf for the adults, the alcohol from the beer burns off during the cooking so bread made with beer does not contain alcohol.

One thing that is tricky about making bread is it can be difficult to tell when it is done.  It is not like other baked goods where a finger press, slight nudge or toothpick gives us the information we need. A fool proof way to measure for the perfect loaf is to measure the internal temperature.  I have started using my kitchen thermometer to test bread and even other baked goods when I’m just not sure.   It turns out that I was slightly under cooking bread which explains why is was sometimes doughy inside.  Using an instant read thermometer, stick it inside the middle of the loaf.  You are looking for 190 degrees for a basic bread and 200 degrees for a bread with butter, milk or eggs.


Artisan Bread with Craft Beer (studded with pecans and currants)

Makes 1 loaf

1 1/2 cup beer (I used a lager)

3 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup currants

1/2 cup chopped roasted pecans

1/2 tsp yeast

1 tsp salt

Directions:  Mix everything together ( I used a stand mixer with dough hook but you can easily do this with a bowl and spoon).  Cover and let rest over night or at least 12 hours. Sprinkle parchment paper with flour, bran or cornmeal and turn bowl upside down so that the dough will drop onto the parchment paper.  Sprinkle with flour and gently fold dough over a few times to form a ball.  Cover and let rest another 1-2 hours.  Heat oven with dutch oven inside to 450 degrees.  When hot, put dough (still on parchment paper) inside dutch oven, cover and bake 30 minutes.  Remove lid and bake another 10 minutes or so until crust is golden brown. Test with thermometer to be sure the bread is cooked in the middle.  Your house will smell amazing and it will look incredible but try your best to wait at least 10 minutes before cutting.

*use a porter or stout beer, add 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate, 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries, and 1/4 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts

Have you tried the No Knead Bread recipe and what are your variations?

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies (with black beans)

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies displayed on a plate
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Filled with protein, fibre, low in sugar, no added oil or fat, high in antioxidants and incredibly delicious? You will never believe the main ingredient in these dark chocolate peanut butter morsels is…..BLACK BEANS! I was skeptical too when I read about black bean brownies on various blogs, but honestly if you haven’t tried them yet, you will be amazed at just how good they are.  I have a lot of combinations, coffee, chili powder, candied ginger, but the family favourite is this recipe with peanut butter.    

Simple and quick, these come together in about 10 minutes (with the help of the food processor) and they bake quickly too, especially these small size square ones. This dessert or treat is truly guilt free!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies (with Black Beans)

Makes 24 squares

1 can or 1 3/4 cup cooked black beans (if using canned beans, rinse well and drain them well)

2/3 cup cocoa

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons milled flax

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup natural peanut butter (Natural peanut butter contains only peanuts and salt)

few tablespoons of chopped peanuts

Directions:  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix flax with water and set aside while you put everything else in the bowl of the food processor, and then add the flax and water mixture.  Blend well until beans are pureed and everything is well incorporated.  It will look like hummus with an easy spreading consistency.  Add a little water or milk to thin if necessary. Scoop into prepared pan and top with chopped peanuts or chocolate chips if desired.  I used a silicone baking sheet with squares so no greasing was necessary.  If using a conventional muffin tin, line with parchment cups or grease well.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10- 25 minutes.  My silicone baking squares made 24 and took just over 10 minutes but a conventional muffin pan would make 12 brownies and take about 20-25 minutes.  They are done when the look dry on top and they have moved a little away from the edges of the pan.  They should be moist in the middle. Let cool in pan before removing gently.  Best enjoyed the day they are made.

The inspiration for this recipe came from many blogs, especially Minimalist Baker and My Little Celebration.