Monday, 28 January 2013

Cleansing the Healthy Way

Cleansey goodness :)
When my sister went on her first Cleanse, I thought she was nuts. A shake for breakfast AND dinner . . no way in hell. However, after reading the book "Clean" I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. Everything I've learned about the toxins we circulate through our body and cling on to day after day has made me realize that regardless of how healthy Chris and I might think we eat, there's a lot we're ingesting that's truly a waste of space. And so, the start of a 25 day Cleanse. . .shakes and all.

Ingredients required for your first Cleanse:
  • A knowledgeable and experienced friend/family member
  • A partner/roommate who's joining in or loves erratic food-related mood swings
  • A couple of willing and eager girlfriends at work to share the 'load' with, so to speak
--> Once you have each of these things, the task is simple: figure out what you're going to eat for every meal of the 3 weeks, prepare each meal, preserve it in what seems like hundreds of reusable containers, and purchase supplements like they're going out of style.

There are also a bunch of realizations I had to come to in order to do this, so be prepared:

1) Sugar may taste great, but even the smallest bit ain't too hot for your bod. Skip it and use Stevia instead - you honestly won't miss the sugar after awhile. 

2) The traditional veggie staple, Peanut Butter, is clearly not the way to go. Chuck it and opt for Organic Raw Almond Butter instead . . never thought I'd agree to that!

3) Cooking with oil is a must, so why not choose something body-friendly to cook with? Coconut Oil is delicious in your food and is also great for your skin. My Mum was just recommended it by her naturopath to heal skin that general doctors have been stumped by.

4) Respond to HUNGER. I can't count how many times I walk into the kitchen, pop a handful of crackers or pre-made granola into my mouth without even considering whether I need it or not. Eating only when hungry makes complete sense . . who knew!?

5) Be Creative. Even though all of our meals were homemade, veggie, and pretty natural, we were rotating through the same few meals. (We all do it - don't lie to yourself!) Using different types of veggies, sauces (wheat-free tamari instead of soy sauce is great!) forced us to step even farther out of our comfort zones and explore. It costs a bit of $$ to start, but it's worth it.

I'm certainly not trying to plug one type of cleanse in particular, but I do have to say that from one previously non-believing veggie to many others - the benefits are great. The movies without popcorn and the uneaten Christmas chocolate starting at you from on top of the cupboards may not make it seem worth it . . but that's what makes it a challenge :)

Clean recipe ideas to come!!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Heads Up Veggie Buds!

So you're walking through the juice aisle and some tasty treats catch your eye. Will it be orange, fruit punch, or strawberry kiwi - so many healthy, fruit-filled choices. But...A-HA! Some things are not what they seem. When grocery shopping in a large store, it's all up to you to check what you're eating/drinking. Chris and I are very good about checking sodium levels, sugar amounts, etc., but when choosing juice, scrutinizing the ingredients wasn't the first thing on our mind. Tonight, we were shown the light. As an example of the need for awareness: Oasis health break Strawberry-Kiwi juice contains fish. It has a high level of omega-3, so I guess we should've assumed. But how many of us expect juice to come with your recommended daily intake of salmon? To be fair, the carton has it printed in bold under the ingredients, so it really is up to us, as consumers, to actually read what we're buying.

Another example that REALLY ticks me off, is Campbell's soup and their "Vegetable" concoction. Unfortunately, the whole 'vegetable' part is a tad misleading. The readily available Vegetable soup contains beef broth - no lie. Another Plan-B meal gone down the tubes. Again, to be fair, there is a Vegetarian Vegetable soup also available, but I've honestly never seen it on a Canadian shelf. If anyone has, kudos to you (and pass some our way!) Although it's always nicer to have homemade soups, sometimes a can is a lifesaver.

** Just a little friendly heads-up from your fellow Veggie :) **

Sunday, 4 November 2012

짜장면 - Korean Comfort Food; Black Bean Style

When most people think "comfort food", they go for mashed potatoes, chicken noodle soup, pancakes....insert weird family food here. For those of us who've lived in South Korea, there's only one dish you go for when you need some warm lovin' in your belly: 짜장면 (Black Bean Noodles). The 14th day of every month has a special meaning in Korea ranging from Valentine's Day, White Day, Movie Day, Diary Day, and Black Day - when Jajjangmyeon (see Korean word above) is eaten by every un-coupled person in the country . . . or people who LOVE tasty, warm, gooey deliciousness!

So, if you're looking for something easy to make tonight that'll leave you feeling healthy, full, and warm and mushy inside, then Jajjang is for you! Be experimental tonight, you won't regret it ;)

Jajjangmyeon (짜장면)

rice noodles (as many as you would normally make)
Found in most Asian food stores
1 cup of black bean paste
2 tbsp corn starch
2 cups water
about 3 tbsp of oil for cooking
1 tsp sugar
zucchini, onion, green peppers, pre-boiled potato chunks (as many of each as you need)

1. Add all the veggies and tofu to a deep pan/wok and fry them up until they're translucent.

2. Clear a space in the center of the wok by pushing the veggies and tofu to the sides.  

3. Add 2 tbsp of oil to the center with the cup of black bean paste. Stir it around to fry it up for about 2 minutes. Mix everything together.

4. Add 2 cups of water to the wok and let it all cook with the lid closed for about 10 minutes.

Veggies, veggies, veggies
5. Combine the corn starch, water, and 1 tsp of sugar in a small mug. Open up the lid and add the corn starch mix to the wok. Keep stirring it together until it's thick and mixed up. 
Mix up the love!

Serve up your black bean creation over the noodles you've hopefully cooked at the same time - if you're cooking rice noodles, make sure to watch them because they can overcook and get chewy pretty quickly. 

So, whether you're single and feeling a little "black" on April 14th, or you just want to feel comfy and warm, 짜장면 is what you need. Enjoy and let me know what you think! No more mashed potatoes for you :)


Sunday, 9 September 2012

Fabulous Falafels

Give them a shmoosh and chomp down!
Eating at Mr. Shawarma has always been a tasty treat Chris and I can't never get enough of. $3.50 falafel pitas? YES PLEASE! Open till 3am almost everyday of the week? EVEN BETTER! Having to walk 25 minutes to get to you . . fun, but not always possible/awesome. To tackle the issue of loving spicy falafels but not needing the leave the house, we got a little wild with some chick peas.  

It doesn't take much hard work to get a finished product like this -------------------> 
Just grab a food processor and get mixin'!

Feisty Falafels

1 can no-salt added chickpeas (540 ml)
1/2 cup diced red onion
3 tbsp fresh cilantro and parsley
2 tbsp lemon juice (as fresh as possible of course)
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp tahini
1 tsp garlic - minced as well as you can
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander, chili powder, and salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (play around with this to suit yourself - don't be a wimp)
some olive oil

1. Add all the ingredients except the olive oil to a food processor. Pulse it, scraping down the bowl now and again, until the mix is similar to really thick cookie dough. Move this mix to a bowl, cover it with a towel or something similar to plastic wrap (please skip the plastic wrap...I wish I had this time!). Put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour - this'll make it firm.  
Chunky, spicy loveliness.

2. When it's firmed up, roll the dough into balls about the same size as a big drop cookie - a couple of tbsps. Flatten the balls a little bit in your hands.

Gettin' a tan.
3. Heat some oil in a pan and add some patties to it. Fry them up for a few minutes on each side, or until they get nice and brown and heated through (press on them to see if they're hot enough through the middle).

** If you leave the patties out of the pan for a bit before putting them into your pita they'll get a little firmer. We love shmushing them into a pita with spicy, homemade hummus, raw onions, lettuce, and whatever else we might have lying around.  

Healthy, homemade fast food served right to your kitchen - what more could you want?! Mr. Shawarma now and again of course :)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Best Black-Bean-Burgs Ever!

When my friend Christine asked when I was going to blog about the mouth-watering meatless burgers I keep talking about, I realized one very unfortunate thing: their tasty-ness means they always get eaten too quickly to get pictures taken of them! After building my last beany burg, I thought to myself, "I should take a pic of this for the blog".... only to eat it before having a chance to grab my phone. Keeping that in mind, pictures of the creation that is the Best Black-Bean Burgs Ever will have to be added at a later date. 

So, if you're ready for some healthier eats on your BBQ that still have enough texture and juiciness to make you feel like your BBQ'ing something more than another veggie kebab, then read on . . . 
Beer not entirely necessary, but tasty.

Bulging BBQ'd Black Bean Burgs

1 whole wheat burger bun - torn up into little bits
1 tbsp olive oil (or any other oil you prefer - avocado is GREAT!)
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 regular sized can of black beans - drained and rinsed in a strainer
1 tsp grated lime rind (these keep fairly fresh in the fridge for a while - don't throw them out!)
1 shallot - chopped finely
3/4 tsp chili powder (or more . . . if you're like us)
1/2 tsp chopped oregano (or the bottled kind, if that's all you've got)
pinch of salt
1 large egg - beaten lightly
1 large egg white - beaten lightly

1. Put the burger bun in a food processor and process it until you've got about 1 cup of bread crumbs. Move this to a bowl.

2. Combine 1/2 tbsp oil, the garlic, and the can of beans in the processor and pulse it until the beans make a thick paste. Move this bean mix to the bowl of bread crumbs and stir in everything else. 

Squish it like a pro!
3. Now's the time to really get in there! Wet your hands a bit and divide the mix into about 4 equal portions (or 2 hefty ones, if you're more adventurous). It's going to seem like a big mush - don't fret! These burgers won't be easily molded into patties . . you need to poke and prod them to take any shape that isn't super runny.

4. To make sure the burgers hold well before BBQ'ing them, put them in a medium-hot pan with the rest of the oil and fry them for about 3 mins. on each side, or until they're turning a little brown. You NEED to do this or else they'll fall through the BBQ in seconds!
The BBQ makes them even better!

5. NOW they're ready to BBQ or stack in a reusable container in the freezer :)
NOT a burger I'd be willing to eat . . just sayin'.
** We tend to make these Burgs in large amounts and freeze the patties in stacks for weeks. It's the best treat to open the freezer on a busy Monday night and be able to BBQ up veggie burgers that don't taste like processed "meatless patties". I shudder at the thought of ever buying those again ------->

Let me know if you add anything different to your Bean Burgs - I'd love to get some ideas for extra fillings!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Cold Relief w/ Zero Waste :)

Icy and sweet!
Heat waves without a/c are a pretty interesting time - everything's sticky, you can't sleep, and eating hot food is impossible! So what do you do to cope? Eat frozen treats galore!! The negative piece to that, is that every frozen treat comes with some kind of outrageous packaging and involves walking to a store and buying them . . . boring! 

Hence why I propose a delicious solution: homemade popsicles! No recipe needed here, of course; just the motivation to get them started. My Mum always had these ready for my sister and I when we were younger, and we were constantly grateful for the easy access to frozen relief! My husband and I bought our container from a garage sale for 25 cents and haven't looked back since. If you're not willing to scout the streets for them, you can find these containers everywhere: grocery stores, dollar stores, you name it. Once you've introduced this new wonder into your home, grab your favorite juice and pour away! They take about an hour or so to freeze. 

You'll never have to walk to another convenience store again!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Salsa Sundays

So, we were looking through our kitchen the other day and were pretty shocked to see how many food items we're still buying that are totally unnecessary. Salad dressing (post to come), crackers (still not sure how to replace those), and salsa - we eat so much of it now that it's BBQ season! In order to combat this onslaught of overspending and sodium, I decided to check out our cookbooks and get a little creative.

The easiest thing to replace, I thought, must be salsa. It's really just veggies and spices anyway, right? Well, in your favorite store-bought can . . not so much. But FRET NOT - this recipe for tangy homemade salsa with just enough spice will be the relief you're looking for:

Looks fresher already!
Chunky Salsa with a Kick

** keep in mind, these measurements + ingredients sound fancy, but don't need to be followed TOO well. We put our own spin on it, so go for it yourself! **
some olive oil
2 cups diced onions
2 tbsp minced garlic 
5 jalapeno peppers OR my fav: 6 or 7 thai green chilies (cheaper AND tangier) 
6 cups seeded and diced FRESH plum tomatoes OR my fav: about 3 or 4 big beefsteaks
1 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce (the label says exactly this, so don't confuse yourself)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper OR replace the paprika and cayenne with a hefty amount of chili p.
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 juicy lime

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and peppers. Cook and stir them until the onions start to go soft - probably about 5 mins.

2. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, cumin, salt, paprika, and cayenne (or whichever spice combo you chose). Mix them in and cook, uncovered, for about 10 mins, stirring now and again.

3. Remove the pot from the burner and stir in the cilantro and lime juice. SERVE IT UP!

Credit: Looneyspoons

Don't be jealous - make your own!
Now that our fridge is filled with this fresh-tasting, flavorful salsa, I know that we could never go back to store-bought. Plus, by buying all our veggies from the farmer's market, we just feel better about stuffing ourselves with chips before dinner :)