Monday, April 30, 2012

Home fries and black bean burgers

I was craving a big juicy burger and greasy, salty fries - definitely not allowed on our current 6-week no-red-meat-no-sugar-no-flour-no-fun-no-nothing diet.  Lately I've been trying to make some interesting new meals to make this healthy diet extra enjoyable for my husband.  Because I love him.  And I want him to like things like black bean burgers so he'll live a long, healthy, bean-loving life. 

Black bean burgers

I found the recipe for these black bean burgers on Pinterest.  I pretty much followed her recipe, with a few tweaks.  

Funny story... in the recipe she calls for 6 T of oats, which any English speaking person would know means 6 tablespoons.  In my Franco-tired-from-baby brain I wrote it down as 6 tasses (French word for cup).  As I was adding the 3rd cup to my bowl, I was thinking to myself, "this seems like way too many oats... maybe I should double-check the recipe..."  I managed to scoop out most of it, but I think there was more than twice the required amount in there.  I added an egg white to compensate, and the flavour didn't suffer thankfully.  Be ye not deceived! It is 6 tablespoons of oats, NOT 6 cups. 

They were pretty easy to make, squashed black beans, quinoa, mashed sweet potato, oats and some spices.  You just form into patties and bake in the oven.  


Topped with spicy homemade mayo (recipe to come), avocado slices, tomato and roasted red pepper, it was a hit!  Hubby even exclaimed, "It's like a real burger!"  I've got leftover mixture in the freezer and three extra patties in the fridge for later this week.  (He also said "they look like big chocolate chip cookies" while they were still on the pan...)

Home fries

Who doesn't like a pile of crispy, salty fries?  Fries are a comfort food for me.  They complement any meal, barbecue, soup, sandwich, whatever.  I make them all the time.  With just a drizzle of olive oil, some spices and baked in the oven, they come out crispy on the outside and smooth as mashed potatoes on the inside.  Honestly, they are healthy! 

Potatoes (2 good-sized per person)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.

Chop up your potatoes into lengths.  I leave the skin on, but peel them if you want. 

Place in a bowl that has a lid.  Drizzle on the olive oil and sprinkle on the spices.

Put the lid on and shake it around until well coated.  Do a little dance if you like.

Spread onto a cookie sheet.  Give them some room, those fries like their personal space.  After 30 mins, flip them over and toss them around a little then pop back in for another 20-30 mins.  

Enjoy with a black bean burger and spinach salad, or other delicious meal of your choice!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lemony shrimp pizza with portobello and spinach

It's been a little tough doing this special 6-week diet.  Trying to keep out all white flour, sugar, red meat and processed food, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, is difficult!  Especially when you go to two potlucks in one weekend.  The meatballs and cake were calling my name.  Someone asked me the other day, "So what can you eat??"  Really we can still eat whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, seafood, chicken, yogurt and fresh cheeses and other things that aren't processed, like olives and spices.  All of these sound delicious, right?  It's eating healthily, which we were trying to do already.  It just means I can't pull out a frozen pizza when it's been a long day.  I've got to remember to take things out of the freezer ahead of time, cook up rice and grains, soak legumes, peel, chop and juice veggies and fruits... which means *gasp* I have to plan.  A bit of an endeavour with a 6-month-old baby.

Yesterday I spent the day in the kitchen and finished the day exhausted, but with pizza dough, chicken soup and samosas for us, and carrots, chicken and apple cubes in the freezer for Mademoiselle (my little lady).  Supper was especially good - pizza topped with whatever I could find in the fridge.  Here is what I did. 

Lemony shrimp pizza with portobello and spinach

Whole wheat pizza dough (I used Katie's recipe) 
Crushed tomatoes and dried basil (simplest sauce ever) 
12 shrimp 
One portobello mushroom cap
2 big handfuls of spinach 
Lots of feta cheese
1 clove garlic
Zest of 1 lemon

I pre-cooked the pizza dough in the oven for 10 minutes at 350° - doughy crust is not my thing. 
While the crust is cooking, sautée the spinach in 1 tbsp butter and a twinge of garlic, just until wilted.  Set aside.  Sautée the portobellos in the same pan with a little butter, set aside.  Toss shrimp with grated lemon zest, grated garlic, salt and pepper, and fry, again in the same pan (so economical!). Halve or third the shrimp to spread out on the pizza.   Once your pizza dough is done, slather on the crushed tomato (to taste), sprinkle on some dried basil and layer on our toppings as you like.  Top with big chunks of feta.  Pop in the oven for another 10-15 minutes until nice and sizzly!

Enjoy with a nice tossed salad with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette, like the one we had last night.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Garden Project: Plant baby progress!

I planted my seeds about 4 weeks ago, and now look at my little plant babies! They are practically ready for kindergarten. Despite not having a ton of direct sunlight they mostly seem to be thriving quite well. Each one of my basils has grown tall - although I certainly don't have room for almost 100 basil plants! Already I've given some to 2 friends and will probably have to leave some on people's doorsteps in the night...

I just transplanted my little hot pepper plants today and they look pretty happy in their new window precariously perched on top of my ironing board which is propped up on some boxes... I should put a 'caution' sign up in that room.

I transplanted some tomatoes just over a week ago, and they are just loving their new pots!

Note to self: Seedlings start out cute and cuddly but they will grow big and strong and will run around the house and knock over your fragile stuff and jump up and lick your face! I mean need to be transplated and take up every one of your windowsills...

I can't wait to plant these outside and start to see some to-ma-toes!

Stay tuned for Operation Building Garden Beds!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sweet Potato and Pear Soup

Jamie and I are on a 6 week liver cleanse-Daniel fast-health kick. We aren't eating red meat, sugar, white flour or processed foods, and eating as many raw fruits and veggies as we can.So essentially, we're eating healthily. We do have to drink 2 big glasses of water with lemon juice in the morning, which apparently helps to cleanse your liver. It must be working because I always have to pee the whole rest of the morning...
I didn't think we ate that much of the "forbidden foods", red meat, white flour and the like, but it turns out our go-to types of meals like pasta and tex-mex tend to have that stuff in them.
So I've been trying to plan our meals better, and have been looking for new recipes to try. I've been having fun making raw juices, my own mayonnaise, cream cheese and today it was whole wheat tortillas! But, snacking is harder and I reeeeallly am missing sweets - brownies, ice cream, cookies, Easter chocolate... *drool* Anyway!

Here is a great vegetarian recipe that my best friend Naphtali introduced me to, it's deceptively simple yet the flavours of the sweet potato and pear pair nicely. (pear pair... hi hi)

Sweet Potato and Pear Soup Recipe


2 tbsp butter
1 small white onion
2 large pears
3 big sweet potatoes
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I use a homemade bouillon paste - recipe coming soon!)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cream (optional)

Chop the onion finely, peel and cube the sweet potatoes and peel, core and cube the pears. My pears were a little small so I threw in an extra one.

Check out my albino sweet potato...

Melt butter in a pot, and sauté onions until soft and translucent.

Add the sweet potato and pear, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add stock to the pot and bring to a boil, cooking the sweet potato and pear until soft, about 20 minutes.

Blend using either a food processor, blender or hand-held blender (my preferred method).

Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

Top with a dollop of homemade yogurt and a dash of celery salt!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Garden Project: Starting seeds indoors

My first thought when I saw the big yard around our new house was - I can have a garden!! My mom always maintained a fairly large garden every year growing up. I remember her getting us to help weed, during which we whined and protested being made to work so hard. (...) Also we tried to get her to pay us. It was hot and mosquito-ey and we would rather be playing and climbing trees! But, of course, we were the first to enjoy tasting the first little cherry tomatoes, the baby carrots and the cute little cucumbers right off the vine. Am I ever thankful that my mom included us in the growing process (albeit somewhat against our will) because I learned to appreciate where food comes from, especially food that you've grown yourself. Can't get much more local than that! I can't wait to try it out and see what we can grow. I would love to have lots of fresh veggies in the summer/fall and try to preserve what I can for the winter.

Here are the seeds I bought:

I got them from the Feel Good Store on Germain St. uptown. Hope Seeds is a local seed harvester and provider, and all the seeds here are organic. You can also order from their seed catalog - cheaper if you are buying in large quantities.

A good start!

It is just amazing to me that all these little seeds will grow plants that make food. Just look at these tiny little suckers - in a couple months they will yield big plants with hundreds of delicious cherry tomatoes. I am in awe of my God who is so creative and industrious!

So I have started a couple seeds indoors, because our Northern summer is just too short to help some plants grow well. I started tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers and basil in a cute little coconut fiber seed starting tray that my mom bought me.

Not even two weeks after planting them, here they are all popped up bright and green and ready to rock! Of course the tender love and care that I have lavished on them has probably been very encouraging. I try to make sure they are always watered and have lots of sun - although I still doubt there is any place in my house with enough sun for these guys.

Here is a bright little cherry tomato plant - small but mighty!

A little baby hot pepper plant... turns out these guys like it hot! They needed to be in a warmer room and took about an extra week to sprout.

My handsome little basils sprouted like champions. Pretty much 100% of the seeds I sowed came up. I can't wait to enjoy these bad boys on the tomatoes with some nice balsamic vinaigrette! Oooh and maybe make some pesto...

I'll keep you posted on the progress of my little plant babies. It's all very exciting.