This blog is all about Food. Real Food. Food that Nourishes, Heart and Soul.

Real Ingredients, Organic and Locally sourced whenever and where ever possible, shared with love.

No packages, no ingredients that are impossible to pronounce.

Real, honest food, from my kitchen to yours. Enjoy!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Mushroom Quinoa Burgers with Cilantro Tahini Sauce

This is a tasty alternative to a traditional burger, when you are wanting a lighter meal, or are entertaining vegetarian guests. I upped the nutritional punch of these by using some Arame, a sea vegetable that is rich in many minerals, including iodine, which is lacking in all of our diets. It has many other health benefits as well, and you can read more about it here.  Sea vegetables are really quite tasty, and we have been adding them to anything and everything lately. They can be found in many grocery stores and health food stores. Give them a try, I think you will love them like we do!

We served our burgers on a lettuce leaf “bun”, topped with the Tahini Cilantro Sauce that follows this recipe. My eldest teenager (who isn't fond of quinoa or mushrooms...) ate 5 of them…I think that means they were good!

Mushroom Quinoa Burgers with Cilantro Tahini Sauce

1 med onion, diced (approx 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 ½ cups diced mushrooms (used 6 crimini)
½ cup diced yellow peppers
½ cup Arame, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes to soften,
1 tsp Miso Paste
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 cups precooked and cooled quinoa
¾ tsp Herbamare
1 egg
4 Tbsp ground Chia seeds

Preheat oven to 350F
Sauté the mushrooms, peppers and onions in the coconut oil for approx 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they soften and just start to brown.
Drain your Arame, chop it up and add it to the pan. Sauté for another 3-4 minutes. Scrape into mixing bowl and set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, mix together the Miso paste and sesame oil to loosen up the Miso.
Add to the veggie mixture and stir well to incorporate. Add your pre-cooked quinoa, the Herbamare, the egg and the ground Chia powder. Mix well and let stand for 10 minutes for Chia to absorb and bind the patties.
Line a large baking pan with parchment paper.
Scoop out ¼ cup of mixture onto the parchment and shape into a patty, rounding and compressing slightly as you go. Repeat with remaining mixture, with this size it should make approx 10 patties.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, flip gently and cook for 10 minutes more.
Serve hot on a lettuce leaf bun, with avocado slices sprouts and the tahini sauce. (recipe below)

Tahini Cilantro Sauce
4 tbsp tahini
6 tbsp kefir or thin yogurt (not Greek!)
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
Herbamare to taste

Mix all ingredients well in a small mixing bowl. Use as a sauce for burgers or as a salad dressing too!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Grain Free Nut Free Rosemary Chia Flax Crackers with Cranberry

Topped with a cheese called
"5 Brothers" from an awesome
 little cheese shop in Paris ON, called
 The 3 Blind Mice Cheese Company
I have yet to find a grain free gluten free cracker in a package that I love. They either contain ingredients that I am not willing to eat, or they are just not very tasty. Up until now, these almond crackers have been my favourite to bake. They are very tasty, but I find they don't stay crisp for storage. A few versions of this flax style cracker have been floating around for a while, so I decided to give my own version a try. I am really glad I did! I thought the onion would be overpowering, but it gives a nice background flavour to the cracker. Perfect for accompanying soup, or topping with a slice of cheese or nut butter for a snack.
My Inspiration recipe can be found here; my recipe goes something like this: 

Grain Free Nut Free Rosemary Chia Flax Crackers with Cranberry

1 medium organic onion, cut in chunks (mine was just a white cooking onion, a Vidalia would give you a milder onion flavour)
2 cloves organic garlic
A sprig of fresh organic rosemary, tough stem removed (alternatively use one tsp dried, or other herbs of choice)
1/3 cup  organic pumpkin seeds
¼ cup melted coconut oil
½ tsp Herbamare or other sea salt of choice
1 cup milled Flax seeds 
½ cup milled Chia seeds
¼ cup unsweetened or fruit juice sweetened dried organic cranberries, chopped into small-ish pieces

Semi Coarse salt to top crackers before baking

Preheat your oven to 300F
Puree onion, garlic, and rosemary in a food processor or blender. You want it to be a pretty smooth puree, no real chunks left. Scrape down the sides if needed. 
Add pumpkin seeds and pulse until they are just coarsely chopped in the onion mixture. (alternatively, you can puree them until they are smooth too, but I like the texture the coarse chop gives)
Dump this mixture into a mixing bowl and add the coconut oil, salt, flax, Chia and the chopped cranberries, mix with a wooden spoon or your hands until all ingredients are evenly mixed and it forms a ball of soft dough. Let stand for approx 10 minutes, to let the Chia absorb some of the moisture.

Between 2 large pieces of parchment, roll your dough evenly into a thin rectangle, approx 17’ by 12’. You want them quite thin.
Cut into 2’ squares (or other shape of choice) being careful not to cut right thru the parchment paper.(I wouldn't recommend trying to roll these without the parchment, the dough is pretty sticky!)

Using a salt grinder or your fingers, sprinkle the tops of the crackers with about ¼ tsp of extra semi coarse salt. Cover dough once more with the parchment, and press lightly to adhere the extra salt to the crackers. Peel parchment from dough again, and set aside for another use.
Leaving the dough on the bottom sheet of parchment, transfer to a large cookie sheet, and bake at 300F in the lower 1/3 of your oven for approx 1 hr, or until your crackers are crisp, with no moisture left in them at all. Check frequently during the last 15 minutes to ensure they don’t burn. If they aren't  quite crisp, bake longer but check every 5 minutes until they are crisp.
Let cool, and serve with toppings of choice! They are pretty amazing with a full flavoured cheese, like the one pictured above!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Warm Spinach Salad

I love the days when Jim plays hooky for the afternoon when I have a day off. That gives me time to put a bit of extra effort into lunch, instead of our typical salads and leftovers that we pack for lunch on a daily basis. This is still a salad, but with a bit of a fun twist. The sautéed vegetables are combined in the hot pan with vinegar to make up the dressing, which is then tossed with the cooked bacon and the cool greens. It all goes together in a flash as well, and would make an awesome side dish for a summer bbq!
We buy our beef bacon here. If you visit, be sure to tell Mark and Cindy we said "Hi!"!

Warm Spinach Salad

6 slices beef bacon, chopped into bite sized pieces (substitute nitrate free pork bacon if you wish)
½ cup organic shallots, coarsely chopped
1 cup of chopped fresh organic tomato
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
4 cups baby organic spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup toasted organic walnuts (optional)

Place your spinach in a large bowl and set aside.
Sauté your bacon in a medium to large cast iron pan. When it is just starting to crisp up, remove from pan leaving the fat remaining in the pan. You will want about 2 tbsp, so if your bacon is really fatty, remove all but that amount.
Sauté the shallots in the bacon fat until they just start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomato and sauté for a minute more, until it starts to soften and release the juices. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, and season with some fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste.
Add the bacon and toasted walnuts, if using, to the bowl of spinach, and then pour the contents of the hot pan, juices and all on top, and toss well to combine.

Serve immediately.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Bean-Free Zucchini Hummus

Oh hummus, how I have missed you. Beans have not been a regular part of my diet lately, digestion issues having relegated them to the strictly occasional very small indulgence. I have really missed hummus though, and until recently, thought I would not be able to enjoy it again. BUT! When browsing Pinterest the last few days, I have found 3 hummus recipes that don’t use beans! Oh joy oh bliss!! This one uses Cauliflower, this one uses Beets, and the  one that I made today uses Zucchini as the base. I was out of tahini, and having little patience when I am in the mood to create, substituted Sunbutter, with pretty good results! I also cut the amounts down, and added a kick of cayenne to give it some spice. You can peel your zucchini if you wish, but I left the skin on. The green flecks look kinda pretty!

Bean-Free Zucchini Hummus

2 cups  roughly chopped organic zucchini (approx 1 medium)
1/3 cup organic sun flower seed butter (Sunbutter)
Juice of 1 organic lemon
1 clove of organic
garlic, peeled
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp Herbamare or sea salt of choice
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until everything is nice and smooth and hummus-like. Serve with dippers of choice!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Crock Pot Roast Beef

I love my crock pots. I have two that I use quite often for all kinds of things, and I love how easy they make dinners on days that I know I will be pressed for time. This roast technique takes a wee bit of prep time, but it is worth it for the flavour at the end.  The roast I purchased was a sirloin tip, which worked really well with this technique. Top or bottom round would work well too for this long slow cooking method. It is perfect for the cheaper cuts, which helps with the weekly budget!

Crock Pot Roast Beef

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 onions, peeled and chopped
3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
4 potatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, halved
1 roast of beef, thawed, approx 3-4 lbs
2 tbsp coconut oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups beef bone broth

Fill the bottom of your crock pot with the chopped vegetables.
Browning the roast
Melt the coconut oil in a lg cast iron pan over medium high heat. Season roast with salt and pepper, and sear it on all sides in the hot pan, about 2-3 minutes per side.  
Place in crock pot on top of the vegetables.
Deglazing the pan with frozen
beef bone broth

Deglaze your pan with the beef bone broth, (mine was frozen as you can see in the picture) cooking over medium high heat while scraping all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
As soon as it starts to boil, pour the pan contents over the roast and veggies in the crock pot, cover, and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-6 hours.
Ready to eat!
Enjoy the smell when you come thru the door after your long day at work! Toss a quick green salad and dinner is served!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Maple Balsamic Dressing with Cracked Pepper

Salads are a staple in our house. But the bottled dressings that you find in most grocery stores are not. I am always baffled by the amount of ingredients that are listed on the labels, most of which are impossible to pronounce.  Fresh salad dressings are so easy to throw together, and you are guaranteed to be able to pronounce every ingredient. Using a mason jar eliminates the fuss of extra dishes, too. Measure everything into your jar, screw on the lid and shake. You can then serve and store from the same jar. I try and keep a variety of different oils and vinegar's on hand to change things up. This dressing is a favourite, and is made often! Most pepper grinders are adjustable, so you can create a coarser grind than you would generally use.

Maple Balsamic Dressing with Cracked Pepper

½ c organic Olive Oil
1/3 cup organic Balsamic Vinegar
Mixed greens, leftover chicken, sprouts
and a half of a granny smith apple +
this yummy dressing = one delicious lunch!
1 Tbsp organic Maple syrup
1 Tbsp organic Old Fashioned Grainy Mustard
½ tsp Herbamare or sea salt of choice
1 tsp coarsely ground organic black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar. Put the lid on and shake well.  Alternatively, use a small mixing bowl and mix all ingredients well to combine. Serve over organic salad greens of choice.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Goat Cheese and Date Bites

A very good friend of ours is leaving the country on business for 6 months. So, we cooked a farewell dinner for him on Sunday. I made these appetizers on a whim, and was very pleased with the results. The fig vinegar was an impulse purchase from Whole Foods a while back, and while it was expensive, it was worth it in the long run. A drizzle is all that is needed. My bottle is almost empty, I think a road trip is in order !

Goat Cheese and Date Bites

6 dates, cut in half, pit removed
4   slices from a log of goat cheese, cut about ½ inch thick, and then cut into three sections each, so you end up with 12 pieces of cheese,
6 large basil leaves, cut in half (or 12 smaller ones)
12 pecan halves

Fig vinegar to drizzle

Place ½ of a basil leaf in the cut side of each date half. Place a piece of goat cheese on each, and press a pecan half into the cheese. Repeat with all 12 pieces of date, and arrange on a plate. Drizzle with the fig vinegar and serve.

Grain Free Egg Free Coconut Flour Cookies With Grapefruit

Let me start by saying this is not your typical cookie. This is more of a cookie that you make when you are either limited by the ingredients in your fridge(which I was today), or limited in the ingredients you can use because of allergies or food restrictions. But, bearing that in mind, it is a pretty tasty little morsel.  The recipe that inspired this cookie is here. After reading the comment section, I knew some tweaking may help, and I think I did all right. The chocolate drizzle, and coconut sprinkles, while optional, brings a balance to the flavours that really works. The recipe only makes 9 cookies, perfect for when that cookie craving strikes, but you don’t want a ton of leftover goodies to snack on.

Grain Free Egg Free Coconut Flour Cookies With Grapefruit

6 tbsp organic coconut flour
5 tbsp organic butter, softened
2 tbsp coconut nectar (I am sure honey would work well too)
1 Tbsp ground Chia seeds
3 tbsp shredded organic coconut
1 tsp  organic grapefruit zest, **
3 tbsp organic grapefruit juice **
¼ tsp sea salt

Optional, but yummy additions:
1 tbsp melted Enjoy Life chocolate chips (or chocolate chips of choice)
1 tbsp shredded organic coconut

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together everything but the optional add ins in a bowl until thoroughly mixed and in a soft ball. Let rest for  3-4 minutes then divide dough into 9 equal balls. Roll each ball with the palms of your hands and then flatten to about ¾ inch thickness and bake for 9-11 minutes on a parchment lined pan, or until just starting to brown slightly on the edges.

Let cool, and drizzle with optional chocolate, and sprinkle with shredded coconut if desired.
Plain cookies

**I am going to try these again with both lime zest and juice, as well as orange! I will update the recipe when I do. 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms With Spinach And Goat Cheese

Portobello mushrooms done on the grill are very tasty. Add a tangy peppery marinade and combine them with a quick sauté of greens and a nice creamy goat cheese and they become a perfect light meal or side dish that comes together in a flash.  Grilling the mushrooms on the BBQ adds a nice smokiness that balances the flavour of the goat cheese perfectly.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms With Spinach And Goat Cheese

2 large Portobello mushrooms, stems removed and brushed clean
1 small log of goat cheese (ours was Chevrai with fine herbs, you will only use about half of it)

3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tbsp Organic Olive oil
1 tsp coarsely cracked fresh ground black pepper
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh thyme, woody stems removed, roughly chopped (or ½ tsp dried)

Vegetable Saute:
1 Tbsp coconut oil (or butter)
1 onion, sliced in ½ inch slices
3 cups baby spinach
Salt to taste.

Preheat your BBQ or indoor grill to medium high.
Cut 4  round slices from your log of goat cheese, about ½ inch thick, and set aside
Melt the coconut oil in a medium sized cast iron pan over medium high heat and sauté the onion slices  until they just start to color a bit. Turn heat to low, and stir occasionally.
Baste mushrooms with the marinade and BBQ or grill for approx 3-4 minutes per side, basting once more per side as they grill. Reserve a bit of the marinade to drizzle on your mushrooms after they are plated.
When mushrooms are flipped to their second side, turn the heat back up on your onions to medium high and add the spinach. Season lightly with salt and sauté until the spinach is just wilted, 2-3 minutes.
Place the BBQ’d mushrooms on your plates. Top with your sautéed spinach and onions.  Place 2 rounds of goat cheese per mushroom on top of the spinach, and drizzle the remaining marinade on top of the cheese. Serve while hot!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Grain Free Quinoa Salmon Cakes

These are a great meal when you forget to take something out of the freezer to thaw, or you are trying to stretch the food budget a wee bit until pay day. They go together quickly if you have some quinoa set aside, and bake in just enough time to set the table and toss a salad to serve on the side.  Be sure to choose a wild caught salmon with no extra added ingredients.

Grain Free Quinoa Salmon Cakes
2 cans wild caught salmon, drained
1 cup pre-cooked organic quinoa
2 eggs, preferably pastured
½ cup Best Baa Raw Sheep’s Milk Feta Cheese, crumbled (or feta of choice)
2 cups organic baby spinach, (chop after measuring)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh organic basil (or 2 tsp dried)
1/3 cup organic sun dried tomatoes, finely diced (drained if in oil, soaked in hot water and drained if dry)
1/8 tsp organic cayenne
½ tsp Herbamare or sea salt of choice

Preheat oven to 375F
Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until very well combined. Using hands shape into patties, and place on a greased baking pan.(Mine made 10 patties, about 1 inch thick and 3 inches across)
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked thru. Serve warm or chilled.

Ready to go in the oven to bake!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Beef And Spinach Soup With Thyme

I am always looking for ways to use up leftovers, and they often end up in a soup of some kind.  With a leftover protein and some veggies, plus a freezer full of bone broth, a nourishing soup is easy to throw together quickly.

Beef And Spinach Soup With Thyme
1 small- ish red onion, diced, mine yielded about ¾ cup
1 ½ cups chopped mushrooms
3 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups leftover cooked grass-fed beef, shredded or sliced in thin bite sized pieces
4 cups beef bone broth 
Bundle of thyme **(see below for pictures) or 1 tsp dried
3 cups baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the onion, mushrooms, celery and garlic over medium high heat, stirring often until the veggies start to brown and the bottom of the pot looks like this: 

Add broth, thyme bundle and beef. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the veggies are all tender.
Turn off heat, remove the thyme bundle, add the spinach and stir until it wilts. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Bundle the thyme with butchers twine

if you cover your thyme in the garden
 you can pick it fresh all winter :)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Zucchini Spinach Salad

I made this salad for my brothers birthday dinner on the weekend. There was an awesome picture of a similar salad on Pinterest, but when searching for the actual recipe, there were only links to the picture. So, me being me, I invented my own. I think it turned out pretty well. I had the leftovers for lunch the following day and it holds up well. I almost liked it better after it sat, so don’t be afraid to make it in advance!  Feel free to use any feta you like, but I highly recommend using the Raw Sheep's Milk Feta from Best Baa, it is my favourite feta EVER!!

Zucchini Spinach Salad

6 cups organic baby spinach, lightly packed
1 medium organic zucchini, sliced thin
1/3 cup chopped fresh organic basil
½ cup toasted organic pumpkin seeds
½ cup dried organic, juice sweetened cranberries
2/3 cup Best Baa Raw Sheep Milk Feta, crumbled (or feta of choice)
1/3 cup organic olive oil
Juice of ½ an organic lemon
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (or white balsamic)
½ tsp Herbamare or sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

I used my spirulizer to get
the zucchini nice and thin, you
could also use a mandolin or
a vegetable peeler to get
nice thin slices!
Toss the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients, and toss well with combined salad ingredients.
Serve right away, or refrigerate till needed, up to 8 hrs.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Easy Avocado Lime Salad Dressing

Served here on a bed of lettuce, cucumbers,
leftover bbq chicken and sprouts :)

This is one of my favourite salad dressings. Tangy and creamy, perfect for any spring salad! If you need to keep it dairy free, you can add more water in place of the kefir or yogurt.  This makes enough to dress a large salad, and keeps well for a day or two in the fridge.

Easy Avocado Lime Salad Dressing

1 ripe avocado, halved, pit and skin removed,
1 lime, juiced (approx 2 tbsp juice)
1/3 cup plain kefir or yogurt
1 clove garlic
½ tsp Herbamare or other sea salt
¼ cup water or more

Optional:  few dashes of hot sauce

Place all ingredients in blender and blend till smooth.  (we have the Cuisinart Blender with the individual cups, they work well for this dressing) Add more water if needed to thin to desired consistency.
Serve over salad of choice!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Quinoa Veggie Wraps

This is a nice light lunch idea, with two options. Grain Free using a lettuce leaf, or using a rice wrapper. The rice wrapper does hold together a bit easier for eating, but they both look pretty!   I had to tie my lettuce ones, as they kept springing open. Just remove the kitchen twine when eating!
The amount of filling here should fill at least 10 wraps of choice, depending on the size of your wrap.

Quinoa Veggie Wraps

3 cups cooked, cooled quinoa
2 cups spinach, coarsely chopped
½  cup parsley, chopped

3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp sesame oil
3 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp Herbamare or sea salt
1 Tbsp sesame seeds

Toppings of choice: (this is what I used, feel free to change it up, being sure to slice thinly!)
1 carrot, grated or julienned
Thinly sliced cucumber
1 Avocado, halved, peeled and sliced thin
Alfalfa or red clover sprouts
(other suggestions: thinly sliced zucchini, peppers, radishes, tomatoes, beets, basil leaves, onions, green onions, other sprouts, etc)

Wrap options:
lettuce leaves, rice wrappers, (for grain eaters, you could do a traditional wheat wrap or pita as well)

Mix together the quinoa, spinach and parsley in a medium mixing bowl.  Set aside.
Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small mixing bowl, and add to the quinoa mixture.  Stir well to combine.
In a nice firm large lettuce leaf or in a rice paper wrapper (soak 30 seconds in water till softened and then use, see pictures below for technique) place about 1/3 cup of the quinoa , and any toppings of choice. Roll up as best as possible. Secure lettuce with a piece of kitchen twine if necessary. Cut rice wraps in half on an angle if desired before eating. We served ours with a drizzle of organic hot sauce. 

rice wrapper, dry

rice wrapper, after being soaked for 30 seconds

add fillings, fold ends in

roll tightly

Monday, 1 April 2013

Creamy Broccoli Soup

I was hoping, being as it is the beginning of April, to start a bunch of healthy salad posts for spring. But alas, winter seems like it is staying for at least a few more days, so you get a soup instead!

This soup goes together quickly, taking about ½ hr start to finish. (if your broth is frozen like mine generally is, add 10 minutes) It is filling enough for a hearty lunch or dinner, and easily converted to become vegetarian if so desired.  So enjoy the soup, and hope, along with me,  for some warm spring weather soon!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

1 organic onion chopped
2 cloves organic garlic roughly chopped
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 cups chopped organic potatoes
4 cups chicken bone broth (or sub a good quality veggie broth for a vegetarian soup)
4 cups chopped organic raw broccoli (peel the stems if necessary)

Optional:  sour cream or thick yogurt  to swirl on top for serving

Sauté the onion and garlic in the coconut oil over medium high heat until the onion starts to get a bit of colour to it. Add the potatoes, and sauté for about 5-6 minutes. Add broth (mine was frozen, so I left it cooking on medium high, covered for an extra 10 minutes for it to thaw the broth) Bring to a boil, and simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Add broccoli, cover and simmer until the veggies are all cooked thru, approx 5-6 minutes.   Purée the  soup right in pot with an immersion blender, or in batches in your blender and return to the pot. (If you use your blender, take care, as the hot soup can spurt and burn!!) 

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a swirl of sour cream if desired.