Work With What You’ve Got

Farmer’s market fresh! One thing about summertime trips to the market is that (in the words of my grandfather), your eyes can be bigger than your belly. That’s sort of what happened with the basket of fresh peaches we picked up on Tuesday. To be more specific, it was our capacity to consume them before they hit their tipping point. We’re surrounded by overripe fruit, and so there are peaches in every meal. To top it off, we had a surfeit of cheese, left with us by some departing guests. What to do?

When I have a host of items that need to be used, one of my first thoughts is always salad. It’s a go-to when vegetables are in season. This one started with a vinaigrette of homemade red wine vinegar, canola oil, and Kozlik’s Balsamic Fig and Date mustard – in equal proportions. I mixed this in a large bowl, and then began adding veg – greens from the balcony garden, cucumbers, radish, and celery – but use whatever you have, like in this Kitchen Sink Salad. Then I topped it off with some walnuts, sliced peaches, and crumbled Stilton. If you’re a vegan, omit the cheese or use some chopped smoked tofu instead.

Even though I bought too many, I never get tired of too many peaches. We love them, and all the other seasonal bounty, so I’m grateful to be able to have many delicious ideas to use them up.

Granola, Granola, We Love Ya, Granola…!

About five years ago, we went off breakfast cereal entirely. We had been working on our diets, lowering our sodium, increasing fibre, and generally getting rid of things with excessive sugar or additives. Around that time I started experimenting with various recipes – some were too sweet, others were too fatty, but bit by bit I found what works best for us.

I often get asked, “what’s the recipe?”, and the truth is, there isn’t exactly a recipe. Here’s what I do:

Preheat oven to 350F, and line two cookie sheets (whatever size you have, which is why it isn’t a recipe…) with parchment paper. This eases cleanup and makes sure nothing sticks.

On each sheet, put a layer of large flake, old fashioned rolled oats. Not the quick cooking kind! Sprinkle with some dried fruit, probably half a cup or so is enough. Some recipes suggest you stir it in at the end, but I like the toasty, caramel-y flavour it gets if you bake it in. Next, add a sprinkling of nuts or seeds. In these photos, the top one has raisins and pumpkin seeds, while the bottom one has dried apricots and walnuts. Sometimes I’ve added coconut or dried bananas; these up the calories but it’s your call!

Drizzle each sheet with 2T (30ml) of pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup, please!) and 2T of canola oil. Other oils will work but this oil is Canadian and doesn’t change the taste. Sprinkle each sheet with cinnamon and stir all of it together. I’ve made this in a bowl before, but I’m lazy about doing extra dishes, even with a dishwasher. You could make a single sheet, but if the oven is going I figure I  should use the energy wisely.

Put the sheets in the oven around the middle rack (not too high, not too low…but you know your oven best). Set the timer for 10 minutes and stir. Depending on humidity and lots of factors, the granola will take more or less time. You want  a nice toasty golden colour.

Cool this, put in mason jars and store. You don’t need a lot – a serving is about 30g or an ounce if you’re watching your calories, topped with a banana or some berries. We use soy milk on ours. It’s also lovely sprinkled on ice cream or yogurt.

Enjoy!

 

Green is Good!

In order to fit in all the elements that make for a successful morning, sometimes we want a fast, easy-to-make breakfast. The easiest thing might seem like grabbing a muffin or a bowl of cereal, but neither of those things is particularly healthy, even if they are fast. Lots of sugar, sodium, and fat go into the average cereal or breakfast muffin, and not enough vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Instead, opt for a healthy smoothie like this one!

Start your day colourfully!

Delicious smoothies hide tasty produce inside. We endorse Natur-A products.

Purple Smoothie Everyone can benefit from more fruits and vegetables – and one way to get them on-the-go is by starting the day with a delicious smoothie. Today’s version turned out to be a gorgeous purple colour, but a word of warning: sometimes the results are surprisingly unappetizing in their appearance, despite amazing ingredients. For this version, for two smoothies, I used a carrot, chopped, an over-ripe banana, a cup of blackberries (mine were fresh but frozen are just as good), a shake of cinnamon, and filled the blender to the 32oz or 1l level with unsweetened, low-sodium soy beverage. The brand we always use is Natur-a.  They’re Canadian, organic, and low-sodium, which can be very hard to find in plant “milks”. Unsweetened is even more difficult, so your healthy beverage can actually be quite a sugar bomb. These taste great to drink, on cereal, and also work as a one-to-one substitute for dairy milk in most recipes.

It’s Bananas! And Not a Kale In Sight

This is a super delicious and easy breakfast for two.

imageIn your blender, blend 1/2c or 125ml shelled, unsalted sunflower seeds until finely crumbed. Add two ripe bananas, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a handful of baby spinach. Last of all, top up to the 1l or 4c line with unsweetened almond or cashew milk. Blend on high until smooth, and have an awesome day.

Youre welcome.

Never Underestimate the Power of Green…

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know I am a great promoter of buying local. However it’s often darkest before the dawn, and at this time of year, when fresh local produce is just barely trickling into our stores, I have been known to give in to a moment of weakness. I had just such a moment yesterday, when I bought kale that had been trucked in, all the way from Texas. This entire smoothie is as un-local as it gets, with the kale, avocado, almond milk, frozen peach-mango-strawberry mix, cinnamon, and turmeric. 

Despite all this, and the perhaps unappealing colour, it’s delicious. In fact, it has already transformed my day. I could have been grumpy at the freezing temperature, but instead, I’m starting with a spring in my step and a smile in my tummy.

A Regal Breakfast


Who could resist this gorgeous royal purple colour!?! And no, despite the coaster, no wine was involved. What you might not know, is that it packs a nutritional punch. For two, I blended:

2 c (500ml) chopped red cabbage

1 chopped carrot

1/3 c (80ml) raw cashews

1.5c (375ml) frozen strawberries

1t (5ml) pure vanilla extract

With enough unsweetened almond milk to fill the blender to the 4c (1L) mark.

Process until very smooth and creamy, and enjoy. I know I am, as I reflect on how grateful I am to have this special day with both my kids and their delightful partners.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

Pudding for breakfast!

Sometimes a sweet treat for breakfast hits the spot. This breakfast pudding, or smoothie bowl, in common parlance, is fast and delicious.

In a blender, combine two ripe bananas, a small avocado, 2 T (30 ml) good-quality cocoa, 1/2 c (125 ml) silken tofu, and 1/4 c (60 ml) unsweetened almond milk. Using ripe bananas gives lots of natural sweetness. 

Blend until smooth, and top with chopped walnuts and grated coconut. Pumpkin seeds would look and taste fabulous as well!

Serves two.

  

Tart and Tasty

Holiday weekends always result in us pulling out the old family recipes. But this one, slightly adapted, hardly needs a recipe. It’s easy to make and delicious. If you want some protein, eat it along with a handful of nuts. Great for breakfast, or as a side with lunch, or dessert. Grammy Gladys would never have used the blood oranges, and sometimes added a spoonful of sugar, but truly, you don’t need it.

Use one orange, one grapefruit, and one blood orange per person.

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Cut off the peel – use for  something else if you like, or compost.

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Cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces, removing white pith. You’ll probably need to dump some juice from the cutting board into the bowl during this process. No one said family recipes weren’t messy.

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Stir in, at most, a tablespoon (15ml) of sugar or maple syrup, depending on how sweet you like your citrus.

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We ate ours with some peanuts – a slice of almond butter or peanut butter toast is lovely as well.

Saturday, and the Living is Easy

Weekends are a great time for a relaxing breakfast – but this easy oatmeal recipe takes so little effort, we often have it on weekdays, too.

  
For two:

Put in a microwaveable glass  or ceramic casserole:

1 diced Apple

3/4 c large flake or steel cut oats 

A sprinkle of cinnamon 

1/2 c chopped nuts or seeds (we used hazelnuts and black sesame seeds for this version)

1-1/2 c water

No need to stir!

Microwave uncovered on high for 3 minutes, and on 50% power for 5 more minutes.

Stir and serve with maple syrup and some milk or nut milk.

Delicious!