Soup on a rainy day

I recently tried a breakfast ‘cookie’ from a blog my friend sent me. They were super simple to make and so good that I have to share. I used dairy-free, dark chocolate chips. My friend makes them without the chocolate chips and feeds them to her 1-year old son–apparently easier than feeding him oatmeal with a spoon.

On to the weekly recipe. There’s really nothing better to make on a cloudy and rainy day than soup. This warming soup has a light spicy kick to it. Feel free to omit or increase the cayenne pepper.

What to do with the rest of the tomato paste if you open a can? Spoon the rest on plastic wrap and roll it up like a log, folding the ends over. Freeze. Whenever you need some tomato paste, let it sit out of the freezer for just a few minutes and chop off as much as you need before placing it back in the freezer. So convenient!

Spicy red lentil soup Makes 8 servings

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 7 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1.5 cups dry red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400 mL almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook stirring for 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper and stir for another minute. Mix in the flour.

Stir in broth, lentils, tomato paste, and bay leaf. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

With an immersion blender, blend the soup a bit, but not completely. Leave a bit of chunkiness for texture. Stir in the milk and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you’re using store-bought broth, you may not need to add additional salt.

IMG_1874

Enjoy!

Pineapple cherry smoothie

It’s still freezing in Toronto, but I’m ready for some tropical flavour.

Pineapple cherry smoothie (serves 1 generously!)

  • 1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen pitted cherries
  • 1/3 cup dried coconut flakes
  • 3 small pitted dried dates

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Yum!!

Tropical flavour

I’ve been MIA

So I’ve been away a while. I’ve been working hard on my dissertation and I can see the end. Which is AMAZING! I’ll be taking some time off the blog to focus on completing my PhD, and will be back with a vengeance! Stay tuned for delicious plant-based recipes!

A Different Breakfast and Workout Days 3 and 4

I usually eat a piece of toast with vegan butter in the morning–I don’t usually have much of an appetite in the morning. But today, I felt like having something heartier. I knew that I would be conducting participant interviews for my dissertation study today, so something filling was needed.

Hot Cereal with Blueberries and Peanut Butter

  • 1/4 cup Red River Cereal
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • heaping tsp peanut butter
  • drizzle maple syrup

Combine the cereal, water, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn heat off, cover, and let sit for a few minutes. Serve cereal in a bowl, add blueberries, peanut butter, and drizzle with maple syrup. Can you say yum?

Continuing on with the workout plan, Day 3 consisted of the same exercises as Day 1, except that I increased the weights for the squats.

Squats: 2 sets, 15 reps, 35lbs

Pushups (knees down): 2 sets, 15 reps

Bent over rows: 2 sets, 15 reps, 20lbs

Step ups (2 steps high): 2 sets, 15 reps, 20lbs

Prone Jackknife: 2 sets, 8 reps

60 sec breaks between each sets.

Day 4 consisted of the same exercises as Day 2, with no changes in weights. However, I’ll need to increase the weight for the dumbbell shoulder press next time, as I feel I can push more.

Deadlifts: 2 sets, 15 reps, 35lb

Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 2 sets, 15 reps, 20lb

Pullovers on Swiss Ball: 2 sets, 15 reps, 20lb

Lunges: 2 sets, 15 reps, 20lb

Swiss Ball Crunches: 2 sets, 8 reps, 10lb

60 sec breaks between each sets.

On another note, I’m currently reading “The China Study“–I’ve been meaning to read it for quite a while now and I finally got to it. I am LOVING it. I doubt that I will finish the book without making permanent changes to my eating habits…

Workout: Day 2

Saturday was a busy day preparing food for a family lunch I was having on Sunday; made some sangria, fresh veggie rolls, and blueberry pie.

I love making the veggie rolls–you can basically put anything you want in the rice paper rolls (I put green peppers, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, noodles, basil, and mint), then dip it in a delicious sauce of tamari, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, hot pepper, rice vinegar, and chopped cashews.

But I had to find some time for Workout B, and I did…

Deadlifts ( I LOVE these): 2 sets, 15 reps, 35lb

Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 2 sets, 15 reps, 20lb

Pullovers on Swiss Ball: 2 sets, 15 reps, 20lb

Lunges: 2 sets, 15 reps, 20lb

Swiss Ball Crunches: 2 sets, 8 reps, 10lb

60 sec breaks between each sets.

I increased the weight for my lower body and my legs felt like Jell-o after the workout. I definitely felt it the next day! I ended my workout with a protein shake made with vegan protein powder, almond milk, banana, and blueberries.

Workout A is back on Day 3 on Tuesday…

New Workout Plan: Day 1

I ordered a few books I had on my wishlist last week and I received them a few days ago. Love getting a box from Amazon on my doorsteps…

Once of those books was The New Rules of Lifting for Women, recommended by Mama Pea on her blog. I started reading it right away and I’m absolutely loving the way the author writes. So I’m excited to start his 6-month weight training plan and decided to record it here on the blog, which will help me stay accountable and motivated to continue and keep up with it.

So…Day 1:

Squats: 2 sets, 15 reps, 20lbs

Pushups (knees down): 2 sets, 15 reps

Bent over rows: 2 sets, 15 reps, 20lbs

Step ups (2 steps high): 2 sets, 15 reps, 20lbs

Prone Jackknife: 2 sets, 8 reps

60 sec breaks between each sets.

So I was definitely breathing harder after this workout and was shweaty. Next day, had sore lats and front of shoulder. Nothing in the lower body, which tells me to increase the weight. On to workout B tomorrow!

Brown Rice Pasta Salad

OMG this is a delicious meal! The sauce in this salad makes it addictive and the texture of the brown rice pasta is heaven.

Brown Rice Pasta Salad (Adapted from a turkey recipe booklet!)

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp sriracha (Asian hot sauce)
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 250g brown rice penne or rotini pasta
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 cup snow peas or green beans, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup salted, roasted cashews
  • 4 cups salad greens

Combine the first 6 ingredients and set aside. Cook the pasta according to package directions (do not overcook!). Drain pasta and toss it with 1/2 the sauce. Set aside.

In a medium-sized pan, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the garlic and ginger for a minute and add the red pepper and green beans (if using) and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the snow peas (if using) and cook for another minute. Add the pasta and the remaining sauce and warm through for another 2 minutes. Add basil and cashews and remove from heat. Toss on salad greens. Y-U-M. I forgot to take a picture because I ate it way too fast…

BBQ Fish with Greens

I’ve been on a fish-eating kick lately, and it’s growing on me. This is a perfect BBQ recipe.

Sweet and Sour Fish BBQ Sauce (From Food & Drink) Makes 1 cup.

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Place all ingredients into a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. This sauce freezes really well so you can divide it up into separate serving sizes for later use.

Brush some BBQ sauce over salmon, tilapia, cod, or haddock. I chose organic salmon. Place on the BBQ over medium heat and grill about 6 minutes on each side.

Garlic Swiss Chard & Green Beans

  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups green beans, trimmed
  • 6 garlic cloves, mashed into a paste with 1/2 tsp salt ( I use a wooden mortar and pestle to do this)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Add olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add garlci and stir fry for about a minute. Add grean beans and stir fry for about 3 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and cook for antoher 2-3 minutes, until they wilt. Serve alsongside fish.

Yum.

Green Green Pesto

What to do with a bunch of green onions, fresh from a local organic farm? Pesto! There’s a reason I make so much pesto. It’s super easy to freeze for those days where you need a fast dinner. And I love the ingredients that go in a homemade pesto.

Green Onion Pesto

  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • Juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3/4 cup olive oil (always get extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressed)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until relatively smooth–no big chunks! Enjoy right away on cooked pasta or freeze for later use.

On another note, have you purchased Mama Pea’s new cookbook? It’s a great buy and I’m slowly (and happily!) making my way though it. Made the Teriyaki Tofu on brown rice, with a side of steamed vegetables (snow peas and burgundy beans from a local organic farm). Yum! The sauce is delicious enough to drink!

Light dinner for a HOT night

Wow. I cannot describe the heat wave we’re having in Toronto today. With humidity, feels like 46C. Seriously?

Definitely called for a light dinner.

I tried a Sobey’s fish recipe tonight, served on brown rice, with a side of sauteed Swiss chard and garlic. Delicious!

Sobey’s Roasted Cod with Capers, Olives, & Tomatoes (serves 4)

  • 1/4 cup brine-cured black olives, drained, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon well-drained capers, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 4 cod fillets
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I tried Real Salt, which I won through a Naturally Savvy giveaway)
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon Oregano, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 425F. Combine the olives, capers and 1/2 tsp of lemon zest in a small bowl and set it aside.

Dry the fish with paper towels. Use parchment paper to line a baking sheet and place fish on top. Season the fish with salt and pepper and sprinkle 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Top the fish with the olive mixture and grape tomatoes. Sprinkle oregano and drizzle olive oil. Roast the fish for about 12 minutes and serve with brown rice and my sauteed Swiss chard!

Sauteed Swiss Chard and Garlic (serves 2)

  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, coarsely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, well smashed with a bit of salt ( I do it the old school Lebanese way with a wooden mortar and pestle)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Heat your pan on medium heat and add vegetable oil. Add garlic and sautefor a minute. Add Swiss chard and saute until wilted. Turn heat off and drizzle with olive oil.

Followed by an ice-cold watermelon juice. Heaven.

Watermelon Juice (inspired by the watermelon juice served to us in San Pedro, Chile) Serves 4.

  • 1 baby watermelon (you know which ones)
  • a whole bunch of ice
  • 1 tsp agave, depending on how sweet the watermelon is

Blend. Yeah, that’s it. And it’s delicious.