Taco Slawco

I have passed this simple concoction onto friends numerous times. I hear from friends that they want meatless options that are quick and simple enough that their kids will not question what is on their plate.  But even as adults there are days when making a “big deal” over dinner is not appealing. If this is you, then Taco Slawcos is the answer to your prayers!

During the week I find that there are days when I only have about 30 mins, at the most, to pull something together in the kitchen (and some days that includes eating time!). This is by far the quickest meal that I have in my repertoire. I find that if I make the bean mixture & coleslaw earlier in the day then I can have the tacos on the table in about 10 mins. You may think that coleslaw is a warm weather kind of side dish but combined with the warm black bean mash and melted cheese you can enjoy this really at anytime of the year.  And for me, this dish is all about the SLAW 🙂
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Coleslaw is a side dish that reminds me of being a kid. It was a rare “treat” (I use that word very loosely) when my parents would bring home the grease-soaked breaded chicken from you-know-who and for me the highlight was always that weird green coleslaw. I loved that stuff. I cringe to think what might actually be in that coleslaw (please, nobody tell me) but it started a curiosity to find and make the best variation that I could.  Now, don’t misunderstand me, my taste buds have changed enormously since I was 10 but I find comfort in these type of familiar foods.
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Cabbage is a nutritious, anticancer cruciferous vegetable that is low in fat and may even help reduce body fat levels (I’m not makin this up…I wouldn’t do that to you, that would be just mean!). It is rich in chlorophyll, folic acid and Vitamin C. Both the carrots and cabbage are especially good in that they contain selenium (a hard-to-find known antioxidant and anticancer nutrient). Needless the say the carrots are chalked full with Vitamin A, important for healthy skin, healing tissue and growth in our kids.
So load up on the slaw and feel free to make any variations that suite you or your family on this one. Its easy to play with or substitute according to what you have in your fridge. Is cumin not your thing? (I’m talking to you AD;-) Then substitute  chilli powder instead. Only have green cabbage? Not a big deal…go with just red cabbage. Kids not into coleslaw just yet? Then try adding in a leaf of shredded romaine to get them used to the crunch and eventually they will get there if they see you eating it.
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Okay well now I have to go….all this talk about tart, crispy and sweet coleslaw in making me hungry!
Taco Slawcos
Active time: 20 mins
Coleslaw
1 1/2 cups green cabbage, finely sliced
1 1/2 cups red cabbage, finely sliced
3 carrots, shredded
small bunch of cilantro, chopped coarsely
Coleslaw Dressing
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp unpasteurized honey or substitute Pomegranate molasses if you do not eat honey
1 tsp chili flakes
Juice of 1 lime
Zest of 1 lime
salt & pepper to taste
Combine dressing separately and then toss in with chopped ingredients. Although you can consume this coleslaw immediately (as I sometimes do 😉 ) it is best if you cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for at least 30 mins. to get all the juices going.
Black Bean Mash
2 cans (398ml) black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup EVOO
1 tbsp cumin
Salt to taste
Place rinsed beans in a medium bowl and mash them with a masher or fork. Don’t puree them but mash them until they are about 75% mashed with whole pieces still visible. Add in remaining ingredients and mix with fork. Set aside.
Taco Ingredients
6-8 soft tortillas, I prefer corn or spelt tortillas
2 cups non-dairy cheese, I use Daiya Pepperjack Shreds, but you may want to substitute with dairy cheese if that floats your boat 🙂
Salsa & guacamole (optional)
Pulling it all together
* Heat a skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Place tortilla in pan and immediately add bean mixture followed by your preferred cheese.
*Cook for about 5 mins or until the tortilla is golden brown and slightly crisp and your cheese is melted.
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* Remove from heat and scoop in lots of delicious coleslaw, then fold tortilla while still warm.
* Serve by itself or along side some brown rice or tortilla chips.
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Maddie’s Chowder

In coming up with a name for this amazingly tasty soup, I stuck with what I call it around the house. It was created in an effort to please my most difficult critic, my 11-year old daughter.

On a side note: When I mentioned that I would calling it “Maddie’s Chowder” for the blog to my daughter I think she thought she might become famous or something! So if you see her on the street don’t mention the soup…I don’t want fame to go to her head 😉

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But seriously. Sometimes when it’s time to prep for dinner, I look into my refrigerator and there are 6-10 different veggies just staring back at me! I start to feel like I’m on Chopped (you know that totally addictive series on the Food Network?) and I have 20mins to create something awesome for a panel of judges and I must use all 4 ingredients! My saving grace is always soup. You can throw anything into your favorite pot as long as you start with the tried-and-true base of onions, garlic, carrots and celery. From there, the sky is the limit.

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Now I have been making this exact soup for a few years and never have I attempted to write it down. So in order to share it with you, I started the somewhat daunting task of figuring our what it is I put in this chowder. Well, to my surprise, in this process I  somehow came out of it with the BEST version I have ever come up with…and I wrote it down! So….you’re welcome 😉

IMG_4286The most important thing to any soup, other than the freshest quality of veggies that you can find, is the stock. The stock determines the difference between a good soup and a great soup. Since I only use veggie stock in my cooking, my requirements when looking for a great stock include; organic, yeast-free, low sodium and not alot of tomato flavor (not all dishes need tomato flavor!). I have tried everyone out there and most of them are okay but I find the best stock comes right out of my own kitchen. Making a homemade stock is simple- throw a bunch of veggies into a very large pot with fresh filtered water and let it simmer for about 1-2 hours, when finished cooking simply strain out the large pieces and Voila! A couple of secret ingredients I use for my stock are mixed dried mushrooms and something green, like kale or spinach.

The necessary spice in this particular soup is the smoked sweet paprika. It creates incredible depth to the soup but really I think it just makes the kids think that I put bacon into it 🙂

And the last ingredient to highlight is Herbamare. If you don’t have this seasoning in your pantry then you need to run (not walk) to your nearest grocery store and purchase it. It’s that good and works in anything!

Serve this up with your favorite bread and its a delicious, healthy dinner (or leftover lunch) that you can feel good about eating.

Enjoy!

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Maddie’s chowder

Prep Time: approx. 40 mins (plus soaking time for cashews)

Serves: 4-6 people

1/2 cups raw, unsalted cashews (soak in filtered water for 30 mins or longer if you have time, then drain & blend with 1/2 cup fresh water until smooth, creamy consistency) * If your house is nut-free, you can skip this ingredient and the soup would still be delicious, just not as creamy

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (evoo)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 med. yellow onions, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 head of fennel, chopped

2 sm. leeks, chopped

5 sm. red potatoes, chopped into small bite-sized pieces

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cups of frozen (or fresh) corn

1 1/2 tbsp ground sea vegetables (you know the ones you made for the curried lentils- if you didn’t make that yet look at my recipe for Pantry Curried Lentils below)

3 small bay leaves

1 tsp. dried thyme

1-2 tsp. herbamare  (Or Salt & pepper to taste)

1 tsp. smoked sweet spanish paprika

Cooking method:

  1. Heat up evoo on medium heat then add garlic and onions. Sauté for 3-5 mins until translucent.
  2. Toss in chopped carrots, celery, and fennel. Sauté for another 5 mins.  & finally add in potatoes and leeks and cook for another 5 mins.
  3. Stir in veggie stock, 1 cup of the frozen corn, sea vegetables, bay leaves, thyme, herbamare and paprika. Place on lid and bring to a boil. Then lower heat in med-low and simmer for approx. 15 mins until potatoes are fully cooked. 
  4. Let soup cool with lid off for about 5 mins to avoid a hot soup shower once you turn on the blender! *** At this point you need remove the bay leaves and discard. I cannot tell you how many times I have forgotten to do this 😦
  5. Ladle about half of soup into a Vitamix or your blender of choice. Puree the soup until its thick and creamy.
  6. Combine blended soup back into original pot with remaining soup and stir in the remaining 1 cup of corn.
  7. Pour in blended cashew cream and stir until fully combined. Reheat slightly to heat the corn and  serve immediately.

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Valentine’s Dye

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Happy 14th of February!

Sorry I do not  have a scrumptious chocolate or cookie recipe for this blog. Aside from not really being a “baker”, when I do manage to get enough doughy, sugary goodness from the bowl to a pan in order to fully cook it, it usually just ends up in my tummy anyways. So needless to say I try to stay away from baking and stick to what I know…cooking.

However, I would to take this opportunity (and when I say “opportunity ” I mean a captive audience that thinks there is a huge pile of sugar at the end of this blog:) to highlight something that I am seeing every time I walk into a drug store/grocery store at this time of the year, and that is RED food products. I see RED RED RED and then I see RED.

It’s important that we stop and recognize that the marketing around this particular holiday has done an amazing job at turning our regular everyday candy into something that looks even more appealing to us and our children, just because it is red.

I know there are many contradictions out there around food that can make you want to throw your hands up and give up trying to make any sense of it. But I think most of us can agree that through the unforgiving test of time, medical research and just general common sense, there are a handful of things that we should just avoid completely. My list would look something like this (in no particular order):

Aspartame, hydrogenated oils, cigarettes, stress (when possible) and red food dye!

Artificial colours are chemicals synthesized from petroleum and coal-tar products (1). Many of these chemicals have been incorporated into foods with insufficient research as to safety, and some have been withdrawn because of studies showing toxicity or carcinogenicity.

Here’s the low down on the main types of artificial red colouring agents out there…

Citrus Red No.2

This dye was withdrawn in 1976, except it is still allowed to be used in colouring oranges to establish a brighter and more uniform colour. It has been shown to cause cancer in animal testing research. To avoid this, use organic oranges when adding grated orange peel in a recipe.

Red No.3 (aka Erythrosin)

This dye is used in cherries, cherry pie, gelatine, ice cream, fruit cocktails, candy, sherbet, pudding, cereals, fruit roll-ups and baked goods. It is on the safe list, but research has suggested that this coal-tar derivative is harmful, possibly causing gene mutations, cancers or changes in brain chemistry. A 1983 review committee found convincing evidence that Red 3 caused thyroid tumors in rats and the FDA suggested banning it; it was not banned.

Red No.40 (aka Allura Red AC)

This dye took the place of banned Red No.2 and is used in food, drugs and cosmetics. Specific food uses include gelatine, puddings, soft drinks, condiments, dairy products and candy. It may cause cancer in animals.

Effects on Children

According to Nancy Cordes, consumer safety correspondent for CBS News, artificial food coloring like Red 40 and Blue 2 contribute to restlessness, hyperactivity, and attention problems in some children. The children at the highest risk for these effects are those with ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Also, eliminating food coloring from the diet of children with ADHD is approximately 25 to 50 percent as effective in decreasing symptoms as prescribing prescription medication such as Ritalin, notes Cordes.

If you would like more information on ADHD children and food additives click on the link below to read more;

http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/food-dye-adhd

Natural Choices!

If you are doing your own baking this year there are some great natural choices for food colourings including carotene, annatto, beet red (powdered beets), saffron, turmeric, paprika, and grapes, as well as vegetable and fruit juices.

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Or maybe just stick with the classics…sweet & delicious c.h.o.c.o.l.a.t.e.

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We have choices always. This year lets not inadvertently torture our children, our children’s teachers, our children friends or ourselves for that matter! Check the list of ingredients on the package before you buy and make choices that actually show LOVE to our bodies.

Happy Valentine’s Day xo

And oh, I almost forgot ;-)….

Sack of sugar

(1) Staying Healthy With Nutrition – The Complete Guide To Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition (Elson M. Haas, MD & Buck Levin, PhD, RD) p. 447-448.

Pantry Curried Lentils

Welcome back! With these cooler winter days settling into your daily forecast, I like to pull out the hearty, “stick to your ribs” kind of recipes. This weeks recipe is definitely one of those and also one of my favourites. Its quick and easy and all my kids love it…even my 3 year old!
This time of year is not only cold but a lot of people experience fatigue, whether it be the shorter days or just trying to catch up from all of the holiday season hoopla.
“Let food be thy medicine…”
Providing your body with foods that support your adrenals supplies your body with energy. Foods like sea vegetables, kale, coconut oil, dark leafy greens, brown rice, peppers, berries and beans. Do what you can to stay away from the foods that suppress adrenal function. I know you know what they are!…but let me be the bad guy and remind you. Sugar, alcohol, hydrogenated oils, fried foods and yes, even caffeine.
Having a well-stocked pantry is so important and keeps you from running to the grocery store during the busy weekdays. I am a big fan of getting fresh produce a couple times a week but when you are low on these items then this is a great recipe to go to in a pinch. Items such as rice, dried beans, flours, and canned goods are best kept stocked as much as possible, cause you never know when you might want to create a meal around them. My “main” cabinet in my kitchen is chalked full of random glass jars (that I label- seriously I do not have OCD, I just REALLY like my label maker) and at one glance I can determine what I have for last minute meal ideas and what I am almost out of before I head to the store. I know this is only our second date but I thought I would show you inside this cabinet… is that too forward?
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Sea vegetables are one of my staples. Most of the time people don’t even know when I use it in my dishes (and by “people” I mean kids). It has a familiar flavour to most, incorporating a “fishy” flavour without being over powering.  Nutritionally, sea vegetables are excellent sources of so many beautiful minerals that the ocean infuses naturally. Also excellent sources of iodine & vitamin K. For this recipe take 2-3 sheets of nori and a handful on dulse (truly you cannot really get the ratio wrong), toss it in a small processor and pulse it until it is small granules. Nori is nearly 50% protein and high in fiber, plus is has a sweet flavour that balances out the salty dulse. You can purchase these sea vegetables at any specialty grocery store but I have also found them at Superstore. You only need 2 tsp of the ground sea vegetables for this recipe but place the remainder in a sealed jar and keep it in your pantry for future dishes such as stir-frys or chowders.
spices
There are many “bases” that this lentil dish goes well with. I have tried a few- jasmine rice, brown rice, millet and mashed potatoes. My family just loves it on mashed potatoes so that is how I typically make it. Mashed taters can be made many ways but because this recipe is Thai influenced this is how I like to make them; start with russet potatoes, and then once they are cooked and mashed, I mix in coconut milk (the thick, creamy stuff from the can, instead of nut milk), Earth Balance (instead of butter- but I have nothing against butter for the record), and finish with some freshly ground sea salt. YUM!
Don’t let the word “curry” frighten you away from this recipe if you are typically not a fan. There are many different types of curries out there and not all are created equal…or spicy. I use THAI KITCHEN Red Curry Paste in this recipe. It is mild and sweet and perfect for these delicate red lentils. However, if you are a person who loves spice, then use whatever heat variation you like, throw in some crushed chill flakes and a pinch of cayenne too.
Then just breathe. Stay warm. Relax into hibernation for a short while . Before you know it, it will be Spring and there will be no excuse for curling up on couch, enjoying a big bowl of mashed potatoes and warm curried lentils, while watching The Bachelor….Oooops, I have said too much. Until next time 🙂
Pantry Curried Lentils

2 Tbsp  coconut oil

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 cup red lentils, rinsed

2 1/2 cup vegetable stock

2 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste

2 Tbsp curry paste

2 tsp ground sea vegetables (I use NORI and DULSE)

Salt/Pepper

3 Tbsp sour cream (optional), cilantro for serving

addins

In a saucepan saute the onion on med. heat for 5 mins then add your tomato paste and curry paste, saute for another 2 minutes. Add your lentils and stock and bring to a boil, turn heat down to low, cover and simmer for 7-10 minutes to finish cooking. Toss in your ground sea vegetables and stir. Add you salt and pepper to taste.

Serve lentils over mashed potatoes and top with cilantro!

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