Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Black Bean Cakes

This month's Recipe Redux Challenge was to use a legume (i.e. beans, peas, lentils) in a festive recipe or party dish. Excellent! Beans are a major staple in my diet and I love experimenting with new ways to use this versatile legume.  After some serious brainstorming I decided to showcase bite sized black bean cakes with a yogurt and kale pesto topping.  As you can see from the photos, they turned out to be 3-bite bean cakes. Oops! 

Makes 10 bean cakes (to get more bang for your buck reduce the size and serve as an appetizer) 

Bean cakes: 
Black Beans - 1 can or 2 cups 
Garlic - 1 clove 
Lime Juice - 1/2 lime 
Greek yogurt, plain - 1 Tbsp (15 mL)
Cilantro leaves, fresh - 1/8th cup 
Bread crumbs - 1/2 cup 
Cumin - 1/2 tsp (2mL) 
Chili Powder - 1/4 tsp 
Cayenne - 1/4 tsp
Crushed red pepper - 1/4 tsp 
Salt - pinch 
Black pepper - to taste 

1. In a food processor blend beans, garlic, lime juice, and yogurt until smooth(ish). 

2. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. 
3. With clean hands roll the mixture into small balls (I used a heaping tablespoon but really should have  used a heaping teaspoon). 
4. Place balls on a plate a refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. In the mean time make the dips below. 
5. When bean balls are cold, remove from the fridge and pan fry with about 1 Tbsp of oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side. After a minute or two of cooking flatten the ball with your spatula so that it looks like a disc. 

Yogurt Cilantro Dipping Sauce:
Greek Yogurt, plain - approx 1/2 cup
Juice from 1/2 lime
Pinch of dill 
Cilantro, fresh  - approx 1/4 cup 

Combine ingredients.  Voila! 

Kale Pesto Recipe 
2 handfuls of kale 
1 handful of almonds
1 - 1.5 tbsp oil 
2 tsp of lime juice

Throw ingredients into a food processor and blend (we have enough cleaning to do, don't bother cleaning the bean mixture out of the processor). 

If you prefer a thin, liquid pesto you can: 
- blend longer
- add some more oil
- add a small amount of water. 

Top bean cakes with yogurt dip and then kale pesto. If you like just serve one dip (it's your kitchen, you make the decisions!). 

Wishing you calm in the kitchen this holiday season, 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The not so smooth-ie.

Let's talk smoothies. Up until three days ago I was anti-smoothie. So cold, so sweet, so boring.  "So what's with the blog post?" you wonder. Well a coworker has been raving for months about a new twist on the classic smoothie: oatmeal. 
My initial reaction: Huh? Oatmeal? In a drink? Umm,  no thanks. 
Clearly I couldn't leave it at that; curiosity got the best of me so I went for it. 

How to do it: 
Throw your favourite smoothie ingredients into a blender and then top it off with 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal. 

Version 1: 
Cooked steel cut oats 
Frozen blueberries
Unsalted nuts
Almond milk 
Maple syrup 

Version 2: 
Cooked steel cut oats 
Plain greek yogurt 
Frozen mixed berries
1/4 of an avocado
Almond milk 

The verdict: 
Oatmeal smoothies have a super interesting, delightful texture.  It was so delicious that I enjoyed it three mornings in a row and will likely finish the work week off with another tomorrow!

Not so fast, before getting started here are some helpful (and very important) tips:  

  • Cook a large batch of oatmeal on the weekend and store in the fridge for quick use during the week. 
  • Check yourself out before leaving the house. While my blueberry oatmeal smoothie was delicious it left a lot of seeds in my teeth and stained my lips a bright shade of blue (perhaps a straw would be helpful). 
  • Don't forget to add protein to your smoothie - try a handful of nuts, 2 tablespoons of nut butter, greek yogurt, or soft tofu. 
  • Mornings are complicated enough, remember to secure the top of the blender before hitting "blend"  
  • Click here for a a video showing you a quick and easy way to clean your blender 

Wishing you a pleasant surprise and a breakfast that makes you squeal with delight, 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Spring in my step

These yummy vegan spring rolls were well worth the effort. It was a multi-step process and the dipping sauce involved me pulling out the food processor, but after tasting these little bundles of joy I would certainly do it again! Check out the colours in the photo, wouldn't this be a darling holiday party plate? Guests would be even more impressed by it's stellar nutrition profile. If you're really wild you could even engage your guests with a 'make your own spring rolls' activity (ooooooh). 

I made my spring rolls by slicing carrots, cucumber, red bell pepper, avocado, and tofu into long thin strips and rolling in rice paper but the choices are endless.

Some more filling ideas include:
lettuce, sprouts, vermicelli, green onion, shrimp, bean paste, chicken, beef, fish or whatever your heart desires (or whatever you have lingering in the fridge).

Dipping sauce plays a key role in the enjoyment of this dish. Peanut sauce and sweet and sour sauce are both popular go-to options but this carrot-ginger dipping sauce wins the grand prize of deliciousness! I do however have one piece of advice: when it says "one clove of garlic" it means one regular/normal/medium clove of garlic, not the monstrous clove of garlic that I decided to use. Oopsies, I'll have garlic breath for days (but well worth it!).

Carrot Ginger Dipping Sauce:
1 clove of garlic
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 Tbsp coarsely grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
Ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp water

Blend garlic, carrots, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and peppers in a food processor until smooth. While the processor is running, add olive oil and water. Chill and serve with spring rolls.

Wishing you a little piece of spring roll heaven, 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Beauty Resolutions

I love this post from The Beauty Department.  For three years running my New Year resolution has been to moisturize after getting out of the shower. It's something that I know is great for my body and skin but I just. don't. like. doing.  Despite my dread of this tedious task I normally do well with my resolution and have baby soft skin until May! (change of season, change of habits?)
It turns out there is a name for this type of resolution - a Beauty Resolution. I shamelessly hopped on the bandwagon and created my own list of beauty resolutions (borrowing a few from wonderful ladies at The Beauty Department)

I vow to:
Exfoliate my face and body at least once a week.
Wear SPF 40 every single day.
Moisturize my face before bed (even if the moisturizer is really really far away)
Find the perfect red lipstick to give me an extra dose of sassiness.
Throw out all expired makeup. If I can't remember when I bought it, it's too old.
Clean my makeup brushes every week.
Experiment with styles (in the privacy of my own bedroom) that I never thought I could pull off.
Take the time to put on tights and a dress, even if pants are the quick and easy option.
Sleep on a satin pillowcase to protect my hair.
Sleep 6-8 hours a night.
Moisturize after getting out of the shower.
Treat my body to nutritious, wholesome, natural food every day.
Look at the ingredient list and reflect on if I really want to consume that strange sounding additive.
Make my lunch.
Drinks lots of water.
Go outside, even in the cold. I'm not a bear; I will not hibernate.
Move my body.
Find the silver lining.

What are your beauty resolutions? Remember, beauty is on the inside and out - mind, body, and soul.

Wishing you a beautiful new year, 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fit for a tea party

There are plenty of opportunities for indulgence over the holiday season and once in a while I crave a break from all the sweet treats and salty snacks. While searching for a small bowl for my greek yogurt tonight I came up with this cute idea for a holiday tea party! 
Put some Greek yogurt in a small tea cup and serve with a Scottish oat biscuit. It's a perfectly satisfying snack and is high in protein and low in fat and added sugars. Top with some fresh berries for a festive look! 

Tips: 1)  Look for oat biscuits or oat cakes with no added sugar; the yogurt will provide all the sweet flavour you need 2) If available, choose Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt has a creamy texture, is low in fat and high in protein.  

Wishing you a tasty holiday season, 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Champagne and china

I think it's silly to save the china, the good cutlery, the special table cloth for special occasions. Uh hello? Isn't today special? I bet it is.  

Reasons why today is special for me : 
I’m not feeling sick anymore
It’s the first snow fall of the year
There’s a new grocery store opening around the corner 
It’s pay day
I go home for a visit in just 21 sleeps

In my opinion, these are all reasons to celebrate, all reasons to break out the good cutlery. 
Yesterday I fought the urge to spend the night on the couch and went to a dance class. 
The day before I organized the messy corner in our apartment. 
The day before that was Sunday; I love Sundays. 
All perfectly good reasons to break out the china. 

Growing up, my best friend Anna and I were the fanciest kids in town – everything deserved a wine glass, a toast, a dress, a boa. Whether it was pizza night, brunch, or a quick lunch we always drank our orange juice out of wine glasses and dined by candle light.  To this day Anna remains one of the most 'every day we deserve something special' people I know. In fact, she inspired this post when she shared this quote on Facebook.  Thanks, Anna! 

Wishing you takeout on china and champagne with pizza, 


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sandwich Love

Don't you love when a simple lunch can be super duper delicious? Silly question, of course you do!

I wasn't going to blog about my lunch because it was so simple and seemingly unexciting.
Then Monday lunch time comes around and I eat my simple, understated sandwich and it was fantastic.
I ate it again on Tuesday - still fantastic. 
Since I bragged about this lunch to friends and coworkers I think it deserves a tiny spotlight on the internet.

Prepare yourself ....

2 slices of whole grain bread,
hummus spread on both slices of bread, 
thin slices of bell peppers (orange and red),
1 slice of pickle, 
and some jalapeño peppers. 


What simple meals or snacks blow your mind? Please share!

Wishing you super duper deliciousness,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just like the French

It's flu season. Yuck, gross, ick, blah. It seems as though everybody these days has got an arse or an elbow wrong with them, including me. When I'm sniffling, snuffling, and coughing my mama's French Onion Soup always makes me feel better. Growing up I was never much a fan of soup but French Onion Soup was always a treat.  Perhaps it had something to do with the gooey melted cheese on top....

My Mama's French Onion Soup Recipe 

Cut a small amount of steak or stewing meat into really small pieces. 
In a small amount of oil fry the meat with some worcestershire sauce (~1 Tbsp) and pepper. 
Add 1/2 cup water. 
Add 4 or 5 onions chopped into thin slices. Let cook for about 10 minutes. 
Add enough water to cover the onions. Bring to a boil. 
Add some more worcestershire sauce (about 3 Tbsp)
If you have a small tin of onion soup on hand throw it in (optional). 
Add salt and pepper to taste. 
Add some gravy browning to colour. 
Let simmer. 

Pour into serving bowl. 
Top with homemade croutons and grated mozzarella cheese.
Broil for about 1 minute or until cheese is melted. 
Serve, enjoy, and feel better. 

Wishing you a sniffle-free week, 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Grab a sweater and you'll be better.

Warm sweaters, wool socks, 
apple cider, crunchy leaves, 
crisp, cold autumn air. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Breakfast for the Snoozer

I don't know about you but I prefer to spend my mornings sleeping. I would hit the snooze button for hours if I could. Once I'm out of bed I am good to go, it's the getting out of bed part that hurts the most. The snooze section of my morning often means that I end up rushing like a mad woman to get out of the house. But let's face it - a girl's gotta eat. Working without breakfast is a waste of time and energy. Everything takes longer, things go wrong, I get grumpy - you know how it goes. 

One of my favourite breakfasts is my Ramekin Frittatas. They look fancy but they are quick, easy, versatile, and delicious. Plus they come in their own personal sized ramekin which is just so darn cute (cute things matter in the morning).

To make sure we are all on the same page: a ramekin is a single serve, heat proof dish. It's french and eating out of a french dish also makes me feel better in the morning (it's the little things that count). 

This is a make ahead recipe. I'm always chopping up veggies when making dinner so I just chop a little extra. I toss the veggies into the ramekin, scramble together two eggs with a bit of milk and season as desired (oregano and basil, chilli flakes and pepper, garlic and cayenne, etc.). Pour the egg mixture over the veggies, add some feta cheese, and bake at 400F for about 20 minutes (or until the egg is cooked through). 

In the morning I pop one in the microwave for 2 minutes and eat while doing my makeup, hair, and getting dressed - it's all about multitasking! 

 5 great things about this breakfast: 
1. It's high in protein which helps me feel full for most of the morning 
2. Eggs keep well in the refrigerator so I make a few at a time and eat throughout the week. 
3. It's a great way to get veggies in during breakfast. 
4. It's portable. Sometimes multitasking just doesn't work out. Wrap some saran wrap over the dish and heat up at work. Much better than picking up a bagel and cream cheese. 
5. It's a delicious start to the day.

Wishing you an extra 5 minutes of sleep,

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Double Chocolate Buttermilk Cookies

November already, can you believe it???

Halloween weekend was lovely - lots of friends and costumes and dancing and laughing. My friends and I dressed as a Birthday Party - a little lame but the party hats were cute and we had a great time wishing everybody we ran into a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

I live in an apartment building and we never get trick-or-treaters. HOWEVER you never know when a little monster could knock on your door and if that did by chance happen you wouldn't want to be caught empty handed with no chocolate treats to give out, right? ...and I did just buy some buttermilk that I've been meaning to experiment with ...  it was like the universe was screaming "JUST MAKE THE COOKIES,REBECCA". I caved to the pressure of the universe. The results:  delicious double chocolate buttermilk cookies. 

Since I had no clue what to do with buttermilk I looked on the web to find some inspiration. I found this recipe which looked pretty good but I modified it slightly with some whole wheat flour and less sugar. 

Here's the final recipe: 

All purpose flour
1 cup  
Whole wheat flour
1 cup 
1/2 tsp  
1/2 cup 
Cocoa Powder   
3/4 cup  
1 cup 
Agave Nectar*
1 Tbsp 
Vanilla extract
1 tsp  
2/3 cup 
Chocolate Chips
As many as you like  

*omit if you don't have any

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a larger bowl, blend the cocoa powder and melted butter until smooth. Add in the sugar, vanilla, and buttermilk. 
  4. Slowly stir in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop the dough onto the lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool more.
  6. Enjoy!

Wishing you a week as good as these double chocolate cookies :) 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Hallowe'en.

I love Hallowe'en. I love costumes. I love costume parties. I love adorable trick-or-treaters. I love chocolate. I love roasted pumpkin seeds. 

Toss seeds in a small amount of oil, sprinkle with salt, paprika, cinnamon, or cajun seasonings. Roast in oven at 300F for 45-60 minutes or until golden brown. Stir occassionally.

Wishing you a Hallowe'en weekend filled with all the things you love, 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Warm me up!

It's a cold, wet, windy night. 
Homemade soup was the only solution to warming me up.

This was my first time making potato leek soup - it was EASY. Who knew? 
I used a food processor but I think a blender would also do the trick!                                           

Potato Leek Soup 

1 Tbsp butter or margarine
1-2 cloves of garlic
3 leeks
3 potatoes
3-4 cups broth
Dash of thyme, salt, & pepper

1. Sauté garlic and leeks in melted butter or margarine. 
2. Throw in broth and bring to a boil.
3. Add chopped potatoes (Yukon Gold worked well for me). 
4. Cover and let cook for about 20 minutes.  Add a dash of dried thyme, salt, and pepper. 
5. Once the potatoes are soft, transfer 1/2 to 3/4 of the soup to the food processor. Process until smooth and add it back to the pot. 
6. Serve and ENJOY!!! 

Special shout out to Jenny who inspired me with her homemade potato leek soup today at lunch. 

Stay warm, 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Messy Spice

Totally inspired by a post on A Cozy Kitchen I decided to face the disaster that I like to call My Spice Box. Herbs and spices are expensive and important; they deserve more respect than what I currently give them.

You want to see it don't you? Alright, here it is: the before picture.

I'm embarrassed. Stop looking now. 

I stumbled across small mason jars at Home Hardware this past weekend (I honestly have no idea why I ventured into Home was probably the universe trying to send me a sign that it was time). Along with 12 small mason jars, I picked up a small can of Chalkboard Paint and a paint brush. The whole purchase came to under $20. The amount of chalkboard paint needed is pretty darn small - share with a friend to save money! 

Covers to mason jar  

Paint covers with chalkboard paint 

So much better.  Look! There's the Coriander! I see it! 

Wishing you a clutter-free kitchen, 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Cloudy Sunday Morning

What's better than waking up on a cloudy Sunday morning knowing that you have nowhere to be? I love it I love it I love it!  Last weekend I was feeling hungry and creative - sometimes this turns into a disaster, other times it turns into me thinking I am a genius. This time -  genius!

French toast - nut butter - cinnamon - coconut - maple syrup. Sounds good, right?

Nut Butter French Toast
Makes 4 slices

Cashews & Walnuts (any nut will do)
1/4 - 1/3 cup   
Coconut, unsweetened, shredded  
1 tsp 
1/4 tsp  
1/4 cup  
1/2 bean or 1 tsp 
Whole grain bread 
4 slices 
Maple Syrup 


1. Throw nuts, coconut, cinnamon, 
and vanilla into a food processor. Blend for a couple of minutes until it starts to turn into a butter or paste. The longer you process the smoother it will be. (FYI - this is how you make nut butter! So simple!) 

2. Add eggs and milk and process until blended (we don't want big chunks of nut butter in the batter). This should take 10 seconds or less. 

3. Pour into a dish and soak bread on both sides until saturated. 

4. Add some butter/margarine/oil on a heated pan and cook over medium heat until golden brown. 

5. Drizzle with maple syrup and top with banana slices. 

Note: If you prefer a sweeter french toast you can add some maple syrup, honey, or sugar into the food processor when you add the eggs and milk.

Wishing you a weekend of wonderful mornings,

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hi Pumpkin, want some Chili?

Fall is officially here! I love the fresh, crisp air and the buzz and excitement when a new season approaches.  A change of season also brings a change of recipes - see ya later juicy summer produce and a warm hello to dark leafy greens, root vegetables, and squash! This is a quick season so it's best to get cookin'! 

Pumpkins can go beyond jack-o-laterns and pies - this week I made Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili.  Chili is my favourite cold weather meal. It's easy to make, super nutritious, and leaves me with quick, warm meals all week long. Bonus: it freezes really well! 

This was the first time I've put pumpkin in my chili and I sure am glad that I did! The pumpkin spice gave the chili a deep, warm flavour, and the puree thickened it up. 

Chili is a great dish because you can literally throw in whatever veggies you have in the fridge! Feel free to play around with this recipe - add different veggies, throw in some lean meat, or change up the herbs and spices to better suit your tastes.

You'll probably want to start with the pumpkin puree first since the pumpkin takes about 45-60 minutes to bake. While the pumpkin is baking make the chili.

How to Make Pumpkin Puree: 
Wash your pumpkin
Cut it in half and scoop out all the guts and seeds 
Put about 1/2" of water in a baking dish and then place each half of the pumpkin face down in the dish. 
Place in the oven at 350°F for about 45-60 minutes (or until the pumpkin is soft and can be easily pierced with a fork) 

Carefully remove the pumpkin from the oven. 
Scoop out the flesh and place in a food processor. 
Add Pumpkin Pie Spice (1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground allspice). 
I also had a clove of roasted garlic on hand so I popped that into the mix. 
Pulse until pureed - don't let it get too thin!

Fall Pumpkin Chili 
Step1: In a large pot heat 1 tbsp of olive oil, minced garlic (1-2 cloves), and diced onion (about 1 onion)
Step 2: Chop your favourite vegetables and add them to the pot. 
I used:
  • 1 med zucchini
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 6 mushrooms
  • 1 jalapeño + 1 habanero pepper (I like it HOT!) 
Step 3: Add 2 cups of beans (I used black beans)
Step 4: Once all the veggies are cooked, pour in a can of tomato sauce. I used a tomato sauce that had italian seasonings in it. I could really taste the basil and oregano so I didn't need to add any more herbs. Add the pumpkin puree (see below for recipe). Mix together and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. 

Serve and sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese. Yum!

This recipe was inspired by Recipe ReDux, a group of bloggers who take on the challenge of making healthy, delicious recipes each month. Check out these other bloggers that have taken on this month's challenge: fresh pumpkin! 
Recipe ReDux

  • Cherie Schetselaar - Grain Crazy - Fresh Pumpkin Risotto
  • Alexandra Caspero- Delicious Knowledge - Pumpkin Enchiladas
  • Katie Hamm - Healthy & Happy Hour - Pumpkin-Bacon Ravioli
  • Alysa Bajenaru - Inspired RD - Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Fries
  • Everyday Tastiness - Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
  • Dr Barb, Nutriton Budgeteer - Pumpkin Chili Chicken Pizza
  • Elizabeth Jarrard- Don't (White) Sugar Coat It - Vegan Pumpkin Soup
  • Kristen Bourque- Swanky Dietitian - baked pumpkin oatmeal
  • Marie Spano - Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins
  • Regan @ The Professional Palate - Pumpkin Ravioli in a Walnut-Sage Cider Sauce
  • Danielle Omar - Food Confidence RD - Pumpkin Goulash
  • Emma @ The Hearty Heart - (Vegan) Cocoa Pumpkin (Whiskey) Mousse
  • gretchen - kumquat - baked mini pumpkins
  • Emma Stirling - The Scoop on Nutrition - Recipe Redux Chermoula Chickpea & Pumpkin Sliders
  • Janel Funk: Eat Well with Janel - Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
  • Nicole @ Whole Health RD - Kaddo Bourani - Candied Pumpkin with Yogurt and Meat Sauce
  • Yuri - Chef Pandita - Pumpkin Apple Soup
  • Lisa @ Healthful Sense - Pumpkin Cream Pie Filling & Pudding
  • Jessica Fishman Levinson - Nutritioulicious - Recipe Redux: Pumpkin Pancakes
  • Jane Schwartz, RD -
  • Kat Lynch - Eating The Week - Pumpkin yogurt dip for waffle sticks
  • Katie Caputo- East Meats West - Pumpkin Stuffing
  • Serena @ Teaspoon of Spice - Whole Pumpkin Cheddar Gratin
  • Kristina @ Love and Zest - Pumpkin Mash
  • Carrie Miller - Nutrition Know How - Baked Stuffed Pumpkin & Pumpkin Orange Muffins
  • Ann Dunaway Teh - Eat to Nourish, Energize & Flourish - Pumpkin, Squash and Apple Soup
  • Kara Lydon - Peace, Love, and Food - Pumpkin Yogurt Dip
  • Stephanie Howard - Give Them Something Better - Fall Harvest Chili
  • Karman Meyer-Nutrition Adventures - Pumpkin-Potato Breakfast Hash
  • Ayla Withee- Eat Simply - Salt and Vinegar Pumpkin Seeds
  • Heather Calcote - Dietitian on the Run - Pumpkin Rosemary & Mushroom Quinoa
  • Jill Melton-The Relish Dish - Ham and Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin
  • EA-The Spicy RD - Pumpkin Pesto Bruschetta
  • Liz Weiss & Janice Newell Bissex - Meal Makeover Moms' Kitchen - Ghoulishly Good Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin
  • Diane Welland - Eat Well, Eat Clean - Pumpkin Cranberry Scones

  • Wishing you fun in the pumpkin patch,