Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chickpeas and Cilantro

Cook books will forever hold a dear place in my heart, but seriously, what did people do before social media? Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and most recently, Pinterest, provide me with the best inspiration for healthy, delicious recipes. The latest awesome find was this Chickpea Spinach Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette adapted from The Whinery 2.0. The dish screams summer picnics and potlucks. 

I can't control myself when I make this dish.  Give me a spoon and this whole bowl is in danger of disappearing in one sitting. As eating two cans of chickpeas in one day is not recommended, I'm forced to portion this recipe into small tupperware containers before chowing down (hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do). 

Chickpeas are a great alternative to meat, providing 10 grams of protein and 25% of our daily iron requirements in 3/4 cup. Pairing this with spinach and lime juice is a smart move as the vitamin C in these foods help our body absorb the iron in the chickpeas.  Iron carries oxygen to every cell in our body and helps produce energy.  As you can imagine, it's pretty important. 

Enjoy this dish as part of a meal or have on it's own as a snack. 

Recipe: Chickpea Spinach Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Spinach, raw - 5 cups
Chickpeas (also called Garbanzo beans), cooked - 4 cups (about two 15 ounce cans) *Rinse canned chickpeas before using
Red onion chopped, 1/2 onion
Red Pepper Flakes - 1 teaspoon
Lime Juice - 3 limes (about 100 mL)
Fresh Cilantro - 1 cup, loosely packed
Pure Maple Syrup (or honey) - 1.5 Tbsp (22 mL)
Balsamic Vinegar - 2 Tbsp (30 mL)
Dijon Mustard - 1 teaspoon (5 mL)
Garlic, minced - 2 cloves
Red Pepper Flakes - 1 Tbsp
Olive Oil - 1/4 cup (60 mL)

1. Pulse the spinach in a food processor until it is finely chopped (about 4 or 5 pulses). If you don't have a food processor just chop the spinach into very small pieces with a knife.
2. In a large bowl, combine the chopped spinach, chickpeas, chopped red onion, and 1 tsp of red pepper flakes.
3. In a food processor or blender add remaining ingredients except the olive oil.
4. While processing slowly add the oil.
5. Pour about 3/4 of the dressing on the chickpea salad and mix to combine. The remaining dressing can be added before serving or saved for another salad (store in refrigerator).
6. Let the salad sit for at least 20 minutes before serving.  You can also make this the night before a potluck, or have for snacks and meals throughout the week.

Wishing you tasty meals and happy days,

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

No-Bake Brownies

Spring is in full force in Toronto and I mean full force.  Sunshine, patios, jackets left at home, people are wearing t-shirts for heavens sake! It's wonderfully unreal (although I do find global warming worrisome). Along with this sunny weather comes bumble bees and maple sugaring. With that in mind, this month's Recipe ReDux Challenge was "Stick with Maple Honey Sweetness" - cooking and baking with maple or honey to add natural sweetness to everything. 

Like any proud Canadian I love maple syrup. Small amounts can transform salad dressings, baked goods, smoothies, even salmon. I do, however, have one word of caution - natural sweeteners, like maple syrup, honey, and agave nectar are not health foods. When comparing maple syrup to granulated sugar they both have about 50 calories in one tablespoon. While some natural sugars have trace minerals it's certainly not a compelling reason to "add a little extra". Enjoy your sweet treats but avoid having too heavy of a hand when adding sugars and syrups. 

While cruising around Pinterest I came across a recipe for Raw Two-Bite Brownies. It immediately shot out of the printer and landed itself on the top of my To-Do List. 

There are only three tablespoons of maple syrup in this recipe, however the dates provide the majority of the sweetness (along with a dose of fibre). 

Recipe: No Bake Brownies

Almonds, unsalted - 1 cup 
Cashews, unsalted - 1/2 cup 
Ground flaxseed - 1/4 cup 
Alkalized cacao powder (or cocoa powder) - 1 Tbsp 
Shredded coconut, unsweetened - 1 Tbsp 
Maple Syrup - 3 Tbsp 
Dates (or prunes) - 10 
Dark chocolate - 2 oz (about 57 grams) 
Nut butter - 1 Tbsp 
Almond milk (any sort of milk or water will work) - 1- 3 Tbsp 
Vanilla - 1/2 tsp 

1. Throw the nuts and flaxseed into a food processor and process until it turns into a flour. Do not let it process for too long or it will turn into nut butter. We don't want this. 
2. Add every thing except milk to the food processor and process until all the ingredients are well mixed. 
3. Add small amounts of milk at a time until a dough ball forms. It will be obvious. 
4. Roll the dough into small balls (this recipe is rich and full of healthy fats so I don't recommend going bigger than 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie). Flatten to your liking. You will notice a lot of oil on the balls. This is the natural oil from the nuts. You may wish to pat away some of the oil with a paper towel although this is not necessary. 
4. Refrigerate for 1 hour. 
5. Eat, enjoy, and savour your delicious treat. 

Store in the refrigerator or freezer. 

Before you leave take a look below to check out what the other Recipe ReDuxers have whipped together this month.

Wishing you a sunny spring and tasty days,

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cinnamon coconut almond butter

An empty apartment on Saturday morning left me toddling around the kitchen looking for something to delight my palate. Enter homemade cinnamon coconut almond butter.

I'm a nut butter fan. I normally don't take the homemade route but after this batch I hope to start doing so more often. Perhaps it tastes better because of all the love and anticipation that goes into it, or maybe because it's so fresh, either way, it is a delight.

The best part is all the mixing and matching that can take place. You can mix different types of nuts, add spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and toss in ingredients like coconut, raisins, vanilla, or dark chocolate.

I went for almonds, coconut, and cinnamon. 

After 10 minutes in the food processor, cinnamon and coconut aroma filled my kitchen. I enjoyed my warm nut butter on some whole grain bread, paired perfectly with a hot cup of freshly ground coffee. If only every morning could be a Saturday morning.

A few notes about homemade nut butter: 
- Store it in the fridge 
- It lasts about one month so make small batches
- 1 cup of nuts yields about 1/2 cup of nut butter

Almonds - 1 cup
Coconut, shredded, unsweetened - 1 tsp
Cinnamon - 1/2 tsp

Toss into a food processor and process for about 10 minutes.
Scrape sides as needed.

Wishing you tasty mornings and happy days,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mr. B. Sprout

I'm loving brussels sprouts this season. Sure, these little buggers have a bad name among kids and adults alike but it's time to give them another chance. We all deserve a second chance once in a while, don't ya think?

If my claim of deliciousness isn't enough to convince you to give brussels sprouts a try, perhaps a few fun facts will help.  Just six sprouts have:
- more vitamin C than a medium orange
- almost five grams of fibre
- just 45 calories
- many many more vitamins and minerals that make us feel and look good.

These brussels sprouts were tossed with lemon juice and garlic and roasted for about 30 minutes. Easy. I have some more that I haven't cooked with yet and my goal for this weekend is to find another delicious way to prepare them. Stay tuned for an update and please leave any tips and suggestions.

Preparation is a piece of cake:
1. Rinse sprouts well.
2. Peel off any outer layers that look brown or weathered.
3. Trim off the very bottom of the sprout as this can be tough.
4. Toss in herbs, spices, oil, and/or citrus (I used lemon juice and garlic).
5. Roast in the oven at 400F for about 30 - 40 minutes. You may want to toss them half way through.
6. Et Voila! You did it! (I told you it was easy).


Friday, March 2, 2012

Oh those nosey peppers....

This post is dedicated to my lovely father on his birthday! If "love of cheesy puns" is genetic, I'm pretty sure I get it from him! Happy Birthday Dad! xo

And just in case you didn't get it - What does a nosey pepper do, answer: get "all up in your"  business .... hahaaaa