Red Curry Bean, Lentil, and Vegetable Stew

May has started out wet and chilly where we live which is keeping me interested in making warm soups and stews. I developed this recipes recently and it is not only packed with nutrition but also a ton of flavor and a bit of heat to warm you right through on a cold wet day. If you like curry…this is a must try!

Ingredients

2 cups dry mixed beans

1 cup red lentils

3 cups vegetable broth

2 cups coconut milk

½ red cabbage

1 sweet or red onion

3-4 large celery stalks

2 yellow zucchinis

2 green zucchinis

1 Chinese eggplant

3 Tbsp. Avocado oil (split into 2 portions)

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp. red curry powder

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Rinse and drain beans and lentils and then soak in warm water for 2-3 hours. Once beans are ready, you can move forward with the rest of your recipe.
  2. Dice onion and place at the bottom of a large pot. Sautee the onion on medium heat in 2 Tbsp. of the avocado oil. Add diced cabbage and celery as you have it ready. Once they are softened add diced zucchinis and eggplant and stir together.
  3. In a separate dish mix together red curry powder, paprika, nutritional yeast, cinnamon, 1 Tbsp. avocado oil, and stir together. Then add this into the pot. Once all vegetables are coated well, add the beans and stir thoroughly.
  4. Add the vegetable broth and stir and then let simmer on low for 1 hour stirring every 15-20 minutes. Add coconut milk and let simmer for an additional hour (or more) until it reaches desired thickness and beans are to desired softness.

My favourite way to enjoy this stew is heated and topped with dollup of coconut or vanilla yogurt. It would also be great warm or cold in a whole grain wrap!

Until next time…stay healthy!

Ten Tips for the Toddler vs. Veggies Standoff

The theme for Nutrition Month in Canada is “Take the Fight out of Food”. I asked my Instagram followers for suggestions on what they would like to have the “fight” taken out of when it comes to food and the top request was information about toddlers eating vegetables so that is what this blog post is focusing on. The tips that I mention can be used for older children as well though!

Tip 1: It takes up to 20 exposures to a food before a child knows if they actually like it. An exposure can be seeing the food on a plate, helping to prepare the food, touching the food, tasting the food, and/or actually swallowing the food. For example, a child may help to tear spinach leaves up but never ingest any…this is an exposure. A child may pick up a iece of broccoli and touch and top feeling soft and spongy and the bottom feeling firm. This is an exposure. I child may lick a piece of watermelon but then set it back down. This is an exposure. Continued exposures in a safe, non pressured environment are is one of the best practices that will lead to a “well rounded eater”.

Tip 2: Do not get caught up in meals vs. snacks. Ideally we will capitalize on our children’s hunger and offer veggies at their “hungriest/most alert” times. Put a veggie tray out mid morning while you play and enjoy some veggies with them. Or have one ready for when they come home from daycare or school and you may find that more veggies are consumed than ever would be on their supper plate. Perhaps your children are hungry in the car on the way home from school or day care…this is a perfect opportunity for some diced peppers and sliced cucumbers!

Tip 3: Include your children in grocery shipping and meal prep. There are a lot of fun ways for children to help in the kitchen and many of them surround veggie prep. You can see a more extensive list here.

Tip 4: Offer dips. Children LOVE to dip. Whether it is hummus or Greek yogurt or tzatziki  or your favourite homemade salad dressing…kids LOVE to dip!

Tip 5: Help your child sort their thoughts out. When you child expressed that they do not like something, it could be more that they are worries what it will taste like and or feel like and do not feel safe to take the risk of trying it. We have had lots of fun in our house with “Today I tried…” which creates a non-pressured adventure of trying new things. You can find out more about that here.

Tip 6: Recognize “normal” behaviour. Food jags will occur and are expected. This means that young children love a food one day and hate it the next. This is most typical from ages 15 to 36 months, but certainly can still happen in pre-school years. It is part of normal development and one of many ways that these adorable tiny humans can drive parents crazy by exercising their autonomy and reaching to see where limits lie. The truth is that the best thing we can do is support our children in this journey. The “division of responsibility” is key to dealing with food jags and “picky eater” behavior in general. It is our responsibility as parents to offer healthy food throughout the day. It is the child’s  responsibility if they will eat it or not. child’s responsibility if they choose to eat. That means ideals no filler foods like gold fish and puffs and ideally no “short order cook”. Children will soon learn that no other options are coming, so they may want to eat what is in front of them. This process can take time, and there may be some meals that end up in the garbage, but overall it leads to well rounded eaters and that is the ultimate goal for well rounded nutrition.

Tip 7: Please do not use food as a reward or give punishment around food. A child who is lead to believe that they are “good” or “bad” with relationship to food may end up on the path of emotional eating. If a child does not eat their broccoli, this is not grounds for punishment. And if they do, this is not ground for “deserving” a brownie. When it comes to eating healthy food, a kind word of encouragement is great but there is never need for feelings of guilt of reward.

Tip 8: Lead by example. Are you eating vegetables in front of your kids? Are you reaching for them while you make supper? Are you sitting with your children at lunch and eating a salad? Even if it does not seem like it, your children are watching EVERYTHING you do. Whether it is putting your coat away, making exercise a part of each day, eating your vegetables, or sitting down to pray. They see it all and the best thing we can do to teach our children is lead by example.

Tip 9: Try smoothie bowls. This isn’t a direct means of having the child eat the whole food, but it is still a way to introduce flavours and increase a child’s intake of new foods. Trying a green smoothie bowl may help the child feel more comfortable to try other green foods.

Tip 10: Last but not least, realize that every child will have a few “I don’t like foods”. I know I do and you likely do as well. Just keep offering all foods and over time it will become obvious which ones are starting to stick and while ones may be “off the table”.

So, in summary…we are looking to offer veggies at times when are children are most hungry; avoid taking up space with “filler foods”; involve children in meal prep; keep meal times low stress and focus on the bigger picture; offer all members at the table the same foods (no short order cook); and last but not least lead by example. And please…DON’T GIVE UP…you are doing a great job!

I hope that his is helpful for you. As always, feel free to ask any questions in the comment section or on my Instagram page.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

Go Green!

Well it’s St. Patrick’s Day and to an RD, that means all great green foods come to mind. Move over green beer! We have SO much more to offer the body. And not just on March 17th….EVERY DAY!!!!

Here are 10 green foods that I would encourage you to have on your weekly grocery list and some fun suggestions on how to incorporate them into your intake.

Spinach, Kale, and other dark leafy greens are great as a salad base, wrap filler, and smoothie booster. These power foods are packed with nutrients including iron and fibre. While they are incredibly high in nutrient density, they are low in caloric density. Try to have at least two handfuls each day!

 

Broccoli is amazing steamed, stir fried, roasted, or chopped on a salad. Don’t really like the flavour? Try topping with  squeezed lemon, olive oil, or a little grated cheese. Broccoli is a great source of calcium and fibre among other nutrients and is an easy one for kids to dip so a welcome addition to everyone’s snack or meal plate!

Green peas are not only packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibre…they are also a source of protein. Add these to pasta sauce, rice, soup, a salad, or as a side to any meal. The frozen version of these is an easy vegetable to have on hand and favourite of many children.

Honeydew is a delicious green melon that provides a refreshing vitamin packed snack for all ages and can be added as a juicy topper to salads, cereal, and/or yogurt.

Matcha powder is a green tea powder that is packed with antioxidants. It can be added to water or your choice of milk and served hot or cold. As part of a smoothie it can be paired with milk, yogurt, veggies, fruit, and more. My favourite combinations are:

1) coconut milk, banana, key lime, and matcha

2)coconut milk, spinach, pineapple, agave, and matcha

Green peppers are packed with vitamin C among other nutrients and make a quick and easy snack, wrap addition, salad topper, or side to any meal when roasted alone or with other veggies.

Green beans and snap peas are examples of other high fibre and nutrient packed vegetables that can be served fresh, steamed, pan fried, or roasted. These are most commonly served as a side….but these also make an amazing crunchy snack. If your kids aren’t big on vegetables with their meal…try putting a few green beans or snack peas out ahead of the meal and they may just disappear in no time!

Green grapes…serve them fresh with cheese or almonds for a refreshing and satisfying snack. Or cut them in half and freeze to serve frozen in the summer for a refreshing snack that doesn’t have the sugar of a Popsicle!!!

Green apples have that sour crunch that leaves your mouth watering for more. I love mine dipped in vanilla green yogurt or paired with Swiss cheese. My kids prefer them spread with peanut butter. They are also an amazing option for adding crunch to salad. What is your favourite way to eat them???

Last but not least…AVOCADO. You knew this one was coming! If you follow me on Instagram you know we go through several of these every day! My kids will eat diced avocado with any meal and I to be honest I do too. Whether it is mashed, mixed with a little lime, and spread into a wrap or toast. Or diced to finish off a soup or salad or just as a side. This omega 3 packed fruit is one of the most important foods you can eat in a day!

So…are all of these on your grocery list each week? If several are missing…what is one you can add for the next time you go shopping?

Until next time…stay healthy!

Promega Banana Muffins

Looking for a breakfast or snack food packed with quality protein and omega 3 fatty acids? Look no further! These muffins are packed with nutrition and flavour AND have no added sugar!!! You can also “dress them up” as I have in the picture above. This mini version of the muffin is topped with Yoso Chocolate Coconut Milk Yogurt and a raspberry. You could also use Greek yogurt and/or any other fruit you and your little ones enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup oats (ideally steel cut quick cooking oats)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached white flour

¼ cup Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts or Baby Brain Organics

¼ cup chia seeds

½ Tbsp. baking powder

½ Tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup bananas (about 3 large bananas)

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or alternate fruit puree)

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

2 eggs

½ Tbsp. vanilla

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Mash bananas and beat eggs then add these together along with applesauce, oil, yogurt, and vanilla.
  3. Add the dry and wet mixture together and stir until moistened, but do not over-stir.
  4. Spoon into muffin pan and bake at 375 degrees F for 14-17 minutes for mini muffins and 22-28 minutes for “regular” size muffins.

Makes 18 regular size muffins or 36 mini muffins.

Feel free to add dried fruit or nuts for added nutrition and flavor too!

Until next time…stay healthy!

Mussels!!!

My husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary with a road trip to the East Coast of Canada. Up until that point, I had never tasted a mussel. I always thought that the texture would be odd and was fearful of how I would react if I couldn’t chew and swallow without making a scene! Can anyone relate? I have heard from others that they have the same concern. But this one afternoon, while in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia we came across a restaurant that served only mussels. We decided it was now or never and we never looked back. The mussels were out of this world amazing!!! I couldn’t believe that I had gone so many years without experiencing this food that was rich in protein and omega 3 fatty acids and quite easy to prepare.

Once home from our trip I decided to make our own version. I was shocked at how inexpensive they were and how fast they are to make. Over the following 9 years I have created many broths that I like to cook mussels in but I will keep this to a reasonable length and share two with you now…one of which we enjoyed tonight.

First of all you need the largest pot you have as it is a lot of liquid, and then the mussels take up space as well. In terms of amount of mussels to purchase, it depends on everyone’s appetite, but I tend to plan on about 1-1.5 pounds per person served with a generous salad.

Broth 1

4 cups of water

5 cups of tomato or Clamato juice (or tomato sauce works too)

1 large can of No Salt Added diced tomatoes

1 red onion, diced

1 cup of frozen peas

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. avocado or canola oil

1 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice

Broth 2

4 cups water

3 cups white wine

1/4 cup avocado or canola oil

2 Tbsp. minced garlic and/or dill

1 red onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

Instructions

Bring either of these mixtures to a boil, add rinsed mussels and continue to boil for about 3 minutes or until you see that most mussels are open. At this point you can serve them or you can scoop them with a little bit of broth into a baking pan and sprinkle with feta or parmesan cheese and pop them under the broiler for 2-3 minutes or in the oven at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes.

fullsizerender-12In this photo, the mussels are just starting to open. It happens really quickly and is fascinating to watch. If any mussels do not open, this means that they were not meant to be consumed, so just leave them in the bowl.  The rest will open like the picture below and are ready to enjoy!
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You can easily use other herbs and spices and sauces to get any flavor that you enjoy. Bottom line is that you need a liquid base to bring to a boil and there is not limit from there.

Hope that you enjoy these and would love to hear any new combinations you come up with in the comment section!

Until next time, stay healthy…

 

 

 

 

Festive Salads and Sides

Whether you are hosting Christmas this year or taking a dish to another friend or family member’s home…there is always a need for festive healthy dishes! I love to add the colours of red, green, and white when making a dish for the holiday and I thought I would share some combos in case you were looking for a little inspiration.

When I am asked to bring a dish I tend to offer a salad. Why? Well then I know there will be one and I know what will be in it!

Here are a few of my favourite salads to take to a Christmas gathering…

Spinach tossed in honey mustard topped with diced cucumber, diced red peppers, diced red onion, diced red apple, pomegranate seeds, and roasted soy nuts.

Spinach tossed in poppyseed dressing topped with sliced strawberries, toasted walnuts ro almonds, and feta.

Mixed greens tossed balsamic vinegarette topped with avocado chunks, diced pears, red grapes, almonds, and feta.

Kale mixed in Caesar salad dressing topped with baby tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and homemade croutons.

Kale or mixed greens topped in olive oil and topped with avocado, tomatoes, and feta.

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I also like to take a vegetable side dish. My favourites are

1.Roasted beets, leeks, red onion, mushrooms, cauliflower, red peppers, green peppers, red potatoes, broccoli, and green beans. You can roast them separately or in combinations. Just chop veggies, drizzle avocado oil or grapeseed oil over top and roast at 400 for 35-45 minutes and serve! These will be a crowd favourite for their look and flavor!

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Hope this gives you some fun ideas for festive looking healthy dishes this holiday season.

 

 

 

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Last week I made the most wonderful soup. It was really meant to be an adventure with my children to let them pick out vegetables and then make a soup together. It was super easy and immensely flavourful, so I thought I would share.

First, I made the broth from chicken bones of two small chickens that I had taken most of the meat off of for our supper/packed lunches the previous day. I left a little meat on the bones to add to the soup. I boiled the bones for 3 hours and then took the pot off the stove and let it cool. Once it had cooled down, I transferred it all into a large ceramic pot and placed it in the fridge.

The next morning  the boys and I purchased all the vegetables (and apples) that we wanted to add.

We walked to the store…

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Once there, I let them pick them out in hopes that they would be eager to eat the soup.

The portions I included in the soup were:

2 sweet potatoes

1 cauliflower

3 beets

3 zucchini

2 onions

3 peppers

2 cups of baby carrots

2 cups sliced mushrooms

3 apples

1 large bunch of kale

5 stalks of celery

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Then I roasted all but the kale and celery at 400 for 45 minutes

While they were roasting, I got to work on the broth. First, I took the top layer of fat off and then proceeded to “debone” the broth. The first part was easy, but towards the end there were many very small bones. I stuck with it and from what I can tell I was able to get them all. I put some soup some in the freezer, so time will tell if we have any to retrieve yet. Once the fat was taken off and the bones were gone, I placed the remainder in a pot and started to heat the broth and bit of chicken that were left in there.

 

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The Chicken Parts Removed

 

When the vegetables and apples were done roasting I added them to the broth and it filled the pot!!

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I let that simmer for about an hour then added the kale and celery and let that simmer for another hour.

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Then I added 1 Tbsp. red curry and 1 Tbsp. Moroccan spice. I let it simmer on low for 1 more hour and removed it from the heat. We enjoyed it as a family for supper, shared a bit with our sweet neighbors, and put some in the freezer for future lunches. It was the easiest soup to make and a huge hit. Never underestimate the power of chicken both, fresh veggies, and a little spice! Maybe you want to try this too or a version of it. The nice thing about soup is that you cant go wrong. And if your little ones are like my Clay and don’t like the texture of soup….just blend it up and it makes a great soup, dip, or spread!!!

Until next time….stay healthy!