Hello Fresh….Hello Dream Come True!

September hit me hard! After an overall relaxed paced summer, we hit the ground running with new school, work, and extra curricular activities. I have worked hard to meal plan, grocery shop, and meal prep as well as possible but some days we still end up with a rush around supper. Enter Hello Fresh! We had the opportunity to try a 3 meal package from Hello Fresh a few weeks ago and it was a total life changer for this mom!

At 4:45 pm on a Tuesday we came home from a family bike ride to find a box at our front door filled with fresh produce and amazing quality (aka antibiotic free, local, sustainably farmed, etc.) meat, fish, and poultry. I was very impressed with the food safety aspect too. All items were packed in a way that ensured appropriate temperatures were kept.

One of the boxes was labelled “Make Me First” and so I unpacked that one right away and within 30 minutes we were enjoying salmon cakes, roasted sweet potatoes, and fresh veggies. Our whole family truly loved the flavor and I loved the ease of preparation. All the ingredients were perfectly prepped and portion and yet I still had the opportunity to do the cooking. A win-win for me!

Over the coming week I chose our two busiest days (one being piano lesson day) to cook the other two meals. They were equally easy to prepare, packed with nutrients and flavour, and enjoyed by the whole family.

If you have busy weeks, and a few partially prepared, high quality and incredibly tasty meals would be useful for you, please use my discount code MINIS50 for $25 OFF YOUR NEXT TWO BOXES!

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Heart Healthy Pasta

My boys LOVE pasta but I often worry that the meal will not offer enough protein and vegetables so I have come up with several blender pasta sauces so all their nutrition needs are met in one simple bowl. Here is one I developed last weekend that was a huge hit so I wanted to share.

The tomato base offers lycopene which is a cancer fighting antioxidant.

The hemp hearts offer a source of complete protein which means all essential amino acids are present and a source of omega 3 fatty acids which are wonderful for growing brains in children and promoting heart and mental health in adults. They also act as an anti-inflammatory.

The feta cheese is a lower fat cheese that offers a creamy texture and taste and a source of complete protein.

Nutritional yeast offers a cheesy flavour as well and a great source of vitamin B12.

Spinach and kale are packed with nutrition!!!

Ingredients

1 jar low sodium pasta sauce (any flavor is fine)

1/3 cup Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1-2 large handfuls of spinach or kale

Instructions

Blend in a blender and pour over pasta. I have a vitamix and blend my sauces on the soup setting to warm them up but this is not necessary if you don’t have a blender that heats.

Hope you and your family enjoy this as an easy meal sometime soon!

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

Mixed Bean and Barley Vegetable Stew

This is a simple vegan recipe that makes a nice stew allowing for versatility of its use. It can be consumed on its own, on top of rice or quinoa, on top of a salad, in lettuce wraps, or pureed with a bit more liquid and eaten as a soup. So whether you were hoping to find a recipe for meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wellness Wednesday, Thrifty Thursday, Fast Friday, Soup Saturday, or Stay-at-home-Sunday…this recipe could fit them all! My favourite way to enjoy it is on top of a spinach salad with a dollup of tzatziki on top and a sprinkling of The Chicago Spice House Moroccan Seasoning.

Bean Barley Stew

Ingredients

1 cup lentils

2 cups mixed beans

1 cup barley

2 cups sliced mushrooms

2 zucchinis, diced

1 red onion, diced

1 cup vegetable broth

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup water

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 tsp. truffle or sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Wash, drain, and then soak the lentils and beans in warm water for 2 hours.
  2. When read rinse them again and place in a pot. Add barley, fresh water, broth, and wine (or additional broth).
  3. Heat on medium and add in the remainder of the ingredients. Keep at a rolling boil for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for about an hour or until liquid has boiled off. Additional spices or herbs can be added during this time or at time of serving is a variety of flavours is desired.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

 

Peanut Chicken

I had a few girlfriends over for Thai food last weekend and it reminded me how much I LOVE peanut sauce. I also realized that since my kids love peanut butter they would likely love any dish made with it. So I decided to work on a recipe this week for a “kid friendly” (aka not too spicy) Peanut Chicken. So for any of my readers who do not have a peanut allergy in your home…I hope that you enjoy it too!

Ingredients

6 Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Breasts

2/3 cup peanut butter (this can be crunchy or smooth)

3 Tbsp. honey

3 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 Tbsp. avocado oil (or for a coconut flavor addition, you can use coconut oil here)

1 tsp. pureed garlic

1 tsp. curry powder

Instructions

  1. Slice or dice chicken breasts and place into a baking dish.
  2. Mix all sauce ingredients together until smooth.
  3. Add sauce to chicken. You may wish to add water at this time to thin it out as well.
  4. Bake at 375 Degrees F for about 35-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. The smaller the pieces, the faster the chicken will cook.

Variations and Serving Suggestions: 

  1. Diced up peppers, onion, mushrooms, and other veggies could also be added into the chicken dish while it cooks.
  2. This could be served over rice or rice noodles with stir fried or steamed veggies.
  3. This could be served with flat bread and a large salad.
  4. This could be served with potatoes or sweet potatoes and your choice of vegetable.
  5. Make a lunch for the next day with any leftovers.

As always, feel free to add a twist that will make it perfect for your family.

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!

 

A Salad Makeover

Recently a friend made a comment to me that salads are great, but can get so boring! This can be true…but what if it isn’t??!!! What if salads can be like snowflakes…each one unique and with its own share of excitement??? Okay maybe, that is going a little far, but hear me out. If you are bored with your salad routine, here are 5 new ideas that you may want to try out.

  1. Arugula tossed in bruschetta mix with cucumber slices and quartered hard boiled egg on top.IMG_3825.JPG
  2. Spinach tossed in Costco quinoa salad with diced avocado and baby tomatoes on top.
  3. Roasted Brussel sprouts (in place of true salad greens), roasted sweet potatoes, diced tomato, and peppers, and crumbled hard boiled egg or feta cheese.
  4. Romaine lettuce and kale tossed in walnut olive oil and strawberry balsamic vinegar, topped with diced avocado and Central Roast Walnut Superberry blend (available at Costco).imageimage
  5. Kale and diced veggies tossed in avocado oil infused with and a drop of lemon or lime essential oil (Doterra only of course!!!) with sautéed mushrooms, pomegranate seeds, and almonds.IMG_2537.JPG

Hoping these give you some fun ideas for a salad makeover in your home!

Until next time…stay healthy!

Apple Cinnamon Chicken Burgers

This afternoon we enjoyed the most amazing family bike ride. The leaves are starting to change and yet there are still purple, yellow, and white flowers along the pathway that give a small glimmer of summer left yet. It was an incredible opportunity to chat with the twins about the change in season and the beauty of God’s creation. They are learning about the story of creation in school and they were very engaged with the conversation as we rode along.

We have an 8 km route that we like to do with them. We always stop at the 4 km mark for the twins to eat a snack…it is a highlight of the experience for them. Yes, my kids LOVE food. lol

Once home, we continued the “summer evening vibe” with burgers on the BBQ. I wanted to give supper a “fall feel” though and we have a gazillion apples so I incorporated apples into the burgers and salad. For the burger patty, I took 2 pounds of ground chicken/turkey combo (but only one or the other would work as well) and added 1/2 cup finely shredded apple with as little of the juice as possible (creates too much moisture), 1/2 cup red pepper jelly, 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, and 1 tsp. of cinnamon. Side note…did you know that cinnamon helps to keep blood sugar levels balanced? Ok…on with the supper…I mixed everything together and made patties. We like to put our chicken burger patties onto foil so that they don’t fall apart and also less acrylamide (a carcinogenic agent) forms during cooking.

Well, my experiment was a huge hit! The kids each ate about 3/4 of a burger…as well as steamed broccoli, cucumber, edamame beans and a sliced apple! They had really large appetites after that bike ride!!! I chose to pair my burger patty with a side of steamed broccoli as well as a cabbage and spinach salad topped with edamame seeds, cucumber, shredded cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and apples.

If you get a chance to try these this fall, I hope you and your family enjoys them!

Until next time….stay healthy!

Harvest Vegetable Soup

One of my favourite things to do in the fall is start making hearty soups packed full of veggies. These are such a great way to nourish the body and warm up at the same time. I think of vegetable soups as a form of warm salad. Sometimes I even add spinach or kale in at the time of eating to make it even more like a salad!

Soups take time and they are not an “everyday cooking” thing. I like to make a big pot of soup every other weekend in the autumn and winter, and then pull containers out of the fridge or freezer for easy lunches and suppers as needed. IT takes time up front, but I am always SO thankful when I can grab one and know that I have a healthy meal already made.

I have found that my kids prefer when I puree them…I think they think of them as a warm smoothie that way. But my husband and I prefer the textured version. So I tend to puree half the batch and leave half the batch as is. Perhaps you can see what works best for your family!

Here is one of my favourite soups to make. The cool thing about soup is that you can use any soup recipe as a starting point and add more of what you love, less of what you don’t care for, and new additions that you think would taste good. Also, you can vary it based on what you have in your home. For example, after Thanksgiving or another type of holiday family meal, you could add in leftover turkey or roast beef for extra protein too!

Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

900 ml “no salt added” chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you prefer)

1 large clove garlic, chopped finely

1 medium onion, diced

5 carrots, peeled and diced

1 small (or ½ large) butternut squash, peeled and chopped

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

5 red potatoes, diced

2 peppers (red, orange or yellow), diced

2 medium apples, diced

½ tsp. pepper

1 Tbsp. Original Mrs. Dash

1 cup green beans, cut into ½” pieces

1 cup broccoli, chopped finely

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen corn

1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed well

2 cups water

Instructions

  1. Pour in 450 mL of the chicken broth into a large pot or Dutch oven. I like to use my large Le Crueset Pot.
  2. Simmer the garlic and onion in the broth on medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining 450 mL of chicken broth, and then the carrots, squash, sweet potato, potatoes, apples, peppers, pepper, and Mrs. Dash. Let this all simmer for 1 hour on medium low heat.
  4. Add water, beans and let simmer for another 30 minutes.
  5. Add broccoli, peas, corn, and white beans and let simmer for an additional 30 minutes. The soup can be served at this point as is or blended; and can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days and the freezer for up to 6 months.

Until next time…stay healthy!