June 25, 2014

Lentil, Grape, & Blue Cheese Arugula Salad

Lentil, Grape, Apple & Blue Cheese Arugula Salad

Now that it's officially summer, I've been craving salads for dinner a lot more, but my salads have to be interesting to keep me interested, with plenty of different textures and flavours and a good source of protein - usually either beans, quinoa, edamame, or lentils.

Lentil, Grape, Apple & Blue Cheese Arugula Salad

I saw the combo of grapes and blue cheese somewhere a while ago and have been thinking about how to use them together since.  Because lentils have a pretty earthy flavour that need brightening up from other ingredients, I figured they would make the perfect base for a salad with grapes for sweetness and the sharp flavour of blue cheese that I can't even describe because it tastes like nothing else (in a good way!)

Lentil, Grape, Apple & Blue Cheese Arugula Salad

After doing a bit of searching I found out that lentils.ca, one of my favourite resources for lentil information and recipes, had a recipe along the lines of what I was looking for, with lentils, arugula, grapes, blue cheese, and walnuts.  I followed their lead, adding apples for crunch (a necessary addition, in my opinion), using a slightly different dressing, and leaving the walnuts raw instead of candying them (though that would probably be good too; I was just lazy).

Lentil, Grape, Apple & Blue Cheese Arugula Salad

Not only did this make for a healthful meal with plenty of fiber, protein, and vitamins, but it had such a great combination of flavours and textures.  I loved how the bursts of sweet grapes and crunchy apples balanced out the sharp arugula and blue cheese along with the nutty, earthier flavours in the lentils and walnuts.
Lentil, Grape, Apple & Blue Cheese Arugula Salad

You could eat this as a main course on its own or as a side dish.  We ate some of our leftovers piled on top of whole wheat naan bread as a sort of knife-and-fork salad, which we really enjoyed.  Ryan thought this dish would have been better covered in buffalo sauce, which I strictly forbade, but considering he was willing to eat it for three meals in a row (and it was pretty inexpensive for the amount of food we got), I'd say it won him over!

Lentil, Grape, Apple & Blue Cheese Arugula Salad

Lentil, Grape, & Blue Cheese Arugula Salad

Recipe inspired by Lentils.ca

Serves 4-6


4 cups water
1 cup (dry) green or brown lentils
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper

1-1/2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
1 apple, diced (I used a gala)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted if desired
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (you could use up to 3/4 cup for a stronger blue cheese flavour)
5oz baby arugula


Rinse lentils.  Bring water, salt, and lentils to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until lentils reach desired texture, about 15 minutes.  Drain excess water and let lentils cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, prepare dressing by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, shallot, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Add cooled lentils, grapes, apple, walnuts, and blue cheese to the arugula.  Add dressing and toss to combine.  Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.  Eat on its own as a main course or as  side courses.  It’s also good on top of naan bread!

June 19, 2014

(Healthy) Strawberry & Chocolate Chia Pudding

Healthy Strawberry and Chocolate Chia Pudding

I've been wanting to try chia pudding for so long now - I think I've had this mango coconut chia pudding bookmarked for two years - but for some reason I've never gotten around to it.  Lately I've been craving dessert much more, likely because the days feel longer, I've been staying up later, and thus need more food to sustain me, so I've been trying to find healthy desserts that still satisfy a craving.  So when I saw Dietitian Debbie's beautiful layered chocolate and strawberry chia pudding recently I decided to give it a try!

Healthy Strawberry and Chocolate Chia Pudding

I feel like chia seeds are everywhere lately, but if you haven't heard of this little superfood before, it's basically a tiny seed that's packed with nutrition, including lots of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidantst, and even protein!

And because they can absorb somewhere around 10-12 times their weight (I've seen various numbers floating around) and take on a sort of gel-like consistency when they do so, they're great for making healthy pudding (though of course, you can use them in many other ways, too)!

Healthy Strawberry and Chocolate Chia Pudding

The version I came up with is different than the original idea, but this pudding is still really easy to make.  Both the chocolate and strawberry portions contain unsweetened vanilla almond milk, chia seeds, and pure maple syrup for sweetener, then the chocolate version has added cocoa powder while the strawberry version contains fresh strawberries and a little vanilla extract.

I also used Oh My Veggies' idea to blend the chia pudding after to give it a smoother texture, but you can leave out this step if you like.  I topped mine with more strawberries and sliced almonds for crunch, but you could use chocolate chips, coconut flakes, or anything else you like!

Healthy Strawberry and Chocolate Chia Pudding

The only difficult part about this recipe is waiting for the pudding to set.  It's best to leave it overnight, but otherwise plan for at least 4-6 hours to let the chia seeds work their magic and turn this into pudding!

This makes a perfect light summer treat that satisfies a dessert craving but leaves you feeling good, and it would also totally be appropriate for breakfast!  Ryan was skeptical about the whole idea but after trying it, he said he could eat it every day, so I'd say it was a big success!

Healthy Strawberry and Chocolate Chia Pudding

Strawberry & Chocolate Chia Pudding

Note: The idea for this recipe was inspired by Dietitian Debbie; ingredient amounts were adapted from All Recipes

Serves 4 (servings are on the smaller side)


For the Strawberry Layer:
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or your choice of milk)
8oz (half a package) fresh strawberries, chopped
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Layer:
1-1/4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or your choice of milk)
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

For Topping:
8oz sliced strawberries
Optional: Slivered almonds, chocolate chips, coconut flakes (I used almonds)


To prepare strawberry pudding, blend almond milk and strawberries in a blender until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl or container and stir in chia seeds, maple syrup, and vanilla until well combined.  Cover and keep in refrigerator overnight or until set, at least 4 hours.

To prepare chocolate pudding, stir together the almond milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, and cocoa powder, and also store in the fridge along with the strawberry pudding.

When ready, the mixtures should have a more gel-like consistency.  If you like you can serve the pudding as is, but if you want a smoother consistency where you won’t notice the chia seeds as much, transfer each mixture to the blender separately (cleaning in between) and puree until smooth.

To prepare pudding, layer chocolate and strawberry puddings in glasses or bowls with sliced strawberries and almonds in between each layer and on top.  If you like you could also top with chocolate chips and/or coconut flakes and an extra drizzle of maple syrup or honey of it’s not sweet enough for your tastes.

June 12, 2014

Chicken (or Turkey) Fajita Burgers

Chicken (or Turkey) Fajita Burgers

We love turkey and chicken burgers around here, and have been eating them a lot more often now that it’s summertime and I seem to crave burgers all the time.  Not only are they inexpensive (around 5 dollars of meat gives us meals for two days), but they’re so easy to make, they provide a healthy lean source of protein, they fill me up, and there are infinite flavour combinations to experiment with!

It’s hard to persuade Ryan away from our favourite buffalo chicken burgers, but I like trying new things, so recently I decided to make chicken fajita burgers.  I actually intended to use turkey but didn’t realize I’d grabbed chicken until I got home – either works though!

Chicken (or Turkey) Fajita Burgers

These basically taste like chicken fajitas but in burger format, thanks to the combination of fajita spices in both the burger and the veggies, the sautéed peppers and onions on top, and optional (but delicious) extras like mashed avocado, tomatilla salsa, and cheese!

The way I wrote out the recipe makes this look like a lot of ingredients and work, but it’s really not.  Most of the ingredient list is dedicated to the spices you’ll use to create your own fajita seasoning, but if you like, you can make this even easier with a premixed fajita spice!

Chicken (or Turkey) Fajita Burgers

I loved the flavour in these and all the added veggies to make them a complete meal for me!  When we ate our leftovers the next day, Ryan opted to leave off the veggies and instead top the patties with buffalo sauce, so I don’t think they’ve replaced buffalo burgers as his new favourite, but I’ll definitely keep making these as a fun alternative!

I’m off to vote (it’s Election Day in Ontario) and then join my lovely older sister for lunch for her birthday (Happy Birthday if you’re reading this!).  Hope you all have a great day and weekend!

Chicken (or Turkey) Fajita Burgers

Chicken (or Turkey) Fajita Burgers

Recipe inspired by Cooking Light with many adaptations

Makes 4 burgers


Fajita Seasoning:
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 lb lean or extra-lean ground chicken or turkey
1/4 cup tomatillo salsa
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)
2 teaspoons fajita seasoning (above)

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 sweet onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
2 teaspoons fajita seasoning (above)

4 whole wheat hamburger buns
1 ripe avocado, mashed with some salt and pepper
Additional tomatillo salsa
Cheese such as Monterey jack or pepper jack, optional


Combine spices for fajita mixture in a small bowl.  Mix well and set aside.

To prepare burgers, transfer ground chicken or turkey to a large bowl and add salsa, breadcrumbs, and 2 teaspoons fajita seasoning.  Stir with a fork until combined.  Use your hands to shape into 4 even patties, being very gentle and not pressing the meat so you don't make tough burgers. 

Depending on how big your skillets are, heat 2 or 3 skillets over medium-high heat.  I used one skillet for the veggies and 2 for the burgers because I could only fit 2 patties per pan.  Add a little olive oil to each pan.  Add the peppers and onion to one large pan and stir.  You will let these cook until slightly softened, about 10 minutes or until the burgers are done, stirring often.  In the last 3-5 minutes of cooking, season with remaining fajita seasoning (around 2 teaspoons) and stir to coat.  Transfer to a bowl when done.

Meanwhile, add burger patties to other skillets and let cook about 4-5 minutes, flip, then cook another 4-5 minutes on the other side or until done.  If you want to add cheese, add a few slices a couple  minutes before they’re done cooking so the cheese melts slightly.

To prepare burgers, I spread the bottom bun with the mashed avocado, topped with a burger patty, which I then topped with a spoonful of tomatillo salsa.  On the top bun I added lettuce and a big pile of the sautéed veggies, then put them together.  You might end up with leftover veggies, depending on how much you put on each burger.

June 06, 2014

Monthly Recap - May 2014

May was a busy month with lots of schoolwork and having to pack up and move homes, so I didn't always eat as well as I should have a lot of the time, but here are some of the highlights from last month!

roasted veggies

I turned all these roasted veggies into a pasta sauce by blending them in the food processor with some silken tofu, then tossing it with whole wheat pasta.  I completely forgot onions and garlic though, so the overall flavour was too sweet with the combination of red peppers, sweet potato, and carrots, but I definitely want to try this again because the dish was easy and full of nutrition!

dark chocolate

On the not-so-healthy side, I turned all this chocolate into a cake for my dad's birthday!

red wine dark chocolate cake

I made Bon Appetit's darkest chocolate cake with red wine glaze for the celebration, which everyone really loved!  It was easy to throw together: just a one layer cake with lots of melted chocolate in it, topped with a red wine chocolate glaze.  I added raspberries to decorate and help cut the richness, and followed recommendations from reviewers on Epicurious to cut the baking time quite a bit (I think I did about 43 minutes).  We all thought this tasted like it came from a bakery, so it's a good cake to keep in mind if you ever need to impress a chocolate lover!

red wine dark chocolate cake

Here's a quick pic I took to show the inside of the cake - it had a silky, mousse-like texture inside that we really liked.  People who know me know I don't really like anything to do with chocolate, but I can appreciate a small slice of a good quality chocolate cake like this!

portabella burger

Enjoyed a delicious portabello burger at a local restaurant...

silversmith beer

..followed by a delicious beer from one of our favourite Ontario breweries.

raspberry cheesecake frozen yogurt

Got some raspberry cheesecake frozen yogurt from Marble Slab!

buffalo turkey burgers

We made our favourite burgers - buffalo turkey burgers - and remembered how much we absolutely love them!

muddy buddy chex mix

We took a trip across the border to the US and picked up some snacks there that aren't available in Canada.  This muddy buddy chex mix was dangerously good - it's probably a good thing it's not available here!

soy and wasabi triscuits

I also tried wasabi & soy sauce triscuits, which tasted just like sushi (with a lot of wasabi flavour, so if you don't like wasabi, don't try these)!  Really weird .. I couldn't decide if I liked them or not!


It made me crave real sushi though, which we got soon after!

multigrain quinoa flax cereal

I also grabbed this multigrain hot cereal with quinoa and flax in the US and have been enjoying it with peanut butter, a little honey, and banana and granola for topping.  A great way to start the day!

peanut butter oatmeal

I've actually been making oatmeal a lot more lately.  My go-to is to stir in a good-sized dollop of peanut butter, some honey to sweeten, and a dash of cinnamon.  If I have a ripe banana I'll throw that in too.  Nothing fancy like all the delicious oatmeal bowls I see on Instagram, but still so good!

mothers day meal

This was the delicious meal we enjoyed for Mother's Day this year, which I wrote all about here if you missed it!

Mediterranean quinoa and chickpea salad

For an easy meal one evening, I cooked up this ancient grain blend (quinoa, oats, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, and kaniwa) to make a quick Mediterranean salad for dinner with tomatoes, red pepper, cucumber, chickpeas, feta, and a lemon vinaigrette.  It was a perfect light summer meal to enjoy outside and made great leftovers!

latte art

Gotta love coffee art!

buffalo chicken wraps

Another easy meal we enjoyed outside one evening was to grill some chicken on the bbq, then throw it in a whole wheat wrap with some lettuce, buffalo sauce, and light blue cheese dressing.  Super easy, quick, and tasty!

bbq baked tofu

For a similar vegetarian version, I tried Oh My Veggies' baked barbecue tofu.  She claims it's tofu for tofu-haters, and I have to say that's true!  I always used to consider myself a tofu  hater because of it's mushy texture and lack of flavour, but baking tofu with this method and slathering it in bbq sauce gives it a great flavour and chewy texture that I actually loved!  We served ours in whole wheat wraps with some lettuce, light ranch dressing, and a little buffalo sauce and both Ryan and I really liked them.  I can't wait to make other versions of baked tofu now that I know I like it!

rhubarb gin cocktail

For a family dinner last month, my sister made some gin and rhubarb cocktails made with a homemade rhubarb syrup, which were very refreshing and tasty!

esquites guacamole

I made Closet Cooking's esquites guacamole which had charred corn, jalapeno, lime juice, red onion, feta (I couldn't find cojita), and some chopped tomato.  The addition of the corn and feta made this extra special - everyone loved it and I can't wait to make it again!

turkey burgers, pasta salad, rhubarb pie

For the main meal we enjoyed turkey burgers (along with bison burgers and chickpea burgers for an array of options), a caprese pasta salad made by my sister, topped off with an amazing rhubarb pie she also made with fresh rhubarb from my mom's garden.  I love rhubarb pie and it made it feel like summer has officially begun!

may nature

I also got out and enjoyed some nature last month, and can't wait to spend even more time outdoors this month!

Hope you all had a great month and enjoy these recaps!

June 03, 2014

Gluten-Free Moroccan Macaroni Bowl (+ a giveaway!)

Gluten-Free Moroccon Macaroni Bowl with Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas

I don't follow a gluten-free diet or think of gluten as an evil thing to avoid, but I know there are a lot of people out there who have to avoid it for health reasons, and for their sake I'm happy that there now seem to be so many gluten-free alternatives out there.  People should not have to go without food like pasta!

Catelli pasta is one of my favourite brands here in Canada because they offer so many alternatives to regular white pasta.  I love their line with vegetables in the pasta, but I usually buy the whole grain pasta.  Last year they launched a line of gluten-free pasta including penne, fusilli, and spaghetti, and recently they added macaroni to the line-up and asked if I wanted to give it a try. 

Turns out it tastes just like regular pasta, even though it's made from white and brown rice, corn, and quinoa.  I still prefer using whole grain pasta whenever I can, but it's nice to know there's a tasty alternative out there for those with gluten sensitivities or intolerance, or for me to use in dishes where whole wheat doesn't really work as well, like in this pasta bowl.

Gluten-Free Moroccon Macaroni Bowl with Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas

Catelli has lots of awesome pasta recipes on their site, and I decided to go with a Moroccan version to test out this pasta, and I'm so glad I did!  Everything about this pasta is so different from your typical tomato sauce pasta, and even though it looks like there are a lot of strange ingredients in this, they all work together so well!

Instead of a sauce, this pasta is tossed with a light dressing full of fresh lemon flavour and lots of spices.  You also use some of this dressing to roast some cauliflower and chickpeas, giving them awesome flavour and texture.  I never roast chickpeas for pasta, usually tossing them in raw, but now I always want to eat them this way - I love that they get a little crispy!  Also mixed in there are some green olives, sliced dried apricot, feta cheese, and mint leaves.  I know it sounds a little weird, but trust me that it all the ingredients are balanced and together make an amazing flavour, so don't leave anything out!  I couldn't stop eating this right after I made it and already look forward to making it again.

Gluten-Free Moroccon Macaroni Bowl with Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas

If you want to try out this gluten-free pasta yourself, you can get a coupon for $1.00 off here.  And if you're lucky (and live in Canada), you have a chance to win a whole year's supply of Catelli's gluten-free macaroni!

To enter to win this awesome prize (with a retail value of approximately $180), please follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below - there are three ways to enter: leaving a comment on this blog, following me on Facebook, or on Twitter - pick one or all three for more entries!

Catelli Gluten Free Macaroni

Please be sure to enter with a valid e-mail address or Facebook account so I can contact you if you're randomly selected as the winner.  The contest will close at midnight EST on Sunday, June 8th, 2014.  Please note that as this is a Canadian product, this contest is open to Canadians only (sorry, American friends!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don't forget to check out the recipe below!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post.  I received one box of pasta to make this recipe but was not compensated in any other way for my time, ingredients, or thoughts, which are all my own :) I just thought this was a great giveaway opportunity for my readers!

Gluten-Free Moroccon Macaroni Bowl with Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas

Gluten-Free Moroccan Macaroni Bowl with Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas

Slightly adapted from Catelli Pasta

Makes 4-6 servings


1 (540mL) can of no-salt added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 small head or 3/4 of a larger head)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 box (340g) Catelli® Gluten Free Macaroni
3/4 cup slivered dried apricots
1/3 cup sliced green olives
1 cup crumbled feta
3/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh mint leaves


Preheat oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet (I used two) with parchment paper or foil.  Add cauliflower and chickpeas to a large bowl.  Whisk lemon juice, oil, honey, ginger, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a small bowl until combined.  Drizzle 3 tablespoons of the dressing over the cauliflower and chickpeas and toss to combine.  Spread cauliflower and chickpeas onto prepared baking sheets in an even layer.  Roast in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until browned, tossing halfway through.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water before draining.  Toss cooked pasta with roasted cauliflower and chickpeas, apricots, olives, feta, mint, reserved pasta water, and reserved lemon dressing.  Stir until combined and serve warm.

Ingredient Index

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