5 Ways to lighten the load without losing out

Hey Friends! After the last post, I had a few conversations with people who were trying to eat better, but struggling to move away from “comfort” foods- especially in the winter when the body craves warm, gooey, luscious things. I get it. In the winter all I want are biscuits, mac and cheese, naan, steamy jeera rice, and mashed potatoes. But I’m no longer 20, so if I ate like that everyday it would be pretty problematic (mainly because I refuse to buy a new wardrobe to accommodate the generous increase that would ensue). However, there are ways to lighten the load, without losing out on flavour & satisfaction.

Here are 5 easy and delicious ways:

  1. Portobello Pizzas: Swap out the heavy (but delicious) dough for some chewy mushrooms, top as you like and voila! An easy weeknight meal that has hundreds of options.
  2. Spaghetti squash with your favourite sauce: We like to top this with vegan “meatballs” or a simple lentil Bolognese.
  3. PB&J on an apple: Looking for a way to get some fruit into your daily mix? Swap out the bread for an apple and enjoy the [natural] sugar rush.
  4. Zucchini (Courgette) Lasagna noodles: So easy to build your own favorite lasagna, but without the guilt-inducing noodles. I usually slice my zucchini ¼ inch, salt them, and bake them in an oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, before proceeding with any standard recipe. (This helps to remove some of the moisture in the zucchini, otherwise you end up with a lasagna pool.) Once you’ve done this, just use the zucchini noodles as you would lasagna noodles, piling on your favourite toppings and baking until bubbly. cauliflower rice salad for breakfast food blog
  5. Cauliflower rice: A must for anyone trying to incorporate more veggies into their diet. We always have bags of this in the freezer, ready to accompany our curry.

Spice up your life: Vegan Chai Spice Cake

It’s the most wonderful time of the year ya’ll. Not only is this month full of beauty and bounty it also brings on weeks and weeks of festivities. Over the weekend, many Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving and yesterday was the start of Navaratri, a nine night Hindu festival [stay tuned for more on this…].

No matter where you are, over the course of the next few months you will undoubtedly be surrounded by festivities. Regardless of the occasion, at this time of the year you can never go wrong with bringing some spice cake along to share. [Read: you can never go wrong with spice cake any time of the year]

vegan chai spice cake

I used Vaishali’s recipe for Pumpkin Chai Spice Cake from Holy Cow! and it was perfectly straightforward. The only change I made was to use acorn squash instead of pumpkin because that’s what I had roasted. It’s a vegan cake so no dairy or eggs needed. If you’ve never tried vegan baking, it’s really easy and the most delicious cakes don’t require any fancy ingredients. It’s great if you know anyone with dairy allergies or anyone who is a “strict” vegetarian [read: no eggs]. As a bonus, you can leave vegan cakes sitting out on the counter, and after a day or so they don’t become ‘crusty’ and crumbly like their egg-laden cousins.

vegan chai spice cake

But I digress…back to this cake: seriously- WOW! Vaishali is a genius. My home smelled incredible and when we took a wedge of cake in the car [because it’s essential one always has cake in the car] we had the smell of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and ginger teasing us the whole journey.

vegan spice cake and chai saladforbreakfast
Cake & chai for breakfast

I had a slice with an amazing cup of chai and was in chai heaven… Whichever way you slice it, try the recipe, enjoy and whenever possible- spice up your life with some of this cake.

Now, please excuse me as I go back to singing along with the Spice Girls (especially at 2.04)…

Cauliflower “Rice” is Nice

cauliflower rice salad for breakfast

…Yeah! I totally did!

cauliflower rice salad for breakfast

Behold! The curvaceous cruciferous we refer to as cauliflower. I’m hoping this gorgeous specimen will distract you from my mild digital absence.

I’ve missed you all! The past few months there have been some changes so I haven’t had a chance to blog as frequently. But as things begin to calm down, I’m aching to share some treats that I’ve been working on.

Cauliflower is all the rage at the moment, and rightly so. It’s deliciously versatile, be it mashed, grilled, baked, steak-ed out, or ‘riced’. I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely eaten more than my fair share of comfort foods the past few months year. And my body is telling me that it’s time to come back into line.

Lucky for me the end of winter is also an encouraging time to break away from this trance and get into gear. As I fill my plate these days I’m looking for fun ways to increase my vegetable intake and decrease my reliance on carbs. So you can imagine the thrill I felt when I saw a picture of cauliflower “rice”. It’s easy and yummy.

cauliflower rice salad for breakfast food blog

You take a whole head of cauliflower, chop it into florets, and throw the florets into a food processor.

cauliflower rice salad for breakfast food blog

Pulse until they look like ‘rice’ and no large bits remain. If you’re ricing the whole cauliflower, you’ll need to do this in a few batches so the cauliflower has space to dance around and chop. From here you can either heat and eat (my preferred method of consumption), freeze, or serve it straight up. Enjoy!

cauliflower rice salad for breakfast

Some helpful notes:

  • With my large head of cauliflower, I got about 7 cups of rice.
  • When all the cauliflower was riced, I measured out 2 cups for dinner that night, and froze the rest (for future meals).
  • Though you could eat this rice raw, I prefer to cook it beforehand. I think this helps with digestion, and just tastes better. So I sautéed the cauliflower in a hot pan on medium heat for 3-5 minutes, and served it with some homemade seitan curry. 
  • This doesn’t taste like rice but it’s damn good.
  • It’s possible to grate the cauliflower if you don’t have a food processor. But you might just end up exhausted and hating vegetables by the end of it.

Day 8: Warm roasted carrot & beet salad

wamr roasted carrot & beet on lettuce-001

Monday morning my friends! Today I had to just give myself some space to breathe and take it easy. Jamming to Lauryn Hill felt just about right as I ate this salad at work.

For breakfast, I used some of the roasted carrots and candy-striped beets from yesterday, and placed them on some plain lovely lettuce. No need for dressing. The roasted vegetables release their juices and taste lovely with each bite.

Welcome week 2! #21daysofsaladforbreakfast.

21 day

Day 6: Red Cabbage & Apple Salad with spicy honey mustard

cabbage apple pecan

Anyone else have to work today? Eek! It’s Saturday so my mind & body are telling me it’s a day off, but my inbox is contradicting that. But first…it was breakfast time!

I woke up with some major hunger pangs this morning. I knew that breakfast needed to be substantial. I started on some chai, since that’s the common denominator to all mornings. I was panged with indecision, but finally settled on this salad. I also made a grilled cheese sandwich because it felt right.

But oh this salad. After much coaxing my husband tried it and replied with a ‘wow.’

cabbage apple pecan

Now I’ve got to say that I am not often a fan of combining fruits with vegetables. I think for the sake of time, I will need to explain why later.

But for now, I will say that I don’t often put fruit in my salad. Today however, the apple & red cabbage were talking to me. The tart apple works well with the alkaline cabbage. Paired with a honey mustard and a handful of pecans, it’s a winning combination. For the dressing I just combined a 1/2 t of honey, a 1/2 t of Dijon mustard, a dash of cayenne, and a 1/2 tsp of water. Perfect and very easy to veganize- just replace the honey with some agave or brown rice syrup, and use less water to combine.

And the rest of the morning/afternoon was work…. #21daysofsaladforbreakfast

21 day

 

Day 1: Cabbage and Kale salad with Maple Ginger Vinaigrette

Kale Red Cabbage Salad
Red Cabbage & Kale Salad with Maple Ginger Vinaigrette

Here we go friends!

It’s 21 Days of Salad for Breakfast time (or whatever dare you’ve given to yourself).

If you’re joining me on this fun journey remember that all you really need to do is keep your morning meal vegetable-centric.

Now I’ve been getting some questions on what vegetable-centric means and I insist on allowing you to be the judge of that. This is an opportunity (or, dare I say ‘challenge’)  to incorporate more vegetables into your breakfast. So do whatever is going to get you there.

Vegetables on toast? Why not! Vegetable-centric omelette? Sure if that’s your thing!

Let this be your own authentic 21 Days of Salad for Breakfast. I’ll share my journey with you, and I welcome your stories too.

To kick start this dare, I ate a Red Cabbage & Kale Salad with a Maple Ginger Vinaigrette. I also topped it with some slivered almonds for added crunch!

The sweet vinaigrette is a great match for the slightly bitter kale, and if you let the salad sit in the dressing for a day it will break down the vegetables a little and soften them.

I’m already craving a second helping!

Kale Red Cabbage Salad
Red Cabbage & Kale Salad with Maple Ginger Vinaigrette

This was a non-recipe. About 2/3 cup of chopped cabbage, 1/3 cup of kale, some fresh torn parsley. For the vinaigrette: 1/4 cup each of maple syrup, olive oil and balsamic, 2 tsp grated ginger, 2 tsp Dijon mustard. Throw in a jar and shake it up. Add as much as you like.

See you tomorrow! #21daysofsaladforbreakfast

21 day

Panang-Kissed Pumpkin Soup

pumpkin soup

Have you ever watched that show on the food network called “Semi-Homemade”? During grad school I used to fly back to the States to visit my parents once or twice a year. On those visits you could often find me plopped on the couch, cupping a steamy cup of chai, fully engrossed in The Food Network. During these visits, Giada dared me to create chocolate basil Panini’s, Ina inspired me to use the best quality produce, and Sandra Lee gave me practical advice on cooking at home with a busy schedule.

Today’s recipe made me think of Sandra, as I utilized ingredients I already had on hand to create a silky soup.

The voluptuous pumpkins that I snuck into my previous post, are the main attraction for this soup. Once the pumpkins are roasted, this soup comes together in less time than it would take you to order a pizza. I swear.

photo 3

I roasted the pumpkins on a Sunday (since I already had the oven going for some other items), and was able to easily whip this soup up the next day. I’ve seen a lot of thai-inspired soups on the interwebs; this is the best version I’ve ever tried. And who doesn’t love orange-hued foods in the Autumn?

Panang-Kissed Roasted Pumpkin Soup

What I’m listening to

Ben Webster- “Solitude”

Ingredients

3 cups roasted pumpkin*

2 cups vegetable broth

1 ½ T Panang Curry Paste

What I do

Put pumpkin & broth into a blender and blend until smooth. All curry pastes are not created equally, and all people don’t have the same tolerance for heat. Add the curry paste one teaspoon at a time to the blender and blend until smooth. I used about 1 ½ Tablespoons for the perfect heat & flavour.

Once your soup is blended, gently heat on medium low heat until it bubbles. Serve immediately.

*The abridged version for roasting a pumpkin is to take a medium-sized pie pumpkin, split it in half, de-seed it, rub some olive oil on the flesh, sprinkle it with sea salt, put it face down on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until the flesh is tender. For a more eloquent explanation, check out the fabulous Angela at Oh She Glows!