Saturday, November 15, 2014

Green & Bean Salad with Avocado & Cilantro Dressing


This wasn't initially going to be a blog post. I was lucky enough to have both Annabelle and Jolene napping at the same time, something that doesn't happen often, and whipped myself something up to eat for lunch. I posted a phone pic on Instagram and since I had a lot of positive reaction, I thought I would put the recipe up for those that were interested.

Ingredients


1 cup baby spinach
1 cup kale
1 cup napa cabbage, sliced
2 carrots, julienne
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup chick peas
1/4 cup kidney beans
1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Directions


In a large bowl toss all the ingredients and top with Cilantro & Avocado dressing (recipe follows).


Cilantro & Avocado Dressing


Ingredients


1 lemon juiced
1/2 avocado, mashed with a fork
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

Directions


In a bowl mash the avocado with a fork.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined.  Alternatively you could use an emersion blender for a smoother consistency.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Papaya, Pineapple and Strawberry Smoothie


After a week in Costa Rica I am trying to bring some of our vacation home with us. Coming home to cold weather, light flurries and Christmas decorations makes me long for the tropical weather and foods from our vacation. Yes, I did say Christmas decorations. It's hard to believe, but there are a few houses in our neighbourhood that already have lights and decorations out!

While away I was able to make blender after blender full of fresh tropical fruit smoothies.  It was such a treat to have a steady flow of fresh papaya, pineapple, mango and watermelon.

Ingredients


1/2 papaya, seeds removed, peeled and cubed
1/2 pineapple, peeled, core removed and cubed
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup almond milk
1 cup ice cubes
water


Directions


Place all ingredients into a blender and fill with water until it reaches the top of the fruit.  Blend and serve!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Gallo Pinto with Sweet Potato


Just a few days ago I was walking the beach in Playa Negra, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.  We took a family vacation with my husband's side of the family.  We rented a house on the beach and spent the week having fun in the sun with the kids. What a beautiful country! The beaches were breathtaking, the countryside lush and green, and the people helpful and friendly. I had the chance to sneak away a few of times to submerge myself in the natural beauty and adventure the country is so well known for.

Playa Negra is a small surfing community. The only access to the small town is by dirt road, which puts it off the beaten track and therefore doesn't attract as many tourists.  The dark sand beaches and the quiet, laid back surfing vibe was just what we were looking for. With a surfing lesson being on a few of our bucket lists, we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to get introduced to this intriguing ocean sport.  As expected it is much more difficult than the professionals make it look, however we were all successful in getting up and experiencing the thrill of riding a wave. I suspect there will be more lessons in our future.

There are also many yoga retreats and lessons in Guanacaste. My sister in law and I joined an early morning class with a retreat in the area, Peace Retreat Yoga. What a wonderful class it was.  It was so different than what we are used to in Canada. The class was in a cozy jungle yoga hut, the sound of monkeys and birds chirping in the background. The class was much less formal than I am used to and it pushed us to our limit with every posture. I left the class feeling open, grounded and inspired.

The other excursion I was able to participate in was a SUP tour along a river, through the Mangroves. We paddled our way through the mangroves as the river narrowed. We could hear snails popping the mud as they dug and the birds singing. There was a calmness in the stillness of the river, but also an eeriness knowing there were crocodiles leering beneath the water.

Since we rented a house we prepared many meals ourselves.  We did have a local come in to prepare us authentic home cooking in the comforts of our borrowed home a couple of times, which was very relaxing and delicious I might add.  One of the traditional dishes of Costa Rica is Gallo Pinto or rice and black beans.  We ate these daily while in Costa Rica and I fell in love with them!

Here is my version of this simple, yet flavourful dish.

If you haven't had the opportunity to see this wonderful country, you should. We will definitely be going back to experience more of mother nature's playground and the delicious food.

Ingredients


1 1/2 cups rice
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can black beans
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil of your choice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

optional : 1 avocado, sliced, homemade salsa or Costa Rican Lizano Salsa

Directions


Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook rice in a large pot. While the rice is cooking bake sweet potatoes in the oven until tender.

While the rice is cooking and the sweet potatoes are in the oven sauté onions until they are golden brown. Add beans, garlic, cumin, coriander and turmeric to the pan and sauté for another two minutes.

When the rice is fully cooked, add the beans to the rice. Stir in the sweet potatoes and cilantro.

Top with sliced avocado and your favourite hot sauce to taste.





Monday, October 27, 2014

Simple Crockpot Apple Butter


After our apple picking outing we had lots of apples kicking around.  What were we going to make with all these juicy, delicious apples?  I asked Annabelle what she wanted to make and she told me apple cake, she has a bit of a sweet tooth! So, after whipping up an apple cake we decided to make apple butter for our toast in the morning.  The two of us got to work making crockpot apple butter. We used the crockpot, because we could fill it up and leave it all day, which is definitely a perk when you are home with two small children.  You never know when you might have to drop everything and kiss a boo boo or change a diaper. 

Ingredients 


24 apples (I used Cortland), peeled, cored and cut into 1' slices
2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
water 

Directions


Put all ingredients into a crockpot.  Fill with water until it just covers the apples.

Turn on low heat and cook for 12-14 hours.  Apples will be mushy.  Using a fork mash up any chunks that may still be remaining.

Using your favourite canning process jar the apple butter.




Monday, September 29, 2014

Fresh Apple Cider



Recently my family went apple picking with a few other families. What a wonderful experience it was to watch our children pluck apples from a branch and take big bites of the delicious fruit.  Their eyes were all wide with excitement, juice was running down their chins and there were big smiles all around. Annabelle helped me fill our baskets to the brim to make sure we had enough apples for all of the delicious things we would make. First thing's first….Apple Cider! 


Ingredients


24 apples

Directions


Put the apples through a juicer.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jump Start Green Juice


I finally did it!  I finally bought a juicer.  I am over the moon excited about my new purchase. As I am typing this post I am sitting here sipping the delicious green juice you see in the photo above. I can just feel the goodness being absorbed into my body. Ahhhh.

I have been interested in juicing for some time now, but put off purchasing a machine for a couple reasons, but primarily because I have a perfectly good blender that I use for smoothies, and is juicing really better for you? Well, before I started to shop machines I thought I would do a bit of reading to see what I could find. I came across this article in the link below that compares green juice to green smoothies. Since they aren't trying to sell me anything, I felt this was an unbiased study that I could take at face value.

http://www.juicingscience.com

The article had me convinced, I'd like to start juicing.  After much contemplation and investigating I settled on the Breville Juice Fountain Plus.

Ingredients


2 cups spinach
1/2 cucumber
1/4 fennel bulb
1 apple
1 pear
1 carrot


Friday, August 1, 2014

Avocado Egg Salad


I absolutely love egg salad sandwiches! I have such fond childhood memories of visiting my Grandmother and eating egg salad sandwiches for lunch. She always served them with a glass of skim milk as well as cold celery and radishes, she kept them in water in the refrigerator so they were always cold.  I love that every time I eat egg salad I think of her.  She recently told me that the key to good egg salad is green onion instead of celery, so I stuck with her theory for this recipe.  

Here is a twist to the traditional egg salad.  By subbing avocado instead of mayonnaise you are adding healthy fat and a wonderful flavour.  I threw some diced tomato in because I love tomato on my egg salad and it goes really well with avocado.  


Ingredients


6 hard boiled eggs, peeled, cooled and chopped
1 avocado
1 tomato, diced
3 green onion stalks, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

Directions


In a bowl mash the avocado with the egg.  Mix in the tomato and green onion.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread on bread of your choice and enjoy!