Category Archives: Main Courses

Vegan Basil Pesto Recipe

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pesto ingredients

Only my second recipe post since my return from Italy and guess what? Another Italian recipe. I didn’t really plan it like that, but you can’t really say it’s a coincidence. Not that making Italian recipes is something out of the ordinary for me.

(sigh) Italian food. Love it. Do you? What’s your favourite Italian dish?

Classic Italian basil pesto is made with parmesan cheese, but pesto can still be delicious without the cheese. Simply omit it. The combination of fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and salt is a wonderful one that doesn’t disappoint. Continue reading

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Protein Packed Grain Salad

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Grain Salad

I’m back! Back from my 2 week vacation (1 week in England and 1 week in Italy) I ate some amazing food, some of it healthy, and some not so. I will share some photos form my trip in an upcoming post.

Eating cherries from the tree growing on the property where we were staying was absolutely incredible. Hands down the best cherries I have ever had. Waking up every morning and picking a lemon right off one of the three lemon trees right outside the kitchen for my lemon water was something I am going to miss dearly. Now I need to think about paying 1$ for 3 lemons at the market here.

I am glad to be back home and excited to get back to creating new and delicious recipes in my kitchen, ( the reason I started Health is Happiness in the first place.)

Before I share any new creations, here is a protein packed grain salad that I made a few times while working on the 30 day challenge. It is quick to make and incredibly delicious. Continue reading

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Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce with Lentils

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My week in England is coming to an end today. I have had a great time visiting family and perusing the British countryside.  My diet this week has been anything but healthy, but I couldn’t resist dipping into the local fare that I haven’t eaten in years.

I leave early in the morning for my first ever visit to Italy. We will be staying about 30 minutes outside of Rome in a villa.  We will be a huge gang of friends and family out to celebrate my uncle’s 60th birthday.

As you can imagine I am incredibly excited for my visit as I  am a huge fan of Italian food.  All of it.  Whether we eat at the villa or out at a trattoria I am expecting the food to be excellent.

Pasta with tomato sauce is one of the most popular comfort foods in North America, and in many other parts of the world as well. Nevertheless,despite its popularity, it has become one of the most controversial foods in recent years.  The combination of carbs and gluten together seem to be taboo these days.

For those of us who do still dabble in some carbs and gluten, this is my healthy version of pasta with tomato sauce.  Not to worry, still comforting, delicious and hearty.  The lentils make a nice substitute for the traditional bolognese sauce.  Don’t forget the basil, an essential compliment to the tomato and garlic sauce.

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Here is what the spelt looks like when it is cooked.

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You know I love my mason jars. I store my lentils and spelt in mason jars, as well as all my other dry goods. Check out my post on Building a Healthy Pantry  ( if you are curious about what I keep in my pantry) which allows me to be able to whip up a healthy meal at any time.

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Here are a few pictures from my visit in England over the past week.

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Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce with Lentils

2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
700 g jar tomato passata
1/2 cup water, (rinse the passata jar with the water to avoid waste)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh basil
optional: one chopped dried chili, or chili pepper flakes to taste

1/2 cup french dupuy lentils, sorted and rinsed

1 cup of spelt or wheat berries, or pasta of choice

Note: Don’t forget to bring some water to a boil for your pasta or whole-grain. If cooking a whole grain such as wheat berries or spelt berries, be sure to get these cooking a bit before because they take 40-60 minutes.

1. Cover the lentils with water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil on medium for 20 minutes or until cooked, but still a bit firm. Be sure not to overcook. Be careful because different lentils can take different lengths of time to cook. Drain and set aside

2. Once the lentils are on, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes until onions and carrots have softened.

3. Add the bay leaf, jar of tomato passata, and water. Stir, lay the cover ajar, and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper again if necessary.

4. Add the lentils to the sauce and stir. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.

5. Tear the fresh basil leaves into the sauce.

6. Serve pasta and sauce in bowls, with  more fresh basil leaves torn into the bowl.

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Green Rice Bowl & Marinated Tempeh Recipe

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I have been making and experimenting with a lot of rice/quinoa bowls recently. They are a good choice when you need a quick but nutritious meal. You may have seen the bowl recipe I posted last week, a carrot, chickpea and kale rice bowl. My original plan was to get this bowl posted for St-Patrick’s day since it is loaded with green ingredients, but I didn’t have time to get it up before Sunday. Although I missed the boat on St-Patty’s day, that’s no reason not to share this delicious green bowl!

The green ingredients I chose to create this bowl are kale, broccoli, avocado and pumpkin seeds, all served on a bed of rice. I used a mix of brown basmati rice and red rice. Delicious. If you are interested in creating your own bowls, I highly recommend making a big load of rice or quinoa at the beginning of the week and keeping it in the fridge. This way whenever you want a bowl you can assemble it quite quickly. I steamed the kale and broccoli which only takes a few minutes. I toasted the pumpkin seeds quickly in a frying pan to give them a nice flavour.

Another thing you can do ahead of time is marinate some tofu or tempeh slices. Then, when you are ready to eat your bowl, simply cook a couple of slices quickly in a frying pan while your veggies are steaming. I will share the marinade I used for the tempeh below. This bowl can be made with or without tempeh. Completely up to you.

Get creative when it comes to making bowls, and try out different ingredients. Some bowls focus more on raw ingredients and others more on lightly cooked ones. This one is mostly cooked except for the avocado.

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Spiced Red Kidney Beans & Cabbage with Coconut Milk

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Spiced Cabbage & Kidney Beans with Coconut Milk

The inspiration for this came a year or two ago from a small Jamaican restaurant here in Montreal. I was with my friend Erin, and we ordered a vegetarian plate that had 3 dishes on it, and a roti to share. One of the dishes on the plate was something like this. I don’t know exactly how they made it, but this is my version, from what I remember. I do remember that we both thought it was delicious.

I have searched the internet many times to try and find a Jamaican recipe or any Caribbean recipe that is something along these lines, but with no luck. So as usual, I freestyled it. I quite like my version. I have made it several times dating back to soon after I first tried it at the restaurant, but have never shared it.

The combination and amount of spices can definitely be played with. I have used canned beans, because it makes for a relatively quick and easy meal to make. If you think about it though, I recommend using dried beans. Continue reading

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Kale, Chickpea, Carrot Rice Bowl

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Rice Bowl with Carrots, Kale, and Chickpeas

Bowls like this one are great for a quick, nutritious and delicious meal. They are good for lunch/or supper. The different possibilities and combinations for a bowl like this are endless. So many different ingredients can be used in different ways. Then comes the different possibilities for dressings. This is my second bowl post, the first one was Amazing Vegan Bowl with nutritional Yeast Sauce.

They are especially quick if you think ahead and do some of the preparation ahead of time. By this I mean cooking a big pot of rice or quinoa at the begining of the week and keeping it in the fridge ready to go.Cooking rice is the longest part of the prep. Quinoa however can be cooked in about 12 minutes so it is perfect if you don’t have much time or you don’t have some in the fridge. Cooking a big pot of chickpeas ahead of time is also a great idea. I like to make a lot soIi can make some hummus as well! So if you haven’t had the chance to do this, simply open a can.

The dressing can also be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge. If you have your rice, chickpeas and dressing ready all you need to do is grate some carrots and steam some kale. This means you can have a beautiful bowl ready in less then 10 minutes! How do you feel about that? I feel pretty good about it.

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Orange, Garlic, Jalapeño Baked Tempeh Recipe & Volcano Rice

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Orange Garlic Jalapeño Baked Tempeh

I am going to start out by saying, I LOVE TEMPEH! It’s just so good. Hands down a better choice than tofu. In this recipe I marinate with soy sauce, orange juice, garlic, jalapeño, and cilantro. When you bake tempeh in its marinade it absorbs all that delicious flavour. Tempeh is not a common ingredient in most kitchens in North America, however it is becoming more well known thanks to the growing movement of people who are into healthy eating and plant based diets.

Tempeh, which originated in Indonesia, is fermented soybean paste, with a distinctive, nutty, hearty flavour. It is a good vegetarian source of protein and has a much firmer and stronger taste than tofu. It also has an incredible ability to soak up flavour, better than tofu, even though it has a stronger flavour itself, making it perfect for marinating and baking.

Fermented soybean paste!? Yes, yes, I know. It doesn’t sound very appealing. It actually sounds totally gross and un-edible. Take all the thoughts you just had when you read fermented soybean paste and throw them out the window. Just trust me. Seriously. It’s nothing like tofu. So if you don’t like tofu don’t worry. Just give tempeh a try. At least once. Continue reading

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Vegetarian Bean Chili

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Chili is one of those dishes that has the ability to please meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Meat eaters often seem to be happy eating vegetarian chili if it is a good one. It is also a great warming winter meal, and although we are getting closer to spring we are still in the dead of winter. As I look outside at the moment the snow is coming down. Chili sounds great.

This vegetarian bean chili is a seriously hearty chili. I mean serious. Black beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils. It’s got it all. I also used sun dried tomatoes and parsnips which you don’t usually see in chili. The reason I thought of adding sun dried tomatoes was because I was using tomato passata and not diced tomatoes since I didn’t have any on hand.

I highly recommend grinding your own spices if you can. This ensures you are getting the most flavour out of your spices. When spices are ground they start to lose flavour. So imagine the difference in flavour between spices you just ground and the pre ground spices that have been in your spice drawer/cupboard for who knows how long. You see my point? It really does make a difference. You can grind your own spices with a mortar and pestle or with a spice grinder. There is something very satisfying about the process of grinding spices with a mortar and pestle. Continue reading

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Lentil, Walnut, Spinach Loaf Recipe Inspired by Oh She Glows

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I made this lentil walnut spinach loaf for the first time over the holidays. I liked it so much that I have made it again since. Something that doesn’t happen very often. Rarely, do I make the same thing twice in a matter of a couple weeks, mostly because I am always trying to come up with new content for this blog.

A lot of the recipes I post here are recipes that I make up myself. The inspiration for this recipe came from my friend Nathalie. Yes, the same Nathalie that I made a couple videos with recently. Nat was telling me about all the delicious vegan food she had made over the holidays, and one of the things she made was a lentil walnut loaf. Sounded good to me. I had never made a vegan loaf of any kind before. Lentils and walnuts. Hmmmm. Thank you Nathalie for sparking my curiosity. Has anyone made a vegan loaf before? If yes, what kind?

A few days later, I found myself needing to make food for several people for New Year’s Eve dinner. I remembered what Nathalie had told me, so I decided to give it a shot. I googled lentil walnut loaf and the first one that came up was from OhSheGlows.com. Angela from Ohsheglows.com has a few different lentil walnut loaf recipes on her site. I took a look at a couple of them as well as a similar recipe from eatliverun.com Continue reading

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Vegan Paella Recipe with Caramelized Tomatoes & Fava Beans

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Paella is a rice dish native to Spain. There are many different variations of Paella one can make, many including either meat or seafood or a mix of the two. Different regions in Spain will use different ingredients based on what is available to them.

Paella is a great dish to make for a group of people. My father loves making seafood Paella. This vegetarian recipe is one my father made recently when I went home for dinner, and so I thought of recording the process and sharing it with you. There isn’t only one way to make Paella. I have read several different recipes and none of them are exactly the same.

This particular version is inspired by Mark Bittman’s recipe in his book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. A great book to add to your collection if you don’t already have it. Similar to his How to Cook Everything book, but all vegetarian. A modern day Joy of Cooking of sorts. All essential books in a good cook’s library.

I have watched and helped my dad make Paella several times at home, but have never actually made it on my own. I think it is time I give it a try. I do not own a Paella pan yet, which is a wide shallow pan traditionally used to make the dish. They vary in sizes, the smallest ones still being quite large. I have seen images in books of Paella being made on the beach in Spain, over a burning fire, in the biggest pan I have ever seen in my life.

I would love to buy myself a paella pan ,but I think my roomate would kill me. I have already taken over the kitchen since moving in, with all my kitchen equipment and jars of beans and grains. I’m not sure she would love me bringing a new 20in+ size pan into the kitchen. To be honest I am not sure where I would keep it. Maybe I could find room somewhere. Move things around a little. For now, I guess my 12in all clad skillet will have to do.

The fava beans used here were from my father’s home garden. Lucky us. If you can’t find any fava beans you can always make it with another type of bean like chickpeas. Feel free to add other vegetables to the mix as well. I can imagine that roasted peppers would be a delicious addition to the party.

A note about the saffron. Yes, it is expensive but get the real stuff. There is nothing quite like it. Spanish saffron is the good stuff, not the American saffron that is much cheaper and easier to find. Spend the few extra dollars and enjoy.

Have you tried to make Paella before? If so I would love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment below.

Vegan Paella Recipe with Caramelized Tomato & Fava Bean

2 cups short grain brown rice, rinsed
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth

For the Soffrito

A few strands of spanish saffron
1 onion, grated
2 roma tomatoes, grated
8 cloves garlic, 4 grated and 4 thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

5-6 roma tomatoes (1 lb), cut into quarters and seeds removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
2 cups fresh or frozen lava beans
A handful of chopped parsley
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Fill a medium size saucepan 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 12 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While your rice is cooking, heat paella pan, to medium heat, add the oil and the onion. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the saffron, grated tomatoes, grated garlic, sliced garlic, salt and paprika. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

Mix the tomato quarters in a bowl with the tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Add the rice and turn the heat up to medium. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Spread the rice out evenly across the bottom of the pan. Lay the tomatoes and fava beans over the rice, spreading them out evenly. Pour in the hot broth. Do not stir at this point.

Cover and place the paella dish in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve in the centre of the table and see how impressed your guests are when presented with this beautiful dish.

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