Category Archives: Side Dishes

Green Beans with Fried Shallots and Cashews

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Green Beans with Fried Shallots and Cashews

The inspiration/idea for this recipe came one evening as I was sitting out on my balcony reading through Burma by Naomi Duguid. Burma is more than just a cookbook. It is a book filled with beautiful pictures of food as well stunning visuals  of Burmese life.  You can actually learn quite a bit from this book and I find it incredibly interesting.  So much detail is provided about the country’s traditional food, you can’t help but want to learn more and most of all taste some of it!  I would recommend this book to anyone. It is simply amazing.

The recipe that inspired me for this green bean recipe was a simple dish called long-bean salad with roasted peanuts.  It called for fish sauce, roasted peanuts, fried shallots, shallot oil and lime. As you will see I changed the recipe by using cashews instead, using sesame oil, dropping the fish sauce and adding cilantro.

You may notice that in the instructions the beans are cut in half but in the picture they are whole. After having made and eaten the dish I decided I thought it was better to cut them in half. Cutting them in half will allow you to get more cashews and shallots with the beans in each mouthful. Isn’t that the point? Get all that delicious stuff in your mouth at the same time and enjoy.

Green beans are in season now so get on those fresh local beans while you still can.  Continue reading

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Marinated Artichoke & Spelt Salad

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marinated artichoke and spelt salad

 This salad was something I whipped up in a hurry one night a couple weeks ago.  I was actually going out for dinner that night but was so hungry that I had to eat something before going out.  I just couldn’t wait.  Do you know the feeling? There was no way I was wating another hour or 2 before eating anything.  I pretty much just used what was available to me and it turned out great.  Good enough to make again!

My friend had come over for a glass of wine before dinner  and I had some spelt already cooked in the fridge.  Have you ever tried spelt? It is an ancient grain, which means it hasn’t been modified.  It has about 30% more protein than whole wheat and also contains less gluten then wheat.

I just jazzed it up with some fresh flavours, a jar of marinated artichokes, and boom! An awesome spelt salad that is great for lunch or dinner.  Cooking things like spelt, quinoa or rice ahead of time and keeping them in the fridge ready for when you need to put together a meal in a hurry is a great idea.  Cooking spelt takes about 40 minutes to cook, but virtually no time or effort on your part.  You just need to think of it while you are hanging out at home. Easy enough.  Simply rinse and bring boil in a pot with lots of water. Continue reading

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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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Jalapeño & Lime Sweet Potato Brussels Sprouts Hash

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Brussels Sprouts. Good old brussels sprouts. Disliked by many, and loved as well. You either love them or hate them. I am convinced a lot more people would/could love them if they had them prepared differently. I love brussels sprouts even if they are just steamed or boiled, but ye,s they do have a strong flavour.

For those who do not share my love of brussels sprouts, a dish like this jalapeño, lime, sweet potato, brussels sprouts hash might just help change their mind. Combining them with roasted sweet potatoes definitely might help convert more of you. The sweet deliciousness of roasted sweet potatoes is hard not to love. A little love served up in the form of lime, jalapeño and cilantro. Boo ya! Now we are talking! You know you want some. It’s ok to admit it. I won’t tell anyone.

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Perfectly Roasted Potato Wedges

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One ingredient and one ingredient only in this recipe. Potatoes. Wash them. Dry them. Cut them. Roast them. Boom. Perfectly roasted potato wedges. Simple and delicious. They can be enjoyed on their own or with your favourite condiment or to accompany a main meal like some delicious veggie chilli.

That chilli recipe is one of my first posts ever on this site. I can’t believe just over a year has gone by since then. Time flies. I have learnt a lot since then and have so much more to learn about this thing called food blogging. Thanks for joining me on my journey and I hope you have been inspired to cook some of the recipes that I have shared on this site.

It is below -20 C here in Montreal this week. Nothing like a big bowl of warming chili and potato wedges when it’s this cold out. Serve the chilli on top of the wedges for some chilli fries. Truly healthy and delicious comfort food. Continue reading

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Are Mashed Potatoes Healthy? Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil Potato Recipe

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Are mashed potatoes healthy? Traditional mashed potatoes are made with no peels and contain butter and milk or cream. In my opinion, I do not consider traditional mashed potatoes to be so healthy. For vegans, those who don’t eat dairy, or for those looking to keep total calories down, traditional mashed potatoes are a no-no.

Potatoes have had a bad rep over the years, thanks to all the bad press surrounding carbohydrates. Potatoes with their skins, whether mashed or not, are a healthy food that can be part of a balanced diet. No need to deprive yourself of this classic comfort food. To make mashed potatoes healthy we just need to tweak the recipe. Will these mashed potatoes taste and have the same texture as the potatoes with butter and cream? No they will not.

However, this doesn’t mean that they won’t be delicious. I am okay with them being different, and everyone I have served them to so far has been okay with that as well. They have been well received on many occasions. Instead of using butter and milk, I use olive oil and boiling water. I have used vegetable broth or soy milk in the past, but am very happy with the taste and texture that I get from olive oil and water. Adding roasted garlic to the mix takes the flavour of these mashed potatoes to another level.

I leave as much of the skin on the potatoes as possible, because that is where a lot of the nutrients are found in the potato. Potatoes are a good source of fibre, potassium and vitamin C. Don’t dismiss the potato from your diet because you think it will make you fat. If you love potatoes there are definitely some healthy and delicious ways to prepare them.

Do you have a favourite healthy way of eating potatoes?

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Spelt & Garbanzo Salad with Tomatoes, Pine Nuts and Fresh Herbs

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Merry Christmas and happy holidays.  I am currently writing on my laptop lying next to the fireplace, and the Christmas tree, at my parents house, listening to a Christmas jazz album.  My mother is busy preparing food in the kitchen.  She just made stuffing and cranberry sauce.  We just finished speaking to my family in England via Skype, something we have been doing for a few years now.

Everybody has their own routine at Christmas.  Different family traditions that make Christmas.   This year for Christmas day, it is just my parents and me. Traditions change over the years.  New traditions are made.  You have to go with the flow.  Do I miss Christmas the way I remember it from childhood ?  Of course I do, but I am appreciating the day with my parents.

Since I never spent Christmas in Montreal growing up I never saw any friends on Christmas.  I was always at my grandmother’s house in Magog.  This year I am going to start a new Christmas tradition by going to visit a few of my close friends and their families who live nearby.

This spelt salad was part of last night’s Christmas eve dinner, celebrated with family, and is probably what I am going to have for lunch.  It is great as a side dish or as a meal on its own.  The bulk of the nutrition coming form the spelt and the garbanzo beans, or chickpeas as most of us call them. The salad also contains roasted pine nuts, fresh mint, basil and parsley, sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes.  Seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.  The proportions can be adjusted to your taste.  I have given approximate proportions for the different ingredients, but feel free to do what feels and tastes good to you.

Unfortunately, spelt is not a common grain/ingredient in most of our kitchens.  It isn’t something I had ever used or even heard of before I started to shift to a more whole food diet.  I think both my mother and father were a little skeptical when I said I was going to make a spelt salad as part of the Christmas eve dinner.  My dad is British and loves his potatoes, but he agreed to let me make it.  “Don’t worry Dad, we will have roast potatoes tonight”.  The dish actually looks very Christmasy because of the red tomatoes and green herbs and zuchinni.

Turns out both my parents loved the spelt salad.  My mom is still raving about it.  When you cook spelt it plumps up and becomes a little kernel of nutty deliciousness.   Great for salads just like this one.  Other grain options are whole wheat berries and kamut.

Did any of you create anything new in the kitchen for Christmas this year?  Would love to hear about them, whether they turned out great or not.

Spelt & Garbanzo Salad with Tomatoes, Pine Nuts and Fresh Herbs

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Serves 3 for lunch; 6 as a side dish at dinner

Ingredients

1 cup of spelt, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes, about 10-15 tomatoes
1/3 cup pine nuts, roasted
1 small zucchini, cut into a medium dice
handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
handful fresh basil leaves, hand torn
big handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters
1 cup cooked chickpeas, (1/2 540 ml can)
juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
3 tablespoons of olive oil, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

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Instructions

In a medium saucepan, cover the spelt with water and bring to a boil. Cook for 40 minutes or until cooked but still slightly firm.

To roast pine nuts without burning them, preheat the oven to 400F. Lay the pine nuts out on a cookie sheet and roast for 4 minutes.  Set a timer or else you will forget about them and they will burn in a hurry.

Once the spelt is cooked set it aside and let cool for about 10 minutes. Transfer the spelt to a large bowl and combine all the rest of the ingredients into the bowl. Mix well.  Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

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Garlicky Sautéed Kale with Hemp Seeds

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Kale. A nutritional powerhouse that too many of us don’t eat at all or don’t eat enough of. When is the last time you bought kale? I will be honest. Before I started consuming green smoothies I don’t know that I had ever bought kale. It isn’t something that most of us grew up eating, so we don’t think of buying it, and we aren’t sure how to prepare it, or what dishes it complements?

Now that green smoothies are part of my (almost) daily routine I consume kale quite regularly. Kale is one of the greens I use most for making green smoothies, but it is great in a wide variety of dishes. Kale is great in salads, stews, soups, or simply sautéed with some garlic. I have several different recipes with kale on my site, so if you aren’t sure how to use it, check it out.

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Root Vegetable & Mushroom Risotto Recipe

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There are many different mushroom risotto recipes, but not many like this.  This isn’t technically risotto.  Risotto is rice cooked  slowly in broth, and usually has parmesan cheese.  This recipe has no rice or parmesan cheese.   Then why call it risotto?  Instead of rice  and cheese I used root vegetables and nutritional yeast, but applied the same process as risotto.  This means starting with onions, the vegetables, then adding some alcohol, letting it cook off, and then adding a little bit of broth at a time until the vegetables are cooked.  I know some of you may be skeptical, but trust me this is a delicious dish.  Vegetarians can eat this as a main or side, and if you eat meat or fish this makes a great side dish.

This dish has many different flavours thanks to the different vegetables.  Just like risotto it is salty as well as creamy.  The mushrooms add another level to the already deep flavour palate presented here.   This dish may sound complicated to make for some, but I promise it is straightforward and simple.  Go ahead and try something different. Root vegetable and mushroom risotto. Continue reading

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Warm Roasted Beet, Beet Green, & Pine Nut Salad Recipe

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Beets are plentiful this time of year, and beets of all colours.  Yellow,orange, red, purple.    Beets with beautiful full and fresh looking greens still attached.

I know a lot of people who claim not to like beets.  Memories of plain boiled beets from childhood are still haunting them.  It wasn’t until a few years ago when a wonderful woman I met introduced me to roasted beets.  I think my favourite beets for roasting are the yellow/orange beets you see in the picture above. Continue reading

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