Hummus Time Is Any Time

Who doesn’t like to dip food into other food? I love hummus. I really really love hummus. Especially clean hummus, one that are made with natural ingredients and lots of love, can’t forget the love.

imageI’ve recently been addicted to this recipe for a cheesy flavoured hummus that does not actually have any cheese or additives. It’s simple and there’s not too much fuss required.

The only real work that needs to be done (and it’s really only if you choose to do the work), is to make the chickpeas from dried! I prefer cooking dried chickpeas and making this hummus from scratch. I am not the biggest fan of the tin-y flavour that you get from canned beans. The only time I really used canned beans is in chili or in very strong flavoured dishes like stews or soups where there is other dominating flavours. Chickpeas are incredibly simple to make, they are great for snacking, throw onto salads and other dishes.

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With most chickpeas, the only thing to remember is that you’ll need to prepare ahead of time. Soak the chickpeas in fresh water (about 2 inches above the chickpeas) overnight or at least 6-8 hours, this helps break down the chickpeas so they can cook even more tenderly. Once soaked and they’ve ballooned up, drain them of the liquid. I usually will rinse them again in a colander but not always necessary. Place them in a large enough pot to accommodate the chickpeas and ample liquid. If you are making them for this recipe, water is great. However! If you are making this golden little beans for snacking or salads, feel free to use stock for added flavour!

The secret ingredient that makes this hummus so scrumdiliumptious is… *drum roll* nutritional yeast! You might be a bit disgusted, “YEAST!? I don’t want to eat yeast!!” But hear me out, not only is the flavour akin to cheese but it is also chock full of vitamin Bs!

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On to the recipe!

Ingredients:
1.5 cup of cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4-1/3 cup water*
2-3 crushed garlic
2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp or less cayenne pepper powder**

*Depending on the consistency you prefer for hummus
**A dash of cayenne pepper will not make it spicy but add much flavour to the hummus, however you can certainly add more to make it spicier.

Equipment:
Strong blender or food processor

Directions:

  1. Add all the ingredients into your chosen piece of equipment.
  2. Process or blend until it slows down. You may need to use a spatula to get into the sides should the spread be thicker and hard to mix.
  3. If needed, you can always add a splash more of water. Be careful how much you add, it can definitely become too watery!
  4. Transfer hummus into container and enjoy!

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Meal Prep Mini-Series: More Colour Please! Rainbow Salad

I absolutely love colourful food. I mean, who doesn’t? It brings a smile to my face when I open up my lunch or dinner and see some lively and colourful foods looking back at me.

This salad goes best with either chicken or beef. I find fish to be too delicate a protein to pair with the salad, as the salad can overwhelm it with it’s texture and flavour.

The best thing about this salad is that, there’s barely any preparation or much fuss about it! All you need is a food processor, a big bowl to mix it in and a couple of ingredients that you probably have in your fridge and pantry already. Processor, mix and voilà!

It can keep refrigerated in a tightly sealed container for about 2-3 days before the salad becomes softened from the dressing, best eaten as fresh as possible.

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Ingredients:
1/3 head savoy cabbage
1/3 head red cabbage
3 medium carrots, peeled
1 stalk celery
1/2 walnuts, crumbled
1/4 cup roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Optional: 1/4 cup Golgi berries

Dressing:
3 limes
1/2 cup safflower oil*
2 tbsp honey
pinch of salt & pepper

*I find neutral flavoured oils work best, however a lightly flavoured oil would also be delicious. Extra virgin olive oil may be too strong.

Equipment:
Food processor
Large bowl
Medium bowl

Directions:

  1. Add cabbage, carrots and celery to the food processor using the shredding blade, can also be done with a mandoline or a sharp knife.
  2. To make the dressing juice the limes and mix with oil, honey, salt and pepper in a medium sized bowl. Thoroughly mix to combine the dressing.
  3. Add the shredded veggies to a large bowl along with the dressing, toss to combine.
  4. Top with walnuts and pepitas for added crunch and deliciousness!
  5. Portion & enjoy!
I enjoyed this delicious salad with some baked chicken with smoked paprika and melange of cooked grains.
I enjoyed this delicious salad with some baked chicken with smoked paprika and melange of cooked grains.

My Approach to Meal Prep

As a personal trainer and healthy eating enthusiast with a hectic schedule juggling life and cooking for two (but one of whom eats for four), it’s hard to keep up with food demands. My own nutrition needs are demanding enough, because 95% of what I eat is packed and brought to work. I only rely on buying food when absolutely necessary. There are plenty of healthy food options near me. However, not only do I not know just how “healthy” it is but most importantly, healthy fast food tends to be more expensive than regular fast food. I don’t know about you… but I’m not content with spending $30-$40 a day on two meals of decently healthy food, especially if I could have made something simple, nutrition and delicious!

I see the meal preparation process as a puzzle. There are often only 3 pieces in this puzzle.

  1. Some protein
  2. Some veggies
  3. Some grains/starch

Easy eh?

Meal prepping has become somewhat systematic at this point. Cook my proteins the way I enjoy eating them, whether it’d be with some flavour baked chicken, beef burgers, boiled eggs or steamed salmon. Make the starch/grain, it could be a mixed grain with veggie broth or coconut milk or sweet potato (roasted or steamed). Prep the veggies, this is where the imagination comes in. It can be absolutely any veggies that I enjoy and would like to eat this week.

Considering that Christian tends to eat 3/4 of the food that is made in this house, I used to run all the menu items through him before carrying them out. However, after often being met with “I’m good with whatever honey” or “That sounds good” to anything and everything… I’ve learned my lesson.

Once all the food has finished cooking. It’s time to put together the puzzle!

I will often lay the containers in this order. For a non-salad veggie meal, I start with veggies in 1/2 or 2/3 of the container, followed by rice/grains/sweet potato in the other 1/2 or 1/3 and lastly the protein laying sweetly atop of the grains.

For salad boxes, I like to have all the leaves and veggies at the bottom of the container leaving a bit of space for sweet potato, with the proteins sliced or crunbled atop of the salad. I like sweet potato with salads simply because it’s easier to manage. A spectacle of salad mingling with grains is not one I’d like to watch.

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Left is the salad meal, top-right is a cabbage salad meal and bottom right is a non-salad veggie meal!

I am going to chronicle a mini-series staring some of my favorite things to make to meal prep with, as they are often simple, delicious and nutritious!

Breakfast Bake: Friday Frittata

Breakfasts are hard in this house. We both have hectic schedules, really really early mornings, and not enough time to cook an actual breakfast that’s suitable for human consumption… so, what do we do?

The answer is this:

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BAM!

Zucchini, tomato, mushroom and bacon frittata with cheese. Om nom nom nom…

Easy to make and even easier to eat. Chop, scramble, bake, and ding! It’s done. Christian is a fan, big big fan, big hungry fan of this frittata and other egg bakes that I’ve made in the past. It is definitely a life saver during those mornings (every weekday) where time is precious and our eyes barely open to make a breakfast that can be satisfying enough to take us through to lunch.

The beauty of this is that it can have anything. Whatever our piggy hearts desired at that time, we can incorporate any veggie into this frittata and any kind of meat!

I’ve also made this for a family brunch and it was a hit! Everybody loved it. That is a pretty strong indicator that this should be in your life too.

This will keep for a few days in the fridge in an airtight container!image

Ingredients:
6 eggs
1/2 cup egg whites
8 strips bacon
2-3 zucchinis
2 large tomatoes
2 handfuls of mushrooms
1/2 small onion
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt
pepper
Optional: shredded cheese

Equipment:
Cast iron skillet, any kind of large skillet will do
Baking tray/lasagna pan
Bowls

Directions:

  1. Heat skillet on medium heat until hot. Cut bacon into smaller chunks, roughly 1-1.5 inch thick and cook until just crisp, then set aside.
  2. Drain most of the oil out but leaving roughly 1 tbsp.
  3. Dice onions and chop veggies in similar sizes. Scramble the eggs and egg whites in a medium-large bowl.
  4. Add onions to the pan and cook through, it will look slightly translucent.
  5. Throw in tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini. then add in your spices. Cook until veggies are softened.
  6. While veggies cook, turn on the oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Turn off the stove and dump everything into a large rectangular pan.
  8. Pour in the egg mixture and jiggle the pan to make sure the mixture gets into every nook and cranny.
  9. Bake the frittata for at least 35-40 minutes until the top is set.
  10. If added cheese, take it out 5-10 minutes before just before fully cooked through where the top is barely wobbly, sprinkle the cheese over the top. Broil for 5-10 minutes.
  11. Let it cool for at least 10 minutes, it will be very hot out of the oven.
  12. Share with the family! Enjoy!

It’s always about the chocolate… Black Bean Brownie

If only I could write an ode to chocolate. There is nothing greater to satisfy a sweet tooth or an ache for deliciousness than chocolate. Chocolate would be an endangered good if it was beneficial for us. I’m not talking about the 75%-90% fair trade and organic chocolates. I’m not talking about cacao beans. I’m talking about the fudgy, gooey and mouth watering deliciousness that is often the byproduct of chocolate, flour, fat and sugar.

Thus attempting to satiate my needs as well as lead the kind of life I preach to my clients about, you can imagine my glee when I came across this recipe for black bean chocolate brownies. Oh my god. Understandably there was some hesitation, there was some fear, there was some anxiety and disbelief, but mostly, there was so much hope. So I set off to test them out. Over and over.

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Must not eat the tray. Must not eat the tray. Must not eat the tray.

Well now, for the good news. It always came out delicious. I even gave some to my clients to try. Its a beautiful thing to watch someone scarf down something with eye wide in amazement and disbelief of it’s contents. “This has beans in it!?” “This doesn’t have flour!?” “What kind of witchcraft are you playing with!?” Okay, that last one was just me. But it’s true. I just smiled and nodded knowingly as they devoured every last crumb.

These are also great as a snack because they are so easy to pack! Either in a ziplock, in a container or simply wrapped in some plastic wrap, and away we go! These little guys are life savers as a quick snack to shovel down on the days where we have 5 clients in a row. Plus, no funky breath!

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Hello you. Mr. Short-Dark-and-Delicious.

The bad news is, you still can’t eat until you want to pop with these little guys. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but moderation is still in order. But if you had eaten one extra one… well, I won’t tell.

Onto the recipe!

Ingredients:
2 cups cooked black beans, if using canned make sure to rinse very throughly
2 eggs
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted (or another neutral oil)
1 cup cocoa powder*
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup organic coconut palm sugar or turbinado sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Optional: walnuts, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, basically anything that goes well with chocolate!

*for the cocoa powder, choose the best quality you can get, it is much more flavourful and helps mask the bean taste.

Equipment:
Food processor
Spatula
Medium bowl
Muffin baking tray

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.
  2. Lightly grease the muffin tin to ensure the brownies from sticking.
  3. Add in all the ingredients to the food processor, I prefer to add them in the same order as written. Blitz until it is smooth. You may need to scrap the sides down a few times to make sure that everything is well combined and there are no leftover bean pieces.
  4. If the batter is a bit thick, add 1-2 tbsp of water to loosen it up. It should come out to be a fairly creamy consistency but too thick.
  5. Scoop the batter evenly into the greased muffin tins.
  6. Top with one half or crumbled walnut pieces, press them in slightly to make sure they bake into the brownie. At times I also like folding in 1/2 cup of walnut pieces or other toppings into the batter itself!
  7. Bake from 25-30 minutes. Touch the top of the brownie, if it springs back and feels fairly firm, it’s done! If it’s still gooey and squishy, bake for another 4-5 minutes max.
  8. Om nom nom… I love these with a side of almond or cashew milk.

Chocolate Almond Protein Spoonfuls

Christian and I have had a running debate for a while. I say this tastes like Protein Nutella, but he says otherwise. Granted it is not exactly the same thing buuuuut, I feel it is damn close enough! My evidence? We tend to eat it out of the container with a spoon in hand, AND we fight over it.

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Guess where this spoon went after his photoshoot?

I do plan on trying hazelnuts at some point to make it even MORE like Nutella. Ha! Suck it Christian. He won’t be able to deny it then.

It was also a fun experience to share this wonderful delicious chocolatey-ness with family today. As we had the Mister’s family over for brunch today (will post more about that), I figured it would be fun for everyone to try it for the first time together! My oh my, the reactions were hilarious.

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I love making this because it is just so damn easy and so damn delicious I can’t even. It is based off a recipe found here, that’s been altered a bit to my tastes. I make it once a week or every other week. I love it as a snack in-between clients (something quickly to shove in my mouth to fend off starvation) or as a go-to for when I have deep chocolate or sweet cravings. Delicious and fairly nutritious. Christian can often be found cradling the bowl in front of the TV… as am I.

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Oh my goodness… be still my inner chocoholic.

Well, that’s all for my ramblings. Here’s the recipe that may be the end of life as you know it. You. Are. Welcome.

Ingredients:
1.5 cup of ground almonds
1 cup of chocolate protein powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
dash of cinnamon
1/2 cup of coconut milk
2-3 tbsp of coconut oil, melted
3 tbsp raw buckwheat honey
Optional: shredded coconut or cocoa powder

Equipment:
Food processor
Medium bowl
Spatula

Directions:

  1. Add in all dry ingredients, ground almonds, protein powder, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Blitz until well combined.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine coconut milk, coconut oil and honey until it’s well mixed together.
  3. Pour in wet ingredients to the food processor and start!
  4. Working with a spatula, occasionally pause and scrap down the sides of the bowl to make sure it is all well combined.
  5. To make balls, refrigerate the concoction for an hour or more to make it more stable to roll into balls! Then roll ball in shredded coconut or cocoa powder for additional yumminess.
  6. Otherwise, transfer mixture into a large container and dig in with a spoon! That’s how we do it at home. Spoon in hand and Big Bang Theory playing = great night in.

Save Now or Down the Road?

Even before we moved into our own place in late December 2015, I had been struggling with a choice. The choice of whether or not I should be saving on furniture, appliances and cookware right now or splurging on the best quality things that are often more expensive to save down the road.

Growing up in a very financially aware single-parent household had instilled some important and very useful now-a-days lessons for me. I had always become somewhat frugal, not out of necessity as I’ve always had a good paying job and never been living from paycheck to paycheck. However, there had always been a voice in my head that beckons me to look for a better deal or to find a sale! Because, why not save money on it if you are able to?

The Mister isn’t so much on this same page or much less book that I am perpetually flipping through. He’s very much the get-the-best-so-we-don’t-need-to-replace-it-in-a-year-or-two kind of person. I admire that. I wish I could be that without some guilty nagging at me.

Telfon vs Strainless Steel
One of the many decisions, affordable teflon pans that MUST be replaced every year or so, or a much more expensive strainless steel pan that could (with proper care) last for decades?

That being said, now living in our new condo, surrounded by beautiful things that we both picked out through endless searching, the voice is quiet. Even though these beautiful things cost a very beautiful mound of pennies, they are worth it. I look at every furniture and every cookware (because obviously, my kitchen needs to be stacked), it brings this joy that I had never thought material things could bring! They make me smile because I can step back and admire the beauty of them. I guess that’s why he is so nonchalant towards this, nothing is simply frivolous, everything is functional or adds to the appeal of our home. That, is worth the extra cost.

Lesson learned.

Nanercake

Good morning.

Today is a holiday. Therefore I have a day off. What does that mean? It’s cooking time. Meal prep and making delicious nummies that I normally wouldn’t have time for!

Starting off with Nanercakes. Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day! These are delicious and nutritious easy protein pancakes to make. Not too much ingredients and not too much fuss, just how I like it.

This recipe feels about two people or one very hungry person. The batter can also be made ahead of time (which I find to be even more delicious) and kept in the fridge!

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Directions:

In a medium to large bowl, mash up bananas and mix in the eggs.

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Throw in the dry ingredients: oats, flour, protein powder, salt and cinnamon.

Mix well.

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Heat pan on medium heat and heat a tsp of coconut oil. Once oil is slightly simmering, add in the batter. I just pour the batter from the  bowl, you can use a ladle or large spoon. Approximately a 1/4 cup per pancake is a easy estimate.

Wait for a couple bubbles to appear on the pancake to flip, and voila!

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Delicious. Yummy Nummy!

Recipe

Ingredients:

1 frozen ripe banana, broken into chunks
2 eggs
3 tbsp oats
2 tbsp buckwheat flour
1 heaping scoop protein powder
pinch of salt
dash of cinnamon
1-2 tsp coconut oil
optional: splash of vanilla extract
optional: handful of chocolate chips! (because chocolate chips make everything better)

Directions:

  1. In a medium to large bowl, mash up bananas and mix in the eggs.
  2. Throw in the dry ingredients: oats, flour, protein powder, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Heat pan on medium heat and heat a tsp of coconut oil.
  5. Once oil is slightly simmering, add in the batter. I just pour the batter from the  bowl, you can use a ladle or large spoon. Approximately a 1/4 cup per pancake is a easy estimate.
  6. Wait for a couple bubbles to appear on the pancake to flip, and voila!