Sunday, October 13, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'd love to know what everyone is cooking this weekend, traditional and non. We made a pretty traditional dinner, except with chicken - roasted carrots, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and of course the gravy. mmm mmm I'm going non-traditional for dessert though. I made a Pumpkin streusel coffee cake!

I guess roasting carrots isn't very traditional for a Thanksgiving dinner (at least not for me) but I really don't like boiled carrots. Growing up, I always thought I didn't like cooked carrots because they'd be boiled until all of the flavour is gone. (Sorry ma and pa ;)) It wasn't until very recently I discovered roasting them. I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner since I roast other root vegetables. Vegetables already have such great flavour so we only want to add to that. Boiling just takes the flavour away.
I like to cut my carrots into circles for this but you can totally cut them into sticks. So cut up your carrots, toss in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. I also like to add a bit of paprika but it's not necessary. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until desired tenderness. I like mine to still have a bit of crunch. If you've cut your carrots into sticks then they may take a little longer. And done! Delicious and tasty carrots! Easy peasy.

Now for the dessert, apple pie is my all time absolute favourite dessert ever. There are two people in my life that make a delicious mouth watering apple pie. I swear I could eat the whole pie sometimes. haha But I know I can't make a pie like either of theirs. I haven't mastered a crust yet... or at all really. So I decided I didn't want to go through all that fuss and it not turn out. I'm all for trial and error but not for this occasion. I'd be that girl who failed Thanksgiving dessert miserably. So, I went with a cake. Who can go wrong with a cake? I snuck a bite fresh out of the oven and mmm mmm so yummy!! I mostly followed the recipe but I did simplify a couple of things. NOTE: This is a dessert recipe, full of sugar and not "healthy" but hey, it's Thanksgiving!


For the Streusel:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons butter (or margarine)
1 cup chopped, lightly toasted pecans or walnuts (optional) Directions on toasting at the bottom

For the Cake:

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

For the Glaze: (Optional)

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350F. Line 8X8 pan or 9" cake pan lined with parchment and greased sides.

For the streusel:

In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut (or cream) in the butter until coarse crumbs form. Mix in the toasted nuts if using.

For the cake

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.
In a separate bowl, mix the butter and brown sugar until well combined. Then mix in eggs. Add in the pumpkin and sour cream and mix just until combined. Fold in the flour mixture. Batter will be thick.
Evenly spread half of the cake batter in the pan, and then top with 1/3 of the streusel. Evenly spread the remaining cake batter, then top with the remaining streusel.
Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and cool.

For the glaze:

In a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.

To toast the nuts, preheat oven at 350F, spread nuts even on baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.

Here is the original recipe:

Side note, not everyone has ginger or nutmeg. If you have two of the three - ginger, nutmeg, or cinnamon, you can add a little extra of two to make up for the one you're missing.

I actually didn't add the glaze this time. Instead, I served it with vanilla ice cream for dessert. But it's just so good on it's own that it really doesn't need anything added to it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!! My next post will be more on track but it's Thanksgiving so I just had to post this dessert!!



Friday, October 4, 2013

Plan Ahead

One key to eating and cooking healthy is planning ahead. Ever stand in the grocery store looking around thinking, "What am I going to eat this week?!" Or, standing and staring into the fridge? Look at your week schedule. When can you take an hour to cook? One hour. That's it.
Even though I love to cook I also love to open the fridge when I have to leave for rehearsal in 20 minutes and grab something to eat. So I plan ahead. I look at my schedule to see when I have a bit of free time. I like to cook things in multiples or big portions so it will last a few days, sometimes even a week. Like the chickpea veggie burgers I made earlier this week. Took me one hour and it made 9. Because there isn't any meat in them, they will actually last in the fridge.
You might think, "I can use that hour doing something else." But stop and think about how important your health and energy are. Instead of reaching for that frozen dinner, you can reach for something homemade - with ingredients you understand.

Here's the delicious chickpea burger recipe:

Makes approx 8 patties

1 can chickpeas, mashed
1 celery stalk chopped finely
1 grated carrot
1/2 minced onion
1/4 cup flour OR 3 tblsp corn starch
1 egg
lots of herbs and spices
oil for cooking (preferably olive oil)

Mix all ingredients together. Form into patties and lightly fry until golden brown.
Be sure to really work the patties in your hands before putting them in the pan. I find they stay together better.
Move to a cooling rack until completely cooled. Store in an air tight container in the fridge.
For the herbs and spices I used fresh basil and parsley, dried thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. If you can eat fresh garlic, put that in there! Unfortunately, I can't eat fresh garlic, so all of my recipes are garlic free. You can really add any spices and herbs you like. The burgers on their own are really bland so you can take the flavour any way you want!

How can you go wrong? Chop, mix, form, fry, DONE.

I like to top them with lettuce and salsa on a whole grain bun.
To reheat - If you're in a hurry microwave them for approx 30 seconds. If you have some time you can use the oven which will make them a little crispy. 375F for approx 15-20 minutes.
So now you have 8 healthy vegetarian meals that will last you the week.



Remember, a healthy mind and body equals a happy and healthy dancer.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Healthy cooking doesn't have to be time consuming

I've always enjoyed cooking but over the past year I've really started cooking A LOT. Particularly, I enjoy cooking things from scratch and using fresh ingredients. The only packaged food items you'll usually find in my kitchen are cereal and well, cereal. (I LOVE cereal!)
Living in the big city of Toronto it's hard to buy all natural, organic foods. There are farmer's markets (which I try to get to when I can) and health food stores but you can't get all of your groceries at these places so that means extra trips to the grocery store, more groceries to carry on the subway and extra money on the TTC (which is expensive!). There just isn't enough time in the day for all of that. If your someone who is able to shop at these places than kudos to you! But for the rest of us, shopping at Loblaws and Sobeys are our only options. One trip and you're done.

As dancers, we're constantly on the go. Teaching, rehearsing, choreographing, shows, gigs, classes, part time jobs and the list goes on. It's easy to resort to packaged, microwaveable foods. Eating and cooking healthy doesn't have to be time consuming. My meal tonight took 15 minutes. That's quicker than Kraft Dinner. All of my ingredients came from Sobeys. Nothing was prepackaged or frozen. Haddock from the fish mart, green beans, lettuce and tomato, and whole grain buns from the bakery. And with all of this I got 2 complete meals out of it with lots of everything leftover except the fish. I did use a couple cooking techniques that my wonderful partner taught me to add flavour.

Here's what I did.

1 small pot
2 medium frying pans
Preheat oven 375F
String beans
Whole grain bun
Olive Oil
Salt & pepper
Lemon juice and grated rind
Toppings (I used lettuce, tomato and fresh basil)
A spiced mayo would be excellent on this but I didn't think of that until after the fact.

Bring small pot of water to a boil. Add green beans and cook for 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat pan #1 on medium with olive oil.

Strain beans and heat medium pan #2 on medium heat with olive oil.
Place fish in pan #1 and cook for 3 mins on each side with a little salt, pepper, lemon juice and grated rind.
Place beans in pan #2 covering lightly with the oil and cook to desired crunchiness. Add a little salt and pepper for taste.
Place fish in the oven for 3-4 minutes.
Place fish on prepared bun. Don't want the bread? Eat the fish as is!

And voila! Delicious meal in no time at all.

On a side note, if you're not a fan of fish, you can use the same technique on chicken. Sear it in the pan for about 4 minutes on each side then cook it in the oven on 400F for about 8 minutes.



Remember, a healthy mind and body equals a happy and healthy dancer.