Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers (Gluten-Free and Vegan-Friendly)

Happy Nutrition Month!

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty darn sick of this winter weather and cannot WAIT for spring to arrive!

Spring = sunshine. And warm weather. And patios. But most importantly, BARBECUING.

Need I say more?

If you’re going through BBQ withdrawal and are craving a burger, this is the perfect meatless recipe to satisfy your craving (and your waistline). I started out following a recipe from How Sweet It Is, but it ended up evolving into something a little bit different.

These burgers are hearty, a little bit spicy, and packed with superfoods like sweet potato, quinoa and coconut oil. Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A and carotenoids, which help promote healthy skin and vision. Combined with the quinoa, these burgers pack a protein- and fibre-packed punch! Plus they can be easily modified to be vegan and/or gluten-free :) I wish I took some more photos of these tasty morsels, but they looked so good I just couldn’t wait to eat them.

So… while you continue to wait impatiently for spring, at least you won’t go hungry…

Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers
Makes 4 patties

Ingredients:
1 medium sweet potato
½ large red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil
½ cup cooked quinoa
¼ cup whole wheat bread crumbs (I used gluten-free oats, pulsed in a food processor)
¼ cup parmesan cheese (use nutritional yeast for a vegan option – I used half of each)
3-4 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 egg (for a vegan option, combine 1 tbsp ground flax seed with about 3 tbsp water to make a flax “egg”)
2-3 tbsp sunflower seeds (or other seeds like chia or pumpkin.. whatever you have on hand)
1 tbsp peanut satay sauce or natural peanut butter

sweet potato burger

Directions:

  1. Pierce the sweet potato a few times with a fork and place on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for about 5 minutes, until tender. Let cool; peel and place flesh in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a medium frying pan, heat half the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the peppers, garlic, chili flakes, and a dash of salt and pepper and stir fry until the peppers are tender. Transfer to the mixing bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix well to combine, mashing the sweet potato as you go. Put in the fridge to chill for about 10-15 minutes. *Note: if the mixture seems too wet, add some more breadcrumbs. If it seems too dry, add some water 1 tbsp at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
  4. Heat the remaining coconut oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Form the sweet potato mixture into 4 equally sized patties and fry until golden – about 4-5 minutes each side.
  5. Enjoy on a whole grain bun, or simply on a bed of organic greens topped with your favourite condiments! I just added a few slices of avocado to mine :) Happy eating!

Be Well xo

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Rosemary Quinoa, Bean & Butternut Squash Stew

Happy Holidays!

I hope you’ve all been enjoying the holiday season, staying warm, and eating lots of tasty treats!

“Santa” was kind enough to bring me a juicer for Christmas! I took some time today to test it out and made some green juice (kale, spinach, celery, cucumber, lemon, and green apple), then froze the leftover pulp in an ice cube tray so I can easily throw them into green smoothies. I can’t wait to try making fresh orange juice :)

Green Juice

I had so much fun with it that I wanted to make something else, so I decided to try juicing some veggies to create broth for soup. From there I improvised, throwing whatever I had lying around the kitchen into the pot, until I ended up with this delicious stew! It’s the perfect meal to sit back and relax with after a busy week of holiday celebrations :) It’s also vegan and gluten-free!

Rosemary Quinoa, Bean & Butternut Squash Stew

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

Vegetable Juice
1 tomato
1 small onion
1 red pepper, de-seeded
2 carrots
1 stalk of celery

Stew
Vegetable juice & pulp
500 mL no-salt-added vegetable broth
2 cups chopped butternut squash
1/2 cup quinoa
1 can white cannellini beans
1-2 handfuls each of kale and spinach
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp garlic powder
A couple of pinches of dried sage
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. To make the vegetable juice, put the tomato, onion, pepper, carrots, and celery through a juicer. Pour the juice and pulp into a large stock pot. Add the vegetable broth, squash, quinoa, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked and squash is tender. You may need to add some more water as you go, if necessary.

2. Add the beans, kale, and spinach and simmer for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in large bowls and enjoy!

Rosemary Quinoa, Bean & Butternut Squash Stew

Be Well xo

21-Day Elimination Diet

Well, I did it! Despite the wind, rain, and cold weather.. I ran my first 5K race and finished in EXACTLY 26 minutes! I was surprised at how quickly time seemed to pass while I was running, and was even more shocked to learn that I had actually achieved my goal of running it in 26 minutes. Prior to race day, my fastest time had been just under 28 minutes. I guess the adrenaline rush and desire to escape the awful weather helped!

I’ve now started tackling a new challenge – a 21-day elimination diet. Since the beginning of November, I’ve eliminated wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, and coffee from my diet. Am I crazy? Perhaps. But for the past couple of months I had been finding I often felt sick after eating, as well as super tired.

After looking a bit more into my symptoms, I decided it might be worthwhile to try a 21-day elimination diet in order to detox and “re-charge my batteries”, so to speak. It’s also a helpful tool to figure out whether you have any food allergies/sensitivities, which could very well be the source of my discomfort.

I’m currently 16 days in and it’s been an interesting journey! The first few days were definitely the hardest and I battled some pretty intense cravings – mostly for wheat products, like bread. I also suffered from headaches for the first little while due to caffeine withdrawal. I probably should have gradually cut back instead of jumping from my usual two cups a day to nothing more than green tea.

After the first few days things started getting a bit easier. I had to really plan ahead and prep meals in advance in order to avoid giving in to cravings. I even re-organized my cupboards by placing the things I could eat on the bottom shelf and things that were “off-limits” on the upper shelves – just sliiiiightly out of my reach ;)

Now that this cleanse is almost over, I can honestly say I have noticed some changes. For starters, although I’m still tired most days (nothing new there), I now have the energy to make it through the day without coffee – something I haven’t been able to do in years. Literally. I’ve also noticed I’m able to fall asleep a lot faster. Finally, most of the negative symptoms I had been experiencing for the past couple of months have disappeared – no more headaches, bloating, stomach cramps, and less joint/muscle pain. Once the weekend hits, I’ll be starting to re-introduce certain foods back into my diet to see if my body experiences any of those symptoms again. Hopefully all goes well!

If you’re thinking about trying an elimination diet, I would say that it’s definitely worthwhile. As long as you plan ahead and are willing to get creative in the kitchen, you might just find the three weeks pass by fairly quickly. The hardest part is planning around social events! It was pretty tricky to find foods to eat when going out for dinner with family/friends, so I had to make a few exceptions sometimes.

Looking for some ideas to help kick-start your own elimination diet? Here are some of the meals I’ve made so far. I included links to recipes where I could!

Day 1
Garlic lemon brown rice pasta with mushrooms & kale, and a side of steamed lemon-ginger carrots
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Day 2
Quinoa bowl drizzled with homemade ginger-peanut sauce
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Day 4
Zucchini-white bean sliders with roasted butternut squash
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Day 6
Chili-lime lentil tacos with cauliflower tortillas
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Day 8
Garlic lemon spaghetti squash & sautéed veggies
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Day 10
Cilantro lime rice, black beans, kale, squash & homemade guacamole
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Day 11
Spicy coconut curry rice noodles
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Day 16
Brown rice pasta in a cauliflower “alfredo” sauce, topped with chia seeds
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Happy detoxing!

Be Well xo

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Quinoa Chili… And Some Highlights from California

I am so very sorry for not posting over the past several weeks! I wish I could say I’ve been hard at work, but in all honesty I was actually in California with my family for a while. My parents had been thinking about going there as we had never been to the west coast. It was quite possibly one of the best family vacations we’ve ever experienced. We landed in LA and did a lot of sight seeing, including walking down Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Blvd, and even making a quick visit to see the Grammy museum. We also were fortunate enough to get tickets to a taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and I was able to see my favourite Friends character in person – Phoebe Buffay, otherwise known as Lisa Kudrow!

After spending a few days soaking up the sun and touring the city, we tackled the drive up the coast towards San Francisco, stopping along the way to snap some photos of the setting sun.

Then we continued on towards Carmel (FYI the most adorable town I’ve ever seen) to spend the night. The next morning we did the infamous 17-mile drive to Monterey Bay, and obviously made a pit stop at the Monterey Bay Aquarium to see the jellies!

Afterwards we continued on to our final destination on the trip – San Francisco! We did a lot of sight seeing, which was great because the grueling hikes up San Francisco’s many hills helped make me feel better about all the tasty food I had been eating on the trip. We also rode on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Yes, you read correctly. It’s a train that takes you through some of Napa Valley’s wineries. You can kick back, relax, and enjoy a gourmet meal on the train while sipping on delicious local wine. Definitely my kind of train ride! Our final tourist destination was visiting Alcatraz. I highly recommend doing the tour if you ever have the opportunity! Just make sure you purchase tickets well in advance.

Anyways, that was an extremely brief summary of my adventures in California! If you have never been to this part of the United States, I seriously recommend going there. Personally, I would consider moving there if given the opportunity. There’s so much to do and see – the things I mentioned above only begin to scratch the surface!

Moving on.. I hope this week’s Meatless Monday recipe will help you forgive my lengthy period of silence over the past several weeks. It’s yet another gem I found on Pinterest that I was inspired to make to welcome this year’s football season. I only made half of the recipe (thank goodness), but it still made a lot! I had so much leftover that I ended up freezing half of it. I must say though that I will most definitely be making this chili again. It’s hearty, delicious, vegan-friendly, packed with fibre, and gluten-free! I’ve never had quinoa in chili before, but it’s a fantastic way to add a source of complete protein to this vegetarian meal. Enjoy!!

Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

Original recipe serves 10-12. Half the recipe serves about 5-6.

Click here to see the original recipe, courtesy of Two Peas & Their Pod.

 

Spicy Cauliflower Pizza Bites

Remember the cauliflower pizza crust I posted about a while back? Well this is pretty much the same thing, except cuter, spicier, and without all the toppings.

Click here to check out the recipe! I didn’t have cottage cheese on hand, so I used reduced-fat ricotta instead. I also added a generous pinch of red chili flakes to give them a bit of a kick. Deeelicious! If you have little ones, they would absolutely love these. They would be great little appetizers for parties as well! Oh, and did I mention they’re gluten-free?

Happy Meatless Monday! :)