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

Greek-Style Black Bean Burgers with Homemade Tzatziki

Why hello there! It feels good to be back and blogging again. Between moving to a new apartment in a new city and adjusting to a new job, I guess you can say things have been kind of busy – in a good way, though! Some random updates since my last post:

  • Apparently vegetable peels can be dangerous. I almost cut off the tip of my thumb one night while trying to peel a butternut squash. All is fine and well now, but I did end up needing a stitch! I couldn’t peel a vegetable for weeks afterwards.
  • Apparently shower doors can spontaneously explode. I wish I was making this up. Less than a month in the new place and… POOF… the glass in our shower door literally exploded into a million pieces, completely out of nowhere. Again, all is fine and well, but I’m starting to think maybe I just have bad luck!

Despite these unfortunate events, I appeared to have a stroke of luck with creating this recipe. I’ve been obsessed with Greek food the past few weeks. Imagine my delight when I came up with this tasty recipe – high in fibre, packed with protein, and made with whole grains. Yum yum! Of course, the homemade tzatziki is the icing on the cake.. or.. burger? Anyways.. enjoy!

Greek-Style Black Bean Burgers with Homemade Tzatziki

Makes 4 patties

Ingredients
Black Bean Burgers:
1/3 medium red onion, cut into wedges
1 can (15-oz.) no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
2 cloves garlic
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole grain oats (whole wheat breadcrumbs are also fine)

Homemade Tzatziki:
250 g plain Greek yogurt
1 hothouse cucumber, grated and squeezed to remove excess liquid
1-2 cloves of garlic, grated
Lemon juice, to taste
Olive oil, to taste
Pinch of salt

Directions:
1. For the burgers: Add the onion wedges to a food processor and chop. Add the black beans and pulse 3-4 times, until the beans are just partially smashed. Pour the beans and onion mixture into a bowl and mix in the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, parsley, garlic, salt and egg. Feel free to add more olive oil if the mixture seems too dry.

2. Add the oats to the food processor and chop until they look like breadcrumbs. Add to the bean mixture and stir until well-combined. Using your hands, form the mixture into 4 equally-sized patties. Stack the patties, with a piece of wax paper in between each, and place into a freezer bag or container. Freeze for at least 2 hours before cooking. Once ready, I pan fried my burger in a little bit of olive oil until the outside was brown and slightly crisp.

3. While your burger is cooking, you can prepare the tzatziki. Simply combine the yogurt, grated cucumber, grated garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt in a small bowl.

4. Top your burger with a dollop of tzatziki, along with your other preferred toppings. I had sliced avocado, baby tomatoes, and feta cheese – without the bun. DELISH!

Black Bean Burger with Tzatziki

Be Well xo

Meatless Monday: Roasted Eggplant Parmesan

I’m going to keep this short and sweet. This recipe is nothing but a whole lot of ooey, gooey, warm, cheesy goodness.

I’ve made eggplant parmesan before, but it was the traditional way where you slice the eggplant into discs and bread each piece.

This is a much simpler, quicker version and oh-so yummy. I enjoyed my eggplant with a whole wheat roll, which I used to dip into the ooey, gooey, warm, cheesy goodness. Fantastic. Hope you all enjoy! Oh, and don’t forget to enter my SlimKicker giveaway contest to win a FREE slow cooker!

Roasted Eggplant Parmesan

Roasted Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 eggplant, sliced in half vertically
Olive oil
Salt
1/3 cup light ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp each dried basil and parsley (or fresh, if you have some handy)
1/3 cup low-sodium marinara sauce
1 small tomato, sliced
Whole wheat bread crumbs
Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Sprinkle the eggplant halves with a little bit of salt and place on a baking sheet, flesh side down. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and broil on high for 20 minutes. While the eggplant is in the oven, combine the ricotta cheese, basil, and parsley in a small bowl.

2. When the eggplant is done, remove it from the oven and carefully turn over each half. Spread half of the ricotta mixture on each piece of eggplant. Do the same with the marinara sauce. Top each half with a few slices of tomato; sprinkle with some bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.

3. Bake at 400 degrees until the bread crumbs are toasted (about 5-10 minutes). You can also use mozzarella instead of ricotta if you like, or even sprinkle some feta cheese on top. Yum!

Happy Meatless Monday!

Roasted Eggplant Parmesan

Be Well xo