One of my “tricks” for creating quick and healthy dinners is that I often shove an extra item or two into the oven while making dinner. For example, when I make roast chicken, I cook two at one time. That way I have left-over chicken for another night that can be used in a variety of dishes, including the recipe I shared with you yesterday. Or, I will bake some salmon in the oven for the following night while I’m cooking dinner on the stove top for that night. On occasion I have been known to cut up squash and/or sweet potatoes, toss them with some olive oil and sea salt, and put them into the oven (at 425 Fahrenheit for approximately 20 minutes) just before I go pick up the kids from the bus stop. These can then be used either as a side vegetable, in a soup, or in a casserole-type dish later that night, or another night!

The recipe I am sharing with you today uses that baked salmon and roasted squash I mentioned above and yields a quick and tasty pasta dish that I would even consider to be kid-friendly – though I recognize not everyone would agree with me!

Ingredients:

whole wheat linguine noodles (I prepare an entire box, and then use any leftovers for lunch the next day in my Quick and Easy Noodle Frittata)

broccoli (approximately 2 cups)

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp flour

1 cup vegetable broth (or water)

1/4 cup milk

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp lemon rind

1 Tbsp dill (I buy a large bunch of fresh dill and then chop it all up and freeze it in jars for when I need it – tastes so much better than the dried version)

salt & pepper to taste

baked salmon, broken into chunks (approximately 2 cups)

roasted squash (approximately 1 and 1/2 cups)

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to directions. If possible, steam broccoli on top of noodles. Otherwise, cook in a small amount of water in another pot.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add flour. Combine using a whisk.

3. Add a small amount of vegetable broth (or water) and whisk until water is completely absorbed. Repeat this step until all or most of the liquid (including milk) has been used and desired consistency is reached.

4. Add Dijon mustard, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, lemon rind, and salt & pepper. Whisk until well combined.

5. Add salmon and squash. Add cooked (and drained) pasta and broccoli. Toss gently. Serve.

Advertisements

Sensational Baked Tilapia

October 17, 2012

Life has been CRAZY busy here the last little while, and that means I’ve been relying on recipes that yield quick yet healthy dinners. One of my favourites is this Sensational Baked Tilapia, which is ready within 20 minutes. And if you cook some quinoa and frozen vegetables at the same time, you have an entire meal ready! (I generally enjoy a generous serving of greens drizzled with Honey Mustard Salad Dressing in place of the frozen vegetables!) Tilapia has a very mild taste, making it kid-friendly – my children call it “chicken”! Even people who do not generally like seafood are likely find it enjoyable. And when you season it with mayonnaise and parmesan cheese – it truly becomes sensational!

What’s your favourite way to enjoy tilapia? What’s your favourite fish?

Ingredients:
6 tilapia filets (fresh or thawed)
5 Tbsp mayonnaise (preferably made with olive oil)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp paprika (preferably Hungarian)
1 tsp italian seasoning (or oregano or fresh basil)
3 Tbsp parmesan cheese (preferably freshly grated)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 lemon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Lightly spray baking sheet or in a glass casserole dish with olive oil; they place tilapia on sheet or in dish.

3. In a small mixing bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Spread evenly over each tilapia. Drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

4. Bake tilapia for 10 minutes. Then, turn on your broiler (low/medium, not high) for another 5 – 10 minutes until fish is baked through and top is lightly browned.

Almost Guilt-Free Brownies

September 6, 2012

Although this blog is dedicated to healthy eating, a few evenings ago I decided to treat myself to some brownies and I just have to share the recipe with you! It comes from a cookbook titled, “Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health” and is my go-to recipe for brownies as they are relatively guilt-free and taste A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Pair a piece (or two!) with some French vanilla ice cream and I think you’ll agree – it’s a little taste of heaven!

What’s your favourite “healthy” recipe using cocoa?!

Ingredients:
1/3 cup (75 mL) canola oil (I used grape seed oil)
2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp (155 mL) natural cocoa powder (I used quality Dutch cocoa from Costco)
1/2 cup (125 mL) whole wheat flour (yes, whole wheat flour! – I even used spelt!)
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Line an 8-inch metal pan with parchment paper. Make sure to use enough parchment paper so that it hangs over the edges of your pan.
2. Beat together the oil and eggs. Add the sugar and beat until slightly thickened.
3. Add the vanilla and cocoa powder. Slowly beat in.
4. Stir in the whole wheat flour and baking powder (which you should pre-mix in a separate small bowl). The batter will be quite thick.


5. Spoon batter into the prepared pan and gently spread (again, it will be quite thick!).
6. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Pick up the parchment paper at the sides and lift the brownie out. Finish cooling on a wire rack. Then flip the brownie over and gently peel off the parchment paper.
7. Cut into 16 equal pieces. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Here is a quick, easy and healthy lunch or dinner that’s great for using up leftover noodles/pasta. I made this for lunch last week and my family devoured it, begging me to “make this again!” (oh, how I love to hear those words, especially from the children!). The best part is you can use whatever noodles and vegetables you have on hand. My preference, of course, is to use whole wheat or grain noodles (such as kamut or spelt, available at the Bulk Barn); however, my favourite for frittatas is whole wheat linguine. Sometimes I add cheese (cheddar, gouda, or feta all taste great) and/or ham to the egg mixture. Or, you can sprinkle some cheese overtop the frittata once plated, but still hot. Chopped ham or fresh basil would also be a great addition. Serve with a side garden salad, using my Honey Mustard Salad Dressing.

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped vegetables (I used red pepper, zucchini, purple green onions)

leftover pasta (at least 1 – 2 cups)

6 eggs, beaten

salt, pepper & paprika to taste

Directions:

1. Saute vegetables over medium-high heat in frying pan sprayed with olive oil or grape seed oil, until softened.

2. Add noodles and gently stir.

3. Once noodles are warm, pour beaten eggs over top. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Reduce temperature to medium.

4. Once eggs have set (approximately 5 minutes), gently slide frittata onto a large plate. Then flip frittata back into frying pan so the other side gets cooked (approximately 5 more minutes). Slide back onto large plate. Cut using a pizza cutter and serve!

As much as I enjoy cooking, there are enough times where I simply do not feel like spending any amount of time or effort in the kitchen. So when my husband suggested we go out for dinner tonight, I was very tempted to agree. However, then I thought about how much effort is involved in getting three hungry children out of the house, and the bill that would be handed to us at the end of the meal, and decided against it. Besides, there was a gigantic basket of freshly picked blueberries (thanks, Mama!) on my kitchen counter, waiting to be eaten. Then I remembered the bag of Bob’s Red Mill Organic Scottish Oatmeal in my pantry with a recipe for Scottish Oatmeal Pancakes or Waffles on the back that I’ve been wanting to give a try. Who says you can’t have pancakes for dinner?!

Although my children can devour fresh blueberries by they bowl fulls, for some reason they do not like them in any baked goods, including pancakes. So for them I made a plain batch, which they LOVED. Every bite they took was accompanied with a heartfelt, “Mami, make these again!” My husband and I savoured the warm, juicy bursts of antioxidant goodness in every bite of our batch. I will be making these again very soon – maybe as soon as tomorrow’s breakfast!

(I’ll also be using some of these berries in my Flax & Bran Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, replacing the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips with at least 1 cup blueberries.)

Blueberry Scottish Oatmeal Pancakes or Waffles

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used regular whole wheat flour)

3/4 scottish oatmeal* – UPDATE: IF YOU LIVE IN CANADA, THIS CAN BE PURCHASED AT SOBEYS!

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted (I used 1/3 cup grape seed oil, but canola oil would also be good)

fresh blueberries

Directions:

Mix flour, oatmeal, baking powder, salt and soda. Stir in buttermilk, eggs and butter until smooth. While this batter is best on the thicker side, stir in a little more buttermilk if the batter is too thick. (For waffles, just add 1 more egg and 1 tbsp of oil.) Gently fold in however many blueberries you would like!

* As per the packaging: “Oatmeal originated in Scotland centuries ago and was different from our modern rolled oats. A coarse meal was produced by slowly grinding the kernel between two large millstones. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Scottish Oatmeal is produced in the same old-fashioned way and contains all the health-giving nutrients of the best quality oats from which it was ground – the germ, the oil and the fiber.”

Do you go blueberry picking? What’s your favourite recipe using blueberries?


It has been a very busy summer to date: we celebrated my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary at the end of June and then my son’s 5th birthday on the 13th of July (it was a Friday this year, just like the year he was born!). Last week my two eldest children had one-on-one swimming lessons in a nearby backyard pool every morning at 9am for half an hour, and they both did so well and enjoyed it so much that I have signed them up for one more week (check out some photos from their lessons below!). There have been plenty of playdates with some very amazing friends, including an overnight visit from our friends who live in London, Ontario which means there were four adults and six children under the age of six sleeping in our house! Oh, and then there has been some serious potty training going on with my youngest and I am happy to say that we are well on our way to being completely diaper-free!

So with all that business and the extremely hot summer we have been experiencing, I have not found the time or desire to do much cooking in the last few weeks, which explains why I haven’t posted any new recipes lately. Many evenings I have simply served the children some healthy snacks and/or sandwiches and a big bowl of salad for my husband and myself. Tonight, however, we actually enjoyed what my husband refers to as a “real meal”: Zucchini “Boats” With Home Fries. I’m excited to share the recipes with you because they’re really quick and easy to prepare, super yummy, and reasonably healthy and kid-friendly! I found the recipe for the zucchini several years ago in one of the “Canadian Cheese” magazines (I think!) and it has been a staple ever since, especially in the summer months when zucchini is readily available. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!

Home Fries
Ingredients:
1-2 medium potatoes per person (I generally prefer to use Yukon Gold, but today I used regular white potatoes and they were equally delicious!)
olive oil
salt to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Gently clean potatoes with water if leaving the skin on the potatoes (which I highly recommend, as that is where most of the fibre and vitamins are found!) Or, peel potatoes (which I do when the skin is not very nice looking anymore) and then rinse them under cold running water.
3. Cut potatoes into fries and place in a large bowl. The thinner you cut them, the faster they will bake!

4. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss until all fries are coated with oil.
5. Spread potatoes onto a baking sheet and bake for 30 – 45 minutes, until they are golden and crispy. You should turn the fries occasionally while they are baking.

Zucchini “Boats”
Servings: 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 to 25 minutes

Ingredients:
4 large zucchini, halved and cored
1 pound ground meat (your choice – I used beef)
1 or 2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
2 tbsp fresh basil or oregano, chopped (I used dried oregano, paprika, ground coriander)
3/4 cup Havarti cheese – plain or with jalapeno or tomato and basil (I used Gruyere, but you could use pretty much any cheese)
3/4 cup Feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place zucchini on cookie sheet.

3. Combine remaining ingredients and use to stuff zucchini.
4. Bake 15 to 25 minutes or until meat well-cooked and zucchini are fork-tender.
5. Serve immediately with Home Fries (or brown rice or quinoa or barley!). Oh, and a side garden salad with my Honey Mustard Dressing is highly recommended!

What is your favourite way to enjoy zucchini?!

Below are a few pictures from the children’s swimming lessons:

Erik & Emma practice treading water in the deep end of the pool.


Erik swims in the deep end after jumping in!


Emma swims in the deep water with the aid of a noodle!

I recently stumbled across a fantastic blog titled Teach Your Child to Love Healthy Food. The author of this blog has a (PhD?) degree in Cognitive Psychology and the purpose of her blog is “to help parents find peaceful, effective ways to help their children eat healthy food because they like it.” I suspect that if you have young children, your interest has been piqued!

I highly recommend visiting and subscribing to this blog, which is also the winner of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution “Blog of the Month” (October 2011).

Today’s post is titled 10 Ways Food Manufacturers Hijack Your Child’s Brain (and taste buds, if you ask me!). Some other posts I highly recommend on this very informative and useful blog are: