Kale Salad with Shaved Parmesan, Currants & Pine Nuts

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I make a lot of dishes with kale (just look through my recipes archives!). It is an incredibly versatile vegetable that is packed with vitamins A, C, K, and calcium. Kale a popular staple at any farmer’s market and is also amazingly easy to grow your own.

Often people will shy away from using kale leaves in traditional salads because they can sometimes be a bit tough and/or bitter. However, marinating kale or massaging it with oil can help soften the leaves while adding flavour. If you don’t think you are quite yet ready to eat a kale salad, try using it in a salad mix with other leafy greens like Romaine lettuce.

This kale salad with shaved Parmesan, currants, and toasted pine nuts is fresh and zesty with just the right amount of sweetness. Feel free to experiment with this recipe using different types of fresh of dried fruit and nuts or seeds.

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Kale Salad with Shaved Parmesan, Currants & Pine Nuts

Makes about 6 cups

Ingredients:

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp liquid honey

4 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

1 bunch Tuscan kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise

2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted (could use other nuts that you have on hand)

2 tbsp dried currants (or chopped raisins)

Parmesan cheese shavings

Directions:

  1. Whisk balsamic vinegar, honey, oil, and salt in large bowl.
  2. Add kale, currants, and pine nuts; toss to coat. Let marinate 20 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese shavings over salad and serve.

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Recipe adapted from: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Kale-Salad-with-Pinenuts-Currants-and-Parmesan-351274

Quick Black Bean Soup

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This black bean soup is  hearty, healthy, and comes together very quickly thanks to canned black beans (although it can easily be made using dried beans). If has a lovely “Southwest” flavour and is perfect for rainy days when you need a little heat. If you prefer mild heat/spice, make sure to remove all of the seed pods when you are prepping the jalapeno (as that is where most of the spice is). If you prefer no heat/spice you can substitute 1/2 of a green pepper for the jalapeno.

Try serving this soup with whole wheat corn bread or low sodium tortilla chips*, and/or topping it with  low-fat plain yogurt, cilantro, sharp cheddar cheese, or avocado.

This soup can be refrigerated up to three days or can be stored in the freezer for up to two months. For best results, reheat gently over low-moderate heat.

* Classic corn tortilla chips, like Que Pasa brand, tend to be lower in salt, while brands like Tostitos are often much higher. Be sure to check the product’s nutrition facts table to make an informed decision.

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Black Bean Soup

Makes about 8 cups

Ingredients:

3 19oz cans low sodium black beans (or 3 cups of cooked black beans ~ 1 cup dry)

1 tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 yellow onions, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp jalapeno peppers, chopped

1-1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp ground cumin

5 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1 14oz can no salt stewed tomatoes

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot heat oil over medium heat; cook garlic, onions and celery, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onions are softened.
  2. Add chili powder, jalapeno pepper, oregano, and cumin; cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
  3. Add beans, vegetable broth, tomatoes and salt and pepper; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  4. In food processor or blender, puree the soup in batches. Return to pot; heat through.
  5. Stir in lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning. 
  6. Serve with cornbread or tortilla chips

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Recipe adapted from http://www.canadianliving.com/food/black_bean_soup_with_lime_coriander_sauce.php

Blueberry Cottage Cheese Pancakes

DSC_0378While the average North American tends to consume enough protein daily, they may not be consuming it in the most optimal way. Many people eat a small amount of protein at breakfast, a moderate amount at lunch and a large portion at dinner. Current recommendations for protein consumption suggest that protein foods should be distributed evenly throughout the day to maximize muscle protein synthesis. Individuals should aim to include about 20 grams of protein at each of their main meals (closer to 25 grams for older adults).

These blueberry cottage cheese pancakes are definitely a great way to get some quality protein into your morning routine. They are the fluffiest whole grain pancakes I’ve ever had, and are now one of my favourite post morning run/workout breakfast foods. Serve them with additional berries or fruit salad and a touch of maple syrup. Each serving of pancakes has approximately 17 grams of protein.

*To determine your total daily protein requirements, multiple your weight (in kilograms) by 0.8.

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Blueberry Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Makes 4 servings (~ 16 small pancakes)

Ingredients:

1 cup whole grain flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup non-fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup skim milk

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and sugar.
  2. In a separate larger bowl, whisk together eggs, cottage cheese, milk, oil, and vanilla.
  3. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and whisk until just blended.
  4. Fold in blueberries
  5. Lightly spray a large skillet or griddle with cooking oil then heat over medium heat. Pour ~ 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet at a time. Cook, flipping pancakes once, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through.
  6. Transfer to plates and serve topped with additional fruit and a touch of maple syrup.

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Recipe adapted from: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/fluffy-cottage-cheese-pancakes

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

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Many individuals might feel that eating healthfully means that there isn’t any room in your diet for treats or desserts. Unfortunately, when people follow very restrictive diets it can often be counter productive. Overly limited meal plans can cause individuals to become preoccupied with food and increases the likely-hood of binge eating (which may lead to weight gain). When I talk to individuals about healthy eating, I often suggest that they try the 80/20 diet guideline. Following an 80/20 diet means that you choose healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low fat dairy products 80 percent of the time, but you are allowed to indulge in a few favorite treats 20 percent of the time.

That being said, there is no reason you can’t try and make your treats as healthy as possible. Using sweeter vegetables like beets and carrots is a great way to increase quality nutrients in your desserts while reducing fat and added sugars. These chocolate beet cupcakes, although denser than your average cupcake, are moist and delicious. Options for topping them could be icing sugar (as shown in the picture above), frozen yogurt and fruit, or a small amount of whipping cream or icing (there are recipes for beet icing!).

So let them eat cake…. in moderation.

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Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

Makes 12

Ingredients:

2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
2 cups raw beetroots, grated finely
3 large eggs
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
5 tbsp unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare one muffin tin (either with muffin cups or by greasing the tin).
  2. Warm the oil in a medium size sauce pan on very low heat. Add honey and chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the grated beets. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and then add them to the sauce pan.
  4. Sift flour, baking powder, cacao powder and salt together and stir into the beet mixture (be careful not to over mix).
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until slightly dark
  6. Serve with a small scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt or regular yogurt and fresh fruit.

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Recipe adapted from: http://www.greenkitchenstories.com/decadent-beet-chocolate-cake/