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Bold and Pungent day!

Happy bold and pungent day!
Pungent taste is sharp, concentrated, and intense. It spreads quickly throughout the mouth and digestive tract. Chillies and black pepper are common pungent tastes.

So to celebrate the day, let’s be bold and make something pungent!

For today I have adapted Christine Cushing’s recipe from the food network. The original recipe can be found here: http://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipe/spicy-green-mango-and-cucumber-salad/6904/

Another wonderful salad that is bold and pungent can be found here: http://www.vibrantfoodvibrantyou.com/recipe/watermelon-jalapeno-with-feta-salad/
Enjoy!

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Spicy mango and cucumber Salad
Instructions
  1. Dice cucumber, remove seeds. Dice mango. Add chillies of your choice, mint and cilantro. In a small bowl mix the rice wine vinegar, sugar, ginger and fish sauce. Stir. Pour mixture over cucumber and mango, toss to combine and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Voila!
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An Apple a day!

MMM. nothing like ontario apples to make snacks, ciders, pies and even added into your mains. Apples are so diverse there are many recipes to try them in!
When baking with apples you want to stick with apples that will stand up to the heat in the kitchen. For the best results when baking with apples try Gala, Fuji, Cortland, golden delicious, granny smith or Northern spy apples.

Print Recipe
APPLE SQUASH SOUP
Instructions
  1. Cut you butternut squash in half. Remove seeds. Save seeds to plant for next year.
  2. Place cut side down in baking dish. Bake on 350 for 1 hour or until soft.
  3. While the squash is baking, you want to caramelize your onions. Add oil to cast iron frying pan, add onions, cook on medium heat for about a half hour. The onions will sweeten and get brown.
  4. Add squash, apples, onions, chicken stock, apple juice and spices to your slow cooker. and cook on low for a couple of hours. Blend well with a hand blender.
  5. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or cream. Chopped apples and candied walnuts also work well on top.
  6. Enjoy.
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Blueberry Pizza

Who would have know that blueberries on pizza would be so delicious!
I went blueberry picking with my girlfriend over the weekend and I have so many blueberries that I needed something new to do with them. After all, new recipes are my favorite kind of recipe!
So I scoured the internet and a few of our family cookbooks and found many pies, jams and smoothies, lots of dessert items for sure, but it was the pizza that caught my attention. Can you really put blueberries on pizza? The answer is you sure can! And it is not a dessert but a main or an appetizer. You can switch out the shallots for an onion of your choice and feel free to get creative with the cheeses as well. You can also replace the bacon with pancetta, prosciutto or spinach if you don’t feel like a meat option. There are so many choices out there that you could make this over and over without making the same pizza twice!

This pizza is colorful, delicious and versatile I will definitely be making this again! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Print Recipe
Blueberry Pizza
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Heat a skillet over low heat, add a little oil and the thinly sliced shallots and garlic, cover and cook 20-30 minutes until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  3. Lightly flour a work surface.
  4. Stretch and roll the dough into desired shape then place on pizza stone if you have one if not a large baking sheet will do.
  5. Using a fork, pierce dough in several places.
  6. Spread the ricotta cheese evenly over the surface of the dough.
  7. Then sprinkle dough with half the mozzarella, bacon or pancetta and golden brown shallots and garlic mixture.
  8. Bake until crust is golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle blueberries and remaining mozzarella (and spinach if you are using) over pizza; bake until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown, about 2 - 3 minutes longer.
  10. Remove pizza from oven; top with micro mustard greens and pepper.
  11. Enjoy!
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Chicken Tangine

Mmmm chicken tangine, my new favorite dish!

The slow cooking of this dish allows the moisture in this dish to be reabsorbed into the chicken and the vegetables leaving you with a complexity of flavors and moist chicken. This dish is full of flavor to savor and will keep your guests coming back for more!
The original recipe by Mark Bitten can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/25/dining/the-minimalist-a-shortcut-to-morocco.html

Mark says to enjoy this over couscous, I put it over quinoa, but rice would work well too.

Print Recipe
Chicken Tangine
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Moroccan
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Moroccan
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Put oil and butter in a large skillet or casserole, which can be covered later, and turn heat to medium high. When butter melts, add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, a large pinch of salt and spices. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, raisins and vanilla, and bring to a boil. (If mixture is very dry, add about 1/2 cup water.) Taste, and add salt as necessary.
  2. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt, and nestle them into sauce. Cover, and 5 minutes later adjust heat so mixture simmers steadily. Cook until chicken is very tender, 45 minutes to an hour. Taste, and adjust seasoning. Then garnish, and serve with couscous.
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Loose the blues with Herbs!

We all have times  where we feel caught in that never ending feeling of depression or sadness.  It can feel like you are on a merry go round that just won’t stop.  Anxiety, tension, panic attacks, these are no fun and going to the doctor ends up with you and a prescription for pharmaceuticals.

Now I am not saying that pharmaceuticals are unsuitable, it is just that they all seem to have a huge long list of side effects with some that actually kill you.

Did you know that pharmaceuticals are synthetic reproductions of some herbs that grow readily in our environment? For instance Valium is synthetically reproduced Valerian. So why pick a long list of possible side effects when we have mother nature taking care of us?  

If this is you and you are looking for an all natural solution, take a look no further than mother nature herself. She is a wonderful resource for many things that ail you! Let’s take a quick peek at some of the herbs that can boost your mood and make your spirit soar once again!

Skullcap –  aids in nervousness.  If you feel agitated or are experiencing butterflies or even feel generally nervous, then this is the herb to keep in your medicine cabinet. It is native to North America, but it is also grown now in other areas of the world as well. Skullcap has been used for many years as a relaxant and as a treatment for anxiety, nervousness and even convulsions. Studies have even shown that skullcap has antioxidant effects, and could help protect against disorders, like  Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. There is even been studies to suggest that skullcap may reduce the allergic response to food. Definitely, some food for thought!

Lavender – This lovely herb can help when you just feel stuck in your sadness.  Taking  lavender over a few weeks initially can help lift your spirits and relieve your sadness. It is a mood stabilizer, as well as a sedative, it can also induce relaxation. It is used to soothe your nervous system, just a whiff of lavender is known to relieve depression,insomnia, headaches and stress. Keep a lavender pouch under your pillow, for a wonderful night’s sleep and a spritzer for around the house to lift your spirits anytime it is needed.

Rhodiola Rosea: This herb is still used today in Siberia to help deal with the harsh climate. This herb increases cognitive function, while reducing mental and physical fatigue. It is also known to relieve depression. Rhodiola rosea, is also known as roseroot, has been used for numerous years to promote endurance, to increase longevity and to promote resistance to several health conditions including fatigue and depression.

St. John’s Wort:Well-known as a mood enhancer,You can take this herb as a tea or a tincture.It has been proven to relieve sadness and SADD (seasonal affectiveness disorder depression). St. John’s Wort can help you sleep better too, which dramatically affects mood. St. John’s Wort is not without some side effects, but it’s safe for most people. As with almost all herbs, it will take some time for its effect to take place. So begin taking St. John’s wort in mid to late autumn as a preparation for  SADD in the winter months.

Valerian: Do you suffer from insomnia and/or anxiety? Valerian’s sedative qualities can help you out.. We all need to sleep well if we want to be lively and functional. You can take this herb as a tea, but it does have quite a strong scent, so mixing the tea with other herbs such as lavender, lemon balm or chamomile may help mask the odor. Valerian root has relaxing qualities that can also be used in conjunction with the previously mentioned herbs. Valerian gives a tranquilizing effect that can help you to relax you so you can have a great night’s sleep without the side effects of over the counter drugs. This herb can take up to two or three weeks to take effect. Extended use is not recommended. Some people that take this herb find that there’s a reverse effect of hyperactivity.

There you have it, five herbs that can boost your mood and help your mood! As with any kind of therapy you should consult your doctor and do your research. Herbs although they are natural can interact with other drugs so caution should always be used.  As a wise woman once told me, “ You read your learn.”  So get out there and find out what makes you feel better!

Watermelon Jalapeno with Feta Salad

This salad is hands down one of my favorites. What an unusual combination of flavors! I would have never thought that watermelon and jalapeno would go together.

The first time I made this I took it to a friends BBQ. It was a big hit! Definitely will be making this again for future BBQ’s.

This dish is not spicy at all but a flavor sensation that you don’t want to miss out on!

 

Print Recipe
Watermelon Jalapeno with Feta Salad
Instructions
  1. Lay the jalapenos on the bottom of your container. I use a tupperware with a lid so i can give it a shake.
  2. Place watermelon chunks on top of the jalapenos then pour olive oil over the top, sprinkle the mint and the feta and squeeze the lime.
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Starting your garden!

I am so excited! The lilacs are blooming and that is the earth’s signal for us to start planting our vegetable gardens for the season!

Gardening is a great hobby and gives everyone who plants one access to clean fresh food. You can get my report on how to grow your own herbs that heal by signing up on our contact page.

Growing up on a farm, I learned at a young age to love fruits and veg. I wouldn’t even need to come inside to eat because i would be playing outside in the fresh air and sunshine, eating whatever was around to forage. We had grape vines, a cherry tree, wild strawberries, raspberries and a huge garden where i would often pick beans, peas or pull up a carrot to wash off under the hose so i didn’t have to go back inside.

I still find myself in awe of how something as tiny as a seed will grow into a magnificent plant that nourishes us. I get so excited to see those little seeds grow!

So come on, let’s get growing so you can see for yourself how vibrant food makes a vibrant you!

When deciding to start a garden you will need to start with a plan.

I didn’t do this at first, I just read a bunch of books and went willy nilly at it. I reaped some from the fruits of my labour, but I didn’t get  any extras to store for winter and some plants did not do well at all. 🙁  Now I have a garden journal so that I know where I have planted my veg in the past so I can rotate my crops for better nutrients for the new crops and I plan out where I am going to plant things that benefit each other for this year. Like the three sisters. Beans, corn and squash. These three have been planted for years all over the world. They stabilize the soil and help support each other, not to mention they are delicious.

While a smaller garden means less work and money, it will not produce enough food to sustain you for the winter months. Container gardens are fun and easy to maintain not to mention a necessity for small yards or balconies, but they do require more water and fertilizer.

One item that will ease your workload is to put down a 4-inch layer of mulch. This will reduce the soil’s need for water and helps keep weeds under control. Last years leaves or straw make a great mulch. I use both, and I have very few weeds.

Keeping your yard tools in good condition is going to make your maintenance tasks easier. So go ahead and put them away when you’re done, somewhere they are out of the elements.

Save your seeds at the end of the season; it’s cheaper than buying more and you can trade them with other gardeners. Some communities have seed exchanges where you can swap some of your seeds for new varieties!

Here are six things to consider when starting your garden:

Remember each garden will have a unique process for bed preparation, depending on soil conditions and available tools.

  1. Aerate – Use a pitchfork to loosen the soil (to invite oxygen, water and root growth) without turning it over (to preserve structure and microbiology).  
  2. Weed – All competing plants must be pulled up. Be sure to get all the roots or else they will come back.
  3. Amend – Now is the time to add fertilizer or soil amendments.  adding ash from the fire pit for potassium and higher pH.
  4. Mulch – Apply a layer of mulch of your choice until soil is covered.  Mulch protects soil from moisture loss, weed growth, and erosion from wind and rain.
  5. Plant – Direct seeded tomatoes, beans, peppers and transplant seedlings
  6. Companion planting is another lesson to learn. Multiple species can  grow well together, each contributing to the greater ecosystem.  For instance, legumes and their rhizobia (bacteria in their roots) build nitrogen in the soil.

Starting your own garden is so rewarding! When you are outside in nature you have a real appreciation of where your food comes from and the work it takes to grow.

Have you started your garden? What do you like to plant?

 

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo!

Salsa Verde: Green Tomatillo Salsa

First I would like to thank Cookery ideas for featuring my recipe for my smoky lamb barbacoa, you can find the recipe here:

https://cookery-ideas.co.uk/celebrating-cinco-de-mayo-with-lamb-barbacoa/

Second, I want to share with you the homemade Salsa Verde and corn tortillas that I serve it with!

Salsa Verde or better know as Green tomatillo salsa 

Ingredients

  • 5-6 tomatillos, husked and washed
  • 2 serranos or 1 jalapeno, to taste stem these, remove seeds
  • 5 or 6 sprigs fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1 small finely chopped onion
  • Himalayan salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

Directions

The Raw version:

Roughly chop the tomatillos and the chiles. In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos, chiles, cilantro, cumin, garlic,oregano and 1/4 cup water. Process to a coarse puree, then scoop into a serving dish.. Stir onion into the salsa and season with salt.

The Roasted version:

Fire up the BBQ.

Roast the tomatillos,chiles and onions on the bbq, 4 to 5 minutes. You should see some blackened spots. Flip them over and roast the other side for an additional 4 to 5 minutes more. In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos, onion, chiles cilantro, cumin, garlic,oregano and 1/4 cup water.  Blend to a coarse puree, and scoop into a serving dish. Season with salt to taste.

 

Homemade Corn TortillasImage result for corn tortilla

Ingredients

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1.5 cups hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon himalayan salt

Directions

  1. Mix masa harina and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. Add hot water and mix with a spoon or your hand until it forms into ball.
  3. The dough should be firm and springy If  you find that the mixture is too dry just add a little more water, in small amounts until dough is the right consistency.
  4. Cover the bowl with a cloth and let it rest for about an hour in a warm draft free location.
  5. Preheat a griddle or large frying pan on medium heat.
  6. Pinch off  about a golf-ball sized piece of the dough and form it into a ball.
  7. Place the ball in between two pieces of plastic wrap, parchment or wax paper and flatten it using the tortilla press.
  8. Carefully remove the flattened dough from the plastic wrap and cook on the hot griddle for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, You want the tortilla to have beautiful brown marks, but not be dry and brittle.
  9. Flip the tortilla over and cook on the other side for 30 seconds to about 1 minute. The tortilla may start to puff up in the middle, That is normal!
  10. Remove the tortilla and place it on a warmed plate covered with a cloth to keep warm.
  11. Do this will all remaining dough.
  12. Serve warm.

National Grilled Cheese day!

National grilled cheese day is Wednesday April 12th this year! What a delicious day it is!

With so many ways to prepare grilled cheese there is a flavor for everyone to savour. From the old to the very young everyone loves a good old grilled cheese.

To celebrate I am posting a few recipes today. There will be a  classic grilled cheese with caramelized onions (my fav)  and a couple of vegan options for all my vegan friends. Let me know how you like your grilled cheese! Enjoy!

Grilled cheese with caramelized onions.

INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons butter, divided

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

4 slices crusty homemade bread or your favorite kind of bread

4 ounces old cheddar grated.

DIRECTIONS

Heat 1 tablespoon in a large cast iron skillet over medium-low heat until melted. Add onions, cook, stirring frequently, until caramelized and rich brown in colour (about 45 minutes) If onions look like they may burn, add 1 tablespoon of water. Transfer onions to a bowl and wipe out skillet.

Return skillet to heat and melt 1 tablespoon butter in the pan. Add bread slices and cook until pale golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, cooked-side-up. Divide cheese  and onions evenly between each slice. Cover with additional slice.

Melt 1 more tablespoon butter in skillet and add both sandwiches to the pan. Cook, until deep golden brown on each side, about 3 minutes each side. Serve immediately.

 

Garden inspired Grilled cheese (vegan, dairy and gluten free)

INGREDIENTS

2 slices gluten free bread

¼ cup non dairy cheese (Daiya)

1-2 tablespoons thousand island dressing

Small green onion finely sliced

1/2 avocado, sliced thin

1 large garden tomato, sliced

2-3 leaves spinach

DIRECTIONS

Toast bread, place on cast iron skillet, toast each side for a couple of minutes or until golden brown. Spread one slice with 1 tablespoon thousand island dressing, arrange cheese on the other slice. Arrange green onion on one bread, tomato slices on the other. Warm in skillet for 7-9 minutes, until cheese is melted. Remove from pan, drizzle another tablespoon of thousand island onto the melted cheese. Top with avocado slices and spinach and the other slice of bread. Enjoy!

And for our next grilled cheese….. Drumroll please…. Something fancy!

This will be the one I try out! I got the recipe from One green planet! Check out the original recipe here: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/fancy-strawberry-balsamic-grilled-cheese/

 

Fancy Strawberry Balsamic grilled cheese. (vegan)

INGREDIENTS

2 slices of rustic style bread, I used sourdough

2-3 slices vegan cheese

1-2 tablespoons vegan butter

Small handful of spinach

1/2 cup chopped strawberries

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon coconut sugar, or sugar of choice

DIRECTIONS

In a small saucepan, add the strawberries, balsamic, and sugar. Bring to a boil before lowering the heat to medium and stir constantly, breaking up the strawberries with the back of a wooden spoon.

Once the balsamic has reduced, a nice thick jelly will have formed, remove from the heat and set aside.

Add more butter to a frying pan and melt over medium heat. Add your bread and toast one side of each peice of bread to golden brown. Remove and on the toasted side layer the cheese, strawberry balsamic reduction and spinach. On the other side layer another slice of cheese.

Add more butter to the pan and then add the pieces of bread with the strawberry/spinach concoction. Cover the pan with a lid and over low to medium heat, start to toast and watch the cheese melt. After a minute or two add the piece of bread with only cheese on top and press down lightly with a spatula. After another minute,flip the sandwich over and cook another minute until the bread is golden brown.

Remove from the heat and enjoy!

Now for my meat loving friends… I can’t forget them on national grilled cheese day!

 

Pulled pork grilled cheese sandwich

 

INGREDIENTS

2 cups leftover pulled pork

4 slices 12 grain bread

1 cup grated mozzarella

½ cup grated old cheddar

butter

salt & pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS

Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat.

Divide the pulled pork between two of the 12 grain slices.

Top with the cheese then sandwich the remaining bread.

Butter the top and bottom of the sandwich then place in the preheated pan.

Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes per side until the cheese has melted and the sandwich is golden brown and crisp on both sides.

Remove from the pan and serve.

 

Well there you have it! Options for everyone! Which one will you try? Do you have a favorite grilled cheese that you would like to share? I would love to try them out!

 

Ten Tips to help you avoid overeating.

  1. Ask yourself are you sure you are hungry?

Check in with your body and ask yourself how hungry am I or am I perhaps just thirsty?

We live in a time where we are chronically dehydrated. Water after all is the elixir of life. Sometimes a big glass of water is all you need to stave off the feeling of hunger and get you to your next meal.

Our bodies have natural cycles, so stop and take a listen. If you don’t feel like eating then don’t. Mind yourself tho. You need healthy food as it is the fuel that keeps you going. If you feel light headed or dizzy, this could be a sign of your bloodsugar dropping and you need to get yourself to eat. If you are feeling satisfied then drink some water or clear tea instead of going for that fat and sugar laden treat.  Your body will be thankful.

  1. Portion control.

Cup your hands together,that’s your portion size. This is approximately the size of your stomach. Be sure to only eat this amount in one sitting. If you want more when you are done, then by all means have more. It typically takes 15 minutes after eating to realize that we are full. So take a deep breath relax and ask yourself if you are still hungry.

  1. Before you eat, connect.

Take a breath, relax into yourself, be thankful and grateful that you have a wonderful meal to eat.

  1. Look at your food

Do this as you are connecting. Think of the time it took to grow, the farmers who have grown it Connect with your food. Appreciate where it comes from and the good it is going to do for your mind, body and spirit.

  1. Take time to enjoy what you are eating.

Being in tune about your choices will keep you from making poor food choices.

But by no means punish yourself by not eating what you truly crave when you crave it. So eat the fudge or the potato chips, just not all the time or often. Keep them as a treat.

  1. Eat in a pleasant setting.

Don’t rush the nourishing experience. Go ahead and live in the moment when you take the time to eat. Acknowledge that you are taking the time to nourish yourself. Go outside if you can, find a place with a view. Just take that time for yourself, you deserve it.

  1. Chew Chew Chew.

Not only does this aid in digestion, your body will also have the  time it needs to tell your brain that you are full.

  1. What flavors you are tasting?

Take the time to discern each flavor. Can you taste a little rosemary? Is it bitter? Sweet? Just what kind of food are you allowing into your mouth? Feel the texture. Feel blessed that you have such wonderful food to nourish you.

Try and figure out  the ingredients such as spices and herbs that were used. Could you introduce that flavor into other dishes? What other flavors would compliment what you are eating?

  1. Put your utensil down between bites.

This allows your body to keep up. Giving a rest in between bites helps digestion and absorbtion and you guessed it.. Helps with letting you know when you are actually full.

  1. Take a healthy snack.

It is always easy to reach for the fast, cheap and easy selections, so keep something healthy on hand for these cases. Dried fruit, nuts or veg are always good go to.

Eat healthy stay vibrant!