How To: Healthy Lunch – Asian Tofu and Vegetable Chopped Salad

IMG_4546

I always know that summer is over when I have to don a long sleeve shirt before heading out on my early morning run. Fall is nearly here and that means winter is also just around the corner. Sorry to burst your warm weather bubble.

IMG_4536

IMG_4538

Growing up my family would escape Canada’s very cold winter with a trip down south to sunny Miami, Florida. Miami is chock full of five star restaurants so as you can imagine, this  was heaven for a foodie like me (the hot sun, beaches, and shopping didn’t hurt either). I bet it would surprise you to know that my family’s favourite meal wasn’t found in a high end restaurant, but in the food court at a small sandwich and salad stand.

IMG_4539

IMG_4544

They made THE BEST salad you ever had. Not only was it chock full of any vegetable, fruit, and protein you could think of, but after it was assembled, the friendly staff attacked it with a hammer, chopping your salad into bite size pieces that just made it taste so much better.

IMG_4534

IMG_4540

So this is my attempt to recreate that meal – and maybe also my attempt to bring some of sunny Miami to cold Toronto. All of these vegetables and tofu are interchangeable – swap in roasted asparagus or green beans for the zucchini or eggplant. Add chicken instead of the tofu. When all the chopped up vegetables and tofu are mixed with the crunchy romaine and cashews and soft avocado, it’s a flavour and texture explosion

IMG_4541

IMG_4549

I can almost feel the heat of the Miami sun beating down on me as I dive into this bowl of chopped vegetable goodness – almost!

Dara

IMG_4547

Asian Tofu and Vegetable Chopped Salad

Serves 4-6
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Salad
From book Adapted from Bonnie Stern's Best of Heartsmart

Ingredients

  • 1 block of tofu (cubed)
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 red onion (chopped)
  • 3 zucchini (chopped)
  • 1 eggplant (chopped)
  • 1 red pepper (chopped)
  • 2 ears of corn (husked and stripped of kernels)
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce (chopped)
  • 1 cucumber (chopped)
  • 1 bunch of parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted cashews
  • 2 avocados (peeled and chopped)

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp Asian chili garlic paste

Note

This salad is jam packed with different flavours and textures. Roasted chicken or steak would be a great substitute for the tofu. You could also use any vegetables you have on hand in place of the ones used here. Leftovers keep well for one day in the fridge undressed.

Directions

1. Place tofu in a shallow dish and pour hoisin sauce on top. Toss to coat and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spread the vegetables on two parchment lined baking sheets. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes, or until soft.
3. Once vegetables are finished, transfer tofu to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until brown.
4. In a large bowl, add romaine lettuce, cucumber, parsley, roasted vegetables, and tofu and toss to combine. Add cashews and avocado and toss one more time. When ready to serve toss with dressing until the vegetables, lettuce, and tofu are coated.
Dressing
5. In a small bowl or container, whisk all ingredients together.

IMG_4548

How to: Snack Healthy – Green Bean ‘Fries’

DSC_9859

It’s the beginning of football season. I am not thrilled.

But this year, I’m going to take a glass-half-full approach.

And really focus on the snacks. DSC_9807

When I think ‘football snack’, the words decadent, greasy and fried come to mind.

As does indigestion.

DSC_9811Time for a something on the lighter side methinks.

And while the green beans are still in season  (they are cheap as hell right now), they’re an ideal candidate for a football snack makeover.

DSC_9816

Look a those little cuties. So damn cute I wanna eat ‘em.

Which I will.

DSC_9823

A half pound of beans, roughly 30 or so, will make one baking sheet worth of goodies.

When coating anything in batter or crumbs, to avoid a total sticky catastrophe, keep one hand ‘wet’ and one hand ‘dry’.  In this case I used my left to coat the beans in egg and drop the bean in the crumbs.  With my right I covered the bean in crumbs and rolled it around before transferring to the baking sheet.

DSC_9834

It’s crucial to eat them hot and fresh out of the oven.  The crispy factor is key, obviously.

Happy snacking!

Erin

DSC_9849

 

Green Bean ‘Fries’

Serves Makes about 30 beans
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½lb fresh green beans (trimmed, washed and dried)
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese (only the real deal parm)
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • ⅛ teaspoon each of salt and pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Combine panko, cheese, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
Coat each bean in egg and transfer to bowl with panko mixture, turning to coat. Transfer to a lined and oiled baking sheet.
3. Bake for 13-15 minutes, flipping beans over halfway through cooking time. Eat while hot and crisp.

How to: Quickie Meal – Roasted Broccoli Pesto Pasta

DSC_9800

I’ve been working on this recipe for a wee bit.

really wanted it to work because I think it’s such a unique way to use broccoli, which seems to be a fan fave among kids and grownups.

Until now I haven’t been happy with its punchiness (which is definitely a word – go fly a kite red squiggly underline).

DSC_9748

Well y’all know we just luurve roasting for flavour on this blog.

DSC_9773

Turns out it was the ticket to flavour country for this recipe.

DSC_9755

Granted, fresh parmesan always helps.

DSC_9784

I didn’t use a ton of olive oil for this recipe, so using some of the pasta water will give you the moisture you need to blend it properly.

DSC_9787

Using starchy pasta water is a great way to make pasta sauces go further without adding oil or cream.  While cooking, pasta releases some of it’s starch into the water.  When reserved and tossed with the final product it will help whatever sauce you have coat your pasta evenly and it will thicken slightly as it cools (whereas plain water would just thin it out).

DSC_9790

Presto. Pesto.

Enjoy,

Erin DSC_9796

Roasted Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Serves 4-6
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch broccoli (cut into bite-sized florets)
  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tbspextra virgin olive oil
  • 300g whole grain pasta
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup walnut pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small clove fresh garlic (chopped)
  • 1 can cannellini/ white kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • lots of salt and fresh ground pepper for seasoning

Note

Another great addition to this pesto is fresh parsley.  ¼ cup packed parsley leaves add a punch of freshness and beautiful bright colour.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Toss broccoli florets with 1 Tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 12 minutes, until tender and browned, flipping halfway through cooking time.
2. Meanwhile, cook pasta per package directions in salted water (1 Tbsp salt per 4L of water). Drain pasta and reserve 1.5 cups of the pasta water.
3. In a food processor or using an immersion blender, combine ⅔ of the roasted broccoli, parmesan cheese, walnuts, lemon juice, garlic and remaining olive oil. You may need to use some of the pasta water to thin it out a little.
4. In a large pot over low heat combine pasta, pesto and beans. Stir to coat everything evenly, using the pasta water to further thin the pesto into a sauce. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add remaining broccoli, toss gently and serve.

How To: Healthy Lunch – Asian Bean Salad

IMG_4335

Do you know that the last time we posted a healthy lunch post was way back in April with a delectable quinoa salad? I know, it’s just terrible! It’s the beginning of September, back to school season, and we are seriously lacking recipes and posts in the healthy lunch department. Let me make it all better with this delicious and oh so simple Asian bean salad.

IMG_4327

IMG_4328

I actually had to do a serious and thorough reading of past blog posts to make sure I hadn’t posted this recipe for you in the past (with almost 200 recipes!!!! it’s easy to lose track). It’s a household staple that I really can’t believe it has taken me this long to share it with you.

IMG_4324

When I said this recipe was simple, I meant it was really REALLY simple. The dressing is just three ingredients – apricot jam, olive oil, and rice vinegar. A sweet and sour combo that works so well in this bean salad.

IMG_4334

IMG_4336

And what else could you want in a healthy lunch for the back to school season besides simple?

So I think it’s fair to say this recipe makes up for the lack of healthy lunch recipes in the past months, don’t you?

Dara

IMG_4333

Asian Bean Salad

Serves 6
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Misc Pre-preparable
By author Adapted from Ellie Krieger

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds green beans
  • 1 package frozen and shelled edamame
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 5 green onions (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Note

The bean salad is great as a vegetarian main for lunch or a side for chicken or fish for dinner. It's best made a day ahead of time so the beans can soak up the flavourful dressing. Some grated ginger or garlic would be a great addition to the dressing.

Directions

1. Steam green beans and edamame until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Cut green beans into 1 inch pieces and place in a large bowl with edamame.
2. Add green onions, red pepper, and black beans to green bean mixture and mix until combine.
3. Mix together jam, oil, and vinegar and pour over bean mixture. Toss until mixture is fully coated and season withs salt and pepper to taste.

IMG_4337

 

How To: Make Ahead Meal – Lasagna Stuffed Eggplant

IMG_4321

Even though I am long finished my school years, I still get those butterflies in my stomach come labour day. In past years I chalked this up to simply some nostalgic feeling – missing my high school and university days. But this labour day was different. These anxious knots in my stomach were due to the start of a different kind of school year – the first day of day care for my almost one year old daughter.

After a wonderful year together, it is time she begins her school days. And soon after I will return to work – days will now be filled with a different kind of busy and I think getting dinner on the table for the whole family at the early hour of 5:30 will be even more challenging. And that is where this recipe comes in.

IMG_4240

IMG_4242

This lasagna stuffed eggplant is the perfect make ahead meal to help your back to school transition come and go with ease. Each of the components can be made a head of time and then assembled before eating or you can stuff and bake each lasagna boat and simply reheat it right before eating.

IMG_4241

IMG_4243

One of the best parts of this recipe is the roasted garlic topping. If you haven’t tasted the sweet flesh of roasted garlic, be ready to have your mind blown!

IMG_4247

IMG_4249

IMG_4254

Just like our lasagna stuffed spaghetti squash, this meal takes a traditional dish and adds a creative and healthy spin to it. They are easy enough for the back to school rush and fancy enough for your first fall dinner party.

IMG_4255

The back to school transition, or really any change for that matter is never easy. So make at least dinner time easier and cook up a batch of cheesy stuffed eggplant. It’s what I did!

Dara

IMG_4257

Lasagna Stuffed Eggplant

Serves 6 eggplant halves
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

Ingredients

  • 3 eggplant (halved)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • 2 zucchinis (chopped)
  • 2 red peppers (chopped)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 package yves ground round
  • 1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella (sliced)

Note

This vegetarian dish is delicious on its own, but also pairs well with a side of pasta or salad. If you like things extra spicy, add an extra pinch of red pepper flakes to the sauce when you add the other spices. All of the components of this dish can be prepared ahead of time and assembled just before serving, making this a great make ahead meal.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Cut off the top portion of the garlic head and wrap the whole head in foil. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper and place the eggplant cut side down on the baking sheet along with the wrapped head of garlic. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the eggplant and garlic are tender.
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add onion. Cook until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the red peppers, zucchini, dried thyme and cook until vegetables are soft, about another 5 minutes.
3. Add ground round and break it up with a spatula. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, dried oregano, and basil and cook for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until slightly reduced and thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
4. Once garlic and eggplant are done, remove from oven and squeeze garlic pulp into a small bowl. Add 2 tbsp dried basil, parmesan, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine.
5. Flip eggplants over and evenly spread with roasted garlic mixture. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Top eggplants evenly with tomato sauce and cover with slices of mozzarella cheese. Place in the oven until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly, about 10-15 minutes.

IMG_4322