How To: Recipe Makeover – Vegetarian Chilli Loaded Sweet Potato Fries

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I’m at a loss for words.

Seriously – I sat in front of my computer for a good hour just staring. I knew I wanted to share this recipe with you but the only phrase that kept popping in my head was “MAKE THIS NOW!”

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I feel like these are a tad late to the dinner game. They would have been perfect for your super bowl watching party, and even better as a fun Valentine’s Day dinner. And we even missed the boat on the Oscar party night. But fear not, there are lots more holidays and celebratory events on the horizon. Or really, I think Monday, or Tuesday, or even Wednesday is a good reason to make this 30 minute meal. Or maybe Friday can now be called FRY-day and we can all celebrate together. Thoughts?

This recipe came about after a craving for nachos hit one night. Couple that with my daughter’s new found love of sweet potato fries (V for victory!) and my need to use up some vegetarian ground round and half a can of tomato paste. Boom – loaded sweet potato fry nachos. My Irish friends would be so proud.

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You make your own baked fries here so they are a bit better for your ticker. I also leave the skin on my taters to get some extra fibre, and frankly, I’m just lazy. The chilli is a bean-free vegetarian version because beans aren’t agreeing with the tummies of some members of my family these days. TMI? But you could totally add a can of black or kidney beans in with the chilli mixture if you would like.

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I’ve also added some veggies into the mixture because I am a dietitian and all and topped the whole pan off with a good helping of some extra old cheddar. Go for the good stuff here – the older the cheese, the more flavourful. And please PLEASE buy the full fat variety. That low fat cheddar is not going to melt well and is going to seem more like plastic than cheese. I’m sorry, it’s true. When you buy the real deal here you get more flavour for less. Trust.

We ate these as is, but next time they are going to be FULLY loaded and topped with all the guac, sour cream, and jalapeños money can buy!

Dara

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Vegetarian Chili Loaded Sweet Potato Fries

Serves 4
Dietary Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes (cut into wedges)
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil (divided)
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tsp pepper
  • 1 red pepper (diced)
  • 1 zucchini (diced)
  • 1 package yves ground round
  • 1 Tsp paprika
  • 1 Tsp cumin
  • 2 Tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Note

You could swap out the soy for ground turkey, chicken, or beef if you would like. Or replace it with a can of black, white, or kidney beans. The chili would also be great on top of a baked white or sweet potato, on pasta, or as a burrito or taco filling.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place sweet potato wedges on baking sheet and toss with 1 tbsp canola oil, salt, and pepper until evenly coated. Bake in the oven about 30-40 minutes, until brown and tender.
3. While sweet potatoes are baking, heat a large non stick skillet over medium high heat and add remaining 1 tbsp canola oil.
4. Add red pepper and zucchini and cook until soft. Add ground round and cook for a minute or two, breaking it up with a spatula into crumbles. Add paprika, chili powder, cumin, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, and vinegar and mix to combine.
5. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes until it thickens slightly. Remove from heat.
6. Once sweet potatoes are done, top evenly with chili and then sprinkle cheddar evenly on top. Bake for about 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve plain or topped with some diced avocado, salsa, and Greek yogurt or sour cream.

 

How To: Big Batch – Thai Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup

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Have I told you how I won the cookbook lottery jackpot?

Just before we rang in 2017, I found out I won not one, not two, but TWELVE cookbooks! Do you know how many cookbooks twelve is? A LOT! So much that they are all still sitting in a pile on my bedroom floor as we have absolutely no room to put them anywhere else. I think an Ikea run may be in order soon.

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So, I have started to try to always go to one of these new cookbooks when I need some dinner inspiration, instead of relying on the easy Mr. google. One of the cookbooks I have been loving lately is the new Oh She Glows Everyday. Every recipe I’ve made so far has been spot on, and this soup is no exception. And no, this is not a sponsored post. I seriously am just crushing hard on this cookbook.

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We already have a very delicious and creamy Thai sweet potato soup that uses coconut milk to add that richness. This version has a different approach – almond butter. The almond butter gives this soup a deep flavour and velvety texture without the use of any cream or dairy. Kind of like the peanut butter in our sweet potato, white bean, peanut butter stew. I would imagine peanut butter would also make a great substitute for the almond butter if that’s what you have on hand. Or if you need it nut free, try sunflower butter – but I would try to find the all natural unsweetened variety.

The almond butter also adds a boost of extra protein and fat to this soup, making it more filling than the average bowl. I also loved the crunchy almond topping – but you could also leave it off and go with a super smooth bowl of soup if that’s more your thing. Me, I’m all about the textures!

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My new favourite thing when my girls are napping is to curl up with a cup of coffee, a snack, and a cookbook, or two, or three…

Dara

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Thai Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 4-6
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Soup
From book Adapted From Oh She Glows Everyday

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 Tbsp ginger (minced)
  • 1/2 Tbsp red curry paste
  • 2 Cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Cups water
  • 3 Cups carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 3 Cups sweet potatoes (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • cilantro (chopped)

Almonds

  • 1/2 cup almonds (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce

Note

The toasted almonds are also delicious tossed into a salad for some crunch. The soup freezes well - just portion in individual containers for a grab-and-go lunch or dinner.

Directions

1. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large pot.
2. Add onion and sauté for a couple minutes. Add garlic and ginger and continue to cook until onion is soft and translucent. Stir in the curry paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
3. Place almond butter in a small bowl with about 1/2 cup of broth and whisk to combine. Add the almond butter mixture, carrots, sweet potato, remaining broth, and water to the pot and bring to a boil.
4. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until sweet potatoes and carrots are very tender.
5. Using an immersion blender, puree soup in the pot until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with chopped cilantro and almonds.
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6. Preheat oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss almonds with soy sauce and spread out evenly on baking sheet.
7. Bake for about 10 minutes, until brown and toasted. The soy sauce will have dried up and the almonds will firm up as they cool.
8. The almonds will keep in a container on the counter for a couple weeks.

How To: Stock Your Pantry with Walmart.ca Grocery Pick Up & Make Quinoa and Chickpea Bowls

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I pride myself in my meal planning abilities.

Not to toot my own horn, but I think preparing food for the upcoming week and planning each night’s dinner is one of my best skills; that, and juggling.

But raise your hand if you feel life has just become busy with a capital ‘B’? I can imagine seeing a lot of raised hands. So there are definitely weeks where the weekend meal planning session falls to the wayside. How then, are you expected to get a healthy and Instagram-worthy meal on the table? Enter, “your pantry.”

Having a well-stocked pantry is key for creating easy and healthy everyday meals. Getting dinner on the table is way less daunting when you know you already have over half of the ingredients on hand. So, when we had the opportunity to partner with Walmart Canada on a new program that would give all our How To Eat friends a little help in this department, we jumped right in.

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Go to Walmart.ca using your computer or the Walmart Canada app, add your selections to the cart, click on your pick up zone and boom – your order is ready faster than ordering takeout. The minimum purchase is just $50. The four downtown Toronto pick-up locations are conveniently located at Yonge & Davisville, Yorkville, Leslieville, and Harbourfront. Simply choose your preferred location and pick-up time, with as little as one day’s notice or same day if ordered before 11 a.m., add in a $3 service fee and you are done.

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Way back when we were blogger newbies we shared our top 15 pantry items. We are now four years older and wiser and have created an updated list of our top 10 pantry must-haves. When I used the Walmart app to order my pantry essentials, I found the system not only easy to use, but extremely affordable. My pantry items accounted for just $34.90 of my total order. And don’t forget, price matching!

You can also save your pantry ‘favourites,’ so when you run low and need to restock, the items are easy to access and add to your cart. Also, when preparing your oder, everything in your cart will remain there, even as you log in and out throughout the week. It’s a living shopping list you can build on!

Top 10 Pantry Essentials

  1. Canola oil – I love the versatility of canola oil. It’s perfect for high heat cooking and is also a neutral flavour in salad dressings and baked goods.
  2. Apple cider vinegar – There are a lot of great vinegars out there, but this is my go-to. I love the subtle sweetness it adds to dressings and sauces.
  3. Chickpeas – These are a great way to bump up the protein in any salad or stir fry. They are also delicious as roasted for a snack or mashed into a sandwich filling.
  4. Quinoa – It cooks in 15 minutes, has more protein than any grain, and is just as delicious for breakfast as it is for dinner.
  5. Peanut butter – Go for the all natural kind that actually tastes like peanuts. Loaded with good-for-you fat, it’s the perfect snack or breakfast and when added with some soy sauce, makes for a delicious sauce.
  6. Maple syrup – Buy the REAL deal here. Perfect on pancakes and in salad dressings and can be used interchangeably with any other liquid sweetener.
  7. Whole wheat pasta – You get the added bonus of extra fibre and having a box in your pantry means you are always 10 minutes away from dinner on the table.
  8. Dried fruit, nuts, and seeds – Raisins, apricots, dried cranberries, or any dried fruit for that matter can jazz up a salad or an ordinary bowl of oatmeal. Toss some nuts into a salad in place of croutons for some crunch or just toss ’em in your mouth for a snack.
  9. Canned tuna – Choose light tuna for lower mercury levels.
  10. Spices and herbs – salt & pepper are a must, but having some other key spices can take an ordinary dinner to a new level. Essentials for me are cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, curry powder, oregano, cinnamon, and thyme.

While this isn’t a comprehensive list, you can easily add some fresh ingredients to these staples and create delicious and healthy meals. All of these products are available online at Walmart.ca and at such an affordable cost. Note, if for some reason they are out of one of your essentials, they will gladly choose an appropriate substitution for you.

I decided to take my now perfectly stocked pantry for a whirl with this delicious quinoa and chickpea bowl.

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This recipe comes together in no time at all using mostly pantry ingredients you already have on hand. Because you already have gone online and stocked your kitchen with this list, right!? Good.

Chickpeas, quinoa, and peanut butter – three of my kitchen pantry must-haves – form the base of this vegetarian bowl. Apple cider vinegar and maple syrup help form the sweet and creamy peanut dressing.

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All I’ve added is some fresh baby spinach and roasted sweet potatoes. While this bowl is a complete meal on its own, you could also throw in some canned tuna, any leftover grilled meat or fish, or some roasted tofu to up the protein. Any leftover veggies you want to use up in your fridge could be tossed in as well. Make a large batch on the weekend, and you have lunch or dinner set for the week ahead.

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Whatever you do don’t forget the sauce – it just turns this bowl of grains, beans, and veg into one of those oh so trendy Buddha bowls found at every vegetarian restaurant these days. Except way more affordable, healthful, and delicious.

You are only one click away from having this meal on your table. So what are you waiting for?!

Dara

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Quinoa Bowl with Chickpeas, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spinach and Peanut Sauce

Serves 4
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 Cups water
  • 2 sweet potatoes (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 5oz baby spinach
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup

Note

While I've assembled these bowls individually, you could also toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl and store in the fridge until you are ready to eat. It will keep in the fridge up to 5 days. The quinoa, sweet potatoes, and peanut sauce can all be made a day or two ahead of time.

Directions

1. Place quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until all the water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked, about 12-15 minutes. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub sweet potato with canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.
3. Divide quinoa among four bowls. Top with spinach, roasted sweet potatoes, and chickpeas. Drizzle peanut sauce over top and dig in!

This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada as part of the Walmart.ca Grocery Pick-Up program. In exchange for this post, I have received perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.

 

How To: Slow Cooker – Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

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Last week I was lounging by a pool, running in shorts, and enjoying daily 2 for 1 happy hours.

Now, I’m bundled up in a parka, glued to the treadmill, and have 2 slightly under the weather kiddos. Reality bites!

One benefit to being home in our lovely Toronto winter – this spicy chicken. Are you also freezing your little tush off? This spicy chicken will warm you up. Okay, I’m lying, nothing can warm you up from this past weekend’s -22 degree weather. But, I do promise it will make ya sweat a little.

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Really, it is so simple. A little hot sauce, a little oil, a sprinkle of spices. Done. It is quite a bit salty, so just keep that in mind – nothing a large glass of beer water can’t fix.

The homemade ranch dressing is totally optional. I find it does a good job at cutting the heat. But you could leave it out or simply top with a dollop of yogurt or drizzle of plain old mayo.

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I’m normally all for a slow and low cook in the slow cooker – a set it and forget it type of meal. But cooking the chicken breasts on high keeps them from drying out, which they have a tendency to do. And it also means it’s the type of dinner you can throw together in the afternoon with two sick kids hanging off your legs.

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While I’m missing that Florida sun, this chicken makes being home totally worth it – right?

Dara

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Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Well Plated

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cups Frank's Red Hot
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch (mixed with 1 tbsp water)
  • 4 sweet potatoes

Dressing

  • 5 Tbsp low-fat mayo
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 Tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 Tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp pepper

Note

This recipe comes together so quickly, making it the perfect weeknight dinner. You could also serve the chicken over your favourite grain, on top of a salad, or as a sandwich on a nice crusty bun.

Directions

1. Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray and place the chicken breasts in the bottom of your slow cooker.
2. Whisk together the hot sauce, canola oil, garlic powder, and salt. Pour over chicken. Cook on high for 1.5 hours, until chicken is cooked through and tender. Remove to a plate, shred using two forks, and set aside.
3. Add cornstarch mixture to slow cooker and whisk to combine. Cover and continue to cook on high another 20-30 minutes, until thickened. Add chicken back in and stir to evenly coat with sauce. Reduce temp to warm.
4. About an hour or so before chicken is done, prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork and bake in a 400 degree oven on a foil lined baking sheet for about an hour, or until soft and cooked through.
5. Cut sweet potatoes down the middle with a knife and push down with a spoon to create a little well in the middle. Top with chicken and drizzle with ranch dressing.
Dressing
6. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl.

How To: Quickie Meal – Spice Roasted Chickpea and Sweet Potato Bowls with Tahini Sauce

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I feel like I deserve a medal.

Not for my epic gymnastics floor routine or super fast back stroke (Olympics on the brain much?), but for braving this heat and turning on the oven to roast these vegetables. All in the name of the blog. #dedicated. 

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Can we just talk bout this heat for one minute – the other day I was out for lunch on a patio and I was actually dripping in sweat just sitting there. It was kind of gross but the food was so good it made it worth it. See? Sometimes you just have to sweat it out in the love of food, and these bowls are just another example of that sacrifice.

These are my favourite kind of meals – roasting up a whole bunch of vegetables, picking a protein, adding a delicious sauce, and calling it dinner. Here I’ve used broccoli, red pepper, and kale as the veg du jour, but cauliflower, eggplant, or zucchini would also be delicious.

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If you haven’t had roasted kale before, well then you also need to sweat it out and roast some up this instance. And definitely try our kale chips while you are at it. Sweet potatoes add the carb factor, but you could also serve these bowls over a bed of quinoa or millet (you all must have some leftover form our last post ;)).

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The crispy chickpeas add the crunch factor which all good bowls need. And don’t get my started on tahini sauce – I think if I could I would bath in this stuff it’s that good.

It may be so hot that I am literally drenched in sweat the second I step out the door, but these bowls of goodness are totally worth sweating buckets.

Dara

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Spiced Roasted Chickpea and Sweet Potato Bowls

Serves 4
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Minimalist Baker

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes (chopped)
  • 1 large broccoli (cut into florets)
  • 1 red pepper (cut into strips)
  • 2 Large handfuls kale (chopped)
  • 1 can of chickpeas (drained, rinsed, and dried)
  • 1/4 Tsp salt and pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 Tsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp coriander
  • 1/4 Tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 2-4 Tbsp water
  • salt (to taste)

Note

You could easily sub other veggies for the ones I've used here - red onions, cauliflower, green beans or asparagus would all work great. If you are making the sauce ahead of time, you may need to add a little more water as it tends to thicken up with time. I like this dish warm or at room temperature.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Toss the sweet potatoes, broccoli, and red pepper with 1.5 tbs olive oil, salt and pepper and spread the sweet potatoes on one, and the broccoli and red pepper on the other sheet.
3. Toss the chickpeas with the remaining 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, coriander, and salt and place on the baking sheet with the broccoli and red pepper.
4. Bake both sheets in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Remove the broccoli pan and place kale on top and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the kale begins to wilt and brown.
5. Remove both sheet pans from the oven and divide vegetables and chickpeas evenly among four bowls. Drizzle with as mush sauce as desired and dig in!
6. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, adding as much water as necessary to make a pourable sauce. I needed about 3 tbsp.