Blood Orange and Avocado Salad

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This salad is a beautiful appetizer for a spring dinner or as a light lunch. The sweet citrusy flavour from the blood orange combines so nicely with the creamy avocado and crunchy sunflower seeds. These beautiful olives have the perfect amount of saltiness to counter the sweet dressing made of the orange juice and raw honey and the peppery arugula. These bright green olives are a lot less salty than the ones from the grocery store and they truly are my absolute favourite. Once you get started on a container of those bad boys, its really hard to stop. You can usually find them at your local market or at speciality stores. This salad was so easy to put together, and looks beautiful on the plate. If your not watching your dairy intake, pecorino cheese would taste amazing with this!

Heres a little nutrition info: blood oranges are “bloody” from a pigment called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is reported to have many health benefits as it is a powerful antioxidant (helping slow or prevent cancer cells). Blood oranges also contain high amounts of Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin A, iron, calcium, and even fiber.

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Serves 4

Salad Ingredients:

• 2-3 blood oranges (sliced and peeled)
• 1 bunch arugula
• 1 avocado (chopped)
• 6-7 olives
• 3 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
• Sea salt and pepper (to taste)
• dairy option:pecorino cheese

Dressing Ingredients:

• 1 tsp honey
• juice of half an orange
• juice of half a lemon
• 1 tsp finely chopped shallots
• 1/2 tsp garlic finely chopped
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

1. Place all prepared salad ingredients in a large bowl. (If your pumpkin seeds are raw, roast in the oven on 350 for 10 minutes).

2. For the dressing, combine all ingredients besides for olive oil. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss and serve.

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Rosemary Poppy Seed Crackers

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Its a lot easier to crack open a box of crackers and get snacking however, homemade crackers are an impressive fancy treat. These rosemary poppy seed crackers are an incredible addition to your table if you are having guests over. Instead of that predictable bottle of wine you bring to your friends, why not stack these up in a mason jar, or wrap in parchment paper with some twine. Gluten free, Paleo friendly and low carb, these almond and coconut flour crackers are tasty and filling. These crackers really call for a nice dip. I used my homemade hummus, but salsa and guacamole would be killer.

The biggest struggle I faced in making these crackers was pressing out the dough. The lack of gluten made the dough slightly crumbly (adding more water helps) and I couldn’t roll it out with my rolling pin. I left the dough in the fridge overnight which made it much easier to press out. I found my fingers were the best tool for pressing. Wet your fingers with ice cold water and press away until it is as thin as you can get them. If you prefer the crackers a bit softer (more like a bread) then leave the dough on the thicker side. If thats the case then you can also make this into a flatbread or pizza crust. Very versatile, enjoy everyone!
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Ingredients:

•1 1/2 cup almond meal
•1/2 cup coconut flour or all purpose gluten free flour
•1/4 cup nutritional yeast or parmesan (optional)
•2 eggs
•2 tbsp olive or coconut oil (liquid/melted)
•1 tsp sea salt
•2 tbsp dried rosemary
•4 tbsp poppy seeds
•4 tbsp water

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line and grease a baking sheet (large or 2 medium) with parchment paper.

2. Combine all ingredients except the water then slowly add the water until you have a firm dough.

3. Place in the fridge for at least one hour or overnight.

4. Smooth dough onto a baking sheet using a spatula or your hands (dip hands in ice cold water to prevent sticking.)

5. Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. You want them to be a golden brown with crispy edges. Check on them at the 10 minute mark and then bake for longer if necessary. It took the full 15 minutes for mine. I cut mine into squares right from the oven and then let them cool. Once they cooled I broke them into crackers. For a more rustic look, let the crackers cool completely then break apart with your hands. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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Homemade Hummus

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Chickpeas are an incredible vegetarian source of protein and fibre.They have a low glycemic index which helps leave you satisfied.Garbanzo beans also contain vitamins and minerals which help boost your intake of manganese and folate. The mineral manganese helps support bone development and wound healing and also helps carry out chemical reactions important to your metabolism. They also help lower LDL cholesterol!

Hummus is a versatile dip that can accompany meat, veggies, crackers and sandwiches. Buying hummus from the grocery store is convenient and a healthy way to add nutrients to your dishes. However grocery store brands add more canola than olive oil (sometimes none) with a nice price tag. For about half the cost you can make your own hummus with extra virgin olive oil and have double the amount. Plus it is SO easy. All you need is a food processor or an amazing blender. This recipe is for basic hummus but the possibilities for flavours are endless! Add roasted red peppers,olives, chilli peppers or herbs. Bon appetit!
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Ingredients:

• 1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas or one (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (for dried chickpeas only)
• 1 medium garlic clove, peeled and smashed
• 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (about one lemon)
• 1/4 cup roasted tahini
• 1/4 cup water, plus more as needed
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
• 8-10 dashes hot sauce (I always use Frank’s Red Hot)
• Salt

Tip if using dried chickpeas:
Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with at least twice their volume of cold water, leaving them to soak overnight. The next day, drain them, and saute them in a medium saucepan with the baking soda (which many find reduces the gassy effects of fresh beans) for about three minutes. Add 3 1/4 cups water and bring it to a boil. Skim any foam that floats to the surface. They’ll need to cook for 20 to 40 minutes, sometimes even longer, depending on freshness, to become tender. When tender, one will break up easily between your thumb and forefinger.Drain the chickpeas (saving the chickpea broth for soups or to thin the hummus, if desired) and cool enough that you can pick one up without burning your fingers.

Directions:

1.In a food processor, blend the chickpeas until powdery clumps form, a full minute, scraping down the sides. Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt and blend until pureed. With the machine running, drizzle in water or reserved chickpea cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you get very smooth, light and creamy mixture.

2. Taste test! Add more salt, lemon juice, garlic or hot sauce to your taste!

3.To serve, drizzle with olive oil and lightly dust with paprika.