Buckwheat Mushroom Risotto with Squash and Toasted Hazelnuts

Photo 2014-11-20, 6 17 49 PM
I’ve gotten a lot of requests for some recipes that are both comforting and healthy at the same time. Without added cream, butter or gluten for that matter, it can feel like a daunting task to make a dish comforting. But, as we now know, my goal is for no one to have to miss out on anything because of food allergies or dietary choices. So keep checking in for lots of delicious, warm your soul kind of meals/desserts to keep you toasty right through winter.

Risotto in particular is a meal you associate with butter and/or cream. It is so delicious but can be entirely too rich and heavy for me. The risotto I have created is equally as satisfying without the heaviness and stomachache you would get from the restaurant variety. That being said, this makes a great side for any protein source be it meat, beans or tofu. How about turkey? The combination of earthy mushrooms and sweet butternut squash with crunchy hazelnuts just screams holiday! Don’t you think? This can be a perfect stuffing substitute for your gluten/dairy – free guests!

Besides for its delicious flavour, this meal packs a big nutritional punch. I used a combination of porcini, oyster and portobello mushrooms which deliver cancer fighting properties and can lower cholesterol. Many people don’t know that Buckwheat isn’t actually a grain but comes from a plant (despite its grainy appearance). It ranks low on the glycemic scale which keeps your blood sugars levelled – which helps prevent weight gain and obesity. Most importantly, this recipe is DELICIOUS and gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. Happy holidays and bon appetit!
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Ingredients:

• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (divided)
• 1 butternut squash (cubed)
• 2 french shallots (finely chopped)
• 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
• 3 tbsp toasted hazelnuts (chopped)
• 2 cups mushrooms chopped (I used a mix of oyster and portobello… choose your favourite!)
• 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
• 1 cup buckwheat groats
• 1 cup boiling water
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 1/2 tsp dried oregano
• 1/2 tsp fresh or dried thyme
• 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
• 2 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
• salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350. On a large baking sheet, coat chopped butternut squash in 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 45-60 min. Allow to cool.
2. In a bowl, place dried porcini mushrooms with boiling water and allow to reconstitute for 10 minutes.Place vegetable broth in a stock pot over medium heat and have a ladle on hand.
3. In a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil on medium heat. Add your shallots and cook until translucent and soft. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes or until mushrooms have reduced down. Add 1/2 tsp salt.
4. Add 1 cup of buckwheat into skillet along with oregano and thyme. Sautée for 2 minutes and then add 1 ladle broth. Stir until buckwheat absorbs all the liquid, then add another ladle of broth. Continue to do this until all the broth is absorbed, then add 1/2 of the porcini liquid and stir until absorbed. Add remaining porcini liquid. Chop the reconstituted porcini mushrooms and add to buckwheat mixture. Add apple cider vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
5. Toast hazelnuts in a dry pan for about 5 minutes or until oils are released.
6. Carefully toss cooked butternut squash into the buckwheat mixture. Top with fresh chopped parsley and toasted hazelnuts.

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Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers with Sweet n’ Spicy Slaw

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There have been many times at restaurants where due to lack of a better option, I was left ordering the veggie burger. I say this in a disappointed tone because of some seriously bad experiences. Chunks of corn, dryness or weird seasonings are just some of the many points I have on my veggie burger sh*t list. Ultimately it has been the taste of freezer burn that has really turned me off from the patty all together. And if you are think you are doing your body good by having that veggie burger… most of the time those few veggies hidden in that burger are coated in white flour and butter. Often, it might even be better to just have that ol’ hamburger if you truly enjoy that more!

This isn’t my first time making veggie burgers. I have done it before by following a few recipes that were… ok. Some recipes actually required so much work that by the time the patties were finished, I was too tired to even make them. So this week I hit my kitchen to create my own veggie burger with flavours that I love! The result was a tasty, nutritious and easy to make patty that I’ll be making time and again. Sweet potatoes, lentils, sunflower seeds and brown rice add protein, fiber, healthy fats and a whole load of vitamins leaving you satisfied and glowing!

The sweet potato will leave this burger more on the softer side so I don’t recommend eating these with a bun. Plus, you really have all the carbohydrates you need from the patty alone. Pairing it with a crunchy lettuce wrap or in my case cabbage cup, is the perfect contrast to the soft texture of the burger. Plus, the sweet and spicy slaw is detox friendly and adds the perfect amount of heat and crunch to the wrap. Skip the mayo and add avocado or even tomato, pickles and onion. Yum! If you want the burger to be more solid, then adding more brown, chickpea or all purpose gluten free flour will do the trick! Just slowly add until you have reached the desired consistency!
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Serves 6

Veggie Burger Ingredients:

• 2 sweet potatoes (peeled)
• 2 cups brown rice
• 1 cup chickpea flour (or brown rice, quinoa, all purpose gluten free)
• 1 yellow onion (chopped)
• 3 clove garlic (chopped)
• 1 can or 2 cups green lentils (drained and rinsed)
• 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1 tbsp montreal steak spice
• few dashes hot sauce
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
• 1 tsp pepper
• 1 head purple cabbage (for serving)
• 1 avocado (sliced..for serving)

Slaw Ingredients:

• 1 head green cabbage (shredded)
• 3 carrots (shredded)
• 1/2 cup purple cabbage (shredded)
• 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
• 3 tbsp honey
• squeeze of lemon juice
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tsp sriracha (or to taste)
• pinch of salt and pepper

Directions for Slaw:

1. In a large bowl whisk vinegar, honey, sriracha, lemon, salt and pepper until combined. Then slowly add olive oil. Stir in cabbage and place in the fridge until you serve.

Directions for Burgers:

1. Start by getting your rice cooking according to the directions on the bag.

2. While rice is cooking, begin peeling your sweet potatoes and steaming or boiling until you can easily pierce them with a fork.

3. Begin sautéing onions in the 1 tbsp olive oil until tender. Add chopped garlic. Stir for 2 minutes and then put aside.

4. Cook lentils according to directions or drain and rinse from a can. Please wash very well!

5. Once everything is cooked, mash the sweet potato in a bowl until smooth. Let the mixture cool.

6. Add lentils, sunflower seeds, onion/garlic mixture, and rice. Slowly add flour until you reach desired consistency. It should not be overly mushy and should hold together as a burger. Add more or less as needed. **The burger will still not be too stiff!

7. Then add the steak spice, cumin, salt, pepper and hot sauce.

8. If the mixture is still hot, it will not form well into patties. You can put it in the fridge to cool down for an hour.

9. Remove mixture and form into patties. You can put them in the fridge or freezer to use at a later date.

10. Coat a skillet or pan with olive oil on medium heat. Cook burgers for 5 minutes on each side to form a crust. (You can skip this step if you want as everything in the burger is cooked, but the crusty outside gives a delicious flavour!)

11. Peel the purple cabbage apart very carefully to keep their cup form. Place burgers inside the cabbage cup and top with slices of avocado and sweet n’ spicy slaw! Serve with some kale chips! Bon appetit!
Veggie Burger

Mung Bean Pad Thai

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Who doesn’t like pad thai? Something about the  combination of sweet, sour and salty just gets me every single time. Something else also happens every. single. time. I feel AWFUL. I know I’m not the only one who feels bloated, tired and uncomfortable. Even though the base of rice noodles, veggies and meat sounds like a healthy trio it is loaded with copious amounts of fat and sodium.

Pad thai has been on my recipe list for a while now. I think most home cooks steer clear of asian flavours because they seem complicated. Once you build up your pantry with the basic sauces however, most asian dishes can be tackled with ease. Whats best is that you can control all the ingredients that go inside. You really dont need so much oil, salt and sugar to get the awesome flavours. Use fresh herbs and spices and you’ll see that you actually prefer your own cooking to what you get in restaurants!

My favourite thing to hear from friends, family and guests who eat my food or try one of my recipes is how surprised they are by how great it tastes while still being good for you. What’s best is that everyone feels so much better. People dont want heavy. Why eat a meal if you are going just feel awful and potentially guilty afterwords. You want to feel energized, light and satisfied. And that’s exactly what this Pad Thai will do! I will eventually tackle a raw version of this dish, but these mung bean noodles were an awesome addition.

Mung Beans are packed with protein, fibre and vitamins. If you are not in the mood for meat or tofu, you will get plenty of extra nourishment from the noodles itself. I found these noodles at a speciality grocery store. Check your asian markets or health food stores! If you cant get your hands on these, try using buckwheat soba or brown rice noodles! Also, the tofu can be replaced with chicken or beef. Bon appetit!
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Serves 4

Ingredients:

• 1 package mung bean noodles or noodle of choice
• 1 1/2 cup bean sprouts
• 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
• 1 inch piece of ginger (finely chopped)
• 2-3 limes
• 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
• 1 jalapeño or chilli pepper (seeds removed, chopped)
• 1 package non GMO tofu (cubed) or meat of choice
• 1 red pepper (chopped)
• 1 cup broccoli
• 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
• 2 eggs (lightly scrambled) (optional)
• 3 tbsp cup roasted peanuts (roughly chopped)
• 2 tbsp sprouted buckwheat
• 2 tsp coconut oil (divided)
• 1 tsp sesame oil

Sauce Ingredients:

• few dashes fish sauce (to taste)
• 1/4 cup all natural creamy peanut butter
• 2 tbsp gluten free tamari
• 8 drops stevia or 1 tsp honey
• 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• juice of one lime

Directions:

1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, toss in sesame oil and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk sauce ingredients until combined. Set aside.

3. Heat 1 tsp coconut oil in a wok or large pan, and cook onion until tender about minutes.

4. Add garlic, ginger, peppers, bean sprouts, broccoli and cilantro. Sautée for about 5 minutes. Place in a bowl and set aside.

5. Heat remaining coconut oil on medium-high heat and cook tofu until browned. Then re-add veggies and the eggs. Stir until the egg is cooked through. Then add the noodles and pad thai sauce. Stir until completely combined and thoroughly heated, about 3 to 4 more minutes.

6.Remove from heat and toss with peanuts before serving. Garnish with lime wedges, peanuts, buckwheat groats and additional cilantro.
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