Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash

Photo 2014-07-28, 7 22 41 AM
I have only been blogging for a few months now and it has been a great learning experience. I really went into this with more confidence in my passion for cooking then in my writing. Both finding my voice and determining what exactly I want to share with my readers has been a truly interesting experience. I really don’t know if readers want to know more about me personally, less about nutritional information etc…What is so great about a blog however, is that the writing is truly reflective of a moment in time for the writer, reader etc… Today for example, I feel like showing a side that most bloggers don’t. A truly honest side that will show insecurities, mistakes and a general confession of my ‘go with the flow’ attitude. So here it goes…

To start off…I am an amateur photographer. I still have barely any idea of what I am doing with my amazing Canon Rebel. I highly recommend this camera because without any knowledge of this device I have been able to capture some pretty sumptuous looking pictures. All I know about taking great pictures is to ALWAYS use natural lighting. Most of my pictures are taken right on the windowsill. The bolognese pictures came out so horrible because I was rushing against the sun that was setting very quickly. It was already a rainy day to begin with so odds were not in my favour. In turn, my so called “food styling” was non-existent and I ended up with some pretty drab looking pictures (notice the dark/yellowish hue). But lets face it. If I wasn’t photographing this food for my blog, that would be what a home-cooked dish looked like in most homes, including my own. And that truly is why I decided to do this post. It is to encourage you to make more time to make home-cooked meals! So many people look at photographs taken in recipe books, magazines and blogs and think that they are too difficult. I always hear people say “I could never make that, I am the worst cook!” They also might think that if they make a dish and it looks slightly different in the picture that they have failed. I’m here to tell you that is simply not true.

I beg you to try to reach out of your comfort zone and try attacking a recipe you never thought possible. They don’t have to be my recipes, and they definitely don’t need to be gluten, dairy or refined sugar free. However by simply making more meals yourselves (and with loved ones) you will be more conscious of ingredients, flavours and what’s in season. Even if you are making shepherds pie, the home cooked version will always be healthier because it isn’t laced with loads of preservatives, chemicals and other gross stuff. So although my pictures don’t look as appetizing as they normally would, I am only human. I am just like you, doing the best I can. And now, on to the bolognese…

Ok, so I am sure many of you are surprised to see bolognese on here. Many of my recipes are friendly to vegans because my recipes do not contain dairy. Although I do not eat meat on a daily basis, I do still enjoy good quality meat from time to time. (Vegan readers, just skip this recipe for now and check back later!) Especially in the winter, there is nothing more comforting then diving into a bowl of brown rice spaghetti and meat sauce. By substituting the pasta with spaghetti squash, the dish has now become a summer staple. I know many clean eaters have different opinions on eating meat. But if you truly enjoy it, then there is no harm in having anything in moderation. Especially if you are getting organic, grass fed beef that has a lower fat content. That is just my philosophy, and many people will agree or disagree.

I love food too much to say NO forever to something I really enjoy. This blog is really all about that. I take foods that I truly love and adapt them to make them more wholesome and cleaner without compromising on flavour. So here is my favourite recipe for clean bolognese, I hope you enjoy!

Ps. Another error I made while making this bolognese is cutting the carrots in medallions instead of finely chopping it. By the time I got them in the pot and looked at how odd they looked in there, it was too late. But, they did taste delicious anyway.
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Ingredients:

• 1 spaghetti squash
• 1 lb organic, grass fed lean ground beef
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 2 carrots (chopped fine)
• 2 yellow onions (chopped)
• 3 cloves garlic (minced)
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
• 1/2 tsp himalayan salt
• 1 tsp ground pepper
• 1 can San Marzano tomatoes
• 3 tbsp tomato paste
• 1 cup dry red wine (don’t cheap out here, make sure you would drink it with a meal)
• 3-5 drops stevia (optional)
• fresh basil (for serving)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Slice spaghetti squash in half, remove seeds and place on sheet pan and bake for one hour. I also bake the seeds on the pan and eat them later on! Pull strings out using a fork and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Cook onions, garlic and carrots until the onions are translucent and no longer firm.
3.Add oregano, chilli flakes, salt, pepper and beef. Cook beef until it is no longer pink.
4. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Break down the tomatoes using the back of a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for at least 35-40 minutes.
5. Add red wine and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add stevia (or other sweetener) if you would like the sauce to be more sweet.
6. Simmer on low for another 10-20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the moisture has mostly cooked out.
7. Pour sauce over spaghetti squash and top with fresh basil.
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Blueberry and Peach Summer Crumble

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Living in North American makes it incredibly easy to gain access to all sorts of fruits and vegetables year round. It has become so easy that as consumers, we have forgotten what grows when. Part of eating for wellness is making an effort to eat more locally which often allows for proper harvesting, a lower environmental impact and a positive economic impact for your community. It is quite simple. If you live in Quebec and buy Quebec fruit, farmers will be able to contain more nutrients within the fruit by allowing it to ripen naturally on the parent plant. By only transporting within Quebec, there is a shorter transportation time and Quebec farmers will be supported and happy! The consumer will be happy as well, knowing they are getting food that isn’t made in a large plant that is often focused on yield rather than quality.

Although we are blessed to have all these amazingly delicious fruits and vegetables year-round, I do urge you to stay in tune with what is in season and to buy local whenever possible. Although it can be more expensive, there really is nothing more gratifying then walking through a farmers market and knowing you are getting quality food while supporting your community. Don’t get me wrong, you will find me at Provigo, Loblaws etc… But I do make it a point, especially during the summers, to make it to farmers markets as much as possible. And its not always more expensive! That delicious (but expensive) iconic Quebec maple syrup you get in a can is actually half the price at Atwater Market! That alone is worth making the trip over!

So… what is in season now you ask? I know my readers come from all over the world so it truly depends on where you live. My advice is to find a well accredited website in your area and do a research. If you live in Quebec (comme moi!) you can click here  for an amazing chart of what is in season monthly!

If you take a look at that chart, you will see that both peaches and blueberries are in season during the month of July. In honour of their deliciousness I have made a wonderful crumble to celebrate! I highly recommend Jean-Talon, Atwater and Maisonneuve markets which are the largest here in Montreal. If you live elsewhere, you can check online for the best markets in your area. It is also worth it to check out small family owned grocery stores which often have the best produce and alternative products. Weekends are the best for making a day out of market and grocery store adventures. Drive a little further than you would normally, and you will be blown away with what unbelievable produce is available coming right from your hometown.
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Now on to the food. I love fruit desserts. Pies, crumbles… you name it, ill eat it. They are so easy to make and so very versatile. Any fruits you like will work and if you can’t find whats in season, you can use frozen fruit as well! How easy is that. I love mixing cherries, strawberries and apples. The possibilities are endless.For this summer crumble, I am using two fruits that are in season, but if you want to make this in the winter time, you can freeze the fruit yourself in freezer safe bags, or buy frozen peaches and blueberries at your grocery store. If you use frozen fruit, make sure to let them thaw and drain some of the liquid otherwise you might end up with a soggy crumble! Also, I like to leave the skin on my peaches for a more rustic dessert. If you hate the skin, feel free to peel it off.

You will also notice that there is a large amount of topping for this crumble. The topping is my absolute favourite part so I always like there to be an abundance! That is really the beauty of home cooking. Being the chef allows you to alter and adapt your dishes to how you, friends and family like it best! If you find theres too much topping for your pie, you can pour the mixture onto a sheet pan and bake for about 45 minutes for a perfect granola! As always this recipe is free of gluten, dairy and refined sugars. It is also vegan! Bon Appetit!
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Topping Ingredients:

• 2 cups gluten free oats
•4-6 drops stevia
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 cup walnuts
• pinch of salt
• 1 heap tbsp arrowroot starch
• 1/2 cup coconut oil (not melted)
• 1 tbsp cinnamon

Filling Ingredients:

• 1/3 cup maple syrup
• 4 ripe peaches (sliced)
• 2 1/2 cup blueberries
• 2 heaped 2tbsp arrowroot starch
• juice and zest of 1 lemon

Directions:
1. Prehead oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine all the filling ingredients until well coated. Set aside.
2. In a food processor, pulse all the topping ingredients until crumbly. You still want some texture here so do not over pulse! Make sure to use coconut oil in its solid state and not melted.
3. Pour fruit mixture into ramekins or pie dish. Using a spoon, pour desired amount of topping onto the fruit. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and beginning to pour over. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
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Creamy Coconut Avocado Lime Pie

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Theres nothing like the refreshing and creamy taste of a key lime pie. Back when I ate whatever was in front of me, this was my go-to dessert at any steak house. Although always light in taste and texture, key lime pie is heavy in dairy, gluten and refined sugars. But, have no fear, a clean version of this recipe has been surfacing all over the internet. No I am not the first one to make an avocado lime pie, but after making this about 4-5 times by now, I think I finally have got the flavour just right. With some coconut cream, avocado and lime juice this dessert would fool any sweets fan.

This pie in particular is not called ‘key lime’ pie because I could not find any key lime juice. Fun fact: most people just call their lime tarts and pies by the key lime name even though key lime juice is nowhere to be found. Key limes are actually a variety of the lime family, but can be quite difficult to find in grocery stores. I am sure however, this recipe would be just as delicious (maybe even more so) with some key lime juice.

In the ingredients, I give options for sweetening this dessert. If someone is watching their carb or sugar intake in your family you can replace the coconut sugar and maple syrup with stevia. My dad watches his carbs like a mad man and I have been making this for him on a weekly basis. One of the hardest parts of following a low carb diet or having an illness that restrains sugar intake is satisfying a sweet tooth. The low carb treats that are offered by the various diets (Atkins, South Beach) are full of chemicals, hydrogenated oils and artificial sweeteners. My dad is thrilled he can eat a dessert that has good for you fats and natural low glycemic sweeteners. There are always ways to meet the dietary needs of your family, friends and guests! With a few trips to your local health food stores, your pantry will eventually be filled with all the ingredients you need for an allergy/diet friendly home. I hope you enjoy this refreshing summer dessert!
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Crust Ingredients:

• 2 cups shredded coconut
• 1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 egg whites)
• 1/3 cup coconut sugar or 1/2 tsp stevia
• pinch of salt
• 1 tsp vanilla

Filling Ingredients:

• juice of 4 limes (about 1/2 cup)
• zest of 2 limes
• 1 cup of organic coconut cream (**if you cannot find this in grocery stores, simply place two cans of full fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight and only use the thick white cream found at the top of the can)
• 3 ripe large avocados (about 2 cups scooped)
• 1/2 tsp stevia or 1/3 cup maple syrup
• dash of salt
• 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
• fresh mint and lime slices for garnish (optional)

Crust Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line tart pan.
2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Press mixture into pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Let cool.

Filling Directions:

1. Using a spoon, scoop out the avocado from its skin and place in a food processor.Process until smooth.
2. Add the coconut cream, stevia (or maple syrup), salt, vanilla, lime juice and lmd zest. Process until completely smooth.
3. Taste the filling! You may need to add more sweetener or lime juice depending on how you tart/sweet you like it best!
4. When the crust has cooled, pour the filling into the crust. Place this in the freezer for about 1 hour or until it becomes solid. To serve, simple remove the pie from the freezer 15-20 minutes before serving.
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