Mexican Inspired

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I’ve only really started to enjoy Mexican food over the past two years. Cilantro was never my favourite herb, so it just sort of turned me off of the whole cuisine in general. Like most food though, let me have it 5-6 times and eventually it will grow on me. What did always attract me to Mexican food is the versatility and the fresh flavours. There are so many platters that allow you to create the bite that YOU want. Extra guacamole, more chicken, no salsa… no problem. When it comes to Mexican, you become the chef! And thats exactly what I have created here.

With this meal, vegetarians and meat eaters alike can create the plate/bowl that best suits their taste buds. This meal can easily be made with tofu/seitan, steak or fish and be absolutely delicious! Feel free to serve with black bean chips (beanitos… yum) or gluten free brown rice wraps and everyone is bound to find something delicious, healthy and fitting to their cravings. We all know I love a good bowl, so no chips or wraps were needed for me.

Homemade pico de gallo aka salsa fresca aka a fresh salsa really lightens up the heaviness that can come from the avocado and beans. You can also use salsa from a jar if time isn’t on your side, but homemade is always better! The star of the dish for me was the cumin-cilantro corn. It was so sweet and had so much flavour, ill definitely be using this as a side dish for another meal.If your not in the mood for meat, or are vegan, make this dish with tofu or quinoa for added protein. Perfect for Meatless Mondays! You’ll get plenty of healthy fats from the guacamole and fibre from the brown rice and black beans. I hope you enjoy this seriously tasty meal without the guilt or upset tummy. As always this meal is free of gluten, dairy and refined sugars. Go as fresh as possible with your ingredients, and please enjoy a beer*** alongside! Clean living is all about moderation, life is short…so enjoy it!

*** I tried my first gluten-free beer called Glutenberg. It was very decent consideering the lack of barley but it did have a pretty bitter lingering after taste. If anyone has any suggestions for some of the best gluten free beers, please write in the comments! I will be doing a lot of taste testing in the summer and I will do a roundup of some of my favourites.

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Serves 4
Ingredients:

• 3-4 chicken breasts (cleaned and chopped)
• 1 can or fresh black beans (rinsed)
• 2 very ripe avocados
• about 1/4 red onion chopped (3 tbsp)
• 3 tomatoes
• 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
• brown rice or quinoa (4 servings)
• 4-5 fresh corn on the cob
• 4 tbsp cilantro (chopped)
• 2 tbsp cumin (divided)
• 2 tsp garlic powder (divded)
• 1 jalapeño
• 1 red pepper chopped
• 3-4 limes
• 3 tbsp olive oil (olive oil)
• 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
• salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions:

1. Prep and chop all ingredients… it makes it a lot easier for the cooking process! Once everything is prepped the cooking part is easy! Ok… so now that everything is chopped and ready in bowls…

2. For the rice: cook based on the directions of the bag. Season with 1 tbsp olive oil, squeeze of lime salt and a bit of pepper.

3. For the corn: heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Sautee corn until slightly brown then add a nice pinch of salt, 1 tbsp cumin, 2 tbsp cilantro, juice of half a lime. Sautee for 2-3 minutes, turn off heat and add a little more fresh cilanto and more lime juice.

4. For the guacamole: Mash avocados, add juice of one lime, 1 tbsp red onion, 1 tsp garlic powder, salt.

5. For the pico de gallo: mix jalapeño, fresh garlic, red pepper, tomatoes, 2 tbsp red onion, red wine vinegar, juice of 1 lime, 2 tbsp cilantro and pinch of salt and pepper.

6. For the black beans: rinse very well, season with salt and pepper.

7. For the chicken: heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Sautee chicken with salt and pepper. About half way through cooking, add 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp garlic powder and some lime juice. Cook through and finish with more lime juice.
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Chocolatey Banana Chia Pudding

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Woke up with a bit of a sweet tooth this morning and was craving something rich and delicious. Chocolate has always been a weakness of mine. Since giving up refined sugars my sweet tooth has noticeably diminished. I never thought it would be possible to eat a meal without having something sweet after (I know I’m not alone here). But trust me, anyone who knows me would tell you that I would never say no to a piece of dark chocolate with sea salt. Chocolate can actually be very healthy for you. No, not your Kit Kat or Coffee Crisp (so sorry) but raw unprocessed cacao is loaded with properties that contribute to wellness. Let me reiterate,cacAO NOT cocOA. Sounds the same, but nutritionally are far different. Heres the breakdown:

Cacao

Cacao refers to the raw form of chocolate, including the tree and bean. Raw cacao powder is not roasted, mostly unprocessed, and has no sugar or cocoa butter. Seeds of the cacao tree are roasted and then the shell is removed which produce cacao nibs (quite bitter in flavour but provide a nice crunch if used appropriately). Cacao is a great source of antioxidants which contribute to fighting off cancer and wrinkles (woooot). Chocolate and cocoa also contain a high level of flavonoids, which may have beneficial cardiovascular effects on health.

Cocoa

Once the cacao bean is roasted and essentially transformed (rid of its nutritional value) then does it become the ever so popular cocoa. After it has been roasted it continues its processing as it is ground, and usually mixed with cocoa butter and a sweetner. This same kind of cocoa you find in your Oh Henry bar, or in the cup of cocoa you get at the ski hill. Delicious, yes… nutritional not exactly. The downfall of cocoa is that within the processing (roasting, grinding, mixing) most of the nutritional benefits are eliminated. It definitely won’t kill you to have a little cocoa, but if raw cacao is available to us, why wouldn’t we use it?

This recipe for chocolatey banana chia pudding is soooooo good, and is Clean Eating Goddess approved for breakfast, yes… BREAKFAST! With the addition of all natural organic peanut butter, your kids will believe they are having a bowl of melted reeses pieces for breakfast (best mom/dad ever!). If your child has a peanut allergy, feel free to use a nut/seed butter of your choice. Best part is, its ready in a flash and can be made the night before to grab and go in the morning. Full of nutrients and fibre, this chocolatey banana pudding is the perfect dessert or breakfast. Did I also mention it is gluten, dairy and sugar free.. oh and vegan! Bon appetit readers!

Ingredients:

• 3-4 tbsp chia seeds
• 1 tsp cacao powder
• 3-4 drops stevia or 1 tsp maple syrup
• 1 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk
• 1 mashed banana
• 1 tbsp peanut butter or nut/seed butter of choice
• 1 tsp hemp seeds
• berries and chopped banana

Directions:

1. Place chia seeds in a bowl or jar with almond milk, stevia and cacao powder. Mix very well and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. The longer it rests in the fridge the more thick and pudding-like it will be.

2. Remove from the fridge and add fruit, peanut butter and sprinkle with hemp seeds.

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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