When You’re Craving Hot Chocolate…

The simpler the recipe, the more important it is to use quality ingredients.

The simpler the recipe, the more important it is to use quality ingredients.

It is finally Friday! It has been a busy week and I need to get ready for a busy weekend ahead. The Kutty clan (Raj’s family) and the Chan clan (my family) are having a big Thanksgiving dinner together on Sunday and I am doing all my grocery shopping tomorrow. Then on Thanksgiving Monday, Raj and I have a baby shower to attend. I am so excited for everything this weekend, but tonight, I just want to relax in my pajamas with a blanket, Sex and the City reruns, and some nourishing hot chocolate…

“Haute” Chocolate

This dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free, and vegan hot chocolate is definitely a nourishing upgrade from the standard hot chocolate at your generic coffee shop. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water (filtered)
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder (raw, organic)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil (cold-pressed, organic, extra virgin)
  • healthy sugar substitute (i.e. monk fruit sweetener, stevia, erythritol, xylitol, etc.) to taste
  • the tiniest pinch of sea salt
  1. In a small saucepan over low to medium heat, whisk all the ingredients together until the mixture heats up to a simmer.
  2. Pour the frothy mixture into your favourite mug and enjoy!

Enjoy a comforting mug of healthy hot chocolate this fall and winter without spiking your blood sugar and without the pro-inflammatory effects of dairy. You can also add extracts of your favourite chocolate complementary flavours (i.e. peppermint extract for chocolate mint flavour, orange extract for orange chocolate flavour, etc.). Cheers!

XOXO,

Addy

Arvinda’s Indian Spice Blends Help Me Cook Like Raj’s Mom!

You know an Indian spice blend company is the real deal when their masalas taste like Raj's mom's home cooking!

You know an Indian spice blend company is the real deal when their masalas taste like Raj’s mom’s home cooking!

Raj’s mom, who is from Kerala, India, makes the most delicious Indian dishes (dahls, sambars, curries, etc.). She always cooks with the perfect combination of spices. Indian cuisine involves such intricate blends of complementary spices (also known as masalas) and I am slowly learning about all the different kinds of masalas from her. To Raj’s mom, knowing which spices go well together and in what ratios is second nature (no measuring is necessary). Since my Indian culinary skills are nowhere near her level, I am always on the lookout for ready-made Indian spice blends with flavour profiles that remind me of Raj’s mom’s home cooking. Thanks to the CHFA East trade show this year, I discovered Arvinda’s awesome Indian spice blends, which allow me to cook like Raj’s mom effortlessly! Yes, this line of Indian spice blends tastes that authentic.

Arvinda's Butter Chicken Masala, Tandoori Masala, and Curry Masala are my favourites!

Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala, Tandoori Masala, and Curry Masala are my favourites!

This past Thursday on World Vegetarian Day (October 1st), I was craving butter chicken for dinner, but I wanted to satisfy that craving with something vegetarian, healthy, and quick. Thankfully, I had some Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala to make myself a deliciously satisfying “Butter Cauli-Kale”. This yummy and hearty vegetarian alternative to butter chicken satisfied my craving and I think Raj’s mom would have approved! This dish was so good that I have already remade it two more times since Thursday! Since it is Vegetarian Awareness Month, I thought I should share this tasty and nutritious vegetarian recipe. It is so quick and easy too thanks to Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala.

This vegetarian dish does not look like butter chicken, but it is much more nutritious with the same spice and flavour profile as that of butter chicken!

This vegetarian dish does not look like butter chicken, but it is much more nutritious with the same spice and flavour profile as that of butter chicken! It definitely satisfied my craving for butter chicken!

Butter Cauli-Kale (Vegetarian Alternative to Butter Chicken)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined virgin coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, puréed
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 small head cauliflower or 1/2 head large cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 5 kale leaves, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon 100% all natural and smooth cashew butter (unsweetened and unsalted)
  1. In a frying pan (that is large enough to fit all the vegetables) over medium heat, sauté the diced onion in the coconut oil until soft and translucent.
  2. Add in the puréed tomato and Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala. Continue cooking and stirring the mixture until most of the moisture has evaporated and the consistency becomes thick like tomato paste.
  3. Mix in the low-sodium vegetable broth, chopped cauliflower, chopped kale, fine sea salt, and coconut sugar. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan with a lid, and let everything simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables have cooked to desired tenderness. If you prefer a drier consistency with little to no sauce like I do, let everything simmer without a lid and stir often to ensure nothing sticks to the pan.
  4. Turn off the stove and mix in the cashew butter. Serve and enjoy!
Happy Vegetarian Awareness Month!

Happy Vegetarian Awareness Month!

If you get cravings for Indian food and want to satisfy those cravings with delicious and nutritious food, I highly recommend alway having your favourite Arvinda’s spice blends on hand! I am still slowly learning about Indian cooking from Raj’s mom, but for those times when I am in a hurry, there are always ready-made spice blends in my pantry!

XOXO,

Addy

“ManGO-Away-Cold-and-Flu” Salad!

A healthy diet should be naturally colourful!

A healthy diet should be naturally colourful!

You know how there are those few times during the year when everyone around you seems to be getting sick? Well, I am going through one of those times right now and I am proud to say that I still have not fallen sick. I have been taking preventative measures to ensure I remain cold/flu-free. In addition to taking oil of oregano daily while so many are sick around me, getting an adequate amount of sleep every night, and always staying hydrated, I have been having my “ManGO-Away-Cold-and-Flu” salad for dinner quite often lately. This high-in-vitamin-C and antioxidant-rich salad helps keep sickness away and is so yummy! I make this salad so often that I have never measured any of the ingredients. However, while making this salad for dinner last night, I measured the ingredients so that I could share the recipe with you all today! Enjoy!

One of my secrets to making a great tasting salad is using all organic ingredients! Organic produce just tastes better.

One of my secrets to making a great tasting salad is using all organic ingredients! Organic produce just tastes better.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium (red, white, or yellow) onion, diced
  • 2-3 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1-2 pinches garam masala powder (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 ripe mango, diced
  • leaves from 1 head of green kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
If you are a salad lover like me, this recipe serves one.

If you are a salad lover like me, this recipe serves one.

  1. In a medium frying pan over medium to high heat, sauté the diced onion in coconut oil until translucent.
  2. Add the diced zucchini and spices (cumin powder, fine sea salt, chili powder, garam masala powder, and turmeric powder). Sauté everything until all the water that comes out from the zucchini evaporates.
  3. Place the chopped kale leaves in a large bowl and add the sautéed zucchini and onion mixture on top.
  4. Top off the salad with the diced mango and chopped scallion.
  5. Mix everything together. Allow the flavours to mix and mingle for 5 minutes and then enjoy!

XOXO,

Addy

Raddy Recipe: “Cuckoo for Coconut” Salad

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Now that it is finally warmer and sunnier in Toronto, I have been craving fresh salads and coconut water lately. So I wanted to create a coconut-based salad to complement a nice, cold, refreshing glass of coconut water. I came up with this “Cuckoo for Coconut” salad and it was delicious! This vegan salad is high in fibre, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

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“Cuckoo for Coconut” Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons creamed coconut, finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 baby bok choy, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

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  1. Mix everything together.
  2. Let set for 5 minutes to allow all the flavours to mix and mingle.
  3. Enjoy!

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We packaged this salad in Mason jars and brought them with us to Scarborough Bluffs Park. The salad tasted even better with the beautiful view of Lake Ontario and with some coconut water on the side. I hope you get to try this recipe and enjoy it outdoors in the beautiful weather this summer!

XOXO,

Addy

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Raddy Recipe: Raj’s Mom Shows How to Cook Jackfruit Seeds!

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Both my dad and Raj’s dad LOVE jackfruit and would list it as one of their favourite fruits. Thus, Raj and I both grew up eating this fruit and we love it too. To me, this sweet and fleshy fruit tastes like something between a mango and a lychee. While my family would devour the tasty flesh of this fruit and toss away the seeds, Raj’s family would save the seeds and make delicious dishes with them. With jackfruit season upon us, I thought I would share one of Raj’s mom’s delicious jackfruit seed recipes.

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Recently, my parents bought some beautifully ripe jackfruit for Raj and his parents. When his mom told me she was going to save the seeds and cook with them, I was skeptical at first, because the seeds tasted so bitter and unpleasant in their raw state. However, when she cooked them in a simple stir-fry, they tasted delicious (similar to a cooked potato)! Not only are these seeds edible and tasty when cooked, but they are also a good source of vegan protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, minerals, and some B vitamins! I will never toss out the seeds from a jackfruit again! Here is Raj’s mom’s simple stir-fry recipe for jackfruit seeds (sorry for the lack of precise measurements, but like many mothers who cook a lot, Raj’s mom usually just “eyeballs” her measurements and goes by taste)…

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Raj’s Mom’s “Do-NOT-Throw-Away-The-Jackfruit-Seeds” Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh jackfruit seeds, each one cut in half
  • water to boil the jackfruit seeds
  • 1/2 cup frozen “Chinese potato” pieces (found in Indian grocery stores)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • chili powder to taste
  • salt to taste
  • few cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

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  1. Boil the fresh jackfruit seeds for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Then, drain and set them aside.
  2. In a pan on medium high heat, sauté the diced red onion with coconut oil until the onion pieces turn slightly brown and caramelize a bit.
  3. Add the halved jackfruit seeds and “Chinese potato” pieces into the pan and sauté them until everything is heated through.
  4. Add chili powder and salt to taste.
  5. Transfer stir-fry to a serving dish and serve immediately or garnish with a few cilantro leaves just before serving. Enjoy!

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The next time you eat jackfruit, I hope you save the seeds and try cooking with them! They are so delicious and nutritious!

XOXO,

Addy

How to Survive Wedding Gluttony!

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With the weather in Toronto getting warmer and with summer right around the corner, more and more weddings are taking place. My family receives about one wedding invite per year. Raj’s family, on the other hand, receives numerous wedding invites every year, especially during the spring and summer. Although all these wedding reception parties will differ in number of guests, catering, decor, time schedule and/or venue, one thing remains constant… There is always an excessive amount of indulgent foods! The first wedding of the year that Raj and I attended this past Saturday at Whistle Bear Golf Club was certainly no exception! Here are some tips I used to keep the eating at a wedding party clean and lean:

1. Have a healthy breakfast and a light lunch beforehand in order to not fill up on hors d’oeuvres and to avoid the fried and unhealthy ones.

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Greasy hors d’oeuvres I avoided (from top left, clockwise): samosas, breaded and deep fried calamari, deep fried risotto balls, beef satay.

 

2. Inform your server well beforehand of any food allergies, intolerances, sensitivities, and/or avoidances you may have. Bring digestive enzymes if you are concerned about cross-contamination. I informed my server that I was lactose intolerant, so all of my courses and beverages were dairy-free. For instance, my salad came without any cheese, my soup was dairy-free, and my coffee was served with almond milk. I also got a healthier fruit sorbet for dessert instead of the cheesecake. Just in case though, I brought and took some digestive enzymes containing lactase before dinner commenced.

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Dairy-free menu options that were offered due to my lactose intolerance (from top left, clockwise): potato and leek soup with crispy potatoes and truffle oil, fruit sorbet with fresh berries, coffee with almond milk, young kale and arugula salad with currants, roasted almonds, and lemon vinaigrette (no parmesan).

 

3. Four your main course, opt for a lean protein with complex carbohydrates and lightly prepared vegetables. I chose the baked chicken breast instead of the prime rib, the roasted potatoes (with the skin on) instead of the potato gratin, and lightly sautéed seasonal vegetables.

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Instead of the roast prime rib entrée with yukon and sweet potato gratin, seasonal vegetables, and red wine jus, I chose the baked chicken breast entrée with skin-on roasted potatoes, seasonal vegetables and truffle jus.

 

4. Nine times out of ten, these weddings will have open bar service. I definitely enjoy this, but I enjoy in moderation. I use the open bar service at wedding receptions as an opportunity to try a variety of drinks without having to drink all of everything. For instance, I ordered four different drinks throughout the night, but I only drank about a quarter glass of each drink.

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I only drank about a quarter or less of each glass. So I got to taste everything I wanted without going overboard!

 

5. After dinner and dancing at wedding receptions, there is almost always a late-night snack table. If you are hungry then, choose the lighter and healthier menu options. It should not be too hard to resist the indulgent foods, if you had a well-balanced, healthy dinner earlier. At this wedding reception in particular, the late-night snack table had an assortment of fresh cookies, sliders, a make-your-own-poutine station, and a variety of fresh fruit. Figuring out which one of these four options was the healthiest was not rocket science.

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I passed on the sliders, the make-your-own-poutine station, and cookies. Instead, I went straight for the fresh fruit at the late-night snack table! Tip: fresh pineapple contains the protease enzyme, bromelain, which helps you to digest protein!

 

If you get invited to a lot of weddings like Raj and his family, I hope these tips help you enjoy and get through wedding season healthfully!

XOXO,

Addy

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What a blast at our first wedding of 2015!

 

Raddy Recipe: Water Kefir for a Flatter Tummy!

Drinking water kefir is my current favourite way to build a healthy gut flora and prevent dis-symbiosis-induced bloating.

Drinking water kefir is my current favourite way to build a healthy gut flora and prevent dis-symbiosis-induced bloating.

So you want a probiotic food source for better digestive health and a flatter tummy, but:

  • you are lactose intolerant and cannot consume yogurt or dairy kefir
  • fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut are too high in sodium
  • you are trying to avoid fermented soy products like miso or tempeh, because they may be genetically modified or because of their phytoestrogen content
  • you need to stay away from kombucha due to its caffeine content
  • you are simply not patient enough for the fermentation process

Well, I have got some great news! My friend, fellow Nutritionist, and fermentation connoisseur, Suzanne, introduced me to water kefir, which is a non-dairy, caffeine-free, probiotic drink that only takes one to five days to make! Not only did she make me some of her blueberry-flavoured water kefir to try for my first time, but she also gave me some of her extra water kefir grains so that I can start making my own! This delicious and good-for-you beverage tastes mildly sweet and slightly tangy. Also, it may or may not have added flavour and/or carbonation. I have not seen water kefir sold in stores (yet). So if you would like to try this drink, find a knowledgeable water-kefir maker in your area and then try making your own perhaps! If you can get your hands on water kefir grains from a health food store, from online, or from a trusted water-kefir producer, here is how I have been making this healthy beverage successfully (thanks to Suzanne for the recipe and all her help and guidance):

I was so shocked by how quickly the grains multiply and how fast the water-kefir making process is compared to kombucha making! Water kefir is ready for consumption in as little as 1 to 2 days!

I was so shocked by how quickly the grains multiply and how fast the water-kefir making process is compared to kombucha making! Water kefir is ready for consumption in as little as 1 to 2 days!

Materials:

  • 1 cup (250 mL) to-be-boiled filtered water
  • 2 cups (500 mL) cold (refrigerated) filtered water
  • 1-litre glass jar
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 10 drops ConcenTrace trace mineral supplement (Instead of this, Suzanne uses 1 tsp of molasses, which is also mineral-rich and works.)
  • 1/4 cup water kefir grains
  • an elastic band with a coffee filter or cheesecloth or towel to cover the jar
  • plastic strainer
  • glass bottle or glass jar with a lid for completed water kefir
Water kefir grains need a mineral-rich environment to thrive. I find that 10 drops of ConcenTrace trace mineral supplement per 1 litre or so of sugar solution with the water kefir grains works well. Suzanne uses 1 tsp of molasses for this same amount instead and she has great success with it. I have heard of some other successful alternatives such as eggshells, raisins, and sea salt, but do some research on the amounts before trying any of those out.

Water kefir grains need a mineral-rich environment to thrive. I find that 10 drops of ConcenTrace trace mineral supplement per 1 litre or so of sugar solution with the water kefir grains works well. Suzanne uses 1 tsp of molasses for this same amount instead and she has great success with it. I have heard of some other successful alternatives such as eggshells, raisins, and sea salt, but do some research on the amounts before trying any of those out.

  1. Boil 1 cup (250 mL) of filtered water and add it to a 1-litre glass jar.
  2. Dissolve 1/4 cup of organic sugar in the jar of hot water.
  3. Add 2 cups (500 mL) of cold (refrigerated) filtered water into the jar.
  4. Add 10 drops of ConcenTrace trace mineral supplement or 1 tsp of molasses into the jar.
  5. Add 1/4 cup of water kefir grains into the sugar and water mixture, which should be lukewarm. (If the mixture in the jar is warmer than that, place it in the fridge until it is not warmer than lukewarm BEFORE adding the water kefir grains. Hot water can kill the live bacterial cultures.)
  6. Cover the jar with an elastic band and a coffee filter or cheesecloth or towel. Let the jar sit somewhere at room temperature away from direct sunlight for 24 to 48 hours. Since fermentation occurs more rapidly at warmer room temperatures, both Suzanne and I like to keep our jars on the kitchen countertop beside the stove.

    Pic 3 - 1st Batch

    Some signs of thriving and healthy water kefir grains include some floating grains and some bubbles (particularly arising bubbles when you tap or slightly move the jar). I flavoured my first batch of water kefir with a few fresh ginger pieces during second fermentation and it was DELICIOUS!

  7. After 24 to 48 hours, the liquid in the jar has turned into water kefir! Strain out the water kefir grains with a plastic strainer (the live bacterial cultures dislike metal) and repeat steps 1 to 6 with the strained grains for your next batch of water kefir! You can drink your first batch of water kefir as it is, or you can flavour and carbonate it during a second fermentation process.
  8. To flavour your water kefir, add pure fruit juice/jam, dried/fresh fruits, herbs, spices, ginger pieces, and/or whatever else you want to try and let this concoction sit at room temperature for a second fermentation period of 1 to 3 days before drinking. For carbonation, seal this mixture with a lid or bottle it up during the 1-to-3-day flavouring period. Make sure to taste test the water kefir daily as it carbonates, because it can carbonate quite rapidly and you do not want any explosions!
My second batch resulted in even more water kefir grains! Soon enough, I will have to start giving away my excess grains to friends and teaching them how to make water kefir! I flavoured my second batch with this rose flavouring that Raj's parents brought back from India. It was SO GOOD and even more delicious than my first ginger-flavoured batch!

My second batch resulted in even more water kefir grains! Soon enough, I will have to start giving away my excess grains to friends and teaching them how to make water kefir! I flavoured my second batch with this rose flavouring that Raj’s parents brought back from India. It was SO GOOD and even more delicious than my first ginger-flavoured batch!

Note: The water kefir grains will multiply during every batch, so you will start to accumulate more and more grains. Soon enough, you will have too many grains. I recommend you share these excess grains with friends and teach them how to make their own water kefir for good health! Cheers!
XOXO,
Addy
P.S. Raj and I will be hosting a Thursday Night Lecture on “Staying Cancer-Free Through Nutrition” at the Carrot Common (348 Danforth Avenue, room 212) on March 26, 2015. Come join us! 🙂