Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Sweet Potato Wedges

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Ingredients for Coconut Sweet Potatoes

3-4 medium sweet potatoes cut into wedges

2 tbsp of coconut oil plus a bit to grease the casserole dish

Salt & Pepper

Ingredients for Buttered Sweet Potatoes

3-4 medium sweet potatoes cut into wedges

2 tbsp of ghee plus  a bit to grease the casserole dish

Salt & Pepper

Method

Preheat oven 400F, 200C, 180 Fan, Gas 6

Warm casserole dish with a little coconut oil or ghee for 3-4 minutes

Dump wedges into dish, spread out so they aren’t touching too much

Cook for 25 minutes, flipping once after about 15 minutes

Voila!

Sweet potato was one of the first foods I weaned my girls on, around the age of 6 months. At 6 months, for both of them, I did a bit of spoon feeding mixed with Baby Led Weaning, and by 7 months, they were predominately BLW. Until they were about 12 months, sweet potato was my go-to carbohydrate. It’s an easily digestible fibre, so it won’t irritate tiny digestive tracts, and as far as plant forms of vitamin A goes, this root veggie is leader of the pack. I always combine it with a good quality fat, for optimal nutrient absorption. These lovely tubers are also a great source of vitamin C, B vitamins and is a free radical scavenger, so definitely a friend of a family keen to be healthy! Enjoy!!

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Mighty Mango Muffins

Mango Muffins

 

Ingredients

3 eggs

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp organic whole milk (you can use coconut or nut milk if you prefer)

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup diced mango (anywhere from 1/2 mango to whole mango, depending how big)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400F, 200C, Gas Mark 5
  2. Mix together eggs, maple syrup, coconut oil and milk
  3. Add baking powder to coconut flour then slowly combine with wet ingredients
  4. Mix the batter really well with a hand mixer then spoon in mango
  5. Pour batter into muffin cups or straight into tin. It should make 10 muffins. Bake for 20 minutes. The muffin should have a spongey bounce to it when it’s done
  6. Voila!

Mango muffins was the first bake I attempted when baby Number 1 came along.  Some people LOVE baking.  There are thousands of books about baking; 9 out of 10 people would probably prefer dessert to an entrée; The Great British Bake Off is possibly the most popular reality show on TV.  I, however, do not like baking!  It requires precision, and I much prefer winging it. However, the ingredients found in most store bought muffins, pastries, cookies and cakes are – let’s face it – appalling.  They’re filled with processed flours, sugar, additives, preservatives, industrial oils, E-Numbers, etc.  These ingredients aren’t good for anyone, especially tiny digestive tracts, but for some people it’s the only lifestyle they now know. Suggesting to a Baby Boomer to avoid the packaged products sitting on their supermarket shelf is like throwing sand in the wind. Gens X & Y have been pretty well scuppered by food and marketing also.  But our babies – they have hope!  People are becoming more educated about food and more aware of choices we need to make to live a healthy life. It’s my absolute passion to help people understand good food choices. Our babies – they don’t have the choice yet, so as a parent, it’s my responsibility to make the healthiest choice I can – for them! So, I made myself find the patience and precision for baking, and with that I can feel good about my girls enjoying a clean, sweet treat.

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Creamy Courgetti with Peas

Creamy Courgetti with Peas

 

Ingredients:

6 Courgette / Zucchini (medium)

1 Cup of Frozen Peas

1/4 + 1 tbsp Creme Fraiche

3 Cloves of garlic

2 tbsp butter (grass fed)

Spices: 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp parsley flakes, 8-10 cracks of black pepper

Courgette

Method:

Prep all ingredients before cooking because the cooking goes so quickly, if you’re not prepared, time will get away from you

Prep:

– Spiralize courgette, squeeze water from courgette so they aren’t too wet, salt courgette, add boiling water to frozen peas to defrost, cut lemon in half, measure out creme fraiche 

  1. Melt 1.5 tbsp of butter, saving the remaining half tbsp for later, on med-low heat for 30 seconds, then add minced garlic. Cook for 30-40 seconds. You want the garlic to start to color a bit, but not to burn
  2. Take pan off the fire and add spiralized courgette and lemon juice. Mix really well then add back to the fire. Cook for 5 minutes on medium-low head, stirring occasionally
  3. Add remaining butter, creme fraiche, peas and spices
  4. Bring to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes for crunchier Courgetti and 5-7 minutes for al dente ‘noodles’. I prefer a crunchier texture, but Dad prefers more al dente. It’s 100% preference.
  5. Voila!

Courgetti in Pan

I made this light, super easy dish to accompany the sea bass I was cooking. While the sea bass was baking in the oven, I made this courgetti. If you’re organized, it takes less than 30 minutes.

So much can be done with this simple dish! It can be eaten alone, as a lovely, creamy vegetarian dish; you can have it with a light, white fish or you can chuck in some bacon for a gluten-free, ‘pasta’ Carbonara. If you’re opting for the vegetarian version, the peas add a good source of protein, but also an easily digestible, gluten-free, slow releasing starchy carbohydrate, which is great for blood sugar balancing. The Courgetti ‘pasta’ is made using a fresh, green vegetable – this adds vitamins, antioxidants, natural fibre and an all-around healthy nutrient profile to what also feels like an indulgent dish. It’s great for kids, to boost their veggie intake; great for mums looking for a lighter meal to maybe shift the pregnancy weight, and great for dads who might get home late and want to avoid a heavy pasta dish. Winner!

The magic of this dish is the garlic, butter and lemon combination. The lemon lightens up the richness of the butter and cream, adding a kiss of citrusy tang. And no good Italian dish is complete without garlic!

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family does. It’s all the pleasure of a pasta dish without the heavy, bloated feeling of a pasta dish. Bellissimo!

 

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Vegetarian Risotto

Rissoto

 

Ingredients

1 cup white basmati rice

1 onion finely diced

2 cloves of minced garlic

1 carrot

5 mushrooms

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 cup vegetable stock

1-2 cups water

1.5 tbsp grated Parmasean

2 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper to taste

Method

  1. Mix the vegetable stock and water together and add to a saucepan and warm. In a separate saucepan heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and warm on low heat. While it’s warming, finely dice your onion and mince the garlic. Once olive oil is warm, add onion and fry for 5 minutes on low heat. Then, add garlic and fry for 3 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally
  2. Add rice and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Turn heat up to medium-high and fry the rice with the onions and garlic for 1-2 minutes, stirring
  3. After 1-2 minutes, add about 1 cup of warmed vegetable stock and some salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high fire for about 3-5 minutes, while you chop the carrot and mushrooms into small cubes. After 3-5 minutes, or when the rice absorbs most of the stock and just starts to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and the carrots and more warm liquid, mix. You want the rice to cook slowly, gaining a sticky consistency – adding liquid as it absorbs into the rice
  4. Next, add the mushrooms – you’re the judge of when and how much liquid to add, as you the one watching the rice cook and absorb, so if you need more liquid at this time, add more. All together, you will probably use about 2-3 cups of the liquid
  5. Continue to simmer, occasionally stirring, tasting the rice to check if its nearly cooked. This will probably be another 3-5 minutes. When the rice is nearly cooked, add the peas, tiny bit more liquid and salt and pepper. Let the rice now cook another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Once the rice is cooked, turn the heat off, add the grated parmesan, mix and cover. Leave to rest for 2 minutes. This is when the rice really takes form as a risotto and becomes a lovely, sticky consistency. Mix and serve
  7. Voila!

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Risotto requires a little bit of love and attention while preparing to ensure that the rice cooks well, and the grains achieve a smooth and sticky consistency. It might be worth setting a timer, maybe on your smart phone, for each stage to remind yourself to continuously check the rice. You don’t want to overcook it, and it does require constant liquid ladling. It might sound complex, but honestly, it’s such a simple dish. Cooking risotto is like making toast – you can’t really mess it up.

White rice is as cost effective as pasta, it’s definitely toddler approved and it’s more easily digested than pasta, so it’s a good alternative to what might seem like a constant rotation of pasta dishes in your house. You can make this recipe with risotto rice, but I use white basmati rice because I always have it in the house, and it cooks faster. This recipe can be prepped and cooked in about 30 minutes, and it requires no planning – spontaneous cooking at its best! You can add whatever vegetables you have in the house: carrots, mushrooms, green beans, butternut squash, sweet potato, leeks, kale – just try to add the more dense vegetables in the early cooking process, so they have time to soften.  If you want a more hearty meal, you can use homemade chicken stock instead of vegetable stock, and add chicken or salmon to the risotto. The chicken or fish stock will add depth and flavor galore, boost the nutrient profile, and make the dish a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids. Adding an oily fish like salmon will also up the essential fatty acid profile which is so important in developing infants, babies and toddlers.

Cooking risotto fills the house with a beautiful smell that is unmistakable in its aroma. I would often cook it while both girls were taking their afternoon nap, and as Number 1 approached 2.5 years old, she would wake and come downstairs and ask, “did you make rice!?!” It’s a favorite of my girls, and of mine because they can easily feed themselves the sticky rice, there’s always enough for leftovers, it can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian and it feels gluttonous, but it’s actually very healthy. Hooray for risotto!

Additional Note

This will serve 4 – two toddlers and two adults. Or, if you’re having fish or chicken to accompany it, which is what we do, this recipe will serve 4, with leftovers.

Enjoy!

 

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Buttered Popcorn

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Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil or 2 tbsp ghee
3/4 cup kernels
3.5 tbsp butter
Salt

Method

  1. Heat oil or ghee on medium-high fire. Add three kernels to the pot. Shake the pot around every now and then until all three kernels pop. This takes about 3-4 minutes.
  2.  Once the three kernels have popped, pour in the remaining kernels and cover. Give the pot a good shake. Within 60 seconds, the kernels should start popping quite rapidly
  3. While the kernels are popping, melt 3-4 tbsp of butter – I melt my butter in a small saucepan on the stove, but you can do it in the micro, if that’s your preference
  4.  Once the kernels have stopped popping, turn fire off. Pour half of the butter over the popped kernels. Salt generously. Cover and shake really well. Remove some of the popcorn and pour the remaining butter over the popcorn. Salt generously. Cover and shake
  5. Voila! Serve while hot.

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Buttered Popcorn! I rarely eat sweets – in fact I can count on one hand the amount of desserts I’ve had this year. But anything salty, savory, fried or crispy, I’m in for the win. I make popcorn once, maybe twice a week and if I’m having a bad day, I might have it for dinner. Buttered popcorn might seem overindulgent to some, which is why I’ve classified it as a treat, but if you buy your own kernels and pop it at home, using good quality grass fed butter, it’s a great snack! It’s fun; it’s not fried and a great variation on the sweet snacks.

Enjoy!

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Oat & Raisin ‘No Bake’ Brownies

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Ingredients

1 cup nut butter or seed butter

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut oil

1.5 cup dry rolled oats

3 tsp raisins

50 g of 70% dark chocolate bar or 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Method

  1. Combine the nut butter, maple syrup, coconut oil and raisins in a pot and melt on a low-medium heat, stirring as it melts. This should take 2-3 minutes
  2. Add chocolate and allow to melt for about 30 seconds. Turn the fire off and stir in the oats
  3. Pour into a baking dish lined with parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment paper, just grease the dish with coconut oil. It’ll make the brownies a little more difficult to remove from the dish, but a little patience and power, and you will do it
  4. Freeze for 1 hour. Once set, remove and cut into squares. Store in the fridge
  5. Voila!

I like this recipe because it’s a sweet treat made with natural sugars, no flours, no baking (which I tend to avoid because it’s so precise) and it reminds me of my favorite cookie – oatmeal and raisin. The ingredients make up a great toddler snack loaded with essential fats, protein and slow releasing carbohydrates. The dark chocolate, as we all know and justify daily, is not only an antioxidant, but also contains nutrients that are essential to our energy cycle as well as our body’s natural relaxation ability – it even contains a decent amount of fibre. It’s one of the healthiest and tastiest treats I’ve tasted in a long time – nutrient dense and no blood sugar spike. Great for the whole family, and definitely toddler approved!

Enjoy!

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Broccoli & Mushroom Casserole

Casserole

 

Ingredients

4-5 cups broccoli

1.5 cup mushrooms

1 chopped onion

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 cup double cream

1.5 cup cooked quinoa (1/4 cup dry)

Spices: 1/4 tsp salt, cracked black pepper, garlic granules

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, 180C, Gas 4
  2. Wash and cook quinoa. For 1/4 cup quinoa, add 3/4 cup of water. Bring to boil, reduce and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes
  3. Wash and prepare broccoli, mushroom and onions. Broccoli into small toddler pieces and  mushroom and onion roughly chopped
  4. Chuck vegetables in a steamer for 10 minutes to take the edge off the rawness
  5. While veg are steaming, grate cheese
  6. Tip the steamed veg into a 9×12 rectangular pyrex dish, or something similar
  7. Add cheese, cream and mix in quinoa and spices
  8. Put into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. You want the cheese to turn a nice golden color and crisp around the edges
  9. Voila!

Broc Cass 1

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When I’m craving a pizza, on a Tuesday night, but don’t want the bloated and guilty feeling that comes with eating a pizza, on a Tuesday night, I make my grandmother’s casserole dish. My grandmother was an amazing cook. She lived around the corner from us, and I spent a lot of time at her house, eating her food. One year, during the Thanksgiving holiday, I packed a bag and moved in with her and my grandfather for an entire week. This is a long time for a seven year old. But we were tight. I loved being at her house.

We always ate real food in our family. This recipe, although it might sound indulgent, is all real food ingredients. Nothing processed – nothing refined, much healthier than a pizza. I modified the original because I’m a nutritionist, and that’s what I do, but the flavor is identical. It’s healthy and it makes my family happy. Dad devoured half of the casserole, standing over the stove. That is food joy!

Diary – should we eat it or shouldn’t we?  Choosing a diary-free diet is almost as common as a gluten-free diet, and for good reason – many people are allergic or intolerant. However, if you don’t react badly to dairy, and if you consume it moderately from farms that respect their cows and produce organic, grass-fed products, in its full fat form, then I think dairy can be a wonderful and fun addition to cuisine. Real cream, real butter and whole milk not only taste better than the alternatives, but they are actually better for you. To be boring, consuming full fat dairy over low-fat alternatives will reduce insulin spikes, keep blood sugar balanced and it has a better fatty acid profile. So, ditch the low-fat, skimmed, soy alternatives and indulge in the option that is more of a real, whole food.

Enjoy!

 

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Cauliflower Rice

Cauli Rice

 

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower

2 carrots

Butter

Salt & Pepper

Method

  1. Cut the cauliflower in half or quarters if you want to make it easier and remove the core stem. Each floret is attached to the core by its own little stem. Cut away as much of the little stem as possible, eating them as you go, and aim to only have the small florets remaining. Wash.
  2. Peel and dice the carrot
  3. Add to the steamer and steam for 10 minutes, or until soft enough to mash with a fork.
  4. Transfer into a bowl and quickly pat down with a cloth to remove water. With a large fork, mash the florets, which should be very easy.
  5. Add salt, pepper and grass fed butter (or ghee) to taste
  6. Voila!

Cauli Rice 1

 

Why cauliflower rice? Why not! I’m always preparing food with a gravy, or a stew that needs pouring over a base, and I find cauliflower rice is a nice alternative to white rice and quinoa – the two grains that I’m constantly recycling in my kitchen.  Cauliflower rice is a lovely, light substitte to grains in the summertime and it’s also a great way to get more vegetables into your little one’s tummy. It’s a inoffensive vegetable, barely containing a flavor, but packed with a nutritious punch, so utilizing this vegetable in diverse ways makes a lot of sense to me. I find white rice has a hint of sweetness to it when cooked, so as an attempt to replicate that natural sweetness, I add the carrot to my cauliflower rice.

Enjoy!

Example of my Better Than Southern Fried Chicken with Cauliflower Rice

Cauli Rice and BTSFC

 

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Ashy Family Tabbouleh Salad

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Ingredients

3 cup cooked quinoa (1 cup dry)

1.5 – 2 cup finely chopped parsley

1 tomato

4 green onions

3 sprigs of mint (15-20 leaves)

1 1/2 lemons

2 tbs olive oil

1/4 tsp sea salt

3 pinches of cayenne pepper

Equipment

Mortar and Pestle aka “Knocker” (wooden preferably)

Large salad bowl

* double all ingredients for a larger batch

Method

  1. Cook and cool the quinoa. Once quinoa is cooled, add to large salad bowl. You can either cook the quinoa the night before, or you can cook it and cool it in the fridge while preparing the other ingredients
  2. Wash parsley, onions, tomatoes and mint
  3. Start chopping vegetables. I start with the parsley – cut stems off as close to the leaf as possible. Do this in handful sizes. Bunch the parsley up and chop finely. It usually requires a horizontal and vertical chop to get it to a fine consistency. You can use flat or curly parsley; curly parsley is quicker and easier. Once chopped, chuck into your quinoa in a large salad bowl *see note below
  4. Chop onions (white and green) and tomatoes quite finely and add to quinoa
  5. Remove mint leaves from stem and chop. Add to the knocker with pinch of coarse salt. Knock and mash the mint with considerable pressure until you get a paste consistency. The coarse salt helps to grind the mint down into a paste. This usually takes 60 seconds of firm knocking and mixing
  6. Squeeze juice from lemons and add to the mint paste along with salt, pepper and olive oil Mix together well then pour over quinoa. Mix well
  7. Serve chilled in lettuce wraps
  8. Voila!

Example of how finely to chop tomatoes, onions and parsley

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Growing up in a Lebanese family, in south Louisiana, is quite a unique experience. My great-grandparents left their country in the early 1900’s and migrated to the southern parts of America. They chose the south because they were Christian, and they were French speaking. South Louisiana offered a home to both of those attributes. We southern Lebanese descendants now proudly refer to ourselves as Leba-Cajuns because of the rich cultural experience we received growing up in Acadiana Parish. Cooking, eating and drinking shaped our existence.

My mother’s father was Lebanese and her mother was French, so my mom grew up with a predominately Cajun-Creole cuisine. When my mom married into the Ashy family, she was taught through the generations the recipes of the Old Country. My mom was a great student and an even better teacher. I’m so grateful to my mom for teaching us that nothing tastes quite as good as food prepared in your own kitchen.

Traditionally, Tabbouleh is made with number 2 medium grind bulgur wheat. My ancestors might not approve, but I substitute bulgar wheat with quinoa. Quinoa much improves the nutritional value of the dish, and I actually prefer the taste. Quinoa is one of the few plant foods containing all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein, which makes this version of Tabbouleh a well balanced vegetarian salad providing essential fat, protein and carbohydrates.

I make Tabbouleh at least once a fortnight. The girls taste it & Number 1 likes it more & more. Number 2 still struggles to chew leaves, especially parsley, but she will get there. And so, the Lebanese tradition continues to be passed down through generations – with food this tasty and healthy, how could it not!

Additional Notes

Chopping parsley is the most time consuming part of the preparation. It’s worth taking the time to hand chop, so maybe plan to make this salad on a weekend. However, being a realist as well as a busy mom, I have many times chucked the parsley in a food processor and whizzed it up in seconds. If you do this, make sure not to over process; otherwise, you will end up with soggy parsley.

Enjoy!

  

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Caribbean Dream Smoothie

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Ingredients

1 papaya

8 cherries

1/2 banana

3 tbs Greek yogurt

3 tbs hemp seeds

1 tbs desiccated coconut

1/4 cup coconut water

Method

  1. Cut the papaya in half, discard the seeds and scoop out the flesh
  2. Deseed the cherries
  3. Add all of the ingredients into a blender, NutriBullet or whatever blending method you prefer. Blend
  4. Voila

Dad has been training hard lately, so I’ve been creating post-training smoothies to supply a good hit of glucose to transport energy to the muscles, protein for muscle repair and electrolytes for rehydration. This formula is also perfect for a toddler smoothie, especially in the summertime when extra hydration is needed. The protein in the smoothie with slow down the release of sugar from the fruit, creating a more stabilized source of energy, and keep the body fueled for longer. It’s a great early morning or mid afternoon snack.

I had an idea of how this smoothie would taste when I was making it, but it actually came out better than expected. Drinking it made me feel like I should be dancing in the sun, on a white sandy beach, in the Caribbean islands. Thanks to my little Caribbean Dream smoothie, for that lovely memory recall…

 

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