Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Super Foods Green Smoothie

Want to kick-start your day with some super foods that will keep you going all morning...? This smoothie is not only power-packed with vitamins and minerals, its also SUPER delicious!

Super foods are foods that pack a punch of extra power like anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, as well sustaining powers, so you don't get hungry half an hour after your last meal.

I used to be a huge fan of smoothies, drinking at least one several times a week. But I had to put them on the back burner after greatly reducing my sugar intake for some major health reasons. But now I am back at it, except the make up of the ingredients has changed dramatically! They are much more healthy - loaded with anti-oxidant rich greens! My recipe for this beauty is posted below.

In keeping with my avoidance of drinking smoothies (and let me tell you, I missed them dearly) I began juicing. This was something I decided to commit to after seeing my Naturopath back in March, who gave me some pretty crappy news about my health. Let me back up a bit - I am a 7 year breast cancer survivor and have suffered from chronic pain (fibromyalgia) for 13 years. The bad news thankfully was not related to my cancer, in fact I am now considered fully cured of it! The bad news was about the impact the cancer and related treatments and stress had had on my body's cells. 

The juicing regime came recommended by my ND as a quick, no nonsense way to inject my cells and tissues with real, pure food plus vitamins and minerals - which I was greatly lacking (who knew, I eat veggies everyday along with some of the healthiest foods available since my cancer diagnosis). But there was a lot of congestion and inflammation in my tissues and organs, and thus the vitamins and minerals were not getting to the finish line. My recovery protocol included deep cleansing (liver, kidney and candida) and a few extra tricks to get me back on track, I am feeling fantastic! 

Why was I juicing over smoothie-ing you ask? Same ingredients, but more fiber in the smoothie...so wouldn't the smoothie be a better option?

The reason for drinking freshly 'juiced' is that all of those great veggies and fruit that you just fed through your juicer are ready to be immediately absorbed into your cells - no messing around with the stomach and digestive tract, where all that smoothie-fiber would have to be broken down first. This is like instant "WHOA" - like getting a shot of caffeine, except without the caffeine! 

I have become a huge advocate of making juicing a part of my daily routine to get healthy, stay healthy and live longer - when I sip my fresh juice, I just think of it as all those anti-oxidants punching out the oxidative stress in our bodies from environmental and food contamination. And I want to make sure my cells are strong enough to K-O any and all free radicals floating around in my precious temple!

So after 6 months of daily juicing, I have decided to get back into smoothie-mode and alternate each day with a delicious smoothie. But the focus is still on mainly veggies people! Its easy to get on the "milkshake" smoothie bandwagon and fill your blender or magic bullet with nothing but sugary fruit and juice. Nope. If you want to stay healthy, you need to go down that veggie path...that path that right now may seem too scary, overgrown with dark and well, green things...

Don't we all want to strive towards longevity...? Trust me, you will thank me later.

If you want to create a happy and healthy environment in your temple, you will need to follow this one rule when juicing or smoothie-ing: Keep things alkaline! What does that mean? Simply put - more veggie, less sugar. The majority of your smoothie ingredients should consist of veggies, preferably the deep dark green ones. These are alkaline - not acidic, which is what sugar is acidic. Yuk! And an acidic environment creates inflammation and eventually disease. So stick to the greens, then add in a bit of fruit for sweetness like berries, apple, pear or even some watermelon or musk melon. The key is to have about a 70/30 ratio on the veg to fruit. Easy, right?

Now once you have your veg and fruit figured out, you can decide on the liquid. I like to use coconut water as its is the perfect hydrator that replenishes the electrolytes in our bodies (almond or rice milk and sometimes even just filtered alkaline water works, too. Finally I add in a tablespoon of healthy oil like flaxseed, or an avocado for creaminess and Omega 3 and 6. For that extra punch, I add some Matcha tea powder or ginger or cayenne pepper and chia or hemp seeds. The possibilities are as great as your imagination...

Or just keep checking back for more juicing and smoothie recipes right here on my blog as well as my other great healthy recipes!

Here's to good health!

~ Marlies

Super Foods Green Smoothie

What you will need:
3 large ribs green or purple kale, torn 
4 stalks celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup musk melon cubes (like cantaloupe, casaba or honeydew)
1 avocado
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup coconut water or any type of milk (cow, almond, rice, soy)
1 tsp Matcha green tea powder
Optional: 4-5 ice cubes for a more slushy smoothie.

Place all ingredients in blender. Puree until smooth. Enjoy!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Kale, Beet and Berry Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

Kale is one of those super foods that everyone who dreams of longevity should really make a part of their weekly ritual - as many days a possible! I love kale raw, cooked, baked into kale chips and blended into my juices and smoothies. I bought some gorgeous golden and red beets at the market and boiled them for this vitamin loaded super salad. The Raspberries on our bushes are just about finished, but the blackberries are in full swing. I had just enough raspberries to make a beautiful vinaigrette dressing and a few to spare as a garnish. Added in toasted pumpkin seeds and this salad will give you enough vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and energy needed to get through any type of day!

What You Will Need
6-8 cups fresh kale leaves (Costco sells pre-washed organic bagged mixed kale)
2 medium golden beets, 2 medium red beets, boiled in skins, cooled, then skins removed and diced
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup fresh raspberries and blackberries

Place kale greens in serving bowl; top with diced beets, red onion slices, pumpkin seeds and berries; serve with raspberry vinaigrette.

1/4 cup avocado oil or grapeseed oil ( you want to use a mild flavoured oil)
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup crushed raspberries
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Whisk together vinegar, Dijon and honey; slowly whisk in oil until it forms an emulsion (thickens); stir in crushed berries; add salt and pepper to taste.

Easy Thai Fish Cakes with Spicy Peanut Sauce

I am a huge fan of Thai food, having travelled to this amazing country and having sampled the incredible, flavourful local cuisine. So much so, that I keep most typical Thai staple ingredients in my fridge and cupboard - like curry pastes, coconut milk, fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass to name a few. 

I was at the fish market yesterday and picked up some local fresh cod and decided to make a fish cake, infusing the great exotic flavours of Thailand. The spicy, but tiny bit sweet peanut sauce is the perfect balance to the bold flavours in this delicious fish cake.

What You Will Need 

The Fish Cakes
350g fresh cod filets without skin, pin bones removed
1 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 dried kaffir lime leaves, crumbled
1 egg white
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
*Panko bread crumbs
Coconut oil for shallow frying

The Peanut Sauce
1 small red Thai chilli with seeds (de-seed for milder sauce)
1 Tbsp Bragg's or low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
3 Tbsp crunchy natural peanut butter
4 Tbsp coconut milk

How Its Done

  1. Put the fish filets in a food processor with the fish sauce, curry paste, lime juice, garlic, lime leaves and egg white; process until a smooth paste forms.
  2. Stir in cilantro and process until just mixed. Divide mixture into 8 pieces and roll into balls. Flatten to make round patties and set aside.
  3. For the dip: finely chop Thai chilli; place in a small saucepan with remaining ingredients and heat gently - do not boil. Adjust seasoning.
  4. Place Panko crumbs in a shallow bowl; dip each fish cake into crumbs to coat evenly; shallow fry fish cakes in about 1 inch of coconut oil for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve with spicy peanut sauce.
* Panko crumbs are available in Asian markets

Serves 4

Adapted from Quick and Easy Thai

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Rice Fettucine with Italian Sausage, Peas, Ricotta and Arugula

Instead of telling you a whole story about how I came up with this recipe, I am going to keep the comments to a minimum, because it all just came together...that easy!

So all I will say are these three words:

Delicious. Easy. Healthy. (oh, and its gluten free!)

I would love to know what you think so...please feel free to add any additional text in the comments section below... :) 

What You Will Need

400g package thick rice noodles (available in the Asian section of your supermarket)
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 mild Italian sausages, (casings removed)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 Tbsp basil pesto
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 bunch, about 2 cups fresh arugula, torn
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped
Parmesano Reggiano, grated
Sea salt and pepper to taste

How Its Done

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat; add sausages and break up with a fork; brown well and drain off excess fat; set aside.
  2. In the meantime boil rice fettucine (Asian thick rice noodles) according to package directions; drain.
  3. Toss hot pasta in skillet with Italian sausage, lemon juice, pesto, peas and arugula; heat through; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place pasta in serving bowls and top with dollops of ricotta, shavings of Parmesano Reggiano and fresh basil. 
Serves 4.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Mar's Killer Kitchen Sink Ribs with Edamame Succotash

During BBQ season, I like to experiment with many different kinds of protein. In our summer kitchen, I tend to prepare more of the white meats and fish of course, with the addition of an occasional really good cut of steak and leave beef and pork stews and roasts for the colder months. Did you know that pork is actually considered a white meat? One of my three guys' favourite BBQ'd meats are pork ribs. I am always looking for ways to reduce fat and keep our meals as healthy as possible. As baby back ribs are pretty fatty, I discovered that if you boil them first to remove much of the fat, you end up with a much more tender and lean rib you can then toss into your favourite BBQ sauce and finish on the BBQ or in the oven. The key here is to boil them in a beautifully seasoned brine to impart all that wonderful flavour directly into the meat, so when you sink your teeth into those tender ribs, you are in BBQ heaven!

If you can get your hands on some free range/non medicated pork, I promise you that you will never go back to the conventional - it has so much more flavour, is more tender and of course is far healthier than the pork raised on meds in tight pens...

Last night I prepared my favourite rib recipe, one that I came up with once on a whim, when I rummaged through the fridge to find a cacophony of ready made sauces and raided my spice cupboard to bring together a pot of heaven to boil those beautiful baby back ribs in. I call this recipe my Killer Kitchen Sink Ribs, because, the brine has everything in it but the kitchen sink and well, its just 'killer'!

Okay, this recipe may seem a bit out of character for me as you know that I am all about sticking to healthy, real food...I will forewarn you - some of the ingredients I have used here are processed and I always try and avoid processed wherever possible, but in my opinion, if the majority of your diet consists of mainly unprocessed foods, then having something processed every now and again is not going to make you ill. Besides, once you taste these ribs, you won't even think about all the 'stuff' that's in them - kidding aside, if you read the ingredients on the back of most of the 'stuff' in my brine, its not all that sad a story anyway - there are far worse things in food that we don't even know about...

Here goes...did I say these are 'killer'...?

What you will need

The Brine (enough for 4 lbs baby back ribs, or 4 racks)

4 lbs baby back ribs

1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
4 dashes Worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup Thai Red Chilli Sauce
1/4 cup Bragg's or low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 canned beer
1 Tbsp Cajun Spice
1 Tbsp steak spice
4 bay leaves
2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp dried Italian herbs
2 Tbsp brown sugar
4 cups water

Steak seasoning (like Montreal Steak Spice or Keg Steak Spice)
Your favourite BBQ sauce 

How its done

  1. Rinse and dry the rib racks and cut into halves or thirds, set aside. Combine all of the remaining ingredients in a large stock pot, except the beer - have a swig of the beer then add the rest of it to the pot, whisking to mix well. Add ribs and arrange so they are covered by the liquid. Heat pot over high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium or medium-low and keep ribs at a gentle boil for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until meat begins to fall off the bone.
  2. Drain ribs and place on baking sheet. Season with steak seasoning; cover with foil until ready to BBQ or bake in oven (ribs can be refrigerated and stored in the fridge over night).
  3. When ready to BBQ, slather ribs in your favourite BBQ sauce and heat on a medium grill until the meat begins to caramelize and shows some nice grill marks. Ribs can also be finished off in a 350°F oven for about 20-25 minutes. Serves 4.

What you will need

The Edamame Succotash

2 Tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups frozen edamame beans, thawed
3 cups frozen peaches and cream corn, thawed
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large orange pepper, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2-3 mini zucchini, cut into slices or 1 small zucchini, diced
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped

How its done

  1. Heat EVOO in large skillet over medium high heat; add onions and garlic and cook just until onions are transparent; add peppers and continue to cook until they begin to soften; add edamame beans, corn and zucchini, toss well and cook another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add lemon juice; sprinkle with fresh basil. Serves 4-6  

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Blackberry Mint Sorbet with Vanilla Tuiles

Last week I posted two beautiful blueberry recipes to celebrate berry season. A pretty blueberry tart and a gorgeous blueberry and white chocolate mousse. This week I am continuing with the berry theme, this time showcasing the succulent blackberrry. Today's post is all about turning the sweet and tangy blackberry into a refreshing cold summer treat: mmmm, sorbet. And to make it extra special, I have included my recipe for vanilla tuiles, so you can not only enjoy your frozen treat, but also eat the bowl! 

Our back lane has literally disappeared into a sea of blackberry bushes, so thick that one needs to go in wearing full body armour to harvest these pretty little jewels. After picking for about 10 minutes, the yield can easily reach about 2 pounds or more. And with the fabulous hot sun beating down on the thicket, each day brings on another onslaught of berries just waiting to be picked. Its just so tough to keep up!

You will need an ice cream machine for this recipe, as there is just no comparison to the creamy texture achieved using this method. I have tried the manual method, freezing the liquid in a baking pan and checking on it every 30 minutes to stir it so the ice crystals don't turn it into a frozen mess - and trust me, it is worth every $ spent to use an automated ice cream machine - and  so dead easy. If you factor in the cost of buying a premium brand of ice cream, gelato or sorbet, the machine will pay for itself after a summer.

What you will need:

For the sorbet
1- 1/4 cups berry sugar (or granulated sugar)
1 cup water
3 cups fresh blackberries
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Zest of 1/2 lime

For the Tuiles
3/4 cup berry sugar (or granulated sugar)
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Small dessert bowl and wooden spoon for shaping

How Its Done

1. Make the simple syrup:
- combine the sugar, water and mint leaves in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until sugar is completely dissolved, about 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat; Stir for a few minutes to cool; remove mint leaves and pour into glass measuring cup and place in freezer to cool completely while preparing the blackberries.

2. Puree the berries:
- pick through the blackberries removing any debris, or suspect looking berries - rinse in colander and set aside to drain; place in rerfigerator until simple syrup is well chilled.
When the simple syrup is chilled, puree the berries. Process on high until the berries are pureed and liquified. Transfer mixture to a mesh strainer and push pulp through with a wooden spoon to remove the seeds. This process will take some muscle - keep pushing the pulp through the strainer until you are left with almost only seeds. Return mixture to food processor; add simple syrup and lime juice; pulse until combined; place in refrigerator or freezer until well chilled.

3. Make the sorbet:
- pour your prepared mixture into the ice cream maker (as per manufacturer's directions). I have a Cuisinart, so my sorbet processed for about 30 minutes. In the last 5 minutes, add the lime zest. Your sorbet should look like melted ice cream. Pour into a glass storage container with lid and place in freezer for several hours until firm, but still scoop-able. 

Makes about 4 cups of sorbet


* Note - this may look like it is waaay too difficult, but it really isn't - seriously, anyone can make these!

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar until well combined, but not foamy; whisk in the melted butter; add flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth - do not over-mix. Batter will be thick, not pourable; refrigerate batter for at least 1 hour, ideally 2-3 hours.
2. Start off by making only 1 or 2 cookies for practice until you have it down, as they firm up very quickly once removed from the oven and can only be shaped while soft.

Scoop a small amount of the batter onto a Silpat/or parchment lined cookie sheet or a well greased cookie sheet; for the bowls, spread into a thin circle using a metal spatula or flat knife. Your circle should be about 1 1/2" to 2" larger than the widest part of your dessert bowl - the size of the shape will not change during baking; for the spirals, spread the batter into a 5-6" long narrow strip. Bake in a 300°F oven for about 7-9 minutes, until lightly browned. 

Have your dessert bowls and wooden spoon ready. Remove the baking sheet from the oven; after about 5-7 seconds, gently remove the baked circle from the pan using a metal spatula; quickly mould into the dessert bowl, pressing gently until cool - it will harden quickly. Gently lift the strip off the baking tray and drape around the handle of the wooden spoon, in a spiral. Once cool, slide off the handle. If the tuiles are too hard to mould, return to oven for a minute or so and try again. Store cooled tuiles in an air tight container.  

Scoop sorbet into tuile bowls just before serving as they are delicate and will soften with the moisture of the sorbet. 

Makes many, many shapes and sizes of tuile cookies - recipe can be halved.

Adapted from Fine Cooking and The Hungry Mouse

Friday, August 01, 2014

Asian Turkey And Quinoa Lettuce Wraps And Apple Fennel Slaw

With the summer heat, I often just want to eat a meal that is light, yet still tasty and satisfying. Last night we had just that - Asian inspired turkey and quinoa lettuce wraps with a crisp apple and fennel slaw and home made sweet chilli and lemongrass sauce. I must tell you, this recipe is going on my regular list, it was that delicious! 

Make lots of this filling and take the leftovers to work for lunch or have it for dinner again the next night!

What you will need:

For the filling:

2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 pounds ground turkey
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
4 tbsp Bragg's soy seasoning or low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp Kecup Manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 cup daikon radish, diced
2 cups cooked quinoa
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
5 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
1 bunch fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 heads iceberg lettuce
Sweet chilli and lemongrass sauce (recipe to follow) or purchased Thai sweet chilli sauce

For the slaw:
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 large apple, grated and tossed in a squeeze of fresh lime juice to prevent discoloration
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, grated
2 Tbsp minced red onion
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Seasoned rice vinegar (available in Asian section of supermarket - contains sugar and salt)
Sesame oil
Grapeseed oil
Sea salt and pepper

How its done:

The Filling
1. Heat coconut oil over medium high heat in a large frying pan; add ground turkey and fry until nicely browned, draining off any excess fat as needed; remove from pan and set aside.
2. To pan, add garlic, yellow onions and red bell pepper and saute until onions are transparent and peppers are barely cooked, about 5 minutes. 
3. Stir in hoisin sauce, soy sauce, kecup manis and ginger; add turkey mixture; gently fold in daikon radish and quinoa until combined. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Transfer filling to a large serving bowl; Sprinkle with green onions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve family style with lettuce leaf 'cups' and a drizzle of sweet chilli and lemongrass sauce. 

Makes 8 - 10 servings.

The Slaw
Place first 7 ingredients in a serving bowl; dress salad as desired with a sprinkling of rice vinegar, sesame oil and grapeseed oil; toss gently and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Serves 6

Sweet chilli and lemongrass sauce:

What you will need
1/4 cup finely grated ginger
3 large mild red chillies, seeded and shredded
1-2 hot Thai chillis, with seeds, shredded
1/2 stalk fresh lemongrass, outer layers peeled away, then sliced in quarters lengthwise
1/2 cup berry sugar (fine granulated sugar_
1/2 cup white vinegar
Juice of half a lime
3 Tbsp fish sauce (available in the Asian section of your supermarket)

How its done
1. Place ginger, lemongrass, chillies, sugar, vinegar, lime juice and fish sauce in a saucepan over medium-high heat and boil for 3-4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove lemongrass. Allow to cool. Serve drizzled over lettuce wraps. 

Adapted from Donna Hay (instant entertaining) and The Comfort Of Cooking