Month: March 2014

A day for curried parsnips

I’m wondering what to make for dinner and as I do I gaze out of the window. And watch the snow fall.

The snow fall.

The snow fall.

Again.

It’s March 27th.

Suddenly I lose all motivation. I can’t believe it’s still snowing, it feels like the winter will never come to an end.

There’s only one thing for it. Curried parsnips for dinner. Which is about as close I can think of to get to eating candy for dinner without actually eating candy.

To accompany our sweet parsnips, I throw a lentil and walnut loaf I hav in the freezer in the oven to offset nutrient deficiencies without requiring any effort on my part.

The parsnips don’t require much more effort;

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1lb parnsips, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Transfer dressed parsnips to a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, checking and turning regularly at 375ºF.

Close the blinds, pretend the snow isn’t happening and enjoy your parsnip candy.

 

Keeping the Whole Family Happy

One of the reasons “Zoë’s Kitchen” was born was because I was tired of a turned up nose every time dinner time came around. It’s been a wonderful project to have both of my girls more involved in the preparation of dinner and they do appreciate the food more.

However, I still hit a wall when I try to serve them some kind of salad. They don’t do lentils in any form, barley is a no-no unless it’s in a soup and beets are way too brightly coloured to be sensible food (don’t talk to me about brightly coloured crayons, I don’t have an answer to that).

Still, I refuse to stop making salads. I know how important it is for the girls to see what we eat and enjoy and their tastes will develop as they grow older. In the meantime, I have to include something on the table that they will like with the ultimate goal being able to sit and enjoy dinner with the whole family without having to get up. Haven’t achieved it 100% yet but ever hopeful!

Tonight’s dinner was Barley and Lentil Salad with Beets. It’s a one-pot sustaining dish that is yummy but the girls, I know, wouldn’t touch it. So I defrosted some soup I had in the freezer and served it alongside a basket of bread. Following the principles that Ellyn Satter outlines in her books, it’s important to have something on the table that everybody will eat. Even if it is bread – be patient and the bread will become boring and the interest for the salad will pique. I’ve seen this happen in my older daughter – who will now venture into a green salad – but that’s not to say I wasn’t doubtful along the way. It’s hard to imagine, but rest assured – it will!

Meanwhile, the Lentil and Barley Salad was delicious. It wasn’t based on a strict recipe – as salad so isn’t but it’s something like this:

Ingredients:

1 cup pot barley, cooked*
1 cup lentils, cooked*
1 cup cubed beets, cooked*
1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup sliced red onion
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1/2 fennel, chopped (optional)
3 miniature sweet peppers, alternative colours, chopped
2 cups shredded arugula
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
6oz chopped goat cheese

Salad Dressing:
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp mustard
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/8 cup flax oil (can substitute with extra-virgin olive oil)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Set your ingredients out so everything is ready to mix together.

Set your ingredients out so everything is ready to mix together.

Always keep an eye on toasting nuts. Pine nuts can go from pale to burnt in seconds

Always keep an eye on toasting nuts. Pine nuts can go from pale to burnt in seconds

In a stainless steel skillet over a medium heat, brown pine nuts, then set aside to cool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love my Magic Bullet for making dressings.

I love my Magic Bullet for making dressings.

Make salad dressing using a blender or chopping all ingredients finely and shaking vigorously in a mason jar. Set aside.

Chop vegetables (carrot, celery, fennel if using, onion and peppers). Set aside in a small bowl. Prepare torn arugula and cilantro and set aside.

Mix cooled barley and lentils together in a large bowl. Pour in enough dressing to coat and flavour ingredients. Add in cubed beets and mix until pink hue spreads evenly. Add in pine nuts, carrot, celery, onion, peppers and cilantro.

Distribute salad on a serving platter and sprinkle crumbled goat cheese over top.

 

Colourful, nutritious and delicious salad.

Colourful, nutritious and delicious salad.

 

Note: Flavour intensifies over time so make sure you save some for tomorrow’s lunch. These types of salads are even better the next day.

* Cook barley in salted water for 45 minutes, then drain. Cook lentils until soft (30-40 minutes) in salted water, drain. Scrub beets and roast with skins in 400ºF oven for approx 1 hour. Let cool slightly before peeling and chopping.

Deceiving the Kids …. and other unsuspecting family members

I’m not the first mother to hide vegetables in her children’s food and I won’t be the last. Generally, it’s not a practice I worry about too much as I believe that children should be exposed to vegetables every meal; they learn that way that they aren’t an evil food that is automatically going to taste “gross”.

Any greens powder can work.

Any greens powder can work.

Sometimes though, it has to be done and I cannot resist adding a spoonful or two of this to their morning smoothies. The hardest part is finding the fine line of enough wheatgrass to provide the benefits of a green drink and not too much to put them off the drink.

You can add this to any smoothie that is mainly fruit based.

A can of beans

Lentils cook within half hour without requiring any pre-soaking. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a can of lentils, you can literally throw them in water, let them cook and then store them until you need them. Easy.

Beans, particularly chickpeas, are not so easy.  They do require pre-soaking and much longer cooking times. Although, it’s not laborious, it is time consuming and requires pre-planning. So cans do come in handy for beans.

Beans are a wonderful healthy source of fibre and protein that stabilizes blood sugar levels and keeps you feeling full for a long time. But any time we cut corners, there a concern that we take in unwanted chemicals. Canned beans definitely fall into this category. Many labels now scream “no salt or low sodium” which a good step in lowering the amount of salt the canned beans contain. But most brands also contain an ingredient that is detrimental to our health and the environment. Disodium EDTA is often listed and should be avoided.

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Most brands have disodium EDTA listed in the ingredients.

EDTA was approved by the FDA as a pharmaceutical aid in chelation therapy (the removal of heavy metals in the body). It’s widely used now in all kinds of industries. In the food industry it is used as a preservative and prevents discolouration.

Is it enough to make you run for the dried beans? Well, yes, ideally but realistically, I don’t want to discourage eating this great food. Thankfully, not all brands contain this ingredient and it might surprise you which one do and which ones don’t.

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The good guys

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A safe choice

So, don’t stop what you are doing and change your food choices, just remember to check the can and avoid those that list disodium EDTA as an ingredient.

Leftovers are the best

Sometimes, a meal made can actually taste better the next day. I made a lentil walnut loaf from my new favourite blog Oh She Glows (thanks Trish!) and it made a ton. I froze some but still got 2 meals from one loaf. First round was met with apprehension. Ok but not great. Next day … huge hit. My 5 year old ate it all and my husband let me know I could make it again. Okaaaay, thanks!

I had sliced the remainder of the loaf and heated it up in a pan. I served it with a salad that used leftovers I had in the fridge, black beans and chickpeas and avocado. I added some green beans, corn, chopped red onion, cilantro and some cumin and then dressed it all with my regular vinaigrette.

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We also had some smoked mackerel to give us a break from all those beans!

A New Look

The overall new look is complete! I hope you like it. It should be easier to navigate, new and past posts but the big thing is a list of recipes. The separate tab keeps them compiled as categories and links. We are still working on some format changes but it’s enough now that I can resume writing.

The changes were prompted from my friend Jenne, who helped me, not only with suggestions but with execution. I’m not very tech-savvy and she cleaned up the site and organized it to what you see now. Now all I have to do is keep it like that! Truly, a huge thank you Jenne.