Sunday, January 29, 2012

Super Foods - Hemp Hearts - Miso Meatballs with Hemp Hearts

Have you given up on your New Year’s resolution to lose weight, or eat healthier foods? Sadly, the stats say that most of us have. If you haven’t: CONGRATULATIONS! KEEP GOING! If you have jump back on what ever wagon you fell off of and begin again!

To help, over the coming weeks I am going to share some new and healthy (or fairly healthy) recipes. In January, I read an article in the Vancouver Sun about 2012’s “super foods”. While I think there are many good and healthy foods, I don’t really believe any one of them can leap a building in a single bound. That said, trying new foods is one way to stay motivated in our quest for better health.

In my personal quest for healthier eating I have decided to try most of the foods on the list and share my recipes with you. (It also gives me ammo when I ask my kids to try new foods - lead by example!) Here is the list:

1. Pomegranate
2. Quinoa
3. Chia
4. Kale
5. Farro
6. Kangaroo
7. Hemp hearts
8. Spirulina
9. Black garlic
10. Avocado
11. Chick peas
12. Dates and Figs

I won’t be trying spirulina since I can only find it in powdered form and honestly it just doesn’t sound appealing.

I have already tried pomegranate, quinoa, avocado, chick peas, and dates and figs but I will offer facts and recipes for each. That leaves: chia, kale, faro, kangaroo, hemp hearts, and black garlic as foods that have never crossed my lips.

Shelled Hemp Seeds aka Hemp Hearts
Shelled Hemp Seeds

This week I tried hemp hearts. Hemps hearts are shelled hemp seeds. Whether you inhaled or not during high school or university, you do not need to worry about getting a buzz from these seeds - there is no active "buzz" generating ingredients! In fact, according to nutritionist Leslie Beck, Canada legalized industrial hemp farming back in the late 1990s. Canadian law ensures that no more than 0.3 % THC is present in harvested hemp products (sorry, not sure about the U.S.) This low level of the active "buzz" generating ingredient means it's pretty much impossible to "get high" off hemp.

According to Wikipedia, hempseed is usually very safe for those unable to tolerate nuts, gluten, lactose, and sugar. Hempseeds are a great way to get an ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3‘s.

Nutritional Info from Manitoba Harvest

Ok, so you know they are healthy and good for you. But how do they taste? I think they taste like soft sunflower seeds. They have an almost creamy consistency which varies depending on the brand. So far I have tasted Mum's and Bob's Red Mill (sorry Manitoba Harvest - I haven't tried yours yet!). Both are very good. Mum's have an organic and non-organic version as well as a "regular" variety and one that is slow roasted and Bob's is non-organic. I prefer Bob's because of the creamier taste but Mum's have been on sale lately and price often will win out.

I have been putting a couple of tablespoons of hemp hearts in my morning yogourt. They really do keep me from feeling hungry longer than say cereal, oatmeal or toast. I'd say I go about 5 hours before I need a snack.

As for other ideas, I think you could:
  • use as a coating for fish
  • add to hummus recipe
  • throw in muffins, cakes, cookies
  • meatballs
In fact, I made these meatballs for dinner recently. They are fantastic! Full of flavour and the hemp hearts add a definite nutrition boost! When you first mix the ingredients, you might think it looks a bit wet. Don't worry the hemp hearts will suck up the excess moisture.

If you have any other ideas for recipes let me know!

Miso Meatballs with Hemp Hearts Recipe

3/4 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp honey garlic sauce
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
1 tbsp red miso
3 tbsp hemp hearts
1 egg, slightly beaten

vegetable oil for sauteeing.

What to do
  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Add 1 - 2 tbsp oil and heat saute pan over medium heat.
  • Working in batches, make and brown 1-1/2 inch meatballs.
  • Saute for about 15 minutes (internal temperature of 160 degrees F must be reached to avoid food bourne illnesses!!)
  • Place batches in oven to keep warm.
  • If desired, thread on small skewers with pineapple and green onions.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Daring Bakers Challenge

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

Baking powder biscuits require few ingredients and not much time but many home cooks say they are hard to perfect. Tough biscuits, biscuits that don't rise properly, not flaky enough, not tender enough...oh the problems can be endless with these little gems.

But this month's Daring Baker's Challenge explained the science behind the baking powder biscuit. Taking to heart even a few of the tips will take your biscuits to new heights. Most important tips in my opinion are:
  • use frozen butter
  • let dough rest in fridge after initial mixing and before putting cut biscuits in the oven
Frozen butter is the secret..shhh...don't tell anyone!

Here is the recipe and tips so you can try it yourself!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Spicy Miso Grilled Chicken

I love spicy foods, especially dishes that have more than just that hot, make you sweat kind of heat. The really great spicy dishes have a depth of flavour and heat levels that change as you enjoy them. I think this miso grilled chicken qualifies.

This marinade would also be amazing with pork.

Adapted from a Men's Health recipe

8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts
3 tbsp sirachi sauce (hot sauce)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 c white grape juice (apple juice works too)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp red miso
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 c water
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
6 green onions, chopped

What to do
  • In a bowl, combine all ingredients EXCEPT chicken, and both kinds of onions.
  • Mix well (the miso usually requires a bit of extra attention to make sure it mixes completely).
  • Pour half the mixture into a large ziploc.
  • Add half of regular and green onions to the bowl and the other half into the bag.
  • Cover and place the bowl in the fridge.
  • Place the chicken in the ziploc with the marinade mixture.
  • Seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.
  • When ready to grill chicken, remove marinade in the bowl and place in a small pan.
  • Simmer over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. If desired, use a hand blender to blend in onions and make sauce thicker.
  • Meanwhile, oil BBQ grill and heat to medium high.
  • Grill chicken until nice grill marks have formed and chicken releases easily. (5 minutes for thighs; 8 minutes for breasts). Throw away marinade in bag.
  • Flip chicken and cook 5-10 minutes more. Make sure chicken is cooked to internal temp of 170 degrees F.
  • Remove from grill and rest for 3-5 minutes so juices redistribute within chicken.
  • Use cooked sauce for dipping or drizzle over chicken.
  • Makes 4-6 servings.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Baby Shower Cupcakes & Chocolate Sour Cream Ganache Recipe

I made these for a friend's baby shower many moons ago...I found the instructions here on Wilton's website. I think they turned out well....and they were fun to make. Of course, if I had to make 40 of them, I wouldn't think so...they definitely take time and really who could eat that much fondant??!! Instead, I made plain cupcakes and placed a baby themed candy on each one.

To be honest I don't remember what recipe I used for the cupcakes but I do remember the incredibly easy chocolate ganache frosting recipe.

Chocolate Sour Cream Ganache

from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

(Make about 2-1/2 c)

12 oz dark chocolate (I use Lindt)
400g sourcream , at room temperature!
What to do
Break the chocolate into small pieces and carefully melt in sauce pan over low heat or in the microwave.

Gently stir to incorporate the sourcream.

NB: Stores 3 days at room temperature.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tuna Salad in an Avocado Ring Recipe

Have you ever used a ring mold? I hadn't as it seemed too complicated and time consuming...I was wrong! I was reading other blogs one day when I came across a blog called Apples and Butter. Among many great posts she had one for a gazpacho garnish that was increbibly cute. Although I hate gazpacho, I loved the avocado ring idea. I used it as part of my tuna salad dinner that night. Luckily, I had bought a couple ring molds a few months ago but had never opened the package!

I placed the ring on top of a bed of spinach and placed the avocado slices around the ring. Then, I filled it with the salad and voila, a delcious and fun dinner was ready!

If you don't like tuna or gazpacho, fill the ring with something else - chicken salad, rice and nori, greek salad are just a few ideas.

Makes two salads. A ring mold is required - I used a 4 inch ring.

2 avocados
1/4 c grapes, halved
handful of chives, chopped
1 can tuna
6 sweet gherkins or other pickle, diced
3 tbsp mayo or salad dressing
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cups spinach leaves, washed and dried
1 celery stalk, chopped
dash of pepper and garlic powder

What to do
  • Mix the tuna, pepper and garlic, mayo, gherkins, onion and celery in a medium sized bowl.
  • Set aside.
  • Place a thin bed of spinach leaves on plate.
  • Set aside.
  • Cut avocado in half lengthwise.
  • Remove pit.
  • Remove skin.
  • Slice avocado length wise into thin strips.
  • Spray the ring mold with non-stick spray.
  • Place the avocado (cut side down) against the mold.
  • Continue to overlap the avocado slices until the mold in completely lined.
  • Press the avocado against the sides of the mold to ensure it is placed securely.
  • Spoon tuna salad into the mold ensuring it is well packed.
  • Place halved grapes and chives on top of salad.
  • Carefully remove the ring!
  • Repeat everything to make another serving.
  • Enjoy :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Halibut and Spinach Curry

NB: I had planned on posting this in September! Not sure what I guess! Luckily, this recipe is still perfect for wintery nights. It also is a great dish for those of us with healthy eating resolutions! Enjoy.....

I know summer is barely over but my mind has already turned to crisp fall days and leaves of many colours. And for me, when fall arrives so do big, warm bowls of chowders, soups and currys. Pair these with crispy, buttery garlic bread and you have an easy, yet satisfying meal for yourself and guests.

This is a hearty curry meal that can also be served atop rice instead of bread. If you don't like halibut any other firm white fish will work wonderfully. It is not overly spicy and the left over sauce begs for extra bread to sop up every last bit!

Adapted from Canadian Living.
Serves 4.

1-1/2 lbs halibut
1 tbsp oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp mild curry paste (I use Patak's)
1 tbsp gingerroot, minced (about 2 inch piece)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground tumeric
4 cups baby spinach
3/4 c crushed tomatoes from can
1 can light coconut milk

What to do
  • De-skin fish if required and cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes.
  • Heat oil over medium temperature in large sautee pan. Add onion, garlic, curry paste, ginger, coriander, tumeric and salt. Sautee until onion are translucent and soft. About 5 minutes.
  • Add spinach and cook until just wilted.
  • Add tomatoes and coconut milk.
  • Bring to boil.
  • Add the fish and immediately reduce heat to simmer fish until cooked. Fish will be done when it can flake apart easily (about 8 minutes).
  • Serve.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Chocolate oatmeal flax cookie recipe

If I put flax and oatmeal in a cookie along with some dark chocolate that makes them a health food, right?.....right??? Come on work with me here, people!

Ok, ok maybe they are not a health food but they are delicious!

Makes 20 large or 48 small cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milled flax
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups large flake rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (or the whole bag...whichever ever is easier!)
1/2 c toffee bits
1/2 c premade icing, totally optional

What to do
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy...about 4 minutes.
  • Add egg one at a time, mixing in the first before adding the second. 
  • Add the vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, flax and salt.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter bowl until just incorporated - don't over mix.
  • Add the oats and chocolate chips. Stir until just mixed in.  
  • For large cookies drop dough in 1/4 c mounds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or silpat.
  • Bake for 14 -16minutes or until just starting to turn golden brown around the edges. For small cookies, use a tbsp or 1-1/2 inch cookie scooper and bake for 8-10 minutes.
  • Cool for five minutes on cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • If desired, drizzle a little premade icing on them!