Low carb kelp noodles and almond butter sauce (GF, Dairy free)

Several months ago I tried shiritaki noodles based on glowing recommendation from Claire. They are yam noodles, usually found in the tofu section at the grocery store, and have minimal carbs and about 20 calories per serving.They are also gluten free. As someone who is always in search of tummy-friendly “vehicles” for sauces and spreads, this seemed like a great choice. And although I love brown rice pasta, as an alternative to wheat pasta, it is fairly high in calories.

Shiritaki Noodles

I tried the “spaghetti” style noodles and was excited at the prospect of a low calorie, gluten free pasta meal. For both Jared and me, the process of removing them from the package and preparing them has stalled us from ever cooking them again. Don’t get me wrong, the eating experience went well but the prep was what marred the experience. Let me explain.

Shiritaki noodles have a fishy smell. They warn you on the package, Claire warned me and what I read online warned me. And as a lover of fish, I thought I would be okay with it but it still took me by surprise. We pulled them out of the package and started the rinsing process. We rinsed, and rinsed and rinsed and got them to a point where we were pretty sure we could smell it anymore. But both of us felt we could still “taste” the smell even when covered in tomato sauce and meatballs.

So I will wholeheartedly encourage you to try them and have your own experience with them.

My noodle search did not end there. After a recent trip to BC, I began reading more about kelp and came across kelp noodles.

Kelp noodles

We’re still 0 for 2 with Jared, but I loved these. They have a crunchy-ish texture, even when soaked for a while and covered in sauce but I embraced the crunchyness. They have 6 calories per serving (6, i swear!) and zero carb. They are high in iodine which helps with thyroid function. I also used the most delicious sauce.

1 package of kelp noodles (in Ottawa, I found mine at Rainbow Foods)
1/4 plus one heaping tablespoon of Almond Butter
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of agave or honey
1 teaspoon (or more if desired) toasted sesame seeds

Rinse and soak your noodles for about 20-30 mins. Combine all the ingredients together while the noodles soak. Mix sauce in with noodles and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Served cold.

Let me know what you think of them!

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pear Crisp (gluten free, dairy free)

This isn’t a necessarily a good thing but I have been on a dessert making binge lately. From Claire’s fudge, to cookies, to pear crisp – it has been a lot of baking, mixed with some cooking. It could be that I find my main meals much less of an accomplishment, but when a dessert comes out the way it as supposed to, I feel like a superstar.

My very generous mother-in-law gave me this wonderful book by Elana from Elana’s Pantry and all the recipes have almond flour in them. I love almond flour for its buttery smooth texture but I try not to bake with it too often because it has quite a high fat content (since it is pure almonds…). Though, I will share my almond flour chips at a later date! But this pear crisp I could not pass up. I had some frozen pears that have been sitting in my freezer for several months and I thought they would work perfectly for this recipe.

For the filling:
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon (freshly squeezed) lemon juice – I did not freshly squeeze mine – guilty!
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder, but cornstarch works too – it’s a thickener
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 medium pears, peeled, cored, and sliced about 1/4 inch thick but larger works too, depends on how chunky you like your dessert to be

For the topping:
2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (cinnamon bothers me for some reason so I added 1/4 extra nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set aside an 8-inch square baking dish.

Time to put the wet stuff together (plus the starch and nutmeg). Whisk together the apple juice, lemon juice, arrowroot, and nutmeg together.

Whisking up a storm

But this mixture into your baking dish.

Pears bathing

Then toss the pears into the wet mixture so they are all coated. In another bowl, mix the dry topping ingredients together – almond flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and then in a medium bowl, mix the agave, vanilla and grapeseed oil together.

Stir the wet ingredients into the large dry mixture to get the crumble. I will say mine was less crumbly than I was hoping for but in the end, it was incredibly delicious. How could it not be?

Spread the crumbly topping over the pears and cover the dish with foil.

Bake for 45 and then take the foil off. Put it back in for another 5-10 minutes to brown the topping and until the juices are bubbling. Your house will smell divine at this point. Let it cool for 20-30 (as hard as that will be!) and serve warm. I served mind with dark chocolate coconut milk dairy-free ice cream.

Delicious!

Finally – Minty (Paleo) Tabbouleh Salad and An Adventure in Crossfit

Wow – I have been a bad blogger recently! Life has been super busy for the past few weeks and I have barely had time to breathe, let alone blog. But I’m thisclose to being on vacation, the charity softball that Daria and I hosted is over (and was a huge success) and I am ready to get back on track. So, let’s do this! I know the title of the post had the salad first – but it turns out I am going to do this backwards and start with Crossfit. Deal with it.

The boys and me with Isabelle and Francois

On Saturday morning, Pierre and I, along with our friends Bryan and Craig went on an adventure to the other side of town to check out Physics Crossfit. It was a first-time experience for all of us, and let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint. I’ll start at the beginning, and explain that recently I’ve become totally uninspired by our gym. It’s always so busy and full of meatheads checking themselves out in the mirrors, people who look at you like you’re growing a third arm when you manage to find a tiny bit of floor space to do push-ups (“why would you do push-ups? there’s a chest press machine over there!”) and totally lacking in fun equipment (no kettlebells, plyo boxes, rings, etc). Anyway, we have been dabbling in crossfit-style workouts at home and between us have amassed a pretty solid collection of gear, but figured it might be time to try out the real deal – which brings us to Physics’ Saturday morning trial class. From the moment we walked in I knew it was going to live up to expectations. Owners Isabelle and Francois made us feel so welcome and at home – Francois even made a point of coming to introduce himself to us each individually before we started (and remembered our names for the rest of the morning – impressive!). We started with a short dynamic warm-up and some skill development (that had me sweating before we even really got down to business). They took their time making sure to correct our form so we would be ready for the WOD…and then BAM – threw us into the most intense 13 minutes and 25 seconds of my life. We did a partner WOD that consisted of 6 rounds for time of: 200m run, 20 kettlebell swings (10 each) and 12 pull-ups (6 each). Sounds easy? Trust me – it’s not…especially when you’re competing against 4 other teams (and there’s nothing I love more than a little healthy competition). By round 6 I was totally wiped…and totally obsessed. How could I not be? An amazing workout, fantastic coaches who genuinely want to help you improve and be the best athlete you can be, and most of all, it was FUN! There was such a great community vibe, and by the end of the class, we were all chatting, taking photos and laughing like we were old pals – if you’ve never tried it, definitely check it out. If it wasn’t all the way on the other side of the city, I would join in a heartbeat. In fact, I may or may not have asked Pierre if we could move to Orleans on the way home. If I could do that every day I would be one happy mama!

Our new Crossfit friends!

Ok, so, onto our next order of business! Minty Tabbouleh Salad! I love tabbouleh, but since  it traditionally contains bulgur I struck it off my paleo grocery list. Sad. But the other weekend, I had a giant bunch of parsley to use up, along with a few tomatoes, and figured why not try it sans bulgur, make a couple of other tweaks, and see how it turns out? Result? Delicious. I am in love with mint, and thought it might be a nice addition, so I threw some in for a bit of a twist and I think I like this better than the original. This salad takes a lot chopping so watch your fingers, no one wants blood in their tabbouleh. Except maybe vampires.

Check out that garnish. I feel like Gordon Ramsey.

Ingredients:
1 large bunch of curly parsley, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 red onion diced
1 handful of mint, finely chopped
Juice of 2 lemons (or about 1/3c)
1/4c olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Optional: chill for 10-15min in the fridge.

Meaty Meatballs and a Dazzling Duvet

As a person who often wears black, what I’m about to tell you might shock some: Colour is fantastic. There, I said it.

Summer always makes me feel like redecorating. I have spent the last couple of weeks organizing my pantry

All organized and easy to find!

My spices

Top 10 spices made it on the fridge! The rest are in the cupboard

and figuring out ways to spruce up the house. My recent purchase was a new duvet cover to liven up our ‘brown’ bedroom.

I’m a neutral girl at heart but something in these sheets screamed “buy me!” I’m not much of a gardener so having a wonderful, colourful, not ill looking garden on my sheets seemed like an easy way to bring the outside in.

But while I was inside, I cooked. Unlike Claire, having all of my hot appliances on at the same time makes me feel productive. So yesterday I had the oven, the slow cooker and the teapot going at the same time (albeit the tea was going to be iced tea). The washer and dryer were also doing their thing downstairs – talk about energy consumption. The oven had the meatballs and the slow cooker had an onion, red cabbage and apple slaw going. I was feeling zesty after my new sheet purchase!

It’s not easy to mess up meatballs and they can be made a million different ways. I make them pretty often because they are easy, tasty and my husband always enjoys them too.

Here are the ones I made last night:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

1lb of extra lean ground beef
1lb of lean ground turkey (or chicken) – you can use all turkey if you want to make them even healthier
½ cup of gluten free oats
¼ cup of chives (chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
¾ cup of almond milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp of pepper
½ tsp of Worcestershire sauce (optional)

The instructions are my favourite part – put it all in a bowl and mix it all together. Get right in there and mash it all together.I had to wear rubber gloves to make this batch as I had just cut my hand with the apple corer (I’m a bit of a clumsy cook) and nobody likes that on their meatballs.

Mmm meaty

Makes about 35 meatballs depending on the size. Put them in the oven for about 20 minutes or until cooked all the way through.

So go on, make your meatballs! I have made these a million different ways using GF breadcrumbs, ketchup (for the liquid) and green onions etc.

Not Lovin’ the Oven Maple Dijon Broccoli Salad

Can you believe it’s already July?! Where does the time go? It feels like it was just New Year’s Eve, and now the year is already half over! It’s about this time I start feeling pretty envious of teachers and the long stretch of sunny, relaxing vacation time spread out before them. Not envious enough to actually BE a teacher – not because of the kids, I think we’d get along just fine – it’s the parents I wouldn’t be able to handle. I’ve heard many a horror story, from teacher friends, of awful parents who refuse to accept that their little angel is actually the classroom nightmare.

Anyway, the point is, it’s now summer! Kids are out of school, teachers are livin’ la vida loca for 2 months, my flip flops are getting some serious mileage, and it is HOT. And who wants to actually cook with an oven when it’s roasting out? Not me! So I end up making a lot of salads and other raw veggie sides in July and August. This one is a new favourite of ours. Lily went through a stage when broccoli was “ucky” but after a little perseverance and some gentle coaxing (“mmmm broccoli is sooo delicious, it’s too bad you don’t like it Lily, you’re missing out”) it’s now high up on her list of faves.

I clearly need to work on my photo-taking skills…

Honey Dijon Broccoli Salad

Ingredients
Salad:
1 head of broccoli, torn into bite sized chunks
3 roasted red peppers sliced
1/2 cup sliced sundried tomatoes
1/4 red onion, diced
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp maple syrup

Directions
Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Mix thoroughly and serve.

Note: I tend to play around with the dressing a bit and adjust it to taste each time I make it. Don’t be afraid to add other spices or adjust the ratios/quantities until you end up with something you’re happy with!

Cookbook Review: The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes on Earth

I was in Toronto visiting my family over the weekend so not a lot of cooking was accomplished. Well that is only partly true – I cooked a bunch of things for a brunch yesterday morning including a scrumptious avocado,corn and tomato salad from Martha Stewart, a cucumber and pineapple mint honey salad (both inspired by my good friend Laura), turkey dairy free gluten free nachos, and an avocado + pineapple guacamole – but none of which I am going to detail in this post. Luckily there was a tiny bit leftover that I could take on the train to have for dinner.

Instead of sharing a recipe, I thought a short book review would be good and since I very rarely look at a cookbook twice, this once deserved a post. My cookbook shelf is very jealous of this gem.

Claire introduced me to the concept of Clean Eating several years ago but more recently lent me this book: The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes on Earth. I have made the one recipe Low Sugar BBQ Pulled Chicken and I am now embarrassed to return it to Claire because there is dijon mustard, ketchup and a touch of chili powder smeared on the page. Luckily, she bought me my own copy for my birthday last week! Thanks Claire:)

The authors, Jonny Bowden, board-certified nutritionist and Jeannette Bessinger, Clean Food Coach, have put together a magical book of easy healthy slow cooker recipes. There is some information about the health benefits but I haven’t found the time to actually read my cookbook. I get down to business when I put it off the shelf – hungry tummies need to be fed (well in 4-6 hours when the slow cooker is finished it’s job). The meaty recipes call for grass-fed organic meats but I have not found it in our budget yet to buy these types so maybe I’m not making the “healthiest slow cooker recipes on earth” but they’re close and most certainly delicious.

After I tried the bbq pulled chicken, I thought I would try to try the Sesame Teriyaki Low-Carb Lettuce Wraps which also calls for pulled chicken and it was a hit. It was flavourful and filling.

The other thing I like is that it opened my eyes to a bunch of other recipes that you can make in the slow cooker besides stews and chili – including stocks, desserts and dips.

So pull out your slow cookers and get cooking. If anyone in Ottawa wants to borrow it, I’ll lend it to you but only as long as you promise to splatter something on the pages of your favourite recipe.

-Daria

Terrible Two’s and Two Layer Fudge

I think Lily has hit the “Terrible Two’s” which is really just a PC way of saying she has been bananas recently, especially when it comes to bedtime. She’s never been a huge fan of bedtime no matter what we’ve tried (sidenote: it makes me crazy when people say “oh I just let little Billy cry it out, and after a couple of nights he was fine and never cried again when we put him in bed!” Mostly because it has NOT worked for us) we have tears almost every single night, and every single night it breaks my heart.

Finally asleep!

Anyway, so her bedtime has been creeping later and later…which means our workout times have also been creeping later and later (I suppose we could always get up at 5am to do it…but let’s be honest, that’s not gonna happen). I’m starting to see how easy it is to make excuses for skipping workouts, and it’s taking a lot of effort to stay in the game. I know that a big part of making my life way easier and less stressful is strategizing and doing advance prep and planning. This is something that I’m going to be working on, and lucky for you, as I start figuring out shortcuts for prep and ways to squeeze in extra training sessions, I’ll be passing along my newfound nuggets of wisdom.

In other news, I am addicted to PaleOMG’s double layer fudge. It’s so delicious, and so fast and easy to make (which is totally dangerous). This is one recipe I stay fairly true to and haven’t adjusted very much. The only change I make is to use just less than a cup of coconut oil, and just a bit more than a cup of almond butter (but still keep the total quantity for both at 2 cups), and add a little more shredded coconut. This changes the consistency slightly and makes the final product a bit more solid than the original. The only problem is that it’s so yummy it doesn’t stay in the fridge for very long, and it’s definitely not an “enjoy everyday” type of treat.

Two Layer Fudge – originally from PaleOMG

Ingredients:
1 cup + 1 heaping tbsp almond butter
1 cup less 1 heaping tbsp coconut oil
½ cup raw honey
¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
4 heaping tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Additional unsweetened coconut, and coarse sea salt for sprinkling on top

Directions:
Put first 6 ingredients in food processor and blend for about 30s.
Pour half of resulting mixture into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper and put it in the freezer for 5-10min.
Add cocoa powder to remaining mixture and blend for another 15s or so.
Pour the cocoa mixture on top of the solid fudge in the freezer, and sprinkle shredded coconut and coarse sea salt on top. (You can also add dark chocolate chips or walnuts or anything else that tickles your fancy.)
Freeze for another 15min.
Remove from freezer and transfer to fridge (if there’s any left after you indulge).

Ta-dah!

I love that all I need to make this is my trusty food processor. No pots and pans, no oven. So great. Speaking of food processors, a couple of years ago my dad passed along a great tip that cuts down on clean up: putting a piece of cling film (saran wrap?) in between the bowl and the bowl cover (so you don’t have to wash the bowl cover after). Voila, thanks Dad!

Thanks, Dad!