Heart Healthy Quinoa Greek Salad

image.jpegJune is Stroke Awareness Month. As the Nutritionist for Sobeys, we are partnering with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to offer you Wellness classes every Monday night of June. Last night our first class topic covered the basic of eating healthy, cholesterol, and nutrition tips that may help reduce your risk of stroke.

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The recipe that I prepared for my Heart and Stroke class last night was a Quinoa Greek Salad that I had altered from the Heart and Stroke’s recipe online. This recipe is fresh, easy, and delicious for summer. It ensures to include all the heart healthy ingredients and can be used as a main dish or a side to any dinner.

I made sure to add in a few of my favourite items. For example:

Chickpeas: A great plant-based source of protein and fibre. The bean I’m sure you know by now is my ultimate favourite! This item has 13g of fibre per 1 cup. 

Avocados: A great source of heart healthy unsaturated fats and soluble fibre (6.7g fibre per 1/2 avocado).

Red & Green Pepper: Peppers have high antioxidant and vitamin C content. This means they will fight off pollutants (free radicals) in the body that can cause cell damage.

Black Olives: Are low in a cholesterol. A source of dietary fibre, iron and copper. However, olives are high in sodium. Make sure to rinse and drain the olives before using them in this recipe and don’t overdo it. Slice them in to thirds to make a smaller amount go a long way.

Heart Healthy Quinoa Greek Salad Recipe

(Serves 10 people as a side dish)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, cook and chill
  • ½ cup red pepper, diced
  • ½ cup green pepper, diced
  • ½ cup cucumber, chopped
  • ¼ cup green onion, diced
  • ¼ cup black olives
  • ¼ cup red onion
  • ½ avocado, sliced, diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese (reduced fat if available), rinse and drain to remove sodium.
  • Optional: Add a fibre and protein boost with ¼ cup rinsed and drained chickpeas or add a salted crunch with roasted chickpeas!

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp basil fresh
  • Ground sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, cook 1 cup dry quinoa as per package instructions.
  2. When quinoa is fully cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool. Place in the refrigerator while you are preparing the rest of your ingredients.
  3. Prepare diced vegetables and crumble feta cheese.
  4. Whisk together dressing ingredients.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, stir the veggies and cheese into the cooled quinoa.
  6. Pour the dressing over quinoa mixture and toss.
  7. Enjoy!

 

Take aways from our class: 

  • Choose foods lower in sodium (less than 15% Daily Value, always read the nutrition facts label!)
  • Choose healthy fats (UNSATURATED fats), avoid saturated and trans fats where possible.
  • Choose high fibre foods, soluble fibre has been found to have a greater impact in lowering cholesterol compared to insoluble fibre
  • Choose lean protein sources: fish, chicken, turkey, lean meats
  • Avoid highly processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Watch out for canned food items, they tend to be high in sodium
  • Limit added sugars: less than 12 tsp or 48g of added sugar a day!!

 

Thank you all so much to those of you who came out to our first Heart and Stroke Awareness Month Class at Stratford Sobeys last night! It was so much fun sharing my knowledge with all of you who are so eager to learn. We will be offering these classes every Monday night at 6:30 PM here. Please email me for more information if you are local and would like to attend! brooke@ateaspoonofbliss.com

 

Layered Nacho Dip (With a healthier twist!)

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Don’t we all get the cravings for all the summer snack foods when this beautiful weather comes around? … Dreams of s’mores, homemade pizza pockets on the campfire, chips and dip?

I think most of us can relate. Today I thought I would re-create the fabulous nacho dip my family used to make when we were kids… sour cream, cream cheese, salsa, allllll the cheese. This version is just as fantastic but packed with less calories and more nutritional benefits!

I made a few healthy swaps to the traditional well-known nacho dip and voila! It was a hit. Plain non-fat greek yogurt is a great swap for sour cream as it is packed with protein, calcium, and has no fat. The added black beans give a fibre and protein boost to this dish. Meanwhile, the peppers and tomatoes fire up the antioxidant content and Vitamin C! Give it a try

Ingredients:

Bottom Layer 5:

  • 500g (1 small tub) plain 0% fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning (I used Simply Organic’s Taco Seasoning.. great ingredients).
  • 2 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp lime
  • 1 tbsp Vegenaise (vegan mayo, or mayonnaise of choice)
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • ground sea salt to taste
  • *mix all ingredients together in a bowl*

Layer 4:

  • 1/4 large onion, diced and chopped finely
  • 1-2 large avocados, smashed and mashed
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • Ground pepper and sea salt to taste
  • *Mash all ingredients together in a bowl – guacamole consistency*

Layer 3:

  • 1 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • *Layer on top of the avocado layer*

Layer 2: 

  • 2 large garden tomatoes, diced and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, diced/chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced/chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, diced/chopped
  • 1 tsp freshly minced garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp taco seasoning
  • *Dice/Chop and mix together in a bowl and spread over the beans*

Layer 1 (the top):

  • Sprinkle with shredded cheese of your choice.

Instructions: 

  1. Make each layer separately one at a time in their own bowl and mix ingredients together. Starting with Layer 5, once all ingredients are thoroughly mixed, spread into a baking pan or Tupperware container.
  2. Continuing layer 4-1. Adding one layer on top of another one at a time.
  3. Store in the refrigerator until consumption.
  4. Enjoy!

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Coconut Chocolate Chunk Energy Bites

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Ingredients (serves ~20 bites):

  • 1 ½ cup Quick Cooking Oats
  • ½ cup natural almond butter
  • 3 ½ tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 ½ tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tsp hemp hearts
  • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chunks, chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp ground sea salt

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats and room temperature almond butter. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Add in the melted coconut oil. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Combine the rest of the ingredients with regular mixing. Fold in the chocolate chunks last.
  4. Roll in to bite-sized balls and store in the refrigerator.
  5. Enjoy chilled.  🙂

THE BEST Southwest Dressing (Wholesome Ingredients, Vegan, & Delicious!)

I tried out Vegenaise for the first time back in December…. and fell in love! It is an egg-free mayonnaise. You can opt to use regular mayo or ..I would recommend trying out Vegenaise for this recipe. You won’t regret it. I think it tastes better than the traditional egg mayo. No need to be vegan to enjoy this dip.. it will be a hit with the whole family!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Vegenaise “egg-free mayonnaise”
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp honey or agave
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp fresh minced garlic
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • Pinch of cayenne

Directions: Mix ingredients together, in the order above, using a whisk. When all ingredients are combined, store in the refrigerator to chill. Serve cold.

*You can top this creamy dressing on salads, sandwiches, use it as a dip for chips, veggies, and much more! It is by far my favourite dressing I have created. Try it out!* This is the same dip that I featured in my sweet potato fry recipe. Great for dipping 🙂

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Apple Cider Vinegar: What’s the hype?

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Apple Cider Vinegar has been making headlines all over lately…so what’s all the hype about? I’m writing this post to give you a short and sweet description of what Apple Cider Vinegar is and what it may be beneficial for.

What is Apple Cider Vinegar? Apples are crushed and their juice is added to barrels or casks along with yeasts to ferment the natural sugars. The result is alcohol. Next, the bacteria are added to convert the alcohol to acetic acid. Finally, the mixture is allowed to ferment for weeks or months, depending on the maker. During this time, non-toxic goo made up of yeast and acetic acid bacteria forms within the mixture

What is “the mother”? This is the goo that I mentioned above. Some companies choose to pasteurize and strain out the goo. Others keep the goo for potential health benefits.

What may be the benefits to consuming apple cider vinegar with “the mother”?

  • May help fight infections and promote a healthy immune system
  • May improve blood pressure and cholesterol
  • May decrease your risk of diabetes and heart disease
  • May help maintain a healthy gut
  • May improve calcium absorption
  • Vinegar is associated with cancer fighting properties similar to antioxidants
  • May help with acne when used as a natural toner (balance the pH of your skin)
  • May help with weight loss

How can you drink it? Mix 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar into a large glass of water. Add a teaspoon of natural honey.

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For more information visit Bragg’s website: http://bragg.com/products/bragg-organic-apple-cider-vinegar.html

Perfectly Roasted Chickpeas

I love making my own roasted chickpea snacks. After lots of practice I have finally mastered the cook time to get the perfect crunch! I have discovered that the key to getting the chickpeas crunchy everytime is to place them in the oven while it is still preheating.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1-2 cans chickpeas (540mL cans)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or olive oil spray
  • Optional: ground sea salt or paprika/chili powder or cinnamon sugar

Directions:

  1. Rinse and drain chickpeas.
  2. Pour the chickpeas onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil or spray with olive oil. Distribute evenly.
  3. Turn the oven to bake at 425F. Place the chickpeas in the cool oven.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes. Mix the chickpeas regularly to ensure even roasting.
  5. Remove from the chickpeas from the oven and allow to cool for 45-60 minutes.
  6. After cooling, you can add ground sea salt, chili powder, paprika, cinnamon sugar…whatever you feel like to season! My favourite way to eat these is with just a little bit of ground sea salt. I also use these as salad toppers to add a crunch.

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Dark Chocolate Salted Crunch Bark

One of my all-time favourite dessert/treat recipes! I’ve posted a very similar recipe to this before….and here it is again because it is so tasty!  This recipe is always a hit with my family and it was a big hit with my coworkers as well. This bark didn’t last very long in our fridge! Give it a try 🙂

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Ingredients (makes ~12 bars):

  • 1-2 cans chickpeas (540mL cans)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or olive oil spray
  • 2 Camino 55% dark chocolate bars (or dark chocolate of choice)
  • Ground sea salt

 

Directions:

  1. Rinse and drain chickpeas.
  2. Pour the chickpeas onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil or spray with olive oil. Distribute evenly.
  3. Turn the oven to bake at 425F. Place the chickpeas in the cool oven.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes and mix the chickpeas regularly to ensure even browning.
  5. Remove from the chickpeas from the oven and allow to cool for 45-60 minutes.
  6. In the meantime, melt your two bars of dark chocolate.
  7. Place your cooled chickpeas in a shallow rectangular Tupperware container with parchment paper.
  8. Add ground sea salt to the chickpeas.
  9. Pour the melted dark chocolate over your chickpeas. Distribute evenly using a spatula so that all chickpeas are coated. Add some fresh ground sea salt on the top.
  10. Place in the freezer or refrigerator for cooling.
  11. Once the chocolate has hardened, pop the large chocolate piece out of the Tupperware container. Remove the parchment paper and place in a large Ziploc bag.
  12. Break up the chocolate into bark bite-sized pieces in the Ziploc bag (this avoids a mess).
  13. Enjoy chilled.