Sweeten healthy meals with sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes truly are a sweet addition to any healthy meal. With fall just around the corner, there’s no better time to indulge in their soft, chewy goodness. To jumpstart my September goal of adding veggies to every meal, I opted to make my own version of a tasty sweet potato salad. This recipe pairs sweet potatoes with the healthy fat from olive oil and walnuts to help your body absorb all the beta-carotene these tubers have to offer.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 sweet potato
  • 1/3 red onion, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp. of parsley
  • 1 tbsp. walnuts
  • white wine vinegar
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Fill a pot with water and the 1/2 sweet potato and set to boil
  2. Keep checking on the potato. When you can stab it with a fork and get 75% of the fork’s teeth into the potato, it’s time to turn off the water
  3. The sweet potato will be hot but remove it from the water and wrestle the peel off
  4. Chop the sweet potato in smaller pieces
  5. If you’re really hungry, stick the sweet potato in the freezer for 5 minutes to help it cool off. Otherwise, wait
  6. Once the potato has cooled off, put it in a bowl and add the chopped red onions, parsley and walnuts
  7. Then drizzle lightly with white wine vinegar and olive oil

Serves 1 single serving

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Sweet-potato-salad-MB-Aug

Don’t let the picture fool you; this photo already spurred funny comments on Facebook but the salad is delicious! (The white part is this savoury egg salad: http://bit.ly/176bWU9).

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Lentils with Tomato Sauce and Spices: Taste so good

When I first tasted this recipe, I knew I had found a new love. David Rocco gets the credit for the original recipe. I couldn’t see myself eating the lentils without tomato sauce, and so the following infallible recipe was born:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of dried lentils
  • 2 cups of tomato sauce (see recipe here, but exclude the Yves veggie ground)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 dab of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 pinch of rosemary
  • 1 pinch of chili flakes
  • 1 pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Boil the lentils for 20 minutes to give them a head start.
  2. Once you hit that 20-minute mark, heat olive oil, garlic, onions, rosemary and chili flakes in a large pan (you can opt for a pot if you wish).
  3. After the onions start sizzling, add the tomato sauce to the pan. A minute later, add the lentils (no need to drain them but it’s up to you).
  4. Simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils taste about right. Add salt for flavour.
  5. Buon appetito!

Serves 4-5 large servings

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

 


Vegetarian Enchilada recipe: filled with savoury herbs and additions

There are some things we really miss about our carnivorous past – OK, not that many things. But it is challenging to find a vegetarian enchilada on any menu. What will you fill the tortilla with, right? Here’s your answer: beans. Beans, and lots of ’em. This recipe combines traditional refried beans with a cluster of natural ingredients to form a savoury filling that is, well, filling.

Ingredients

  • 4 tortillas
  • 1 can of refried beans or 1/2 cup homecooked navy beans, mashed
  • 1 small tomato or 5 cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 of a large onion, chopped (regular or red)
  • several leaves of cilantro, chopped
  • dash of oregano
  • 1 lemon for squeezing juice
  • 1 small block of cheddar cheese
  • taco sauce

Directions

  1. Mix chopped tomatoes, onions and cilantro in a bowl. Add a dash of oregano and squeeze a lemon over top.
  2. Add refried beans to mixture and mix together. Add a light spritz of taco sauce.
  3. Spoon desired amount of now-flavoured refried beans down the centre of a tortilla.
  4. Fold the tortilla and drizzle a little more taco sauce over top. Grate cheddar cheese over top as a garnish.
  5. Repeat for select number of tortillas.
  6. Heat in toaster oven at 275 convection until cheese is lightly melted. Serve with sour cream/Greek yogurt or guacamole.

Makes 4 enchiladas

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Bruschetta toppings with a twist

Who doesn’t love bruschetta? Imagine sinking your teeth into juicy tomatoes smothered in olive oil…drool. Though you’ll never tire of my bruschetta recipe, I still suggest trying this take on bruschetta—with a twist.

In this recipe, I advise creating the bruschetta toppings and leaving them in a bowl. Serve the bread separately and allow your guests to spoon the concoction over top the bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 stalk green onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt, to taste
  • garlic powder (optional)

Directions

  1. Dice the tomato and chop the green onion stalk. The bottom part of the stalk, which resembles a white onion, adds stronger flavour while the top part (thin, dark green) is more mild but adds to the presentation.
  2. Combine the tomato and green onion in a bowl, then add a light drizzle of olive oil, dried oregano and salt to taste. (Optional: sprinkle just a touch of garlic powder.)
  3. Serve with a side of bread and a serving spoon. Bet you can’t stop eating till it’s gone!

Serves 3

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KK Sushi review: high quality Japanese food in Mississauga!

Finally, I have located a high quality option for Japanese food in Mississauga! No more having to look elsewhere; KK Sushi is here! Located in the bustling restaurant neighbourhood on Dixie, leading up to the highway, KK Sushi is a superb option for a fine Japanese dining experience. The people are very nice too; I called several times asking about their menu and they were very helpful.

Vegetarian options 9/10

My meal: I ordered my usual favourites. The avocado rolls tasted particularly good. They’re not difficult to make—I have a recipe for avocado rolls here—but they tasted even better than ever at KK Sushi. The avocado salad tasted too strongly of onions but the vegetarian sushi pizza was heavenly. The peppery sauce is strong but with just the right kick and the vegetables are finely chopped into a tasteful, nutritious dish. Vegetarians will not find themselves without choice! (Even spring rolls are on the menu—yay!)

The Food

The avocado salad: Your typical dose of avocado, lettuce and onions with house dressing but a little strong on the onions.

Avocado rolls: More heavenly than ever!

Vegetarian sushi pizza: A strong, peppery sauce with freshly chopped vegetables that will leave you satisfied yet wanting more! Delicious.

Spring rolls: Simple; a little more fried dough than actual vegetable stuffing, but tasty.

Miso soup: A nice beginning.

Edamame: Good, as always.

Prices 8.5/10

Bonus: You can order all-you-can-eat or a la carte style. All you can eat costs $21 most days and $23 on weekends. The a la carte options are decently priced too—perfect when you’re looking to satisfy that craving!

It’s too bad vegetarians can’t eat a la carte while their partners order from the buffet menu (I doubt most vegetarian meals amount to more than the $28 you’ll pay for an all-you-can-eat option, with tax and tip).

Service 8.8/10

The servers were attentive to us and never left us waiting for more food or our bill. They checked on us to make sure we were doing well and were kind enough to let us know when something we had ordered was or was not included with the buffet menu (i.e., they let us know there would be an extra charge instead of surprising us later with the bad news). In fact, when we ordered jasmine tea, they offered us green tea (which was free).

Atmosphere 8.8/10

A delightful surprise! There are pictures on the website but the place looks even lovelier in person. I was struck by the polished white walls, nicely accentuated tables and chairs, and—most of all—the wall of mirrors, accentuated by overhanging leafy green plants. A Japanese bar, all decorated, lines the opposite wall. I went for a Saturday night dinner and the place was barely half full. The music is finely tuned to match a dinner atmosphere too (some Bryan Adams, that sort of thing).

Tip

Don’t order more than you can eat! One order of spring rolls is enough for two people. I recommend ordering a la carte if you’re not going to eat $22’s worth (do the math; the item-by-item prices are on the menu).

Would I go again?

Yes, this is a lovely place to bring your date, your friends or your family. I’m still thinking about those avocado rolls days later!

Makimono review: Japanese buffet

Makimono is my go-to option for all-you-can-eat Japanese food. The restaurant (Woodbridge location) is super clean and conveniently located in the parking lot of a shopping plaza. This restaurant is family-, friend- and date-friendly.

Vegetarian options 9/10

My meal: I usually order the garden salad with ginger dressing, avocado rolls, cucumber rolls and the sushi pizza. I may also order some edamame.

Grain: 1
Fruits&veg: 3
Protein alt: 1 (if you order edamame)
Dairy: 0

This is the kind of buffet where you’re met with a list of menu items. You check off the food you would like to order (+ quantity) and the food is brought to you one course at a time. Make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach! You’re responsible for eating a certain percentage of everything you eat; otherwise you pay the price (literally…).

You can order rolls, sushi, nori, soup, etc., and ice-cream. With so many delicious options, it’s tough to limit yourself but you can always come back again! There is so much to try.

The Food

The ginger salad: I love this salad! I search for it on any Japanese menu I find. The dressing is super delicious. This small sample will get your appetite moving.

Avocado/cucumber rolls: They taste the same as anywhere—a familiar dose of creamy avocado and salty soy sauce. Be careful if you order the rolls with rice; you’ll get full sooner.

Vegetarian sushi pizza: I prefer the sushi pizza down the street but this is indeed tasty. My favourite Japanese treat!

Prices 8.7/10

What can I say, buffets usually charge the same: around $20 for an evening or weekend meal and a more reasonable $15ish for lunch. But it’s all you can eat!

Service 8.7/10

I’ve never had a problem with the service here and they time the arrival of your food quite nicely.

Atmosphere 8.8/10

Quite lovely! The décor is sophisticated and modern and there’s enough space to experience a different ambiance depending on where you sit. I’ve sat upstairs—which is comfortable and private—downstairs in a booth (comfy!) and at the corner table, which is a perfect spot for couples who wish to sit somewhat side-by-side.

Tip

Don’t order more than you can eat! After all, you can always order more later if you’re really that hungry.

Would I go again?

Yes! I’ve been at least four times and it’s the best Japanese buffet I know. Unfortunately, the downtown locations have strange hours so you may have to head to Woodbridge. But it’s worth it!

Mexican rice dish—ready in minutes

Mexican night at my house isn’t complete without a tasty rice dish. Why buy store-bought when you can make it better at home—and in only 25 minutes? This dish looks impressive too; your friends don’t have to know how easy it was to make!

Variation: For Mexican Rice Lasagna, repeat this recipe so that there is a layer of cheese in the middle, like a lasagna. Yum!

This must-have dish is so easy to make!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white rice (or whole grain, if we’re going to be good!)
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1 cube (2 tbsp) of cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 stalk of green onion, sliced

Directions

  1. Put rice in pot, add enough water to cover the rice and set to boil. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until rice is soft (not crunchy!).
  2. Let the rice cool, then “pour” the rice into a casserole dish and mix in the salsa.
  3. Smooth out the top surface of the rice casserole and sprinkle on the cheddar cheese. Sprinkle the green onions on top as a garnish. You may choose to mix the green onions in with the rice and salsa, if your guests do not object.)
  4. Set the toaster oven to broil and cook the rice dish until the cheese has melted. Serve hot!

Serves 5 with some leftovers

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