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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Vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipe

One of the things I missed about eating meat was shepherd’s pie; my parents had discovered a rather tasty brand but, of course, that had meat. And who’s heard of a meatless shepherd’s pie, or chicken pot pie? Now you and I both have.

Thank you to my dad for making this recipe so that I could enjoy an old delight!

Meatless shepherd's pie (photo credit: iStock photography)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 package of Yves veggie ground
  • 1/4 cup frozen mixed vegetables (preferably corn nibblets, green peas and chopped carrots)
  • three small potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Boil a huge pot of water. When water is boiling, add three small washed potatoes. Keep an eye on the potatoes, they should take around 45 minutes to cook.
  2. Once potatoes are ready, scoop them out with a spoon and let them cool.
  3. Pour some of the water from the potatoes into a smaller pot, set to boil and add frozen vegetables. Remove once cooked and toss water.
  4. Mix Yves veggie ground with water and a spritz of olive oil in a pan. Heat until lightly cooked.
  5. Peel the potatoes and place in the now empty smaller pot (where you cooked the vegetables). Mash potatoes and add salt and milk until you achieve a smooth, mushy texture.
  6. Now we’re onto the pie part! Heat the toaster oven to 375° convection. Cover bottom of small casserole dish with Yves veggie ground mixed with the now cooked vegetables. Smooth mashed potatoes over top and sprinkle top layer with cheddar cheese.
  7. Cook pie in toaster oven for around 10 minutes (the cheese may be your readiness indicator). Enjoy!

Serves 2
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Asparagus and olive oil recipe

Asparagus is one of my newly discovered and preferred vegetables that is both green and good, a rare combination in our plant-cooking world. In fact, many a “fight” has been ignited over dinner when the demand was high and the supply was low. Enjoy this healthy and simple recipe to add some fresh vitamins to your meal!

Asparagus is a reliable source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B folate, vitamin K and iron.

Asparagus beckons, what with its taste and health benefits (credit: iStock photography)

Ingredients

  • asparagus, cut off the bottom half-inch of each spear (serving size: 4 asparagus spears per person)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat toaster oven to 375° convection.
  2. Line a casserole dish with the asparagus in single file, one layer.
  3. Drizzle asparagus with olive oil.
  4. Add salt for taste.
  5. Add ground black pepper, enough that you can see it on each spear of asparagus.
  6. Place asparagus in toaster oven, cook for 8 to 10 minutes. (Taste to ensure it’s ready and not too crunchy!)

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Confessions of a Vegetarian: I ate vegetables for dinner (and I got full!)

Extra, extra, read all about it–you can get full off vegetables! The following conversation can never again take place with blissful ignorance:

You: I’m hungry.
Parent, guardian, or friend-who-thinks-he-or-she-knows-everything-there-is-to-know-about-health (is that me?): Eat a fruit or vegetable.
You: That won’t fill me up!

After a prolonged trip (thank the subway and bus for coordinating a delay in services), I arrive home and happily and politely greet my family before asking the inevitable: “What’s for dinner?”

My sister snickers as my mother tells me, “You’re looking at it.”

For a split second, the hungry side of my brain blurts, “Nooo, all I see are salads!” before the healthy part of my brain musteres a confident, “I only had one serving of fruits and vegetables today.”

(Spssst. I admit I proclaimed rather loudly, “At least I’ll be hungry enough to eat nachos tonight! Last night’s dinner was so filling that I couldn’t.” Somehow it’s always about the nachos, isn’t it?)

I proceeded to dig into my meal, 95% of which was composed of vegetables! And I was uneasy about 10% of those vegetables, but thanks to a) a determination to eat healthy, b) a willingness to try and c) hunger, nothing tasted bad!

Tip: Mashed potatoes are the almighty ally. Mixing questionable vegetables into your mashed potatoes masks their flavour!

Here’s what I ate, if you’re interested in sharing the experience of a truly healthy meal or, at least, attempting to prove or disprove that you can, indeed, get full off vegetables.

1. The tomato and cucumber salad recipe acts as a base for this hearty salad, but try adding other vegetables as well, such as mushroom, avocado, eggplant and pitted olives.

2. Boil sweet potato, peel and slice into round entities. Add olive and salt, and top with roasted red pepper. (I’m not a huge fan of red pepper–but I couldn’t even taste it!)

3. Boil regular potatoes, peel and mash. Add milk for moisture and (optional) salt for flavour. Chop and fry onions to mix; it’s my favourite way to eat mashed potatoes!

4. The 5% of the meal that was not made of vegetables consisted of sliced cheese (hello, dairy) and hummus (a dash of protein, anyone?)

Believe it or not, c’est délicieux!

Healthy snack ideas (fruits, vegetables and dairy)

You’ve pretty much got grain products and alternatives to meat down pact. I mean, as vegetarians, we do tend to focus a lot on our protein intake.

If you’re like me, what you’re really concentrating on is getting that protein in there, and after you’ve adapted to finding alternatives to meat, you’re working on being true to vegetarianism—and that means eating vegetables. If you recall, I’m not your average vegetarianvegetables don’t come naturally to me. Or at least, they didn’t used to. Things are a little easier now that I’ve discovered avocados, rapini and even asparagus.

Here are my simple yet flavourful snack suggestions for sneaking vegetables and dairy products into your diet.

Chinese Stir-fry recipe

Photo credit: iStock photography

Ingredients

  • ¾ pot of water
  • pasta or rice
  • salt
  • peanut oil
  • ½ cup frozen or fresh vegetables including: broccoli, water chestnuts, snow peas, baby corn, carrots and green beans
  • peanuts
  • sesame oil
  • stir-fry sauce (eg. peanut sauce)

Directions

  1. Fill pot ¾ with water and set to boil.
  2. When water boils, add preferred type of pasta and follow cooking time indicated on the package.
  3. While pasta is cooking, add a light layer of peanut oil to a pan and heat.
  4. After 1 minute, add frozen vegetables to pan. If also adding fresh vegetables, wait until frozen vegetables are lukewarm before adding to pan. Stir vegetables.
  5. Occasionally stir pasta as well to keep from sticking. Add a dash of salt. Remove pasta once cooking time is done and drain. Pour into bowl.
  6. When vegetables are warm, add peanuts to pan. Cook until vegetables are hot, adding 2 drops of sesame oil for flavour.
  7. Remove vegetables and pour over pasta. Add stir-fry sauce as desired.

Serves 1 (multiply by desired number of guests to serve more)