Monday, March 7, 2011

Everything Eggplant

This week I'm going to talk about my newfound love; eggplant. 

Eggplant helps our digestive process and fights against coronary heart disease because of the high fiber content.  Eggplant also plays a role in regulating blood pressure and is packed with a number of vitamins, proteins, minerals and important phytonutrients (act like antioxidants).  If your looking to shed a few pounds for summer, incorporate eggplant into your diet as it is very low in calories and has a high moisture content.

Now that you know eggplant a little bit better, lets talk about how you can cook with it.

Stuffed Eggplant
1 .Cut Eggplant in half and scoop out the inside
2.     2. Cut the inside remains into very small pieces and fry over the stove with a little bit of oil.
3.     3. Add in you favorite ingredients, I used: tomato sauce, mushroom, celery, broccoli, garlic and pepper
4.     4. When browned scoop your mix into the shell of the eggplant
5.     5. Put a thin s layer of pasta sauce over the top, followed by spinach leaves (this can also be  substituted with cheese if you are not a vegan
        6. Place in oven for 45-50 min (until brown) on 350 F. 

Stuffed Eggplant: doesn't look very appetizing, but  it is delicious!

You can get out of knife and fork and eat the skin with the inside or choose to just eat the inside. Best paired with
a salad.

Eggplant Fries
These are quick, tasty and easy to make that can be served as a finger food or side dish.
Eggplant Fries: A tad over cook

1.    1.  Cut off the skin of the eggplant
2.     2. Cut the remaining eggplant into strips (make them as thin, thick, short or long as you like)
3.     3. Dip each strip in a boil of oil, then into a boil of breadcrumbs mix with Parmesan cheese. (Cheese is not needed, just ads additional flavor)
4.     4. Place of baking pan and cook for 20 minutes (until brown) on 375 F. Don’t forget to flip them halfway through.

You can eat your fries plan or dip them in pasta sauce, ketchup, plum sauce ect. 

That's all or this week, enjoy what you eat, Bon Appetite! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Cake: Failure

I have flirted with the idea of becoming a vegan for quite some time now. Every time I think I would be able to do it, my dear old friend, chocolate, stares me in the eye telling me not to do it.

This being said, this week I have decided to make a vegan chocolate cake from scratch. I found a recipe here that I decided use. When I was reading through the comments one lady suggested to use applesauce instead of oil, and honey instead of sugar. I thought I would give this a try and feel a little less guilty while eating the cake.

The cake was very easy to make and for having made the cake form scratch, the clean up wasn't to bad either. After letting the cake bake for 45 min, I decorated it (Betty Crocker Vegan icing) and brought it over to my best friends house- a vegetarian who was turning twenty-two years old.

The cake looked good, minus my decorating job, and everyone could not wait to try it. The birthday girl made the first cut and tried the first bite. She didn't spit it out, which was a good start, swallowed it and said, "it's not to bad." I thought to myself, " THIS IS GREAT, YOU CAN EAT CHOCOLATE AND BE VEGAN." I anxiously took the next bite, gagged, and spit it out instantly. I was told I was being dramatic, but I know the birthday girl was just being nice. The texture of the cake was dense and had an almost jelly- like texture. It was awful.

If you are planning on making a vegan cake- please save yourself the time, effort and embarrassment and DO NOT try this recipe. I think I may try it again using the sugar and oil, or I’ve been told to buy a regular cake mix and substitute the egg with diet soda. 

That's all for this week, feel good about what you eat- bon appetite!  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Eating for an Athlete- Pre and Post Workout Foods

Last weekend I was in Atlanta, Georgia, competing in the world’s largest cheerleading competition (Cheersport Nationals) with the Brock University cheerleading team. We drive 17 hours and get two opportunities to perform our two minute and thirty second routine- every second counts.

It is important for any athlete to make sure they are consuming "the right" foods before a workout, game, event or performance. Before going grocery shopping I did some research on the types of foods we should be eating the day before and after competition day and found that:

Before competition..
It is important to eat high carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta, whole grains, vegetable and fruit. These carbohydrates give you a quick burst of energy, but must be consumed 1-4 hours before the workout because they will drop quickly, leaving you feeling tired. 

After competition..
This is the time to consume replenish what you lost during your physical activity by eating protein. Yes, i said protein, not all protein comes from chickens. 

Did you know that farmers who raise chickens for the purpose of selling them as food refer to them as broilers. These chickens are brought up in confined dirty spaces, that lead to outbreaks of disease in the chicken.  Mmmm, doesn't that sound healthy. (click here for more information) 

This is also a good time to replace carbohydrates and any potassium or sodium that has been lost. 

With all of the above research in mind, me and the girls I was rooming with, decided to make steamed vegetables with seasoning, quinoa (mother of grains) and meatless chicken breasts. To add some additional flavor, warm up some pasta sauce and drizzle it over your dish. 

The idea of meatless chicken may seem odd at first, but take my word- it is delicious. PC's blue menu meatless chicken breast contain 24 grams of protein- which is more then their real chicken breast- as well as other vitamins including iron, B12, Potassium and Calcium. 

Quinoa is something you should be including in your regular diet. It is a complete protein, meaning it includes all nine essential amino acids. In later posts ill try different quinoa recipes.

That's all for this week, feel good about what you eat- bon appetite!  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Will YOU be my Gluten-Free Vegan Valentine?

Did you know that cooking with your significant other is a good team building and bonding tool? Experts say cooking together shows how co-operation and motivation makes you a stronger couple. It's also an exciting way for a couple to plan, work and be creative together. 

This past Valentines Day my gluten-free valentine and I decided to spend a night in, making personalized gluten- free vegan pizzas.

First, we both cut up the celery, mushrooms, broccoli, tomato, cauliflower and onion. We then placed the gluten-free pizza dough (made by Kinnikinnick) on an oiled pan and evenly spread caned pizza sauce on the surface. Now, if this were a Disney movie we would stick our dough together, make it a heart shape and happen to love all the same toppings. However, if the birds in your window are not singing and your fairy godmother has not shown up yet- keep them separate and personalize your pizza to your satisfaction.

While waiting for them to cook in the oven we were able to clean up, set the table and make our salads. 

From start to finish our valentines day dinner was ready in 35-40 minutes. How did they taste?  My gluten-free friend really enjoyed his, however next time I think I will stick to a whole-wheat crust (pre-made dough can be found at most local grocery stores). I thought it tasted like eating pizza on a thick cracker.  

That all for this week- feel good about what you eat- bon appetite!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday Snacks- Vegetarian Wrapped in a Blanket

Our first cooking session together- get your apron on and tunes rolling, it's going to be a great start. 

In the spirit of the Super Bowl I have decided to feature a recipe I call, " Vegetarian Wrapped in a Blanket" which came from the famous "Pig Wrapped in a Blanket" appetizer concept.  

This will be a good recipe to start with because it's quick, easy and allows you to provide a variety of choices to your guests. 

The following ingredients will allow you to make 4 different version of "Vegetarian Wrapped in a Blanket":
  • Pillsbury Crescents
  • 1 can of chick peas
  • Tofu
  • portobello mushrooms
  • broccoli 
  • celery 
  • pasta sauce
  • Buffalo sauce
  • chopped garlic
  • seasoned salt
This recipe is simple at its finest-  oil up you pan, whack the Pillsbury package against your counter and lie them out flat on a backing pan. Next cut up all your vegetables into VERY small pieces. 

Hot Chick Blanket:
  1. Cover the surface of the pastry with a thin layer of buffalo sauce (i'm using mild) 
  2. Cut up the chick peas in half and place approximately 6-9 pieces onto of the buffalo sauce
  3. Evenly sprinkle a THIN layer of your chopped broccoli and cauliflower over the pastry 
  4. Roll up your pastry, (try and take the end pieces of the pastry and stick them to the top of the roll so nothing falls out), and sprinkle a pinch of seasoned salt over the roll. 

Simply Veggie Blanket: 
  1. Cover the surface of the pastry with a thin layer of tomato sauce 
  2. Spread a teaspoon of chopped garlic over top of the pasta sauce
  3. Evenly sprinkle a THIN layer of your chopped broccoli and cauliflower and celery over the pastry 
  4. Roll up your pastry, (try and take the end pieces of the pastry and stick them to the top of the roll so nothing falls out), and sprinkle a pinch of seasoned salt over the roll. 
Portobello- tofu Blanket:
  1. Cover the surface of the pastry with a thin layer of tomato sauce 
  2. Spread a teaspoon of chopped garlic over top of the pasta sauce
  3. Crumble the tofu up into very small pieces and scatter them along the sauce/garlic
  4. Evenly sprinkle a THIN layer of your chopped portobello mushrooms and broccoli 
  5. Roll up your pastry, (try and take the end pieces of the pastry and stick them to the top of the roll so nothing falls out), and sprinkle a pinch of seasoned salt over the roll. 

So far so good- they smell great and look extremely appetizing. As for the taste test: I may have just eaten the whole plate.. DELICIOUS. 

To Serve: Toss some spinach on a plate and place them down circling the dish.

If you're a meat-eater who needs to cater a vegetarian audience this Super Bowl, don't freak out- they will love these. Also, don't over think things -we're vegetarian not aliens. Make a salad, have chopped vegetables, nachos (have the beef on the side if you must for other guests), garlic bread and meatless chicken strips (PC's blue menu are the best). 

That all for this week- feel good about what you eat- bon appetite!

Preparation is Key

Before we start getting creative with our food, it is important that you are PREPARED to make delicious food and have fun while your doing it. 

Tip 1: Create a motivating atmosphere
Get rid of all the clutter and garbage you have lying around your kitchen counters. Also, turn your kitchen into a place that makes you smile when you walk into it. This is important because how you feel in the space will influence what you cook and eat. This doesn't mean forking out a ton of money to have a catalogue kitchen. I live in student housing with a kitchen the size of a dressing room- but I added some lights, bought some cheap colorful dishtowels and taped up some pictures. 

Tip 2: Have fun!
Do not treat cooking like it is a chore. According to Stats Canada the average male/female spends 0.9 hours in the kitchen while preparing meals. That’s an average of 324 hours a year- so make your time in the kitchen enjoyable.  Make a cooking playlist on your IPod ( if you dance while you cook its a bonus- burning calories), buy a fun apron and let your creative side free.

Tip 3: It's all about spice
A spice rack will change your life. Everyone’s taste buds are different- so get to know yours. Adding a little bit of your favorite spices to a dish will make them unique and delicious. 

 Note: I plan on always keeping the KISS (keep it simple stupid) concept in mind while I cook- I don't want to use ingredients that you cannot pronounce or find in your local health food or grocery store. 

Now let's start cooking.. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

OMG, what do you eat?!

“You’re a vegetarian.. Oh. ” What usually comes next? One of two questions: " why would you EVER give up meat?" or " what on earth do you eat?" 

Yes, of course those are fair questions, however after being asked them for the hundredth time, you begin to feel like a robot with a prepared speech. I hope this blog provides a space to answer these two very common questions that vegetarians are asked everyday and to show that not all vegetarians are tree loving hippies and don’t eat bird seed three times a day. I promise.

I grew up eating the typical Americanized foods: hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, pizza and chicken fingers. My first year university I thought, "if I made it, it's got to be good for me"- however my freshman fifteen and calorie counting freak roommate felt otherwise. This is when I started understanding and paying attention to words such as, “ calories, sodium, vitamins and fat.”

After my Papa was diagnosed with Cancer in 2009 I started doing a lot of research on cancer and health related issues. After seeing the reality of dieses/cancer and how awful the attack is on someone’s body, everything became very real and I knew the, “ everything happens for a reason” analogy wasn’t going to do it for me. If I wanted to be healthy- I had to do something about it.

It wasn’t until the end of that summer when I saw my dad slab the raw steak onto the BBQ for our dinner- my stomach turned. There was no way I was putting the steroid-injected, raw flesh into my body. From that point on I was a vegetarian.

Since this transition I’ve felt great and now have more variety in my diet then ever before. Cooking doesn’t feel like a chore anymore- cooking is a time you can be creative, have fun and be proud of the work you’ve created. I love food more now then ever before.

This blog will provide facts about how to get all your proper nutrients, how meat negatively effects us, and first and foremost – how to make delicious, easy and healthy meals!

Once a week I will share a new recipe, some recipes will be ones I’ve grown to love and others ones I’m trying for the first time. I’ll let you know if they were good or god awful, cheap or a bank breaker and how the meal benefits you.

I will also post interesting and fun facts along the way while your waiting for your next recipe to try! 

Please feel free to comment/ ask questions and make requests. I look forward to cooking with you.

Options are endless – feel good about what you eat- bon app├ętit!