Cilantro and Lime Cauliflower “Rice”

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Trying to reduce your rice intake now that you know it’s a carrier of arsenic?

Here’s one option that you can try; cauliflower rice is a mock rice recipe that is satisfying and offers a grain-like alternative to the real thing.

You can try is raw or cooked. Here’s how:

(Makes 6 servings)

1 head cauliflower, medium sized
1 tbsp grapeseed oil or butter, optional
1 lime, juiced and zested
½ cup cilantro, fine chopped
Salt, optional
Cut the head of cauliflower into quarters and then trim out the inner core from each quarter. Compost the inner core and break the rest into large florets.

Put the cauliflower florets into a food processor. Processing in two batches, if necessary, making sure processor is not more than ¾ full at a time. Pulse in 1-second intervals until the cauliflower has broken down into rice-sized pieces.

If large pieces remain, remove them, transfer cauliflower to another container and then reprocess the large pieces separately before mixing back in with the “rice”.

At this point you can choose to add the lime juice and cilantro and serve/eat raw if you like as a side dish or tossed onto a salad.

Otherwise, heat grapeseed oil or butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the “rice” with a generous twist of sea salt. Cover the skillet and cook for 5-8 minutes, until the “rice” is tender or cooked to your preference.

Once cooked, remove from heat, toss with lime and cilantro, and serve.

Spring Stinging Nettle | Benefits & Recipe

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By March or April, everybody feels tired, stressed, and has allergies. There is a simple explanation: fall and winter’s cold and dampness asked for warming and grounding comfort food. During the cold seasons, most cultures eat traditional diets high in animal protein and fat, mostly preserved vegetables, as well as (too) many grains and cereals. Unfortunately, by spring, our organism becomes deficient in many nutrients and we become weak, immune-deficient, and slightly depressed. With the transition to the warmer weather, blooming flowers, and the spring equinox time change, our bodies need all the help they can get.

Mother Nature brings to life, as it always did, a blessing of fresh green shoots which provide a bounty of valuable vitamins and minerals that reduces allergies and boost the immunity. Traditional spring cleanses (some even correlated with religious practices like the fasting before Easter) encourage mainly vegetarian recipes that include all sorts of greens: from the common dandelion, lettuce, kale and collard greens, to the less known stinging nettle.

NettleStinging nettles have a long history of use all over the world. Eastern Europeans always foraged and cooked stinging nettles in early spring, after the snow melt away. Native Americans used them as a revitalizing tonic. Spring Stinging Nettles are rich in Iron, Calcium, and Vitamins A and K. Their rich phytonutrient content gives them anti-inflammatory properties. They also promote detoxification and optimize adrenal function. And their quercetin content naturally inhibits the body’s production of histamines and reduces allergies.

greenoniongarlic1Also typical for spring, green garlic and green onions are rich in vitamins A and C, quercetin and other flavonoids that act as natural antihistamines.
They enrich the taste and the nutritional makeup of many dishes, and contribute to reducing seasonal allergic response and inflammation.

Here is a traditional spring recipe that includes both spring stinging nettles and green garlic.

nettleAnd if you don’t want to forage for them yourselves, you can find both side by side on a weekend morning trip to a local Farmers Market.
(Nettles must be picked before flowering begins.)

Wash the spring nettles thoroughly, using a pair (or two) of very good quality rubber gloves against their “stinging” quality. Don’t take off the gloves too soon; chop and discard the thicker stems and transfer the nettles to a pot. Only now it’s safe to take off the gloves. wash glovesAdd a cup of water and cover with a lid.

Boil on low for about half an hour stirring frequently and pushing the nettles down into the water. They will reduce in volume during cooking. Add a bit more water if it’s lost through evaporation.

In the meantime, chop the green garlic finely and cook it for a minute on low heat in a bit of butter, covered with a lid.

cook nettlesFor a richer taste, you can add some green onions, especially if you plan to serve it with a starch (like corn grits or rice).

After the nettles are cooked, strain the mineral-rich cooking liquid over the garlic and add some arrowroot flour to thicken.

Let the cooked nettles cool, then chop them, add them over the rest of the ingredients, and cook for just a few minutes, allowing the aromas to meet and greet.

plated nettlesUse your choice of spices.
I personally prefer just a bit of salt and a squeeze of lemon.

It can be served warm as a side dish or cold as a dip.
The chopped cooked nettles can also be incorporated in a pilaf or a stew; or use your imagination and your own taste. And stay healthy with Mother Nature’s seasonal blessings!

Asparagus-In-Season Sidedish

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AsparagusAsparagus has a long list of deliciously healing nutrients, naturally-occurring chemicals, and amazing properties that your body just loves.

Three notable nuggets of this seemingly simple stem are:

  • High source of saponins: this phytonutrient has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and also helps prevent cancer and reduce its proliferation or growth. It is also associated with improving: blood pressure, blood sugar and blood fat levels.
  • High source of inulin: this is a “prebiotic” – a carbohydrate that doesn’t get broken down until it reaches the large intestine. This is the end of the gastrointestinal digestive tract. Once it gets there it becomes food for beneficial bacteria so that it can multiply, helping to improve nutrient absorption, the prevention of developing food sensitivities, and lowering the risk of colon cancer.
  • Excellent source of glutathione: this is your liver’s main anti-oxidant. If you’ve read any of Dr. Matsen’s books, you are well aware of the importance of your liver to your overall health. Your liver is busy – doing over 200 tasks at any given time – including the utmost important role of detoxification. In other words, glutathione is needed for your liver to tag and properly discard all of the toxins that your body comes in to contact with such as pesticides, herbicides, fumes, chemicals, etc.

That said, there is one key thing that you need to know so that you can actually reap all of these benefits: you must eat it while it’s fresh! It has what we call a really high “respiration rate” meaning that it’s nutrient load diminishes a lot quicker than other vegetables after being harvested. To access all of it’s amazing qualities you don’t want to leave it in your fridge for a week but rather eat it soon after it’s been picked or purchased. To help keep it fresh, place a damp paper towel at the base of the stems to help reduce its respiration rate and preserve its vitality for longer.

30 mins of your time for 6 servings

• ¼ cup red onion
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• 2 lbs of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1” pieces
• 3 tbsp organic butter or grapeseed oil
• 2 ½ cup of fresh peas (less if still in pods)
• ½ tsp fine sea salt
• ¾ cup of basil leaves, torn
• optional: fresh cracked pepper

Mince garlic and set aside. Cook red onion in butter or grapeseed oil in a medium sized heavy skillet. Stir frequently for 4 minutes. Add asparagus, peas, and sea salt. Cover skillet and cook for 4 minutes then add garlic, stir, and recover for an additional 4 minutes. Stir in basil, add additional sea salt and pepper to taste if you desire.

Root Veg Salad with Kale

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6 beets, medium sized
3 parsnips, large, chopped
3 carrots, large, chopped
1 bunch of kale, finely sliced
½ cup fresh parsley, rough chopped
1 garlic clove
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp + 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp apple juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

Rinse beets and boil in a pot for approximately 30 minutes or until tender. Once tender, remove from pot, and cube the beets (peel first if desired). Set aside. In a separate pot, cook the carrots and parsnips until tender, approximately 5 minutes. While cooking place finely sliced kale into a bowl. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil, a couple of twists of sea salt and juice of ½ a lemon. Use your hands to massage kale until it becomes soft and wilted. When carrots and parsnip are done, drain and set aside. Combine the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil, garlic, parsley, vinegar, apple juice, mustard and sea salt and pepper to taste in a blender and process into a dressing. Combine kale with the carrots and parsnip and drizzle with dressing. In their separate bowl, add dressing to beets as well. Toss ingredients in bowls to evenly coat vegetables and combine the beets with the other ingredients just prior to serving.

Zucchini Inspirations

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Zucchinis grow locally, are in abundance, and found fresh in the grocery stores and farmer’s markets. They are high in Vitamins C, K, A, B6 and Folate.

Unknown to many is how extremely versatile they are.  Mild in taste and firm in texture, they can be used in almost any recipe.  Here are a few ideas that hopefully inspire you to eat them if you don’t already:

1) Shred into salads

3) Use a spiralizer to turn into noodles and make into a “pasta” by adding a sauce and vegetables

4) Cut diagonally into thin slices and use them like a cracker for making horderves

5) Use for dipping in place of crackers

6) Cut lengthwise, scoop out the middle, stuff with veggies /sauce /meat of choice and bake

7) Cut into chunks and add to soups and stews

8) Cut lengthwise for grilling or into cubes to add to BBQ skewers

9) Thinly slice lengthwise using a mandoline, layer on a spread and veggies, then roll to make “sushi”

10)  Thinly slice into rounds, toss in oil and spices, and dehydrate to make ‘chips’

Even with all these ideas, if you still have too many to eat this summer you can always store them.  How?  Grate or julienne your zucchini, place in freezer bags and pop in the freezer.  Now they are ready-to-use for pasta sauces or baking throughout the winter.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Millet

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Serves 4

½ cup millet
1 ½ cups water
2 small acorn squash, halved and seeded
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 TBSP coconut oil
½ cup chopped sweet or yellow onion
2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 (5- to 6-ounce) bag baby spinach
1 TBSP cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
¼ cup shelled hemp seeds
4 heaping tsp fine gluten-free breadcrumbs, optional
4 tsp olive oil, optional

To cook millet:  combine millet and water in a small pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered for 18 minutes, until water is absorbed. Don’t stir the millet or it will become creamy. You want to cook it like rice.

Brush the insides of the squash with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a broiler-safe rimmed baking tray. Place the squash cut-side down and bake about 45 to 60 min in a 350 F oven or until tender when tested with a fork. Remove from oven and turn on oven broiler.

While the squash is baking, heat the coconut oil in a large heavy pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 2 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and cranberries and continue sauteing, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted, 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and honey, stir, and season with sea salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the hemp seeds.

Once the millet is cooked, fluff it lightly with a fork. Combine 1 cup of the millet with the spinach mixture and toss.

Turn over the baked squash halves so the cut side is facing up on the rimmed baking tray. Divide the filling evenly among the squash halves, mounding it slightly. Optional: top each squash half with 1 heaping teaspoon bread crumbs and drizzle 1 tsp olive oil. Broil 8 inches from the heat source for 4 to 5 minutes, until browned.

Recipe an adaptation from Vista Magazine Issue 84, November 2012

Roasted Nugget Potatoes

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By Irene Hayton

  • 24 nugget potatoes, red or yellow or combination (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) coconut oil
  • unprocessed sea salt

Parboil the potatoes in a large saucepan for 5 minutes. Drain well and return saucepan to heat for a few seconds to dry the potatoes, shaking the saucepan as you do so.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400° F. Put the coconut oil in a 9” by 9” baking dish and place in the oven until the oil is melted. Add the potatoes, sprinkle with the salt and toss to coat with the oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Cheesy Brussels Sprouts

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By Irene Hayton

  • ½ pound (250 g) Brussels sprouts (approximately 16 medium)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) butter
  • ¼ to ½ cup (60 to 125 ml) grated Parmesan, Asiago, or Cheddar cheese
  • unprocessed sea salt

Trim the ends and remove any discoloured outer leaves on the Brussels sprouts, then cut each one in half; for large sprouts, cut them in thirds so that they are uniform in size. Place the sprouts in a steamer basket and steam for 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the oil and butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the steamed Brussels sprouts and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Push sprouts into the center of the skillet, sprinkle cheese over top, then cover with a lid until the cheese melts. Alternatively, place skillet under the broiler until cheese is melted. Season to taste with sea salt.

Variation: If you are sensitive to dairy, you can omit the cheese. Place the cooked sprouts in a serving dish and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon (5 ml) fresh lemon juice and sea salt to taste.

Beans ‘n Greens

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By Irene Hayton

This recipe can be varied according to personal taste and the type of beans and greens you have on hand. See below for Variations.

  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) coconut oil
  • 1 shallot or half an onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 6 to 8 cups (1.5 to 2 l) washed, chopped kale, tough stems removed
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) oregano
  • ⅓ cup (75 ml) filtered water
  • 14 oz. (398 ml) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon (1 to 2.5 ml) unprocessed sea salt, to taste
  • 1 or 2 pinches cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, adding a small amount of water to prevent sticking, if necessary. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Stir in the tomatoes, kale, oregano and water; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the beans, salt and cayenne, if using, and heat through, about 2 minutes. Makes 2 servings.


  • Vary the beans: try black, kidney, or navy beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, etc. Use beans that you’ve cooked yourself instead of canned if you have the time.
  • Vary the greens: try Swiss chard, spinach, collard greens, beet greens, bok choy, etc.
  • Add other veggies along with the onion, such as diced bell peppers, celery, carrots, etc.
  • Add other herbs such as basil, thyme, cumin, etc.

Baked Kale Chips

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By Irene Hayton

A lot of recipes for kale chips recommend that you bake them at 350º F but the kale always seems to burn at this temperature; maybe it’s my oven. I found the best temperature to be 250º. Most recipes call for olive oil but since it’s not a good idea to heat olive oil, this recipe uses coconut oil instead. If you like balsamic vinegar, use ½ tablespoon of it and ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Or substitute lemon juice for some or all of the vinegar. Feel free to add any spices that you like. You can also sprinkle them with Parmesan cheese towards the end of baking.

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 250º F (120º C). Place oven racks on the lowest level of the oven.

Wash kale and spin dry in a salad spinner and/or pat dry. The kale should be very dry. Remove the tough stems and tear the leaves into bite size pieces, about the size of potato chips. Place in a large glass bowl.

Combine the coconut oil, vinegar, and salt; drizzle over the kale and, using your hands, mix well to thoroughly coat the leaves. Place the kale in a single layer on 2 parchment paper lined baking sheets and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, turning the baking sheets 180º after about 12 minutes. Watch closely towards the end of the baking time to make sure the kale doesn’t burn. It should be crisp but still dark green in color.

Baked Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Onion

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  • ½ tablespoon (7.5 ml) coconut oil
  • 1 cup (250 ml) grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup (250 ml) zucchini slices, about ¼” thick
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 3 or 4 slices red onion, about ¼” thick
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta

Preheat the oven to 400º F (200º C).

Put the coconut oil in an 8”x 8” glass baking dish and put in the oven for a few minutes until the oil is melted. Remove from the oven and add the tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, and sea salt; toss to coat with the oil. Push aside the vegetables and arrange the onion slices in a single layer on the bottom of the dish. Arrange the zucchini slices in a single layer on top of the onion and then the tomatoes. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the tomatoes start to split. Sprinkle on the cheese and return to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes until the cheese is melted. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Jicama with Lime and Chili Powder

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by Irene Hayton

  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lime juice (1 medium lime)
  • ½ teaspoon (2 ml) unprocessed sea salt
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon (1 to 2 ml) chili powder
  • ·  3 tablespoons (45 ml) minced fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1 jicama, approximately 1½ pounds

Combine the lime juice, sea salt, chili powder, and cilantro (if using) in a large glass bowl. Peel the jicama and cut into slices approximately ½ inch thick and 1 to 2 inches long (you should have about 4 cups). Add the jicama to the lime juice mixture and toss to coat well. Taste and adjust the seasonings if desired. This tastes best when covered and refrigerated for at least an hour to allow the flavors to blend and will keep for a few days.

Steamed Swiss Chard

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By Irene Hayton

Here’s a simple, fast and delicious way to prepare this nutritious leafy green. The stems need to be cooked longer than the leaves so add them to the steaming basket first. Alternatively, you can discard the stems and use only the leaves. For information about Swiss chard, see the Health Tip for June 2009.

  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, about 12 leaves or 8 cups chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) unprocessed sea salt

Cut off the fibrous bottom part of the chard stems, near the base of the leaves, and discard them. Remove the remaining part of the stems and tough center rib by folding each leaf in half and cutting along the rib. Cut the stems into 1-inch pieces and set aside. Stack the leaves and slice them into pieces about 1 inch wide and 2 to 3 inches long.

Put about ½ inch of water in the bottom of a large saucepan. Insert a steamer basket and bring the water to a boil. Add the chopped stems, cover tightly and steam for 3 minutes. Add the leaves, cover tightly and steam for 3 more minutes or until tender. Don’t overcook—the leaves should remain bright green.

While the chard is steaming, stir together the remaining ingredients. When the chard is done, serve immediately and drizzle a small amount of dressing over each serving. Sprinkle with additional sea salt, if desired. Leftover dressing can be saved to be used over steamed vegetables or cooked grains. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Roasted Cauliflower

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By Irene Hayton

Roasting gives cauliflower a nice flavor—it tastes better cooked this way than steamed.

  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) coconut oil
  • 2 cups (500 ml) cauliflower florets (cut into bite-size pieces)
  • unprocessed sea salt

Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C).

Melt the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the cauliflower, sprinkle with sea salt, to taste, and mix to coat with oil. Arrange cauliflower in a single layer in a baking dish. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes, until tender-crisp and lightly browned.

Grilled Vegetables

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By Irene Hayton

Use as much of each vegetable as desired, depending on the number of servings you wish to make. Omit those that you don’t like and feel free to add whatever herbs or spices you want. If you’re cooking large quantities, you’ll need to make more than one packet.

See the Health Tip titled Aluminum Foil for information about aluminum foil and parchment paper.

  • butter
  • small new potatoes, cut in 1” pieces
  • carrots, peeled and cut in 2” lengths about ⅜” thick
  • asparagus spears, cut in 3” lengths
  • sweet red and yellow peppers, cut in slices about ⅜” thick
  • red onion, cut in slices about ¼“ to ½” thick
  • unprocessed sea salt
  • balsamic vinegar, optional

Spread a thin layer of butter in the center of a large piece of parchment paper. Add veggies and sprinkle with some sea salt. Fold edges of parchment paper on all sides to seal it. Put packet in the center of a large piece of aluminum foil and seal tightly (this keeps the parchment paper closed and prevents direct contact between the veggies and the aluminum foil). Place packet on the barbeque on low to medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes (turn it over halfway through the cooking time), or until potatoes and carrots are tender. Remove veggies to a serving dish and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and more sea salt, if desired.

Baked Asparagus Parmesan

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By Irene Hayton

Take advantage of fresh seasonal asparagus with this delicious recipe. For information on the nutritional benefits of asparagus, see the Health Tip for March 2005.

The length of baking time will vary depending on how thick the asparagus spears are; allow approximately 8 minutes total baking time for thin spears and approximately 12 minutes total for thick ones. A good rule of thumb is to bake them until they just start to turn bright green.

  • 1 pound (500 g) fresh asparagus
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) coconut oil (or butter)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup (125 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (see Note)
  • fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar (optional)

Snap off the ends of the asparagus and place them on a baking sheet.

Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat; add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant. Drizzle the oil and garlic mixture over the asparagus and toss to coat. Arrange the spears in a single layer and bake at 400° F (200° C ) for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn asparagus over, sprinkle Parmesan cheese evenly over top and return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Test one spear to see if it’s cooked enough—bake an additional minute or 2 if needed. Do not overcook. Remove from oven and serve immediately, sprinkled with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar to taste, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Substitute freshly grated Asiago cheese for the Parmesan, if desired.

Garlicky Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower

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By Irene Hayton

By replacing some of the potatoes with cauliflower, this recipe is lower in carbs than traditional mashed potatoes. And it’s a great way to get picky eaters to eat some cauliflower, a healthy cruciferous vegetable—they won’t even know it’s in there. Another bonus is that this casserole can be made ahead of time.

  • 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 cups (1 l) cauliflower florets
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) butter
  • 1 cup (250 ml) yogurt cheese (see Note)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) unprocessed sea salt

Bring a large pot of filtered water to a boil. Add the potatoes and garlic and cook at a low boil for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook for another 10 to 12 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and drain well. Mash very well, and then stir in the butter, yogurt cheese, and sea salt until creamy. Transfer mixture into a large lightly buttered casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350° F (180° C) for 30 minutes. Remove lid and cook for 5 more minutes until heated through.

If you’re making the casserole ahead of time, do not bake it right away; it can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Allow it to sit at room temperature for half an hour before baking it. Makes about 8 servings.

Note: To make yogurt cheese, place the yogurt from a 650 g container of plain 2% yogurt (about 2¾ cups) in a sieve lined with a clean tea towel or with about 4 layers of cheesecloth; place the sieve over a bowl. Wrap the tea towel or cheesecloth around the yogurt and give it a slight squeeze. Put a light weight (such as a bag of rice or beans) on top, cover with a plate and leave to drain in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours—until you have about 1¼ cups (300 ml) of yogurt.


Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash

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By Irene Hayton

The idea for this recipe is from a woman named Asmena who used to work here at the Northshore Naturopathic Clinic. See this month’s Health Tip (October 2007) for more information on this unique squash

  • · 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) coconut oil
  • · 1 small onion, chopped
  • · 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • · 3 tablespoons (45 ml) chopped sun-dried tomatoes

· ⅓ cup (75 ml) tomato sauce

· ½ teaspoon (2 ml) unprocessed sea salt

· ¾ cup (175 ml) chopped black olives

· 1 or 2 pinches cayenne (optional)

Cut the squash in half lengthwise; scoop out and discard the seeds and loose stringy pulp in the center. Place the halves on a baking sheet, cut side down. Bake at 375˚ F for 40 to 45 minutes. The squash is done when the flesh separates easily into strands when you run the tines of a fork over it. Do not overcook the squash or it will be mushy; it’s best when it’s still a little bit crunchy. Allow the squash to cool a little then gently scrape around the edge of the squash with a fork to separate the pulp into spaghetti-like strands. Place the squash strands in a large glass bowl and discard the skin.

While the squash is cooling, heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the coconut oil and onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and sauté for 2 more minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, sea salt, olives, and cayenne (if using) and heat through. Pour over the spaghetti squash and mix together gently with 2 forks. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Kale with Ginger and Garlic

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By irene hayton

  • 3 teaspoons (15 ml) coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) minced fresh ginger
  • 1 or 2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped, about 5 cups, lightly packed (see Note)
  • ¼ to ½ cup (75 to 125 ml) vegetable broth
  • fresh lemon

Heat 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper flakes (if using) and sauté for about 5 minutes. While this is cooking, blanch the kale in boiling salted water for 3 minutes, then drain. Remove the garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes from the skillet and set them aside.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining teaspoon (5 ml) of coconut oil and the kale; sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, cover and cook, stirring often, until the kale is wilted but still bright green, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Return the garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes to the skillet and stir well. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over top. Makes 1 to 2 servings.

Note: To prepare the kale, wash it and then shake or pat off excess water. Remove any damaged or yellow parts, and then strip the leaves from the tough stems. Stack the leaves and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces. You can discard the stems or chop them up and cook them with the leaves—blanch for 1 to 2 minutes longer than the leaves by adding them to the boiling water first.

Sweet Potato Fries

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By irene hayton and Carol Song

  • 6 small sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) minced fresh rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon (5 ml) sea salt

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into wedges about ½ inch (1 cm) thick. Place the wedges in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients, then mix well; pour over the sweet potato wedges and stir until well-coated. Place wedges on a baking sheet and bake at 375° F (190° C) for about 1 hour, until tender. Good hot or cold. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Butternut Squash and Onions

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By irene hayton

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) butter
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) minced fresh ginger
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon (1 to 2 ml) curry powder, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon (2 ml) sea salt

Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard them. Place the squash cut side down in a baking dish and pour ¼ inch of water in the bottom of the dish. Bake at 375° F (190° C) for 25 to 35 minutes, until squash is tender. Remove from the oven and set aside while you prepare the onion mixture.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the butter, coconut oil, and onion and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft. Add small amounts of water if the onion begins to stick to the skillet. Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of water; cook, stirring occasionally for 2 more minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Scoop out the flesh of the butternut squash, place in a bowl and mash it, discarding the skin. Add the squash to the onion mixture, sprinkle with sea salt and stir to combine. Heat briefly over medium-low heat and then serve. Makes 4 servings.


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By Irene Hayton and Carol Song

At this time of the year, artichokes can easily be found in the produce section of the grocery stores. Many people have never tried them, which is a shame because these nutritious vegetables are actually easy to cook and fun to eat.

Although artichokes are harvested throughout the year, the peak crops are in the spring, from March through May, and to a lesser extent in October. Spring artichokes should be a soft green colour, while those harvested in the fall and winter will be darker, more like an olive green. Choose those that feel heavy and that have tightly closed fleshy, firm leaves. Avoid ones that are turning brown or that look dry and woody.

Fresh artichokes will keep for 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator, unwashed and uncut, wrapped well in a perforated plastic bag. Once cooked, they’ll keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

How to Cook an Artichoke

To prepare an artichoke for cooking, first rinse it under running water; drain well. Cut off the stem so that it’s flush with the base. Slice off the top one inch (2.5 cm) of the artichoke, and then peel away the bottom three or four layers of leaves, until you can see the tender yellow-green leaves underneath. The tough bottom leaves are bitter-tasting and have very little “meat.” Cut off the sharp point from each leaf using scissors or a sharp knife. Discard all the parts that you have cut or peeled off the artichoke. Place the prepared artichoke in a bowl of cold filtered water that contains the juice of half a lemon–this helps to prevent discoloration while you prepare the cooking water or additional artichokes.

Fill a small pot half-full with filtered water. (Use a larger pot—and more lemons—if you’re cooking more than one artichoke.) There should be enough water in the pot to cover the bottom half of the artichoke. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the water and add a pinch or two of sea salt. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the heat so that it’s simmering gently. Place the artichoke, base down, in the water and simmer for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the size, or until the lower leaves pull away easily. Be careful not to overcook the artichoke or it’ll be mushy.

How to Eat an Artichoke

Now this is the fun part; in fact, many kids like eating artichokes, not only because they taste good, but because they get to use their hands! To eat an artichoke, peel off one leaf at a time and hold the pointed end between your fingers. Using your front teeth, scrape off the “meat,” the fleshy edible part, inside the base of the leaf. Discard the rest of the leaf and continue this process with the remaining leaves until you reach the fuzzy choke in the centre. Use a spoon to scoop out the choke, leaving you with the heart, the edible base of the artichoke. Many people consider this the best part. Cut it up, sprinkle it with sea salt, and enjoy!

Although artichokes taste great with just a little sea salt, some people like to dip the leaves and the heart in garlic butter. For a healthier alternative, you can make a dressing by mixing one part Udo’s Choice Ultimate Oil Blend with two parts pure apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt, and a minced clove of garlic, if desired.

Trimmed, fresh artichokes can also be steamed. Once they are boiled or steamed, artichokes can be stuffed and baked. The hearts can also be used in salads, stir-fries, dips, and casseroles.

See this month’s Health Tip for more information on artichokes.

Cooking Beets and Beet Greens

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By Irene Hayton and Carol Song

If possible, buy beets whole, with the greens attached and cook the greens as well. Choose beets that are firm and have smooth skins, free of bruises, wrinkles, or spots. Try to buy beets that are similar in size so that the cooking times are the same. Choose those that are small to medium in size and purple-red in color. Beets that are large or elongated tend to be fibrous; smaller beets are more tender and take less time to cook. Beet leaves should be fresh and bright green in color.

Cooked beets can be eaten warm or cold. They have so much flavour that all they need is a sprinkle of sea salt before eating. Because they have a high glycemic index, make sure that you eat beets with fat and protein, as part of a meal, rather than on their own. The leaves are also highly nutritious and can be cooked like spinach or Swiss chard.

Beets are easier to peel, and less messy, after they’ve been cooked, so steam or roast them with the skins on. Scrub raw beets lightly under running water and leave the roots and about 1 inch of the stems attached. Cooking beets whole helps to retain their color, nutrients, and flavour. See this month’s Health Tip on the nutritional benefits of beets.

Steamed Beets
Steam whole; if larger than 2 inches in diameter, cut in half. Steam for 40 to 60 minutes, until tender, checking water level occasionally. Once beets are cooked, place them in or run them under cold water and the skins should peel off easily.

Roasted Beets
Cook small beets whole; for larger beets, cut them in halves or quarters. Place beets in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with sea salt and coconut oil (heat it in a small saucepan over low heat to melt it); toss to mix. Bake, uncovered, at 400° F (200° C) until tender, about 1 to 1½ hours.

Sautéed Beet Greens
½ teaspoon (2 ml) coconut oil
½ teaspoon (2 ml) butter
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 bunch beet greens, with stems, washed and sliced

Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add coconut oil, butter, and garlic and stir-fry for about 1 minute. Add the beet green and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of broth or water. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Remove lid, stir and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes, until greens are tender.