Healthy Pizza

Yes, you read that right – pizza from scratch is both easy and healthy if done right (read: whole wheat flour dough loaded with vegetables and real mozzarella). A note on mozzarella: what I call mozzarella is called boccocini or buffalo mozzarella here in Canada and is tasty and relatively low in calories and fat for cheese. What they call mozzarella here, we call plastic in Europe. Why would you eat that?
Now, I’m kinda lucky because I LOVE the taste if whole wheat dough – it’s sweet and chewy and so much more flavourful than its white counterpart. I say I’m lucky because life’s a lot easier if you naturally like what’s good for you and naturally dislike what’s bad for you. Now back to the pizza.
Making dough from scratch is much easier than most people think and if you don’t take the time it needs to rest and rise into consideration, it takes less time than waiting for your oven to heat up.
Dinner for 4:
For the dough:
Ingredients:
– 3.5 cups (500g) whole wheat flour (substitute for rice flour if you’re celiac, look up ratio for water – flour)
– 2.5 tsp salt
– 3 tsp (20g) yeast
– 2 1/4 (3 dl) water
– 2 tbsp olive oil
Direction:
In a bowl, mix flour and salt. Create a hole in the middle of the flour mix. Dissolve yeast in water, pour water/yeast mix and oil into the ditch. Mix and knead until smooth. It’s so therapeutic! Cover with cloth and let it sit for about an hour.
For the toppings:
The other great thing (other than being easy and healthy) about this recipe is that the variations are endless: vary your toppings and you’ll never get tired of it. Believe me, I tried! For this one, I used:photo(3)
– 1/2 zucchini, washed and sliced very thin
– a handful of mushrooms, washed and sliced very thin
– one pepper, washed and sliced very thin
– 12 cherry tomatoes, washed and cut in half
– 1 buffalo mozzarella
After dough has risen, pre-heat oven to 395 °F (200 °C). Roll out the dough on area with flour until about 1/4 inch thick (5mm). Put on parchment paper, then onto a baking sheet. Distribute vegetables and cheese, season with herbs if you like, and sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Vary vegetables, add tomato sauce, meats (ham, ground turkey) or tuna (sustainable dolphin
friendly, of course)  if you like and create your own favourite!

Carrot Ginger Muffins

It feels a lot like spring here which makes me hopefully that we have gotten over this year’s cold-and-flu season. While I don’t get sick very often, it was a bad year for me, starting with picking up the Swine Flu while traveling (apparently it’s not a thing of the past everywhere in the world…), then catching the nasty flu everyone here seemed to have and finishing it off with a surprisingly resilient cold that actually tied me to the bed for a few days. I think all in all I was sick for a good 2 months since last fall but I’m not going to use this blog to complain about that (any longer). Instead, just to be on the safe side, I made some immune system boosting, vitamin and minerals loaded, infection fighting muffins. Yes, that’s a thing!

Ingredients:

mufifins

  • 1/2 cup (~65 g) bran (I used up some ground oats and chia seeds this time)
  • 1 1/4 cup (~160g) whole-wheat flower
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly ground ginger
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup (~250g ) plain yoghurt
  • 1/2 shredded carrots
  • 4 tbsp agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Whisk together bran, four, baking soda and powder, and cinnamon. In another bowl, beat egg and add ginger, yoghurt, carrots and syrup. Combine the two, add seeds and raisins. Spoon into greased muffin tin and bake for 18 minutes or until the top springs back when you touch it.

Triple Green Pasta

Twice this week, I realized half way through the day that all I had that day was sugar and caffeine. Not good. Why is it that we glorify being busy again? So when I came up for air, I decided what my body needed was good carbs (as in whole grains) and vegetables, preferably green. I remembered a recipe from a book and tried to recreate it: Whole wheat pasta with three kinds of greens. Delicious and perfect for fueling.  Side note: if you love pasta and eat is as often as I do, go whole wheat. I remember my mum making it and I HATED it but in the meantime, I love it so much that eating white pasta grosses me out. True story!

For 2 people:

photo(1)Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat pasta (I make app. 100g/person or 0.5lbs)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 green onions, washed and roughly chopped
  • a good handful of snow peas, washed and cut in half if too big
  • a good handful of fresh organic spinach, washed
  • 1 cup/250ml Broth
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook pasta according to packages. Once water boils, scoop one cup of water out and dissolve broth powder, if you are using instant broth (which I was because I’m out of my home made broth).

In the meantime, wash and chop your vegetables. Heat oil and add green onions, then snow peas. Turn down heat, add broth and let it simmer until snow peas are soft. Turn heat off. Add pasta and spinach, mix well. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Butternut Squash Soup – a Winter favourite

I made the cardinal mistake earlier this week of mentioning how it really hasn’t been such a bad winter here, as in, I could ride my Vespa pretty much every day. Every since that statement, it hasn’t stopped pouring rain, just to prove a point. How foolish of me!

So once again, I’m making soup. And no, I’m not tired of them. Here a recipe for my butternut squash soup, one of my winter favourites, especially if I can convince my husband to peel and cube – that’s really the most work intensive part of this soup. It’s called teamwork!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Image Courtesy: Boaz Yiftach

Image Courtesy: Boaz Yiftach

  • 1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tsp oil or butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cups (1 l) vegetable broth (for recipe, click here)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon and 2 tbsp nutmeg
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • fresh cream, whipped cream or milk – optional

Directions:

Heat butter or oil, sauté onions and squash. Add broth, broth should cover the squash; let it simmer for 15 minutes or until soft (depends on size of cubes). Add cinnamon and nutmeg. Puree. The soups should be rather thick, but it’s entirely a matter of preference. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. If you like, add a dollop of whipped cream or a bit of fresh organic milk or cream. I personally think that is super tasty, but does add a few calories. Enjoy this warming and comforting bowl of goodness!

 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Vegetable Medley

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Making gnocchi from scratch is quite a bit of work. Consider yourself warned. So worth it though, especially these made with yams or sweet potatoes. If you don’t feel up for the challenge, you can buy regular gnocchi or use pasta for this recipe. I have made it with Spaetzle before too but that’s just as much work. But hey, I’m not suggesting you whip up this dinner from scratch after a 10h work day with a 3h commute as my day was today. What I did instead: I made a big batch of gnocchi in advance, threw them in the freezer in 2 people portions and just cooked them in boiling water for a few minutes when I need them. The rest of this meal takes 5 minutes and the result is a healthy, fast and delicious meal.

For the gnocchi recipe, click here (minus the sauce part – but that recipe is delicious too). If you buy gnocchi or pasta, cook according to package.

For the sauce:

Ingredients for two people

– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1/2 onion, chopped
– 1 organic pepper, cubed
– 1 small organic zucchini
– 4 organic mushrooms
– 1 cup (250ml) broth
– a few tbsp sour cream, plain yogurt or some type of soft cheese

Directions:

Sauté onions. Add peppers. Add broth. Bring to boil, add zucchini and mushrooms. Turn off heat after a few minutes, add gnocchi and whatever dairy you choose. I had some leftover Boursin and threw that in. You can leave it out all together if you don’t eat dairy, I just like it a bit creamy.

Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Voilà!

Mashed Cauliflower

I have been wanting to try and create a recipe for mashed cauliflower ever since I had it at one of my favourite restaurants. Not just because I thought it could be a healthy alternative to mashed potatoes but also because it tasted amazing and poor cauliflower is such an underrated vegetable, I couldn’t wait to give it center stage. So here my version:

Ingredients:

– 1 whole head of organic cauliflower

– 1 tsp olive oil

-1 tbsp milk

– 3 cloves garlic

– a few chives, chopped small

-sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (350 Fahrenheit). (I made a piece of meat in the oven to go with the mashed cauliflower which was a good idea – heating up the oven just for the garlic could be a bit wasteful). Cut the top few mm of the garlic off, wrap it in tinfoil and bake it for 30-45 minutes (depending on your oven). You won’t need all cloves so either freeze the additional ones for another time or enjoy with a cracker as an appy.

Wash and cut cauliflower into smaller pieces, steam until soft.

Mix steamed cauliflower, oil, milk and 3 cloves of garlic and mash using a fork, blender or whatever you would use to make mashed potatoes.

Season with chives, salt and pepper. I had it as a side to a piece of meat but you can substitute it for mashed potatoes anywhere – at your holiday table, in Shepard’s pie, as filling for perogies or whatever else you can think of.

 

Slowcooker Tomato Parmesan Soup

I’m not gonna complain about the weather, first of all because it doesn’t help (my mood or otherwise), second, lots of rain means lots of lush vegetation, and third, I have to remember I chose to move here. Do I sometimes wish I had met a guy from Hawaii instead of Vancouver? Sure! Do I hate it? Heck no. Vancouver is beautiful and awesome, and sometimes a stroll in the rain with coffee in hand (reusable mug, if you wonder) is very lovely. Anyway, because of the consistent cold and wet weather, all I want to eat is soup and I am running out of recipes so I created this one after getting the idea of a slowcooker soup on Pinterest. Here it is:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb (500g) organic tomatoes
  • 1 tsp oil or butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 4 stalks of organic celery, leaves and all
  • 1 cup (250g) freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) cream
  • 3 sprigs fresh basil or parsley (from my window garden)
  • 2 cups (1 l) vegetable broth (for recipe, click here)
neil conway / Food Photos / CC BY

Directions:

Snick the tops of the tomatoes, plunge them into water briefly. Peel and dice. Heat butter or oil, sauté onions until soft. Add tomato puree. Wash and chop celery.

Combine onions mix, tomatoes, celery and broth in slowcooker. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3. Yes, you can do this in a pot too if you don’t have a slowcooker, simmer for about 1h on low heat. Turn off, blend until smooth. Add cream, parmesan and herbs. Do not boil soup again as dairy can separate. Alternatively, try plain Greek yogurt. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

What’s your favorite soup?