Simple and Fresh Pesto

I love basil! And this year is the first year we actually have happy basil plants. It can only mean one thing: PESTO TIME!

Pesto is so fresh and delicious it’s always very exciting to have some in the kitchen. The traditional recipes call for pine nuts, but, hum, these are really expensive! I kept things simple using ingredients that are always in my pantry, and I’m more than satisfied with the result. Here’s my simple, simple, simple pesto recipe!

Here’s what you need:

  • Enough fresh basil to fill up your blender, about 5 cups (leaves and tender stems)
  • 2 tbs tahini
  • 2 tbs almond butter
  • 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 whole lemon, rind removed
  • 1 tsp salt (I used coarse sea salt)
  • pepper, chipotle pepper flakes, or red pepper flakes to taste

Here’s what you do:

  1. Wash the basil and pat dry.
  2. Transfer all the ingredients, but the olive oil, into your blender and blend.
  3. Slowly add the olive oil until you get your desired consistency.
  4. Transfer to an air-tight container and keep in the fridge.
  5. Enjoy on everything!

I love this pesto because it is great on everything: sandwiches, as a salad dressing and, of course, pasta. I used raw kelp noodles for a lighter no cook meal, and it was delicious! Let me know what your recipe for pesto is!

 

Yoga Mat Cleaning Spray

There comes a time when you do yoga when you realize that your yoga mat has different marks and grime stuck to it, no matter how clean and careful you are. This is what happened this morning. I took out my yoga mat, and realized that my footprints were visible. Ew! How disgusting! So I went in my bathroom and made myself a little cleaning spray. Super simple, effective and refreshing!

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Here is what you need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 5 drops of tea trea essential oil
  • 5 drops of lemon essential oil
  • 5 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 1 spray bottle (preferably glass)
  • 1 small rag to clean

Here is what you do:

  1. Pour all the ingredients in your spray bottle. Close up and give a good shake.
  2. Spray on your yoga mat, working in sections, and whipe out with your rag.
  3. Let your yoga mat dry completely before rolling up.
  4. Enjoy a nice, clean and fresh mat!

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This is so refreshing! It took off all the grime that had accumulated over time, and my mat is like new! I think I’ll get in a more regular weekly cleaning routine so that I can keep it longer and always have a fresh mat to practice on. By the way, this is also a great room freshener spray. If you remove the vinegar and lemon essential oil it also makes for a very relaxing spray. And if you don’t have these essential oils, look around and try different scents. I went with those because they have cleansing and antibacterial properties, but feel free to explore! It’s so much more fun! Let me know how you take care of your mat!

Lettuce Wedge Salad

Summer is back in Montreal and with the temperatures rising, all I want to eat is salad. At some point though you start getting tired of salads. That’s when I stumbled upon pictures of really cute lettuce wedge salads. I had to try it out!

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This is perfect as you can customize it to add anything you want. The key is to have a nice, fresh iceberg lettuce. Yup, that’s right! This salad makes iceberg lettuce truly shine. Crispy and fresh, it’s perfect for hot days.

Here is what you need:

  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce
  • 1 orange
  • 2 small apples
  • 10 cherries
  • 1 bloc of smoked tofu
  • 1 tsp oil
  • the juice of 1 lemon (minus 3 tbs to add to the dressing)
  • sesame seeds to garnish
  • sriracha sauce to garnish

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbs sesame oil
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs tamari sauce
  • 1 tbs maple syrup
  • zest of 1 lemon

Here is what you do:

  1. Remove the damaged outer leaves from the lettuce and wash the whole head under water. Place in a colander and let drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Dice the smoked tofu in tiny cubes. In a non-stick pan, heat the oil on medium heat and add the tofu cubes when hot. Stir from time to time, until golden and crunchy. Set aside.
  3. Peel the orange and cut each wedge in 3 or 4 parts. Set aside.
  4. Grate the apples and mix with the lemon juice. Set aside.
  5. Cut each cherry in half to remove the pit and set aside.
  6. Pat dry the lettuce head with paper towels and cut in half. Cut each half in 3 parts and remove the foot.
  7. On each plate, place some grated apples at the bottom. Place the lettuce wedge in the middle. Add some orange pieces, cherries, and tofu bits. Sprinkle on some sesame seeds and add some sriracha.
  8. Mix all the dressing ingredients together and pour over a few tablespoons on top of the lettuce wedge. Serve and enjoy!

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This is so good! The lettuce is so crunchy and goes perfectly with the fresh fruits. The tofu is crispy, and its smoky taste is the perfect alternative to bacon. The dressing adds just the right amount of tartness and saltiness. The flavours really work together, and this is just the perfect summer salad. Let me know if you try it out!

Simple Pasta Salad

This is the perfect recipe if you want something simple and delicious for dinner, and for the next day. It’s perfect when just cooked, but it makes for a perfect lunch or picnic addition. You probably have all the ingredients already in your kitchen, so it’s perfect if you don’t know what to cook and are in a rush. It only takes minutes to put together, and it’s delicious!

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Here is what you need:

  • 4 cups pasta, I used gluten-free fusillis
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 3 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbs ketchup
  • 2 tbs tamari sauce
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • a few pinches of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes

Here is what you do:

  1. Set the pasta to cook according to instructions.
  2. Wash and dry the zucchini and carrots. Peel the carrots skin if you like. With your potato peeler, peel up the carrots and zucchini into ribbons. Place in a large salad bowl.
  3. Wash and remove the stems for the kale. Bunch up the leaves and finely chop so that you have thin ribbons of kale leaves. Add to the vegetables. Pour the lemon juice over and mix well. Set aside.
  4. Once the pasta are cooked, drain and add to the vegetables.
  5. Add the sesame oil, nutritional yeast, ketchup, tamari sauce and pepper. Mix well until everything is coated in the sauce and well combined. Enjoy!

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This is a great dish! I really like how the vegetables are barely cooked: the heat from the pasta will warm them up, but you still get all those great raw nutrients. It also makes for amazing textures. This is seriously delicious! Let me know if you try it out!

An afternoon in Montreal: Les Jardins d’Ambroisie and strawberries in the park

Summer is definitively in Montreal! The sun was out this morning, the breeze was refreshing, and it was just the perfect day for a picnic. So I put my ginormous pile of need-to-be-corrected exams, and went for a stroll with my boyfriend.

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We were really excited because today the Marché Fermier was starting again! Near the Laurier metro, the marché is made out of different stands were you can find fresh vegetables and fruits, baked goods, cider and even fermented vegetables. We really like buying our produce there in the summer because we find the freshest and best vegetables and fruits for a good price directly from the producer. Win-win-win situation!

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We have two favourite stands at the market: La Ferme des Petits Cailloux for their wonderfully juicy and flavourful strawberries, and Les Jardins d’Ambroisie for the incredible quality and freshness of their organic greens and vegetables. Seriously, Francis, the owner of the farm, is an incredible farmer who always has new or unknown species to offer: at his stand we discovered lemon cucumbers, which are deliciously crunchy and fresh, and purple potatoes that are the best pan-fried and served with a chutney. He also has great recommendations as to how to prepare his produce. If you are out of ideas, I strongly recommend going to visit his stand: you will leave with loads of incredible veggies, recipes and ideas!

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If you are interested in trying out these fantastic products, you can support the Jardins d’Ambroisie as they offer market shares and CSA baskets. You can of course visit the market every Thursday and Sunday afternoons as well. For more details, visit the Marché Fermier’s page. After finding some greens and strawberries, we continued our stroll and ended-up in a park where we got to feast on our delicious finds! Summer, I’m really glad your finally here!

picnic

Let me know if you have a farmer’s market where you like to go or what you do to take advantage of every drop of summer!

 

Cocktail Time: Pimm’s Cup!

I’m not a big fan of alcohol, and so my cocktail culture is very tiny. However, a few weeks ago I went for drinks with colleagues and discovered Pimm’s cups. Wow! So light and refreshing: they are clearly a perfect summer drink. Since spring is finally here, it is totally okay to kick-start the season with a nice drink, right? Plus it’s British, so why not?

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Here is what you need for each drink:

  • 1/4 cup Pimm’s No. 1
  • 1 cup 7-Up or ginger ale
  • ice (I didn’t have any, so I used frozen cranberries instead: worked out well!)
  • a few slices of cucumber
  • a few mint leaves
  • a few berries (I used blackberries, but strawberries or raspberries also work well)
  • a slice of lime, lemon or orange

Here is what you do:

  1. Fill your glass with ice. Add the cucumber, mint, berries and lime slice.
  2. Mix in the Pimm’s and 7-Up. Give a quick stir and enjoy!

This is a great drink if you are looking for something fresh and customizable with what you have on hand. Pimm’s has a great herbal flavour which makes this drink perfect for a warm day. Be careful though, there is gin here: this might turn your head a little! Let me know how you like to prepare your Pimm’s cups, or what’s your favourite drink!

Sweet Potato Nori Roll

I love purple sweet potatoes! I also really like nori sheets, so why not combine the two? Add a few little things, and BAM! You have a nice, filling, fresh, and colourful meal that you can customize to your liking (or to your fridge’s content)!

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Here is what you need for each roll:

  • 1 Nori sheet (I get my Nori sheets here because it is a lot less expensive than what I find locally)
  • 1/2 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (I used purple, but you can go with orange if you like)
  • 1/4 avocado in strips or mashed
  • 1/3 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
  • 1/3 cup flat parsley leaves
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds

Here is what you do:

  1. With your fingers or a wet spoon, spread the mashed potato on the nori sheet.
  2. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds
  3. Add the avocado, carrots, parsley and sprouts.
  4. Using your fingers, lift one side of the nori sheet while holding the fillings in and roll it up! You can use a little bit of water to glue the end of the paper. Press gently on the roll to help it stay in place (sushi roll style).
  5. Cut in half to serve.

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Since these rolls are pretty big and the mash I used was cold, I didn’t feel the need to use a rolling mat. The rolls were easy to make and so delicious! They are also very quick if you prepare the ingredients ahead of time. We ate this with some tamari sauce mixed with a little sriracha sauce, and it was amazingly good! I think tomato slices, cilantro, cucumber and kale could also make a great roll!

Let me know if you try it out and how you like it!

 

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