I’ve been away juicing!

For the last couple of months, I’ve had a lot of trouble finding foods that made me feel good and energized. Either the food I craved was too heavy and would make me fall asleep (I took a lot of naps!) feeling like a giant slug, or it was not nourishing enough and would leave me hangry. It came to a point where all my thoughts and decisions were around food, and, trust me, that’s not healthy! I spent a lot of time reading and watching documentaries (resources coming up in my next post!), and I decided to try out incorporating lots and lots and lots and lots of greens to every meal.

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I started with super green smoothies incorporating spinach, baby kale, arugula and spirulina. It was a revolution! I finally didn’t feel like I needed to go back to bed as soon as I had breakfast, and that was amazing! When making my smoothies, I always aimed for 3/4 greens to 1/4 fruits. I also added some protein powder or pumpkin seeds to make it a complete meal. The finishing touch: 1 or 2 nuts or some chia seeds for some healthy fats. These smoothies not only taste good, they are packed with nutrients! After starting my days with these for a few days, I could see a real difference in my energy levels. I am completely hooked on them!

Because greens had such an amazing effect, I decided to take it one step further and invest in a juicer. I watched so many videos comparing different juicers, but I finally set my heart (and money) on an Omega juicer. I’ve never been so happy to spend almost 400$ on a machine! The juicer is super easy to use, easy to clean and takes little space on my counter. This machine feels strong and sturdy. I’m also very pleased with the 10 years guarantee.  The best part of it all though is that this is an amazing juicer!

I’ve been using it to juice lots and lots of leafy greens like kale, parsley, spinach, coriander, lettuce and cabbage without any issue. Harder vegetables are just as easy: beets (and their greens) and carrots just zoom through. And, of course, everything in between is super simple as well: cucumber, apples, lemons, limes, ginger, turmeric and celery. There’s just nothing this machine can’t juice!

In my opinion, the omega is worth every penny. The first time I made juice with this machine, I was really surprised to see how delicious it was! I was expecting something that tasted very green, in a I’m-only-drinking-this-because-it’s-healthy kind of way. I was surprised to see how good it tasted to me and even more surprised to find myself craving green juice! That’s right, I now have my daily dose of green juice, and I just can’t skip it! After a month of juicing, I feel so much more energized and clean, from the inside out. Additionally to this, my skin has improved, my hair and nails grow stronger and faster and I crave less junk food. Completely hooked on that too!

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The only downsize to juicing is the quatity of vegetables that is needed. I’ve been astonishing cashiers in my neighbourhood when I check out with 12 heads of lettuce, 4 heads of celery and all the greens they had. After a few weeks, it seemed like an unsustainable habbit for my budget. I decided to give the farm next door a try: there, I am able to find some fresh, local and organic vegetables for a very fair price. My trick: to go at the end of the day and sweep up everything that’s left. Much more sustainable than the grocery store, it also means I get organic veggies everyday!

Anyways, all this to say that if you are on the fense about buying a juicer or have trouble with your energy levels, adding more greens might be a great area to explore. I really hope you’ll give it a try and tell me how it makes you feel!

Iceplant and Salicornia, two market finds

This week-end we went to the Laurier Farmers’ Market, as usual. We found some pretty unusual greens: iceplant and salicornia!

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Both were really fresh and super tasty. Salicornia is an old favourite. It grows along the shore of the ocean or rivers so it takes on a really salty taste. It is super crunchy, and frankly it eats itself up in a flash! I love munching on salicornia on it’s own: it’s so fresh and marine. It makes me feel like I’m on the seaside, which is great!

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If you are interested in looking at more wild plants, I really suggest checking out Forêts et Papilles. They prepare amazing teas, seasonings and sugars with wild plants. They also have amazing fresh produce every week at the market. Worth checking them out!

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The second find is something completely new and unknown to me, grown by the Jardins d’Ambroisie: iceplant. Apparently, this plant has been traditionally used in the southern part of France, but it was rediscovered by famous chefs in recent year. Well, I can see why! The main thing about this plant is its crazy texture: as it is a succulent the leaves are quite thick and chunky. The fun thing is that they are covered in little bubbles filled with a salty and sour liquid. Sounds alien, right? Well it’s wonderful!

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This plant has a a rich salty and sour taste that is so refreshing. I love how the little bubbles just explode with every bite. It’s truly something to try out!

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If you don’t feel like munching on these just like this, you can chop them up and add them to any salad. They can easily replace salt and vinegar in any dressing. It’s amazing! If you have a chance you should really give them a try! Let me know if you have any market finds I should be on the lookout for!

 

Lazy faux-falafel collard wrap

When I came back home today, I was craving falafels. However, the warm weather makes baking falafel completely out of the question. So, I made a thick and chunky hummus that I used on some fresh collard greens. The result: the great falafel’s taste in a fresh and crunchy wrap. Perfect for summer!

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Here is what you need for the hummus:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup of mustard greens or cilantro
  • 1/3 cup water
  • salt and pepper to your taste

Here is what you do:

  1. Place everything in your food processor and process until smooth to your liking. The mixture should be thicker that hummus, but still smooth.

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Here is what you need for the vegetable garnish:

  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 5 celery stalks
  • 1 zucchini
  • 10 button mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 tbs mirin or rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs tamari or soy sauce
  • pepper to taste

Here is what you do:

  1. Shred the carrots and celery and place in a large salad bowl.
  2. Shred the zucchini and mushrooms. Place in a large pan on medium-high heat and add the sesame seeds, mirin and tamari. Stir until well combined and let sit until most of the water is evaporated.
  3. Transfer the cooked vegetables to the salad bowl and mix with the carrots and celery.
  4. Taste the mix and add pepper if you like.

To eat:

  1. Wash and cut the stem out of some collard green leaves. Pat them with a towel to remove the excess water.
  2. Place some hummus, some vegetable garnish and fresh herbs or tomato slices in the middle of a leaf.
  3. Fold the sides and bottom of the leaf on the garnish to form the wrap and enjoy!

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Collard greens are great to make wraps because they are large, pliable and  tender. As many cruciferous greens, this vegetable is rich in iron, vitamin K and A. It’s a great alternative for kale and it is much easier to prepare as it is much more tender and soft. It went really well with the hummus: the cumin flavour was amazing! The vegetables bring a nice saltiness to the wrap and a contrasting texture. This is really fun to eat as you can wrap as you go and is perfect to share. 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!

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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!

 

Pistou Soup

This is my version of my mom’s pistou soup. Pistou is the Provencal version of pesto: basil, garlic and olive oil! Pure green-gold in a spoon! For this version, however, I’ll be using my kale-parsley pesto because it is less expensive and also helps me use up all the kale that seems to appear magically in my fridge.

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Here is what you need:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of green onions, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 zucchinis, cubed
  • 5 potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 cups green lentils
  • 2 tbs of fresh thyme (about 6-7 stalks)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • optional ingredients: 3 carrots (chopped), 2 stems of celery (chopped), 1 leek (minced), 1 cup walnuts

Here is what you do:

  1. In a large soup pot, saute the onion and garlic with a few tablespoons of water until fragrant.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients but keep the pesto last. Put on high heat.
  3. Cover with water, and add to more cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer until the lentils are done.
  4. Remove from heat and add pesto. Give a quick stir.
  5. Serve hot with some warm bread.

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Using lentils also makes it super fast to prepare because there is no soaking required.This makes for a great lunch. It is super filling and comforting, while not being heavy. The flavours all work so well together, and the kale-parsley pesto is a great alternative to basil pistou.

Let me know if you give this a try!

 

Indian Dinner: Coconut Vegetables

This dish was the one I was responsible for, and, as usual, I made a ton of it. We ended up eating this for lunch for a week and sharing some with my parents. Luckily for us, it was really good!

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Here is what you need:

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 4 carrots
  • a bunch of yellow or green beans
  • 4-5 potatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste

Here is what you do:

  1. Chop the broccoli, carrots, beans and potatoes to bite-size pieces.
  2. In a large saucepan, add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the vegetables and bring down to medium heat. Let simmer until the vegetables are cooked.
  3. Add the coconut milk and salt, and stir. Let simmer gently.
  4. In a small sauce pan, add the oil on low heat. Add the minced garlic and stir well until it begins to brown. Add the the coriander and turmeric and mix well.
  5. Add the spice mix to the vegetables and give it a quick stir.

As you can see this recipe is very easy and can be adapted to fit what vegetables are available in your kitchen. The coconut milk adds so much richness and creaminess to the mix and goes perfectly well with the potatoes.

Don’t skip the different sauce pan for the spices as this really gives out a strong and clear flavour to the entire dish. If you were to just dump the spices into the mix, the taste would be milder, but really, that would be a shame!

Let me know if you try this out!

Quick Tip: Making it easy!

I decided it would be good for me to track down all the things I eat in a day to make sure that I get enough nutrients, protein, calcium, etc…

After just one day of doing so, I was surprised and chocked to see that my raw vegetable and fruit consumption was very low. I mean, we do it a lot of vegetables in the form of soups and stir fry, but raw, not so much. Clearly, this had to be changed!

By thinking about it a few minutes, we realized that this was mainly laziness: we did not like to spend extra minutes on peeling, cutting, packing raw vegetables for our lunches. This usually meant that we also wasted a lot of the food we bought because it just got pushed to the back of the fridge (yup, we got a couple of walking eggplants and lettuce heads in the past…) Now that the problem was identified, it was easy to resolve!

So here is a quick tip to make sure you grab at least a handful of raw vegetables every day!

Instead of cutting your vegetables everyday, multiple times a day, it is possible to cut your vegetables up to five days in advance and still preserve their nutritional value.

Of course, the cutting will lead to some loss, about 10-25% of the vitamin C will be gone after 5 days.However, it is also after this amount of time that the vegetables will look bad, and you should throw them out. Another thing to consider is that you limit the loss of nutrients by cutting the vegetables in large pieces.

Avoid shredding, and you will maximize the amount of nutrients that stay in your veggies!

Finally, you want to make sure you keep your vegetable in air-tight containers to help keep them fresh.

So, we had a blast of a vegetable cutting party where bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, and celery got cut into little pieces! Stored them into mason jars, and they are ready to go! We cut enough for 3 days, just to make sure that the veggies stayed fresh and good.

This makes it a lot easier to grad vegetables, which is great! We have been doing this for a few months now, and it really helps eating more fresh vegetables. Our wallet is also very happy because everything that is in the fridge gets eaten. Hooray!