Citrus Scented Kale

It looks like summer is officially here, and to top off the gorgeous weather we’ve been having, I got my first vegetable share today! Lots of kale, swiss chard, garlic scapes and green onions, a zucchini, dill, and salad greens. Holy smokes, am I ever stoked!

My first recipe using my CSA veggies is a simple kale dish, inspired by one of my coworkers. While she uses a combination of sesame and olive oil to sauté her kale, I wanted something a bit lighter for this hot day. I opted to stick with olive oil but used the same base ingredients she recommended — garlic, green onions, and kale — with a squeeze of fresh orange juice and pulp to finish it off.

This is definitely a summery recipe! The garlic’s toasty flavour complements the brighter flavours of the greens and orange. Plus, it’s a great dish to serve hot, cold, or at room temperature.

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Grilled Hummus Sandwich

I have been getting into grilled sandwiches a lot lately. Think gourmet grilled cheese, but not necessarily with cheese, and filled with lots of veggies and other delicious things. The possibilities when you’re making sandwiches are pretty much endless, but it’s easy to fall into old routines and get bored quickly, which is why I think grilling your sandwiches adds a new and exciting dimension to the whole process!

This particular grilled creation is packed with healthy spinach, avocado, and homemade hummus, with a touch of sundried tomato pesto for extra flavour. I try to stick to whole grain breads as much as I can, to ensure I’m getting healthy fibre and keeping my refined flour intake low. Plus, the texture of grainy bread goes so nicely with the smooth avocado and hummus.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can substitute a different type of bean dip (white bean dip is an awesome sandwich filling!) and totally different veggies, depending on what’s in your fridge and what suits your fancy at the moment. It’s an awesome vegan/vegetarian lunch option for any time of year.

I would love to throw a lunch or dinner party someday with a huge array of breads and fillings, where everyone could build their own sandwich and then have it grilled. Don’t you think that would be fun?!

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Roasted Asparagus

Springtime is asparagus season, so I’ve been on a big kick lately! There’s nothing like fresh asparagus — I especially love the thin, crunchy kind you can get at farmer’s market. They definitely beat the big, meaty, mass-produced stuff any time!

This is one of my absolute favourite ways to prepare asparagus. Generally speaking, roasting any vegetable tends to make its natural flavour even richer and deeper, and requires minimal effort. I find that this technique works especially well for asparagus, as it gives it a wonderful texture as well as enhancing its flavour. I also like that it is super quick and easy, so I can enjoy these on short notice or when I’m in a hurry.

In other news, I’ve signed up for a CSA share again this summer, this time with a friend, and I am so excited to start getting fresh local produce delivered to my home! If you’re not familiar with how Community Supported Agriculture works, read up on it here.

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Green Giant Pasta

When I’m in a hurry to get something nutritious and filling in my stomach after a long day, I often turn to pasta dishes. I tend to load up my bowl of noodles with whatever “extras” I have in my fridge, and most of the time, that includes lots of vegetables! In fact, I try to keep my pasta-to-veggies ratio at about 1:1, so that I’m filling up on vitamin and mineral-rich foods and keeping my carb intake reasonable.

This pasta dish combines fresh asparagus and frozen green peas with loads of fresh basil pesto — it is bursting with flavour and nutrients, and takes a jiffy to prepare! With so much green goodness in my bowl, I couldn’t help but name it accordingly.

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Mocha Chia Oatmeal Breakfast… Pudding?

I have been coming across so many blog entries about chia pudding and cold oatmeal lately, my curiosity got the best of me and I combined both concepts into one recipe this weekend.

The basic premise of chia pudding is that chia seeds, a very healthy and nutrient-packed superfood, take on a tapioca-like texture when they’re soaked in any liquid. This quality makes these seeds the perfect candidate for a healthy dessert option. They are an easily digestible plant-based protein, easy to integrate into various recipes (they’re often used as egg replacements in vegan baking, since they bind ingredients together effectively), and neutral in flavour. And yes — chia seeds are used to grow the “hair” on Chia pets!

Cold oatmeal, on the other hand, is made by combining oatmeal and milk — either dairy or non-dairy — and letting it sit in the fridge for a few hours. The idea is that you can enjoy a healthy filling oatmeal breakfast in the summer without having to have it hot, which can feel a bit heavy when it’s warm and humid out. Oats are an excellent source of fibre and protein, low on the glycemic index, and may help reduce risks of heart disease (according to the FDA). What’s not to like?

Naturally, I can’t just follow a recipe, so when I decided to try my own cold oats/chia pudding, I had to make up my own… no recipe escapes unaltered when I get my hands on it!

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Oven Baked Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a quintessentially French comfort food: roasted veggies and tomato sauce come together in this zesty, comforting dish. Somehow, the French can even make comfort food sophisticated, don’t you think?!

I have loved ratatouille for as long as I can remember. The soft vegetables have loads of flavour and the tomato sauce that brings them all together is sweet and tangy. Ratatouille can be prepared on the stove top or in the oven, but I find the latter method gives the vegetables  a nicer texture and richer flavour.

I dare you to look at this and not want to gobble it all up!

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Foodie Friend Friday #3: Becca’s St. Patrick’s Day Salad

Happy Friday, everyone!

This week, I am so excited to feature a recipe from my friend Becca. Becca is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We met when we were 15 and we are kind of like soul sisters… the type of friends who lose sight of one another every once in a while, but pick up wherever we left off when we reconnect. We had a wonderful reunion back in February and I’m glad we’re keeping in touch more these days. I absolutely love this girl, and I wish I could be in her kitchen at all times because the type of food she makes is just my style! Perhaps someday the stars will align and we will live in the same city…

Becca also started her very own food blog recently, so you should check her out at The Cozy Kitchen and spread the food blogging love — especially if you’re on a gluten free diet. She’s got you covered, and then some!

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, she has created a detoxifying salad for you… so if you’re planning on having a few drinks tomorrow, keep this recipe in mind as a pre- or post-celebration meal. You may want to use it to nurse your body back to health later.

If you’d like to see the last two installments of Foodie Friend Friday, click here (#1) and here (#2).

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