Sheryl Jesin


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Mixing up salad

Good food isn’t cheap and cheap food isn’t good.

–   Vegan chef Doug McNish

Do you ever get tired of the same old salad greens? I know that I do. It is convenient to buy those large containers of organic baby spinach from supermarket. They are fast and easy. They’re also versatile. A handful in a smoothie, a handful in a stirfry, a quick salad that can be made in a couple of minutes.

Spinach can get boring after a while. Lately, when I’m in the mood for some fresh, delicious, and different salad greens, I head over to our local farmers market at the Evergreen Brick Works. The vendors there never disappoint me. I’ve been having a love affair lately with the outstanding produce grown by Cookstown Greens. Today I threw together a small salad for lunch in about two minutes using their greens. A handful of their baby greens, topped with their sunflower sprouts and a few pine nuts I found in my fridge was an easy way to get some veggies in at lunch time.

Their baby greens are not only delicious, but they are also so beautiful to the eye, with gorgeous edible flowers in the mix. I spent about $15 on their greens this week. Yes, they are more expensive than lettuce you will find in the supermarket, but it is well worth it. I find when I buy produce at the farmers market it is remarkably fresh. This means it lasts longer in my fridge, and I throw less out.

Here’s what they put in their baby greens mix: Hand-picked lettuces, mustard, cresses, gold and crimson chards, spinach, arugula, seedlings and petals.

And here is a picture of my simple lunchtime salad.

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Meal Planning Monday

As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to hop on and off of the meal planning bandwagon.  I don’t know why I don’t just stay on – there are so many benefits when I take 5 minutes to plan out our meals on a Sunday night.  I spend less money on groceries, throw less food out and spend less time in the kitchen!  Plus we eat better!

Here’s this week’s plan.  (I plan out dinners – breakfast is usually a smoothie for me, oatmeal and fruit for the kids.   Lunch is left overs or a quick sandwich).

Monday – Salad, green quinoa bowl

Tuesday – Salmon burgers, roasted cauliflower, brown rice

Wednesday – Salad, lentil sweet potato loaf, roasted zucchini, brown rice

Thursday – Soup (from the freezer), lentil sweet potato loaf leftovers, roasted brocolli

Friday – Going out!

There you have it.  Quick and easy and now we are set for the week.


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Recipe – The World’s Yummiest Rice (aka Fragrant Indian Brown Rice with Coconut Milk)

As someone who is trying to avoid gluten, I eat a lot of rice.  I eat brown rice cakes, brown rice pasta, and use brown rice flour in baking.  Brown rice is a frequent side dish also!  I like rice – it has quality carbohydrates that give me energy to chase after two kids and helps to fuel my runs.  And it does so without hurting my stomach, as wheat tends to do.

A couple days ago I tried a new rice dish and I have coined it “The World’s Yummiest Rice”.  Both my kids loved it and so did my husband and brother-in-law, so it’s not one of those crazy healthy dishes that I love, but no one else does.   This has mainstream appeal!  I wanted to take a picture of it, but we ate it all up before I had a chance!

It contains delicious Indian spices and the secret ingredient is coconut milk.  The coconut milk makes it creamy and satisfying.   You’ve got to try this!

Recipe – The World’s Yummiest Rice – Fragrant Indian Brown Rice with Coconut Milk (based on Marni Wasserman’s recipe)

Makes 8-10 servings, 15 minutes prep time, 45 minutes cook time

Ingredients:

2 cups brown rice

1.5 tsp cumin

2 tbsp grapeseed or coconut oil

2 medium onions, diced

4 large cloves garlic, sliced

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp whole cloves

1 tbsp grated ginger

1 tsp salt

1 tsp tumeric

1.5 tbsp garam msala

1 can coconut milk (398 mL)

3.5 cups water

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Directions:

1.  Add oil, onion, garlic, cumin, cloves and ginger to a large pot.   Set heat to medium.  Stir.  Add in the tumeric and garam masala, and saute until onions become soft and translucent.   Stir often.

2.  Add the rice, water and coconut milk.  Bring to a boil and simmer covered over low heat for 45 minutes.

3.  When the rice is cooked and liquid has been absorbed, add the raisins.   Stir well.   Remove cinnamon stick.  Serve and enjoy!

Note about amount of liquid – different rice may require different amounts of liquid.  Follow the directions on your bag if they differ from what mentioned above.  Factor in the coconut milk and reduce water as necessary.  For example, the rice I had said 2 cups of rice and 5 cups of water.  So I used just under 3.5 cups of water and 1 can (or 1.5 cups) of coconut milk. Check the rice at around 35 or 40 minutes to see if you need to add more liquid.


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Recipe – Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I’ve been avoiding cow’s milk dairy for the past few months for a variety of different reasons.  Does that mean I have to give up ice cream?  Nope!

I discovered an amazing brand of vegan, soy free ice cream called Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss.   It is made with coconut milk and it is truly blissful!  It is creamy and delicious and even if you eat dairy, you should give it a try.   Why?  It’s made from amazing ingredients – in particular, coconut milk.   Coconut milk is is super creamy and delicious but its fats are actually good for you!  Unlike the cholesterol-laden artery-clogging fats in cream, coconut fats are high in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).   These MCTs are identical to those fats found in human breast milk, and contain similar antimicrobial and heart protective qualities.   The breastfeeding advocate in me just loves this!!

Fat in coconut is used differently by your body than other fats.  MCTs don’t need to be broken down – instead they can be used by your body immediately as energy.  In fact, coconut fat provides easily digestible energy that is ideal to consume before physical activity such as running, cycling or hiking.   Coconut fat stimulates your metabolism!

I buy Luna and Larry’s at Whole Foods or Noah’s Natural Foods here in Toronto and I definitely recommend that you try it.   If you can’t find it in a store near you,  I recently discovered that it is pretty simple to make your own coconut milk ice cream using the Vitamix.

Recipe – Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Ingredients:

One 14oz or 400 ml can of coconut milk – (I used full fat, not the light versions)

Sweetener – maple syrup, agave syrup or honey to taste

Vanilla to taste

Mix your coconut milk, sweetener of choice and vanilla in a bowl.  I didn’t list amounts because the amount you use is really personal preference.   Start with 1 tablespoon of sweetener and 1/2 tsp of vanilla.   Give it a taste and add more if necessary.

Pour the mixture into an ice cube tray.   Freeze for a few hours until solid.

Place the frozen ice cube mixture into your Vitamix and blend!   It will become creamy and delicious and take on an ice cream texture within seconds.   Serve right away and ENJOY!


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Hello 2012!

I’ve taken a bit of a blogging break lately.  Dylan was off school for winter holidays, we went away for 10 days, and now we are back in the swing of things.

You may have noticed a shift in my blog in 2011.  My blog started off as a place for me to write my thoughts about parenting and breastfeeding.  In 2011, I started writing more about exercise and healthy eating.  In reality, I think all of these themes are connected – my interest in parenting and breastfeeding ultimately led me to my interests in exercising and healthy eating.  I hope that the healthy habits I am establishing my own life will be an example for my boys!

Hopefully you have enjoyed the new direction my blog is taking, as I plan for it to continue to move that way in 2012.

Happy New Year readers!  I look forward to spending 2012 with you.


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Recipe – Hemp coconut blueberry muffins

A few weeks ago I went to an amazing cooking class given by Marni Wasserman, a holistic nutritionist.  I have been following Marni’s blog for a while, and have learned so much about healthy eating from her.   The class was informative, interactive, and a lot of fun.   I liked it so much, that I have signed up for another one of her classes in December – Indian cooking.  Can’t wait!

Amongst other tasty dishes, we made delicious hemp loaves in her class.   The recipe can be found here.  Hemp is really a superfood!   Marni explains it:

The protein present in hemp is complete -containing all 10 essential amino acids which makes it ideal for vegetarians, vegans or anyone seeking an alternative source of protein. Hemp also contains balanced healthy fats – both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. This makes hemp an excellent natural anti-inflammatory as well as providing the body with healthy oils for skin, hair and nails. If this isn’t enough already… hemp is also easy to digest (because it contains it’s own natural enzymes), contains a high levels of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, fibre and chlorophyll.

Marni’s recipe is delicious in its original form, but I switched it up a bit.  Don’t let some of the uncommon ingredients scare you off – they can all be purchased at Whole Foods or your local health food store.  Here’s what I did:

HEMP COCONUT BLUEBERRY MUFFINS (Gluten free, and vegan)

Ingredients:

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour OR brown rice flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup hemp flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinammon

1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons water (or 1 egg)

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup apple sauce

1 large ripe banana, mashed

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

3/4  cup blueberries

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Mix together the hemp flour, Bob’s Red Mill all purpose gluten free flour (or brown rice flour) and coconut flour.  Mix in baking soda, baking powder and cinammon.

The dry ingredients

2.  In a separate bowl, mix together flax and water (or egg), vanilla, apple sauce, mashed banana, maple syrup, oil and blueberries.

The wet ingredients

3.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until blended.

4.  Put into prepared muffin tins (greased, or lined with muffin cups).

5.  Bake for 15-20 mins.  The muffin tops should just be just turning brown.

6.  Cook on a wire rack.  ENJOY!

The finished product

This muffin is full of protein and healthy fats and will provide you with lots of energy to make it through a busy day.  You won’t crash and burn with these, like you would with most traditional muffins containing white flour, white sugar and unhealthy fats!  This is a muffin you can feel good about eating.


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Recipe – Avocado Kale Salad

Have I mentioned that I love kale?  Oh yes I have – here and here.  What’s not to love about a leafy green?  They are chock full of nutrients – including chlorophyll – which reduces inflammation in the body and maintains bone health.  Don’t forget about all of the live enzymes in raw leafy greens that can speed up cellular regeneration, providing us with energy and making us feel younger!  And greens also are a excellent source of calcium and iron – we can all use more of those!

I’ve learned a lot recently about nutrition from an amazing book called Whole Foods to Thrive, written by Brendan Brazier.   Brendan is an Ironman triathlete, a 50k Ultra Marathon winner, and the creator of Vega – a line of whole food nutritional products.  You could say he is a plant-based nutrition guru.

Whole Foods to Thrive has an abundance of delicious and healthy recipes.  I’ve been having fun trying out new things that the whole family has enjoyed.   Below is one of my favorites, which has been adapted from Brendan’s recipe on p. 159 of the book.

AVOCADO KALE SALAD

Time – 1o mins, Makes 2 large servings or 4 small

1 head of kale, chopped

1 avocado, chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

1-2 green onions, finely sliced

1 lemon, juiced (you may want to start with half a lemon, and add the rest of the juice to taste, depending on how lemony you want it)

1 tbsp maple syrup

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large mixing bowl, toss all ingredients together with your hands (yes, it is messy but FUN).  Squeeze as you mix, thereby creaming the avocado and wilting the kale   Serve right away.  Did you know that by wilting the kale, you are softening it, making it easier to chew and also to digest?  YUM!   I sprinkled some hemp seeds on mine before eating, adding protein and omega-3s and 6s!

Before mixing
After mixing


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Meal Planning Monday

Last week’s meal plan worked even better than the previous week’s plan.   I successfully incorporated leftovers, which saved a lot of time in the kitchen.  I used that saved time to test out some gluten free baking, which was a lot of fun.   Perhaps I will share some recipes in upcoming posts.

Below is this week’s plan:

Sunday – Scrambled eggs, roasted sweet potato, steamed kale

Monday – Dinner at my parents’

Tuesday – Salmon cakes topped with a creamy cashew garlic sauce, roasted cauliflower, spinach salad

Wednesday – Leftovers from Tuesday

Thursday – Shanghai rice bowl – sauteed spinach, mushrooms and onions on top of brown rice, topped with chickpeas and tahini

Friday – Out for dins

Saturday – To be determined


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Almost 4

It’s hard to believe that Dylan is almost 4 years old. He has changed so much in the past year and those changes were very apparent when Jake, Benjamin and I joined Dylan’s Montessori Casa class for an observation.

Dylan picked a number of activities that he wanted to show us. I was most impressed that he is able to recognize cursive letters, can understand complex math concepts (the meaning of units, tens, hundreds, thousands), and can sound out letters in words and read a number of 3 letter words.

I am also so proud of how he has become a real part of the class. He is not shy amongst his peers or teachers – he is upfront and tells people how he feels and what he needs. He understands and follows the classroom’s routines – I was particularly impressed with how snack time works. One teacher and one student prepare the snack. Today it was whole wheat bread and cut up pineapple. The bread is placed on a plate and the pineapple is placed in a bowl. There is a little sign that says each person gets half a slice of bread and 3 cubes of pineapple. When a students are hungry, they get the snack on their own – they wash their hands first, and then use tongs to put the pineapple and bread on their own plate. They sit down and eat, and clean up when they are done. I was so surprised to see how calm and relaxed it was – each student decides when he or she is hungry and there isn’t a mob around the snack. It was heartwarming to see the older students helping the younger students. It made me realize how capable Dylan is, and I am going to try to involve him a bit more in the kitchen at home – both with food preparation and cleaning up.

I probably baby Dylan more than I should. I often find myself dressing him, helping him in the bathroom and cleaning up after him. I do these things to save time but at school he does all of these things on his own.

I’m holding on to him as a baby but perhaps it is time to let go a bit more. Knowing I can do so feels liberating, and bittersweet at the same time.


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Meal Planning Monday

Last week’s meal plan was generally a success – I found that the leftovers lasted longer than I planned, so I unexpectedly didn’t have to cook some nights (always a bonus!).   So this week’s plan will take that into account, and therefore includes two nights of leftovers.

Sunday – went to family for dinner

Monday – Spinach almond patties, roasted sweet potatoes, Israeli salad

Tuesday – leftovers from Monday

Wednesday – Vegetarian chili on top of quinoa, topped with guacamole

Thursday – leftovers from Wednesday

Friday – going to family for dinner

Saturday – to be determined!