Spicy sesame cucumber salad

Side dishes don’t have to be boring. I for one like to shake up my side dishes and serve different flavourful and textural components to compliment my meal. This salad is definitely not boring. The spice, salt and deep umami flavour of the sesame makes this full of punchy flavours. If you are not keen on spice don’t worry, this salad is equally as good without the jalapeño and chili sauce, however, if you do like spice then you can adjust the spice level by adding more jalapeños or chili sauce. Up to you! I like to serve this up with grilled meat or tofu, it’s even delicious by itself over brown rice. Let me know what you guys think and what you serve this yummy salad with!

Ingredients:

For the salad:
▪ 1 large English cucumber, cut in diamond shapes (or half moons)
▪ 1 bunch radishes (about 6), cut into quarters
▪ 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper
▪ 1 tbsp sesame seeds

For the dressing:
▪ 1 tbsp rice vinegar
▪ 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
▪ 1 tbsp avocado oil (or any other neutral tasting oil)
▪ 1 tsp Sriracha or other hot chilli sauce
▪ 1 tsp soy sauce
▪ 2 tsp honey or agave nectar
▪ salt to taste

Directions:
▪ In a small mixing bowl, place all ingredients for dressing. Stir well to combine, set aside.
▪ In a medium sized mixing bowl place chopped cucumber, quartered radishes, thinly sliced jalapeño and sesame seeds. I like to keep the seeds in my jalapeño peppers for added spice, however, you can remove them to tone down the heat.
▪ Pour dressing over chopped up vegetables, mix well to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes to let marinate before serving. Garnish with more sesame seeds, enjoy!

Sesame and Ginger Salmon Tartar

 


Fresh seafood is so delicious, there are so many ways you can prepare a beautiful piece of super fresh fish. One of my favourite “fancy” ways of preparing salmon is salmon tartar. Not only is it a beautiful and presentable dish if you are having guests over, but it is so simple to make and healthy. The most important thing to remember for this dish is that you absolutely need super fresh fish. Go to a store that specializes in seafood for this, or ask the person working at your grocery store seafood counter if the salmon is fresh enough to eat raw, and always make sure the piece of fish you are using doesn’t smell, like , well… fish, and has firm flesh. Another important thing to remember is to always keep your fish cold while preparing this dish, if you are leaving it out on the counter make sure to have your bowl of chopped up fish on ice. I serve this particular tartar with some simple butter leaf lettuce cups and toasted baguette. You could even eat it with a simple salad. This recipe makes two large dinner sized portions, or four small appetizer portions…or one portion, I’m not judging!

Ingredients:

For the Tartar:
▪ 1 6-8oz filet of salmon, chopped into a small dice
▪ 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
▪ 2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
▪ 1 tbsp sesame seeds
▪ 1/2 a lime, juice
▪ 2 tsp sesame oil
▪ 2 tsp hot chilli sauce of your choice (add more or less, depending on your desired level of spice.)
▪ 1 tbsp cilantro stems
▪ 2 tsp soy sauce
▪ Salt to taste (soy sauce may be salty enough, add salt only if you feel it needs more seasoning)

For Serving:
▪ 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
▪ 1/2 baguette, thinly sliced
▪ 12 whole leaves of butter (Boston) lettuce
▪ 2 tsp sesame seeds
▪ 1/2 lime, quartered

Directions:
▪ In a mixing bowl add grated ginger, minced chives cilantro stem, and sesame seeds, set aside.
▪ Slice 1/2 a baguette into thin rounds, making crostini shapes. Place the bread in a 450 degree oven for about 5 minutes, to dry toast them. Once they are golden and crisp remove from oven and set aside. It is important to note that these toast really fast and can burn easily, so keep a close eye on your bread.
▪ Separate about 12 whole leaves of lettuce, wash and set aside.
▪ On a clean cutting board, chop salmon into a small dice, adding the fish to the bowl with the ginger, sesame, cilantro stem and chives. Once the fish is all cut and in the bowl add hot chilli sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and lime juice. Mix well to combine, taste and adjust seasoning.
▪ Top the Tartar with cilantro leaves and sesame seeds as garnish, serve with toasted baguette, lettuce cups and lime wedges. Enjoy!

Chocolate Almond Energy Bites

 

I don’t know about you guys but lately I’ve been feeling a serious decline in energy. Maybe it’s due to the fact that the days are slowly getting shorter and the cold is slowly starting to creep in. Or maybe it’s the lack of coffee in my life, either way, I’ve been needing a serious pick me up lately. I like to make simple grab and go snacks at the beginning of each week so that I always have healthy and nutritious options on hand. This also help me not grab a bag of chips or other junk food when I’m hungry and lacking the time to make something good. This week I thought to myself what better snack to make then energy bites, these little bite sized beauties will give me just the energy I need, and most importantly this is a snack where I can incorporate some chocolatey goodness. It’s a win-win situation! These are pretty simple to make if you have all the ingredients on hand; you just dump everything into a bowl, mix all together and then form them into small bite sized balls. This recipe is pretty versatile as well, so feel free to add your creativity. Let me know what you guys think, and I hope these snacks will give you the chocolate boost of energy you need!

Ingredients:
▪ 1/2 cup rolled oats
▪ 1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds
▪ 1/3 cup ground chia seeds (can substitute whole chia seeds)
▪ 1/3 cup puffed quinoa (or other small puffed grain or rice cereal)
▪ 8 pitted dates roughly chopped
▪ 2 tbsp good cacao powder
▪ 1/2 cup almond butter
▪ 2 tbsp honey (can substitute with agave)
▪ 1tsp good vanilla extract

Directions:
▪ Toast the almonds in a dry pan until golden brown and fragrant. Add the toasted almonds, oats, quinoa, chia and cacao into a bowl, stir well to combine.
▪ Add the roughly chopped dates, almond butter, honey and vanilla. Mix well until mixture is completely combined and you are able to form small balls.
▪ Form into 12 bite size balls (Optional: you could roll them in crushed almond or toasted coconut at this point). Allow them to chill in the fridge for an hour to completely set and keep its shape.
▪ Note: if the mixture is too dry add a bit more almond butter to help it come together.

Fall Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

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Although I named this dish “Fall” beet and goat cheese salad it is not entirely a fall dish. It is a perfect dish to transition us from the warm summer days to the cooler nights reminding us that fall is right around the corner. It is a cold beet salad with all of the rich delicious flavours of the fall. This salad is a big hit in my family and is always on our thanksgiving table, we also enjoy it on many other occasions throughout the year. Not only is it delicious, but beets are insanely good for liver health so it’s a great salad to help detox from one too many glasses of wine we may have consumed over the summer. I am guilty as charged.

If you don’t like goat cheese you could easily replace it with feta or no cheese at all. Good roasted beets are also so versatile that you could top them with almost anything and they will still be delicious, I sometimes top these beets with an orange and tarragon dressing or with some delicious dried cranberries. That recipe is particularly festive for the holiday season. Either way, add your creativity to this recipe and let me know how you modified it. I am always looking for new and innovative ways to enjoy beets.
For the roasted beets:

▪ 8 large red beets washed well (make sure to scrub them to get all the gritty sand off of the beets)
▪ 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
▪ 1/2 cup water

For the dressing:

▪ 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
▪ 1/4 cup maple syrup (the good quality stuff, you can also substitute this for honey)
▪ 2t bsp dijon mustard
▪ 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
▪ 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
▪ 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
▪ salt and pepper to taste.

For the topping:

▪ 1/4 cup store bought toasted pumpkin seeds
▪ 1/4 cup crumbled goats cheese
▪ 1/4 cup fresh dill sprigs
▪ 1 big pinch of flaked sea salt (optional)

Directions:

▪ In a large baking dish placed washed beets, red wine vinegar and water. Tightly cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about two hours (until beet is tender enough that a knife could pass through it easily).
▪ Once the beets are out of the oven, set them aside to cool. Once cool to the touch, peel skin using a pairing knife or vegetable peeler. I would personally recommend wearing gloves to do this, that way your hands won’t be stained red for a few days.
▪ In a mason jar place or mixing bowl, place all ingredients for the dressing. Shake/ mix well to combine.
▪ Slice the beets into thin rounds and place them on a nice plate. Dress them liberally with the vinaigrette, and top with pumpkin seeds, goats cheese, dill and sea salt. Enjoy!

Time Saving Tip: If you do not feel like waiting the two hours for the beets to cook, Costco sells Organic whole beets that are already cooked (and they are delicious). This recipe would also work with super thinly sliced raw beets, however the texture and flavour would be different but still good.

Rich and Tangy Guajillo salsa

 

I like making big batches of salsa and keeping them in my fridge, that way I’m prepared to conquer taco Tuesday each week. This salsa in particular is one of my favourites on tacos, enchiladas or even burrito bowls. It’s works perfectly with a wide variety of meats and veggies, making it a crowd pleasing salsa. There are quite a few ingredients and steps, but I promise you the end result is totally worth the time it took. It can also last for up to four weeks in your fridge, if properly stored in a mason jar or other air tight container.

My new obsession is making mushroom fajitas and slathering on this sauce and a lot of homemade guacamole, DELICIOUS! Give this Salsa a try and let me know what you’ve used it on. Happy taco Tuesday everyone!

Ingredients:

▪ 3 Guajillo peppers dried
▪ 1 Thai birds eye chilis dried
▪ 1/4 cup sultana raisins
▪ 1/4 cup sesame seeds
▪ 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
▪ 2 tomatos, diced
▪ 1/2 onion
▪ 1/4 cup cilantro stems, roughly chopped
▪ 2 tsp cinnamon
▪ 2 tsp cumin
▪ 2 tsp paprika
▪ 2 tsp dried oregano
▪ 1/4 cup white vinegar
▪ 1 tbsp salt
▪ 1 tbsp agave nectar (honey works as well)
▪ 2 tbsp water
Directions:

In a hot pan toast sesame seeds and sultana raisins until sesame seeds are browned and fragrant, remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan toast guajillo chilis until fragrant.
▪ In a bowl place guajillo peppers and Thai birds eye chilis, pour hot water to cover. Let soak until peppers are tender and re-hydrated, about 10-15 minutes. Remember to keep the liquid the chilis were soaking in, it will be used later on as it has a ton of flavour!
▪ In a blender add tomato, garlic, onion, cilantro stem, toasted sesame seeds and raisins, chilis, all dry spices, white vinegar, honey and 2tbsp of the water used to soak chilis.
▪ Blend until completely smooth, you do not want any chunks in this sauce. Transfer blended sauce into a pan and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes, to make the flavours even richer, and cook off the raw garlic and onion flavour.
▪ After 20 minutes transfer sauce to a mason jar or air tight container and let cool completely before storing in fridge. This sauce can last up to 4 weeks in a tightly closed mason jar. Enjoy!