Category: vitamins

Just Beet It (Roasted Beets with Dill)

Ahhh, December!

No, I don’t ski. And no, I don’t like the cold. I don’t even celebrate Christmas (Well, not technically. Though the tree in my living room would beg to differ.) Typical joys of the season aside, I am personally excited by December because it means that roasting season is in full swing!

Now, many of you omnivores may be asking, well, what on earth can a silly vegetarian possibly be roasting… vegetables? You bet! But not just any stand alone boring veggies – for the sake of bored tastebuds everywhere, I like to be creative.

My inspiration for this dish came in three parts:
(A) I have a massive bunch of leftover dill in the fridge.
(B) I’ve been on a Greek yogourt kick obsession lately.
(C) Two weeks ago, I purchased ten pound bag of beets. My father claimed I’d never eat them all.

Challenge? Accepted.

Though the photo above has an eerie resemblance to raw meat in a dish, no animals were harmed in the making of these delectable roasted beets with yogourt and dill sauce. Simple. Pretty. Filling. Perfect dish to pair with whatever else your little roasting heart desires, or enjoy them all on their own.

Nutrition Facts: If you’ve never eaten beets before, don’t fret! This is your chance to try them in all their glory. Much healthier than the sodium-laden pickled variety, roasted beets scream healthfood!  Not only are beets fibre rich, they are nutrient dense as well! The pigments that give beets their rich color are called betalains and are a unique phytonutrient.* They are known to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. The consumption of beets is also known to be beneficial to the bloodstream due to their high iron content. What’s more, this dish has an unexpected nutritional benefit: loads of protein from the greek yogourt – a whopping 10g per serving!

Well, what are you waiting for? Beet it!

Roasted Beets with Yogourt Sauce
original recipe by Allison Sklar

what you’ll need
4 medium to large beets, greens removed
1 cup non-fat plain greek yogourt
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 tbsp old fashioned grainy mustard**

how to do it
Heat oven to 425F. Wrap each beet in foil. Place on middle oven rack. Roast for 60 minutes. Remove from oven with protective glove – open up foil enough to let beets cool. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine yogourt, dill and mustard.  Cover and refridgerate until ready to use.
Once beets are cool enough to handle (about 30 minutes), remove from foil and slice into wedges. Toss with yogourt mixture and salt. Can be served warm or chilled.

* for more info on beet nutrients, click here
**if unavailable, substitute dijon

My Noodly Appendage

I’ve always been known to keep a well stocked fridge and pantry. Among other basic necessities, you’ll rarely find me lacking any of the following foods: assorted cheeses, frozen vegetables, multiple bags of pasta and jars of Classico tomato sauce. [A note on the latter: though I’m a stickler for homemade, those chefs over at Classico really know what they’re doing. Though I wasn’t paid to say that, I’d just like to inform the fine folks over at Classico that I really wouldn’t mind some free sauce. Or a coupon. You know, both are good!]

All I had was an hour, but all I wanted was pasta. With some garlic toast. And maybe even a little use-up-the-veggies-up-before-they-wilt salad. I thought it would be as fast as boiling some noodles and opening up a jar. Alas, I was jar-less. My Classico supply had been depleted.

That’s when I hit the vodka… 

Paired it with tomatoes and cream and turned it into a velvety smooth sauce!
Though the actual preparation is quick, if you have the time I highly recommend that you make this earlier on in the day and let it simmer over low heat in order for the sauce to thicken and the flavours to enhance. I served mine over spinach fettucine (to add a splash of colour & pizzazz to the plate… yes, I just used the word pizzazz) with a side of pumpernickel toasted with garlic butter and a hint of shredded cheese. I balanced it all out with a cherry tomato, avocado & romaine salad tossed with Renee‘s naturally low-cal cucumber, dill & yogourt dressing.


Nutrition facts about this meal

Pasta myths debunked: Spinach pasta is not any healthier than regular pasta – the spinach is mostly used for the colour, though the spinach content does add a small ammount of vitamin A and some iron. I choose spinach pasta because I prefer the taste and texture, but you may prefer the enriched semolina (regular) variety. If you’re looking to add fibre to your diet, whole-wheat pasta is the choice for you. The “healthiest” pasta in my opinion is quinoa pasta, as it contains the most nutrients overall – however, this is not to say that you should banish pasta from your diet. In a well-balanced meal like this one, pasta can be a satisfying and healthy choice, no matter what variety you use.

Vitamins & Nutrients: Lutein, the compound that gives tomatoes their bright red colour, is a vitamin that is said to reduce the risk of serious eye disease. This sauce is chock-full of it! The avocados in your salad are a source of HEALTHY fat – the kind that helps to unclog your arteries, as well as 20 other minerals and nutrients. Contrary to popular beleif – eating avocados will not make you fat! The yogourt in the dressing is a source of “good” bacteria that help with food digestion, and is low in saturated (unhealthy) fat. People who are slightly lactose intolerant can often digest yogourt due to it’s bacterial content.

Drunken Tomato Sauce 
note: you can add other vegetables into this sauce while simmering, such as diced carrots, crushed garlic, chopped spinach, etc. I kept the recipe simple because that’s how I like it but I’ll leave it to your discretion to make it your own! 

what you’ll need
•    1 large can plum tomatoes (other varieties will do, but this is my recommendation)
•    1 large onion, diced
•    1 tbsp vegetable oil
•    1 tsp sugar
•    1/2 cup cream (at least 10%, use 35% if you prefer a creamier sauce)
•    1/4 cup vodka
•    2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
•    dash tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
•    handful of fresh basil, chopped (optional)

how to do it
In medium saucepan, heat oil on medium and add onions. Sprinkle with sugar and cook until soft. Add tomatoes, breaking up with mixing spoon. Stir in tabasco & vodka. Simmer until tomatoes begin to break down. Bring cream to room temperature while simmering. Once sauce has reached desired consistency, slowly stir it, one tbsp at a time, into cream, just until the cream is warm. This will ensure that the cream does not curdle upon entering the hot pot. Whisk cream into sauce, slowly, little by little. Add salt and basil. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until ready to serve. Garnish with grated fresh parmesan cheese.

Superfood, Superfast.

However you pronounce it, Quinoa is one little superfood that packs a nutritious punch.

If you’re a foodie, you’re probably familiar with the grain-like substance, often served warm in place of rice, or tossed into a chilled side salad. A little bit fluffier than couscous and slightly larger than millet, quinoa is surprisingly not considered a grain. Quinoa is in the spinach family, which might explain it’s nutritional power: quinoa is a complete protein, which means that it contains all ten essential amino acids – and, it is the only known plant source that does so. This makes it an excellent choice for those of us who follow a meatless diet. Quinoa is gluten-free, low in calories and is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, manganese, riboflavin (vitamin B2), folate, zinc and dietary fibre.

Quinoa can be found in most supermarkets either in the organic/health food section or alongside the grains and rice (usually next to the couscous.) If you’re not in a prime grocery location, you can always buy quinoa online. 

What I like most about quinoa is the pseudograin’s versatility: quinoa has a rather neutral flavor on it’s own, which offers up the opportuntiy to toss it with whatever your tastebuds are craving, or whatever you have lying around in your fridge! You can serve it sweetned topped with cinnamon and raisins (think rice pudding), spiced up with chili or curry, robust with pesto, or refreshing and light with lemon, rosemary and dill. I made a slightly creamy version using some leftover sour cream and goat cheese and I added some extra colour and crunch with steamed broccoli and chopped fresh basil. So, what are you waiting for? Get it onto your plate today!


Quinoa with Goat Cheese, Basil & Broccoli

What you’ll need:
1 cup uncooked white quinoa
1½ cups water
1 tsp butter
1 cup broccoli florets
½ cup crumbled goat cheese (or more, to taste)
1/3 cup sour cream (low fat or 5% will do the trick)
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

How to do it:
In a fine sieve, rinse quinoa well under cool water (this step is unnecessary if you’ve purchased already-rinsed quinoa). Combine quinoa, water and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med/low and cover saucepan until quinoa expands and water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). While quinoa is cooking, steam broccoli on the stovetop or in the microwave. (To steam broccoi in microwave, place in a shallow dish with 1/4 cup water and heat on high for 1 minute.)
Toss quinoa with sour cream, cheese, basil and broccoli. Garnish with extra basil and cracked black peppercorns. Serve and enjoy!