israelThe past two weeks absolutely flew by for me while on vacation in Israel.  I am in no way surprised that I’m still craving the delicious falafel and hummas salad plates, which ended up being my ultimate go-to while traveling around the country. I’m still desperately searching to find a spot in Toronto that is comparable. I’ve heard good things about Fat Pasha, but if anyone has anymore suggestions I’m completely open to it : )

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All-in-all, the trip was quite the eye-opening experience for me. The culture including the people I met and became close too combined with the fresh and flavourful dishes really made me feel like I could easily spend at least a month there exploring. I had so many amazing moments on my trip, it’s hard to pin point a favourite place. Tel Aviv was definitely up there for me, Carly and I only had a couple of days there so we spent most of our time walking around Camel market and Jaffa Flea market picking up neat nic nacs, drinking fresh smoothies, and trying out some delicious restaurants. We ended up stumbling upon this gem called Puaa. While there we ended up trying some pomegranate mimosas, cauliflower poppers and a simple yet tasty mixed green salad. At the time I wish I had a bigger stomach and more time to try everything on the menu. 10487293_10201923098833057_697476358539381136_nThat evening we ended up going to a beautiful seafood restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean called Manta Ray. I loved the tapas style plates you had to chose from, a sample of 12 different dishes ranging from vegetarian, seafood, and salads. It all came out on a big tray and between Carly and I, we ended up ordering quite few items between the both of us. The most interesting combination I had was the salmon, parsley salad, I could have eaten about five of them! The last night we ended up at this new Italian restaurant around the corner from where we stayed called Gemma Wine Bar. We sat on the patio in the middle of this beautiful quiet cobble stone street and ate an amazing beet pistachio salad, fire stone oven pizza, and spinach pasta dish. 10518979_10201933934543943_5212482783989181577_nBesides indulging in the markets and amazing food, I tried to spend as much time on the beach appreciating every moment and relaxing. Now that I’m back home I’m excited to try a lot of this dishes with my own personal touch and share with you some new and exciting dishes with a middle eastern flare!

Banana Chocolate Coconut PancakesWho doesn’t love pancakes, especially ones that contain chocolate chips? For fathers day after a great game of early morning golf with my dad, I decided to whip up some sinfully delicious banana chocolate coconut pancakes.  These pancakes are completely gluten-free and made with cashews the perfect alternative for those watching their blood sugar! This is definitely one of my favourite combinations, that is sure to satisfy my sweet cravings right away.photo 3(1)

Banana Chocolate Coconut Pancakes
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup mashed banana
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup coconut chips
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips
  • coconut oil for cooking
Instructions
  1. Soak cashews overnight in water. In the morning using a food processor, pulse cashews until finely ground. Add in the baking soda, then pulse in eggs, vanilla, and banana until combined. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in chocolate chips by hand.
  2. Heat coconut oil in skillet over medium heat. Spoon batter 1 tablespoon at a time onto skillet
  3. Flip pancakes when bubbles form. Sprinkle coconut chips on top with maple syrup (optional)

 

cacao If you’re like me and tend to enjoy a sweet snack to get you through the day, why not feel good about it? I absolutely love these coconut, cacao & almond butter balls that I made last week,  they contain tasty wholesome unrefined ingredients that will do your body good. Besides a great sweet snack alternative they can also be eaten a little bit before exercise, or right after, to sustain you until your post workout meal.photo 2

Coconut, Cacoa & Almond Butter Balls
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup gluten free oats
  • ½ unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup natural almond butter
  • 3 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • ⅓ up chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Place oats, shredded coconut, almond butter, raw honey and chis seeds in food processor.
  2. Blend until smooth. Sprinkle in chocolate chips, then roll into small balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Place sheet in freezer for 5-10 mins

 

WatermelonraspberrysmoothieSummer is almost here, and with the humid days becoming more frequent it’s very important to stay refreshed and hydrated. The last few weekends I’ve been spending lots of time outside in the backyard working on my vegetable garden (I’m growing all sorts of things this year including red/yellow/green peppers, cucumbers, green onions, cucumber and tomatoes) These watermelon and raspberry smoothies were enjoyed by both my sister and mom, and is a perfect summertime drink to subside those sweet cravings.photo 2

Watermelon and Raspberry Smoothie
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup fresh raspberries
  • ⅓ cup almond milk
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp chia seed
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

 

parsnipandcarrotfriesI’ve been noticing these parsnip fries popping up on various menus through out the city, and it wasn’t until the other week when I finally decided to give them a go at Woodlot restaurant. I thought it would be neat to create a similar recipe so I did this by adding carrots into the mix and changing up the seasoning a little bit.  The parsnip and carrot fries really do the trick for me, not only were they easy to make but they were a fantastic .alternative to the highly addictive and unhealthy fries I only enjoy on special occasions.photo 3

Parsnip and Carrot Fries
 
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds of parsnips and carrot mixture, peeled, cut into small strips
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1½ large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Paprika Garlic Aioli
  • ¾ cup raw cashew pieces, soaked for 4 to 8 hours
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Mix together parsnips and carrots, chopped rosemary, garlic, and oil on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and mix to coat. Spread out in a single layer.
  4. Roast for 10 minutes; turn parsnips and carrots and roast until they are tender and browned in spots, 10–15 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt, pepper.
  5. Drain and rinse the cashews. Combine the cashews, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, and ¼ cup of water in a blender and blend until smooth. If needed, add additional water 1 tablespoon at a time. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

 

Baba ghanoushFor those of you who don’t know my twin sister Carly and I are going on the Birthright trip which takes us to Israel for two weeks on June 19th! We both couldn’t be more excited about this adventure together. Lately, I’ve been inspired by so many delicious Middle Eastern dishes. So this past weekend to get me in that travelling mood, I decided to whip up some of my dad’s famous red pepper baba ghanoush and naan bread. Its been about three years since I’ve been away somewhere new, so I’m truly looking forward to exploring all of Israel has to offer with my favourite person in the whole world.
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Baba Ghanoush and Naan Bread
 
Ingredients
  • Baba Ghanoush
  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 red onions
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Naan Bread
  • 1½ cups warm milk
  • ½ tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4-5 Tbsp melted butter
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder (optional)
  • salt (optional)
Instructions
  1. For the Baba Ghanoush
  2. Chop eggplant, red onions, and red bell peppers.
  3. Toss all of the veggies in olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper,
  4. Place in roasting pan and roast for 375 until the veggies and nice and caramelized. About an hour or so, and toss them around midway through. When they're cool put them in a food processor and pulse to the consistency that you like. Taste and adjust the seasoning's.
  5. For the Naan Bread
  6. Add yeast and sugar to warm milk. Let that mixture sit for about 5 minutes.
  7. Add in 3½ cups of flour and mix in either a mixer with a dough hook or hand mix. Sprinkle in more flour as needed to keep it from sticking to sides. Try not to exceed 4¼ flour. Dough will become smooth. If using a mixer this will take approx. 3-5 minutes. If hand mixing you will need to mix and knead for approx 8-10 minutes.
  8. Let dough rise, covered, for 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.
  9. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and make each one into a smooth ball. Let dough balls rest, covered with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel, for 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat oven to 500°
  11. Roll out each piece of dough, so they're shaped like an oval.
  12. Place two rolled out piece of dough on cookie sheet and cook for 3-4 minutes or until top is starting to get small light brown spots (it will puff up). After about 4 minutes if there are still no light brown spots on the top, don’t worry there will be spots on the bottom!
  13. Remove each piece, and stack on top of each other so they will go flat. Brush each side with butter, if you'd like to add some garlic powder and a few shakes of salt to the melted butter feel free to do so now!

 

Roasted Balsamic Vegetable SauceI had this amazing pasta dish at my good friends house the other weekend and I decided to make it my own by alternating a couple different ingredients. Feel free to do the same as this dish is quite versatile. I absolutely loved the flavour of this roasted balsamic vegetable sauce, it is a fantastic dinner for you to recreate if you’re looking for a hearty dish filled with lots of vegetables. The toasted croutons are completely optional, I personally had this major craving going on while I was making it, and it really gave the pasta that crunch I was looking for. photo 2

Roasted Balsamic Vegetable Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup diced white onion
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 8 oz baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 cups kale
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar reduction
  • ½ cup parmasan cheese (more if needed)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package of quinoa pasta, cooked
  • 2 toasted pieces of your favourite bread, seasoned with butter, salt & pepper and garlic powder, diced and throw on top of the salad (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and garlic. Add in the onions and peppers; saute until softened. Add the mushroom and kale, if you feel you need to add in a bit more olive oil feel free to do so now. Cook until mushrooms are browned and kale is soft.
  2. Turn down heat and mix in balsamic reduction, salt and pepper, and parmasan cheese.
  3. Remove from heat and toss in quinoa pasta and then sprinkle with toasted croutons.

 

ChocolateCashewCoconutBitesI’m still drooling over these chocolate cashew coconut bites. The consistency reminds me of cashew larabars, so if you enjoy that flavour you will most definitely enjoy this chocolatey treat. I find myself starting to make more of these bite sized snacks ever since I started working full-time this past month. I tend to get really sleepy around 3 PM and if I don’t have time to run out and grab a smoothie from the local area, I love having small snacks at my desk to help get me through those last two hours of work.  photo 3

Chocolate Cashew Coconut Bites
Serves: 20
 
Ingredients
  • 15 Medjool Dates
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cashews
  • ¾ cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Chocolate Coating
  • 2 ounces of chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Mix the almonds, shredded coconut and cashews in the food processor until fine. Then add the dates, coconut oil and water and pulse until a dough forms. Form small balls with about a tablespoon of the dough. Place in freezer for 10 minutes to set then tip them in the melted chocolate and coconut oil mixture.

 

mexicanstreetcornsaladThe other week I went to La Carnita restaurant in Toronto and ended up splitting the Mexican Street corn for the first time. It is easily one of the most tasty and messy things I had eaten in quite awhile. For the last few years I’ve developed the habit of cutting the corn off the cob, so after tasting the amazing flavour of the street corn I decided to whip up a Mexican street corn salad version inspired by this lovely dish. It is a wonderful salad for the summer time, especially with fresh corn season coming. It definitely works as a perfect dish to bring to someones house for a pot luck!photo 1

Mexican Street Corn Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
  • juice of 1⁄2 lime
  • ½ cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 6 cobs corn, husks removed, halved
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 100g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • lime wedges to serve
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the lime juice and vegan mayonnaise.
  2. Cook the corn in a large saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain.
  3. Heat a barbecue or grill pan to very hot. Brush the corn with the oil then cook for 10-12 minutes or until slightly charred and tender, turning regularly.
  4. In a serving bowl, add cut corn and sprinkle the cayenne pepper, paprika and salt then toss with until well-mixed. Top with cheese, the lime juice and vegan mayonnaise. Serve cold or at room temperature with lime wedges.

 

Roasted Veggie Feta Quinoa SaladThis is my official new favorite salad! The flavour of the roasted veggie feta and quinoa is absolutely incredible, I mean how could it not be with all my favourite things to eat. The feta balances out the sweetness of the baby beetroot and carrots providing a match made in heaven. I found the roasted veggie feta and quinoa salad works perfectly as either a side or a main if you just add some protein!  photo 3(3)

Roasted Veggie Feta and Quinoa Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 16 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and diced
  • 12 baby beetroot, trimmed, peeled, diced
  • 2 red onion, peeled, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained
  • 2 bunches of kale, trimmed, leaves shredded
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • Dressing
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1½ tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 60g marinated feta in oil, drained, crumbled
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Place the carrots, beetroot and on prepared tray, drizzle with olive oil salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, place quinoa in 2 cups water in a medium saucepan, bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until water has evaporated. Stir through kale until just wilted.
  3. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables and pine nuts. Whisk the oil, vinegar, orange juice and honey together in a small bowl. Add to quinoa and stir until well combined. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve topped with the crumbled marinated feta.