Quick, Easy & Healthy Vegan Recipe: Avocado Pesto-Inspired Pasta

Last week, when I returned from St. Lucia late, tired and starving, I quickly looked at what was available in my kitchen so I could make a quick and simple meal. What resulted was a quite filling meal that was made in about 20 minutes. It is inspired by the following recipes:

http://loveandlentils.com/2014/03/24/walnut-hemp-seed-pesto-pasta-with-fresh-tomatoes-olives/

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/pesto_pasta_with_spinach_and_avocado/

http://againstallgrain.com/2013/04/05/dairy-free-pesto-sauce/

Due to lack of certain ingredients, such as basil which really gives pesto its flavour, I modified between these 3 recipes and made my own yummy and healthy vegan version.

 

Avocado Pasta

Serves: 1 or 2

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 cup fusilli or penne pasta (I used gluten-free fusilli)

1 tablespoon organic almonds

1 tablespoon organic pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon organic sunflower seeds

1 garlic clove

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 avocado, peeled and chopped

ground black pepper

 

Instructions:

1. Boil pasta as indicated by package instructions. Remove from heat, drain and pour pasta back into the pot, and set it aside.

2. Blend almond, seeds, garlic, rosemary leaves, lemon juice, sea salt and olive oil in a food processor/blender until smooth.

3. Put sauce into the pot of pasta over low heat and quickly combine pasta and sauce together until warm.

4. Put pasta onto a plate.  Add avocado on top and sprinkle some black pepper to taste.

5. Mix avocado and ground pepper with pasta; to be eaten warm or at room temperature. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Special Notes:

-I found one plate of this pasta very filling due to the avocado, so my suggestion is to take half of the portion and pair it with a mixed greens salad tossed in a few drops of raw apple cider vinegar and olive oil. That way, you can share the other portion with someone else, or you have extras for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner!

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Travels, Healthy Foods & Tomatoes

One of the many reasons I love travelling is that I get to meet and learn from people from all walks of life! The world is so big and beautiful with so many different kinds of people living in it. 🙂

During my stay in South Korea this summer, I had the fortune to stay with my dear friend Lucy and her wonderful family after my teaching assignment ended. I was excited to experience the Korean family lifestyle!

I discovered that Lucy’s family usually eats a very big breakfast to start the day which includes all sorts of vegetables and fruits, from fermented vegetables to fresh vegetables and fruits, and a combination of hot and cold dishes. They do not eat meat for breakfast. From my previous readings when I was exploring the possibility of becoming vegetarian or vegan (I’m still on the journey), I already know that consuming too much animal protein creates toxins and acidity in the body and eventually ages the skin and body (The Beauty Detox Foods by Kimberly Snyder, page 14). Furthermore, animal protein is the most complex of all foods, and it takes almost twice as long as other foods to pass through the digestive system, which allows a greater chance of toxins to be created. Eating whole, unrefined plant foods with some fermented foods (has probiotics and enzymes that are good for healthy digestion and elimination) and complex carbohydrates is a much better choice in improving overall health and energy. Therefore, I loved the healthy vegetarian concept behind these big delicious breakfasts!

A healthy filling vegetarian Korean breakfast that includes salad, pumpkin porridge, cold Korean Soybean Noodle Soup (Kong Gooksu), rice,  kimchi, fermented eggplants, pickled green plum, garlic and grapes.

A typical healthy filling vegetarian Korean breakfast from my friend’s family that includes salad, pumpkin porridge (hobak jook), cold Korean soybean noodle soup (kong gooksu), rice, kimchi, fermented eggplants, pickled green plums, fermented garlic and grapes.

One morning I was introduced to this healthy, hearty delicious soup cooked by Lucy’s dad, Mr. P. Mr. P is an active, happy, health conscious and nature-loving gentleman who frequently hikes up on the highest mountain near his home. He loves cooking and eating this soup for breakfast. It just requires two ingredients: tomatoes and olive oil. Mr. P told me that both tomatoes and olive oil are very healthy and when combined, they are very good for the body because they lower risks of many diseases and cancers. I would never have thought of having soup for breakfast, but the inner healthy foodie in me was eager to give it a try. We also sprinkled some pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds into the soup. The minute I tasted it, I was sold on having soup for breakfast and gained a new appreciation for tomatoes! I asked Mr. P immediately for the recipe and he simply told me to put these two ingredients into a pot and then you have a meal.

I cooked the Tomato Olive Oil Soup successfully this morning and I can’t wait to share with you this simple recipe made literally in under 15 minutes! I think Mr. P would be so proud of me!!

I hope you give this soup recipe a try and let me know what you think! 🙂

Happy Cooking!!

XO,

Violet

Tomato Soup_Korea

 

Serves: 1 person

Preparation Time: 2 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 washed and chopped tomato

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil,

Toppings: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds/hemp hearts, raisins

Optional toppings: any type of nuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds

 

Instructions:

1. Put one tablespoon of olive oil into pot on medium heat.

2. Place chopped tomatoes into pot to be cooked with olive oil.

2. Mash and stir tomatoes for a bit. Leave some tomatoes in partly whole form.

3. Allow soup to simmer a few minutes.

4. Once the soup boils, pour it into a serving bowl and add one tablespoon of olive oil.

5. Sprinkle a handful of your favourite toppings and mix everything. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Special Notes:

Tomatoes- has carotenoid lycopene, an antioxidant that gives them their red colour and may be useful in decreasing the risk of some cancers and heart disease; cooking tomatoes increases the lycopene content

Olive Oil- rich in monounsaturated fats which is important for optimal health; it can help with healthier blood cholesterol level and control blood glucose levels, improve insulin sensitivity and a fatty liver and lower the amount of fat around the abdomen; good quality extra virgin olive oil has a high smoke point of around 210 degrees so it can be used for stir-fries, roasting foods in oven and pan-frying

*Information for both ingredients are taken from Superfoods by The Australian Women’s Weekly, pages 103 and 112

http://www.randomhouse.com.au/books/australian-womens-weekly-weekly/aww-superfoods-9781742454733.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Holiday Baking Recipe #2: Mint Chocolate Chip Christmas Cookies (Gluten-Free)

When I went shopping for baking ingredients, I got inspired by the mint chocolate chips and Christmas-coloured chocolate chips (red, green and white) at the store.  Therefore, I couldn’t resist buying both to create these yummylicious and fun Christmas cookies!

As promised, here’s the second recipe to my healthy holiday baking.  These gluten-free and light cookies are perfect for anyone who is health conscious but loves chocolate, or the combination of mint and chocolate!  My sister-in-law, who is one of the fittest person I’ve ever known, came over last night and ate about ten of these.  Trust me, you eat about 6 of these, and you won’t feel bloated or guilty overindulging! 😉

XmasMintCookies

Makes: 24 cookies

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 13 minutes

Total Time: about 25 minutes

 

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients

2 cups gluten-free all purpose baking flour (I used Robin Hood’s Nutri Flour Blend Gluten Free: http://www.robinhood.ca/Products/Nutri-Flour-Blend-Gluten-Free)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Wet Ingredients

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup organic coconut palm sugar

2 organic eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

 

Extra

1/2 cup mint chocolate chips

1/2 cup Christmas chocolate chips

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, mix olive oil and sugar until well combined.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add vanilla.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
  7. Slowly add chocolate chips into batter, making sure both mint and Christmas chocolate chips are evenly distributed.
  8. With damp hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the batter into a ball, place it on the baking sheet and flatten it slightly.  Continue until batter is gone, spacing the flattened balls 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake the cookies for 13 minutes.
  10. Enjoy! :)

 

Special Notes:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil:  used in replacement of butter/margarine because it’s not only healthier (cuts back on cholesterol and saturated fat content) and dairy-free, it also makes the baked goods lighter and moister!

Here’s a good site for more information and it even has a butter/margarine to olive oil conversion chart for baking: http://thepassionateolive.com/wp/baking-with-olive-oil-instead-of-butter/

Organic Coconut Palm Sugar: I’m really loving this new natural sweetener I discovered recently for baking.  As mentioned in my previous post, this natural sugar has a low glycemic index; it also has a high nutrient profile (to name a few: iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium).  To learn more about it, read this very informative article about it: http://authoritynutrition.com/coconut-sugar/

-To reduce the sugar, you can decrease amount of sugar and chocolate chips to your liking.  Also, you can replace chocolate chips with same amount of dried cranberries, raisins and/or nuts.  Be creative! 🙂

-If you don’t have mint chocolate chips, you can replace it with crushed candy canes to give it a minty taste.

 

Wishing you all love, peace, joy, hope and light this wondrous holiday season with your family and friends! 😀

xoxo, Violet 

Summertime Appetizer Salad

Spring Mix Salad

Here’s a delightful appetizer salad that’s great for any summertime occasion.  I brought it to a potluck party over the weekend and everyone loved it! 🙂

 

Serves: 8-10 people

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: about 1 minute

 

Ingredients:

1 package/box organic spring mix

2 cups blueberries

2 cups raspberries

1 large ripe papaya

2/3 cup raw apple cider vinegar

 

Special Note: You can also simply drizzle the salad with olive oil, instead of tossing it in raw apple cider vinegar.

 

Instructions:

  1. Wash, drain and dry spring mix, blueberries and raspberries.
  2. Chop papayas into cubes.
  3. Toss spring mix, blueberries, raspberries and papaya in a salad bowl with the apple cider vinegar.
  4. Enjoy!