Should You be Cooking with Olive Oil and Other Usage Tips

Italy - home of the Mediterranean Diet

Where the Olive Oil Grows – The Mediterranean Coastline, Cinque Terre Italy


When asked which is better – butter or margarine? The answer always is – olive oil. One thing that can be certain in nutrition science is that the Mediterranean diet has shown undeniable health benefits. This style of eating encourages an increased intake of nuts, fish, whole grains and vegetables while eating less meat and processed foods. At the same time it promotes an increase in the good fats (monounsaturated as well as polyunsaturated) and lesser amounts of the bad fats (saturated fats and trans fat). Despite the reported health benefits of monounsaturated rich olive oil there remains much confusion on how to use it in cooking, how to choose the right type, and how to store it properly. Switching from butter or margarine seems pretty straight forward – but as you will see, there is a lot more to know about olive oil than we thought! Read more »

Easy Vegan Almond Tempeh “Meatballs”

Vegetarian Tempeh "Meatballs" with Almonds

Not even a week has past since my return from Indonesia and I can confidently tell you that the thing I miss most is not the warmth nor the beaches, its the food. The flavours and the variety put this cuisine at the top of my list. If you haven’t tried tempeh yet, and your a lover of healthy and tasty cuisine, boy have I got a treat for you. Indonesians like it fried and spicy, and often will add it to dishes such as Gado Gado (see my simplified recipe for Gado Gado Peanut Satay Sauce Recipe) or have it plain with rice. It is as versatile as tofu, but many prefer the firmer texture of tempeh over its soybean cousin. Here is my play on tempeh, and a good one to get you started on your tempeh journey – Simple Almond Tempeh “Meatballs”.
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Simple Beet Dip with Balsamic Vinegar and Cream Cheese

Simple Beet Dip with Cream Cheese and Balsamic Vinegar

If I have learned one thing from having a weekly vegetable box delivered to my door it is this – beets are always in season. Well they are on Vancouver Island anyway. From June, straight through to October, they haven’t missed a beet, and I have heard down the grapevine that the winter edition is set to include even more of this tasty vegetable. I have only just begun the experience the versatility of beets, from Beet Apple and Kale Salad with Walnuts and Dill to Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Green Beans and even Gluten Free Beet Chocolate Muffins with Chickpea Flour. And now another beet inspired dish to add to the repertoire – a super Simple Beet Dip with Balsamic Vinegar and Cream Cheese.
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Protein Rich Zucchini Noodle Lasagna with Cottage Cheese

Simple Zucchini Noodle Lasagna with Summer Vegetables
When your roommate can’t have lentils, vegetarian sources of protein are limited. We have had more than our fair share of Summer Tofu Salad Bowl and Vegetable Packed Crustless Quiche with Feta but there are only so many egg and tofu dishes you can stomach in a week. So I turned to protein rich cottage cheese to help square out our vegetarian dinners. And using our excess zucchini from our weekly veggie box and my drive to get some protein versatility into our diet, I came up with this Zucchini Noodle Lasagna with Cottage Cheese. Not only is this vegetarian dish high in protein, it is also great for those looking for a low carbohydrate meal. And best part is… its easy!
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Simple Vegetable Packed Crustless Quiche with Feta

Simple Crustless Vegetable Quiche with Vegetables and Feta

Its summer! And the hen’s are a’layin and the zucchini is a’growin. Creative uses for zucchini have taken over my Pinterest news feed – ranging from stuffed, to zucchini chips, to zucchini noodles. People are mad about this summer veg. But no need to get too fancy, zucchini can produce some quick and easy dishes as well. This Simple Vegetable Packed Crustless with Feta recipe is exactly that. No stove stop required (less dishes, yes!), and with 2.5 servings of vegetables per serve and a whole lot of protein, it’s super healthy as well!
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Healthy Chickpea Spread with Sundried Tomatoes

Recipe for Healthy Chickpea Spread with Sundried Tomatoes and Cilantro

Hands down, the Middle East is one of my favourite regions in the world to visit. Sleeping on rooftops, shopping the magical bazaars, and the sampling the most amazing cuisine. Just as you are served a bread basket here at home, some creamy hummus and fresh pita is the Middle Eastern way of welcoming you to their restaurants. No other hummus compares to their timeless staple food, which may have something to do with their top quality olive oils. Here is my oil-less take on hummus (or chickpea spread), with a few little additions.
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Beet Apple and Kale Salad with Walnuts and Dill

Beet Apple and Kale Salad with Walnuts and Dill Recipe

As I grow older (and wiser), I can start to appreciate the presence of fruit in salads. When checking out your local veggie stand this spring, you can see that an April salad can showcase beets, kale and apples. Jazzed up with a little bit of fresh dill and a simple vinaigrette style dressing, that boring weeknight side salad just got a whole lot more interesting.
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Seasonal Roasted Vegetable Bowl with Kale Pesto, Lentils and Barley

Roasted Seasonal Vegetable Bowl with Kale Pesto Lentils and Barley

Ever thought about what’s in season in March? Well it’s definitely Spring here, the flowers are out in full force and the winter jackets have been put back into storage. But even though the cherry blossoms are in bloom, not much is being harvested from the veggie gardens. Luckily, we still have access to all the delicious storage vegetables from last year. Those parsnips, carrots and beets have been kept cold in cellars for us all winter so we can still enjoy last seasons bounty while we wait for the new years crop.
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Steel-Cut Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana

Steel Cut Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana

Healthy alternative to pancakes! Good source of protein! Now that I have your attention, let me elaborate on my bold statements. Nutrition Science is an interesting field in that it is ever evolving and recommendations are continuously being improved upon. One area that is under review is our current daily protein recommendations. We won’t know for awhile, but there is some speculation that they are about due for an update. Nevertheless, following a plant-based diet can leave some of us a bit short on our protein needs – so no better place to start improving on this than with breakfast!

“Steel-cut oats have double the amount of fibre and protein as traditional rolled oats, with 4g of fibre and 5g of protein per serve”


What makes steel-cut oats so special. Firstly, you can make a big batch of them on a Sunday night and have breakfast ready for the rest of the week. They taste great cold or re-heated; simply double the below recipe and add more milk in the morning to thin it out. Secondly, they are the least processed type of oats. The grouts are hulled, toasted and then chopped into 3-4 little sections. Thirdly, oats are packed full of beta-glucans which are known for lowering cholesterol levels. Oats are also useful in helping to manage blood-sugar levels. Lastly, steel-cut oats can help us meet our daily protein needs. This is important for muscle synthesis, immune function and overall good health. The addition of peanut butter and soy milk make this a great high protein breakfast.

Steel Cut Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana

And so how are they a healthy alternative to pancakes? To me, anything with peanut butter, banana and honey and some sort of starch is as good as pancakes. You will just have to give’em a try and see for yourself!

Recipe for Steel Cut Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana

Recipe by: Rachel
Makes: 2 servings
Time to finish: 30 minutes

Ingredients for Steel Cut Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana

1 cup water
1 cup organic soy milk or almond milk
1/2 cup uncooked, steel-cut oats
pinch of salt
1 frozen banana *
2 tbsp. natural peanut butter
1 tbsp. raw honey **
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. whole flaxseed

*I prefer frozen banana because they are always on hand, and much sweeter. A very ripe, non-frozen banana would do just fine as well.
**For a vegan alternative, use maple syrup

Method for Steel Cut Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana

Bring water and soy milk or almond milk to a boil in a medium-sized sauce pan. Once boiling, add the steel-cut oats and a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low.

In a separate bowl, mash the banana and add it to the oats. Reduce the heat and simmer on low and uncovered for about 15-20 minutes, making sure to stir often.

You know the oats are finished when the are nice and creamy. Remove them from the heat and add in the peanut butter, honey, cinnamon and flax. Give it a good stir to ensure everything is well blended.

This dish is great as leftovers for the following morning. Simply store in an air tight container in the fridge, and in the morning add a splash of milk and eat cold or heated.

Steel Cut Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana

Nutrition Information for Steel Cut Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana

Calories 295 calories
Protein 15g
Carbohydrate 40g
Fibre 7.8g
Sugar 17g
Fat 13g
Saturated Fat 1.9g
Sodium 120mg
Calcium 200mg
Iron 2.6mmg

Raw Chocolate Brownie with Caramel Icing

Raw Chocolate Brownie with Caramel Icing

Tomorrow is Valentines day and being the responsible Dietitian that I am, I am sharing my favourite super health raw chocolate brownie. If your looking for a non-Cadbury chocolaty treat for your special someone, I encourage you to give this one a try. Even the biggest of skeptics would be impressed – ohhh with the gooiness of the dates, the heartiness of the nuts. And you wouldn’t believe its completely raw! But what really makes this recipe a keeper is the “caramel icing…”
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