I’m honoured to have been included in the Swingfood cookbook!
Mandi is a bird-brained health foodie. Her best friends are a green Quaker parrot named Gaudi and a blushing yellow lovebird named Lindy. Together, they start every day with a green smoothie or juice and pump her husband, Geoffrey, full of nutrients to help keep him cancer-free.
Anyone who has been to Rise Above restaurant in St. Catharines and tried the stuffed mushrooms has expressed love at first bite. They’re next level delicious. So of course I had to try to recreate them.
This is going to be more of a guide than an actual recipe. I think once you have the basic idea down you can adapt it to your own preferences.
Rise Above dehydrates theirs and they have a particularly unique pesto recipe for the topping, so this recipe is rather more simple but still very tasty. I wasn’t using my dehydrator so I ended up selling it last year and I’ve managed just fine with using the oven.
The key is to remove the stems from your mushrooms (button and cremini mushrooms both work) and then cook them on slow so that they excrete all of the extra liquid. I do this on both sides and drain away the liquid before adding the filling. You want to make sure they’re cooked through and no longer wet.
For the filling, you can make your own favourite cashew cheese or use your favourite vegan store bought cheese. Right now I’m obsessed with this vegan cheese from Quebec which is some of the best I’ve tried:
I added a generous chunk of cheese to each mushroom and then baked them in the oven until the cheese had softened.
Then, you can top the mushrooms with your favourite pesto. I happened to still have some of my homemade creamy pesto in the freezer that I topped it with, but if you’re buying pesto I highly recommend the Basic Pesto from Sunflower Kitchen.
Simple but delicious!
If you’ve tried or heard about jackfruit “pulled pork”, it’s the dish that inspired me to make a better veggie patty that’s perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas and would make a great burger patty too! They make the perfect Tofurkey Alternative.
You know what’s tough? Trying to keep a vegetarian diet in a world full of soy when you’re soy-intolerant. Meanwhile, many North American veg-heads eat too much soy to begin with, which can upset your hormonal balance.
For years I’ve been looking for the perfect soy-free meat alternative to have with gravy and cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving and Christmas and last year, I finally found it. I had tried some pretty great recipes before, like the Oh She Glows burgers, but this is now definitely my go-to.
The idea finally came to me after I got around to making jackfruit pulled pork for myself. I had tried jackfruit as a pulled pork alternative at Niagara Veg Fest and some restaurants, but it wasn’t until I made it for myself that the lightbulb went off.
If you aren’t familiar with it yet, unripened jackfruit has the surprising texture of meat! It’s pretty amazing! And it takes on whatever seasoning you add and produces a wonderful texture and mouth feel. I read somewhere that buying unripened jackfruit can really destroy your knives and it’s very convenient to use canned unripened jackfruit which I’ve found at Asian grocery stores.
For our Thanksgiving feast this weekend I used 5 cans of jackfruit and made about 20 patties so I would say one can of jackfruit makes about 4 patties.
Soak the jackfruit and remove all the seeds.
Use your fingers to separate all the jackfruit “meat” into strips to prepare it to sautee with oil, garlic, and spices. (See recipe below for full details.)
This next part doesn’t look very glamourous but it’s the part that gives the patties a richness and also binds it together. Use ground chia or flax seed (I used chia) and almond butter to make a batter. (See recipe below for full details.)
Mix the sauteed jackfruit mixture into the batter. (See recipe below for full details.)
Form the patties and bake them at 350 for about 12 minutes on each side. I use an ice cream scoop and use non-stick silpat sheets. (See recipe below for full details.)
They’ll be ready when they’re golden and crispy and looking suspiciously meaty. Serve and enjoy!
The above photos show this recipe multiplied by 5. The following recipe makes 4 patties.
(By the way, I also make a killer soy-free vegan gravy using adzuki bean or chickpea miso that’s made without soy. I’ll post that recipe at some point too.)
Recently, my friend Cynthia Millman, co-author with Frankie Manning, Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop, recently sent me a great smoothie recipe to try. I was excited when she sent it over because I had most of the ingredients on hand already. In particular, I’ve had some cranberries in the freezer that I hadn’t gotten around to using so this seemed like the perfect recipe to try.
The only thing I couldn’t get my hands on at my regular grocery store at this time of year is organic oranges. Since her recipe calls for the orange ride, it’s definitely better to use organic. Cynthia likes using the orange rind for flavour and also for all of the nutrients. If you’re sensitive to bitterness, you might find the white part of the rind a bit strong, in which case consider just using the orange zest.
It’s a very tart smoothie but with an echo of sweetness from the bee pollen. Bee pollen is rich in vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, and has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. It also helps to reduce inflammation, stimulate the immune system, and lower cholesterol.
Maca is one of those ingredients I use every day. Here’s a post about how it can help to regulate your hormones, and a post about how it can help clear up your acne.
I did make a few substitutions based on what I had at home. I’ve noted my adjustments in brackets beside her original version.
4 oz of wild frozen blueberries (I used frozen peaches that I had on hand)
rind and white pith of 1/4-1/2 and orange (organic recommended)
2 oz frozen cranberries defrosted
greens and/or some avocado as desired (I added 2 giant handfulls of spinach)
cover with fresh ginger tea and/or rice or nut milk (I just used water and a scoop of protein powder)
1 tbsp maca
1 tsp bee pollen (I actually used 2 tsp because I like it)
a pinch of cardamon
blend until smooth.
It’s a great, nutritious smoothie. Thanks, Cynthia, for sharing it!
Spring is *very* late to arrive this year; it’s actually still freezing out! Yesterday, April 10th, we had big fluffy snow flakes. At least the days are starting to get longer and I’m enjoying how light it is in the evenings.
I’ve been dragging me feet about doing a spring juice cleanse because of the cold, but I’m finally getting around to starting. I’ve done long cleanses or “juice feasts” before but this time around I’ll just do one of my little weekend juicing whirlwinds.
During the cleanse, I’ll drink at least 3 (though I should drink more) mason jars full of vegetable juice each day in place of any solid food. I always use fruit incredibly sparingly, usually just a lemon and possibly a little green apple. Occasionally I’ll add a strawberry or something for a hit of flavour but it’s a very minor part of the cleanse. The goal is to keep my blood sugar steady and fruit juice can easily throw your balance out of wack.
Since I’ve been feeling so chilly, I’ll need to follow one of my biggest go-to tips for this juice cleanse:
“Unless it’s a heatwave outside, it’s a good idea to let your produce come to room temperature. Particularly in the winter when it’s cold outside, you might not realize that your juice is giving you a chill until it’s too late. Keeping your produce at room temperature before you make your juice is a good idea, especially when you’re juice feasting.”
You can read more of my tips about juicing on this page.
I like to do a juice cleanse in the spring to freshen myself up, blast my body with nutrients, and give myself a break from all of the heavy foods that accompany cold weather. I don’t use it to try to lose weight, people rarely keep the weight off when they try a cleanse for that reason, but it does help to “cleanse my palette” as I move into lighter spring fare.
Most of all, it just feels great to drink juice and welcome the sunshine!
Have you ever done a juice cleanse? What was your experience with it?
Have you ever tried a Shamrock Shake for St. Patrick’s Day?
Well St. Patrick’s Day is coming up on March 17th so now is the perfect time to try it!
The hallmarks of a Shamrock Shake are its creamy thickness, mint flavour, and often there’s some chocolate thrown in for good measure. And what’s not to love about creamy mint chocolatey goodness?
You can “have your cake and eat it too” with my take on a Shamrock Shake… that’s secretly a green smoothie in disguise. But trust me, no one will ever know the difference! It’s totally indulgent and delicious!
You know what’s way creamier than putting almond milk into your smoothie? Almond butter or whole almonds if you have a high speed blender like a Vitamix. Also, if you use any protein powder (I like a good vegan vanilla protein powder most mornings) then just plain water is fine for the basic texture and adding almonds starts to add depth of flavour.
I did go through a huge raw food phase and I still believe in the power of raw food, however roasted almonds have such a wonderful flavour. That’s my preference when you really want to accent the “almond” in any kind of recipe.
To make a great green smoothie, of course you need something green and kale is a great choice. It’s not as neutral in flavour as spinach so I don’t use as much of it. But it does pack a wonderfully nutritious punch!
Here’s a simple, tasty recipe to try:
You can also garnish with slivered almonds and chia seeds if you like a little crunch.
I love dessert.
And why shouldn’t I? I love good food and I’m certainly going to indulge once in a while… Especially when I’m on vacation.
While traveling, I’ve learned to be selective about what I eat so that I’m indulging when it’s really good and “worth it” but not overeating when the food is nothing special. I want to make sure that my calories are going to foods I really enjoy.
I also get a lot of exercise when I travel. It’s not a burden in any way and I feel great when I hit the right chord, balancing my fitness level with yummy treats.
Here are my main tips for staying healthy and balanced while on vacation:
Do you want to have a really great breakfast? Great! Then have a lighter lunch, or skip lunch altogether and eat breakfast later to turn it into brunch. If you know you want to have a really great treat at a little bakery you heard about in the afternoon, then go easy on breakfast and lunch, or even turn your afternoon treat into lunch for the day. It’s all about how you fit it all into your day.
Part of this is leaving room for dessert. If you know you really want dessert, then plan to eat a bit less so you can have room for it!
Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean that you should throw away all of your healthy habits. Include some vegetables and fruits into your day just like you would on a regular day. Choose to have a salad with at least one of your meals, or as your main for one meal. I often have salad as my entree at lunch, leaving breakfast and dinner to be more flexible. I also don’t eat fried foods unless I *really* want them. If I do have fried foods, I make sure to give my system a break at other meals by having more vegetables.
One change that I’ve made over the years is that I generally avoid a sweet breakfast. I know that I like to have dessert later in the day and that can add up to way too much sugar if I’ve also had a sweet breakfast. I also find that sweet breakfasts make me feel more hungry sooner since they play tricks with your blood sugar. It’s rare that I have a sweet breakfast and when I do, I try to make it brunch a bit later on, not at an earlier breakfast, and then I follow up with a healthier dinner.
If you’re drinking a lot of fruity, sweet drinks, keep that in mind as they definitely contribute to your overall sugar levels.
We’re pretty active on most of our vacations. We walk a lot, and we like to go dancing at night. Dancing is a great way to be active of course, but so is walking around to take in the sites, or swimming, or renting a bicycle. On days when we aren’t too busy and we aren’t naturally very active, I really enjoy checking out a new gym on a cruise ship or at a hotel. I often go to the gym while my husband has an afternoon nap, or sometimes he joins me. I don’t have to do a really hard workout, but even doing some light weights helps to break up the day and make me feel like I’m giving attention to some self care.
It’s easy to get dehydrated while on vacation. Bring a water bottle with you and make sure that you’re drinking enough to help cleanse your body from all of the indulgences. This is especially true if you’re drinking a lot of alcohol.
We have a vacation coming up in a couple of weeks and I’m planning to follow my own tips. Do you have any other tips that help you while you’re traveling? Let me know!
Are you stuck in a rushing pattern every morning? Do you find that there’s never enough time to have a healthy breakfast and that you’re always starting your day off feeling stressed for time? Are you missing the vitamins you need to blast your mood and energy level to start the day off right?
There’s no question about it; starting your day off on the right foot can set you up for a more successful and enjoyable day all around.
If you want to set yourself up for a a great day, you need a great morning routine. And the best way to create a successful morning routine is to:
It’s as simple–and challenging–as that!
It doesn’t have to be a lot earlier. Even 20 minutes can make a huge difference in how your morning and your whole day plays out.
I can speak from personal experience. I certainly believe in getting enough sleep and I’m not someone who stays up really late at night. Even so, in 2018 I pushed my schedule forward by 20 minutes in the morning and it’s had a dramatic effect on my entire day.
Instead of getting up at 7:20, I’ve started to get up at 7am. That 20 minutes means that I can shower before my husband instead of after him, get our green smoothies made and the dishes done while he’s getting ready, and then start the rest of my day immediately after he’s headed out the door.
Now, I work from home, so for me getting to work simply means walking across the living room to get to my office. But in your case, this might mean having time to make a smoothie rather than skipping breakfast, and not feeling rushed as you head out the door to start your commute.
In my case, I’m now able to sit down at my desk and can start to get some work done before my staff and clients start bombarding me with questions and demands. I now look at the clock at 9:30 and instead of feeling like, how am I going to get this all done before noon? I think, oh wow, it’s already 9:30am and look how much I’ve accomplished.
Whether you’re making more time to alleviate the stress of getting dressed and groomed, to get in some exercise or meditation, to make a healthy breakfast, or to make your commute go more smoothly, that one small change can bake a huge difference.
You are the master of how you spend your time. Take control of your mornings by giving yourself that gift of more time. You’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish!
This smoothie is an Ode to Elvis and a real treat!
You may have heard that Elvis’ favourite sandwich was peanut butter and banana… Specifically, he loved butter-soaked grilled banana and peanut butter sandwiches. Well we can do without the heavy butter and bread and just take the super flavourful match-made-in-heaven combination of peanut butter and banana.