Comfort & Soul: Vegan Mac & Cheese

Back to school means meal prep, & recently I’ve opened up to the idea of trying vegan meals. It’s a work in progress so one by one I’ve decided to try a few recipes here and there. Considering I’m new to the concept of veganism, I was blown away by this recipe of vegan mac & cheese, which seems to be a classic hit among many vegan recipes. I was mainly surprised how the sauce mimicks a classic cheese sauce. The same creamy consistency, same flavors that come from the seasoning, all in all it was an impressive first impression. This one pot recipe also makes it a great idea for meal prep on a weekend night, ready to pack & go for a busy week ahead. Here’s how you can make your own batch: 

Ingrediants: 

  • 2 cups of mini shell pasta
  • 1/3 cup of skinned carrots
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 2 small red potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • water
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 a lime, squeezed
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions:

  1. Boil pasta as per package instructions. Set aside.
  2. Finely chop carrots, potatos, & onions. 
  3. Using a mortar & pestol, grind the garlic cloves into a paste & set aside. 
  4. Boil carrots, potatos, & onions until tender. About 10 minutes should do.  
  5. Once boiled, transfer the vegetables into a blender. Add in garlic paste, coconut milk, cashews, & lime juice. Blend until smooth.
  6. Pour sauce over cooked pasta. Add salt, black pepper, & cayenne to taste. Serve immediately. 

And there you have it! A healthy alternative to a comfort food classic, one vegetable serving closer to eating clean. The one pot aspect of the meal makes it both easy to prep and easy to clean up after on busy weekend/weekday nights. This meal is approved by yours truly – S. 

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    Baked Lemon Garlic Salmon & Low Fat Cottage Cheese Rotini Salad

    Let’s start today’s dinner with a little nutrition lesson shall we?

    Think of our body as a home, and cells as bricks: they’re the foundation of almost every function our body does hereon after. However, even bricks need to be made somehow first before building something right? In the case of our cells, those are proteins. When you eat dietary proteins such as chicken or fish, these proteins are broken down in the body into essential amino acids. If you think proteins as bricks, you could say amino acids are the concrete used to make those bricks. These amino acids are then further broken down into ATP, aka useable energy for the body, aka your fuel for the day.

    When proteins are this important for your body and well being, it’s important to take care of your protein intake. There are many supplements out there today that offer alternatives for protein, such as protein powder or even amino acid pills, but I’m a strong believer that nothing beats the real deal of natural protein intake from food itself.

    As of such, Lemon Garlic Salmon is a perfect way to go to help reach your protein intake goal of the day. Salmon is a great source of protein with an added bonus of omega-3 fatty acids. The tangy taste of lemon garlic paired with a quick light cottage cheese pasta salad is the perfect flavor balance, and also a great way to incorporate some carbs & dairy into this meal. As we are aiming to make this a healthy recipe, we’ll be baking our salmon and using low fat cottage cheese. Here’s how to make your very own batch of this wholesome meal:

    Salmon

    Ingrediants

    • 1 pkg of frozen Salmon Filet
    • 1 Lemon
    • 3 Garlic Cloves
    • Salt & Pepper to taste
    • 1 sprig parsley

    Instructions

    1. Preheat your oven to 425º F. Line a large baking tray with aluminum foil and set aside.
    2. Dethaw your salmon filets. Meanwhile, use a mortar and pestol to crush your garlic cloves into a fine paste and set aside. Also during this time, slice 3/4 of your lemon, keeping aside 1/4 to use as juice for the marinade.
    3. Once the salmon has dethawed, in a small bowl, combine the garlic, some olive oil, and lemon juice. Spread the marinade onto the salmon filets and place them onto the baking tray. Garnish with the remaining lemon slices & chopped parsley.
    4. Bake for 10 minutes and serve warm.

      Pasta Salad

      Ingrediants

      • 2 cups Tricolored Rotini Pasta
      • 1 cup Low Fat Cottage Cheese
      • 10 Cherry Tomatoes
      • 1 cup Celery, chopped
      • 1 cup Mayonnaise
      • 1 cup Red onion, chopped
      • 2 tbsp Red Whine Vinegar

      Instructions

      1. Cook and drain the tricolored pasta till al dente. After draining, mix in the red wine vinegar and allow to sit.
      2. Combine the cottage cheese, mayonnaise, chopped celery, grape tomatoes, & red onion by gently folding. It’s crucial not to harshley stir to allow a clean mix without any of the vegetables being crushed in the process.
      3. Refridgerate for atleast 1 hour and serve chilled.

            And there you have it! One wholesome, protein-packed, delicious meal! This healthy eat is approved by yours truly- S.

            Passport to Asia: Pad Thai & Honey Lemon chicken

            On today’s adventure, we’ll be taking a trip once again to the Asian continent to be exploring two of my favourite international dishes: Pad Thai & Honey Lemon chicken. 

            Pad thai is a popular fast food item here in North America thanks to fast food franchises like Thai express, but its origins are actually from Thailand as a popular street food. Honey Lemon chicken on the other hand is more of an american take on the traditional Chinease recipe for Lemon Chicken. 

            Both are super simple recipes as they require very few ingrediants, and are both cooking utensil efficient! Since it is afterall summer, nothing spells the season better than a color splash of veggies from the savory pad thai combined with the sweetness of the honey lemon chicken. Here’s how you can whip up your own batch: 

            Pad Thai

            Ingrediants: 

            • 1/2 cup red cabbage
            • 1/2 a yellow bell pepper , 1/2 a red bell pepper
            • 5-6 spears asparagus
            • A sprig of coriander
            • A handful of sesame seeds
            • 1 pkg of rice noodles
            • 1 carrot

            For sauce: 

            • 1/4 cup sesame oil
            • 2 tbsp peanut butter
            • 1/3 cup soya sauce
            • 1 tsp ginger, grated

              Instructions:

              1. Blend together all the ingrediants required for the pad thai sauce using a blender until smooth and set aside for later use.
              2. Next step is to chop up your vegetables: your red cabbage & bell peppers shouls both be julienned. Chop up your asparagus, and using a grater, shred your carrot.
              3. For enhancing the flavor of the vegetables, slightly cook the cabbage, asparagus and peppers in a medium sized pan, providing a slightly smoked taste that really contributes to the overal savory taste of the pad thai.
              4. Now for your rice noodles, boil the noodles for 4-5 min or as per package instructions. Becareful not to overcook the noodles as they will become sticky. Immediately transfer to a serving dish.
              5. Add the vegatables and lightly toss together. Add the pad thai sauce and fold together till combined. Top with some roasted sesame seeds and chopped coriander for garnish.

                Honey Lemon Chicken

                Ingrediants: 

                • 4-5 chicken breasts
                • 2 tbsp honey
                • 1 lemon, squeezed
                • 1 tsp oregano
                • 1 tsp salt

                Instructions

                1. Mix all ingrediants for your marinade sauce and set aside. Add a pinch of salt to your chicken before cooking. Keep the skin on, this will contribute to the overall crisp of the finished chicken.
                2. Set your oven to 450 degrees and broil the chicken on both sides for 15 min each.
                3. Once broiled, take half of your marinade sauce and brush over the chicken. Bake the chicken once more until a crisp golden brown colour. 
                4. Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove from the oven and dress with the remainder of the honey lemon sauce. Garnish as per taste and serve warm. 

                And there you have it! Two perfect asian flare summer recipes that’s perfect for any lunch or dinner occasion, pleasing to the tummy as it is to the eyes. These recipes are summer approved by yours truly- S. 

                Passport to South Asia- Srilankan Tamil Chicken Curry

                One aspect that brings together culture, is food. Whether it be the spices or the method of preparation, food is a cultural conversation.

                In such conversation is where I was introduced to cooking. There were no measuring cups or spoons, no recipie books, just a story on how to feed your family, passed from generation to generation. Conversations at holidays consisted of the women sharing their recipes with one another, “oh I use coconut milk” “really? I just add water”. Such was how I learned my own way through traditional cooking.

                One of the very first recipes I learned and often a staple curry in many South Asian families, is chicken curry. I would describe this as the beginner level curry of Srilankan cooking, because it’s that simple! Here is how:

                Ingrediants:

                • 1 lb chicken breast
                • 2-3 cardamom pods
                • 1/2 stick of cinnamon
                • 2 tsp chilli powder
                • 1/2 tsp curry powder
                • 2 yellow onions
                • 1/2 tsp cumin
                • 1 tbsp ginger paste
                • 2 stems of plucked curry leaves
                • 3-4 cloves of garlic
                • 1 tsp mustard seeds
                • water
                • 2 tbsp olive oil
                • 1 tsp salt
                • 1 tomato, chopped
                • 1 tbsp coconut milk

                Instructions:

                1. Clean your chicken breasts ensuring there is no skin left, and chop into cube-like chunks.
                2. Marinate your chicken with the ginger, garlic, and salt. While the chicken sets, chop your onions.
                3. Once the onions have been chopped and the chicken has been left to marinate for atleast 5 minutes, heat a large skillet on medium heat. Pour your olive oil, and once heated, add the chopped onions and stir until they reach a light golden brown color.
                4. Next, add your spices. Add the cumin, mustard seeds, cardamom pods, curry leaves. A minute later, you should hear a popping sound from the cumin needs, this indicates the spices are “opening up”, providing that deep flavour to the curry.
                5. Next, add the chopped tomatoes. Stir until combined.
                6. Add the chopped meat. Cover the meat with a lid and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
                7. Once cooked, add the curry poweder and chilli powder, ensuring the meat is well coated. Cook for another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
                8. Finally, add 1 cup of water to the curry, and 1 tbsp of coconut milk, to add some extra fragrance. Cover the curry once again, and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Removed from heat once cooked and serve warm.

                And there you have it! Once spicy side dish sure to please the senses. Approved by yours truly- S.

                Stove-top Chili

                I can not emphasize the importance of spices and the level of flavour it intensifies. Chili, or traditionally known as chili con carn, accomplishes just that. The modern day take on this dish, stove-top chilli, is no less of a crowd pleaser and is the perfect comfort food for those who can handle the heat. With just 45 minutes of prep time, its not too difficult to whip together on a weekday night either! Here’s how:

                Ingrediants:

                  • 1 pound ground beef
                  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
                  • 1 yellow onion
                  • 1 green pepper, chopped
                  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
                  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
                  • 2 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped
                  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
                  • 2 teaspoons cumin
                  • 1 teaspoon sugar
                  • 1 teaspoon oregano
                  • 1 teaspoon salt
                  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
                  • 1 cup water
                  • 1 tomato, diced
                  • 1 can tomato sauce
                  • 1 can kidney beans
                  • 1 can pinto beans
                  • shredded cheese or sour cream to top

                Instructions:

                1. In a large skillet, cook the ground meat over high heat until no longer pink, approximately 6 minutes. Set aside the cooked meat into a seperate bowl and drain any excess grease.
                2. To the same skillet previously used, add olive oil before adding the chopped onions, green pepper, garlic, parsley, and jalapeño peppers. Cook over medium heat until the onions have caramelized and fragrant, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chili powder, cumin, sugar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir until combined.
                3. Add the cooked meat back to the skillet. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, pinto beans, and kidney beans and bring the chilli to a boil by pouring 1 cup of water. Let the chili simmer for 30 minutes until it thickens.
                4. Remove from heat and serve warm, top with cheese and sour cream as per desire.

                And there you have it, one hot spicy bowl of stove top chili, ready to warm the senses. Approved by yours truley- S.