The Better Broccoli Salad

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeAs per the title of this blog post, the feature vegetable in this summer salad is none other than the broccoli. Growing up we typically only enjoyed broccoli when it was cooked into saag which is a giant mush (I’m not joking) of cooked down onion, spinach, broccoli and an array of spices. Now, I have fun using broccoli in stir fry’s, roasted, dunked into a ranch dip and of course, all dressed up in a Greek yogurt dressing.

I’m sure you’ve tried a few versions of this recipe. But I really think you should make my recipe your go-to for summer potlucks, dinners or even enjoy this salad as a snack. Along with broccoli, this salad also includes a juicy apple, red onion, carrot sticks,  cranberry and pumpkin seeds. Feel free to swap out ingredients and change the quantities as you wish. The “OG” version of recipe usually calls for copious amounts of mayo and sometime bacon. THIS version is laced with a high protein dressing courtesy of Greek yogurt.Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Arrrrrright, let’s move onto what you’re really here for

The recipe.

The Better Broccoli Salad
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 3 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 1 Gala apple, chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup grated or julienne carrots
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped SqueaK'rs, cheddar (or grated)
  • Dressing
  • ¾ cup 2% M.F. Greek yogurt
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Pink of paprika
Instructions
  1. Place all prepared veggies, apple, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and cheese into a bowl. Toss together.
  2. To prepare the dressing stir together Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, honey, lemon, salt, pepper and paprika.
  3. Pour the dressing (only half at a time) over the salad, ensuring the veggies are well coated. Let the salad sit in the fridge for 20 minutes to soften the broccoli. Add more dressing if desired.
  4. Serve and enjoy!
Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeFood photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Egg Noodle Bake

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeOh haaaayyyy. Yes, that’s a casserole dish full of carbs and yes, I am a Registered Dietitian who developed this recipe. I’ve said it before: don’t be afraid of carbohydrates! This recipe features a classic egg noodle. Because it’s difficult to trace down a wholewheat version of this popular noodle I decided to embrace it’s “white version”. Knowing it would be lower in fibre, I quickly decided that I could:

  1. Add fibre to the overall dish by loading up with veggies, and,
  2. Add split red lentils to not only boost protein but to also amp up my fibre intake

The result: an all-in-one dish that packs a ton of flavour, lasts for dayssss (*hello freezer*) and can be enjoyed by the entire family. The protein content in here is also one to be admired – cottage cheese is always such an underrated food. But in our house, I can eat a heaping bowl of it as a snack or as part of my breakfast. One cup of this stuff contains about 30 grams of protein. HOLY MOLY!

This is also the type of recipe you can adapt. For example, if mushrooms aren’t your jam then add in celery instead! Or if you’re craving more bell peppers because they’ll be in season soon, then add more! You can’t go wrong. Except…if you add zucchini, it will be very liquidy (that’s just the nature of zucchini). There is even flexibility in the type of protein you choose. I opted for some local Manitoba Chicken but you could use a lean ground pork or beef if you wanted. Even TVP would work well (although I haven’t tried that).

Let me tease you with one more photo before sharing the recipe…(and yes, that’s Bothwell Cheese for the win, duh).

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

5.0 from 1 reviews
Egg Noodle Bake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 lb ground meat (lean beef, turkey or chicken)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups mushroom, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ½ cup red split lentils
  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1½ cup cottage cheese
  • ¾ cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 packgage egg noodles (about 8oz)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. Brown your selected meat in a large skillet. Drain fat and then set aside on a plate.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp canola oil in the same skillet and sauté onions. Once onions are slightly translucent, add in mushrooms, red pepper and garlic. Continue to cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender.
  5. Then add in meat, tomato sauce, broth and red split lentils. Add in your spices: salt, pepper, parsley and oregano. Feel free to add in any other spices you'd like such as red chilli flakes for some heat!
  6. Let this mixture simmer for about 15 minutes over low heat, or until red lentils are cooked through.
  7. Meanwhile, place your drained egg noodles into a large casserole dish. Mix in cottage cheese.
  8. Top noodles with the meat and vegetable mixture and mix well to ensure the noodles are well coated.
  9. Top with grated cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake
Food photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

The Whole Grain and Nothing But the Grain (Part 2: Free Gluten)

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeA couple of posts back we talked about the goodness of whole grains and why grain-excluding diets aren’t so great after all. Today we’re going to shift your focus and delve into the increasingly popular gluten-free diet trend that has everyone going cross-eyed with confusion.

WHAT ON EARTH IS GLUTEN?

Well, I guess clarifying things would help. Let’s pause. Contrary to popular belief (thanks to loads and loads of marketing and misinformation) it is not some horrifyingly fattening, health-impeding substance that will cause you to drop dead. Gluten is a protein found in the center (endosperm) of wheat, barley, and rye. Physically speaking, it helps the grain maintain it’s shape and elasticity when used in baking or cooking.

NOT FOR EVERYONE

As wonderful as whole grains are (as previously established here), there are a few instances where they are not well tolerated. Celiac disease for example is an auto-immune disorder that affects 1% of the Canadian population. With this condition, gluten proteins are not digested or absorbed, leading to some pretty unpleasant symptoms and in severe cases, anaphylactic shock – yikes! Remember, in Celiac Disease there is an immune response.

To make matters more confusing we are also noticing a number of folks struggling with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Symptoms are similar to those of celiac disease but luckily the overall clinical picture is less severe. Folks with a non-celiac gluten sensitivity don’t experience an immune response per se, but they may feel groggy, bloated, experience pain, headaches etc when gluten is ingested. In these cases it is always best to STAY CLEAR of wheat.

If you suspect you have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, contact a physician or Registered Dietitian to get some help.

1BlackBeanBrownies_squares

Gluten free brownies.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Gluten containing yummy mac and cheese (veggified of course!).

BUYER BEWARE: GLUTEN-FREE vs HEALTHY

As the incidence of celiac disease increases, more and more gluten-free products are constantly becoming available on supermarket shelves. With this shift in the market, gluten-free products have been promoted as “healthy” or “trendy”, which is confusing to the average consumer. Note to self: the words “gluten-free” in bold on a package is not code for healthy. Gluten-free products when refined (ex. white rice crackers) can be just as harmful as the refined, gluten-containing grains described in the previous post.

For those who have trouble tolerating gluten, I recommend experimenting with gluten-free options such as amaranth, buckwheat, uncontaminated oats, quinoa or brown rice pasta to create healthy snacks and meals at home.

BUT IF I GO GLUTEN-FREE, I’LL LOSE WEIGHT RIGHT?

Think of it this way: when a person with celiac disease is properly diagnosed and begins a prescribed gluten-free diet, they may in fact gain weight since the malabsorption that was once happening subsides and they are better equipped to absorb the nutrients and calories they have been consuming. You heard me right! – gluten-free diets were actually intended for people to maintain their ideal weight, sometimes meaning weight gain.

Whether or not you lose weight on a gluten-free diet all depends on how you go gluten-free. Giving the boot to gluten-containing refined grains like white-flour bagels, pasta, and crackers, and processed snacks will definitely be an effective weight loss method if you are replacing them with wholesome, high fiber alternatives. However, if these gluten rich foods are replaced by hyper-processed gluten-free products weight loss isn’t a guarantee. Besides, it never truly is.

FREE GLUTEN

The stigma surrounding gluten deserves to be squashed! Consider how silly this sounds: “My friend is allergic to peanuts – therefore they must be terrible for my health and I must give them up immediately!” That would never fly in one million years – so why would we apply this mentality with gluten? (on a side note: you would have to pry the jar of PB out of my cold dead hands before I would give it up).

The takeaway:

whole grain, gluten-containing foods are absolutely A-OKAY in our books. Unless you have been properly diagnosed with an allergy or intolerance keep munching on whole-grain goodness!

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

That’s Ceone rocking some gluten love.

If you’re not in a rush to leave this blog page, check out this video by Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy is notorious for his comedic ways, pranks and well, making us laugh a little more in our day. Enjoy.

Food photography and blog post written/captured by a talented student volunteer, Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Chia Seed Pudding

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeOh, hello! Welcome back – I hope you enjoyed learning about whole grains on our last post. We’re going to take a break from nutrition education and share this uber simple recipe with ya’ll. You’ve previously seen me use and talk about the health benefits of chia seeds, like when I showcased my version of a 5 Ingridient Berry Sauce. When I heard my food friends talk about chia seed pudding, I was totally hooked and needed to give it a try.

Here’s what I love in particular about this recipe:

  • calls for only 5 ingridients
  • offers up 10 grams of fibre
  • source of calcium
  • source of protein
  • allows for customization
  • naturally gluten free
  • no cooking, just stirring

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeOkay, I think you’re sold.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chia Seed Pudding
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 2 - 3
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup chia seeds (black or white)
  • 1½ cups milk (dairy or dairy free)
  • 2 tbsp runny honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extra
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into a bowl. Mix very, very, very well and cover with saran wrap.
  2. Place bowl into the fridge for thirty minutes. Stir again.
  3. Return back to the fridge for at least another 2 - 3 hours. The result is a thick pudding similar to rice pudding.
  4. Top with additional fruit if you wish. I love it with tart raspberries, mango or kiwi.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake
Food photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

The Whole Grain and nothing but the Grain (Part 1)

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeAs soon as you type the word “diet” into your preferred internet search-engine, you’ll probably be met with results like “gluten-free,” “low-carb,” or “cutting out wheat for weight loss.” This grain-free diet trend has become increasingly popular, compliments of endorsements by many celebrities and Instagram stars. But before you write off grains for good, take a look at some of the top reasons we love whole grains, and why they’re essential to your health.

SO…. WHAT IS A WHOLE GRAIN?

What makes a whole grain whole? Well, really ALL grains start out as “whole.” The harvested seed is made up of three edible parts: the bran, germ, and endosperm.

  • The bran is the darker coloured, outer skin of the seed, which is where most of the antioxidants, B-vitamins, and fiber is stored.
  • The germ is the center embryo of the seed, which stores B-vitamins, but also protein, minerals, and healthy fat.
  • Lastly the endosperm, which is the largest portion of the seed, contains starchy carbohydrates, protein, and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.

When whole grains are refined, the bran and the germ are kicked to the curb, leaving all those wonderful and healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber behind. Whole grains are not refined, and because of that all parts of the seed are included in the final (healthy) product. Remember, you don’t want to go grain-free, you want to go whole grain.

THE GOOD STUFF

Clearly, those un-refined whole grains have got a lot of good things going on. Here are a few of the amazing benefits of whole grains:

  • Dietary fiber helps you feel fuller, faster, and longer. It also aids in digestion and promotes gut health. Fiber is found only in plant sources (nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), and grain fiber specifically has been shown to be protective against digestive cancers even more so than other forms of fiber. Beta-glucan, found in high concentration in both oats and barley, has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels remarkably. Personally, we love starting our day with a big bowl of oatmeal and fruit – which honestly keeps us feeling satisfied all the way until lunch.
  • B vitamins are metabolic champions which you need, in order to make use of all those other amazing super-powered nutrients you are consuming. These power house vitamins ensure that the food you consume is utilized and absorbed to the full extent so you can get the most out of your daily nutrient consumption! They also maintain healthy skin, hair, muscles, form red blood cells, and promote healthy immune & nervous system function – kind of incredible, right?
  • Minerals – such as zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium, and iron are abundant in whole grains. Collectively, these compounds have the power to boost your immune system, regulate metabolism, reduce blood pressure, and keep your skin & hair looking healthy!

The moral of this story: whole grains keep you looking and feeling like the total 10 you are.

kjkj
Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

HIGH QUALITY VERSUS LOW QUALITY GRAIN

So, after reading that first section, it’s probably clear to you that not all grain products are created equal in terms of nutrient value. It’s important to choose the right grain products in order to get all those wonderful benefits described above. Refined grains, which is the bulk of what people consume today since they’re the bulk of what’s stocked on market shelves, have been linked to obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes – whoa! Just about the exact opposite effect of whole grains. That can feel overwhelming, but here’s something to hold on to: little changes in your diet can make a huge difference. (psst, looking to make smart goals, click here). Look for the words “whole wheat flour” or “100% whole grains” as opposed to “enriched wheat flour” or “wheat flour” on the ingredient lists of your favourite grain products. Or, even better, opt to make more snacks and meals at home ahead of time with a healthy whole grain flour (try whole-wheat flour, oat flour, buckwheat, or spelt). And hey! Bake these super seedy chocolate chip cookies made with whole wheat flour, you won’t regret it I promise!

Drumroll please…. a few of my favourite whole, unrefined grain swaps are:

  • Overnight oats as a replacement for boxed breakfast-cereal (get the recipe here)
  • Quinoa or brown rice noodles as a replacement for white rice in stir-fry or soup
  • 100% whole wheat wraps to replace refined, white flour sandwich bread
  • Whole-wheat or oat flour to replace white flour in baking (replacing even half is a great way to start)

It is important to note that a lot of whole grain products on the grocery shelf today get a bad rep for being “unhealthy” due to some of the other ingredients included in their making. For instance, certain brands of 100% whole wheat bread, crackers, or pre-packaged snacks may also contain high levels of sodium, sugar, or additives which are admittedly not so great. Because of this, often the whole grains themselves take the blame. The best way to avoid some of those unhealthy extras is to incorporate unprocessed whole grains into cooking or baking at home and get familiar with reading nutrition labels.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

TO SUM IT ALL UP

Whole grains are the BOMB! (The capitalization is totally needed, I promise!). Whole grains are jam-packed with nutrients, energy, and overall deliciousness, so they make a great addition to just about anyone’s diet. Now that you’ve received a brief grain education (you are hereby granted your diploma in grain education!) you are ready to navigate the grocery store and pick out some seriously nutritious whole grains! Go forth, be adventurous, and enjoy adding those amazing whole grains into your life!

Food photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

No Bake Granola Bar

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeI love a good granola bar. It’s basically like having portable nutrition in your hand! Mind you, a good quality product can often be hard to spot. Most large-chain grocers have entire aisles dedicated to this iconic food item. The tough part is distinguishing which one truly is a granola bar versus which one is…well..basically a chocolate bar.

Tips to sourcing a quality granola bar:

  • When I’m on the hunt for a bar I try to look for something that has less than 8 – 9 grams of sugar and offers me up at least 3 grams of fibre.
  • Protein is another POWERHOUSE nutrient that I scout for. If you’re looking for a nut-free product, it will be difficult to find a protein bar with more than 2 grams of protein. Otherwise, if nuts are your thang, you’ll likely have no trouble finding something that can offer you atleast 4 – 5 grams of protein.
  • Look at the ingredient list and find something that is 100% whole grain.
  • Avoid granola bars that are chocolate or yogurt covered. These bars can have upwards of 3 teaspoons of sugar in a small serving.

Or HAYYYYYYhow about making your own?

When I have a bit of extra time on my hands, I take pleasure in being able to make my own granola bars that I can snack on. The ingredients in this recipe (adapted from Cookspiration) include all the foods I enjoy eating as snacks: dates, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts are the super heroes behind this bar. Seriously, you’ll feel so good after making them, eating them…and maybe even sharing them. You’ll notice – the recipe doesn’t call for any refined sugar. The sweetness is brought to you naturally from the dates and honey. Don’t cha love nature?
Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and CakeOkay, recipe deets below:

5.0 from 1 reviews
No Bake Granola Bar
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cup All Bran Flakes cereal (I used PC brand from Superstore)
  • 1 ½ cup large flake oats
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup hemp hearts
  • 1 cup dates (about 12 - 15 dates)
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup for vegan option
  • ⅓ cup almond or peanut-butter
Instructions
  1. In a large nonstick skillet, toast oats, walnuts and pumpkin seeds over medium heat, stirring often for about 8 minutes or until light golden and fragrant. You'll even hear the pumpkin seeds "pop".
  2. Pour this mixture into a large bowl and let cool slightly; stir in bran flakes and hemp hearts.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse dates until finely chopped. For me, it rolls into one giant blob.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat together honey and almond butter over medium low heat until melted and smooth. Add dates and stir to combine.
  5. Pour into oat mixture and stir together until dates are distributed evenly throughout and oats are coated well.
  6. Press mixture into 23 cm (9 inch) parchment or foil lined baking pan and press to flatten evenly (warning: don't place it on a pan that's too big - you want the mixture to be "tight").
  7. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until firm. Cut into bars and wrap individually with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for longer.
No Bake Granola Bar_Stacked

STACKS ON STACKS OVER HERE!!

For more granola bar inspiration, here are a few ideas from my personal food friends:

Food photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Overnight Oats

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeI’m all about making sure we’re eating a variety of whole grains in this house. Sometimes without knowing it, we get stuck in a rut and stick to one primary grain (wheat, and by the way: there is nothing wrong with that). Consequently, we don’t get a chance to enjoy the wonder and benefits other grains have to offer us.

Oats. I LOVE OATS. a) they are hella cheap  b) they are super versatile  c) they are easy to cook  d) you can enjoy them sweet, savory, warm or cold!  e) for folks who are sensitive to gluten, they can enjoy certified gluten free oats. What more do ya want from a grain?

Want the nutrition jiffy on oats?

  • They are whole grain! Health Canada recommends that 50% of your grains should be whole grain; we know people who eat whole grains have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and digestive disorders.
  • They are rich in soluble fibre; this type of fibre helps improve blood cholesterol and can help manage blood sugar levels too.
  • A half cup serving (dry, large flake oats) offers up nearly 8 grams of protein.
  • They are a source of B vitamins, iron and vitamin E.

Why overnight oats?

It’s great for people who require a quick grab n’ go style breakfast; maybe you’re someone who prefers to enjoy breakfast at work or are too busy preparing breakfast for your little ones. This is a great alternative!

Mornings can be rough for some of us so overnight oats take the prep-work out in the morning. You can prepare a few batches to last you throughout the week.

Overnight oats are incredibly versatile. You can change the proportion of milk/yogurt/oats as needed to suit your needs.

In general, you’re getting a great source of protein, carbohydrate, fat if you add some nuts/seeds and fruit. These components make it a complete and balanced meal.

It’s a nice change from your typical bowl of hot oatmeal.

Variations: 

  • Top it with my 5 Ingredient Berry Sauce, bananas, shredded coconut, apples, canned peaches or any other favorite fruit.
  • Switch up the milk from a dairy milk, nut milk or soy milk.
  • Add nuts and seeds for extra protein such as pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds or toasted hazelnuts. My friend Chantal of Nutty for Nutrition loves adding chia seed to her concoction, just make sure add extra moisture if you go this route because chia seeds love to suck up liquid!
  • Feel free to use your favorite sweetener such as brown sugar, maple syrup, honey or stevia if that’s what you fancy.

Nita sharda, Carrots and Cake

Overnight Oats
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • ½ cup rolled oats (large flake)
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ - ⅓ cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp flax seed
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Drizzle of maple syrup, honey or your preferred sweetener
  • Fruit
Instructions
  1. Place oats, milk, yogurt, flax seed, cinnamon and sweetener into a Tupperware, mason jar or cereal bowl. Stir until smooth.
  2. Top with your choice of fruit. Leave overnight.
  3. The next day, enjoy it cold or feel free to nuke it in the microwave for 20 seconds! If it's a little too thick for you add a dash of milk or water until you've got your desired consistency.

Nita sharda, Carrots and CakeFood photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Happy Birthday Carrots and Cake + Poppy Seed Biscuit

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeWoah. How did that happen? Today marks the second birthday for Carrots and Cake Balanced Nutrition Consulting. What was supposed to initially be a “lets try to see five clients per month” kinda gig has turned into visiting with at least twenty clients monthly, blogging, recipe development, writing for cool food producers and as of late, mentoring Nutritional Science students that are hoping to get their feet wet in the dietetic industry. By the way, all of this on top of a nearly full time job in an area of clinical practice I love.

A very sincere thank you to all of my friends, readers, clients and colleagues who continue to support me through my growth. When I gave birth to Carrots and Cake it was all very organic. I never felt like anything was being forced into place – there really was no financial goal, strategic plan or real incentive other than to connect with people, about food.

I remember last year when I celebrated Carrots and Cake’s first birthday I showcased this Carrot and Pineapple Loaf. And then, I celebrated some more with these yummy Carrot Oatmeal Cookies. The sweetest was coming into work and my colleague had prepared some of these goodies for me and our team to enjoy.

Needless to say, I am SO looking forward to what 2016 has in store for me.

Here’s what happened over the last twelve months:

  • I moved from a condo into our home (that has a great big island, yaaaaassss)
  • Got a Vitamix…that’s a big deal, right?
  • Joined a Women’s in Business group  made up of fine business women in Winnipeg
  • Completed several Women and Weights classes via good friend, RD extraordinaire and Personal Trainer, Chinwe – so basically, I’m way stronger than last year
  • I partnered with some awesome food industry folks like Bothwell Cheese which allows me an opportunity to write more often, something I love to do
  • I learned and helped my food loving friend, Getty Stewart can some tomatoes
  • Completed my second Manitoba Marathon Relay while the hubs added a second half marathon to his list
  • I went on an amazing #CanolaConnect Harvest Camp with the lovely folks of Canola, Eat Well
  • On the same note, I also had a chance to attend a Grow Canada conference c/o #CanolaConnect – picture this: being only meters away from Clara Hughes and former LGen Romeo Dallaire – MIND BLOWN
  • Went through a lot of professional struggles at work, but came out stronger than I ever thought I was
  • Took on two student volunteers to help with content creation, recipe development and photography
  • As of LAST NIGHT, my sister (many of you might know her as Myuz Artistry) gave birth to a sweet baby boy AND my other sister is expecting her first babe
  • On that note, I officially have baby fever

Okay, okay. I know why you’re ALL really here, it’s for this SUPER DUPER amazing recipe for Poppy Seed Biscuits. This recipe hails from somewhere…I just can’t remember where. It’s the kind I just wrote down with pencil and pen after trying them at a friends house years ago when I live in B.C.. The recipe stuck with me.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

These biscuits are on the slightly sweet side, but still pair well with soup. I think they make a great snack for a girls afternoon or act as a lovely addition to a large green salad. You’ll see below, I paired it with my 5 Ingredient Berry Sauce which ended up being the perfect marriage.

Okay, recipe taymeee.

Poppy Seed Biscuits
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 18 - 24
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup cold butter, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Instructions
  1. Line a large baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper and preheat oven to 425.
  2. In a large bowl stir together dry ingredients until well combined.
  3. Add in butter. Using a pastry blender or two forks cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Eventually, you'll have a texture that resemble coarse crumbs.
  4. Add buttermilk. Stir the mixture to moisten and create a sticky dough.
  5. Drop a handful of flour onto a clean surface and knead the dough about 10 times.
  6. Roll out the dough or using your hands pat it into a ½" thick round.
  7. Using a 2" biscuit cutter cut out as many rounds as you can. Place on a baking sheet. Gently form scraps into a ball, flatten and cut out more biscuit rounds. Repeat if needed.
  8. Bake biscuits for 12 - 15 minutes. Biscuits shouldn't be too brown! Remove from baking sheet and onto a cooling wrack.
  9. Best when served warm.

Biscuits lined upBiscuit_with jar of spreadBiscuit with Spread
Food photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

5 Ingredient Berry Sauce

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeI remember the first time I made a berry sauce. It was for a brunch I was hosting and waffles were on the menu. It was some random recipe that Mr. Google found for me. It called for 1 cup of juice and 1 cup of sugar for only two cups of berries. Jesse whiz, that is A LOT of sugar. What’s a Dietitian/Food Nerd to do?

Develop her own recipe! 

I prepare this berry sauce quite regularly for our meal-prep line up. It’s extremely low maintenance and the recipe is pretty darn easy to memorize. There are so many uses for this sauce, here’s what I’ve tried so far:

  • Great in smoothies
  • Lovely on top of plain yogurt
  • Fabulous over pancakes or waffles
  • Yummy on warm or cold oats
  • Genius as a jam on toast or biscuits

The recipe uses a super cool ingredient that might be new to you. It’s chia seeds! You can find these little guys at any bulk store and they can also be spotted in the “health food” aisle of many large-chain stores. Chia seeds harness a lot of nutrition, offering up some omega-3 power, fibre, calcium and a wee-bit of protein too. Chia seeds are crucial for this recipe as they suck up (literally) moisture from the concoction, leaving you with a nice saucy texture. I promise you’ll love it.

Recipe taymeee.Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

5.0 from 1 reviews
5 Ingredient Berry Sauce
 
Prep time
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Ingredients
  • 3 cups frozen berries, mixed variety
  • ½ cup 100% orange juice or water
  • 2 tbsp maple sryup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp chia seed
Instructions
  1. Place frozen berries into a medium sized pot. Add in orange juice or water.
  2. Turn heat to medium and bring mixture to a gentle simmer. When this happens, using a potato masher muddle the berries to a desired consistency. I prefer to leave mine a little chunky, but to each their own!
  3. Next, add in maple syrup and vanilla. Stir to combine.
  4. Remove pot from heat and add in chia seeds.
  5. Stir and wait about 20 minutes. The mixture will begin to thicken.
  6. Store in a mason jar or tupperware for one week, refrigerated.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake
Food photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Veggie-filled Mac and Cheese

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeDon’t get upset! I know what you’re thinking “why did this Dietitian take my favorite comfort food and add veggies and then butcher it with lentils?”! I realize fully that mac and cheese is all things comforting and nostalgic for many of us. Having said that, most of use could do with a bit more veggies in our life and in honour of The International Year of the Pulse, it only made sense.

The truth is, I love a good mac and cheese. You know, the kind you get at restaurants with the crispy topping. Oh, and when it has bacon, even better. Unfortunately, on almost all occasions, these variations of mac and cheese left me feeling like I had just eaten a treat. So, I wanted to create a wholesome recipe that I could enjoy and feel good about eating throughout the week. You feel me?

I remember the first time I made this recipe. My husband scratched his head and said, “babe, there is something more gritty in the texture”. I smiled and told him it was the lentils. He shrugged, grabbed a second serving and called it great. What a keeper. So yes, you should expect a slight change in the texture you’re used to, but the taste shouldn’t be all too different.

If you need to take baby steps. Maybe try the recipe with just onion and lentils. Or, just veggies. It’s your body, you’re the boss. 

I tripple-tried this recipe before deciding to have it photographed and placed on the blog. But, it fits. It truly does. Here’s what I love about this version of mac n’ cheese:

  • It uses 2% Evaporated Milk to give it the creaminess you want. It’s made by removing water from fresh milk and then heating it. Heating the milk gives it the creamy, slightly cooked taste and darker colour. It’s a source of protein, calcium and Vitamin D!
  • It includes approximately 3 cups of veggies which mean you could really add more, or less. One time I added cauliflower! Another time I opted to use mushrooms.
  • The lentils help to increase the protein and fibre content of the entire recipe, making it a one-pot-meal kinda deal.
  • You can spice it up as you wish. I keep it simple but you could also add some basil or parsley if you fancy.
  • Lastly, it’s freezer friendly and great to pull out on those day’s you might be extra crazy busy and don’t want to compromise on your nutrition. Simply place it in the oven and bake until everything is heated through and your cheese is bubbly.

I drew inspiration for this recipe from The Lean Green Bean and the Eat Shrink and Be Merry gals. Check out their versions if you wish.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Okay, recipe taymeeee.

Mac and Cheese with Lentils
 
Prep time
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Serves: 6 - 8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup elbow pasta
  • ¾ cup red lentils, uncooked
  • 2 tbsp canola oil or butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • 1 cup spinach, thinly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 can (370mL) Evaporated Milk (I used 2% MF)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook elbow pasta according to package directions, until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. Cook red lentils according to package directions. Once lentils are cooked through, set aside.
  4. In a separate large pot, heat butter or canola oil. Add in onion and cook until translucent.
  5. Once onion is cooked through, add in remaining vegetables, garlic and spices. Saute for 10 - 15 minutes until vegetables are softened. I prefer to add my spinach last as it requires very little heat.
  6. Sprinkle vegetables with flour, ensuring the mixture is well coated.
  7. Add evaporated milk and ¾ cup of cheese, leaving some cheese for the last step.
  8. Add in cooked pasta and lentils to the vegetable mixture and combine thoroughly.
  9. Place mixture in a 9 x 13 dish, or two 8 x 8 dishes. Top with remaining cheese.
  10. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake
Food photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda