GNI Feature: Minted Cranberry & Pecan Quinoa salad!

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Just a little sweet but mostly fresh!

While many of us in Winnipeg (and elsewhere) are preparing for the fall season, I’m still planing to savor every bit that is left of summer. Over the next week, I’m hoping to wrap up the “girls night in” feature by sharing just a few more recipes. This particular quinoa salad is extremely simple to make and can easily be prepared the night before, allowing the flavors to mingle and marinade the quinoa. If you are hoping to prep this in advance, I highly suggest adding the pecans just before serving time.

Similar to when I shared the Almond Crusted Salmon recipe, this dish also makes use of an amazing sauce produced by my friend Peter Fehr of Gourmet Inspirations. I specifically used the Strawberry Balsamic with Basil sauce for this recipe and it added an extra richness and flavor to the end result. I don’t often source convenience food items, but when hosting calls for multitasking I’m all for local handcrafted food items that make little use of preservatives and this sauce fits the bill!

Okay, okay, enter drum-roll. The recipe below – and, a huge *thank you* to my friend Peter for contributing to my fun #gni!

Minted Quinoa & Cranberry Pecan Salad
 
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Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • Garnish: handful of mint, chopped
  • Dressing:
  • Juice from 1 whole lime
  • ⅓ cup Gourmet Inspirations "Strawberry Balsamic with Basil" sauce
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook quinoa as directed ensuring you've rinsed the quinoa beforehand (rinsing your quinoa is a must!) and allow it to cool.
  2. Mix in pecan halves, cranberries, raisins and mint. Set aside.
  3. To make the dressing: Juice lime and add strawberry sauce.
  4. Season with onion powder and black pepper.
  5. Add desired amount of dressing to salad. Dressing will keep in fridge for up to 1 month.

 Here’s a few more snippets of my “girls night in” — photos captured by the amazingly talented team at Samba Joy Photo & Art.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeCnC_Quinoa_Saucep.s. If you haven’t already checked it out, this is a short snippet of what my #gni looked like. Enjoy!

 

 

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

GNI Feature: Almond Crusted Salmon with Gourmet Inspirations

 

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Thanks to Gourmet Inspiration!

For the girls night in I hosted, I had my foodie friend Peter Fehr of Gourmet Inspirations help me serve up a few appetizers using his handmade finishing sauce, Strawberry Balsamic with Basil. Let me tell you, if anything was a hit that night, it was this baby right here. Perfectly cooked, crunchy and flavorful is exactly what this dish was. But, to be honest–I wouldn’t expect anything short of perfection from Peter. I’m excited for him to continue sharing his product with the world and wish him all the success (don’t worry, more to come with Peter in future posts)!

Salmon is loaded with a bounty of nutrients. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids it offer a TON of anti-inflammatory properties for our body. It also serves as a source of vitamin D and is an excellent choice for lean protein. There are so many ways to cook up salmon–you can grill it, poach it, pan-fry it, bake it or even steam it. For this recipe, we created a crunchy crust by processing almonds and submerging the salmon into it. I wouldn’t have had it any other way! For the purpose of serving this dish “appie style” we opted to slice the salmon into strips and just before serving, Peter arranged them beautifully into bite size pieces.

Thank you Peter for lending a hand, sharing your passion and getting us inspired. Recipe below: 
GNI Feature: Almond Crusted Salmon with Gourmet Inspiration
 
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Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 2 salmon filets, skinned
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • All purpose flour as needed (approx ½ cup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup sliced raw almonds (or slightly pulsed), spread on a shallow plate
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. Gourmet Inspirations’ Strawberry Balsamic with Basil Sauce
  • 2 fresh strawberries for garnish
Instructions
  1. Season salmon with salt and pepper
  2. Dredge one side of salmon in flour
  3. Dip that same side in the beaten egg
  4. Press salmon with sliced almonds (on the egg/floured side only)
  5. Flash fry in olive oil on a shallow pan, set to medium-high heat (approximately 2 minutes)
  6. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes or until salmon is cooked through
  7. Top salmon with strawberry balsamic sauce
  8. Garnish with a fresh sliced strawberry
Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

Visit http://gourmetinspirations.ca/ to find out how you can get your hand on this finishing sauce.

GNI_Salmon_peterGNI_Salmon_closeup

Photo credit goes to my friends at Samba Joy – Photo & Art. They-da-bomb!

p.s. If you haven’t already checked it out, this is a short snippet of what my #gni looked like. Enjoy!

 

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

GNI Feature: Jalapeno Spiced Hummus

Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

Perfectly spiked and ready to enjoy.

Today I’m thrilled to share the first of a recipe series from the girls-night-in (GNI) I hosted a few weeks back. The recipe below is for hummus which is often used as a spread or dip. The main ingredient is chickpeas and often most recipes contain tahini. Because tahini isn’t a staple in my home, I opted to create a hummus spread without it. The base of this recipe came from my glob-trotting, foodie-extraordinaire, yogi friend (also a fellow Dietitian), Allie of Balanced with Allie.  It’s the kind of recipe you can spike with multiple flavors: chilli, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic or caramelized onion–yum! The options are endless.

I’m particularly fond of hummus because unlike many commercial spreads and dips, it’s not loaded with starches, sodium, fat or cheap ingredients. It’s also a great way to incorporate more beans and legumes into your lifestyle if these aren’t foods you typically cook with. Not to mention, it’s super easy to put together. All you need is a blending device or an immersion blender! Hummus also freezes well – yaay for batch cooking!

Enjoy!

Jalapeno Spiced Hummus
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 15oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 - 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • paprika (optional)
  • cilantro (optional)
  • 1 pickled jalapeno
  • 1 - 2 tbsp picked jalapeno juice
Instructions
  1. Drain and rinse garbanzo beans.
  2. Combine all ingredients into food processor and blend until consistency is smooth.
  3. Add additional water or lemon juice as needed.
  4. Serve with veggies, pretzels, wholegrain crackers or use as a spread on wraps, sandwiches or even as a "pizza sauce" (yes, it's yummy)!

Oh, and just incase you missed the magical video that my friends at Samba Joy created for me, see below!

A few more photos, snapped by the talented Samba Joy

Carrots and Cake, Nita ShardaCarrots and Cake, Nita ShardaCarrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Spicy Honey Roasted Chickpeas

Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

Seasoned and roasted to perfection!

As you can likely tell from the few posts I’ve had since the birth of this blog, I’m a HUGE proponent of sourcing plant based foods as a source of protein. Where do I begin? Beans, legumes, lentils and nuts are packed with protein and heart healthy nutrients to keep your ticker in top shape!

This particular recipe for roasted chickpeas is ridiculously easy and incredibly tasty. What more do you want out of a recipe,  like really? If you’re new to beans, you can purchase them dry and boil until tender. Inspect your dried chickpeas before cooking, throwing out those that are shriveled or have broken skin. You might find some pebbles or twigs which can be discarded. For every cup of chickpeas, soak with 3 cups water. Chickpeas need to be soaked for at least four hours or preferably for 8 hours. To keep things easy, soak them overnight. Throw out the soaking water by putting chickpeas into a strainer and rinsing them well. This washes away the carbohydrates and sugars that cause gas. For more information on chickpeas, check out this article from Eat Right Ontario.

Or, you can easily find canned versions. If you’re going this route, be sure to rinse them thoroughly. Either way, ensure you allow enough time for the chickpeas to completely dry out, otherwise they may not roast nicely for this recipe.

I typically stash these in an airtight container in the fridge and nibble on the chickpeas a little bit at a time. Another way to enjoy this recipe is by tossing them onto a salad. They offer an added “kick” to any salad and a pretty awesome crunch.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spicy Honey Roasted Chickpeas
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 28oz can chickpeas
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp honey (or agave nectar)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Drain, rinse and dry the chickpeas. You can also use a salad spinner to help them dry a bit faster.
  3. Mix the cumin, paprika, garlic powder and black pepper into the oil. Stir honey into this mixture.
  4. Toss this dressing onto the chickpeas until evenly coated.
  5. Spread the chickpeas in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 30 to 40 minutes. Check up on your chickpeas every 10 minutes and roll them around with a spatula.
  6. And, enjoy!

 

Carrots and Cake, Nita ShardaCarrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

            – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Smashin’ Potatoes

 

Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

Smashed potatoes topped with Jalapeno Monterey Jack cheese

I’ve mentioned in a previous post, in our home we are not carb-phobics (intense fear of carbohydrates). Instead, we fully embrace carbohydrates as the primary source of energy for our body and brain.  In my practice I help misinformed clients understand the role of carbohydrates in a healthy diet and often spend time educating them on the wonderful benefits carbs offer. Typical carb foods can be rich in fibre, folate and iron.  You may even be surprised to know that 45 to 65 per cent of your daily calories should be coming from carbohydrate sources, especially if you’re an active person!

…we fully embrace carbohydrates as the primary source of energy for our body and brain…

Growing up, my primary “carb food” came in the form of an Indian flatbread known as roti. Other families may rely on rice, bread or potatoes as their main “carb” source. After living independently and being able to experiment in my own kitchen, I often gravitate towards whole grain breads, white and sweet potatoes, brown rice, soba noodles and whole grain pasta.

Onto the important stuff.

Here’s an easy peasy take on baby potatoes. Being a cheese lover, I decided to top these babies with Manitoba proud, Bothwell Cheese…the Cadillac of all cheeses (in my opinion).

Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

Smash (gently) prior to baking.

Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

Remember, purchasing local foods helps to sustain our economy and flourish our communities.

Smashin' Potatoes
 
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Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 1lb Baby Potatoes
  • 2 tsp Canola Oil
  • 1 tbsp salt free seasoning (Greek, Italian, plain parsley etc)
  • Dash of cracked black pepper
  • ⅓ cup grated cheese (optional, use dairy free if vegan)
Instructions
  1. Bring pot of water to boil. Add in potatoes, and cook until fork tender.
  2. Drain water from the potatoes and line on a baking sheet that has been drizzled with the oil.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Smash each potato using a potato masher, your hand or even a fork.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Top with cheese, bake for another 2 minutes.

        – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda