Roasted Butternut Squash Salad Bowl

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Who knew winter veggies could be so colourful?

Earlier this week on the blog we shared some tips on how keep things “fresh” when it comes to salads. If you missed that post, click here. This time around we’ve enlisted other veggie varieties to create a salad.

This time around I opted to roast butternut squash for a nutty flavour that just-so-happens to be pretty to look at. Butternut squash is particularly rich in beta-carotene which is what gives the flesh a bright orange colour.  In our body beta-carotene is tactfully converted to vitamin A. This under-rated nutrient imparts anti-cancer benefits, helps our immune system, acts as an anti-oxidant and helps to fight signs of aging (yes please!).

Side note: I actually use frozen pre-chopped butternut squash. Frozen produce is often priced well and the nutrient content is just the same. With our busy schedules I often don’t have the time (or strength) to cut through a squash. Now that’s a convenience food I’m down for. 

For the starch component I opted to use wheat berries. New to this grain? Actually, you’re not! Wheat berries are intact WHOLE-wheat kernels! That’s what your all-purpose and whole-wheat flour are milled from. Once cooked (basically you boil the crap out of them) they have a mild nutty flavour that most of us can enjoy. This whole grain is great in a salad because it has a chewy texture that holds it’s shape (aka it won’t get soggy on you). Because wheat berries go through  minimal processing they retain a lot of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants making it an A+ choice for your salad.

Side note: I got my hands on these beautiful wheat berries when I was at Canola Harvest Camp visiting a grain elevator. I made friends with a fellow farmer and she hooked me up with a stash. Score!

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Now in the last post we talked about how you should dress your salad. Here, I’m going to get you out of your comfort zone to make a creamy salad dressing using seeds. Yeah! Pumpkin seeds! The inspiration for this dressing came from a plant based blog My New Roots. The final product is a really interesting one – the dressing has a grittiness to it and tastes lovely on the bed of veggies. It won’t drizzle like a typical dressing so don’t be alarmed.

Okay, okay. Enough with the nutrition rant. Look below to learn more about how I assembled the salad:

Roasted Butternut Salad Bowl
 
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Ingredients
  • ½ cup wheat berries
  • Butternut squash, cubed (use as much as you would like)
  • Kale
  • Red cabbage, shredded thinly
  • White kidney beans or cannellini
  • Green onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 - 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ¾ water
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper
Instructions
  1. Rinse wheat berries under water to ensure they are clean.
  2. Bring 1¼ cup water to a boil on the stove. Add rinsed wheat berries to the boiling water and stir. Once water starts to boil again, turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. You know the wheat berries are done when they are soft.You'll have enough wheat berries for 2 - 3 servings.
  3. While your wheat berries are cooking toss your butternut squash with olive oil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees celsius or until they are cooked through.
  4. Massage 1 tsp of olive oil into your kale. This helps to soften the kale so it's not so tough.
  5. Once your wheat berries and squash are ready, assemble the remaining salad ingredients into a salad bowl (shredded cabbage, white kidney beans, kale and green onion). Add as much or as little of each ingredient as you wish (yup, you decide what and how much you want).
  6. For the dressing: toast pumpkin seeds in a non-stick pan over low heat for 10 - 12 minutes until they become fragrant. In a food processor blend: cooled pumpkin seeds, garlic, maple syrup, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and water. Season as desired with salt and black pepper.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake
This recipe was created with the help of Christy Lai, 4th Year Human Nutritional Sciences student. Follow Christy on Instagram, trust me, you’ll want to. Food photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Super Seedy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeHave you ever experienced that moment when you perfect the most incredible recipe? I have. It was a great feeling but one that certainly came with a lot of errors, epic-fails and me wracking my brain to problem solve. The issue was I kept getting a cookie that was too dense and too “hard”. After altering the recipe (five times) and most importantly decreasing the baking time, I got it. PS it totally pays to have friends like Jenn and Courtney who offer up baking advice! Here it is…the perfect Super. Seedy. Chocolate Chip. Cookie.

Oh and hey mama’s! You can send these little guys to you children’s school. It’s loaded with protein but it totally no-nut friendly!

What are some things that I love about this cookie?

  1. Vegan friendly. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Flax-water Replacement. Instead of using an egg to bind and moisten my cookie, I used a flax-water replacement. Yup, that’s right you can use 1 tbsp ground flax meal + 2.5 tbsp water to replace one egg. Voila!
  3. Seedy. Healthy and compact, seeds are amazingly nourishing. They often packed with  protein, fibre, iron, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. In this cookie I use: hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
  4. Sweet, but not too sweet. I originally started off this recipe using 1/2 cup each of sugar and brown sugar. Coupled with the chocolate chips, it was just way too sweet for me. I also knew that if I offered it to my niece with reduced sugar, she probably wouldn’t notice. So why bother? I reduced the sugar to 1/3 cup of white and brown sugar and it’s great.
  5. Healthy fats. I chose to use a plant-based fat, canola oil, for this recipe. There’a s few reasons why:
    • Canola oil is extremely neutral in taste. This means, the flavors from your ingredients are never masked.
    • I’m a prairie girl. Using canola oil means I’m supporting my local economy and most importantly our local family-farmers. Did you know, canola oil is 100% Canadian.
    • Canola oil is economical – yes, this Dietitian is on a budget!
    • Lastly, canola oil means more to me than it simply being a fat. Towards the end of my summer I was invited to join the Canola Eat Well team at Canola Camp. I learned a lot about the agriculture industry that I didn’t know about before. A few things: growing canola allows farmers to nourish their soil (it gives back nutrients), it sustains our bees that are often busy producing honey for us and provides livestock with high quality protein for their feed. Quite honestly canola is life-sustaining. I’m still working through my journal (and brain) to really articulate what my experiences were like at camp to share with you, so stay-tuned.
      • Recipe tip: did you know that when a recipe calls for a solid fat to be melted you can often use canola oil instead? This works easily for cakes and muffins. Use this conversion chart.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeIn the mean time, bake these cookies. Pour yourself a glass of milk.

Enjoy.

Super Seedy Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
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Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • 2 tbsp flax meal
  • 5 tbsp water
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp hot water
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup white flour
  • ½ cup large-flake rolled oats
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ⅓ cup chocolate chips (dairy free for vegan option)
  • ½ cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1 cup seeds or nuts (your choice; I do a mixture of sunflower seed, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Soak flax meal in water. Ensure you’ve mixed it thoroughly with a fork. Let it stand 5 minutes.
  3. In another small pinch bowl stir together baking soda in hot water. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl or in your stand mixer, combine canola oil, white sugar and brown sugar until well mixed.
  5. Add in your flax and water mixture. Stir to combine.
  6. Add in the baking soda and water mixture. Sitr to combine.
  7. In a separate bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients. Once thoroughly combined add this dry mixture to the wet ingredients. Give this all a whirl with your mixer or beater – be sure not to over-mix!
  8. Drop a spoonful of batter at a time onto a non-stick pan (I prefer to use parchment paper).
  9. With your fingers, lightly press the cookie-dough rounds so they are slightly flat (see photo above). These cookies wont run or expand much!
  10. Bake for 10 minutes (important: do not over bake).
  11. Makes approximaly 30 cookies.
Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Here’s your egg substitute made with flax meal and water!

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Please note all opinions in this post are my own. I have not received compensation for this post.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Chickpeas with Roasted Cumin Masala

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeHey, do you know what’s coming up? Diwali! November 11th marks the date for the “festival of lights,” which is celebrated all throughout India. Simply put, Diwali symbolizes the victory of light over dark, good over evil, and knowledge over darkness.

When our Lord Rama returned to his kingdom after defeating a demon, villagers lit oil lamps to welcome him home. On that same note, we celebrate Diwali by lighting candles, oil lamps and turning on household lights.

As a first-generation South Asian Canadian woman (what a mouthful!), I’m trying in my own way to develop our family tradition around this holiday. I have such fond memories of gathering around with my family listening to my mom recite a portion of the Ramayana (a Hindu scripture). If we were lucky, we would each get a small sparkler to dance around with.

Since I’m only starting to really experiment with Indian cooking as of late, I wanted to develop a recipe; something simple that I could make every year for Diwali for our family feast. So, you may ask, what did I come up with? Chickpeas with Roasted Cumin Masala! The magical ingredient in this recipe is the roasted cumin (how good does that sound?). It’s pretty easy to spend 15 – 30 minutes roasting a batch of cumin ahead of time, and this way you can incorporate it into other dishes.

How to become a cumin seeds roasting expert:

  1. In a nonstick pan add 1/3 cup of cumin seeds and roast at low-medium heat until they are a dark shade of brown and fragrant. It’s important to keep a watchful eye on your seeds to prevent them from burning. Tip: I find on my gas range it takes me about 15 – 20 minutes at a low setting to get the perfect roast.
  2. Immediately remove from heat and let it cool.
  3. Grind into fine powder using a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.
  4. This can be stored in an airtight container for several months.

Now, you may need to visit a local Indian grocer or head down the ethnic aisle at a large grocery store chain to find Chat Masala and Tamarind Sauce. I use Chat Masala in a number of other dishes; actually, my husband loves a sprinkle of this spice mixture over his pizza! Adding Tamarind Sauce is completely optional. It will add a sweet and tangy flavor to the dish. I tend to go without this sauce but you may very well prefer it!

Nita Sharda

Here are some step by step photos I included, you know, just to help ya’ll out!

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

Okay, okay. On to the recipe but first,

A very Happy Diwali to you and your family. 

Nita Sharda

If you’d like to send your friends or family a custom Happy Diwali card visit Evite to peruse through their beautiful selection of customized cards.When planning an event, Evite is a great way to get friends and family together and we all know: life’s better together!  To add, Evite is providing an exclusive offer for Carrots and Cake readers to send 15 free Premium Thank You cards.  Use promo code: NSTHANKYOU15  (good through 11/30/15).

Okay, okay. The recipe! 

 

Chickpeas with Roasted Cumin Masala
 
Prep time
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Serves: 4 - 5
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly into rings
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 19oz canned chickpeas, rinsed (preferably no added sodium)
  • 1 ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp each salt and black pepper
  • 1 - 3 tbsp ground roasted cumin (I prefer to use 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp chat masala
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp tamarind sauce or chutney (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a nonstick fry pan or wok, heat canola oil with cumin seeds and onion over low-medium heat.
  2. Cook onion rings for 5 – 7 minutes or so until they become soft and translucent.
  3. Add in garlic, chickpeas and remaining spices. Stir the mixture to ensure chickpeas are coated well. After another 5 minutes add in diced tomatoes and squeeze juice from ½ lemon into the mixture. Stir to combine.
  4. Cook mixture until tomatoes have softened (but not mushy), about three more minutes. At this stage you may add in tamarind sauce if it's available to you.
  5. Serve over rice, with naan or with roti.

Nita Sharda

A very Happy Diwali to you!

This post is part of a sponsored campaign on behalf of the South Asian Bloggers Network  for Evite and I have received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Cooking with Courtney: Indian Spiced Briyani

Birdseye Briyani_Full

Photographed by Courtney of The Fig Tree

 

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to cook with my friend and fellow Winnipeg-based food blogger, Courtney of The Fig Tree. For many years now, Courtney’s eating lifestyle has primarily been vegetarian; however, after struggling with some tummy ailments related to food she limits her dairy intake and is now stepping into a vegan lifestyle. We wanted to learn more about each other, network and of course, have some “girl time”. What better way to bond than by cooking together?

I met Courtney in her beautiful downtown loft and by the time I left, her home smelled divine. I decided to show Courtney some tricks of the trade when it comes to preparing Indian cuisine. I’m a huge fan of one-pot-meals (I mean, who isn’t?) so we opted to make biryani.

Being of Punjabi descent, my mom seldom prepared this dish. It’s not so common in that part of India. I was only exposed to the dish in my adulthood and I would primarily prepare it with chicken for my husband to enjoy. Well, Courtney put me up to the challenge of veganizing the dish. I came, I delivered and man was it good.

To make this a complete meal with adequate protein, I added cubes of pressed tofu. You can also add in edamame beans if that’s up your alley. As far as the rice, I have tried this briyani recipe  with brown basmati rice and the final product was mushy. I’ve also tried using a fifty percent ratio of brown and white basmati rice and the final product was much better. In the end, do what’s best for you. If I’m opting for total white rice, then I typically make an effort to load up on veggies to bump my fibre content.

If you’re interested in viewing the full recipe for Indian Spiced Briyani with Tofu, just click here. Drop a comment and let me know how it turned out for you.

To learn more about vegan lifestyle and nutrition components to be aware of, subscribe to The Fig Tree for my nutrition series.

Courtney, thanks again for inviting me into your home. xoxo.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

– With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

 

Black Bean Quinoa Stew

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Beautiful photo captured by a fan of Carrots and Cake. Thanks Sleepwell Bedding!

During these warm winter nights, it’s nice to snuggle into bed with a warm mug of stew. Typically, stews centre around a cut or type of meat. They are full of body, flavour and oober satisfying. Now, as a huge proponent of plant based proteins I’m asking you: would you ever try a meatless stew? If the the answer is YES, then boy, you’re in for a treat!

Winter. Warm. Cozy. Perfection. 

The quinoa stew is straight up not very pretty to look at. But heck, the flavours are amazing and it’s the kind of stew that doesn’t make you feel heavy. What more? It’s pretty much a one-pot-meal; this means no fussing over multiple dishes and skillets. Easy peasy. And, it’s great for freezing.

I enjoy serving this stew when we have house guests over. I assemble bowls that are full of fun toppings such as cheddar cheese, feta, green onions, tomato and avocados. Guests can top their bowl of stew with whatever they like; it’s always a hit.

Okay, okay, the recipe. See below!
Original recipe can be found here.

Black Bean Quinoa Stew
 
Prep time
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Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ⅔ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 - 14 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • ½ cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Toss in red pepper, cook for two minutes.
  2. Stir in garlic and quinoa and toast quinoa until slightly fragrant, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add broth, black beans, black pepper, cumin, and crushed red pepper. Add in tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in lime juice.
  4. Remove half the soup, and carefully purée in food processor or blender until smooth (another option may be to use an immersion blender for approx 15 seconds). I prefer to only blend a portion for more texture.
  5. Return to pan and heat 2 minutes. Divide among serving bowls and garnish with cheese and cilantro etc.

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

– With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Tropical Green Smoothie

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Delicious as part of a meal or a yummy snack!

Have you ever tried your hand at a “Green Smoothie?” I was a big skeptic, I mean, it’s green. But don’t let that prevent you from giving it a go; you may very well enjoy it as I did! Heck, it is even husband approved.

Why go green? Adding greens can help you meet your quota of fruits and veggies for the day. But beyond that, green veggies come loaded with additional water content, iron, and fibre; in fact, kale contains a bountiful amount of vitamin C. And, most importantly, you most likely won’t even taste the greens since other flavours usually take over.

This version of a green smoothie is perhaps my very favorite. When you live in Winnipeg, also affectionately known as “Winter-peg,” you sometimes crave a bit of paradise. And voila, this comes close! (Ok, maybe not exactly white-sandy-beaches-paradise, but it kinda sorta tastes like it!).

Tip: Blend your green smoothie in stages. This ensures your green smoothie will be “homogenous”. Blend up your leafy greens and liquid-base first, then you’re ready to add any remaining fruits or veggies.

For more smoothie tips and hacks, be sure visit my friend Jessica Penner’s blog post, here.

I added a few heaping spoonfuls of hemp hearts. These little guys have a nutty flavour and come loaded with protein, fibre and fat; the good kinda fat! And now, for the recipe; makes 2 – 3 portions and keeps well over several days. Enjoy as a meal replacement, a snack or as a post workout beverage.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Tropical Green Smoothie
 
Prep time
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Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 1 banana, fresh or frozen (should be ripe—frozen banana will make it more creamy)
  • 1 cup pineapple, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup mango, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cups water (you can also use milk or your favorite milk alternative)
  • 2 cups packed spinach/kale
  • ½ - 1 scoop of your favourite protein powder *optional
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 4 tbsp hemp hearts/seeds
Instructions
  1. Blend your chosen green leaves with the water. Liquify for a few seconds until the leaves have emulsified into the water.
  2. This is a good time to blend in your protein if you decide to add some.
  3. Blend remaining ingredients until smooth.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Spot the heart?

– With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda