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

 

 

 

GNI Feature: Easy, Fancy, Grown Up (but not really) Party Snack Ideas

 

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Pretty spices.

This post will mark the finale of the Girls Night In feature that was running on the Carrots and Cake blog over the past few weeks. As we bid farewell to what was a short but sweet summer, I’m hoping I can look forward to the fall season with open arms and that I can introduce you to some of my favorite fall recipes.

If you’ve ever hosted a girls night or any form of entertaining you know that multitasking is a skill you’ll need to really hone in on. Preparing in advance will save you from feeling overwhelmed and what I want to talk to you about is selecting a few quick n’ easy munchies that you can whip up in minutes!

The Cheese Plate

Putting together a cheese plate takes very little time and effort. It’s a great way to serve a dairy product in a sophisticated way for guests to enjoy or nibble on while the rest of your items are getting prepped. Cheese often gets a bad rap for its high fat content but people forget how rich it can be in nutrients like calcium, vitamin B12 and protein. For my girls night, I served up a variety of cheeses generously donated by Bothwell Cheese – the finest cheese makers in Manitoba! I take great pleasure in sourcing local food products. My favorite is the classic marble cheese but when I’m feeling adventurous I enjoy snacking on the Jalapeno Pepper Jack

I often pair my cheese plate with whole grain crackers such as Mary’s Gone crackers but you can also utilize a crusty baguette, raisin bread, sourdough or pumpernickel. Just remember the idea is not to overwhelm the taste of the cheese – check out the Dairy Goodness site for more information on entertaining with cheese. It’s also fun to pair cheese plates with pickles, roasted garlic, dark chocolate, nuts and dried fruit. What’s your favorite way to enjoy cheese?

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Thanks again Bothwell Cheese.

Parmesan Popcorn 

Popcorn isn’t just for the movies–you can pop a modest portion and top it with unique ingredients to create fun flavours. I’m a big believer that popcorn is the most versatile food out there. Popcorn is a totally unprocessed whole grain that also contains fibre. You can enjoy it sweet or savoury. Nix the pre-packaged microwave, store-bought, and movie theater varieties which are usually laced with a ton of additives, fat and salt. Instead, air-pop a handful of kernels in a dab of fat such as butter, olive oil or even coconut oil. The Food Network has an easy microwave method if that’s the route you’d like to take or you can pop it on the stovetop.

I had a guest who brought over a super-duper-awesome popcorn maker which made it really easy to prepare popcorn. It’s not necessary to buy a fancy popcorn maker but if you’re interested, they can be purchased for extremely affordable prices, usually less than $20.00. I packaged the popcorn into cute little sandwhich bags and topped the mixture with cayenne pepper and Bothwell Cheese Smoked Parmesan.

As far as toppings, here are a few that I personally enjoy, but the list could be endless:

  • Nutritional yeast
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cinnamon + Vanilla extract
  • Garlic powder
  • Parmesan Cheese

CnC_gni popcorn Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

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: 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
 
Prep time
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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: 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
 
Prep time
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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

The Everything Granola

Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

All things good, right here.

Yes, EVERYTHING. This version of a granola recipe is incredibly functional and flexible, not to mention highly addictive. You can mix in different nuts, experiment with a variety of grains such as barley flakes or add in unique dried fruit such as chopped apricots, coconut or even dried blueberries. The options are truly endless which makes this all the more fun.

More and more I’ve been trying to intentionally incorporate Hemp Hearts into my diet. They have a creamy mouth feel and a nutty flavor to them that is irresistible. This is a fairly new seed that is gaining popularity across the nation, and, for the right reasons. The great thing about Hemp seeds is that they are a great option for vegetarian folks that are trying to meet their protein requirements. It’s nutrition profile is quite amazing–beyond the protein, it is also a great source of fibre and those coveted healthy fats (omega-3 and omega-6) which contain anti-inflammatory properties. Okay AND, Manitoba happens to be one of the most successful producers of hemp hearts in North America, HOLA!

Okay, back to business. Enjoy this recipe:
The Everything Granola
 
Prep time
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Serves: Lots.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup walnut halves or pecans
  • ½ cup hazelnuts
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ⅔ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup honey or agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 6 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup wheat germ
  • ½ cup ground flax seeds
  • ½ cup hemp hearts or hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup flaked unsweetened coconut (optional)
  • 1 cup dried fruit (chopped dates, raisins, dried cranberries etc)
Instructions
  1. Spread walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds on a baking sheet. Toast in preheated oven for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned at 350 degrees. Caution: be sure to keep an eye on them to prevent the nuts from burning. Remove from the oven, allow them to cool and chop coarsely.
  2. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, stir together almond butter, honey, and oil. Microwave on high for about 45 seconds or until bubbly. Give this liquid mixture a good stir and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together oats, wheat germ, hemp hearts, flax seed and cinnamon. Pour the warm honey mixture on top of the grain mixture and mix well.
  4. Cover a baking or cookie sheet with Parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly across the pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to use two.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes but be sure to stir the granola every 5 minutes to ensure it is all evenly cooked. Your house should smell like heaven by now.
  6. Once the granola is cooked through, allow it to cool. Place the mixture into a large bowl and stir in chopped nuts, coconut (if used) and dried fruit.
  7. Store in an air tight container, it keeps well for several weeks!
 Let me know what changes you’d make, and don’t forget to leave a comment below or subscribe to the blog!

Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

 Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda       

                  – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Baked Oatmeal with Apple & Cinnamon

Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

Quick n’ easy.

Breakfast. The most important meal of the day. No, it’s not an old wives tale or a myth. It’s a fact folks. In my practice I meet a lot of clients that just can’t stomach the idea of having a meal first thing in the morning. I always explain the benefits of breakfast very briefly, but also offer new and novel ideas. Some people have just over-killed “breakfasty foods” – you know the toast, cereal, porridge, eggs and sausages, the list goes on. I get it, it gets boring. But heck, think outside the box. I don’t care if you have a sandwich for breakfast or even leftover lasagna. Just have something that is balanced (aim for 3 food groups)! If breakfast for dinner is appropriate, why can’t we have “dinner” for breakfast? Sometimes, years of eating cereal or oatmeal the traditional way can get boring.

There’s also no harm is postponing breakfast either: such as, waiting until you’ve gotten to your office or had some time to really “wake up”.

–    Breakfast. The Most important meal of the day.    –

Other clients express that their morning is often really busy and they simply “have no time”. Being a rather busy-body myself, I can fully sympathize with this one. So what do I tell people? I encourage them to prepare breakfast the night before as they would for lunch. HERE is where this recipe comes handy. It’s a staple in our home and quickly devoured.

This recipe is a version of oatmeal, but baked. You can prepare it in advance and it will offer you 4-6 servings over the week. You can feel free to munch on it as a bar, or pour warm milk over it. Sometimes I like to throw in nuts, fresh berries, coconut or even a mashed banana to change it up. The ideas are truly endless. If you’re making this to serve a large group, you can easily double the recipe and bake into a 13″ x 9″ dish. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.

4.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Oatmeal with Apples & Cinnamon
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups Old Fashioned rolled oats
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds or walnuts
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries (optional: or add in shredded coconut, raisins etc)
  • 1 Apple, chopped
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 cups milk or milk alternative
  • 2 tsp Ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8" (2L) baking dish
  2. In a medium size bowl, combine oats, nuts, cranberries, chopped apple, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
  3. Once blended together, pour in milk. Mix well.
  4. Pour contents into the greased pan and bake until oats are softened and milk has absorbed. It usually takes about 45 - 60 minutes.
  5. Serve hot or cold.

Nita Sharda, Carrots 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
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
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
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
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

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Smooth, creamy and chocolatey.

This is the kind of dessert that makes you feel good as you’re eating it. It also happens to be dairy-free, gluten-free and isn’t chalk full of refined sugar. Now let me warn you, if you’re expecting this to taste like our traditional Jell-O brand chocolate puddings, you need to know it doesn’t. This take on a chocolate mousse plays on the flavor and texture of the avocado–creating a dessert that is smooth and creamy. But heck, who care about all that when it has chocolate in it!

Don’t be alarmed by the addition of soy sauce as an ingredient. It helps to mask the taste of the avocado and enhances the flavor of the cocoa powder. I prommmise. 

Go on, enjoy. 

Carrots and Cake

Chocolate Avocado Mousse
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 4 - 5
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened raw cocoa powder
  • 5 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
  • ¼ cup milk (or water, or an alternative milk substitute)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce (if Gluten Free source GF soy sauce)
  • Fresh fruit for garnish
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric food processor.
  2. Process until mixture is smooth. If the pudding is too thick, feel free to add more liquid.
  3. Garnish with desired fruit such as raspberries, kiwi or mango!

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