Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Pasta

Nita Sharda Carrots and CakeYAASSSS. Asparagus is finally in season. I remember being in my twenties and trying a spear of asparagus for the first time. I was confused. But then I had another spear. I was hooked. Since then, I’ve enjoy asparagus in many ways from grilling, steaming, wrapped in prosciutto and mixed into a summery pasta dish!

This pasta recipe is SO EASY to throw together on a busy weeknight. Washing and trimming the asparagus ahead of time will help make this a total breeze. Besides, doesn’t everyone love pasta?

Here are a few reasons why you’ll enjoy this recipe and feel good about eating it:

  • It’s colourful – beautiful red and green colors make this pretty on the eye
  • The whole wheat pasta will keep you full
  • You can top your pasta with any cheese you desire, I used Bothwell Cheese Parmesan but it’s also taste with goat cheese and feta cheese; if you’re vegan you can nix the cheese or use your favorite dairy-free product!
  • It includes 9 only ingredients! NINE!
  • The olive oil is super heart health and anti-inflammatory (remember, we talked about that here)

Kay…one more picture, and then I’ll share the recipe! 

Pasta_main

Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Pasta
 
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Serves: 5-6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta (uncooked)
  • approx 20 spears of asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup and 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ⅓ cup cheese (parmesan, goat cheese or feta cheese)
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, sauté asparagus in 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Continue to cook asparagus until it is tender.
  3. Add in garlic, cooked pasta, remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix together and heat through for about one minute to allow the garlic to infuse itself into the dish.
  4. Add in cherry tomatoes and continue to heat the pasta through for 5 minutes or until cherry tomatoes begin to wilt.
  5. Remove from heat. Top with cheese.

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
 
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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

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
 
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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

Hearty Meat Marinara

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeWhen guests come over for dinner, what’s your go-to-recipe? You know, the one that gets the oohs and ahhs. I tend to lean towards Italian cuisine. I mean, WHO DOESN’T LOVE PASTA? Pasta tends to receive a lot of negativity – you know, it’s just carbs, right? No way! Pasta is actually very versatile and can be super nutritious. Most enriched varieties come with B vitamins and iron. Not to mention it’s hella economical.

What to buy?

When choosing pasta look for something that offers you at least 4 grams of fibre per serving. Next, check out the ingredient list. Go for a pasta that has the word whole grain written as the first ingredient. If you’re not quite ready for whole grain pasta (don’t worry, I get it) then I recommend starting slowly. Mix in half wholegrain with half regular pasta. Baby steps are all G around here. I tend to enjoy spaghettini as it’s slightly thinner.

So we’ve got the right pasta in the shopping cart. It’s also important to pay attention to how you dress your pasta. If you prefer to use a ready-made pasta sauce be weary of the sodium content. This marinara is stuffed full with yummy vegetables, flavourful spices and for protein I opted to use a lean protein – ground turkey. You could also use lean ground beef or soy protein.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Okay. Rant over. Recipe below!

Hearty Meat Marinara
 
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Ingredients
  • 1½ tbsp canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 whole yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced (keep the skin on)
  • Large handful mushrooms, diced
  • ¾ - 1 lb ground meat (lean beef, turkey, chicken)
  • 1 28oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup water or vegetable broth
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp parsley
Instructions
  1. In a large pot add canola oil, onions and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add in green pepper, celery, zucchini and mushrooms. Cook for 5-8 minutes until softened over medium heat.
  2. Place cooked veggies on a plate and set aside. In the same pot brown your meat with salt and pepper to taste, about 3 minutes.
  3. Pour in whole tomatoes (mashing them each with your hands), crushed tomatoes, and water/broth.
  4. Add salt, black pepper, sugar, basil, oregano and parsley. Add in plated veggies. Stir to combine and simmer over very low heat for 30 minutes.
  5. If you would like, feel free to blend the sauce for a desired consistency using an emersion blender.
  6. Voila!

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita 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

 

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!

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

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
 
Prep time
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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

Soft Carrot Oatmeal Cookies #kidfriendly

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

C’mon, don’t you celebrate your birthday all month long?

Okay, I can’t possibly be the only one that celebrates birthday’s all month long.  Right?  Lucky for you, in lieu of this blog’s first birthday I also whipped up a cookie recipe.  Sorry, this recipe isn’t loaded with sugar, chocolate or copious amounts of fat.  Instead, this soft and well textured cookie is full of yummy carrot goodness and is a big hit not just with adults, but kids too!  My nieces love snacking on this cookie and their moms feel good offering it as a snack. That’s a win win situation if you ask me.

If you’re going to compare this cookie to an Oreo or Chip’s Ahoy, that’s just not fair. Simple homemade cookies can’t compete with hyper-processed and sugar laced foods. This cookie is whole grain and contains whole ingredients. Nothing fake here.

Simple homemade foods can’t compete with hyper-processed foods.

I opted to use honey as my primary sweetener. You can choose to use maple syrup or agave nectar if you wish. Note to mama’s and papa’s: if baby is less than 12 months, you don’t want to offer them honey. Use maple syrup instead.

I got the inspiration from these cookies via another blog. The original recipe can be found here. Thanks Amy!

4.0 from 1 reviews
Soft Carrot Oatmeal Cookies #kidfriendly
 
Prep time
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Serves: 12 - 18
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats (source gluten free if necessary)
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour (or, gluten free flour if necessary)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp canola oil (or, whatever type of fat you prefer)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ c honey, maple syrup or agave (I used honey)
  • ¾ c grated carrots (about 1 medium carrot)
Instructions
  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. In another small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Stir in the honey until thoroughly incorporated. I prefer to use a hand mixer for this step.
  3. Add the wet mixture to your flour mixture. Don't over mix the contents - just enough to blend well. Then, fold in the carrots.
  4. As recommended by Amy, chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. (If chilling longer, cover with plastic wrap, ensuring it touches the entire surface of the cookie dough). This helps you out a lot when you start dropping the cookies onto your baking sheet.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Drop the cookie dough into 15 rounded scoops on the baking sheet. (If chilled longer than 1.5 hours, flatten slightly.) Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool on the baking sheet for at least 15 minutes, and then place on a wire rack.
  8. Now, enjoy.

And again, here’s to raising a forkful of Carrot Pineapple Loaf and toasting to a very, very happy first birthday!

– With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

#nutritionmonth Let’s Talk Breakfast

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Spotted, Nita’s Breakfast Muffin. Click the photo for recipe details.

March is Nutrition Month, which means Dietitians across Canada rally together to bring you relevant nutrition information around a particular topic. This year, the theme centers on Eating 9 to 5! We realize that families no matter the size can find eating healthy to be a challenge. This is especially true with rushed mornings, limited breaks, multiple work meetings, appointments and of course end-of-the-day dinner struggles.

In fact, almost 40% of Canadians skip breakfast, increasing their risk for morning brain drain.

On that note, let’s dissect the breakfast. This is usually the first day of the meal for many Canadians. Unfortunately, it’s also often skipped and not given the attention it oh-so-lovingly deserves. I get it, when you need to beat rush hour traffic to make it in time to work (after brewing your cup of Joe and dropping off the little humans), eating a solid breakfast may not be on your morning “to do” list.

What if you knew these interesting facts about eating healthy breakfast:

  • It’s linked to health weights and reduced weight gain over time
  • You can achieve improved appetite control so you can avoid morning munchies
  • You’ll be more alert and better able to concentrate at work (or school)
  • And, you’ll likely have a better intake of key nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, potassium and fibre

Have I got you convinced yet? Yes! Read on.

The key to having a star breakfast is to keep it simple and plan ahead.

  • On the weekend make a big batch of hot cereal like dahlia (Indian cracked wheat) or baked oatmeal. Pre-pack in individual servings, top with some fruit and refrigerate.
  • Get in a routine of hard boiling a few eggs. In the morning, grab an egg or two, whole wheat toast and a fruit! Of course your chai or latte can pack well into a travel mug. Tip: gradually reduce the amount of sugar you use, this way you can enjoy the natural flavor of your tea/coffee.
  • Blend up a smoothie. At home, my husband and I usually make a 1L serving of smoothie and portion them into mason jars to keep for a few days. Smoothies are a big trend right now and can often be packed full of fruits and veggies. Have you tried my Tropical Green Smoothie? Yum.
  • Enlist some help and get baking. If you have little ones at home, get them into the kitchen to help whip up a few dozen muffins. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the freezer for a quick grab n’ go breakfast. Try these yummy breakfast muffins.
  • Stock your pantry with nutritious cold or dry cereals. What could be easier? Look for cereals that are high in fibre the next time you’re at the grocery store. What you want to do is find a product that has at least 4 grams of fibre per serving. Reading the nutrition facts table will offer you a wealth of information. A few packaged cereals currently in my pantry include:

What’s your favorite breakfast? Is there something you specifically struggle with? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

NM_Colour_EN

 

Please note, the above information is adapted from the Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month Campaign Materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month at www.nutritionmonth2015.ca.

 

– With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

The Better Cinnamon Apple Loaf

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

I’ve been working hard at mastering this recipe; I think I’ve finally nailed it (man, what a good feeling)! The original recipe came from my colleague; she brought her version into work and wow’d everyone. The next day, multiple copies of the recipe floated around my workplace. Eager to make it myself, I grabbed a copy and began making a few tweaks.

And then, the “Dietitian” in me came out.

The original recipe called for only white all-purpose flour and ½ cup of butter. In an effort to increase the fibre content of the loaf I opted to use a bit of whole-wheat flour. Secondly, instead of butter, I used a combination of applesauce and canola oil. But really, you could use the butter if you love that flavor and want to boost the fat content a bit. It really is a versatile recipe.

Note: if you use butter; be sure to really cream it into a smooth consistency for a good quality product.

4.0 from 1 reviews
The Better Cinnamon Apple Loaf
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup canola oil (or any oil you prefer)
  • ¼ cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup milk (or milk alternative)
  • 1 apple, chopped (I used Granny Smith for tartness)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your loaf pan.
  2. Mix brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon in a small bowl, set aside.
  3. In another medium sized bowl beat white sugar, applesauce and oil using a hand blender or beater. Beat until smooth and then one by one add in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. In a large bowl, blend flours, baking powder and baking soda.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Your batter should be smooth, and wet. It won’t look like a whole lot but that’s okay. Don’t over mix!
  6. Pour ½ the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Next, add ½ the apples and ½ the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  7. Lightly pat the apples into the batter
  8. Pour remaining batter of the apple layer, top with remaining apples and finish off with the sugar and cinnamon topping.
  9. Bake in your oven for approximately 30 – 40 minutes, or, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

After it’s done, hide it somewhere special so your husband doesn’t gobble it down (sorry babe, xoxo). It’s that good.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

– With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Nita’s Breakfast Muffin

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Whole wheat. Fruit. Veggies. Nuts. What more?

It’s the holiday season. In a short few weeks Santa will be here, the turkey will be roasting, lights will be glimmering and families will be celebrating. How do you celebrate with food during this season? I have fond memories of watching the women in my family cook stacks and stacks of fresh roti. All of us kids would line up for the buffet of fresh Indian cuisine. Nope, no turkey for us. But I didn’t mind this so much; my mom was creating her own tradition in the way that she knew best.

Now here I am. In my twenty something, married and trying to create my own traditions. On the morning of Boxing Day, my friends and I gather around for brunch. These are special moments as so many of us live in other provinces and even in other countries. It is expected that each guest bring something. What do I bring? My infamous Breakfast Muffins pictured above (and below).

While you’re in the kitchen prepping to bake yummy goodies for the holiday season, try your hand at these muffins. You’ll love them. I promise.

These muffins are nothing short of being healthy and oh so nutritious. Loaded with fibre, bursts of flavor and great texture, they are seriously to die for. Now really, you don’t HAVE to eat them only at breakfast time. They make for a great dessert and a yummy snack too. Oh, did I mention they are toddler approved? My little niece loves them.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Nita's Breakfast Muffin
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅓ tsp salt
  • 2 cups grated carrot (about two medium sized carrots)
  • 1 large ripe banana, mashed
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut, shredded
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • ¾ cup apple sauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or liners.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, dried cranberries, walnuts and coconut.
  4. In a bowl, blend the banana, carrots, eggs, canola oil, applesauce, vanilla and milk.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined. Divide among muffin tins. I always like to load mine up to the top for bigger muffins.
  6. Bake until toothpick comes out clean—approx 23 – 25 minutes. Cool, and enjoy!

This recipe was adapted from a variety of “Morning Glory” recipes I came across. With my own personal substitutions and additions, this is what I came up with! If you like this muffin, you’ll probably also love my Pumpkin Pecan Muffins.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Up, close and personal.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake 

– With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda