10 Amazing & Healthy Recipes to Celebrate Pancake Tuesday

Pancakes are a favourite in my house. The kids are strangely subdued when I bust out a new Green Smoothie recipe (some might say grim actually) but they are guaranteed to jump for joy when pancakes are on the menu. And really – what’s not to love? Hot fluffy buttery cakes piled high on a plate drowning in sweet maple syrup…..heavenly!

pancakes 3

But if you know me you also know that I am always trying to revamp recipes to make them healthier. And to be honest – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I have made my fair share of lumpy, sticky and tasteless pancakes in an attempt to eschew the traditional boxed pancake mixes.

In honour of “Pancake Tuesday” I thought I’d spare you one of my so-so recipes and instead share 10 sure-fire recipes that were developed by other very talented health-conscious bloggers. I have made and devoured a batch of each of these recipes and I can personally vouch for their amazingness so pick the one that appeals to your taste buds and get flipping:

1. Hormonal Balance Blueberry Pancakes by Meghan Telpner

2.  Gluten-Free Whole Grain Chia Pancakes by Dreena Burton of Plant-Powered Kitchen

3. Strawberry Shortcake Stacked Pancakes by Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows

4. Chocolate Chip Buckwheat Pancakes by Sondi Bruner

pancake 4

*Photo Credit: Sondi Bruner

5. My Favourite Vegan Pancakes by Amanda Maguire of Pickles & Honey

6. Loveliest Lemon Vegan Pancakes by Kathy Patalsky of Healthy Happy Life

lemon pancakes

*Photo Credit: Kathy Patalsky, Healthy Happy Life

7. Peach Pancakes by Thug Kitchen

8. 7-Ingredient Vegan Gluten-Free Waffles by John and Dana at Minimalist Baker

9. Even Better Potato Pancakes by Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen

10. Coconut Flour Banana Pancakes by Joy McCarthy of Joyous Health

So get out the maple syrup and whip up a stack of delicious and healthy pancakes. And for inspiration check out my latest batch – not half bad tasting and as my daughter pointed out “look mom – this one is pooping a heart!” I took that as a good sign ; ) Happy Pancake Tuesday everyone!

pancake heart

Advertisements

Asian Noodle Salad with Seared Tofu

I was busy grilling the tofu for this recipe when a friend popped by to pick up his daughter from a play date. “Mmmmm…something smells good Lori – what are you cooking?” he asked. “Marinated tofu steaks!” I proudly replied. “Oh gross – that’s nasty!” he quickly shot back. Guess I won’t be inviting him to dinner anytime soon ; )

Tofu (and soy products in general) might just be one of the most controversial foods out there. Depending on which research paper or magazine article you are reading- it’s either touted as a wonderful superfood or a hormone disrupting poison. And frankly there appear to be good arguments on both sides of the fence.

I have done quite a bit of research on my own and came across a great article on the Harvard School of Public Health website that gave a comprehensive overview of “smart approaches to choosing protein for your diet.” This particular quote came from the end of the “Straight Talk about Soy” section:

Eat soy in moderation. Soybeans, tofu, and other soy-based foods are an excellent alternative to red meat. In some cultures, tofu and soy foods are a protein staple, and we don’t suggest any change. But if you haven’t grown up eating lots of soy, there’s no reason to go overboard: Two to 4 servings a week is a good target; eating more than that likely won’t offer any health benefits and we can’t be sure that there is no harm.

One thing to also keep in mind when buying tofu is that over 90% of soy bean production in the US is genetically modified and the crops are heavily sprayed with toxic herbicides. So be sure to read the labels and choose a tofu brand that is non-GMO and organic.

And now there is the matter of taste – most people assume that it will either taste bland or disgusting. But believe it or not I actually like it and so do my kids. With the right marinade and seasonings, it can be really delicious. We eat it approximately once a week just cut up and sautéed in a stir fry, marinated and breaded in crispy tofu wraps or seared into steaks.

So – to tofu or not to tofu – that is the question? At the end of the day there is no magic bullet, one-size-fits all approach to healthy eating. Do your own research, read labels, listen to your own body and do what’s best for you. This salad would be tasty with our without the tofu but if you are a tofu fan or would like to try it for the first time then go for it! This salad will make you a tofu-lover for sure.

Asian Noodle Salad with Seared Tofu Steaks

tofu salad 3

1 package of organic non-GMO firm tofu, drained
1 cup of tamari (soy sauce)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. agave nectar
2 tbsp. pure sesame oil
2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 package of soba noodles (buckwheat)
1 head of broccoli, chopped small
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup shelled peanuts

To marinate tofu: cut the block of tofu into 1 inch slices and place in a shallow dish with a lid. Cover with tamari and sprinkle with garlic powder and shake it around to marinate the slices. Place in the fridge for an hour, shaking occasionally.

tofu salad 1

To make the dressing: combine vinegar, agave, sesame oil, ginger, salt and pepper in a jar with a lid. Cover tightly and shake vigorously.

Cook soba noodles according to package directions – adding broccoli florets into the boiling water at the same time as the noodles. Drain noodles and broccoli and set aside.

tofu salad 2

The tofu can either be seared on a hot frying pan on the stove or on the barbecue. For stovetop: Heat olive oil in a large skilled over medium-high heat. Add tofu slices and cook approximately 5 minutes per side until lightly browned. For BBQ: Heat to medium high and place marinated tofu slices directly on the grill. Cook 2-4 minutes per side. Cut each slice in half lengthwise for serving.

Arrange lettuce on 4 large dinner plates or 6 smaller plates. Top with a portion of noodles/broccoli and tofu slices. Drizzle with dressing. Garnish with fresh cilantro and peanuts.

Enjoy!

Tofu Sloppy Joes

As a child of the 70’s and 80’s with 2 working parents, I ate my fair share of packaged foods. Yes we had many home-cooked meals, but we also regularly indulged in Hamburger Helper, TV Dinners, Frozen Pizza, Kraft Dinner and Chef Boyardee products (I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I loved all of these things although the beef ravioli was my absolute favourite).

And do you remember Sloppy Joes? My mom would fry up some ground beef, add in a packet of Sloppy Joe mix and some tomato sauce and we’d dollop it on top of big crusty buns. Messy, kid-friendly and delicious!

As a health conscious person and non-meat eater, I mostly try to stay away from those foods today- but every once in a while I get a craving for a good old-fashioned throw-back meal. That’s why when I saw a recipe for Tofu Sloppy Joe’s in the Moosewood Cookbook I just had to give it a try.

sloppy joes 1

These babies were delicious! Runny tomatoey goodness on top of Kaiser rolls with wedge potatoes and a salad on the side made for a tasty, protein-rich and somewhat decadent meal that everyone tucked into (as an alternative – you could also serve the mixture on top of rice, quinoa or noodles).

So stock up on the napkins and try this new take on an old classic. You might also want to set the scene by pumping up some New Kids On The Block music, teasing your bangs and slipping into a jacket with shoulder pads, hoop earrings and neon leg warmers ; )

Tofu Sloppy Joes (adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics)

sloppy joes 2

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 cake extra firm tofu, squeezed to remove excess water and crumbled (look for an organic non-GMO brand)
1/2 of a large can of diced tomatoes (I like Eden Organic brand)
1 can of sliced organic mushrooms
2/3 cup pasta sauce (I like Eden Organic brand)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
6-8 large buns
Grated vegan or regular cheese (optional)

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and sauté onion and garlic for approximately 5 minutes until softened. Add red pepper and carrot and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the crumbled tofu, tomatoes, mushrooms, sauce, basil, coriander, brown sugar and salt and simmer together for 10-15 minutes. Add additional salt and black pepper to taste.

Slice the rolls and fill with desired amount of Sloppy Joe mixture. Add grated cheese if desired.

Enjoy!

 

 

Veggie Pho Soup

Before I had children and while I was still figuring out my career direction, I spent a few years as a public relations consultant at an agency in downtown Toronto. Although I realized pretty quickly that this particular career path wasn’t the one for me – I did learn a lot during those years and I am especially thankful for the people I met, the skills I honed and the fun I had during that time.

If I am being completely honest, one of my absolute favourite things about working in the middle of a big city was the opportunity to grab some friends and head out for lunch at one of the many amazing restaurants in the area. And there was one particular little spot close to my office called Yummy & Healthy that I absolutely adored. I went there so much that the sweet owner got to know me and would start prepping my Vegetarian Pho Soup as soon as I walked in the door. I couldn’t get enough of that fragrant and spicy broth and the heaping portions of rice noodles, veggies, sprouts and tofu…..delicious!

I have tried many times over the years to recreate that soup and I just haven’t been able to hit the mark…until now. I was fiddling around with a recipe from a recent edition of the Vegetarian Times Magazine and bingo-  I came pretty darn close!

The key to this Pho soup recipe is all in the broth. I threw a bunch of herbs and spices into a big pot and let it all cook together for at least an hour. Then I strained everything out and was left with a tangy and delicious base to build upon. Once the broth is ready to go – I simply simmered my add-ins of choice right in the soup. (However, if you are adding noodles, I would recommend cooking them separately and putting them into the bottom of your serving bowls and scooping the soup over top so that they don’t get too mushy.)

Although Yummy & Healthy is no longer in business, I’m paying homage to the owner and to the many trips I took to that restaurant with this recipe. Wherever the owners ended up – I’d like them to know that the young woman with blue eyes, the sloppy French braid and the ill-fitting Fairweather suit who sat in the corner slurping her noodles would like to thank you for the inspiration : )

Veggie Pho Soup (adapted from Vegetarian Times, Feb 2014)

pho

10 cups vegetable broth (I used 3 cubes of mushroom bouillon mixed with 10 cups of water)
1 cinnamon stick
2 round slices of lime (with rind)
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger cut into thin coins
3 whole garlic cloves
The stems and roots from one bunch of cilantro (save the leaves for garnish)
3 tbsp. tamari (soy sauce)
1 tsp agave nectar
1 package extra firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes
1 stalk broccoli, cut into small pieces
2 stalks of bok choy, chopped
2-3 cups of bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
3 oyster mushrooms, cut into small pieces
1 bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
Rice noodles of choice (I used PC Thai Rice Stick Noodles)
Extra tamari and Sriracha Sauce for flavouring

Place vegetable broth, lime pieces, garlic, cinnamon stick, cilantro stems, tamari and agave into a large soup pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Strain and throw out flavourings. (At this stage you can make your soup right away or save the broth to use at another time. It also freezes well.)

Prepare rice noodles according to package directions, rinse and set aside.

Bring broth back to a simmer and add in tofu, broccoli, bok choy and mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes. Add sprouts and cook 1-2 minutes longer.

Scoop a generous portion of noodles into the bottom of a soup bowl. Top with broth and veggies and sprinkle with cilantro. Add additional tamari and sriracha for flavouring if desired.

Enjoy!

Veggie Eggrolls – A Christmas Eve Tradition

Every family has their own special traditions that make the holidays meaningful and personal. For my family- cutting down our own tree, hauling out our old boxes of decorations, cranking up the Christmas tunes and trekking to the mall for Santa photos all make it feel like the festive season.

We also have a few weird and wacky traditions that make our family celebration unique. One such tradition was started by my parents many years ago: every December my mom and dad would faithfully make a special trip a Chinese restaurant in Ottawa, Ontario to pick up dozens of their world-famous egg rolls that we would eat with friends and family on Christmas Eve. Nothing says Christmas to me like an egg roll and a big old glass of Screech and eggnog! (well Soy Nog now ; )

However since the traditional rolls contained meat, I’ve offered to make homemade veggie rolls for the last few years. Trust me – this was a risky offer because my family LOVES their egg rolls and I didn’t want to disappoint the troops. But thanks to an amazing recipe by my good friend Lisa, everyone happily gobbles up the Vegetable Egg Rolls and enjoys them just as much as the pork-filled rolls of yesteryear. Whew!

So this Christmas Eve we will be savouring the company of our family, sipping our Screech-laced nog and chowing down on some truly delicious Vegetable Egg Rolls. Thanks for saving our night-before-Christmas Lisa!

Vegetable Egg Rolls (recipe and photos courtesy of Lisa Faley www.flowfit.ca)

Makes 8-10 rolls

veg-eggrolls

  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1/2 head napa cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • handful fresh chopped cilantro
  • handful fresh sprouts
  • 4 crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp shoyu
  • 1 package egg roll wrappers

To heated med/high-high skillet add peanut oil, sesame oil, garlic and ginger.  Stir fry quickly for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Add all other vegetables.  Saute for 2 minutes, add shoyu and cook until liquid is absorbed.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Wipe pan out with paper towel and add remaining oil.  Slowly heat to medium.

To make rolls:

  • Lay wrapper on clean counter in a diamond shape with the point facing you.
  • eggroll 1
  • Place a heaping table-spoon of mixture into centre of wrapper
  • Take bottom corner and fold over mixture, tucking corner under the filling and gently pulling it toward you to grab the mixture
  • eggroll 2
  • Fold in the right and left sides, making an “envelope” shape
  • eggroll 3
  • Roll the form away from you, “sealing” your envelope by putting a little water with your finger on the final corner.  Roll up and press the corner down gently to seal.

Once your oil is hot, gently place egg rolls into pan seam side down.  Ensure they are not touching, don’t over crowd them or they will steam and not get nice and crunchy.

eggroll 4

Fry the egg rolls for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side, turning a quarter turn each time to ensure all sides brown evenly.  Once all sides are done (they should be golden and bubbly), place on paper towel to drain.

YUM!

Make Your Own Sub Night

Nothing is more popular in my house than “make your own” nights. Make your own stirfry, salad bar, burritos and pizzas are staples on my menu because there is a much greater chance that the kids will actually eat something they’ve prepared themselves. I provide the basic supplies, lay them out on the kitchen counter or table and let them go to it.

Sub sandwiches are a delicious and versatile weeknight dinner because they are easy to put together and thrown on a plate with a salad make a quick healthy meal. I like to set out a big variety of toppings for everyone to choose from and I always grill some onions and mushrooms or crispy tofu as meat alternatives. Recently I found that if I thinly slice oyster mushrooms and sauté them in a pan on the stove with some garlic and onion they make lovely flavourful cold cut alternatives. (Did you know that processed meats such as cold cuts, bacon, sausages and hot dogs contain nitrates- chemical additives that preserve freshness. Nitrates have been linked to stomach cancer and other degenerative diseases. These fatty meat products are also full of unhealthy saturated fat that can raise levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease and strokes. Source: The Dr. Oz Show)

Try making your own plant-based sandwich buffet and see if it’s as popular with your family. Use your imagination and set out any toppings you think your gang would enjoy and be sure to stock up on lots of sauces to kick up the flavor on your creations. Just be careful that you don’t pile the toppings too high or you might need to eat your sub with a knife and fork!

Lori’s Sub Night

sub 2

Sub buns or bread (any regular or gluten-free variety)
1 onion finely chopped
2 cups of mushrooms, sliced thin (try oyster for a cold cut substitute)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 batch of crispy tofu

Topping Suggestions:
Shredded lettuce or spinach
Chopped Tomato
Sliced Pickles
Grated Carrot
Grated Beets
Sliced Avocado (or Izzy’s Guacamole)
Grated Zucchini (or you could chop it and sauté it with the mushrooms)
Sliced Cucumber
Sprouts
Hot Peppers
Sliced Olives
Grated vegan or regular cheese
Finely chopped parsley, cilantro or basil
Hummus
BBQ Sauce
Vegennaise
Mustard (regular and hot)
Hot Sauce
Horseradish
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper

Slice buns or bread. Saute onion, garlic and mushrooms in oil on the stove in a frying pan until softened (approx. 5-6 minutes).

Lay out all of your toppings and sauces on the countertop or table. Let the sandwich making fun commence.

Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Noodles and Why I Keep Trying

I follow a number of awesome food bloggers and they constantly inspire me to try out new foods and dishes. Recently, I noticed that spaghetti squash was popping up a lot on different sites as a gluten-free and high-fiber replacement for noodles so I decided to give it a whirl.

spag squash 1

As I was preparing to cook my lovely squash, I began to have some serious doubts. You see, sometimes when I am making something new for my family a little voice pops up in my head that says “the kids probably aren’t going to like this….in fact they’ll probably hate it….maybe I should make them something else to be sure they are getting enough to eat.” Do you ever do this? I seriously contemplated preparing a pot of regular noodles (that I know the kids love) just to hedge my bets.

But after staring at the yellow squash for a few minutes I decided to go for it. Ultimately, I want my family (myself included) to broaden our experience of food and to continue to be open to trying new things. If I relent and make a separate and often nutritionally lacking alternative, I’m essentially sending the message that healthy food is an option instead of the best and only choice.

According to Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study; “Children are our future and it just makes common sense that the food they become accustomed to will likely be the food that they prefer for the rest of their lives. In today’s society most children consume foods that will produce serious adult onset diseases down the road, and they do not eat the foods that may offer dramatic protection.”

And in his book “Disease Proof Your Child Dr. Joel Fuhrman states: “As parents, we want what is best for our children. We would never intentionally harm them- in fact, we make sure to get them the best possible care, read to them, play with them, and ensure their safety at home, at school and at play. But when it comes to feeding them, somehow we don’t know what’s best……Most children in developed countries eat less than 2% of their diet from natural plant foods and move into adulthood eating 90% of their caloric intake from dairy products, white flour, sugar and oil.”

So I cooked the squash in the oven, whipped up my favourite tomato sauce on the stove top and lovingly served up heaping bowls of spaghetti squash noodles. And what was the outcome? Well, the older 2 took a few good bites (with slightly pained expressions) and declared that it wasn’t their favourite dish as they scraped the remainder into the wet garbage. And the toddler put a bite in his mouth, made a disgusted face and spit it all back out into his bowl. He even dramatically scraped the yellow bits off of his tongue with his fingers. Not good!

But that isn’t going to stop me. Oh sure we’ll still have regular noodles from time to time but I will keep offering up unique plant-based foods for my family to experience. My hope is that they will learn to love vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains as much as the less healthy alternatives and continue to enjoy nutritionally rich diets throughout their lives.

Oh and I should mention that the kids were mysteriously hungry shortly after dinner so we had a huge bowl of popcorn about an hour later…..you might want to keep that in mind when you prepare this dish the first time ; )

Spaghetti Squash Noodles

spag squash 2

Preheat oven to 375. Cut the stem off of the squash and then slice it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and guts. Brush the insides with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper and place the halves cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 40-50 minutes depending on the size of your squash. You will know that it’s ready if the “noodles” separate easily with a fork. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then scrape the inside of the squash with a fork to produce the noodles.

Place the noodles in a bowl and top with your favourite sauce.

Enjoy! (and keep trying)