DIY – Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Make your own DIYRoasted Pumpkin Seeds

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving everyone. For those who celebrated, I hope you were able to  spend your weekend with family and friends in the best way possible, while thinking about what you are thankful for. Personally, I couldn’t help but think about the last year and the incredible journey I have been on while educating myself in holistic nutrition and establishing a new career as a Certified Holistic Nutritionist! I truly do not think I could have gotten through the year without the unconditional support of my loving partner, family, best friends and colleagues at school. Our graduation ceremony is in two weeks – yay we did it!

This weekend, I roasted my very first pumpkin to make a healthy, vegan dessert (to be posted later this week) for my family’s Thanksgiving feast, and I must say it was not only easy, but really satisfying to have been able to do this from scratch. For those who have never roasted their own pumpkin, I strongly encourage it! I used my own intuition but also instructions from Elana’s Pantry.  The best part about roasting your own pumpkins is that you use every bit of pumpkin you could with the exception of  the skin.

Since it is also the time of year when you may be carving some pumpkins, it is not unusual to be left with a goopy, seedy mess. Some people throw it away, but I saved mine, separated the goo from the seeds, cleaned and lightly roasted the seeds to enjoy as a healthy snack later on. Making your own roasted pumpkin seeds is really such a fabulous alternative to the buying them in store as they are often rancid, and loaded with sodium. So I thought I’d share a recipe on how to do it yourself!

Make Your Own.. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

The pumpkin seed is your new favourite seed…

Pumpkin seeds are extremely healthful. They are high in zinc ( 1/4 cup provides you with about 17% of your daily needs!) which is an important mineral necessary for a strong immune system. As the cold weather approaches, so does cold and flu season, incorporating pumpkin seeds in your diet is an excellent way to help give your immune system that extra boost it may need for the upcoming winter.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Roasting the seeds at 170F for no more than 20 minutes ensures that the fat content of the seeds is not messed with, in addition to ensuring the vitality of the minerals. If we were to do this at a higher temp- we would be destroying much of the goodness that exists within the seeds, denaturing the proteins and mineral complexes. Just as I do with my kale chips , we are simply dehydrating these seeds.

Ingredients:
Goop & Seeds of a pumpkin (preferably organic)
Celtic Sea Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 170F (or as low as it can possibly go)
  2. Separate the seeds from the goop as much as possible
  3. Place the seeds in a sieve and rinse with cool water
  4. Dry the wet seeds in a clean dish cloth or paper towel
  5. Place seeds on a baking sheet in one layer
  6. Sprinkle sea salt to your liking
  7. Place the baking sheet in your oven for 15 – 20 minutes.
  8. After that time, remove the sheet from the oven and let cool.

See, It’s so simple! I hope you try this out and reap the benefits of a pumped up immune system for winter. If you celebrated Thanksgiving this weekend, what was your favourite part & I’m also curious to know what you are thankful for.

Bon Appétit!

Signature Kasia

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For the Love of Beets…

Beet Greens Smoothie I am thrilled to share with you all my first smoothie post ever! For those who know  me personally and if you have been reading my blog, you know that I am obsessed with my incredible Blendtec blender, which has the ability to pulverize literally any fruit of vegetable (or nut or seed) and I have enjoyed the better part of 2013 experimenting with all it has to offer, including having an alkalizing green smoothie almost every day.  Smoothies can be a tricky drink to make, and I have been asked for recipes on more than one occasion. To be honest,  I never know what to recommend to people because everyone’s tastebuds are different and my smoothies sometimes are extremely delicious and sometimes not at all.

This smoothie changes everything. The main component is beet greens which I graciously accepted for free from a farmer at the Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market here in Toronto. Most people do not know what to do with beet greens (aka the leaves on the beets) so they ask for them to be removed after their beet purchase. As a result there is an abundance of greens left over. To be fair, when you go to a grocery store, it is more likely you will find beets that have no tops and so it makes sense that most people do not know what to do with them. I usually sauté the greens in some coconut oil and garlic to enjoy as a side dish to my meal. But throwing it in a smoothie or juicing the leaves are also a great option (and a way to get a boost of super food nutrients). This can be applied to other tops of vegetables as well like carrot or parsnip greens, and radish tops.

Beets Greens Smoothie Organic Liver AntioxidantsBeet Love 

The beetroot itself is your liver’s best friend in vegetable form. Yes, you read correctly, your liver’s best friend! Your liver detoxifies every single toxin that is inside your body, meaning that it breaks down toxins and then ensures they are eliminated through the bowel.  Due to lifestyle habits and dietary regimes, sometimes the liver can become overburdened and not work to the best of its ability. Beets have a high antioxidant level that comes from the chemical called betalain, which is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties as well. If you’ve had an indulgent weekend (or two) and want to give your liver some love, include a beet or two in your diet each day and you’ll start to feel and notice a positive difference in your life.

Beet Green Low Down 
Beet greens, as I previously mentioned, are the leafy tops of the beets that are often disregarded. These greens have a high concentration of the carotenoid lutein, which plays an important role in eye health. As it is a leafy green, it also contains a decent amount of fibre as well which also aids in the all important elimination.

Vanilla Beet Greens Smoothie

This smoothie plays on the sweetness of the beet and berries, hiding the bitterness of the greens and the texture is creamy from the hemp milk. It’s almost like a sweet beet milkshake without all the dairy and refined sugar!  Together it creates a sweet smoothie that is high in antioxidants, fibre and perhaps most importantly, is simply delicious!

Ingredients:

3 tbsp hemp hearts
1 cup of filtered water
1 cup of beet greens (If your beets came with the greens, just use those greens in your smoothie!)
1 small beet (~1 inch diameter), quartered
1/4 cup of a frozen berry blend (I used an organic blend of cherries, blueberries and blackberries to keep the bright red colour)
1/2 frozen banana
1/4 scant tsp vanilla powder

Directions:

  1. Make Hemp Milk: Combine water and hemp milk together in your blender and blend until the hemp seeds have been liquified
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until liquified.

I invite you all to experiment using your beet greens and see what kind of creations you can come up with. If you are already familiar with beet greens,  what’s your favourite way to eat them?

Bon Appétit!

Signature Kasia

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Kale Chips; 2 ways


kale chips picnic bruce peninsula

Kale, as I’ve written about it, can be one of the most versatile leafy greens around. You can make a pesto, you can make a slaw, you can throw it in your smoothies or salads and you can even make chips with them. It’s nutritiously dense and full of minerals and vitamins that help make it the superfood that it is. Kale chips are one of the tastiest creations you can transform kale into. Kale chips are the kind of snack that floats into and out of my life like snow. I’ve never really been into them, for some reason I prefer kale raw. But in August when we went camping to the Bruce’s Peninsula, something changed. I had asked my boyfriend to go to the local farmers market to pick up some greens for our trip and he came home with 4 huge bunches of kale – I mean the total weight of these bunches must have weighed 10 pounds. There was so much kale I didn’t know what to do with it, I knew my friends wouldn’t be too thrilled with me if I fed them salads 3 x per day (although we ate quite a lot of greens) while we were camping so I decided to make kale chips and we eventually enjoyed them one afternoon after our hike along on the Bruce Trail.

kale chips picnic spread bruce peninsula

The key ingredient to making kale chips is time. This is such a great snack to make on a Sunday or any day when you find you have time on your hands and wanting to accomplish something.  It can take up to 2 hours for the kale chips to be ready (longer if you have a dehydrator!). Don’t worry – the wait is so worth it. AND when you make kale chips at home it’s may more economical. Kale is in season right now and you can get a huge bunch of organic kale for as little as $2 – and that bunch can make a huge tub of kale chips that can last up to a week!

In addition to time, you want to massage your kale! Seriously, this is what takes kale to the next level. Massaging the leaves softens them by breaking down the strong fibres, and releases the bitter taste of kale, it even changes to a deeper green colour. At this point add a bit of celtic sea salt for seasoning and minerals and you can throw this into your salad or, as we are doing today make chips with them!

Finally the third key ingredient is the low temperature. Essentially we are going to dehydrate the kale – extract the water by heat but a low temperature so the enzymes, minerals and vitamins in the kale are still bio-available. The best way to do this is with a dehydrator. But if you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven on the lowest temperature, which is what I did.

When you start getting comfortable with the flavours, you can add other herbs and seasonings to change-up the taste! Today I have to share with you two flavours: Classic Kale Chips, and Cheezy Kale Chips. Both are plant-based and extremely flavourful – they do not last at our house!

Classic Kale Chips 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of curly kale – about 6-7 kale leaves
  • 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), depending on how large your bunch of kale
  • Sea Salt to taste

Cheezy Kale Chips

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of curly kale
  • 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon dijon or grainy mustard
  • Sea Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to the lowest setting usually it is 170F
  2. De-stemm your kale and rip or cut into 1 inch pieces.
  3. In a bowl massage the kale with olive oil until the kale turns a darker green colour, add salt and other seasonings  to taste.
  4. On a baking sheet, place kale evenly but only one layer. Depending on the size of your baking sheet, and how large your bunch of kale was, you may need to do this part in batches or on two baking sheets. Place baking sheets in the oven for about 1.5-2 hours.


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Late Summer Peach Crisp

photo 1-3In celebration of all things summer, and the beautiful bounty of peaches this season has brought, I’ve been dabbling with many different kinds of peach recipes – smoothies, dressings, desserts – as well as just plain eating them!

Peaches remind me of my childhood as we had a peach tree in our backyard which was just so beautiful. I don’t think we ever ate peaches from this peach tree as they were usually eaten by all the squirrels and birds (also neighbouring said peach tree was an apple tree – what a feast for the little animals), and some seasons peaches wouldn’t grow at all. I remember, as a teenager, the tree was struck by lightening one summer storm, and within a few weeks, the tree fully rotted and had to be cut down. We never did replace the tree but in that section of our backyard, a garden of wildflowers grew (or as my mum would call – weeds!). Instead we would take family road trips to the Niagara Falls region around the time of my birthday and spend the day picking ( and eating)  hundreds of peaches, it was the best.

Keen on Peaches
Peaches are a nutrient powerhouse, surprise! Full of anti-oxidant vitamins like vitamin C and chlorogenic acid. Once again, these anti-oxidant compounds reduce the effects of aging and may help eliminate any other harmful chemicals existing in your body. The majority of the anti-oxidants found in peaches are found in the skin – so just ensure that you are washing your peaches and eat them with the skin on.

Additionally, peaches are a source of my favourite vitamins, the B vitamins. Thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid can all be found working synergistically in the peach. These B vitamins work together to ensure your metabolism is in working order, providing you with much needed energy for your busy day. B-vitamins are also important vitamins that nourish your nervous system, especially in times of stress, so I highly recommend eating a peach or two after a busy or stressful day… maybe even with this dessert.

I’ve created this dessert using low-glycemic sweeteners and high quality fats like coconut oil. The sweetness from the crust is so decadent and is balanced well with the acidity from the peaches. It’s a match made in heaven! The crust is made with blanched almond flour/meal making this dessert gluten free, dairy free, vegan, delicious and most importantly a healthy alternative to the more butter and sugar heavy traditional desserts. The key to this dessert is to let it cool completely before serving uncovered – otherwise it turns into a mushy mess (believe me it happened the first time I made this recipe and it was not pretty!).

Late Summer Peach Crisp

Ingredients
For the Filling:
5 organic peaches, sliced (I used red haven peaches, ontario grown!)
1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons arrowroot flour
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup water

For the Crust:
1 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder (Ensure it is aluminum-free)
pinch salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Place all the ingredients for the filling in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat for 7-10minutes. You want all the ingredients to mix together and the liquid to thicken slightly. As soon as you see the liquid thickening, remove from heat and pour into 9x 11 baking pan. I used an oval casserole dish.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients for the topping in a large bowl. Add the softened coconut oil Stir thoroughly to combine.
  3. Spoon the topping over to fruit layer as evenly as you can.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, uncovered, until the top is golden. Allow to sit for at least 1 hour uncovered before serving. Ideally let it cool completely. This is really tasty with some vanilla coconut ice cream (bonus if you make it yourself!)

Bon Appétit!

Kasia

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Raw Cherry Chocolate Truffles

Raw Cherry Chocolate TrufflesContrary to September creeping up quickly, summer is in full swing in Toronto – and it is becoming increasingly overwhelming to go to the farmers’ market as there is just such an abundance of fresh vegetables, fruit, meats and anything in between. I, personally, am taking full advantage of being able to attend the many markets available in the city and it has been a very inspiring treat!

Where have I been all summer? 
I am delighted to say that I completed my holistic nutrition program on the 31st of July and since then I have been spending as much time outside as possible, enjoying the sun and my family and friends. I spent the August long weekend at my cottage and immediately after was able to go camping up at the Bruce’s Peninsula which is about a 5.5 hours drive north-west-ish from Toronto. This camping trip was absolutely stellar and I can honestly say that we really enjoyed ourselves! It was an incredible way to reconnect with nature, my best friends and reflect on this past year. While I do have some yummy food recipes I do want to share from camping…  today I feel like continuing the celebration of my birthday which was this past weekend and so today we talk dessert!

I love chocolate. I talk about it a lot and also consume quite a bit of it… eep … It is the best. I especially love raw chocolate (cacao) as it is so full of antioxidants which scavenge free radicals through out your body, protecting you from any damaging chemicals that may be roaming around. I also love cacao for its mineral properties – mostly iron and magnesium. You can read more about my love for cacao here .

When I made these truffles, it was for the end of the year potluck at school and I had so many cherries waiting to be eaten I wasn’t sure if I could! I decided to shake things up a bit and stuff these truffles with cherries. I plan on making these truffles again and using wild blueberries in the middle (which are in season until mid September).

The Cherry Low-down

Cherries, like many berries, contain a deep red colour indicating that they are an abundant source of anti-oxidants that are going to enliven your cells deep from within and make you glow on the outside.  The deep red colour in cherries comes from the antioxidants called anthocyanins which are also found in grapes, and they help your body reduce inflammation. Cherries are a great fruit to consume if you suffer from any inflammatory joint disorders because of this.

The soluble fibre found in cherries, known as pectin, is a great way to help eliminate any excess toxins in your body, adding to the beautifying benefits of cherries as well.

Cherries are also very seasonal and I really only recommend eating them when they are in season because they are just exceptionally sweet and juicy. Adding chocolate into the mix creates a decadent and seasonal treat!


Raw Cherry Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients:

  • 10 cherries, pitted & cut in half
  • 12 medjool dates, pitted & cut in half
  • 1 cup activated raw walnuts
  • 3-4 tablespoons of raw cacao, & some extra cacao to dust the truffles
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder

Directions:

  1. Using a high-powered food processor or blender, start by adding your walnuts, dates, raw cacao, sea salt, cinnamon and ginger powder. Blend away until a smooth and silky consistency. Ultimately you want to still be able to roll the blended food into a ball. If it is too sticky, and not blending well, feel free to add a tiny amount of water (start by adding 1 tablespoon) until you have reached the desired consistency.
  2. Take about 1-2 tablespoons of the truffle mixture and roll into a ball with your hands. Using half a cherry, stuff the truffle ball with half a cherry. Continue to do this until all of your mixture and cherries are used up. I made about 18 truffles with this batch.
  3. If you desire, you can roll each truffle in raw cacao powder to dust each truffle and make them look even more decadent.
  4. Refrigerate covered until you are ready to eat them! These also freeze very well to consume at a later date (if you can resist!)

Bon Appétit!

Kasia

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Beat the Heat… with Lemon Water

lemon water
Wowee! It is hot in Toronto! We have had some freakish summer weather the last few weeks – flash flooding, extreme heat waves, and tornado warnings – I mean sweltering heat that reminds me of beautiful Bali (sigh)  or the heat of the Nevada desert. Our apartment doesn’t have air conditioning so it was actually cooler to be outside than inside, I don’t think I slept for week. My friends and I started a crusade to beat the heat – we went late night swimming, hung out in the park  and enjoyed time hanging out on the front porch. Finally, on Wednesday I went out and bought a small air conditioning window unit and I had an incredible sleep that night, what a difference!

During this summer heat, it’s important to stay hydrated. One thing that has saved me during this heat wave has been  the copious amounts of water I have been drinking. But not just any plain ol’ chilled water, I have been literally chugging litres of water that is flavoured and supplying me with essential minerals and vitamins that are lost when you’re sweating in extreme heat. So how did I do this without consuming the junk-juices out there that claim to supply one with vitamins and is artificially coloured and flavours? Quite easily, actually!

My go-to water solution contained freshly squeezed organic lemon and lime juice, as well as beautiful mint leaves… and when I ran out of mint leaves… I added a peppermint tea bag and WOW. Refreshing and cooling.

Drinking lemon water has incredible benefits, even when it’s not a heat wave. I encourage everyone to start their morning with a nice big glass of lemon water and you will start to feel a vibrant difference! Here’s why:

Alkalizing – Adding lemon to your water is extremely alkalizing for your body which is what your body is in need of when it is heated up. Alkalizing your body is the best way to prevent disease and lower inflammation. Lemon, although a natural acid, actually contains ascorbic acid and citric acid which, when in the body, act as as a chelator in the body and allow for the minerals in lemon to be absorbed! Minerals need help to be absorbed in the body, so you can consider lemon juice to be its partner.

Vitamin C – Lemons contain a high amount of vitamin C, a powerful vitamin and antioxidant that helps boost your body’s immune system, and fight any free radicals that may be roaming around.

Potassium –  This mineral is easily lost when sweating, potassium is considered to be one of the main electrolytes that help balance your body’s musculoskeletal system. You know, when, maybe after a day of being in the hot sun, or after a night of consuming copious amounts of alcohol, your hands may be shaky? That’s electrolyte loss and why after drinking an electrolyte drink you feel a bit more stable. Lemons contain a high amount of potassium!

Liver Loving – Finally, my favourite reason for drinking lemon juice is because of the effects it has on the liver. This heat can cause you to release some really deep toxins (think about when you go for a sauna, you’re cleansing yourself, your cells). Your liver is the primary organ that takes these harmful toxins, repackages them with bile to move along into your colon to be excreted. Lemons encourage the liver to produce bile which is a component in digestion AND detoxification.

lemon water

Lemon Water Cool Down

Ingredients:
– 1/2 lemon, juiced
– 1/4 lime, juiced
– 1 peppermint tea bag or a few mint leaves
– 500mL  of filtered water
Optional: Throw in some goji berries or frozen blueberries for superfood goodness!

Directions:
Combine the ingredients  together and drink away!

Bon Appétit!

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Super Kale Slaw

Super Kale Slaw by Edible Vie

Last week while I was sitting in a statistics class, I was struck with a foodspiration (food + inspiration) moment. It was a gorgeous day outside and all I could think about was summer, cottaging, swimming, sunshine and, of course, eating! I couldn’t stop thinking about things I eat in the summer, which is usually a-lot of everything. I was craving food to eat on a hot day. Other than potato salad (which is a staple in the summer, more on that later), I love coleslaw. Not the mayo-drenched sweetened “coleslaw”; I love vinegar-dressed coleslaw! And this is where I had my inspiration and created this gorgeous, super nutrient dense kale slaw salad. This slaw highlights awesome features of some very simple ingredients, and to make the slaw tangy and crisp, I used one of my favourite condiments, apple cider vinegar!

apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a vinegar made from fermented apples. This vinegar is rich in enzymes that help increase digestibility! For anyone who has some digestive distress – I highly recommend introducing ACV into your diet! ACV is even used to treat symptoms of heart burn, it may sound contradictory but it actually works. This is because ACV will actually trigger your stomach to produce more hydrochloric acid, aiding in the digestion of remaining food particles that are causing you to feel bloated or gassy after a heavy meal. Instead of popping an antacid if you have heart burn (which does sooo much more damage and doesn’t look at the root cause), try drinking 1 tsp of ACV in a cup of water and ~magic~ you will feel better immediately.

In addition to its digestive effects, ACV is key to creating alkalinity in your body. It is ideal for our body to be in a state of alkalinity – however most of us are acidic. This is essentially due to what you eat; a diet high in processed foods, grains, and meat makes us acidic. Dis-ease and (bad) bacteria, viruses, and even cancer cells can proliferate in an acidic state. I could actually write about this for days…but also achieving alkalinity is not easy – it requires consuming greens, greens and more greens and water and greens and more water and greens and some fruit! Greens! ACV to the rescue. ACV will help balance your pH because it creates an overall detoxification effect of the body, it stimulates your liver to rid of the toxins and eliminate through your bowels – WE WANT THIS.

You can even clean with apple cider vinegar, or use it as a conditioner in hair(one of my faves). It really is an awesome, awesome solution.

Alright, so now that I’ve made my point about how amazing apple cider vinegar is – I hope I have empowered you to go out, buy some and try some! In addition to making this slaw recipe, you can also use ACV as an alternative to balsamic vinegar or white vinegar in your salad dressing.

Super Kale Slaw

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of kale, cut into ribbons (I used lucinato or dinosaur kale)
  • 1/2 head of a large red cabbage, cut into ribbons (I used a mandolin to get the desired thickness and the sliced accordingly)
  • 3 medium carrots, julienned
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 teaspoons of tamari (AKA wheat free GMO free soya sauce)
  • salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Directions:

  1. Slice all the vegetables accordingly and put into a big salad bowl
  2. Combine apple cider vinegar, EVOO and tamari in a separate bowl and mix well
  3. Add dressing to salad bowl and mix.

Simply delicious.

Bon Appétit!

Kasia

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