The Best Kale Recipe: Fritters!

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Kale is the new black. (At least I think it kind of still is…) I’ve never seen a leafy green so in-fashion! A few years ago, when I first heard rumours of this new “thing”, everyone was talking about it. “Kale is SO good!”, “Have you tried kale?”, “Superfood!”, “Nutrients!”, “Kale saves lives!”. It was all around me. Kale salad, kale smoothies, kale chips, sauteed kale…everyone in the world, it seemed, was being kale-ified. Of course I had to taste this veggie for myself!

Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, a group of veggies including cabbage and brussels sprouts. I always say it looks like huge, curly spinach. It’s a little bit tougher, and some say it has a bit more of a bitter flavour. It has been called a superfood and one of the healthiest foods in the world. It is packed with nutrients and has a ton of health benefits, while also low in calories. Here’s a top 10 list of kale health benefits.

Kale can be eaten raw or cooked. I absolutely love it (although I don’t think there’s a single vegetable that I don’t love). The problem I had with kale was that I didn’t know a lot of kale recipes. I never knew what else I could do with it, other than sauteeing it with garlic or making a salad. I mean, I love kale salad, but there’s got to be other ways to eat this stuff… And I found out that there definitely are! Here is one of my new kale favourites! Delicious kale fritters! Flavourful and full of kale (and spicy if you want). They’re so hard to resist! Continue reading

Tomato Salad In A Snap!

There is no better time than tomato season to enjoy tomatoes. Everywhere I look, my friends and family are harvesting their crop and bragging about how good their tomatoes taste. My father started a vegetable garden last year and is growing all sorts of tomato varieties. He planted so many he doesn’t even know what to do with them all! And so, of course, I have a never-ending supply of sweet, ripe tomatoes coming to me. I have to say, these homegrown tomatoes are the best I’ve ever had!

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Take advantage of the delicious tomatoes in season and enjoy them in a simple salad! Tomato salads have always been a staple in my home, and I have my father to thank for it. He is the man always on a quest for the freshest, ripest, sweetest tomatoes, and was the one who first showed me this recipe. (I’m sure this is how I developed my love for balsamic vinegar.)

This is the easiest salad to make. It uses only a few ingredients, and takes minutes to make. Continue reading

Keep It Simple, Silly! Simple Crepes For Any Occasion

Since I was a child, crepes have been one of my favourite desserts. I loved how sweet and egg-y my mother used to make them. I’d eat them faster than she could make them, and I wouldn’t stop eating until she stopped flipping them off the pan onto my plate. I’ve now come to realize, after having tried so many savoury crepes, that they don’t always have to be sweet. These delicate pancakes are simple, easy to make and extremely versatile. You can use any toppings you like! Sweet or savoury!

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I had a crepe craving last night and now that I don’t live with the legendary crepe-making mama, I decided to figure out how to make them (or something like them) on my own. I discovered that they are easier than I thought! The beauty of a crepe is in its simplicity. Simple ingredients and simple preparation. Sometimes enjoying something as simple as a plain sweet crepe is just what you need.  Continue reading

Wrap & Roll! Learn To Rice-Paper-Wrap Anything And Everything.

I get a lot of requests for easy, quick and healthy recipes. Here’s a recipe that can’t get any easier or quicker, and can be super duper healthy! These were inspired by Vietnamese rice paper spring rolls and can be 100% vegan or vegetarian-friendly if you want them to be. If you’ve ever tried Vietnamese food, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.

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Rice paper wraps are my best friend. They’re so quick and easy to use and they don’t cost much at all! Rice paper is like thin, steamed rice crepes that have been dried out into thin, hard, round sheets. You dampen the sheets, one by one, in warm water and you’re ready for wrapping! They get nice and sticky and adhere to themselves to make a gorgeous fresh roll in one step. They’re also much healthier than fried spring rolls. Continue reading

Peace, Love, Perfect Guacamole.

Making a perfect guacamole is a really useful (and tasty) skill to have. This delicious Mexican dip is a healthy snack, a good appetizer, and a perfect addition to a pot luck or barbeque menu. This is one of the first dips I taught myself to make, because it’s one of my favourites. It’s one of everyone’s favourites!

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I’ve gotten so many compliments on my guac over the years. It is time I share my secret. (Not too much of a secret…it’s pretty simple, actually.)

A few important guacamole rules I live by:
1. RIPE AVOCADOS
2. NO GARLIC
3. USE CILANTRO
4. SAVE THE PITS

Your avocados have got to be ripe for maximum sweet, creamy, delicious avocado flavour and mashing potential. You can tell an avocado is ripe when its skin has darkened and it is soft when you squeeze it.

Here are some videos I found on youtube that might help if you have avocado problems:

Despite popular belief, authentic Mexican guacamole doesn’t include garlic. When people ask me why my guac tastes different from theirs…it’s usually the garlic. So, save your garlic for something else!

Cilantro is a key ingredient in a good guacamole. Cilantro and lime are like a Mexican flavour-match made in Mexican flavour heaven.

A common problem when using avocado is that the avocado will start turning brown. This browning occurs once the avocado flesh is exposed to the oxygen in the air. (Same thing that happens with apples.) Although slightly brown avocado is still safe to eat…it’s not very nice to look at. There are  few things I do to keep my guac super green, and so far, it’s been working amazingly!
1. Lemon/lime juice slows down the browning process and is already one of the ingredients
2. Save the pits and put them back into your bowl of guacamole after you’ve made it. Food specialists claim that keeping the pit in the avocado also slows browning. It works for me!
3. If I need to store my guacamole, I use plastic wrap pressed right up onto the dip itself. Make sure there are no air bubbles. This way your guac comes in contact with as little air as possible. Refrigerate.

Perfect Guacamole

Ingredients:
I’ve made this so many times that I don’t measure my ingredients anymore. Your main ingredient is the avocado, all the other ingredients can be used to taste. Add ingredients bit by bit and taste as you go! TIP: don’t over-do the onion…may result in lethal onion breath burn.

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper (or to taste)
  • Approx. a quarter of a red onion, not too much!
  • Fresh cilantro about 5-6 sprigs (wash and trim ends)
  • Juice of 1 lime (Can substitute with lemon juice. But lemons are bigger, you may not need to juice the entire thing.)
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tomato, remove all the seeds, diced (optional, I don’t always add tomatoes)

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1. Cut avocados in half. Remove pits and save for later. Scoop out all the avocado flesh into a bowl.

2. Finely chop red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno. I use a food processor. The processor will make sort of a paste-like mixture and your dip will be smoother. For a more chunky guac, chop with a knife. If you’re not a fan of spiciness, you can remove the jalapeno seeds. Jalapeno peppers aren’t generally too hot. I usually use half a pepper and leave the seeds in. Transfer chopped mix into the bowl with the avocado.

3. Add lime juice, salt, and pepper.

4. Mash, mash, mash, mash, mash. You avocados should be ripe enough to mash in the bowl with a fork. Continue mashing and mixing until everything is smooth and well mixed together. You can mash more or less depending on whether you like a smoother or chunkier dip.

5. Add in your chopped, deseeded tomatoes before serving. The seeds are removed to get ride of the excess water/juices. Without removing all the innards of the tomato, the juices will leak out and your guacamole will end up being really watery. If I’m bringing my guac to a friend’s, I always play it safe and keep the tomatoes on the side. Mix them in right before eating. That way you avoid watery pools forming. (I don’t have tomatoes in my photos because I didn’t add any this time around.)

6. To prevent browning, stick the pits back into the dip and lay plastic wrap right onto the top of the guacamole (no air bubbles.) Refrigerate if not serving right away.

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6. Serve with tortilla chips. 🙂

¡Buen apetito! xx

 

A Healthy Alternative To Asian Fish Balls…And Why Your Fish Balls Should Be Homemade.

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I love Chinese fish balls (and beef balls, squid balls…all of them). After all, I am part Chinese. How could I not? I’ve grown up eating them in fish ball noodle soup, curried on bamboo skewers, barbecued, in hotpots…Asians use them everywhere! If you’ve been to Hong Kong, curried fish balls are a very popular street food. These stalls can be found all over, they’re sort of the Hong Kong equivalent to hot dog stands. I have to admit though, there’s something creepy about those seafood/meat balls and how rubbery they are. If you’ve ever accidentally dropped a cooked fish ball on the floor and seen how high it bounces off the ground…weird, right? And a lot of the time, they don’t taste very fishy at all. I never really questioned what I was eating, I just ate. I thought I’d do a little investigating on how Asian fish balls were made.

I found out that the bouncier the fish ball, the better. The rubbery bounciness actually has nothing to do with the ingredients of the fish ball. (Thank goodness!) It has to do with how long and hard the fish paste is slapped down repeatedly before being balled. I’ve seen women in Hong Kong marketplaces slamming big balls of fish meat on large wooden chopping blocks. Now I know why. To make their fish balls bounce and spring open upon being eaten!…I guess.

The rest of the answers I found are not so pretty. The whole fish ball fad dates back to to the 50’s in Hong Kong. They were made as a cheap, yet filling, snack food targeted towards the low to middle class population. Most fish balls you buy today are made with cheap fish and full of additives, such as MSG, and fillers. The cheaper fish balls consist of very little fish (sometimes less than 20%) and contain a large proportion of flour. Fish balls are mass produced in factories and made with fish that are not carefully selected. The fish portion of the fish balls is called surimi. What the heck is surimi?

Surimi is an Asian fish-based food product, and a common ingredient in Asian processed foods. I’ll let Wikipedia sum it up:

“Lean meat from fish or land animals is first separated or minced. The meat then is rinsed numerous times to eliminate undesirable odors. The result is beaten and pulverized to form a gelatinous paste. Depending on the desired texture and flavor of the surimi product, the gelatinous paste is mixed with differing proportions of additives such as starch, egg white, salt, vegetable oil, humectants, sorbitol, sugar,soy protein, seasonings, and enhancers such as transglutaminases and monosodium glutamate (MSG). If the surimi is to be packed and frozen, food-grade cryoprotectants are added as preservatives while the meat paste is being mixed. Under most circumstances, surimi is processed immediately into a formed and cured product.”

Surimi is a cheaper way for manufacturers to imitate the flavour and texture of a more expensive product. They take this tasteless gelatinous paste and then add the desired artificial flavour. Not so appetizing. I’ll have a real lobster tail, thanks.

So, on to making your own fish balls at home! I came across this recipe a couple weeks ago and thought it was amazing! I’ve stolen it from The Iron Cheftress, a blog I really like. You should check it out! It’s full of creative and healthy recipes amongst lots of other interesting stuff.

This recipe makes crispy pan-fried fish balls, with a bit of jalapeno spiciness. The best part is, they’re made purely of fish and a lot less carbs then store bought versions. They’re really yummy and would be a great meal or served as an appetizer. However, these are a dry and crispy fish ball, they’re not really meant for soup. I’m going to try making some real Asian-style fish balls in broth soon, but that’ll be a different recipe to share. 🙂

Crispy Fish Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of white fish (I used 2 frozen basa fillets I had in the freezer…a bit less than a pound)
  • 1/3 of a jalapeno pepper (use more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1 inch cube of fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 inch piece of a thick carrot
  • 2 cloves of garlic (I’m sure I used more, I always use more with garlic)
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce (optional)
  • Salt (salt is unnecessary to salt frozen fish)
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of bran cereal, whole wheat flour, oat flour, whatever flour you’d like (I made these during Passover so I used matzah ball mix and it worked perfectly)

1. Process the fish until it becomes a paste, then transfer to a bowl. I used a food processor, but I’ve seen it done using the back of a chopper knife on a cutting board. (Probably more traditional Asian. If you don’t have a food processor then that will work.)

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2. Process jalapeno, carrot, ginger, garlic, and shallot. Add to the bowl of fish paste. (If you don’t have a food processor, you’ll have to samurai chop those veggies to bits.)

3. Mix it all together and season with black pepper (and salt if needed). Roll the fish paste into small bite-sized balls.

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4. If you are using bran cereal, grind it up. If not, have whatever flour you’re using in a small bowl. Roll each fish ball in your bran/flour until all sides are coated. I used matzah ball mix (for Passover purposes).

5. Heat a pan on medium heat and spray with cooking oil to keep the fish balls from sticking.

6. Once heated, place all your coated fish balls into the pan and keep rolling them around until they’re nice and crispy and a golden colour. It’s hard to make them a perfect ball. Mine kind of flattened out and became a little angular, and I may have over-browned them a bit…but they were delicious.

7. Serve them right away, with a spicy sauce. While they’re still nice and hot! I served mine with a sweet chili sauce and a horseradish ketchup (kind of like a hot cocktail sauce).

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So yummy! Enjoy! xx

Cucumber Feta Boats

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While searching for things to serve at my Passover/Easter family dinner, I came across a really simple and deliciously refreshing recipe for cucumber feta boats on Pinterest. (Although it totally slipped my mind that I was trying not to serve dairy for the sake of the Passover celebrators. They had to avoid this dish.) They are quick to make and a yummy vegetarian appetizer. You could probably play around and make different variations of the filling too.

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Cucumber Feta Boats
I used a recipe from bitedelite.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 oz of crumbled feta cheese (I used about 70-80 grams of crumbled garlic & herb feta, half of a small 150 gram container I bought)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped (use parsley or a different spice if you like)
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

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1. Wash cucumbers and cut them in half lengthwise.

2. Using a spoon, scrape the seeds out of all 4 halves. You’re left with 4 canoe-like cucumber halves.

3. Cut a small strip off the bottom of two of your cucumber halves, so that they can sit on a flat surface without rocking back and forth. These are your two cucumber boats.

4. Dice the remaining two cucumber halves. Put them in a bowl and mix in feta, salt, dill, and pepper.

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5. Divide the mixture between the two boats, carefully spooning it in.

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6. Slice the boats into 1 or 1 1/2 inch pieces.

Ready to serve! xx