Category Archives: Eat Clean

Tomato Cucumber Basil Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

That name’s a mouthful, isn’t it?  This salad was thrown together tonight in a moment of desperation when I realized I was too late to begin my planned meal. The tomatoes were ripe on the counter, cucumbers fresh from the store and the honey from my farmer’s market was just crying out to be used.  It was delicious.

When the tomatoes are fresh and plentiful I tend to make use of them and this is one of my favorite ways.  Fresh tomato salad is refreshing, easy and quite attractive {if I do say so myself}.  Enjoy!

Tomato Cucumber Basil Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 medium tomatoes
  • 2 english cucumbers
  • a small bunch of fresh basil
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
Instructions:
  • Chop your tomatoes into bite size pieces
  • Quarter your english cucumbers and chop into bite size pieces
  • Chiffonade your basil
  • Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers and basil in a large bowl. 
  • In a small sauce pan bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil. 
  • Once it has reached a boil reduce heat and simmer.  
  • Add honey to the mixture and continue to cook until the sauce thickens. 
  • When the dressing is at the desired consistency remove from heat. 
  • Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mixed until it’s coated. 
  • Enjoy!  

 Extra Information: 

  • This is a great side at a BBQ or an excellent quick dinner.  I often whip up a small salad just for lunch.  It’s so good!
  • If you don’t eat honey I’m sure agave nectar would work quite well.   I haven’t personally tried it but I’d be interested to know how it works. If you try it, let me know!
  • Just in case you don’t know what a chiffonade cut is, it’s essentially cutting your basil in ribbons.  I’m sure everyone knows that but I just wanted to clarify in case someone didn’t.  To make my life easier I stack all the basil, roll it tightly and then shave off tiny ribbons.  It’s much easier than chopping and looks quite pretty in salads and pastas.

Eating Clean!

I have some exciting news.  I’m being featured today on Tosca Reno’s blog about my plant based diet.  I’m thrilled to be part of the journey as she launches her new book, The Eat Clean Diet Vegetarian Cookbook.  I own every single copy of the the Eat Clean Series and I can honestly say her approach to food and eating has made a huge difference in my life {and I’m not paid to say that!}.

The blog I’ve written for her site talks a little bit about my weight loss journey, what we eat and how I got to where I am today.  I’m not quite finished my journey yet but am getting there as I continue to Eat Clean and try to be active.

Our house is a healthy one filled with diverse foods.  My son is a vegetarian, not a vegan so he does indulge in yogurt, milk and cheese.  My husband and I have chosen to be fully plant based but don’t feel bad for us as we don’t lack for diversity at all.  Our food is healthy, tasty and best of all packed with energy.

People often ask me what I eat because I don’t eat meat anymore and I’m always tempted to say ‘anything but meat!’.  There’s so much to choose from. With lentil soup, bean salad, tempeh tacos, homemade tofu nuggets and rice bowls in our repertoire I can honestly say that food is never boring in our home!

If you’d like to read more about my journey, join me here!

Here are a few of our favorite recipes if you’re looking for some inspiration:

  1. Kale Chips
  2. Healthy Whole Grain Pancakes
  3. Warm Spicy Carrot Soup
  4. Fat Free {almost} Chocolate Chip Cookies
  5. Homemade Trail Mix

I {heart} Kale

I’m seriously in love with Kale right now.  We use it in everything from salads to smoothies and it brings a smooth flavor to whatever we’re cooking.  Last week we had quite a few small bunches left the night before we were headed to the farmers market and I decided to make some Kale chips to use them up.  Kale chips are delicious.

If you’re looking for a kid/adult friendly way to include more greens in your diet, Kale chips may be the answer for you.  They take an already tasty veggie and crunch it up.  You get crunch, nutrition and some fun at dinner.  It’s a win/win in my book.

My recipe is simple and somewhat vague.  I’ve included step by step pictures so that you can see it’s an inexact but ridiculously easy process and one I highly recommend attempting!

Kale Chips:

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 small bunches or 2 large ones.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425. 

Clean the kale very well taking care to remove the tough woody stems from the leaves.  Break the leaves down into smaller pieces and place them in a bowl.  If the leaves are too wet at this point dry them a little before placing them in the bowl.   

This is how my leaves looked at this point.  Once your leaves are prepared, mix the olive oil and soy sauce together and then drizzle over the leaves.  Lightly toss with your hands to ensure the mixture is evenly distributed.  Place the leaves on your pan.  It should look like this:

I know the pan looks too full but trust me, it’s not.  The leaves shrink and everything will be fine.   Place your pan in the oven for 12-13 minutes.  After the alloted time remove pan from the oven.

Evenly distribute the leaves on the pan and place back in the oven for an additional 12-13 minutes.  When you remove the Kale chips from the oven a second time, check to ensure that they are cooked and crunchy.  If not, cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Transfer the chips into a bowl and lightly sprinkle onion powder and garlic powder over them.  I use a very small amount of onion powder and a slightly larger amount {though still small} of garlic powder.  The important thing to remember is to start small and taste as you go.  You do not want too much of either.  Gently toss the chips and serve!

Extra Information:

I don’t oil my pan as I have an old, beat up pan that I use for things like this.  The kale really doesn’t stick and if a few pieces do I can usually scrub them off with little to no effort.  If you are using a nice pan I would lightly spray it to ensure ease of cleaning.

You may find you have too much kale depending on the size of your bunches.  If I have a bit too much for the bowl or pan I’m using, before I drizzle the oil on I rescue a couple of handfuls and refrigerate them until I need them.  They keep very well and are quite handy once cleaned and prepped.

Hearth & Soul Hop

Healthier Coconut Lime Cupcakes

The dark horse of yesterday’s game wasn’t Mario Manningham or the Giants win but instead the healthier version of Coconut Lime Cupcakes that I threw together at the last minute.  I was worried people wouldn’t like them because I had made some serious adjustments like cutting oil, using whole wheat flour and choosing unsweetened coconut.  They were always popular before and sometimes change isn’t good when you’re used to things a certain way.  I shouldn’t have worried though as no one even noticed!  The adjustments didn’t affect the flavor and I would have to say made them even better.  The old recipe was delicious but rather heavy and unhealthy.  This new recipe is lighter yet still retains the flavor and can be enjoyed on a more regular basis.   I hope you enjoy!

Healthier Coconut Lime Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 scant c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 c lime juice

For the glaze:

  • 2 c icing sugar
  • 1/4 c lime juice

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Lightly spray or coat a 12 tin muffin tin with oil.
  • Place Coconut on cookie sheet and toast in the oven until brown for approximately 3-5 minutes.
  • Combine all ingredients except for the coconut in a food processor and blend until the mixture is well combined and smooth.
  • Add coconut and process a couple of times until the coconut is mixed in.
  • Divide the mixture evenly among the cups.
  • Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until done.
  • Remove and allow to cool.
  • Once cool combine the icing sugar and lime juice by beating vigorously.  Ensure that all bumps are removed before glazing.
  • Line your counter with parchment paper and place the cooling rack on top.
  • Drizzle the glaze on your cupcakes and allow to set before eating.
  • Enjoy!

Extra Information:

  • In my original recipe I made 6 instead of 12 cupcakes.  I really like the 12 small cupcakes as they are quite rich but you can make bigger ones if you’d like.
  • You’ll love how fast these are to prepare!  Homemade and just as fast as a mix.  It’s fantastic.  You’ll be a hero!

Carrot Cake Muffins

I flipped through recipe books quite a lot this week looking for perfect superbowl recipes.   I knew from the very start of planning that the layered taco dip I make would have to be served along with some other treats my family loves but I wanted something sweet to finish off the evening and I couldn’t find the right one.  I got to work and picked out a few recipes, narrowed them down and then changed my mind this morning.  I threw caution to the wind today and made a healthy version of my Coconut Lime Cupcakes.  Then to make sure no one left hungry {highly unlikely but you never know} a dozen carrot cake muffins.

Here is the Carrot Cake Muffin Recipe.  They were delicious! I began with the Happy Herbivore Recipe and then made some changes to make them my own. When one is cooking healthy muffins with no oil, moisture can be a problem.  As a result I boosted the applesauce to make sure they didn’t dry out.  I’ve made them both ways and I have to say I like the changes better.  The addition of the walnuts and raisins makes it a truer carrot cake and the added applesauce keeps everything moist.  I will definitely make these again!

These muffins are healthy enough to be eaten for breakfast and tasty enough to be iced and served as dessert.  If you don’t tell people they’re made with whole wheat flour, they will never know!

Enjoy!

Carrot Cake Muffins

(As you can see 2 are already missing from the dozen!  They are so good.) 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 2 scant c applesauce
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 c raisins
  • 1 large carrot shredded

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Place muffin liners in pan and grease lightly with cooking spray
  • In a small bowl combine applesauce, shredded carrot, chopped walnuts, raisins and vanilla.  Set aside.
  • In a large bowl whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Mix well.
  • Fill 12 muffin cups.
  • Bake for 23-27 minutes.
  • Once the muffins are done, place on a cooling rack.
  • Enjoy!

Extra Information:

  • The muffin cups will be very full.  It’s completely fine.  They will be nice big moist muffins but not the mutant size muffins you see in coffee shops.  Don’t worry about them overflowing as they cook.  They don’t rise that much {as you can see in the picture}.
  • Don’t over bake them.  You want to make sure that the fork/toothpick comes clean of course but if you bake them for too long they may dry out.  Moisture is a good thing.
  • Feel free to mix up the add ins if you so desire.

The definitive healthy whole grain pancake

I’ve posted recipes about pancakes before.  There were buttermilk pancakes, and whole grain pancakes but none of those really fit with our new dietary regimen.   Now we strive to be even healthier with low fat, high grain breakfast options.  I think we’ve finally accomplished that goal.  This recipe is modified from Chef Michael Smith’s original Whole Grain Pancake recipe.  I’ve cut out the added fat, white flour and eggs.  I boosted the flavor with an extra hit of cinnamon and the applesauce ensures they are moist and delicious.  Don’t let anyone tell you that a heathy pancake has to be flat and lifeless.  These were fluffy, moist and perfectly wonderful.

I hope you enjoy this delicious breakfast as much as we did!

The Definite Whole Grain Pancake
{aka: the only pancake recipe you’ll ever need}

Ingredients:

  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c large flake oatmeal
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 2 c soy milk
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp vanilla

Instructions:

  • Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl until well mixed.
  • Add the wet ingredients and stir well until combined.
  • Lightly spray a griddle and heat until it’s nice and hot.
  • Pour your pancakes on the griddle in 1/3 c quantities.
  • Cook until the first side bubbles.
  • Flip and cook until done.
  • Serve with maple syrup or peach preserves.

Extra Information:

  • This recipe made 10 fluffy pancakes.  Perfect for 4 hungry people as they are very filling.

Warm Spicy Carrot Soup.

As I looked in my fridge this afternoon and pondered what we should have for dinner I noticed 3 bags of shredded carrots that I purchased earlier this week on sale and hadn’t done anything with.  It was a dreary, cold day here with brown grass staring at me through the window so I needed something warm and comforting.  Looking at the carrots and thinking of soup I thought I’d try something a little different than the usual Curried Carrot Soup I make.   As I looked in the cupboard I found I was still moved towards an Indian flavor but wanted something milder with a fuller flavor.  This Warm Spicy Carrot Soup was the answer.  Because it was late when I began this venture I took a few shortcuts.  As a result it came together in less than 30 minutes and my husband absolutely loved it!

Warm Spicy Carrot Soup 

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb of shredded carrots
  • 8 c veggie stock
  • 3 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric

Instructions:

  • In a large stock pot place the shredded carrots, veggie stock, onion powder and garlic powder.  Stir a few times to combine.
  • Bring mixture to a boil, stirring a few times while cooking.
  • In a small bowl combine the garam masala, chili powder and tumeric.  Set aside.
  • Once it is boiling, turn heat down to medium and continue to cook until the carrots are soft.
  • About 15 minutes into the cooking process add the spice mixture.  Stir well and continue to cook.
  • Once the carrots are cooked, blend mixture well.
  • Serve!

Extra Information:

  • I use an immersion blender for this but you could easily blend it in a stand alone blender or food processor.  Don’t over blend.  A little texture is a good thing.
  • This serves 4-6 people or one very hungry husband {and his wife}.

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Fat Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well, almost.  Perhaps they should be called Almost Fat Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.   There is a small amount of naturally occurring fat in them.  Even so, they are very tasty.  When we started this Whole Food Plant Based Diet I was a little worried that we would never eat anything tasty again.  A trifle melodramatic perhaps but change is not really a strength of mine.  These cookies took that fear away.  They are the perfect, easy treat and no one has complained.  I even took them to some friends who needed a lift and they loved them.

These cookies were created after reading a few cookbooks to find some good healthy desserts.  The Happy Herbivore cookbook was particularly useful and it was the jumping point for this particular recipe.  If you haven’t checked it out, do so.  It’s got great, whole food recipes that everyone in my family (even the carnivores) have enjoyed.   I hope you like them, we sure do!

(Almost) Fat Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients: 

  • 1 scant c applesauce
  • 1/2 c heaping maple sugar or 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c soy milk
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  •  1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 bag chocolate chips
Instructions:
  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • Combine the applesauce, sugar, vanilla, maple syrup and milk in a large bowl
  • Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cornstarch and cinnamon in a medium size bowl.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.
  • Stir in the chips
  • Place spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet.  
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes 
  • Cool on a wire baking rack.
Extra Information:
  • This makes 18 huge cookies.  I like a big cookie.  It’s nice when you can say you just had one! 
  • I’ve also made 24 cookies out of the batch and they were also very good but may require slightly less cooking time.  Just watch them a little more carefully. 

Pomegranate Lime Iced Tea

As we’ve given up meat for the next month to support famine relief, I’ve been reading vegetarian/vegan cookbooks to get some ideas on what to eat for supper. So far we’ve been eating very well and are feeling great.  As I was flipping through The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone this morning, I happened to notice a recipe for Pomegranate Lime Iced Tea and thought I should give it a try.  As I looked closer though I realized I needed to tweak the recipe.  I am not a fan of sweetened iced tea and I didn’t have any fresh limes.  Here’s my variation on the original recipe. It’s tart, refreshing and completely satisfying on a mid-summer afternoon.  Enjoy! 

Pomegranate Lime Iced Tea

Ingredients:

  • 4 green tea bags 
  • 2 c unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • 1/3 c lime juice
Instructions:
  • Bring 8 c of water to a boil.
  • Pour into a tea pot with the 4 green tea bags.
  • After the tea has steeped and cooled a bit, add the pomegranate and lime juices to the pitcher.
  • Poor the green tea into the pitcher until it is full.
  • Chill in the fridge until desired temperature.
  • Enjoy!
Extra Information:
  • If you like sweetened iced tea, you’ll likely have to add a sweetener as this is quite tart.  Try maple syrup or honey for a natural boost.
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Muskoka Bean Salad

While we were in Muskoka this summer there were a few days that were so mind numbingly hot that all we could do was jump in the car and head out to find somewhere with air conditioning or a cool breeze.  While we were exploring the countryside we happened upon Marty’s World Famous Cookbook by a local cafe owner Marty Curtis.   

As I poured through the pages that night I knew we had to find this cafe and give some of his delicacies a try.  The next day with some assistance from Google I found Marty and his Buttertarts in Bracebridge Ontario.   As I stood at the counter eyeing the deep dish pie and the delicious looking buttertarts, I knew that the only way to justify eating dessert was to order lunch first.

As I tucked in to some of Marty’s World Famous Bean Salad, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  I had read the recipe in the cookbook and I’m usually not a fan of canned vegetables of any sort.  That said when I arrived home I knew I wanted to kick it up a notch.  I wanted to dial back the heat, ramp up the flavor and really feature fresh ingredients.  I’d like to thank Marty for the inspiration. This bean dish has become one of our staple recipes throughout our Meat Free month for Famine Relief and no one is going hungry as a result.

Muskoka Bean Salad

Ingredients: 

  • One can of chickpeas, drained
  • One can of kidney beans, drained
  • A couple of handfuls of fresh green beans (approx. 1 small box) washed and cut into bite sized pieces.
  • One cup of frozen corn.
  • 1/2 of a sweet onion, chopped.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance Butter (or margarine/butter whichever you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Heat the Earth Balance and olive oil in a pan on medium heat until the Earth Balance has melted.
  • Add the onion and cook until the onion is softened and beginning to brown.  This usually takes 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the green beans and corn.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly to ensure they don’t stick.
  • While the beans and corn are cooking mix together the balsamic vinegar, basil and honey.  Set aside.
  • Add the chickpeas and kidney beans to the pot.  Cook for another minute.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the dressing.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
Extra Information:
  • This keeps very well and it tends to go quickly in our house.   I often make it as a side and eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.
  • If you don’t eat honey feel free to substitute Agave Nectar or Maple Syrup at your discretion.