Shakshuka

Originally a North African dish, this is a recipe our Generation Health program assistant, Paneet, tried making for the first time during isolation. It’s great for a leisurely weekend breakfast or even a dinner, served with crusty bread and salad or steamed green beans. It can also be adapted to your taste by adding fresh or roasted red pepper or eggplant, different herbs like parsley or cilantro and even spice like hot chili flakes.

Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large (798 mL) can peeled tomatoes

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

8 eggs

½ cup feta, cubed or crumbled

1 bunch basil

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large, oven-proof skillet, heat oil on the stovetop over medium low heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and saute 1 minute then add the tomatoes, paprika, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often and breaking up larger chunks of tomato to form a thick sauce, approximately 15 minutes. Create 8 wells (small indents) in the sauce and gently crack one egg into each one. Place in oven and bake for 5-7 minutes, until eggs are mostly set. Top with feta and bake another 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and top with torn basil leaves. Serve 2 eggs in sauce to each person, with toast or crusty bread and veggies like salad or steamed green beans.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Moroccan Grilled Veggie Skewers

Barbecue meals are so fun and flavourful and taste even better eaten outside! Try to base them around vegetables and healthier protein foods instead of red and processed meats for optimum health. These Moroccan veggie skewers are so easy and delicious and pair well with a chickpea salad and wholegrain couscous, or perhaps some grilled Moroccan chicken and tzatziki yogurt sauce.

Serves 4

8-10 large wooden (or metal) skewers

¼ cup olive oil

Juice of 1 large lemon

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

¼ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 bunch parsley or cilantro, finely chopped

2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped into 1-inch pieces

20 small cremini (brown) mushrooms

2 medium zucchini, cut into ½-inch thick rings

1 red onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

If using wooden skewers, soak them for 30-60 minutes ahead of cooking. Meanwhile, combine all marinade ingredients and mix well. Place all prepared vegetables in a large bowl or dish and cover with the marinade. Let sit for 60 minutes or refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Thread the veggies evenly onto the skewers without packing them too tightly. Heat the grill to medium low and brush with oil to prevent sticking. Lay the skewers perpendicular to the grill grate and cook, turning frequently with tongs, until soft, approximately 15 minutes. Try to avoid flare ups that cause charring by keeping a bit of water nearby that can lightly douse the flame and also ensuring the skewers aren’t dripping a lot of marinade. Serve immediately or refrigerate leftovers to use in a salad or soup the next day.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Easy Break & Bake Chicken

Buying whole chicken is much more affordable, rather than boneless and skinless pieces. By cooking with the bones in, you get a much moister finished product and you can keep the bones to make delicious stock. By breaking the chicken down, also called butterflying or spatchcocking, it cooks more quickly and evenly.

Makes 2 meals for a family of 4

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped or pressed

2 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped or cut

1 tsp salt

½ tsp cracked black pepper

1 whole chicken, approx 1.8 kg (4 lbs)

Combine oil, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper in a small dish and set aside. Put a large cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 400F. Get a Ziploc freezer bag out and put the chicken on a cutting board breast side down. Take sharp kitchen shears or a sharp knife and cut along both sides of the back bone, which will allow you to open the chicken up into a butterfly. Remove the back bone and put it in your stock bag. Snip off any excess fat. Take the oil mixture and rub it all over the chicken on both sides and under the skin.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Beans & Rice

My daughter recently told me this was on her top 5 list of favourite meals. This is fantastic because beans and rice are so easy to make and one of the most affordable meals on our roster. This is a staple meal eaten in different variations around the world, but this version has more of a Mexican influence.

Serves 4

2 cups brown rice

4 cups cooked or canned beans (e.g. pinto, black, kidney)

2 Tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp ground cumin

2 tsp soy sauce

Toppings: shredded cabbage or lettuce, sliced avocado, chopped tomato, sliced bell pepper, minced jalapeno, hot sauce, grated or crumbled cheese, Greek yogurt, corn chips 

Cook rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, drain the beans and heat a large skillet on medium low heat. Add oil then the garlic and cumin and cook for 1-2 minutes stirring continually until the garlic is just turning golden, not burning. Add the beans and stir while mashing with a wooden spoon or masher. Add water to prevent the beans from sticking and to help them reach a spoonable consistency (I like to keep some texture so I don’t fully mash all the beans, just enough to bind it all together and enough water so it’s not too thick). Add the soy sauce and adjust seasonings to taste. 

Serve a bowl of rice, topped with beans and let everyone add their own toppings. Corn chips are yummy alongside, as is a coleslaw!

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Stuffed Mushrooms

Kids can cook! Engaging them in the kitchen, as early as possible, helps to set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating, by increasing their food literacy and confidence in cooking. Start by getting them to participate in the menu planning and grocery list so they have some choice over what they’re making. 

These stuffed mushrooms were completely Nora’s idea and she developed the recipe on the fly! They are savoury and delicious and add even more veggies to your plate.

Serves 4

12 large button mushrooms

½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

½ cup feta cheese, crumbled

2 Tbsp parsley, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ lemon, juiced

½ cup parmesan and/or cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a baking dish. Carefully remove the stems from the mushrooms without breaking the caps then lay the caps upside down in the baking dish. Combine the nuts, feta, parsley, garlic and lemon in a mixing bowl then fill the caps. Top with the parmesan and/or cheddar. Bake for 20-30 minutes until mushrooms are tender and cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.

Recipe by Nora Crowley (age 11) and her mom, Nicole Fetterly RD

Stinging Nettle Soup

Stinging nettle is a plant that emerges in the spring throughout the forests of BC and has been used by our indigenous communities for centuries. The ‘sting’ comes from tiny needles on the plant that contain an acid that irritates our skin. Gardening gloves must be worn for harvesting but once nettles are cooked, the ‘sting’ goes away. For more information, check out http://mapping.uvic.ca/section/stinging-nettle

Always use caution when wild foraging for food and be sure you know what you’re looking for and how to harvest and prepare it safely.

Stinging nettle is often used to make tea but can also be used in most applications as a substitute for spinach.

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

½ pound stinging nettles, washed (or substitute spinach)

1 pound potatoes, peeled and chopped

6 cups stock or water

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

¼ tsp nutmeg

Greek yogurt or sour cream for garnish (optional)

Heat a large pot on medium-low then add the olive oil and onion. Sauté for 5-10 minutes until onion is soft and golden. Add nettles, potatoes, water, salt and pepper. Cook for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Cool slightly then blend until smooth and creamy, in batches in a blender or use an immersion blender in the pot. Add nutmeg and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately, topped with Greek yogurt or sour cream if desired, and with bread and a spring salad.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Vegetable Stock 101

Making your own stock adds so much richness and depth to a soup and is a great way to minimize waste and cook ‘nose-to-tail’ whether you eat animals or not. The key is to keep a container or bag in the freezer and add the parts of plants we normally compost like celery leaves and carrot ends. For those consuming animal proteins, buy whole chickens rather than pieces and save the bones after cooking, then reduce the amount of vegetables in the recipe below and add the bones with the water.

Once you’ve made the stock, fill it with your favourite soup ingredients, like fresh spring vegetables, cooked legumes and whole grains.

Makes about 2 Litres

1 Tbsp olive oil

4- 6 cups vegetable ends or peels from celery, carrot, leeks, scallions, garlic, fennel, chard, lettuce, potatoes, parsnips, green beans, squash, bell peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, and asparagus, corn cobs, winter squash, beet greens, and herbs like parsley and cilantro (*be mindful of onion skins and beet peels as they will colour the stock and cruciferous veg like cauliflower, sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and turnip that are too strong)

OR use 1 chopped onion and any of the above vegetables

12 cups water

2 bay leaves

2 tsp salt

Optional ingredients: using a reusable tea-style infuser, fill with spices like allspice, coriander seed, peppercorns and perhaps star anise if you’re going to make pho.

In a large pot, heat oil on medium low heat. Add vegetables and stir occasionally for 5-10 minutes until softening and golden. Add bones if using. Top with water, generously covering all of the vegetables (and bones). Add the bay leaves, salt and other spices. Turn up heat to bring to a boil then lower to simmer for at least an hour. Drain solids. Use immediately or cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Kid-Made Quesadilla

Quesadillas are a great recipe to start children making, as early as 7 or 8 years old, and they work well for lunch, snacks or dinner. Using black or refried beans adds a dose of plant-based protein, iron and fibre which will keep kids satisfied longer. They can be made on the stove top or in the microwave with adult supervision (remember to teach them not to use metal in the microwave!).

Serves 2

2 large whole grain tortillas (or 4 corn tortillas)

½ cup grated or crumbled cheese

½ cup black or refried beans

Salsa, guacamole or hot sauce as desired

In a large skillet (or on a large microwave-safe plate), place 1 tortilla. Cover with the cheese then sprinkle the beans evenly over top. If using refried beans, they can be spread on the other tortilla. Place the second tortilla on top of the cheese and beans. Turn stove on to medium low and heat quesadilla for approximately 5 minutes on one side then carefully flip and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes. If microwaving, cook on high for 2 minutes or until cheese is fully melted. Be careful removing the hot plate from the microwave or the quesadilla from the skillet. Using clean kitchen scissors, cut the quesadilla into 8 even pieces. Enjoy with salsa and guacamole or your other favourite vegetables!

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Feel the Beet!

It’s Valentine’s Day and you want to show your love without focusing on candy and chocolates. What’s the answer? Beet it! One of the most colourful vegetables in the world, the pink hue of beets can bring the Valentine’s spirit to any meal. Here are a few ideas to try:

Breakfast:

  • Pretty in Pink Smoothie: add one or two peeled beets to a smoothie made with raspberries or strawberries and yogurt, kefir or milk. Hemp hearts can add extra protein, fibre and healthy fats.
  • Pink Pancakes: peel and grate a beet and add to the batter of your favourite whole grain or potato pancakes.

Lunch: 

  • Love Soup: make borscht, a traditional Russian beet soup. Add other veggies like potato and carrot to mellow the flavour for those new to beets and consider pureeing it for a smooth texture. Serve topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh dill.
  • Beet Hummus: add roasted beets to your favourite hummus recipe (or save time and use store-bought). Serve with veggies for dipping and whole grain pita or crackers.

Dinner: 

  • Valentine’s Mash: add a peeled, chopped beet to your potatoes as you cook them and watch the magic of them turning pink! Serve with beautifully pink wild salmon and pickled red onions.
  • Beet Bowls: add grated beet to your favourite grain bowl, along with other cooked and/or raw veggies and plant-based protein like smoked or baked tofu, tempeh, edamame, nuts or seeds.

Dessert:

  • Okay, maybe we do need a little sweet treat on Valentines! Healthify it with whole grains and beets in mini Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes. Colour the cream cheese frosting with beet juice made by grating and squeezing beets rather than artificial food colouring.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Med Spread

Eating like they do in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea has been shown to have positive effects on chronic disease risk and mental health. The Mediterranean diet is founded in a daily abundance of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, olive oil and unrefined grains. They also add seafood, poultry, cheese and yogurt a few times per week but limit sweets and meat to occasional consumption. Celebrate the Mediterranean way of eating with your family by filling the table with an assortment of traditional dishes:

  • Hummus—easy to make at home from chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, garlic and lemon (or pick up a locally made one). Also consider trying another dip like Baba Ghanoush, made from roasted eggplant.
  • Feta or goat cheese—experiment with cheeses made from goat or sheep’s milk for variety and flavour.
  • Olives—choose an assortment of different sizes and colours.
  • Veggies—roasted, pureed into dips, tossed in a salad or try mushrooms sautéed in garlic and white wine. Be sure to include 3 or 4 different vegetables.
  • Olive oil—as a dip for bread, drizzled on veggies or legumes—the greener the better for loads of antioxidants called polyphenols.
  • Grain salad—try our recipe for Warm Walnut Barley salad or experiment with other whole grains like farro or millet.
  • Whole grain pita bread—although a refined grain product, many kinds have very few ingredients.
  • Fruit—figs, grapes and dates are nature’s candy and pair well with cheese—enjoy dessert while you’re eating dinner!

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD