Vegan Halloween Meringues

These little ghosts are adorable and they’re so simple to make, using an ingredient that you might normally pour down the sink! Aquafaba is the liquid that comes in a can of chickpeas and if you whip it for awhile, it acts just like egg whites and becomes stiff, white and glossy. This can be used to make vegan mayonnaise too.

Serves 4

½ cup aquafaba (from unsalted canned chickpeas)

¼ tsp apple cider vinegar

¼ cup fine white sugar

1 ounce dark chocolate

Put the aquafaba and vinegar in a large bowl and whisk for 8-10 minutes until it has doubled in size and holds a peak. This is best done with a stand mixer or an electric hand-held mixer. Add the sugar gradually, continuing to whisk until the mixture is glossy and stiff.

Preheat the oven to 210F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the meringue mixture in a piping bag with a large tip and pipe three circles, a larger bottom one (approx. 2 inch diameter) then a smaller on top of that and then an even smaller one, leaving with a pointy ‘head’. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Bake for 2 hours and then turn the oven off and leave them to dry another hour until they are firm and set. Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler or very slowly in the microwave, being careful not to burn it. Using a piping bag with a small tip or a toothpick, add chocolate eyes and a round mouth. Serve immediately or keep in an airtight container.

By Nicole Fetterly, RD

Duck Ragu

By Nicole Fetterly, RD

Although not as commonly eaten as chicken here in North America, duck is a very healthy protein to choose. Although the skin is known to be very fatty, overall duck has a better fat profile than many other animal foods, with high levels of unsaturated fats, including omega 6. Removing the skin before eating is a great way to keep your overall fat intake, especially saturated fat, within recommended limits. This recipe is incredibly delicious and can be made well in advance to simmer slowly on the stove top on an autumn afternoon.

Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 duck legs and 2 duck breasts, washed and dried

1 tsp salt

1 medium onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced

1 can (796 mL) tomatoes

½ cup red wine

1 can (125 mL) tomato paste

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a roasting pan lightly with olive oil then place duck parts skin side down. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Roast in oven for 20 minutes, then flip once and continue roasting approximately 10 more minutes until an internal temperature of 74C is reached. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 Tbsp oil on medium low. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, approximately 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and rosemary and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add red wine and tomato paste.

Once the duck is cool enough to handle, remove the skin (this can be chopped finely and mixed in with cat or dog food in small amounts as a special treat) and bones. The fat in the pan can also be saved to cook potatoes in, just keep it refrigerated. Shred the meat then add to the ragu. Simmer on low for one to four hours then serve over noodles with a side of green beans or salad.

Squash & Bean Fritters

By Nicole Fetterly, RD

Nothing says fall like squash and pumpkin! These hearty vegetables are packed with fibre and complex carbohydrates to give you lasting energy, not to mention vitamin A, calcium and other key nutrients. They grow abundantly in BC and are so versatile in soups, stews, curries, baking, smoothies, risotto and of course, fritters, which could be eaten for any meal of the day. Roast halved, seeded squash in its skin for simplicity then scoop out the flesh, or in a pinch, use canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling which has lots of added sugar). You can also save the seeds to roast—just rinse off the stringy bits, lay them in an even layer on a baking sheet until dry then drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and roast at 325F for 10-15 minutes until golden, stirring occasionally.

Serves 4

1 medium-sized squash (e.g. acorn, butternut, sugar pumpkin) or 2 cans (398 mL) canned pumpkin

1 tsp olive oil

1 can (14 oz/398 mL) white beans, drained and rinsed

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 cup chickpea, ground oat or whole wheat flour

¼ tsp cardamom

¼ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp chili powder

2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Set seeds aside for roasting if desired. Place squash halves skin side down on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool. This step can be done up to 2 days in advance (keep cooked squash in the fridge).

Meanwhile, place beans in bowl and mash, then add lemon juice, flour, salt and spices. Scoop the squash out of the skin and add to the bowl, mashing it up. Stir it all together to combine well.

Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of oil. Scoop approximately 1.5 tablespoons of squash mixture into the pan and flatten slightly into a fritter. Repeat forming another 9 small fritters. Cook approximately 2-3 minutes then flip and cook another 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pan to a paper-towel lined plate and keep warm in the oven.

Add remaining 1 Tbsp of oil to pan and cook remaining 10 fritters. Serve warm with a yogurt dipping sauce if desired or if eating for breakfast, a light drizzle of maple syrup.

Sheet Pan Dinners

By Nicole Fetterly, RD

Quick dinners are key now that summer is over and we’re returning to the back-to-school and work routine. Sheet pan meals are a simple way to create a balanced dinner and the best part is the minimal clean up. Vary up the protein, veggies and spices to put a new spin on it each week! If not including starchy veggies like potatoes or squash, consider serving with a whole grain like quinoa or a crusty baguette.

Serves 4

Olive oil
Protein choices—1 lb fish/boneless chicken/tempeh, cut into 4 even pieces OR 200 g halloumi cheese, cut into 4 slices OR 3 cups canned chickpeas
Vegetable choices—aim for 6 cups of a selection of sliced onion/cabbage/fennel, quartered mushrooms, pieces of kale, thinly sliced & peeled winter squash, grape tomatoes, peeled & quartered beets, baby carrots, halved nugget potatoes, strips of sweet potato
Herbs & spices—whole cloves of garlic, sprigs of rosemary or sage, za’atar, ground cumin, smoked paprika—the possibilities are endless!

Simply oil a large sheet pan and preheat oven to 350F. Lay out your protein so it is evenly spaced. Place veggies all around the protein. Drizzle everything with more olive oil, then top with your choice of herbs and spices and a sprinkle of salt. Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness of protein, flipping once halfway through. Always check to be sure higher risk proteins like chicken and fish have reached a safe internal temperature of 74C.

Last of Summer Tomato Flatbread

By Nicole Fetterly, RD

Consider this for your first-day-of-school dinner to celebrate the stressful transition with comforting food while enjoying the end of summer bounty of fresh tomatoes. Look for an assortment of fresh, local and possibly heirloom tomatoes of all colours, shapes and sizes. Serve with a side salad.

Serves 4

4 whole grain flatbreads

Olive oil or pesto sauce

4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

1 lb fresh, local tomatoes, sliced thickly and seeds removed

½ cup fresh basil, finely chopped

Using either your barbecue on indirect heat or a 350F oven, grill one side of the flatbread for 2 minutes. Flip over and brush the grilled side with olive oil or pesto sauce then layer slices of cheese and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill flatbreads, toppings side up, for another 2-4 minutes until cheese is melting. Remove from heat and top with fresh tomatoes and basil and another drizzle of olive oil or sprinkle of salt and pepper as desired.

Oatmeal Everything Cookies

By Nicole Fetterly, RD

These cookies can be a great addition to a balanced lunch or even eaten as a quick breakfast, as they are packed with fibre and protein. Get the kids involved in making a big batch for the freezer before school starts and save on the cost and packaging of all the processed snacks and bars.

Makes a lot!

2 cups sugar (or substitute half honey or maple syrup)

½ cup blackstrap molasses

1 cup butter

½ cup nut or seed butter (check on allergen restrictions in your child’s classroom)

½ cup plain yogurt

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

5 cups oats

2 cups whole grain flour

¾ cup white flour

1.5 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 cups nuts or seeds (e.g. pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts)

1 cup raisins or dried cranberries

1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cream together the sugar, molasses, butter and nut butter in a large bowl or an electric mixer. Add the yogurt, egg and vanilla and mix well. Add the oats, flours, baking soda and salt and stir until just combined. Add the nuts, seeds, dried fruit and chocolate chips. Take a large spoonful (an ice cream scoop works well) and form into a ball then flatten into a patty. These cookies do not spread much so try to get them flat without breaking them apart. Bake on ungreased baking sheets for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.

Low-Sodium Tortilla Soup

This soup is packed with flavour from all of the delicious toppings so you won’t even notice that it is low in sodium. It’s a meal in itself so serve with a simple side salad or coleslaw.

Serves 5-6

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 (~750 g) chicken breasts, bone in/skin on

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 onion, chopped

3-5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

1 tsp freshly ground cumin

1 tsp oregano

1 can (798 mL) whole tomatoes, no salt added

4 cups (1 L) low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

3 cups unsalted corn chips

¾ cup cheddar or jack cheese, shredded

1 avocado, sliced

3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, minced

1 lime

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a soup pot on medium heat. Wash and pat dry chicken then slice through thickest part of breast to create a slit. Lay sliced garlic in a thin layer in slit. Add chicken to pan, skin down and brown, approximately 8 minutes. Flip chicken, cover and continue cooking for approximately 10 minutes until fully done and the internal temperature has reached 74C. Remove from pan and set aside. When cool enough to handle, use hands to pull off skin and bone and remove garlic and tear chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Add chopped onion to pan, reduce heat and sauté gently for 5 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño and sauté another 3-5 minutes. Add spices, sauté 1-2 minutes then add the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

In a blender, puree soup to your desired consistency. Return to pan to heat until ready to serve.

To plate, add ½ cup corn chips to a shallow bowl. Top with ½ cup chicken and 1/8 cup shredded cheese. Pour soup over to fill bowl. Add slices of avocado. Garnish with cilantro and fresh lime.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Better Burgers!

Eating beef burgers on white buns slathered in condiments like mayonnaise and ketchup should be reserved for the occasional summer treat. A better burger can be eaten much more frequently! Swap the refined buns for whole grain and try healthier condiments like avocado, sauerkraut or a simple slaw. Opt for portobello steaks, fish or seafood, ground turkey or homemade veggie patties (although the newer store-bought veggie patties are better for the environment than beef, they aren’t necessarily that much better for your health). If you do choose beef or another red meat, substitute chopped mushrooms, lentils, oats or bulgur for approximately 1/3 of the ground meat to boost health, not to mention lower cost!

Serves 4

1 Tbsp olive oil

½ lb (225 g) mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 lb (454 g) ground turkey

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground pepper

1 tsp soy sauce

1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

4 whole grain buns

1 avocado

Dijon mustard

Sliced tomato and lettuce for topping

In a skillet over medium-low heat, add olive oil then mushrooms in an even layer. Do not stir them. Allow to lightly brown and release their juices then add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add to a mixing bowl with turkey, salt, pepper, soy sauce, parsley and egg. Combine well then form into 4 patties. Refrigerate until ready to barbecue.

Prepare buns with toppings or lay on a platter for everyone to assemble as they wish. Heat grill to medium-high, clean and lightly oil the grill. Cook patties for approximately 4 minutes per ½ inch thickness, flipping them only once to prevent moisture loss. Ensure an internal temperature of 71C (160F). Serve immediately with a side salad or grilled veggies.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

The Best Bedtime Snacks

What we eat in the evening can impact our quality of sleep by influencing the production of serotonin, one of the key chemical messengers (neurotransmitter) involved in sleep. If you eat dinner late, a bedtime snack may be unnecessary, but if dinner happened at 5 or 6pm, then it is common to feel a little hunger around 8 or 9pm and it can be harder to fall asleep if your tummy is growling. This is different than mindlessly grazing while watching t.v., which research shows can lead to unnecessary weight gain. Be intentional with a bedtime snack by consuming it 2 to 3 hours after dinner and prioritize serotonin-supporting foods:

  • Complex carbohydrates—if choosing a carbohydrate snack, prioritize whole grain foods and fruit. Simple carbohydrates as found in refined grains and sweet treats can reduce serotonin levels and impact sleep, not to mention quickly raise blood sugar levels and then drop them even further. 
  • Lean proteins—we’ve all heard about tryptophan in turkey causing the sleepy feeling after Thanksgiving dinner. Tryptophan is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein, and it’s found in many protein foods, including lower-fat dairy. The glass of warm milk your mom always suggested actually will help you fall asleep! But some plain yogurt or lower-fat cheese could work too.
  • Heart-healthy fats—like those found in peanut butter and other nuts and seeds are a great choice before bed. Spread natural nut butter (without added sugar or other fats) on an apple or banana, or have a handful of nuts with some raisins or a couple of dates.
  • Herbal tea—a warm beverage can be very soothing before bed. Try chamomile, peppermint or our Hug in a Mug recipe. And be sure to avoid any caffeine-containing beverages after 1 or 2pm.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Whole Grain Zucchini Muffins

It’s the time of summer where local zucchini is dominating gardens, markets and grocery stores. Besides making zoodles, stuffed or grilled zucchini or dehydrating into chips, zucchini is a great addition to baking as it provides so much moisture. Consider making a double-batch of these healthy, whole grain muffins to freeze some for easy snacks or breakfast on-the-go!

Makes 12 muffins

½ cup olive oil

½ cup maple syrup or honey

2 eggs

2/3 cup plain yogurt, kefir or buttermilk

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1.5 cups zucchini, grated

2 cups whole grain flour

½ cup toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 375F and grease or line a regular 12 cup muffin tin. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and maple syrup or honey. Add eggs and beat well. Add yogurt, cinnamon, baking powder, soda and salt. Stir in zucchini then the flour and nuts if using. Do not overmix. Divide evenly amongst the muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.