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

Stir Fried Veggies & Tofu

A stir fry is a great way to use up veggies from the fridge and fill your plate with plants! The key is to group your vegetables according to cooking time so they get added to the pan or wok at the right time to achieve the right texture (e.g. not too crunchy, not too mushy). The tofu is also another conundrum—if you’ve ever had bland, improperly cooked tofu, it’s possibly turned you off for life! But tofu can be so delicious, as long as it has time to absorb some flavour. This can be done by marinating it in advance or to save time, try using smoked tofu which already has great texture and flavour. 

Serves 4

1 Tbsp high-heat cooking oil (e.g. peanut, grapeseed, coconut, canola)

6-8 cups of vegetables

2 packages firm, extra-firm or smoked tofu

1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar or lime juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ginger, grated or finely minced (optional)

2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Tofu Marinade (unless using smoked tofu):

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce

Juice of 1 lemon or lime

2 Tbsps fresh herbs (e.g. cilantro, parsley, basil)

 

1. If using firm or extra-firm tofu, marinate it for 1 hour at room temperature (or in the fridge for a few hours or overnight) prior to cooking. Simply combine marinade ingredients in a shallow dish then add 1- inch cubes of tofu and swirl gently to coat the tofu.

2. Meanwhile, prepare your veggies. It’s key to have everything cut in small enough pieces that they cook quickly but not diced so small it turns to a mushy stew. So quarter or halve mushrooms, slice peppers, onion and cabbage, tear or slice greens, cut broccoli into small florets, trim the ends off green beans. Make the sauce by combing the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar or lime, garlic and ginger then set aside. 

3. When everything is ready, heat your large pan or wok on medium-high heat then add the cooking oil. Add one drop of water to the pan to test if it sizzles and pops, meaning it’s ready First cook the heartier veggies like broccoli, carrots and onion, stirring continually. After 3 minutes, add the tofu, drained of any remaining marinade. After 3 more minutes, add the next round of veggies like peppers, cabbage and mushrooms. After another 3 minutes, continuously stirring, add the remaining veggies like green beans and leafy greens and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the sauce, stirring to coat everything in the pan. Serve garnished with sesame seeds and cilantro over a bed of brown rice.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Salmon en Papillote (in paper)

Eating fatty fish like salmon at least twice a week is the best way to ensure your family is getting the essential omega 3 fatty acids they need for a healthy brain, heart and immune system. By cooking the fish in parchment (or foil), it keeps it very moist and flavourful, not to mention saving on the clean-up time!

Serves 4

4 filets (~150 g each) of wild Pacific or steelhead salmon
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
½ tsp salt
1 lemon, sliced thinly in rounds

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Take 4 (~45 cm) sheets of parchment paper (or foil if necessary) and lay out on a large baking tray. Place one filet of salmon in the center of each piece.

2. In a small bowl, combine the mustard, oil, parsley, garlic and salt. Brush evenly over each piece of salmon then top with slices of lemon.

3. Fold the parchment up and over the salmon and fold and pinch the edges together to make a loose seal (like you’re wrapping a present). Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork.

4. Remove from parchment and lay fish on a bed of brown rice. Serve with steamed veggies or a salad.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Creamy Carrot Soup with Peanut Drizzle

Carrots are an easy and affordable vegetable to find at this dark time of year because they store well over the winter. Adding a drizzle of flavourful peanut sauce (or simply chopped peanuts to save time) takes this comforting soup to the next level!

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
4 medium carrots, sliced
2 cups low sodium stock or water
¼ cup short grain brown or Arborio rice
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup peanut sauce (homemade or bottled)
2 tbsp parsley or cilantro, finely chopped

1. In a large pot, heat oil on medium then add onion, celery and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in carrots, stock and rice then bring to a boil. Reduce heat simmer, partially covered, for 30-40 minutes or until carrots and rice are tender.

2. In a blender or food processor, puree soup in batches until smooth and creamy. Return to pot and heat until hot. Stir in salt, pepper and milk. 

3. Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with a drizzle of peanut sauce (or chopped peanuts) and parsley or cilantro.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Warm Walnut and Barley Salad

A flavourful and satisfying vegetarian meal or side-dish packed with nutrients, like fibre, antioxidants and healthy fats to keep your heart and brain healthy. Walnut oil provides a warm, nutty finish that complements hearty barley and sharp goat feta. Serve with a green salad alone, with grilled salmon or even as a new addition to a holiday dinner.

Serves 4

1 cup hulled or pearl barley
1 1/2 cups mushroom or other vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup walnut oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch spinach, chopped
1 cup goat feta, crumbled
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Place barley, stock and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, to make the dressing, whisk together the walnut oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, salt and garlic. Set aside,
allowing the flavours to combine. When the barley is cooked, remove from heat and stir in spinach to wilt from the heat of the barley. Add the dressing, feta and walnuts and mix well. Serve warm, although it also keeps beautifully for 3 – 5 days in the fridge and can be eaten as a cold salad.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Buddha Bowls

This recipe is great due to its versatility–substitute any veggies in the fridge and mix up the protein to keep it interesting. It’s nice to pair at least one roasted vegetable with the raw for different textures. This dish can be served hot, cold or at room temperature. If you cook anything in advance, cool and chill it or use it within 2 hours of cooking.

Yield: 4 servings

1.5 cups quinoa or brown rice
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped into 1 inch cubes (or cauliflower)
2 tsps olive oil
salt, pepper, cinnamon, cajun seasoning to taste
1 cup red cabbage, finely shredded
2 cups other veggies e.g. leafy greens, grated carrot or beet, chopped peppers, or cucumbers
2 cups cooked protein e.g. boiled eggs, shredded chicken, cooked shrimp, baked or smoked tofu
1 cup sauce e.g. peanut, miso/tahini (mix equal parts with minced garlic, fresh lemon or lime & water to desired consistency)

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Toss sweet potatoes with oil and desired spices and spread in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes until tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. 

2. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot, cook brown rice or quinoa according to package directions. Set aside once done with a clean tea towel between the pot and the lid to absorb the steam. Let cool 10 minutes. 

3. In four shallow bowls or plates, place an equal serving of quinoa or rice (tip: pack grains into a 3/4 cup measure to use as a mold). Place other veggies and protein in small piles surrounding grains, creating a beautiful and colourful plate. Drizzle with sauce.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

Pasta Fazool

Need some help achieving a family goal of cooking and eating at home together more often? In the winter months, a hearty soup can make a comforting weekly staple meal that also translates into lunch leftovers for the next day. This recipe can also help achieve a goal of teaching children (or adults!) basic cooking skills to last them a lifetime—once you know how to make soup, you can change it up based on what’s on sale at the store, what may need to be used up in the fridge or to your favourite flavours.

Most soups start with a base called a mirepoix—the magical trinity of onions, carrots and celery—that flavour so many dishes around the world. A stock then gets added and then the star ingredients, whether they be other veggies, a protein source, herbs and spices and other flavour-builders. Paired with some crusty bread and a salad, soup can truly make a meal!

Serves 4-6

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 large carrot, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tomatoes, chopped (or 1 x 398 mL can of diced tomatoes)
3 sprigs rosemary, stemmed and minced (or basil or parsley)
3 cups dark leafy greens (e.g. spinach, chard or kale), chopped
1.5 Litre stock (or water)
2 cups cooked legumes (e.g. chickpeas, beans, lentils) or 1 x 398mL can
2 cups dried wholegrain pasta
Salt, pepper, fresh herbs, parmesan cheese to taste

Heat olive oil over medium low heat in a large pot. Add onion, carrot and celery and sauté for 8-10 minutes until soft and golden. Add garlic, tomatoes and rosemary and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add cooked legumes and pasta and cook at least as long as the pasta “cooking instructions” on the box or bag. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve garnished with fresh herbs (e.g. basil, parsley) and/or parmesan cheese.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD

What’s in the Fridge Frittata

Although this recipe mentions greens and carrot, so many different veggies can work, especially those lingering leftovers (e.g. raw veggies from a crudités platter, roasted roots, broccoli, mushrooms or green beans—the possibilities are endless). It’s a great way to use things up and make a quick, healthy meal. It can be served warm for breakfast, lunch or dinner and is also delicious cold on a sandwich with mayo, mustard and lettuce.

Serves 4

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 bunch of red chard or other leafy greens
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cracked pepper
1 carrot, peeled and grated
8 eggs, beaten
2-3 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (e.g. parsley, dill, rosemary)
¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled (or another favourite)

Preheat oven to 350F. Heat a large oven-safe skillet on the stovetop on medium low heat.  Add oil then onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring until softened. Meanwhile stem chard and chop stems and leaves separately. Add chopped stems to the onion with the salt and pepper. Stir for another 5 minutes, then add the shredded chard leaves (or any cooked veggies you’re using up). Stir often to help the water evaporate and wilt the chard. Stir in the grated carrot and then add the beaten egg. Tilt the pan to spread the egg over all the veggies. Top with cheese and herbs. Cook 5 minutes and then bake in oven 10 more minutes, until puffing up. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then slice into wedges.

Recipe by Nicole Fetterly, RD