ranch hummus

ranch hummus - the veggie nook #vegan #glutenfree

a few weeks back, my coworkers and i threw our bosses a wedding shower because they’re pretty much the most amazing bosses ever. and since i work with foodies. nutritionists, a culinary school grad and health nuts, the spread was amazing

gluten-free mocha cupcakes, rice paper wraps with peanut sauce, fresh fruit and veggies, roasted chickpeas in multiple flavours, punch, bruschetta, mini pitas, gluten-free crackers and this hummus.

i volunteered to make the hummus and i wasn’t in the mood to make the traditional fare. and since i know most of my coworkers eat hummus on a fairly regular basis, i figured they would appreciate a bit of a mix-up as well.

then somehow, this happened. and it was a very very fortunate occurrence.

this hummus tastes just like cool ranch doritos. the best kind of doritos. or kind of like you mixed half ranch dressing and half hummus. either way you put it, this hummus is the bomb. in fact, it’s so good that when you taste it, you miiiight just start dancing around your kitchen to this song while you eat spoonfuls of this straight from the food processor wondering what magical forces came together to allow this hummus to be made. i sure did. 

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savoury pumpkin hummus. aka: autumn in a bowl

Hello lovelies!

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So wonderful to have you all here on a Saturday, It feels so strange to be blogging here on a weekend, but nice. Writing this as I sip my tea enjoying a lazy Saturday morning before my bus to Kingston, I feel incredibly serene and happy. Maybe weekend blogging should become a more regular occurrence around these parts!

Anyway, this is just a quick post to share a delicious recipe I made a few days ago that would be a wonderful part of a Thanksgiving celebration. So to all my Canadian readers, if you need any last minute ideas, I think this has you covered. This Savoury Pumpkin Hummus tastes just like autumn in a bowl.

I got the idea from the wonderful Shira at In Pursuit of More who made an Acorn Squash and Scallion Hummus. Right away I was intrigued and she got my gears turning. I loved the incorporation of one of my favourite fall foods into a hummus but I was feeling lazy. Despite the fact that I had a squash to be roasted, I also had an open can of pumpkin puree in the fridge. So. Much. Easier.

Once the pumpkin went in and it was time to add the spices, I decided to take a departure from the traditional cumin. I wanted this to scream fall. Delicious savoury herbs of sage and rosemary really take this to the next level. I swear when eating bites of this you can feel the cool breeze on your face and the crisp leaves crunching under your feet. You can taste Thanksgiving dinner and feel the weight of a blanket you’re curled up under. In fewer words, it’s everything I love about fall :)

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Any squash puree or even sweet potato could be used in the place of pumpkin, and dried herbs could be used in place of the fresh. Adapt to your needs!

This dip would be delicious with veggies or pita as a light pre-Thanksgiving dinner lunch/snack or spread onto a leftovers sandwich. Or if you aren’t celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, this would still be an incredible way to celebrate the flavours of the season.

Sidenote: I've always been weird and loved apple slices with hummus. If you have never tried this before, pleeeease try it with this hummus. It is EPIC. 

No matter what, it’s delicious. So go make it. Now.

Please ;)

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Savoury Pumpkin Hummus (Vegan, Gluten-free, Sugar-free)

 

Ingredients (a whole lot!)

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (about 1 can)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage (or 3/4 tsp dry)
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dry)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • pepper to taste if desired (I didn't think it needed it)
  • chickpea cooking water to thin out if needed (if beans are made from scratch), or water (I used a couple tbsp)

Instructions

Process everything in a food processor. Add chickpea cooking water to help it process as needed until desired consistency. Eat with everything.

I am Sharing this on Pure Ella's Thanksgiving Menu Potluck Party!

 

digestive healing & an anti-inflammatory african “peanut” stew

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**Disclaimer: this post is not meant as medical advice. This is simply what worked for me**

It’s been a while since I’ve discussed health issues on this blog and I recently had a few questions from readers about them. I’ve been really hesitant to discuss these things because this is my own journey and I’m still struggling to find what works for me. And what works for me, might not work for you! But since this is a healthy food and living blog, it might interest you all to hear about the goings on, the progress I’ve made and what I’m doing going forward! Plus, as I’m studying to be a holistic nutritionist, this is precisely the kind of thing I love talking about! Of course there will be a wonderfully delicious recipe at the end as well ;)

Older readers might recall that in the summer I was struggling with low iron levels that refused to go up, low energy and fatigue as well as a lot of digestive upset. You can read about those issues in this post. I was extremely fortunate to receive a ton of advice from you all and that combined with some of the things I’ve been learning about in school and by working with a naturopath, I have made some progress while uncovering new problems.

First things first, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my first few things at school is that it all starts with digestion. If digestion is weakened or not functioning properly, this will cause a lot of problems upstream. Did you know that 80% of your digestive system is in your gut?? And not only will faulty digestion impair your immunity (included in this realm is intolerances and allergies), but it will also severely impact your ability to extract nutrition from the foods you consume. They say, “You are what you eat” but it’s actually much more accurate to say, “You are what you absorb”.

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In saying that, it should have been no surprise to me then, that my iron issues were directly related to my digestive issues. So working to heal my digestion has been a primary focus and I have to say, I haven’t even taken any iron supplements in months and I do feel better! I am not 100% there but there is definite improvement. To find out what has worked for me in this regard, keep reading, if not, scroll down for today's recipe!

Food and Eating Habits

Simplifying food combinations: The idea of food combining was not foreign to me, but it also wasn’t something that I’d followed very closely. There are a lot of competing views on food combining but I think this infographic outlines it quite well:

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Complicated eh? But adhering to these guidelines for the most part has been so crucial for me. Someone who has strong digestion doesn’t need to worry about this very much, but for anyone who experiences digestive upset, following these rules reduces the stress on the digestive system, meaning food is digested easier and more completely. That means you get more nutrition from your food! It’s been tough- as a vegan some of the combinations that are “bad” are so common! Like nuts are not good with oils or starches, and there is much debate as to whether legumes are actually a starch or a protein. I’ve been feeling best treating them as a protein, meaning no combining with grains! And what’s more vegan than beans and rice??

Simplifying my meals: This simply means that my meals lately have generally had fewer ingredients. So while in the past I have made smoothies that contain 20 different ingredients, lately they’ve focused around 5 or 6, same goes with my salads. This allows the digestive system to properly break down each component instead of competing for different enzymes. Carrot Cake Puree anyone?

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Anti-inflammatory and non-reactive foods: I’ve eliminated most foods from my diet that have been found to be inflammatory or reactive which included things like gluten, bananas, some forms of soy, nightshade vegetables, etc. Lists of these foods can be found on the internet, but I like this one. In addition to this, I’ve been incorporating lots of anti-inflammatory foods like omega=3 rich hemp and chia seeds, berries, lemon, raw and cooked vegetables and spices like turmeric and cinnamon.

Supplements

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My supplement cupboard has been looking a bit like a pharmacy, but these carefully chosen supplements have been doing the trick!

Probiotics: often times digestive upset can be linked to a disbiosis in the body, or in other words, an imbalance in the good and bad bacteria in your gut. We need bacteria, they do so many beneficial things for us. But things like stress, illness, medications and food choices can tilt the balance towards the bad ones. A good probiotic can help bring balance back to your system.

Digestive Enzymes: while these are not something I like to rely on, when I’m eating out and don’t have full control over the ingredients in my food, these help to negate any bad reactions to food.

Vitamins A, C, E: These are powerful antioxidants and are crucial to helping your small intestine regenerate and repair.

L-glutamine: This is an amino acid that is used for energy by the cells of our small intestine. Supplementing with this greatly enhances your intestine’s ability to heal

Magnesium and Zinc: critical in so many reactions relating to digestion. Magnesium also helps your muscles and body relax and cope with stress. Stress and digestion are not friends so finding a way to deal with stress is so important!

MSM: Short for methylsulfonylmethane, MSM is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent by helping to remove and detoxify waste products that create inflammation.

Lifestyle Changes

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Sleep: Getting enough rest is so important to reducing the overall stress on your body, allowing proper hormonal functions and giving your body time to rest and repair. I’ve made it a priority to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Not Snacking and Intermittent Fasting: This might sound like it’s going against the grain to conventional nutrition advice but eating less often and drawing out the space between my meals allows my system to fully digest the previous meal before tackling the next one. In fact, when I space out the time between my final meal of one day and my first meal of the next by 12-14 hours or more, my body is more able to handle the task. I try to eat only 3 times a day, which believe me, a former chronic snacker, this was VERY hard!

Stress: Reducing stress. Stress affects your body in so many ways from your digestive system to immunity to your hormones, all of which of course are intertwined! Many people who struggle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome of cite stress as one of the main factors as to whether or not they will react to a food or not. This was one of the primary factors to me deciding to go down to part-time at school.

Going Forward

My journey towards healing my digestive system has taken a while, but I do feel like progress is being made! I have been feeling more energized and my digestion is definitely stronger. My iron levels are still low though, so I will incorporate a supplement soon to boost my levels. Hopefully my digestion will continue to heal so I won’t require one at all! I have been told Floravit is an excellent iron supplement which is easily absorbed and doesn’t cause digestive upset like many iron supplements. I will also continue to pay attention to food combining, including combining foods to enhance iron absorption such as with vitamin C.

I’ve also made other discoveries along the way, particularly as it related to my thyroid function. Did you know that dysfunction of the thyroid, particularly hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is actually really common, especially in women? I will save my discussion on the topic for a whole separate post, if you are all interested!

And now, for the recipe I promised you!

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I had a craving for something warming and comforting when I went home to visit my parents last week, and a stew seemed like just the thing! However, with my multitude of restrictions coming into play, we had to get creative.

The result was a very delicious, anti-inflammatory, low reactive African “Peanut” Stew that tastes just as good as the traditional version! Substitutions we made from the original recipe:

  • Almonds and almond butter instead of peanuts: peanuts have a high affinity for mould, therefore aren’t as digestively friendly!
  • Cayenne in stead of chilli peppers: cayenne is actually anti-inflammatory while chilli peppers belong to the nightshade vegetable family and can be problematic for some
  • Chickpeas instead of black-eyed peas: chickpeas are one of the best tolerated legumes
  • Coconut sugar for brown sugar: brown sugar is really no different from white sugar and is acidifying, reactive and high glycemic. Coconut sugar is a much more healthful option.
  • Added some chopped kale, just for fun and added nutrition!

The almond butter makes this stew incredibly creamy and satisfying with a wonderfully sweet flavour that plays off the spiciness of the cayenne. The cinnamon and cumin enhance the anti-inflammatory properties of the stew and the chopped almonds add great texture!

If you have weak digestion, I suggest serving this over greens as I did. But if your tummy is a powerhouse, feel free to serve over your favourite grain, like my parents.

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African “Peanut” Stew (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free)

Adapted from 'The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook'  by Robin Robertson

Ingredients (6 servings)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium size sweet onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pinches cayenne (or 1-2 tsp chilli flakes)
  • 1 1/2 tsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 1/2 cups chopped and peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup creamy natural almond butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, or one 15 oz. can
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw almonds
  • 3 cups chopped kale

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the onion, cover, and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, cayenne, ginger, coconut sugar, cinnamon , and cumin and cook for 1 minute.  Add the squash and stir to coat with the spices.  Add 1 1/4 cups of the water and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.

Put the almond butter in a small bowl and slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup water, stirring until smooth.

Stir the almond butter mixture into the stew, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.  About 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the chickpeas, almonds and kale and simmer until heated through.  Before serving, taste to adjust the seasonings.

Serve over top of your favourite greens or grain.

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I'm sharing this recipe at Allergy-Free Wednesdays and Nourishing Recipes @ Lifeologia!

I hope you all found this post informative, helpful and delicious! I had a ton of fun writing it as it was something a little different!

Did you enjoy reading this post? What did you like about it and what didn’t you? Would you like to see more content like this on the blog?

I appreciate your input! See you back here for Healthy Vegan Friday. If you haven't already, check out last week's post here

healthy in a hurry: curry tomato spaghetti squash

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this was one of those meals that was so simple to prepare using mainly pantry staples that when i took a bite, I was completely floored by how delicious it was. not to mention it took almost no time at all to make.

i knew i wanted to use the spaghetti squash i had pre-roasted- it’s a delicious and light grain and gluten-free way to enjoy a pasta like dish with all the added benefits of folate, potassium and vitamins a and c. but i was getting sick of all the classic options like classic tomato sauce and pesto (i know, i surprised myself with that one) so i needed a new and fresh sauce, but with minimal ingredients on hand.

as i was scouring my cupboards for inspiration, my eyes fell upon the curry jar and suddenly i knew my inspirations. this is a dish reminiscent of chana masala but with spaghetti squash instead of the rice. and believe me, the two compliment each other perfectly. the light sweetness of the squash combined with the savoury and spicy goodness of the curry really hit one out of the park (weird, i never use sports metaphors…. i have made this 3 times since and i never regret it, even with all the leftovers to eat.

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this dish only takes about 20 min to make if you’ve pre-roasted your squash making it the perfect “healthy in a hurry” dish. i always like to pre-roast my spaghetti squash when i have some spare time, that way it’s ready to go when i want it. there’s nothing worse than being desperately hungry and having to wait for your squash to cool before scraping out the insides!

i hope you enjoy this nourishing and warming meal- you don’t need loads of time or ingredients to eat deliciously :)

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curry tomato spaghetti squash (vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free)document.write(”);

ingredients (4 servings)

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp smoked paprika
  • 28 oz. can tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 can)
  • 1 spaghetti squash, cut in half and roasted cut sides down at 400f for 30 min
  • chopped cashews and cilantro for serving (optional)

instructions

sauté the onion in oil (i used coconut) until turning translucent, about 5 min. add the garlic and sauté for another minute. add spices and continue to cook for another minute.

add the canned tomatoes, bring to a simmer and and cook, covered for about 15 minutes. if the liquid hasn’t reduced take the cover off and simmer for a couple minutes till the sauce has thickened. add in the chickpeas and spaghetti squash and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

serve with chopped cashews and cilantro if desired!

wiaw #26: so much hummus

Morning my lovelies! I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday! The last couple of days whooshed past in a blur. Yesterday was my last day working at my job and it hit me hard. I wasn’t expecting to have that kind of reaction! I was almost in tears as I left and no one wanted to see me go either. All my coworkers wrote me a lovely card with the kindest words, which made leaving that much harder.

And while I was sad to go, it does make me happy that I found a place I enjoyed working so much with some really amazing people :)

Now onto the next phase of my life!

I wasn’t going to blog today. But I found myself with a spare hour this morning so instead of packing, which I probably should be doing, I’m sitting down to share with you all one of my most favourite foods lately. Something I’ve been eating pretty constantly for 2 weeks- as a dip, dressing and sauce, this baby does it all!

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I have rediscovered my love for hummus in all forms.

Even things that shouldn’t be called hummus, such as dips of the white bean variety are getting roped into this new obsession. There’s something about the creamy smooth dip alive with bold flavours, that is at once filling and light that just does it for me.

Protein packed and filling, hummus really is a vegan’s, or really anyone’s best friend!

Peas and Crayons

This What I Ate Wednesday is therefore and ode to hummus :)

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And not just any hummus, rather my little creation of Sundried Tomato and Lemon Hummus.

Alive with the super savoury and flavourful hits of sundried tomatoes and brightened with lemon zest, this dip will dress up any plain veggie, bread or cracker. It makes your tongue do a little happy dance :) In fact, I dare you all not to eat spoonfuls of this straight out of the food processor. I may have eaten at least a quarter of the batch before even moving it into a bowl.

Now this hummus isn’t just a dip! It’s a flavour powerhouse that can jazz up any meal! Stir it into pasta, thin it out for a dressing, spread it onto a sandwich or spoon it on top of cooked grains.

I swear this hummus has magical powers.

Gone are the days of boring food.

Enter: Sundried Tomato and Lemon Hummus

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Sundried Tomato and Lemon Hummus (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free)

Ingredients

  • One 19oz can chickpeas, heated (navy beans work well too!)
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (sulphite-free is best)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

Heat the chickpeas in a pot on the stove top. This will help your hummus become a more creamy consistency.

Put all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and run until the beans are broken down and a smooth consistency is reached. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running until full incorporated.

It’s that easy!

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Now that this mildly embarrassing gushing session has finished, I wish you all a marvellous Wednesday! I get to go have my hair done. It desperately needs to happen and I just love chatting with my hair dresser. Plus who doesn’t love a little pampering?