J-K Spaghetti Sauce

J-K spaghetti sauce

I’ve even had Italian guys say that this is the best spaghetti sauce that they’ve ever had (but don’t tell their Moms). It’s my adaptation of my Mom’s recipe. This sauce is one of my comfort foods. I smell it cooking and I'm transported to my childhood home. A thick sauce is great for spaghetti. For lasagna, thin the sauce with some water. While it does take a longer cooking time, it makes a big batch. And, the taste improves with time. So put some in the freezer in single-meal size containers for quick dinners on busy weeknights.

Finger-Food Version: Choose short pasta (e.g. penne) or cut long noodles into more easily-managed pieces.

Deconstructed Version: Serve plain noodles with the sauce on the side. Serve some familiar raw veggies and/or fruit with the meal.

 Spaghetti Sauce Ingredients

2 TBSP                      olive oil

1 pound                     ground bison (or extra-lean beef)

1                                onion, chopped

2 cloves                    garlic, minced

1                                chili pepper (e.g. jalapeño)

3 cups                      chopped vegetables (e.g. green or red peppers, mushrooms)

1 can (796mL)         diced tomatoes

1 can (156mL)         tomato paste

1/3 cup                     red wine

1 tsp                         sugar

2                              bay leaves

1 TBSP                   dried oregano

2 TBSP                   dried parsley

salt & pepper

Spaghetti Sauce Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven or large pot with a heavy bottom, over low-medium heat, heat the oil. Add the chopped onion. Cook the onion, stirring, until translucent.
  2. Add the minced garlic, chili pepper, and bison. Increase the heat to medium. Sauté until the bison is just turning brown, stirring frequently and breaking up any large pieces of meat.
  3. Add the vegetables and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring.
  4. Add both cans of tomatoes, wine, sugar, dried herbs, salt & pepper.
  5. Cook the sauce, uncovered, for several hours, stirring occasionally. The longer you cook the sauce, the better the flavour.
  6. Enjoy!

Check out more kid-friendly healthy recipes.

Halibut Avocado Tacos

halibut avocado tacos

I'm often asked for fish recipes that kids will eat. This is a good one for several reasons. First, halibut is a very mild (read: non-fishy) fish. Second, lots of kids enjoy "deconstructed" or "build your own" style meals because they get to have control over what's on their plate. The result is that they'll eat things that they wouldn't have otherwise. There's also something inherently fun in make-your-own tacos.

I've shared the basic recipe here. Feel free to add other veggies to make it your own. Examples include: shredded cabbage (particularly purple cabbage), thinly sliced radishes, tomatoes, shredded raw zucchini or even cucumber slices.

Halibut is widely available frozen, year-round. Fresh halibut season is typically in May. Feel free to substitute any other white fish (or even salmon) in this recipe.

Halibut Avocado Tacos Ingredients

  • 8 taco shells
  • 480 g (16.9 oz) raw halibut
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp spices, cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano, ground, dried
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 cup chopped lettuce, green leaf or romaine
  • 1 avocado, ripe
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl oz) sauce, salsa, ready-to-serve

Halibut Avocado Tacos Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the halibut in a non-stick or parchment-lined baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and lime juice; sprinkle with spices and herbs.
  3. Chop lettuce and slice avocado.
  4. Bake fish 12 to 15 minutes, or until just cooked through. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Heat taco shells in the oven for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Coarsely flake the fish. Stuff the taco shells with lettuce, avocado, salsa, and flaked fish.
  6. Enjoy!

Halibut Avocado Tacos Deconstructed:

  • Serve taco shell on the side.
  • Bake a small portion of halibut just brushed with olive oil.
  • Serve in separate piles or small dishes, the lettuce, avocado and salsa.
  • Serve a small portion of the “spiced” halibut.

Find more delicious, healthy recipes here.

Nutrition Game Changer: Cook The Night Before

cook-the-night-before

Last month I introduced the concept of nutrition game changers. Nutrition game changers are foods or simple habits that can make a big impact in your health. Some might use the term ‘nutrition hacks’. Today, I had planned to share with you a different habit. But I noticed that, with the nights cooling off again, I’ve been using this habit again. I do it a lot myself. And, it’s helped a number of clients too. I realized that this one simple habit can have a big impact on your health because it makes it easy to eat a lot of healthy foods that you might not otherwise eat. So, what’s this simple habit? Cook the night before.

Cook the Night Before

It’s a nutrition game changer for two huge reasons:

  1. It lessens the stress of getting dinner on the table.
  2. It makes it possible to eat healthy foods like whole grains, beans cooked from scratch, and longer-cooking veggies.

I’ve heard it called the witching hour. You know, that window of time between finishing work, commuting through traffic, picking the kids up from daycare, and making (and eating) dinner. For many people, it’s the most stressful time of the day. No one I know has an hour (or more) to cook dinner. Most people have somewhere from 20 – 30 minutes. Our modern lives have squished this time so much that it’s no wonder that take-out, drive-throughs, and pre-prepared food sales are through the roof. They’re survival techniques. You always ask me for help to get from survival to thriving. Cooking the night before can be a huge help.

No, I’m not talking about spending hours in the kitchen in the middle of the night! I’m talking about multi-tasking. You are likely home for several hours in the evening, after dinner but before you go to bed. Use this time to cook.

There are lots of healthy foods that take almost no work, but they take a long time to cook. Take a few minutes for prep, get the food cooking, set a timer, and then set off with your other evening activities. I personally do the prep while I’m already in the kitchen cooking my dinner for this evening. I don’t have kids so that works. If doing anything else besides preparing tonight’s dinner will take you over the edge, then do the prep later.

When the food is cooked, simply allow them to cool at room temperature and then store them in the fridge. They’ll store for several days in the fridge. On the day that you want to eat them for dinner, simply re-heat them in the microwave or steam them. (Place at least 1 inch of water in the bottom of a double boiler. Bring to a boil over high heat. Place your food in a bowl inside the double boiler. Steam until heated).

What Healthy Foods Can You Cook the Night Before?

  • Whole grains. E.g. pot barley, brown rice, wild rice, farro. They all take 45 – 60 minutes to cook. But the prep is easy. Just add them to a pot with water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer, set your timer and you’re done.
  • Winter squash. E.g. spaghetti squash, butternut, acorn squash. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. For all but spaghetti, cut the squash in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds. Pour a splash of water in the seed cavity. Place in a baking dish. Cover with tin foil. Bake for 45min-1 hour (until the flesh is soft when you test it with a fork). For spaghetti squash: leave the squash whole, pierce all over with a fork. Cover with tin foil. Bake for 1 hour or longer (until the squash gives easily to your touch).
  • Root veggies. E.g. beets, yams. There are lots of ways to bake these veggies. Techniques vary by veggie. But unless you take a long time to prep them by cutting them into small pieces, they’re going to take 45min – 1 hour to bake. Here’s one minimal prep time technique each for beets and yams: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Wash but don’t peel the beets. Remove any stems or skinny roots. Rub with olive oil. Wrap in tin foil and place in a baking dish. Roast until soft to the touch. The time will vary based on the size of your beets. Yams can be cooked at the same temperature. Wash but don’t peel the yams. Pierce all over with a fork. Wrap in tin foil. Bake for 45min- 1 hour.
  • Dried beans. Cooking beans from dry is not only cheaper, but it avoids the exposure to BPA in the liner of most cans. Beans take 2 simple prep steps – one the morning before and one the night before. In the morning, measure out your beans, place in a bowl, cover with water (at least 1 inch above the beans), and sit at room temperature all day. At night, drain the beans,  place them in a large pot, add fresh water to cover at least 1 inch above the beans, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer, set your timer and you’re done.

Extra Tip: All of these foods make fantastic whole-meal salad ingredients. Cook extra the night before and enjoy them both (cold) as a whole meal salad for your lunch and warm as a part of dinner.

Looking for new recipe ideas? Find lots of great healthy recipes here.

4th Annual Home-made Popsicles (a.k.a. Ice Pops, Paletas)

Home-made popsicles, healthy, no sugar

I love that the healthy home-made popsicles trend is continuing (also known as ice-pops or paletas). Have you jumped on board? It's a fantastic way to enjoy some fruits and veggies. All these recipes are delicious. You won't believe that they have no sugar. Kids often love to help make them too. Here are 4 new home-made ice pop recipes for you to enjoy this summer. In case you're wondering why there are 4 recipes but only 3 in the picture, I ate all the banana-strawberry-orange ones before taking the photo :)

Home-Made Popsicles Directions

All the steps are the same for all home-made popsicles. And they're very easy:

  1. Combine ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into the ice-pop molds.
  4. Freeze.
  5. ENJOY!

Home-Made Popsicles Ingredients

Healthy Creamsicle

This simple 3 ingredient recipe is inspired by one of my childhood favourites – creamsicles. But unlike creamsicles, the only sugar in this recipe is that naturally found in orange juice.

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Banana-Strawberry-Orange

Use ripe bananas and in-season, local strawberries and these are naturally sweet – no added sugar is needed.

  • 1 medium banana
  • 10 strawberries
  • ½ cup orange juice

Watermelon-Cucumber-Spinach

Don’t let the deep green colour of this recipe discourage you. It’s my favourite of the 4 recipes here – super refreshing and subtly sweet.

  • 2 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 6 large spinach leaves, thick stems removed
  • 2 inches cucumber, peeled and seeds removed
  • ½ cup coconut water

Pink Grapefruit

This recipe doesn’t need to be blended. Simply juice the grapefruits and combine with the soda water in a pitcher. Pour into the molds and freeze. If you find pink grapefruits too sour, you can substitute freshly squeezed orange juice.

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed pink grapefruits (approx 3 grapefruits)
  • 1 cup soda water

See more healthy, delicious recipes for home-made ice pops.