Amy Longard Blog | Plant-Based Nutrition, Culinary & Wellness Consulting
Recipes, nutrition tips, day-to-day adventures & much more! Through integrative and comprehensive programs, I work with my clients (individuals, families and corporate group) to help them reach their health and wellness goals. I offer nutritional consultations, health coaching, corporate seminars, cooking lessons, and other services in the Ottawa area and beyond.
Yesterday I was invited to be part of CBC Radio show "D is for Dinner" here in Ottawa. I was asked to talk about seaweed and my upcoming seaweed workshop happening this Saturday at NU Grocery. During the show, the host Alan Neal tried dulse (seaweed) on its own and he also tried a Dulse, Sunflower Seed & Walnut Pâté that I made — and he loved both! CLICK HEREto listen to the full recording of the show, or scroll down for the Pâté recipe.
1 cup walnuts 1.5 cups cup raw sunflower seeds 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 1/3 cup red onion, minced 1/3 cup whole leaf dulse 1/3 cup celery, minced 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped 1/3 cup lemon juice 3 tablespoon freshly chopped dill or 2 tbsp dried dill Salt and pepper to taste Water, if needed, during processing
Start off by soaking the walnuts and sunflower seeds together in warm water for at least 30 minutes.
Dice the red onion very small, about ¼ inch dice, and add to small bowl. Then pour over the red wine vinegar. Set aside.
To prepare the dulse, quickly warm it in a cast iron pan for about 1 minute – do not let it burn! Remove from the heat, let it cool, and crush it into flakes.
Dice the celery the same size as the onion, and roughly chop parsley, dill, and mix together with the onions, lemon juice, and dulse flakes in a medium sized bowl.
Drain and rinse the walnuts and sunflower seeds. Using a food processor or high powered blender, blend the walnuts and sunflower seeds together until the oil starts to show on the bowl and it becomes similar to nut butter consistency; about 2-3 minutes. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit of water, and mix again.
Combine the walnut and sunflower seed mixture with the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy immediately in lettuce wraps or tortillas, with crackers, in sandwiches, or in a salad with vegetables and a dressing of your choice.
This is one of my top salads of all time and I couldn't be more excited to share it with you. Since so many of you have tried it and have asked me for the recipe, I figured it was time to share it with the masses.
Before we get into the recipe, I'm going to address the elephant in the room. I know there's lots of controversy around the word "superfood". Isn't it just hyperbole or marketing used to sell products? Yes, but also no. Let's take a quick look at the definition...
superfood/ˈsuːpəfuːd/ : A nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.
— Oxford Dictionaries Online
Based on that definition, it's safe to say that most whole plant foods could be considered superfoods! You don't need to travel to remote plains or depths of a tropical rainforest to find the healthiest of health foods. If you're looking to find superfoods, simply head on over to your nearest grocery store and b-line it to the produce section where pretty much everything could qualify as a "nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being"! Simply put, readily available grocery store items like vegetables, fruits, and even nuts, seeds, beans, chickpeas, lentils and so on are, by definition, "superfoods". How exciting is that?
With that in mind, I created a salad featuring some of the most nutrient-rich foods (both land and sea) that we can find here in Canada, put them together, and topped them with a delicious dressing. If you break it down this salad is just bursting with nutritious properties like antioxidants, phytochemicals, fibre, probiotics, fatty acids, plant protein, and much much more. Plus, it's also super flavourful!
By the way, if you're a newbie to seaweeds, don't be intimidated. Hana tsunomata is a mild seaweed that can easily be added into any dish. It's not overpowering and doesn't have a strong sea taste or smell like some other varieties. If you're in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, or Ottawa (Ontario), you can find hana tsnuomata in retail locations. However, if you're outside of these areas you'll need to order it online from Mermaid Fare. If you don't have seaweed and you'd like to make this salad right away, you can either swap out the hana tsnunomata for other varieties of seaweeds (rehydrated wakame or sliced nori sheets would work), or you can simply omit it altogether and it'll still be tasty.
Ok, let's get this salad party started. Scroll down for the full recipe.
AMY'S SUPERFOOD KALE SALAD
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 bunch of kale, leaves removed and finely sliced, stems discarded 1/2 of a small red cabbage, finely sliced (by hand or using a food processor) 1 large carrot, grated (by hand or using a food processor) 1/4 cup hemp hearts 5 oz dried hana tsunomata (seaweed), rehydrated & dried off (optional) Sauerkraut (raw/unpasteurized) + olive oil, apple cider vinegar & sea salt to massage the kale
5 Tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil 4 Tablespoons, apple cider vinegar 2 teaspoons, dijon mustard 2 teaspoons, maple syrup Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
For the salad: Add the sliced kale to a large bowl and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, add a splash of apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of sea salt. Using your hands, squeeze and massage the kale leaves. You’ll do this for 2 or 3 minutes until the leaves start to soften. This will make the kale easier to chew and more palatable. Once the kale is soft, add the cabbage, and carrot to the bowl.
To make the dressing: Using a fork or a whisk, combine apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, and maple syrup in a bowl or medium sized measuring cup. Slowly pour in 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and whisk, or stir, until thoroughly emulsified, then mix in sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
To assemble the salad: Drizzle the dressing over the kale, cabbage, carrot and hana tsunomata (if using). Mix the salad well to ensure that the vegetables are evenly coated. Add the hemp hearts and toss again. Serve immediately and top with as much sauerkraut as you'd like.
It's been my intention for ages and I'm finally getting around to sharing one of my favourite Middle Eastern recipes with you. For the uninitiated, Mujadara is a hearty, protein rich plant-based meal that is known for its humble and simple ingredients, yet is bold and rich in flavours. As the title of this blog post suggests, the base ingredients are lentils, rice, caramelized onions and spices. It's well known throughout the Middle East, and many families have their own version or special family recipe. If you search the web, you'll come across countless versions.
It was my husband that first introduced me to this dish many years ago. He used to order Mujadara from the Lebanese restaurant in the cafeteria at his office. It became one of his favourite meals at work. Eventually he learned how to make it himself, and then I started making it too. For us, it's become a wintertime staple and below is our take on the recipe. I hope you enjoy it!
1 cup brown or green lentils (not red lentils), sorted and picked through for little rocks or other debris 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper 3 medium red onions, thinly sliced Sea salt 3/4 cup brown rice or brown basmati rice 3 1/4 cups of water 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or 1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more if you want it to be spicy) Lemon wedges Pine nuts or hemp seeds, optional, for garnish Cashew Cream (from my 4-Layer Dip recipe)
Add the lentils to medium saucepan and cover them by about an inch with cold water, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and allow the lentils to cook until they are tender, but not mushy (about 20 minutes). Drain and set aside.
While the lentils are cooking, warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skill has warmed up, add the whole cumin seeds and cracked peppercorns . Cook the spices and stir them a bit until you start to smell the aromas as the spices "bloom" and start to darken a bit.
Then, add the onions and a few big pinches of salt and cook until they begin to caramelize . Over time the onions will begin to caramelize and they'll start tasting sweeter. If the onions start sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a little water. Once the onions are sweet and a bit crispy you'll know they are done. This will take an upward of 15 minutes.
Remove about half of the onions to a dish and set them aside to be used later as a garnish. Then mix in the ground cumin, the cinnamon or cinnamon stick and cayenne.
Next up, mix in the rice and toast the rice in the pan for a few minutes. Add the cooked lentils, 3 1/4 cups of water and 1 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer. Then cover the saucepan and cook 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s done cooking once the water is completely evaporated and the rice is tender.
Turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and allow the rice to steam undisturbed for about 5 minutes.
Taste the rice for seasoning and adjust the flavour with extra salt, pepper or spices if needed. Serve with the reserved caramelized onions, pine nuts or hemp, cashew cream, and a little squeeze of fresh lemon and a side of roasted or sautéed vegetables or salad.
This recipe is modified from the original recipe by Aarti Sequeira featured on the Food Network blog.
I was recently featured on the amazing Pursuit of Yoginess podcast and had such a great time speaking with host Rudie J. I talked about the basics for healthy living, how I left a secure government job to pursue my current career, how I built my brand and business, what it’s like traveling for work, and more! To listen, CLICK HERE.
I love leafy greens! If you've been reading my blog, or attending any of my cooking lessons, you probably know this by now. Usually I talk about incorporating greens into soups, smoothies, stews and stir fry, but to be honest, most days I keep it really simple and I'm happy to eat a big ol' bowl of sautéed kale or collards. Is that weird? Maybe. Either way, I've been meaning to share this "recipe" with you for a while. It's very simple and can be used with whatever greens you have on hand.
Just so you know, the term "greens" generally refers to a broad category of leafy vegetables, including collard greens, mustard greens, swiss chard, beet greens, arugula, kale, spinach, etc. Although most of these are readily available and packed with nutrients, they tend to be overlooked. Given the excellent nutritional profile of leafy greens, I encourage you to seek them out and try different varieties. You can use the recipe below as a starting point.
I enjoy sautéed greens as a snack topped with hemp hearts, as a side dish, in a Buddha Bowl, or served with Quinoa Pilaf and chickpeas or beans. My personal favourite is to make open faced sandwiches topped with Hummus and sautéed greens. It does get a bit messy, so a fork and knife are necessary.
Scroll past the photo of sautéed beet greens and you'll find my simple formula for Sautéed Garlicky Greens. Enjoy!
SAUTÉED GARLICKY GREENS
1 large bunch greens of your choice (kale, spinach, collards, arugula, chard, beet greens, mustard greens, etc.)
1 to 2 tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
3 to 4 cloves, garlic, minced
Fresh lemon juice or vinegar of your choice, to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
To prepare the greens, give them a thorough wash, and then chop or rip the leaves into bite sized pieces. If you are using kale, collards or chard, cut away the stems first. You can use the stems in your sauté as well, just be sure to slice them into small pieces. For less hearty greens like arugula or spinach, there’s no need to separate the stems.
Heat the oil in a large skillet or stir-fry pan on medium. Add garlic and sauté for a few minutes, until slightly golden. (If you’re using the stems, add them to the pan at the same time as the garlic.)
Add the greens and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add a splash of water or vegetable broth, if needed, to keep the pan moist.
For hearty greens, like kale or collards, cook them until they are tender, but still green in colour — this can take about 5 to 7 minutes. For softer, more delicate greens, like spinach or arugula, cook until they are wilted — this may only take a minute or two.
Finally, add a big squeeze of lemon juice or a few splashes of vinegar to your greens. I personally love apple cider vinegar, but use whatever you like! Season with salt and pepper and then serve immediately.
Have you ever noticed that your mood takes a turn for the worse if you skip a meal? Do you ever feel tired, lethargic or just plain cranky in the afternoon? If you've experienced this, you'll know that it's not enjoyable for you or for those around you. A good way to avoid these unpleasant situations is to fuel up on foods that keep your blood sugar balanced. Making smart choices will not only improve your health, but also your mood, energy levels, creativity, and memory. Below I’ll tell you about how our food choices can impact our blood sugar balance and how to avoid the dreaded highs and lows.
Our brains require glucose to function properly. When blood sugar (blood glucose) drops too low you'll notice changes in cognition and mood. You may experience impaired memory, irritability, slowed thinking, or even feelings of depression. For example, if you consume a lot sugary foods your blood sugar levels will spike. When this happens, your pancreas pumps out insulin to help regulate and store any excess glucose found in your blood. In this situation, the body often produces more insulin than needed and, all of a sudden, you've gone from very high blood sugar to very low blood sugar. What happens next? Lethargy, fatigue and cravings for sugary, sweet foods. At this point, you’ll reach for something sugary and sweet, and the cycle continues on.
To prevent this emotional, psychological, and physiological roller coaster, focus your diet on healthy, whole proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Your meals should include lots fresh produce (particularly vegetables; extra points for leafy greens), whole grains, pulses (chickpeas, split peas, lentils and beans), and some fats like nuts, seeds, olives and avocado. Why? Because these foods will nourish and satiate you by providing a balanced mix of vital micro and macronutrients. You'll feel full longer, you’ll be more energetic, and you’ll keep your blood sugar stable.
Having the right kind of snacks can also help balance blood sugar. Having a little bite to eat both mid-morning and mid-afternoon will provide that little top up your body needs to continue functioning at full capacity until your next meal. Some healthy snack options include a handful of trail mix, an apple, rice cakes with almond or peanut butter, hummus with raw veggies or a seaweed snacks (I love dulse these days). I also regularly remind my clients about the importance of drinking water throughout the day as the onset of dehydration can tigger mental and physical highs and lows.
You’ll want to limit sugar, alcohol, and processed foods. Every now and then most of these things are fairly harmless, but be aware that they can trigger blood sugar irregularities. These products are very low in nutrients and high in calories, offering little to no health benefit, and leading to an instant spike in blood sugar. It’s okay to indulge from time to time, but balance is key. If you consume mostly healthy, whole plant-based foods your diet will contain more mood-boosting nutrients. You’ll also be healthier and happier, with balanced blood sugar to boot.
I was recently on the Plant Trainers podcast speaking with hosts Adam & Shoshana about ways to be healthier over the holidays (and into 2018), shared tips on how to add more plant-based foods to your diet, my pantry staples, and more! It was a fun interview. CLICK HERE to listen. Enjoy!
Just over a year ago I stumbled upon the eye-catching Instagram account of an Ottawa-based blogger called "Pequena Vegetariana". The Instagram account and blog focusses on colourful, vibrant vegetarian recipes in Portuguese and English. A few months later, I had the chance to meet the blogger behind the blog when Ana Tavares attended one of my cooking classes. Ana has been such a positive influence and has always been so supportive. I've gotten to know her better over the last year as she has since attended many of my cooking lessons and even participated in my group nutrition program.
Ana was born in Brazil and now lives and works here in Ottawa. Although she works full time as a public servant, she also has several exciting endeavours underway that she showcases on her new website. While Ana has lived in Canada since her teens, she still has strong ties to Brazil. This past summer she worked with Brazilian publishing houses Belas Letras and Imaginarium to create her first cookbook, "Comidinhas do bem", which launched in November 2017 in 235 stores across the country. It features 45 exclusive recipes created by Ana, daily positive living tips, beautiful photographs and graphics. I also played a very small role in the creation of this cookbook as I provided nutritional content for foods based on their colour. It was truly a full circle moment to be able to offer my support to Ana in creating this gorgeous cookbook. The cookbook is only available in Portuguese at the moment, but it has opened the door for some fun future collaborations between Ana and me. Stay tuned!
Recently Ana shared one of her new recipe with me and I'm thrilled to be able to pass it along to all of you. She's come up with simple and delicious Gingerbread Cookie Dough Bites that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth this holiday season. I love that this recipe features whole foods and is free of refined sugars and flours. This recipe is definitely #AmyApproved, but I'm told it was also a big hit with Ana's 2-year-old son Ethan. Try them out and let us know what you think!
If you're in the Ottawa area and would like to learn more about vegan baking from Ana, she has a holiday baking class coming up this Saturday, December 16. For more information or to register, please visit her website.
Without further ado, please scroll down for the full recipe.
GINGERBREAD COOKIE DOUGH BITES
1 1/2 cup rolled oats 1 teaspoon ground ginger or finely grated fresh ginger 1 teaspoon cinnamon Pinch of ground cloves 2 tablespoons coconut oil 2 tablespoons almond butter 2 tablespoons maple syrup 2 tablespoons molasses 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1/2 cup almond flour
Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
In a blender mix together the oats, ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves until it resembles a flour like texture.
In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup, molasses and vanilla extract until well combined.
Slowly add in the blender mixture and finally, add in the almond flour. By the end, you may need to use your hands cause it’ll get a little sticky.
Generously fill a tablespoon sized measuring spoon with the cookie dough mixture, roll into balls and place in the freezer. You should be able to make between 18 to 24 balls.
Freeze for at least an hour, and serve cold directly from the freezer.
Once the balls have frozen, you can move them over into an enclosed container and keep them in the fridge for all your holiday cookie cravings!
I was recently invited to speak with business strategist Marguerite O'Neal on her podcast, Creative Disruption. In this episode, I shared my own health struggles, my career change from communications consultant to chef, my favourite foods, strategies for eating healthier during the Holidays, and more! To listen, CLICK HERE.
As a holistic nutritionist, I go to great lengths to procure and share my favourite things with others and that usually includes sustainable, natural, non-toxic, plant-based, ethical, local, and even organic gifts. If you’re like me, or maybe shopping for somebody who’s a bit of a health nut, I hope to make that process easier. I’ve complied a Holiday Gift Guide that includes many of my go-to gifts that are sure to appeal to the healthy, sustainable or ethically minded.
Natural skincare products. My absolute favourite gift to give is local, natural, and handmade soap or lip balms. Pretty much everybody loves these gifts, and they make great stocking stuffers! Hand or body creams also make great gifts during winter months. Look for natural products that are free of parabens and phthalates.
Organic Fair Trade coffee, chocolate & teas. You really can’t go wrong here!
Kombucha. This fizzy, effervescent probiotic tea is extremely popular these days. It also happens to make an a lovely and unique host/hostess gift in lieu of wine. Alternatively, if you're looking for a gift for a kombucha lover, why not create DYI kombucha starter kit? Last year, I gave my sister-in-law a scoby (the kombucha starter), a bag of organic black tea, organic cane sugar, and a nice big jar for brewing. She loved it!
Essential oils. Aromatherapy offers countless health benefits, especially during busy (read: stressful) times like the holidays, and cold and flu season. Essential oils are perfect for stocking stuffers, or combined with a diffuser you have a scent-sational gift.
Gift cards. Although they aren’t as fun to open, gift cards can still be incredibly personal and thoughtful. Pretty much every store or service you can think of offers gift cards nowadays. If you’re in the the market for a health or wellness gift, your best bet would be health food stores, spas, massage therapy, healthy restaurants or meal delivery services, and yoga or fitness studios.
Cookbooks. Either hardcopy or virtual eCookbooks are a great idea for those who love healthy food and cooking. I currently love anything by Oh She Glows (my friends and clients tell me they prefer the first cookbook), Minimalist Baker, or Vegan Richa. I recently published an eBook of my own. It’s now available on my online shop. Use promo code HOLIDAYS by December 24 for 50% off.
Nutritious nosh. I love making homemade granola, trail mix, healthy sweets, chia jams, soup mixes, or mustard for friends and family. N.b.: If you're planning DYI food-based gifts, just make sure you’re aware of any allergies.
Houseplants. Did you know that certain plants can actually improve air quality in your home or apartment? Although Poinsettias are popular this time of year, up the ante by giving the gift of an air purifying plant. Mums, Peace Lilies, and Snake Plants can not only pull formaldehyde from the air, but they make an excellent gift.
Gift basket. If you can’t decide on just one thing, why not create a little basket featuring several of your favourites?
This article is modified from a piece I wrote for Kardish Health Food Centre’s blog. CLICK HERE to see the original article.
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