Home At Last!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS !

I just completed my third semester of my program, leaving me with one semester left until I graduate from George Brown College’s, Culinary Management – Nutrition program! I’m so grateful that my journey has lead me to develop great relationships with my chefs, professors and most importantly, my hard working classmates.

After completing a challenging semester, a few of us were lucky enough to get together and celebrate. We went to Richmond Station on Young and Richmond in Toronto. What better way to celebrate than with food, good drinks and even better company?

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It was a wonderful night spent, sharing what we were grateful for this semester and I’ve got to say, I’m very grateful for my group mates. We call ourselves the “Core Four” since we have been working together since the beginning of our program. We all compliment each other very well and as much as I’m excited to graduate, I know that I’ll miss seeing these girls everyday when my journey at George Brown is complete.

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For dinner, I had their pulled pork ravioli, and their station (stn.) burger. I have to say, I’m still having dreams about that burger. Hands down, the best I’ve ever had. It’s definitely topped with unique flavours. The aged cheddar and beet chutney went so well together…ugh so delicious, I’m drooling just thinking about it.

We were also able to try a fantastic dessert! Chocolate cake, soaked in dulche de leche with mint ice cream, red chilli peppers, Thai basil and candied peanuts. Definitely a must try if you ever have the opportunity to go to the restaurant.

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As the new year is arriving and school is quickly coming to an end, I have found myself often reflecting on my experiences throughout school thus far. I truly feel like I have found my passion, and I really wouldn’t change anything. (except for maybe attending all of my math classes…sorry Mom!) I have also begun to think a lot about my goals and objectives for the new year and the beginning of this blog is definitely one of them.

Apart of my reflecting lead me to a specific assignment that I completed this semester in my Nutrition For Life Culinary Lab course.

As a culinary student that is in a nutrition focused program, I have had many opportunities to experience recipe research and development.

During this past semester, I was able to research beneficial ingredients and nutrients for breast cancer patients, post-treatment. After researching, my group and I decided on an appetizer, entrée and dessert.

Weight management is an important factor during a breast cancer patients recovery therefore our ingredients consisted of mostly plant based proteins and fibres.

Our appetizer was a Watermelon Mint and Feta Salad with a balsamic reduction.

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Our main entrée was a  Mixed Bean and Winter Squash Stew with Basil.

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Lastly, our dessert was a black bean brownie with walnuts.

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I often find myself making some of the recipes I have made in school at home and for my family.

A few weeks ago, I was able to make the Mixed Bean and Winter Squash Stew with Basil for my family, at my sister’s house. After making it for myself several times, it has been a huge hit and a winter comfort food. It’s a really simple recipe, and it tastes even better the next couple of days!

Since I am  back home for the holidays, I was also able to cook and bake up a storm at my Mom’s house. Nothing brings me more joy than to be in my zone in the kitchen. To me, it is like an active form of meditation.

For dinner, I made a “Buddha Bowl” with ingredients that my Mom had in the fridge. I used quinoa, broccoli, arugula, shredded carrots, shredded cabbage, marinated chicken and roasted chick peas with olive oil, sea salt, pepper and a pinch of cumin. I topped it with a spicy Asian-style dressing made with tahini, sesame oil, lime zest and juice, rice wine vinegar, scallions, soy sauce and red pepper flakes.  My parents loved it! I ended up marinating the shredded carrots in a pinch of sugar and rice wine vinegar and my step Dad could not stop eating them! In my opinion, the only thing that was really missing from this recipe was black and white sesame seeds and some peanuts. Mmmmmm.

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I was also able to bake another batch of the Black Bean Brownies which are EXTREMELY addictive. Not to mention, this recipe contains 3g of fibre per 40g portion according to a theoretical label we created using Genesis R&D.

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I encourage you to try these simple recipes and share your feedback!

Watermelon Mint & Feta Salad

Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center

Preparation Time: 45 minutes                                                     

Ingredients

  • 1 (1600-2000g) piece watermelon, seedless
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes, preferably green or orange heirlooms, seeded and cut into 1-inch cube
  • 1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup (10g) fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 cup (115g) crumbled feta

Directions

  1. Cut off and discard the watermelon rind. Cut the watermelon into 1-inch cubes, removing seeds.
  1. Transfer to serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  1. Add the tomatoes, onion, and mint to the watermelon and toss gently.
  1. Add the feta and balsamic glaze (optional) and toss again. Serve immediately.

Tips;

  1. Best served cold.

 

Mixed Bean & Winter Squash Stew

Martha Rose Shulman

Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Cooking Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 3.5 L water
  • 2/3 cup (150g) each of pinto beans, kidney beans and black-eyed peas, soaked for 6 hours or overnight
  • 2 tbsp (30mL) olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1 tbsp (15g) sweet paprika
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bouquet garni: bay leaf, a parmesan rind, 6 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 (450-675g) each of acorn and butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup (225g) lima beans, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cups (420g) crushed tomatoes, with liquid
  • ¼ cup (60g) fresh basil, chiffonade
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Freshly grated parmesan, to taste (optional)

Directions

  1. Drain the beans through a strainer set over a bowl. Transfer to a large, heavy soup pot. Measure the liquid in the bowl and add enough water to measure 8 cups. Add to the beans and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Add salt to taste and the bouquet garni, and continue to simmer until tender but intact, about 30 minutes.
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy frying pan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes, and add the paprika. Stir together for about a minute, and add the garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, for a minute or two, until the garlic and onions are very fragrant, and stir in the tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes are cooked down and fragrant, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add a ladleful of broth from the beans and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pan.
  1. Stir the onion mixture into the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the winter squash and lima beans. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the squash and all the beans are tender. Taste and adjust salt, and add freshly ground pepper. Remove the bouquet garni. Just before serving stir in the fresh basil. Serve in wide soup bowls, passing Parmesan for sprinkling.

Tips;

  1. Advance preparation: this will keep for five days in the refrigerator and is best eaten a day after it is made. Add the basil just before serving.
  1. Serve with a baguette on the side, topped with garlic oil.

 

Black Bean & Walnut Brownies

Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center

Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes                                                                 

Equipment: brownie pan, food processor

Ingredients                                                              

  • 1 (425g) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup (125mL) olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup (50g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp (7mL) vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup (60mL) maple syrup
  • ½ cup (118g) mini chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/3 (75g) whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp (2g) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5g) coconut oil
  • ¼ cup (60g) walnuts, chopped
  • 1 ¾ cup (400g) coconut cream (optional)
  • To taste, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and icing sugar (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (180 °C). Lightly grease the two 5”x 7” square baking pan with olive oil.
  1. In a blender or food processor, puree black beans in olive oil. Then add eggs, cocoa, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
  2. Melt half of the mini chocolate chips and add to the blender. Blend until smooth.
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add to the blender and pulse until just incorporated.
  1. Stir in the remaining mini chocolate chips and pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle walnuts on top.
  1. Bake about 30 minutes, until surface looks somewhat matte.
  1. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before cutting and removing from the pan.

Tips;

  1. Serve brownies with an assortment of fruit and icing sugar on top to add sweetness.
  2. Add an additional tbsp (15mL) maple syrup to add sweetness.

 

Merry Christmas to you all!