One thing I love about my job as a dietitian in a grocery store setting is how I get to help people discover that vegetables can taste good. And not just good, but actually craveable.
My coworker from out East shared a great analogy with me that I use all the time now. She says “We don’t cook chicken by boiling the heck out of it and expect it to taste good, so why do so many of us give up on vegetables when they don’t taste good cooked this way?”
It’s so true!!!
Luckily my parents did a pretty good job of making vegetables taste good when I was a kid. Broccoli with cheese sauce, green beans with toasted almonds and brown butter, and Provencal tomatoes with herb butter breadcrumbs are just a few of the amazing vegetable dishes I grew up with and that I now make myself.
But I don’t always have time to whip up fancy vegetable dishes for weeknight dinners, so to add flavour in a pinch I rely on three ingredients: garlic plus salt plus fat.
Those three ingredients come to play in this kale salad to help tone down its bitterness and turn it into a delicious salad. To kick it up a notch I also throw in Parmesan cheese, toasted almonds (pine nuts are also good!), and dried cranberries for some sweetness. Vegetables never tasted so good!
Garlicky Kale Salad with Parmesan
- 1 bunch of kale (~10-12 cups)
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic
- Heaping ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup sliced toasted almonds
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- Chop, wash, and dry your kale.
- In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic.
- In a large bowl, mix together the dressing and kale. Use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale for 3-4 minutes until the leaves start to darken and wilt.
- Sprinkle on the salt and toss to mix. Taste and adjust flavours as needed.
- Add the Parmesan, toasted almonds, and dried cranberries and toss to mix again.
Pesto naan pizza topped with a delicious combination of bacon, feta cheese, and caramelized onions. Good for an easy meal or a party appetizer!
Cheater pizzas and I go way back.
When I was a kid I went to summer camp up north every year. One of the highlights for me was always the week long canoe trips on remote lakes. They were hard work with 8 hour days of paddling and sometimes 4 km long portages! But gathering around the fire for dinner after a long day was one of the best feelings! Pita pizzas were a staple meal on these trips because of their simplicity. Still to this day, the combination of pita with pizza sauce, cheese, and pepperoni is a comfort food for me.
Even though these days I tend to make real pizza with homemade dough, sometimes I still crave the simplicity of a cheater pizza. Okay, that’s just my way of saying “sometimes I’m too lazy to make dough.” This pesto naan pizza is inspired by a pizza that I had a few years ago at a restaurant in Hamilton. Theirs used a more unique homemade pesto with mint and lemon in it. But given that cheater pizzas are a lazy meal, I decided to just go with a bottled pesto. Feel free to make this vegetarian by leaving off the bacon – it’s still just as good!
Your turn: What’s your favourite pita or naan pizza toppings?
Pesto Naan Pizza with Bacon and Feta
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, sliced thinly (makes leftovers)
- 4 slices bacon
- ⅓ cup pesto
- 2 pieces whole wheat naan
- ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Heat up the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the thinly sliced onion. Saute for about 3-4 minutes, then turn down the heat down to low and cook for about 15 minutes until the onions are soft and slightly caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside. *Note: this makes leftover caramelized onions.
- Lay out the bacon in a cold skillet and place over medium heat. Cook until starting to get crispy on the underside, then flip over and cook until the other side starts to get crispy. Remove to a plate lined with paper towel and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Spread the pesto on each piece of naan and top with the bacon, caramelized onions, feta cheese, and mozzarella. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven for about 7-10 minutes, until cheese has melted. To brown the mozzarella, broil it at the end, keeping a close eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn.
These chocolate flax energy balls are a healthy snack with only 8 ingredients and one bowl required!
I hate how some media outlets make snacking into a negative thing. Articles with tips to stop snacking and headlines like “10 lunches to keep you full until dinner” make you think that eating snacks is unhealthy.
But this is, in the words of Dwight Schrute: false.
Sorry, I’ve been rewatching The Office lately and couldn’t stop myself.
Anyways, the media making people feel guilty for snacking needs to stop! Because it’s normal to get hungry between meals and need a snack. Just as it’s normal to sometimes not be hungry between meals. Basically, there’s no one right way to eat other than this: listening to your body and honouring your hunger cues.
So the next time that between-meal hunger hits, whip up these chocolate flax energy balls. One-bite balls like these are one of my favourite kinds of snacks. They’re easy to transport, easy to eat between tasks or meetings at work, and of course they taste great! Also, you can pack them full of good stuff, like nut butter for healthy fats and flax for a big boost of fibre.
What is your favourite homemade snack? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or tag me on Instagram at @chelseadallen if you make this recipe!
Chocolate Flax Energy Balls
- ⅓ cup nut butter (I used soy nut butter)
- 2 tbsp honey*
- 1 tbsp milk of your choice
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 1.5 tbsp cocoa powder
- ½ cup + 1 tbsp ground flax
- ¼ cup quick oats**
- 1-2 tbsp mini chocolate chips
- In a medium bowl, mix together the nut butter, honey, milk, and vanilla. Stir in the cocoa powder, ground flax, oats, and chocolate chips.
- Use your hands to roll into balls, then chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour to let harden.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
*Sub maple syrup for vegan version
**Use certified GF oats if needed