Sweet & Salty Edamame

When it comes to snack time, salty wins over sweet any day. And a little salty on top of sweet ain't so bad either :) 

It wasn't that long ago when I first tried edamame.  With a quick steam and a sprinkling of sea salt, this quickly became one of my go-to favourite healthy snacks.

Until....I was at a restaurant with a friend who had ordered an appetizer plate of edamame and I tried a bite...

Whole. New. Ballgame. 

Gawsh, drooling just thinking about this. 

Of course, I had to jot down the flavours, the sweetness followed by a salty zing, I couldn't forget these lip smacking tastes! A few attempts to make this at home and I got there quickly. After my last attempt at this recipe, while in between bites my husband proclaimed "YOU NAILED IT!!"  So fast and easy to make, and such a great snack when watching your favourite binge worthy Netflix series.  

Ok, now for the healthy scientific stuff...

Soy is a great source of Energy, Protein, Fiber, and Calcium and contains all essential Amino Acids to name a few.  They're low in calories, & there is no cholesterol!
But as much as I love to nibble on this healthy snack, I try not to eat these on a regular basis.   

Edamame are the not-yet matured versions of the soy bean. Soy (young or matured) has high amounts of the hormone disruptor phytoestrogen, which increases estrogenic activity in your body and can cause many issues, including reproductive problems.  Whether you're young, old, male or female, hormones play a huge role in our whole body health. Something I'm learning about more and more as I get older. 

Also, when you buy any soy (beans, edamame, soy milk, tofu etc.) you should always buy Organic. Soy beans grown in North America, are most likely from Genetically Modified (GMO's) soy beans, which are linked to all sorts of health problems, issues, bigger issues and even bigger ones. You can read more about GMO's here

Organic soy are not GMO, so you're safe there.  

Bottom line, eat or drink your soy in moderation and always organic, and you'll get all the positive and healthy benefits from this little bean.  

Back from my babble... 
...if after all that, you're still interested in this recipe, here it is! 

Ingredients :
2 cups frozen Organic Edamame (in shell)
1/2 tsp Garlic (approx 1-2 cloves) peeled and grated or minced
1/2 tsp grated Ginger* 
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp Organic Gluten Free Soy Tamari
1 & 1/2 tsp Sesame Oil
1 Dash Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
Pinch or two of Flaked Sea Salt
1/2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds

Equipment Needed : 
1 skillet or frying pan
1 small pot and basket steamer 
(or small pot will do if you don't have steamer)
Tongs or Slotted spoon

How To :
  1. Add about an inch of water to small pot, add steamer basket. Cover and bring to a boil.
  2. Once water is boiling, add frozen edamame into steamer basket, cover and cook for about 4 minutes or until beans are tender. (If you don't have a steamer, you can boil also for about 4 minutes.)
  3. While waiting for water and edamame to boil, pull out a skillet and get your sauce ingredients ready.
  4. Grate the garlic and ginger and add to skillet.  Add the rest of the sauce ingredients mixing to incorporate everything. Turn heat onto low -just enough to warm up- and give it a quick stir while waiting...
  5. When the edamame are ready, scoop beans up while straining water, and drop into the saucy pan mixture and give it a quick stir to cover the beans. Turn the heat up on your skillet slightly and stir for about a minute. You don't want this to bubble or boil. 
  6. Remove from heat and add sesame seeds and salt.   
  7. Serve.
* An easy way to grate ginger is to keep a nub of ginger in your freezer.  This makes grating much easier! 


Holiday Cover - yay!

So only a few months into Food Styling with LCBO's Food & Drink magazine, and I've landed my first cover!!  and for the Holiday edition no less 😊.  

Needless to say, it's been a nice moment for me.  After working as a Food Photographer for years (and years) and then taking the plunge and becoming a Food Stylist, I wasn't sure how people, the industry or even I would take me. I felt like I had a lot to prove (mostly to myself).  Sure, being a photographer for years had helped me tremendously, I knew the in's and out's of a photo shoot and how it worked, but food styling was a whole different level of learning and doing. I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but having my food (and drink) styling on this cover will always be a reminder for me on those bad days, on those days where I think "I can't do this" or "there are so many better food stylist out there". 

I CAN do this!  And this was my 'pat on the back' moment which proved it to myself.  💪

Cover Photography by James Tse

Cilantro Pesto Tapenade

Until recently, Cilantro's pungent smell and taste kept me away from really giving it a fair chance.  So I avoided it, until one day it showed up in my fridge when my sister stopped by and brought a container of cilantro pesto she picked up at the store.  Pesto is one of my favourite food condiment's, any kind really! After learning of Cilantro's big heath benefits I knew I couldn't avoid it any longer and had to give this one a try. I pulled out my trusty Organic Purple Tortilla chips from Neal Brothers, which is always in my pantry stockpile, and I scooped in.  

The pesto definitely had a distinct strong cilantro taste about it but I was determined to get past the pungency of it. I was already deeply invested into the taste testing, and wasn't ready to give up just yet, it was pesto for goodness sake! I looked in the fridge for something to offset the taste of the strong cilantro and found a container of Kalamata Olives. I had one to clear my pallet. I went in for another scoop of the pesto, then an olive, another scoop, olive...you get the point. It was working. The two flavours, cilantro and the olives, two very powerful yet distinct flavours were working so well together that they started to become their own unique taste.  The lightbulb went on, I got my notebook out and started to scribble my thoughts  on making this a one stop dip. 

So that's how my little concoction of this cilantro pesto tapenade was born.  Olivesto? Cilanpestonade? Tapento? Whatever you want to call it...  

Cilantro is really good for you!

Cilantro is high in Vitamin K & A, it's a great source of Vitamin C, along with potassium, manganese and other essential vitamins & minerals not to mention all antioxidants & dietary fibre it carries while it can also help cleanse your body of toxic metals....Just to name a few things

While I enjoy this as a dip, others enjoyed it also while I played the "guess what ingredients are in this dip" game.  I had my fun and it was time to move on and find some other uses for it.  My first thought was to put it onto pasta, but it needed to be more special.    

When I decided  a few years ago to eliminate pretty much everything I loved to eat, including wheat,  I was stumped when it came to pasta.  I quickly jumped onto the brown rice pasta band wagon.  Which has expanded to Quinoa pasta, buckwheat pasta, amaranth and corn pasta. I’m good with that, even though I’m eating a little more gluten now, I don't enjoy wheat pasta.  A quick and easy go-to meal for me is pasta with pesto.  When I make any kind of pesto now, I make it in big batches and freeze it in ice cube trays so when I need a quick meal, I pull a couple out of the freezer and voila!

While I do love pasta, I've been trying to incorporate more vegetables back into my diet, so what I love even more is the idea of having a plate of vegetables pretending to be pasta! The first time I tried Zucchini noodles, I used my mandolin to create strips of noodles, boiled up some buckwheat spaghetti, mixed it in with the raw zucchini noodles, and topped it all off with diced tomatoes and EVOO. It was pretty simple but "Baby steps" I said to myself.  

Holidays came and went and I finally had some time to try out my newly gifted addition to my appliance family, my spiralizer!  My first attempt was zuchinni.  I sautéed the strands in a  little Extra Virgin Olive Oil, added some of my olive pesto cilantro concoction...and the rest is history! 

Check out my Cilantro Pestonade recipe below...

It's really simple to make.  Have it as a dip, use in your pasta, or as a marinade! I'm sure I'll be testing this one out on so many more dishes! Let me know what you think, or what you've tried it with!

Ingredients :
makes about 1 & 1/2 cup

Bunch of Cilantro, roughly chopped -including leaves and stems (approx 100gr.)
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives (approx 16)
2 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1/4 tsp sea salt
Pinch of chili pepper 
Pinch of black pepper

How To :
  1. Add pumpkin seeds to food processor and process until finely chopped. Set aside in separate bowl
  2. Add olives and garlic to food processor and whirl to a rough chop (about 15 seconds) scraping down sides along the way.
  3. Add cilantro and continue processing, about 30 seconds- scraping down sides. 
  4. Add finely chopped pumpkin seeds, lemon zest, lemon juice, EVOO, salt, chili and black pepper and whirl everything together until you have a fairly fine consistency. 


Apple and Cabbage Slaw

This coleslaw is super easy to make, naturally colourful and packed full of flavour and crunch.  I think I love the dressing the best about this salad.  And the mix of crunchy walnuts and tart green apples, also the earthiness of the purple cabbage.  Did I mention this is really easy to make?  

Makes 4 side salads
Gluten Free


2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Honey
 1 tsp. Ginger (grated)
1 tsp. Grainy Dijon Mustard
- Combine all ingredients and whisk until fully blended

Apple and Cabbage Slaw

1 small head of purple cabbage (finely sliced)
2 green granny smith apples (cored and julienned or cut into thin strips)
1/3 cup walnuts (roughly chopped)
2 green onions (sliced)
1/4 cup flat parsley leaves (whole or rough chopped)

- Prepare your ingredients by chopping as suggested above.  
*tip* Using a mandolin for the cabbage and apple can make things a lot easier.
- Once all ingredients are chopped and dressing is made, mix it all up and serve! 

It's that easy. 


Coconut Oil in your Coffee??

Have you heard of the latest trend of putting butter in your coffee?  If you have, or even if you haven't, coconut oil is another alternative that has some great benefits to your morning cup of awake.

I've written an article for Recipe Geek and you can read about it here!

Gingered Butternut Squash Soup

Winter came way too early for me this year.   I blame being born in the summertime for my love of the sun and the warmth that comes from it.  Now that the sun starts to go down at 4pm and the temperature drops to below anything comfortable, I go into hibernation mode.  Oh, if it were that easy... Instead, I put on my warm layers, turn up the heat and eat (or drink) something that will warm me up from the inside out.   

Squash is a great winter vegetable since most squash ripen in early to late autumn, and they can be stored for months after that.  I've made butternut squash several times before but since my palate has changed over the years, so has my recipe.  Check out my other, sweeter version of butternut squash soup as well as instructions on peeling butternut squash here!  

(vegan, gluten free, healthy!)

1 medium sized butternut squash (peeled and chopped)
1 medium carrot (peeled and small chop)
1 medium sweet potato (peeled and chopped)
1 small nub of fresh ginger (peeled and chopped)
(will only need 1 tbsp of ginger when chopped)
1 large cooking onion (peeled and chopped)
2 garlic cloves (peeled and chopped)
1 tbsp Coconut Oil
1 can (400ml) Coconut Milk
 Vegetable Broth (946 ml carton)
1/4 tsp of  sea salt (or Herbamere)
1/8 tsp cumin powder (or to taste)
ground pepper to taste

For garnish, you can use pumpkin seeds, cilantro or a drizzle of coconut milk!

Equipment needed
Large pot
Blender or Food processor
Knife/Cutting Board
Spoon for mixing in pot

  • Have all ingredients ready, peeled and chopped.  Carrots should be a slightly smaller chop than other large orange ingredients since carrots take the longest to cook. 
  • Melt coconut oil in large pot and add onion, cooking for 5 minutes or until soft and lightly browned (stirring occasionally). 
  • Add garlic cooking for another minute.
  • Add chopped squash, carrot, potato and ginger into pot. 
  • Add vegetable broth, mixing all ingredients so that they're all coated.  You can add some water here so that liquid almost covers all vegetables in pot.   
  • Cook on high temperature until liquid begins to boil, then turn temperature down to a simmer.  
  • Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all vegetables are soft and almost fall apart when pierced with a fork. 
  • Once they're all nice and soft, slowly ladle ingredients from pot into food processor.  You may have to break this down and process a smaller amount before adding the rest of what's in the pot making sure to process until nice and smooth.  If you like a chunkier soup, stop processing when you're happy with the consistency. 
  • Add the salt, pepper and cumin and whirl again.   
  • Add the coconut milk** at the end and give it another whirl to incorporate.  
**If you want a thicker, creamier soup, keep your coconut milk can in the refrigerator for about an hour.  Remove and open can, careful not to shake it.  When you open the can, you'll find thick solid coconut cream on top.  Scoop that out carefully and into the food processor. About halfway down the can underneath all of that cream you'll find the liquid.  If you're happy with your soups consistency, discard the liquid, if you find it a little thick, add some of the liquid.  
  • Garnish your soup with chopped pumpkin seed, cilantro or  a drizzle of coconut milk. 


Beet and Goat Cheese Salad in Ireland

A ten day driving tour through Ireland showed my husband and I many old castles, lush green rolling hills, stunning scenery, lots of farm animals and one big beautiful Irish family wedding. 

Our stop in Dublin took us to one of the oldest pub’s in the world.  Back in Toronto, we used to live near a popular pub called The Brazen Head and we frequented it often.  When we came across The Brazen Head Pub in Dublin Ireland, we definitely had to check it out!   It was built in 1198 and I have a feeling, it was still pretty true to it’s original form.  The space was large but broken down into little rooms, most likely for heating purposes back then. 

After all of the Medieval type movies and tv shows that my husband had made me watch  and I had watched together, this 800 year old pub was what I had expected to see.  I imagined large and loud Viking men drinking ale out of animal horns and bar wenches serving them.   Fast forward to 2014,  there were no vikings, or horn cups, it was civilized (at least in the room we in) and there were gluten free and vegan options on the menu!  Oh, what would the Vikings say now!

Looking through the bar menu, I decided on a Warm Goat Cheese and Beetroot Salad.  I was really determined to have a healthy diet on the road in Ireland, and I have to admit, some day's it proved challenging with the numerous pub stops that we made.  The beet salad was really good, with so much flavour in every bite, I was totally satisfied and fulfilled.  I noted the ingredients, hoped to make this back home and when I did finally make it, I was just as excited with the flavours as the first time I tried it.   I'm not the biggest beet fan, I find they taste like dirt (sorry beets)…but roasting them brings out their sweetness, combined with  goat cheese, and all the other goodies in this salad, (not to mention how highly nutritious beets are for you) I can say I'm a beet convert.  

Summertime is the perfect time for salads!  Refreshing, light, seasonal, and the great thing about salads are how versatile they are.  There are no rules, no do's or don'ts, salads can be a mixed bag of whatever you crave, have in your kitchen or have growing in your garden.  

This roasted beet salad is really quite easy and quick to make and by all means, adjust it to your liking! Chop, dice or slice your veggies, roast the beets ahead of time and use cold chèvre instead of baking it if you like!   I had this salad the other night for dinner and use some leftover kale pesto that I had in my freezer along with some cold roasted beets from a few days before! 

makes a large yummy salad for one

4 small beets
2 handfuls of mixed greens (washed)
1/2 cup Cucumber (diced or sliced)
 1/2 small Red Onion (sliced)
1/2 cup Cherry Tomato (sliced in half)
1 goats cheese (chèvre) wheel
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch of sea salt and pepper
*Adjust quantities according to your own preference

Basil Pesto 
(or your own favourite pesto recipe will do)

 1 cup Basil Leaves
1 clove Garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese (grated)
2 Tbsp. Pine Nuts (lightly toasted)
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch of sea salt and pepper

  • Pre-heat  your oven to 400º.  Wash and remove stems, leaves and roots from beets, place beets onto a sheet of tin foil (you can wrap them individually, or two or more if they're small).  Pour a teaspoon or so of Olive Oil over beets and wrap foil tightly.  Place onto cooking sheet and into preheated oven.  Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Beets will cook at different times depending on their size. Check by carefully peeling back foil and piercing beet with fork. If fork glides in easily, they're ready, if not, back in the oven they go! 
  • In the meantime, you can prepare the pesto.  Place basil leaves, crushed garlic, parmesan cheese and pine nuts into food processor and whirl until chunky.  Slowly add olive oil while you continually whirl, until you reach the consistency you like.  Set aside. 
  • When beets are ready and roasted, remove from oven and let cool. Lower oven temperature to 350º.
  • Remove goats cheese from packaging and wrap loosely in tin foil. 
  • When the beets have cooled, and your ready to start peeling them, place wrapped goats cheese in oven for about 10 minutes or until starting to melt. 
  • Peel beets using fingers, or a parring knife.  Doing this under running water can help and help keep fingers clean as beet juice can stain.  Use disposable gloves if you have them handy especially if you have an important meeting and you don't like the idea awkwardly pink fingers all day!
  • Whisk Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Balsamic Vinegar, add a pinch of salt and pepper.  
  • Mix your washed salad greens, cucumber, cherry tomato's, red onion, and balsamic vinegar/olive oil salad dressing.  Place mixed salad on to large plate.  
  • Drop a few spoonfuls of pesto onto salad, as well as your roasted, and halved beets.  
  • Finally, remove baked melty goats cheese from tin foil and flip on to salad.