Recipe #7: Falafel Pitas

We love pitas, and wanted to try to recreate the delicious Falafel pita we usually get at Extreme Pita downtown. We've made falafels a number of times now at home, and have used two different methods. The first method is a very simple one: Buy a package of "Falafel Mix Prepatation" at a convenience store (Malcolm bought ours at Al-Arz Lebanese and Middle Eastern Food Store, though I think it can be found in the International Section at Superstore and Sobeys as well). We also usually buy our pita bread at Al-Arz Food. The directions on the box are very straight forward: Mix the Falafel 'preparation' with water and let sit for one hour; form little falafel balls; fry in oil; eat. We've only tried this method once, and the falafels were quite delicious. That being said, there's nothing more satisfying than making your food from (almost) scratch. So, we've made the amost-from-scratch Falafels more often instead.

Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (approx.)


- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 tbsps fresh parsley, chopped finely
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- Pepper, to taste (if desired)
- Oil (for frying)

1. Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, and pepper in medium bowl. Mash chickpeas so that ingredients mix together.
2. Add flour and continue mashing. If you have a food processor, I would suggest to use it - we don't have one and mix and mash it all by hand, but the Falafel balls usually don't stick together as well when we form them because the ingredients aren't miniscule. Ideally, you will end up with a thick paste of chickpea mush.
3. Form the mixture into small balls, and slightly flatten them.
4. Fry the Falafel balls in approx. 2 inches of oil until golden brown (5-7 minutes each, turning once one side is brown).

Almost-From-Scratch-Falafels (left) and Prepared-Mix-Falafels (right). Both are worth a try.

We've only made Falafel pitas, though the Falafel balls themselves can be served as a main course, as an appetizer (usually with hummus and tahini), or they can even be made into burger patties (if formed differently) for Falafel burgers. Maybe that's what we'll try next.

Once you're ready to make the actual pitas, this is what we suggest to include in the pita:
- Falafel balls (2-3 per pita)
- Hummus
- Tahina/Tahini (sesame seed paste).
- Tomatoes, finely chopped
- Cucumbers, finely chopped,
- Onions, finely chopped (though there are already onions in the Falafels already)
- Lettuce, finely chopped

I also usually add tzatziki, though the guy at Extreme Pita has told me that it doesn't "fit" with the Falafel pita. I believe he denied me tzatziki once, even though I had asked for it! Unfortunately I didn't get any pics of the made-up pitas, but I'm sure you can picture it.

Now, obviously this isn't the most healthy meal possible due to the frying in the oil, but of course the ingredients are very healthy, so I like to think that it evens out a little bit. =)

Recipe #6: Lemon Quinoa with Asparagus and Feta

I found this recipe online yesterday, when I was looking for recipes where we could use the last of our asparagus that has been sitting in the fridge for a few days. I ran across this recipe, and thought it sounded pretty delicious. We tried it, and we both really liked it! I had to leave out the thyme and the real juice of a lemon (instead, I used the commercial lemon juice out of the squeeze bottle, and it seemed to work out okay). Also, I used half of the original recipe ingredients, which was plenty for the two of us plus some left-overs. In the ingredients below, I have cut down the ingredients to what we used, which was plenty for two people. Also, I decided to use 1/2 cup red quinoa, and 1/2 cup regular 'white' quinoa... because it seemed like fun. =)

Time: 35-45 minutes

- 2 cups water
- 1 cup Quinoa
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 shallot, minced (we just used white onion; had no shallots at the time)
- 1.5 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme (didn't have this in the house)
- 4 ounces feta, crumbled
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (used lemon juice out of squeeze bottle)

1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in medium saucepan. Add the quinoa and stir. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until quinoa has absorbed all of the water (15-20 minutes). Set aside (covered).
2. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot and shimmering, stir in the shallot/onion. Sauté, stirring often, until the shallot/onion is light brown (5-7 minutes).
3. Add the asparagus and thyme (if you have it) and cook, stirring often, until the asparagus is tender but still bright green (8-10 minutes). Add 2-3 tbsps of water halfway through cooking to steam the asparagus a little bit.

4. When the asparagus is finished, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the quinoa, the crumbled feta, and the lemon juice. Season to taste with pepper, if desired.

Recipe idea from http://www.cookthink.com/recipe/3824/Lemon_Quinoa_With_Asparagus_And_Feta


Recipe #5: Rice Paper Wraps

Although this isn't really a 'recipe', it is such a fun (and fairly healthy) meal, that I wanted to share it on this blog. Malcolm and I first had these rice paper wraps when we visited our friends in Canmore, Alberta this past summer. Thank you so much Kimber and Steve, for introducing us to them, and for hosting us for a number of sleeps during our trip! We've made these wraps several times since visiting, and have introduced them to a few of our own friends as well, all of whom enjoyed them tremendously! These wraps, if put together wisely, provide one epic taste sensation explosion!

What You Need
- Fairly large plate (which curves up a little)
- Warm water
- A number of desired food ingredients (see below), diced and cut up into small bits; Obviously you can make a number of different combinations, and you could add a number of other ingredients or leave some out, but below is a list of things we almost always include in our rice paper wrap "buffet".

Food Ingredients
- Rice Paper Wraps (found at Superstore, in the international section, I think)
- Red or green bell pepper
- Onion (of your choice)
- Cucumber
- Avocado (ripe)
- Carrots
- Peanuts
- Garlic (pressed)
- Ginger (graded or cut into very small pieces)
- Lettuce
- Tomato
- Extra Firm Tofu (and/or cubed chicken, if desired... we usually alternate or have both); Cut extra-firm tofu into small cubes, pat them dry with a paper towel or other towel; marinate with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp of garlic powder (but do not let it sit too long, otherwise they will soak up too much sauce, and we like making them crispy); add to frying pan (with a little bit of oil) and fry until crispy.
- Rice Noodles (usually we have both regular and spinach rice noodles)

- Hoi Sin Sauce
- Spiracha Hot Chili Sauce (from Superstore)
- Soy Sauce
- Peanut Sauce (we make our own with regular peanut butter and water)
- Tzatziki
- Tahina (sometimes)
- Hummus (sometimes)

Home-made Peanut Sauce (left) and Extra-Firm fried Tofu (right)

Part of one of our rice paper wraps "buffet"

1. Take 1 rice paper out of package and place it into plate with warm water, so that all of it is covered with water. Let soak for a few seconds, ensuring all of the rice paper is soft. Do not let "soak" for longer than 30-40 seconds.
2. Place softened rice paper onto your own plate, and fill with desired ingredients. One tip is to put peanut sauce, tzatziki, and anything else with a little less viscosity first, then veggies, and then drizzle with Hoi Sin, Soy, and any other desired sauces. Warning: Do not use a lot of the Spiracha Hot Chili Sauce, because it is VERY hot!

Thanks again, Kimber & Steve - this post is in your Honour! :)

Malcolm, Kimber, and Steve during our "Rice Paper Wrap Supper" in Canmore, Alberta (Summer 2010)


Recipe #4: Roasted Garlic and Lentil Soup

This is one of my very favourite soups, and we've made it several times over the past few months. If you like lentils and rice, then this soup will be heaven for you! :)

- 10 small tomatoes (or 5 med tomatoes; the smaller, the faster they're ready)
- 10 cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (this is a must)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds (if available)
- 1 tsp ground ginger (I just shave fresh ginger with cheese grater)
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg (I usually add more)
- 1 cup red or brown rice (uncooked)
- 3 cups vegetable stock (I use the bouillon cubes)
- 1 can (540ml) lentils with liquid

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celcius)
2. Combine tomatoes, cloves of garlic, 2 tbsp oil, and rosemary in a pie plate. Bake for 30-40 minutes (until tomatoes and garlic are soft). Let sit to cool down.
3. In a large saucepan, heat 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onion, and fry for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally (until onion is soft).
4. Add cumin, fennel, ginger, nutmeg, and rice. Stir constantly for 1 minute, then add 2 cups (500 ml) of vegetable stock, and bring it all to a boil. Cover, reduce to low, and simmer for 30-40 minutes (until rice is tender).
5. When tomatoes & garlic have cooled down a little, pour them into a blender, along with remaining vegetable stock. Blend until smooth (1-2 minutes) on medium or high.
6. Add all of this to soup in saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes (until heated through).
I would suggest to add a little bit more water or vegetable stock, especially if you're going to store some of this in the fridge, as it will dry up somewhat while it is being stored. That being said, this doesn't necessarily have to be a soup - it can just be a rice/lentil meal, and it is just as good. Also, I sprinkled some cayenne pepper and fresh rosemary on top of the soup before serving.

I am so in love with this soup, so if you try it, let me know if you love it just as much! :)

Recipe idea from "125 Best Vegetarian Recipes" by Byron Ayanoglu


Recipe #3: Mulligatawny (Soup)

First off, THANK YOU to fellow teacher Natasha D., who was super nice to have shared this recipe with me! Were it not for her, I would still not know about this delicious soup. I'm not sure if this is a family recipe or a recipe she found online, but I hope it is okay to share it. Thank you, again!

Mulligatawny is a "curry-flavoured soup of Anglo-Indian origin" (wikipedia). I have only made this soup once before (a few days ago), but it suited my taste buds so much, that it was a MUST to share with you right away.

- 1 tbsp cooking oil (i.e., sunflower oil)
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) chopped onion (I would recommend sweet onion for this)
- 3/4 cup (175ml) sliced carrots
3/4 cup (175ml) sliced celery
- 2 garlic cloves (pressed or chopped finely)
- 2 tbsp ginger (fresh)
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 4 cups (250ml) chicken stock (I use the bouillon cubes dissolved in hot water for this)
- 1 cup diced, peeled potato (use sweet potato for a healthier substitute)
- 1 thinly diced tart apple (Granny Smith is great)
- 1 (14oz) can (398ml) coconut milk
- 1/2 cup-1 cup diced extra-form tofu (original recipe calls for chicken, chopped/cooked)
- 1/2 cup (125ml) sweetened apple sauce

The original recipe also calls for 1/4 tsp of salt, but I didn't add this. The soup has such a strong and delicious taste, that this wasn't necessary.

1. Heat cooking oil in large sauce pan on medium
2. Add onion, carrots, celery, cloves, and ginger. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until onion is softened.
3. Add curry powder. Heat and stir for approx. 1 minute until vegetables are coated and curry is fragrant.
4. Add chicken stock, potato, and apple. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Let sit (covered) for approx. 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potato is tender.
5. Add coconut milk, tofu/chicken, and apple sauce. Cooke for approx. 5 minuted until heated through.

If you're going to serve this to someone and worry about presentation, you can also sprinkle some fresh rosemary and either chili powder or cayenne pepper on the surface of the soup, though for taste alone, it isn't necessary. This is what mine looked like:

Nutritional Info (per 1 cup; with chicken)
203 calories
12.7g Fat
19.6mg Cholesterol
15g Carbohydrates
2g Fiber
9g Protein
493mg Sodium


Recipe #2: Sautéed Asparagus and Tofu Stir-Fry

This is a wonderful little addition to any meal (could be eaten with rice, perhaps even pasta, or any meat side if so desired). I love its 'unique' taste, and the fact that it is a superbly healthy meal. Prep time for this is approximately 15 minutes, and sauté/cook time is about 10 minutes more. Of course, the faster you chop, the shorter the prep time will be. I, however, am no pro chopper quite yet. :)

Ingredients (4 Servings)
- 1 onion (cut into slivers)
- 4 medium cloves of garlic (minced or finely chopped)
- 1 red bell pepper (cut thinly/julienne style)
- 1 tbsp vegetable broth (I use bouillon cubes dissolved in hot water)
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger (minced - I use a cheese grater for this, and grade it all)
- 3 cups asparagus (discard of the bottom bit and then cut into 3 equal parts)
- 1/2 cup - 1 cup of extra firm tofu (cut into small cubes)
- 1 tbsp tamari (soy sauce)
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- sesame seeds


  1. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable broth in skillet/frying pan. Sauté onion in broth over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add garlic, ginger, asparagus, and peppers; continue to stir-fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add tofu, soy sauce, and vinegar. Turn heat to low and cover for 2-4 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, yet still crisp (your preference).
  4. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
*Note: While the original recipe says to simply throw the cubed tofu in as is, I decided to crisp the tofu up a little bit before doing so. To do this, simply take a piece of paper towel and dab it several times on top of the tofu cubes to drain out some of the excess water. Put the tofu cubes into a bowl, sprinkle with garlic powder, and shake/mix until all cubes are fairly covered with the powder. Heat a tiny bit of peanut oil (or other vegetable oil, though peanut seems to work best with the tofu) in a frying pan, add the tofu, and let sit for several minutes, stirring occasionally to turn the cubes (5-10, depending on your preference - the longer, the crispier). Now you can add the tofu cubes to your stir-fry, or add them in at the very end to avoid them getting "un-crispy" again. Good luck! :)

Nutritional Info
(Per 1 serving; 1/4 of above amount)
98 calories
The original recipe also called for salt and white pepper to taste, but I didn't find this necessary. I avoid cooking with salt when I can, as it is found in nearly everything we eat already in the first place.

I love that the veggies are sautéed/stir-fried only in a bit of vegetable broth instead of in vegetable/cooking oil - makes for a bit of an even healthier meal. I think I will try this method from now on when making stir-fry. For our meal, I also made a bit of barbecue spiced salmon (bought fresh from Superstore), and they fit perfectly together. A small side salad would also be preferable, completing the meal.

Like? Dislike? Love? Hate? Let me know your taste buds' feelings if you try this recipe. I most definitely recommend it. It's a nice change from the usual. :)

Recipe idea and information from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=114&tname=recipe


Recipe #1: Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burgers

This is a fun and delicious meal, well combined with a quick and easy salad. The veggie burgers take about 30-35 minutes to make, including the prep time and bake time. A small amount of time to put into such an enjoyable meal!


1 (16 ounce) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp chili powder (up to 2 tbsp for increased spice)
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp thai chili sauce or hot sauce
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- sesame seeds (if desired)
- buns (PC 4-Seed Bagel Thins or other)


  1. Grilling: Preheat BBQ/Grill (high heat), and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. Baking: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet.
  2. In a bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty. This takes quite a bit of endurance, but keep at it - it will be worth it.
  3. Finely chop onion, bell pepper, and garlic. You can use a food processor here if you have one, but I just use a knife (the ceramic knife that my sister gave to me is awesome for this and a garlic press for the garlic). Combine these ingredients with the mashed beans.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the egg, chili powder, cumin, and the chili sauce.
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in the bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into 4-5 patties. I usually manage to get 5 patties out of this, or even 6, depending on how thin/thick you want them.
  6. I like putting some Sesame seeds on top of the burger patties as well. Last time I did this after baking, but either before or after should be fine.
  7. If Grilling: Place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If Baking: Place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.
  8. For burger buns, I usually use the PC 4-Seed Bagel Thins - a healthier substitute to regular buns.
I've never barbecued/grilled them before... I've only made them in the oven, and they've turned out great each time. The only thing you have to watch for, is that they don't stick to the sheet in the oven, because when you try to flip them over, this can cause a bit of a falling-apart effect. I'd say you could even go without a sheet and just grease a baking pan, or really make sure that your baking sheet is greased. I used aluminum last time, and they stuck to this like crazy - so try to avoid that! Other than that, all you need is a little light mayo, and some barbecue sauce or ketchup for those who want it, and a couple of pieces of lettuce (romaine or other) for inside the burger! Now they're ready to be eaten!

Side Salad

As mentioned above, these veggie burgers go very well with a nice, quick, balsamic vinegar based salad. I usually use Romaine or a mix of lettuces (Arugula is great) for the salad. For a very quick and simple salad dressing, I combine the following ingredients:

- 1 tbsp Olive or Sunflower Oil
- 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1-2 'squirts' of [Honey] Dijon Mustard
- Salad spices (mine is a fantastic mix from Switzerland, but any mixture of Italian Seasoning, Basil, Oregano, etc, works)

If you like, you can add minced garlic and/or finely chopped onion, which I add when I have time to chop them. I try to avoid salt, even though this is 'recommended' in the majority of dressings you see online. I don't think you need it at all... you can't taste a difference when you don't add salt, and the dressing is a bit healthier without it!

I hope you try out this recipe - let me know what you think!

Recipe Idea from http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/homemade-black-bean-veggie-burgers/Detail.aspx


Helpful & Motivational Websites

Here are a few very helpful, easily usable, and motivational websites if you are trying to keep track of what you are eating (whether that is for caloric intake/burning, nutritional information to ensure that you are getting enough of the vitamins and minerals suggested per day, or just out of curiosity).

1. Fit Day: http://fitday.com/
This is a fantastic [FREE and very easy to use] website where you can do all of the following:
- Daily food log (search for food OR create/input your own with specific nutritional info)
- Daily activity log (search activities and add to log, specifying time spent; Shows calories burned).
- Caloric Balance (shows calories eaten vs. calories burned)
- Weight log (keep track of your weight; daily/weekly/monthly; weight graph for an overview).
- Weight Goal option (input a 'weight goal' and a goal deadline; determine daily calorie restriction necessary to reach your goal within your chosen time period, tracks your progress via graphs/stats).
- Journal (entries about your progress regarding your eating habits, exercise, mood, or other thoughts).
- Additional 'features' include a calendar, a mood tracker (where you can input how you feel each day; shows statistics about your mood over time), options to input and keep track of body measurements and BMI, and more.

2. Nutrition Data: http://nutritiondata.self.com/
This is a neat and easy-to-use website that provides you with nutritional date of a huge variety of foods, including specific restaurant food (i.e., fast food places). It shows you an abundance of information on each food you search, including broken down, detailed nutrition facts, caloric ratio (what % of carbs, proteins, and fats the food is made up of), the food's protein quality, and more.