what’s good around the web!

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morning on the coast // the muffin myth

Happy Friday! I’m coming at you again from the sunny Sunshine Coast of BC, with some great food, nutrition, and health articles for your weekend reading pleasure. Enjoy!

MM_Web_Icon_FINAL1. This is a great article about fat: three new fat facts that could have saved us a lot of trouble.

2. Eating food from plants that have struggled to survive toughens us up as well.

3. Probiotic logic vs gut feelings.

4. Fried food consumption and your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

5. Thoughts on being gluten intolerant… intolerant.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

mediterranean chickpea salad

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mediterranean chickpea salad // the muffin myth

For many years I thought that I didn’t like Greek salad. Too salty! Too oniony! Too briny! Swimming in dressing! Fortunately I came to the realization that I’d been eating crappy Greek salads and totally changed my tune.

Over the course of my MSc program in nutrition, my cohort of international nutritionists hosted many potluck meals, and our Greek nutritionist, Thanasis, almost always contributed some sort of rendition on a Greek salad. Though he lamented the quality of ingredients available in Sweden (Here is a Greek salad. It has the worst tomatoes, the worst cucumbers, the worst feta, and the worst olive oil.) I thought his salads were fabulous. Not too acidic, and with a generous quantity of olive oil, they were just the Greek salad I’d always been looking for.

mediterranean chickpea salad // the muffin myth

I can’t call this a Greek salad because I’ve totally bastartized it, so Mediterranean Chickpea Salad it is. The red onions are mellowed out by a brief marinate in red wine vinegar, a trick I learned here and have never stopped using. It’s vegetable heavy, olive moderate, and made more substantial with the addition of chickpeas for protein and heft. I’ve left out the usual feta, replacing it with optional croutons of seared halloumi which are served on the side and easily left out for a vegan salad.

mediterranean chickpea salad // the muffin myth

This salad packs up decently well and makes for good picnic fare, and it makes a lot so is great for sharing. It will last only a couple of days in the fridge before the cucumbers and tomatoes start to go all wilty, so you may want to scale the recipe according to your needs rather than being left with a huge quantity of salad you’re frantically trying to go through before it becomes sad. Like all salads this one is a template for your palate, so I’d love to hear how you make it yours.

mediterranean chickpea salad // the muffin myth

Two years ago: Boiled Broccoli with Poached Scrambled Eggs

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad Recipe:

I’ve strayed from my inspiration and made this a salad quite light in oil. If you have some, though, feel free to drizzle a little extra good quality olive oil over the top when you serve this. You won’t regret it.

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1/2 a medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp ground sumac
1 long English cucumber, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups chickpeas (about 1 400g tin)
1/2 cup kalamata olives
200g halloumi, cubed (optional)

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Place the sliced red onions in a small bowl. Toss with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and sumac and set aside to marinate while you prep the other ingredients.

In a large bowl combine diced cucumber, tomato, red pepper, chickpeas, and olives. Add the marinated onions and all of the accompanying liquid, and toss the salad well to combine.

If using halloumi croutons, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add a tsp of olive oil, and sear the halloumi cubes for a few minutes, until they are golden on all sides. Remove from the heat.

To serve, spoon the salad into individual bowls, tossing the salad a bit before serving as liquid will have settled to the bottom. Top individual bowls with halloumi croutons, or leave them off for a vegan salad. Enjoy!

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 Chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, are a super food! They contain about 12.5 grams of fiber per cup, which is 50% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber.  About two-thirds of the fiber in garbanzos is insoluble, which is great for digestive health, particularly in the colon. The remaining third is soluble fiber, which can help lower our LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides; important for cardiovascular health. The protein-fiber combination in chickpeas is key for stabilizing blood sugar levels, as both protein and fiber move through our digestive systems at a moderate pace. This protein-fiber combination is also beneficial for improving our sense of satiety, which can help prevent over eating. Chickpeas are notable for antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, but also contain concentrated supplies of antioxidant phytonutrients such as flavonoids and polyphenols.  Chickpeas also contain valuable amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the body’s omega-3 fatty acid from which all other omega-3 fats are made. Chickpeas for the win!

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

how to build a perfect meal bowl

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how to build a perfect meal bowl

It’s no secret that I love me a good meal bowl. I love them morning, noon, and night. I love them as packed lunches, and I love them for easy and nourishing weeknight dinners. Have you ever wondered what the formula for the perfect meal bowl might be?

Why don’t you let me tell you! Hop on over to Oh My Veggies where I’m cracking the code for building a perfect meal bowl, aaaaaaand, I’ve got links to 18 fabulous meal bowl recipes for your dinner inspiration. Enjoy!

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

chocolate black bean brownie smoothie

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chocolate black bean smoothie // the muffin myth

I’ve been thinking lately about how my food philosophy has changed over the last decade. I used to eat pretty much any old thing so long as it was vegetarian without much consideration about what it actually was. Over the years the way I eat has shifted to a much more whole foods focused approach.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t particularly worry about getting protein into my diet because there is protein, at least in small amounts, in practically everything. I do sometimes like a blast of protein, though, so I’m always looking for ways to incorporate it into my diet. Although I know there are some good ones out there, protein powders are a bit out of my comfort zone. So, I’ve been experimenting with ways to get extra protein into my smoothies without using any protein powder.

chocolate black bean smoothie // the muffin myth

What’s the answer? Beans!

Beans in a smoothie?! Yup! We’ve made brownies from beans, so why not a smoothie? Trust me, you won’t taste them. Plus, in addition to adding a boost of protein and healthy fiber to your smoothie, the beans also contribute to an amazing creamy texture. Hemp seeds add another boost of protein, and sweetened with just a frozen banana and a couple of medjool dates, this smoothie is vegan, naturally sweetened, naturally protein-rich, and gluten free. It’s great for practically everyone!

I’ve used almond milk to keep this smoothie vegan, but you could boost the protein even more by adding Greek yoghurt. The cocoa nibs are an optional topping; if you have them on hand sprinkle a few over top for a fun crunch. Try this smoothie out and let me know what you think. And tell me, what else do you like to sneak beans into?

chocolate black bean smoothie // the muffin myth

Smoothies, previously:
Chocolate Banana Bread Smoothie
Strawberry Coconut Super Smoothie
Date Almond Smoothie
Chocolate Blueberry Oat Smoothie

Chocolate Black Bean Brownie Smoothie Recipe:

Chocolate and black beans are a logical pairing, but you could use other beans as well. Adzuki beans would be great, and a neutral tasting white bean like cannellini would be good too.

Serves 1

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1 banana, preferably frozen
1/2 cup black beans
2 medjool dates, pitted
1 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp hemp seeds
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
cocoa nibs for garnish (optional)

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Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and sprinkle cocoa nibs over the top if desired. Serve immediately.

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Black beans are a good source of folate, dietary fiber, protein, phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium and vitamin K. The protein-plus-fiber combination in black beans is one of the things that makes them special. A one cup serving contains 15g of fiber (over half of the daily recommended intake), and 15g of protein. Much of the fiber is indigestible, which supports digestive health, particularly in the lower part of our digestive tract. The protein-fiber combination is also key in stabilizing blood sugar levels, as both protein and fiber move through our digestive systems at a moderate pace. Black beans are also rich in soluble fiber, which is helpful for lowering blood cholesterol levels and supporting cardiovascular health. You know what they say, beans beans good for the heart… but if the second part of that rhyme concerns you, be sure to discard the soaking water when cooking dried beans. You’ll be tossing out a good amount of flatulence causing compounds, as well as some of the phytates and tannins that lower nutrient availability.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

what’s good around the web!

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Gibsons morning // the muffin myth

Hello from my favourite place on earth! The benefit of jetlag is being wide awake hours before anyone else and catching glorious morning light on the ocean. This is the life!

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1. Good news for avocado lovers! A new study says that half an avocado eaten at lunch can help us feel full for longer.

 

2. Have you heard there’s a kale shortage due to the popularity of green smoothies? (I’m guilty, totally guilty)

3. Study finds that kids actually prefer healthier lunches. The school food lobby refuses to believe it.

4. Some juices contain more sugar than Pepsi. Yup.

5. Is bubbly water bad for you?

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

berry cream pie overnight oats

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berry cream pie overnight oats // the muffin myth

I’m a late comer to the overnight oats game. To be honest, I didn’t think they were going to be good. I pictured some sort of weird, tasteless, gruel-like goop that people were choking down for some reason unbeknownst to me. But let me tell you, I’ve never been happier to be wrong.

Folks, overnight oats are goooood. And they’re easy. And they’re convenient. They’re the kind of breakfast that I actually look forward to, and when I write out my meal plans I have to stop myself from scheduling them in each and every weekday morning. And really, there’s no reason not to schedule them each and every morning.

berry cream pie overnight oats // the muffin myth

I like this version because it’s sweetened simply with a bit of mashed banana, which also contributes to the overall creamy texture of these oats. For the liquid I’ve used a combination of almond milk and plain yoghurt, but this is easily adaptable depending on your personal needs and preferences. Don’t do dairy? Use all almond milk, or a combination of non-dairy milk and yoghurt (have you tried coconut yoghurt? it would be great here). Gluten free? Use gluten free oats. Strawberries aren’t in season? Try blackberries! Or, toss a handful of frozen berries over the top and let them thaw in the fridge – I do this when I pack overnight oats with me to work.

And speaking of packing, overnight oats are an outstanding addition to a make-ahead meal plan. All you need to do is toss the ingredients together in a bowl (with a lid) or a jar, shake or stir well to combine, and after an overnight stint in the fridge, when you wake up your breakfast is ready. It’s great for on-the-go breakfasts and busy days, but equally great for lazy summer mornings when you’d rather be outside than slaving over breakfast.

berry cream pie overnight oats

Two years ago: White Bean Tortilla with Piri Piri
Three years ago: Cherry Rye Muffins

Berry Cream Pie Overnight Oats Recipe:

I’ve used a few specialty ingredients here, but they aren’t all strictly necessary. Chia seeds are stirred in with the oat mixture and I do recommend keeping those in, as they help to thicken the oats and also contribute valuable fiber. I like to stir a teaspoon of maca into my oats, and if you’re looking for a way to incorporate maca into your diet, this is a good way. It’s strong flavour is mellowed out with the banana and yoghurt, but it does add a bit of a caramelly note which I think is nice. The maca totally isn’t necessary, though, so skip it if you like. The hemp seeds add protein, and I think they’re pretty on top, but they’re definitely not essential.

Serves 1

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1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp maca powder (optional)
1/2 a very ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup almond milk or other milk of choice
1/4 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 cup ripe berries
1 Tbsp hemp seeds (optional)

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Place oats, chia seeds, maca powder (if using), mashed banana, almond milk, and yoghurt into a jar or a bowl that has a lid. Shake or stir to combine ingredients, and place into the fridge overnight.

In the morning, transfer the oat mixture to a bowl (or eat straight from the container!), top with berries, and sprinkle hemp seeds over the top. Enjoy!

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Oats are rich in indigestible carbohydrates called beta-glutens which help to lower blood cholesterol levels. Oats are also host to a number of phenolic compounds which have antioxidant properties. Due to the high levels of those beta-glucans, oats are also helpful in stabilizing blood sugar. In fact, eating oats in the morning may help keep your blood sugar stable throughout the entire day. Oats are also a good source of dietary fiber and protein. Look for gluten-free oats if you’re celiac or have another gluten sensitivity.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

tempeh tacos with white cabbage and fresh salsa

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tempeh tacos // the muffin myth

How do you say the world taco? I say it like taaaco and my friend Alison, who, along with apparently the rest of the world, says it like tah-co, loves to make fun of me for it. Her impression of me doing it is as if I’m in Fargo (the movie, not the series). I wondered if my pronunciation is a Canadianism, but after surveying a number of Canadians it appears it is not. I also wondered if I had somehow picked up a Haligonian accent since my mom is from the east coast, but none of my east coast cousins pronounce taco in this way. I can’t explain it. Other than that I’m saying it how it’s spelled!

tempeh tacos // the muffin myth

Regardless of how you say it, you’re gonna want to get into these tempeh tacos!

I love taco night because it’s always a choose your own adventure situation. If you, like me, live in a household where some members are vegetarian and some are not, you probably already know how awesome taco night is for accommodating everyone. Vegetarian? Choose tempeh or beans over whatever meat is on offer. Vegan? Skip the cheese. Gluten free? Use a gluten free tortilla, or, skip the tortilla altogether and make a taco bowl!

tempeh tacos // the muffin myth

These tempeh tacos are sort of like a vegetarian incarnation of fish tacos. Soft corn tortillas are filled with shredded cabbage, seasoned, pan-fried tempeh, fresh salsa, and avocado slices. When I warmed the tortillas I melted a bit of cheese on them, but this is easily skipped if cheese isn’t your thing.

Fresh salsa is delicious and only takes a couple of minutes to come together, but is by no means mandatory. If you’re crunched for time you can replace it with a jar of your favourite salsa, or seek out fresh salsa from your local deli. Also, I found a bag of pre-washed* shredded cabbage at the grocery store and the second I saw it I just knew there was no way I’d be spending precious minutes shredding cabbage. Less time shredding = more time eating tacos!

*real talk: I always do a quick wash of my pre-washed salads. I’m paranoid about food born illnesses and there have been enough cases of people getting sick from pre-washed bagged salads that I do it every time. Even with a quick wash they’re still a time saver, so use them if you will!

tempeh tacos // the muffin myth

One year ago: A Recipe For Disaster 
Two years ago: Salad Rolls with Miso Glazed Tempeh
Three years ago: Baked Eggplant Parmesan Caprese Sandwiches
Four years ago: Cold Rice Noodles with Cashews

Tempeh Tacos with White Cabbage and Fresh Salsa Recipe:

Pile all of the taco fixings into little bowls and arrange them into a taco building station on your kitchen table. That way, everyone can make custom tacos however they like them best.

Serves 4

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For the salsa:
1 large tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed or finely minced
3 scallions, finely sliced
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

For the tempeh:
250g package of tempeh, cut into cubes or slices
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp chile powder
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (for frying)

For the taco fixings:
soft corn or flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cabbage
1-2 avocados, sliced
1/2 cup grated cheese (optional)
hot sauce and lime wedges for serving

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Start with the salsa so that the flavours have time to develop as you prep the other ingredients. In a small bowl combine the diced tomato, crushed garlic, scallions, cilantro, and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the diced tempeh in a small bowl and drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to coat well, then sprinkle the cumin, oregano, and chile powder over top, and toss with the tempeh. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet, and add the seasoned tempeh. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until the tempeh is golden brown on all sides. Remove the tempeh from the skillet and into a bowl.

Now you can use the still warm skillet to warm your tortillas (you can also do this in the oven) if you like. If you want to add cheese, place a tortilla in to the warm skillet, flip after about 1 minute, then sprinkle with a bit of cheese. Let it melt slightly, then remove onto a waiting plate. Repeat with as many tortillas as you wish.

To assemble the tacos, sprinkle a bit of shredded cabbage onto a warmed tortilla. Top with tempeh, avocado slices, and fresh salsa. Serve with hot sauce and a wedge of lime. Enjoy!

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Tempeh is fermented soy food originally from Indonesia. It is fermented with the mold Rhizopus oligosporus in a process similar to cheese making. The fermentation process makes digestion easier and nutrients like zinc, calcium, and iron are more bio available than in non-fermented soy products like tofu. Tempeh is a great source of plant-based protein. Also, because the soy beans in tempeh are still in their whole form, all of the dietary fiber is still intact. Think of tofu as the white bread of the soy world and tempeh as it’s healthier whole grain cousin. Tempeh is usually purchased in a cake-like form and can be sliced or crumbled, and is often steamed, seared, or stir-fried. Look for tempeh that is covered with a thin whitish bloom. Sometimes it has a few black or grayish spots, which is totally fine, but it should have no evidence of pink, yellow, or blue coloration – a sign that it has become overly fermented.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

what’s good around the web!

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balcony garden haul // the muffin myth

Our balcony garden is offering up lots of goodness at the moment. Tiny strawberries, cherry tomatoes, herbs, and edible flowers are the stars this year. Yum!

MM_Web_Icon_FINAL1. Yotam Ottolenghi’s A to Z of summer veg, with recipes to match.

2. How intestinal bacteria may influence our moods.

3. In praise of sharing food.

4. It seems that stress + high fat meals combine to slow metabolism.

5. Are organic foods more nutritious (again).

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

toast for dinner – herbed ricotta, 4 ways

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toast for dinner - herbed ricotta, 4 ways // the muffin myth

I’ve been a student for 9 of the last 10 years, and have worked full time for all but two of those years. I turned in and defended my thesis last month, and Friday was my last day at the office for four whole weeks.

Paul was away over the weekend, racing (and winning!) a crazy swim-run race in Switzerland, so I had a quiet weekend to myself. On Sunday morning I got out of bed, made some tea, and read a book (I just finished reading Wild, which I loved). As I sat in the quiet of my apartment it dawned on me that this was the first time in quite possibly an entire decade that I had literally nothing to do. No commitments. No responsibilities. No studying. No research. No thesis to write. No lunches to pack. No busy week to strategize for. No trip to pack for. Nothing.

It felt so good.

toast for dinner - herbed ricotta 4 ways // the muffin myth

In the spirit of keeping things simple, it’s time for another instalment in the toast for dinner series!

This time we’re keeping it easy and summery with ricotta cheese fancied up with fresh herbs and whatever toppings your heart desires.

If you’ve got some extra time on your hands and you want a fun DIY project, you can make your own ricotta. It’s pretty much the easiest thing going, but you do need to babysit it as the milk boils. But please don’t feel that making your own ricotta is necessary for this recipe. The point is keeping it quick and easy, and although I do love making my own ricotta, I didn’t bother this time.

toast for dinner - herbed ricotta 4 ways // the muffin myth

I’ll let you in on another secret: you don’t have to herb up the ricotta if you don’t want to. Sure, it’s nice, but there are those moments where we’re hardly capable of more than smearing some plain old ricotta on a cracker and calling that dinner. Judge not, it happens.

If you can muster it, a couple of handfuls of fresh herbs (I used basil and oregano from my balcony garden) roughly chopped and stirred into ricotta with a touch of salt and pepper is practically perfect.

toast for dinner - herbed ricotta 4 ways // the muffin myth

Then all you’ve got to do is toast your bread (I’ve got a beautiful wholegrain beer bread going here), slather with ricotta, and dinner is ready.

You can, of course, go one step further and set out a selection of toppings. This would be the perfect thing to do family style: set out a bowl of ricotta and a platter of toppings so everyone can choose their own adventure. I’ve used sliced tomatoes with basil, cucumbers, and strawberries with a drizzle of really good balsamic vinegar; everything got sprinkled with a bit of flaky sea salt.

Other topping ideas? Sliced pickles, grilled vegetables, a drizzle of olive oil, melon, caramelized onions… what else?

toast for dinner - herbed ricotta 4 ways // the muffin myth

Toast for dinner, previously: The Smashy Smashy
(You should also check out these gorgeous tartines from my friend Kellie with figs and labneh. She is a fancier lady than I.)
Three years ago: Baked Ricotta (and how to make your own ricotta)
Four years ago: Banana Spelt Weekend Muffins

Toast for Dinner – Herbed Ricotta Recipe:

A 250g / 1 cup tub of ricotta should serve four people two toasts each, depending on the size of your toast and how thick you spread the ricotta. Mix up the herbs and toppings depending on what’s in season and what you like. Herbed ricotta should keep for about a week in an airtight container in the fridge if you don’t use it all at once.

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250g / 1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
salt and pepper

8 slices of whole grain toast

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Wash and roughly chop the herbs. Stir into the ricotta and season with salt and pepper. Toast bread, spread with ricotta, and top with any desired toppings. Enjoy!

MM_Know_Icon_FINALRicotta is an Italian curd cheese. Traditionally made from whey, a protein-rich by-product of making cheeses, ricotta means ‘cooked again’. Ricotta has a rich but delicate flavour and a grainy texture. The fat content can vary quite a bit, so if you’re watching your weight or cholesterol, you may want to choose part-skim ricotta. Ricotta cheese is rich in protein, calcium, vitamin A and B12.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

what’s good around the web!

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summer sunset // the muffin myth

We had a scorcher of a week here in Stockholm, by Swedish standards anyways. The sun doesn’t really set at this point in the summer. Rather, it sinks, moves across the sky, and goes back up. It means we’re getting some pretty spectacular sunsets from our favourite vantage spot in the city, and trying to soak up every last one.

Today is my last day in the office for four whole weeks. I spent a few minutes thinking about what I would cook this weekend and what would pack well for lunches next week before I remembered I don’t have to pack any lunches. Yay!

One of my favourite things about being done with my thesis is having time to read things that aren’t scientific journal articles. I’m reading books! Novels! It’s amazing! I’ve got my e-reader loaded up with books for my vacation and I hope to plow through a lot of them. If you’re looking for reading inspiration, Food52 has a great list of summer reading. Delancey and The Third Plate are both on my list. On to the links!

MM_Web_Icon_FINAL1. This doctor prescribes chocolate. (ps – so do I)

2. Keeping hydrated in the summer heat. Tips, tricks, and warning signs.

3. Food as fuel for sports nutrition. This is interesting. Any athletes out there? Thoughts?

4. A new study suggests we’re not over eating, we’re under exercising. I’d say we’re probably doing a bit of both.

5. In-vitro meat is unlikely to become a reliable food source. Well well well.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

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