Easy Healthy Recipe Thursday: Brown Lentils with Black Tea and Tomatoes (8 Servings)

First of all, I would like to thank you everyone for the support of “Easy Healthy Recipe Wednesday”. There were over 100 views and I was SHOCKED.  I will continue to post better and tastier easy, affordable and healthy recipes. THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE.

In today’s “Easy Healthy Recipe Thursday”, we will be making a vegetarian dish that is best served for lunch.  This dish is inspired by the cookbook called Culinary Tea by Cynthia Gold and Lise Stern. It would be very cool to make a dish using tea since tea is a very popular drink.  In addition, for every lunch dish that are introduced in “Easy Healthy Recipe Wednesday and Thursday”, we aim for $3 CAN per serving maximum. Here is the recipe and cost of ingredients:

4 cups water ($0.50 CAN)

4.5 teaspoons English Breakfast tea leaves ($0.22 CAN; if you do not have any black tea leaves, you can use 5 black tea bags)

2 cups brown lentils, rinsed ($1.40 CAN)

3 cups fresh tomatoed, diced ($1.50 CAN)

0.25 teaspoons salt ($0.50 CAN)

0.25 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper ($0.50 CAN)

2 tablespoons chive, minced plus some for garnish ($0.50 CAN)

 

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1) Boil water in a pot over high heat. Turn off heat and pour tea leaves/tea bags into the water and let the tea steep for at least 5 minutes with pot covered.

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2)  Strain the water into another pot after 5 minutes and discard tea leaves/tea bags. Add the lentils and tomatoes and bring to a boil over high heat.

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3) Lower the heat when mixture boils.  Uncover the pot and let the mixture simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed and the lentil are firm but tender.  This takes about 25 minutes.

4) When the lentils are ready, turn off heat, cover the pot and let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes.  All the liquid should be absorbed at this point.

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5) Stir in the salt, pepper and chives after resting and serve warm.

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And voila! So the total cost to make this dish is $5.12 CAN.  That means it costs $0.64 CAN per serving.  WOW! Can lunch be any cheaper? 

Overall, this dish is very nutritious because lentils help to reduce blood cholesterol (lentils contain high levels of soluble fiber), contain low no fat, slow down digestion and stabilize blood sugar levels.  If you want this dish to have some kick, you can use pepper flakes (they do not cost that much).

Do you love lentils? Do you love cooking with tea? What do you usually have lentils with? Post your comments below. Till next time!

P.S. The prices were as of Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at No Frills. 

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Easy Healthy Recipe Wednesday: Baked Basa Fillet (4 Servings)

With this era of increasing food prices and economical uncertainty, a lot of  people are having harder times to make meals that are affordable and healthy. Unfortunately, many of them cannot keep the balance of affordable and healthy because most people think healthy food are more expensive.  In “Easy Healthy Recipe Wednesday and Thursday”, we will show you recipes that are inexpensive, affordable and easy.  Who says healthy food is expensive?

For every recipe in “Easy Healthy Recipe Wednesday and Thursday”, we would buy every ingredient in No Frills because they are a lot of No Frills in Toronto and the groceries in No Frills are affordable.  (No Frills did not endorse me to do this).

Ok! Let’s talk about the recipe.  Today,  we will be making Baked Basa Fillet. We chose Basa because this fish is affordable and does not overcook easily.  In addition, fish is a great source of many nutrients such as omega-3, is rich in protein and healthy fats and low in saturated fat and is heart-healthy and good for brain and eye development. This recipe is great for dinner.  In addition, for every dinner dish that are introduced in “Easy Healthy Recipe Wednesday and Thursday”, we aim for $5 CAN per serving maximum. Here is the recipe and cost for each ingredient:

1 teaspoon avocado oil ($0.50 CAN)

1 cup cucumber, diced ($0.50 CAN)

0.5 cups onion, minced ($0.13 CAN)

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced ($0.03 CAN)

2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced ($1.0 CAN)

2 tablespoons thyme, leaves only ($0.50 CAN)

0.25 teaspoons salt and ground black pepper ($1.0 CAN)

4 unfrozen basa fillet ($5.51 CAN)

One-third cups feta cheese, crumbled ($1.50 CAN)

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1) Preheat oven to 450F.

2) Heat avocado oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cucumber, onion and garlic.  Cook and stir for 5 minutes or until tender.

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3) When mixture becomes tender, mix in tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper.

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4) Cover baking dish with aluminum foil.  Arrange basa fillet in single layers in baking dish.  Spoon cucumber mixture over each fillet. Top with feta cheese.

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5) Bake for 15 minutes or until fish is easily flaked with fork.

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And there you are! So the total cost to make this dish is $10.67 CAN.  That means it costs $2.67 CAN per serving.  THIS IS VERY CHEAP AND MEETS WITH OUR $5 CAN MAXIMUM (See! Healthy food does not have to be expensive).

As to the dish, the sauce was very DELICIOUS and the fish was not overcooked.  In addition, I smelled the thyme already when the fish came out from the oven.  Moreover, the feta cheese not only added saltiness to the dish, but also added “creaminess” when the cheese was eaten together with the fish.

Do you have your favourite fish recipe? What is your favourite fish? Post your comments below. Till next time.

P.S. The prices were as of Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at No Frills. 

To Farmers Market We Go (Village Market)

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In “To Farmers Market We Go”, we will go explore the many farmers markets that are held in Toronto. Even though Canada is cold, there are still some farmers markets that operate year round.  I think this is great because people always look for good produce.

There are a few farmers markets that are located within driving distance from my house. This market, Village Market, is located at a school in Thornhill (a suburban area in Toronto). In addition, they are open on every Saturday from 8:30pm to 1:30pm year round. I feel welcomed even before stepping into the market because there were signs guiding me to the market near the school.

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The farmers market is located in the basement of the school.  Once I got down, I already felt the sense of a community.  Pretty much everyone knows everybody and most people know what they are looking for.  Not only the vendors are selling organic produce, but also gluten-free pastries, arts and crafts, skin care products, beeswax candles, fermented vegetables and other natural health products.  There was also a massage practitioner who offered on-site seated massage. In addition, I got to try soy-free sausages (porks are fed with barleys and peas) and one of the best pestos in Toronto (OMG! THEY ARE SO YUMMY. YUM YUM!!!!). Usually pesto is made with basil, but I got to try lemon dill pesto(left, below) and coriander (right, below) pesto and they are both DELICIOUS. Those pestos made me very hungry even though I had a huge rolled oats breakfast.

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Another good and cool thing about this market is they offered seat and tables for people to enjoy prepared goods.  Also they also had MUSICIAN IN DA HOUSE.

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Overall, I would go to this farmers market again even though it is VERY SMALL because the vendors are all very nice and the produce are very fresh.  In addition, I like the positive energy (a sense of community) coming from this market. I really recommend people who live in Thornhill to come and check this out.

Here are more pictures I took.  I wanted to take more but I am afraid I will get kicked out.

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Have you been to any farmers market? What do you usually look for in a farmers market? Any good and bad comments on the farmers market you have been?  Post you comments below. Till next time. 

 

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread Recipe (1 Small Loaf)

A few days ago, I showed you guys how to make sourdough starter. I feel this would be more complete if I ACTUALLY make bread with the starter.

But before we go on, I just want to say thank you to the people who looked at my post yesterday. I posted the link to my own Facebook page, and I did not even know so many people are interested in knowing why did I start doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ).  This is one of the reason I am still doing this sport today because the BJJ community is very supportive and everyone is helping each other out. There are some outliers of course, but I will talk about this later.  Many of the comments on my Facebook were positive.  Here were some (names were covered due to privacy reasons):

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THANKS GUYS! I REALLY APPRECIATE IT!

Okay! Now back to sourdough bread recipe.  I used whole wheat flour because it is healthier.  Whole wheat flour is more expensive than all-purpose flour, but not that much (probably one or two dollars more for the same weight).  Since bread making is a long process, therefore you also have to make sure you schedule your time properly.  Here is the recipe:

3.5 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups warm water

0.5 cups sourdough starter

2 teaspoons salt

Noticed I did not weigh my ingredients (weighing ingredients are more accurate when baking)? This is because I think some people do not have a scale at home, and this recipe worked for them as well.

1) Put all ingredients in a BIG bowl in this order: starter, water, flour and salt.  You do not want starter and salt to interact with each other at this point because salt inhibits yeast’s growth.

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2) Mix everything until a dough is formed.  If it is too wet, put more flour; if it is too dry, put more water. Transfer to a floured surface when dough is formed.  Knead the dough until windowpane test is passed (just grab a small piece of dough into golf ball size and stretch dough into translucent membrane.  Your dough is ready to rise when the membrane does not break).  It took me less than thirty minutes to knead the dough.

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3) When dough is ready to rise, put it into a bowl, cover with a wet cloth and let the dough rise to double its original size in a spacious environment. It may the dough four hours to twenty-four hours to rise, depends on where you put the bowl.  Mine took twelve hours to rise.

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4)  When dough is rise properly, punch dough to release carbon dioxide from the dough and re-incorporate oxygen to the dough.  After you punch the dough, let the dough rise to double its original size again.  Mine took another twelve hours.

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5) When dough is ready, round dough on a slighly floured surface and let is rest for thirty minute.

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6) Turn on oven to 150F and grease loaf pan with oil.  When oven is ready, put dough into loaf pan and put loaf pan in oven.  We are now proofing the dough so the bread is ready for final baking.  Make sure you turn on the steam in your oven because steam is needed for proofing and baking process.  Since I only have a toaster pan, I had to fill a cup with water and put the cup inside the oven. Mine took almost 1.5 hours to proof.  I know my dough was ready when I use my finger to push the dough and the dented part slowly came up.  If you did that and the dented part came up instantly, that means your dough is not ready to be baked.

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7) When dough is ready, turn up your oven to 350F and slash one side of your bread.  I put tin foil on my dough so it did not get burnt easily. Bake your bread for  twenty-five minutes to one hour.

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8) When you see your bread has browned (about twenty-five minutes), you can check to see if your bread is done by using a thermometer and poke a hold to your bread.  Your bread will be ready when the dough reaches the temperature between 190F to 210F.  Let the bread rest for at least thirty minutes after baking.

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9) When bread is completely cool, you can start eating it!

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There you go! The bread will taste slightly sour when cooled, but it is still good for your homemade sandwiches or just with butter or your favourite spread alone.  Also, you can see the bread is very easy to make and you spend most of the time just waiting.  So give it a try!

Have you made sourdough bread before? What is your recipe? How long did it take you to make yours? Post your comments below. Till next time!

List of Superfoods

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I was searching for information on superfoods because that is what everyone takes about these day (I WANT TO KNOW WHAT SUPERFOODS MEAN). So I went to WebMD, Dr.Oz’s and other websites and apparently EVERYONE’S LIST IS DIFFERENT. |Finally I did some research on the internet and BASICALLY superfoods refer to foods that can have health-promoting properties such as reducing one’s risk of disease or improving any aspect of physical or emotional health. So here is a list of superfoods that I love to eat:

  • Yogurt and Greek Yogurt – They are high in calcium than some other dairy products and contains a great package of other nutrients, including protein and potassium. In addition, it contains probiotics that is helpful for you gut. I love to eat yogurt with seasonal fruits.
  • Salmon –  Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acid and studies show that omega-3 fatty acids help protect heart health. I love having my salmon baked, poached or steamed.
  • Blueberries – Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, low in calories, and high in water and fiber to help control blood sugar and keep you full longer.  I usually eat my blueberries with oatmeal and yogurt.
  • Broccoli – Broccoli is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and bone-building vitamin K, and has plenty of fiber to fill you up and help control your weight.  I usually have stir-fried broccoli with garlic and vegetable oil.
  • Egg – Egg yolks contain the bulk of the egg’s nutrients, including minerals like calcium and magnesium and vitamins A, D, E, B6, B12.  I love my eggs hard-boiled and sunny-side-up.
  • Quinoa – Quinoa contains more protein than most cereal grains (22 grams per one cup/250 millilitres uncooked quinoa), high in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc.
  • Sweet Potato – Sweet Potato is rich in beta-carotene (boasting 150% more antioxidants than blueberries), heart-healthy vitamin A and flu-hater vitamin C.

So what is your favourite superfood? Do you eat them everyday?  Post your comments below. Till next time!