A Healthier Twist on Burgers and Fries 

You can’t beat a classic meal of burgers and fries. This healthier take with lettuce buns, black bean guacamole and butternut squash fries will fill you up and allow you to feast more often without the guilt.

For the burgers:
1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 large egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 head Boston bibb lettuce, wash and separate the leaves
accompianments as desired (sliced tomatoes, red onion, pickles, cheese etc)

For the black bean guacamole:
1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 tsp fresh cilantro leaves
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

For the fries:
1/2 large butternut squash, cut into long thin slices
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp coarse salt

Tip: – make the burgers the day before and keep refrigerated in a sealed container
– the day of, make the fries first, then cook the burgers
– make the guacamole as the burgers and fries cook

For the burgers:
– place all ingredients (except the lettuce and accompianments) into a large bowl and mix until incorporated
– make slider size patties so they will fit on the lettuce
– keep refrigerated in an airtight container until cooking (up to 2 days)
– to cook, preheat a large pan on medium high heat
– add olive oil and place burgers flat, cook for 6 mins until a sear has formed
– flip over and cover the pan with a lid, cook for 7 mins or until an internal temperature of 71C (160F) is reached (to check the internal cooking temp, insert the needle of a calibrated probe thermometer into the side of the burger reaching into the center)
– serve the burgers on a lettuce bun with guacamole and accompaniments

For the guacamole:
– place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth
– cover, keep in the refrigerator until use (up to 4 days)

For the fries:
– preheat oven to 204C (400F)
– line a baking sheet with parchment papper
– toss squash in oil and salt
– lay each squash fry flat on the baking sheet
– bake for 15 mins
– turn oven off and let the fries remain in the closed oven for 10 mins
– serve hot

Yield: 8 burgers, 2 servings of fries, 1 cup of guacamole



Autumn Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage 

Enjoy the last bit of fall with this colourful gnocchi. This one is a twist on the traditional potato gnocchi, and instead has the addition of butternut squash and sweet potato. Gnocchi is best to make ahead of time and freeze, since it is a bit time consuming. Make it on a cold fall day where you don’t have anything else to do.

1 small sweet potato, leave whole
1 small butternut squash, leave whole
1 egg
3 1/2 – 4 cups all purpose flour , sifted (plus more for dusting)
salt and pepper
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp fresh sage, sliced thin into ribbons
2 tbsp pine nuts
Parmesan cheese for serving

For preparation:
– place whole sweet potato and squash in a pot, cover with water, cover with a lid and bring to a boil
– boil until tender (stab with a fork to check when cooked), about 1 hour
– once cooked, drain the water and cool the sweet potato and squash under cold running water
– once cool enough to handle, peel the sweet potato and squash
– with a spoon, hollow out 1 1/2 cups from the middle of the sweet potato and 1 1/2 cups from the squash
– place the sweet potato and squash in a large bowl and mash until smooth
– season with 1 tbsp of salt and 1 tsp of black pepper
– add the egg and 3 1/2 cups of flour
– using your hands, mix everything together
– the mixture should be soft but firm enough to hold together, if it is still soft, add another 1/2 cup of flour
– on a clean surface, sprinkle flour
– pour the mixture out of the bowl onto a corner of the floured surface
– cut a piece of dough off the large piece and roll it out into a thin log shape on the floured surface (as you roll it out you may need to sprinkle more flour), once rolled out sprinkle more flour on top of the log
– cut bite-sized pieces on a diagonal and place on a floured baking sheet (if desired, roll each gnocchi on the back of a spoon to make them have grooves)
– continue this process until all the dough has been made into gnocchi (about 2 baking sheets worth)
– once a baking sheet is full, place it in the freezer
– once they are entirely frozen transfer to a plastic zip-lock bag if not serving immediately (cook them from frozen for a quick meal on another night)

For serving:
– fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil
– heat a large pan on medium high heat
– once boiling add gnocchi, stir gently; they are cooked when they float to the top (approx 5-7 mins), drain when cooked
– in the pan, add butter and allow to melt and come to a bubble
– add sage and pine nuts
– briefly toast everything together (fresh sage will get dark when heated so don’t add it too early)
– add cooked gnocchi to the butter and toss together
– serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Yield: 2 baking sheets worth, 4-6 servings

Walnut Brownies 

The denser the better, enough said. 

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup & 1 tbsp white sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/8 cup dark chocolate chips

– preheat oven to 176C (350F)
– in a microwave safe bowl, melt butter with olive oil
– add sugar, eggs and vanilla
– mix with a whisk for 2 mins
– add flour, cocoa powder and walnuts
– mix until just combined
– pour into a greased 8×4 pan and top with chocolate chips
– bake for 25 mins
– remove from oven, let rest 5 mins
– cut into squares and serve

Yield: 8 squares

Orange Basil Infused Chicken Stir-fry

This marinade is so good! You can use it on whatever protein you like, here I did chicken but feel free to mix it up. For the veggies, I’ve used my usual go-to mix of carrots, onion, green beans, yellow and red peppers, bok choy and broccoli. Im not walking you through that part because I’m hoping this will shy you away from the recipe and let you be more creative. Choose whatever veggies you like, just as long as they’re cut up moderately small. 
4 skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
your choice of veggies for the stir-fry 
cooked rice noodles

For the marinade:

1/2 cup pulp free orange juice
2 Tbsp lime juice
4 garlic cloves, chopped rough
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
For the stir-fry:
1 naval orange, zested and juiced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp fresh basil, sliced thin
1 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
1 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp cold water

For the marinade:
– pour all marinade ingredients into a large seal-able bag
– add all sliced chicken into the bag
– push out most of the air from the bag and seal tightly
– rub the marinade into the chicken so it covers every piece
– let sit in refrigerator (over night preferably)

For the Stir-fry:
– grill chicken until cooked and discard remaining marinade
– heat a large pan on medium heat
– add veggies and cook until they are halfway done
– in a small saucepan  on medium-high heat, add garlic and cook until golden brown
– add orange juice, zest and turmeric
– mix the cornstarch and cold water in a bowl and whisk until no clumps remain (this is called a slurry)
– pour this into the orange juice pan while whisking
– whisk until it begins to thicken
– once thickened add basil
– add sauce to the pan with the veggies and toss with the cooked noodles
– serve and top with chicken

Yield: 8 portions

Flatbread Dough 

There’s nothing more rewarding than making your entire dinner from scratch. Though it is a bit time consuming, the majority of the time spent doesn’t involve labour. You’ll just have to stay patient while the dough proofs. 

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 1/2 cup all purpose flour, sifted
extra all purpose flour (for dusting/rolling)

– in a large bowl add yeast, water and oil
– with a fork, gently dissolve the yeast by stirring for 5 seconds
– let stand 5 mins
– add flour
– use the fork to pull the liquid from the bottom into the flour
– when the liquid is incorporated and the dough starts to form together stop mixing
– flour a clean flat surface
– pour dough out onto the floured surface
– kneed the dough by pushing it into the table and rolling the dough’s edge over the middle part of the dough (if it’s sticking to the counter, add some flour to the counter and kneed the dough into the flour)
– once the dough is smooth on the outside, form a round ball
– place in a large bowl lightly coated with olive oil, cover and let stand for 30 mins
– preheat oven to 232C (450F)
– after the dough has expanded in size, remove from bowl and place onto a floured surface
– divide into 4 smaller portions
– flour a rolling pin and roll out the dough until thin (it’s best to first flatten the dough with your hands and the finish with the rolling pin)
– lightly grease a baking pan and place dough on top
– top with desired ingredients (try using pesto; see Traditional Pesto with Spinach recipe)
– bake for 15 mins
– slice and serve
Note: you can freeze the dough in balls and thaw it when needed

Yield: 4 balls of dough

Cinnamon Apple Chips 

Keep the doctor away with these guilt-free munchies. Gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan it’s a win-win. 

3 medium size apples (use what you like; I used Ambrosia), washed and cored

– preheat oven to 93C (200F)
– wash and dry apples, leave the skin on
– using an apple corer, remove the core
– using a mandolin, slice the apples thin from top to bottom OR slice them thinly by hand
– line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper
– lay the apples flat, do not overlap them
– sprinkle with cinnamon
– place in oven for 2 hours
– remove from oven and allow to cool
– to crisp them up more, separate the slices from the paper and leave on the tray to cool

Yield: 1 mason jar full, 2 baking sheets

Traditional Pesto with Spinach 

Sneak some iron and Vitamin K into your pesto with this easy addition. Plus, it means you can add less fresh basil, which is less of a burden on your wallet. This recipe is safe for my gluten-free and vegetarian friends!

2 cups fresh spinach
3/4 cup fresh basil
1 1/2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp fresh Parmesan cheese, grated OR 2 quarter size chunks (not the stuff in the can)
1/4 cup pine nuts (you can sub walnuts if they’re cheaper)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt

– blend all ingredients in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle until smooth
– see below for suggested ways to cook with pesto
– keep refrigerated for up to 5 days or freeze

Things to add fresh pesto to:
– add to freshly cooked, hot pasta and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese
– use as a base for pizza or flatbread (see flatbread dough recipe)
– saute veggies and toss with pesto during the last minute of cooking for a quick stir-fry
– spread on toast, top with avocado and tomato
– spread it on a turkey sandwich with aged cheddar cheese

Yield: 1 1/2 cups pesto

Roasted Butternut Squash with Tahini

Get into the fall spirit with this colourful, Thanksgiving-themed dish! This recipe is safe for my gluten-free, lactose-free and vegetarian friends.

1 butternut squash
1 tsp honey
extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped rough
1 cup kale, chopped rough
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
2 lemon wedges
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp lactose-free Greek yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt

– preheat oven to 204C (400F)
– wash and scrub the outside of the squash with warm water
– slice it in half lengthwise, leaving the stem on
– hollow out the seeds
– drizzle with olive oil and honey
– place skin side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
– bake for 1 hour
– in a bowl, blend tahini, water, Greek yogurt, salt, lemon juice, lemon zest, set aside until serving
– place pine nuts on a baking sheet, place in 204C (400F) oven for 2 minutes, set aside until service
– heat a pan on medium high heat, add olive oil
– saute garlic for 1 min
– add kale and cook until wilted
– add garlic and kale to a bowl and add sage
– once squash is done, cut out chunks from the center, keep a boarder around the skin so the hollowed out shell can stand on its own
– add the squash chunks to the garlic and kale, smash the squash slightly and blend everything together
– add the mixture back into the shell of the squash, drizzle with tahini, pine nuts and serve with a lemon wedge

Yield: serves 2

Garlicky Basmati with Turmeric

Despite going to culinary school, rice was the one thing I always found hard to make. I could never seem to get it right until my aunt shared her method with me (and hers is the best!). This is rice 101 and you can use this same method for cooking basically any type of rice, no culinary school required.

2 cups boiling water
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
1 tsp turmeric
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt

– add 2 cups (plus just a little more) water to a small pot on high heat
– bring to a boil
– add the rice, turmeric, garlic and salt and stir gently once or twice
– cover and reduce heat to a low simmer (if you have an electric stove, your burner will take some time to cool down, move the pot so it’s half over the element and half off, this will keep it from boiling; once the element cools down, add the pot back over the entire element)
– simmer for 20 mins or until liquid is absorbed
– taste a piece of the rice, if it isn’t cooked add a bit more water and let it simmer a few more minutes
– once cooked, lightly fluff with a fork and serve hot
* The key is to not stir the rice while it cooks or it will become sticky!

Yield: 2 servings (2 cups)

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