End of Summer Patio Dinner

end of summer patio dinner salad, cherry tomatoes, bocconcini

Happy September 1st!   The end of summer is nearing, but there is still plenty of time for eating dinner outside in the setting sun and enjoying the bounty of local produce that is in season.

We always recommend eating dairy in moderation because it can cause congestion, inflammation, and irritate the digestive system.  However, we do love cheese, particularly when it's organic, local and raw.  Consuming cheese made with organic raw milk is the best choice if you are going to eat dairy, because many of the beneficial bacteria, digestive enzymes and healthy vitamins are destroyed when milk is heated during the pasteurization process.  The enzymes in raw milk actually help the body to properly digest it.  When milk is homogenized, the fat molecules are mechanically broken apart creating a smooth liquid. This prevents the fat molecules and liquid milk from separating and forming a layer of cream on top. However, when these fat molecules are altered they become much smaller and are no longer digested normally.  Instead, they can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.  The small fat molecules are often carrying small protein molecules, which then also bypass digestion and go directly into the bloodstream.  This can lead to inflammation in the arteries, as the body reacts, recognizing the small fat and undigested protein molecules as foreign substances.

Unfortunately, it's not always possible to find cheese made from raw, organic milk, which is why we suggest limiting dairy intake.  Once in a while, it is still important to let yourself enjoy the foods that you love!  The following recipe uses an organic, local bocconcini cheese, as well as other local vegetables that are in season here in Ontario.  If you do not have access to a farmer's market, you can replace these items with produce from your grocery store!

End of Summer Bocconcini and Greens Salad

bocconcini summer salad, local tomatoes, local greens, raw milk, raw dairy

10 small bocconcini cheese balls
4 cups local, organic salad greens mix (if you are able to shop at a farmer's market)
1/2 cup local, organic cherry tomatoes (if you are able to shop at a farmer's market)
large handful fresh, local, organic basil

1 lemon, juiced
2 - 4 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt to taste

1. Rinse off the tomatoes and chop in halves.
2. Chop the bocconcini in halves.
3. Rinse off the basil and chop finely.
4. Add all ingredients to a bowl.
5. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over top with a sprinkle of sea salt.

Simple Easy Almond Flour Banana Pancake Bites w/ Buffalo Ricotta

gluten free, paleo, almond flour banana pancakes

It can be challenging to figure out how to make fluffy pancakes when you are no longer eating regular flour, or even gluten free flour.  Many of our clients eat grain free diets (or they eat grains a few times a week, but not at every meal) because they feel so much better without the bread, rice and muffins.  However, this doesn't mean that they are 100% carb free.  There are still plenty of healthy sources of carbohydrates to provide their bodies with proper fuel, including sweet potatoes, parsnips and other starchy vegetables, fruit, dates, and of course some healthy sweet treats once in a while.  

This recipe is a great alternative to pancakes made with grains, especially if you are looking for something that is high is protein to keep you feeling sustained for longer than a breakfast low in protein and high in carbs.  

Note, you could always leave out the ricotta if you don't eat dairy.  If you are looking to ass extra fat and protein into your diet, using organic buffalo ricotta could be an option for a special treat occasionally. 

This recipe is paleo and gluten free friendly.

Almond Flour Pancake Bites w/ Buffalo Ricotta

1 banana, mashed well
1 egg
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup almond flour

organic buffalo ricotta

1. Mix together all of the ingredients until blended and smooth.  It's easy to use a food processor to combine everything quickly. 
2. Heat a good frying pan with a dash of coconut oil.
3. Add a Tbsp size spoonful of batter to the pan to make your first pancake.  Let cook for a few minutes until beginning to solidify on the bottom side.
4. Carefully flip the pancake and cook on the other side for a few minutes.
5. Make more pancakes with all of the batter.
6. Serve with the buffalo ricotta and raspberries.

Deconstructed Soba Noodle & Lime Almond Bowl

This meal can be made for omnivores and vegans, and for anyone who is gluten free and dairy free.  The soba noodles that we use are made out of buckwheat, which is actually a seed, but is commonly misunderstood to be a grain.  Buckwheat is a wonderful alternative to eating grains because it is easily digested by people who are sensitive to wheat and other gluten containing grains.  This isn't the only great thing about buckwheat- studies have shown that buckwheat actually helps to lower blood glucose levels*, which can be helpful for Diabetes management.  

soba noodle bowl, tofu, almond lime sauce,

Deconstructed Soba Noodle & Lime Almond Bowl

2 servings of gluten free, buckwheat soba noodles (we love the brand king soba)
2 servings of sprouted, organic tofu (we love the brand Wildwood)
1 large zucchini
3 carrots
2 cups cauliflower florets
5 cups baby spinach
2 cloves garlic, diced
coconut oil for sautéing

Lime Almond Sauce:
1 lime, juiced
2 Tbsp almond butter
2 tsp tamari
2 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp toasted sesame oil

soba noodle bowl with vegetables, garlic, tofu, lime almond sauce, gluten free, vegan

1. Cook the soba noodles in boiling water, follow instructions on the package.  Run under cold water once cooked and set aside.
2. While the soba noodles are cooking, prepare the vegetables.  Spiralizing the zucchini is our favourite way to prepare this yummy vegetable.  If you don't have a spiralizer, you can simply chop the zucchini- it will still taste great.
3. Saute the garlic with coconut oil for a moment and then add the carrots, cauliflower and zucchini for 5-10 minutes.
4. Add the spinach in at the very end, it will cook down quickly.
5. Mix together the sauce ingredients.
6. Slice the tofu in thin pieces and saute quickly with coconut oil.
7. Serve the soba noodles in bowls, top with vegetables, tofu and the lime almond sauce.


Summer Green Greek Style Salad

There's nothing quite like a refreshing leafy green salad for a meal when it's hot outside.  This recipe is filled with antioxidant rich green vegetables, plus the digestive supporting sauerkraut.  For those of you who are wary of sauerkraut, this is an easy and tasty way to incorporate the healthy fermented cabbage into your diet.

green greek style salad, sauerkraut, healthy greek dressing, Living Kitchen Toronto

Summer Green Greek Style Salad

4 cups leafy greens (mesclun, baby kale, baby spinach, any lettuce variety)
1 medium cucumber, sliced in thin half moons
1 small zucchini, spiralized into "noodles"
1/2 cup sauerkraut 
large handful spice roasted pumpkin seeds

Spice Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
drizzle of olive oil
pinch sea salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp tamari

Salad Dressing
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp dried dill (or use 1 tsp of chopped fresh dill)
2 tsp honey
sea salt to taste

1. Toss the pumpkin seeds together with other ingredients and spread out on baking sheet. Roast for 5-10 minutes at 350 until lightly crisp (be careful not to burn).
2. Spiralize the zucchini with a spiralizer.
3. Chop the cucumber.
4. Mix together the dressing ingredients until creamy and blended.
5. Toss all of the vegetables together with salad dressing.
6. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Cherry Watermelon Lemonade and the Secret to Heathy Sweetness

cherry watermelon lemonade sugar free Living Kitchen Toronto

It's the height of summer in Toronto and sometimes the only thing that we want to do is drink something icy cold.  The only problem is that ordering lemonade at a restaurant or cafe is a guarantee for consuming added sugar.  And, although drinking unsweetened lemon water is still refreshing, it just doesn't have the same appeal as a classic glass of iced lemonade.

The secret to finding that perfect glass of sweet lemonade (without the sugar) is to make it with a specific combination of ingredients that will provide the sweetness without the added sugar.  There has been a lot of hype about the plant stevia and using it as a sweetener instead of the artificial chemical sweeteners.  Stevia is a plant that naturally has sweet tasting leaves (while containing no sugar), so when it's ground up into a fine powder it can be used in cooking, without having  any effect on blood sugar.  The only downside is that stevia has a strong after taste and is quite noticeable in recipes.  But, when paired with lemon, the after taste disappears!  

This recipe could be made with just lemon juice, water, and stevia if you want to avoid all sugars (even from fruits).  But, we made our lemonade with a handful of cherries and a few slices of watermelon, which made a beautiful and delicious combination of flavours.  

Cherry Watermelon Lemonade

serves 2

1/2 lemon, with the peel removed 
1 cup watermelon
10-15 cherries
1 cup ice cubes
2-3 cups of water (depending on how icy you want the lemonade to be)

1. Slice the peel off the lemon, but leave the pith on (the white part). The pith is actually rich in vitamin C.
2. Add all ingredients to a high power blender and blend until liquified.
3. Serve in glasses and enjoy!

cherry watermelon lemonade sugar free Living Kitchen Toronto

Lazy Lady's Pancakes

spelt pancakes

When I was kid, I was in love with Eggo waffles and pancakes.   In love – like, we had a full on love affair.  I can remember galloping downstairs to our electric turquoise 90’s kitchen before school started, popping the Eggos in the toaster, coating them in honey and digging in.  It’s no wonder years later I would develop severe digestive issues… hmmm…

I am not always a lover of sweet breakfasts, but every now and again a pancake will meet my eye and I will think…mmmm that looks damn delicious.  My days of refined flours and sugars may have passed, but I do still crave the comfort foods of my yesteryears.  

Eggos are passé – not only because they contain refined flour, soybean oil and sugar but they also contain yellow dye #5 and #6 in them.  Who still does that?!  Haven’t we read enough studies (like this one) on their links to behavioural problems and cancer!   Common, guys!

The other day the pancake craving came over me.  I made these delicious fluffy and super simple breakfast cakes that will make your belly flutter and your taste buds wiggle with glee.

Lazy Lady’s Pancakes

2 eggs
2 heaping dollops of plain sheep yogurt (or dairy free yogurt)
1 cup whole spelt flour
1 tsp maple syrup
½ Tbsp coconut oil

Unsweetened Coconut
Bee Pollen
Cacoa Nibs
Dark chocolate Chips
Maple Syrup

1.     Crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk well.
2.     To the bowl, add the sheep yogurt and maple syrup.  Mix until combined.
3.  Add the flour and mix until a liquid batter forms
4.  Heat a pan or a griddle to medium-high, add ½ Tbsp of coconut oil and push it around the pan/griddle until it is coated.  If heat gets too hot, turn it to medium.
5.     Add 1/3 cup of batter to the pan, it will somehow automatically shape itself into a circle.
6.  Allow the pancake to cook for 2 minutes, then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes depending on the heat.
7.  Repeat several times until all of the batter is made into pancakes.
8.  You can top with any topping of choice.  I was a lazy lady when I made them so I went for straight up maple syrup.
9.  Freeze all leftovers in a sealed bag and re-heat in the morning for breakfast.


Why this Recipe is Kick-Ass!

1.     It’s such a simple recipe, any lazy lady (or lazy lad) can make it.
2.     It contains spelt flour – an ancient grain that is similar to wheat; BUT won’t irritate you the way wheat does because it contains a mixture of proteins.  It contains nourishing B vitamins that support energy production and a nice balance of fiber.
3.     It uses eggs and sheep yogurt making it a protein punch powerhouse pancake.  Each egg contains 6 grams of protein.  Sheep yogurt is also deliciously creamy and much easier to digest.
4.     You can freeze the extra ones and heat them up for a super fast, quick breakfast