End of Summer Salad with Corn, Red Pepper, and Avocado

summer salad, corn, red pepper, cucumber, avocado salad recipe

There’s something so special about fresh, sweet, locally grown corn at the end of summer.  At any other point during the year, we rarely even think about eating corn or using it in recipes.  And, in fact, some of our clients have dietary sensitivities and feel better when they don’t eat corn.   Similar to soy and wheat, corn has been grown in massive quantities and is used in large scale production for many types of processed foods that use poor quality corn flour, corn starch or even corn syrup.  This isn’t the type of corn that we are talking about eating.

Fresh corn on the cob is actually full of nutrients, especially B vitamins and, of course, a lot of insoluble and some soluble fiber (the insoluble fiber is what some people find irritates their digestion). It’s important to buy organic corn to ensure that you are eating a high quality, nutrient dense variety of corn.  When grown organically, corn is also rich in phytonutrients that have antioxidant properties that protect your cells from damage.

This time of year, as the summer is slowly turning into fall, there are so many delicious vegetables harvested in abundance.  We love combining these veggies together in salads with simple, flavourful dressings for a delicious lunch or pairing with some sort of heartier option like chickpeas, kidney beans, nuts, seeds, fresh fish or grilled chicken.  

Another delicious modification that you can make to this recipe is to grill the red peppers and corn before chopping and adding into the salad.

 

End of Summer Salad

2 ears of organic corn
1 red pepper, diced
1 medium cucumber, sliced in thin circles or half moons
1 bunch of romaine or red leaf lettuce, rinsed off and dried well
1 avocado, sliced

Other optional veggies to add in:
Roasted or grilled zucchini, diced
Fresh peaches or nectarines, sliced
Cherry tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes, diced

Optional herbs to add in:
Cilantro
Basil
Parsley
Mint

Additional toppings:
Hempseeds
Other nuts and seeds that you like


Dressing:
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ up extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tsp dijon mustard
Sea salt to taste


Directions:

  1. Rinse off the lettuce, dry well and chop roughly into smaller pieces.

  2. Steam the corn for a few minutes until crisp.  Then cut the kernels off the cob.

  3. Chop the pepper and cucumber.

  4. Prepare any other veggies or herbs that you’d like to add into the salad.

  5. Mix the veggies all together, except for the avocado.

  6. Make dressing ingredients together and toss with the salad when ready to serve.

  7. Slice the avocado and add on top of the salad before serving.  You can also add hempseeds, fresh herbs an

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chia Pudding (peanut-free version too)

chocolate peanut butter chia pudding, vegan, dairy free, recipe

Chia pudding is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you eat a filling breakfast and have something prepped to start the day off.  If you haven't had chia pudding before, it's a bit different than normal pudding but still tastes delicious (and is so much healthier).  Chia seeds are high in soluble fiber and thicken liquids when mixed together because they absorb liquid and expand, becoming softer and more plump.  This is good for 2 reasons:

1. Chia seeds naturally create a pudding like texture when mixed with coconut milk, almond milk or other dairy free milk.  This is quite filling and can keep you satiated in the morning.  All without the use of thickeners, starches or flours.

2. The high soluble fiber content of chia seeds is good for your digestive system and helps your body remove toxins and waste properly in the bowel.  You can think of chia seeds as lending a helping hand in soaking up the toxins. 

This recipe adds in peanut butter for protein and fat to keep you fueled for longer.  We use cacao powder instead of regular cocoa powder because it is rich in minerals, such as iron and magnesium.  You can add maple syrup to your taste preference.  Or, if you are sugar free, you can actually use some stevia to sweeten this pudding instead.  And, if you can't eat peanuts than you can replace the peanut butter with almond butter (or any other type of nut/seed butter that you love).

chocolate peanut butter chia pudding, vegan, dairy free, recipe

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chia Pudding

1 1/4 cups coconut beverage (or use almond milk or other non dairy milk)
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 Tbsp organic peanut butter (or almond butter)
2 Tbsp cacao powder
Maple syrup to taste

Directions:
1. Mix all of the ingredients together until smooth.
2. Store in a mason jar or other container in the fridge overnight.
3. In the morning you can serve in bowls.  Top with berries of choice, some cacao nibs and any other toppings that you like!

peanut butter chocolate chia pudding, non dairy, vegan, dairy free, recipe

How to Make an Iced Matcha Coconut Latte 2 Ways!

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We have a thing for matcha lattes over here.  And it seems that a lot of other people do too, seeing that matcha lattes are appearing on menus at so many different coffee shops and cafes.  The thing is that buying matcha lattes can get quite expensive and often have added ingredients, like sugar, that we don't love.  So, making matcha lattes at home is a great way to not only save money but also ensure that you know exactly what ingredients are used.

Matcha is made from high quality green tea leaves that are turned into powder.  This means that matcha is much richer in flavour than a normal green tea as well as going to give you a mega dose of antioxidants, including EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate), the famous component in green tea that's linked with preventing free radical damage and cancer.

We have many different ways of preparing matcha lattes at home and during the winter we love to sip on a hot cup of steaming non-dairy milk frothed together with matcha.  However, in the summer, we need icy, refreshing beverages. The most exciting part about this is that we can use coconut water in our matcha lattes (we wouldn't recommend heating up coconut water- not only would it destroy the nutrients in it, but it just wouldn't taste good).  Coconut water is a wonderful source of naturally occurring  electrolytes, including magnesium and potassium.  It also naturally has a sweet taste to it.  When you buy coconut water, check the label and make sure that you get a brand that doesn't have any added sweeteners.  

Here are two different recipes for a refreshing, iced matcha latte.  The first recipe is super duper easy and only requires two ingredients.  Using coconut water means that you can avoid using other sweeteners, like sugar, because it will naturally sweeten the matcha. The second recipe is a little bit more complex and rich, but still super easy to whip up, and a great choice if you want something creamy but dairy-free (it's almost like a matcha smoothie).  The second recipe also contains some protein and anti-inflammatory fats from hempseeds, which is a great option if you want something more filling. 

 

Iced Matcha Coconut Latte Version 1

2 cups coconut water
1/2 tsp matcha green tea

Directions:
1. Simply combine the coconut water and matcha in the blender.
2. Blend for 30 seconds or until creamy and smooth.
3. Pour over ice and serve.

 

Iced Matcha Coconut Latte Version 2

1/2 cup coconut water
1 cup coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk, unsweetened)
1/2 tsp matcha green tea
1 Medjool date
2 Tbsp hempseeds

Directions:
1. Combine all of the ingredients in the blender.
2. Blend for 1 minutes o until creamy and smooth.
3. Pour over ice and serve.

 

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The 5 Most Popular Private Chef Recipes that Clients Love

healthy Caesar Salad, vegan caesar salad, dairy free caesar recipe, dairy free caesar dressing

We thought it’d be fun to give you a peek into how we plan menus as private chefs.  Whether you are curious about what our recipes look like or are a current client and want to know what other clients are eating, we’ve got some tasty ideas for you here.   

Whenever we start working with a new private chef client, we always find out as much about their dietary likes, dislikes and preferences as we can.  The most common things we see are gluten free, dairy free, grain free, nightshade free, sugar free, dairy free (vegan), nut free (any so many other unique nutritional needs). 

We also like to know what’s going on with our clients' health, so that we can focus on ingredients that are going to help them the most.  We’ll alter our favourite recipes or come up with new recipes for anyone that has food allergies, sensitivities, or a long list of foods that they are trying to omit from their diet.   Yes, this means, you can usually find us with our heads buried in cookbooks (and food blogs) to find new ideas and inspiration!

While everyone's menu is unique and different every week, we have found that there are many recipes that are really popular and repeated on menus more often than other recipes, because everyone loves them so much.

We’ll let you in on some of our most popular private chef recipes for omnivores, vegans, and everyone in between.  And, we’ll even give you one of the recipes, so read through to the end!  And, if you love the sound of everything, but need some help with cooking, let us know.
 

The Top 5 Most Popular Recipes:

1. Kale and Romaine “Caesar” Salad

We love creating interesting salads, especially when using local, in season ingredients to inspire the combination of veggies (sometimes they are raw and sometimes we roast veggies in the colder months to make more comforting salads).   But, no matter how many interesting salads we’ve made, this classic “Caesar” salad is well loved by all.

We make this creamy salad dressing with cashews as the base, so it's completely dairy free.  But, we also have many variations that don’t use cashews, in case you can’t eat them (hempseeds and macadamia nuts make a wonderful dressing).

We love adding some other special ingredients into this salad, such as homemade croutons (made from gluten free bread of sprouted bread), coconut crisps, or “cheese” made out of hempseeds and nutritional yeast.

 

2. Tahini Lemon Roasted Cauliflower with Pinenuts and Fresh Herbs

Hands down, this is one of our favourite all time dishes.  Cauliflower and tahini, two of our most loved ingredients.  We love tahini so much that we use it in everything from breakfast recipes to dessert recipes and everything in between.  Have no fear, if you don’t like tahini, we would never put it on your menu!

Roasted cauliflower is absolutely delicious, slightly crisp on the outside, soft inside and infused with the flavours of olive oil, garlic, and sea salt.  The tahini lemon sauce is vegan and makes this dish more substantial, especially with the addition of toasted pinenuts.

 

3. Black Bean and Rice Bowl w/ Roasted Asparagus, Cherry Tomatoes and Avocado

black bean bowl, black bean tex mex bowl, private chef Toronto, personal chef Toronto, holistic private chef

This is one of the most popular vegan meals that we prepare, packed with flavour and yet flexible (so we can always swap out veggies that you don’t like and add in different vegetable options).  

One of the things that we keep in mind when planning vegan or vegetarian menus is the importance of including a wide array of plant based sources of proteins on the menu.  We know this can be a challenge and it can take time to prepare interesting vegetarian meals, especially if you get tired of eating boring salads and don’t want to depend on tofu as your protein.

Because we love this recipe so much, we are going to share it with you below! And, an important note if you don’t eat beans or grains.  You can use our recipe-modifying skills and change this recipe to work for you.  Omit the brown rice and black beans.  Instead, use some chicken as your protein and add in finely chopped cauliflower “rice.”

 

4. Fresh Herb Salmon Grain-Free Burgers

We have found that many of our clients feel better when they eat a grain-free diet (we also work with lots of people who still eat grains and love them).  If you’ve ever struggled with figuring out how to prepare a plethora of grain free meals, the secret is to focus on vegetables.  There are so many wonderful and varied veggies, so it becomes a lot easier to plan a grain-free menu when you think about amping up the veggies and focus on complex, interesting vegetable side dishes instead of thinking about how to replace grain based dishes.  So many of the main dishes that we prepare are inherently grain free, so we focus on creating more interesting mains that highlight beautiful ingredients instead of relying on things like pasta and rice based mains.  

These salmon burgers are loved by adults and kids.  We use almond flour in them instead of a grain.  We also use mashed sweet potato to help keep the burgers together.  However, we also have versions of this recipe that are almond-free and sweet potato-free, in case you can’t eat those ingredients!  

 

5. Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Although many of our clients follow a low-sugar diet, everyone loves dessert.  Some of our clients get more dessert and snack items prepared than others.  Since everyone’s menu is personalized, we usually focus on preparing lots of main and side dishes, but sometimes we make more snack, dessert and even breakfast items on a menu.

These chocolate chip cookies are grain free and refined sugar-free, sweetened with maple syrup.  They can be made with eggs or absolutely no eggs, depending on what you’re able to eat. We even have a variation of this recipe that incorporates in oats.  And, we have cookie recipes that are made with tahini instead of almond flour (those are quickly becoming one of the most popular recipes).

 

And, now for the recipe:

Black Bean and Rice Bowl with Roasted Asparagus, Cherry Tomatoes, Avocado and Organic Corn

Let us know if you end up making it or make your own variation of the recipe. We’d love to hear from you and see a photo of your meal if you post it on social media platforms, be sure to tag us @livingkitchenco so we can see it!

And, if you need help with cooking, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Ingredients:
1 small can black beans, drained and rinsed off
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp garlic powder
Dash of tamari
Olive oil

½ cup brown rice

1 bunch asparagus
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small box cherry tomatoes
1 ear of organic corn

¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 avocado, sliced

Directions:

  1. Cook the brown rice with 1 cup water in a small pot.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer, cover and cook on low for 35 minutes until liquid is absorbed and rice is fluffy.

  2. Chop garlic and white ends off of the asparagus.  Place asparagus, cherry tomatoes, garlic and olive oil on baking sheet (leave asparagus on one side of the baking sheet and the cherry tomatoes on the other side)- roast at 375 for 15-20 minutes, until cooked.

  3. Steam the corn in a pot with a little bit of water for 5 minutes.  Cool down under cold water. Then cut off the cob.

  4. Drain and rinse the black beans. Saute the black beans in a pan with the spices, olive oil and dash of tamari.

  5. Chop the cilantro.  

  6. Toss cilantro together with corn and the cooked cherry tomatoes and lime juice.

  7. In a bowl: place the cooked rice and beans.  Add corn and cherry tomato mixture.  Add the asparagus.

  8. Add avocado on top along with with a handful of fresh cilantro. Yum!

Cherry Coconut Smoothie and Why You Should Eat Cherries

cherries, cherry, summer fruit, berries, cherry bowl

We're absolutely lovin' cherry season this year, especially since it's for such a short time, it feels extra special.  Cherries are one of the best fruits to pack for snacks during the work day, on road trips, on camping trips, and even on plane rides, because they are strong enough to stand the heat and are less likely to get crushed than softer berries and nectarines or peaches. 

The rich and bright colour of cherries is caused by a type of flavanoids called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have antioxidant properties and studies have found that cherries even have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Cherries also naturally contain melatonin, so they are a good food to eat later in the day or for dessert in the evening as they are sleep supportive. 

Another reason why we recommend eating cherries instead of sweeter fruits, such as banana and tropical fruits, is because they are low glycemic and low in sugar.  Many of our clients that are dealing with cancer choose to follow a diet that is low in sugar and avoid eating desserts, baked goods and refined carbohydrates.  Studies have found that consuming sugar interferes with the function of the immune system, so if your body is compromised and dealing with a disease or even a cold, we recommend avoiding sugar and choosing very low-sugar fruits like cherries and berries (raspberries, blueberries and strawberries are all great options as well). You'll still get to enjoy these delicious fruits while at the same time get the benefit of their antioxidant and vitamin content. 

We've added some healthy whole-food fats into this smoothie, avocado and hempseeds.  These will keep you feeling full for longer, as well as provide anti-inflammatory omega 3s. 

 

Cherry Coconut Smoothie

1 cup cherries
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup coconut water
2 Tbsp hempseeds (or add vegan protein powder instead)
2 Tbsp avocado (or you can add more, if you like)

Directions:
1. Rinse off the cherries well and remove the pits.  This part can be a little time intensive, but it's worth it!  There are two ways to do this- Option 1: We cut away as much of the cherry as we can from the pit. Option 2: We poke something into the center of the cherry (like a chopstick) to make a small whole and pull the pit out.

2. Then combine all the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

cherry smoothie, cherry coconut smoothie

 

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24811821
https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.meir-ez.medlcp.tau.ac.il/pubmed/28274450
https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.meir-ez.medlcp.tau.ac.il/pubmed/26005400
https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.meir-ez.medlcp.tau.ac.il/pubmed/23480341

Our Top 5 Favourite Snacks

One of the most creative and fun parts of our job is to create menus for our clients.  When working with dietary sensitivities and allergies, we have to be more creative than usual because we often need to avoid using common ingredients.  Avoiding dairy and gluten is our jam.  It’s basically our “normal” and there’s never a moment of hesitation when it comes time to plan a gluten and dairy free menu.  But, those aren’t the only ingredients that we work without.  Many of our clients also avoid eating sugar (and sometimes even healthy sweeteners, like maple syrup and honey).  And, some of them are taking a break from eating grains.  Some of them are vegan, so no eggs or other animal ingredients allowed.  Or, no nightshades. There are a lot of other foods that clients need to avoid and often come to us with their food sensitivity test results.  No matter how many limitations, we’ll always get creative with planning a menu for each client we work with.

Sometimes though, we also like to recommend good products to our clients.  And, quick, easy snacks that they can carry with them and eat on the go or in between meals.  

Here, we’ll share our top 5 favourite snacks, some of which happen to be local Canadian based brands or our recipes that we actually prepare for our clients.


1. Kale Chips

We’re sure you’ve seen kale chips everywhere, as they have quickly gained popularity.   The only downside is that they tend to crumble and break easily.  If you are bringing kale chips along for the day, we recommend packing them in a container instead of a bag.  Make sure to read the label when you pick up a bag of kale chips to avoid any sweeteners or specific ingredients that you might be sensitive to.  Kale is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which we always recommend that you eat because these veggies specifically support the liver and help with detoxification. Many studies have looked into kale (and other cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower) and its link with cancer prevention, due its high content of antioxidants that can help protect cells from stress and damage.


2. Homemade Guacamole and Veggies for Dipping

Although there are so many guacamole recipes out there, we usually end up whipping up the easiest version of this classic dip to save time.  Avocadoes help your body properly absorb carotenoids (the orange-yellow pigment found in orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes).  Carotenoids are a type of antioxidant that help protect your cells from damage, and your body is able to absorb and utilize them better when eaten with some healthy fat.  Avocadoes are known for their high content of monounsaturated fat, especially oleic acid, which is linked with supporting heart health and reducing inflammation.

 

Easy Guacamole:

1 large ripe avocado (or 2 smaller ones)
Pinch of sea salt (add to taste)
1 small clove garlic, minced
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped
½ of a lime, juiced

Serve with:
2 carrots, chopped in sticks
2 stalks of celery, chopped in sticks
1 cucumber, chopped in sticks

Directions:

  1. Slice the avocado through the center.  Carefully remove the pit.

  2. Scoop out the inside of the inside of the avocado.

  3. Chop the cilantro and mince the garlic.

  4. Mix together the guacamole ingredients and mash together in a bowl.

  5. Serve with  chopped veggie sticks.

 

3. Dates and Nuts (or Nut Butter)

Dates are packed with many minerals, such as potassium and magnesium, and are one of the best energy boosting foods you can eat.  They are great as a mid-afternoon pick me up, especially paired with nuts or nut butter to ensure you get some protein and healthy fat as well to keep you energized for longer.  Although dates are sweet, studies have found that they do not raise blood sugar levels as quickly as other types of sweets. And, studies have also found that dates have antioxidant properties, so they can actually help keep your cells healthy.


4. Roasted Chickpeas

Chickpeas are one of our favourite snacks because they’re a great option if you need something savoury and can’t eat a lot of sweet things. Whether you’re doing a sugar detox, candida cleanse, healing your digestive system, balancing hormones or are going through cancer, it can be challenging to find snacks that are not sweet.  It’s always easy to find muffins, cookies, and even granola bars, but they are all sweet.  So, we are quite excited about roasted chickpeas!  You can now find packaged roasted chickpeas at most grocery stores.  Just make sure to read the ingredients and check to see that they are made with real food and don’t contain any artificial flavourings, yeast, or other items that you don’t recognize.  Chickpeas are a great source of protein and fiber, which helps keep your blood sugar and energy stable throughout the day.  And, if you want to make your own roasted chickpeas, here’s one of our recipes:

Roasted Chickpeas

1 small can of chickpeas
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.

  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.

  3. If the chickpeas are wet, dry them off as much as possible with a clean dish towel.  They will roast better if they have less moisture on them.  

  4. Toss the chickpeas together with all of the spices and olive oil, ensuring they are coated well.

  5. Spread the out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

  6. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes or until the chickpeas are crisp on the outside.

  7. Remove from oven, let cool, and enjoy.

  8. Store them in a closed paper bag on the counter to keep them crisp.


5. Nud Fud Crackers

We love Nud Fud crackers (not only because we went to nutrition school with Julia, the founder) because they are grain-free, paleo and vegan.  They are made with really simple, but nutritionally dense, ingredients.  For example, the Goji Chia Banana Crisps are made with banana, sesame seeds, coconut, goji berries and chia seeds.  They also make some savory flavours as well, so if you can’t eat banana or sweets, then there are still delicious choices.  Sesame seeds provide healthy fat and protein, and are also one of the best sources of calcium that we recommend to our clients.  We haven’t found a ton of snacks that contain sesame seeds, so these crackers are a great option, especially if you don’t eat nuts.

For more information you can visit their website: Nud Fud  

If you don’t have access to these crackers, look for a similar type of product made by another brand.  Look for crackers made from seeds, such as flax seeds and chia seeds, as they are high in fiber and tend to also include other nutritionally dense ingredients.

 

Need Help?

If you want more homemade snacks, but don’t have the time to cook or just hate cooking, we can help.  Our private chefs can prepare customized snacks and meals that are made fresh for you!




References:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=38

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf901559a

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996910002243

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780124081178000106

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23587027