Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi

Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi

Yottam Ottolenghi’s recent cookbook, Plenty More, is in some ways an antithesis of the Pure Prairie Eating Plan in that some of the ingredients are hard to find and the recipes can be challenging and time consuming…and yet we come back to it because the recipes are imaginative, fresh and FULL of flavor!

Thai Red Lentil Soup with Aromatic Chile Oil is one of our favorites and we thought you might like to try it over the holidays.  It has some ingredients that aren’t always easy to find (e.g. lemongrass and Kaffir leaves) and ½ a can of coconut milk, so when we’re making it we make a double batch of the body of the soup (without the sugar snap peas and fresh cilantro) and freeze one batch for later.  The recipe for chile-infused oil makes more than you need for 1 batch of soup, but it can be kept for up to a month in the fridge and used for drizzling on soup, salads or grilled dishes.  We think it’s definitely worth the effort!



Thai Red Lentil Soup with Aromatic Chile Oil (adapted from Plenty More)

Serves 4, Serving Size 1 ½ cups (375 mL)


Soup Ingredients:

4 oz (120 g) sugar snap peas

3 Tbsp (45 mL) sunflower oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced ( 1 ½ cups/160 g)

1 ½ Tbsp (22 mL)thai red curry paste

2 lemongrass stalks, gently bashed with a rolling pin

4 fresh  Kaffir lime leaves (or 12 dried)

1 ¼ cups (310 mL/250 g) red lentils

1 cup (250 mL) coconut milk

1 ½ Tbsp (22 mL) lime juice

1 ½ Tbsp (22 mL) soya sauce

1 cup (250 mL/15 g) cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped



Chile- infused Oil

¾ cup (180 mL) sunflower oil

1 banana shallot or 2 regular shallots, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup/50 g)

1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped

1 tsp (5 mL) peeled and coarsely chopped fresh ginger

½ red chile, coarsely chopped

½ star anise pod

2 tsp (10 mL) curry powder

1 tsp (5 mL) tomato paste

grated zest of ½ a small lemon



For the Chile oil:

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp (30 mL) of sunflower oil in a small saucepan.  Add the shallots, garlic, ginger, chile, star anise, and curry powder and fry over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the shallot is soft.
  2. Add the tomato paste and cook gently for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the remaining oil and lemon zest and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
  4. Leave to cool and strain through a cheese cloth (or coffee filter) lined sieve
  5. This makes more oil than you need for 1 batch of soup, but it can be kept for up to a month in the fridge and used for drizzling on soup, salads or grilled dishes.


For the Soup:

  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and throw in the sugar snap peas.  Cook for 90 seconds, drain, refresh under cold water, and set aside to dry.
  2. Once cool, cut them on the diagonal into slices 1/16 inch/2mm thick
  3. Heat the sunflower oil in a large pot and add the onion. Cook over low heat, with the lid on, for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the onion is completely soft and sweet.  Stir in the red curry paste and cook for 1 minute.  Add the lemongrass, lime leaves, red lentils, and 3 cups (700 mL) of water.  Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, until the lentils are completely soft.
  4. Remove the soup from the heat and take out and discard the lemongrass and lime leaves.  Use a blender to process the soup until it is completely smooth.  Add the coconut milk, lime juice and soya sauce, and ½ tsp (2.5 mL) salt and stir. Return the soup to medium heat, and once the soup is almost boiling, ladle into bowls.  Scatter the snap peas on top, sprinkle with cilantro, and finish with ½ a teaspoon chile oil drizzled over each portion.

Nutritional Analysis (per serving): 494 kcal, 26 g fat, 15 g saturated fat, 48 g carbohydrate, 9 g fibre, 20 g protein.


Colourful foods – more than just eye candy!

Colourful foods – more than just eye candy!

It has been said that we eat with our eyes first  – but colour in food is more than just eye candy.  This week we’re featuring a simple roast vegetable dish from Canolainfo’s beautiful Latin Sides Supper Collection. These side dishes not only add colour and flavor to a meal, the compounds responsible for the bright colours in vegetables and fruits impart a number of health benefits. Recipes for the full Latin Sides Supper Collection can be found on the Canolainfo website. You can find a good overview of the compounds in various coloured fruits and veggies, and their health benefits, on the European Food Information Council website.

Roasted Winter Veggies and Tri-Colored Potatoes

Serves 10, serving size 1 cup 


1 1/2 lbs (750 g) tri-color potatoes, quartered

1 lb (500 g) Brussels sprouts, cut in half

1 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped

2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise and sliced

2 medium carrots, sliced

1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped rosemary 60 mL

1/3 cup (75 mL) canola oil 75

2 tsp (10 mL) salt

1 tsp (5 mL) garlic powder



1. Preheat oven to 400 ˚F (200 ˚C).

2. In large roasting pan, place vegetables. Add rosemary, canola oil, salt and garlic powder and stir to combine.

3. Cook about 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.


Nutritional Analysis (per serving):  176 kcal, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat 25 g carbohydrates 5 g fibre, 4 g protein.



How to stay healthy over the holidays

How to stay healthy over the holidays

Special holiday times like Christmas often present a bit of a challenge in terms of healthy eating.  Here are some tips from the BBC Good Food website:  1.  Eat a good healthy breakfast, 2.  Drink plenty of water, herbal teas and/or diluted juices, 3.  Eat a small healthy snack before going to a party where food and alcohol will be served to curb your hunger, 4.  Choose carefully at buffets and then step away from the table :)! 5.  Limit alcohol consumption, 6.  Eat a healthy breakfast the morning after a party, and 7.  Return to your regular healthy eating habits (no skipping meals to compensate :).

“After a big night out I don’t skip meals, even if I have over-indulged. After all, it’s the balance of your diet that’s important. I apply the 80:20 principle – eating healthily 80% of the time, which allows me the space for delicious treats at weekends and on special occasions. ” Kerry Torrens, BBC Good Food magazine’s nutritional therapist

Spanish Spinach Omelette (adapted from the BBC Good Food website)

Serves 8


1 400 g bag of spinach

3 Tbsp (45 mL) canola or olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

10 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Tip the spinach into a large colander and bring a kettleful of water to the boil. Slowly pour the water over the spinach until wilted, then cool under cold water. Squeeze all the liquid out of the spinach and set aside.
  2. Heat the oven grill to high.  Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and gently cook the onion and potato for about 10 mins until the potato is soft. While the onion is cooking, beat the eggs together in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Stir the spinach into the potatoes, then pour in the eggs and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly set, then flash the omelette under the grill to set the top. Ease the omelette on to a plate, then flip over back into the pan. Finish cooking the omelette on the underside and turn out onto a board. Serve cut into wedges.

Nutritional Analysis (per serving):  182 kcal, 12 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 9 g carbohydrate, 2 g fibre, 10 g protein. Canada Food Guide Servings: 2.2 Vegetables & Fruit, 0.6 Meat & Alternatives.


Crunchy Winter Salad

Crunchy Winter Salad

We found this recipe on The Globe and Mail’s Chef Basics with Matt DeMille.  It really is delicious!  We were a bit afraid that the beets would dominate the flavour, but they blend really nicely with the other ingredients.  The fennel adds a hint of liquorice, the pear a touch of sweetness, the pomegranate is crunchy…all-in-all a simply yummy mix.  Grapeseed oil is trendy right now, if you have it on hand that’s great. We substituted canola oil for a nice, light, local flavour; we didn’t have dry sherry vinegar on hand, so in the spirit of keeping it simple we substituted the red wine vinegar we had on hand. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make it your own!  Add some pumpkin seeds and feta cheese, tofu or chicken to make it a meal. Click here for preparation tips from Chef DeMille.

Crunchy Winter Salad

Serves 6 – Serving size 1 cup per serving


2 medium carrots, raw

1 medium beet, raw

1 bulb fennel, raw

1 cup (250 mL) kale, raw

1 medium pear, with skin

1/2 medium pomegranate


1 Tbsp (15 mL) Dijon Mustard

3 Tbsp (45 mL) maple syrup

1/4 cup (60 mL) dry sherry vinegar

3 Tbsp (45 mL) grape or canola oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice


1.  Peel and chop or shred carrots and beet.  Place in ice water while you prepare the other ingredients.

2.  Chop fennel bulb, pear and kale and place them in a large salad bowl.  Cut the pomegranate in half and use the back of a spoon to dislodge the seeds into the bowl (see the video for details

3.  Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl.  Whisk until emulsified.  Pour the dressing over the salad and mix completely (Cheff DeMille suggests mixing with your hands to get a nice even coating of dressing.

4.  Top with sprigs of parsley and mint and serve as a side salad.  Add goat cheese, feta, tofu, chicken, nuts or your favourite protein to make it into a meal on its own.

Nutritional analysis (per 1 cup/250 mL serving): 160 kcal, 7.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 22 g carbohydrate, 4 g fibre, 3 g protein.  Canada Food Guide Servings:  2 Vegetables and Fruit.


It’s a classic soup kind of day!

It’s a classic soup kind of day!

What could be better on a cold day that a nice hot bowl of soup?  One of our favourites is an old classic – Beef and Barley soup.  It’s full of flavour, stocked with veggies, protein and ‘stick to your ribs’ barley.  This recipe serves 8…or 2 meals for 4, 4 meals for 2…#lotsleftoverforlunch!


Beef and Barley Soup

You can use Beef Simmering Steak instead of Stewing Cubes in this recipe, if you like. Trim the steak and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes.

1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
1 lb (500 g) Beef Stewing Cubes, trimmed
6 cup (1.5 L) vegetables, cut in small pieces (i.e. onions, carrots, celery, rutabaga and/or potatoes)
¼ cup (50 mL) pot or pearl barley
1 can (10 oz/284 mL) beef broth
¼ tsp (1 mL) EACH dried thyme, dillweed and pepper
1 bay leaf
  1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat; brown beef cubes. Stir in vegetables, barley, broth, thyme, dillweed, pepper and bay leaf.
  2. Add 4 cups (1 L) water; bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer; cover and cook for about 2 hours or until beef and barley are tender.
  3. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Nutritional Information

Per Serving (Calories 173, Protein 15 g, Fat 6 g, Carbohydrates 15 g, Source of iron (13% DV) and excellent source of zinc (39% DV))

Hot off the Press – the Pure Prairie Eating Plan Fall Newsletter

Hot off the Press – the Pure Prairie Eating Plan Fall Newsletter

November is Diabetes Month.  Many of you will remember that the Pure Prairie eating Plan was developed and tested with people with Type 2 diabetes.  This month we are celebrating our roots and talking about our research across the country.  The newsletter provides more detail on the events we’ll be taking part in…and, of course, has some yummy recipes.  Check it out:

Harvest Soup with Carrots, Parsnips and Apple

Harvest Soup with Carrots, Parsnips and Apple

Fall on the Prairies brings to mind images of harvest – market stalls and larders brimming with root vegetables, gardens cleaned up and ready to go for next year and pantry selves lined with garden preserves.  We thought that this harvest vegetable soup was the perfect recipe for this time of year and perhaps for Thanksgiving lunch or dinner.  It’s simple to make and can be made ahead, leaving lots of time for outdoor hikes or games.  Serve it with equally simple open faced grilled cheese sandwiches (1 per serving) for a great lunch or simple supper.  Roasting vegetables brings out all the best of the flavour, which is lovely and fresh and sweet at this time of year.

Harvest Soup with Carrots, Parsnips and Apple

This soup has a sweet, garlicky flavour.  Serves 6.  Serving size about 1 cup (250 mL).


4-5                  parnips, peeled and sliced 1” (2.5 cm) thick                     4-5

2                      medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1” (2.5 cm) thick       2

1                      large onion, diced                                                                    1

2                      medium potatoes, peeled and diced                                    2

1                      apple, peeled and quartered                                                   1

3                      cloves garlic, peeled                                                                3

1 Tbsp.           canola oil                                                                                15 mL

4 c.                  low-sodium vegetable stock                                                 1 L

pepper or cayenne pepper to taste


1.  Preheat the oven to 400 oF (200 oC).

2.  Spread the cut up parsnips, carrots and onions on a foil-lined baking tray.  Drizzle with canola oil.  Roast for 20 minutes.

3.  Add the whole garlic cloves and roast until the vegetables are tender, about 20 more minutes.

4.  While the vegetables are roasting, cook the potatoes in a large saucepan over medium heat in the vegetable broth.  Don’t worry if they start to fall apart.

5.  Add the roasted vegetables and cook 20-30 minutes longer, until all the vegetables are very soft.   Cool.

6.  Puree the soup in a blender or food processor, then return to the saucepan to reheat over medium heat.  Add pepper to taste.


For the photo, we used the idea of a “parsnip chip” from Spilling the Beans.  This is how to make them:

After peeling a parsnip, use the vegetable peeler to make long strips (about 1 cup or 250 mL).  Heat some canola oil in a saucepan over medium heat until it’s very hot but not boiling.  (Or, use a deep fryer or electric wok.)  Working in batches, transfer the parsnip strips to the hot oil with a fork.  Cook until very lightly browned, 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a plate covered with paper towels to drain.  Parsnip chips can be stored in an airtight container, then crisped in the oven for a few minutes when you’re ready to use them.


Nutritional analysis (per serving):  202 kcal, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 35 g carbohydrate, 4 g fibre, 6 g protein 254 mg sodium.

Friday Night Dinner

Friday Night Dinner

It used to be a standing joke at our house – Friday night would come and someone would say “What should we have for dinner?” and I would say “Black Bean Quesadillas”, which always meant Black Bean Chèvre Quesadillas from Bonnie Stern’s Simply Heart Smart Cooking recipe book.  It was published over 20 years ago now (!) but the recipes are still amongst our favourites.  Even though her website says that it’s out of print, it still seems to be available on Amazon.  She also published a whole book of Friday Night Dinners – check it out on her website.


Black Bean Quesadillas are quick, easy and full of flavour.  We almost always used chèvre but you could substitute whatever cheese you have on hand.  Another option is to use the filling as a salad/side for almost anything (chicken breast, fish, mac and cheese, etc).  Whatever option you choose, it makes a great Friday (or any) night dinner.  Bonnie suggests barbecuing them for extra flavour or making them open faced like a pizza.  They can also be made ahead and reheated, and leftovers are great for lunches.


Black Bean Chèvre Quesadillas adapted from Simply HeartSmart Cooking


Serves 6 – Serving Size: 1 tortilla




1 cup (250 mL) black beans

1 tomato, chopped and drained

1 sweet red pepper, preferably roasted, peeled and chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

½ cup (125 mL) cilantro

2 Tbsp (30 mL) fresh chives or green onions

2 Tbsp (30 mL) fresh basil

1 ½ cups (375 mL) grated light Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese

½ cup (125 mL) chèvre (soft goat cheese) or feta cheese

6  10 inch (25 cm) flour tortillas



1.  Preheat barbecue or  heat oven to 400oF (200oC).

2.  Combine black beans, tomato, red pepper, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, chives, basil, Monterey Jack and chèvre.

3.  Place tortillas on counter in a single layer.  Spread filling evenly over one half of each tortilla.

4.  Fold unfilled half over filled side and press together gently.

5.  Place in a single layer on heated grill on the barbecue or on a baking sheet or pizza stone in the oven.  Bake for 7 – 10 minutes until the filling is heated and the cheese has melted.


Nutritional Analysis (per serving): 340 kcal, 11 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 43 g carbohydrates, 4 g fibre, 18 g protein.






Roasted Vegetable Penne Bake

Roasted Vegetable Penne Bake

With the bounty of fall vegetables available in gardens and markets at this time of year, we thought we’d serve up a recipe that takes full advantage of the best of fall flavours.  Roasted Vegetable Penne Bake is one of our favourites from the Pure Prairie Eating Plan.  It can be made ahead and served with barbecued chicken for quick weeknight dinner and leftovers, if there are any :), are great for lunches the next day.

Roasted Vegetable Penne Bake

Serves 6


2 large zucchinis, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces

1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces

1 small onion, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces

1/2 lb (225 g) medium fresh mushrooms, halved

2 Tbsp (30 mL) canola oil

1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) Italian seasoning

2 cups (500 mL) uncooked penne pasta

14 oz (398 mL) crushed tomatoes, undrained

2 oz (60 g) shredded provolone cheese

3/4 cup (175 mL) frozen peas, thawed

1/4 cup (60 mL) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

3 Tbsp (45 mL) grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper

1 Tbsp (15 mL) butter or margarine

1 Tbsp (15 mL)grated Parmesan cheese



1. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, red pepper, mushrooms, onion, oil and Italian seasoning; toss to coat. Arrange in

a single layer on an ungreased 15-inch (38 x 25 cm) baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 425°F (220 °C) for 20-25 minutes or

until tender.

2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, roasted vegetables,

tomatoes, provolone cheese, peas, mozzarella cheese, . cup (60 mL) Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper.

3. Transfer to a greased 11 x 7 inch (28 x 43 cm) baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese; dot with butter.

Cover and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 10 minutes. Uncover; bake for another 10-15 minutes or until bubbly.

4. Cut into six squares and garnish with fresh herbs, if available.

About This Recipe: Get your veggies in a delicious way with this vegetable bake! There are also three types of cheeses in this recipe. Need I say more?

Per Serving: 317 kcal, 12 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 33 g carbohydrate, 6 g fibre, 13 g protein

Serve with a 3 oz serving of grilled chicken and add:

Per Serving: 199 kcal, 13 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 1 g carbohydrate, 0 g fibre, 20 g protein.

Grilled Pork Ribs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Grilled Pork Ribs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Like making homemade salad dressing, barbecue sauce can be made in minutes and is limited only by your creativity and taste.   This recipe is modified from Ly’s Grilled Fire Ribs in The Chez Piggy Cookbook.  Chez Piggy ( is a restaurant in Kingston, Ontario where Cathy once stopped for lunch while driving across Canada with her family.  The lunch was so good, she bought the cookbook and the ribs are definitely top of the list for great recipes.  We’ve modified the sauce to reduce the sugar.


Grilled Pork Ribs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Serves 4.


450 g (1/2 lb) of pork baby back ribs, per person, cut in serving sized pieces

125 ml (1/2 cup) water

Juice of half a lemon (about 15 ml (1 Tbsp))


Heat the oven to 325 F.  Add the lemon juice to the water.  Put the ribs on a broiler pan and baste the top with the lemon-water.  Bake about 2 hours, basting with lemon-water every 30 minutes or so.  This will soften and tenderize the ribs.   When the ribs are almost done, you can make the barbecue sauce.


125 ml (1/2 cup) ketchup

30 ml (2 Tbsp) apple cider vinegar or beer

15 ml (1 Tbsp) molasses

15 ml (1 Tbsp) oyster sauce or low-sodium soy sauce

7 ml (1 ½ tsp) Worchestershire sauce

15 ml (1 Tbsp) grated fresh ginger

15 ml (1 Tbsp) minced garlic

1 fresh Thai chili pepper or 7 ml (1 ½ tsp) chili powder or 2 ml (1/2 tsp) red pepper flakes (adjust the heat to taste)


Mix all the ingredients for the barbecue sauce together in a microwave safe container such as a pyrex measuring cup.  Microwave 30 seconds, 3 times, stirring in between.  Makes about 175 ml (3/4 cup).  Can be stored in the fridge for at least two weeks.


Brush the ribs with sauce.  Return to the oven for 20 minutes.

Nutritional Analysis (per serving):  Ribs: 242 kcal, 18 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 0.3 g carbohydrate, 0 g fibre, 18.5 g protein, 87 mg sodium.  Canada Food Guide Servings: 1 Meat and Alternatives.  Sauce: 60 kcal, 0.2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 15 g carbohydrates, 1 g fibre, 1 g protein, 498 mg sodium.  Canada Food Guide Servings:  0.5 Vegetables and Fruit.

Handy Tip:  When you buy fresh ginger, cut it in different sized chunks, put it in a ziplock bag and freeze it.  When you need it, take a chunk equal to the amount you need and let it sit on the counter for about 5 minutes.  It won’t dry out in storage and will be a snap to grate into your favourite recipe.  Try adding it to a fruit or green smoothie for extra zing.