Happy Heart Month!

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Happy Heart month everyone!

Being only two months into this new year you may be one of the people who’ve already given up on their new years resolution or who are telling themselves that they have LOTS more time to get back on track!

Whatever side you fall into this equation have no fear. Let me be the first to tell you ‘It’s OKAY!’

When it comes to eating properly, it isn’t a matter of restricting but knowing!  What I mean is there is no better way of understanding what you’re eating and what ingredients are going into your food than cooking your own food! Don’t worry, the recipes I will be sharing with you today are very simple and straightforward, but I’ll get into that later!

February is officially Heart Month. Not only is it a month filled with love and romance, but it also one of the shortest months in the year. So, what better month to try a new challenge than this month!  Growing up in a busy Filipino household, one thing I could always count on was that my parents always had food ready to reheat and eat at a moment’s notice!

As I grew up and I began my journey into culinary and meal prep, I learned to appreciate how much time this saves you through the week! If meal prep or cooking your food ahead of time Is not your forte or a priority, don’t stress because there are companies in and around the city that’s will to do the process for you and it’s then as simple as popping the food in the microwave to reheat! At least you know if you go through any one of these companies your getting whole ingredients, some even deliver through the week to help optimize freshness!

In honour of Heart Month I’ve brought you two simple, yet favorite dishes of mine! They are heart Conscious and packed with the nutrients and flavour your body wants and your flavour receptors will thank you for!

Side note with these recipes you can also use a slow cooker and have the hassle cut in half!

 

Hearty Vegetarian Chili

Serving: 4 Large portions or 6 small portions

Ingredients

2 Medium Red Peppers Medium, diced

1/2 Medium Red Onion, diced

1 Small/Medium Carrot, chopped (bite sized)

3 Celery Stems, chopped (bite sized)

1 Can Pinto Beans

1 Can Black Beans

1 Can Diced Tomatoes

5 Tbs Lime juice

5 Tbs Chili Powder

2 Tbs Cumin

2 Tb paprika

3 Bay Leaves (dried)

1 Cup Cooked Rice (white or brown)

2 Tbs Canola Oil

Salt & Pepper to Taste

½ Bunch of Cilantro, chopped (garnish)

 

Optional Ingredients

1 Tbs of Sour Cream

Shredded Cheese (garnish)

 

Procedure:

  • Strain the Beans (Pinto and Black Beans) and place in a container on the side
  • In a medium to large pot sauté the veggies at medium to high heat with canola oil
  • Once veggies are halfway cooked, add the spices, be sure to let the spice’s aromas really come out and mix into the veggies.
  • When veggies have been coated with the spices, add the pinto beans, black beans and diced tomatoes. Be sure to drain half the liquid in the can of diced tomato, as the moisture from the veggies adds a lot of water to the chili.
  • Add the dried bay leaves and lime juice to the chili and let it come up to a boil
  • Once chili begins to boil lower the heat and bring it to a simmer, let the chili simmer for roughly 30 mins
  • Add the rice to the chili and let it simmer for another 15-30 mins. Be sure to mix your pot and make sure the bottom of the pot does not burn
  • Once the chili thickens up from the rice, garnish with cilantro and any optional garnishes. Don’t forget to remove dried bay leaves prior to serving, feel free to have this chili with your favorite scones or bread!
  • The great thing about chilli, just like Filipino adobo, is it gets better the longer it sits. So the chili you taste today will taste completely different from the chili that you taste later on in the week. This is due to the spices coming out and infusing more flavour into the chili.

*** Side note: If you are using a slow cooker, add all ingredients to the pot and set it to high heat for four hours and enjoy. Be sure to check on it after three hours and if it has the consistency you want feel free to turn it off! ***

 

Creamy Dairy-Free Alfredo

Serving: 6 Servings

600 ml of Coconut Milk

150 ml of chicken stock (or broth)

6 Tbs of Nutritional Yeast (can be found in organic section of your grocery store)

2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced

6 Tbs of All-purpose flour (use gluten-free flour if you want this recipe to be gluten free)

240 grams of dried spaghetti (use gluten-free spaghetti if you want this recipe to be gluten free)

Salt and Pepper to Taste

1 Tbs of Canola Oil

Optional Proteins to add:

3.5 oz of Salmon

Or

3.5 oz of Chicken breast or thigh

Or

4-5 medium to large shrimp pieces

Procedure:

  • Sauté the garlic cloves in canola oil
  • Add chicken broth and wait for it to come to a boil
  • Once boiling, add the coconut milk and stir in the nutritional yeast
  • Let it come to a boil and lower the heat to simmer for 15-20 mins
  • In a separate pot, add water and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling add salt to water and place spaghetti noodles in boiling water. Let it cook for roughly 15 mins or to al dente (meaning the noodle is just under cooked. This will add a nice texture to your pasta and make it a little chewy.
  • Once sauce is simmering, make a flour slurry. This is done by adding cold water to the all-purpose flour in a separate bowl or cup and slowly adding this mixture into your sauce. This will help thicken your sauce and help it latch onto the spaghetti noodles.
  • Your sauce should be at the right consistency, but if not feel free to play around. If you want it thinner add more chicken stock and if you want it thicker make more flour slurry and add it into your sauce. It’s important to note that the flour does take time to thicken up the sauce as opposed to cornstarch, so be patient and give the flour some time to cook before adding more flour slurry.
  • Combine spaghetti noodles and sauce together. Cook your favorite choice of protein and serve! Here I added salmon and chicken into mine, but this is where you can be as creative as you want!

 

*** Side note: if you have a slow cooker add all ingredients, except the noodles into the pot and give it a good stir with a whisk.  Set it for two hours on high heat. Boil the pasta in a separate pot and don’t forget to cook your favorite protein and set them to the side. Once the sauce is done you can add the noodles to the slow cooker pot and serve with your protein choice on top! ***

 

Happy Heart Month! I hope you enjoyed those recipes and if you love the idea of meal prep ahead of time, but don’t want the hassle of cooking, feel free to check out companies like The Fit Bar who provide this service and deliver all across the city! Check them out here at https://thefitbar.ca/

 

Michael Juarez Bio

Chef Michael Siapno Juarez is known to many as a jack of all trades. He is the executive chef for The Fit Bar in Calgary. If he’s not busy in the kitchen making health-conscious food that is not only nutritious but also packed with flavour, you may find him helping you sell your home or buy your next one!  Or you might find him onstage as an emcee for one of the largest Filipino Fiestas in Alberta, Fiesta Filipino, or the many events held by the PFCA!