Category: vegetables

I have been on a roasted vegetable kick lately and roasting all kinds of vegetables I haven’t before, like radishes!

My usual way of eating radishes is very “un-dietitian” like of me: I dip the halves in salt! So addicting.

I can blame my preceptor from my dietetic internship up in Prince George (Northern BC) for this addiction. She told me she stopped eating radishes because this was the only way she ate them, so naturally, I had to try it.  Don’t do it.

Roasted Radishes5 Upbeet

We all need some sodium – 1500mg sodium per day to be precise. That being said, on average Canadians get about 3400 mg per day! Reducing our intake to 2000 mg or less per day may help lower blood pressure and improve our over all health.

Roasted Radishes2 Upbeet

The transformation that takes place from raw to roasted vegetables in just a few simple steps is amazing. The colour, flavour, and smell of the vegetables are wonderful. My diet is chalked full of all kinds of roasted vegetables, but roasted fruit is new to me – it is just as wonderful! Eating the rinds of the oranges in this recipe seemed a little odd at first, but they get nice and soft and sweet. The orange rinds are actually my favourite part of this dish!

Raw fennel is not my thing, but when it is roasted it is so much more subtle and delicious. I can’t believe it is the same vegetable. Fennel has many health benefits as well which I mentioned in a previous post here.


What’s for dinner??

If answering this question causes you daily stress then being prepared with ready-to-go versatile ingredients in your fridge/freezer can be a great asset!

Making caramelized onions takes time and effort that many of us are not willing to put in after a day at work. Until I started making them in my slow-cooker I rarely had them on hand. I am much too impatient for that. Now they have become somewhat of an addiction… they make so many meals so much better, I just can’t go without them anymore!

What have a I been using these deliciously sweet, flavorful morsels on?

What does Sheppard’s pie bring to mind?

Country? Rural? Down-home?

I think Sheppard’s pie describes my weekend perfectly.

I went to a rodeo in Vanderhoof, BC to watch my friend ride a bull. I didn’t really realize what I was getting myself into when I agreed to go. I used to go to rodeos all the time (I grew up in 100 Mile House, BC) but apparently I forgot just how stressful it can be watching someone you know ride an angry bucking bull!

You have to stay on the bucking bull for eight seconds, which doesn’t seem like long until you realize how massive and aggressive these animals are: they weigh between 1,100-2,200 lbs! National Geographic called it the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.

bull riding

Photo credit: Bull Rider photo by DBKing

These crazy cowboys pay expensive entry fees to ride these things, and then they make you wait in anticipation for hours until the very end of the rodeo to do it! At least we all got to go to the barn dance when it was over.

sheppards pie

Anyway, my point, in a very round about way, is that I had a country themed weekend and it inspired me to make a country themed recipe!

Sheppard’s pie has many variations and goes by many names including cottage pie, sheppardless pie (vegetarian version), cumberland pie (made with a layer of breadcrumbs on top), St Stephen Day’s pie (made with turkey or ham) and the French Canadian version pâté chinois (French for “Chinese pie”) often made with ketchup mixed in.

Considering there is so many variations of this recipe I  decided I deserve to have my own version — Melissa Pie! It suits me perfectly: it’s colorful, healthy, fun, and a little sneaky!


sheppards pie


Melissa (Sheppard's) Pie
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-12
  • 500g extra-lean ground meat (I used moose)
  • 1.5 cups canned green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1.5 cups finely chopped carrot
  • 1.5 cups chopped celery
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ - ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ cups reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1.5 cups canned or thawed frozen corn, drained
  • 1 cup peas
  • 4.5-5 cups mashed yam and cauliflower mix(about 2-3 medium sweet potatoes and half a large head of cauliflower)
  • 3 cloves garlic, roasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. To prepare mashed topping steam or roast chopped yams (with skin) and cauliflower until tender (this goes quick in the microwave if you want to speed things up). Then process them in a food processor with the roasted garlic, a splash or two of milk, a bit of butter, salt and pepper (to taste) until the desired consistency, leave a little chunky if you like
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, over medium-high heat, cook meat, breaking it up with the back of a spoon, for about 8 minutes or until no longer pink. You can add a few crushed red pepper flakes if you like it a little spicy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a bowl, mix in the lentils and set aside. Drain off all but about 2-3 tsp fat from the pan (if you use moose there will be no fat in the pan)
  4. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and saute for 5 min. Add carrot, celery, pepper and nutmeg to the skillet and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes more or until vegetables are softened. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Sprinkle with flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually stir in broth and bring to a boil; boil, stirring, until thickened. Return beef, lentil mixture and accumulated juices to the pan and stir to coat
  5. Pour beef mixture into a 9*13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle corn and peas evenly over top. Spread yam and cauliflower mash evenly over corn and peas
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out hot (if you really want you can also top this dish with some shredded cheese when it comes out of the oven)

Eggplant Parmesan



Photo Credit

I never used to buy eggplants because I didn’t know what to do them. Then I came across this recipe, and that changed in a hurry! I realized how much I love them and just how versatile they are. I love pan frying them or throwing them in stir fries, lasagna, casseroles and pasta sauce.  They absorb sauce well and take on all the delicious flavors and are a great vehicle for cheese! :) Traditionally eggplants are used in moussaka and baba ghanoush, two dishes I also love.

Some recipes call for you to salt the eggplant and let it sit for an hour (!!) to draw out bitter juices before cooking it. This is an extra step, I never do because 1. no one needs more salt in their diet and 2. it’s a pain in the butt, who has time for that?! Also, newer varieties of eggplant are less bitter than they used to be and if you buy smaller eggplants they likely won’t be bitter at all. I have never noticed a bitter taste either way, so don’t waste your time!

I always challenge people to try out new vegetables. I hear a lot of parents say “my kids don’t like vegetables” … once I do a little digging, I found out that they are being offered plain steamed broccoli or raw veggie sticks! These are great options, but won’t peak any child’s interest (unless you’re lucky!). So, I love to have recipes like this one (or this one) on hand to show parents that if you put a little effort into it kids will love vegetables just as much as me (…well that might be a stretch, but you get the idea).

Be creative, have fun in the kitchen and stop focusing all your time and effort on that meat dish. Spice up those veggies to make them the star of your meal, your heart (and your waist) will be very appreciative!

Enjoy! :)


Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 4


  • 1 large eggplant (I used a longer skinnier one, but fatter one work too)
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 large egg whites)
  • 5 wasa or ryvita crispbreads; ground to a breadcrumb-like consistency in the blender (or crushed in a bag with a rolling pin), crush more as needed
  • 1 cup canned tomato sauce w/ Italian flavoring
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (as you can see I just used whatever cheese I had)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, etc.)


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice ends off of eggplant, and cut it lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips. Use a paper towel to blot eggplant slices on both sides (to remove excess moisture). Grease a large baking pan. Season crumbs with garlic powder, salt, pepper and additional Italian seasonings to taste. Coat eggplant slices on both sides — first with egg whites, and then with the seasoned crumbs.
  • Place slices flat on the baking pan, and cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Then, flip slices over and bake until browned on both sides (about 10 minutes longer). Remove pan from oven, but leave oven on.
  • Spread 1/4 cup of sauce over the bottom of an 8″ X 8″ baking dish sprayed lightly with nonstick spray. Arrange half of the baked eggplant slices evenly over the sauce. Continue to layer ingredients evenly in this order: sauce (1/4 cup), mozzarella and parm  (half of each), sauce (1/4 cup), eggplant (remaining slices), sauce (1/4 cup), and cheeses (remaining amounts). Cover dish with foil and return to the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until heated throughout. Allow to cool slightly, and then cut into quarters.

**note: using the crisp breads is an easy way to make high fiber, tasty breadcrumbs, but traditional bread crumbs can be used instead

Orange Glazed Beets



Beets, beets the magical root the more you eat the more you ______??

Hmm couldn’t think of an ending for that one… but I tried! ;)

Pickled, roasted, raw, shredded, steamed, juiced or boiled these colorful roots are my favorite! I can’t get enough of them. Choose small to medium beets with smooth skins. If the greens are still attached (yeah!!) they are delicious, make sure the leaves are still vibrant, fresh and not all wilted. If you are boiling beets try not to break the skin when washing them, leave the tail and a couple inches of the stem on to help avoid bleeding. Once they are cooked through and cooled a bit you should be able to slip the skins off fairly easily.

Gold Star nutrient: Vitamin A (166% DV in 1/2 cup boiled)

Orange Glazed Beets

1 pound beets
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons AP flour
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tsp grated orange zest
nutmeg, salt and pepper
1. Wash beets with 2 inches of the stem and tail still attached. Boil gently, covered, until tender about 45 min (or 1 hour or more for old beets)
2. Cool them slightly, slip off the skins and slice beets
3. While the beets are cooking prepare the orange glaze. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan, whisk in the flour until well blended and smooth (about 1.5 min- this is called a roux! :) ). Slowly add the water and juice while whisking, whisk constantly to prevent lumps, continue cooking until sauce is smooth, thickened, and hot about 2 minutes. Add sugar and zest, and season with a sprinkle of nutmeg, salt and pepper
4. Pour the sauce over the cooked beets and serve hot.

Jicama Salad


Jicama (pronounced HIK-ka-ma) is what I like to call a Mexican potato (with half the calories and more than twice the fiber of a potato with skin). It is a crisp, sweet tuber that has been cultivated in South America for centuries, and is popular in Mexican dishes. It can be eaten raw or cooked. I love it raw chopped up into matchsticks and sprinkled with a little cayenne and lime juice. I have also shredded it before and used it to make hashbrowns, sauteed with garlic, onion, tex-mex seasoning and olive oil. They where delicious. It stays slightly crunchy and absorbs all the flavors beautifully.


Also known as yam bean, jicama can be stored in a cool, dry, dark place for a few weeks. Choose ones smaller than about two fists as they get more tough and fibrous when they get that large. Jicama can be used to replace waterchest nuts in recipes, just add at the end of cooking. They are also great to use in a slaw, and perfect for stirfrys as they add a nice crunchy texture.

Quick word of warning the peel and other plant parts contain rotenene, an organic poison and should be discarded. But the white flesh is perfectly safe for children and adults.

This jicama salad is another one of my favorite ways to enjoy this awesome vegetable. Looking for something else to add to your xmas list? A mandoline makes this salad a breeze. Enjoy!

photo 4

Jicama Salad

Yield: Serves 4.

Modified from simply recipes

-1 large jicama (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, then julienned or cubed (easiest to work with if you cut the jicama in half first)
-1/2 red bell pepper,  diced
-1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
-1/2 green bell pepper, diced
-1/2 cup chopped red onion
-1/2 a large cucumber, seeded, chopped
-2 navel oranges, peel cut away, sliced crosswise, then each round quartered (reserve any juices)
-1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
-1/2 avocado chopped
-1/3 cup lime juice
-2-3 Tbsp olive oil
-2-3 tbsp honey
-Pinch of cayenne
-Pinch of paprika

1 Toss together the jicama, bell peppers, red onion, cucumber, orange, avocado and cilantro in a large serving bowl. Whisk together lime juice, olive oil, honey and any orange juices and pour over salad. Sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne and paprika. Season with salt. Toss.

2 Let sit a half an hour before serving.

Zucchini Fries



Lets go back three months and pretend its the beginning of august: the sun in shining, it’s a perfect 26 degrees outside, we’re biking the seawall and sipping iced coffee. Now wouldn’t that be nice? Well, that’s what I was doing  when I should have posted this — but who can blame me?

I was also a little preoccupied cooking for 70 kids, staff and volunteers at the Vancouver School Boards Healthy Eaters and Leaders summer camp everyday. The camp garden is where I took the picture above of all the zucchini, we had so many perfect ones until someone came and stole them all one night! How rude! Anyway, zucchinis aren’t exactly in season anymore, but they are still readily available and perfect for making zucchini fries!

Zucchini is a great source of antioxidants and vitamin C, and one raw cup comes in at only 18 calories. For the best flavor choose small ones with blemish free skin, and never peel zucchini or you will loose a lot of the nutrients. These fries are a great addition to any meal or great for a snack. They are easy to make and kids love them…especially if you give them a dipping sauce with it. Nothing is better than finger food you can dip! ;)

PS here is a special tip from my great auntie Joan: score the zucchini with a fork before slicing them and the coating will stick better!


Zucchini Fries
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 3 medium zucchini, remove ends, slice in half width wise and then into sticks (thick enough to not flop but not too thick - maybe a bit thinner than the ones pictures above is ideal)
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten
  • ½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp dried basil
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Marinara sauce (for dipping)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, beat egg whites with a fork until a little frothy.
  3. Put the breadcrumbs, basil, oregano, garlic powder and cheese on a plate. Mix well.
  4. Dip the zucchini sticks in the egg whites and then into the bread crumb mixture, make sure all sides get coated well. Place the sticks on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 425° for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and a little crispy. Turn over the fries half way through. Serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping.



- Formerly known as Apron Strings and Healthy Things -

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