Vegetable Marrow

Lizzie Homemaker Vegetable Marrow hand artistic beautiful
Vegetable Marrow

I recently came across vegetable marrow at the grocery store.  It’s a summer squash that’s similar to zucchini.  It can grow large but is most tender when small.  Native to North America, I was surprised that we had never crossed paths before.  When I polled friends, very few of them had heard of it either.

Cousin to the courgette, this low-calorie, high fibre veg has many health benefits.  It contains high levels of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and iron.  Including it in your diet helps lower cholesterol, improves energy, circulation, gastrointestinal flow, and it also helps maintain weight.  It reduces the risk of anemia, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Veggie Marrow is in season August and September. The smaller the marrow, the more nutritious and flavourful it can be.

 

Not sure what to make with this vegetable – try these delicious vegetable marrow fritters.  They satisfy.

Salt Dough Ornaments

salt dough ornaments lizzie homemaker
The salt dough ornaments are left to dry after acrylic paint and glitter glue are applied.

We make homemade salt dough ornaments every Christmas.  It’s a lovely tradition that we look forward to every year.

If you have never made them and want to, it is incredibly easy.  Simply mix 2 cups of flour with 1 cup of salt, then mix in 1 cup of warm water. Roll out dough, cut out shapes, poke a hole in the top with a straw, then bake at the lowest temperature that your oven allows until the dough is completely dry. This can take several hours depending on the temperature and the thickness of the dough. Allow the ornaments to completely cool, paint, and add glitter glue if inclined. Lastly, thread a ribbon or string through the hole and tie for hanging.  Done!

ballerina salt dough ornament lizzie homemaker
Lizzie Homemaker’s five-year-old daughter making a ballerina salt dough ornament.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup warm water

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl combine flour and salt.
  2. Add water and mix together.
  3. Remove dough from bowl and place on counter, shape into ball, and knead with your hands until it’s thoroughly combined.
  4. With rolling pin, roll out dough.
  5. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes.  Using a straw, poke a hole in the top of the cut out.  Continue to combine dough scraps into a ball and re-roll out until dough until dough is used up.
  6. Bake ornaments at the lowest oven temperature that your oven allows until the ornaments are completely dry.  This usually takes about 2-3 hours depending on the temperature of your oven and the thickness of the dough.  Allow to cool completely.
  7. Paint – we use acrylic paints.  Add glitter glue (if desired).  Allow to dry.
  8. Thread a ribbon or string through hole and tie for hanging.

The ornaments puff up at higher temperatures which is why I recommend the lowest temperature possible.  My old oven could be set to 200 F but my new one only goes as low as 250 F.  A dehydrator can also be used and gives very consistent results.

Vegan Collard Greens

healthy vegan collard greens
Lizzie Homemaker’s healthier take on collards keeps the classic smokey flavour intact.

We love collard greens.  We adore them.  We can’t get enough of them.  BUT we’re trying to eat healthier and we also have friends and family that are vegan.  I switched up my traditional collards recipe with pleasing results.  The key was keeping that lovely smokey flavour in the recipe that a ham hock or bacon can provide.  Adding a little liquid hickory smoke did the trick.

Vegan Collard Greens

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup veggie stock
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp liquid hickory smoke
  • pinch of red chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 large bunch of collard greens, remove coarse stems and slice

Directions

  1. Add oil to a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot.  Add onions and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or so until browned and softened.
  2. Add vinegar, stock, sugar, liquid smoke, and chili flakes (if using), bring to a simmer.
  3. Add collard greens, tossing until wilted (I use tongs to toss)
  4.  Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

If you have never bought liquid smoke – it’s near the barbecue sauces at the grocery store.  Be warned if you start experimenting with it – a little goes a long way.

Shrimp and Soba Noodle Soup

I love soup.  It is probably the ultimate comfort food.  And often when I am sick or fatigued it is exactly what I want to eat.  On those days I also don’t want to put much effort into cooking.

For this soup you simply toss aromatics into a pot of broth, simmer, cook the add-ins in the broth, garnish, and dig in.

easy faux pho soup by lizziehomemaker asian inspired soba noodles shrimp
This soup is pure comfort food and requires little effort.

Shrimp and Soba Noodle Soup

  • Servings: 2 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For the broth base

  • 2 quarts (8 cups) stock (vegetable, fish, or chicken)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced or finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced or finely diced
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (optional)

Add-ins

  • 160 grams soba noodles (2/3 of a pack)
  • 16 raw shrimp, peeled, tail-on
  • 1/2 cup peas (frozen work fine here)
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach

Garnish

  • green onion
  • fresh chives
  • sesame oil
  • black pepper
  • chili peppers (optional)

Directions

  1. Add all the ingredients for the broth base to a stock pot, bring to a boil, then lower heat and gently simmer for 10 minutes or so.  The longer you simmer, the stronger the flavour.
  2. Add soba noodles and bring back to a boil, simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp and peas, simmer for 3 minutes.
  4. Add baby spinach, cook until wilted and noodles and shrimp are cooked through, approx a minute more.
  5. Add garnishes.

This recipe can easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock, omitting the oyster sauce, and omitting the shrimp or replacing it with tofu.

Pear Chia Jam

Lizzie Homemaker breakfast of overnight chia oats topped with a homemade pear chia jam blackberries dried blueberries Newfound Pure wild blueberry powder hemp hearts cacao nibs bee pollen
Overnight chia oats with a hodgepodge of delicious toppings: pear chia jam, blackberries, dried blueberries, wild blueberry powder, hemp hearts, cacao nibs, and bee pollen.

I make a batch of fresh chia jam every week with seasonal fruit. It’s great for topping oatmeal, pancakes, or toast. This week I was able to get my hands on some lovely local pears.  Chia jams are insanely easy to make and so healthy.  Give it a try.

Lizzie Homemaker child fresh local Ontario pears fruit
Local Ontario pears in November! We had to scoop them up when we saw them.

Easy Pear Chia Jam

This fresh jam can be put together in less than 10 minutes. Then you simply pop it in the fridge and wait for it to thicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped pears (peeled, if you prefer a smoother texture)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)

Directions

Cook pears over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the fruit breaks down, mash, then add chia seeds, vanilla, and maple syrup (if using).  Refrigerate for several hours while the chia seeds plump up and thicken the jam.

This recipe can easily be doubled.  Store in fridge for 4 or 5 days or freeze.  Canning is not recommended.

 

Vegan Cream of Carrot and White Bean Soup

A bowl of vegan carrot soup and white bean soup garnished with chopped cashews and carrot tops by Lizzie Homemaker
A hearty vegan cream of carrot and white bean soup.

We picked up some lovely fresh carrots from our local farmers’ market.  It is amazing how much sweeter they are.  Using good carrots and garnishing this soup with some chopped cashews for crunch and fresh herbs really elevates this dish.

Cream of Carrot and White Bean Soup

  • Difficulty: easy
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Pair this hearty vegan soup with a green salad and some fresh bread for a lovely light dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of carrots, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cups cooked navy beans (or 2 cans of white beans)
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 quart (4 cups) veggie stock
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions

  1. Add olive oil to a dutch oven, add carrots and onion, cook for 5-10 minutes over medium-low heat until lightly browned.
  2. Add garlic and ginger cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil then lower heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove bay leaves and puree in blender.  Garnish with fresh herbs such as chives, parsley, or carrot tops and chopped cashews.

This soup can be made in advance and freezes well.

My Local Farmers’ Market

A bunch of fresh organic carrots from Lizzie Homemaker's local farmers' market
Cooking with local fresh organic carrots is ideal. The carrots are sweeter and the skins are left on which makes it faster to prepare and more nutritious.

Today was the last day of the season for my local farmers’ market.  I’m incredibly sad to see it shutter its doors and I feel like spring is an eternity away.

I love taking my kids to the market every Tuesday to try and get them excited about healthy food and to gain an appreciation for those that produce the food we eat.

My neighbourhood market has published the following mandate:

“The Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market mandate is to support and increase access to fresh, local, sustainable, naturally grown and certified organic agriculture.  To educate the community in the food they eat, the source from which it comes and how it is grown and/or prepared.  We like slow food, not fast food and eating at hearth and home with your loved ones”.    TBFM

How can I not be for this?  How can I not want to support this and visit every week?

I also appreciate that these vendors work very, very hard and offer fresh seasonal food that is so much better than what I can get at the grocery store and I am happy to see my money go directly to them.

artisanal cheese, gerkins, olives, baguette
Providence cheese from Monforte Dairy picked up at our local farmers’ market.

This year we bought a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) plan with Monforte Dairy, a lovely artisanal cheesemaker from Stratford.  We will receive a bundle of the most delicious cheese in December and they can count on that revenue.  I want to see businesses like this thrive.  They deserve to.

 

 

I just came across this TED talk.  I’m hoping that my kids will be just as passionate about how our food is produced as this 11-year-old.  Taking them to our farmers’ market is probably a good start.

 

A Strategy for Dealing with Too Much Halloween Candy

Lizzie Homemaker's 5 year old child making a witches brew with hydrangea and bubbly pink water to celebrate Halloween.
Lizzie Homemaker’s daughter making a witches brew.

Parents are often concerned with their children having too much Halloween candy.  The Switch Witch strategy is both a trick and a treat!

My 5-year-old daughter has a friend with Type 1 Diabetes.  He is incredibly sweet and seems to have accepted that he simply can’t have that piece of cake at a birthday party or that popsicle that some parent had kindly brought for the kids at the park.   He is so good-natured and so mature about this but sometimes I can’t help but think he must be disappointed or feel left out.  As much as Halloween is about dressing up in costumes and parading about – for my little ones it seems like the candy tops the list of reasons to celebrate this holiday.

I have always shelled out a mix of play dough and candy on Halloween in an effort to cut back on the candy a little.  I allow my kids to binge and then I reduce and hide the remaining candy in an attempt to make them eat less and/or forget about it.  I am hopeful they are left feeling satisfied with the outcome of the event.  But what if I had a kid with juvenile diabetes and he or she simply couldn’t have any candy?  It would suck.  Or would it?  When I saw the boy’s mother I asked “what are you going to do?”  Her answer “Switch Witch!”

The Switch Witch is brilliant!

My daughter and her friends are so excited about the idea of handing over their candy on Halloween!

The basic concept is that the Switch Witch will switch out or trade a child’s Halloween candy for a toy.  I know this could be negotiated with your child in a boring parental way but by incorporating the Switch Witch idea it keeps the holiday feeling a little more magical.  And for that kid with diabetes – he feels very, very special because it’s not fun for that kid (or any kid) to always have to choose responsibility over fun.  It’s so easy to use this concept and adapt it in whatever way best suits your family.

Tonight my daughter has said she wants to eat some candy tonight (some can mean anything) and then she wants to write a letter to the Switch Witch asking if she can switch her candy for a toy (not sure of what she’ll ask for).  She asked me if that was okay.  I said “YEEESSSSSSSSSSS!”  And then I did a somersault and a back flip (in my head).   It’s all about balance.

Happy Halloween!

 

Easy Plum Crisp

This fuss-free recipe has simple measurements, basic techniques and is extremely forgiving.

A quick and easy homemade plant-based plum crisp on antique plate with crossed stiched cloth napkin. Recipe by Lizzie Homemaker.
An easy and delicious plant-based plum crisp.

I love to bake with my kids and we do it often.  We picked up some lovely blue plums from a local fruit and veg stand and put together an easy plum oatmeal crisp.  I like to keep my recipes really simple when I can.  In this instance it couldn’t be any easier – it’s a great one to make with kids.

I set up shop on my kids’ little table to create a kid-friendly work space.  I sliced the plums down the center while my 3-year-old twins removed the pits.  Then they did a mix of eating the fresh plums and putting them in an oven proof vessel.  With this recipe the quantity of plums can be casual – whatever makes it in.  Then we made the topping.  We used one measuring cup, taking turns to scoop this and that into a mixing bowl, added a spoonful of cinnamon and a generous pinch salt, mixed and then mashed in some coconut oil.  You can use forks, a pastry blender, or your hands to do the mashing.  We placed the crumple mixture on top, popped it into the oven and celebrated 45 minutes later.  They loved this dessert.  It was an easy and relaxed one to make with them and they were so very proud of their accomplishment.

A toddler's hand patting down pitted blue plums in a white baking dish. Background is a floral tablecloth. Recipe from lizziehomemaker.com.
Making a plum crisp with my 3-year-old daughters was so easy and they absolutely loved it.

I am always trying to make my recipes healthier than the classics I grew up on.  This dessert is whole grain and coconut oil has replaced the butter.

RECIPE

Easy Plum Crisp

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of plums (more or less will work fine)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Slice plums in half, remove pits.
  3. Place plums in ovenproof dish.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients together.  Add the coconut oil to the dry mixture and use a pastry blender, fork or your hands (my preference), and simply mash the coconut oil into pea sized chunks.  This recipe is forgiving so don’t stress about getting it perfect.
  5. Top the plums with the crumble mixture.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes.

Health Canada recommends that at least half of your daily grains are whole grains.

Whole grains are a good source of fibre and are usually low in fat.  Fibre rich foods leave you feeling fuller and may also help reduce the risk of heart disease.