Guacamole

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Since moving to Southern Ontario and really getting into the tourism and restaurant industry, I have celebrated this “holiday” with excitement, because I love Mexican food and drink of all kinds. I actually have no vested interest in the day other than to celebrate the cuisine.

Cinco de Mayo isn’t really a big deal in Mexico tbh. The anniversary signifies victory by Mexico over France in the Battle of Pueblo, which was more of a symbolic win vs a strategic war victory. Today in Mexico, May 5th is mainly celebrated in the state of Pueblo, where the triumph occurred.

However, the holiday is widely celebrated in the United States, especially in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Los Angelos, Chicago and Houston host large festivals honouring Mexican culture with parades, music, dancing and, of course, all of the delicious food, including tacos and mole. The tradition eventually made it’s way north of the border to Canada, mostly on the backs of American chain restaurants that featured Cinco de Mayo food and drink specials to get people out to try something new.

Today I will celebrate with a Margarita in one hand and a taco in the other (well, more likely a taco bowl and a fork but we shall see what the day brings), and no taco is complete without guacamole.

My guac recipe borders on traditional, but omits cilantro (I prefer it as a garnish vs throughout the dip) and the jalapenos, again because I prefer those as a garnish. I also add a wee bit of garlic to mine, as I find it really compliments the flavours well without overpowering them. This dip is also an opportunity for you to #snacksmarter by avoiding processed dips that almost always contain inflammatory refined vegetable and seed oils and unnecessary additives and preservatives.

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Guacamole

2 avocados, flesh removed and smashed with a fork

1 clove of garlic, finely diced or grated on a Microplane

2 tsp sea salt

Juice of 1 lime

6 grape tomatoes, cut in half and each half cut in 6

1/4 of a medium red onion, finely diced

Smash the avocados until a bit smooth and a bit chunky. Add garlic, 1 tsp of salt, and the juice from half the lime. Mix thoroughly with a fork. Add the grape tomatoes and the onion, making sure to separate the onion as you drop it in. Mix with a fork until tomato and onion can be seen throughout. Add the remaining lime juice to the top of the dip, and then sprinkle on the remaining salt. You can adjust the salt to taste, but I like my guac salty, so it makes me thirsty for a margarita 😉

Serve immediately with bell peppers or flax chips for dipping, on your favourite taco or bowl, as a spread on crackers or sandwiches, or as a topper for fish or chicken. This dip, unfortunately, due to the quick browning nature of avocados, does not keep well in the fridge. However, you can freeze for later use, and it actually works out just fine.

Avocados are high in healthy fats and are high in B Vitamins, Vitamin E and Omega-3 fats, and are a great addition to any food lifestyle you may be following. This dip is also another option to #snacksmarter.

 

 

Winter Vegetable Soup

Full of vitamins, iron and calcium, this soup helps you fight the winter germs and fills you up
Full of vitamins, iron and calcium, this soup helps you fight the winter germs and fills you up

I also call this soup “Don’t Get Sick” Soup, because it kicks ass at keeping you healthy when everyone else has a brutal cold. In fact, the veggies in the soup are all extremely high in either Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, or Iron (or a combination of all of them). This soup is also great for vegans and vegetarians who have a difficult time getting Iron, Calcium, and Vitamin A from animal sources. Sometimes I even add chili flakes to the soup when I add the oregano to get that nose running and to rev up my metabolism.

But aside from all of that good-for-you awesomeness, my Winter Vegetable Soup is delicious comfort food that will keep you warm all winter long, and is really easy to make. The beans add a bit of creaminess to the soup, and the richness pairs perfectly with a bold glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ingredients

2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, smashed and coarsly chopped

1 medium cooking onion, diced

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 can of navy beans, drained and rinsed

1 medium zucchini, chopped

4 cups (half bunch) of kale, leaves only, broken into small pieces

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 can (794g) of whole tomatoes + 1 can of water

1 carton (900ml) vegetable stock

fresh ground salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in Dutch Oven or large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add carrots, celery and beans, season with salt and pepper, add oregano, and cook for 5 minutes, until vegetables are soft.  Add zucchini and kale and cook until kale has reduced, 3 minutes.

Add juice from tomato can, then add each tomato in the can one at a time, squeezing in your hand to break apart, throwing out the greenish, hard core of each one. Rinse the can with water and add that water to the pot. Add the vegetable stock, and bring everything to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.

imageLadle into bowls, serve, and enjoy! Keep soup up to one week in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer in a tightely sealed mason jar.

 

Note: I always try to buy organic everything because I like to avoid chemicals entering my body as much as possible. Buying whole tomatoes in a can means they have only been processed once, unlike diced or crushed tomatoes which are processed twice or more. This way they maintain more of their nutrients, and we always want more nutrients.