Spicy Blueberry Mango Salsa In 3 Delicious Ways #BCBlueberries

A summertime family tradition of blueberry picking is a favourite among many B.C. residents – and it’s no wonder since our province is practically bursting with blueberries right now! Foodies all over social media are talking about these sweet balls of antioxidants and asking each other: What’s your favourite way to eat BC blueberries? Today I’m sharing a quick and easy Blueberry Mango Salsa (with a kick!) that is perfect for that summer BBQ. You don’t have to worry about calorie content the way you might with other party foods; BC blueberries are low in calories and high in Vitamins A, C and E. Add a cup of these berries to your diet every day and stave off or treat diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease!

 

BC blueberries, spicy blueberry mango salsa, blueberries, mangoes, fresh summer salsa, healthy eating, wellness

Ramadan Preparation: Tips For Fasting Plus Thinking Beyond ‘The Fast’

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a time when many Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. In addition to the fast, it is a month where spiritual growth, charity and community are at the forefront. As an advocate for interfaith dialogue and multicultural connections, I must say this month is also an opportunity for building bridges! If you know a Muslim who observes the fast, don’t hesitate to start a respectful conversation about it. You may even find yourself invited to an Iftar meal. But be prepared for a late dinner; this year, Ramadan falls mostly in June which means a 16-18 hour/day fast for Canadian Muslims! To support observers of the fast, Real Canadian Superstore® and No Frills® are offering some hydration and energy-conservation solutions. With their low prices, they are truly your one-stop shops for all your Ramadan grocery needs!

Salima Jivraj, Halal Foodie expert and observer of Ramadan, has these suggestions:

Stay hydrated. During the Suhoor and Iftar meals, it’s important to drink as much water as possible to keep your body hydrated. During the Suhoor meal, you can also eat salads that have a high water content, like a cucumber or tomato salad that will keep you feeling refreshed throughout the day.

Protein and fibre in the morning. During the Suhoor meal, it’s important to consume foods that are high in fibre, since this keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time. This includes whole grains, oats, beans and lentils. One of our family favourites is a chicken curry made using mixed lentils, Arz fava beans and chickpeas that you can find at the Real Canadian Superstore® with the rest of your groceries at super prices. Don’t forget the eggs during this meal to give you extra protein.

Don’t over-exert yourself. If you exercise, Jivraj recommends shortening the time to save energy and making up for it after your evening meal. She also says to consider exercising indoors on particularly hot and sunny days to avoid feeling dehydrated.

Include more fruits during Iftar. Although this meal happens after the workday is done, Jivraj stresses the importance of balancing your meals to avoid feeling bloated. Since it’s customary to break your fast with dates, she suggests consuming a fruit salad during this time as well. Try waiting a while before having the final heavier evening meal so as not to have an upset stomach.

Real Canadian Superstore® products like Sufra’s Zabeeha by Hand chicken can come in handy when you’re preparing Suhoor in a recipe like my mom’s chicken bhiryani (pictured below) or Salma’s chickpea and chicken daar.

chicken biryani, ramadan, superstore, zabeeha by hand, recipes, taslim jaffer

Giveaway – Win $5o gift cards for you and a friend!

I’m partnering with Real Canadian Superstore® and No Frills® to give you and a friend $50 each to spend in their stores! Head over to my Facebook page to enter. Contest runs Wednesday May 24 – Friday June 2, 2017.

Some thoughts from Dr. Saira Sabzaali about the spiritual journey of fasting

I am really interested in the spiritual aspect of Ramadan so I had a conversation with my friend, Dr. Saira Sabzaali (transpersonal psychotherapist and scholar of Islam) about the esoteric journey of the holy month. She told me that she looks at the fast as a reminder of a spiritual opportunity, where the effort is in letting the soul be more present than the ego. In other words, it’s a time when she uses her ‘hangry-ness’ as kind of a test of character. As she moves through each day during the fast, she asks herself, “Despite feeling irritable, can I still be kind? Can I still be patient with others? Is it possible to not let my hunger dictate my behaviour? Can I remember that I am more than just my body?” I wanted to share this with you because I think it’s important to consider the big picture of this practice. This also helps bridge the gap between people; whether someone observes the fast or not, most of us can relate to a spiritual test or a trying situation in which we have to dig deep to thrive on the other side.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

 

This post was sponsored by Real Canadian Superstore® and No Frills®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recipe: Easy And Delicious Pad Thai

My husband cooks the way he does pretty much everything in life: with enthusiasm, attention to detail, and a drive for awesomeness. Watching him put a dish together, like this pad Thai, is really fun because I get to witness this interesting dance between his perfectionistic chopping of the garnish and his spontaneity with measurements and ingredients.

He’s the kind of guy who will walk through the grocery store with a crazed look in his eyes as he formulates his next creation in his head and gets inspired by the produce in front of him. It’s rather unfortunate that he’s also the guy who works very full days at the office and slides into home base when dinner is served. But weekends are a different story; this is a quick dish for him to throw together on a Friday or Saturday night.

This recipe is adapted from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook. If you have ever been to Victoria, B.C. you have either eaten at or heard of the vegetarian restaurant, Rebar, which gives us this cookbook. (Add it to your list of places to eat. And if you’re still hungry, check out 5 other delicious things to eat in Victoria).

Here’s what you need:

1- 454 g package of rice noodles

1- 454 g block of extra-firm tofu

2-3 large carrots, cut into 2-inch sticks

2 tbsp coconut oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

juice of 1 lime

cilantro and green onion, chopped for garnish (use however much you want – we like a lot)

1 heaping tsp ground cumin

for the sauce:

just under 1/2 cup of soy sauce (we use Braggs soy aminos – you might be able to use coconut aminos…haven’t tried that yet!)

just under 1/2 cup water

1/3 cup honey

just over 1/4 cup ketchup

1 tbsp sambal oelek (optional – we leave it out of the cooking, but keep it at the table for those who want some heat)

other vegetables that go well – use a combo and mix it up every time for a different meal:

snow peas, bean sprouts, red pepper, baby corn

Some of the ingredients, but not all. Because, unlike my husband, details are not my forte.

Here’s what you do:

1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat off, add the noodles and cover for about 5 minutes.

2. While Step 1 is going on, cube the block of tofu and throw in a wok with coconut oil. Sprinkle with cumin and fry on med-high until crispy and golden. Set aside.

This is the lid from the noodles pot. Saves a dish!

3. Drain noodles in a colander. Set aside.

4. Add some more coconut oil to the wok if needed. Add garlic. When the garlic starts browning, add carrots. Cook on med-high until carrots soften.

5. While Step 4 is going on, make the sauce by whisking together soy sauce, water, ketchup, honey and sambal oelek in a small bowl.

6.  Once the carrots are cooked, add noodles and 3/4 of the sauce and stir until well mixed. Add tofu.

7. Whisk the remainder of the sauce again. That way, if there is any honey left at the bottom of the bowl it gets incorporated into the sauce. (This is an example of a ‘Nadir nugget’ – my name for the pearls of wisdom he likes to offer…haha!)

It's better to have too much sauce than too little, in my opinion.

8. Add remainder of the sauce and lime juice. Stir until everything is coated.

9. Add garnish and serve.

We normally enjoy pad Thai on its own as a main dish, but have also served it beside a Thai-flavoured chicken. You can also make this non-vegetarian by adding cubed chicken breast, shrimp or ground beef.

 

Recipe: The Best Zucchini Loaf Ever (And It’s Vegan!)

Vegan and non-vegan foodies alike, rejoice! Here’s the perfect zucchini loaf for lunches, after-school snacks, simple breakfast options or a dessert you can feel good about serving the family. (I’m not going to say ‘Serve warm with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream’ because you already thought of that, didn’t you?)

I basically took a recipe I found on the internet that turned out way too sweet (it had 2 cups of brown sugar!) which basically killed my efforts of baking up a healthy treat. So I got a little creative and came up with a recipe that, even the kids agreed, is much better on the conscience and the palate.

The Best (Vegan) Zucchini Loaf Ever – makes 2 loaves

Here’s what you need:

6 tbsp ground flax seeds

1/2 c warm water

1 cup coconut sugar

1 cup applesauce (just boil some peeled, cubed apples and mash)

1/2 cup grapeseed oil

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups zucchini, grated

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup amaranth flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp nutmeg (optional)

1 tsp salt

** You can add 1 cup of chocolate chips or 1 cup of raisins if you like

Here’s what you do:

  1. Grease two loaf pans and preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix together ground flax seeds and warm water in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Add sugar, oil, applesauce and vanilla; mix well.
  4. Add grated zucchini; stir till combined.
  5. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
  6. Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in your chocolate chips or raisins, if using.
  7. Divide batter evenly between two pans.
  8. Bake at 350F for 50-55 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before cutting.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

My First Cooking Demo On Facebook Live – And Why I Did It

I never would have done it before. I never would have turned the camera on myself, unrehearsed, and cooked in my kitchen for anyone to see. I never would have gotten my daughter involved without instruction or practice. I never would have said, albeit nervously, “Let’s just do this.” But I did.

Last Thursday, I cooked a very simple recipe while friends chimed in on live stream, passing the camera back and forth between myself and my daughter (without her, I really couldn’t have done it – some of the steps required two hands!). And it was a lot of fun!

And that was my primary reason for doing it. After declaring 2017 the Year of Fun, I had to figure out what exactly that meant. It basically boils down to being who I am, enjoying the things that are fun for me, and not shying away from sharing those parts of me with others. (I admit I have an ulterior motive with that – I’m hoping to inspire you to do the same). It was so liberating to just try it. I mean, anything could have gone ‘wrong’. I could have dropped my phone in the wok! Or, totally flubbed what I was trying to say. I could have burned the tofu. A lot can happen when I multi-task, believe me. And multi-tasking live is a whole ‘nother level of letting go of perfection.

It was fun to engage with my friends who participated, and I particularly liked the comment from my friend Rish who said it was like being in my kitchen with me. YES! That is exactly the feel I was going for. As much as I’d like to appear polished, the truth is, most times, I’m not. I’m kind of that hot mess mom and I’m really starting to love myself anyway.

And through all this, my daughter and I ended up creating a special memory together; we have plans to do more live cooking demos, sharing more intricate recipes and the stories behind them, but most importantly we plan to just have a lot of fun being ourselves. I didn’t actually anticipate that part but I now see it ended up being a great way to model authenticity.

I don’t know where I’ll go with it. That’s the other thing – I don’t have a strategy with this. Am I going to do them weekly? Sporadically? I guess we’ll find out.

If you’re struggling with the same fears or insecurities or anxiety about needing to do things perfectly, I encourage you strongly to let that go. Take a leap and move forward even if you don’t have it all figured out. I always imagine myself 90-something years old on my deathbed, looking back on my life and I ask myself, what choice would I wish I had made. I know that the people who will surround me in that bed, or who will be there in my heart, will also be happy if I live my most creative, authentic life.

So here’s the video!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

6 Delicious Blueberry Recipes You Can’t Scroll Past #BCBlueberries

I was only going to round-up 3 great recipes and make this a #3ThingsThursday post, but trying to select from a slew of mouth-watering ways to get berries in my belly was too difficult a task.

Recently, some of my fellow bloggers and I had a really fun U-pick experience at Didar Berry Farm in Delta, BC, organized by BC Blueberries. It was a great time and we all came away with buckets of the good stuff. I learned a lot, too, about how these low-calorie, little antioxidant balls are packed with Vitamins A, C and E, and dietary fibre. (Just ask any parent who has changed the diaper of a toddler who just ate a bowlful of blueberries). I was blown away that 1 cup of blueberries a day helps ward off and treat diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

I’m just going to come out and say I am not really a fruit fan. I tell my kids, “Fruits and vegetables are Nature’s candy!” and the rule in the house is, if you want a snack, grab a fruit first. I don’t follow that rule but so far only my husband has caught on. However, I will eat blueberries by the handful. They are like little bursts of joy for me.

Aside from eating them on their own, there are so many other ways to add nutrition by way of blueberries, and some of my fellow bloggers have shared their favourite recipes. So, without further ado, here are some I think you’ll want to try!

Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze ~ Being Tazim

blueberry scones, lemon glaze, blueberry and lemon, being tazim, bc blueberries, south asian bloggers network

 

Blueberry Smoothie with Coconut Milk Yogurt ~ Being Tazim

blueberries, blueberry, blueberry smoothie, smoothie recipes, coconut milk, yoghurt, yogurt

 

Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Cake ~ Footnotes & Finds

blueberry oatmeal, blueberries, blueberry, oatmeal, breakfast ideas, breakfast cake, breakfast, cake, footnotes and finds

 

Blueberry Raspberry Sauce ~ The Primal Desire

blueberry, blueberries, raspberry, raspberries, sauces for chicken, pork, ice cream,

 

Blueberry Jam-Filled Idli ~ Pink Chai Living

blueberry, blueberries, idli, jam, pink chai living
Photo Credit: Aziz Dhamani Photography

 

Frozen Yogurt-Covered Blueberry Drops ~ The Write Balance

frozen yogurt, blueberries, blueberry, frozen blueberries, healthy snacks, the write balance

 

Hope your summer is yummy! Thanks for stopping by!
taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Recipe: Chicken Bhiryani #CookLikeNasim

One of the first dishes that comes to mind when I think of my mom’s cooking is chicken bhiryani. She made this for company a lot and often served it with sev and papadum, followed by a faluda dessert. There are regional variations on bhiryani; this one is heavy on the ‘gravy’ which I love. I was surprised to discover how easy it is to make! It’s funny how much more complicated we can think something is until we roll up our sleeves and try it.

If you are looking for something to ‘wow’ your company, you need to try this easy recipe!

Chicken Bhiryani (serves 8 people)

Here’s what you need:

21 pieces of chicken (I used skinless legs and boneless, skinless thighs)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

750 g plain yogurt (about 3 cups)

3 cloves garlic, crushed

3 heaping tablespoons tomato paste

3 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp crushed green chillies (or more if you want it more spicy)

fistful of cilantro, chopped (you can include stems – cilantro is an awesome herb like that!)

2 tsp salt

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice

a few strands of saffron

1 1/2 cups of fried onion (can buy this ready-made in the Indian section of your grocery store)

4 medium potatotes, chopped

2 tsp garam masala

Here’s what you do:

1. Add oil to a large pot. Turn heat up to med-high.

2. Add chicken, garlic, lemon juice, yogurt, salt, tomato paste, tomatoes, cilantro, chillies and saffron. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to let it simmer.

3. Add chopped potatoes to a microwaveable dish. Toss them in a little oil. Microwave on high for 8-10 minutes until soft. (Option: You can fry the potatoes separately instead)

4. When the chicken is cooked, add the fried onions and potatoes.

5. Add garam masala.

At fist, you will see that the masala is really liquidy. Like this:

But it really thickens up, and by the time you add the fried onions, potatoes and garam masala, it looks like this:

Serve on rice. (I use brown basmati). For this quantity of masala, I used 2 1/2 cups of rice.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Roasted Garlic & Herb Pitas

Dug up this recipe from my collection of ripped-out magazine pages while looking for a new appetizer to serve at our annual Navroz gathering last weekend. The words roasted and garlic go so well together, and they caught my eye as I flipped through the pages. I loved that the ingredients were fresh, nutritious and real and that it was easy enough to twist into my own creation. That I did. And here was the result:

Roasted Garlic & Herb Pitas – makes 4 pitas

Here’s what you need:

24 cloves garlic, roasted

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup parsley, finely chopped

1/4 tomato, chopped

1 tsp salt

Here’s what you do:

To roast the garlic, peel and separate the cloves and toss them in a little olive oil so they are just coated. Cook them on a baking tray in a 300F oven for at least 15 minutes (I kept them in for 20 so they were nice and soft and brown).

In a bowl, mash the roasted garlic as much as you can with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue mashing. Throw everything into the blender to help get a creamy consistency. Spread on toasted pitas. Cut the pitas into 4’s to make them the perfect stuff-your-mouth size.

And there you go! As my son would say: easy-peasy, lemon squeezy!

You can pretty much spread these on any bread! Because the garlic is roasted, it’s actually not as pungent but still has all the immune-boosting benefits. The greens add some chlorophyll and vitamin C to the mix, and if you throw in other herbs like oregano and basil, you’d only increase those good things.

If you have a simple, nutritious appetizer recipe that I must try, leave it in the comments!

 

Recipe: Nasim’s Nankhatai (With Smarties!) #CookLikeNasim

This past Saturday marked the 6 year anniversary of my mom’s passing. The anniversary day isn’t usually too different from the other days of the year; I miss her at any given time. But this one hit me hard. Perhaps it was because it landed on a Saturday and the day before daylight savings time ended, just like the year she actually died. Who knows? It was definitely a mixed bag of emotions kind of weekend, but it ended on a lovely note with my dad, stepmom, brother, hubs, kids and I sharing a meal…and these nankhatai.

My mom was pretty famous for these ‘Indian shortbread’ as Gujarati people like to describe it to non-Indian people. The authentic versions are different from this one, so if you want the history and other recipes, you should definitely hit up the Google gods. But this recipe takes me back to my mom’s kitchen.

“You should start your own nankhatai business…Nasim’s Nankhatai!” I would say, excitedly. “I’ll design a brochure and we can start telling people you make these to order! How much would you sell these for?”

She’d laugh and tell me I was crazy.

I’ve made a few batches over the last couple months. Sent them to my kids’ classes for special occasions. They’re basically like a cookie with a Smartie; you can’t really go wrong in terms of pleasing children. These are also the ultimate chai-dipper! So, don’t think they are reserved for the kidlets only. Grab a few for yourself!

Every time I make them, snippets of memories enter my mind: my mom inviting friends or family over after prayers were done, then racing home to whip up a batch of these babies. Or my mom preparing ice cream buckets full for travelling family members, including myself. (Once, in college, my friend Rozeela and I survived on these for 4 days in Hawaii – saved us a tonne of money!) Her hands would whip around with just the right speed and pressure to form perfect balls before placing them on the sheet. My job was always to add the Smarties, eating all the deformed candy while going through the packet.

So, today, with another anniversary behind me, I am proud to share with you the recipe that will bring my mom back to you, if you ever had the pleasure to enjoy these with her.

Nasim’s Nankhatai – makes 24

Here’s what you need:

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 lb butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup sooji (cream of wheat or wheatlets)

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

a few drops of vanilla

* I highly recommend adding 1/4 tsp (or more, to taste) of ground cardamom. My mom did not use it in her recipe, but it’s my favourite spice, and definitely makes this ‘cookie’ more Indian!

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat oven to 250F. (Not a typo, it’s really 250!)

2. Cream together the butter, sugar and egg.

3. Add vanilla, stir until mixed.

4. Add flour and baking powder (and cardamom) and mix well.

5. Add sooji. Mix together – you can use your hand near the end to incorporate it all well.

Sooji, also known as cream of wheat or wheatlets.
Sooji, also known as cream of wheat or wheatlets.
Photo Credit: Inaya, age 7, aka Mama's helper, extraordinaire.
Photo Credit: Inaya, age 7, aka Mama’s helper, extraordinaire.

6. Form medium sized balls and place onto greased cookie sheet. Press one Smartie in the centre of each nankhatai.

Photo Credit: Inaya again - thank God she came down from her bed with another excuse to not sleep. I was able to put her to work!
Photo Credit: Inaya again – thank God she came down from her bed with another excuse to not sleep. I was able to put her to work!

7. Bake for 1 hour.

Recipe: Coconut Hot Chocolate With A Hazelnut Twist

This hot chocolate is more rich and decadent than any I have tasted. It’s basically like taking a box of Purdy’s hedgehogs, melting them, and pouring them into a mug. Thick, creamy, hazelnutty, and definitely chocolatey, this is the perfect drink to wow your family or guests while winding down in front of the fire. The bonus is that it’s probably a healthier version than one you may be enjoying!

Adapted from a recipe found in Julie Daniluk’s Slimming Meals That Heal, here’s how I made it:

Ingredients:

3 cups coconut beverage (I used Coconut Dream – original flavour)

2 tablespoons hazelnut butter (I used HEAPING tablespoons – I love hazelnuts!)

1 tablespoon coconut oil (just solid at room temperature – you don’t have to melt it)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Warm up coconut beverage on the stove without boiling.

2. Add all the other ingredients to a blender, then pour in the coconut beverage. Blend.

3. Enjoy!

That’s it! Julie’s recipe has a couple more ingredients and suggestions for turning this into a superfoods celebration, so if you want to take the health benefits to the max, you’ll want to take a look at her actual recipe.

If you want to grab a copy of Julie’s book and try out her gluten-free, healthy alternatives to some of your favourites, click over to Amazon.ca via the pic below.

Let me know if you try this or made any modifications! Bottoms up!

 

 

Disclosure: The link to Julie’s book is an affiliate link. If you choose to make a purchase through it, I receive a small cut. Thank you for supporting my work!