Vegetarian Zucchini Lasagna

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I never was a big fan of lasagna back in the day. Maybe that’s because I was terrified of the number of calories in just one slice. My husband, on the other hand, is obsessed! Unfortunately for him though he married a health nut that doesn’t make foods such as this. He loves it so much he would probably kiss you if you made him some. In fact, days before I delivered our son, Hutson my mother-in-law asked what we would like for her to make us to have in the fridge. To be honest, anything is better then trying to cook right after giving birth to a baby. Of course Chris shouted “LASAGNA” and his wish was granted.

This is a healthier and in my opinion yummier lasagna that you don’t have to feel bad about diving in for seconds – or at least I don’t.

The first thing you need to make is the “cheese” which I recommend you make ahead of time to ensure your not feeling overwhelmed trying to do everything all at once. I also recommend that you clean up as you go and get into a good habit of this. No one likes a messy cook.

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Lemon Almond Cheese
Ingredients:
2 cups soaked almonds
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp water
4 tbsp olive oil
1 freshly squeezed lemon
 
Directions:
Place the almonds in a bowl, cover with water and soak for 24 hours
Drain and rinse the almonds before removing their outer skin. Try pinching the almond and the almond skin will slip off
Place the almonds into the food processor along with the remaining ingredients
Process until a smooth texture like goat cheese. If too dry add more olive oil so it’s sticky and moist
Can store in fridge for up to 5 days

The next thing to do is make the pasta sauce. I am aware the name is strange but there’s a little meaning behind it. As you may have experienced as well, people tend to come up with some odd nicknames for you in grade school and this was mine. I was either Loch Ness Monster or if I got a little agitated about something friends would say Don’t Mess with Ness. I honestly never thought of it again until just now but I felt it would be fun to incorporate it because this sauce has a serious KICK! Now that I think of it my childhood nicknames made me sound like a scary person… This pasta sauce is something I created in college and make very regularly to this day. If it is something you enjoy as well I recommend making batches of it and freezing them to use when needed.

Spicy Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Don’t Mess with Ness Spicy Spaghetti Sauce
Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
½ large eggplant, diced or 1lb ground turkey
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
8-10 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
pinch red pepper flakes
1 tbsp dried or fresh oregano, minced
1 tbsp dried or fresh parsley, minced
½ tsp dried or fresh thyme, minced
1 cup fresh basil, torn in ½ or smaller
pinch salt and pepper
 
Directions:
In a large pan over low to medium heat add your olive oil, garlic and onion. Stir frequently and let cook until the onions are soft and caramelized in colour.
Stir in the peppers and let cook till almost soft.
Add the eggplant or turkey and continue to constantly stir until the eggplant or turkey is almost done cooking.
Pour in your tomatoes, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, parsley, thyme and salt and pepper. Stir.
Bring to a boil before reducing the heat to a low simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Once the tomatoes have broken down and all the ingredients are mixed together well remove from heat, add your basil, stir and ENJOY!
While your pasta sauce is simmering I suggest you cook your spinach and cut or slice your zucchini noodles. Once you are 100% ready to start layering your lasagna go ahead and set the over to 350°F. Now, it’s time to build this baby!

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Pour 1 cup or more if needed on the bottom of your dish

 
 
  
 

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Layer your zucchini strips overlapping one another ever so slightly so the sauce doesn’t seep through. If there are gaps around the edge of the dish fill them with little pieces of zucchini

 

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Separate your cheese into three portions. Apply your first portion evenly over your zucchini strips

 

 

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Separate your spinach into two portions. Apply your first portion evenly over your lasagna dish

 

 

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Add a thin layer of pasta sauce

 

 

 

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Layer your zucchini strips again

 

 

 

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Apply the second portion of cheese

 

 

 

DSC_1024Apply the rest of your cooked spinach

 

 

 

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Add your final thin layer of pasta sauce

 

 

 

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Finish with your third and last portion of cheese covering the top of your lasagna

 

 

This may seem time consuming but once you taste this mouthwatering, healthy, vegetarian WHAT?, spicy dish of goodness you will no longer care! Plus, you now have lunches for the next two days which is kinda awesome!

Vegetarian Zucchini Lasagna

Vegetarian Zucchini Lasagna

Ingredients:
Lemon Almond Cheese 
Don’t Mess with Ness Spicy Spaghetti Sauce 
5 to 8 zucchinis depending on size
4 cups spinach
 
Directions:
1) Make your Lemon Almond Cheese
2) Start making your large pot of Don’t Mess with Ness Spicy Spaghetti Sauce
3) While your letting your spaghetti sauce simmering for 10 minutes, get your spinach cooking in a small pan on low. Keep a close eye on this and once they are completely cooked take off the heat to let cool so its easier to handle later.
4) Slice your zucchini strips, a mandolin slicer works best. I unfortunately don’t have a slicer so I cut each slice as evenly as possible but you’ll want to use a slicer if you can for more even cooking and better presentation.  Slice or cut each noodle the same thickness as a lasagna noodle. Your not making these slices too thin or too thick so use a regular lasagna noodle as a reference if needed.
5) Now that your ready to start layering turn your over onto 350°F
6) Spread one cup or more if needed on the bottom of your lasagna dish. Layer your zucchini noodles, sprinkle 1/3 of your lemon almond cheese, evenly spread 1/2 of the spinach over the cheese and cover with a thin layer of spicy spaghetti sauce. Zucchini noodles again, second layer of cheese, the rest of your cooked spinach, thin layer of tomato sauce and the remainder of your cheese can now be spread overtop.
7) Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes. Check on your lasagna after 35 minutes to ensure your cheese is browning nicely and not burning. If your unsure if it’s cook just carefully poke the lasagna noodle to make sure they are soft. Remove from oven, cut very carefully and serve!
* There may be liquid in the dish but its just because zucchini contains a large quantity of water but not to worry!

Vegetarian Zucchini Lasagna

so good!
Thanks everyone
Let me know if your have any questions or conerns
Vanessa xox

Sweet Potato Brownies

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This is one sweet experience not only because it tastes oh so sweet but because it is made up of all natural and healthy ingredients you’ll LOVE! I have made others recipes before and never felt that it tasted enough like a brownie but instead tasted more like just the sweet potato. I wanted to make something that others would feel was a yummy dessert that just so happened to be healthy not a healthy dessert that wasn’t very yummy. Lets hope I did that for you.

sweet potato ingredients

I new exactly what was missing and so I quickly whipped up the recipe and just couldn’t wait to taste the finished product. Once out of the oven it needed to let it cool for at least 20 minutes and since the baby was napping and Chris was watching hockey it was the perfect time for me to take the puppy for a run.

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After an hour of running I felt that I definitely deserved a piece of brownie but someone had beat me to the punch. I wonder who it might have been…. HAHA

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I think its safe to say that Chris is a fan ;)

I love this recipe very much and hope you do as well. This isn’t your typical brownie but it is one you won’t feel guilty about having seconds. Or at least I didn’t!

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Ingredients:

2 medium sweet potatoes

15 dates

½cup alomond flour

7/16 cup chickpea flour, sifted (this is just under ½ cup)

½ cup cocoa powder

3 tbsp maple syrup

½ cup chopped walnuts (I only had almonds on hand but walnut work much better)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350C before peeling and chopping the sweet potatoes. Place in a steamer until completely soft.

Place sweet potato and unpitted dates into the food processor and blend till completely smooth.

Place all ingredients into a very large mixing bowl and made sure everything is well combined.

Line the bottom and sides of a baking tray with parchment paper.

Cook the brownies for 40 minutes or until your toothpick comes out clean. Mine took 47 minutes so make sure to always set your timer and keep a close watch.

Remove the brownies from the tray and let cool for about 20 minutes.

Cut up and DIVE IN!

Thanks everyone

Let me know if you have any questions

Vanessa xox

Spicy Avocado Smoothie

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With 4-month-old baby Hutson still waking up in the middle of the night for feedings I often walk around in the mornings looking like a zombie, no joke! I was tired of feeling so weighed down so I decided to put everything in my Vitamix that I thought would taste fabulous and give me the big boost of energy I so desperately desired. I had unfortunately put off going to my local farmers stand so our fridge was in great need of fruits and vegetables. I had half an avocado to work with and a can of Blue Monkey Pure Coconut Water that I purchased over a month ago and still hadn’t used. I added a few more items to the mixer along with some cayenne pepper to help spice up my morning. The avocado helped to make this a smooth and enjoyable smoothie that was filling, detoxifying and also energizing as well.

Spicy Avocado Smoothie - A Home is MadeIngredients:
½ avocado
1 to 1 ½ cups spinach
1 ripped banana
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup coconut water
2 to 3 small pinches cayenne pepper
2 tbsp black chai seeds
3 tbsp hemp seeds
5 ice cubes

Directions:
Combined all ingredients into your blender and blend until nice and smooth.
Drink right away while cold and fresh.
Detox Spicy Avocado Smoothie

Hope you enjoy!
Thanks everyone xoxo

Quinoa Granola

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I tend to be a worrywart and every time I go on one of my rampages about people making poor health choices in their lives my dad always says “It’s all good babe.” That little simple saying always makes me giggle and it means something to me that he never called me crazy. One day I was walking through Chapters when I noticed Gwyenth Paltrow’s newest cookbook It’s All Good and immediately I new I was going to love it. Oddly enough it was a cookbook myself, my mother and my sisters all became obsessed with. She shares wonderful recipes that are full of lean-protein-based options, dairy-free, gluten-free, weight conscious and packed with nutritious benefits and they are simple YAY! The vegan friendly, protein-packed, gluten-free quinoa granola is one of the easiest and most enjoyable granolas I have ever made. I usually have ¼ cup topped with fruit and covered in almond milk or sprinkle it on salads YUM!

Quinoa Granola - A Home is Made - Snack RecipeIngredients:

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup good-quality Maple Syrup
3 cups Quinoa Flakes
Pinch of Course Sea Salt
1 ¼ cups roughly chopped Raw Walnuts
1 ¼ cups roughly chopped Raw Pumpkin Seeds
¾ cup roughly chopped Dried Figs (discard stems)
¾ cup roughly chopped pitted or unpitted prunes

Instructions:

- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Whisk together maple syrup and extra virgin olive oil in a large bowl
- Add quinoa flakes and stir to combine thoroughly
- Lay parchment paper on a large baking sheet and make sure you have an inch of the parchment paper coming up the sides of the baking sheet as well
- Spread the quinoa mixer onto the baking sheet evenly
- Sprinkle your pinch of salt over mixer before adding to oven
- Let cook making sure to stir every 5 minutes so not to burn the edges
- Cook until golden brown in colour
- It says to cook up to 25 minutes but it only takes 18 minutes for me so make sure to keep a close eye on this
- Let the quinoa mixer sit to cool completely
- Add quinoa mixer to the rest of your roughly chopped ingredients (I like to keep my cuts a little larger)
- Store in a glass jar for up to 2 weeks

My Top 10 Breastfeeding Must Haves

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Breastfeeding can be a challenge in the beginning for us all but there are many ways you can make it more enjoyable for yourself and for baby. With time you will become a pro and your baby won’t hesitate to get “the good stuff”. Sit back, relax and enjoy being a breastfeeding mommy ♥

Thank you for watching.
Vanessa xoxo

Our Newborn’s Sleeping Arrangements

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This has been the sleeping arrangement for the first month with our newborn baby. Hutson likes to be where he can hear us and so with that he has many different locations he tends to sleep in our home. We co-sleep with our baby until we feel confident he will sleep well on him own without the comfort of us. Your baby has been snuggled in your belly for over 9 months and it doesn’t seem right to me putting him in a crib in another room seperating us from one another. I know others disagree but I can’t let myself care about anothers opinion. If you want to have your baby sleep close by because that is what works best for you and your family than that is exactly what you should do! You all need to try to get as much sleep as possible and for our son his lullaby is the lovely loud sounds of his fathers snoring ;)

Thanks Everyone

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns

Vanessa xoxo

Banana-Carrot Muffins

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I am always trying to create new recipes for our home but most days its a struggle. Muffins are something I love to have around the house because they can be a quick snack to grab when you are on the go. Unfortunately for Chris he is usually stuck with dried out experiments to force down when he is on the go. On Sunday I told him, “Today is the day, I can just feel it.”Thankfully I am married to one of the most patient men I know so as usual he said, “Can’t wait to try it hun.”
Oh and guess what, they turned out beautifully YAY!

All Natural Banana Carrot Muffins - A Home is MadeHere is a super simple muffin recipe that I think everyone will enjoy.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups almond flour
1 cup grated carrots
3 eggs
1/2 cup mashed banana (you want 2 1/2 to 3 ripped bananas)
1/4 cup coconut oil (melt the oil on low heat before adding to mixture)
1/4 cup unpasteurized honey
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch natural sea salt

A Home is Made - All Natural Banana Carrot Muffins1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large bowl combine: grated carrots, eggs, mashed banana, melted coconut oil and honey
3. Stir this mixture together but do not over stir
4. Add the following ingredients to mixture: almond flour, baking soda and sea salt
5. Lightly stir until combined
6. Use a brush and lightly coat a muffin tray with coconut oil.
7. Evenly add mixture to make 12 muffins
8. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes
9. Let cool for 20 minutes once finished cooking

I hope all of you enjoy these muffins as much as Chris and I did.

Let me know how it goes.

Thanks everyone!

Vanessa xoxo

Ingesting My Placenta?

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The heading alone may make many of you feel like you’re about to hurl and think twice about continuing to follow my blog. But don’t judge me too quickly.

What Spiked This Interest

I had first encountered the option when we attended our birthing class before our son was born. I love studying Anthropology and different cultural views of life so I was very open minded when hearing reasons why different tribes and cultures may eat their placenta. Many doctors claim this is just another trend in society and note that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to back this “trend” up but I was just to curious and eager to decide for myself.

How I Consumed My Placenta

Before I get started let me inform you what I did with my placenta. There are many different ways to ingest your placenta like eating it raw, cooking it and creating a meal with it or even turning it into a delicious smoothie. Personally I didn’t have any interest in handling my placenta and having to consume a raw piece of it on a daily basis. I just don’t feel that in todays day in age you have to do this but for some it is a choice they have chosen to make. I had my placenta encapsulated by a Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist who came to our home the day after Hutson was born to collect my placenta (which I stored in a Ziploc bag in the freezer) and had provided me with the capsules the following afternoon. The placenta is dehydrated, ground and encapsulated for the mother who is instructed to take 2 capsules 3 times a day for 2 to 3 weeks.

Why I Chose to Do This

I used to judge quite quickly at a younger age but I have learned to NEVER say never. As a first time mother I was nervous what I would be like after having the baby and feeling so sleep deprived. Would I feel so tired that I would spend my evenings getting into little arguments with my husband? Would I cry because I missed my friends and would feel left out seeing photo of them going out on the weekends and partying like we used to do? I wondered if I would feel angry that for the first time I would become housebound and not have the ability to run off and do my usual day-to-day things. A newborn baby takes a dramatic toll on your lifestyle and possibly on your relationship and I was worried I would be affected by the “Baby Blue” like 80% of mothers are.

Plus, wanted to do everything right the first time around so I ate a very clean diet of only fresh and natural products and kept my snacking to a minimum so our son was as healthy as possible. I made sure I drank a promising amount water daily and only had 1 cup of coffee per day and no more than that. Being the health freak that I am I also wanted to make sure that once we had Hutson he would be a breastfed baby for up to 6 months. I had heard stories of woman who produces too much milk or had struggled to produce any at all. I had to make sure I would provide for him or I would feel that I had failed as a new mom.

After doing some heavy research I had learned that by consuming your placenta it would help to balance your hormone levels, increase your energy and enhance your milk supply. By consuming my placenta is would hopefully provide me with the tools I needed to be successful.

My Results

I began taking the placenta encapsulations on May 13 2013 and just finished my last 2 capsules this morning on June 1 2013. After delivering our son I felt amazing! I had a natural birth and having the freedom the walk around after you give birth is incredible. I felt like nothing but overjoyed for the first two weeks after which is usually when mothers suffer with “Baby Blues” so I felt that the placenta capsules had done wonders for me. I also was full of energy and was doing house chores on a daily basis, which was not suggested by my midwife and is a time I was to be taking for myself to rest. I’m not a very good listener… On the other hand I had struggled with enhancing my milk supply and something I had a hard time receiving enough of until I was 2 weeks in. I did not feel strange consuming the placenta at all because it was my own. I had many friends laugh at me and tell me that’s discussing to consume my own organ. Umm… we eat animal liver and call it a delicate dish and who knows what the hell that thing was eating while it was alive and we are happily ingesting it. I know exactly what I was eating and know my placenta was healthy enough that I didn’t have to think twice. I am thrilled I made the decision to consume my placenta and I do feel that it helped me very much to stay positive as a new mother.

A Home is Made - With Baby

I hope this helped any mothers who are considering doing the same
Thanks Everyone
Vanessa xoxo