Fifty Shades of Pomegranate

I was surfing the interwebs looking for some inspiration of what to do with pomegranates I had sitting in my fridge and came across a video on how to remove the seeds from a pomegranate. Usually I would go about breaking the pomegranate into smaller pieces and removing the seeds bit by bit. The process was long but I wouldn’t mind it that much. I found the process to be therapeutic of sorts. After de-seeding one half of the pomegranate, I would have had about enough of therapy and would leave the other half for later.

The technique in this video not only freed up some time spent in the kitchen but demonstrates an even better form of therapy!

The introduction to this video is irritatingly long, so skip to the 1:26 minute mark and begin your viewing from there. I was skeptical that this would actually work, but it does remove the pomegranate seeds amazingly well. If you do watch the video from the beginning, then this technique will also help relieve some frustration. Grab a pomegranate, your wood spoon and get smacking!

I do have to credit my friend Robin who came up with the Fifty Shades of Pomegranate idea. I thought it was perfectly brilliant  and I had to share!

Pomegranate Salsa and Seared Salmon

This recipe serves two:

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds, using spanking technique shown above
  • 1 small red onion finely diced, about 3 tbsp
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Small bunch cilantro, about 1/4 cup loosely packed, then chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce, easily found in the Asian food section of grocery stores
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • Pepper to taste

Pom salsa

In a bowl, combine the pomegranate seeds, onion, lemon juice, cilantro, fish sauce, olive oil. Season with fresh ground pepper to taste. Set the mixture aside. You can make this salsa ahead of time and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Pom and salmon

Pat dry the salmon fillets and season with cumin and pepper. Drizzle a pan with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. When pan is hot, place the salmon fillets spice-side down and cook until you get a nice sear, about 3 minutes. Flip over the fillets and cook the other side until the salmon is just opaque, about another 3 minutes.

Remove from the pan and plate the salmon with a side of vegetables, topping with a generous serving of the pomegranate salsa.

The next morning…

Pom and Yogurt

Here is a great breakfast idea if you happen to have some pomegranate seeds left over: spoon some Greek yogurt into a bowl, drizzle with honey and top with pomegranate. Voilà!

Eat Your Turnips…Raw!

Sorry folks, this week is a hectic one and therefore this post (and recipe) is a quick one. I am getting ready head up to Tremblant for my Half-Marathon and amidst the countless other things I have going on im my life, I still choose to make time to cook (or uncook in this case).

One week to go before the race, I decided that I would be very diligent about my nutrition and try to stick to 90% rawfood, see how I feel and evaluate how my training goes. Honestly though, I haven’t been very good lately. With lots of social events it is easy to get off track and indulge a little too much when eating out in all the fabulous restaurants Montreal has to offer… Icehouse, Kazu, Arepera and Qing Hua just to name a few…

Monday rolled around – 7 days until game day- and a plentiful CSA delivery that remained almost untouched. In that basket came a few turnips that I had no idea what to do with. I usually toss them into stews and soups, but this summer has been way too hot to even contemplate making soup.

Raw turnip? As if! but I had to try it. Out came the peeler. Out came the grater and I started shredding. I stuffed a little bunch of grated turnip in my mouth and discovered a surprisingly fresh, crisp peppery-ness that goes right up your nose the same way wasabi or some strong mustards do. Lots of character but in a good way – who would have thought that a humble turnip would have so much character! Attitude aside, dinner was served in no time flat .

Here’s the recipe for shredded turnip. I served it on top of a simple green salad with quinoa, but would be so nice on top of burgers or hot dogs for something different to try during these last BBQs of the summer.

Shredded Raw Turnip Salad

  • 1 raw turnip
  • 1/2 of a red onion
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and honey until smooth. For these ingredients to be raw they need to be unpasterized and cold pressed in the case of the oil. These are fairly common to find, just make sure you read the labels carefully.

Peel the turnip and grate it. Thinly slice the red onion. Toss these ingredients with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve! You can aslo toss in some herbs to add some greenery to your salad, such as parsley or cilantro would work nicely. One turnip makes enough as a main ingredient to serve 4 people, or more if using it as a side or condiment.

Raw Cacao-Nut Energy Rolls

There is so much talk these days about the best nutrition plan for achieving optimal physical performance. Recently the Globe and Mail published an article about the McRunner.  So, some dude ran a personal best and finished in the top 30 at the LA Marathon, while sustaining himself only on a diet of processed food from McDonalds.  The thought of this started to make my stomach churn but it did get me to thinking about the so-called “optimal” diet for all athletes at all levels and from all walks of life.

There are all sorts of diet books, performance formulas, gels and protein shakes out there, that it seems that we are playing a game of cat and mouse with our body and our nutrition. We constantly exchange tips, try other others’ winning recipes but ultimately the only thing that matters is what works for you and your body chemistry.

All I can say for myself is that I would much rather toy with natural ingredients and whole foods to come up with something that works for me. That is how these energy rolls came to be. So far I have only tried these pre and post training, but they are tasty, easy to eat and don’t require any prep before I run out the door. I hope you give these a try and if they don’t fit your training ritual then that’s okay too, At least at the end of the day you have a tasty treat to munch on!

Cacao-Nut Energy Roll

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 16-18 dates (depending on size and freshness)
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao nibs
  • ¼ cup raw nut of choice, chopped (I used cashews)
  • 3-4 tbsp raw nut butter of choice (I used cashew butter)
  • Pinch of salt

In a food processor, finely grind the almonds and set aside in a mixing bowl. Combine the dates with 1 tbsp water and process until smooth. If your dates are a dry you may need to add another tablespoon water to help form a paste. Careful not to add too much water or else you will end up with a roll that is too soft to cut into discs.

Using a spatula, add the date paste to the ground almonds in the mixing bowl. Add the cacao powder, nibs and pinch of salt. Stir to blend well and ingredients should combine to form a stiff dough of sorts.

Place the dough in between two sheets of parchment paper and using a pastry roll (or a bottle), flatten out the mixture into a rectangular shape. Spread the nut butter and sprinkle the chopped nuts.

Using the parchment paper, roll over the dough to create a log. Tuck in the ends and press down to remove any potential air bubbles. Freeze for about an hour before slicing into discs about 1.5 cm thick.

I usually make this in large quantities, slice and keep in the freezer, so that I always have some ready to go – they only take a couple minutes to defrost.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and if you have any homemade training recipes, please share!

Training and Avocado Love

I am a very physically active person, always have been and likely always will be. I often say that I run in order to eat anything and everything I want. That is only partially true… I need to run, my hyperactive personality drives me to train and set physical goals for myself. As a side-effect, I can eat anything and everything – but realistically, I don’t. I try to be very conscious of what I am putting into my body.

A lot of my time this summer will be dedicated to training. I am training to run the Half-Marathon in Mont-Tremblant on August 14th, the Canadian Sprint Triathlon (750m swim, 30k bike, 5k run) in Ottawa on September 3rd, and the Montreal Half-Marathon on September 25th.

With this new quest on cutting out processed foods and achieving a 60% raw and vegan diet, it is not always easy to find the right kind of fuel before or after your run. Before I used to rely on bagels and cream cheese before my long runs, and Gatorade during. Honestly not the best choices for me; I did not always feel the greatest during my training sessions and the taste of Gatorate often nauseated me. Now, when you are going au naturel, finding the right sources of energy, sodium, potassium and electrolytes is not easy. I am still trying to figure it out…

While I’m figuring it out, I have managed to do some things right and sneak a few tricks up my sleeve. Two of my favorite things to fuel up and recuperate pre and post training include: coconut water (I have a glass prior, bring it with me during long runs and have a glass after), and this Avocado Chocolate Milkshake that really sets the stage for a swift recovery (and an über tasty treat).

Add drinking lots of water and that’s what I’ve come up with so far. I am hoping to share more about my training foods, fuels and experiments over the next few months. If you have any suggestions for me, I’m all ears!

Avocado Chocolate “Milkshake”

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 dates, pitted
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp honey (or agave, or maple, etc…)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of milk of your choice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • A couple of ice cubes

Scoop of the avocado and discard the pit. Use a milk of your choice: I suggest using a nut milk for a raw and vegan version, but you can also just as easily use regular low-fat milk. Begin by using only a cup of milk and add more while you blend to adjust for desired thickness of the “milkshake” until it reaches that perfect consistency. The salt helps round out and bring out all the flavours, and will help restore sodium and electrolytes for this great post-training treat.

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth and creamy.