salmon foil packs

Sundried Tomato Pesto and Salmon Foil Packets

The best summer bbq recipes are healthy and simple but still deliver a ton of flavour.
Admittedly, this Sundried Tomato Pesto & Salmon Foil Packets recipe does carry an extra step of making your own pesto but it is super simple, I promise.

They are great for a weeknight meal but also fancy enough for company!

These packets can be made in advance and then frozen before cooking. Make sure that your rice is fully cooled before you put the salmon on top if you intend to freeze it so that you do not unintentionally heat up the salmon before freezing it. Then, defrost the packets before putting them on the bbq.

And the rice is totally optional.

The best option for a super nutritious meal would be to make a bed full of veggies under the salmon. Cut the veggies small enough so that they will soften in the 15-20 minutes that they cook. Using frozen broccoli is great because it will soften quickly.

Just remember that no matter what you use, adding a little water to the packet before closing it will help to make sure the bottom layer does not burn during cooking.

If you want to make these packets for a weeknight meal, it will speed up the process if you make the rice and pesto in advance, but this is not necessary…just a little food prep tip.

Nutritional Yeast can be found at Bulk Barn, your local health food store or the health food section at your grocery store. It is an inactive yeast made from sugar cane and beet molasses that tastes similar to cheese. It sounds weird, but it is a great alternative to parmesan for those you cannot consume dairy.

Sundried Tomato Pesto & Salmon Foil Packets

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Special Equipment: Food Processor

  • cooked white rice (optional, I use the equivalent of 1 cup dry rice, before cooking)
  • trimmed green beans (or snap peas or broccoli)
  • 1.5 pounds salmon, cut into four portions
  • salt & pepper
  • sundried tomato pesto (about 1.5 cups, recipe below will yield more…)
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • aluminum foil
  • olive oil
  1. Make the Sundried Tomato Pesto (recipe is below).
  2. Make two large rectangles of aluminum foil (about 2 feet long each).
  3. Pat down half of the rice in the center of each piece of foil.
  4. Create a layer of green beans on top of the rice making sure to have the length of the bean running parallel to the long side of the foil so it folds easily and drizzle a little oil over top.
  5. Place 2 salmon portions over the beans on each piece of foil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Spread a thick layer of sundried tomato pesto over the salmon portions (about 1/8 inch thick but more or less will be great too)!
  7. Sprinkle minced garlic over the salmon.
  8. Place fresh thyme sprigs on top.
  9. Roll up the foil by bringing the long edges together and rolling them down. Then roll up one end.
  10. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of water into the open end of the packet (this is to keep the rice from drying out). Then fold up that end.
  11. Foil packets can now be
    cooked or placed in the freezer.
  12. Cook packets on the bbq over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until salmon reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF (or 120ºF if you like it medium rare).
  13. Open packets and place portions on plates to enjoy!

Sundried Tomato Pesto

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 270ml bottle of sundried tomatoes with oil (I use these)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
  • Additional olive oil if needed
  1. Turn on your food processor and add the cashews and garlic while the blade is spinning.
  2. Open the food processor and add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Process until the ingredients have turned into a pesto.
  4. If the mixture seems a little too dry add 1/4 cup of olive oil.

Serves 4-6

For more simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.

Best Broccoli Salad (By Design)

Having an awesome Broccoli Salad recipe in your back pocket is so great when you are looking for a change in your salad routine.

This recipe is so simple and with the addition of fresh dill for a pop of freshness it really makes for a surprise in the flavour.

And there is a reason that I want you to add Broccoli Salad to your regular salad rotation.

That is because broccoli belongs to a family called cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in sulfur containing compounds called glucosinolates which support detoxification and break down further into compounds which have shown to reduce the risk and/or growth of certain cancers (specifically lung, stomach, colon and rectal).

Now, in our home, we actually don’t usually add cheese or bacon (gasp!)…but that is generally because if I don’t have cooked bacon on hand, I am not looking for an extra step in the prep process, I tend to be “frugal” with our cheese…and I don’t really tolerate dairy well…but that is just me. You are welcome to go wild!

This recipe has stood the test of time. Adults love it and so do the kids…and it’s really simple.

If you want this to be really healthy, make the mayo yourself by following the recipe below. If you are in a rush and are just glad to have a salad on the table, use store bought mayo. The problem is that store bought mayo is made with lower quality oils and I want to see you using a healthy oil like avocado oil (which is best for mayo because it has little to flavour compared to olive oil, but olive oil works well too).

Meal Prep Tip:

if you are preparing this salad in advance, just leave the dressing on the side.

Broccoli Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

  • 1 head broccoli, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup organic raisins
  • ½ cup homemade or store bought mayo (recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • cheese, bacon optional
  1. In a large bowl combine broccoli, red onion, sunflower seeds and raisins.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine mayo, maple syrup, dill and apple cider vinegar
  3. Pour over broccoli salad and toss to combine evenly.

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Mayonnaise

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Special Equipment: immersion/stick blender

  •  1 cup avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 whole egg, raw and fresh, free run
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  1. Place all ingredients in a cup that your immersion blender will fit into.
  2. Insert immersion blender to bottom. Turn on blender and hold it in place, on the bottom of the cup for about 20 seconds.
  3. With the blender still running, slowly lift it out of the cup allowing it to blend any remaining oil.
  4. Store in airtight container.

*Should last as long as the expiry date on the egg you used.

For more simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.

Routines: Are They Necessary?

You may have heard that creating a routine, otherwise known as a system, is a very important step in creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.

But are routines necessary? I would say absolutely yes.

Today we are going to take a look at why that is and I’ll to give you five steps to make great systems in your life.

Without systems, we eventually fall back into what is easiest (no exercise, no energy and eating crap).

I want you to take a minute and think of a time in your life that using a system has served you.

Think of your voice mail message: “Please leave your name and number after the tone and I will get back to you.”

When you hear that recording, you know exactly what to do next.

That is a system that works.

Now let’s take a recipe.

It consists of a list of ingredients and amounts. If you follow the instructions step by step, you will end up with relatively the same result every time.

This is another good system.

When you are taking a plane, the airport has a set of directions you must take before you can board the plane. You must check in by a certain time, then you check your bags and then you go through security.

That is the system that the airports have put in place to keep order and safety and you have to follow the system to board your plane.

Imagine if these systems were not in place and you could just show up to the airport whenever you want and decide what you would rather do first? There would be chaos.

What is a system?

Systems are step-by-step instructions that detail what needs to be done first, second and third in order to achieve a desired outcome.

I have seen businesses become exponentially more successful once they have implemented simple-to-follow systems.

I have also seen people get exponentially healthier once they have implemented certain simple-to-follow systems for creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle like meal planning, meal prep and planning ahead for social outings.

The more clear the system, the better the outcome.

If you want to get more fit (the desired outcome), you go the gym three to five times a week on set days (the system).

If you want to eat healthier, you meal plan and grocery shop every week and you cook every day (although there are ways to get around cooking everyday). The planning, the shopping and the recipes are systems that are supporting the desired outcome of healthier eating.

If you want to get more sleep, then you turn off electronics in the evening and do something relaxing. You choose a set bedtime and waketime and you stick to it most of the time. This is a bedtime system (also known as a routine).

This is how you systematize your health:

By doing so, you take the guesswork out of what your routine should be and your outcome becomes predictable. Regular, proper exercise results in better fitness. Meal-planning results in healthier eating.

This is such a simple concept and once you understand it you can see that it applies to every area of your life.

Why are systems so important?

I first realized the importance of using systems when I started my business. Over time the systems mindset started to take over my personal life as well.

I noticed that when I put every task into my calendar (yes, another system) I was able to get everything accomplished. I started scheduling in family time, work time and personal time.

I created a system for cleaning the house that meant that I didn’t have to think about what I would do first. Now I can just put on my favourite podcast and go on automatic mode because I know exactly in what order I will clean everything.

Without systems chaos ensues. You try doing things differently every time and that leads to a different outcome every time. The outcome is not predictable, it takes more thought and energy and it may not be what you hoped for.

Here is a simple example of how a lack of a system affected my life:

I like to go to the six a.m. gym class. But I had no system in place for getting ready and out the door in time for class. And this was a challenge for me. I would often back out of the class because I woke up late and did not have a gym outfit ready to go. It was 5:40 a.m., I was disorganized and I did not feel like searching around the house like a mad woman so instead I would go back to bed.

Guess what happened next?

A new system was born. I put together two gym outfits and I found a shelf for them live. They go from my body, to the wash to their shelf and now I never have to search for my gym clothes. I also thought about how much time I really needed to get ready. I started getting up fifteen minutes earlier. That means I go to the gym. System created. Time and energy saved. Desired outcome achieved… yes it works.

How to create your own systems:

If there is something that you are going to do repeatedly, big or small, it is worth the time and effort to sit down and say:

  1. What is the desired outcome?
  2. What are all the possible ways to achieve it?
  3. Then choose the one that works best for you and write down all the steps required to do so.
  4. Follow the steps every time.
  5. Refine the system over time.

Will systems make my life boring?

I know that the idea of using systems to run your life can be very overwhelming for certain personality types. It sounds so stifling, like there is no freedom or spontaneity.

That is actually the opposite of the truth. And coming from me that says a lot because I am one of those people who fought systems tooth and nail until a few years ago.

Good systems give you more time and take less energy.

Need some help creating systems that will support your sustainable, healthy lifestyle? I can help you with that.

The 90 minute Strategy Session is exactly what you need to identify the key systems you are missing and I will show you exactly how to fit those systems into your life.

So take five minutes right now and identify at least one system that you need to implement in order to improve your health. Follow the five steps above to create that system. Then use it. I would love to hear what systems you are going to implement. Let me know in the comment section below.

For simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.

Panang

Panang Curry with Shrimp, Chicken or Beef

Beef Panang is my significant other’s favourite dish when we go to our favourite local Thai restaurant.

I took on the challenge a few years ago to make it but I found it too spicy and the meat was tough so I wrote it off…clearly, I was doing something wrong which at the time, I had no interest to investigate any further.

But recently I had a client request Beef Panang so this time I decided to do my homework and get it right.

I watched some videos on Panang which were so helpful especially this one in particular.

In a nutshell, I learned that adding fresh lemon grass, thai basil and lime kaffir leaves would bring this dish to a whole new level. I also learned that using prepared curry paste is totally ok (instead of making it yourself) because the prepared paste is made with special grinders so that everything is the perfect texture (or perfectly combined)…all I know is they said it was ok!

I also learned that both chicken or shrimp were great alternatives to beef, however if you are going to use beef, flank steak is a great cut for it. (Take note, that many chefs agree that beef is the ultimate protein choice for panang because of it’s rich flavour).

Personally, I think there is some truth to that but I have thoroughly enjoyed it with shrimp as well.

The trick to keeping it less spicy or if you prefer, to make it super spicy, is to adjust the amount of curry paste. The more you use, the hotter it gets.

The lime kaffir leaves and thai basil should be available at your local Asian market (assuming you have one in your town) and the bamboo shoots and lemon grass may be at your local grocer. You can make this curry without all of those ingredients if necessary, but really, they take the panang to another level.

Panang Curry

Ingredients

  • 1.5-2 pounds meat of choice (beef flank, chicken breast or thigh, or shrimp)
  • 8 lime kaffir leaves, chiffonade (cut into thin strips)
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, soft centers only, minced
  • 1 red pepper, julienned
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Thai basil leaves and stems, torn (a handful)
  • 1 227ml can bamboo shoots
  • 2 cans full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste (1 tablespoon will make it not spicey, more than two will make it super spicey, depending on your brand of paste).

Instructions

  1. Place coconut milk in soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Mix Curry Paste into coconut milk and reduce until you the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon with out running (this may take about 10 -15 minutes).
  3. You can add the lime kaffir leaves and lemon grass while the coconut milk is reducing.
  4. Once the coconut milk is thick enough add the onion, peppers, thai basil, bamboo shoots and stir.
  5. Meanwhile if you are using steak, sear it in a separate pan and slice thinly.
  6. Add the meat to the pot once the coconut milk mixture has reached your desired consistency. If using chicken or shrimp, add them to the panang sauce and cook until the chicken or shrimp is thoroughly cooked.
  7. Serve on its own or over cauliflower rice or white rice.

Serves 4-6

I look forward to hearing how it goes for you!

For more simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.

5 Must Have Kitchen Accessories

There are certain items that will make your cooking experience that much easier and that much more enjoyable. Today I am going to share with you 5 must have kitchen accessories that have made a huge difference in my life (and you know that I cook ALOT).

Now, before we get started I am going to say that one of the most important items that is not on this list is a good, sharp kitchen knife. This saves time and obviously makes chopping easy and you will know exactly what I am talking about when you feel the difference. I use this knife.

Vitamix

  1. A Good Blender

When I say good blender I mean a really good blender and these are often an investment.

When you are making homemade soup you want it to puree perfectly.

When you are learning how to make bread replacements with plantains, you want blades that are going to break those things down into a smooth paste.

When you only need a small amount of cashew butter for a recipe, you want a blender that will pulverize your nuts to a perfect paste.

And when you regularly hide spinach or other green vegetables in your smoothies, you want a blender that will break them down, so that you don’t have little tiny pieces that tickle your throat on the way down (all you pulp-haters know what I mean)!

I have used the Vitamix, Blendtec and the Ninja blenders and all worked very well. I have a preference for the Vitamix but that is likely because I have had one for almost 10 years so I know what it can do.

Hamilton Beach food processor

  1. A Food Processor

The difference between a blender and a food processor is that a high powered blender is great for pureeing things like soups, smoothies and nut butters. The food processor is great for rough chopping and blending but not quite pureeing so it is a great option when you are making salsa, dips, shredding cheese, chopping or grating vegetables.

I am currently using this food processor. I am happy with it’s capabilities and have made lots of great pesto, grated lots of cheese and made homemade marinaras in it. There is some issue with food getting stuck in a poorly designed spot on the lid, but so far I have been able to deal with it.

5 must have kitchen accessories

  1. An Immersion Blender

I love my immersion blender. I have an older Braun immersion blender that I purchased from a second hand store for $4.99.

I use it to make guacamole, puree soup (although I prefer my Vitamix for this) and to puree my mashed potatoes.

But one of my favourite uses is to make mayo or homemade garlic sauce.

If you have ever tried to make mayo in a food processor doing the “one drop at a time” method, it is time to make a change because the immersion blender allows you to put all your ingredients in a container and just blend…and voila, out comes mayo (usually…), within seconds.

You also save a lot of time on the clean up when you use the immersion blender.

I love my Braun but I also know that the Cuisinart immersion blender is at a good price point and has great reviews.

instant pot

  1. The Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker.

Gone are the days when you have to fear that your pressure cooker is going to explode and literally blow through your ceiling (yes, that use to be a thing).

The Instant Pot is a Canadian designed pressure cooker that has multiple features aside from just pressure cooking. You can also sautee, slow cook, make rice, yogurt and more.

It has ten “fool proof” safety protections so that you do not need to fear anything going wrong (you know, like those explosions I mentioned).

And…it speeds up cooking by two to six times using up to 70% less energy.

For example, if you would usually make a stew in the slow cooker for 8 hours, you can make that same stew in the Instant Pot in about an hour and I am telling you, it will be better, more tender and more flavourful than your original version.

Note that there are are different sizes and versions…my favourite is this one.

This is one of the best purchases I have made in the past few years. And their customer service is excellent.

parchment

  1. Parchment paper

Is parchment paper an accessory? I say yes!
One of your biggest pains is cleaning up the dishes after all the cooking happens. And the worst part is cleaning baked on sauces or burnt food.

Parchment paper has basically annihilated any need to scrub baking dishes or cookie sheets because it is a paper that won’t burn under regular heat in the oven.

So you just line your baking sheets or dishes with it and after you cook, it lifts right off the dish and into the garbage, leaving you with an almost clean dish!

I buy mine at Costco.

Two notes on parchment paper:

  • Make sure to use a piece of paper big enough to go over the edges of your dish when you are cooking something with a sauce or oil so that the sauce doesn’t leak over the edge of the paper.
  • I am going to be upfront and admit that I do have some questions about the health issues with parchment paper. I am just curious to know what chemicals are in the parchment paper and if they are a concern to our health in any way so for this reason, I occasionally choose to not line a dish and accept that I will have to wash it.

A bonus favourite…

squatty potty

  1. A Squatty Potty

Ok, I know this one seems not fit into the theme of cool kitchen accessories I have mentioned but this is for after you’ve enjoyed your healthy meals.

Many people suffer from constipation and while this is often caused by dehydration, poor diet and lack of movement, it can also be worsened by the position in which you poop (humans are meant to squat while we poop).

The Squatty Potty is basically a footstool that wraps around the base of your toilet. You put your feet on it when you are having a bowel movement so that your colon is in an optimal position for elimination and that means that the poop comes out more easily.

Whether you are constipated or not, this is a great accessory for the whole family that will contribute to better health for everyone. And I kid you not when I tell you, you will never want to poop without your footstool again after you try it!

Do you have a favourite kitchen accessory that I didn’t mention? Let me know which ones you love by commenting below.

For simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.

*This post contains affiliate links, which means that I will receive a small percentage of any purchases made when you buy through these links. I endorse products that I love…