Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Sinful Chocolate Coconut Mousse

chocolate coconut mousse

Mother nature is the shit. I never really appreciated her awesomeness until I began making better decisions about what I was eating. A year ago you could not convince me that there was a natural dessert that was equally if not more delicious than a sugary spoonful of homemade salted caramel. For my whole life I remained pretty closed minded about it. When I made the switch from eating everything under the sun to a more strict diet though, told myself I’d try more. I’d open my mind just a little. I did go through this period of drugery when I felt like even though I was finding the inner strength or make good food choices, I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. With the exception of a bit of weight loss, none of this eating was paying off. Or rather, it was. I was just miserable about my new relationship with food. I was always hungry, always missing the food I ate before and never felt like any of the healthier replacements were good enough. My secret fear was that I’d end up losing the amount of weight I wanted and then just go back to eating like crap.

Just about the time I felt like giving up, I reminded myself of all of the really difficult things that have happened in my life and made me a stronger person. A rocky childhood, living the challenging and crazy life of a cop’s wife at the age of 22, the frustrating battle to get our daughter home from Ethiopia in 2007/2008, the mountains of paperwork and challenge after challenge we’ve had with our son adopted in 2009, opening my photography business in a crazy saturated market in a city where I didn’t know a soul. I’ve taken on and overcome a lot in my 30 years on this planet. More than many people I think. Would I really let my desire for a bowl of pasta be the thing that defeats me?

My relationship with food changed after that. I still take the same comforts in eating that I always have, but I eat with better intent now. I eat to fuel my body. I don’t think about it so much. I indulge in junk from time to time and I do not allow myself feel guilt. I make conscious choices about the foods  I serve to my family because I want my kids to have the knowledge about food that I never did. Probably the most important thing though – I’ve stopped looking to food to feel truly satisfied. It’s not the food. It’s never been the food. Me and my shitty attitude was the reason I felt lacking. It’s not food’s responsibility to leave me feeling satisfied. That’s up to me.

This is THE best dessert for anyone looking for something natural and HEALTHY, while still feeling a little big naughty. Nearly everyone I’ve made this for has a hard time believing that it’s not packed with fake or sugary ingredients. It’s THAT good. Incredible taste aside, what I love most about this is how easy it is. Prep time is like 3 minutes. 4 if your can opener is as crappy as mine. There is a trick to it though…and knowing the trick could mean the difference between this turning out or not.

coconut milk

THE TRICK FOR CHOOSING YOUR COCONUT MILK: In order for this to work, you need to use a good quality, high fat coconut milk. My recommendation is the Thai Kitchen brand (organic if available). The reason is because it’s high in fat (the good kind of fat) and because the ingredient list is small. If you aren’t able to find this brand, at least try for one that’s organic and one that doesn’t have all kinds of extra unpronouncables on the ingredient list. The only added ingredient that I allow in my coconut milk is guar gum.

When you pick the can up off the shelf, shake it VERY gently and listen for liquid. If the can is mostly liquid, it will not work for this recipe. A good quality coconut milk should be mostly solid inside and you should only hear a little bit of liquid sloshing around in there. The solid stuff inside the can is what you need for this recipe. I find Thai Kitchen tends to be half solid inside – sometimes more.

Sinful Chocolate Coconut Mousse (recipe makes enough for 2 people. For a family of 4, double it)

  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2 heaping teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Step one: Carefully open your can of coconut milk (do not shake!) and scoop out all of the white fat into a mixing bowl. (We keep the remaining liquid to use in our green smoothies!)

Step two: Add cocoa powder and maple syrup and beat well with an electric hand mixer for about 2 minutes on high, making sure it’s smooth and creamy. Pour into small bowls and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving.

chocolate coconut mousse

Trust me when I say, this recipe is one that you’ll make over and over. Particularly if you are looking for ways to enjoy a sweet treat without the added refined sugars!

Do you have a healthy dessert that you are loving lately?


Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

I’m not big into fad diets or anything but in recent months I guess you could say I’ve been watching what I eat. Upon discovering my husband had super high blood pressure and cholestrol issues late last year, he was advised by his doctor to cut out all refined sugar, dairy and wheat. Within 2-3 months of doing this, we noticed a rapid weight loss in him. He looked healthier, felt healthier and upon updating his blood work it was a massive improvement – the doctor was thrilled. He had gone from exhausted, slightly over-weight, low energy with high blood pressure and cholesterol to healthy, slimmer and energetic within a few short months. Everyone around us couldn’t believe it.
With me being a natural skeptic and wanting to hold onto my cake and pasta for dear life, I avoided it like the plague. Sure I knew I was overweight and felt tired during the day, but isn’t that how everyone feels? If there was an excuse I could make, I made it. On a total whim though, I decided at Christmas time last year that I was going to try this. I would rid my diet of refined sugar and wheat. Mostly just to prove to my hubby that I COULD 😉 But what I didn’t know was how this change in eating would literally change my life.
Shortly after cutting out refined sugar and wheat, I noticed it. I dropped a jean size almost immediately (wheat had unknowingly caused me to bloat), I had bounds of energy, my blood sugar levels evened out which caused me to feel less moody and my skin became completely clear and smooth. Probably one of the greatest benefits though was the anxiety that had been so debilitating to me early in in 2012, had improved in ways that were truly immeasurable. These changes, both physical and mental, started happening in less than 6 weeks. At almost 4 months in now, I feel better than I have…probably in my whole life.
Now before you think I am getting all preachy and infomercial on you, I have to say that I have absolutely zero to gain by telling anyone about this. I’m sharing this here because I feel like this made such a difference in my own life that I hope others can be inspired to make similar changes for themselves. I wish more people knew. I wish more people knew how refined sugar and wheat/gluten could potentially be effecting them in ways they don’t even know. I wish people knew what they could potentially be gaining by replacing some of those processed, sugary and carb filled foods with actual real vegetables, fruits and lean meats – even a bit of dairy now and then! These things all seem like such a no-brainer, but it’s shocking to think what we consume, thinking it’s healthy, and so often we don’t even know what’s in it. Do you KNOW how many forms/names for sugar are out there?! Neither did I.
I’m looking forward to sharing more recipes here that fit into this lifestyle of healthy but still decadent eating. Like I mentioned above, I don’t subscribe to any one type of diet. I don’t like to put labels on what I’m doing. I know it doesn’t quite fit into any one category and I like that…because I DO like to treat myself to the odd sandwich or bit of junk food every now and then 😉 and I don’t need to feel guilty for that!
This past weekend we experimented with one of my favorite foods – home made Macaroni and Cheese. Because I’ve never been satisfied by the taste of wheat-free pasta, I decided I would skip the pasta completely and replace it with something I love even more – cauliflower. Cauliflower is one of my favorite things EVER. I like it raw, with or without dip, roasted, mashed, boiled and now…baked into a bowl of warm, comforting, cheesy deliciousness. This recipe is adapted from a Dr. Oz recipe. I reduced some of the cheese and used a lower fat cream to make it slightly less fatty. Though I don’t have cholesterol or blood pressure issues, I do like to make things with hubby in mind since things like this are a total treat for him!

 cauliflower mac cheese

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 3/4 cup 10% (half and half) cream
  • 4 tablespoons of cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan for topping
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Spray cast iron skillet with vegetable oil.
  2. Cook the cut cauliflower in the boiling water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well. Transfer the cauliflower to the skillet and set aside. 
  3. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan and then whisk in the cream cheese and mustard, continuously whisking until smooth. Stir in the 1 1/2 cups of cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and whisk just until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes.  Remove the sauce from the heat, pour over the cauliflower, and stir all to combine. 

Top with parmesan cheese and bake until browned and bubbly hot, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

 Ottawa Food Photographer
Mac and cheese ottawa food photography
Do you have any recipes that you are loving right now? I’d love to hear about them in the comments – especially if they are wheat and refined sugar free! You never know – I may feature them here!

Sexy Fresh Salsa with Blackened Corn

I’m hesitant to just come right out and call this a food blog, but in essence, I guess that’s primarily what this is. The thing is, I love food. I love eating. I love, love, love photographing food. But I am NOT a food snob. My least favorite food related activity is the actual preparation of it. I’m a photographer at heart. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have to shop for or cook any of it. Just have some hot man servants bring it to me, I’d style it, photograph it, and eat it of course 😉

corn skillet - Food Ottawa 

The reason for this attitude is primarily because of my lifestyle. I’m a wife, mom to two crazy humans, two pugs and a business owner. The logistics of my life are such that I cannot, even if I want to, spend hours preparing food most days of the week. If I’m being super honest, I sometimes struggle to find the energy to even turn the handle on the can opener on a can of Zoodles. I wish that was a lie.

But I oh how I love food photography. I love food styling. I would love to do this kind of work all day, every day. So in part I hope this blog will keep me accountable to continue to dedicate what time and energy I have to preparing fresh, healthy but easy food for my family. It will also encourage me to push my creativity and take the time to think of new ways to style it and photograph it more regularly. The ultimate goal for me would be to some day photograph a cook book. (OMG Did I say that out loud?!). But enough about that…

One of the things I’m loving right now is fresh salsa. Most people would group it in as a condiment but I feel like it doesn’t get enough credit. It’s one of the few dishes one can make that combines a variety of delicious fresh fruits and veggies into this mish mash of healthy, beautiful, colourful yumminess. It’s so forgiving too. Don’t have an ingredient? No problem! Just use what you have. There is really no wrong way to make a fresh salsa. And I like that.

Here’s the recipe for the one I’ve been making. You could make more or less but I find that this makes a great amount for a family meal (and then some) if you like to add it in with tacos, fajitas and like to eat with tortilla chips. For a large crowd, double this and serve it within a few hours of making it for optimal flavor mingling and visual appeal.

Sexx Fresh Salsa
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1/2 large avocado diced
  • 2 large, ripe hot house tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 or 1 whole mango, diced
  • 1 cob of fresh sweet corn (or 1 can of sweet corn) 
  • Handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Juice and pulp of one lime
  • Sea salt to taste

Step 1: Place all chopped ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Add lime juice and sea salt to taste. Place in fridge to let flavors begin mingling.

Step 2: Spray cast iron skillet lightly with olive oil and heat on stove on high heat for about 2-3 minutes until it’s nice and hot. Place corn into skillet, spread out evenly and allow to stand untouched for about 1 minute. Begin turning and stirring the corn, watching carefully as it begins to caramelize. Cook, stirring frequently for approximately 7-8 minutes or until it reaches a golden brown colour with bits of black. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before adding it into your salsa. Mix well and serve with your favorite mexican dish or on it’s own with tortilla chips!

Fresh Salsa - Ottawa Food Photographer
Fresh Salsa - Food Photography