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Healthy Potato Salad with Pickles



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These beautiful summer days could not be more perfect. 
We can’t get enough of backyard dinners, friends and family dropping by, bonfires and great food. 

Sometimes I admit that it’s hard to do it all. Especially with a little baby in the house, inviting people is sometimes the last thing I want to do. It’s with simple healthy dishes like this that I can make in advance that help out so much.

Truth is, I cut corners where I can when it comes to cooking. Believe me. 

Like in this salad, for example, I prep the ingredients the day before so that it’s easy to toss together just before a party or family dinner. It makes excellent leftovers as is, so it makes sense to just make a big bowl.

Need a potluck dish? This salad rocks for potlucks as a great side dish.
Throwing a brunch? It makes a great breakfast, lunch or dinner dish. 

We’ve had this for breakfast with a great bread and earl grey tea, goes well with pickled herring too. So yeah, it’s pretty much our go-to salad. And definitely my husband’s favourite salad. (he’s not a greens eater as you can guess).




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Crunchy Pickle Potato Salad 

(healthy, gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, dairy-free, egg-free)

Serves 4

Ingredients :
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 parsnip
  • 4 pickles (from a brine, not from vinegar)
  • 1/2 medium white onion
  • 1 1cups (1 can) green peas (canned or frozen work great)
  • 2 teaspoons mustard (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • 1/4 cup/ 5 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise/ Veganaise
  • 2 tablespoon EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1cup green onion for serving
 
 Directions :

Scrub and clean the vegetables. Cut the potatoes in half to speed up cooking. Fill a large pot with water and stir in 1 tablespoon of sea salt and boil the potatoes. Add the carrots and parsnip about 8 minutes later (1/2 way through the cooking time of the potatoes). Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. (The carrots and parsnip should be still have some crunch to them).  If using frozen peas, add them 5 minutes later so they all finish cooking together. 

Timing and cooking these veggies in bulk like that saves a lot of time and only dirties one pot! :)
 
Once finished cooking, strain the vegetables and allow to cool so they are easily handled, about 30 minutes. (Or store in the refrigerator and do this the next day). Then peel the soft skins of the vegetables with a knife. They come off very quickly and easily.
 
Chop the cooked vegetables into small pieces and add to a large bowl. Chop the onion and pickles and add to the bowl. Add peas (if using canned) mustard, turmeric,  mayonnaise, oil and incorporate well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped green onion on top for serving. 

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This salad is even more delicious the next day as the flavours really do mingle in. This also saves tons on time if you have guests coming or getting ready for a brunch or bbq. 
 
Good pickles are key here. And be careful of additives in pickles. Many companies, including the popular Bick’s use nasty stuff in with their pickles. Pickles only need water, herbs and spices as the ingredients as they ferment naturally. So check for ingredients always! Or course, homemade pickles would be amazing in this recipe!
 
And I love using a quality organic vegan mayo here. Vegan mayo is oil based and does not contain cholesterol. Of course there are also brands that have artificial ingredients and preservatives. So look for all-natural brands. If this is something you don’t care for, using only olive oil in this salad works great too.


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This Potato Salad is our family favourite. It’s tasty at summer bbq’s as it is in January. I also love it with avocado toast for breakfast. And my husband goes crazy for it. So I hope it will become your family favourite healthy dish too.



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Grain-free Tomato, Eggplant and Roasted Garlic Tart



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Don’t you wish you had a recipe up your sleeve that was healthy, delicious and easy to do! Well, I live for recipes like this – and I’m here to get you excited that YOU have just found the holy grail! 

This tart recipe isn’t only delicious and easy to do – but it meets all criteria of what a healthy tart means to me. The whole-food, all-natural amazing ingredients are what makes it great! And making this tart grain-free, gluten-free and dairy and egg-free is what makes it great. There is no wheat, yeast or sugar in it so it does not feed yeast. Making it allergen-friendly and Candida friendly also.

So if you’re just experimenting with a healthier diet or do have allergy concerns – then this grain and gluten-free tart is for you. ps. It also tastes divine. I loved it with a salad and on its own. But it also makes a great brunch dish for a potluck or buffet style table. And it makes great leftovers too, just a quick reheat for 15 minutes and bam! It’s so good! I hope you’ll make this soon.




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Grain-Free Tomato, Eggplant and Roasted Garlic Tart

gluten-free, grain-free, egg-free, dairy-free, vegan
bake time : 40 minutes   serves : 4 to 6 if served with a side dish eg. a salad
Grain-free Crust Ingredients : 

2 1/2  dried chickpeas (soaked 6-8 hours) (or 2 cans, drained & rinsed)
1 teaspoon ground flaxseeds
2 tablespoons whole flaxseeds
2 tablespoons potato starch
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper or more to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chickpea flour or other flour or bread crumbs to dust the tart shell.

Topping Ingredients :

2 large tomatoes
1 eggplant
1 jar of roasted garlic OR 2 heads of garlic
drizzle of olive oil, about 4 tablespoons
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil for serving

Directions :

You need to pre-bake the crust on its own. You can do this the day before and then just add toppings and heat for 20 minutes and serve.

To make the crust : Grease and flour the tart dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 350F.

Place the chickpeas in a food processor and grind until a fine texture forms. Turn it off and scrape the sides to get all the chickpeas ground up. Add the flaxseeds, starch, turmeric, pepper and oil in the and mix until well combined.

Press into the tart pan evenly and firmly. Be sure to press some of the mixture onto the sides. 

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until slightly golden. 

Remove from oven and proceed with toppings or allow to fully cool, cover with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry too much and place in the refrigerator until ready to make the tart.

For the toppings : In the meantime, cut the middle portion of the eggplant and slice thinly, about 1/4″ discs. Cut the mid-part of the tomatoes also and set aside. 

Heat a large skillet  coated with oil and fry the eggplant on both sides until soft. Remove from pan and proceed to assemble the tart. 

To assemble the tart : Distribute the eggplant and tomatoes all around interchanging the slices of vegetables. Fill the centre with extra slices. Top with the roasted garlic and drizzle with the olive oil. 

Place in the hot oven set at 350F again and bake for 20 minutes or until vegetables appear soft. Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool 10 minutes before serving. Top with fresh basil on top and serve.

 




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If you’ve wondered how to make a healthy tart recipe, then going with lots of plant-based protein is really important. The protein is what makes you feel fuller so you’re more satisfied. Your cravings are satisfied and you don’t overeat. This is why carb filled tarts or say pizza is less healthier. It lacks the protein and has too much belly-bloating-wheat and yeast. Both great things to avoid when you’re trying to eat healthier. 



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This grain-free and gluten-free tart recipe takes care of that and going plant-based means you avoid the extra fat, cholesterol that you also don’t need. So it gets many points for being super healthy… but it’s also super delicious. 

Let’s just say that I have to admit that if I were still writing my book Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough! than this would be a recipe I would LOVE to include there. Lucky for you, you get it right here right now ~ enjoy!! :)

 



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Caramelized Fig & Honey Coconut Ice Cream : refined sugar free, dairy-free & egg-free

First, before I jump into this delicious recipe, I would like to thank everyone for your amazing response and notes of congratulations for my cookbook announcement! You’re all… well, too sweet! There is so much excitement for Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough that I can’t even wrap my head around it that this is really happening. It was a lot of hard work put into this book this last year so I hope you will enjoy its beauty and the practical life-changing approach to cutting out sugar. The cookbook comes out in January 2016 and is already available for preorder, so reserve your copy today! :)



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Summer is upon us and we’re loving it to pieces. We’ve been travelling and visiting family in Poland, our favourite cites there, and the stunning mountains. And since Paris is always a good idea, we went for an amazing 5 day trip to Paris to celebrate our 10th Wedding anniversary. We had the best time. So far, it truly is the best summer ever.

Of course we’re so happy to be back home and just unwind and catch up on my favourite things ~ taking it easy, eating in the backyard, grabbing the blanket and just relaxing out on the grass in the park and hitting the nature trails right by my house. I really just love the little things and when the days linger and life is simple…

Aside from sweet memories of our summer and a month still to go, there’s one key element that can’t be missed – it’s ice cream. Of course, you just can’t have summer without ice cream. So I think this delicious ice cream recipe is coming at a good time. 



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If you’re still not keen on making your own ice cream – you must try it out. It’s easier than you think and so much healthier too! And it’s fun! It is healthier as you know the ingredients that go in it. And my favourite part – you control the sweetness and type of sugar used.

One thing I can’t stand with store-bought ice cream is that even though you get organic and all-natural, it’s often too sweet for me. I’ve learned to cut back on sugar (as you now know from the Cut the Sugar cookbook announcement!) :) So now, even a little sugar is a lot. I love to use quality ingredients in my recipes and quality sugars are really important to me. Making your favourite treats healthier is great so you don’t feel guilty when you indulge in a little something. Because once a while – ice cream is just the best thing in the world.



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In this recipe, I use the sweetness of figs, honey and a little stevia to lower the calories. With these sugars your blood sugar is more stable and the whole treat is absolutely delicious.

Using coconut milk to make ice cream is also great and healthy. And the process is surprisingly easy.

Aside from ice cream, I can’t help to share some beautiful photos from our trip to the mountains. I just can’t see how else to share them at this time. Hope you don’t mind… :)



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This place is everything. It is a hidden gem tucked away between the Tatry mountains. You need to hike up there to be in this spot. We walked 7 kilometers in 4 hours uphill. We talked through the heat, rain and a storm all in those 4 hours. Such is the weather in the mountains. But it was all worth it. If I could I would build a house right there and wake up to this view everyday. Alas, if this is your dream too, it’s good to know that there’s an Inn right there so your dreams can also come true and you can wake up to so much beauty.

Morskie Oko means The Eye of the Sea, that’s because it’s a round sea surrounded by mountains. To be there and to see these vast views all around is incredible. These photos don’t do it justice… but these photos are everything to me. 

I was so happy to be there with my mom and my two girls and to now treasure these memories forever in my heart. I can’t wait until we go back… Amelia was loving all this nature so much. She was happy in my Oscha ring sling and I could not be happier with her snuggled close to me.

By the way, this is the Amelia Oscha ring sling (how perfect) ;) and it’s made from 100% pure linen and made in Scotland. It’s probably the best baby accessory I now own. :)




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But let’s get back to the ice cream, shall we?

 

Coconut Ice Cream is a godsend. I used to marvel over the intricate art of ice cream-making (and it can be such a complicated task when you make it with eggs and heavy cream) but hello, this is way better!

And I love fresh figs so much.

Caramelizing them with honey is amazing to heighten the flavour – it’s something beyond delicious.

This flavor combination of caramelized figs with honey in the coconut milk base is my absolute favourite. It’s bowl-licking good and good-for-you too! 




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Roasted Honey and Fig Coconut Ice Cream

 

– refined sugar free ice cream, that’s dairy and egg free
– to make vegan ice cream, replace the honey with maple syrup

Ingredients :

2 cans of full fat coconut milk (like these)
2 tablespoon tapioca or arrowroot starch
2 tablespoons coconut oil
8 tablespoons raw honey, divided (or maple syrup for a vegan option)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
4-6 drops of liquid stevia, if extra sweetness is desired
8-10 fresh figs (reserve a few for serving if desired)

Directions:

Combine room-temperature coconut milk with starch in a small saucepan and whisk until fully combined. Once it’s mixed, place over low-medium heat and add in 6 tablespoons of honey and coconut oil while continually stirring. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract.  Allow to cool completely and refrigerate until the mixture is fully cold, at least 2 hours.

 

Meanwhile you can caramelize the figs. Wash and slice the figs (stems removed) and place into a small skillet with two tablespoons of honey and a tablespoon of water. Heat on medium-low heat stirring continuously for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate to make it completely cold.

To make the ice cream, transfer the coconut mixture to an ice cream maker (See sidenote at the bottom of the recipe for making this recipe without an ice cream maker) and mix according to manufacturer’s instructions.

The ice cream is ready to eat. Scoop into bowls and top with caramelized honey figs and fresh figs on top. Enjoy!

OR spread the ice cream into a parchment-lined freezer-safe bowl (about 4×9″) and spoon the honey figs on top, mixing in slightly if preferred. Cover with an overlap of parchment paper, press down so you don’t trap any air. Freeze for up to 1 month*

* If freezing completely, allow the ice cream to thaw in the fridge for 20-30 minutes before serving as it gets pretty solid once fully frozen and it will be hard to scoop.

Sidenote : you can make this recipe without an ice cream maker too. Just pour the ice cream ingredients into the freezer-safe bowl and place in the freezer. Stir every 1/2 hour until completely smooth and creamy so the crystallization doesn’t settle in. Enjoy!

 



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I hope you will be making this ice cream soon and enjoying the fig season to its fullest! Wishing you the best summer filled with great memories, great food and people :) 

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Cut the Sugar Cookbook Announcement



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Hello! You guys! I’m writing a cookbook! Eek!

I’ve been unofficially mentioning the news here and there so maybe you’re not surprised. But officially, I have not announced the details yet – so here I go!

I am very very excited to share that I am writing a cookbook entitled Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough! (Andrews McMeel) 

Cut the Sugar is a practical, real-life approach to reducing sugar the healthy way so you don’t feel deprived. This is not a sugar-detox book but an inspiring cookbook and guide to change your relationship with the foods you love and address your cravings properly. There are over 100 delicious and easy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and yes, even dessert!

The book will be published by Andrews McMeel and released on January 5th 2016. 

Why ‘Cut the Sugar’?

One of the first health changes I made when I tried to heal from Myasthenia Gravis (a rare illness that made me loose muscle strength everywhere to the point I could barely walk or eat and even carry my baby) is to cut out sugar. I had a huge sweet tooth throughout my teens and twenties and it became a daily treat to stuff my face with anything I could find around the house that contained high amounts of sugar. Of course it tasted great and I was a savvy connoisseur  so I carried chocolate and candy bars in my purse, had some granola bars in the car, cookies in my desk drawer and tons of sweets at home. I was smart though, I sweetened my tea with honey not white sugar and baked with brown sugar. Turns out, there wasn’t much of a difference. Sugar was sugar… or was it?

But is all sugar really the same? Turns out not all sugars are created equal. There’s sugar that is definitely bad for you and can contribute to diabetes, heart disease, obesity as well as cancer. But then there’s sugar that is good for you and our health actually benefits from it as it’s loaded with antioxidants and amazing vitamins and minerals that our body need to function well. Basically, my mission has been to omit the bad sugars and enjoy the good sugars – sounds pretty sweet, right? Except that sugar info is so confusing. Navigating through this sugar coated world can be so challenging. But I got this. I’ve got the secrets that made it work for me and helped me turn my health around. Sugar doesn’t have to be the enemy. You can enjoy the sweet life guilt-free. I promise! 

At first, Cut the Sugar, Sugar! You’re Sweet Enough was a blog post I wrote 3 years ago. It had so much traffic and I got so many emails about it that it made me so proud. I was helping people cut down on sugar and it felt so good! This was very early on in my food blogging career and it was one of the inspirations for me to continue sharing healthy recipes and healthy living tips as well as recipes that were refined sugar-free.

Three years later, I get an email from a literary agent with interest for a book about this very post (that by now I pretty much forgot about). Would you believe my first phone conversation with Coleen O’Shea was when I was just 1 week away from my due date with Amelia?  I started writing the proposal for the book when she was teeny tiny just a couple weeks old and it was a busy summer last year (not just with a baby) but with finding the right fit with a publisher. We sealed the book deal just before my birthday in September and it’s been a crazy amazing year since. 

This original blog post was about a sugar-detox – however now I view sugar a little differently. So the vision for Cut the Sugar is different too.  I didn’t want this book to be a sugar-detox book but rather a way to cut down on sugar and still enjoy the healthier versions of quality sweeteners as well as fruit. (Yes, you get to eat fructose!) My approach is to cut the sugar, not quit sugar entirely! 



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Now you know why it’s been so hard for me to stay on top of blogging here on Pure Ella. This crazy amazing ‘secret’ has been in the works since September and it’s pretty much all wrapped up and ready for the press. I just haven’t been able to find the time to actually officially share this exciting news. Honestly, I don’t even know how I made it this far. If it wasn’t for my family’s support I wouldn’t have been able to do this. (Can you believe I have not had a full night of sleep for close to 15 months?) I can’t say I recommend writing a book while having a little one around. She’s my precious little angel but I do wish she slept like an angel through the night too. Even with the book I can’t say I lost as much sleep. I’ve been keeping things nice and balanced always reminding myself what stress and bad habits did to me 7 years ago when I first got sick. 

This book is a work of passion and a place where a piece of my heart as well as all my talents have been put into one. As a passionate health nut, foodie, graphic designer and photographer – this is what I was born to create in this world – this very beautiful cookbook for you all to enjoy! I am so thrilled with it and I think you will be too! 

And now… without further adieu, this is the cover of Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough!



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The book is already listed for pre-orders, so reserve your copy on Amazon or through other major book sellers. >> click here to pre-order and save <<

In the meantime, I will be enjoying this time to get back to doing what I love most, blogging, catching up with my friends and readers on social media and allowing myself to live the sweet life with my family and friends. Because yes, you can have it all (with balance)! To prove that point, watch for an Ice Cream post next! 

 

Lastly, I can’t end this post without mentioning how grateful I am for everyone visiting and supporting me on my health and blogging journey over the years. I am so unbelievably thankful for each and every one of you. This book wouldn’t have been possible without my readers and community supporters. I had no idea this path was in front of me but it felt so good that I kept going…. it’s been a wonderful ride so far as a blogger and now I can’t even express my excitement how incredibly honoured and grateful I am to enter this new chapter as a writer. 

Thank YOU all so much for your continued love and support! xo Ella

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Omega Overture Berry Smoothie



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I just love a good smoothie and this is one yummy recipe you will want to make up very soon!!

It’s so yummy and healthy because it comes from THE expert of blender recipes ~ Miss Tess Masters. The Blender Girl herself just published a Smoothies book and I’m so excited. Inside, Tess shares her secrets to making wholesome, delicious and healthy smoothies. I tell you, each one is a beauty that I’m excited to try each recipe!



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Smoothies have changed my life in so many ways…

If you follow my story of healing, you’ll know that I suffered from a rare illness that affected my muscles everywhere. One thing I could barely do was chew and swallow food. I tell you, it took me over an hour to finish a salad. 

When I started to make smoothies, the gulp factor was smoother and I could chug it down (slowly) but chug I did. I also amplified the nutrition factor so I could boost my immune system, increase my vitamins and minerals through smoothies. Smoothies were my medicine. It was with smoothies that I realized I could have something delicious with tons of nutrients in so many flavours and varieties – smoothie recipes are truly endless.

 

Now, I make smoothies for this same reason; to amplify the nutrition and also for the convenience factor. But also now as a busy mom, I can throw some ingredients into a blender and whip up something not only delicious but also super healthy, filled with nourishing ingredients that my body needs.

That’s why I am in love with this book. The variations of ingredients are some I have never tried before. I especially love the booster options and the *magic* factors.

Basically, the book is filled with so much goodness and so much inspiration for years of smoothie-making.


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Omega Overture Berry Smoothie

from The Blender Girl Smoothies Cookbook

Ingredients :

2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground flaxseeds
1 teaspoon shelled hemp seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups frozen mixed berries 

1 medium banana (optional)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (optional)

Directions :

Add all the ingredients to a blender and mix on high for about a minute until smooth and creamy. Adjust the sweetness to your liking. Enjoy.

The recipe calls for a banana and maple syrup but I like to cut my sugars down some more so I omitted these two ingredients to cut down on sugar a bit. I think the 2 cups of mixed berries provided enough sweetness but you’re welcome to add these ingredients to your liking. This smoothie was delicious!!



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The Blender Girl Smoothies book is now my favourite smoothie book. Available on Amazon and in your local book store. 

Do tell, what are your favourite ingredients in a smoothie?



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