Foodie Fridays: Easy Eating

It was close to this time last year that I saw the movie Forks Over Knives, and combined with a bunch of other reading & viewing, decided to switch to a primarily vegan diet – something I’d previously thought unimaginable, or extremist. Nearly one year in and I’m still digging it, but I also recognize that eliminating meat & dairy just isn’t realistic for a lot of people. With that in mind, the key message of FOK was twofold: eat a plant-based, whole foods diet. In simple terms, that means making a concerted effort to do ‘Meatless Mondays’ or what have you, and to go for single-entity foods (like apples, cheese, or nuts) as opposed to processed items (like Cheetos, store-bought cookies, and frozen dinners) as often as you can.

Those same principles pop up in Camilla V. Saulsbury’s new cooking bible, 5 Easy Steps to Healthy Cooking. With 500 (seriously) recipes that run the gamut from power snacks and salads to meatless mains and lean meat dishes, and yes even dessert, this book is a powerhouse for healthy eating. Every recipe includes full nutritional information, so if your bff is currently charging through a training program she can properly plan her meals by mixing & matching mains, sides, snacks, and everything in-between. But what I also appreciate about this book is the rather in-depth approach to healthy eating it outlines in the opening pages, including the 5 core principles, which every recipe is labeled with. To quite literally whet your appetite, they are:

– Choose fresh, whole foods
– Eat mostly vegetable & fruit-based foods (sound familiar so far?)
– Opt for healthy fats & proteins
– Select superfoods
– Eat more whole grains

Fennel Orange Olive Salad –

Therein lies the reason why I love this book. The principles here are universal, no matter what kind of diet you consume. They’re also pretty easy, as per the title of the book. I promise you will never feel like you’re denying yourself when eating yummy dishes like Indian-Spiced Chickpea Chili, Middle Eastern Meatballs with Feta Sauce, or Cocoa Truffles. The variety combined with the simplicity of following recipes that have done the ‘Is this healthy?’ guesswork for you makes this an A+ in my books.

That being said, you can still jump on the vegan train if some of the meatless dishes in this book appeal to you. I promise, it’s not as daunting as you might think (as I once did). Deb Rosseau is the lady behind 350 Best Vegan Recipes, which is one of the greatest starter guides to the veg life that I’ve ever seen. With detailed descriptions on some of the more unique vegan ingredients, menu plans, and handy tips on every. single. recipe., it’s hard not to find the whole thing at least a little approachable. The tenets of a vegan diet also happen to be very, very much in line with the five principles listed above, almost by default, so again, you’re pretty much guaranteed a healthier diet.

French Herbed Strata –

And healthy vegan food need not be tasteless or bland. Don’t believe me? Try the Summertime Zucchini Pesto Lasagna for melt-in-your-mouth layers of fresh herbs, thinly sliced veggies, and mozzarella cheese (alternative). Or go for one of the lip-smacking desserts, like the Mocha Cupcakes with Almond Icing or the Rustic Open-Faced Peach Pie. The book also dives right into ‘Vegan From Scratch’ recipes so you can make some essentials – from spices and sauces through to seitan, a meat-like substitute – without shelling out big bucks at the grocery store. There’s even a summer-ready section on smoothies and cocktails for any healthy-eatin’ soirees you’re planning to host (or gift to a hostess yourself).

Both of these books are great gift ideas, particularly in the lead-up to summer swimsuit season. If you’re keen to try before you buy, I’ve got one of the 350 Best Vegan recipes right here for your enjoyment: a lush vegetable paella which I made myself this past week. True story: I rate all of the recipes I make, just so I know what’s worth coming back to. This delicious dish earned a very high ranking thanks to its rich wine sauce, and crispy-creamy rice base. I can’t say enough good things about it!

Vegetable Paella  Serves 6 to 8

With the colors of a Spanish landscape, this richly flavored one-pan meal is fun and festive. Dinner on the deck and a pitcher of sangria; now that’s relaxing. As cooking with seasonal vegetables produces superior flavors, use green beans if asparagus is unavailable.


When garlic is browned too quickly it will become bitter. If sautéing with other vegetables, add garlic toward the end of the browning process. To ensure time with your guests, make the paella up to 1 day ahead. Refrigerate cooled paella in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Spread in paella pan, cover and reheat in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
  • Paella pan or large ovenproof skillet

3 tbsp olive oil 45 mL

1 onion, diced 1

1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces 1

4 cloves garlic, chopped 4

2 cups short- or medium-grain white rice 500 mL

2 cups warm water 500 mL

11⁄2 cups dry white wine 375 mL

1⁄2 tsp paprika 2 mL

3⁄4 tsp saffron threads or ground turmeric 3 mL

1 tsp salt 5 mL

1 can (14 oz/400 mL) artichoke hearts 1 in water, drained

3⁄4 cup sliced drained oil-packed sun-dried 175 mL tomatoes

8 oz thin asparagus or green beans, trimmed 250 g and halved

1⁄3 cup green olives 75 mL

3 tbsp chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley 45 mL

1. Place paella pan over medium heat and let pan get hot. Add oil and tip pan to coat. Add onion and fennel and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onions and fennel are lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Mix in rice, lightly coating all grains with oil. Stir in water, wine, paprika, saffron, salt, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes. Gently shake pan to distribute rice evenly. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Remove pan from heat and scatter asparagus and green olives over rice. Cover pan and bake in preheated oven until rice is tender with a slightly crusted bottom, about 30 minutes.

3. Scatter chopped parsley over top and serve hot.

Excerpted from 350 Best Vegan Recipes by Deb Roussou © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Yummers yes? Now the great news. I’ve got a copy of 5 Easy Steps To Healthy Cooking for one lucky reader. To enter:

1) Make a pledge to eat better. Look at the five points above & highlight one in the comments by June 9th that you’ll try out for yourself.

2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around June 10th to select the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.

3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible to participate in this promotion.

4) Bonus Entry: Get pinning! If you’re a member of Pinterest (sign up, it’s free!), you can pin any one of my images from the featured Vegetable Paella recipe and leave a link in the comments to earn yourself some bonus points (or in this case, an entry). 

Love prizes? Check out what else you can win through the Canadian Gift Guide by visiting the Winner’s Circle.
33 Responses to “Foodie Fridays: Easy Eating”
  1. Susan says:

    I am definitely trying to eat more fresh, whole foods rather than processed foods. Not sure if I could do the complete vegan diet, but I do love the idea of Meatless Mondays, etc.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post! Hope you have a great long weekend! #CGG

  2. Hannah says:

    You look like a good cook! I’m totally interested in these super foods you mentioned…

  3. Debbie B says:

    Eat mostly vegetable & fruit-based foods, I need to eat healthier and would like to eat less processed foods and a bit less meat

  4. roseg says:

    Been trying to calm my sugar addiction for a long time. Perhaps the cookbook’s superfoods will have super powers in order to wipe out my sugar cravings.

  5. Vesper says:

    We have started to cook from scratch just using fruit and vegetables

  6. JM says:

    I make my own vegetable soup

  7. Bonnie says:

    I would love advice on how to cook and eat healthier…we are trying and I think we are doing
    quite well

  8. Aundrea says:

    I pledge to make our meals healthier by using whole grains, cooking with less fat, using more protein and vegetables in my recipes and changing our views on food all around. This sounds like a very big commitment, but we need to make big changes and the time is now. I an over weight as well as my husband. My son is 12 and extremely overweight and my daughter is staying active, so she is keeping herself healthy that way. BIG CHANGES!!!!!!

  9. Arash Naghdi says:

    I pledge to eat more fruit

  10. danny says:

    eating tons of fruits and vegetables lately and loving it

  11. Jennifer L. says:

    I have decided to try and eat mostly vegetable & fruit-based foods. I’ve been doing this lately and feel so much better.

  12. Maureen Hepburn says:

    Eating less red meat, and trying to be more aware of what I actually put in my mouth!!

  13. Leah says:

    I’m going to try and eat more super foods!

  14. Kimberley T. says:

    I have definitely found your post at the right time! My husband and I recently saw Forks Over Knives and it was quite an awakening for us. Our commitment now is to try to eat mostly vegetable and fruit-based foods. I have recently read the China Study, as well as Eat to Live, and now am looking for some good recipes and information to help with this new way of eating. The 5 Easy Steps cookbook would be a wonderful resource.

  15. kolagirl says:

    I already eat a lot of whole grains so now I need to Select more superfoods.

  16. kolagirl says:


  17. sean pynaert says:

    no salt and no fats

  18. mei ling liu says:

    I eat lots of vegetables, fruits

  19. I am going to try to eat more fruit & veggies.

  20. Alana Kornik says:

    Im going to Opt for healthy fats & proteins

  21. Sue says:

    Made the choice about a year ago to eat mostly vegetable & fruit-based foods – feeling so much more energetic.

  22. Kimberley T. says:


  23. Beth says:

    I choose all of 5 of them as I am incorporating them into my diet to become a healthier version of myself and a role model for my daughter and dayhome kids.
    – Choose fresh, whole foods
    – Eat mostly vegetable & fruit-based foods (sound familiar so far?)
    – Opt for healthy fats & proteins
    – Select superfoods
    – Eat more whole grains

  24. Marlene V. says:

    I pledge to eat more whole grains — this would be an important step for my family and I to incorporate in our meals.

  25. Jessica Lord says:

    I pledge to opt for healthy fats & proteins.

  26. Sheila says:

    We rarely eat red meat. We eat alot of fresh fruit and salads. We eat whole grain pasta.

  27. tennille says:

    I need to eat more whole grains. We are trying to up our one meatless dinner to two a week

  28. Brook says:

    I am already in the right path…I am eating healthier, I eat much fruit and veggies every couple of hours, exercising. Whole foods and fresh is a must! I love saffron! So a paella is right up my alley!

  29. Vesper says:

    Going to eat more whole grains

  30. amymbrown says:

    I should do them all but I will try to “Choose fresh, whole foods”

  31. aly3360 says:

    I plan to try and “Eat mostly vegetable & fruit-based foods”. They’re delicious so eating more and focusing on that in our meals really shouldn’t be so hard.

    ayoung3360 (at) hotmail (dot) com

  32. Penny R says:

    I plan to eat more fruit and vegetables in my diet this year.

  33. Jon says:

    Two words: meatless Mondays

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