Swiss Chard, Quinoa & Red Lentil Soup

Three words I would use to describe this soup: simple, nutritious and satisfying. It’s a recipe I’ve been sharing with clients and making at cooking lessons for ages. Most recently I made a batch and shared a photo in my Instagram stories and I received so many requests for this recipe! So here we are! It’s officially live on the blog.

Just a few notes before diving in! Firstly, I used swiss chard this time around, but I’ve also used kale and collards with great success. I also strategically included turmeric and ginger as I’m always trying to find ways to incorporate these anti-inflammatory superstars into my cooking. I must mention that while this is a soup, it really does hold up as a meal on its own. Between the red lentils and quinoa, you’re getting a really nice portion of plant-based protein. The complex carbohydrates from the potatoes will keep you full longer. Plus, it’s a one-pot wonder and it freezes well. Wins all around with this soup!

Scroll down to get the full recipe! If you try it out, please let me know. I truly appreciate getting your feedback on my recipes.



Makes 4 to 6 servings


1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, chopped into small pieces
2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
1 bunch of swiss chard, stems roughly chopped, leaves ripped or chopped into bite-sized pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground ginger or 1 tablespoon fresh ginger finely minced
½ teaspoon ground turmeric or 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric very finely minced
1 - 2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
2 medium potatoes, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces (If organic, no peeling required!)
1 cup red lentils
½ cup dry quinoa, rinsed and drained
8 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper


Warm the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions, carrots, celery and chard stems until tender, about 8 minutes.

Add in the minced garlic and sauté another minute, just until fragrant (if using fresh ginger and/or turmeric add it with the garlic). Add in the cumin, dried ginger, dried turmeric, salt, potatoes, lentils, quinoa, water and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and cover the pot to let everything simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.

Once the lentils and vegetables have softened, stir in the chopped chard leaves and cook until they are wilted, just a few minutes. Season with additional salt, if desired, and serve warm with freshly ground black pepper. If you like a little heat, try adding chili flakes or a hot sauce of your choice.

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days or frozen for about 2 months.

If you enjoyed the recipe I shared above be sure to check out my Plant-Based Breakthrough program, which is a 4 week online crash course in health, nutrition, and meal planning.  For details on when the next program starts click here. You can also join the Plant-Based Breakthrough Community on Facebook where I share recipes, inspiration, and information on plant-based nutrition.

Green Curry Soup

Have you seen our newly revamped Canada’s food guide yet? It’s a hot topic these days and it generated a whole lot of fun discussion on my Instagram post. The new evidence based guide ditches dairy as a food group and heavily emphasizes plant-based foods. It also includes healthy habits such as choosing water as a primary beverage, eating with others, spending more time cooking at home and being aware of food marketing.

Unlike former iterations of the guide, our new one highlights plant-based proteins. Speaking of which, I recently made a green curry style soup that conveniently features three kinds of plant proteins: tofu, green peas, and soy bean sprouts. This trifecta of proteins paired with homemade green curry sauce and coconut milk resulted in one of the most delicious soup I've ever created.

When you scroll down, don't be alarmed by the list of ingredients. This recipe is soup-er easy to make (45 minutes start to finish), you'll learn how simple it is to DIY a flavourful green curry-style sauce, and you'll have leftovers for the next couple of days.  Scroll down for the full recipe!



Makes 6 - 8 servings


Green curry sauce: 

1 bunch of cilantro, stems and leaves washed and roughly chopped
1 bunch of parsley, stems and leaves washed and roughly chopped
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, sliced
1 - 2 hot peppers (I used habanero, but jalapeño or another spicy pepper would work), chopped
3 cloves of garlic
Juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon sea salt 

Soup base: 

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 onion, diced
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
8 oz mushrooms of your choice, sliced
1 can (400 ml / 14oz) of full fat coconut milk 
1 block of firm tofu, large dice
1 can (199 ml) bamboo shoots (optional) 
1 cup green peas
1 bunch greens of your choice (I used dandelion), washed and finely chopped 
3 - 4 cups soy bean or mung bean sprouts (optional)
Sea salt & pepper 

Black rice ramen (I used Lotus Foods brand) or rice noodles, cooked according to package directions


In a blender process all of the green curry ingredients to a smooth, sauce-like consistency.  You may need to add a bit of water to get things going.

Warm the coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots, and a big pinch of salt, and cook until the onions become translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add the mushrooms and cook them for a few minutes until they have softened and start releasing water. 

Add the green curry sauce to the pot, along with the coconut milk, tofu, bamboo shoots, and peas. You will also want to add 3 - 4 cups of water depending on how thick you want your soup to be. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer, then stir in the greens and sprouts.  Cook until the greens have wilted and the sprouts have softened. Taste the soup and season with sea salt and pepper if needed. 

Transfer a portion of your noodles to a soup bowl and pour the green curry soup over top.  Enjoy!

If you enjoyed the recipe I shared above be sure to check out my Plant-Based Breakthrough program, which is a 4 week online crash course in health, nutrition, and meal planning.  For details on when the next program starts click here. You can also join the Plant-Based Breakthrough Community on Facebook where I share recipes, inspiration, and information on plant-based nutrition.

Seaweed: A Sustainable Superfood + Miso Mugs

Following my interview on CBC Radio I wanted to share more information about seaweed and its benefits. In case you haven’t noticed, seaweed has become more and more popular these days. It has been featured in prominent and well respected blogs, magazines, and media outlets as a top food trend, and chefs around the world are finding new and exciting ways to incorporate seaweed into their menus. It's also been touted for its many health benefits and is a rising star in the world of sustainable foods. 

What exactly is seaweed?   

Seaweed is an umbrella term for an entire group of macroalgae and microalgae that live in salt water, brackish water, or fresh water.

There are three main varieties of seaweed: Green algae, such sea lettuce. Brown algae which includes kombu/kelp, wakame, and arame. Red algae includes well-known varieties such as nori, dulse, and hana tusnomata just to name a few. 


Depending on the variety of seaweed, it may be harvested wild or using various cultivation systems (seaweed farming). Cultivation can occur onshore using large tanks, inshore (close to land), or offshore (in deeper waters). In some cases it may be handpicked, collected using nets, or harvested mechanically.  

When it's harvested seaweed is processed immediately to avoid spoilage. Generally seaweed is rinsed with clean salt water (fresh water is damaging to seaweed) and dried in the sun or using drying equipment or facilities. Once dried, seaweed is vacuum sealed to prolong freshness and quality. 

Cultivating sea vegetables in the ocean may offer the environment benefits through reducing ocean acidification and purifying the water around them. Cultivation is also sustainable as it reduces the risk of over-harvesting wild species, and it is a food source that does not require feed, fertilizer, or land to grow.

Taylor Widrig, owner of  Mermaid Fare , harvesting kombu in Nova Scotia.

Taylor Widrig, owner of Mermaid Fare, harvesting kombu in Nova Scotia.

Nutrient Profile

Seaweed is an extremely nutritious food. It's rich in vitamins and minerals that are easily absorbed by the body. It also contains antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory and contains essential fatty acids and essential amino acids.

Depending on the variety, seaweed can contain anywhere from 5 to 45 % protein.  It also contains a significant amount of dietary fibre (anywhere from 30 to 60 % when dry) and omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

Seaweed contains vitamins including A, B1, B3, B6, C, and E. It also contains minerals and trace elements including calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, molybdenum, chromium, fluoride, and iodine. 

Health Benefits

Potential health benefits of seaweed: maintaining healthy cholesterol levels; may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease; weight management; supporting thyroid function;  may be protective against some forms of cancer; and more!

How much should you eat to maximize the health benefits? Since seaweed is extremely nutrient dense, you only need to consume small quantities to reap the benefits.  For the average adult the recommended daily intake is 0.2 to 0.35 oz or 5 to 10 g of dried seaweed. If you plan on using seaweed therapeutically, please consult with a medical professional. 

Choosing & Sourcing Seaweed

Although it may be tempting, do not harvest wild seaweed yourself. Proper harvesting techniques are essential in maintaining the health of the plant and its surrounding environment.  

You can purchase seaweed in most natural food stores, Asian grocers, and sometimes even in well stocked grocery chains. If possible, choose sustainably sourced and traceable seaweed. 

Culinary Uses

Seaweeds are know for their salty, briny and distinctive umami flavour.  Depending on the variety, it can be enjoyed dried or fresh, roasted, cooked, stir-fried, marinated, used in teas, soup stocks or bouillons,  dips and spreads, used as garnish or salt replacement, and as a thickening agent. It's highly uncommon to find fresh seaweed in North America. Depending on the type of seaweed you're cooking with you may need to rehydrate it by submerging it in water before use. 

Although the options are endless, here are a few ways you can incorporate seaweed into your diet: wakame in miso soup; kombu in dashi or when cooking beans or grains (to increase digestibility & add nutrients); nori for sushi or toasted to make a crispy snack; agar agar (a gelatinous substance derived from algae) to make jams and jellies; or dulse sprinkled in salads soups, stews or pan fried to create a plant-based alternative to bacon; etc.

Note: dried seaweed expands significantly when rehydrated, with an increase of 8 - 10 times in weight depending on the variety.

If you're looking to add more seaweed to your diet, I have a few recipes on my blog that may be of interest to you. Check out my Dulse Sunflower Seed & Walnut PâtéSuperfood Kale Salad, and Kaiso Seaweed Salad (featuring hana tsunomata).  You can also scroll down for my quick and easy miso mug recipe. This is one of my favourite snacks and I hope you'll enjoy it too!  



Makes 1 serving. 


1.5 cups of water
1 - 2 teaspoons miso paste, to taste
Mermaid Fare dulse
Optional add-ins: sliced green onions, grated carrot, sesame seeds, little cubes of tofu or shelled edamame, dried or fresh mushrooms, or tiny pieces of a delicate leafy green (like spinach or arugula)


Bring water to a boil in a pot or a kettle. Transfer hot water, plus miso paste, to a mug or small bowl. Stir until the miso is dissolved. Then add in crumbled or small pieces of dulse and choose any of the add-ins listed above. Enjoy immediately!  It makes a great mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or even a light meal with the addition of tofu. 

In the photo, I've added dulse, green onions, tofu, and mushrooms, and served the soup with a side of pretzel bites from Ottawa's zero waste grocery store Nu Grocery.

Ocean Greens: Explore the World of Edible Seaweed & Sea Vegetables, by Lisette Kreisher & Marcel Schuttelaar

Roasted Acorn Squash & Apple Soup

I'm sure you've noticed that winter squash is abundant these days at both grocery stores and farmers' market. As we begin to bid farewell to Fall, I'd say it's time to start compiling warming recipes and making soups and stews. 

The soup recipe below is inspired by the Minimalist Baker's simple pumpkin soup, but I've changed things up a bit by adding roasted acorn squash, apple, onion and garlic, rather than pumpkin puree. The changes gives the soup a nice depth of flavour and also subtle natural sweetness from the roasted veggies and apples. In the Minimalist Baker's recipe, she also includes a kale "topping" for the soup. I loved this idea and have come up with a variation in my recipe as well. It's optional, but definitely recommended as it adds a nice pop of colour, flavour, and texture to the dish. 

I love cooking with winter squash. Many people write squash off because it's thought to be too starchy, but surprisingly it has a whole lot of nutritional value. In the case of acorn squash, it's a great source of beta carotene (the precursor to vitamin A) and vitamin C.  It's also rich in fiber. So yes, this is a healthy soup, but it's easy to make and delicious. The combination of roasted vegetables, apples, coconut milk and spices, paired with the bitter and garlickly kale topper, gives this soup complex and rich flavour.  Try it out and let me know what you think.


Makes 4 servings

Soup Ingredients:

Extra virgin olive oil
2 acorn squashes
2 small yellow onions, peeled and cut in large dice
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into bit sized pieces
2 cups low sodium organic vegetable broth
1 cup full fat coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon each sea salt, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg

Kale & Hemp Topper ingredients (optional):

1 bunch of kale, stems removed, ripped or chopped into bite sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
A few pinches of salt


Preheat oven to 400 F and line 1 or 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife cut the acorn squashes in half. Use a spoon to scrape out all of the seeds and strings (reserve the seeds if you plan on roasting them later). 

Rub a bit of olive oil on to the flesh of the squash and place face down (skin side up) on the baking sheet. Place the onions, apples, and garlic on a baking sheet as well and drizzle them with a bit of olive oil. Bake for 40 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the skin of the acorn squash.

Remove the baking trays from the oven. Once the squash has cooled enough to handle, scrape out the flesh (it should be soft and easy to remove) and transfer it to a bowl. Discard the skin.  [*If you have a Vitamix or other high powered blender, scroll down for alternate instructions] Then add the squash, apples, onions, and garlic, along with all of the other soup ingredients to a sauce pan. Bring it to a simmer.

To puree the soup, you can either transfer it to a blender, food processor or use an immersion blender. If using a blender, place a towel over the top to avoid spilling. Once the soup has reached a nice, smooth consistency, pour the mixture back into pot. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for a few minutes to reheat and taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve immediately on its own or with Kale & Hemp topper.

Kale & Hemp Topper:

Warm the olive olive over medium heat in a small skillet. Add garlic and sauté for a few minutes until golden brown (be sure to watch the garlic closely as it will burn quickly). Add kale and toss, then add a few pinches of salt and cover to steam. Cook for another few minutes until kale is wilted and then add in the hemp hearts. Mix it up to ensure the kale is lightly coated with hemp and garlic, and set aside for topping soup.

*If you have a Vitamix or other high powered blender, you can skip a few of the aforementioned steps. After you're done roasting the squash, apples, onions and garlic, you can really simplify the process. Add the roasted squash puree, along with the roasted apples, onions and garlic, and all of the remaining soup ingredients to your Vitamix. Process the soup using a high setting - or the cooking setting - and you can blend and heat your soup at the same time.  This will only take about 6 minutes and save you the trouble of transferring the soup and will reduce the amount of dishes you have to clean.

Hearty Leek, Lentil & Leafy Green Soup

If you follow my blog, you might have noticed my affinity for lentils. I really do love them! They are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates.  Lentils are incredibly nutrient dense. They contain iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc,  and B vitamins.  They are also a low-glycemic food, meaning lentils do not spike blood sugar. Plus, they're super inexpensive and can be easily adapted into soups, salads, stews, and can be blended into spreads or dips. If you haven't tried lentils yet, what are you waiting for? 

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for butternut squash and red lentil soup. This time around, my soup includes hearty and robust brown lentils, loads of leeks and leafy greens.  On cold days, this soup will warm you up, fill you up, and will make your belly very happy. 

Give it a try and let me know what you think. See below for the recipe. 



  • 2 tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 leeks, ends trimmed (keeping the white and pale green parts), halved lengthwise, thinly sliced

  • 2 carrots, peeled, chopped into bite sized pieces

  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon, cumin

  • 1 tablespoon, herbes de provence (or a spice mixture of your choice including herbs such as savoury, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and oregano)

  • A pinch or two of red pepper flakes (or more if you want a spicier soup)

  • 3 medium sized potatoes (of your choice), roughly chopped to the size of a dice

  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed

  • 1 or 2 bay leaves

  • 6 cups, water

  • 1 28 oz (796 ml) can of diced tomatoes

  • 2 loosely packed cups, leafy greens (I used kale), stems removed, ripped into bite sized pieces

  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper


Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, carrots and celery with a big pinch of salt.  Stir often, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, herbs de provence and red pepper flakes. Stirring constantly, cook until fragrant, for about 30 seconds.

Add the potatoes, lentils, bay leaves and water. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape. 

At this point, you can add the tomatoes and give the soup a stir. Add the kale, mix well, and cook for a few more minutes. Taste your soup for flavour and season with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaves, then serve immediately. 

Butternut Squash & Red Lentil Soup

Despite the drastic fluctuations in Ottawa weather and temperatures, it is indeed fall. In my last blog post,  I shared a recipe for hemp and oat pumpkin spice muffins that I made recently while cooking for Jackie Beaudoin's yoga retreat in Lac Pemichangan. These muffins were perfect for the yogis and also very seasonal. Another recipe that everybody really loved was my butternut squash and red lentil soup. This is soup is warming and satiating, thanks to a robust mix of spices and a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat. 

Butternut squash is readily available this time of year. It's a variety of winter squash and grown is locally here in Ottawa (and throughout the Western hemisphere). It's touted as an antioxidant super star, thanks to its uniquely high percentage of certain carotenoids. Although butternut squash is not a fatty food, it's interesting to note that it contain omega-3 fats in the form of anti-inflammatory alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Simply put, butternut squash is an incredibly health supportive food, that offers cancer protective properties. Health benefits aside,  it's also delicious and versatile. You can try incorporating butternut squash into stews, soups, spreads, lasagnas, chili, salads, and it can even be added to cakes, brownies and pies.  The seeds are edible too and can be roasted in the same way you would roast pumpkin seeds.

This recipe also includes red lentils, one of my favourite fibrous foods. As you may know, fibre helps with weight management, the body's natural detoxification, gut health and protects against colon cancer. One of the main reasons I love red lentils is that they blend, dissolve and even disappear,  when added to soups and stews. I like to call them "sneaky lentils" because they can be added to cooked dishes and go unnoticed, even by the pickiest eaters. 

Without further ado, please find the recipe below. If you make it, I'd love to hear your feedback. This is one of my favourites, and I'm pretty sure it'll become one of yours too. 


Vegan ~ Gluten Free ~ Makes 4 servings


1 Tablespoon, coconut oil
1 onion, diced
1 rib of celery, small diced
1 carrot, small diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1” piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 cup, red lentils
1 can, coconut milk
4 cups, vegetable stock or water
1 Tablespoon, ground cumin
1 Tablespoon, ground coriander
1 teaspoon, allspice
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 bunch cilantro stems and leaves, roughly chopped
2 limes, zest and juice
Sea salt & pepper
Chilli flakes or hot sauce, to taste 


In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the coconut oil and add the onion, celery, and carrot and a big pinch of sea salt. Cook for a few minutes until the onions start to become translucent and then add ginger and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the lentils and cook for a minute. Add all the spices and stir for another minute.

Add the stock or water, squash, and half of the chopped cilantro. Simmer over medium heat until the squash is soft and the lentils are cooked. Stir in coconut milk.

Add the lime zest and juice and add the remainder of the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy with a sprinkle of chilli flakes or good dousing of hot sauce and a hearty slice bread. 

Zucchini Garlic Soup

Yesterday morning, I was on Daytime Ottawa to make zucchini garlic soup with hosts Derick Fage and Julie Beun. I love showcasing foods that are both seasonal and local, and this soup definitely fit the bill. Plus, it's very easy to make, requires very few ingredients and very little kitchen equipment. 

On the show, I spoke with Derick and Julie about the my role as holistic nutritionist, about teaching cooking lessons to kids, and working as a chef for yoga retreats. We also spoke at length about the many health benefits associated with both zucchini and garlic. 

First and foremost, did you know that zucchini is actually a fruit? In the culinary world, it's generally treated as a vegetable, but from a botanical standpoint, it's considered a fruit.  Also, were you aware that, like carrots, zucchini can be beneficial for eyesight?  Thanks to high contents of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, zucchini may help protect against age-related macular degeneration (in the retina) and cataracts.  Zucchini contains a nice compliment of B-complex vitamins, including folate, B6, B1, B2, B3, and choline, which helps support blood sugar regulation. It also offers vitamin C, magnesium, and Omega-3 fatty acids (found in the seeds) making zucchini a great anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory food.   

Garlic has been highly researched and its health properties are well documented. Garlic is great for heart health, may support iron metabolism and it's also antibacterial and antiviral. Garlic is also incredibly anti-inflammatory and may help protect against cancer.  Besides being a true super food, garlic also adds taste, aroma, and complexity of flavour to whatever you're making. 

Being on Daytime Ottawa was a really good learning experience for me and it definitely took me out of my comfort zone. I've done many cooking lessons and demonstrations in the past, but never on live television.  Even though I had a bit of stage fright, I felt at ease quickly and I really enjoyed chatting with Derick and Julie.  In fact, we got so carried away talking, that we weren't even able to finish cooking. Luckily, I came prepared with a batch of readymade soup and both hosts were able to give it a try. They were impressed by how rich, creamy and flavourful it was.  

You can find the full recipe below.  If you plan on making this soup, please don't peel your zucchini as most of the anti-oxidant properties are found in the skin. I hope you'll give it a try and let me know what you think.  


Even without dairy, this soup is incredibly rich and creamy.

Even without dairy, this soup is incredibly rich and creamy.

Makes 8 to 10 servings. 


4 tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil 
1 yellow onion, sliced
8 to 9, large cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon, fresh ginger, finely minced or grated
4 medium zucchini, chopped into small pieces
4 cups, organic vegetable broth
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Handful of chives, chopped, for garnish


Warm the olive olive in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, with a big pinch of sea salt, and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Keep the heat low as you want to sweat, not brown or caramelize, the onions and garlic.

Once the onions have softened and become translucent, add the zucchini and ginger. Increase the heat just a bit, cook with the lid on but slightly ajar, stirring every few minutes. After about 10 minutes or once the zucchinis have softened and released a lot of liquid, add the broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer at a low heat for about 45 minutes to bring out the flavours.

Either blend your soup with an immersion blender until it’s smooth and creamy, or transfer to a high powered blender. If you’re using a blender, you may want to transfer in batches. Fill the blender half full, and hold the lid down tightly with a towel, and blend until you’ve reached a smooth consistency.

Taste and season your soup with salt and pepper. Serve immediately and garnish with chives. 

This soup was inspired by Faith Durand’s recipe featured on The Kitchn

Daytime Ottawa hosts, Derick and Julie, and I showing off a colourful array of zucchinis from  Roots Down Organic Farm .

Daytime Ottawa hosts, Derick and Julie, and I showing off a colourful array of zucchinis from Roots Down Organic Farm.