Coconut Chana Saag (Vegan, GF)

Coconut Chana Saag | Once Upon a Recipe

Hello friends!

How is 2014 treating you so far? Made any resolutions yet? Come up with any goals for the new year? Or maybe you’re easing into January by slowly decreasing your chocolate/cookie/wine intake in preparation for new healthy habits.

Coconut Chana Saag | Once Upon a Recipe

Personally, I’m easing into 2014 gently. There are still cookies and salted caramel bark in my freezer that need to be eaten, yo! And champagne in my fridge that needs drankin’. However, despite the way I present myself and my eating habits on this blog (cookies and cakes and sweet things galore), I actually eat fairly healthy on the regular.

One of my goals for 2014 is to give you, my dear readers, a more accurate representation of the way I typically eat. Generally speaking, I try to focus on the 80/20 rule – 80 percent of the time I try to eat healthy and wholesome – veggies, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains, and 20 percent of the time I allow myself to indulge. Some days, the scale tips more in favor of indulging, and other days, it tips more in favor of eating healthy. It’s all about balance, friends.

Coconut Chana Saag | Once Upon a Recipe

Coconut Chana Saag | Once Upon a Recipe    Coconut Chana Saag | Once Upon a Recipe

This recipe for Coconut Chana Saag is wonderfully reflective of the way I tent to eat. Simple ingredients, easy preparation, and lots of flavor. I was gifted a new cookbook for Christmas – Isa Does it by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Isa Does It is full of easy and delicious vegan recipes, and I have already bookmarked about 20 recipes to try. If any of them are half as delicious as this Coconut Chana Saag, I have a very tasty 2014 ahead. And so do you!

Coconut Chana Saag | Once Upon a Recipe

Coconut Chana Saag (slightly adapted from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

This Coconut Chana Saag comes together quickly and easily. I served it over brown basmati rice, but you could also use quinoa, jasmine rice, or your favorite grain. Store leftovers in a sealed container and refrigerate, then enjoy throughout the week! Serves 6.

2 TBSP. coconut oil

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

A knob of fresh ginger, minced (about 2 TBSP.)

2 TBSP. curry powder (I used Moghul curry powder)

1 tsp. salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp. crushed fennel seeds

1/4 tsp. garam masala

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

A pinch of cayenne pepper

1 24-ounce can whole tomatoes

2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

8 ounces of baby kale

1 14-ounce can of lite coconut milk

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (plus more for serving)

Juice of 1 lime

Cooked brown basmati rice (for serving)

Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for about 7 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the garlic and ginger, and saute until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the curry powder, salt, pepper, fennel seeds, garam masala, cumin, and cayenne and mix well. Allow the spices to roast for about a minute.

Add the tomato juice from the can, and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Add the tomatoes from the can, squishing them with your fingers or mashing with a wooden spoon. Add the chickpeas and mix well. Cover the pot and increase the heat to medium-high. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kale and stir until wilted, and then simmer for about 5 minutes more.

Add the coconut milk, cilantro, and lime juice and heat through. Taste for seasoning. Allow to sit for 10-20 minutes (if possible), so that the flavors can mingle. It tastes even better the next day. Serve over brown basmati rice and add more fresh cilantro, if desired.

Have a great week! 🙂

This Year… | Morrocan-Style Turkey and Chickpeas













….I will drink more water. I will not be deterred by the fact that I may have to visit the little ladies’ room 132 times per day, but that’s the price you pay to be hydrated. Now, if you’ll excuse me for a moment, I have to pee.

…I will find more reasons to celebrate. After the most fantastic New Year’s Day (full of lobster tail and steak, and champagne with wild hibiscus flowers – mega-awesome start to the new year), I have concluded that it’s important to celebrate more often. Obviously not every day, and not to the extent of overpriced shellfish and bubbly, but…who says you need to wait until a holiday to celebrate? This year, I will find more reasons to celebrate. Big and small. And I will drink more champagne (duh).

…I will be more kind. To others and to myself.













….I will challenge myself more in the kitchen. I’m going to stretch a little outside of my comfort zone this year. Watch out yeast! You’re mine. Scallops, I’m going to learn how to cook you into mouth-watering goodness. And I will become a better cupcake decorator.

…I will be more organized. People who know me would probably roll their eyes at this statement. Most people think I’m super organized. But it’s all a big front…I’m floundering just as much as the rest of you. But this year, time to tighten up. I’m going to start by tackling that dang room.

…I will get more sleep, so that I need less caffeine to get through the day. I’ve developed an unhealthy coffee habit that needs to be brought under control. I blame my lovely little french press.

…I will try to achieve at least one of the aforementioned goals. Goals, people. Not resolutions. Resolutions tend to fail before the words even leave my lips. But these are just goals, and the world ain’t gonna end if I don’t achieve them. But I’m gonna try.

That is all.













As part of my “get more organized” goal, I have been making weekly meal plans for myself. I make my plan, buy my groceries, and try to follow the plan for each day. Hopefully this will translate into healthier meals, and less eating out. And of course, fewer dinners comprised solely of cereal or cookies. 

Moroccan-Style Turkey and Chickpeas (adapted from Cooking Light magazine, Dec. 2011)

1 pound ground turkey

1 TBSP. olive oil

2 medium onions, sliced vertically

1 large carrot, peeled and cut diagonally

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. black pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper (or more if you like it hot)

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup raisins

3 TBSP. tomato paste

Zest of one lemon

1/2-1 tsp. salt (to taste)

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Juice from half a lemon

1/2 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ground turkey until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and carrot, and saute for about 4 minutes. Add in the spices (cumin, cinnamon, coriander, black pepper, and cayenne) and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Return the ground turkey to the pan. Add in the chicken broth, raisins, tomato paste, lemon zest, salt, and chickpeas. Allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, add in the lemon juice and cilantro or parsley (if desired). Enjoy immediately over rice, couscous, quinoa, or whatever your little heart desires.

This really is a warm and comforting dish, and so easy to prepare. I ate leftovers for a couple of days afterwards, and the flavors really become more pronounced after a little nap in the fridge. Apologies for the horrendous lighting situation (the sun is still setting before I drag my butt home from work), but a solution is on the way! And no, I’m not quitting my job. 

Less Is More | Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Herbs

Dear Life,

You have been almost unbearably stressful lately. What did I ever do to you? I try to show you a good time as often as possible – I play fun sports like frisbee and soccer, I rock out at super awesome concerts, I bake delicious things to eat. And you just throw stressful experiences back in my face! Clearly I’ve done something to upset you, but I’m not sure what it is. Can we call a truce and be friends again? I’ll cook and bake you lots more wonderful things if you’re nice to me again.



Sorry about that. I just had to have a little chat with life there for a moment. But I’m back to share a simple yet tongue-pleasing recipe with you. With Spring finally starting to show her face a little bit, I find myself craving lighter, fresh-tasting dishes. When I opened up this month’s Bon Appétit magazine and found this chickpea salad recipe, I immediately wanted to give it a try. You need just a handful of ingredients, most of which you might have sitting in your kitchen right now. The only thing I was missing was the fresh herbs, but I had the dried version of both, and considering the state of the fresh herbs around here at this time of year, dried was probably the best way to go. I can’t wait to make this again in a couple of months, when fresh basil is lush, fragrant, and easy to find. At least fresh parmesan is always in season.

Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Herbs (from Bon Appétit magazine, April 2011)

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 TBSP. chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp. dried)

2 TBSP. chopped fresh Italian parsley (or 1 tsp. dried)

2 TBSP. fresh lemon juice

4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, pressed

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy immediately, or make ahead and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to mingle and say hello to one another. This salad can be whipped up in no time. Happy eating!

Another Keeper | Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry

Hello lovelies! I hope you are all having a great weekend. If you are in Edmonton, you are probably digging your way out of all of the snow over the past week. Where is it all coming from? I can’t remember the last winter that saw us getting several feet of snow at once! Makes me want to just hibernate and wake up in April. Only 3 more months to go. *sigh*

Cold weather warrants warm, spicy, and fragrant stews around here. Honey and I are big curry fans, and typically eat some type of curry concoction at least once per week. We also try to eat a couple of vegetarian meals each week. This sweet potato chickpea curry kills two birds with one stone and has a lovely flavor from the peanut butter and orange juice. Not to mention the thai curry paste. I’m not a huge fan of very spicy dishes, but if you like your curries on the hotter side, increase the amount of curry paste you use. You could also substitute green or yellow curry paste, depending on your preference (green is the spiciest, yellow is the mildest). Enjoy my friends ~ happy eating!

Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry (adapted from The Best of Chef at Home, Michael Smith)

A splash of vegetable oil

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

A small knob of frozen ginger

2 tsp. of Thai red curry paste

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 19-oz. can of chickpeas, drained

1 14-oz. can of coconut milk

1 cup of orange juice

1/2 cup of peanut butter

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 cup frozen green peas

Several handfuls of baby spinach

Chopped cilantro

Add a splash of vegetable oil to a stockpot over medium-high heat. Toss in the onion and garlic and saute them until they are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Grate the frozen ginger into the pan and add the Thai curry paste. Continue cooking until the spices are heated through and fragrant, another few minutes.

Add the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk, orange juice, peanut butter, and salt. Brig to a simmer, lower the heat and continue simmering until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the peas, spinach, and cilantro. Serve over rice.

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