The Guilt-Free Gourmet: 5 Energizing Recipes
Farinata, pictured here, is a chickpea flatbread that originated in Italy. This version is topped with olives, rosemary, and sun-dried tomatoes. Photo: Lauren Miller
“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook” —Julia Child
Most drool-worthy dishes are served up with a generous side of guilt. But not always.
“I wanted to create a book that was designed for anyone looking to nourish their bodies with real food and healthy fats, without the guilt or calorie counting,” says Toronto cookbook author and holistic nutritionalist Lee Capatina.
Drawing from her own personal experience as a model in the fashion industry, she adds, “[restrictive] low-fat diets don’t work long term and can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and your body.”
It’s this philosophy that’s reflected in her book Eat Good Fat: Nourish Your Body with Over 100 Healthy, Fat-Fuelled Recipes, which was shortlisted for the 2021 Taste Canada Awards, the annual foodie fest celebrating Canadian cookbook authors.
Using nutrient-dense, whole food ingredients, Capatina says her focus for Eat Good Fat was to incorporate energizing, healthy fats into everyday meals “whether you are vegetarian, omnivore, keto, gluten-free or just love to eat wholesome delicious food.”
Here, we dish up five recipes from the book — including such palate-pleasers as farinata (chickpea flatbread) with olives, rosemary and sun-dried tomatoes, a comforting turmeric lemon soup with cashews, and to satisfy your sweet tooth, salted chocolate halva fudge — but first, some culinary tips and tricks from Capatina.
Can you share your favourite flavour boosters — and any other secret weapons?
My secret weapons lately are:
1. Ghee (slow-cooked clarified butter): I use ghee for cooking, spreading, and baking. It doesn’t burn like butter and lends a rich, nutty flavour that takes everyday dishes to a whole new level. If you can get your hands on some brown butter (burnt and caramelized) ghee, it’s like pure heaven on earth.
2. Caramelized Onions: I prep a big batch each week to store in the fridge and add them to everything! Scrambled eggs, frittatas, sandwiches, dips, spreads, burgers, soups, etc.
3. Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: Toasting the seeds is a game changer as it really brings out their nutty flavour and crunch factor. I keep a batch prepped in my fridge for sprinkling on soups and salads.
What is your go-to dish for cooking/entertaining without the stress?
I love to make family-style meals and one of my favourite easy meals for entertaining is TACOS! It’s so simple and always a crowd-pleaser. Plus, any leftovers can be used to top grain bowls and salads throughout the week.
What items/ingredients do you keep stocked in your pantry or fridge?
1. Organic Chicken Broth: Using a high-quality broth is the secret to making dishes flavourful and nutrient-dense. Of course, it is always best to use homemade broth, but when you’re in a pinch, it is useful to have a few Tetra Paks of organic chicken broth in your pantry.
2. Canned Full-fat Coconut Milk: I always have a few cans of full-fat coconut milk on hand. I often use it to add creaminess to dishes, instead of using heavy cream. It is essential to find a brand that does not contain any additives; the only ingredients should be coconut and water. Aroy-D is a widely available brand that meets all the criteria above, is inexpensive and tastes great!
3. Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar, or “ACV” is the healthiest vinegar you can buy. I use it in salad dressings and whenever I need a touch of acidity to balance a recipe. Look for organic, raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar “with the mother.” I don’t bother with having 10 different types of fancy vinegar, as ACV almost always does the trick!
4. 70% Dark Chocolate Bars: Dark chocolate is a surprisingly dense source of healthy fats, antioxidants and magnesium — but more importantly, it’s delicious! I always have some on hand for chopping up into pieces to add to cookies or banana bread.
What is your go-to comfort food dish?
My go-to comfort food is a one-skillet dish consisting of chicken thighs and rice cooked with turmeric, caramelized onions and ghee. I will almost always add in a big handful of spinach too and let it wilt before serving. It’s so simple, yet incredibly delicious and comforting!
What is your favourite snack, healthy and otherwise?
I’m currently seven months pregnant, and all I’ve been craving snack-wise is peanut butter! To get my fix, I’ve been indulging in all sorts of healthy-ish homemade treats like PB&J smoothies, homemade “snickers” bars, and no-bake peanut butter cookies. On the less healthy side, I recently indulged and bought a tub of the most delicious peanut butter ice cream that’s made in-house at La Pantry in Montreal. The addiction is real!
*This Q&A has been condensed
Whipped Feta Spread
Gluten-Free | Grain-Free Option | Nut-Free | Keto-Friendly Option | Vegetarian Makes 1 cup (250 mL)
I first encountered whipped feta at a tapas restaurant in Winnipeg and was instantly obsessed. I immediately went home to learn how to make it, and quickly realized it was as simple as blending feta cheese with some liquid until smooth. I suggest serving it on crostini or Seedy Almond Pulp Crackers (page 192 in the book, or you can use other almond flour-based crackers), topped with sliced heirloom tomato and flaky sea salt. For a sweet version, it is excellent topped with chopped pistachios and a drizzle of honey.
4 ounces (115 g) sheep’s or goat’s milk feta cheese
1/2 cup (125 mL) canned full-fat coconut milk, more as needed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) fresh lemon juice
Crostini or Seedy Almond Pulp Crackers to serve
2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
Flakey sea salt, to taste
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped pistachios
1 tablespoon (15 mL) raw liquid honey
- In a food processor or a high-speed blender, combine the feta cheese, coconut milk, and lemon juice. Process until smooth, 25 to 30 seconds. Add more coconut milk, as needed, to thin the mixture to your desired consistency.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the savoury or sweet toppings, as desired. Serve with crostini. Store leftover spread in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
NOTE: For grain-free and keto-friendly, serve with crackers made with almond flour instead of crostini.
Turmeric Lemon Soup With Ghee-Fried Cashews
Dairy-Free | Gluten-Free | Grain-Free | Keto-Friendly | Paleo-Friendly | Vegan Option | Vegetarian Serves 4 to 6
When I first met my husband, he made this comforting soup for me, and it won my heart instantly. It has a vibrant yellow colour, lemony fresh flavour, and creamy texture — it’s like happiness in a bowl. We have since adapted the recipe together, making it more nutrient dense. If you do not own a high- speed blender, you can soak the cashews for 15 minutes in hot water, drain them, and then process the soup in a standard blender.
Turmeric Lemon Soup
3 tablespoons (45 mL) ghee
1 medium yellow onion, diced 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 cup (250 mL) raw cashews
2 1/2 cups (625 mL) seasoned organic vegetable broth, more as needed
1/2 cup (125 mL) coconut cream, skimmed from 1 can (14 ounces/400 mL) full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
1/4 cup (60 mL) fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 mL) nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) sea salt
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) chili powder
1 tablespoon (15 mL) ghee or Plain Jane Ghee (page 271)
1/3 cup (75 mL) raw cashews
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground turmeric
- Make the Turmeric Lemon Soup In a large Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium- high heat, melt the ghee. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower, cashews, vegetable broth, coconut cream, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, turmeric, salt, and chili powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, until the cauliflower is fork-tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Transfer the soup to a high-speed blender. Blend on high speed until smooth. Add 1/2 cup (125 mL) more broth, as needed, to thin the soup to desired consistency.
- Make the Ghee-Fried Cashews In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the ghee. Add the cashews and turmeric. Stir to combine, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the cashews are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
- To serve, divide the soup among bowls. Garnish with Ghee- Fried Cashews and a drizzle of ghee from the pan. Store left- over soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
NOTE: For vegan, use virgin coconut oil instead of ghee.
Farinata With Olives, Rosemary, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Gluten-Free | Grain-Free | Nut-Free | Vegetarian | Serves 6
Farinata is a chickpea flatbread that originated in Italy. I first tried the lesser-known variation, fainá, while backpacking in Argentina in my early twenties. It would be served with deep-dish pizza, but I loved it on its own and would eat it plain with some good olive oil on top. I started making it at home and experimented with different toppings—this Mediterranean-inspired version is my favourite. It makes for a light and healthy vegetarian lunch served with chopped avocado caprese salad.
2 cups (500 mL) chickpea flour
1/2 cup (125 mL) grated pecorino cheese
2 teaspoons (10 mL) sea salt
1 teaspoon (5 mL) black pepper
1/4 cup (60 mL) ghee melted, more for the pan
1 tablespoon + 1½ teaspoons (22 mL) chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/3 cup (75 mL) pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half
¹1/3 cup (75 mL) sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup (60 mL) loosely packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease the sides and base of a large cast-iron skillet with a bit of ghee.
- In a large bowl, add the chickpea flour. Slowly whisk in the warm water, until the mixture is completely smooth. Add the pecorino, salt, and pepper. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Add the melted ghee to the batter. Whisk to combine.
- Place the empty cast-iron skillet in the oven to preheat for 5 minutes. Carefully pour the batter evenly into the hot skillet. Scatter the rosemary, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and red onion in the batter.
- Return the skillet to the oven and bake until the batter is set and lightly golden around the edges, 16 to 20 minutes.
- Set the oven to broil. Broil until the top is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
- To serve, cut into slices and sprinkle with the parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and finish with pepper. Serve warm.
Salted Chocolate Halva Fudge With Tahini Drizzle
Dairy-Free | Gluten-Free | Grain-Free | Nut-Free | Keto-Friendly Option | Paleo-Friendly | Vegetarian Makes 16 squares
Packed with good fats, this delicious freezer fudge is a perfect treat for anyone who loves tahini. Inspired by the flavours of Middle Eastern halva, I’ve used tahini and toasted sesame seeds for a nutty crunch that pairs perfectly with chocolate. A sprinkle of flaky sea salt takes this healthy dessert to the next level. Some brands of tahini are very thick, whereas others are thin. I suggest using thin tahini because you can easily drizzle it on just about anything!
3/4 cup (175 mL) ghee
3/4 cup (175 mL) coconut butter or virgin coconut oil
3/4 cup (175 mL) tahini, more to serve
3/4 cup (175 mL) raw cacao powder
1/4 cup (60 mL) pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) sea salt
2 tablespoons (30 mL) sesame seeds
Flaky sea salt, to serve (optional)
- In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the ghee and coconut butter. Remove from the heat. Add the tahini, cacao powder, maple syrup, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Transfer the mixture to a glass 8-inch (2 L) square baking dish. Cover and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
- Remove from the freezer and let sit for 10 minutes at room temperature to soften.
- Meanwhile, heat a dry, medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds in a single layer. Toast, tossing occasionally, until the sesame seeds are fragrant and lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
- To serve, slice the fudge into 16 squares. Drizzle with tahini. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and flaky sea salt, if using. Enjoy immediately. Store the fudge in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.
NOTE: For keto-friendly, skip the maple syrup or use sugar-free maple syrup from monk fruit sweetener instead.
I Love You So Matcha
Dairy-Free | Gluten-Free | Grain-Free | Nut-Free | Keto-Friendly | Paleo-Friendly | Vegetarian Serves 1
These days, coffee is fuelling my busy mornings, but now and then I like to switch it up with a fat-fuelled matcha latte. I like Ippodo Tea matcha, as it is very smooth and balanced, so you don’t need to add any sweetener. Adding a scoop of collagen peptides gives the latte extra staying power and beautifying benefits that help you glow from the inside out. To make an iced matcha latte, simply pour the blended drink over ice.
1 cup (250 mL) boiling water
1 teaspoon (5 mL) matcha powder
1 teaspoon (5 mL) coconut butter or virgin coconut oil
1 teaspoon (5 mL) ghee
1/3 ounce (10 g) scoop of collagen peptides (optional)
Pinch of cinnamon
- Pour the boiling water into a mug and let it sit for 30 seconds to cool slightly.
- Transfer the water to a blender. Add the matcha powder, coconut butter, ghee, collagen peptides (if using), and cinnamon. Blend on high speed until frothy and creamy, about 30 seconds.
- Pour back into the mug and enjoy immediately.
Excerpted from Eat Good Fat by Lee Capatina. Copyright © 2020 Lee’s Provisions Inc. Photographs by Lauren Miller. Published by Penguin Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.