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The Main Ingredients Challenge #4: Smorgasbord Meal (Chef's Meal)

08/26/2013 08:06 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

As we head into the last of our challenges, for these 12 ingredients, no doubt you've already been inspired with some new ways to cook with all of them. For the last challenge, we have to dig deep and use every single one of the ingredients to prepare a smorgasbord (why is that word so funny?) of recipes still abiding by the same principles of nutrition and balance.

Smorgasbord meal:

Main Ingredients used:

Beets

Berries

Broccoli

Avocados

Almonds

Fish

Rolled oats

Chickpeas

Plain yogurt

Dark green leafy lettuce

Cheddar cheese

Whole grain tortilla

The Main Ingredients Challenge #4: Smorgasbord Meal

THE APPETIZER: Lettuce cups with baked trout and cucumber yogurt drizzle

Ingredients list:

• 25 mL (2 Tbsp.) extra virgin olive oil, divided

• 360 grams (12 oz.) fresh trout fillets, about 2-3 pieces

• Pinch freshly cracked black pepper

• Juice of ½ lime

• 1 head Boston Bibb or dark green leafy lettuce, washed and pulled apart into leaves

• ½ avocado, diced

• 125 mL (½ cup) grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half

• 1 baby cucumber, washed and diced

• 200 mL (1/3 cup) plain 2% yogurt

• Fresh coriander, chopped

• 125 mL (½ cup) low sodium canned chick peas, rinsed

• 50 mL (¼ cup) grated Cheddar cheese

Preparation: Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Drizzle a small baking dish with half the olive oil. Season fish fillets with pepper and lay into the dish in a single layer. Drizzle with remaining oil. Bake at 350 degrees C for 8-10 minutes, until cooked through. Cool slightly and break trout apart into 3 cm (1 1/5 in.) chunks. Pour lime juice on top.

Pat whole lettuce leaves carefully to gently dry but not bruise.

Combine the avocado, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, yogurt, fresh coriander, and chickpeas. Stir to blend well.

Assemble cups by arranging a little fish in each lettuce cup, spoon in some of the vegetable and yogurt mixture and sprinkle with a little grated cheese. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings (8 lettuce cups)

The Verdict: As I was testing these crisp lettuce cups, my husband was eating them before I could even tell him I was trying to take pictures. They are also a great option for my cousin who has wheat sensitivity.

THE ENTRÉE: Broccoli and carrot stir-fry

Ingredients list:

• 25 mL (2 tbsp.) olive oil

• 1 small onion, sliced

• 1 head broccoli, stem trimmed, cut into florets

• 2 carrots, peeled, cut thinly on the bias

• 15 mL (1 tbsp.) grated ginger

• Pinch red chili flakes

• 10 mL (2 tsp.) low sodium tamari soy sauce

• 50 mL (¼ cup) water

Preparation: For a stir-fry or sauté, heating your pan dry and then adding the oil and vegetables helps prevent the oil from burning. Stir-fries can also contain ridiculous amounts of sodium in the form of soy sauces. I always use low sodium soy sauces and in very small amounts.

Heat a large skillet or wok on medium high setting. When pan is hot but not smoking, add the olive oil and onion. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, just to soften the onion. Add the broccoli, carrot, ginger and chili flakes and sauté for another minute just to blend flavours. Add soy sauce and water. Cover with lid and steam for 3-4 minutes, until broccoli is just tender with a slight crunch.

Makes 4 servings

The Verdict: Broccoli is a tough sell in our house and because it's pretty lightly flavoured here I wasn't convinced my husband would be excited. I was right; he wasn't a fan. But personally, I love the ginger and chili flakes.

Roasted beets

Ingredients list:

• 4 medium beets, whole, washed

• 25 mL (2 Tbsp.) balsamic vinegar

Preparation: Beets are a staple in our house, most often boiled. Wrapping them in foil and roasting them in the oven or on the BBQ yields a slightly more concentrated smoky flavour. The little drizzle of balsamic vinegar after they're peeled makes them perfect on their own or as an addition to a simple salad.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees C.

Wrap beets in foil, individually. Place on a baking tray and roast for 45- 50 minutes or until tender. Let cool slightly and then simply push off skin to easily peel. Cut into quarters and drizzle with vinegar. Beets can be refrigerated for up to 6 days before serving.

Makes 8 servings

The Verdict: You'll notice that this recipe consists of only beets and vinegar. My husband knows I don't love raw garlic on my beets, but he does, so that's what I went with this time.

THE DESSERT: Berries and Yogurt

This is a slam dunk selection that's ultra simple and a nice balance of dairy, fruits with some protein from both the yogurt and the nuts. To up the protein, I use Greek yogurt but keep it plain so I can control the amount of added sugar in the form of honey. Maple syrup is another option to add a touch of sweetness instead of table sugar. I keep that honey down between 1- 2 tsp. per portion or you'll start your day with too much sugar.

Ingredients List:

• 175 mL (¾ cup) 2% plain or Greek yogurt

• 125 mL (1/2 cup) each strawberry halves and blueberries

• 50 mL (¼ cup) whole almonds, chopped

• 10 mL (2 tsp.) honey

Preparation: Spoon the yogurt into a bowl, sprinkle with berries and top with almonds and honey.

Makes 1 serving

The Verdict: My husband has no smart aleck remarks about this recipe. He loves it and it reminds him of being on the beach in Greece.