Sunday, December 30, 2012

Amaranth Breakfast Love


Amaranth is a pseudograin, (like quinoa, buckwheat and wild rice) meaning it's actually seed but cooks up like a grain.  It is considered by many to be a superfood - delivering twice the calcium of milk,  a high dose of protein, fiber, complex carbs, iron, potassium and many other vitamins.  Unlike acid-forming milk and dairy, amaranth is alkalizing to the system, which allows the body to more readily absorb its calcium.*

Amaranth is the bomb (can I still use that expression?).  It's gluten free, tasty, and quicker to cook than rice.  I've found conflicting information on the web about whether or not it is a complete protein - some say yes, some say no.  What everyone seems to agree on, however, is that it's a nutritionally dense, high quality protein - a definite must-add to the pantries of anyone who is looking to eat well and feel good. (There are also studies that show it to be beneficial to those with high cholesterol and high blood pressure.)  Try it in this simple, four ingredient breakfast dish and see how you like it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Onigiri (Brown rice balls)

 These rice balls are a breeze to make and are great for a light lunch on their own, or as an addition to a lunch box.  They're also the perfect food to sneak into your day-pack for an energy boost when you're trekking, cross-country skiing, or even office working.  There are lots of possible variations, but my present favourite is brown rice with umboshi plum paste, edamame, and a small piece of avocado tucked into the centre.  If you know you'll be making them, soak your rice for an hour in advance - up to overnight.

Umboshi plum paste is a new flavour in my world, and I'm in love.  It's powerfully salty and sour (yes please) and a little bit goes a very long way.  According to this article, "Their powerful acidity has a paradoxical alkalinizing effect on the body, neutralizing fatigue, stimulating the digestion, and promoting the elimination of toxins."  If that's true, bonus!  If not, oh well, it's still super tasty.  If you're not into it or don't have it on hand, try substituting miso to add depth of flavour, sea salt, or smoked sea salt.  (I buy smoked sea salt at Spice Station - a place I can't recommend highly enough if you're living in Montreal or LA.)  Let's do this!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Jackfruit Quick Bread



I've been in a major rut in the kitchen lately.  The last four or five things I've baked  to sell at the gym have bordered on inedible, and I've had a string of dinners that have been, well, lacklustre, to put it mildly.  When Philippe, the most enthusiastic eater you'd ever want to have at your table (or not want, depending on whether or not you're trying to save leftovers) neither speaks nor finishes his bowl, you know you're in trouble.  Last week I even went so far as to buy a brownie mix, something I haven't done in years, thinking that I needed a sure thing, a winner, a confidence booster to get me back in the game.  I replaced the eggs with "flax eggs" and ended up with a weird, greasy, plastic-y brownie roll-up that literally boiled in the oven, burned on the edges, and came out about 1/4 inch thick. (The really sad part is that I ate it anyway.)

Anyhoo...all that sadness and despair ended yesterday with this wonderful jackfruit cake.  A Christmas miracle!  It's very easy to put together, and has the lovely, light, distinct flavour of jackfruit.  I've made it twice already, and especially like it with the additions of a bit of coconut and walnuts.  I'm back!  (Fingers crossed) And I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

BBQ Faux Pulled Pork Sandwich - with Jackfruit



There's a tiny place near our house that sells an amazing faux pulled pork sandwich.  It's basically a convenience store with a flat top grill, a row of bar stools, an espresso machine, and electropop on the radio.  Sandwiches are around $6 bucks and you'll be dining with a mix of construction works and hipsters.  I can't figure out how they make their faux pulled pork to save my life, and it's the kind of thing you crave at odd hours.  They say they're using "tofu skin," but I'm at a complete loss for how they arrive at the texture of the final product.  I would have guessed seitan was involved, but I would have been wrong.  If you live in Montreal, it's worth checking out - Dépanneur Le Pick Up.  You won't be sorry.

I gave up on trying to master a BBQ tofu sandwich a while ago - I always end up with an unimpressive flavourless rubber concoction covered in BBQ sauce.  Le Pick Up sandwiches are great, but what if I need a spicy, sloppy, BBQ sandwich fix during their off hours?  Lucky for me, (and you) I've just found a killer alternative in jackfruit.  Jackfruit appeared on my radar for the first time a couple of months ago when I read about it in a tiny online cookbook from Vega.  It can be preserved in syrup as a sweet fruit, in which case its flavour is somewhere between pineapple and banana, or it can be preserved in brine and used as a pork substitute.  Now THAT's a versatile fruit.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Veggie Pâté Sandwich with Mustardy Arugula

Hi folks.  You may have noticed that I'm on a bit of a sandwich kick.  I've come to believe that enjoyment of a good sandwich is vital to my emotional well-being.  So here's another idea to share, packed with loads of flavour and green things.  Make one for yourself, and make one to surprise a friend.  Nothing says "I love you, man" like a sexied up veggie pâté sandwich, they'll thank you for it.

Black Bean Chipotle Torta


Way back when, during my college years, I had the privilege of studying in Mexico for a semester.  I was a pretty different creature in those days - it wasn't uncommon to find me knocking back a bacon wrapped hot dog (the regional street-vendor fair) after an evening of not-so-moderate drinking at the local barra in between cigarettes.  I was pretty far from vegetarianism, and I don't think the word "vegan" had ever even passed between my ears.  Years later, I still love Mexican flavours, and am happy to report that there's nothing lacking in the Mexican palette when you cut out the flesh.

This sandwich is more of a sandwich guideline/idea than it is a strict recipe.  There are endless permutations possible.  I was looking to create something that reminded me of the tortas (Mexican sandwiches) I ate on a regular basis while living in Xalapa.  I think this pretty well hit the mark, without being too labor intensive.  I used canned refried beans, but home-made would be even better if you have the time. Each of the elements can be made in advance and then assembled quickly, or you can wrap the whole thing up, take it with you to enjoy cold.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Vegan Pan-Bagnat


Pan-Bagnat is a wonderfully flavourful, layered, specialty sandwich from Nice, France.  It literally means "bathed bread," a name it gets as the bread bathes in and soaks up the olive oil, vinegar, and/or lemon juice used to season it.  Traditionally, the sandwich would include tuna or eggs, but since tuna can't be eaten responsibly (they're being fished to extinction) and eggs come with so much baggage, I'm opting for a vegan version.  

One of the great things about this sandwich is that it actually gets better with age, making it perfect for picnics, hiking trips, or as a lunch packed for work.  Ideally, it should get to sit for at least an hour before you eat it.  Some people even press it under a heavy weight for a while (see photo below.)  The flavour palette is similar to the one in this Provencal Hummus recipe, which I suspect would make a nice addition.  Use these ingredients and method as a guide, but feel free to add or subtract things to suit your taste.  Just don't skimp on the olive oil, lemon, and basil!

Friday, November 16, 2012

HEMP


People are always asking me what to do for protein.  While I've covered this topic to some degree here, a high-quality, go-to protein source bears mentioning.  I tend to downplay protein's importance as I feel increasingly exasperated (I can be a petulant poop, I admit) by the mainstream's fixation on (what I see as) the wrong thing.  Namely; OMG where do I get my protein?!  Versus; OMG human, animal, and planetary health are declining at alarming rates due to over-consumption of the bodies of animals, how can we live and feel and be and do better?!

Whether you're asking the first or the second question, hemp can be part of the answer.  Hemp is a super plant if there ever was one, and it's a damn shame that hemp production was banned in the US in early 1900's because of the greedy private interests of companies like Dupont, whose petroleum-based plastic products were threatened by hemp, and timber companies who saw big bucks in logging and milling, rather than producing paper from fast-growing hemp.  There are plenty of interesting articles on the topic herehere, and here for starters.

What I didn't know until recently was that hemp is also an unbeatable protein source.  It's a complete protein (all 10 essential amino acids), is less acidic than other proteins (helping to keep the body in an alkaline state), and as it is consumed raw and unprocessed, its enzymes are in tact making it easier on the digestive system.  Additionally, since its a plant protein, it doesn't come with all the added fat, cholesterol, blood, death, and animal suffering.  (Sorry, you know I have to throw that stuff in there from time to time!)

Carrot Cake Cookies


Here we have all the spicy, gingery goodness of carrot cake packed into a big fat cookie that you can eat for breakfast and still feel good about yourself (not like those mornings when you go for the butter-drenched cinnamon-sugar pop tarts/cinnabun/pick-your-poison and end up drooling in a near-coma at your desk by 9:15.  C'mon, we've all been there).  These are low in sugar, high in fiber, and make for a great afternoon snack.  For those of you who are watching your cholesterol, these make use of rolled oats, which many studies show help lower LDL cholesterol, as well as pumpkin seeds, which are purported to do the same.  That, and since you won't find any eggs in here, you won't be unnecessarily taunting the heart-attack gods by adding cholesterol to your diet.  Win win!

I make big ones for the gym using a 2.5 ounce ice-cream scoop that yields about 13 cookies.  To make them even more cake like, I suggest making smaller cookies and sandwiching them together with cashew cream frosting.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Magic Sauce



I came across this gem while searching for things to prepare for the wedding.  I was looking for recipes that were simple, healthful, delicious and that could be prepared in advance and served at room temperature.  The site I encountered it on calls it Tahini Sauce, but I think Magic Sauce is much more appropriate.  This thing is a game changer.  It's so flavourful, easy, and versatile that it could go a long way towards helping out those who are transitioning into a vegetarian life.  It can be used as a salad dressing, a dip for veggies or spring rolls, a sauce for rice bowls, to dress up a wrap or sandwich, the list goes on and on.  
Nutritionally, sesame is very high in iron, the highest of all seeds in fact.  Pairing tahini with citrus helps make the iron more absorbable by the body.  I know we've talked about this before, but it bears repeating that Iron deficiency (not protein deficiency) is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world.  It's a good idea to actively incorporate iron rich foods into the diet, vegetarian or not.  I'm thinking this would be great on a salad of wilted kale and tangerine slices...even MORE iron!
This recipe is attributed to a cookbook called From Vegetables With Love, which is currently at the top of my wish list.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkin Mini Muffins (with spooky Halloween option)



Hey folks!  This is a remix of the (gigantic) Warm Spicy Pumpkin Bread recipe that started this blog almost exactly a year ago.  I cut it in half, pared down the ingredient list, and baked it in teeny tiny muffin tins.  They're tasty little muffins, low in oil and not too much sugar, though  I suspect the sugar could be cut down to 3/4 or even 1/2 a cup.  Next time.   The motivation for making these was a Spooky Eyeball Mini Cupcake recipe from VegNews.  I wanted to make some spooky eyeball treats for a Halloween party tonight, but didn't want to put it on top of sugary white cupcakes.  Photos below...  Enjoy!



Thursday, October 18, 2012

DIY Wedding - Part 1 - The Food


Hello there people!  This is a post about our do-it-yourself wedding, shared here with the hopes of encouraging and supporting others who are considering something similar, and passing on a few pointers for avoiding a couple of key mistakes.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cranberry Upside Down Skillet Cake (Vegan and Low Sugar)


Hello people.  How have you been?  My apologies for being so slow to add content these last few weeks.  I've been busy busy taking care of the gym, running, studying français, making my debut as a back up dancer in the Montreal Burlesque Festival (what? see photo below) and planning my wedding (it's going to be vegan, don't tell my family!).  It drives me a little crazy not to be able to work on more food projects, what with the market being in full swing and all.  But what can you do?  Seasons come and seasons go.  Part of the beauty of trying to eat locally grown produce is that you appreciate it all the more, knowing it'll only be around for a handful of months when it's at its peak.  Peaking right now?  Cranberries.  $2/pound at Jean Talon.   I had a chance to pick some up and make this cake yesterday, and couldn't be more pleased with the results.


I've actually never used fresh cranberries before.  My family was a cranberry-sauce-in-a-can kind of family.  Plop a big cylinder of canned cranberry jelly on to a plate at Thanksgiving, slice it up and call it good.  So what was I to do with these lovely cranberry gems?  Internet searches came up mostly with sugar overloads and heavy use of the usual boring cake ingredients; white flour, eggs, butter...yawn.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thai Inspired Cucumber Peanut Salad


This concoction was inspired by a recipe in Sanjeev Kapoor's How to Cook Indianwhich was featured by Heidi Swenson on 101cookbooks.com.  Must give credit where credit is due.  My contribution was to take it in a Thai direction by changing the dressing, axing the coriander, adding a whole bunch of Thai Basil, and serving it up next to some jasmine rice.  I also played with the ingredient ratios.



I had the privilege of serving this recently at a, how shall I say it, stimulating Burlesque Workshop led by BonBon Bombay, and The Lady Josephine.   We made pasties.  My life will never be the same.  I also got to serve this to a young friend on her 21st birthday yesterday.  Warms me heart.  While both occasions were lovely, neither was particularly conducive to food photography, so please forgive my poorly lit "money shot." 

Stevia Lime-Aid, Party of One

Alright people, there is nothing fancy to see here, just a make-it-in-30-seconds drink.  I often find myself getting into trouble in the middle of the afternoon when I'm not actually hungry, but somehow how end up eating for sport.  I don't know how it happens.  I go into the kitchen to look for a pen, and emerge two hours later dazed, confused, peanut butter in my hair, hummus in my teeth, dinner appetite spoiled, afternoon obligations shirked, it's crazy.

I'm convinced that this usually happens because I'm just friggin thirsty.  Today, in an attempt to stave off the demons, I made this delightfully refreshing drink, and thought I'd share it with you.  For those of you who haven't heard of stevia yet, it's a perennial shrub, otherwise known as sweetleaf or sugarleaf.  Depending on where you live, you can probably grow it in your back yard.  It's wonderfully sweet and has been used for centuries in other parts of the world, but only recently in the US.  There's some pretty juicy controversy on the topic, mainly about the FDA banning it because of pressure from the sugar industry.  Shocking! (Google it for yourself, there are too many interesting articles for me to pick one to link to.)

Stevia is beautiful because it can be used in its natural state, it's cheap, it doesn't force anyone to produce a cash crop for foreign consumers at the expense of being able to grow food for themselves, and, probably most excitingly for most people, it's non-caloric.  What?  That's right, it's a natural plant that doesn't require refining, doesn't spike your blood sugar, and doesn't get stored as fat in your system.  Yes, please.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Whole Foods Camping - Take One


It's camping season!  And we're coming up my favourite time of year; early fall.  This is the season of chilly mornings and brisk evenings, of morning tent snuggles, and evening fire huddles.  I love few things more than getting out of city and into the wild, and I especially love camp fire cooking.  

What follows is a recipe for a high-protein, light-weight, easy-to-pack, just-add-water, non-processed, whole-foods, non-perishable, stick-to-your-ribs, no-MSG, quick-to-prepare, (take a breath) delicious red lentil soup.  It's also full of slow-burning,  energy-sustaining, complex carbohydrates -- perfect fuel for a day of hiking, climbing, swimming, kayaking, and general out-door fun.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

On Abundance (Fantasies)

a·bun·dance   [uh-buhn-duhns] noun
1.  an extremely plentiful or oversufficient quantity or supply: an abundance of grain.
2.  overflowing fullness: abundance of the heart.
3.  affluence; wealth: the enjoyment of abundance.

Last week my camera smuggled itself out of the country in the back of a friend’s car.  As a result, I find myself temporarily freed up from photo documenting food, and able to think about other things.  Most recently, I’ve been mulling over the topic of abundance.  It comes up frequently and I feel compelled to flush out some ideas about it, especially as I often feel tweaked by what I hear and read on the subject.  
This post won't be filled with the usual pretty pictures, but I'll throw in a few just to keep it interesting: 

Seven or eight years ago I had a brief stint as a member of a Unity Church.  It was there that I was first introduced to the idea that we live in a world of abundance, but that we often come to it with internal notions of lack.  It is these self limiting beliefs, the story goes, that are responsible for keeping us stuck - stuck in shitty jobs, stuck in poor financial situations, stuck in non-nourishing relationships, etc.  This mindset stops us from “self actualizing,”  impedes our progress, and stands in the way of our personal prosperity.  
Sounds good. I’m listening.  It makes sense that we have to imagine positive relationships as possible before we find them, that we have to believe in ourselves to find fulfilling work.  I watched Stewart Smalley, I know that stinkin’ thinkin’ keeps us down.  Go on....
The abundance philosophy goes on to propose that we can also all experience material abundance (read - material wealth), through hard work and the law of attraction.  Like attracts like.  Think, feel and be abundant, and you will draw abundance into you life.  Not only that, but the universe is filled with infinite abundance; there’s plenty to go around.   One person's gain does not mean someone else’s loss.  That kind of thinking assumes that we live in a universe of lack, and we don’t.  Got it?  We live in a world of abundance.  
I remember being surprised and a little excited by the idea at the time.  ‘Oh, I’ve been operating from a place of lack, I just need to operate from a place of abundance!’ I had always been one who, for example, felt guilty driving around in (someone else’s) expensive car.  Whenever I would pass by poor looking people, I would want to roll down the window and shout, "This isn’t my car!"  I had always felt uncomfortable with wealth inequality, even though (or perhaps because) I myself came from a working class family.  (“Working class,” by the way, is used to denote the class below “lower middle class” which I guess is just a nicer way of saying “low class.”  Jerks.)  Still, being working class, my needs were always abundantly met, and I was always aware of my place of relative privilege in the world.   We were in no way “low class” and while, as my dad would say, we weren’t exactly cuttin’ a fat hog in the ass (western Kansas speak for shittin’ in tall cotton) we had more than enough and we were grateful.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Raspberry Buckwheat Pancakes (Vegan and Gluten Free)


I don't often opt for pancakes for breakfast.  Fluffy and comforting as they are, they're usually big white bland sponges that require a mega slathering of syrup (and in my case, peanut butter) in order to tickle the pleasure centres.  After all, they're really just a vehicle for butter and syrup consumption, riiiiiight?  The refined carb double whammy throws me into a sugar coma and sends me back to bed.  For that reason, I usually reserve pancakes for bad weather weekends when I can roll around in a coffee-stained tank top and elastic waisted pants until 3 o'clock in the afternoon without feeling guilty.

This, friends, is not that kind of pancake recipe.  When contrasted with an old-fashioned pancake recipe, this one has less fat, waaaay less sodium, no cholesterol, more fiber, less sugar, and a comparable amount of protein.  They're sweet and moist on their own, making syrup an attractive addition rather than a necessity, and they actually make for a great afternoon snack.  Throw a few in a baggie and take them on a hike for sustained energy, or make a double batch and keep some in the freezer for easy access.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cucumber Raspberry Spinach Salad (smoothie?)


This one is for a friend who is in the midst of 8 weeks of serious dietary restriction, trying her best to sort out some digestive issues and identify possible allergens.  I've never seen such a crazy list of foods to cut out, have a look:

lettuce, tomatoes, red/orange/yellow bell peppers, (green's okay?  that's crazy) all onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, anything corn related, bananas, apples (what?) strawberries, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, watermelon, cherries, coconut, cranberries, limes, lemons, gluten, yeast, pepper, garlic, basil, (seriously?) oregano, mint, cayenne, paprika, vinegar, mustard, dill... the list actually does go on.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Easy Everyday (Nutritionally sound and Vegan!) Food



Hey folks.  This is just a simple something I thought a couple of you might appreciate.  I love playing in the kitchen and coming up with fun and interesting foods, but on the day to day I strive for simple, fresh, and easy to prepare.  (Notice I used the word "strive," I'm still trying to kick the bread/muffins/peanut butter/you-name-it, habit and am far from perfect at this clean diet thing, but I will not give up!)

Variations on this salad/bowl/dish/what-have-you are what Philippe and I eat almost every day.  The principals are very simple:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Frozen Fauxmage Mango and Beet Torte

Frozen Fauxmage Mango and Beet Torte



This is an experimental recipe, born from an unlikely ingredient list from Post Punk Kitchen’s, "Vegan Chopped" dessert competition.   The “mystery” ingredients that had to be used were mango, unsweetened dried coconut, beets, and crisped rice.  Beyond that, participants could add any additional ingredients, and create as the spirit moved us.

In this recipe, crisped rice replaces the copious amounts of nuts usually used in raw crusts, resulting in lighter, lower calorie, crispy delicious torte base.  The filling, or faux-mage (that’s fake cheese for you non francophones :) is made up of two layers - one featuring beets, the other, mango.   The result is a light, (mostly) raw, gluten free dessert that is cool and refreshing on a hot summer day.  Not only that, but it's actually quite nutrient dense, and not overly caloric. (I just had a piece of it for breakfast.)


Frozen Fauxmage Mango and Beet Torte

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Green Pea and New Potato Salad


At this point in the summer, living in a third floor apartment in densely populated city, with no air conditioning, and something of a personal propensity for over heating, (I inherited my father's peculiar need to submerge his feet in ice cold water in the middle of the night lest they burst into flames) I'm going to pretty great lengths to keep my kitchen cool.  During these hot months I definitely favour raw preparation over baking and stewing,  a no-brainer considering there are so many wonderful fresh, seasonal vegetables available at  the market.  That said, sometimes you just have to fire up the oven, as was the case last week when a killer chocolate cake was in order for my hubby's birthday.  There's no way I'm heating up the oven to bake just one thing, so as long as it was fired up, I roasted some potatoes and onions and made this salad.

BASIC VINAIGRETTE


This really isn't anything to write home about, but it's easy and it's my favourite and I use it all the time. Just whisk everything together, taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Make a bunch and store it in the fridge for easy access.  It couldn't be easier to make and is so much better than commercial dressings, which are usually loaded with sugar and preservatives.  Did I mention that it's easy?

INGREDIENTS

2 parts super high quality oil such as:  
First Cold Pressed Olive Oil / Flaxseed Oil / Hemp Oil / Pumpkin Seed Oil
1 part Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
Whole Grain Mustard to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste


Monday, July 9, 2012

Chocolate Vegan Mega Cake with Blueberries


Hey people, it's chocolate cake time. I must say that I haven't exactly been on a roll in the kitchen lately, but this cake stands out as an exceptional experimental success, and it happened on the first try.  Go figure.  It's moist, spongey, rich, chocolatey, and surprisingly low in sugar and oil.  How is this possible, you ask?  Peach applesauce, my friends. The applesauce adds moisture and sweetness (and fibre) while reducing the amount of oil typically used.  

I asked a couple of the folks who partook in the cake to help me name it and was given suggestions such as "Mouth Festival," "Chocolate Mouth Festival," and "Heaven's Delight."  Heavenly Chocolate Mouth Festival?  

Agave Chocolate Frosting

Vegan Chocolate CakeThis recipe comes from Erin McKenna's beautiful book "Babycakes;  Vegan, Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York's Most Talked-About Bakery."  It's a beautiful book, especially wonderful for those who are on gluten free diets, and for those of us who aren't into using eggs and dairy.  That said, her bakery most likely isn't successful because it's gluten free or vegan, it's successful because it's friggin amazing, and (my guess) because she clearly loves what she's doing.  She uses no animal products, and goes in for healthier sweeteners such as agave nectar and evaporated cane juice.  If you have a baker in your circle of friends or family who doesn't have this book, it makes an excellent gift.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cranberry Almond Chia Bars



This is another simple, raw, vegan, nutrient packed power bar that's being served down at Shakti Rock Gym.  The almonds require a few hours of soaking time, and it's good to chill the whole batch before cutting it into bars, but putting this recipe together only takes about five minutes.  They store well in the freezer and make for easy access to energy boosting snacks.  They're just so much better than what you'll find on the market; completely free of preservatives, additives, or excessive packaging.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Raw Asparagus Salad aka: Summer Potluck Crowd Pleaser

Vegan Asparagus Salad

I don't know if I'm more excited to write about raw asparagus or awesome pasta salad (yes, it does exist), so this post might get a little windy.  At the very least, while we're still in asparagus season I wanted to point out that asparagus is fantastic raw.  This news is fairly new to me and I'm taking full advantage of it while bundles are 2 for $5 at the local farmers' market.

Sliced thinly,  asparagus makes a great base for, or addition to, all kinds of dishes.  As with other green vegetables, it's alkalizing to the system, and contains lots of fiber and protein.  A 27 calorie serving of plain old asparagus contains 3 grams of protein.  Not too shabby. It's also especially high in B6, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. You can see a more complete nutritional profile here.  


Vegan Asparagus Salad



Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic Scape Pesto

I first learned about garlic scapes this time last year when I was doing a brief stint on a permaculture farm in the middle of New Hampshire.  Garlic was a huge crop there and we pickled, stir fried, and pesto-ized countless bushels of scapes in the month of June.   Before that, I'd never even heard of them. Scapes are the flowering stalk of the garlic plant, which farmers snip off to encourage the plant to put its energy down into the ground, thereby growing a fat bulb, rather than a small bulb and a smelly flower.  Definitely milder and more subtle than garlic cloves, they still pack a lot of flavour.  You probably won't find them at the grocery store, but they're all over the place at the farmer's market.

Vegan Scape Pesto

This pesto recipe is a basic starting point.  Feel free to play from here; add additional herbs, change up the nuts/seeds, throw in some spinach.  Lately I've been learning more about the benefits of various oils,  and while I still don't know enough to give you a big oil lecture, what I can say is that pestos and dressings are great ways to get some healthy oils into your diet.  These would include flaxseed oil, hemp oil, and pumpkin seed oil.  For this pesto I used half flax and half olive.  These are oils that you always want to get "first cold pressed," and you definitely don't want to heat them.  If you're curious, you can read more about flaxseed oil here.  If you don't have it in your pantry yet, get some!  Or just use a high quality olive oil.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sun Dried Tomato Basil Pâté

Sprouted Curry Quinoa Crackers

Even simpler and quicker than Saatvic Veggie Pâté, this pâté is nutrient dense, can be made in about five minutes, and doesn't require any cooking.  Serve it up with some Sprouted Curry Quinoa Crackers or Gluten Free Crackers to get you through a mid-afternoon energy slump.  Makes about 2 cups.

Sprouted Curry Quinoa Crackers

Gluten Free Quinoa Crackers

This recipe is inspired by a recipe in "Thrive" by Brenden Brazier.  If you haven't picked it up yet, I strongly recommend it; this book is rocking my world.  It's all about developing and enhancing greater health, mental clarity, and better sports performance.  Brazier talks in depth about stress, cravings, and junk food consumption and is helping me to make some meaningful connections.  He says that "Food cravings, usually for sugary or starchy foods, are often a telltale sign that the diet lacks nutrients or is tired...Appetite will diminish as the quality of food improves." As someone who regularly craves sugar and starch, and who often feels "low energy," this is wicked awesome news.  You mean I'm not just weak willed?  I have a tendency to reach for the bread and complex carbs when I want a snack.  This wee piece of information, obvious though it may be, is helping me to snack on more nutrient dense foods.  Gotta fuel up on the good stuff if you want to feel great.  Enter Curry Quinoa Crackers.  These crackers are loaded with nutrients, add nice texture to salads and spreads, and are gluten free.

These could be easily made with sprouted or cooked lentils instead of quinoa, I mainly used quinoa because I wanted to let you know, in case you didn't, that sprouting quinoa is a piece of cake.  If you're new to sprouting, you can find basic instructions over at Sprouts and Civil Disobedience.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Apricot Almond Power Balls

Raw Vegan Power Balls

These seem to be about the only thing I have time to make these days, and by popular demand - here's the recipe.  Feel free to make additions and substitutions - chia seeds are nice, as are sesame.  Just be sure to soak the almonds for at least four hours.  It's necessary partly for the moisture content and helping the balls/bars to stick together, but primarily because it improves digestibility and increases nutritional value.  You already know that though, because we talked about it when we made Raw Almond Hummus.  Remember?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sattvic Veggie Pâté

Sattvic Pate

The last time I made veggie pâté, I ended up with a very tasty final product, but a ridiculous mess in the kitchen; sauté pan, cutting board, blender, sauce pan, loaf pan.  It was a lot of work for one little loaf, and it was also, for you yoga nerds out there, rather tamasic, being loaded with mushrooms, garlic, and onions.  The idea behind this pâté was to make something a little lighter, brighter, more nutritious, with a good deal of protein, not too much fat, and not too much cooking.  In essence, I wanted to make a sattvic pâté.  

Feel free to make substitutions to suit your taste or your pantry.  The one specialty item involved is agar agar, a brilliant vegan gelatin substitute that holds the loaf together.  It's pretty easy to come by, especially in health food or asian markets.  Quinoa would work well in place of the millet, but millet IS a great protein source, and is about a third of the price of quinoa.  Just sayin.  Quinoa, lentil, or mung sprouts would be nice substitutions as well.  So many possibilities!  You'll find this is especially quick to make if you have a cup of the cooked grain you're going to use on hand.




Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dutch Oven Bread


This is not so much a recipe as it is a bit of inspiration, some pointers, and a whole bunch of encouragement to experiment.  Experiment!  I was out to lunch with a friend the other day and the topic of bread and baking came up.  She started talking about this bread and when I asked her for a recipe, she said that she didn't have one, but could try to come up with measurements the next time around.  Bah!  I said.  Recipe schmecipe.  The key, we agreed, is to just go for it and not be afraid.  A sound philosophy for both bread baking and life.

To make this bread you will need: 
  • A dutch oven
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Yeast
  • Optional fun add in's such as nuts, seeds, and fresh herbs
  • A bit of semolina or brown rice flower to prevent the dough from sticking to the dutch oven

Monday, May 7, 2012

Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream with Asparagus

Vegan Asparagus and Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream

A good friend of ours makes a disgustingly delicious dish comprised of nothing more than asparagus, goat cheese, salt and pepper, and a bit of high quality olive oil.  He absolutely smothers the spears in loads of creamy goat cheese and then puts them in the oven until the cheese browns and the asparagus becomes a vibrant green.  It's decadent, delicious, a total crowd pleaser, and way too guilty for regular consumption.  Cholesterol anyone?  My wheels started turning yesterday about what I could make as a alternative creamy accompaniment to asparagus spears, and after an afternoon of thinking and walking, the cashew finally came to mind.

Nutritionally, cashews are high in phytosterols, which lower LDL cholesterol, and they're also a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese.   And as if that's not enough, they're full of antioxidants and protein.  And if THAT's not enough, they're rich and delicious and super creamy when pureed.  You may remember Cashew Cream Frosting?  
 
This is a savory cashew cream, prepared at room temperature in a matter of minutes.  It would be a great accompaniment to any roasted vegetable dish, pilaf, or even thinned down to use as a salad dressing.   I served it here with asparagus (preparation method follows), over a pile of quinoa with parsley, spring onion, and a bit of the cashew cream stirred into it.

Energy Bars

Raw Choco Energy Bars

This is basically a bigger, badder, work-out version of the previously posted Choco Date Balls recipe from a few months ago.   It's still raw, versatile, and easy to make, but this time it has the addition of oats and nut butter to help make it a slower burning energy sustainer, rather than a energy spiking sugar bomb.  I've been making these for Shakti and they've been a hit among Montréal climbers.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Best Banana Zucchini Bread EVER


This is easily the best quick bread I've made in a long, long time - a happy experimental success prepared as a treat for the folks who are helping us to build Shakti Rock Gym.  It's vegan, makes two loaves, rises beautifully, and is sweetened with only a half a cup of real maple syrup (and the bananas, of course).  It'll take you 15 minutes to put it together, and about 45 minutes to bake.   Make it today and feed it to your new best friends!  Then you can all marvel about how cool it is that you can make great bread without eggs, milk, or tons of sugar.  Who knew?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Big Green Easy - Killer Pasta in 15 minutes


Hello friends!  How is everyone out there?  I hate being so slow to post things on here but people, we have been Busy (and that capital "b" was no accident).  As many of you know, Philippe and I have been working hard for the last couple of months on getting a bouldering gym started.  It began as a bit of fantasy and wouldn't-it-be-cool-if-we-could-do-THIS? and now it's actually happening.  I'm astonished.

For those of you who are curious, and feel free to skip this paragraph if you're not, bouldering is a type of rock climbing without ropes, over thick mats or "crash pads."  It involves short, intense routes that require the cultivation of focus, strength, determination, and technique.  It also, in the case of our gym, involves long lateral routes (traverses) that give the climber a playground on which to develop said strength, focus, determination, and technique.  What it doesn't require is all of the ropes, gear, and partners that regular rope climbing does.  Perhaps more significantly, it gives a person a stress free (and stress reducing) environment in which to fall in love with the movement that makes up this zen "sport."  In many ways, it seems more appropriate to refer to climbing as "a practice," the way one refers to meditation or yoga, because it involves so much quiet, interior work and because the practitioner can experience profound benefits and shifts in awareness over time, much as one does in meditation or yoga.  But it's also just fun and rowdy and dirty and physically challenging.   It can be lots of things to lots of people.  And we're opening a little gym in Montreal where people can check it out.  Yay! (www.shaktirockgym.com)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Vegan Carrot Oat Muffins



My pantry is a little understocked at the moment (time to get to Le Frigo Vert), but my intense drive to consume a muffin or three this morning lead me to overlook the lack and throw together something nice and simple.  If you have it on hand, I would add a half a cup of unsweetened applesauce to bulk these up a bit.  Then you could cut the oil down from 4 to 2 tablespoons if you wanted to.  Just a thought.  They're pretty tasty as they are, even if they're a little on the small side.
 
Now in Kitchen Confidential, one of Anthony Bourdain's buddies says that, "Muffins are for people who don't have the nads to order cake for breakfast."  And while this is an undoubtedly hilarious remark (at least I don't doubt it), all muffins are NOT created equal.  As many of you may know by now, commercially produced baked goods are often packed with trans fats, and if not trans fats, then they're loaded with sugar and other fats.  It's safe to say that companies that mass produce muffins aren't usually doing so with your health in mind.  They want to make a product that will ship well and stay alive on the shelf for as long as possible, and they'll use the cheapest ingredients they can get their hands on. 
 
 I'll try to keep this brief (if it's not already too late for that) but the average Dunkin Donut muffin is between 500 and 600 calories and has around 20 grams of fat. A Costco blueberry muffin (blueberries are healthy, right?) has 610 calories and 32 grams of fat. What the what? To burn that off would take you about 169 mins of walking, 70 mins of jogging, 51 mins of swimming or 93 mins of cycling.  So you might as well order cake for breakfast, then at least you could get the thrill of the transgression.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fatty Pants Says Hello


Hello people. I miss you. What’s going on in your worlds out there? Are you getting into the kitchen and trying new things? Are you filling your plates and bellies with wide arrays of beautiful colors and textures, vegetables and grains? Are you making whole, natural food dishes brimming over with vitamins and nutrients, fiber and living enzymes? Are you becoming ever more inspired to eat a diet that’s kind to yourself, the environment, and our two, four, and no legged friends??!! If so, drop me a line - I could use a little inspiration.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mustard Roasted Celery Root and Potato Salad


Hey there folks.  When's the last time you bought a vegetable that you didn't know what to do with?  It's a heck of a way to expand your repertoire, and a good way to get in touch with what your grocer/farmer has on hand that's seasonal and inexpensive.  One of my favorite sites is 101cookbooks.com.  You can do a search by ingredient and come up with a list of dishes that include what you're looking for.  And I love her site as a starting point because the recipes tend to get high marks in the tasty, healthy, and whole foods departments.

The bad boy pictured above, however, is not in that ingredient list.  I call it celery root, but wikipedia just schooled me and let me know that it's technically "celeraic." Excusez-moi, wikipedia.  So celery root, sorry, celeriac is a root vegetable, and word on the street is that it's high in fiber, way less starchy than many other root vegetables, and is low on the glycemic index.  There's lots more exciting nutritional information at the bottom of this post for all of you nerds out there.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Valentine's Day 3 Bean Chili


Beans beans the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you regulate your blood sugar, stay fuller longer, fight free radicals, and meet your fiber needs.  What?  That's now how the rhyme goes.  We sing about beans because they make you fart.  Silly Lacey.

Actually, dear friends, if prepared properly, beans are not the gaseous beasts they're purported to be, and their benefits far outweigh the flatus they may bring on.  Besides, farting is funny, not to mention romantic, and who couldn't use a little more laughter in their life?

Making beans less gassy is simple:  soak and rinse them.  Starting with dried beans, cover them with water and soak for 6-8 hours.  Drain the soaking water and give them a rinse.  When you're ready to cook them, cover with fresh water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until soft, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the bean.  Drain and rinse them again, and your beans are ready.  Just make sure that you don't add salt until they're soft, as adding salt to early will prevent them from cooking properly.  Eating beans more often can also reduce their gassy effect, so actually the more you eat the less you toot.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Quick and Simple Guacamole




Guacamole is as simple as avocados smashed up with salt and an additional add in or two if you're feeling feisty.  My mom, a die hard guacamole lover, surprised me recently when she told me she had never bought an avocado.  What the what?  How can you never buy something that is so amazingly delicious and easy to work with?!  They're not so intimidating, just take a look at these little guys:



Pretty harmless.  I really wish I would have had googely eyes for that picture...

Oh but they're high in fat, you say.  Well yes they are, but they're high in monosaturated fat, the kind that can help to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol, and they're also high in fiber, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin E, and vitamin K.  I found an interesting study that showed a significant reduction in bad cholesterol in participants who ate an avocado rich diet for a mere week.  You can find it here if you're curious.

Also, I find that if I'm eating a varied, whole foods, plant based diet, I can indulge away in things like avocados, coconut milk, and nuts without having to sweat it.  None of them contain cholesterol, and they all contain vitamins and nutrients that you won't find in animal products.  Everybody wins.