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


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.