Monday, December 23, 2013

Roasted Eggplant and Asparagus Rolls

These have become something of a holiday party staple for me this year.  They're just so dang good lookin' and everyone loves them.  They're a no-fuss finger food that don't require plates, forks, or additional dips.  You can just pick them up and put them in your face (in two bites, of course).   I also like that that they're happy at room temperature and gluten free.  You can prepare all of the elements the day before, and then just roll them up an hour or two before before serving.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

I don't know why it's taken me so long to post this recipe.  This is one of my absolute favourite things,  I put it on everything.  It makes just about every sandwich and wrap taste better, makes a nice base for crostini, and is a key component of these Roasted Eggplant and Asparagus Rolls.  

For best results, I use semi-dried tomatoes.  A semi-dried tomato is similar to a dried apricot.  It's dry, but still succulent enough that you can eat it out of the bag.  They seem to be quite common in Montreal; I find them at Anatol and Milano.  For my Kansas friends?  Good luck.  All I can ever find when I'm back there are super-expensive, very dry tomatoes, or super-expensive oil-packed tomatoes.  If you're using dry, rehydrate them in water until they soften up.  If using oil-packed, drain them and adjust the amount of oil you use accordingly.  If you have a garden, semi-dry your own!  If you need me to ship you a bag, tawk to me.  Whatever it takes to help you get this into your face, I'll help.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Lentil and Tempeh Tourtière

During the holiday season in Quebec, tourtière is as much of a necessity as pumpkin pie.  French Quebecers have been mixing multiple meats in this traditional pie since long before the monstrosity known as the "turducken" was foisted onto the earth's population.  Indeed, enjoying tourtière with family and friends is a time-honoured highlight of the season.  I've been a vegetarian since before I arrived here, so I've never actually had it.  This year, however, I'm determined to not miss out on the fun.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Drops

Hershey's kiss cookies are one of those rare varieties of cookies that I avoided during the holidays growing up.  I didn't like the options those cookies presented to my mouth:  a.)  Get stabbed in the roof of the mouth by a pointy, chocolate spear. b.) Smash chocolate into gums and gap between front teeth while trying to bite down through an inch of cold chocolate. c.) Cram entire giant cookie into face while trying not to be noticed as drool escapes from corners of mouth. d.)  Gnaw cookie in half using back teeth, again while trying not to be noticed.

Anybody feel me?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Banana Buckwheat Mini Muffins (Gluten Free!)

I'm really loving buckwheat flour at the moment.  I find it to be rich and satisfying, with more depth of flavour than regular old wheat flour.  It also happens to be gluten free and high in protein.  Bonus!  These muffins are great because everyone can enjoy them - gluten free people, vegans, meat-eating bread munchers.  They have a wide appeal.  If you don't have a mini muffin tin, use a regular muffin tin or a loaf pan and increase the bake time accordingly.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Hello folks!  (American) Thanksgiving is fast approaching!  If you're in need of ideas for things to go on your holiday table this year, check this list out!  I'm pressed for time at the moment (I'm out in Russell, KS where internet access is sparse) so I don't have time to go on a don't-participate-in-the-needless-torment-of-turkey's rant.  I know, you're disappointed.  Dry your eyes, I'm still leaving you this link for Peta's page on the turkey industry.  Give it a gander and decide whether or not you'd like to minimize or maximize suffering this year as you give thanks for all that's well in your world.

On with the list!  And happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Delicata Squash and Pear Salad

Buckwheat Zucchini Bread

This is a super simple zucchini bread recipe that happens to not have any gluten in it.  Hooray!  I like it because it's gluten free, but doesn't require a million ingredients.  A lot of gluten free recipes call for added starch (potato starch, arrowroot, or cornstarch) and they end up being just as damaging to your blood sugar levels as white flour.  This is only mildly sweet.  If you like a sweeter bread, try adding some dried fruit.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Gingery Roasted Carrot and Squash Soup

Roasting carrots and butternut squash brings out their natural sweetness and adds a depth of flavour to this soup that is otherwise hard to come by.  It also warms up the house on a cold and dreary autumn day. Try garnishing your bowl with toasted pumpkin seeds, cashew cream (with or without the roasted garlic), and/or a drizzle of maple syrup.  In the photo above I garnished with chopped walnuts and a bit of full fat coconut milk.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Broccoli and Rice for the new Millennium

I grew up in rural western Kansas in the 80's, which means I was the daughter of midwesterners who came of age in the 70's, which means we ate a lot of casseroles.  Casseroles at our house were defined by the presence of two or all of the following items:  cream of mushroom soup, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, frozen vegetables, eggs and/or ground beef.  We routinely feasted on things like Pizza Spaghetti Casserole, Taco Casserole, and the almost-extinct-but-mind-blowing Tater Tot Casserole.  The first recipe I ever remember making on my own, and my personal favourite casserole, was Toasty Cheese Bake (see irresistible photo below).  One casserole that has persevered, and consistently earns a place on our Thanksgiving/Christmas table, is Broccoli and Rice Casserole.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Carrot Som-Tam - Spicy Thai Salad with Snap Beans

This is one of my all-time favourite Thai dishes - spicy, sour, sweet, crunchy, and very refreshing on a hot summer day.  It's one of those dishes that when you order it in Thailand, they ask you if you're sure you want it because it's just so goddamn spicy.  I say:  BRING IT ON.  But bring it on with a side of rice, otherwise it's suicide.

Traditionally, som-tam is made by pounding the ingredients together in a giant mortar and pestle.  It actually means "sour pound" in Thai.  It's also typically made with green papaya, which is plentiful in Thailand, but not so much in North America.  As such,  I had resigned myself to eating it only at Thai restaurants, and to paying through the nose for it (it can be as much as $11 for a small one).   Recently, however, I learned that one can substitute carrots for the papaya with sterling (and cheap) results.  I should probably also mention that som-tam is made with dried shrimp and fish sauce, but I leave them out and find no shortage of flavour.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Herby Tomato Couscous - Backpacker Style

Here's another one to add to your repertoire of healthy, whole-foods, no-fuss, (vegan) trail foods.  There's sooooo much mis-information out there about backpacking as a vegetarian or vegan.  I've seen entirely too many comments on discussion boards directing people to leave their veganism behind on the trail, lest they die some terrible, protein-deficient death after three days of exertion without beef jerky and SPAM.  They make it sound like it's either too much work, too expensive, too heavy, or just downright impossible (for no clear reason) to survive without dehydrated chicken chili on the trail. Well I say, bah!  It's entirely possible, affordable, enjoyable, and uncomplicated.

Easy Roasted Tomato Sauce - Tactical

Experiencing a tomato surplus?  Looking for something to do with all of those bad boys that won't take up your entire day?  This one's for you.  This is more of a method than a hard and fast recipe, and yields will vary depending on what you're working with.  You can keep it pure and just use the ingredients listed below, or toss in a pepper or two to spice things up.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Buckwheat Banana Camp Cakes

Camping season isn't over yet, and while it's fun to peruse the dehydrated food section at your local out-door store, I find it much more satisfying (and affordable) to take home-made, whole foods on the the trail.  This buckwheat pancake mix accompanied Philippe and I on a 9 day canoe-camping trip through Parc de la Vérendrye last month and it did not disappoint.  One batch makes 4-5 hearty pancakes.  We would have one or two for breakfast (when we weren't having oatmeal), then smear the left-overs with peanut butter for an easy lunch.

I highly recommend adding the dehydrated banana strips for flavour, texture, and potassium too.  Just be sure that you get dehydrated, unsulphured bananas, not sweetened banana chips.  You should be able to find them at most health food stores.  We were lucky enough to be canoeing through blueberry country, so we had a few days of blueberry pancakes as well. 

As you can see, pictures from the trip are few and not of the highest quality.  We only had a 24 shot, disposable Kodak with us, but I have to say - I liked it that way.  It was nice to take a break from documenting experience, and just have the experience. We did 132 kilometers through lakes, rivers and streams with some seriously burly, mud-up-to-your-knees-with-a-canoe-on-your-head portages.  Our butts and faces were bitten by mosquitoes in equal measure.  Our feet were never dry.  We had to pack out our toilet paper.  It was dirty and buggy and hard at times, and it was one of the best trips of my life. We had no watch, no cell phone, no GPS.  We had no where to be, and no one to please.  It was just us, a map, a royalex canoe, and a camp stove that tried to kill us every time we used it.  It was beautiful, and I can't wait to go back.  I pray that I will be able to go back - that it will still be there.  Human "development" is creeping in and we heard the menacing hum of clear-cutting loggers for at least a 16km stretch of the Chochocouane.  There was an eerie lack of wild life.  But I digress, you were here for a pancake recipe, no?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Banana Granola

Looking for something to do with overripe bananas other than make banana bread?  This one's for you.  We're gearing up for an 8 day canoe-camping trip, and this will be joining us on the boat.  Hopefully I'll have another Whole Foods Camping post ready for you all soon.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Midsummer Zucchini Strawberry Bruschetta

Hello people!  Summer is in full swing in Montreal and I don't know about you, but I am ON FIRE.  I've always been somewhat sensitive to heat, but I find that being in a city makes it....more challenging.  Cement, car exhaust, lack of access to lakes, the demands of society to wear clothes, it just ain't right.  To top it all off I've inherited a weird "hot foot" thing from my dad.  In the middle of the night my feet often feel like they're about to burst into flames.  As a result, it's not uncommon to find me with feet submerged in a bathtub of cold water at 3am.

The truth is,  I'm prone to over-heating which makes me (extra) cranky, short-tempered, and generally unpleasant to be around.  Philippe put his hand on my thigh during one of these bouts yesterday and I nearly slugged him.  It was a gesture of affection, but felt like he was putting a hot, steamy ham on my leg.  Weird, I know.  According to Ayurveda, I'm Pitta Dosha, prone to be hot and fiery.  The good news is, I can balance it out (or exacerbate it) with my diet and lifestyle choices.  Cooling foods are my friends.  Hot, oily, spicy foods, while I love them, turn me into a menace.

This bruschetta recipe combines sweet strawberries, cooling raw zucchini, and bitter greens to make a cooling meal for a summer afternoon.  For more information on bitter greens and their benefits, take a look here and here.    

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Creamy Dreamy Dairy-Free Lemon Pie

This recipe was born of a craving.  I was craving a cold, tart, lemony treat.  I wanted something like a lemon bar, but creamier, cheese-cakier.  I didn't want to use eggs (lemon bars are loaded with them) and I didn't want to spend my whole pay-check on cashews for a nut-based "cheeze" cake.  Also, honestly, I didn't want all of the calories that come along with nut-based desserts.  Oh yeah, and I didn't want to heat up my kitchen.  The solution?  Silken tofu.  Now before you poo-poo this idea, consider that silken tofu is cold, creamy, nearly flavourless, and cheap.  Even the non-GMO stuff is cheap, and you HAVE TO get that if you're going for soy.  It's also high in protein, calcium and iron.  If you have a soy allergy/aversion, I apologize that this one is not for you.  Aside from a minor (major) soy-milk-in-my-coffee addiction, I don't use a lot of it either.  If you're alright with soy, however,  today is your lucky freakin' day.  This dessert is wonderfully sweet and satisfying, and while I wouldn't go so far as to call it a health food, it's pretty stinkin' nutritious.  I made it for four groups of people in a two-week period and received more praise than a baptist church on Sunday.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Lentil-Mushroom Burgers - à la Scott Jurek

If you don't have an excellent vegan burger in your repertoire yet, give this puppy a shot.  I had long held the erroneous belief that a structurally sound burger couldn't be made without the magical binding  properties of eggs.  How happy I am to have been wrong!  (Just this once)  These burgers are the bomb.  Flavorful, hearty, packed with protein and fiber, you'll never want to eat a Boca Burger again.  

This recipe comes from Scott Jurek's wonderful book, Eat and Run.  If you haven't heard of him yet, Scott Jurek is an ultramarathon runner who is 100% powered by plants.  He rocks my face off.  The man is a vegan who runs races of 100 miles and more, through deserts, through mountains, over multiple days.  He's an animal, who chooses not eat animals  This book is an account of his life, interspersed with lots of great recipes.  For me, he's an inspiration and a welcome role-model in a crazy world.  I can't recommend his book highly enough.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sugar-Free Week Wrap-Up + A Few Dinner Ideas

Well everyone, the sugar-free week challenge is over.  I don't know about you, but I learned that cutting out the usual sugary junk from my diet isn't actually that hard.  I did just fine not having tons of Dyno Bars, chocolate bars, or after-dinner ice-cream.  I cut out pasta, which I hadn't originally intended to do.  I even survived the week without peanut-butter brownies from Le Cagibi.  (If you're in Montreal and you don't know what I'm talking about, go to there and get them in you ASAP.)

What I also learned is that I have a hard time not substituting.  The first two days I went nuts on potato and corn chips, something I rarely do, and the third and fourth day I may have taken a nap in a pile of stevia-sweetened brown rice pudding.  I caved and ate bagels and baguette on day 6, observing that my love of bread bears close resemblance to a crack smoker's love of the rock, as I pillaged the cupboards eating any and all sad bread remnants in my path.  A bread addict in her flour bin is an unlovely creature.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Creamy Lemon Pudding and Day 6 Sugar-Free

Hello people!  As we near the end of our Sugar-Free Week, I'd like to take the opportunity to share with you my current favourite cold, creamy, sweet treat.  It's as simple as lemon juice, stevia, silken tofu and chia.  

If you're new to using silken tofu, I recommend going for Mori-Nu tofu, commonly touted as the go-to dessert tofu for its absence of aftertaste.   It's the stuff in the little rectangular box at the grocery store that may or may not be refrigerated.  It's widely available, fairly cheap and non-GMO.  Go for the Firm variety, Lite Firm if you want a lower fat version.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 4 Sugar-Free and My Tiny Kitchen

Hey there people!  Depending on when you're reading this, you're probably either wrapping up day four or getting started on day five of sugar-free week.  Some of you are reporting excellent results (over on my FB page) and I'm so happy to hear it!

Personally, I can't say I've been an angel these last few days.  I've had entirely too many chips, and I must admit to eating (gasp!) a Clif Bar today at work when I was "under prepared."  (Under prepared, my foot.  It was a six hour shift and I'd eaten a huge salad for lunch.  I surely would have starved to death without it.)  And while I haven't been having peanut butter + bread + syrup-of-choice party, I have been having a bit of a peanut butter + rice cake + banana party.  I know, I know:  shameful.   You should scowl and point and do that weird shame-shame thing at me where you brush one index with your other index finger while looking at me disapprovingly.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cilantro Sunflower Seed Pesto (And day 3 of sugar-free week!)

Hello people.  It's a rainy Wednesday in Montreal, perfect for staying inside, reading a book, cleaning my filthy apartment, and saying 'hello' to you.  How's everyone doing?  For those of you who haven't been following along, today is day three of a individually-tailored sugar-free week for people who are tired of having their arses handed to them by sugar addiction.  Feel free to jump on the bus with us!  No matter if you're starting at a different time.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

one, two, three...GO!

Alright people, as promised - a week of good, clean, sugar-free livin'. (I've been perfecting a lemon pie recipe over the last three weeks, but promise not to post it until sugar-austerity week is over.)  I'm going to keep this short and sweet as I'm low on time and in need of a bath after yesterday's absurd Spartan race at Morin Heights.  It was good, dirty fun:  glad I did it, won't be needing to do it again.

For a wee bit of background on this week's sugar cleanse, take a look here.

Now here's what I propose:

1.  Tailor this cleanse to meet your needs.

Let this be a chance to deal with something that's been bugging you.  Perhaps you have jam on toast every day for breakfast and it doesn't trigger you, but you can't make it through the afternoon without going apeshit on a box of Thin Mints.  You tell yourself you're not going to eat Thin Mints today, but 4 o'clock rolls around and you're calling the girl scout down the street.  You might feel like keeping your breakfast routine, but cutting out the Thin Mints.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sugar Schmugar - Who wants to take a break?

Hey there folks!

Sugar seems to have me by the ovaries these days and I'm thinking about taking a break.  Truth be told, I'm always thinking about taking a break, but I have a damn hard time doing it.  I'll eat like a champ for the whole day - smoothie for breakfast, big salad for lunch, (a few coffees here and there) some kind of something special for dinner.  If I would just quit there I'd be golden.  I'd go to bed as pleased as Punch, smiling sweetly, all ready to sleep peacefully and wake up feeling refreshed.

Instead, 8, 9, or 10 o'clock rolls around and I get overcome by an insane desire to consume everything sugar within a 20 yard radius.  If I don't have anything sweet readily available, by god I'll whip something up.  It could be a peanut butter and honey on a piece of bread, followed by peanut butter and honey on another piece of bread, followed by peanut butter and chocolate chips on another piece of bread, followed by coco krispies.  (How did THOSE get in here?)  The problem is that I don't just do a bowl of ice-cream or a piece (or three) of dark chocolate.  I'll do 1000 calories of god-knows-what right before bed.  Then I either sleep like crap or sleep like the dead and wake up late feeling groggy, fuzzy, inflamed and filled with regret.

The funny part is that I also wake up filled with conviction to change - Not going to do THAT again!  That was the last time.  Today I'll leave out the sugar, FOR REAL.

So I go about my day, doing quite well, and then...return to paragraph two - the cycle continues.  This, friends, I have come to understand as the cycle of addiction, and god knows sugar is addictive.  Recent talks with friends have, once again, assured me that I'm not alone in this.  This is a struggle that a lot of people are dealing with on the daily.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

I found the inspiration for this recipe while I was looking up another inspirational topic - the first packaging-free grocery store in the US.  It's called In.gredients (does one pronounce the 'dot'?) and it opened up back in 2011 in Austin, TX.   You bring your own boxes, bags, containers, etc., and buy by weight.  No waste.  No superfluous packaging.  How cool is that?  I have fantasies about opening one up some day in Montreal.  Who's with me?!  On their blog I found a link to a beautiful Roasted Broccoli Hummus recipe.  I figured, why not cauliflower?  Roasted cauliflower suits my tastes more, and it's currently about $3 for a 3lb head at Jean-Talon Market.  Combined with chick peas, which are super cheap when purchased in bulk, this little recipe provides complex flavours and beautiful presentation, while only setting you back a few bucks.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Chick Pea Salad Sandwiches (and a big fat rant)

For all you lovers of all things "salad sandwiches" out there, this one's for you!  Ham salad, egg salad, tuna salad, phooey!  Who needs all that crap when you can make a tasty, filling, nutrient packed, suffering-free, fast, cheap, bomber sandwich using chick peas instead of corpses?  (Did she seriously just say corpses?)

I find it's generally only acceptable these days to make a case for vegetarianism/veganism by playing up the health benefits of animal-free dining, or the environmental toll of animal agriculture.  These arguments appeal to logic and people tend to (kind of) listen, or at least not shut you down completely.  (You mean there's something in it for ME? Do go on...) I'm usually happy to play that card, but today I'm feeling surly.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Quick Smokey Tempeh

This recipe will probably not knock your socks off, make you pee your pants, or inspire you to call all of your friends.  It will, however, help you to get a high-quality protein into your face when you're hungry and pressed for time.  It's simple, versatile,  and quick to prepare.  Put this tempeh in a wrap, on a salad, as part of a TLT, or alongside a whole grain and steamed veggies.  What I like about this preparation method is that it requires zero foresight.  You don't have to marinate, don't have to steam and then sauté, you can just cook it up and eat it.  One pan, 10 minutes, done like dinner.

BBC Two - Blackberry Banana Coconut

Another BBC Smoothie!  How many more will there be?  Only time will tell.  This smoothie boasts high fiber, high protein (10 grams per serving) and loads of anti-oxidants.  It also contains, (gasp!) fat from coconut.  There are plenty of people out there who poo-poo coconut for being high in saturated fat, I say hooey.  If you're eating a plant-based diet you're eating zero cholesterol and very little saturated fat.  You can afford to have some coconut oil in your diet, and while I don't recommend eating coconut oil by the spoonful like they do in this video, I would recommend watching that video to see what it says about coconut oil and brain function.  There's also some pretty compelling information here: Reasons You Should be Using Coconut Oil, and Brenden Brazier (vegan athlete extraordinaire) regularly promotes the use of coconut oil to maximize athletic performance.  (There's a pretty interesting interview here, at No Meat Athlete.)  I love the taste of coconut and work a bit of it into my diet at least a few times a week.

BBC One - Beet Banana Chia

Breakfast for beet lovers.  This smoothie was born of a simple desire to name something "BBC One" because I had this stupid song stuck in my head.  (Thank you, Mike Myers.)  Stay tuned for BBC Two!  The one downside of this recipe is that you probably can't pull it off in a regular blender, you'll need a high-powered blender to sufficiently pulverize the beets.  (That's right, we're putting beets in a smoothie.  You'll thank me later.)  This is an energy packed smoothie, a great way to start the day;  sweet and smooth, high in fiber, omega 3's, protein (10 grams per serving), manganese, magnesium, selenium...the list goes on and on.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Green Banana Pick-Me-Up

It's Thursday, 4:30.  I'm just home from work, tired from a night of little sleep, and feeling an overwhelming urge to dive into a bag of anything chocolate and lie down.  Sugar comas, however, have been my BFF for a little too long and I'm really trying to clean up my act.  So rather than lie on the couch with a tub of peanut butter and a bag of chocolate chips, I'm having this delicious banana smoothie.  The maca is kind of a fancy-pants ingredient that you might not have on hand, so feel free to leave it out.  However, I strongly recommend that you look into incorporating maca in your diet, as it is known to help nourish the adrenal system, increase vitality, improve sexual function (hello!), and promote hormonal balance.  It's also rich in iodine and B12.  Not too shabby, maca, not too shabby.  If even one of those things is true, I'm in.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Avocado Chimichurri Wrap

Hey there folks.  It's May!  The season is finally changing in Montreal and I couldn't be happier about it.  I'm ready for spring, ready for blue skies and green grass, ready for the Jean-Talon Market to transition from indoors to outdoors (as it is in the process of doing TODAY!), ready to play outside without heavy boots and five layers, and ready to eat some feel-good food!  I must admit to having been in a rut in the kitchen for the last month (or three).  Fingers crossed, it feels like the slump is over and I'm looking forward to getting back to the kitchen.

The kick-off recipe for this month is a versatile Chimichurri sauce that you'll soon see paired with tempeh, portobello mushrooms, and all sorts of delectable savoury things.  Chimichurri is a zesty, spicy, pesto-like sauce that hails from Argentina.  It can be used as a marinade, a spread, a dip, a sauce, I'm sure the list goes on.  If you're one of those people who typically turns their nose up at cilantro, I encourage you to try this anyway.  You just might be surprised.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Almond Feta on the fly

There are lots of beautiful recipes out there for almond-based "faux fetas" that a worthy of a central spot on any cheese tray.  Typically, they require straining a blended mixture of almonds, lemon juice, salt and olive oil in cheese cloth over night, before baking the final product the next day.  There's a great example and tutorial at Maple Spice.  I highly, highly recommend making this if you're in need of a cheese fix, or if you're going to a dinner party and don't want to be a vegan wall flower when the cheese tray comes out.  I made almond feta for my decidedly un-vegan wedding guests and received nothing but rave reviews.  

The following version, however, is for people who want almond feta NOW and/or don't have time/energy to fuss with cheese cloth.  This can be put together in five minutes to go on top of pizza, to garnish a soup, to spread on crackers, or my case - to go into the spinach pie I will be baking later tonight.  I'll post the recipe if it turns out well.  Also, as almonds already have plenty of (good) fat, so I leave out the olive oil and cut the salt in half.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nina Bars Redux - Buckwheat and Kamut

Hi folks.  This is a remix of the Nina Bar recipe from a while back.  I've had a lot of positive feedback on the Raspberry Buckwheat Pancakes and figured I'd find a recipe or two to work some buckwheat into.*   I've also recently ended my love affair with Agave nectar.  (Sniff.)  I won't get into the details, you can google "What's wrong with agave" and find plenty of information for yourself.   The short of it is that I live in Canada where maple syrup is free flowing, less processed, and higher in minerals.  Also, as the gods would have it, agave is actually higher in fructose than high-fructose corn syrup (what?!) which contributes weight gain and blah blah blah.  So, here's a slightly tweaked Nina Bar for you, gluten free, vegan, and tasty as can be.  Enjoy! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cauliflower Tabbouleh

I'm not normally a huge lover of cauliflower.  As a kid, I only saw cauliflower at Christmas and Thanksgiving, served alongside carrot sticks and celery with cold white dips.  Who would go for that when you could suck black olives off your fingertips?  As an adult, I usually pass on it at the market, associating it with gas (that's right, I'm talking about farts again), and assuming that it must be low in nutritional value.  How nutritious can a white vegetable be?

Recently, however, it was brought to my attention that cauliflower makes a killer stand-in for certain grains like bulgur and couscous.  As I've been trying to cut down my wheat intake and up my fresh veg intake, I figured I'd give it a shot.  The result is this simple tabbouleh which is currently knocking my socks off, cauliflower and all.  

AND, as luck would have it, cauliflower actually IS good for you.  Really good for you.  It contains several phytochemicals that are known to be cancer-fighting agents.  It's insanely high in vitamin C.  It's loaded with fiber while being low in calories.  It's a good source of minerals like manganese, potassium, iron, and calcium.  And yes folks, as is the case with most vegetables, a large percentage of its calories come from protein.  (All calories come from either protein, fat, or carbohydrate.)  In fact, 43.3% of the calories in cauliflower come from protein.  Stick that information in your pocket and use it to chip away at the protein myth!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

10 Minute Green Mushroom Tacos

Don't have time to cook?  This one is for you.  The ingredient list is intentionally short to appeal to those who have to lay down in a dark room when they think about making dinner.  (You know who you are.)  You can keep it simple, AND fill up with good food.  Who knew?  This is a great one-pot meal for one, packed with iron, calcium, phytonutrients and protein.  What's more, these tacos will be ready to get in your belly within 10 minutes.

If you're feeling energetic or adventurous, consider adding beans, cilantro, quinoa, guacamole, bell peppers, sprouts, hazelnut parmesan cheese, your favourite vegan cheese...the list goes on and on.

A note on preparation:  I don't use any oil to sauté the vegetables here.  Mushrooms have plenty of liquid to release, which they're happy to do if you place them on a hot skillet and leave them alone for a few minutes.  They also generate sufficient steam to wilt the greens.  If you're going to add salt, add it after you've plated the dish.  You'll use less salt while still getting your salty flavour fix since the salt is on the top.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Raw Carrot Cup Cakes

Let me start by saying that this recipe probably isn't for everyone.  There was a time in my life when I delivered pizzas for a living, subsisted on beer and cigarettes, and regularly made late-night stops at the McDonald's drive through for two cheeseburgers and a large fries, which I would then take home to use as a vehicle the consumption of truly impressive amounts of ketchup.  It was a pretty sexy period of my life.

At that time, my taste buds were shot.  My system craved massive amounts of sugar, salt and fat, and the more of these three things a food had, the better it tasted.  Well folks, things have changed a bit for me since then.  I remember having the realization over a low-sugar, whole-wheat, something-or-other that I had actually come to enjoy "healthy tasting" food.  How lame.  

These Raw Carrot Cup Cakes are probably not going to knock the socks off of those people in your life  who still can't wrap their brains around how you survive without bacon.  I wouldn't dream of feeding them to my married-to-meat-and-potatos father.  Other people in my life, however, will probably appreciate them as a decadent little treat, made all the more enjoyable for their lack of refined flour, oil, eggs, sugar and cream cheese.  If they don't, I'll eat the whole batch myself.  I've already had three.

Cashew Chia Frosting

Rather than rely on icing sugar and oil as thickeners, this frosting makes use of a couple of tablespoons of ground up chia seeds.  The result is a thick, creamy spread that's somewhere between a frosting and a pudding - perfect for dabbing on the tops of Raw Carrot Cup Cakes.  If you would like to frost a larger cake with it, try thinning it out with plant milk - a quarter of a cup at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Blackstrap Almond Fig Balls

These are a quick and easy snack that can have a broad range of uses from providing quick fuel during a day of activity, to classing up a (faux)cheese plate.  The figs provide plenty of sweetness and quick carbs, making additional sweetener unnecessary.  However, I've added a couple of tablespoons of unsulphured molasses to boost the mineral content.  I try to sneak it into my diet here and there because it's so high in iron.  Just 1 tablespoon can meet 15 to 20 percent of your daily requirement of iron (depending on age and sex).  It's also very high in magnesium (good for the immune system, healthy bones), potassium (important for a well functioning nervous system, fluid balance, and muscle contraction), calcium (healthy teeth and bones), and B6 (healthy brain and nerve function, formation of red blood cells, synthesis of disease fighting antibodies...).  You can read more about it here, here, and here.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dyno Bars

Dyno:  [dahy-noh], noun: A dynamic move (in rock climbing) to grab a hold that would otherwise be out of reach. Generally both feet will leave the rock face and return again once the target hold is caught. Non-climbers would call it a jump or a leap.

These bars are guaranteed to make you dyno like a monkey, run like Scott Jurek, or jump through with straight legs.  Guaranteed.  Okay maybe not guaranteed.  But they're tasty, energy packed, and easy to make.  

Lots of vegans out there disagree with honey eating.  I respect that.  For the time being, I'm alright with it.  As I see it today, bees still get to live out their lives doing what bees do (unlike animals who live in confinement facilities), and they aren't subjected to tortures like light deprivation and mutilation.  If you don't do honey, try subbing maple syrup or agave.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Creamy Dill Dressing

I was perusing a site called "No Meat Athlete" the other day when I came across a pretty good nugget of wisdom.  He (Matt Frazier) said that the way he sees it, you only have to eat healthy twice during the day.  Once is in the morning, when a big fat smoothie can set the tone for the day and act as a vehicle for the consumption of superfoods and supplements that you want to work into your diet.   The other is in the afternoon, when a big fat salad filled with greens, veggies, and nuts will fill you up and give you more veggies than most people eat all day.*  After that, it's less of a big deal if you screw up the other meals.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Balsamic Glazed Butternut Squash with Lentils and Kale

Hey folks.  This is a pretty simple dish that still-seems-fancy, covers all of your nutritional bases, and can be quite versatile.  It's comforting and hearty as a mid-winter meal, making use of winter squash and cold weather greens.   It would make a nice centrepiece for a party of 4 to 6, especially if accompanied by fresh (corn)bread and a light soup. It travels well to a potluck and most importantly - it makes great left overs.  I just made this big old batch so that Philippe and I will have something to eat for lunch for the next few days.  If you're single, or don't have the Herculean appetite of my husband, you could cut the amount of lentils in half and scale back slightly on the vegetables, or you could surprise another friend with a meal.

As it stands, if you divide this recipe into six servings, each one has 17 grams of protein, 35% of your daily iron, 154% of your daily C, 16% of your calcium, a whopping 389% of your daily recommendation for vitamin A, 19 grams of fiber, 340 calories, and about 8 grams of fat.  Not too shabby. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Puffed Amaranth Peanut Butter Balls

I got a little carried away talking about the nutritional benefits of amaranth the other day when I posted about Amaranth Breakfast Love, so I won't go into nutritional details here.  But did you know that you can pop amaranth like popcorn?  It takes very little time, no oil, and is lots of fun - especially if there are kids around.

For this recipe, start by popping amaranth in a hot hot, preferably covered, skillet.  I've had the best results by popping in very small batches - about a tablespoon at a time - as larger batches tend to burn.  In a super hot skillet, a tablespoon of seeds will pop almost instantaneously.  Then you just dump them in a bowl and keep going until you have a generous cup of popped seeds.

As to the sticky mixture.  I was looking for something quick that I wouldn't have to spend any time cooking down on the stove.  The result is sticky enough and met my requirements of fast and easy, but it's also un-sticky enough that you have to take some care in making the balls.  I recommend pressing the mixture tightly into a small bowl to compress everything, scooping portions out with a spoon or melon baller, then using cold, wet hands to shape each one.  It's still easy, but the cold, wet hands are key.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Winter Squash, Kale and Miso Stew

This is a great, one pot meal for the middle of winter.  Hearty, nourishing, and simple, it's high in fiber, manganese, vitamins A and C, and lots of cold-fighting antioxidant power.  It uses miso in place of vegetable broth, which is nice for a couple of reasons.  One, it's simple - you just throw in some miso at the end and voilà!  Flavour!  Two, miso is an enzyme rich food which is known to be excellent for replenishing good bacteria in the intestines, aiding in digestion and assimilation of nutrients.  When purchasing miso (it might seem a little expensive, but it will last forever and it goes a long way!) avoid buying pasteurized versions and go for the living, enzyme rich product.  Did I mention that miso is a complete protein AND high in B12?  Every health conscious eater's dream.  Let's get started. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Vegan Baked Apple Cinnamon Donuts

Alright people, these are not to be confused with health food. They contain white flour and brown sugar and they'll most likely spike your blood sugar. They're donuts.  Still, they're about as healthy as a donut can get while keeping their right to the name. They're baked, they're vegan, they're oil free and their sugar content, relative to the donut world at large, is reasonably low.  They only take about 10 minutes of prep time, 12 minutes of bake time, and they're sure to brighten up a wintery morning.

Enjoy!  And let me know how they work out.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Kale and Artichoke Flat Bread Pizza

This is just a little something different to do with Hot Creamy Kale Dip.  I used prepared flat bread to make a quick snack, but you could also get fancy and put it on home-made pizza crust.  Enjoy!

Hot Creamy Kale Dip

A person can never have too many hot dip recipes, right?  This very similar to my Hot Artichoke Dip, with a few changes and the addition of our buddy - Kale.  I included the nutritional profile below because I was blown away by how low calorie, high protein, and high vitamin this thing is.  It's also a bit high in sodium, so if you're watching your salt intake you might want to leave out the tamari.  Other than that, enjoy with reckless abandon!  Serves 4 - 6 as an appetizer.  If you're cooking for one, try dividing it into 4 small dishes.  Bake one at a time and make a meal out of it by adding a salad and your favourite crackers.

Brown Rice Crackers

This is a quick and easy recipe for crispy, herby, gluten free crackers.  They take about 10 minutes to prepare, 10 minutes to bake, and leave a lot of room for experimentation with seasoning and additions.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Savoury Scones - GF Option

Bake these in the evening to accompany a simple soup or salad, then have them ready for breakfast on the go.  They'd be great with a tofu scramble, or as part of a biscuit sandwich.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lemony Avocado Kale

This is my favourite thing right now - I'm eating it every chance I get.  I just can't get over how delicious the combination of lemon, avocado and kale is.  Preparation takes only a few minutes and the final product is is loaded with iron, fiber, heart-healthy (un-saturated) fat,Vitamins C, A, and many of the B vitamins.  It also has a healthy dose of protein and lots of calcium.

The main ingredients you need are kale, lemon, avocado, salt, and nutritional yeast (which I suppose would be optional, but HIGHLY recommended).  Two things cause the magic:  1.  Massaging the salt and lemon juice into the kale leaves.  2.  Soft, buttery, vitamin packed avocado standing in for the oil.   From this basic recipe you can expand by adding bell pepper or tomato to juicy things up, croutons to add crunch, or nuts and sun-dried tomatoes for additional taste and texture.

Happy New Year, people!  May you enjoy vibrant health in 2013.  This salad is a good place to start.