the taste space

Ancho Lentil Taco Salad Wraps

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on March 31, 2013

Ancho Lentil Taco Salad Wraps

Spring has sprung? Wishful thinking?

Rob and I took advantage of the glorious weather this weekend to ride our bikes for the first time this year.

Having my bike cleaned and tuned over the winter meant I had a sparkly bike to ride! Except I noticed my fender is broken, so I have to figure out whether I will fix that.

We used this as an opportunity to bike to our new favourite restaurant: Hot Beans. Turns out the shops and restos in Kensington Market are open for the long weekend, YA!

I don’t know why, but it took me a while to finally try out Hot Beans, a fast-food vegan resto with burritos, tacos and nachos… and my favourite: burrito bowls. Sounds possibly terrible, but it is vegan goodness in its glory. Filled with vegan staple goodness: beans, brown rice, salsa, lettuce, chili aoili and vegan cheese sauce with your main topping of choice. Ask about their special menu. Mix-and-match but you can basically pick from Ancho-spiced TVP, seitan, black beans, lentils and Rob’s favourite: BBQ jackfruit. Add hot sauce as you see fit. Rob and I both had similar versions of the The Bill’s Big Dick, aka BBQ jackfruit + Ancho TVP burritos (mine in bowl form, Rob in burrito form).

After being stuffed to the gills, we peddled home. I definitely have to get my legs back into cycling mode as we train for Rideau Lakes again. Hopefully the warmer weather will persist.

Ancho Lentil Taco Salad Wraps

I figured we would be Ancho’ed out but later that afternoon, Rob was whipping up Ancho lentils! Destined to be a Rob’s Repeater Recipe, because it was so easy and SO GOOD. This recipe didn’t make PPK’s Top 100 list for nothing! Spicy, but not too spicy, and a bit sweet, these lentils were so flavourful. We went really low-key after such a lunch-fest, stuffing Romaine leaves with the filling and topping them with thick slabs of avocado. Rob doesn’t like collard wraps as much as me, but he gave the Romaine boats two thumbs up. Romaine is definitely sweeter than the darker leafy greens and the inner part of the leaf makes it easy to scoop up a beany filling.

Am I behind the times? Have you made these lentils already? If only Rob didn’t finish off the last of our green lentils with this batch. :)

How do you like green wraps? What’s your favourite? I like collards because they are bigger and easier to make transportable wraps but I was really digging the lettuce this time around.

Ancho Lentil Taco Salad Wraps

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

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Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Squares

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on March 29, 2013

Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Squares

Happy long Easter weekend!

While I will be partaking in zero Easterly activities this weekend, I will be postponing them to next weekend. I think it is very mean to have an exam a few days after Easter, no?

Last week, I came home with 15 lemons. Actually, that is not unusual for me. What was unusual was that they were not just any lemons: they were Meyer lemons. These lemons are more sweet, less tart than regular lemons. So much so that I could easily eat a raw Meyer lemon. Just don’t ask me how I know… Last year, I tracked them down at Whole Foods but didn’t search them out this year. I thought I had missed their season.  But there they were at my local ethnic grocer. :) The lemons were a bit on the tiny side but considering all 15 were for $2, this was an amazing bargain. Even if I had no plans for the lemons… yet.

Undeterred by my recent dessert flops experiments (more on that in a later post), I decided to work with Katie’s recipe for Lemon Squares.  I’ve had a baked tofu cheesecake on my recipe to-do list for a while. However, I usually get distracted by other dessert options.

Instead of flour, I used ground almonds. I also made my own powdered sugar by grinding coconut sugar in my Vitamix (how cool was that!). Since I was using Meyer lemons, I tasted as I went along. Not as much sweetener was needed.

Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Squares

I increased the filling, with all intentions of baking it in a small casserole dish but at the last minute, plopped it into a large springform pan. I figured it would be easier to remove unscathed. Turns out the joke was on me, because the larger surface area meant these were very short. Not what I was aiming for.. I also didn’t add any yellowing ingredients like turmeric, so they weren’t the characteristic fluorescent yellow of lemon squares. And I also cut them like pie slices, not squares… In retrospect, it was destiny.

After I baked them, they still needed to be chilled overnight and then I tasted them…. duh duh duh… I made a Meyer lemon tofu cheesecake!

It looks rather pitiful, but I can assure you it tasted great. Not a true cheesecake, but more cheesecake than lemon square, me thinks. Very lemony, to my liking, although it was balanced by the sweetness of the crust. It was kind of fun to have a lot of crust for a little amount of filling, although next time, I would certainly double the filling, or use a smaller contraption to bake it (I kind of like Amber’s method here of lining it with parchment paper and then slipping the whole thing out afterwards).

Have any fun plans for the weekend?

 Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Squares

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this month’s Healthy Me & Healthy Us event and to Easy Easter Baking .

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Creamy Balsamic Miso Dressing

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on March 28, 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Creamy Balsamic Miso Dressing

Another batch of lost photos. Although the “lost” photos from that previous post were found (!!), months after I repeated the recipe (HA!).

This time, I am not sure where the photos went, but I have an ample substitute.

Pardon my faux pas.

One of my favourite vegetables this winter (if you could not guess) were Brussels sprouts.

I roasted them, roasted them, and roasted them again. I added them to soups, stirfries and skillets.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Creamy Balsamic Miso Dressing

Recently had a hankering for a creamy, balsamic dressing. Something tangy, something sweet but creamy, too. Then I remembered I had already made such a thing: Tess’ Miso Healthy Dressing. When I went looking for my photos of my creamy balsamic miso dressing, I looked at my notes from the recipe: tossed with brown rice, roasted Brussels sprouts and white beans. No photos to be found, but I did find photos of another creamy dressing with roasted Brussels sprouts. (Yes, there were lots of roasted Brussels sprouts around here).

Brown rice and white beans are left to your imagination. However, I included them in my recipe because that’s how you assemble a meal. :)

In any case, do not limit this dressing to roasted Brussels sprouts. With the change in seasons, make it more spring-friendly. Take your favourite leafy green, add some chopped veggies, chickpeas or quinoa, and smother it in the dressing. Or grab yourself some Brussels sprouts and get thee roasting. :)

roasted brussels sprouts and a creamy balsamic miso dressing

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Haalo, and my dressing is submitted to this week’s Raw Food Thursday.

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Indian Sprouted Mung Bean Stew with Greens

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by janet @ the taste space on March 26, 2013

Indian Sprouted Mung Bean Stew

There was a time when I would get curried out. Too much curry. I couldn’t keep up with Rob.

Now, curry has become a staple for both of us. Except I don’t think you can tell by what I share here. Be it resolved to share more of our Indian eats. They have converted me.

In my mind, there are authentic Indian foods and Indian-inspired foods or Indian-spiced foods. The latter referring to when you spice things up with curry powder. While I have thrown curry powder into Indian curries, bean and quinoa skillets, and couscous pilaf, I have also added it to tofu chowders, sweet potato hummus, balsamic roasted veggies, kabocha squash flatbread, curried-mustard dressing,  raw pineapple rice and more recently tofu scramble. The trick is not to make everything taste like “curry powder”, if you know what I mean. This can mean using different types of curry powder (picking one you like is most important; I am partial to Penzey’s sweet blend), adding other spices, using different vegetables or cooking methods to shake things up.

Indian Sprouted Mung Bean Stew

I was drawn to this Indian mung bean stew for its simplicity but I knew it would not be lackluster. Instead of the typical red lentil curries I adore, this is a brothy soup.

A flavourful broth is created from fennel, cumin and ginger. Indian cooking doesn’t always have to be thick curries. Carrots and collards add colour and mung beans make this filling. Lemon juice brightens it up. The curry powder is added as a finishing spice, at the end of cooking, for a different twist to the soup. Pick a curry powder you like because a little goes a long way to flavour the stew. Fennel and cumin will enhance the curry powder, too. As a note, I used sprouted mung beans because that is what I had on hand, but whole bung beans would be equally as good as would any other small bean, like adzuki, too. My only suggestion is to cut up your carrot smaller than I did, mimicking the size of the beans, for better mouth-feel.

Are you a curry powder fan or a curry fan? Or both? :)

Indian Sprouted Mung Bean Stew

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Rosemary Mushroom Risotto

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on March 24, 2013

Do you ever reminisce about the glory days?

Back when I could juggle everything. Back when I didn’t have to crack down on studying?

I never seem to have enough time these days. I can’t study the way I used to. It is harder now.

I feel more liberated in the kitchen, though, with help from Rob and a wealth of favourite recipes. A choice of dressing and 1 or 2 other dishes makes my weekly cooking complete.

While I have moved my herbs indoors over the winter (and most of them died, boo), I never really felt like I had enough thyme this summer, either. My grilled portobello mushrooms with garlic and thyme were a common sighting at barbecues and many of my dishes use thyme (lemon-kissed tomato barley risotto, tomato-pomegranate vinaigrette, etc). My piddly thyme plant was nearly always being scavenged.

I thought I planned for success in the rosemary department, because I have 3 plants. But I never seem to have enough rosemary, either! One batch of Rosemary Pistachio Hummus, and my plants are wiped clean.   A month later, I may try again. Thankfully this week, I had enough to make this rosemary mushroom risotto. Another great dish from Tess.

An uber simple dish, this is a creamy brown rice side speckled with oyster mushrooms focusing on a strong garlic-rosemary flavour. How easy is this? Toss everything into a pot. Don’t worry about the mushrooms if they aren’t pre-sliced, add them in 10 minutes later, no problem. While the rice is boiling, pluck your rosemary and have it ready for when the rice is finished. {Or if you are like me, you can make a whole other quickie-meal while waiting for the brown rice to cook!}

Cooking the rice in almond milk makes this creamy but using the seasoning makes this still taste like it was boiled in a flavourful vegetable broth. I didn’t feel like it needed more than 1 tbsp of oil, but Tess suggests adding more. This isn’t your typical risotto, as the rice still had a bit of bite (which I enjoyed for texture), but certainly a heck of a lot easier and a lot healthier without any cheese or butter.

This is my submission to this month‘s Herbs on Saturday.

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Overnight Oat Parfait with Banana Soft-Serve Ice Cream (& RIP to my Food Processor)

Posted in Breakfasts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on March 23, 2013

Today is a sad day.

I retired my food processor.

1970s vintage cuisinart robot coupe food processor

It was older than me, Cuisinart Robot Coupe circa 1970s. A hand-me-down from my parents, to my brother and finally to me. You see, I had to wait for my brother to get married and receive a fancy brand new one. My kitchen changed completely once I finally grabbed hold of it, though. Homemade energy bars galore. Turned out I was the one laughing (until now), since this old processor was the best. It was a work-horse. Easy to clean. Loved more than the newer models. I learned a lot with it, such as:

1. Chop your bananas before you freeze them.

That was how I broke off both clips on the side of the bowl. Huge chunks of frozen bananas jumped around the bowl and snapped it off, literally.

Have no fear, that was nothing I couldn’t solve by holding it in place myself.

1970s vintage cuisinart robot coupe food processor

1970s vintage cuisinart robot coupe food processor

2. Do not overflow your food processor with fluids.

This was courtesy of Rob’s lesson. The overflowing liquid can make its way inside your food processor and get it to stop working.

Thank goodness my Dad knows how to open up a food processor and clean up the insides.

3. Cook your chickpeas.

This is another lesson from Rob. Processing soaked chickpeas (but not yet cooked chickpeas) broke his food processor (he only had it for a week) but this beast plowed through it.

4. Don’t give away extra bowls for your circa 1970s food processor.

Lesson courtesy of my Mom. Right before I had my first crack in my bowl, my Mom told me she had just given away/thrown out the extra food processor bowl she had been holding onto for the last 4 decades. ;)

5. Crazy glue only works temporarily.

The final straw for my food processor was when the little tip broke off. My Dad crazy glued it back in place, at my insistence. He was worried the whole thing would be glued shut. I proved him wrong. It still stuck together and moved! The problem, though: it snapped off again (while making The Great Vegetable Bolognese Sauce).

1970s vintage cuisinart robot coupe food processor

While I can manually stick that teeny piece back in its place, instead I decided to retire my food processor. *sigh* It is for my own safety.

I still remember the first time I tried the amazing 1-ingredient banana ice cream. Gena titled her post: “Banana Soft Serve: This Post Will Change Your Life”. And it was miraculous. However, without a food processor, it cannot be done. Something about the air whipping/melting the banana into a creamy soft pudding.  As much as I love my Vitamix, blenders can’t do it. Creamy smooth smoothies, yes, but simple ice cream? No.

Super simple, I rarely make it more complicated than a frozen banana. I have paired it with raw banana maca pancakes and stewed vanilla-scented peaches and blueberries. For a chocolatey treat, adding chocolate protein powder is a great recovery snack.

For its ultimate farewell, I teamed the banana soft-serve with another oldie-but goodie: overnight oats with chia seeds. I’ve shared versions with chocolate & cherries, avocado and gingerbread pumpkin, but this one was a classic vanilla-cinnamon combination.

Combined together, it is a glorious breakfast. And if it wasn’t so much of a fuss to clean the food processor, I’d gladly eat this every day.

I feel kind of bad since it is the bowl that needs replacing and not the motor unit. Sadly, Cuisinart does not sell replacement bowls any longer. I think my Mom tracked down a seller in San Francisco. The commute might kill the value.

What do you think? Time to give it the farewell party? How old is your food processor?

This is my submission to this month’s Breakfast Club for fruit. (more…)

The Great Vegetable Bolognese Sauce with Zucchini Spaghetti

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on March 21, 2013

The Great Vegetable Bolognese Sauce with Zucchini Spaghetti

Vegan propaganda: I try not to spread too much of it.

If you read my blog, I think you’ve already accepted that vegetables are good for you and are ok with the lack of meat and dairy in my meals.

But I will share this fun video anyways, because I thought it was flipping awesome. I’ve watched a few documentaries about veganism and I am usually left with a bitter taste in my mouth, wondering about the accuracy of the science and experiences presented. The prolonged juice fast in Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead creeped me out. The main study in Forks over Knives, The China Study, was not convincing for me. Vegucated was cute, following 3 people on a vegan challenge for 6 weeks, though.

But this video? I loved it! Made by Dr Michael Gregor, the physician behind NutritionFacts.Org, he presents how a vegan diet affects the top 15 causes of mortality in a very engaging way. I know the clip is almost an hour long, but it is an hour well spent. If you watch it, please let me know what you think. For me, it reinforced continuing with a plant-based diet for health reasons. :)

In the spirit of nutritarianism (coined by Dr Fuhrman, describing those who consume foods based on their higher micronutrients and shun refined oils, sugars and salt), I decided to make The World’s Healthiest Tomato Sauce, as proclaimed by Amber.

The Great Vegetable Bolognese Sauce with Zucchini Spaghetti

This was a chunky tomato sauce like no other. Filled to the brim with vegetables. All sorts of veggies, it was a lovely clean-out-my-fridge kind of sauce.  I am probably the only person with a random vegetables, like a solo leek, beets, carrots, broccoli stems and mushrooms, hanging around for no good reason. Granted, this is a very flexible sauce so work with what you have. Amber suggests not omitting the olives, though. They add both the salty and fatty components from a whole food (instead of a refined oil product). The tempeh is eerily similar to chunks of meat. The nutritional yeast adds a cheesy hint, as if you had already stirred in Parmesan cheese. But the funniest part of the sauce is that it was more a fluorescent-red, courtesy of the pureed beet.

You might think this sauce would take forever to prep, with so many veggies. However, the food processor does that majority of the work. The directions look lengthy, but you’ll see a theme: chop veggies in food processor, add to the pot and stir. :)

I actually really liked this sauce. It tastes healthy yet hearty while still feeling light. Would I serve it to omnis I wanted to impress? Probably not. They would probably think I was pulling a joke on them.  But if someone made this for me, I’d be thrilled. I’d also have a lot of sauce to last for many meals. Freeze some for later, or relish in eating it a few times a day. :)

I believe that moderate amounts of oil, sweeteners and salt are good for you. Fats are definitely important, especially to absorb nutrients from other foods, but they can also come from avocados, nuts and seeds (and soy). I plan to incorporate more of these “healthy fats” into my foods.

What do you think about nutritarianism? Oils vs healthy fats?

The Great Vegetable Bolognese Sauce with Zucchini Spaghetti

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Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Almost Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on March 20, 2013

Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Almost Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)

Being known as a healthy eater has its drawbacks.

My meals have now become suspicious. Suspicious for healthy ingredients. What have I hidden in the meal this time?

Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Almost Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)

Trust me, I cater to my audience. If baking for myself, I’d easily experiment with squash carob brownies, cauliflower chocolate cake, chocolate chip chickpea blondies or chocolate mint black bean cookies. I have even gambled with (oh so good) chocolate tofu mousse pie with my family for Easter.

But for the harshest critics, I go all out.

Thus when Rob’s family came over for a birthday celebration and I offered to supply dessert, I had to determine my plan of attack.

Almost Guiltless Chocolate Mousse Pie? I knew it was a winner, but I had no tofu.

Rob suggested my Carrot Cake Cupcakes since he really liked them, but I thought they might be a bit “out there”. Carrots for a birthday dessert? (Only mine..)

Experiment with a new recipe? I considered Terry’s Italian Cashewcotta Cheesecake or Ethiopian Chocolate Flourless Torte, but still had the issue of missing ingredients.

Then I worked backwards. What do I have in my pantry? Coconut oil, nuts and cocoa powder. Cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds. Sounded delicious already. I peered around the corner of the cabinet and pulled out hazelnut butter. Eureka! A raw chocolate hazelnut cheesecake.

Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Almost Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)

I like raw desserts because I can sample the batter and can easily gauge how it will turn out. Licking the batter from the blender, I knew this was going to be good.  The next afternoon, I brought out the cheesecake to thaw. I cut a piece before everyone arrived. You know, for blogging photography purposes. But I sliced off a tiny sliver so I could do some tasting research, too.

I know I said my last raw cheesecake was utterly sinful, but how can a key lime pie compete with a chocolate cheesecake? A chocolate hazelnut cheesecake? It can’t. This my friends, was pure cocoa bliss.

Better than Nutella filling in a cheesecake form, on a cocoa-hazelnut-date crust. Decadent but not too rich and not too sweet. Perfect.

Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Almost Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)

Trust me, I was very confident with this dessert.

Before I served it, I was pummeled with questions, though. “What IS this?” I was asked. Ingredients or the name of the dish? Ingredients, tell me. Nuts, coconut oil, cocoa powder, agave, dates… Avocados? I hate avocados.. No avocados…

Thank goodness it was a resounding success. Definitely my best dessert yet.

Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Almost Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)

This is my submission to this month’s We Should Cocoa for fame, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays.

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Chinese Baby Bok Choy and Tofu Stirfry (& a vegan FODMAPS diet for IBS)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on March 19, 2013

Chinese Baby Bok Choy and Tofu Stirfry

Sing along if you know the words:

I am Cow, hear me moo
I weigh twice as much as you
And I look good on the barbecue
Yogurt, curd, cream cheese and butter’s
Made from liquid from my udders
I am Cow, I am Cow, Hear me moo (moo)

I am Cow, eating grass
Methane gas comes out my ass
And out my muzzle when I belch
Oh, the ozone layer is thinner
From the outcome of my dinner
I am Cow, I am Cow, I’ve got gas

I am Cow, here I stand
Far and wide upon this land
And I am living everywhere
From B.C. to Newfoundland
You can squeeze my teats by hand
I am Cow, I am Cow, I am Cow
I am Cow, I am Cow, I am Cow!

Yes, an oldie but goodie from The Arrogant Worms. If you are unfamiliar with the song, you can listen to it here.

So, what do you think this post will be about? Funny Canadian singers? Cows? Not this time..

Chinese Baby Bok Choy and Tofu Stirfry

If you guessed gas or flatulence, you win! (For my new readers, I have no shame: I have talked about poop and red pee, too).

I recently went to a talk about the wheat craze from a gastroenterologist’s perspective. Gluten-free has become a hot topic recently, but what does it all mean? What is the evidence for removing gluten from your diet? If you have celiac disease, removing gluten is very important. Then there are those who are “gluten-sensitive”, who also feel better after they remove gluten from their diet.

People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a functional bowel disorder, have difficulties with digestion. After ruling out other causes (you know, like parasites, celiac, etc), no anatomical cause can be found for their GI symptoms. In fact, the symptoms for IBS are so commonplace (bloating, abdominal pain, cramping, gas, diarrhea/constipation, mucus in the stool), almost everyone could think they have IBS.  Oftentimes, IBS is not entirely related to GI choices: it is intertwined with stress and anxiety, and even panic attacks. However, it can also be related to medications, food choices and intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

Food choices, eh? What piqued my curiosity was the FODMAPS diet devised by those at Monash University. I get more interested in these so-called “diets” when there is a scientific rationale along with research to prove its efficacy. They postulated that certain foods produce poorly absorbed carbohydrates that are rapidly fermented causing excessive gas. They named them fermentable oligo-, di-, and mono-saccharides and polyols, aka FODMAPs. Studies have shown this diet to reduce IBS symptoms (the control group also responded very well, too). Some high FODMAP foods (fructans in wheat, onions, garlic and artichokes and galacto-oligosaccharides in legumes) are more likely to affect people, others may be related to quantity consumed and others may not affect you at all. It depends on the individual. The thought is to eliminate all high FODMAPs and then reintroduce them individually to document how they affect you and figure out how to ultimately modify your diet.

Which foods to avoid when starting? The usual culprits are listed: beans/legumes, wheat, milk and dairy, cabbage, alliums (leek, onion, garlic) and dried fruits. Psyllium should be in there, too! Others that surprised me included sugar snap peas, asparagus, artichokes, beets, cauliflower, mushrooms, pumpkin, apples, mango, watermelon, cashews and pistachios. Outside the whole foods world, artificial sweeteners are also a major culprit.

So what are the low FODMAPS foods? What should you choose instead? Tofu or tempeh, oats, rice, quinoa, green beans, bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, bok choy, kale and spinach. For fruits: bananas, oranges, grapes and melons. And your nut/seed selection should be almonds and pumpkin seeds, but not too many. Agave could aggravate your belly but not pure maple syrup. A more comprehensive list can be found here and here. The list is also continually updated as they research more foods (ie, coconut and cocoa may be controversial).

Looking at my typical meals, it would not surprise me that people could experience gas after adopting a whole foods plant-based diet. Even after you have tried all the tricks to reduce flatulence from beans, other veggies (or fruit, or wheat or nuts) could be tipping your intestinal flora into overdrive.

Tummy needing a break? Try this quick stir fry with tofu and baby bok choy. The original recipe was for a cabbage stirfry but I am really enjoying baby bok choy lately (and cabbage is on the gaseous list). I wasn’t sure I could fit more bok choy in, so I only added 1 lb. However, it wilted more than I thought, so feel free to throw more in the skillet. Simmer the bok choy stems in a tomato sauce spiced with nutritional yeast and tamari with a touch of toasted sesame oil (the green onions and garlic should be omitted for those actually following the FODMAPS approach). It adds a touch of Asian flair to otherwise commonplace ingredients. The tofu adds your protein source. Your low-flatulence protein source. ;) Either way, this was a delicious, quick and simple meal.

Any thoughts on gas? Or these gas-reducing strategies? Have you heard or tried the FODMAPS diet?

Thoughts on funny Canadian singers? The Arrogant Worms also have a song called Carrot Juice is Murder. :)

Chinese Baby Bok Choy and Tofu Stirfry

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Simona.

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Indian-Spiced Chickpeas and Kale (& 70 other ideas for eating your greens)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on March 16, 2013

Indian-Spiced Chickpeas and Kale

I have been meaning to write a post about kale for a while.

As 2013 began, I had a few friends inquire how best to eat kale. Be it resolved to eat more kale? It may be many moons later, but there is no better time than to eat more greens than yesterday. Or if you need a greener boost, how about upcoming St Paddy’s Day? ;)

I have talked about vegetable ratings before (Nutrition Action’s winner of the veggies is kale followed by other leafy veggies) but Dr Fuhrman’s ANDI (aggregate nutrient density index) score is probably more widely disseminated. Whole Foods has started to rate its produce by publicizing ANDI scores. While not a perfect system at all, it prioritizes nutrients per caloric cost. I agree with Anthony’s musings on the ANDI scores which suggests this may confuse people. Focus on whole foods, primarily vegetables and legumes with occasional fruits, grains, nuts and seeds. Why battle it out between greens, when one should try to rotate through them all? Kale, yes, but also Swiss chard, spinach and collards. Throw in Romaine lettuce and mixed baby mesclun greens. Go Asian with baby bok choy or another Asian green. Try out chicory to see if you like it more than me. ;)

eat your greens

I had elaborate plans to create a green eating guide, but as I waited, procrastinated, let life happen, others posted great greenery cooking summaries. Lindsay recently posted videos on how to strip and cook kale. I also found this nice guide from Epicurious. I will not reinvent the wheel but I will continue to share my green eats.

As I told my friends, be persistent. You may not like all greenery preparations right away. Instead of a raw kale salad, try kale chips. Add kale to your soups or stir fries, instead. Or hideblend it into a smoothie or baked good. Slowly integrate them into your diet until you find something you like.

Here is a lengthy list of ideas for numerous greens. Raw, cooked, I’ve got you covered for your greens. Once I started, I just couldn’t keep away any of my favourites. I even limited myself to leafy greens. Cabbage and Brussels sprouts are for another list.

Salads:

Raw Kale and Beet Salad with Raisins and AlmondsRaw Kale and Beet Salad

Creamy Raw Kale Salad with Avocado, Apple and Beet

Almost Raw Asian Kale and Edamame Salad

Garlic-Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Salad with Pomegranate

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with a Balsamic Tahini Dressing

Garlicky and Lemony Black-Eyed Pea and Kale Salad

Spinach Salad with Carrot Ginger Miso Dressing and Pepitas

Warm Mediterranean Chickpea and Spinach SaladSmoky Black Eyed Pea and Kale Stew

Soups, Stews and Curries:

Green Soup with Ginger

Smoky Black Eyed Pea and Kale Stew

White Bean, Quinoa And Kale Stew with Fennel

Brazilian Black Bean and Vegetable Stew

15-Minute White Bean and Kale Soup

Italian Stew with Winter Squash and ChickpeasIndian Lentils with Spinach (Dal Palak)

Brazilian Potato-Kale Soup with Sizzling Chorizo (Caldo Verde)

Vanilla Sweet Potato and Kale Curry

Celeriac and Pumpkin Curry with Spinach

African Pineapple Kale Peanut Stew

Cranberry Bean Mole with Roasted Butternut Squash

Ethiopian Split Pea and Kabocha Squash Stew with Collards

Jamaican Tofu Chowder with CollardsCurried Lentil Stew with Celeriac and Pumpkin

Red Lentil and Spinach Curry (Vegan Tikka Masala)

Indian Lentils with Spinach (Dal Palak)

Cauliflower, Spinach and Chickpea Balti

Fragrant Lentil Rice Soup with Spinach and Caramelized Onions (aka Dal Bhat Meets Mujaddara)

Red Lentil Soup with Spinach and Lime

Red Lentil, Spinach, and Lemon Soup

Japanese Winter Stew with SpinachJamaican Tofu Chowder with Collards

Spinach Orange Yam Soup

Pickle Soup with Swiss Chard

Smoky Tempeh and Chard Stew

Stirfries, Skillets and Pastas:

Creamy Cashew Kale and Chickpeas

Rasta Pasta

Spanish Chickpeas and Spinach with Roasted GarlicSpanish Chickpeas and Spinach with Roasted Garlic

High-Protein Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Alfredo Pasta

Chickpea Piccata with Spinach

Warm Lentil, Bulgur and Vegetable Skillet with a Lemon-Tahini Sauce

Asparagus, Watercress and Chickpea Stir-Fry with Hoisin Sauce

Chinese Five Spice Vegetable and Noodle Stir Fry

Pizza topping (kale chips!):

Roasted Vegetable and Kale Chip Pizza with a White Bean and Quinoa CrustQuinoa and White Bean Kale Chip Pizza

Bowls:

Millet Bowl with Rosemary Mushroom Gravy and Kale

Smoky One Pot Beans and Bulgur with Kale

Bulgur Pilaf Salad with Pomegranate, Dried Apricots, Pistachios and Swiss Chard

Tofu with a Zesty Rhubarb Sauce and Garlicky Kale

Millet Bowl with Spinach, Leek and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Peruvian Mayocoba Bean Bowl with a Roasted Pepper Sauce and Fried PlantainsGreek Stewed Swiss Chard With Tomatoes, Mint and Lima Beans

White Bean and Barley Salad with a Tomato-Pomegranate-Tarragon Sauce

As a side:

Spicy Coconut-Braised Collards

Bengali Quinoa Bowl with Spinach and Almonds (Badaam vaali Palak)

Greek Stewed Swiss Chard With Tomatoes, Mint and Lima Beans

Spreads/Dips:

Hazelnut-Roasted Delicata Squash with Hazelnut-Sage PestoHazelnut-Roasted Delicata Squash with Hazelnut-Sage Pesto

Edamame Miso Dip with Spinach

Hidden/Integrated:

Inside a wrap with peanut dressing

Mediterranean Crustless Chickpea Flour Quiche

Savoury Indian Chickpea Pancakes (Besan Chilla)

As a wrap:

Raw Burrito (Collard Wrap filled with Jicama, Sprouts and a Nacho Cashew Spread)Raw Burrito (Collard Wrap filled with Jicama, Sprouts and a Nacho Cashew Spread)

Lime-Spiked Black Bean and Quinoa Kale Wrap

Oyster Mushroom and Black Bean Tacos with Sweet Mango Salsa

Hazelnut Roasted Kabocha Squash, Cucumber and Avocado Collard Wrap

Mediterranean Collard Wrap with Hummus, Artichoke Hearts and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Cherry Collard Dolmas

Thai Shiitake-Basil Spring Rolls with Creamy Thai Cilantro Ginger Sauce

Sushi Roll Edamame Collard Wrap with Green Onion-Miso VinaigretteArtichoke and Spinach Rice Paper Roll with Lemon Rosemary Baked Tofu

Grilled Chili-Lime Vegetable Lentil Fajitas in a Collard Wrap

Indian Chickpea and Collard Roulade with a Tomato-Mustard Sauce

Artichoke and Spinach Rice Paper Rolls with Lemon Rosemary Baked Tofu

Jamaican Jerk Tempeh Wraps

Desserts and Snacks:Kale Granola

Plain Kale Chips (with a video)

Kale Granola (or Raw Coconut Almond Kale Chips)

Drinks:

Cucumber Beet Ginger Juice

The options with greens are endless. I continually find new recipes and new favourites.

Case in point: this Indian-spiced Chickpeas and Kale. Not authentic Indian but authentically good. Cumin, cardamom and ginger augment garam masala to create a quick dish with chickpeas and kale. A touch of tahini adds a hit of creaminess that transcends its small amount. The greens are wilted in a stir fry but fully flavoured and juicy. Paired with chickpeas, this makes  a complete meal.

What is your favourite way to eat greens?

Indian-Spiced Chickpeas and Kale

This is my submission to to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Brii.

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Turkish Red Lentil Peasant Soup with Sizzling Mint

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on March 14, 2013

Turkish Red Lentil Peasant Soup with Sizzling Mint

When I photographed this, I was worried it may look eerily similar to the Red Lentil and Spinach Curry (Vegan Tikka Masala). Red lentils + tomato + spinach… This one has carrots, isn’t as red and is more soup-like than the curry, though. I think they look reasonably different, so trust me I am not recycling photos! No lost photos for this dish…

In truth, it was the success of the tikka masala that had me throwing bountiful fists of spinach into yet another red lentil dish.

Turkish Red Lentil Peasant Soup with Sizzling Mint

I have made the traditional Turkish red lentil and bulgur soup before, having learned it while travelling in Turkey. A humble, yet decidedly filling and nutritious soup, it was one of our favourite meals on our trip, especially when we learned how to cook it ourselves. This version, courtesy of Turquoise, is billed as a humble peasant soup. The lentils must make it peasant-like because there is nothing bland about this. I love the addition of two different kinds of smoked paprika and cumin (I did not stifle the full amount of smoked paprika and it was ok!).  I added in the spinach, because, well, I had tons of it and it is easy to incorporate into thick soups. However, the best part of this soup, is the finishing spiced oil. I am used to this in Indian dishes, which is called a tarka, when spices like cumin, coriander, garlic and ginger can infuse oil that is added at the end of the cooking. This isn’t an Indian dish, so dried mint and smoked sweet paprika are fried at the end to permeate the oil. It was actually very pretty when drizzled over the soup. Sorry, you guys got photos of leftovers! Have no fear, the leftovers tasted as good with the tarka already stirred into the soup. :)

Do you use the tarka method for your cooking? Outside Indian foods?

Turkish Red Lentil Peasant Soup with Sizzling Mint

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Lemon-Balsamic Glazed Chickpeas and Broccoli

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on March 12, 2013

Lemon-Balsamic Glazed Chickpeas and Broccoli

So Rob is gone and I am out to play!

A few years ago, I read What We Eat When We Eat Alone by husband and wife team Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin. I was so fascinated by their stories that I wrote my own series about eating for 1. At the time, I had been living by myself for over 6 years (plus another 4 years I lived with roommates). I was fascinated by what people ate when not with their significant other. Truthfully, I don’t really modify my habits too much when Rob is away. I try to stay on track.

However, I emailed Rob about being influenced by the Bad Idea Bears (bonus points if you have any clue what I am referring to). After going to the gym, I was so energized post-shred that I went grocery shopping. My email to Rob:

The bad idea bears helped me reason out why I should buy 8 lbs of chickpeas for $5, spinach (3/$2), baby bok choy (79c/lb), lots of bananas (29c/lb), grapefruit (4/$1) among other things. I bought you some rolled oats, too. :-) oh, and some yogurt (it expires in April so you are still good post-SXSW).

I know my Mom is shaking her head. I thought about it, too. I reasoned it out. Our chickpea stash was getting low!! I am on a chickpea phase! The other beans will not suffice! They are on sale! They will keep. I will eat them. I want my chickpeas!

Plus, my Mom gave me a nice balsamic vinegar for Christmas, so I need chickpeas and greens to eat through that! ;)

(I am thinking about depleting my pantry…)

Lemon-Balsamic Glazed Chickpeas and Broccoli

So now I have lots of chickpeas and lots of greens. Which is better than a case of beer, right? (Rob thought so, too).

You may have noticed I am posting more and more simple recipes. This is possibly one of my easiest recipes (the broccoli was an afterthought, so the hardest part is chopping the broccoli). In a saucepan, put all your ingredients and make a balsamic reduction with a touch of tomato, garlic and lemon. Within a few minutes, it glazes the chickpeas with a sweet-tart sauce. The original recipe called for ketchup, which I replaced with tomato paste and sweetener. The quality of your balsamic vinegar will dictate how tart it will become and how much sweetener to add. Taste as you go. You could just make the chickpeas, but I found the broccoli to be a perfect match, sweet and crunchy, to balance the strong balsamic reduction. Next time, to make this even easier, I may just whip out my mosto cotto instead.

Lemon-Balsamic Glazed Chickpeas and Broccoli

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Wellness, this month’s My Legume Love Affair.

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Chili Masala Tofu Scramble

Posted in Breakfasts, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on March 10, 2013

Chili Masala Tofu Scramble

Rob is gone this week.

To a work conference.

His dilemma yesterday was whether to go a talk from Al Gore, Tim Berners-Lee (he invented the web browser), or Neil Gaiman (a fantastic author according to Rob). All 3 happening at the same time. Rob had to clue me in on the last two since I have only heard of Al Gore. ;) (In the end, he chose Al Gore’s talk about The Future). Today he is going to try to track down Grumpy Cat. In the flesh. She is here, too. :)

As I’ve shared before, Rob is the king of hot meals on the weekend. His specialties are tofu scramble, arepas and besan chilla. But this weekend, alone with some tofu and veggies, I pulled them all out for a hot lunch and made myself some scramble.

While it seems like the majority of recipes (even Isa’s) call specifically for extra-firm tofu, this time I opted for Chinese-style soft tofu. Turns out this specific tofu is made so close to where we live, too. I wonder if I can get a walk-in discount? ;)

tofu superior co. toronto

I’ve used soft tofu in a scramble before and now I prefer it to the extra-firm. Who wants a dry scramble? Who wants to wait for their tofu to be pressed? Not me! I want mine fluffy, flavourful and filled with veggies. This scramble certainly fit the bill: spiced with cumin and curry powder, the assorted vegetables played a roll in the colourful plate. Since Rob was not here to make arepas as a side, I just ate the whole thing. Delicious!

Chili Masala Tofu Scramble

Rob likes to update me on his foodie finds while away: yesterday’s lunch was jicama slaw with captain-crunch-encrusted chicken strips in a bacon waffle cone and a trip to the flagship Whole Foods store. After he sees this, I think he’ll want some of this curried tofu scramble when he returns, though. :)

Long-term vegans are probably well-versed in their tofu scramble preferences. Do you like firm or soft tofu in your scramble?

Chili Masala Tofu Scramble

This is my submission to this month’s One Ingredient Challenge for chilies and Breakfast Club for local eats.

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Crispy Beer-Soaked Sweet Potato Fries

Posted in Favourites, Sides by janet @ the taste space on March 8, 2013

Beer-Soaked Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

If my weakness is beans and greens, Rob’s weakness is beer.

I may hoard and admire my (completely edible) bean collection. Likewise, Rob drinks through his beer collection. I will admit that I know very little about beer, other than I have yet to meet a beer I like. Rob has given up on getting me to sample his beers. I am pretty confident that whatever makes a beer a beer (hops?) is what I don’t like, which cannot be masked by hints of chocolate or lime or whatnot.

When we travelled to Quebec last summer, we made sure we stopped off at a beer store to stock up on beers that are not easily available in Toronto. We found a beer haven closeby, Veux-Tu Une Biere?, that had over 250 different microbrewed beers. Rob picked out beers that tasted like chocolate and raspberry, chocolate and espresso, espresso solo, coriander and orange, lime, pumpkin, juniper berries and orange peel, rye, scotch (yes, scotch beer), cognac (yes, cognac beer) and who knows what else. Without having to worry about customs, we returned with enough beer to last until our move to Houston.

Beer-Soaked Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

Rob let me pick him one to try. He has non-mainstream tastes. His favourite beer last year was a Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout. Let’s just say my father and brother didn’t appreciate it as much as him.  So while at the beer store, I tried to get Rob to buy spruce beer. Turns out you can find that one in Toronto and one of our friends thought it tasted like a forest. A no go. I ended up picking one with a demon on the front. I have classy tastes. (It also said it won a beer award). Turns out my choice was a winner (except I can’t remember what it was). Too bad Rob only bought one. He bought two of the other beers. However, not all beers were as fabulous. Which is lucky for me, because normally Rob says his beers are too good for me to use in the kitchen. They say you shouldn’t cook with a wine you won’t drink, but this is what you do with beer you don’t like. Any beer will do because you cannot taste it.

I cook with wine but don’t cook with beer because I am afraid of that “beer” taste lingering. I bookmarked this highly-praised recipe for beer-soaked fries but it wasn’t until Ellen tried it and reassured me: a) the fries were fantastic “Not sure what the beer does for the outside of the fries, but there is some marvelous alchemy going on…”, and b) you could not taste the beer, did we venture to try our hands at beer-soaked fries. Rob picked out one of his not-so-fabulous beers (a lime pale lager) and whipped up these fabulous fries.

I am not joking. These were resto-quality, crispy (baked) fries. We used a mix of white and sweet potato but I was partial to the sweet potato fries. All you do is marinade the fries for 15 minutes in the beer, then toss with garlic, oil, salt and pepper, and wait a painful 30-45 minutes as they bake. Next time, I may throw other spices on it like I have done before.

Apparently you can reheat the leftovers. I will admit, there was nothing left over. Demolished. All of it. Now to find more yucky beers.

Do you cook or bake with beer? Or just drink it?

Savoury beer uses, here and elsewhere:

Dill and Cheddar Beer Bread

Beer-Baked White Beans at The Bitten Word

Beer-Stewed Pinto Beans (Frijoles Borrachos) by Nava Atlas

Beer Hummus at Sprint 2 the Table

Smoky Chipotle Vegetarian (Beer) Chili with Parmesan-Black Pepper Beer Bread at Joanne Eats Well With Others

Belgium Beer-Bathed Seitan Stew from Vegan Eats World or Vegan Planet

Seitan Goulash with Kraut over Parsleyed Noodles from American Vegan Kitchen

Tempeh Sauerkraut Brew Stew from Vegan Appetite

Vegan Chocolate Guinness Cake from Keep It Simple Foods

Beer-Soaked Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

This is my submission and to this month’s Simple and in Season, this month’s No Food Waste Challenge for alcohol and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Simple Ayurvedic Mushroom and Leek Mixed Grain Skillet

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on March 7, 2013

Simple Mushroom and Leek Mixed Grain Skillet

I don’t shop at the standard grocery stores. I prefer the smaller, independent ethnic grocers for my veggies and natural foods stores for my pantry staples.

However, I recently heard that Costco had some interesting foods, and sent my family searching for sprouted mixed beans. Turns out they stopped selling them here a few months ago, but my aunt spotted a sprouted rice and quinoa blend instead. Always eager to try something new, I decided to give it a shot.

Uh, let’s just say that packaged mixed grains don’t always work so well. When I’ve made mixed grain dishes before, I cook the grains separately, or add them at different times so they finish cooking at the same time. I couldn’t get the grains to be as fluffy and distinct as I am used to.. unless that is what happens after they are sprouted? In any case, the mix turned out to be a bit on the mushy side, both when I’ve made it on the stovetop and in the rice cooker. I tried to salvage the mix by introducing it into this easy skillet.

Simple Mushroom and Leek Mixed Grain Skillet

I’ve made multiple skillets before, and each time I gush over its simplicity.  I swear, I wasn’t planning on sharing this recipe. It just seemed too simple, too boring and I didn’t think it would taste as flavourful as it did. The original recipe suggested throwing everything in the skillet and cooking, but I shunned a mise-en-place and threw things in as I finished chopping them. First went in the leeks, then the portobello mushrooms, next the red pepper and Brussels sprouts. Grated carrots and garlic rounded the veggies out with a sprinkle of salt and thyme. After the vegetables brown and begin to caramelize slightly, cooked grains get dumped in for a complete meal. No dressing, no broth. Thyme was the only herb but this was surprisingly flavourful. Do not discount the flavour of veggies (and garlic).

I think I may relegate my mixed grains to soups… that seems pretty foolproof. What do you think? Fan or foe of mixed grain blends?

Do you like it when I share easy, seemingly non-recipes with you?

Simple Mushroom and Leek Mixed Grain Skillet

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Simona, and to this month‘s Herbs on Saturday.

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