To the lay-person, food blogging may seem odd. To me, it has been a way to chronicle my forays into the kitchen, creating my own living cookbook. Likewise, as others document their own successes in the kitchen, we create so many recipes to share. Some of my favourite recipes have been inspired from other bloggers, and just like when I documented my favourite cookbooks and the recipes I recommended, I thought it would be pertinent to highlight (some of) my favourite bloggers. I follow a lot of bloggers, but do not necessarily cook from their recipes. These, I have. I can vouch for their deliciousness. As a note, sometimes I try the original recipe but most of the times, I adapt it suit my own tastes and the ingredients in my kitchen. I encourage you to do the same.
Leaving nearly all my cookbooks in storage will have me leaning more heavily on others for my kitchen inspiration. I love recommending tried-and-tested recipes, so beyond myself, someone else has liked them too. So here we go:
1. Fat Free Vegan: I have yet to gush about Susan, but her recipes have rarely disappointed me and I have made a lot. They are flavourful, delicious, and healthy – what more could you want? I highly recommend her Indian-Spiced Chickpeas and Kale, Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran, Curried Beans and Quinoa with Baby Bok Choy, Iraqi Eggplant and Seitan Stew, Creamy Cashew Kale and Chickpeas, and Spaghetti Squash with Brussels Sprouts and Chickpeas.
2. Choosing Raw: I have already gushed about Gena and her amazing recipes, but I’ll say it again. Her recipes are simple, tasty and healthy. I highly recommend her Curried Chickpea Salad with Carrots, Mustard-Miso Dressing, Raw Zucchini Alfredo, Raw Carrot Cupcakes, and Greek Lemon and Quinoa Avgolemono Soup and there are many others I have tried.
3. Eats Well With Others: Another one of my favourite bloggers is Joanne. Her blog is fun to read AND eat from, wavering between decadent desserts and delicious vegetarian soups and salads. We share very similar tastes in the kitchen and I have been inspired by many of her recipes (likewise, she has also made a few of mine). I recommend her Creamy Lemon-Basil Whipped Avocado Sauce, Lentil Mango Picadillo, Chickpeas Romesco, Brazilian Black Bean Soup, Spaghetti with Roasted Peach-Tomato Sauce, and Greek Baked Beans.
Still bookmarked: Carrot-Tahini Soup, Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Salad with Prunes in a Cumin Vinaigrette, Moroccan Red Gazpacho, Red Lentil Dal with Charred Onions, African Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas, Bulgur and Spinach Pilaf with Chili-Roasted Tomatoes
4. Oh She Glows: It took me some time to warm up to Angela’s recipes but now I am enjoying them. She was the one to introduce overnight oat parfaits to me. My favourites so far have been her Creamy Mushroom Tomato Pasta, Millet Bowl with a Mushroom Gravy and Kale, Warm Lentil, Bulgur and Vegetable Skillet with a Lemon-Tahini Sauce, Garlic-Roasted Chickpeas in a Lemon-Dill Dressing, Blueberry Vanilla Chia Jam, and Peanut Butter Mousse with a Chocolate Magic Shell.
5. Julia’s Vegan Kitchen: Julia and I keep exchanging favourite recipes between the two of us. When she says something is good, I leap at the chance to try it out. Our favourite recipes of all time have come from Julia’s recommendations. Some of the keepers I have tried from her include: Split Pea Dal with Ginger and Lime, Besan Chilla, Indian Lentils with Spinach, Indian Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Chickpeas, Iraqi Pomegranate Stew.
6. My New Roots: One of my first blog crushes was on Sarah. You know, before she became the big-time blogger. All her recipes have been delicious. I seem to discover new ingredients while reading her blog but have no fear, some of her recipes are simple. I highly recommend her Raw Chocolate Milkshake, Mojito Smoothie, Warm Balsamic Rosemary Cabbage Salad, Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Orange-Tahini Dressing, Raw Tacos, Chickpea Salad with Mexican Mango Dressing, Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms, The Best Lentil Salad Ever, Raw Brownie, Mexican Chocolate Spiced Black Bean Brownies, Raw Raspberry Cashew Dreamcake.
7. Lisa’s Vegetarian Kitchen: One reason I decided not to tote 660 Curries and 1000 Indian Recipes with me to Houston was that I knew I could find delicious Indian recipes on Lisa’s blog. I haven’t made as many of her recipes other than a delicious Warm Chickpea Salad with Mango, Pomegranate and Chaat Masala. However, when I start bookmarking her recipes, I just cannot stop.
8. Radiant Health, Inner Wealth: Are you tired of my Tess crush yet? What have I not adored? Tess has a blog where she shares many of the recipes from her cookbooks. A complete list of the recipes I have tried can be found here, but some highlights include: Creamy Low-Fat Hummus, Green Velvet Guacamole (aka Edamame Guacamole), Baked Lemon Cilantro Pakoras, 15-Minute Zippy Garlic-Basil Marinara with Zucchini Noodles, Dillicious Yellow Tofu, Black Bean, Cilantro and Apricot Salad, Almost Raw Asian Kale and Edamame Salad, Lime-Spiked Black Bean and Quinoa Kale Wrap, Miso Healthy Dressing, Roasted Garlic Tofu Salad with Cilantro Rice, Black Beans and a Mango Salsa and Maca Chip Raw Energy Balls.
Still bookmarked: Ful Mudhamas, Savory Lentils with Caramelized Onions, Zesty Lemon Chickpeas, 5 Minute Chicky Chickpeas all from Get Waisted.
9. Post Punk Kitchen: Isa is a goddess in the kitchen and she graciously shares her recipes on her blog. My recommendations: Ancho Lentil Salad Wraps, Roasted Beet Salad with Warm Maple Mustard Dressing and Tempeh Croutons, White Bean, Quinoa and Kale Stew with Fennel, Asparagus, Nectarine and Baby Lima Bean Lettuce Wrap.
Still bookmarked: Smoky Tomato Lentil Soup with Spinach and Olives, Jerk Sloppy Joes with Coconut Creamed Spinach, Broccoli Curry Udon, Miso Soba Stir Fry with Greens and Beans, Quinoa Puttanesca, Puttanesca Tofu Scramble
10. Plant Powered Kitchen: Dreena is another cookbook author that very generously shares her recipes on her blog. I have made a few recipes from her cookbook, Let Them Eat Vegan, as well as these she has shared online: Moroccan Vegetable Phyllo Rolls with Balsamic Maple Dressing, Jerk Chickpeas, Thai Chickpea Almond Curry, Tomato Lentil Cumin and Dill Soup and Thai Coconut Corn Stew.
Still bookmarked: Marinated and Roasted Tomato Garlic Hummus, French Lentil Soup with Smoked Paprika, Creamy Barley Risotto with Thyme and Star Anise, Mexican Bean Soup, Chickpea and Artichoke Bliss in a Dish, Mellow Lentil Sniffle Soup, Lemon Chickpea Lentil Soup, Roasted Tomato Bean Stew, Dreena’s Frosted B-Raw-nies
11. Vegan Lisa: When I look for desserts, Lisa’s blog is a great place to start. Her recipes are killer and I have enjoyed everything I have made thus far, including: Raw Strawberry Cream Tart, Raw Mango Energy Bars, Kale Granola, Almost Raw Chocolate Banana Crepes with Almond-Coconut Cream and Cinnamon-Flax Crackers.
12. Chocolate Covered Katie: Another blogger with mostly healthy desserts is Katie, which brought to me my Almost Guiltless Chocolate Mousse Pie, which was then turned into a Chocolate Mint Ice Cream. I also recommend her Lemon Cheesecake Squares, Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles, and Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies.
13. Rawmazing: Another fabulous raw blog is Rawmazing, which introduced these fabulous recipes to me: Raw Thai Pineapple Parsnip Rice, Blackberry, Walnut and Avocado Salad with A Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette, Raw Sweet Potato and Mushroom Sliders, and Raw Beet Chips.
14. Chef Amber Shea: I was immersed into raw desserts while testing Amber’s recipes for her cookbook Practically Raw Desserts. I highly recommend her Enlightened Carrot Cake, Cake Batter Protein Balls as well as her “World’s Healthiest Bolognese Sauce“.
15. 101 Cookbooks: I wasn’t going to include my recommendation for Heidi’s blog because I am probably not telling you anything you do not already know. But I love her recipes, too, so this is where you should start eating: Warm Carrot and White Bean Salad with Dill, Sushi Bowl with Asparagus and Avocado, Green Soup with Ginger, Cranberry Bean Mole with Roasted Butternut Squash, and Nikki’s Healthy Cookies.
The Veggie Nook: I know Gabby’s Sugar-Free Carob Almond Butter Cups are delicious and have bookmarked other treats to try like Pineapple Shortbread Bars, Pre-Workout Superfood Energy Bites, Tahini Dill Pasta Salad, Coconut Curry Dressing
Peachy Palate: I don’t know how Michelle has so much energy to make gorgeous single-serving meals every day but they all look delicious, including: Lentil Lemon Spaghetti with a Roasted Garlic Dressing, Triple Coconut Pancakes, Tempeh Mushroom Fricassee, Sweet Chili Pomegranate Molasses Tofu Soba Noodles, Warm Beet and Lentil Pomegranate Molasses Salad, Pomegranate Molasses Baked Tempeh, Squash and Eggplant
Keepin It Kind: Kristy devoted a whole month to chickpea recipes last year – what’s not to love about that? She has flavourful and elaborate meals that I wish I had enough coordination to put together myself. I’d love to try her Jackfruit Curry, Lentil, Farro and Kale Salad, Sloppy Chickpea Joes, and Roasted Cauliflower Quinoa with Cheesy Pumpkin Tempeh Sauce
Fresh Energy Recipe Lab: A new-to-me blog but I have been saving her recipes like crazy: Raw Jicama Sushi Rice with Spicy Raw Tuna, Collard Wraps with Raw Mushroom Pate, Raw Cauliflower Dolmas, Raw Cauliflower Couscous with Capers, Beet & Ginger Dressing, Wakame Salad
Sprint 2 the Table: Laura is probably the other non-veg*n blogger that I adore. I love reading about her protein-fueled eats. I still have my eyes on her Chocolate Avocado Cookies and Chocolate Zucchini Muffins, though.
Which blogs do you really enjoy? Which recipes do you recommend? Any recommended recipes I have missed from these bloggers?
This is my submission to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday.
If you can’t tell, I am a planner. You don’t magically become successful. You plan for success.
During one of my trips last year, I discovered a lovely portable breakfast idea: Ruth’s Chia Goodness. Basically it is an instant breakfast featuring chia seeds, nuts and seeds with flavours. Just add water, wait 10 minutes, and voila! Healthy breakfast is served!
Ruth has a few flavours, but I wanted to recreate the Chocolate version for this roadtrip.
The ingredient list: Chia (salvia hispanica L.), buckwheat, hulled hemp seeds, organic cacao, raw organic cacao nibs, dates, almonds, evaporated cane juice, Celtic sea salt.
Familiar with my other breakfast puddings with oats and almond milk (chocolate cherry overnight oats and gingerbread pumpkin overnight oats), I knew I had to get rid of the fresh ingredients and milk. Oats need a long overnight soak, so to make this an instant breakfast, hemp seeds and almonds seemed like a great idea. Buckwheat couldn’t possibly be used raw, though, in its uncooked form. I turned to dehydrated buckwheat, instead. With its crunch, they added the perfect textural foil to the gummy chia seeds. The cocoa nibs and Amazing Grass added the malty chocolate goodness that left me with my morning chocolate fix. Ruth has added sugar in hers, but I felt like this was perfect without it. Sometimes I add fruits to it as well. Apples, mangoes, kiwi.. I don’t know any fruit that don’t pair well with chocolate.
Do you have any great travel-friendly breakfast recipes?
This is my submission to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday.
And we’re off!
Rob and I packed up all our things and are currently en route, road trip-style, to Houston. I have a few travel-themed recipes this week, as we drive across the country (down the country would be more accurate). 3000 km (over 1800mi). We have a lot of ground to cover.
I made a few travel snacks to bring with me (will be sharing throughout the next few weeks), and while I have tracked down a vegan restaurant in each city for dinner, I plan on eating simple meals throughout the day.
I brainstormed before I left. What can I easily find at grocery stores? What would pack well? For some reason, I kept returning to salads with avocado and lemon. Easy, peasy. Throw in some nuts/seeds, cooked beans or tofu as an easy protein. And then I decided sauerkraut would be a wonderful addition, too.
Not wanting to simplify my meals too soon, I knew I didn’t want to wait to try out an avocado and sauerkraut salad. With my current kitchen a few weeks ago, I had the liberty of making a more complex salad dressing, so I ran with it. A creamy miso dressing with a zip from ginger and the tang from apple cider vinegar. That creaminess? Not nuts: nutritional yeast. I imagine avocado would be nice pureed into the dressing as well, but I left it in chunks for the salad. Paired with the salty sauerkraut and crunchy sunflower seeds, this was delicious.
What are your favourite easy travel-friendly meals?
(No, nothing on the relationship front..)
While I modestly shared the news of passing the.most.important.exam.of.my.life, I figure you guys may be more excited about this news: my photos are in a cookbook! In Tess‘ newest cookbook, no less. I am not sure what was more exciting: new Tess recipes or being a published foodie photographer? (I choose the former, actually)
In Tess’ latest cookbook, Get Waisted, she has teamed up with Dr. Mary Clifton, to create 100 delicious, healthy recipes. She has included healthy modifications to older recipes and all-new favourites. Bean and rice coconut banana curry, Black bean and rice bowl with mango salsa, Japanese ume rice, Lemon lover’s red lentil spinach soup, Mexican polenta bowl, Pasta caulifredo, Rosemary polenta with mushrooms, Samosa wrap with cilantro chutney, Spicy Indian chickpea fritters.. ok, ok, I will stop the temptation. You can find all of the recipes on Vegansprout if you are curious. Suffice it to say, the recipes are creative and drool-worthy. And I photographed a handful of them.
One of the recipes Tess included is one of my favourites from her first book: Black Bean, Cilantro and Apricot Salad. I routinely make it, changing ingredients, matching what I have in my kitchen.
This time, I swapped the black beans for chickpeas; the mango juice for pineapple juice; swapped the corn for more carrots and scrapped the spinach altogether. Combined with the sweet dried apricots and cilantro-ginger spiked dressing, you have a delicious summer bean salad. Sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy.. It is really hard to mess it up.
The photos in the cookbook are true to the recipe, thus you won’t see this in there. Trust me, I tried. Tess, I just made your salad with pecans instead of walnuts.. can’t you just change your recipe?…. NO GO FROM TESS! You will see this salad, in its many incarnations this summer, though. Perfect for potlucks and summer gatherings. Especially if Houston’s weather is as hot and humid as I fear. Last I checked, there were highs of 35C, feels like 45C with a 50% humidity. This is no heat wave. This.Is.Houston. It will soon become my new reality. GAH! I am sweating just thinking about it. I may not be turning on my oven or stove very often, methinks.
Have you tried any of Tess’ recipes yet? This cookbook would be a great place to start. You can buy it directly from Tess here (discounts if you buy more than one cookbook) or on Amazon (kindle and hard copy).
As you may have guessed, yes, I am still alive.
I survived my crazy Rideau Lakes cycle.
My focus this year was to pass my exam (which I did!) and then I quickly ramped up to cycle to Kingston. I cycled another 50 km during the week leading up to the weekend and took Thursday and Friday off as rest days. My final pre-event odometer reading was 560 km, 150km within the previous week.
That weekend, though, I cycled over 200 km. Not too shabby. This was my second time on the course, so I know that the hardest part is between Perth and Kingston. This is where most of the hills lie, including the dreaded Westport hill. The nice thing about repeating the course is that I did not feel compelled to conquer the entire course. Been there, done that. Enjoying the ride with a great group of friends was more important.
Our Cobra biker gang consisted of my Dad, Rob and Sue. While Sue and I had already decided we wanted the shorter route from Perth, the boys wanted the full route. However, due to an early rain shower, we all ended up starting from Perth on Saturday. A later start meant the roads would be dry, but more importantly so would our shoes and clothes. I was positively soaked during my training ride, and I simply hate cold, wet shoes.
Turns out we had my ideal cycling weather: overcast and not too hot. We were having a great time and I was positively giddy once we smoked down Westport’s hill. Sue pummelled it at 69 km/h. I had my brakes on and my max was 59 km/h. As we lounged at the gas station at the bottom, other cyclists reminded me that the hardest part would be the next day, tackling that hill in the opposite direction.
The only wrinkle in our day was my slow-leaking flat at around the 80 km mark. My Dad pumped it up and we crossed our fingers, hoping I could make it to Kingston without changing the tube. Lucky me, we made it and found an on-site technician to change my tube for me.
As we stood in line at the maintenance tent, I chatted with the guy in front of me. He did the whole cycle from Ottawa. And yes, do the math, he lapped me. He arrived before me, covering an extra 77km in the 2 hours it took us to start in Perth. His average speed put ours to shame: 35 km/h. Ours was more like 23 km/h, and we probably took way more breaks, HA!
We arrived early enough that we beat the late afternoon sudden rainfall, and with enough time to relax and clean up before having an early dinner. While none of the heated mains were vegan, I picked up cooked carrots, corns and a marinara sauce and then loaded up at the salad bar where I made my own salad with greens, carrots, cabbage, kidney beans and chickpeas with a balsamic dressing. Strawberries for dessert.
The next morning, we met bright and early over my peanut butter oatmeal with fruit. Both my Dad and I snagged a bunch of bananas for the road.
This time, the weather was a beautiful sunny day. The wind was barely moving and any breeze was from us, or when the pentalon would pass us. HA! And the dreaded Westport hill? I was quickly reminded how difficult it was – I remembered it being not that hard. The steep incline comes early but it is short-lived. The hill continues at less steep incline afterwards, for around another 1 km. A quick break at the top had us re-energized to tackle the next set of rolling hills.
We made it to Perth by lunch time when Rob and my Dad waved us goodbye as they cycled the rest of the way home. Sure enough, they covered the last 77 km in 2.5 hours. Their 28 km/h average was impressive at the end of such a weekend. Sue and I were perfectly content to call it a day at Perth. Thankfully, I wasn’t as tired as I feared (judging by my fatigue after my training ride) and even had the gusto collect our luggage and then bake cookies for Rob before he came home. My Mom made her lovely quinoa pilaf again along with roasted asparagus and peppers.
However, now Rob calls me a monkey. I think I ate 5 bananas on Sunday, in addition to my homemade chocolate peanut butter balls. And while I would love to share the delicious chocolate peanut butter balls I brought with me, the photos are still in Ottawa. So, I am sharing these treats that I brought with me on my training run.
After really enjoying the Nut-free Raw Carrot Cake made with coconut flour, I wanted to try something similar but with zucchini and chocolate, instead. So I experimented. Instead of grated carrots, I used grated zucchini. Instead of the cinnamon and nutmeg, I used cocoa powder. Instead of the apple-cashew frosting, I used cacao nibs for easier transport. And I really liked them. Asterisk, though. I would add more cocoa powder next time. I used up the end of my supply so I worked with what I had. Furthermore, while I ate these as cycling treats, they do not travel well at all. They worked for me with a short ride, since I popped them out frozen. Within 2 hours, they are at their perfect consistency: chilled and firm. Once they became warm, they were mushy and messy. Still delicious but not ideal. Definitely not portable to/from Ottawa and Kingston. Thus, I made new snacks that were uber portable. And once I get the photos from my parents, I will share that delightful recipe with you, too.
Zucchini “Meatballs” and Tomato-Curry Sauce with Almond Parmesan (aka Vegan Indian Spaghetti and ‘Meatballs’)
I used to wonder if my Indian dishes were up to snuff. It has been so long since I had been to an Indian restaurant, that I have nothing for a comparison. I usually rely on Rob’s opinion, who eats out more than I do. While on my many travels last year, I stumbled upon a highly rated Indian resto that had quite a few vegan options. I helped myself to the vegetarian platter and while I ate it, the only thing I could of was that I could make better Indian food at home. Not that the food was bad; only my curries are much better, if I may say so myself. Rob has taught me well. Furthermore, I can control the level of spiciness and the amount of added oil (no deep-fried belly aches), making dishes that are truly perfect for me.
Another advantage of cooking Indian at home is that you can go totally crazy, too. Crazy in the foodie-sense, of course. Have you ever seen an Indian dish with noodles? Italian meets Indian. Sounds like a perfect description of Joanne, who shared the lovely recipe.
Here, we have spiced zucchini and chickpea meatballs (aka kofta) that are baked, not fried. They are served overtop a tomato-curry sauce. The next question was what to serve this with. You could go with rice to return to the Indian base, but Joanne served it with polenta. I wanted to continue with the Indian spaghetti theme. Therefore, I used zucchini noodles and made a raw almond parmesan topping. Cooked meets raw. Zucchini on zucchini. Craziness, pure craziness, I tell you… but all in a good way.
If you think I am just tooting my own horn, I urge you to try our favourite Indian dishes and decide yourself:
Nepalese Mountain Lentil Curry (Dal Bhat)
Split Pea Dal with Ginger and Lime
Indian Lentils with Spinach (Dal Palak)
Plantain, Cabbage and Coconut Curry with Split Pigeon Peas (Indian Cabbage and Plantain Kootu)
Cumin-Scented Pigeon Peas with Mango (Mango Curry with Toor Dal)
Indian Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Chickpeas (Baingan Bharta with Chickpeas)
Indian Eggplant and Lentil Curry (Dal Bhat Meets Baingan Bharta)
Butternut Squash, Coconut, and Lentil Stew (Aarti’s Indian Summer Stew)
Cauliflower, Spinach and Chickpea Balti
Indian Chickpea and Collard Roulade with a Tomato-Mustard Sauce
Malai Koftas with Chaat Masala
Baked Lemon Cilantro Pakoras
I am thrilled you guys adore Vegansprout as much as me. I think there is something about vegans who like documenting and rating their food. We are a funny bunch in many ways, that’s for sure.
In her interview, Allison mentioned she wanted to host cookbook challenges. Anyone could join in on the fun, documenting their experience with the recipes. The first cookbook she chose? Vegan Indian Cooking.
I have tried (baked) pakoras and besan/khaman dhokla. For the cookbook challenge, I made these baked veggie squares. This is a fusion of the two dishes. A mix of shredded veggies are combined with chickpea flour and silken tofu. It is spiced with standard Indian fare. Since I chose to bake them in a larger container, they were more thin. However, they remained moist and flavourful. The tofu added a chewy egginess. If you like heat, add more chiles. For me, this was perfect. Topped with a bit of tamarind chutney, these were a delicious snack.
The kindle version of Vegan Indian Cooking was recently available for free. However, it was only for US customers so I missed my chance to snag it. A bit of searching led me to find a pdf version on the publisher’s website, though. The full cookbook is available here. Now you can have your own copy, too! Perfect! Please join in the first cookbook challenge. You can find recipe reviews from Vegan Indian Cooking on Vegansprout here.
Do you ever challenge yourself to try new recipes in a cookbook, too?
Instead, I was immersed back into work and fun at a break-neck pace.
It wasn’t entirely conscious, but I definitely kept myself well distracted as I waited for my results.
I had to ramp up for that big bike ride. (And I so want to give that bike ride a post it deserves)
We saw friends we hadn’t seen since I went into exam hibernation. Rob and I had dates that included musicals and concerts.
On the errands that are still fun, Rob and I mapped out our road trip; booking our accommodations and figuring out which cities have Trader Joe’s (HA!).
The list of things to do for our move never ceases. Book movers and pods, obtain visas, social security numbers. Get a US dollar bank account, flip cash into American funds, change addresses, suspend gym memberships. Make sure we both have benefits. Become officially common-law. Get everything ready to import our car.
Oh, and pack.
Nothing that is too difficult on its own, simply time consuming.
Death by a thousand paper cuts, as Rob puts it.
I haven’t been cooking too much, either. Pulling out freezer meals and eating out a bit more. Cooking up simple grains and tossing with a random assortment of veggies. Discovering fun sauces in the fridge.
This was a fun snack/side I made with some leftover rice. Basically it is a ball of sushi rice, seasoned with rice vinegar and filled with a touch of umeboshi paste, a Japanese spread from pickled plums. I squished the rice into a hard ball with the help of plastic wrap and kept it wrapped until I ate them for lunch. For your viewing pleasure, I played around with strips of nori to make fun faces, although the rest of my balls used wider strips of nori more practically, to keep my hands clean. Use a simple soy dipping sauce, or go all out with a homemade ponzu sauce which has citrus notes to the salty base.
Happy faces, all around, I must say.
I can now add 5 more letters to the end of my name: FRCPC.
(Fellow of The Royal College of Physicians of Canada)
I have been reducing my sodium gradually over the past year and my sodium culprits are not table salt itself; instead it is soy sauce, miso and sauerkraut. Because of that, I still eat a lot more sodium than my parents. Packaged foods use salt as a preservative, thus canned and prepared foods generally contain more sodium. But Ravi’s soup is supposed to be homemade. He shared his (healthy) recipe. The numbers just don’t add up. Thus the culprit must be over-salting (and the red curry paste).
While Ravi suddenly passed away a few months ago, he leaves behind a quaint resto chain which serves delicious soups and sandwiches. I haven’t been in a (very long) while, but it was a sure-fire bargain on Friday evenings when everything was half-priced before they closed for the weekend. I remember one of their soups of the day, an uber delicious butternut squash soup with lemongrass that I wanted to recreate but it has since become a distant memory.
Another one of Ravi’s soups on my ‘To Make List’ has been his Curried Red Lentil and Apricot Soup. I would categorize this as the other kind of Indian food. If I have to tell you this is a curried soup, then it isn’t from India.
However, it has all the components of a great Indian dish: red lentils, tomato, a touch of coconut milk, garlic, ginger and curry powder. The dried apricots are what hold me from thinking this is an authentic Indian dish, but they work really well here. Chopped up in small pieces, you get bursts of sweetness that complement the savoury elements of the rest of the dish. Creaminess comes from the red lentils and just a hint of coconut milk. This soup is more sweet and bright than the cumin-scented pigeon pea soup with mango that I adore but it likely depends on the curry powder you use.
I know the dried apricots seem so odd, but they work surprisingly well. For some reason, their sweetness permeates the soup without being too overpowering. The leftovers were even better as the sweetness subsided slightly. Dried apricots can pack a bona fide punch of taste, so if in doubt, use less dried apricots.
Straight from their menu, though, this curried red lentil and apricot soup is so easy to make, it behooves you to make it yourself.. and with a lot less sodium.
This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, this month’s Everyone Can Cook Vegetarian for orange foods, and Little Thumbs Up event, hosted by Eats Well in Flanders, organized by Zoe from Bake For Happy Kids and Doreen for my little favourite D.I.Y.
Rob and I have been good about eating through the freezer and pantry. While I no longer have a white board with the freezer inventory (it was such a good idea but we lost track), we generally pick up a container, look at the label, pick our favourite of the day and chow down.
Trust me, I am very diligent about labelling freezer meals.
I am not sure why I don’t do the same with my fridge foods. I don’t store too many things in the fridge but sometimes I forget about salad dressings or marinades pushed to the back. My rationale is probably: Well, this is fresh food. I’ll remember what it is before it grows mold.
Some fridge finds are still happy in my fridge for months. Possibly years, although I can’t say for sure. Since now I can’t remember what it was and when I made it.
My mystery concoction looked like roasted and ground nuts. Likely with some spices. It passed the sniff test. Not entirely sure what it is, I have two options: almonzano (unlikely because it doesn’t taste similar) or dukkah. Or something I just don’t remember making, which is also a possibility. Dukkah is an Egyptian nut and spice mix with cumin, coriander and sesame seeds but there are many variations. The New York Times recently shared recipes for dukkah with peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chickpea flour and even an herbal variation with mint and fennel. While I have included a link to my favourite dukkah recipe that includes coconut, I am fairly confident this was a different variation. I *think* this is the hazelnut dukkah from Vegan Eats World, which is more nut-heavy than spice-heavy. I prefer more spices than nuts, so that the flavours really pop, but the lack of spices did not hold back here.
This salad started off a bit ho-hum, with a simple favour profile: cucumbers, chickpeas, quinoa, lemon and balsamic. It was nice, but not something to rave about… I wanted to add some chopped almonds but instead sprinkled the mystery nut blend overtop and it definitely brought this to a wow dish. The lemon really accents and highlights the spices. It tastes great and yet I still cannot confirm what is in this mix.
So for now, let’s assume it is dukkah and enjoy it for all it is worth.
How do you keep track of your food? Do you subscribe to “if I can’t remember what I made, then I probably shouldn’t be eating it?” rule?
Here are other recipes with dukkah:
Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Dukkah
Maple and Dukkah Roasted Sweet Potatoes from Olive Magazine
Roasted Carrot Soup with Dukkah from Bon Appetit
Bulgur Bowl With Spinach, Mushrooms and Middle Eastern Nut and Spice Seasoning from New York Times
Dukkah-Spiced Green Beans and Mushrooms from Anja’s Food For Thought
Roasted Squash with Tahini and Dukkah at Lisa’s Kitchen
I don’t know about you, but one reason I started my blog was to chronicle the good and bad in my kitchen. What worked and what didn’t work. What I liked and what could use some work.
When I started my blog almost 4 years ago, I was a flexitarian, consuming occasional fish and rarely meat. Gradually, I ate more vegetarian meals and eventually switched to an entirely vegan diet and later it morphed to be plant-based vegan. During that transition, I branched out to different sources to figure out what vegan meals were all about and it was then that I looked at vegan cookbooks and scoured reviews for suggested recipes. If I wanted this to work, I wanted to make sure I was eating flavourful foods. I didn’t want to waste expensive ingredients or risk having no food to eat, either. Which recipes should I try first?
This was how I met Allison, who enjoys reviewing her way through recipes as much as me. Over the past year, she and her husband have been working on a very neat website: Vegansprout. I urge you to check it out and contribute. In short, it is a website which compiles reviews of all things vegan. There are the cookbooks (129 right now) AND recipes (yes, Allison typed up the individual recipes from all the cookbooks) as expected, but also other vegan products like pantry items, drinks, chocolate, beauty products like lip balm, etc.
When I first went vegan, I was worried about milk substitutes. The soy milk Rob typically bought was terrible and I was concerned nothing would taste good. Someone told to try them all out until I found something that I enjoyed. At the beginning, because there were so many choices, it felt overwhelming. However, it worked out in the long-run because now I know what I like. Having a website like Vegansprout facilitates the review process: it is organized and you can find what others recommend, as well.
So why am I highlighting the website? There is power in numbers. Add in your thoughts. Let others know what you think. Save others from buying Natura soy milk and suggest your favourite, in turn.
Enough from me, though. I thought I would ask Allison some questions about her (totally free) website. (more…)
Is it harder to get kids or adults to try new foods?
I am not a parent yet, but I know I was a pretty picky eater as a child. I was definitely better at eating my fruits and veggies than my brother, but we both drove our Mom crazy.
Now the roles are reversed. I am the one eating so many different foods and sharing them with my parents.
Quinoa, possibly my favourite (pseudo)grain, has been a hard sell for my parents. To be fair, in Ottawa, the quinoa never seemed to cook properly. It was mushy and water-logged. I don’t know what was so different but it was a recurring theme. I recommended my standard technique: using less liquid (broth is more flavourful) and then let it sit, lid closed, to steam and help fluff it up. Another option (albeit more fussy) is to partially cook it, drain it and then steam the quinoa.
I thought my Mom had given up on quinoa altogether. I was surprised when I spotted quinoa in her pantry.
Turns out she had finally found a recipe she liked after my sister-in-law served it. Lucky for me, my Mom decided to treat me to her new favourite quinoa recipe.
The main flavours were classic: lemon and thyme. The difference was in the quinoa. First it was rinsed, dried, toasted, cooked in a minimal amount of broth and then steamed with a towel. I typically use a 1.75:1 broth:quinoa ratio but this was much closer to 1:1. This results in no-mush quinoa. The kernels are separate and flavourful. Due to the limited liquid, you might notice they do not become as big and not as voluminous. They are also not water-logged.
I like to include a lot of vegetables in my meals, so instead of adding them directly to the quinoa pilaf, I served mine with grilled asparagus and grilled balsamic mushrooms. My Dad, very generously, donated cut-up asparagus as pupils and a uni-nostril to complete my happy meal. He is not a fan of asparagus, so I gladly ate his offering. Maybe we are all picky kids at heart?
Did you have any rough starts with some foods in your kitchen?
PS, I think I may need new glasses. These photos look fuzzy. Oh well, too lazy to fix that!
I am on a kasha-kick. At least until my stash runs out.
The millet evaporated last summer. Next went the wild rice. Now I am plowing through the kasha. Once I discovered the boil-in-a-bag stuff, I was smitten with it as a base for veggie-based bowls.
With a focus on simpler meals, I made the dressing first and then decided what to toss with it.
And yes, this was a glorious dressing.
It seems so weird. Raw onion? Dill? Miso?
But trust me, it worked so well. I also tried a creamier version with tofu-cashew mayonnaise and liked that, too.
I picked kasha, but any grain would work here. Brown rice? Quinoa? Choose your favourite veggie but broccoli complemented the tangy dill-miso dressing well.
Guys, I am thrilled to tell you about my latest favourite cookbook. It has a lot of my favourites things: all vegan, lots of beans, mostly plant-based with options for those that need their meals to be gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free or oil-free. I am a big proponent of beans (cheap, tasty and healthy protein) and was wondering who would be the smart cookie to make the first vegan bean cookbook.
Kathy Hester is the genius behind this and honestly, I am blown away by the cookbook. I want to make the majority of the recipes but I cannot decide where to start. They span the gamut from breakfast beans to beany desserts and everything in between. The dishes run the spectrum from Indian to Jamaican and Mexican to French and Moroccan, focusing on traditionally vegan meals along with creative uses for beans (fudgesicles!). Since the meals typically call for cooked beans, they are mostly easy, quick dishes, too. Here are the chapters and a few sample dishes (a complete recipe list can be found here):
- The Beautiful Bean: Basics, How-Tos and Recipes To Keep Your Food Budget in Check
-Baked Crispy Chickpea Seitan Patties, Bean Chorizo Crumbles, Sweet Red Bean Paste
- Morning Beans: Beany Breakfast and Brunch Dishes
-Almost-a-Meal Black Bean Tamale Muffins, Sausage-Spiced Savoury Pancakes, Roasted Root Veggie and Kidney Bean Hash, Red Bean-Filled Baked Donuts
- Noshy Beans: Appetizers, Dips, and Spreads
-Creamy Spinach Artichoke White Bean Dip, Pepita Black Bean Dip, Beany Eggplant Bruschetta Spread
- Nutritious Soups: Easy and Delicious One-Bowl Meals
-Hutterite Soup, Thai Coconut Tongue of Fire Soup, Salsa Fresca White Bean Gazpacho, Triple Lentil Soup with Wheat Berries
- Cool Beans: Legume-Centric Salads
-Salsa Quinoa Salad, Lentil Beet Salad, Chickpea Greek Salad with Tofu Feta
- Portable Beans: Sandwiches, Patties and More
-Mango Curry Chickpea Salad, Don’t be Crabby Cakes, Butternut Squash Frijoles, Baked Arugula and Bean Flautas
- Sultry Stews and Hearty Chilies: Quintessential Bean Dishes
-Chickpea Veggie Tagine, Indian Cauliflower Lentil Stew, Solstice Beans with Pumpkin and Greens, Margarita Chili Beans, Apple Baked Beans, Hard Cider-Sauced Beans, Tomato Rosemary White Beans
- Casseroles, Pastas, and More: One Dish Meals
-Flageolet Cassoulet, Lentil Quinoa Bolognese Sauce, Chickpea and Vegetable Lo Mein, Creamy Healthified Vodka Sauce, Oven Chickpea and Seasonal Veggie Biryani
- Bean-a-licious Sweet Treats: Desserts that Love Beans
-Black Eyed Pea-nut Butter Pie, Ginger Red Bean Popsicles, Black Bean Fudgesicles, Cherry Basil Crumble Bars, Chocolate Summer Squash Cake
Kathy explains the basics of the standard beans, along with variations for specialty heirloom beans. Until you buy pretty, specialty beans, you may not understand the lure to not cook with them. They are just so pretty and recipes never suggest using Tongues of Fire beans, or Hutterite soup beans, or Good Mother Stallard beans. Here, Kathy breaks down the anxiety. She describes which beans are in each family and therefore can be easily exchanged, while still not alienating those without access to specialty beans.
Good Mother Stallard beans are in a league of their own, though. They are in the “interesting shapes” category along with ayocote negro and Goat’s Eye beans. Kathy explains Good Mother Stallard beans are football-shaped and create a “perfect pot liquor”. She suggests using them as a fancy bean substitute in certain dishes that call for chickpeas and kidney beans, or using them plainly as in this dish to experience they real, naked taste.
I decided to dust off my pretty Good Mother Stallard beans and put them to the test. A simple pot of beans spiced with rosemary, bay leaves and carrots. Steve from Rancho Gordo suggests these may be his favourite bean and after a simple simmer, I can see why. Delicious mouth feel. The beans have a thicker skin which keeps the bean’s shape while the inside is creamy and sweet. There is a lot more going on with this bean than one would expect and thankfully these beans retain their colourful markings even after being cooked. Kathy suggested eating the beans as-is, with bread or a grain.
I bought my Good Mother Stallard beans from Rancho Gordo, but Kathy has as extensive list of other retailers, too. I normally retype all the recipes I share, but Kathy’s publisher has given me permission to share this recipe. Looking at it below will give you an idea about the attention to detail in this book: flexible bean substitutes, optional slow cooker directions as well as complete nutritional information.
I really want to share this cookbook with you. Thankfully the publisher is letting me giveaway a cookbook to one reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered, please leave a message here, telling me about your favourite bean dish. I will randomly select a winner on June 30. For more chances to win, check out the other bloggers that are featuring Kathy’s cookbook this month as part of her blog tour. You can follow along on Kathy’s website here. Good luck!
Note: I was given a complimentary copy of this book to review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. (more…)
Just like riding a bicycle.
I put that to the test on the weekend.
I have not been up to my typical exercise regime this spring. I pared it down to 1 weight lifting class a week and 1 bike ride. Over the past 2 months, I have not cycled more than 400km.
Yet, in a week, I have signed up to cycle 200km between Perth and Kingston. (I long gave up cycling the full 354km between Ottawa and Kingston).
I used to think anyone could ride 100km. However, with my severe lack of training this year, I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to cycle the “short” 200km route either.
So, I dusted off my road bike (the first time I rode it this year), and cycled almost 100km with Rob and Sue on Sunday. It was one of my favourite routes (the Aurora loop) which meanders north of Toronto through such small cities like Snow Ball and Maple. Cycling north of the of the city also meant tackling the uphill during the first part of the trip and enjoying the downhill going home. All in between getting soaked from a sudden downpour and battling the wind from many directions.
Did I do it? Yes. Was it hard? Yes. Will I do it again next weekend? Yes.
Rob has been training for this throughout our short spring, so he didn’t find this route as challenging as me… which meant he had more energy when we arrived home. Originally, he wanted to treat me with some ice cream but: a) I felt more like a smoothie, and b) we should be eating through our freezer stash. As I lay on the ground, Rob whipped up a delicious smoothie. I kind of made suggestions from the floor: frozen banana, frozen mamey, vanilla, hemp protein powder and almond milk. It was a crazy concoction and we weren’t sure how it would taste…. Only after I drank a huge serving, did I have enough energy to photograph it… because we both agreed it was too good not to share.
It is hard to describe the flavour of mamey. It takes like mamey… Think about it, how would you describe the taste of apple? Anyways, it is a sweet creamy mango-like flavour with floral undertones. It has a custard-like taste and consistency. Describing flavours is hard. I like this description:
The fruit’s flavor is variously described as a combination of pumpkin, sweet potato, and maraschino cherries with the texture of an avocado. Source
It paired beautifully with the creamy banana. The hemp protein powder made it a bit more of a green colour but also added creaminess.
How did we find mamey? We originally discovered it while travelling in Colombia, both as a fruit and in delicious smoothie form. We were thrilled when we spotted frozen mamey (sapote) at a Colombian bakery in Toronto and picked up a few packages earlier this year. They also had frozen guanabanana, guava, blackberry (mora) and possibly other non-exotic fruits like strawberries.
Have you ever tried mamey? I think it is best in smoothie-form.