the taste space

Green Hemp Açaí Bowl & The Juice Generation Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Breakfasts by Janet M on April 20, 2014

Green Acai Bowl

They let it slip.

My claim to fame.

At my hospital, they get new trainees every year. Obviously, it can be hard to keep track of us all. One of my co-workers may be known for her love of dance, the other that became a new mama, or another that took off suddenly to get married.

I suppose I have a few quirks. Beyond being Canadian, I could be remembered as the bicycle commuter, or perhaps the vegan… But no. Even more memorable are my unique breakfasts. Or breakfast #2 as I call it, since I eat it at work, more than a few hours after I have woken up, eaten after breakfast #1, cycled to work and gone to the gym.

Breakfast #2 is my green goop and I have eating the same thing for the past year: cooked oatmeal, hemp protein powder with some flax and chia seeds. Everything is ready to go in the morning. Once I get to work, I add some hot water, stir it up and love it.

For the uninitiated, the green swamp goop is certainly not appealing. The hemp protein powder is the colouring agent. My breakfast is an acquired taste but all things green need not taste bad. And as I learned here (and my green kale pancakes), even a small amount of green ingredients can blend to a brilliant hue.

Even though I am lamenting leaving my juicer in storage, I have been drinking my way through the smoothies and açaí bowls in The Juice Generation.

Green Acai Bowl

While I cannot lay claim to be a Canadian açaí expert, at least I know how to pronounce it. It has become a new foodie fad. Although, I will not praise any non-scientifically proven claims of this “superfood” other than its anti-oxidant laden berry-licious taste.

Originating from Brazil and popularized in Hawaii, California and eventually New York City, The Juice Generation has been one restaurant to popularize the breakfast açaí bowl. Topped with a hemp seed granola, an açaí bowl has a lot more substance than the rest of their juicy menu. They have 5 flavours on their menu and 5 recipes in their cookbook. Four overlap, but there is a bonus hemp açaí bowl in their cookbook not on their menu.

I found a combination of the green açaí bowl and the hemp açaí bowl to be the perfect combination. When I made my first açaí bowl, I was surprised at how green it turned out. Certainly not a vibrant red from the frozen açaí and not even a murky burgundy, it was positively green. The handful of spinach worked its magic and even masked my subsequent addition of hemp protein powder. The protein powder is now part of my regular addition to the açaí bowl which helped thicken the shake, an important factor since I was eating it like a soup.

The second revelation from my experiments with açaí was that it is naturally not that sweet. Some frozen packets add sugar to compensate, so buyer beware. In this case, I opted to use frozen bananas to buffer the spinach, hemp and açaí. Topped it with Rob’s granola of the week and sprinkled with some additional hemp seeds, I think this is awfully pretty. Green goop and all.

Green Acai Bowl

In addition to the recipes for their açaí bowls, there are also over 100 different combinations for fresh juice and smoothies in their latest cookbook.  Thankfully, the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me what you think of green breakfasts (smoothies, puddings, bowls, etc) Do you eat them, too? I will randomly select a winner on May 2, 2014. Good luck!

PS. There is still time to enter the giveaways for The Blender Girl and The Vegan Cookbook, too.

I am sharing this with this month’s Extra Veg.

Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher.  I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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Chocolate Puffed Quinoa Treats (aka Quinoa Choc-Crackle Slice) & Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts by Janet M on April 10, 2014

Chocolate Puffed Quinoa Treats

Another  bike ride and another treat!

Although this weekend was more about travelling to Austin for the Texas VegFest to meet the ever wonderful Tess Challis, instead of cycling. We had lofty plans for both, although the rainy weather foiled our plans.

We decided to play chicken with the weather. We wanted to cycle at least 100 km, if not more. Instead of going out for a long loop, we drove out to a more rural location and used it as our home base. I would have been very happy doing multiple laps along a straight and flat road but Rob thought that would be too boring. Instead, Rob drafted 30-35 km loops in a few directions. We pedalled through two loops before giving in to the wind and rain.

Us versus the weather? We lost. Our bikes? Super dirty. Our car won. It became clean.

The nice thing, though, was that I was able to take out these treats. I was really curious to try them out. Not only to see whether it would be better than my last puffed quinoa treat, but I was curious about using coconut sugar as a binder.

Chocolate Puffed Quinoa Treats

The good part? They tasted great. A chocolately goop to keep everything together. Not too sweet with a hint of almond. Since the quinoa was puffed and not crisp, they were easy to munch on. However, my intuition was correct about the coconut sugar: it did not hold up well as a binder. The only way I could keep these treats together was by chilling it in the freezer. Even then, perfectly cut squares were hard to craft. I resorted to breaking off nibbles when I wanted a treat. As such, these were not portable snacks but worked out well with our continuous looping back to the car. I wonder whether coconut nectar would work better as a binder, although I have never tried it.

The treats are from a fun new vegan cookbook called (wait for it) The Vegan Cookbook. It is a gorgeous cookbook with creative yet approachable recipes: breakfast tagine, kale & soba noodles with ginger-chilli sauce, curried chickpea patties with satay dipping sauce, chai-spiced banana muffins and chocolate banana wontons. Authored by Adele McConnell of Vegie Head, I must admit I had never heard of it before, but we have been enjoying many of her recipes, including the super fast chickpea curry and South African sweet potato stew (very similar to my previously shared recipe).  The rasam soup was a bit too tart for me, but at least it wasn’t mind-blowing spicy. In any case, with a wide range of international whole food recipes, I have many more dishes I look forward to making.

The Vegan Cookbook cover by Adele McConnell

Here’s to hoping the nice weather persists for this weekend. Not only for our cycling adventures but for all those partaking in the MS150 this weekend, too. :)

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living anywhere in the world (YAYAYA!). To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite vegan meal. The winner will be selected at random on April 21, 2014. Good luck!

PS. Recipes from The Vegan Cookbook elsewhere:

Moroccan Quinoa Soup (with a giveaway, too)

 

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Chai Spiced Rice Pudding & The Blender Girl Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on April 8, 2014

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

Adult rice krispies and now adult rice pudding.

The difference is that I liked rice krispies as a kid but hated rice pudding. My brother loved it, but me, not so much.

However, spice it up with chai-infused flavours, sweeten it with apple, dried currants and a touch of maple syrup, bathe it in coconut milk and sprinkle it with pistachios along with leftover short-grain brown rice, and I am a happy camper.

This is no quick-fix rice pudding but it sure is delicious. My friend who tried it said it was the best rice pudding she had ever eaten.

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

This is my take on Tess Masters‘ version found in her gorgeous new cookbook The Blender Girl. Do not let the title mislead you too much. Yes, this is a cookbook where nearly every recipe uses a blender, but this does not mean only smoothies. The recipes are all gluten-free and vegan with only natural sweeteners. The recipes revolve around whole foods. Raw and cooked recipes are included. Tess has recipes for juices, smoothies, dips/spreads, soups, dressings, sauces and even desserts. She has entrees that use homemade sauces, including her penang curry and creamy mushroom stroganoff. Desserts include sugar-free no-pumpkin pie and chocolate-chile banana splits. Breakfast favourites including pancakes and crepes, with delicious toppings like ginger-apple-pear butter and instant raw raspberry jam. She even finds a way to use a blender for rice pudding.

She knows her stuff. It may dirty another container but I liked how a portion of the rice was pureed to thicken the rice pudding. It was rather ingenious.

The Blender Girl Cookbook cover

 

She is a girl smitten by her high-speed blender. I can tell. I have one, too, and I find it hard to remember what my kitchen was like without it. Do you need an expensive high speed blender for this cookbook? Certainly not. However, you definitely need something with a blending capacity, may that be a regular blender, an immersion blender or a food processor. If you don’t have a blender, you could still gain inspiration from her creations. Your textures may be different but it would be fun to see what else you could make.

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me what you love to make with your blender (or blending instrument). The winner will be selected at random on April 20, 2014. Good luck!

Other recipes shared from The Blender Girl:

Creamy and Crunchy Spuds (with Raw Mayonnaise)
Watermelon Gazpacho is The Bomb
Fresh Spring Rolls with Orange-Almond Sauce
Creamy of Cauliflower Soup
Incredible Edible Edamame Dip
Penang Curry
Anti-Oxidant Avenger
Pineapple Salsa Smoothie
Chock-Full Chocolate Surprise Smoothie
Raw Chocolate-Orange Torte

PS. This is my submission for Alphabakes and Random Recipes.

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Vegan Deviled “Eggs” & Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Appetizers, Book Review by Janet M on March 27, 2014

Vegan Deviled "Eggs"

Onwards with the 30 vegetable challenge. Instead of using an abundance of vegetables in a single dish, I am focusing on possibly the most popular vegetable. A vegetable that I rarely eat at that: the humble white potato.

White potato has its critics.  A high glycemic starchy vegetable that is typically consumed deep-fried or slathered in oil. I actually don’t like the taste of white potatoes, either, preferring its colourful cousin, the sweet potato. In any case, not all white potatoes are created equal and it was most apparent while we travelled in Colombia and enjoyed their local favourite: papas criollas. A small, creamy potato, perfect to eat after a simple boil, although it was also common spotted after a toss in an oiled skillet. Other small potatoes can be reasonable substitutes. I spotted these at our favourite (Mexican-flavoured) farmer’s market and brought them home to make a vegan twist on devilled eggs.

Vegan Deviled "Eggs"

No eggs, no problem. The creamy potatoes are a fun twist for the cooked egg white base and a creamy mustard-hummus filling with a touch of black salt is very reminiscent of the real deal. Sprinkled with a touch of smoke paprika and you have an easy, pretty appetizer. If you have some mad piping skills, you could make this even more fancy.

Vegan Deviled "Eggs"

This recipe is from the latest in the Happy Herbivore cookbook series, Happy Herbivore Light & Lean. For some reason, I have never really warmed up to Lindsay’s earlier cookbooks but this one was different. First of all the photos are gorgeous. Secondly, the recipes appeal to me more.

Her recipes, even if from previous cookbooks, have been lightened up and spruced up with bolder flavours. She has a bigger emphasis on vegetables and less reliance on ketchup and mayonnaise. More complete meals, instead of sides. All her recipes are oil-free and low-fat which I don’t necessarily advocate but did not mind trying out temporarily. Her recipes prove you do not need oil to make food flavourful but I like a bit more fat for satiety. Even if for no other reason, yes, you need some fat to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

The third part of the book includes an introduction to basic strength exercises. She includes good photographs and descriptions of each move with modifications for beginners and those who want a challenge. I like that she included another aspect of healthy lifestyles, beyond nutritious food.

Vegan Deviled "Eggs"

First and foremost, I enjoy sharing delicious food and this cookbook delivers. These deviled eggs are only one recipe but I also recommend the garden vegetable chili, cheater pad thai noodle bowl, breakfast tacos and scrambled tofu.

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe (with one of the gorgeous food photos by Jackie Sobon from Vegan Yack Attack, too) AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me what you think about no-oil meals. The winner will be selected at random on April 7, 2014. Good luck!

Happy Herbivore Vegan Devilled Eggs

Recipes from Happy Herbivore Light & Lean elsewhere:

Thai Crunch Salad
Caribbean Bowl
Meatloaf Bites
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pumpkin Pancakes
Blueberry Yogurt Muffins
Breakfast Tacos
Lentil Joes (with a video)
Spinach Love Wrap
Soba Peanut Noodles
Deviled “Eggs”
Microwave Peach Cobbler

PS. This is my submission to this month’s Anyone Can Cook Fabulous Vegetarian Food.

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Thrive’s Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Drinks by Janet M on March 20, 2014

Thrive's Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway

Rob disappears and I do a cold, windy and rainy bike 100 km ride. Cameo appearance by the dreaded flat tire again. Sound familiar?

It is hard to believe, but within the span of a few days of my last solo cycling adventure, I signed up for the Tour de Houston for the 60-mile/100-km ride. More impressive (or shocking), I also dedicated some overflow vacation days to visit my parents and cycle Rideau Lakes with my Dad in June. This will be my third time on the 360 km 2-day course, I am hoping it will keep my motivated to continue to cycle throughout the summer to have fun at Cycle Oregon.

In any case, cycling season has begun. This weekend simply solidified why I love cycling so much. IT IS FUN! Even with nearly 4 hours of on-and-off again rain and fierce winds, I had a blast. Granted, I was sad Rob was missing such a fun experience but it was liberating to tackle the course at my own pace (yes, I know, Rob is usually the one waiting for me, not the other way around). I don’t know how many people showed up in spite of the weather (see the video recap here), but over 5000 people registered for the event. It is infectious to be surrounded by other cyclists. I rarely see another cyclist on my commutes to work but now, I had to jostle and wind my way around so many others.

I picked this event because it is actually run by the City of Houston to promote cycling in the city. It was well marked (save one turn) and well staffed. The course changes every year to highlight different areas of Houston. This year, the course was fantastic. Nearly all intersections were staffed to give cyclists the right-of-way (most of the time, obviously they had to let cars go through as well). I also knew it would give me the courage to try out a 100 km course with lots of support. Turns out, I needed it. I found myself with a flat tire a bit after the half-way point. When I cycle with Rob, he always brings a tube, pump, and tools to fix tires but this time, I didn’t. Thankfully, I turned around and one of the sag trucks found me and my sorry wheel. They brought me back to my last rest stop where I was able to get my flat tire. In addition, they then drove me back to where I had my flat tire so I could continue my journey.

I was a bit bummed because I had lost a lot of time and I was even turned away at one of the rest stops. I had a flat tire, I am not that slow! I kept thinking to myself. However, with the continuous rain, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise: the cyclists had thinned out so it was less congested but the best part was that I was mostly passing everyone. Not just a morale boost, this was incredible practical: less mud in my face! No one has mud guards, so if you are within 10 feet of the person cycling in front of you, you would be greeted with mud galore. How do I know? Right before I had my flat tire, there was a muddy patch and it landed all over my face, my glasses, my clothes and my bike.

The course was well stocked with bananas, oranges and peanuts (and pretzels which I didn’t eat) but by the time I arrived at the finish line, most of the vendors had packed up for the day. I cycled home. And only then I remembered how long rides really deplete my motivation to cook. I had the most motivation to do laundry and have a bath, though. Talk about being dirty. But before that, I treated myself to a fun recovery smoothie courtesy of Brendan Brazier’s new cookbook Thrive Energy Cookbook.

Based off the recipes from one of my favourite restaurants, Thrive Juice Bar, this is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing: the recipes taste great. If they are true to the restaurant, you will want to make that pad thai stat. However, the curse: that pad thai? It tastes great, in part, because each component is perfected. The recipe may be on one page but it will redirect to 4 addition recipes – three sauces/vinaigrettes and a vegetable mix. All for a single serving.

The photos are gorgeous. The recipes are tantalizing with many classic vegan combinations.  I am salivating over the drinks: kale mojito (I have had that at the restaurant and it is great!), chocolate-truffle-caramel mocha, chocolate-peppermint matcha magic drink. The restaurant’s Big Green Energy Charger is in there, too, which I love with a hit of maca, but I don’t know how I will find my own freshly squeezed wheatgrass juice for my version to be authentic. The recipes focus on mostly whole foods, although Daiya cheese makes its appearance, numerous Vega products along with Wildwood Zesty Garlic Aioli which seems to be the base for all four aioli recipes. Some incredibly hard-to-find ingredients are included (lucuma, astralagus, ginseng, wheatgrass juice, reishi mushroom, maca) but not too many.. and most could easily be omitted. I look forward to trying out more recipes and thrilled I can share a cookbook with one of you, too.

For this smoothie recipe, nuts, chocolate and protein powder are combined to make a satisfying smoothie. I typically don’t like smoothies with ice, but this was well balanced, probably because there was a larger amount of nuts than my typical smoothies. Brendan calls this a recovery smoothie although for information on his rationale for his sports recipe (either before, during or after exercise), you are redirected to his previous books.

Thrive's Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe (with my modifications, of course) AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below. The winner will be selected at random on March 29, 2014. Good luck!

Recipes from Thrive Energy Cookbook shared elsewhere:

Cashew Berry French Toast

Chia Seed Blueberry Pudding

Roasted Red Pepper & Sweet Potato Soup

Coconut, Lemongrass and Lime Soup

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Red Lentil & Chickpea Burger Patties

Avocado, Black Bean & Chipotle Burger with Chipotle Lime Aïoli

Chocolate Chip French Vanilla Smoothie

Chocolate-Almond Decadence Smoothie

Acai Berry Pre-Workout Energizer

Super Chocolate Powder Mix

Almond Butter

Blood Orange and Ginger Citrus Tart

This is being submitted to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness.

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Cuban Beer-Infused Black Beans & Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on March 4, 2014

Cuban Beer-Infused Black Beans

Vegan cookbook lovers rejoice! Today is a great day for vegan cookbooks. I counted at least 3 different vegan cookbooks being published today.

For my deluge of cauliflower recipes, I really appreciated Eileen’s comment about food trends. Basically, she said seeing an ingredient repeatedly can actually be quite boring. So in that vein, instead of reviewing the more popular vegan options, I thought I’d share a hidden gem: Meatless All Day.

Meatless All Day Cover

At first, I was hesitant to review it because it is not a vegan-only cookbook. Instead, there is a mix of vegan and vegetarian options. Vegan options are clearly marked but in the rest of the cookbook, some recipes use eggs and cheese (and sometimes butter, but that is an easily solvable problem). However, the recipes are inventive and even if you are vegan, you can gain inspiration from different combinations of ingredients or the gorgeous photography. I am itching to try the Miso-Glazed Tofu which was inspired by Nobu’s Miso-Glazed Black Cod (which I loved in my pre-vegan days).

In truth, the real reason I wanted to touch bases with the publisher was because I desperately wanted to share this recipe. Because I know my beans recipes, and this was possibly one of my favourite bean dishes to date.

Black beans are simmered with a Farmhouse ale, cumin, tomatoes, a touch of coconut milk and lime juice and if you ask me, the best part was using the roasted hatch chiles. They are a fairly mild chile but add a lot of flavour which melded so well with the rest of this dish. The dish hit all the markers: sweet, salty, spicy and bitter perfectly.

Shiner FM 966 Ale

For the beer haters in the audience (that’s me!), you cannot taste the bitter hoppiness (thank goodness!) but it adds a different dimension to the beans. If you are a beer hater and unsure what to make with the rest of your can of beer, may I suggest beer-soaked fries?

A side of roasted plantain chips would be great too. The original recipe was actually a Cuban Black Bean Stew with plantain chips, but I simmered away the stock until it became a caramelized thick coating instead. Delicious. And easier to transport as lunch leftovers, too. Do I know why it is considered Cuban? Not at all..

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe (with my modifications, of course) AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader ANYWHERE in the world! BOOYAH!  To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite meatless meal. The winner will be selected at random on March 15, 2014. Good luck!

Cuban Beer-Infused Black Beans

PS. This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair.

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South of the Border Tortilla Soup (& No Meat Athlete Review+Giveaway)

Posted in Book Review, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on February 11, 2014

South of the Border Tortilla Soup

With Olympic fever set anew, I felt a tad guilty sitting on my latest find. Perhaps you have already heard about it? Matt’s book, No Meat Athlete: part nutrition advice for athletes, part vegan transition guide, and part cookbook. Matt freely admits he is your typical average guy. No Olympian-in-training, but through his quest to qualify and run the Boston Marathon, he picked up the vegan bug and pushed himself to the next level.

I am certainly no runner. Cycling is my sport of choice. However, his story echoes my own. While learning to best prepare my (formerly?) non-athletic self to cycle a double imperial century ride (361 km/224 mi), I discovered the benefits of vegan foods. I fell hard for the advantages of regular exercise (no pun intended on my knees). At the time, I cobbled together bits and pieces of my culinary and cycling journey through books mainly by Brendan Brazier with a shout-out for women’s cycling guides.

At the time, veganism was not mainstream (and is still not popular – only 2% call themselves vegan in the US) which makes this book perfect. This guide is perfect for the beginner: the beginner to vegan eats, the beginner to fuelling yourself as an athlete and the beginner to running (or any endurance sport).  Pick any of the three and you will glean something from Matt’s quest to inform himself to conquer his athletic goals. This is not to say that if you have any experience in any of these areas you will not gain more information, you might, or it may remind you to try new things, inspire you to run a marathon, or simply eat good food.

His advice for athletes are pertinent for most cardio-intensive sports (like cycling), although he has specific advice for a beginner who wants to learn how to run. The best part is that Matt shares his favourite recipes to fuel you, too.

All of Matt’s recipes are catered to optimal nutrition. Fast, healthy and tasty. Approachable dinner meals like Variations on Beans and Rice (I really liked his Mexican version) and desserts like black bean brownies. He also offers blueprints for creating your own culinary masterpieces: The Perfect Smoothie Formula, Your Own Energy Bar Recipe, or The Incredible Veggie Burger Formula. For the athletes, there are sport-specific recipes like chia fresca, homemade energy gels and homemade sports drink.

Nutrition aside, it must taste good, too, and these do not disappoint.

South of the Border Tortilla Soup

was not joking about eating tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After the tacos were no longer fresh, no longer as soft as a baby’s bum, I resorted to Matt’s recipe: South of the Border Tortilla Soup. Not your typical tortilla soup topped with tortillas, rather the tortillas are blended INSIDE your soup. Before I found corn tortillas in Houston, I considered substituting masa harina/masa arepa, but now I had no excuse. Make thee some Mexican-inspired soup.

Black beans, corn, green chiles, tomatoes, cumin and corn tortillas. All in one soup. Topped with avocado and cilantro. It reminded me of a grown-up version of one of my favourite soups from university: stupid easy black bean and salsa soup. I tried to stay as true to Matt’s recipe for reviewing purposes but his suggestion to pan-fry the tortillas did not work so easily for me. Baking them might actually be easier which is what I shared in the following recipe. In any case, a big pot of delicious soup. For athletes and non-athletes alike.

South of the Border Tortilla Soup
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom (YES!). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me what kind of exercise you enjoy or your favourite recipe you have tried (or want to try) from Matt’s website No Meat Athlete. I will randomly select a winner on February 22, 2014. Good luck!

Other recipes from No Meat Athlete shared online:

Buffalo Hummus

Chickpea Protein Burgers

Momo Granola Bars

Chocolate Protein Quinoa Bars

The Perfect Smoothie Formula

PS. This is my submission to this week’s Souper Sundays, and to this month’s  My Legume Love Affair, Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food and No Waste Food Challenge. (more…)

Vegan Nutrition Books You Should Read & Book Giveaways!

Posted in Book Review by Janet M on January 18, 2014

With the excitement of the new year and new resolutions, you told me you are enjoying a change with your meals. More vegan meals, less processed foods, more vegetables, whatever it may be. A vegan diet can mean a lot of things and without the proper knowledge, may seem as a restrictive and potentially nutrient-poor choice. Obviously, once you are well-versed in a nutritionally-sound vegan framework, it is a healthy choice.

While I usually keep it on the low-down, my long-term readers know I am a physician. I am board-certified in my specialty in two countries. This year marks my 14th year of schooling after high school. Suffice it to say, I have an analytical frame of mind which is routed in science and evidence-based medicine.  I may be a doctor but am I a registered dietician? No.

I do not pretend to be anything I am not. Instead of focusing on studies and nutritional benefits here, I prefer to share my joy for good, healthy food.  Wading through the mounds of pseudo-science (and real science) is an onerous task even for those working in the industry. As this is a hobby blog, it is more fun for me to lead by example, sharing my recipe successes. Thankfully there are others who have made it their mission to share scientifically sound nutritional advice for people who have adopted a vegan lifestyle. Consider reading the latest books to connect with the most current available vegan-centric knowledge.

1. Vegan For Life

vegan for life cover

Around this time last year, I shared my recommendation for Vegan For Life, a book routed in the science of living a healthy vegan lifestyle. If you have read that book already, my new recommendations may not necessarily share new information with you. They are a bit more in-depth, though. However, an annual nutrition refresher may be just what you need, no matter which book you read.

The chapters are short, but highlight the important nutrients vegans have to work harder to eat: proteins, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, minerals such as iron, zinc, and iodine. Their vegan food guide suggests eating whole grains and starchy vegetables (5+ servings a day), legumes and soy foods (3-4+ servings a day), vegetables (5+ servings a day), fruits (2+ servings a day), nuts and seeds (1-2 servings a day) and fats (2 servings a day) along with supplementation (including whole food sources) for vitamin B12, iodine, vitamin D and omega-3 fats.

Shorter chapters highlight key points for vegan pregnancy and breastfeeding, raising vegan children, eating properly if you are over 50 years of age, managing weight, heart disease and diabetes, and sports nutrition. This is actually a quick and engaging read for anyone wanting to learn more about vegan nutrition. Highly recommended.

2. Becoming Vegan, Express Edition

becoming vegan express

Possibly one of the first books focusing on vegan nutrition was Becoming Vegan, initially published in 2000. Davis and Melina updated their classic book and despite streamlining it into an “Express Edition”, it boasts 86 more pages. This is an Express Edition, because it presents the information in a readable digest geared to a person learning about nutrition. It touches on the basics. There are pages dedicated to each and every vitamin and mineral and chapters outlining vegan sources of carbohydrates, fats and protein. There are readable chapters for people wanting to lose weight or gain weight on a vegan diet as well as chapters how a vegan diet may change over a lifestyle (athletes, pregnant women and the elderly are highlighted). A cursory last chapter is dedicated to a properly balanced vegan diet. Their balanced daily Vegan Plate includes vegetables (5+ servings a day), fruits (4+ servings a day), legumes (3+ servings a day), grains (3+ servings a day) and nuts and seeds (1+ servings a day), along with other essentials such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, vitamin D and iodine. The chapters are well laid-out with headings, bullets, tables and quite high-yield if you know what you want to learn about.

It is a comprehensive book and one with which I agree with their message, but it fell short for me. There are lengthy textbook-like tables highlighting the nutritional composition of different foods and suggestions to make proper choices at meal-time (only 2 recipes are included as the companion cookbook is Cooking Vegan), but the scientist in me wanted more. I missed their citations. Where did they base their recommendations? My review may be a little premature, though. An updated comprehensive version, with 624 pages, will be published in June 2014, which may very well have all the information I seek. In any case, I still think this is a valuable resource. A sample snippet from the book about coconut oil can be read here and a nice Q & A with the authors here.

3. Vegan For Her

vegan for her cover

Authored by Messina, who co-authored Vegan For Life, with help from JL Fields for the recipes, Vegan For Her focuses on the special nutritional needs of vegan women. The basics of vegan nutrition are covered along with the basics of female physiology like hormones throughout a woman’s life. Messina looks specifically at the changing nutritional needs of enhancing fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, aging, athletes, dieting to lose weight, as well addressing how a vegan diet may help prevent breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, pain, depression and stress and how to increase and/or maintain bone density. The second half of the book is dedicated to recipes created by JL Fields.

While Becoming Vegan reads more like a textbook, Messina’s approach to Vegan For Her is more engaging in a novel-type of book. Without being too dry, Messina is still able to cite the scientific literature to strengthen her recommendations. However, instead of bogging down her reader with numbers and tables, she has introduced her Vegan Food Guide, highlighting vegetables (5+ servings a day) and fruits (3+ servings a day), whole grains and starchy vegetables (4+ servings a day), legumes and soyfoods (3+ servings a day), and nuts and seeds (1-2 servings a day) with special attention to calcium-rich foods, ALA, vitamin B12, vitamin D and iodine.

Instead of empowering the reader by educating them about ingredient staples (Vegan For Life is a bit more list-heavy), there are recipes geared for a beginner, transitioning vegan without any nutritional information. I will be a bit critical of the recipe portion, as I found it quite perplexing to find so many specialty items listed as ingredients. I understand the need for transitioning recipes, finding common ground with familiar favourites. However, the recipes span the gamut of convenience foods like fake ground beef substitute,  fake cheese, TVP, soy curls, “chicken style” seasoning, marinara sauce and vegan mayonnaise to harder-to-find specialty ingredients that might make a beginner intimidated such as ume plum vinegar, fresh coconut water, hemp seeds, chickpea flour, vital wheat gluten, amaranth and millet. Even as a seasoned vegan (almost 3 years of a whole foods based vegan diet here), I have tried to keep my pantry smaller and thus found it difficult to connect with the recipes. There was a lot of variety, though. Some were appealing. I have previously shared Fields’ Mediterranean Beans with Greens and I enjoyed some of her dressings. Next time, I recommend a more focused theme for recipes along with a plea to number the directions and space them out for easier reading.

4. Never Too Late to Go Vegan

never too late to go vegan cover

My Mom may claim otherwise but it may be more of a challenge for older people to change their diet. To help burgeoning vegans over 50, Messina recently penned a vegan help book due out at the end of January 2014.

I probably should get my Mom to review the book for a more accurate view from the target audience. In any case, with a similar tone and style as Vegan For Her, Adams, Breitman and Messina explore why one would want to make the change to a vegan diet even later in life (it is never too late, as the title suggests). Not only does she highlight the important aspects of a diet for those over the age of 50, she helps one navigate relationship dynamics and issues surrounding being a vegan caregiver, all with  stories from successful over age 50 vegans peppered throughout the book.

The last part of the book is dedicated to 78 recipes which are geared to transitioning vegans with recipes for basic hummus, Portuguese kale soup, mushroom pate, spicy collards with ginger, mashed potatoes and gravy, quick enchiladas, Texas chocolate sheet cake.

If you are the target audience, this may be a great start to begin introducing yourself to the vegan community.

**

As you can see, each book is different. Make no excuse to educate yourself about a proper vegan diet and try to find the one that resonates best for you and your needs.

For a few lucky readers, you will have a chance to win your own copy of these books. I have copies of Vegan For Her and Becoming Vegan Express up for grabs for those living in the United States.  Please let me know if you have a preference for either book in a comment below. Have you read any of these books before? Any other books you recommend? I will select 2 winners at random on January 28, 2014. Good luck!

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Parsnip Rice Sushi with Sweet Tamarind Dipping Sauce & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Appetizers, Book Review by Janet M on January 11, 2014

Parsnip Rice Sushi with Sweet Tamarind Dipping Sauce

I have been very fortunate to grow up in an environment where brains were valued over beauty. None of my friends were ever on diets. If I made New Year’s Resolutions (I doubt I did; my last decade has been more of a daily self-evaluation), they were short-lived vow to be nicer to my brother. My mother (and brother) may not believe me.

It was only after I started reading food blogs, did I encounter the dizzying world of detoxes, cleanses and diets. Not that I have ever condoned detoxes. Barring liver disease or overdoses, our liver does a great job “detoxifying” our body every.single.day. Imagine my surprise when not one, but two of my friends in Houston told me they were eating 100% raw shortly after New Year’s, spurred by Kristina’s 21-Day Raw Challenge. I love the creativity that comes from cooking/uncooking/eating raw foods, but they complement my cooked vegan eats. Let’s be honest, even in Houston, winter is not the ideal time to go all raw.

Parsnip Rice Sushi with Sweet Tamarind Dipping Sauce

My friend hosted a potluck to kickstart her first day on her raw diet and this is what I brought to share. I used it as an opportunity to make something from a new cookbook, Balanced RawRaw sushi is easy to share at a party, so I tried the new recipe. I have made raw sushi before, and the recipes are quite similar, but I decided to share this version, too, mainly because Rob took some impromptu sushi rolling action shots. Using a placemat makes sushi rolling very easy. Parsnip rice is spiced with a bit of chile powder and filled with an assortment of vegetables.

Raw Parsnip Rice Sushi Demo

A note about the cookbook, though. The recipes are built around a 3-week vegan “cleanse” with a meal plan for every day. The recipes span both raw and cooked meals, but they seem to follow a low-fat 80/10/10 vegan diet. While Kristina is good about mentioning the need to eat enough calories, the meal plans in this book look woefully inadequate calorically. However, the recipes are interesting and would be a useful adjunct to whatever your typical eats may be. There are ideas for vegetables beyond salads. I use raw foods to enhance my vegan diet. It is a great way to eat more vegetables and fruits.

The publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom (YES!). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me what you think about cleanses and detoxes. Have you done one? Are you doing one? I will randomly select a winner on January 20, 2014. Good luck!

Balanced Raw recipes elsewhere:

Blue Greens Smoothie

This is my submission to this month’s I Am Vegetarian – Hear Me Raw, and this week’s Raw Foods Thursdays.

PS. There is still time to enter my giveaway for Superfood Smoothies here.

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Lucuma Macadamia Smoothie & Superfood Smoothies Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Drinks by Janet M on January 4, 2014

Lucuma Macadamia Smoothie

There was How I Spent My New Year’s Eve and now How I Spent My New Year’s Day.

Who did not enjoy a mid-week hump day holiday?

Because we had returned to Houston, this was a New Year’s Day like no other. It was reasonably warm outside. Rob had a taco craving. The much-hyped taco restaurant was open on January 1. We wanted to cycle. So we combined the plans.

In truth, while I cycle to/from work every day, our weekend rides have dwindled in between all our travel, cold and rainy weather and lastly Rob’s cold. By the time I became infected, I was only inflicted by a minor sore throat (so far, at least). I didn’t let that stop us from cycling for tacos.

Instead of our dawn-cracking bicycle rides of summer yonder, our winter cycling is more of an afternoon affair. In Houston, daily temperatures are at their peak around 3-4 pm, whereas in Toronto, it is more like 1-2 pm. In any case, we forged ahead. Rob picked the location that would lead best to a bike ride.

We picked a nice bike trail that is fairly sheltered from motorists. While construction has demolished its uninterrupted bicycle bliss (Houston’s construction season must be winter), it was a great ride… and surprisingly without too many other people sharing the path.

While the bike ride was fantastic, nearly 40 km and with a good pace, we had a much slower pace at the restaurant. Because it was THE place to be… we had to wait at least 15 minutes prior to being seated. Rob felt vindicated, though. He had eaten the best tacos yet, although I still feel like those in Mexico City were superior. Rob pointed out that the commute is much easier if we stay within Houston.

Hope you enjoyed your holiday, too.

After our ride, I treated us to this delicious smoothie. A little messy, but I decided not to clean up my mess. All for a better photo, no? ;)

Lucuma Macadamia Smoothie

While we have a freezer filled with frozen bananas, I like to whip together banana-free smoothies, too.  Dates and lucuma powder provide the sweet caramel undertones for this creamy smoothie. Banana usually lends well to both creaminess and sweetness, and in this case, the creaminess comes from tofu, hemp seeds and macadamia nuts. It is actually a very simple smoothie but it tasted great. It kind of brought whole foods smoothie to a new level for me (due to the lack of non-dairy milk). In addition to the lack of banana, this smoothie was fun because you basically create your own non-dairy milk from macadamia nuts and tofu.

This is just one of the creative craveable concoctions from Julie Morris’ Superfood Smoothies. She has really outdone herself, because there are so many wonderful drinks here: watermelon acai, carrot cardamom, mango chili, cucumber mint, chocolate kale, mint chip, mayan chocolate, maca oat, pineapple maca, red velvet cake (with roasted beets!) and even a chocolate smoothie with cauliflower.

All of the smoothie focus on plant-based ingredients, with a special focus on superfoods. Superfoods including standard fruits and vegetables but also less common ingredients (aka expensive) like acai, macqui, maca and camu powders, dried mulberries, hemp seeds, and fresh coconut water. A handy substitution chart at the back of the book will help with substitutions, but let’s be honest: smoothies are meant to be forgiving. Most of the time, the hard-to-find ingredients could be omitted altogether since they are used in limited amount, substituted with something more common or you could splurge and just use a little bit of them for each smoothie, which would last you a long time. A bit more of a bother for me was the inclusion of different juices in the recipes – carrot, apple, orange, pomegranate, aloe, etc. I would rather throw in a whole carrot than only use its juice, but one is way more sweet than the other… and way more juicy.  If you use the recipes as a guide, I don’t think you will be let down. Furthermore, while there may or may not be a conflict of interest, Julie is a spokesperson and executive chef for a company that sells said expensive superfoods. Although her work with the Smoothment (Smoothie Movement), may indeed make her an expert with such ingredients. Perhaps if you drink your way through this cookbook, you will become one, too.

Lucuma Macadamia Smoothie

Thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the continental United States (sorry to all my non-US readers). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite smoothie. If you have yet to venture into the land of smoothies, have a look through the index of Superfood Smoothies on amazon (or any of the smoothies listed here) and tell me what you want to drink the most. I will randomly select a winner on January 15, 2014. Good luck!

Superfood Smoothies spotted elsewhere:

Cranberry Orange Smoothie

Toasted Coconut and Macadamia Smoothie

Lemon-Lime Smoothie (with Bok Choy!)

Mint Chip Smoothie

Raw Cookie Dough Shake

Cocoa Cream (aka Chocolate Dream Smoothie)

Mango Chili

Strawberry Basil

Grapefruit Pomegranate

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

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The Best Chocolate Truffles

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on December 14, 2013

The Best Chocolate Truffle

I swear, I wasn’t planning on sharing yet another dessert. But once I made these (uber wonderfully, possibly, yes, confirmed, the best chocolate I have ever made) treats, I knew I had to share them. Chocolate in January usually doesn’t fly…. and I simply could not wait until Valentine’s Day to share this with you.

But, before I tell you about the chocolates, let me tell you where the recipe hails. While in Montreal last year, I explored a variety of vegan restos. I was initially wooed by Aux Vivres, a vegan resto with cooked foods, and quickly recreated their macro veggie and tempeh bowl and their raw vegan smoked salmon. I also stumbled upon Crudessence, a longstanding raw restaurant and really enjoyed my meal. I was *thisclose* to buying their cookbook. It had the recipes for many of the same dishes I had just eaten and loved at their restaurant: Kombu mojito, raw tiramisu and raw cinnamon buns. Many of their other highly praised dishes are included, such as their Om burger, pad thai, Caesar salad, Tibet fat-free dressing, maki rolls, eggplant bacon, raw parmesan (crumesan), chocolate banana pie, chocolate mouse, lime pie, banana split with chunks of raw brownies, blueberry un-”Cheese”cake and Hippocrates juice.

So why didn’t I buy the cookbook? It was in French only. I can read French but since it is not my first language, it would not be as easy to decipher all the cooking terms. So I put it back.

The Best Chocolate Truffle

Fast forward a year and their cookbook has been reprinted in English. Lucky for us, because this is a drop-dead gorgeous cookbook with delicious recipes.

The Best Chocolate Truffle

The first recipe I tried were these truffles. In the cookbook, they are called “dark nougat”. I am not entirely sure what nougat is supposed to taste like. I thought it might be kind of chewy and sweet (I am only familiar with the nougat that studs Toblerone bars), but this was nothing of the sort…. it was creamy, smooth and divine. Honestly, I had made the middle of creamy truffles. Akin to the middle of Lindt truffles.  YES!! And it was dead simple: whizz all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and then allow to set in the freezer.

The Best Chocolate Truffle

I tried to be a bit fancier by freezing them in silicone ice cube trays, but since they were still so creamy after setting, they stuck a bit to the molds. The light dusting of flaked coconut or matcha helped to make them less gooey for your fingers. I was rooting for the pretty matcha-dusted truffles, but they were still a bit bitter for my liking. The coconut-flaked ones were great and if I had enough coordination, the chocolate-and-hazelnut-coated truffles sound incredible. I think these are a bit too fragile to gift, unless you coat them in a hard chocolate shell.

There is one special ingredient for this recipe, I apologize. Lecithin. I plan on writing more about this ingredient in a later post, but I can definitely assure you that it makes the most creamy chocolate to date.

The Best Chocolate Truffle

PS. Other recipes shared from RawEssence:

Taboulleh Flower Salad

Madras Salad

Pesto Tagliatelle

BLT Sandwich with Eggplant Bacon and Caper Aioli

Meatless Meatballs

Island Lime Pie

Brazil Nut Goji Milk

PPS. The winners of the Simply Raw Kitchen giveaway was Jessica and 365 Vegan Smoothies was Phoebe. (more…)

Cardamom Cashew Pistachio Bars (Kaaju Pista Burfi) & Indian Cooking Unfolded Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Desserts by Janet M on December 12, 2013

Indian Cashew Pistachio Bars (Kaaju Pista Burfi)

Panela and I were first introduced in Colombia. An unrefined sugar, typically sold in block form, it is commonly used in South American desserts. I brought some back to Canada and was interrogated by the US immigration officer as we transferred in Miami. I told him I had bought panela (pa-nell -la), a type of sugar. He explained to me that I wrong. It was pronounced pa-ney-ya. The women in the market that sold it to me spoke Spanish, and I heard her loud and clear: it was panela. With an L. In any case, when he told me I could bring my sugar across the border, I scooted right on out.

I rarely see panela in Canada, but have seen it countless times in Houston. Oftentimes, it is labelled as piloncillo, the Mexican name as panela is also a type of Mexican cheese. A small cone can be found for 70 cents or so, at most supermarkets but it can also be found in large blocks and possibly ground.

In the spirit of holidays, candies and confectionaries, I broke it out for my latest treat: Indian Burfi. It sounds more dramatic, but really it is similar to my maple pecan shortbread cookies because it is simply nuts and sweetener with an Indian twist from cardamom and saffron. I used panela as my sweetener of choice, but you could substitute brown sugar (likely coconut sugar, and possibly maple syrup or agave, too) which imparted a delicious molasses undertone.

Indian Cashew Pistachio Bars (Kaaju Pista Burfi)

I called these Indian Cashew Pistachio Bars or Kaaju Pista Burfi, as this was what Raghavan Iyer called them in Indian Cooking Unfolded. I have told you about this lovely cookbook earlier, but it bears repeating because I really like it. Iyer has taken Indian cooking to its elemental components and teaches you how to cook Indian from the ground up. The recipes span meat, vegetarian and vegan options, with limited ingredients. He has capped himself at 10 ingredients, and many recipes are far more simple. While he may sacrifice in authenticity, he does not sacrifice in taste, coaxing the most from limited ingredients.

I bring up authenticity, but I lay no claim to being an expert in traditional Indian cuisine (although we make killer dal). Iyer openly admits burfi is typically much more sweet than this recipe and is actually an adaptation of a raw recipe from Jugalbandi who seemed to have sinced moved to Nitrivore, but it too, is an abandoned blog. Soma’s recent post makes me think these treats are closer to katli instead of burfi, which she describes as a sugar-nut treat. Truthfully, my fusion spin with panela, makes them even less authentic but no less delicious. As Iyer promised, these are not uber sweet. There is a subtle hint of cardamom among the molasses-infused treat. Rob thoguht it needed more saffron but I thought it was perfect. I can not really taste the saffron, so feel free to omit it.

While I typically shy away from Indian desserts, I am thrilled that I tried these. They were delicious. While Diwali has come and gone, this would be equally suited for something different on a holiday cookie spread. I blame it on the cardamom. Or the molasses. Or the nuts. They all taste like hugs. :)

Indian Cashew Pistachio Bars (Kaaju Pista Burfi)

I really want to share this cookbook with you and I am thrilled because the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to FOUR lucky readers living in the continental United States. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite Iyer recipe (he has also penned our favourite Indian cookbook, 660 Curries). If you haven’t made anything by Iyer yet, have a look through Indian Cooking Unfolded on amazon or google books (or my list below) and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 24, 2013. Good luck!

PS. Recipes from Indian Cooking Unfolded spotted elsewhere:

Smoky Yellow Split Peas (Tamatar Chana Dal)

Sweet Corn with Toasted Coconut (Thénga Makkaí)

Braised Beet Salad with Golden Raisin Vinaigrette

Ultimate Chicken Curry (Tamatar Murghi) 

Poppadums with Chile-Spiked Onion and Avocado Pomegranate Dip

Vegetarian Samosa Cakes with Tamarind Chutney

Cardamom Fennel Scallops

Spinach Phyllo Samosas

Curried Ginger Date Bok Choy with Soy Knots

This is my submission to this month’s Cooking with Herbs.

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Brazilian Black Bean Soup with Plantain Chips & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides, Soups by Janet M on December 10, 2013

Brazilian Black Bean Soup with Plantain Chips

Thanksgiving is over. December is here.

It is all about the holidays now, no?

Well, you know me, I kind of beat to the tune of my own drum. My forthcoming recipes may not necessarily be holiday-driven, but they will definitely be highly recommended. For yourself and others. And if that is not holiday-themed, I do not know what is.

This is a black bean soup I shared with my parents while they were in town. I had some lofty meals planned, but ended up working late and being on call, so things did not work as originally scheduled. I turned to this soup from The 30 Minute Vegan’s latest cookbook: Soup’s On!  This is my favourite book of his so far, possibly because I love soups.

Mark’s latest book proves that complex soups do not need to take hours over the stove. With tricks like foregoing a slow saute for onions and prepping your vegetables as you cook your soup, a proficient cook should be able to make most of these soups quickly. Separated into chapters for basic broths, vegetable-dominant soups, heartier soups with whole grains, legumes and pasta, creamy blended soups, raw soups and desserts soups (plus garnishes and sides), this a comprehensive vegan soup compendium.  His recipes highlight whole foods: vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and flavourful herbs. In addition to being entirely vegan, this cookbook caters to many special requests: no/low-oil, gluten-free (almost all), and mostly soy-free, too, and every recipe has variations to help you craft your best brew.

Brazilian Black Bean Soup with Plantain Chips

This black bean soup was no exception: lots of colourful vegetables superimposed on top of jet black black beans (Rancho Gordo’s Negro de Arbol beans). Bell pepper, carrots and corn with a dash of orange juice, cloves and liquid smoke for a Brazilian flare. The original soup was no-oil, but I opted for the oil-sautéed onion variation. I made the soup first and waited until dinnertime to make the plantain chips. The nuances of the maple-orange-cinnamon marinade for the baked plantain chips may have been lost on us, though. They also took twice as long to bake, but after Hannah’s recent gush of love for oven-baked plantain chips, I figured they may take longer.

With the plantain chips (unpictured), this would have been a stretch for a 30-minute meal, but it was quick. And the soup was delicious. Mark said it would serve 6-8, but the four of us devoured it in one sitting. (Sadly no leftovers for me). I was actually impressed that my Dad thought I had served this to him before. I assured him that this was a new recipe but two years ago, yes, I shared a (different) Brazilian soup with him. It was more stew-like with sweet potato and kale amidst the vegetable choice. I think I liked this one more. RG’s black beans were a hit: a bit smaller than your typical black bean while keeping their shape nicely.

I have been easily cooking my way through this delicious cookbook and can also recommend the Jamaican Jerk Plantain Soup, Holy Moley Soup, Himalayan Dal with Curried Chickpeas, Fire-Roasted Tomato and Rice Soup with Spinach, and Polish Vegan Sausage and Sauerkraut Stew. There are plenty more I will be trying out later.

I really want to share this cookbook with you and thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite recipe by The 30 Minute Vegan. If you haven’t made anything by Mark yet, have a look through the table of contents of The 30 Minute Vegan Soup’s On! on amazon (or my list above or below) and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 20, 2013. Good luck!

PS. Other recipes from Soup’s On:

Spicy Kale Soup with Pepitas

Caribbean Red Bean and Rice Soup

Mideast Chickpea Soup

African Peanut Soup

PPS. Other recipes I have shared by Mark Reinfeld:

Orange Beet Soup

Vegan Ponzu Sauce

Thai Coconut Vegetables (Yum Tavoy)

Thai Green Papaya Salad (Vegan Som Tam)

PPPS. There is still time to enter my giveaway for 365 Vegan Smoothies here.

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to My Legume Love Affair. (more…)

Matcha Ginger Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Drinks by Janet M on December 3, 2013

Matcha Ginger Smoothie

It took me awhile, but I finally succumbed.

Caffeine: sometimes, I need a little extra oomph in the morning.

I made it through university, medical school and a 5-year residency before I contemplated caffeine. A few months into my fellowship, with its longer hours, I started with a bit of green tea.

I am not drinking coffee or black tea (I actually don’t like the taste), but Rob and I both knew something was up after we scoped out green tea for me to drink while in Mexico. Three days with a morning green tea latte.

Just the trickle of caffeine was able to fuel me throughout the day, though. Rob and I powered through multiple markets (food and general markets), biked around midtown, visited cathedrals, admired public murals, walked around Frida Kahlo’s home, cheered for Mexican wrestlers (ok, maybe we just watched) and our most anticipated event: walking up ancient pyramid ruins outside Mexico City.

We left Houston, and its cold weather, and thankfully, by the time we returned, it was back to its glorious warm self. I am back to cycling in shorts. I know, this may not be the most seasonal recipe for those in a winter climate, but I have been enjoying a multitude of smoothies since I received Kathy’s cookbook, 365 Vegan Smoothies.

Matcha Ginger Smoothie

Each weekend, after our standard cycle adventure, I would return home for a frosty drink. I’d leaf through and pick a new smoothie each week. I quickly learned that I had to plan my smoothie in advance. Sometimes, I had a hard time deciding which smoothie to make! So many options, so little time. However, once I made this Matcha Ginger Smoothie (the ever-creative Kathy named it Matcha Ginger An-Tea-Oxidant Shake), (Rob and) I knew it was the winner. The one I would photograph and share with you.

Creamy and sweet frozen bananas complement the bitter green tea matcha, but the best part was the ginger twist. Kathy suggested using a dash of ginger powder, but sharp flavour from fresh ginger is unbeatable in this smoothie. A high speed blender would have no problems whipping this into a delicious drink.

Matcha Ginger Smoothie

I was not sure whether a smoothie cookbook would be worthwhile, but I have had fun trying out different drinks. With 365 different recipes, you are bound to be inspired by a few new combinations: walnut-carrot cake, jazzy ginger grape, lemon-beet clarifying cooler, maple spice buckwheat shake, mango-cado kale kiss, a-peel-ing chai shake. Her crazy concoctions span smoothies with vegetables, fruit and nuts or non-dairy milk. Occasionally yogurt or fruit juice slips in, too. Thin and frosty, or thick and decadent. All vegan. I also appreciate that nutritional facts are included (all recipes serve 2 but the nutritional contents are for the entire recipe).

Beyond the recipes, Kathy is also a fabulous photographer. I find it hard to photograph drinks, but her cookbook is peppered with gorgeous photography. Bright, colourful and tantalizing, signatures of her blog, Happy Healthy Life. It is refreshing to see wholesome ingredients highlighted at their finest. Kathy also takes the time at the beginning to ground you in smoothie creation, with troubleshooting and myths debunked. She also highlights being creative and flexible in the kitchen. I don’t like ice in my smoothies (Kathy is a big fan) but just adjust as you see fit.

I really want to share this cookbook with you and thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite recipe by Kathy. If you haven’t made anything by Kathy yet, have a look through the table of contents of 365 Vegan Smoothies on google books (or my list above or below) or pick something from her blog and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 11, 2013. Good luck!

PS. Kathy’s recipes from 365 Vegan Smoothies shared elsewhere:

Sassy Green Kick Start Smoothie
Pink Kiss Smoothie
Watermelon Frosty

PPS. There is still time to enter my giveaway for The Simply Raw Kitchen.

This is my submission to this week’s Health Vegan Fridays and this week’s Raw Food Thursdays.

Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher.  I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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Raw Peppermint Patties & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on November 21, 2013

Raw Peppermint Patties

I noticed this when the weather dipped to cooler temperatures. With the recent swing back to Houston’s humid summer temperatures, I noticed it again.

My kitchen barometer is the coconut oil.

During the summer it was a liquid and during the cooler days, it becomes solid.

Other things that melt in Houston: massage bars, solid hair conditioner and chocolate. Those warnings about using expedited shipping so that your items don’t spoil? Well, let it be known: chocolate will melt en route to my home. Thank goodness it still tasted great. That massage bar, unfortunately, could not be salvaged.

Raw Peppermint Patties

Wipe away your tears with these fantastic raw peppermint patties. They were delicious and you would never have known they were raw. A buttery mint filling courtesy of ground cashews and coconut flour with a touch of coconut oil is enveloped by a thick chocolate coating.

They may look like lumps of coal, but they certainly did not taste like it. ;)

Raw Peppermint Patties

I don’t know whether it was the temperature or the humidity, but I had a bit of trouble making these homemade peppermint patties.  I have made chocolate truffles before - classic lemon bittersweet chocolate truffleschocolate peanut butter truffles and even raw maca chocolates - but this was the first time my chocolate turned out more like play dough instead of a thinner liquid! This meant I had a much thicker coating for my peppermint patties which I wrapped around with my hands. Double the chocolate, which was great, since they tasted fantastic.

Also a note about coconut flour (again): it is defatted ground coconut so it lends a different texture. It also absorbs a lot of liquid, which is why it is so different than regular dried coconut. I am also convinced that different brands absorb more, so adjust the recipe as you go. I ended up adding more coconut flour since it was too liquidy with the original recipe. If you don’t have coconut flour, try these recipes that use dried coconut instead.

This recipe is courtesy of The Simply Raw Kitchen. The cookbook is from a raw restaurant in Ottawa, Simply Raw Express, and features both cooked and raw recipes (despite what the title may suggest otherwise). All vegan and whole-foods based. All gluten-free. With a bit of Austrian in her background, some of her Eastern European-inspired dishes really called to me: Austrian Blaukraut, Krautfleckerl, Lovage (Chickpea) Dumplings, Mushroom Goulash as well as Lemon Dill Cheeze and Aged Peppercorn Cheeze. However, it was her collection of (mostly raw) desserts that I could not shake from my mind: Better Pecan Pie with Shortbread Crust, Austrian Linzer Squares, Cloud Lime Pie, Orange Chocolate Blossom Tart, Holiday Nut Nog.

SimplyRaw kitchen review

I know I say it all the time, but I really want to share this cookbook with you. Thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me which recipe you’d like to try the most (or if you have a recipe from Natasha that you recommend). Have a look through the index of The Simply Raw Kitchen on amazon (or my list below) or pick something from her website and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 7, 2013. Good luck!

Other recipes shared from The Simply Raw Kitchen:

Real Tomato Soup

Lentil Soup with Kale

Award-Winning Marinated Kale Salad

Spicy Thai Salad

Lemon Poppyseed Energy Bites

Righteous Brownies with Caramel Frosting

Other recipes from Simply Raw are shared here and here.

Raw Peppermint Patties

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