Need a great idea for a gift? How about a pressure cooker along with a new cookbook.
Pressure cookers are not so scary. In fact, they are pretty awesome.
I have mentioned it only in passing, but Rob gifted me a pressure cooker for my birthday and I have been experimenting with it over the past few months. At first, I was experimenting with cooking different beans and grains. It felt awesome to think “I want some cooked chickpeas” and an hour later, after adding the dried beans to the pressure cooker, I had myself some chickpeas. The no-soak required beans has alleviated my freezer congestion (I oftentimes freeze leftover beans) and made me more creative in the kitchen.
First of all, let me not mislead you: Pressure cookers need time to come up to pressure. In my machine, it takes 20 minutes. So while it may seem incredible that you only need to cook black eyed peas for 6-8 minutes, that is in addition to a 20 minute warm up and more minutes cool down (unless you release the pressure manually). I have an electric machine, so that benefit is that it does not need a burner on the oven and you can safely walk away while it does its thing. The downside is that it does not come up to as high a pressure as the stovetop ones, which is what most cookbooks cater to. Also, any recipes that all for sauteing need a separate skillet. There are pros and cons of each, as JL points out in her fabulous new cookbook, Vegan Pressure Cooking (available online now! it arrived early!).
In addition to her approachable FAQ on how to begin pressure cooking, she also has a host of recipes to start you on your new pressure cooking journey. She answers your looming fear: How can I avoid blowing up my pressure cooker? as well as Why do cooking times vary? Which pressure cooker should I buy? and How does an electric pressure cooker differ from a stove top pressure cooker? She has reference tables for pressure cooking vegan staples (vegetables, beans and grains) and her recipes are categorized similarly.
In her Beans and Grains chapter, she includes basic recipes like Italian lentils but also (slightly) more involved recipes like Dill Long-Grain White Rice; Oat, Amaranth and Carrot Porridge and Cinnamon-Curried Chickpeas. In her Soups and Stews chapter, her recipes span Chik’n Lentil Noodle Soup, very Veggie Split Pea Soup and Tofu Chickpea Artichoke and Potato Soup. Personally, those looked like one-pot meals to me, but JL has even more one-pot meals in chapter four including Gingered Adzuki Beans, Greens and Grains; Vegan “Bacon” and Cabbage and Soy Curl Mac ‘n Cheese. If you thought this was all beans and grains (yes, all the beans are dear to my heart), she also has a chapter for meal helpers and veggie sides which highlights recipes like steamed kabocha squash, savoury root vegetable mash, rosemary and thyme Brussels sprouts, and jackfruit and sweet potato enchiladas. Chapter six is for sauces and dips, and JL has a trick for her pressure cooker hummus and other savoury options like dal dip and ginger-cinnamon white bean gravy. And when you thought there was nothing more to make in the pressure cooker, the last chapter is for dessert! JL uses beans in a coconut-gingered black bean brownie but also includes recipes that rely more on the pressure cooker such as easy applesauce and peachy butter.
I think you know may understand why I may want another pressure cooker. I want to make all the things. Thankfully, I have had the cookbook for a while and managed to squeeze out a new recipe each weekend. In theory a pressure cooker may help me cook more often, but old habits die hard and I like my weekend batch cooking. Thankfully, I was able to share my favourite recipe thus far: JL’ Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Chili. Only after I got the photos, did I realize it was from her cover. Good choice, JL, good choice. Also it is a good thing I am not your photographer. ;)
In any case, I even added JL’s suggested 2 cups of celery and as a confessed celery hater, it was still very good. I still really liked it. The tomato sauce was deliciously savoury and worked well with the black eyed peas. This recipe, like nearly everything in the cookbook, could easily be adapted to use without a pressure cooker. You would just need to wait a bit longer. With that being said, I really think this is a good, solid vegan cookbook, pressure or no pressure cooker. I love its focus on quick and easy cooking featuring whole foods.
Recipes from Vegan Pressure Cooking found elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me whether you have a pressure cooker (and if so, your favourite thing to make in it). A bonus entry for a second comment telling me about your favourite recipe by JL. The winner will be selected at random on December 22, 2014. Good luck!
PS. I am sharing this with this week’s Virtual Vegan Potluck.
Another oldie but goodie. I have been waiting to share this for a while. And now that I think about it, while the flavours are not holiday-themed, they are quite festive and cute as little mounds of green. A fabulous way to eat your greens: slightly sweetened, with a nice hit of vinegar, balanced by a homemade tahini paste and a touch of heat.
Courtesy of Terry Hope Romero’sVegan Eats World, I have told you about it before. Earlier this year, it was re-released as a paperback. Exactly the same as the original (sadly, including the subpar index) but it reminded me of some of my favourite recipes (Rob loves the Ethiopian lentils) and a lot more I still have bookmarked. With 300 recipes, this is a treasure trove of international recipes with a creative twist from Terry.
While I have many favourites from the book, the Smoky Sauerkraut Mushroom Soup (Shchi) is still one of my favourites we both really like the breakfast spin on bahn mi, I thought it was great to share a quick and easy way to add more greens to your meals. I have only ever made this with spinach, as is more traditional, you could also try chard, kale and collard greens. You no longer have an excuse when you come home with vibrant greens and uncertain how to cook them. If you don’t like leafy greens altogether, I suggest trying this similar dish which is Braised Tempeh with Green Beans in a Sesame Sauce. It is a bit more lemony but still very good.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite international cuisine. The winner will be selected at random on December 20, 2014. Good luck!
I told you it was a good time for vegan cookbooks. Here is the latest cute offering, The Lusty Vegan. It is a cookbook focusing on relationships. Being vegan in a relationship can be a little tricky at times and there are approachable tips and delicious recipes to satisfy the most un-vegan. Trust me, there is almost nothing as sexy than a man that can cook and these recipes span the gamut of simple to complex, such that you might actually want to work together in the kitchen.
Heart of Palm Lobster Rolls, anyone? Tempeh Fries with Dill Avocado Dip? Miso-Vermouth Braised Drunken Bok Choy? Habanero Jackfruit Fajitas? Cherry Cobbler with Cocoa Nibs? These recipes are unique but I will admit, mostly on the elaborate side. They are matched by the stage of the relationship – trying to impress your partner, trying to impress the parents, classic vegan dishes and even desserts if you ever break up.
They make me want to try new dishes but let’s be honest, right now I try to keep things stress-free in the kitchen and I think that helps both Rob and I. Of course, it is natural to want to impress your partner, but it isn’t sustainable. Does that mean we’ve become a boring couple? I certainly hope not. Life just doesn’t always revolve around food. :)
So now, a little about these tostadas. Instead of pinto beans, mung beans substitute in the refried beans. I was curious to try them in something new, although they were a bit mealy for my liking. Although after I covered it with toppings, I barely noticed. I added cooked quinoa, cabbage and carrots, as an ode to my Lime-Spiked Black Bean and Quinoa Kale Wrap. Feel free to add whatever you have lurking in your fridge.
Recipes from The Lusty Vegan spotted elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me whether you have found your food preferences have caused difficulties in your relationships. The winner will be selected at random on December 17, 2014. Good luck!
I am sharing this with My Legume Love Affair.
Rob is away this week for work. He likes to update me on his day-to-day life…. like what they serve for breakfast at work, especially when it is unusual like Brussels sprouts. I would be excited about that, too! I have had Brussels for breakfast once, when we used them in this curried dill tofu scramble. Turns out I had just made Brussels sprouts as a vegetable side and it was so good, I could possibly consider eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I mean it includes all good things: roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potato, both in a sticky tangy-sweet glaze courtesy of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. I like how the nutritional yeast adds a tackiness to the marinade and thickens it up, helping it to coat all the vegetables. I opted to skip the dried cranberries and I excluded them purely on principle. I had a sneaking suspicion that fresh/frozen cranberries would be surreal in here. I included them in this Balsamic Curry Roasted Vegetable dish and their tart juiciness would have complemented the dish well.
The recipe is courtesy of Kristy’s new cookbook, But I Could Never Go Vegan!. I have been a long-time reader of her blog, where Kristy creates the creative recipes and her husband, Chris Turner, takes the most gorgeous photos. (You totally know he gets the credit for the top photo).
Kristy’s book is a cute foray into vegan cuisine. She aims to convince you that will not be lacking anything while munching vegan-style. Each chapter was created with recipes targetted to bust vegan myths: All Those Special Ingredients are Way More Expensive; I Could Never Give Up Cheese!; Where Would I Get My Protein?; Tofu Doesn’t Taste Like Anything; Vegan Cooking is Too Hard; Where’s the Beef?; Just Thinking about Salad Makes Me Yawn; What About Brunch?; Fake “Foods” Freak Me Out; It’s All Rabbit Food; Not Soup Again!; I’d Miss Pizza; Can’t I Be Pescatarian Instead?; My Friends Won’t Want to Come Over for Dinner; No Way. I’m Italian (or Southern/German/Mexican/French); But I Hate (Insert Vegetable Here); I Don’t Want to be Left Out at Potlucks and Family Get-Togethers; You Can’t Bake Without Butter Or Eggs; Wait, Is Chocolate Vegan?; But I Scream for Ice Cream.
Yeah, she definitely covers her bases! Her recipes span the simple and easy (see below) but also mostly on the elaborate side: Potato Sauerkraut Soup with Sausage Crumbles, Buffalo Cauliflower Calzones with Cashew Blue Cheese, Pretzel Dumplings with Mushroom-Sauerkraut Gravy; Salisbury Seitan Phyllo Pouches with Rosemary Mashed Potatoes. I may be wrong but I only recognize a few recipes from her blog: Spinach Artichoke Soup, Chickpea Sloppy Joes and Jackfruit Tuna Salad Sandwich. There may be others, but those were the ones I recognized and previously bookmarked. These sprouts and sweets are similar (and likely improved) from her Cheesy Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli dish. I am certainly looking forward to cooking through these recipes. One can not help but to be inspired by the photography and recipes.
Recipes spotted elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about the hardest that prevents (or used to prevent you) from becoming vegan. The winner will be selected at random on December 15, 2014. Good luck!
Date squares have a long tradition in our family. I shared our recipe, modified slightly as a Cranberry-Date Square, shortly after I began blogging. (One of my first missions was to preserve our favourite family recipes). Even to this day, my brother still requests this. Just last month, when I heard he was hoarding the date squares, I thought out loud to my mom: “Wait, that should be really easy to veganize. No, really.”
Sure enough, while reading through Emily’s latest cookbook, 100 Best Juices, Smoothies and Healthy Snacks, I just knew I had to try out her no-bake date squares. With only 5 ingredients, and no oven, she has recreated a fabulous spin on the classic date squares. Rolled oats and buttery pecans substitute for the traditional butter and white flour. Dates sweeten and help towards the architecture of the snack with a touch of coconut oil adding in for texture and stability. I was impressed that the date layer was so smooth and luscious. I think I may try adding in a touch of lemon juice next time (like our original recipe) to see if that helps to balance the sweetness. While not traditional, I also wonder whether a touch of cinnamon would work nicely. In any case, Emily’s rendition was spot on and encourage you to try it out.
Her “Dare to Date Squares” comes from her cookbook which also has 99 other recipes for juices, smoothies, mylks and snacks (which she calls energy bars & healthy snacks). It, however, is not a raw cookbook although it is entirely vegan. As an example, she includes creative savoury soups with cooked vegetables as spicy carrot smoothie with bell peppers and creamy onion and potato smoothie. It would be best to have a juicer for the juice section although the smoothies simply require a blender. Personally, I was drawn to her snack chapter, which I wish was a bit longer. Considering her success of her first dessert cookbook (I shared her tahini cups with a sweet coffee-infused filling previously), I can see how she may not have wanted to pursue that direction in as much detail. Her photos are gorgeous (see top photo) and her easy-going nature encourages you to try new recipes. My only gripe were some missing details, like the size of pan to use in a recipe. However, most recipes are so simple you just need the ingredient list.
Emily’s recipes from 100 Best Juices, Smoothies and Healthy Snacks spotted elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite beverage. The winner will be selected at random on December 12, 2014. Good luck!
As you know, I love cookbooks and this is one of my first non-cookbook reviews that I am super excited to tell you about. Granted, it may not be a cookbook but it is still all about the food: The Vegetarian Flavor Bible.
Does the name sound familiar to you? Karen Page also wrote the classic (original) The Flavor Bible. Both books describe the flavour of various food ingredients including basic preparation methods and tips and then has itemized lists of food pairings. In the The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, she tackles vegetarian combinations.
Sounds weird? Let me explain by example, because truly this is a magnificent compendium for anyone interested in being creative in the kitchen or simply eating good food. Below is a screenshot from the Amazon preview. Whereas The Flavor Bible had 5 pages dedicated to all the beans (notably black beans, cannellini, fava, flageolet, green beans, kidney, lima, navy, pinto, red, white) plus another page for chickpeas, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible has 15 pages for all the beans (in addition to the above, it also includes adzuki beans, anasazi, cranberry/borlotti, fermented black beans, gigante, french green beans, long beans, mung beans, soy beans/edamame) and chickpeas have almost 2 pages now. This is a veritable treasure trove. More common suggestions are capitalized, italicized or bolded.
I also really like the suggested flavour affinities, which are basically mini recipe suggestions. This is what she suggests for black beans:
Obviously, I jumped right into the
meatpotatoes of the book, but there is also nice introduction to the importance of consuming a variety of foods, especially of the plant-based variety. For those new to vegetarianism or veganism, she also has tips on how to craft great meals. Have cravings for meat or fish? She has you covered:
Speaking of capers, if you ever needed proof of her authority in flavour, take note of this. Under capers, her tip: Rinse, or soak for up to 24 hours before using to quiet their flavor. Consider crisping for a minute or two in very hot oil before using them to garnish salads. Um, YES!! That was my latest cooking revelation, too. Crispy capers are marvelous! I need to read through this to uncover more gems.
Lastly, to quote her again: If you master a single recipe, you’ll learn how to cook a single dish. If you master the dynamics of flavor, you can make anything taste better.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to three readers living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite vegetarian ingredient and its flavour affinity (ie., what you like to pair it with). The winner will be selected at random on December 5, 2014. Good luck!
See below for the giveaway but I am super excited to tell you about Camilla’s latest cookbook, The Complete Coconut Cookbook. Do not let the title mislead you. Yes, this is a cookbook which includes recipes for all things coconut – coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut sugar, dried coconut and coconut flour. However, it is also entirely plant-based vegan, gluten-free, grain-free and nut-free. Because there are easy substitutes for the oil and sugar, this is a rather comprehensive vegan cookbook.
The recipes span breakfast (Banana Flapjacks, Coconut Yogurt), Beverages (Mango Carrot Coconut Smoothie, Coconut Nog), Breads and Muffins (Coconut Flax Tortillas, Vanilla Coconut Baked Doughnuts), Salads (Coconut Waldorf Salad, Shredded Beet, Coconut and Sesame Salad), Soups/Stews/Chilis (Cantaloupe Coconut Soup with Basil Syrup, Persian Coconut Soup with Split Peas, Chickpeas and Herbs), Main Dishes (Coconut Squash Pizza, Coconut Za’atar Kale, Tempeh and “Rice”), Side Dishes (Quick Sauteed Kale, Coconut Cauliflower Puree), Cookies/Cakes (Chocolate Avocado Cookies, No-Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies) and Pies/Puddings/Other Desserts (Coconut Cream Pie, Caribbean Sweet Potato Pie).
Woah, that is only a portion of the 200 recipes.
Although I am not entirely sure why someone would make a cookbook that was vegan, GF and nut-free, it certainly required Camilla to be quite innovative in the kitchen. For her baking recipes, a combination of coconut flour, psyllium, chickpea flour and potato starch are used. I tried the apple coconut cookies, although they tasted more like muffins but were delicious (soft and moist). I was hoping the chocolate cherry biscotti might be a bit more crispy, although unfortunately it softened in my air-tight container overnight. I see these as interesting starting points for those who are seeking non-traditional baked goods.
However, as I showcased here, there are plenty of delicious savoury options, too. I loved, loved, loved the cabbage soup with cilantro.
This was also a fun spin on a vegetable salad: cauliflower is riced and tossed with Moroccan spices, dates and cilantro. The savoury spices (cumin and cardamom – although I think cinnamon would have been better) worked well with the sweet dates. My only complaint was that I picked a big head of cauliflower, so I needed more dressing. No fault of the author, as I guess there are truly puny cauliflowers out there.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe 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 your favourite way to eat coconut. The winner will be selected at random on November 23, 2014. Good luck!
Other recipes spotted elsewhere:
I am no stranger to Heather Crosby’s fabulous recipes (seen here previously: Peruvian Bean Bowl with Fried Plantains, Blueberry Tarragon Dressing and more recently the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream), I was excited to be able to review her first solo cookbook creation, YumUniverse as part of the #YUBlogTour and #YUHealthyHalloween Blog Tour.
However, it is more than a cookbook. It is a fabulously complete introduction (and then some) to eating plant-based whole foods. Her book is built in three parts: why, how and do (let’s eat). First, why eat plant-based? Heather details numerous reasons to eat your vegetables. Her second part, teaches the reader the ins-and-outs of how to cook plant-based. She addresses protein and calcium needs and how to craft a week’s worth of eats. There are tables of how to properly store fresh and pantry ingredients (fruits/vegetables, oils, nuts, spices, flours, etc; whether they go in the fridge/freezer). She explains soaking and sprouting with times for common nuts and seeds. She explains different cooking methods and even how to correct oversalting. Once you have mastered feeding yourself, she has tips for social situations. She really has left no gaps. She even explains how to get rid of pesky fruit flies.
Next, the recipes. With adventurist recipes including Mung Bean and Eggplant Curry, Jerk Lentil and Avocado Wrap, Beet, Apple and Onion Gratin and Skillet Crusted Sweet Potato Gnocchi, there are boundless possibilities. That was just in the lunch/dinner section. Heather also includes breakfasts, dressings, dips/spreads, breads, beverages, snacks and other desserts and treats.
In short, this is the cookbook I wish I had when I first began my journey becoming a vegan.
I made her Chocolate & Cherry Hemp Bars which are a spiffied rice krispy treat. Like Ange’s Glo Bars, brown rice syrup is the binder of choice but the bars are not that sweet. Calling them hemp bars is a bit of a superfood marketing ploy: they are barely detectable amidst the sunflower seeds, rolled oats and flaked coconut. Furthermore the chocolate chips melted seamlessly into the sweet binder, so the major flavour was from the tart cherries with a faint chocolate background. Below is the photo you would actually find in the cookbook. Enjoy!
YumUniverse recipes spotted elsewhere:
Buckwheat Noodle Pad Thai
Dark Chocolate, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Brownies
Hot Fudge Sauce
Maple Spice Sandwich Cream Cookies
Orange and Pepita Granola
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash
Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque
Salted Caramel Sauce
Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Kale with Miso Dijon Sauce
Toasted Super Seedy Power Bread
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe 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 your favourite meal (no recipe required). The winner will be selected at random on November 7, 2014. Good luck!
I may not have promoted it here but I am a complete fan of Happy Cow. When travelling, I consult the reviews (and then leave my own) to find the best vegan eats around the world. Not only across Canada and the US, I chronicled my eats while travelling in Germany, Iceland, Mexico, Colombia and South Africa. Rightfully so, there are zero entries for Madagascar.
In any case, I was thrilled when I heard that Eric Brent and Glen Merzer were creating a cookbook featuring recipes from top-rated vegan restaurants, The Happy Cow Cookbook.
The neat part of this compilation was each restaurant’s profile, highlighting their popular and favourite dishes, important lessons as a restaurant owner/chef, and the future of plant-based food movement. Each restaurant shares one, two or more recipes, along with some photographs. As expected with a compilation, the recipes vary with respect to level of difficulty, recipe instructions and photographs. On the whole, the recipes seem solid. Millenium’s Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleon is way too complex for me to recreate, but makes me want to visit this San Francisco eatery. There is also a recipe for Coconut Tofu and Blackened Tempeh with Grapefruit Yuzu (courtesy of Green in Tempe, AZ) that definitely beyond my reach. However, Lettuce Love Cafe’s Tempeh Reuben looks easy to recreate at home, as well as Netherlands’ Veggies on Fire’s Lemon Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce.
The book is ordered alphabetically, based on the name of the restaurants, which makes it difficult to find recipes. However, the breadth of recipes seems vast with little repeats (although you will certainly find many recipes for vegan cheese!). Recipes vary from Kimchi Nori Maki Rolls and Peruvian Leftovers Pie to Avocado Apple Tartare with Walnut Bonbons to Chicken Fried Tempeh and Carrot Cake with a Vegan Cream Cheese frosting. Sadly, what I was most disappointed, was the abundant use of vegan substitutes (ie vegan cream cheese, sour cream and Vegenaise), although that probably helps prep time for restaurants.
While I have never been to Peacefood Cafe, I was itching to make their “Award-Winning Chickpea Fries” which is basically an Indian-spiced baked fry made with chickpea flour. They were quite easy to make although I regret adding the bay leaf to the spice mixture. It became a predominant flavour and bothersome since I didn’t grind it to a fine powder. I didn’t make the Caesar Dipping Sauce as the recipe perplexed me. I was not sure why there was fermented bean curd in the sauce without directions to pulverize it with a blender. In any case, the recipe below is as seen in the book. Enjoy.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe 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 your favourite vegan-friendly restaurant is (and where). Bonus entry if you share your link to your review on HappyCow. The winner will be selected at random on November 7, 2014. Good luck!
PS. HappyCow Cookbook recipes spotted elsewhere:
Beet Salad with Shallot-Thyme Dressing (from Blackbird Pizzeria in Philadelphia, PA)
Cherry Royal (from Veggie Grill in Hollywood, CA)
Granada Chai (from El Piano in Malaga, Spain)
Kimchi Nori Maki Roll (from Real Food Daily in West Hollywood, CA)
Moroccan Tajine (from SunCafe Organic in Studio City, CA)
Nutloaf (from Wayward Cafe in Seattle, WA)
Pasta with Pumpkin Curry Sauce (from Counter Culture in Austin, TX)
Pickled Beets (from Zen Kitchen in Ottawa, ON)
Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleon (from Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco, CA)
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon-Brown Sugar Cream (from True Bistro in Boston, MA)
Quinoa Tabbouleh (from Chaco Canyon in Seattle, WA)
Raw Lime Parfait (from Plant in Asheville, NC)
Roasted Spaghetti Squash, Cauliflower, Garlic and Mashed Potatoes with Porcini Mushroom Gravy (from Peacefood Cafe in New York, NY)
Skillet Cornbread (from Cornbread Cafe in Eugene, OR)
Spicy Cha Cha (from The Loving Hut in Houston, TX)
Swiss Bircher Muesli (from Luna’s Living Kitchen in Charlotte, NC)
Other recipes from restaurants I have made:
Candle Cafe’s Paradise Casserole with Black Beans, Millet and Cinnamon-Miso Sweet Potato Mash
Fresh’s All-Star Salad
Fresh’s Miso Gravy
Gorilla Food’s Strawberry Bliss Up Shake
Live Organic Cafe’s Raw Pad Thai
Peacefood Cafe’s Raw Key Lime Pie
I am sharing this with the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.
In case you haven’t noticed, the past month has a whirlwind. An international trip, an international move, an international exam, while beginning a new job with many hiccups along the way (the funeral, the delayed pod, the broken car, the broken ankle, oh yeah). Suffice it to say, I had lots of things on my mind. I had to focus on other things and thankfully, I found a fabulous vegan delivery service to help take care of keeping me well fed.
Green Zebra Kitchen is a Toronto meal delivery service that comes to your door. All meals are vegan and gluten-free and they use only organic, whole foods with as much local, seasonal produce as possible. Run by brothers Gregg and Dan, they both trained at Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City and know how to cook. Let’s just say I was blown away by their creations. Delicious, creative and healthy. I think I even learned about new ingredients (how could that possible be? – but it is true! Have you heard of nepitella?).
There are a few plans you can purchase, but there are always 3 mains and 3 sides and you can swap any in/out if any do not appeal to you. Furthermore there are extras if you would like breakfast items (ie granola, oatmeal, smoothies) and extra sides (sauerkraut, flatbread, kale chips, hummus) or dessert (like dark chocolate almond butter cups). I ended up with their Plan B, meant to serve 3-4 meals.
Let me share with you the delicious meals of the week:
Blue Tortilla Lasagna with Black Bean, Butternut Squash, Corn, Pickled Jalapeno, and Cashew Cheese
I am sorry my picture does not give it the credit it deserves because it was delicious. Blue corn tortillas were used to make a Mexican-inspired lasagna with a vegan cashew cheese sauce.
Which was paired with: Kale Salad with Pumpkin Seeds, Edible Flowers, and Lime Vinaigrette
Nice and light, this was a simple (and delicious) kale salad.
Tuscan Chickpea Tempeh Bowl with Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Mushrooms, Olives, and Nepitella
I originally thought there would be chickpeas and tempeh in here, but it was tempeh made form chickpeas. I didn’t even know that was possible but it was delicious. I only wish there was more tempeh!
Which was paired with: Yellow and Green Bean Salad with Beets, Roasted Chickpeas, and Italian Vinaigrette
This is where I got my chickpea-fix along with all the other beans. Nice and light, it paired well with the more flavourful quinoa bowl.
Massaman Thai Curry with Tofu, Red Pepper, Tamarind, Lime Leaves, and Coconut Milk
I found this a bit too sweet for me, but Rob loved it. He was bothered that there were no peanuts. Apparently peanuts are a quintessential ingredient for Massaman curry. That was Rob’s complaint the last time we tried making Massaman curry at home, so at least he is consistent. ;)
Which was paired with: Red Rice Salad with Shredded Broccoli, Carrots, Cashews, Cilantro, and Miso Ginger Dressing
Again, this was a nicely flavoured salad with not too much dressing. The ginger and miso were merely shades in the background.
Red Pepper, Walnut, Pomegranate Dip
Carrot Cake Balls
The next day, I accused Rob of stealing a ball but here I can easily tell he didn’t swipe one – I started out with 5! These were nice. A bit more moist than my typical dessert balls, but nice and light without being too sweet.
Mango Lime Green Smoothie with Collards and Banana (unpictured)
I have a picture of the smoothie at the top. It was sweet but I would not have known there was collards (or any greens) hidden in it by the taste. It was green but did not taste green.
The menus change weekly and all orders need to be received by Friday for Monday delivery. I have spied other meals including, but not limited to:
Tempeh Reuben with Cauliflower, Potatoes, Garlic Scape Dill Kraut and Cashew Cheese
Moroccan Vegetable Stew with Red Lentils, Preserved Lemon, Olives and Zhoug
Chipotle Mac & Cheese with Yams, Roasted Cauliflower, Basil and Fresh Tomatoes
Biryani Bowl with Tofu, Chickpeas, Broccoli and Tamarind-Coconut Curry Dressing
Coconut Corn Chowder with Oyster Mushrooms, Potatoes and Chickpeas
Baked Falafel Bowl with Broccoli, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Quinoa Tabouli and Tahini Dressing
Overall, I highly recommend the food. The meals are healthy and totally Janet-friendly.
As advertised, it easily feed 3-4 people and even more if you supplement with additional quinoa/rice/etc from home to stretch the meals further. The diversity is vast and truly, the only thing keeping me from ordering every week would be the price ($62+tax for the plan B). I wish they would open a restaurant so I could get a quick fix at random times throughout the week.
Have you ever used a meal delivery service? I think it is great for times when you don’t have time to cook or if you are travelling to Toronto for business and don’t have time to make/find your food or you want some great vegan options should you host a party (if you do that, please invite me over!).
Note: I was provided with a week’s worth of eats for my review. I ended up loving it so much I bought it the next week, too.
Thank goodness I got my share of summer while I was still in Houston. Spending a month in Africa was sunny, but still a bit nippy, and definitely not that green. Our first week back in Canada was hot and humid, but that was an anomaly. Toronto didn’t get much of a summer this year, either.
However, while I am no farmer, I think one thing that has benefitted from the rainy days has been the blueberries. The wild blueberries were unbelievably big this year and the cultivated ones, even more massive. Rob tried to warn me when I loaded up with some cultivated blueberries: They don’t taste that great, he whispered to me. Turns out they were big and blueberry-delicious. And I didn’t have to share them with Rob. Score! :)
Without restraint, I added them to my morning oats and carefully crafted this salad courtesy of Terry’sFrom Salad Samurai. A multi-component, main dish salad with a spinach base, filled with cucumber and blueberries, beefed up with Ginger Beer tofu and topped with sticky, sweet & savoury almonds with Chinese 5-spice. I tried to stay true to the recipe, but only changes were to decrease the tamari because it was an ever-present ingredient in nearly all the components. I also did not want to turn on my oven for the tofu, so I pan-fried it in its marinade. It wasn’t as crispy as it would have been baked, but still good. The star of the salad, other than the big blueberries, were the Chinese 5-spiced glazed almonds which were perfectly balanced with the tamari, agave and the Chinese 5-spice imparted an interesting edge that I did not expect to taste so good.
This was not my first salad from the cookbook and it will certainly not be my last. Because the salads are huge ensembles of dressings, flavoured mains and interesting toppings, it can be hard to settle down and make an entire salad. Terry has some tips to master your art of making heavenly salads throughout the week. I have been picking and choosing each component separately, although, I really want to make everything: Thai Seitan Larb in Lettuce Cups, Lentil Pate Banh Mi Salad Rolls, East-West Roasted Corn Salad, Green Papaya Salad with Lemongrass Tofu, Miso Edamame Succotash Salad, Seitan Bacon Wedge Salad with Horseradish Dressing, Kimchi Black Rice with Asian Pear, Collards and Sweet Potato Crunch Bowl… ok, ok, I will stop. I basically want to make everything. The recipes are grouped by season and feature salads with loads of flavour from lots of fresh vegetables (no kidding) but also fresh herbs and spices. Terry also has a fun chapter for sweet salads, including a coconut carrot cake salad and overnight oats with Mexican chocolate creme that are calling out for salads for breakfast and dessert, too. Trust me, I am looking forward to cooking through this throughout the whole year.
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living anywhere in the world (since I will be shipping it). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite salad. I will randomly select a winner on September 5, 2014. Good luck!
Other recipes from Salad Samurai shared elsewhere:
You know Rob is a keeper when he doesn’t kill you when it is time to pack. And a) you have essentially doubled your cookbook collection while in Houston (although I limited myself to 10 books for my move) and Rob is now packing your heavy books; b) while you should be packing, instead you are cooking the last of the bits in the refrigerator, so I am still net loss worth for packing. And then there’s c) please don’t pack my cookbooks I still want to review! Eventually I had to give in…. and help pack. And thankful that most books I receive to review come in electronic form.
Especially after making my own e-cookbook, I have grown to appreciate digital books. They have their pros and cons. They are easier to search, but not as fun to read. I miss the ability to curl the pages and find new random recipes. Although they are definitely easier to move. They also allow me to write posts in the airport.
Afro Vegan is Terry Bryant’s new cookbook. A lover of good food, he has managed to fuse soul comfort food with gourmet twists. His muses vary from Caribbean soul cuisine, Southern US down home cooking and African menus. Pecan cornbread with dukkah? Sweet plantain and Fresh Corn Cakes? Peanut Pumpkin Fritters? Jamaican Patties Stuffed with Maque Choux? Spinach Peanut Sauce? Trust me, it all sounded good to me, I was sad I haven’t had enough time to explore it.
While a bit more complex than my weeknight meals, there are more simple and more elaborate dishes. Delicious and innovative all-round. I loved, loved, loved my version of his Southern black eyed peas, I shared it before the book was even released to the masses. Now I am sharing another great soup, which I simplified by skipping the dumplings. This black bean stew, inspired by the Brazilian feijoada, is more tomato-heavy than my previous versions, but still nice and hearty and simple enough for an easy meal.
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living anywhere (except maybe the moon). To be entered, please leave a comment here, any comment. I will randomly select a winner on July 30, 2014. Good luck!
Recipes from Afro-Vegan shared elsewhere:
It is my pleasure to share with you Gena Hamshaw’s new cookbook, Choosing Raw. Named after her widely popular food blog, her simple, bright and healthy recipes shine through onto paper. Full disclosure, I have loved Gena’s recipes ever since I discovered her blog (and her infamous banana soft serve recipe). My previous gushings can be seen here and here and I was thrilled when Gena asked me to be a tester for her cookbook. The best part of help her test the recipes? She actually cared about my feedback beyond recipe bloopers, making this a truly phenomenal cookbook.
Just as her blog attests, the recipes are fresh and flavourful. All vegan, some raw, some cooked, some mixed, some with options for either raw or cooked. You might think you recognize some of the recipes from her blog, but they have all been reworked and rewritten based on reader feedback. With 125 recipes, spanning essential foundation recipes (including cashew cheese, chocomole, banana soft serve, lemon turmeric vinaigrette, ginger miso dressing and hemp parmesan) and breakfasts, meals and desserts separated based on the degree of raw components and familiarity to traditional meals. She includes a primer on making meal-sized salads, including a Dinosaur Kale and White Bean Caesar Salad and a Raw Cobb Salad with Eggplant Bacon.
Gena’s level 1 or introductory recipes are truly tried-and-true. Breakfasts options include the (delicious!) Raw Vegan Bircher Muesli, and (even more delicious!!) Chickpea Tofu Tahini Scramble. Gena has different suggestions for lunch and dinner (for me, lunch is always dinner in leftover form) and I can highly recommend both her Curried Chickpea and Carrot Salad and Easy Red Lentil Sweet Potato and Coconut Curry.
Slowly, Gena encourages you to branch out from the familiar with a hybrid of new and old. Her Avocado Black Bean Scramble was fresh and bright, the Raw Falafels have a carrot base which was the first falafel recipe I liked, and I love that her Raw Pad Thai actually includes tamarind (although I recommend adding more tamarind… because, that’s just the way we like it!). The Pumpkin Quinoa Risotto with Pomegranate Seeds was a fun twist for an autumn side, although I added chickpeas for a heartier meal.
Within her level 3 recipes (aka Brave New World), Gena introduces you to chocolate açaí bowls, jicama fiesta rice salad, raw corn chowder, and coconut curry kelp noodles. From this chapter, I highly recommend the Zucchini Pasta with Mango, Avocado and Black Bean Salsa (I substituted peaches which was still glorious) and her Raw or Cooked Ratatouille.
Desserts are typically the star of raw cuisine, and her recipes do not disappoint. Her Simple Raw Vanilla Macaroons are flawless and her Raw Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting is spot-on. I cannot wait to try other dishes like her Cherry Vanilla Tahini Ice Cream (no ice cream machine required!) and her No-Bake Tartlets with Raw Vegan Chocolate Ganache Filling has been on my hitlist for a long time.
For me, the most important part of a cookbook are the recipes (and the index so I can find the recipes), but the recipes are only a portion of Gena’s book. Her first chapters explain “The Why”, “The What” and “The How” of a eating a vegan diet that includes raw. Normally I skip over these sections, but Gena makes these sections practical, useful and insightful with her background in nutrition. Finally, a raw cookbook that tells you the theory of keeping your food “enzymes” intact will all get decimated in your stomach’s harsh acidic environment anyhow. Likewise, her focus is on nutrients from a plant-based diet.
Gena explains how to properly balance your meals, explaining the importance of fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. She debunks myths including “Eating spinach raw is bad for you because it blocks the absorption of nutrients”, “Soy disrupts hormones, causes breast cancer and should be avoided”, “You should always eat fruit alone and on an empty stomach”, and “It’s essential to separate proteins and starches, because they require different digestive environments and will cause bloating if you eat them together”. To top it off, there are 21 days of worth of meal plans along with tips on how to transition to a vegan diet.
For this review, I had a hard time deciding which recipe to highlight. I decided to share her Classic Cheezy Kale Chips. The mixture of cashews, red bell pepper, nutritional yeast and miso coat the kale leaves which are dehydrated until they are crispy and flavourful. I don’t usually bother with pretty photos while recipe testing, and I had good intentions of taking better photos. Until I ate all the chips. And then they were all gone. They were incredibly addictive.
Gena also has a higher protein kale chip that I am dying to try: Hummus Kale Chips (made with chickpeas)!
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite vegetable. I will randomly select a winner on July 30, 2014. Good luck!
Other recipes from Choosing Raw shared elsewhere:
Perhaps it is fitting that my last post from Houston should be a review for Vegan Finger Foods. It was in Houston, that I found and dived head-first into the “vegan potluck” community. Bounded by a common interest (delicious food), people came from various backgrounds. Some were vegan, others vegetarian, some omnivores, but all were included and encouraged to eat and enjoy the plentiful vegan food.
For me as a cook, it was (mostly) fun to try new recipes or share old favourites. I tend to gravitate to one-pot meals, but now I experimented with appetizers and desserts, knowing there would be plenty of Janet-friendly dishes to sample. As a person, it was comforting to meet others with similar interests, even if only within the realm of veganism. Although especially within the realm of veganism when I first moved to Texas.
Vegan Finger Foods is a fun cookbook, overflowing with ideas for your next gathering. Not only are the recipes suitable for vegan parties and potlucks, they can be mixed and matched for regular main meals at home. There are vegetable-centric bites (think “Bacon” Wrapped Water Chestnuts, Harissa Carrot Zucchini Cups), Finger Foods (think Brewpub Cauliflower Dip and Chips), Dips and Stuffed bites (like Baked Buffalo Tofu Bites with Pantry Raid Ranch and Pulled Jackfruit Mini Tacos), Bread-Based Bites (including Salsa Scuffins) and not forgetting bite-sized desserts (lots of cookies, cupcakes and even Goji Berry Cacao Bites and Tahini Caramel Popcorn).
I appreciate that each dish is a star in itself, even the veggie-centric dishes. I also liked that many dishes are hearty enough to be a main meal (ie, Sweet-and-Sour Sloppy Joes (with tempeh), baked lenteja taquitos (with lentils), baked frittata minis (with tofu) and even a few homemade seitan dishes, including these Kimchi-Stuffed Sausages. No need for company to eat well.
I tried a few dishes from the cookbook, but this one was my favourite and thankfully helped use up some odds-and-ends lingering in the kitchen. Reminiscent of my previous (vegan) cheese-stuffed sausage, these sausages are stuffed with kimchi. Kimchi is also incorporated into the batter making for a flavourful yet chewy sausage. I found it easier just to serve it with a side of even more kimchi, but I love suggestion to pan-fry it and then sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions. Pan-frying would accentuate the flavours even further.
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite dish to share at potlucks. I will randomly select a winner on July 30, 2014. Good luck!
Other recipes from Vegan Finger Foods shared elsewhere:
Spinach Swirls (with another giveaway, too)
Salsa Scuffins (with another giveaway, too)
Other dishes I shared at the vegan potluck this year: