the taste space

Savoury Oatmeal with Vegan Ponzu Sauce

Posted in Breakfasts, Favourites by Janet M on December 4, 2012


One of my biggest challenges was to ditch the sweet breakfast during my sweetener-free challenge. Until I realized I used to eat a savoury breakfast all the time.

Flash back two years ago and my favourite breakfast was oatmeal with ponzu sauce and flax seeds. I know it sounds like the oddest combination, but I loved it. Savoury oats for breakfast.

Yet somehow, I seemed to skip over posting my most repeated recipe in lieu of other savoury oatmeal concoctions: soy sauce and nutritional yeastgoji berries, nori and ponzu sauce and a savoury oatmeal that I would eat for dinner with vegetables, miso and nutritional yeast.

Flash forward two years and I still have a bottle of ponzu sauce. OK, OK, it is not that old (I think!). Anyways, I turned it over and was not that thrilled with the ingredient list:

NATURALLY BREWED SOY SAUCE (WATER, WHEAT, SOYBEANS, SALT), WATER, SUGAR, VINEGAR, SALT, BONITO EXTRACT (FISH), LACTIC ACID, LEMON JUICE, AUTOLYZED YEAST EXTRACT, NATURAL LEMON AND ORANGE FLAVORS WITH OTHER NATURAL FLAVORS, SUCCINIC ACID, DISODIUM INOSINATE, DISODIUM GUANYLATE, SODIUM BENZOATE: LESS THAN 1/10 OF 1% AS A PRESERVATIVE.

Forget the sugar and preservatives, but it isn’t even vegan! Oopsies!

So I ventured to make my own homemade vegan ponzu sauce, without all the fluff… and the fish. My recipe is adapted from Taste of the East. The core is a base of tamari (sadly, Braggs couldn’t compete) along with juices from both lemon and lime. Yuzu is more traditional but even I can admit that I have never seen yuzu for sale. While I don’t think ponzu sauce tastes fishy, a dashi flavoured broth is created from arame and added to the ponzu. I skipped mirin, a common Japanese sweet rice wine, not only because I am challenging myself to go sweetener-free, but also because I thought it tasted fine without it. I tried it with less tamari, but found it lacking without it. Since I only use 1-2 tsp for my oatmeal, I find a little goes a long way.

While I typically eat steel-cut oats, I treated myself to some extra thick rolled oats. Pillow soft, it worked well with the ponzu sauce. More as a textural contrast, and also for its health benefits (omega 3s, lignans and fiber), I added flax seeds. I highly prefer yellow or golden flax seeds which are more mild tasting than brown flax. However, to unlock flax’s prowess, freshly grinding them is the way to go. Otherwise, they may not be absorbed at all. :(

This is my submission to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Elena.

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Pumpkin Gingerbread Pudding

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by Janet M on November 13, 2012

I have been blogging for over 3 years (and cooking for myself for the past decade), so you’d think I’d have figured everything out in the kitchen by now, right?

Wrong!

You’d think I’d have figured out what I like to eat or not…

Wrong!

OK, I know what I like but I love trying new things. It is harder to pinpoint what I don’t like. (Other than celery).

With my never ending stash of pumpkin puree, I whipped up a quick and simple pumpkin pie pudding. It didn’t woo me.

While I grew up with turkey at Thanksgiving, we rarely had stuffing (no one likes it), sometimes had cranberry sauce (not sure who likes it) and we never had pumpkin pie (who knows why). I don’t know if I have ever had it except as a raw cheesecake from Naked Sprout (which doesn’t really count as traditional pumpkin pie).

I figured a sweet pumpkin pie pudding with pumpkin, maple and pumpkin pie spice would be great. It was missing something, though. I didn’t know what. I added some blackstrap molasses to make this more gingerbread-like. I definitely preferred the sharp bite from the molasses. But as I licked my way through my dessert, I wasn’t particularly smitten with its pudding nature. I don’t really like pureed soups either. I like soups with body and bulk. So I stirred it into my morning oats with the natural Sun Warrior blend and I had a happy protein-rich breakfast for the week. Creamy with some body from the steel-cut oats. Re-purposed dessert for breakfast, yum. :)

I also thought it would be fun to share my trusty travelling spork. A spoon, a fork and a knife, all in one. This one is orange, to boot. :)

This is my submission to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness and this month‘s Simple and In Season.

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Madeira-Poached Figs with Lemon and Sage

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by Janet M on September 26, 2012

(sorry, this time you can actually post comments! Apparently I can’t figure out wordpress for Android)

For someone who doesn’t drink, I have a lot of alcohol. I used to have more booze attributed to my purchases than Rob, but that was before Rob visited Veux-Tu une Biere? in Montreal and stocked up like mad with artisanal beers.

I may not drink alcohol, but I will gladly cook with it. Over the years, I have gathered:

Vodka, from my Penne Alla Vodka days.

Sherry, because it is easier than keeping white wine in the fridge. Great in this Carrot and Roasted Red Pepper Soup.

Raki, from my trip to Turkey. My Dad already drank half of it but I think I wanted it to make a poached-fish dish. Totally tabled for now.

Chambord, because I wanted to make a knock-off of a mixed berry Chambord-whipped cream French toast from a local resto, Coquine. Off my radar for now.

Amaretto, because who doesn’t like almonds?

Madeira, because I was lusting over Madeira-soaked mushroom ragouts.

I think I also have a small amount of Creme de Menthe because I wanted to make a Grasshopper dessert.

Rob has scotch, rum, Aguardiente (from our Colombian trip), ROOT liqueur (tastes like root beer and Rob highly recommends it!) and SNAP gingersnap liqueur (with blackstrap molasses, ginger and cloves! but Rob hasn’t opened it yet). Nevermind his stock-piled of beer.

While trying to decide what to do with a crate of figs, I decided to finally break out the Madeira. Fresh figs do not last long. Roasting them (or technically poaching them in this case), allowed me to extend their sweetness for another 2 weeks.

Madeira: Candy liqueur, as Rob put it, after he tasted it from the bottle. Using it to oven-poach figs resulted in a sweet yet savoury concoction spiked with lemon and sage. I tried a bunch of variations, but my favourite was with the lemon and sage, although you could leave them out, too. Thyme also worked well. I also tried a few cinnamon-orange variations but preferred the one with Madeira. The orange zest became a bit bitter through the roasting so consider omitting that if you want to try that variation.

Serve over top something more bland and neutral like your morning oatmeal (that’s what I did), or serve as a dessert slathered over banana soft-serve ice cream.

Because my photos aren’t always that photogenic, I thought it would be neat to play around with some of the features on Picasa. I rarely do much photo post-processing other than “I Feel Lucky” but found this neat “Orton-ish” option in Picasa (see pic below). Not entirely sure who or what this Orton effect was all about, I learned it was named for Michael Orton who would combine 2 images: one in focus and the other out-of-focus to create an impressionistic effect. Brought me back to my black and white darkroom days!

How do you like the photo? I like the colour palate with the soft contours and warmer colours. More of an artsy shot now, instead of a food porn photo. But hey, it keeps me entertained!

Enjoy!

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Chris. (more…)

Chocolate Cherry Granola Parfait with Banana

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by Janet M on August 22, 2012

Doesn’t everything look pretty in a Mason jar?

We don’t have many clear containers in our house, actually. Rob has oodles of beer glasses, but they all have logos on them! Hmmpht… Anyways, as I was saying, things all look better in Mason jars… ;)

I don’t make granola that often, but recently became intrigued by granolas made with pureed fruits instead of gobs of sugar. Rob has willingly become my granola guinea pig. It is all for the better good of granola, right?

This was definitely not your typical granola. Not very sweet and not over-the-top chocolatey, either. The sweetness from the dried cherries and coconut hit your palate one by one as you savour the granola. Its prowess was born once it was paired with creamy yogurt and sweet bananas. I heard horror stories about soy yogurt, but it isn’t so bad!

I used millet again for a nice crunch along with toasted almonds. In this parfait, I tried to separate the granola from the yogurt but it does become a bit messy. It doesn’t travel as nicely as the Salad in a Jar, unfortunately. Oh well, make it fresh and then savour it on a relaxing weekend.

This is my submission to this month’s We Should Cocoa for cherries to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring fruit and to CookEatDelicious-Desserts for chocolate. (more…)

Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Jam

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by Janet M on July 6, 2012

I planned for a stress-free brunch by making nearly everything in advance. I kind of ending up pulling out some of our normal breakfast foods (granola, yogurt, etc) along with the special crepes and pancakes. I had pimped my kale salad as the best kale salad ever, so I had that as a savoury option, too.

On the menu:

Almost Raw Chocolate Banana Crepes

Raw Maca Banana Pancakes

Almond-Coconut Cream

Avocado Mint Cream

Yogurt, for those wanting something more traditional

Millet Granola

Raw Kale and Beet Salad with Raisins and Almonds

Rob’s Omelettes with Spinach and Mushrooms (which no one wanted with all the other food!)

Raw Strawberry Tart, as the birthday “cake”

Strawberry Smoothies (a surprise from one of my friends who came bearing a ton of frozen strawberries!)

and this Blueberry Vanilla Chia Jam.

With all the different filling options, it was a brunch extraveganza. Just look at Rob’s plate, complete with his new Android jelly bean toy (no jelly beans were in the crepes!):

Earlier that week, I made Angela‘s Blueberry Chia Jam, so I pulled it out as another option as an afterthought. Everyone enjoyed their mixed-and-matched creations, and agreed that the jam was awesome. Pure blueberry bliss. Without all the typical over-sugared pectin-laden jam, this spread is simply fresh blueberries reduced with a touch of maple syrup and vanilla, thickened with chia seeds. I was worried the chia seeds might be too slimy or crunchy, but it was neither. They blended in so well and helped make this a thicker spread. Such a simple recipe, but it highlights how fresh produce can be augmented in creative ways.

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Cinzia, to this week’s Ingredient Challenge Monday for blueberries and to this week’s Wellness Weekend.

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Almost Raw Chocolate Banana Crepes with Almond-Coconut Cream and Cherries

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on July 4, 2012

Strawberries are out and cherries are in. Seasonal eating at its best, right?

While I originally planned for a strawberry-filled birthday brunch, I worked towards the next seasonal fruit: cherries.

What do you think of first after I say cherry?

Please don’t say cherry red macronucleoli.
(Gosh, the July 1st studying mode has made its way into my blogging, ack!)

Try again.

Chocolate. Almonds.

Now you’re talking.

The Naked Sprout‘s brunch menu inspired me again to try my hand at raw crepes. While I had the raspberry banana coconut pancakes, Rob had the chocolate coconut crepes with banana and a blueberry cashew whipped cream drizzled with an ancho chocolate sauce and a strawberry compote. What a tasty mouthful!

Not so fancy for my home-grown brunch, though. We are aiming for stress-free gatherings, not stress-inducing gatherings!

In the end, I decided to pair the local, fresh cherries with an almost raw chocolate banana crepe and an almond-coconut cream. All of which I could make in advance and allow guests to assemble themselves.

I was scared of thin raw wraps since my raw zucchini wraps were a bit finicky. I have made these a few times, so let me assure you that these are easy to make. The Vitamix makes for a smooth batter and adding the flax seeds last gives you some time to work the batter into a thin sheet. I wanted round crepes, but here, you make a big sheet of a wrap and then cut out your desired shape. It is much easier to make a consistency thin wrap if it is one big sheet. Rest assured that the extra pieces of crepe were not wasted and went straight into my belly. This wrap has a nice chocolate flavour with a hint of banana and very pliable.

I paired the wrap with a coconut-based cream. Now that Rob is gaining experience with opening coconuts, I ventured with a coconut recipe. I contemplated making a macadamia-based whipped cream but cheap coconuts from Chinatown won that battle. I paired it with almond extract for a strong almond flavour, almost begging to be paired with cherries.

Top with sliced almonds, this was a glorious brunch… or dessert.. and quite a great way to introduce my friends to raw cuisine, if I may say so myself.

Sometimes simple is all you need, because the simple flavours melded so well together.

This is being submitted to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring holiday treats, to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, to this week’s potluck party for fruit dishes, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this month‘s Simple and in Season.

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Raw Maca Banana Pancakes with Strawberries and Ice Cream

Posted in Breakfasts, Favourites by Janet M on July 2, 2012

If there is one thing that is predictable with my meals, it is my breakfast. Steel cut oatmeal with fruit and protein powder. Lately, I’ve been eating it with Vega, since I scored it at half price. Making a big batch each week is a time saver and doesn’t make me think too much each morning as I rush out the door.

With a bit of extra time this long weekend, I decided to host a birthday/housewarming brunch today. A time to whip out all the vegan brunch options. I know, one meal that can be challenging for vegans has got to be brunch, typically filled with cheese, eggs and baked goods. Not here.

A recent visit to The Naked Sprout‘s Sunday brunch had me in a tizzy over their raw raspberry banana coconut pancakes with coconut ice cream.  I thought it would be great to try my hand at it and I figured going raw for brunch would be an easy way to serve a crowd. The pancakes could be made in advance and then assembled once we were ready to eat. No need to slave over a stovetop, especially during this hot summer weather.

Of course, I had to do some research to make sure the recipe worked out before my guests arrived. Last week, while we still had strawberries, I did the first test run. This was the glorious result. Soft and chewy (not light and fluffy like SAD pancakes) pancakes with a hint of maca. Stacked, on top of berries and topped with banana soft-serve ice cream. I was definitely inspired by my meal at The Naked Sprout. This version was lighter and glorious in the melting ice cream. Make no mistake, their vanilla coconut ice cream was possibly the best I have ever had.

One problem: A few days later, my pancakes didn’t look the same. I stored a bunch in the refrigerator in anticipation of not dehydrating this weekend and they turned brown. The banana had probably oxidized or something. Still delicious, they just weren’t as um, photogenic. Well, at least to me, since I know they are supposed to be a light brown colour.

In any case, strawberries are out and cherries are in, so I’ve come up with an alternate breakfast plan. Stayed tuned!

This is being submitted to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring holiday treats, to this week’s potluck party for raw foods, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this month‘s Simple and in Season.

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Raw Strawberry Pudding Pie

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by Janet M on June 30, 2012

I am a strawberry baby.

Being born at the end of June, my birthday usually coincides with the local strawberry season. My Mom went into labour while picking strawberries. I tell no lies.

This year, local strawberries are already finished as they had an early start. (Local cherries, though, are already here!). Rob and I still managed to sneak in some strawberry action, though, before he took off for the week.

No stranger to raw desserts, I know they can be pretty heavy. Nuts, coconut, avocado, you name it. They make for delicious desserts, but they can be truly decadent.

I had been pining a recipe for a nearly nut-free Strawberry Pie, so when we had a huge clamshell of strawberries, I couldn’t resist not making this. It was now or never. Next week, the strawberries may not be as good!

I couldn’t go nut-free with a crust, so I picked an interesting almond-vanilla-maple crust. However, since it was date-free, I didn’t find it kept its integrity as well as my go-to crust from the Raw Cashew Dreamcake. The recipe below has my standard crust which I think would work better.

In any case, the filling is really simple. A puree of strawberries and bananas with lemon juice is the base for holding more strawberries. Then it is topped with even more strawberries! Strawberry heaven, for sure. :)

This pie needs to be chilled so that the base firms up. In any case, I think it will be a messy cake no matter what you do.. unless you add a thickener like agar agar. My pie firmed up nicely after a few hours in the fridge but our initial foray after an hour left us with a goopy (yet still delicious) mess. Another less messy option would be to make and serve it in ramekins, like we did with our Tropical Mango Pie (oh so good!).

Since the highlight of the pie are the fresh strawberries, the pie cannot be stored in the freezer (hello, Raw Key Lime Pie!). Instead, the leftovers were my breakfast for the rest of the week.

This is my submission to Breakfast Club, featuring leftovers, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this month‘s Simple and in Season.

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Millet Granola

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by Janet M on June 22, 2012

This week, Rob was uber busy at work so I decided to spice up his mornings with some new granola. Like me, Rob typically eats oatmeal for breakfast and it has been ages since he’s made granola. He used to be a granola fiend, but it was put on his back-burner after we moved in together.  Way back when, in his granola-making days, he bought millet for granola.  Instead, the millet made its way into savoury dinners.

I don’t remember which recipe gave us the idea to add millet to granola, but whoever did it first should be applauded. Crunch explosion! In a great way! It gave a crunchy-crispy texture to the toasted oats and nuts. For this version, I went with Rob’s favourite granola flavours: cinnamon, cranberries, coconut and almonds, but feel free to pick your own favourite nuts and dried fruit. Just don’t skip the millet, because that is what makes this granola special.

Even if you didn’t think you liked cooked millet (I will admit that it isn’t my favourite grain), this is probably my favourite way to eat it. Don’t let the birds enjoy all the millet. ;)

Other granolas we’ve made:

Low-Fat Winter Fruit Granola (my Mom’s favourite)
Crunchy Coconut Macadamia Granola with Honey
Olive Oil Granola with Apricots and Pistachios


This is my submission to this month’s Breakfast Club for cooked/baked, this month’s Bookmarked Recipes and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (Homemade Vegan Nutella)

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by Janet M on April 13, 2012

Where have all the hazelnuts gone?

While Rob and I went all out for our Indian Easter feast, my parents were sleeping over which meant we also had plan for breakfast. Thankfully, oatmeal works for my Mom, Rob and me. Not so much for my Dad.

My Dad eats bagels and Nutella for breakfast. I had neither. Rob picked up some Montreal-style bagels from St Lawrence Market and I decided to work on the Nutella. Without actually buying Nutella.

I have been meaning to try making my own homemade nut butter for a while, so I was eager to try Katie’s Better than Nutella recipe. I just needed some hazelnuts. Last year, I discovered the grocers in Little India sell hazelnuts super cheap. Turns out all 3 grocers had no hazelnuts. Then I went to my go-to bulk store, and they were out, too. Apparently their supplier had been out for the last 6 weeks.

Where have all the hazelnuts gone?

I re-evaluated my options:

a) Head elsewhere to buy hazelnuts (ie, The Big Carrot or the Bulk Barn)
b) Use hazelnut butter instead of hazelnuts
c) Substitute another nut (apparently Nutella used to be a mix of almonds and hazelnuts)
d) Make a chocolate-bean spread instead that didn’t require hazelnuts

Rob told me not to buy anything. We are trying to empty our pantries, not refill them. Option A and possibly option B were out. I really wanted to make a Nutella substitute, since this was for my Dad and he may not be as smitten with a chocolate bean spread as me. But you gotta do what you gotta do. I peered into our pantry and boo-yah, we had hazelnut butter! Option B it was!

I modified Ricki’s recipe slightly, but mainly with the sweetener only. After her warning that stevia-only sweetened chocolate could have a weird taste, I decided to substitute it with a portion of coconut sugar. Feel free to use your own sweetener of choice (agave, maple syrup, sugar, etc).  Super simple to make, I threw everything into my Vitamix. As it heated up, the coconut oil melted making it a smooth, silky consistency (which is what I photographed). Leftovers were popped into the fridge where it firmed up considerably. It was still spreadable and melted as it was spread onto warm, toasted bagels. Spreading it onto cold bagels could be more difficult, though.

The verdict? According to me and Rob: Better than Nutella. Silky smooth, with a lovely cocoa flavour with a touch of sweetness. I found this a bit too sweet for my liking but Rob thought it was perfect, or possibly under sweetened. My Dad said it was ok. Perhaps it wasn’t sweet enough, but he wouldn’t elaborate. (For the record, while Rob and my Mom thought the banana naan were wonderful, my Dad thought they should have been more fluffy, despite acknowledging they were already more fluffy than the store-bought naan).We were planning on gifting the remainder of the Notella to my Dad when he left, but it was nearly demolished over the course of the weekend. There was just a little left.. and had my Dad stayed for breakfast #2, it would have been all gone. Not sure where else to put this homemade Nutella? How about my Nutella and kiwi crepes or Nutella-filled aebleskiver?

This is my submission to this month’s Cook.Eat.Delicious-Desserts for Picnic Desserts, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend and to this month’s Breakfast Club for Sweet Treats.

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Chocolate Protein Oatmeal with Mixed Berries

Posted in Breakfasts, Favourites by Janet M on March 31, 2012

How do you cook your steel cut oats?

My cousin’s spouse recently told me he cooks his for 20 minutes. WHAT?!

Mine always takes 35 minutes, if not 45 minutes. I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s how I get mine to be super creamy.

Because it takes so long, I make a big batch to last me all week. Leftovers heat up beautifully and I can mix-and-match my flavours each day.

I start by dry-toasting my steel cut oats as the water heats up to a boil (1:4 ratio). When they become fragrant and lightly toasted, I turn off the heat. Usually by this time, the water is boiling and I plop it all in, and then simmer it for 40-45 minutes.

I refrigerate the oats and take out a portion every morning. Heat it up in the microwave for 2 minutes along with a touch of water. From there, I add my flavours: cinnamon, vanilla, fruit, flax seeds, nuts, nut butter,  etc.

My recent breakfast fix has a chocolate base. I use the Chocolate Amazing Grass coupled with Manitoba Harvest’s Hemp Pro 70 for a hearty foundation. I also typically add some fresh fruit, but lately I’ve been cleaning out the frozen fruit from the freezer: this time with mixed berries!

Why Amazing Grass? Beyond its nutritional benefits, I really like the taste (Rob doesn’t like it, though). A slightly malty chocolate taste with low calories and a good protein ratio.

Why Hemp Pro 70?  First of all, I am no protein powder aficionado, but Hemp Pro 70 is pure hemp protein. No fillers, no sweeteners, etc. The high protein content (70% by weight), omega fatty acids, iron and calcium is great but the most important part is that it is water-soluble. You can’t taste it in the oatmeal. It thickens it while keeping it smooth. I usually add more water when I add it to my oatmeal. It also makes my oatmeal more filling…. and green-looking. ;)

While I am partial to steel cut oats from the bulk bin, one of my non-bulk favourites is from Essence of Life. The texture is a bit more creamy. I find Bob’s Red Mill a bit too chewy.

My cousin’s spouse, though, recommended Bob’s Red Mill. He suggests using a big pot (a great tip for no spillover!) and to do a hard boil for 18 minutes uncovered and then 2 minutes covered. He keeps it covered and then lets it sit off the heat for an additional 2-5 minutes. Says it never fails him.

I know there are other variations for cooking on steel cut oats: start with a boil then leave the oats overnight, or just soak them overnight for a chewier texture.

I’ve tried overnight slow cooker steel cut oats, but it was way too watery.

Hence, I’ve stuck with my classic, yet lengthy 45-minute boil.

Tell me, how do you cook your steel cut oats?

Here are some other ways I’ve enjoyed oatmeal:

Whipped Banana Oatmeal with Cranberries
Mango Pistachio Steel Cut Oatmeal (aka Mango Shrikhand Oatmeal)
Mango Oatmeal
Balsamic Lemon-Blueberry Steel Cut Oats
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal with Roasted Flax Seeds
Pan-Fried Oatmeal with Peach-Blueberry Vanilla Compote
Multigrain Oatmeal with Quinoa and Kasha
Apple Pie Oatmeal
Baked Apple Banana Oatmeal
Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal
Savoury Oatmeal with Soy Sauce and Nutritional Yeast
Savoury Oatmeal with Goji Berries, Nori and Ponzu Sauce

This is my submission to this month’s Monthly Mingle featuring cherries and berries. (more…)

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal with Roasted Flax Seeds

Posted in Breakfasts by Janet M on December 20, 2011

I thought my friend with a kitchen with 4 spices was minimalistic.

Not so. It can get much more barren. At least there were pots and pans. And a Magic bullet!

I recently stayed with my friend in her tiny bachelor apartment in New York City. Before heading out to buy some fixins for some meals, I scoured her kitchen… It was pretty bare. Some olive oil and salt. Some pepper. Some knives and a cutting board. A microwave but she didn’t have any pots or pans for her stovetop. My plan for a dinner stir-fry was thwarted. I knew I had to become a bit more creative.

Off I went to Trader Joe’s, a haven for those who don’t cook. Or chop. They take that fun away from you, but it is great for travellers. :)

Armed with chopped kale, lemon, roasted beets and baked tofu, I had the ingredients to make a tasty salad for a few days. I actually wanted to make a wrap, but they don’t sell Swiss chard or even large (uncut) kale leaves. I used the simple dressing from this kale salad with cranberries as a rough guide.  I tried to make a dressing with some hummus, too, but it didn’t work out too well since it was rather dry. Next time, I might try adding more lemon juice, like Kalyn does here.

For breakfast, I picked up some apples and splurged when I spotted all things pumpkin on sale: pumpkin butter and pumpkin pie spice. The golden roasted flax seeds were also a nice touch to add some healthy fats. I had resigned myself to making either overnight oats (sans chia) or buying some instant oats since I couldn’t use the stovetop. Peering through the oatmeal shelf, though, I learned that I could actually microwave the traditional rolled oats for a quick breakfast. Two minutes in the microwave. Why would you even think of using the instant oats when this is nearly just an instant? (OK, maybe I would use the instant kind when I was stuck somewhere without a microwave… like a shoddy hotel room!)

Thankfully, I learn something new every day. Even the real basic stuff I seemed to have skipped over…  I usually cook my oats on the stovetop, but this microwave method surely beats my 45-minute brew of steel cut oats. And cuts down on dirty dishes, too. :)

This is my submission to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend and to Cara’s Healthy Heart Challenge.

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Mediterranean Crustless Chickpea Flour Quiche

Posted in Breakfasts, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on December 19, 2011

While in NYC, I ventured to the Greenmarket Farmer’s Market at Union Square. As I drooled over the fresh produce (there were the most beautiful bundles of kale), I had to find my dinner. I ended up buying a farinata to go. The farmer told me it was one of his most popular items. Unlike my socca, which was a thin chickpea pancake with toppings, this was a thick slab of a crustless chickpea tart (almost an inch or more thick) with the toppings integrated right into the farinata itself. It wasn’t my best meal. In fact, it was my meal low-light since it was rather dry and crumbly. However, it inspired me to make something even better upon my return back home.

I bookmarked Ricki’s quizza (a chickpea flour-based quiche-pizza hybrid) this summer and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for: a thick slab of pie, creamy instead of dry, filled with my favourite veggies. Rob continues to experiment with the Besan Chilla, the Indian Chickpea Pancakes, and throws all sorts of vegetables into the batter (baby bok choy, red pepper, carrot, etc) and even kimchi. Quiche is equally adaptable to a multitude of fillings.

I went with Mediterranean flavours when I adapted Ricki’s recipe: zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach spiced with garlic, rosemary, basil and oregano. Plus, with a nod to the Besan Chilla, I added black salt for an egg-like taste. Next time, I may add some olives or caramelized onions, too.

I love how versatile chickpea flour can be be. In the Besan Chilla, you have a pancake texture, with the socca it is more firm and here, you definitely have a creamy consistency. Definitely better than the farinata from the market. Plus, I can easily make this at home while cleaning out the vegetable odds and ends. Definitely a win-win situation. :)

Next up on my chickpea flour to-try list: Candle 79′s Chickpea Crepes.

This is being submitted to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Kiran, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend, to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring eggy breakfasts and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipe.

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Savoury Indian Chickpea Pancakes (Besan Chilla)

Posted in Breakfasts, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on October 28, 2011

I am having a hard time renaming some of my dishes.

Banana Scramble: I felt Banana Peanut Butter Chia Super Pancake was more accurate

Raw Vegan Raspberry Cheesecake: Better named the delicious birthday Raspberry Dreamcake (yes, I preferred Sarah’s name)

Lentil Mango Picadillo: Greek to me, so it was renamed Latin-Spiced Mango Lentil Salad (kind of boring, though?)

Lightened Up Protein Power Goddess Bowl: Rechristened as Warm Lentil, Bulgur and Vegetable Skillet with a Lemon-Tahini Sauce

I swear, vegan food does not need to be a recreation of something dairy or meat-laden. It can just be. Wonderful, in all its glory. Nameless.

While exploring our new neighbourhood, Rob and I discovered new ethnic grocery stores, including a few that carried black salt or kala namak. More pink than black, this salt has been infused with sulfur, rendering an egg-like taste when used in cooking.

We immediately made Besan Chilla (also known as cheela or pudla), which technically is an Indian chickpea-based crepe or pancake. However, I first spotted the recipe on Julia’s blog where she called it a chickpea flour omelette.  Omelet or pancake? Rob and I disagreed. The only thing we agreed on was that it was delicious.

Analogies work well when trying to convey a new concept, and for me, these reminded me of a savoury pancake. Too thick for a crepe, too pancake-like to be an omelet. We stuffed the chickpea flour-based pancakes with savoury spices (ginger, garlic, onion, turmeric, chili flakes) as well as vegetables including tomato and spinach. Broccoli stems work great, too! Really, pick your favourite veggies ad run with it. The addition of black salt conferred an egg-like taste, which is why this could be described as something similar to an omelet.

Rob can whip up a mean omelet. An egg-based one, though. He did not feel that this version warranted being christened as a vegan omelet, as is. He has vowed to tinker with the recipe, to make it more akin to a traditional omelet.

Until then, I couldn’t wait to share the recipe with you because it was really tasty just the way it is. Whatever name you want to attach to it. Besan Chilla, it is for now, with the wonderful black salt. Wonderful for breakfast, or as a light lunch. Mix things up with your favourite spices and vegetables. Serve as is, with chutney on the side, or as a side to a more complete meal with Indian dishes.


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

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Triple Corn Pancakes

Posted in Breakfasts, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on September 7, 2011

I had a sense of deja vu this weekend. But not in the typical I’ve already done this sense. Rather, a ‘why haven’t I learned my lesson yet’ kind of deja vu.

We visited friends in Horseshoe Valley for a weekend filled with friends, food, games, adventure park fun (o-go ball is highly recommended) as well as a trip to the beach. While I am not too fond of beaching, I was excited when my friend, Greg, suggested we bike to Wasaga Beach instead, which was 45km away, he said. Rob checked: it was 27km away.

While Rob and I haven’t done many long-distance cycling trips since our big adventure to Kingston, 27km would still be a quick stroll for us. An hour, maybe an hour and a half, I told myself. We packed light for the trip, with just a couple bottles of water. Our snack would be waiting for us at the end, at the beach, when we would arrive for an early lunch and meet up with the girls. We could easily cycle back, too. Greg, our fierce leader, wasn’t keen on cycling back. OK, no problem.

As soon as we pulled out, I was reminded that this may not necessarily be as flat as I had predicted. We were starting at the bottom of the valley. We only could go up! Greg suggested taking smaller side roads to circumvent the huge hills on Horseshoe Valley Road, which we thought was a fabulous idea.

We twisted up the side roads and meandered through lovely rolling hills. After 13km, I needed a break and nonchalantly stated we were half-way to the beach.

Not so. Rob, plotting our progress through GPS on his phone, said we were now further from the beach than when we started!

I’ll spare you the details, but yes, we had lots of rolling hills with challenging uphills. The wind was fierce. We added detours to forgo traffic-heavy roads. I broke out my emergency larabar. Thankfully, the last 15km was mainly flat, maybe slightly downhill to the beach. The flat 27km bike ride ended up being a very hilly, very windy 57km.

We were greeted by a mild sand storm at Wasaga as the strong winds pushed sand around ruthlessly. Greg still jumped into the lake, cycling clothes and all. We arrived for a late lunch. The girls had already eaten without us and warned us there was probably sand in the sandwiches. ;) My quinoa salad had fared a bit better.

Steph made delicious vegan cupcakes for dessert – matcha green tea with marzipan flours. It had been a while since I had a cupcake yet I devoured it for dessert. Sometimes crazy cycling can do that to you!

It was on the way back home that Rob and I picked up the corn on impulse. Where else would we get such freshly picked corn?

When we got home, Rob started the barbecue and began grilling the corn for dinner. I had a hankering for baked goods and used corn to make these corny pancakes from Ricki.

Using three different forms of corn – fresh corn kernels, corn meal and corn flour (masa harina) – these are a seriously corn-stuffed pancake. With corn as the flour base, it was reminiscent of a sweet polenta. Flavoured with both vanilla and lemon, it was an exotic twist. Slather it with Earth Balance for pure simple bliss, or top with your favourite compote or salsa.


This is my submission to this month’s Simple and in Season.

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