the taste space

Raw Apple Cinnamon Macaroons

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on November 26, 2013

Raw Apple Cinnamon Macaroons

I have embraced being a (temporary) Texan.

Summer in November? Yes.

Biking year round? Definitely.

I have obviously already forgotten about the hot, humid summer..

One problem, though: my dates are all messed up. Time is literally flying by. I saw an event for the end of November and thought it was weeks away. It was warm and sunny at the time… my internal clock had not registered that yes, it is indeed almost winter. At home, they’ve received more snow and cold weather than I can recall seeing in November.

I would be hard to pity me, though.. That warm spell disappeared and it is cold again. It will be a low at freezing point tonight. And I forgot (or did not pack?) my winter cycling gloves in Canada. Either that, or they are lost. :( I hope it is the former.

Raw Apple Cinnamon Macaroons

The warm weather partially explains my penchant for raw eats despite the season. The other, is that raw is easy to make and this was a recipe I knew would be fabulous. When Rob and I visited Ellen and Andy on our road trip to Houston, we shared a veritable feast for breakfast and these were my favourite treat. I have made raw (chocolate) macaroons before, but these were simply delightful. Apple, cinnamon and caramel-like dates are pulsed together with almonds and coconut for an autumn/winter-inspired treat. A touch of maple syrup and a sprinkle of salt made the flavours veritably pop.

These are so simple to make, but absolutely delicious.

Are you building your holiday treat roster yet? What are you excited to make?

Raw Apple Cinnamon Macaroons

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Raw Peppermint Patties & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space 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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Stewed Prunes with Orange and Cinnamon

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by janet @ the taste space on November 16, 2013

Which food makes you giggle? An automatic response because you just don’t want to eat it.

While I have cooked and baked with prunes before, I subconsciously think of my bowels when I see prunes. I know it isn’t just me, because the folks in California have been rebranded prunes as “dried plums“. So many less connotations, while using different words.

Dried dates, apricots and cranberries get a lot of love, but prunes are rarely heralded. It wasn’t until I picked them up on a whim that I remembered how nice they taste.  They aren’t as cloyingly sweet as dates or raisins, and have a much more complex flavour: deep and robust. 

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I love to explore new breakfasts, although I rarely share them these days. I spotted this recipe for stewed prunes with citrus and cinnamon and figured it would be a great topping for my morning oatmeal.

I was drawn to this recipe for stewed prunes because there is no added sugar and the sweetness comes entirely from the prunes and orange. In fact, the sweetness is tempered by including the orange peel in the pot as everything  simmers. A dash of cinnamon permeates the succulent compote and melds seamlessly. I halved the original recipe since I didn’t have a pound of prunes. I used half a Navel orange, cut into thin slivers, which delivered a wonderful flavour. Don’t be off-put by including the entire orange, peel and all. It works. Really well.

(I’ve done something similar before, years ago when I made Nigella’s Clementine Cake in which you boil 5 whole clementines (peel and all) for two hours until meltingly soft, add half a dozen eggs, sugar, ground almonds with a dash of baking powder before you throw it into the oven. The cake is oh so moist, not super sweet, but wonderful. Gluten-free baking at its finest, although obviously not vegan.)

Just as Molly suggests, the silky prunes develop a complex flavour throughout its hour-long simmer. Overnight, in the fridge, the flavours meld further. It was a delicious topping for my morning oatmeal and could easily top some yogurt or ice cream, if you are into that, for a delicious dessert. Warm and cold, I loved it both ways.

Other prune recipes that have caught my eye:

Tagine of Yam, Carrot and Prune from Moroccan Food and Cooking
Butter Bean, Prune and Tomato Tagine from Sanitarium
Georgian Red Beans in Sour Prune Sauce in Olive Trees and Honey
Spinach and Prunes with Beans in The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
Prunes Stuffed with Walnuts in Orange Juice in The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
Quinoa Tagine with Chickpeas, Olives and Prunes
(Quinoa and Chickpea Marbella) at Diet Dessert n Dogs
Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew in A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen (recipe here)
Masala Chai Poached Prunes at In Praise of Sardines
Orange-Scented Hazelnut Prune Truffles at Anja’s Food for Thought

What are your favourite ways to enjoy prunes dried plums?

This is my submission to this month’s Tea Time Treats with dried fruit and this month’s Credit Crunch Munch.

PS. The winners of Plant Powered 15 are Johanna and Kari.

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Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Protein Bark & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on November 9, 2013

Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Protein Bark

How do you feel about ridiculously easy recipes? Love them? Hate them?

I wanted to call this a 2-ingredient ridiculously easy chocolate protein bark but I.just.could.not.do.it.

While it could be as easy as mixing 2 (or 3) ingredients together, it is not altogether a 2-ingredient recipe. One of the ingredients is made up of a bunch more. I would hate to mislead you.

My photos will not deceive you, either. Almost psychedelic, the protein bark morphs from a light beige to a darker brown on the other side. Courtesy of the not-quite truthful ingredient: chocolate protein powder.

Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Protein Bark

The simplicity of this treat is simply chocolate protein powder and maca stirred into melted coconut oil which is left to freeze. Protein powders, especially the flavoured varieties, tend to include a bunch of ingredients that may contribute to the different settling rates that occur as it freezes. Or perhaps it is the maca, which is a lighter colour.

I will save my rant about protein powders for another day, but suffice it to say, my preference lies within simple, natural protein powder without any flavours or sweeteners. In times when the expensive Vega chocolate protein miraculously goes on sale, that is when I may try out something new… and then bust out these treats. Just make sure you pick a chocolate protein powder in which you enjoy its taste.

This recipe is courtesy of Amber from Practically Raw Desserts. I have mentioned her cookbook before,  gushing over her light raw carrot cupcakes and inherent flexibility to her recipes. I really enjoy her cookbook  because through her variations, you learn how to cook (or bake, or unbake as in this case). She has lower fat options, grain-free, nut-free, lower sugar and baked options, depending on the recipe. Some of my favourite recipes from her cookbook include this chocolate protein bark as well as protein power pudding, individual cherry crumbles, raw pecan shortbread cookies, goji berry granola bars, jingle balls and cherry-carob bars. My only gripe about the book are the photos. When compared to some other books, like Isa Does It (with gorgeous photography that I forgot to highlight in my review), they are lacklustre. While there are a lot of colour photos, the colours are off and framing could be improved (yes, says the one with the oddest photos for this post, HA!). At least the recipes are great and that is what counts.

Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Protein Bark

I really want to share this cookbook with you, especially as the holiday treat season gears up (share the vegan baketivism this season!). 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 Amber recipe. If you haven’t made anything by Amber yet, have a look through the table of contents of Practically Raw Desserts on amazon (or my list below) or pick something from her blog and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on November 21, 2013. Good luck!

Other recipes from Practically Raw Desserts shared online (and other reviews listed here):

Superfood Snackers
Cocoa Crunch Clusters
Enlightened Raw Carrot Cupcakes (LOVED these!)
Devil’s Food Cupcakes
Coconut Heaven Cupcakes
Marzipan Buckeye Bars
Maple Streusel Coffee Cake Squares
Pecan Chai Spice Bars  (only ok; I found the flavours a bit muted and the frosting too soft)
Pecan Shortbread (very good)
Salted Tahini Caramels
5-Minute Blondies (nice and simple)
Dulce de Leche Spooncream
Velvety Chocolate Mousse
Russian Tea Cakes
Tuxedo Cheesecake Brownies
Linzer Torte
Tropical Fruit Tartlets

This is my submission to this month’s Pantry Party for quick foods and this month’s Dead Easy Desserts.

PS. Have you entered my worldwide giveaway for Plant-Powered 15 yet?

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

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Rich Vegan Cheesecake with a Pecan Shortbread Crust

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on October 31, 2013

Rich Lemon Cheesecake with Pecan Shortbread Crust

What is better than a potluck with delicious vegan food? A potluck with delicious vegan food, complete with recipes!

Recently, some new friends invited me over for a Ripe-themed supper. Stephanie, the mastermind behind Ripe Cuisine, serves vegan eats at a few farmer’s markets in Houston but also has a recipe blog. I have gushed about her homemade coconut-almond ice cream before and since I knew her recipe for brownies was good, I was excited to see how her other recipes fared.

Broccoli “cream” soup with polenta croutons, baked zucchini chips, tahini mustard carrots, and cauliflower piccata were on the menu. Veggie extraveganza! Everything was delicious. I really enjoyed the carrots and polenta croutons.

My small contribution to the menu that evening was this cheesecake. I say small due to its size, not its taste. For my birthday, Rob surprised me with a smaller 6″ springform pan. I left my larger one in Toronto and brought this one so I could make smaller versions of dessert.

I love raw/no-bake cheesecakes. I have made them with cashews as well as tofu, but this time, I used them together. And I baked it. Both for synergistic results.

Rich Lemon Cheesecake with Pecan Shortbread Crust

This cheesecake is a combination of a few recipes and both are knock-outs. The filling is courtesy of Ricki Heller‘s new cookbook, Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free. Since these recipes are all gluten-free and sugar-free, they employ ingredients I don’t have in my (mostly) minimalist pantry. I tried to stay mostly true to her recipe, though, even scoping out lemon extract. I realized that having a concentrated lemon flavour without the sourness would be a good way to reduce the amount of sweetener needed, without resorting to Meyer lemons.

This was a delicious cheesecake. Possibly our favourite vegan cheesecake of all time. Very rich in a non-heavy sense, which can happen with raw cheesecakes, relying on cashews and coconut oil. However, sadly, after chilling in the fridge, it was no longer a lemon cheesecake; it morphed into a creamy, rich, vanilla cheesecake. Equally as good, just a different flavour. The lemon flavour disappeared considerably.  I really like the tang from lemon juice, so next time I would add more lemon juice in addition to more lemon extract. It was a very nice cheesecake, though. I also liked how I had the height to really get a good size piece on my fork with the smaller pan. You’ll understand when you look at my (much more flat) lemon cheesecake squares. Rob agreed, and we both thought this was the best, most “real” vegan cheesecake we have eaten (albeit a fluffier European-style cheesecake, which is our preference).

And the crust? A perfect foil for the rich, more mellow filling. A salty-sweet cinnamon pecan crust with oat flour that I snagged from Angela’s pumpkin pie adventures. She tasted a few crusts and proclaimed this the winner. Definitely one of my favourite crusts, too. I liked that it was sweet and salty (no dates) and the cinnamon spike brought it over the edge. I was worried the crust was a bit crumbly but it held together well when serving from the fridge.

I try to keep this blog real, and yes, this cheesecake was utterly delicious. However, it also cracked. This could be due to a few things, but next time, I will add a basin of water in the oven. I did that with the Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Squares, and it worked well. With some strategic slicing, you could hide the cracks. Or find a saucy topping. (Ricki suggested a blueberry compote which I think would have been divine!) But really, it doesn’t matter unless you are photographing it because it still tasted delicious. Do you have any other tricks for cracked cheesecakes? What is your favourite vegan cheesecake recipe?

Ricki has been travelling the interwebs with her blog tour and I have been enjoying seeing her recipes all over the place. With all the thoughtful Q&As, I feel like I am really getting to know Ricki, the chef/baker, but most importantly, the person behind her recipes. A trained chef with a former catering company, watching her on video is like a fun cooking class, with so many tips about ingredients and techniques. I also recommend these recipes from Ricki’s new cookbook:

Two-Bite Hemp Brownies

Cocoa Mint Nibbles

Ricki’s recipes from Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free shared elsewhere:

Easiest Almond Cookies

Coconut Macaroons

Chocolate-Flecked Pumpkin Seed Cookies

Sunshine Breakfast Loaf

Low-Fat Cinnamon Walnut Loaf

Fluffy Fruited Pancakes

Orange Oat Muffins

Grain-Free Autumn Oat Crumble

Butterscotch Blondies with Chocolate Chips and Goji Berries

Chocolate “Buttercream” Frosting

Ultra-Fudgy Gluten-Free Brownies

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Buns

PS. Today is the last day to enter my giveaway for Isa Does It.

Rich Lemon Cheesecake with Pecan Shortbread Crust

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes and this week’s Health Vegan Fridays.

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The Best Raw Corn Chips

Posted in Desserts, Favourites, Sides by janet @ the taste space on October 19, 2013

Raw Corn Chips

My propensity for snacks is directly proportional to the amount of studying I should be doing.

Cookies and chips? Code words for Janet should be studying.

It must seem like my life revolves around exams. Although, I consider these board exams as big.important.things. Why did I not go home for Thanksgiving? I was writing an exam. I found it quite ironic that they scheduled Canadians to write the American board exams on our holiday. So, instead of heading home to Canada, I was off to Florida.

Now that that is over with, with newfound time on my hands, I can finally share these chips with you. Because, they are my newest addiction. So simple to make and so tasty…..

Raw Corn Chips

Four(ish) ingredients. Only one really counts: corn. The rest are spices. That’s it. I have made raw corn chips (with chili and lime!) before, but I think the almonds but most likely the flax made them not as crispy as I wanted. I wanted uber crispy. Now we’ve got it.

The inspiration for these chips came from The Garden Kitchen, a raw resto in Houston. What I love about this place, is that it is in a hospital. Run by a cardiologist Dr Montgomery, he is offering healthy meals for his patients and beyond. We were blown away by their corn chips and asked how they were made. The server explained it was really simple: corn, cumin and Kirkland seasoning. Kirkland what? Turns out it is a no-salt seasoning blend and I hunted down a replacement from Trader Joe’s.

I have made these a few times and while messy, I prefer the leave the chips unscored and crack them haphazardously afterwards (as photographed) . Unless it is my scoring technique that needs improvement, as I found the scoring produced lumpy chips.

Also, it may seem like torture but wait it out for 48 hours.

Are you more into chips or cookies? Do you snack more when procrastinating, too? :)

Raw Corn Chips

This is my submission to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays.

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Raw Caramel Apple (without any apple!)

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on October 17, 2013

Raw Caramel Apple (without any apple!)

I know I said I don’t like to play food guessing games with others. However, Rob is fair game. He gets it all.the.time. More along the lines of How does this taste? Sometimes, What do you think I should add to this? And then the infamous, What does this taste like? Guess what is in it!

You could probably guess just by looking at these photos, but I gave Rob smaller bits to sample. In fact, this was a two-step taste-test. Sauce alone and then after dehydrating it onto the bits.

First of all, this was a real simple recipe. Just whiz the ingredients together for the caramel sauce, stir it onto your “apple” bits and dehydrate for 12 hours.

Even before dehydrating the sauce, I thought it tasted great. Rob agreed. I asked him to guess the ingredients: cinnamon, almonds, and apple. Close: cinnamon, yes; almond butter, yes; but no apple, I informed him. That sweet taste was from dates.

Raw Caramel Apple (without any apple!)

I proceeded with the recipe, and then tried the now dehydrated sauce: oh my gosh, it tasted like sticky, wonderful caramel. Not too sweet, well balanced by the cinnamon. It had coated the “apple bits”. They were soft and sweet. Rob tried it and loved it. He still thought it reminded him of apple. Even though there was still no apple, Rob reminded me I had just created raw caramelized apple. He knew it before I did!

And that secret non-apple? Cauliflower! It really is a textural issue. Crisp yet soft (hard to explain). Sweet. With smaller pieces drenched in the sauce, you would never believe it was cauliflower. Bigger pieces had a more pronounced cauliflower flavour (and a telltale shape), but had a nice crunch.

Dehydrating is a magical thing. Definitely more than the sum of its parts. Looking at the recipe, there is a lot of water. You need it to be able to blend it smoothly, but after dehydrating it away you, the dates are more sweet and caramelized. Eating this straight from the dehydrator, still warm, was a treat. I only wish I had made more, because this did not last long at all.

Trust me, I have nothing against apple. I love apples. I eat a minimum of half dozen a week. I also love dehydrating apples into chips but usually save that when apples are ridiculously cheap in the fall.  I make a small internal sob every time I shell out more than $1/lb for apples, which is the usual in Texas. (Although I nearly flipped out when I saw Honeycrisp apples for only $1.29/lb a few weeks ago.. those are ungoldy expensive in Toronto).

Thus, the question still remains: how would this caramel sauce taste on real apples (in the dehydrator)? I don’t think they would be as crisp, but definitely more sweet. I would be afraid they would collapse more into mush, but if you try it out, please let me know! :)

PS. The winner of The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen giveaway is Gloria. Congratulations!

PPS. I noticed my typo for ungoldy. It was meant to be ungodly, but I like my new word. It fits. :)

Raw Caramel Apple (without any apple!)

This is my submission to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on October 12, 2013

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chickpea Cookies

Rob is away which means I have been left to my own devices.  I stay up a lot later when Rob isn’t here to remind me to go to sleep. I am the one taking care of the garbage, mail and laundry. I haven’t vacuumed yet, but I think that’s ok. We stocked up on groceries before Rob left, so I had a fridge full of produce to work through.

I have been eating my greens, but most of the time, I have been thinking of the dessert that awaits afterwards. Since moving to Houston, Rob and Joe have been a bad influence. You have likely met Joe, too…. the Trader Joe. When we first moved here, we were enamoured with vegan ice cream. We knew that habit wasn’t sustainable, so we weaned ourselves to smoothies and banana ice cream. Next came the chips. TJ’s has SO.MANY chips to try. The gateway chips were the black bean and quinoa ones, and then we progressed to the veggie and flaxseed tortilla chips and soy and flaxseed chips. I have put a chip ban in place while Rob is gone, although I will admit I like the chips more than sweets.

And then Rob discovered their vegan cookies. They even say vegan cookies right on the package. I knew I had to put an end to this madness. Even homemade cookies would be a better option. Although, I purposely did not bring any baking contraptions to Houston. (I can’t even find my graduated 1-cup measuring cup, sigh).. and strictly enforcing a no flour pantry (chickpea flour and masarepa, excluded).

What’s a cookie-loving girl to do?

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chickpea Cookies

No flour, no problem.

Peanut butter cookies to the rescue. Peanut butter and wait for it, mashed chickpeas, are the base for these cookies. I chopped up some chocolate to incorporate into the sweet batter. Now we had peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies! I am no stranger to beans in cookies, either. One of my favourite cookies are these chocolate mint cookies made with black beans and these chocolate chip chickpea blondies were a hit, too. I like bean-based cookies because they are softer and more cake-like, instead of hard and crackly cookies. They certainly have a different texture but you would never know there were chickpeas in them. These would also make a nice snack while cycling/exercising – a nice change of pace from date-based treats.

Have you baked with beans yet?

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chickpea Cookies

This is my submission to to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes and to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch.

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Peanut Butter and Jam Energy Balls (& The Elephant in the Living Room)

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on September 24, 2013

Peanut Butter and Jam Energy Balls

Now that I think about it, I know more vegans in Houston than I did in Toronto.

In Toronto, I never tried to connect with the vegan community. However, in Houston, this is where I am searching for like-minded souls.

In addition to the raw vegan meet-up potluck, I have connected with others at the Vegan Society of P.E.A.C.E. (VSOP)’s monthly potluck. While not all vegan (some vegetarians and veg-curious also come), a large crowd gathers each month to share tasty vegan eats and learn a bit more about other vegan issues. Lately, it has been about travelling as a vegan in Asia but they have been highlighting more issues surrounding animals. At the last meeting, an upcoming viewing of the documentary The Elephant in the Living Room was promoted. Turns out it was on Netflix, so Rob and I watched it later that week.

The Elephant in the Living Room is a quite powerful, yet humble documentary about exotic animals as pets. Did you know that there are more tigers in Texas than there are in the in wild worldwide? What do you do when you no longer want your python? The climax of the film surrounds the connection between an Ohio resident, Terry, with 2 lions and 4 cubs, housed in his backyard.  It was a good movie and I recommend it. Another great documentary related to animals is The Cove, which won an Academy Award in 2010. That is a in a league of its own, though. That was a thrilling documentary!

In any case, chronically my life through the foods that surround these events, I present to you these quick and easy peanut butter and jam energy balls. Flavourful peanuts are key for this recipe, which is why I highly recommend using roasted peanuts. I didn’t want to be wrist-slapped if I brought them to a raw vegan potluck, so I shared it with this vegan potluck instead.

With such a simple ingredient list, you might not think too much about them. However, there was a nice balance of chunky peanuts and jam-like sweet raisins. The extra peanut butter kept the balls together nicely. Add salt to taste, but I guarantee you it needs some to make the flavours pop.

When Rob taste-tested them, he thought they were better than my typical date balls I bring cycling. At first, I felt bad for my date balls, but then took it as a compliment that these were just really good. :)

There is only one problem with the potlucks. Sometimes it seems like a tease to try so many great dishes, but not get a corresponding recipe. Thankfully, I connected with someone who shared the recipe for her fudgy black bean brownies. I look forward to following her blog and connecting more, because her MoFo theme is eating out as a vegan in Houston. I am impressed she can support a month’s worth of posts!!  It may not be so bad as a vegan in Houston after all. :)

Have you seen The Elephant in the Living Room or The Cove? Any other documentaries you recommend?

Peanut Butter and Jam Energy Balls

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes. (more…)

Raw Watermelon Candy

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on September 12, 2013

Raw Watermelon Candy

Here is another ridiculously easy treat!

While I have gushed over simple dehydrated fruits and veggies before, here I am raving about dried…… wait for it…. watermelon!

I usually don’t like to play guessing games with my food. However, I had fun sharing it at work, letting people tell me what they thought. First yay or nay. I had 90% yay. Then I let them guess what they were eating. Not a single person guessed watermelon. I had a lot of votes for pepper (due to the seeds, methinks) and other fruit due to the sweetness.  Lisa described them as bubble gum which comes from the sticky sweet consistency. But once I let out the watermelon secret, you can catch a glimpse of flavour in the background. Isn’t it funny how fickle our tastebuds can be?

Raw Watermelon Candy

It is certainly the special texture of the dried watermelon that I adored. Chewy and sweet. I made version plain and also salted with and without chile flakes. With a combination of hot-salty-sweet, the salted chile flake version was my favourite. Rob concurred. Rob mused it would be eerily similar to jerky if we added liquid smoke. Not that I know what jerky tastes like, though. ;)

I just realized that not only are simple recipes easier to make, but they are also a lot easier to type up afterwards. Enjoy! :)

Raw Watermelon Candy

This is my submission to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Ridiculously Easy Banana Creme Brulee

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

Ridiculously Easy Banana Creme Brulee

Simple.

That has been my mantra lately.

Quick and easy.

Especially when it comes to desserts.

This is one of those OMG, are you for real? desserts.

Ridiculously Easy Banana Creme Brulee

I didn’t believe it either, until I tried it. However, the success of your dessert lies within your banana. Not overripe bananas. Just ripe bananas, with just a few spots.

I mean, is there anything bananas CAN NOT DO? One frozen whipped banana makes a delicious ice cream. For this creme brulee, you could go all fancy, and add coconut milk, creamer, avocado, tofu perhaps, but this is for those without a big pantry.

Blend banana, thin with a bit of nondairy milk, and flavour with vanilla. Top with a sprinkling of coconut sugar. Broil for 3 minutes or until the top is melted.

That’s it!

If your banana is overripe, it will taste like pureed banana. But if you catch it right as it turns ripe, you’re in for a treat. :)

Enjoy!

Ridiculously Easy Banana Creme Brulee

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls (No Bake)

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on August 10, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

I have discovered the secret to living in Houston’s summer. You need to fall into one of these two groups of people:

1. The people who wake up early before the sun rises

2. The people who stay up late after the sun sets

Rob and I have been exploring Houston by bicycle on the weekends. At 7am, we’ll cycle the deserted streets, only to find the paths at the parks literally packed with joggers and walkers. We must be thinking along the same lines: if you are going to be outdoors, best to do it before the sweltering heat arrives.

We quickly learned that Houston is wonderful after sunset. Many public events start late in the day, again to beat the heat.

The problem is trying to fit into category 1 and 2, on the same day. Suffice it to say, after a long bike ride in the morning, I was almost asleep mid-way through a Shakespeare in the Park production later that evening. The comfortable, balmy weather was a bit too conducive to napping. We didn’t even last past the intermission, HA! It was a splendid day, though.

Speaking of cycling in the Houston heat, it is very, very important to keep hydrated and fuelled. Even short runs are more demanding. This is a portable snack recipe I promised a while back. I whipped them up with the odds and ends in my mom’s kitchen before we left for our cycle to Kingston. I must have had some forethought because I remember bringing the coconut flour with me. My master plan for a chocolate date and peanut butter combo was thwarted because the dough was just too runny. But the magic of coconut flour did the trick. It is a very thirsty flour, so it sopped up the batter into portable chewy balls. The peanut butter made them rich and decadent, balanced by the sweetness of the dates and cocoa flavour.

A treat like this is perfect for fuelling during long rides. While our weekend rides are more around 50km now; in this heat, we feel like it gets a conversion factor of 1.5x for intensity.  We are still a long way from the MS 150, but we’re hoping to improve our distance as the weather improves…. you know, in October, when it is supposed to cool down.

Are you a morning person, a night person, both or neither?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

This is my submission to this month’s We Should Cocoa for truffles. (more…)

Brown Sugar Cardamom Snickerdoodles

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on July 23, 2013

Brown Sugar Cardamom Snickerdoodles

With a name like “Brown Sugar Cardamom Snickerdoodles”, you might think I was creative in the kitchen.

The joke’s on you because, I just worked with what I left in my pantry while I was still in Toronto.

Without any chocolate in the house, I had to turn to non-chocolate dessert options for our going-away party. I knew I was going to make baklava, since I had planned to make it a few months ago and had all the ingredients (mostly). Plus it would be a treat for my parents who came up to help us pack and move.

But I wanted to make something else, too. I perused Isa’s blog for inspiration: Chai Spiced Snickerdoodles. However, I had no white sugar and not all of the chai spices…. but I still had brown sugar. I was not entirely sure whether it would work, so I googled brown sugar snickerdoodles. I came across Joe Yonan’s Cardamom-Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles. Brown sugar would work, it seemed. And my lack of spices would not be a deterrent, either: I had cardamom. However, Joe’s recipe was not vegan so I tweaked Isa’s recipe with my pantry subs.

And of course, while baking seems so simple, I definitely prefer the ease of raw desserts. As I made this, I was scratching my head wondering what to do with the clumpy brown sugar that was not dissolving. Heating it was a possibility but I wasn’t sure that would still work since I had already added it to the liquids. I consulted the Mom guru midway during my baking escapades. If the sugar had not been added yet, she suggested microwaving the brown sugar. Since I had already added the liquids, she had another fantastic idea: pulverize it with a blender. Since I already dirtied my vitamix to make homemade cashew milk for the cookies, it was easy to blend away the clumps, too. Worked like a charm.

Some of the comments from Isa’s recipe implied the dough could be very sticky to work with. Mine was not sticky in the slightest. Easy to work with, flatten as balls and roll in a cardamom-spiked brown sugar coating. I used large crystal Demerara-style brown sugar for the coating and saved the clumpy brown sugar for the cookie.

And the verdict? You will have to rely on Rob’s judgment. My Mom does not hold too much faith in Rob’s opinions of my food (is he really biased?) but trust me, there are plenty of things he does not like and he will tell me so. Around the same time, Rob was gifted with local maracons. However, they were very fragile and slightly smooshed during transport. After he tried a snickerdoodle fresh from the oven, he told me it was better than the macarons! They were smooshed macarons, but still, they were macarons, nonetheless. These cookies were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside with a sweet caramel flavour thanks to the brown sugar with a hint of exotic cardamom.

And if Rob’s opinion is not enough, let’s just say the cookies were demolished within minutes at the party. Granted, I served them before the pizza had arrived… and no one had issues with cookies as an appetizer.

Creativity out of necessity. I like it. And so did Rob. :)

Brown Sugar Cardamom Snickerdoodles

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Strawberry & Blueberry Salad with Cacao Nibs, Hemp and Maca

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on July 6, 2013

You don’t realize how much you need things until you don’t have them.

A bed? Yeah, sleeping bags don’t cut it.

Chairs? Sitting on the floor is actually not that much fun.

Lest I mislead you with some pre-written posts, things have been a tad chaotic since my arrival in Texas. We drive down separately from our stuff. The shipping pod that had nearly all of our belongings was 4 days late. We were only partially prepared for living without our stuff. Rob was smart enough to pack our sleeping bags in the car. However, after one night of sleeping on the hard floor, we knew that was not sustainable. We ended up visiting REI earlier than we thought, to buy two thermarest sleeping pads. Much better. Gosh, how did I ever enjoy sleeping parties as a kid??  The good thing about the pads was that I could bring them to the kitchen, too, so I had a more comfy spot to sit on the floor.

Eventually Rob emptied the pod (while I was at work) and slowly we’ve been unpacking our home. We prioritized: 1) bed; 2) computer and then 3) kitchen. Since we only packed the essentials, we kind of needed everything. Bathroom amenities were also important: our shower curtain was in there! And my bicycle to be assembled for commuting to work. (Even before we had the pod, our first priority was internet! Pick up a modem and hook up the wifi)

Those few days in limbo had me less focused on the kitchen. Overnight oats for breakfast and lots and lots of hummus, crackers and carrots. Trader Joe’s has such delicious hummus, no? Their chickpea Mediterranean Hummus is fabulous! I started to build up my pantry with trips to grocers (totally digging Fiesta Mart) but kept meals simple without much of a kitchen.

To celebrate my first American holiday, July 4, I made this patriotic-looking salad: strawberries and blueberries with cacao nibs, hemp and maca. A fun fruit salad with unusual but not unfamiliar flavours. Kind of like a Canadian in America, no? A bit different but kind of the same. I will save my American-Canadian observations for another post… so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, enjoy your summer with some tasty berries. :)

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, this month’s Tea Time Treats for fruits.

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Chocolate Chia Goodness Pudding (A Portable, Instant Breakfast, Perfect for Travel)

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by janet @ the taste space on June 27, 2013

If you can’t tell, I am a planner. You don’t magically become successful. You plan for success.

During one of my trips last year, I discovered a lovely portable breakfast idea: Ruth’s Chia Goodness. Basically it is an instant breakfast featuring chia seeds, nuts and seeds with flavours. Just add water, wait 10 minutes, and voila! Healthy breakfast is served!

Ruth has a few flavours, but I wanted to recreate the Chocolate version for this roadtrip.

The ingredient list: Chia (salvia hispanica L.), buckwheat, hulled hemp seeds, organic cacao, raw organic cacao nibs, dates, almonds, evaporated cane juice, Celtic sea salt.

Familiar with my other breakfast puddings with oats and almond milk (chocolate cherry overnight oats and gingerbread pumpkin overnight oats), I knew I had to get rid of the fresh ingredients and milk. Oats need a long overnight soak, so to make this an instant breakfast, hemp seeds and almonds seemed like a great idea. Buckwheat couldn’t possibly be used raw, though, in its uncooked form. I turned to dehydrated buckwheat, instead. With its crunch, they added the perfect textural foil to the gummy chia seeds. The cocoa nibs and Amazing Grass added the malty chocolate goodness that left me with my morning chocolate fix. Ruth has added sugar in hers, but I felt like this was perfect without it. Sometimes I add fruits to it as well. Apples, mangoes, kiwi.. I don’t know any fruit that don’t pair well with chocolate. ;)

Do you have any great travel-friendly breakfast recipes?

This is my submission to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday.

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