I have been the butt of jokes even before I arrived in Texas. It is all meat in Texas, what will you eat? I survived Colombia for 2 weeks, so I doubted Texas could be that bad. And fear not, of course there are vegetables here. A friend also introduced me to a local organic food co-op: Rawfully Organic. Not only is it based in Houston, but it is largest non-profit local and organic food co-operative in the United States.
Its CEO, Kristina, also has adorable videos on youtube. It is hard not to be enthralled by her infectious and bubbly personality. While I have shunned CSAs in the past (not wanting to commit to multiple weeks of purchases, and antsy about buying a bunch of random vegetables), I was tempted by the flexibility offered by Rawfully Organic. Everything is organic (which I don’t buy nearly enough) and they try to purchase locally grown foods. The biggest plus was that I could sign up for a food share at my leisure, any random week, deciding almost at the last minute: by midnight, the night before. While I didn’t know exactly what was going to be in my share, I was tempted by the possibilities that were listed that week. Kristina recently made an intro video that explains how the process works after you order a share.
After I picked up my share, I was worried what I had gotten myself into. You might think I eat a lot of vegetables but this was a lot of food! A lot more greens than I was used to. I think this will be a good thing.
What I got (all organic, some local) in my half-share:
1 big bag of spring mix
2 (small) bundles of kale
1 head of Romaine
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 large zucchini
1 large yellow summer squash
2 field cucumbers
1 baby watermelon
1 quart of strawberries
1 bunch bananas
4 Cripps Pink apples (from New Zealand, fyi – definitely not local)
3 nectarines (white and yellow)
..and my bonus picks (you get the equivalent of 3 points):
the largest bunch of green onions that I ever did see!
Other things you could pick from were small potatoes (6 were 1 point), baby carrots, cilantro (1 point), zucchini (1 point), oranges, beets (1 point), Romaine lettuce, grapefruit (1 point) and other stuff I forget. You can also buy other items on a per-piece basis.
For those interested specifically in Rawfully Organic, this is what I was told I could possibly get that same week. I was lured by the berries and sadly got strawberries instead of the other berries, but they are good, too. I have struck out the ones I did not get. Granted, the nature of groceries means it can be hard to make produce promises when choosing the freshest finds.
Raspberries, Blueberries, or Blackberries! (Undecided!), White Peaches,White Nectarines, Cantaloupe (Only if available),Spring Mix, Local Lettuces, Red Plums (Possibly!),Cherry Tomatoes, Local Green Kale, Local Zucchini, Cucumber, Bartlett Pears or Bosc Pears, Beefsteak tomatoes (if no cherry tomatoes available), Fuji Apples/Gala Apples,Pink Lady Apples, Juicing Oranges, Bananas, Romaine Lettuce
All produce was fresh and very flavourful, except for the watermelon and tomatoes, boo. The zucchini were much bigger than I usually eat, which means they were seedy. Some was good to eat right away (strawberries) but many were at different degrees of ripeness. One of my apples was bruised, so I should have inspected everything more closely before I picked my box.
You might wonder why I decided to do the CSA. Fresh, cheap, organic produce is a bit harder to find where I live, although I could go from store-to-store. Did it save me money? If I usually bought organic, it was probably a good deal. Since I don’t, I definitely spent more than my regular grocery budget. I have seen bigger bunches of kale for 89c. Bananas for 49c/lb. But like I said, that’s navigating multiple stores. Long hours and being on call for the weekend meant that I wanted to save time. It was nice to pick up everything in one go and it will force me to be a bit more creative in the kitchen. I will definitely share my recipe successes, though, so stay tuned. Next week will be the week of salads.
To the lay-person, food blogging may seem odd. To me, it has been a way to chronicle my forays into the kitchen, creating my own living cookbook. Likewise, as others document their own successes in the kitchen, we create so many recipes to share. Some of my favourite recipes have been inspired from other bloggers, and just like when I documented my favourite cookbooks and the recipes I recommended, I thought it would be pertinent to highlight (some of) my favourite bloggers. I follow a lot of bloggers, but do not necessarily cook from their recipes. These, I have. I can vouch for their deliciousness. As a note, sometimes I try the original recipe but most of the times, I adapt it suit my own tastes and the ingredients in my kitchen. I encourage you to do the same.
Leaving nearly all my cookbooks in storage will have me leaning more heavily on others for my kitchen inspiration. I love recommending tried-and-tested recipes, so beyond myself, someone else has liked them too. So here we go:
1. Fat Free Vegan: I have yet to gush about Susan, but her recipes have rarely disappointed me and I have made a lot. They are flavourful, delicious, and healthy – what more could you want? I highly recommend her Indian-Spiced Chickpeas and Kale, Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran, Curried Beans and Quinoa with Baby Bok Choy, Iraqi Eggplant and Seitan Stew, Creamy Cashew Kale and Chickpeas, and Spaghetti Squash with Brussels Sprouts and Chickpeas.
2. Choosing Raw: I have already gushed about Gena and her amazing recipes, but I’ll say it again. Her recipes are simple, tasty and healthy. I highly recommend her Curried Chickpea Salad with Carrots, Mustard-Miso Dressing, Raw Zucchini Alfredo, Raw Carrot Cupcakes, and Greek Lemon and Quinoa Avgolemono Soup and there are many others I have tried.
3. Eats Well With Others: Another one of my favourite bloggers is Joanne. Her blog is fun to read AND eat from, wavering between decadent desserts and delicious vegetarian soups and salads. We share very similar tastes in the kitchen and I have been inspired by many of her recipes (likewise, she has also made a few of mine). I recommend her Creamy Lemon-Basil Whipped Avocado Sauce, Lentil Mango Picadillo, Chickpeas Romesco, Brazilian Black Bean Soup, Spaghetti with Roasted Peach-Tomato Sauce, and Greek Baked Beans.
Still bookmarked: Carrot-Tahini Soup, Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Salad with Prunes in a Cumin Vinaigrette, Moroccan Red Gazpacho, Red Lentil Dal with Charred Onions, African Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas, Bulgur and Spinach Pilaf with Chili-Roasted Tomatoes
4. Oh She Glows: It took me some time to warm up to Angela’s recipes but now I am enjoying them. She was the one to introduce overnight oat parfaits to me. My favourites so far have been her Creamy Mushroom Tomato Pasta, Millet Bowl with a Mushroom Gravy and Kale, Warm Lentil, Bulgur and Vegetable Skillet with a Lemon-Tahini Sauce, Garlic-Roasted Chickpeas in a Lemon-Dill Dressing, Blueberry Vanilla Chia Jam, and Peanut Butter Mousse with a Chocolate Magic Shell.
5. Julia’s Vegan Kitchen: Julia and I keep exchanging favourite recipes between the two of us. When she says something is good, I leap at the chance to try it out. Our favourite recipes of all time have come from Julia’s recommendations. Some of the keepers I have tried from her include: Split Pea Dal with Ginger and Lime, Besan Chilla, Indian Lentils with Spinach, Indian Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Chickpeas, Iraqi Pomegranate Stew.
6. My New Roots: One of my first blog crushes was on Sarah. You know, before she became the big-time blogger. All her recipes have been delicious. I seem to discover new ingredients while reading her blog but have no fear, some of her recipes are simple. I highly recommend her Raw Chocolate Milkshake, Mojito Smoothie, Warm Balsamic Rosemary Cabbage Salad, Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Orange-Tahini Dressing, Raw Tacos, Chickpea Salad with Mexican Mango Dressing, Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms, The Best Lentil Salad Ever, Raw Brownie, Mexican Chocolate Spiced Black Bean Brownies, Raw Raspberry Cashew Dreamcake.
7. Lisa’s Vegetarian Kitchen: One reason I decided not to tote 660 Curries and 1000 Indian Recipes with me to Houston was that I knew I could find delicious Indian recipes on Lisa’s blog. I haven’t made as many of her recipes other than a delicious Warm Chickpea Salad with Mango, Pomegranate and Chaat Masala. However, when I start bookmarking her recipes, I just cannot stop.
8. Radiant Health, Inner Wealth: Are you tired of my Tess crush yet? What have I not adored? Tess has a blog where she shares many of the recipes from her cookbooks. A complete list of the recipes I have tried can be found here, but some highlights include: Creamy Low-Fat Hummus, Green Velvet Guacamole (aka Edamame Guacamole), Baked Lemon Cilantro Pakoras, 15-Minute Zippy Garlic-Basil Marinara with Zucchini Noodles, Dillicious Yellow Tofu, Black Bean, Cilantro and Apricot Salad, Almost Raw Asian Kale and Edamame Salad, Lime-Spiked Black Bean and Quinoa Kale Wrap, Miso Healthy Dressing, Roasted Garlic Tofu Salad with Cilantro Rice, Black Beans and a Mango Salsa and Maca Chip Raw Energy Balls.
Still bookmarked: Ful Mudhamas, Savory Lentils with Caramelized Onions, Zesty Lemon Chickpeas, 5 Minute Chicky Chickpeas all from Get Waisted.
9. Post Punk Kitchen: Isa is a goddess in the kitchen and she graciously shares her recipes on her blog. My recommendations: Ancho Lentil Salad Wraps, Roasted Beet Salad with Warm Maple Mustard Dressing and Tempeh Croutons, White Bean, Quinoa and Kale Stew with Fennel, Asparagus, Nectarine and Baby Lima Bean Lettuce Wrap.
Still bookmarked: Smoky Tomato Lentil Soup with Spinach and Olives, Jerk Sloppy Joes with Coconut Creamed Spinach, Broccoli Curry Udon, Miso Soba Stir Fry with Greens and Beans, Quinoa Puttanesca, Puttanesca Tofu Scramble
10. Plant Powered Kitchen: Dreena is another cookbook author that very generously shares her recipes on her blog. I have made a few recipes from her cookbook, Let Them Eat Vegan, as well as these she has shared online: Moroccan Vegetable Phyllo Rolls with Balsamic Maple Dressing, Jerk Chickpeas, Thai Chickpea Almond Curry, Tomato Lentil Cumin and Dill Soup and Thai Coconut Corn Stew.
Still bookmarked: Marinated and Roasted Tomato Garlic Hummus, French Lentil Soup with Smoked Paprika, Creamy Barley Risotto with Thyme and Star Anise, Mexican Bean Soup, Chickpea and Artichoke Bliss in a Dish, Mellow Lentil Sniffle Soup, Lemon Chickpea Lentil Soup, Roasted Tomato Bean Stew, Dreena’s Frosted B-Raw-nies
11. Vegan Lisa: When I look for desserts, Lisa’s blog is a great place to start. Her recipes are killer and I have enjoyed everything I have made thus far, including: Raw Strawberry Cream Tart, Raw Mango Energy Bars, Kale Granola, Almost Raw Chocolate Banana Crepes with Almond-Coconut Cream and Cinnamon-Flax Crackers.
12. Chocolate Covered Katie: Another blogger with mostly healthy desserts is Katie, which brought to me my Almost Guiltless Chocolate Mousse Pie, which was then turned into a Chocolate Mint Ice Cream. I also recommend her Lemon Cheesecake Squares, Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles, and Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies.
13. Rawmazing: Another fabulous raw blog is Rawmazing, which introduced these fabulous recipes to me: Raw Thai Pineapple Parsnip Rice, Blackberry, Walnut and Avocado Salad with A Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette, Raw Sweet Potato and Mushroom Sliders, and Raw Beet Chips.
14. Chef Amber Shea: I was immersed into raw desserts while testing Amber’s recipes for her cookbook Practically Raw Desserts. I highly recommend her Enlightened Carrot Cake, Cake Batter Protein Balls as well as her “World’s Healthiest Bolognese Sauce“.
15. 101 Cookbooks: I wasn’t going to include my recommendation for Heidi’s blog because I am probably not telling you anything you do not already know. But I love her recipes, too, so this is where you should start eating: Warm Carrot and White Bean Salad with Dill, Sushi Bowl with Asparagus and Avocado, Green Soup with Ginger, Cranberry Bean Mole with Roasted Butternut Squash, and Nikki’s Healthy Cookies.
The Veggie Nook: I know Gabby’s Sugar-Free Carob Almond Butter Cups are delicious and have bookmarked other treats to try like Pineapple Shortbread Bars, Pre-Workout Superfood Energy Bites, Tahini Dill Pasta Salad, Coconut Curry Dressing
Peachy Palate: I don’t know how Michelle has so much energy to make gorgeous single-serving meals every day but they all look delicious, including: Lentil Lemon Spaghetti with a Roasted Garlic Dressing, Triple Coconut Pancakes, Tempeh Mushroom Fricassee, Sweet Chili Pomegranate Molasses Tofu Soba Noodles, Warm Beet and Lentil Pomegranate Molasses Salad, Pomegranate Molasses Baked Tempeh, Squash and Eggplant
Keepin It Kind: Kristy devoted a whole month to chickpea recipes last year – what’s not to love about that? She has flavourful and elaborate meals that I wish I had enough coordination to put together myself. I’d love to try her Jackfruit Curry, Lentil, Farro and Kale Salad, Sloppy Chickpea Joes, and Roasted Cauliflower Quinoa with Cheesy Pumpkin Tempeh Sauce
Fresh Energy Recipe Lab: A new-to-me blog but I have been saving her recipes like crazy: Raw Jicama Sushi Rice with Spicy Raw Tuna, Collard Wraps with Raw Mushroom Pate, Raw Cauliflower Dolmas, Raw Cauliflower Couscous with Capers, Beet & Ginger Dressing, Wakame Salad
Sprint 2 the Table: Laura is probably the other non-veg*n blogger that I adore. I love reading about her protein-fueled eats. I still have my eyes on her Chocolate Avocado Cookies and Chocolate Zucchini Muffins, though.
Which blogs do you really enjoy? Which recipes do you recommend? Any recommended recipes I have missed from these bloggers?
This is my submission to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday.
I enjoy recommending recipes but for some reason, I found it difficult to compile this post of my favourite recipes from the last year. Then I received my first annual report about my blog, which was filled with fun facts: 188 new posts (565 posts overall), almost half a million page views with my busiest day earlier this month when I posted Red Lentil and Spinach Curry (Vegan Tikka Masala). My most popular posts are from the depths of my archives, though: Apple Strudel (my Oma would be proud), Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing, Raw Tacos, and Lemon Basil Almond Pesto. Only one post from 2012 was equally as popular (#1 below) and it wasn’t the one with the most comments (Carolina BBQ Jackfruit Pulled “Pork” Wraps with Pickled Red Onions gets that honour).
Which recipes were my favourites from 2012? Which recipes were our repeaters? Without further ado, and in no particular order:
It feels almost sacrilegious to post a dessert first, but it is one of my most repeated and requested recipes from the year. When I wanted my first dessert after my sweetener-free challenge, this is what I made. Decadent and rich, you would never know this was low in calories. Nor would you ever guess it was filled with tofu.
This is another one of my favourite recipes. A hearty red lentil and brown rice soup filled with warming spices like cinnamon, allspice and cumin topped with sweet caramelized onions. Spinach is stirred in for even more nutritional goodness. When I have people over, I do not hesitate to suggest making this soup together.
This revolutionized my lunches. Pre-packing salads into Mason jars made it easy to assemble salads to tote to work. Pick a dressing, add veggies to marinate, drop in your protein of choice, top with your leafy greens. Bonus for such a great lemon-ginger salad dressing as well.
One of my favourite summer salads was this pinto bean salad with fresh roasted corn, tomatoes and raw eggplant bacon with a smoky chili-lime dressing.
Dressings were a culinary discovery this year. A good dressing can take you make places and simplify your cooking tremendously. This was an unusually delicious Thai cilantro ginger sauce made with peanut butter, coconut milk, ginger, basil and cilantro that had me begging for more. Perfect as a dipping sauce for spring rolls but also in a stir fry with broccoli, carrots and kelp noodles.
Another one of my favourite dressings this year was a simple balsamic tahini dressing. Use it overtop grains, beans, veggies, you name it. Just don’t use dark soy sauce, because then it becomes an Asian sesame soy dressing and you lose the balsamic undertones!
I enjoy being inspired by restaurants and this is one dish that I recreated at home after being smitten by raw burritos at Belmonte Raw. I used a collard leaf to wrap up julienned jicama and sprouts and slathered it with a delicious nacho sauce made from cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, miso, smoked paprika and red pepper paste. Raw food has never tasted so good.
On the subject of tasty spreads, I fill find it hard to top my hazelnut-sage pesto. Spinach makes up the bulk for the greenery so it isn’t a pungent sage slap-in-the-face, but teamed with toasted hazelnuts and nutritional yeast, you get the familiarity you expect from pesto, too. Pairing it with roasted delicata squash complemented the natural sweetness of squash.
Every year, I continue to discover new favourite ingredients. Kabocha and delicata squash quickly became my go-to squashes since no peeling is required. Sometimes simplicity is as its finest with roasted vegetables and I loved hazelnut-roasted kabocha squash paired with avocado and cucumber in a green collard wrap. No dressing needed with the sweetness of the squash next to the creamy avocado. Just make sure you buy kabocha and not the buttercup imitator!
No stranger to Indian cooking, I cooked up a lot of dals this year. This one was repeated twice in the last two weeks alone. Broccoli makes a surprise appearance amongst a flavourful red lentil curry spiced with cumin, black mustard seeds, Aleppo chili flakes and garam masala. As I type that, it doesn’t sound too appealing to me either but I swear it is one of my favourite curries!
Indian cooking does not only subsist of bean-based curries, although that is my favourite part. I discovered a love for these lemon-cilantro cauliflower pakoras made with chickpea flour. My favourite part of this experience was a head-to-head comparison of batches that were fried in a skillet, in my aebleskiver pan and baked in the oven. The clear winner? Baked in the oven for simplicity, taste and texture! We all win with this healthier option.
I am a sucker for beans and enjoy finding recipes that will appeal to the masses. This Mediterranean lentil salad is simple to whip together and flavourful from the lemon juice, capers, olives, thyme and cherry tomatoes.
This has definitely been a tasty year. So many great dishes to pick from, these are ones that still make me salivate. Please let me know how you enjoy them. For my favourites from years yonder:
What were your favourite finds from the year?
You know I love creative, healthy breakfasts, so I am thrilled to be this month’s host of the Breakfast Club!
The theme this month will be WHOLE GRAINS.
It is important to incorporate whole grains into your diet, and there is no better place to start than bright and early in the day with your breakfast. Whole grains have higher nutritional value since the cereal germ, endosperm, and bran are still intact, which are removed when using refined flours. Eating whole grains has been linked to reduce diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, bowel health, colon cancer and obesity.
Whether you choose to use oats (instant, rolled or steel cut), quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, rye, barley, brown rice, kamut, teff, or spelt, wheat (wheat berries/bulgur), the options are wide open for breakfast treats!
If you would like to join this culinary feast this month, make a blog post, linking both this post as well as Helen. Then please email me your name, name of dish, post url, location and photo to saveur11 AT yahoo DOT ca, by Sunday, March 27 at noon EST. Old recipes may be submitted, provided you republish your recipe with the extra information. Feel free to use the Breakfast Club logo and #breakfastclub if you are on twitter.
I look forward to seeing how whole grains will pop up in your breakfasts.
It is my pleasure to announce I am hosting Weekend Herb Blogging this week.
If you would like to join this culinary feast this week, please email me your name, name of dish, post url, location and photo at saveur11 AT yahoo DOT ca, by Sunday February 6 at 5pm EST.
I look forward to seeing what winter feasts we will enjoy this week.
It was my pleasure to host Magazine Mondays this week! Magazine Mondays is an informal blogging event to encourage you to tackle those recipes you have clipped from magazines – new and old. Unfortunately, I have been enthralled by some new cookbooks so I wasn’t able to participate myself this week. However, let’s look at what other people made:
If you’d like to participate another time, email Ivonne with the details about your post that includes a recipe from a magazine. It is as simple as that!
This week, Magazine Mondays is travelling to the Taste Space!
It is an informal weekly blogging event, which rounds-up recipes from magazines you have dusted off. Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice usually hosts it, but this week I am glad to help out. To participate, all you need to do is email me (saveur11 AT yahoo DOT ca) with the following information: your name, blog name and blog url, the url of the link to your Magazine Mondays post, the title of the recipe and the magazine the recipe is from. I’ll accept all emails until Sunday January 23.
I look forward to seeing which recipes have inspired you!
I thought it would be fun to share some of my most memorable dishes from the previous year. Primarily, I picked them based on taste, but ease of prep was also important. I love looking through the archives of food blogs, and this helps focus on recipes that get my two thumbs up. I had a hard time narrowing down the list to my top 10, so I included a few worthy runners-up. In no particular order, here are my picks. Here’s to a healthy and delicious 2011. Enjoy!
If you have been reading my blog since the summer, I know you have heard of this salad. I still call it “The Best Salad Ever’. Plump, creamy bulgur is the base of this meal-salad, that is stuffed with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, chickpeas and pomegranate arils, seasoned with toasted almonds, mint and lemon.
So I hmm’ed and hawed about whether to do this. At first, it sounded like a way to bolster google ratings (not mine, obviously).
But in the end, I decided I shouldn’t deprive my loyal readers of winning a possible $65 to spend at CSNStores.com. Online, you can find anything you need for your kitchen, as well as other items like luggage sets as well. The prize doesn’t cover shipping costs, but you are free to spend it on any of their affiliated sites.
This prize is only open to people with shipping addresses in Canada and the US.
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here, describing your favourite meal to make at home. Make sure you leave your email address so I have a way to contact you – it won’t be published. You have until Wednesday, December 22, 2010, at midnight to enter. After that, I will randomly select a lucky winner.
It is my pleasure to host Healing Foods this month. Siri started this event to highlight the health benefits from a variety of foods. There are so many healthy options when you eat vegetables, but I wanted to highlight one of my favourite winter vegetables: winter squash.
Whether your preferred squash is butternut, acorn, kabocha, pumpkin or spaghetti, winter squash is filled with vitamins (great sources of A, B and C) and fibre, while being low in calories. Most importantly, they all taste great.
Squash is versatile and can be used in soups, sides, main dishes and even desserts. It can be boiled, baked, or steamed. It can be sweet or savoury. And this is why it is so easy to fall for squash.
Join me this month by sharing your winter squash and pumpkin recipes.
To participate, please create and photograph a vegetarian dish with winter squash, linking to this announcement and Siri’s Healing Food event page by December 31, 2010. Email me at saveur11 AT yahoo DOT ca with your name, your entry’s name and url along with a photograph of your dish. The dishes must be new and posted between December 1 and 31. You may submit as many entries as you like.
I look forward to seeing everyone’s creative dishes.
I am so excited to share all these tasty Turkish treats that were submitted as part of AWED. Turkish cuisine is so varied, with everything from delicious appetizers, to flavourful main dishes and sweet desserts. Thanks again for collectively creating a fabulous collection of Turkish recipes. Enjoy the following menu:
If you would like to join this culinary feast this week, please email me your name, name of dish, post url, location and photo until Sunday at saveur11 AT yahoo DOT ca, by September 5 at 5pm EST.
I look forward to seeing what end of summer bounty we will be using this week.