the taste space

Raw Cinnamon Spice Ice Cream Cake

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on August 12, 2014

Raw Cinnamon Spice Ice Cream Cake

I was hoping to update you with happy news that our stuff had arrived. Sadly, no. A mix up at the customs warehouse means we are still without all stuff. Except our car. We have that because my parents’ drove it down, hoping to help us unpack, only to find out our pod was not coming, as expected.

Anyways, I am ahead of myself. I am still reliving last weekend’s debacle.

Curious as to how so many people were able to help when we were stranded with the car in the middle of nowhere?

Turns out my brother and sister-in-law were also driving back to Toronto around the same time. They were in Ottawa for my SIL’s baby shower and we both left around the same time and thank goodness, they were still reasonably close when our distress call went out.

My mom hosted a fabulous shower and I had very little involvement. Other than suggesting some menu changes as there were limited vegan options. Considering I finagled 3 dishes, it was in directions only. I suggested some tried-and-true favourites for the appetizers: Pineapple and Cucumber Guacamole (my SIL stole the leftovers, so that was a success!), Cucumber Hummus Dip (very well received), and my Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad as my main. I added a bit of cinnamon this time and liked that, too. I actually made a double batch so I could take the leftovers, but alas, they never made it. I hope my Mom liked it instead.

Raw Cinnamon Spice Ice Cream Cake

My mom totally outdid herself with the desserts (so.many.pretty.cakes!) so I knew any dessert I made would just be for myself. This was my experiment. And it was a very good experiment.  My Mom treated herself to a new Vitamix so I took full use of it!

I used Brandi’s recipe as my inspiration for this cinnamon spice vegan cheesecake. It was also my first time playing with a cake swirl!  I really liked the the cake. I think lemon juice would be great here, but I swapped it for orange juice, since that was what my parents’ had on hand. I also swapped a fresh apple for the apple juice. Because this is oil-free (no coconut oil or coconut butter), it is softer than my previous raw cheesecakes. This just means that you need to time it perfectly before you can eat it. If you leave it out at room temperature too long, it will melt into a softer cake. I liked it with still a bit of bite from the freezer, thus this was definitely an ice cream cake!

My swirling wasn’t perfect but this just means I will have to try again with my next attempt. (See my tips below for my next round).

Raw Cinnamon Spice Ice Cream Cake

I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes. (more…)

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

Posted in Favourites, Sides by Janet M on August 7, 2014

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

I spoke too soon.

You know when you plan for something, know you won’t be having internet for a while and schedule a post about what life will be like (because you planned for it to be as so)?

Well, let’s just say I planned to have a semi-functioning household. En route to our new home in Toronto, packed to the brim with loaner things (you know, all the necessities: an inflatable bed, sheets, cutlery, pot, frypan, containers and all that food you made for the following week so you wouldn’t actually have to cook..), an hour and half into our trip from Ottawa, my car breaks down. We pulled off to the side of the 401 as my dashboard went bonkers and the engine stopped working.

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

I pulled out my cell phone. Three days earlier I had finally signed up for service. Although, looking down, my phone told me I had no service. (Bad WIND!) Not good.

Thank goodness Rob’s phone still worked, despite roaming and despite me previously draining the battery surfing the internet.

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

Frantic phone calls eventually got my brother and pregnant sister-in-law to my side who had the rational idea to tow the car back to Ottawa and they would drive Rob and I along with a few essentials.

We called CAA/AAA with my brother’s charged phone, despite being on hold and having dropped calls, only to find out our membership expired last month (GAH!). Membership offices are closed because it is a holiday.

We contact my Mom, who has a CAA membership and she offered to come down and help out. We knew it would be at least 90 minutes for her to arrive.

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

We start rearranging luggage on the side of the highway. Non-essentials in the dead car. Essentials in my brother’s. I had to make quick decisions: clothes and underwear keep, inflatable bed keep (but forgot the pump and sheets!) and also realized there was no room for all of the packed food and the container with all the helpful bits (pot, pan, knives, etc).

An OPP police officer pulls over and asks us what was going on. It must be such a sight with all of us scurrying around, including a pregnant woman and someone with crutches. He calls a tow truck to remove us from harm’s way and told us to be careful (turns out someone had died earlier that day after exiting their car).

Not too long afterwards, the tow truck arrives. The car is loaded onto the flatbed truck and brought to the closest safe location as we patiently wait for my mother to arrive.

Eventually, my Mom is able to call CAA for us and she returns with the car back to Ottawa. My brother drops us off in our new empty home. (Kind soul, he actually waited with us for 30 minutes as we waited for our landlord to give us the keys). We forgot we have no microwave.

Once we’re somewhat settled, Rob runs off to the grocery store since we have zero food. And no tokens for the bus to get to work tomorrow. He comes back loaded with groceries. We quickly eat the ready-made salads and hummus.

I ask for his can opener for the beans. (Because salsa+beans=meal).  It is in the bag that went back to Ottawa. GAH.

I subsequently call up a friend and we cobble together some kitchen necessities to borrow: cutlery, can opener, bowls and plates. And a pot!

We collapse on the inflatable bed. Exhausted but at the same time basking in the love and support from family and friends. Ready for me to start my first day at work.*

*With my vacation clothes I packed for Africa.

*

If you are here for the lovely recipe instead of the dramatic life of Janet (I can’t make this up!), this was made while I still lived in Houston. This was our go-to roasted cauliflower recipe. A tomato base with a savoury spice blend. The original recipe was for a raw version, using the dehydrator, but we have been using tomato paste and the oven since it is both delicious and simple. A great side with lots of flavour.

Perhaps in a week or so I will be back to normal. Have you ever felt like the universe was pushing against you?

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes and Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck. (more…)

Creamy Curried Lentil Salad

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads, Sides by Janet M on August 5, 2014

Creamy Curried Lentil Salad

It is nice to be home again. While I have a very bare kitchen (some borrowed knives, cutting board, pot and frypan only with a few containers), I am still happy to be starting my new life. We had dedicated more time for unpacking over the long weekend, but since we had nothing to unpack, we spent more time at my parents, thoroughly exploiting their fully functional kitchen.

We quickly gravitated to make old favourites: Tamarind Lentils, Pad Thai, and Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Salad. Then, finally itching to make something new, I decided to make a spin on two of my other favourite salads, aka The Best Lentil Salad and The Best Chickpea Salad. This time, I used lentils, capers and currants but with a dressing more similar to the tahini-maple-curry dressing from the chickpea salad. I added some greens, too, which I like to add to lentil salads. It was so delicious, it barely lasted one meal.

Got to love simple salads like this. What is your favourite summer salad?

Creamy Curried Lentil Salad

I am sharing this with My Legume Love Affair hosted by Lemon in Ginger, No Croutons Required, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Credit Crunch Munch,  Souper Sundays and Eat Your Greens.

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Links with a Focus on Madagascar & Travel

Posted in Events/Round-Ups by Janet M on August 2, 2014

madagascar baobab alley

Usually my vacations are fast and furious. I wait until I get home to relax as I would rather be exploring a new country. This last vacation was different. With a full month at our disposal along with a lot of time for spent in transit, I had a lot of “spare time”. Thankfully I had my Pocket fully loaded and ready to read. Here are my recommended reads in case you want something for this long weekend and beyond:

My Thoroughly Tested Travel Tips

I agree with all of Lisa’s tips. Rob has taught me many of them along the way. A new tip we really liked, too: free international roaming. Get it if you can.

Anthony Bourdain: How to Travel

Rob and I have begun to watch Parts Unknown and reading his travel tips are interesting. Does he recommend checking his bags? And what about food on the airplane?

How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Each Other

We much prefer staying at places through Airbnb and managed to do this in Johannesburg and Capetown during our last trip. We spoke a bit with our awesome host in Capetown about Airbnb travellers. We tend to have an adventurist nature but honestly, I do not worry with reputable hosts.

Only in Madagascar

Although a few years old, this is a more elaborate vacation experience than I could ever write but very similar to our experiences.

But I have to be honest. Lemur-watching, like bird-watching, takes a bit of concentration. For most people it’s probably not going to pack the same adrenaline punch as a typical African safari, infused with that exhilarating, almost spiritual sense of being out on the open veldt, with lions stalking their kill. Yet tracking lemurs offers something different, perhaps an even more intimate, delicate view of nature.

Maybe in America

This article is also about Madagascar but highlights its unstable nature even after the election earlier this year. It was hard to travel in a country which had been shunned from the global aid community after the 2009 coup. Emotionally and physically hard.

It has been instructive to see all these pressures up close here in Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world. The globalization of illicit trade has left Madagascar exposed to Chinese merchants working with corrupt officials here to illegally import everything from valuable rosewood timber to rare tortoises. Some global textile manufacturers set up factories then quit when the politics turned too unstable. Mandatory education here is only through age 15, and it’s in the local Malagasy language. That makes it hard to compete in a world where some developed countries are teaching computer coding in first grade.

And then there’s Mother Nature: the population of Madagascar is exploding, and the forests and soils are eroding. The soil for agriculture here is iron rich, nutrient poor and often very soft. Since 90 percent of Madagascar’s forests have been chopped down for slash-and-burn agriculture, timber, firewood and charcoal over the last century, most hillsides have no trees to hold the soil when it rains. Flying along the northwest coast, you can’t miss the scale of the problem. You see a giant red plume of eroded red soil bleeding into the Betsiboka River, bleeding into Mahajanga Bay, bleeding into the Indian Ocean. The mess is so big that astronauts take pictures of it from space.

So Similar, So Different

I read this in Madagascar and while it is about the sharp differences in experiences from someone born in America and Myanmar, it resonates equally well with those living in Madagascar.

The Organ Detective: A Career Spent Uncovering a Hidden Global Market in Human Flesh

All about Nancy Scheper-Hughes’ quest to expose the world’s market for human organs for transplantation.

How Cubans’ Health Improved After their Economy Collapsed

After meat and dairy disappeared during the collapse, Cubans became vegan virtually overnight. Along with reduced calories, their health improved. Fascinating article.

When Bananas Ruled the World

When I travelled to Morocco my friend was really excited about eating a banana.She wanted to taste a non-Cavendish banana that we’re eating in North America. While the history of the banana in America is not new, it is a fascinating story about the real Banana Republics.

The mass-produced banana first came to the United States in the 19th century. As the next century rolled on, buccaneering banana men pioneered such innovative business practices as propping up puppet heads of states throughout Latin America, keeping them in power through corporate largesse, and exploiting local workers, when not actually encouraging local governments to enslave or kill them. By building railroads, in exchange for land for plantations, United Fruit tightly entwined itself with the economies of many countries, and came to own huge swaths of Central America. Its reach was so extensive that it became known as “the Octopus.”

Lance Armstrong in Purgatory: The After-Life

As much as I cycle, I do not follow sport politics but this is a lengthy look at Armstrong’s aftermath.

The Epic 2,200-Mile Tour De France Is Also A Test Of Epic Eating

On the subject of cycling… and the nature of their eats while on the Tour de France. Mint and melon coulis with blueberries and raspberry and praline, anyone?

 

What good reads have you read lately?

Curry Cashew Savory Granola & OATrageous Oatmeals Review+Giveaway

Posted in Breakfasts by Janet M on July 31, 2014

Curry Cashew Savory Granola from OATrageous Oats

Hello again!

Sorry for the all the unanswered comments over the last month…. but thank you for hanging in there!

Usually I have this “do not mention you are going on vacation” mentality so that people come to rob my place. Although, for this special time, we had no home to rob. (Our stuff is still in a shipping cube somewhere, so please do not steal it). As we moved back to Canada, we had a very long detour. Rob and I set out for a month-long vacation in Madagascar and South Africa. We have both done extensive travelling (Rob more so than I) but we both agreed that travelling through Madagascar was the hardest we have ever travelled.

As I regroup for a daunting August (in which I start independent practice, write some exams, celebrate the arrivals of niblings (one is an expected niece, the other TBD) and somehow fit in training for Cycle Oregon. Oh, and unpack all our stuff, because it will meet us a week late), I will likely keep a slower pace for my posts.

Until then, I am thankful that Kathy has shared with me this fabulous photo and recipe from her upcoming cookbook OATrageous OatmealsI also reviewed Kathy’s Great Vegan Bean Book, which I really like, so I am thrilled to share her creativity with oats.

Do not be fooled, this book is way more than oatmeal. Yes, she has oatmeal recipes designed for each part of the year, including cooling summer overnight oats (Blueberry Earl Grey Overnight Refrigerator Oats ) and warming bakes for the winter like Pumpkin Oat Breakfast Cake. She also has a chapter for snacks like Peanut Butter Banana Granola Bars and later a dessert section with treats like Mini Raspberry Cakes and Chai-Spiced Oatmeal Tart with Warm Coconut-Vanilla Sauce.

However, I am most excited about experimenting with her savoury options. She has an entire chapter for soups (Scottish-Inspired Mushroom Lentil Stew, Fragrant Yellow Split Pea and Rolled Oat Dal) and another for savory options like Cauliflower Oat Pizza Crust, Indian Oats Upma, Oat Dosa, Not-from-a-Box Mac and Oat Chez and Oats-bury Steaks. And even beyond the kitchen, she has recipes for Soothing Lavender Oat Bath Soak and Oatmeal Cookie Scrub.

How do you like to use oats?

To celebrate her new cookbook, Kathy is offering a pre-order giveaway from OXO along with a copy of her cookbook. Click here to enter (open until August 4). After you pre-order the book, submit your receipt to Kathy for special recipes, coupons and your chance to win a different OXO prize.

OATrageous Oatmeals by Kathy Hester
Recipes from OATrageous Oatmeals spotted elsewhere:

Blackberry Mojito Overnight Refrigerator Oats

Coconut Oat Vanilla Nut Creamer

Mushroom Ginger Congee

Steel Cut Oat Sausage Crumbles

Oat-chata

I am sharing this with Healthy Vegan Fridays, Bookmarked Recipes, Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck and Laura’s Strange but Good.

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Easy Leftover Curry Burgers (made from Pumpkin Fenugreek Curry)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on July 29, 2014

Pumpkin Fenugreek Curry repurposed into Curry Burgers

The other day my Mom admitted that Rob’s opinion is biased. And she doesn’t trust it.

I like to use Rob as my barometer. How would a regular person enjoy my meal?

I think my Mom meant that Rob always likes my food, which, uh, is completely far from the truth. While Rob will eat most anything and has a very open mind (he skipped out on the rotten shark in Iceland, though), he still has his food preferences. Some meals I make are not his style, so I may not even share the meal with him. But when something tastes really good, or includes a lot of his favourite ingredients, I want to know what he thinks.

Pumpkin Fenugreek Curry repurposed into Curry Burgers

This was a curry that I tracked down fresh fenugreek. Toor dal (split pigeon peas) was simmered with pumpkin along with a multitude of spices: cilantro, mint, coriander, cardamom, paprika, ginger, garlic, chili flakes and sambhar masala. To keep it vegan, I simply omitted the chicken from the original recipe.

This was a case, though, where the curry was only ok. I thought it was ok but not great. Too many flavours became a muddled dish. Rob liked it more than me, though. He likes curry more than me, although since we weren’t completely smitten with it, we decided to try out Curry Burgers. Super simple: mix together leftover curry with leftover rice and chickpea flour. Bake. Easy, peasy. Since we usually serve our curries with rice, this was a fun way to jazz up the leftovers.

I don’t know why but the burgers tasted better than the original curry. We ditched the standard ketchup and mustard for Indian chutneys.. with a side salad of pickled beets and spinach and just ditched the buns altogether. :)

Pumpkin Fenugreek Curry repurposed into Curry Burgers
(more…)

Sweet Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Quickie Raspberry Chia Jam

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on July 22, 2014

Sweet Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Quickie Raspberry Chia Jam

I almost thought about making my blog vacation all about chickpea flour.  I have been experimenting with it a lot more and this was a fun venture into sweet pancakes.

I was drawn to Gena’s recipe because they were protein pancakes without protein powder. While I am no stranger to savoury chickpea flour pancakes (aka besan chilla), I liked how these were more traditional. Here, chickpea flour is combined with cashew flour and soy milk for a heartier base.

They did not fluff up like regular pancakes, but were good for a lazy weekend breakfast. I topped them with a quickie raspberry chia jam for a summer twist. Forget boiling the fruit as in my blueberry vanilla chia jam. I simply defrosted some frozen raspberries in the microwave, added some chia seeds and waited a few minutes. The jam was a nice sweet contrast when rolled inside the pancakes.

Sweet Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Quickie Raspberry Chia Jam

I am sharing this with Dead Easy Desserts.

(more…)

Fiesta Masa Cornbread Muffins

Posted in Sides by Janet M on July 15, 2014

Fiesta Cornbread Muffins

This is probably my favourite concoction from the remains of my pantry.

I had a vision. I wanted to make corn muffins with masarepa. Cornmeal, polenta, masa harina and masarepa— what are the differences?

Masarepa is unique because it is precooked. We use it all the time for arepas and I love how soft and melt-in-your mouth arepas taste fresh from the oven. Sounds like the perfect recipe for cornbread, no?

My googling did not help.  Possibly because arepas ARE Colombia’s (and Venezuela’s) answer to cornbread.

Fiesta Cornbread Muffins

In any case, I cobbled together a few recipes and in the end, just ran with it. Into my batter with masarepa (and masa harina since I finished our stash), I added roasted corn, roasted hatch chiles and roasted red peppers. A bit of sweetener to accentuate the dough, although that may be sacrilegious depending on who you ask (and I am no corn bread expert).

Although I appreciate good food, and this was delicious. Basically a fiesta arepa in muffin form. They didn’t really raise too much. Although this will encourage me to add veggies to our next batch of arepas.

I find experimental baking quite daunting, but these turned out great. Do you ever make non-arepas from masarepa?

Fiesta Cornbread Muffins

 

(more…)

Watermelon Mint Frosty

Posted in Drinks, Favourites by Janet M on July 8, 2014

Watermelon Mint Frosty

Last year, I was all over the strawberry cucumber smoothie. I drank it for weeks straight. Banana-less, the strawberries provided enough  sweetness and contrasted against the cooling cucumber.

This year, I went more simple: frozen watermelon and mint. Lime juice is optional, mainly because I think it would be fabulous, but right now our limes are very sad so I didn’t get very much juice at all.

Watermelon Mint Frosty

By using watermelon that has been pre-frozen, this is a quick and cooling drink. The hint of mint is a nice contrast without overpowering the drink.

Depending on the sweetness of your watermelon (and your tastes), will depends how much sweetener you would like to add.

What are your favourite summer drinks?

PS.  Another nice version is this pineapple-mint frothy!

Watermelon Mint Frosty

I am sharing this with Cooking with Herbs, Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.
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Brazilian Black Bean and Seitan Stew & Afro Vegan Review+Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on July 1, 2014

Brazilian Black Bean Soup Afrovegan

You know Rob is a keeper when he doesn’t kill you when it is time to pack. And a) you have essentially doubled your cookbook collection while in Houston (although I limited myself to 10 books for my move) and Rob is now packing your heavy books; b) while you should be packing, instead you are cooking the last of the bits in the refrigerator, so I am still net loss worth for packing. And then there’s c) please don’t pack my cookbooks I still want to review!  Eventually I had to give in…. and help pack. And thankful that most books I receive to review come in electronic form.

Especially after making my own e-cookbook, I have grown to appreciate digital books. They have their pros and cons. They are easier to search, but not as fun to read. I miss the ability to curl the pages and find new random recipes. Although they are definitely easier to move. They also allow me to write posts in the airport.

Brazilian Black Bean Soup Afrovegan

Afro Vegan is Terry Bryant’s new cookbook. A lover of good food, he has managed to fuse soul comfort food with gourmet twists. His muses vary from Caribbean soul cuisine, Southern US down home cooking and African menus. Pecan cornbread with dukkah? Sweet plantain and Fresh Corn Cakes? Peanut Pumpkin Fritters? Jamaican Patties Stuffed with Maque Choux? Spinach Peanut Sauce? Trust me, it all sounded good to me, I was sad I haven’t had enough time to explore it.

Brazilian Black Bean Soup Afrovegan

While a bit more complex than my weeknight meals, there are more simple and more elaborate dishes. Delicious and innovative all-round. I loved, loved, loved my version of his Southern black eyed peas, I shared it before the book was even released to the masses. Now I am sharing another great soup, which I simplified by skipping the dumplings. This black bean stew, inspired by the Brazilian feijoada, is more tomato-heavy than my previous versions, but still nice and hearty and simple enough for an easy meal.

Afro-Vegan book cover

Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living anywhere (except maybe the moon). To be entered, please leave a comment here, any comment. I will randomly select a winner on July 30, 2014. Good luck!

Recipes from Afro-Vegan shared elsewhere:

Hominy and Spinach in Tomato-Garlic Broth

All-Green Spring Slaw

Glazed Carrot Salad

Tofu Curry with Mustard Greens

Summer vegetable and tofu kebabs with pomegranate-peach barbecue sauce

Savory Grits with Slow-Cooked Collard Greens

Stewed Tomatoes with Black Eyed Peas with Cornbread Croutons

Texas caviar on grilled rustic bread

Creole-Spiced Plantain Chips

Za’atar Roasted Red Potatoes

Smashed Potatoes, Peas and Corn with Chile-Garlic Oil

Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas with Spring Herbs

Creamed Cashews

Skillet Cornbread with Pecan Dukkah

Ambrosia Ice Pops

Cocoa-spice cake with crystallized ginger and coconut-chocolate ganache

 

(more…)

Classic Cheesy Kale Chips & Choosing Raw Cookbook Review+Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on July 1, 2014

Classic Cheesy Kale Chips (Choosing Raw)

It is my pleasure to share with you Gena Hamshaw’s new cookbook, Choosing Raw. Named after her widely popular food blog, her simple, bright and healthy recipes shine through onto paper. Full disclosure, I have loved Gena’s recipes ever since I discovered her blog (and her infamous banana soft serve recipe). My previous gushings can be seen here and here and I was thrilled when Gena asked me to be a tester for her cookbook. The best part of help her test the recipes? She actually cared about my feedback beyond recipe bloopers, making this a truly phenomenal cookbook.

Just as her blog attests, the recipes are fresh and flavourful. All vegan, some raw, some cooked, some mixed, some with options for either raw or cooked. You might think you recognize some of the recipes from her blog, but they have all been reworked and rewritten based on reader feedback. With 125 recipes, spanning essential foundation recipes (including cashew cheese, chocomole, banana soft serve, lemon turmeric vinaigrette, ginger miso dressing and hemp parmesan) and breakfasts, meals and desserts separated based on the degree of raw components and familiarity to traditional meals. She includes a primer on making meal-sized salads, including a Dinosaur Kale and White Bean Caesar Salad and a Raw Cobb Salad with Eggplant Bacon.

Choosing Raw Cookbook Review

Gena’s level 1 or introductory recipes are truly tried-and-true. Breakfasts options include the (delicious!) Raw Vegan Bircher Muesli, and (even more delicious!!) Chickpea Tofu Tahini Scramble. Gena has different suggestions for lunch and dinner (for me, lunch is always dinner in leftover form) and I can highly recommend both her Curried Chickpea and Carrot Salad and Easy Red Lentil Sweet Potato and Coconut Curry.

Slowly, Gena encourages you to branch out from the familiar with a hybrid of new and old. Her Avocado Black Bean Scramble was fresh and bright, the Raw Falafels have a carrot base which was the first falafel recipe I liked, and I love that her Raw Pad Thai actually includes tamarind (although I recommend adding more tamarind… because, that’s just the way we like it!). The Pumpkin Quinoa Risotto with Pomegranate Seeds was a fun twist for an autumn side, although I added chickpeas for a heartier meal.

Within her level 3 recipes (aka Brave New World), Gena introduces you to chocolate açaí bowls, jicama fiesta rice salad, raw corn chowder, and coconut curry kelp noodles. From this chapter, I highly recommend the Zucchini Pasta with Mango, Avocado and Black Bean Salsa (I substituted peaches which was still glorious) and her Raw or Cooked Ratatouille.

Desserts are typically the star of raw cuisine, and her recipes do not disappoint. Her Simple Raw Vanilla Macaroons are flawless and her Raw Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting is spot-on. I cannot wait to try other dishes like her Cherry Vanilla Tahini Ice Cream (no ice cream machine required!) and her No-Bake Tartlets with Raw Vegan Chocolate Ganache Filling has been on my hitlist for a long time.

Choosing Raw Cookbook Review

For me, the most important part of a cookbook are the recipes (and the index so I can find the recipes), but the recipes are only a portion of Gena’s book. Her first chapters explain “The Why”, “The What” and “The How” of a eating a vegan diet that includes raw. Normally I skip over these sections, but Gena makes these sections practical, useful and insightful with her background in nutrition. Finally, a raw cookbook that tells you the theory of keeping your food “enzymes” intact will all get decimated in your stomach’s harsh acidic environment anyhow. Likewise, her focus is on nutrients from a plant-based diet.

Gena explains how to properly balance your meals, explaining the importance of fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. She debunks myths including “Eating spinach raw is bad for you because it blocks the absorption of nutrients”, “Soy disrupts hormones, causes breast cancer and should be avoided”, “You should always eat fruit alone and on an empty stomach”, and “It’s essential to separate proteins and starches, because they require different digestive environments and will cause bloating if you eat them together”. To top it off, there are 21 days of worth of meal plans along with tips on how to transition to a vegan diet.

Classic Cheesy Kale Chips (Choosing Raw)

For this review, I had a hard time deciding which recipe to highlight. I decided to share her Classic Cheezy Kale Chips. The mixture of cashews, red bell pepper, nutritional yeast and miso coat the kale leaves which are dehydrated until they are crispy and flavourful. I don’t usually bother with pretty photos while recipe testing, and I had good intentions of taking better photos. Until I ate all the chips. And then they were all gone. They were incredibly addictive.

Gena also has a higher protein kale chip that I am dying to try: Hummus Kale Chips (made with chickpeas)!

Classic Cheesy Kale Chips (Choosing Raw)

Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite vegetable. I will randomly select a winner on July 30, 2014. Good luck!

Other recipes from Choosing Raw shared elsewhere:

Green Herb Dressing

Asparagus Quinoa Sushi Rolls

Zucchini Pasta with Quinoa Meatballs

Raw Carrot Falafels

Hemp Seed Tabouli with Yellow Tomatoes and Mint

Curried Chickpea and Carrot Salad

Zucchini Pasta with Mango, Avocado and Black Bean Salsa

Raw or Cooked Ratatouille

Easy Lentil, Sweet Potato & Coconut Curry

Heat-Free Lentil and Walnut Tacos

Raw Corn Salsa

Sunflower Seed Pate

Quinoa Breakfast Pudding

Avocado Black Bean Breakfast Scramble

Raw Bircher Muesli

Raw Cashew Banana Yogurt

Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream

Burnt Sugar Coconut Ice Cream

Coconutty for Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fig Bars

Raw Key Lime Pie
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Kimchi-Stuffed Sausages & Vegan Finger Foods Review+Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on June 28, 2014

Kimchi-Stuffed Sausages & Vegan Finger Foods Giveaway

Perhaps it is fitting that my last post from Houston should be a review for Vegan Finger Foods. It was in Houston, that I found and dived head-first into the “vegan potluck” community. Bounded by a common interest (delicious food), people came from various backgrounds. Some were vegan, others vegetarian, some omnivores, but all were included and encouraged to eat and enjoy the plentiful vegan food.

For me as a cook, it was (mostly) fun to try new recipes or share old favourites. I tend to gravitate to one-pot meals, but now I experimented with appetizers and desserts, knowing there would be plenty of Janet-friendly dishes to sample. As a person, it was comforting to meet others with similar interests, even if only within the realm of veganism. Although especially within the realm of veganism when I first moved to Texas.

Kimchi-Stuffed Sausages & Vegan Finger Foods Giveaway

Vegan Finger Foods is a fun cookbook, overflowing with ideas for your next gathering. Not only are the recipes suitable for vegan parties and potlucks, they can be mixed and matched for regular main meals at home. There are vegetable-centric bites (think “Bacon” Wrapped Water Chestnuts, Harissa Carrot Zucchini Cups), Finger Foods (think Brewpub Cauliflower Dip and Chips), Dips and Stuffed bites (like Baked Buffalo Tofu Bites with Pantry Raid Ranch and Pulled Jackfruit Mini Tacos), Bread-Based Bites (including Salsa Scuffins) and not forgetting bite-sized desserts (lots of cookies, cupcakes and even Goji Berry Cacao Bites and Tahini Caramel Popcorn).

I appreciate that each dish is a star in itself, even the veggie-centric dishes. I also liked that many dishes are hearty enough to be a main meal (ie, Sweet-and-Sour Sloppy Joes (with tempeh), baked lenteja taquitos (with lentils), baked frittata minis (with tofu) and even a few homemade seitan dishes, including these Kimchi-Stuffed Sausages. No need for company to eat well.

Kimchi-Stuffed Sausages & Vegan Finger Foods Giveaway

I tried a few dishes from the cookbook, but this one was my favourite and thankfully helped use up some odds-and-ends lingering in the kitchen. Reminiscent of my previous (vegan) cheese-stuffed sausage, these sausages are stuffed with kimchi. Kimchi is also incorporated into the batter making for a flavourful yet chewy sausage. I found it easier just to serve it with a side of even more kimchi, but I love suggestion to pan-fry it and then sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions. Pan-frying would accentuate the flavours even further.

Kimchi-Stuffed Sausages & Vegan Finger Foods Giveaway

Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite dish to share at potlucks. I will randomly select a winner on July 30, 2014. Good luck!

Other recipes from Vegan Finger Foods shared elsewhere:

Vegan Potato Puffs with Tapenade

Kale Cucumber Cups

Rasta Salsa

Corn Fritters with Tomato Thyme Gravy

Baked Jalapeños

Spinach Swirls (with another giveaway, too)

Pull Apart Pesto Bread

Quickie Marinara

Fig and Nut Canapés

Sushi Rice Rolls

Salsa Scuffins (with another giveaway, too)

Better Buckeyes

Other dishes I shared at the vegan potluck this year:

Peach & Hazelnut Kale Salad with Maple Miso Vinaigrette

Pecan and Cranberry Vegan Cheese Log

Raw Thai Pineapple Parsnip Rice

Curried Chickpea Salad with Carrots and Currants

Peanut Butter and Jam Energy Balls

Tahini Cups with a Sweet Coffee Infused Filling

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Pineapple Mint Frothy Drink

Posted in Drinks by Janet M on June 26, 2014

Pineapple Mint Frothie

Houston played a cruel joke on us earlier this week.

If you thought it was hot outside, it was more hot inside our home. While not too hot outside (highs of 90F/32C), inside our home, it was 86F/29C. It was still 86F inside, after an overnight low of 80F/27C.

Yes, our air conditioner had stopped working.

Sweaty times.

Rob suffered the brunt of it, as he stayed at home (to work) and greet the 3 separate repairmen. The first 2 could not reach the roof with their ladders. Thankfully, the third team was a charm. By this time, it was closer to 9 pm at night but when the cool air began to circulate through the house, it felt like heaven.

Pineapple Mint Frothie

Truthfully, I had a long day at work but I was not rushing back to a hot and humid home. When I finally arrived, all I wanted was a cool drink. We have almost finished the frozen fruit in our freezer and this certainly hit the spot. I would not have considered something so simple as pineapple and mint, but while we were in Toronto last week, we sampled a delicious pineapple-apple-mint juice from Yam Chops. Imagine my surprise after a quick spin in the blender, the froth had taken over. It was glorious! It settled a bit as I went looking for my camera, but I think you get the idea. Definitely the epitome of a frothy drink.

Pineapple Mint Frothie

I am sharing this with Cooking with Herbs.

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Toor Dal Curry with Spinach (Toor Palak Dal)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on June 24, 2014

Toor Dal with Spinach (Toor Palak Dal)

Time is a-ticking. Less than a week left in Houston. We have been balancing DO.ALL.THE.THINGS left to do in Houston and DO.ALL.THE.PACKING. Lots of pantry-friendly meals this month as we eat through our kitchen.

We stopped replenishing the red lentils months ago and begrudgingly started eating through the toor dal. Not that we don’t love it (WE LOVE TOOR DAL) but it just takes longer to cook and time is something we are lacking right now.

We left a few Houston must-dos until the end. I finally went to the NASA Space Center, lured by a private tour by an astronaut. An astronaut with a PhD in Cancer Biology, which was right up my alley, as she explained the medical complications of space travel. And let us touch and feel the space stuff. But not wear the space suits, sadly. Astronauts ARE a science experiment in themselves, did you know? They also do deadlifts and squats in space to maintain their bone density.

We also went to Chinatown to eat at one of the rival Malaysian restaurants, complete with the suggested one-hour foot massage for only $20-25 at the neighbouring reflexology spas. It is the thing to do, I swear.

That experience was also our first (and hopefully last) experience with Houston rush hour traffic.

Also, kudos to the American pharmacies. “Yellow Fever Vaccine Now Here”. I can easily obtain travel immunizations without an appointment or a puncture fee. Vaccines tend to be controversial but it is not controversial for me: I would rather not get infected.  So I finally got my hepatitis A shots and re-immunized myself against typhoid for my upcoming vacation.

So, about this curry. It is simple, yet delicious. Lightly spices with all the great Indian spices (cumin, coriander, garam masala) and lightened with a splash of lemon juice, it is a nice hearty meal. An easy way to easily add more spinach, too.

I haven’t really gone into too much detail why I am pro-vaccine (the main reason is the ability to prevent serious diseases, some of which are uncurable, which I believe outweighs the potential side effects from receiving the vaccine). Do you have strong opinions either way?

Toor Dal with Spinach (Toor Palak Dal)

PS. I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes, Eat Your Greens, The Spice Trail for Spinach, and In My Veg Box.

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Chocolate Mint Chip Ice Cream & The China Study All-Star Collection Giveaway

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

Chocolate Mint Chip Vegan Ice Cream

Houston gets me every single time. You leave for a week or two and you forget how hot and humid it is. Or maybe it just became hotter.

I thought it was ice cream weather before but now it has become a dietary staple. Just like salsas, we will have to wean ourselves from the vegan ice creams at Trader Joe’s.

I have no ice cream maker, but this recipe promised to deliver.

Mint ice cream with chocolate chunks – what’s not to like? I added some spirulina to make it a vibrant green base.

Sadly, it didn’t work out. I actually wonder whether it could be done at all without an ice cream maker.  I quickly realized the chocolate chunks would sink to the bottom if I didn’t stir. So, I stirred the ice cream as it become to freeze, almost every 30 minutes for a few hours. Until it was way too late to stay up. Of course, in the morning, it was solid as a brick and difficult to thaw. I had a hard time getting it into a scoopable form and ended up thawing it in the microwave! It was also a bit icy, I suspect because I didn’t remove the watery coconut water from the coconut milk.

I eventually refroze it into small quantities and ended up adding some soy milk to turn it into a smoothie. Next time, I may try Kari’s idea to put it back in the food processor to whip it back into a creamy state. Or fish out my ice cream maker from storage.

Chocolate Mint Chip Vegan Ice Cream

The recipe comes from The China Study All-Star Collection which is a collection of vegan recipes that focus on whole foods with limited refined oils, sugars and salt. Like my cookbook collaboration, the recipes hail from many authors. I was familiar with some of the authors (Dreena Burton, Ani Phyo, Christy Morgan, and Lindsay Nixon) but also new-to-me authors like Chef AJ and Del Sroufe among others.

A cookbook like this makes a great introductory cookbook. You are exposed to the styles of many chefs, hopefully finding a few that really resonate with you, or others that perhaps push you in new directions. Would you like to try Dreena’s Apple Lentil Dal? Or Christina’s Daikon Mushroom Fettuccine? Or Laura’s Cauliflower Steaks with Sweet Pepper Sauce? Or Heather’s Dark Chocolate, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Brownies? Yeah, me too. All four. In fact, you may notice a few repeats from the more prolific writers. Lindsay’s Quick Burgers have been shared earlier as well as Dreena’s Mellow Lentil “Sniffle Soup” and Black Bean Soup with Sweet Potatoes (I shared that one in the fall and it was fabulous!). If nothing else, it may open you up to a whole new library from a new favourite author.

Of note, due to the multiple authors, the writing style of each author is apparent, along with the quality of their accompanying photographs.

Recipes from The China Study All-Star Collection shared elsewhere:

Lemon-Lime Green Smoothie

Creamy Breakfast Rice Pudding

Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Zucchini and Summer Squash Muffins

Barbecue Portobello Sandwiches

African Collard Stirfry

Gingered Collard Greens

Everything Minestrone

Peanut Butter Fudge Truffles (with another giveaway, too)

Dreamy Baked Bananas (with another giveaway, too)

Thankfully, the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite ice cream flavours. I will randomly select a winner on June 30, 2014. Good luck!

PS. I am sharing this with Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

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