the taste space

Green Pea Curry (Mattar Masala)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on June 2, 2014

Green Peas Curry (Mattar Masala)

Rob did some more investigating. He found a program that would figure out if I had any duplicate files irregardless of the name.

WOO!  After three days, my program to find duplicate files on your external hard drive has completed.  It has found at least 172 GB of duplicate files.  We need to clean them up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

His emphasis, not mine.

So apparently, I come with baggage. Electronic baggage.

There used to be a time when I couldn’t fit everything on my hard drive, but once I had 1 Tb on my external hard drive, I haven’t thought much about my space usage.

Rob didn’t appreciate my old school way of culling my photos: copying them into a new folder. Sometimes I had 4-5 copies of the same photo with my disjointed backing up. Now we get to do some culling!

Green Peas Curry (Mattar Masala)
Rob is doing a great job tackling our leftover food stuffs. This was an absolutely, wonderfully delicious pea curry he made with the peas in the freezer and spices from the pantry. I am not saying that just because Rob made it and everything tastes better when someone else cooks for you, but honestly this was gourmet Indian and made me a pea-lover. I love beans but peas are not as high in my “love list” but this, guys, was incredible.

Creamy with a rich-tomato broth with bright green peas, this was a keeper. Sadly, this curry has a really long ingredient list, which seems almost disjointed and muddy, but have faith. This was delicious and completely worth the effort (and definitely Rob’s effort!).

Do you like peas?

PS. I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.

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New Orleans Corn & Roasted Bell Pepper Soup (Vegan Maque Choux)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on May 31, 2014

New Orleans Corn & Roasted Bell Pepper Soup (Vegan Maque Choux)

Before you start to think this will be a smoked paprika free household, have no fear. I am pretty sure Rob will let me replenish prior to moving back to Canada.

It is a bit of a race, now. Rob has made it his own personal goal to munch through our food stocks…. so, if I wait too long, my food may disappear. Use those roasted red peppers in the pantry! The roasted corn in the freezer! The last of the soy curls! (I actually had planned to use some small flageolet beans I had frozen but could not get them to thaw out of the container fast enough….)

New Orleans Corn & Roasted Bell Pepper Soup (Vegan Maque Choux)

Reminiscent of my Sweet Pepper Coconut Corn Chowder, I loved how this one was virtually bursting with vegetables. Coconut milk would make this a thick and luscious soup. This version was inspired by one of my favourite cookbooks this year, Soup’s On!, since it is packed with quick and healthy meals. Mark’s inspiration was New Orleans’ Maque Choux, a Cajun-inspired corn soup.

I loved it. Simply delicious. I worked with what we had lying around and it made a light, summery bowl of vegetable soup.

New Orleans Corn & Roasted Bell Pepper Soup (Vegan Maque Choux)

Do you like soups in the summer as well?

PS. I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.

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Colourful Veggie Tahini Noodles

Posted in Salads by Janet M on May 29, 2014

Colourful Veggie Tahini Noodles

Desserts and salads, that’s just the way we’re rolling here these days.

There is just something so pretty about colourful vegetables, I had to share this fun twist on salad. Vegetable noodles, either created with a spiralizer, a shredder, or careful knife skills, can totally change your view on salad.

Colourful Veggie Tahini Noodles

Rob cheers every time we finish something. I actually apologized when I finished the balsamic vinegar but Rob gave me a high five. I am a bit antsy about the lack of smoked paprika in the house, too, but pretty confident we’ll replenish it before we return to Canada (because: PENZEY’S!).

The tahini may be dwindling but I have lots of sesame seeds. I haven’t resorted to making my own homemade tahini yet, but it could be fun to try. Until then, my sesame seeds are usually garnishes.

This salad dressing is a fun twist on a creamy sauce, since it is made with tahini with accents from the rice vinegar, mustard and lemon pepper seasoning. As I said, the salad was fun to create, too: spiralized zucchini is tossed with shredded carrots, thinly sliced red cabbage and instead of edamame (which would be good, too), I added sweet sugar snap peas. A bit different but fun for a change. And nice when you do not feel like cooking.

Note: I am pleading fifth amendment about the coconut flour. Some things were just meant to return to Canada. ;)

Colourful Veggie Tahini Noodles

PS. This is my submission to Definition Magazine Summer Salad Redux Recipe ContestSouper SundaysExtra Veg and Four Seasons Food.

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Lemon Ginger Hemp Bites

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on May 27, 2014

Gena's Hemp Cocoa Energy Bites

I have been a bit quiet on the cycling front.

I kind of poured my everything into the Shiner GASP and let my body (and mind) recover as needed. Rob and I kept cycling, but nothing over 50 km.  There is no point in cycling if you aren’t having fun. It pales to our upcoming distances, but I just didn’t have it inside me to resume our crazy adventures.

Three weeks later and I got my mojo back.  I started swapping my morning gym with longer routes to work. Rob would join me. On his road bike, no less, which was a good motivator to keep pushing it on my commuter, while carrying all my stuff for work on my back. I managed to squeeze an extra 50 km, in addition to my regular commute, over the 2 days we tried this out. Sadly, the forecast is all rain this week, so I may return to the gym after all.

Gena's Hemp Cocoa Energy Bites

With the long weekend, Rob and I had time to both relax and fit in some longer cycling. A perfect balance, methinks. 50 km and 107 km, including an urban hilly ride. Thankfully we made it home yesterday before the torrential rain, which is merely a preview for the week.

In any case, I made these delicious snack bites to tote along for our longer ride. They were inspired by a reader, Jessica, who encouraged me to try adding ginger and turmeric to Gena’s Hemp Cocoa Energy Bites. I love it when you guys know me too well!

No stranger to sharp, fresh ginger in sweets (remember my Matcha Ginger Smoothie?), I didn’t add enough turmeric for it to be a strong taste. I will admit that I added the ginger because I like its taste but its anti-inflammatory properties are a bonus. However, I added the turmeric specifically because of its anti-inflammatory properties (I really don’t like its taste in strong amounts!). The dates sweet this nicely and the hemp protein powder gives it a grassy/earthy undertone which complements the sweetness perfectly.

What do you think of turmeric? Do you try to incorporate into more of your foods? Any recipes you recommend?

Gena's Hemp Cocoa Energy Bites (more…)

Chocolate Chickpea Flour Cupcakes with Chocolate Tofu Frosting & Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts by Janet M on May 24, 2014

Chocolate Chickpea Flour Cupcakes

My lovely friends are true enablers.

I wanted to make cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes.

Even with my (somewhat) minimalist pantry and kitchen, I was mostly to my goal.

I had silicone muffin wrappers, but no muffin tin. I wasn’t sure whether I could simply bake the muffins without the tin, but my friend graciously lent me her muffin tray so I did not have to experiment. (Note: Please tell me if you have tried)

Next, I found the perfect recipe: a chocolate cupcake that only used chickpea flour as its base. No wheat flour, no funny grain flours, not even oat flour. Just chickpea flour. In fact, now I was rather intrigued. Chickpea flour cupcakes??

I was missing one ingredient, though: baking powder. I have baking soda (it also helps for cleaning), but no baking powder in my minimalist pantry. Oftentimes, especially if baking with chocolate, baking soda can be substitute with baking powder. So I tried that option first. Baking experiment fail #1: I forgot to look at the conversion and it isn’t a 1:1 substitution. My cupcakes rose beautifully but tasted kind of salty and somewhat metallic.

Chocolate Chickpea Flour Cupcakes

I vowed to try again with less baking soda but my friend spared me the trouble and slipped me a bag of white powder at work. Clearly labelled baking powder. The label may have been unnecessary because if she were smuggling cocaine, I would have inherited a fortune. ;)

In any case, I shared the cupcakes at work. I was up-front that I was sharing vegan, gluten-free and grain-free cupcakes. I told people that it was made with besan/chickpea flour because quite a few of my co-workers cook with it, too, and they were shocked it could be used in a sweet baking treat.

However, what I did not share (initially) was what I was hiding in my frosting. I ran with the bean-theme and used tofu as my base! It is similar but more firm than my chocolate mousse pie filling. I thought it was too sweet when I first tasted it but it mellowed out and firmed up considerably overnight in the fridge. Both the frosting and cupcakes were well received, so I consider it a success!

Chocolate Chickpea Flour Cupcakes

This recipe is courtesy of Vegan Beans From Around the World which shares 100 recipes of naturally vegan recipes from around the world. Kelsey simplified the recipes to keep the ingredients easy-to-find and did a marvelous job of curating a variety of vegan bean-centric dishes. Dutch Split Pea Soup to Nigerian Black Eyed Pea Stew to Argentine White Bean Salad, there are plenty of dishes I still want to try. Oh, and the Navy Bean Pie (aka Muslim bean pie) which is also in the dessert section. I have been spoiled by gorgeous cookbooks as of late, so I am missing the pretty photos. Although hopefully these photos will encourage you to try out this fun cupcakes.

Recipes from Vegan Beans From Around the World  spotted elsewhere:

Hommage Hummus
Roasted Edamame
Southwestern Style Salad
Cuban Black Beans
Green Bean Fries
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Queso-Less-Dillas
Black Bean Brownies

Chocolate Chickpea Flour Cupcakes

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 recipe made with beans. I will randomly select a winner on June 13, 2014. Good luck!

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

PS. Have no muffin tins? Try making this into a cake, as seen here.

PPS. Need other ideas for using chickpea flour? Look no further than Emma’s round-up post.

PPPS. I am sharing this to Credit Crunch Munch and We Should Cocoa for $2 cakes. I didn’t price out the cupcakes but without butter and eggs, vegan cakes are typically cheaper. Chickpea flour can be found at more economical prices at Indian grocers.

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Indian Chickpea and Spinach Curry (Chana Saag)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on May 23, 2014

It is all about the greens, lately.

After a week or so of salads and wraps, I turn the rest of my fresh greens into a soup, stew, or in this case curry.

I am sharing an Indian Chickpea and Spinach Curry (Chana Saag) at Laura’s blog, The Gluten-Free Treadmill. Please pop on over to check it out!

PS. And when I said I would be sharing another giveaway with you yesterday, I meant tomorrow. So stay tuned! ;)

Eccentric Caesar Salad & Straight From the Earth Review+Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on May 22, 2014

Eccentric Caesar Salad

This post is a twofer.

First of all, I have a gift for all of you! A free Beyond Meat product – click here for your coupon.

I don’t tend to get too excited about mock meats (it is a bit processed for my liking), but was really curious after it was selected as the “real chicken” on the Today’s Show. Some things are easier to find in the United States, so with a coupon for a free product (see above), how could we refuse? Beyond Meat isn’t new, but it was new to me and definitely uncannily similar to chicken, complete with the grill marks. You buy it frozen and just need to defrost it prior to serving. Thus, it was super easy to make and great source of protein.

Eccentric Caesar Salad + Straight From the Earth review +giveaway

Now for the book review, as advertised, with an eccentric Caesar salad. Eccentric because it is no standard Caesar. I mean, it is a vegan version of a decidedly un-vegan salad but the twist comes from the nutritional yeast and curry powder in the dressing and the mishmash of additional ingredients. The cashew-based dressing was simply delicious, aka awesome sauce. Paired with the fresh lettuce, buttery avocado, briny capers and hemp seeds, it was a superfood-packed salad. (And by superfoods, I mean super tasting foods!) Instead of the herby croutons, I wanted this to be a complete meal and thus added the chicken-less strips overtop. The strips look a bit too perfectly rectangular but they tasted great.

Eccentric Caesar Salad + Straight From the Earth review +giveaway

The recipe comes from Straight from the Earth, by mother and daughter team Myra and Marea Goodman of Earthbound Farm fame. Neither one is vegan but have created a gorgeous cookbook filled with tantalizing recipes. There is something for everyone between the two cooks. I found myself naturally gravitating to Marea’s recipes, who learned her vegan culinary tricks while living and cooking for fellow vegans in a co-op while at college. Her mother’s tastes are more classical. As an example, Marea has a recipe for chipotle-lime Brazil nuts and Myra has a recipe for double-roasted maple-spiced hazelnuts. OK, OK, both sound delicious. Lots of delicious recipes, including a nut-free crispy baked kale chips with nutritional yeast and shiitake mushroom, water chestnut and tofu lettuce cups.

Eccentric Caesar Salad + Straight From the Earth review +giveaway

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the continental United States. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me what you think of mock meats. The winner will be selected at random on June 8, 2014. Good luck!

Other recipes from Straight from the Earth spotted elsewhere:

Raspberry Salad with Baby Greens and Raspberry-Golden Balsamic Vinaigrette

Wheat Berry, Baby Kale, Grape and Orange Salad

Heart of Palm, Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

Cabbage and Carrot Crunch Salad with Agave-Dijon Vinaigrette

Thai Fresh Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Teriyaki Tofu Broccolette on Wild Rice

Barley, Quinoa, and Cannellini Bean Loaf (or Burgers)

Whole Wheat Biscuits

Blackberry Bran Muffins

Sesame, Orange, and Hazelnut Cookies

Banana Coconut Cake

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

PS. I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.

PPS. Stayed tuned because tomorrow I have another giveaway! (more…)

Asian Kale Salad with Edamame

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on May 20, 2014

Asian Kale Salad with Edamame

We reached critical mass last weekend.

I am not joking.

We ran out of room in the refrigerator.

Who knew greens could take up so much space?

I loaded up at our favourite market. $7 got us heaps of produce along with our $5 case of mangoes. The mangoes and bananas didn’t go into the fridge, but it was hard enough to get my bag of 9 leeks ($1!) and 3 heads of Boston lettuce ($1!) in there.

But then, I went to the potluck. How could I not support buying some freshly picked organic kale grown by school children from a nearby elementary school? And that is how I also ended up with a good 3-4 bunches worth of kale and could barely close my fridge.

Asian Kale Salad with Edamame

Thank goodness Rob hasn’t strangled me just yet.

With prices so low, we don’t feel as guilty if I don’t eat through everything. But I try!!

Bring on the kale salads !!

Instead of tackling all the leeks and my new produce, I decided to dig through my vegetable bins to find the older vegetables. Finish off the snap peas, carrots and bell peppers, and the last of the scraggly cilantro and scallions. For protein, I quick-thawed some edamame.

This combination reminded me of my vegetable buddha salad bowl but since we’re low on miso, I went with a dressing more reminiscent of my (other) raw Asian kale salad with edamame. With so many colourful vegetables and an Asian dressing, how could you go wrong?

Please share with me your favourite kale and leek recipes! Also, for fresh chickpeas since I scored those too! :)

Asian Kale Salad with Edamame

PS. This is my submission to Definition Magazine Summer Salad Redux Recipe Contest and this week’s Souper Sundays.

Contest_SummerSalad_Banner

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Thai Chickpea & Kale Salad Rolls with Peanut Dressing

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on May 17, 2014

Thai Chickpea & Kale Salad Rolls with Peanut Dressing

My lovely friend, Dawn, recently asked me to share my tips for food blogging.

As you know, I have a demanding full-time job and this is my hobby. After a few years, I think I have a great balance between managing the blog and the rest of my life. Mainly, the blog does not take over my life.

Some people wonder how I make and share so many different recipes without losing my mind.

I try to keep things low-key. I only take photos once. New recipe, snap a photo. If I come back and the photos suck, oh well… I will still post the subpar photos if the recipe is good.

This also means that I may make a recipe one way but find a better use for it afterwards as leftovers. Then my photos might not look like my recipe!

That is how this recipe evolved. It started out as a Thai Kale Salad with Chickpeas and a Peanut Dressing. I made it, I ate it. However, the next day, I thought rice paper rolls would be better.  So I wrapped them up… and decided I didn’t want to bother with new photographs and munched away. Of course, the wrap was better. There is something sensational when all the components of the dish hit your palate at the exact same time: the lemony kale, the sweet red pepper, the crunchy carrots and the chickpeas are not rolling around everywhere…. and how could I forget the delicious peanut sauce? It is light, thinned with vinegar but flavourful with the ginger and orange. Drizzled into the salad roll, it was delicious. So delicious, I gobbled up the rest of the salad before rethinking about a new photo shoot.

Want more advice on how to be an awesome food blogger? Check out Dawn’s round-up with tips from Joanne at Eats Well With Others, Alissa from Connoisseurus Veg, Susan Voisin from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, Cara Lyons from Cara’s Cravings and Alyssa from Queen of Quinoa.

Thai Chickpea & Kale Salad Rolls with Peanut Dressing

PS. I am sharing this with Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, No Croutons Required and Bookmarked Recipes.

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Tahini Cups with a Sweet Coffee-Infused Filling

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on May 15, 2014

Tahini Cups with a Sweet Coffee-Infused Filling

You probably wept as I described Houston’s spring/summer weather a few months ago. With the atrocious Canadian winter, I started clarifying when my Mom would ask me about the weather: Do you really want to know? Do you really want to know we have bone fide summer with 30 C highs while you just lost the last of your winter snow? I thought not.

Have no fear, though, you will have your just revenge. That hot and humid weather is mere weeks away, if not here already. Hot and humid? Yeah, that’s was this weekend. Houstonians know this is peanuts compared to the upcoming summer (sad face). I am convinced that it is the humidity that makes the wind so heavy here, but I have nothing to prove it.

In any case, I made a Houston-newbie mistake last weekend. I brought these treats to a potluck. Not a problem in other cities, but Houston is hot these days. They were very keen to melting. Even in our apartment, with the air conditioner, they were quick to begin to melt. Since they were my only cooked food fit for others, I brought them anyhow. Imagine my shock when I arrived at the potluck, when they decided to serve the food outdoors! GAH!! A bit of reprieve, the desserts were to stay inside. I placed my container of mini treats with the other desserts and proceeded to pile up with all the delicious savoury options.

I returned indoors to the dessert table. The line from the savoury table now snaked indoors, right past the desserts. I had to do a double-take: only one half-treat remained. I told Christine to grab the last one. Instead of melting, within 5 minutes they had evaporated to high acclaim! Success!

Tahini Cups with a Sweet Coffee-Infused Filling

One of my favourite parts of going to vegan potlucks (other than trying so much delicious food), is experimenting in my own kitchen. After seeing Lisa share these, I immediately wanted to try it. Tahini-based desserts were a definite hit earlier this year (see my Sweet Sesame Rice Crispy Treats) and I am warming up to liking a hint of coffee flavour. It pairs well with chocolate (hello Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake!) but I was unsure about it without the chocolate. Lisa raved about it, so I gave it a whirl.

In case it wasn’t obvious: it was a definite hit. The coffee flavour was subtle enough (for me) and paired well with the sweet dates. The tahini cups were a nice contrast with a creamy base. I liked that it was nut-free, which helps for those with nut-allergies at potlucks.

I made these into mini cups, which I think worked well since you could get more filling:base ratio. Tahini can be a bit bitter, but it was tempered nicely with the sweet date-heavy filling. I still had some filling leftover, which was easily slipped into my next morning’s oatmeal. The tahini base settled a bit funny on top, which is probably because I didn’t use enough. I just barely had enough to surround my 24 minicups. I changed the recipe below to account for more base.

Do you like tahini in your desserts? I am inspired to try more! Perhaps these salted tahini caramels are in my future: tahini + coconut flour + sweetener!

Tahini Cups with a Sweet Coffee-Infused Filling

PS. I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.

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Jamaican Rice and Peas (with Purple Hull Peas)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on May 13, 2014

Jamaican Purple Hull Peas and Rice

We have been all over the coconut rice lately. With mango season comes Mango Sticky Rice. Twice, so far, within the past few weeks. Rob’s latest batch was shared with a friend who proclaimed it the best ever. She had been pining over Mango Sticky Rice since her childhood and was always disappointed with resto versions. Not ours. It quenched her thirst. We split our case of mangos (20/$5!) and she subsequently made her own. Rob’s latest version substituted agave for the sugar and he used the last of our full-fat coconut milk.

While Mango Sticky Rice is good for dessert (or breakfast, in my mind), it probably would not do dinner justice. Try this coconut-infused Jamaican rice and pea dish instead.

Jamaican Purple Hull Peas and Rice

Rice and peas is a classic side dish from Jamaica. “Peas” may be a bit misleading because it refers to a type of pigeon pea, which is similar to cowpeas that includes Southern favourites such as purple hull peas, lady cream peas, black eyed peas and crowder peas. If you are lucky enough to snag fresh peas, you will figure out that they in fact, do taste like peas. Kidney beans are often substituted in this dish, as well.

In any case, with whichever bean you choose, I do encourage you to try this dish. It is a very simple one-pot dish wherein everything cooks together and the nuances of the allspice, thyme, lime and ginger really bring out a fun flavour profile. Use full-fat coconut milk for a decadent creamy base, but the reduced fat was great too (which is what is pictured here).

Have you tried coconut rice? I am thinking that adding black beans to our Mango Sticky Rice might be a marvelous dinner, no? Who’s in to try it? :)

Jamaican Purple Hull Peas and Rice

PS. I am sharing this with Let’s Cook with Pulses and Cooking with Herbs.

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Quickie Balsamic Miso Chickpeas and Baby Bok Choy

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on May 10, 2014

Quickie Balsamic Miso Chickpeas and Baby Bok Choy

Guys, I am loving ALL your ideas for quickie meals – both your suggestions for your easiest cooked and raw meals.

Are some recipes too simple to share?

How about stir fries? Rob’s go-to stirfry is tofu and broccoli (precut frozen veggies work well for those who don’t want to chop veggies), smothered in sweet chili sauce. Easy peasy.

But sometimes, simple wins. I don’t need lots of colourful veggies. One will do. I don’t need lots of spices. Simple can work too and it does not need to be bland.

Quickie Balsamic Miso Chickpeas and Baby Bok Choy

I originally spotted this recipe in High Protein Vegan (see my review earlier) but it had me scurrying to a new-to-me blog The Stone Soup. Jules focuses on meals with minimal ingredients and minimal prep. While the blog is not vegan, Jules nearly always includes ways to make each meal vegan-friendly with lots of possible substitutions.

This recipe stems from Jules’ quickie method of cooking vegetables: shallow steam cooking in a frypan along with balsamic vinegar and miso. Do I know how to steam veggies in a frypan? Yes! But I never would have thought to combine it with a simple dressing of balsamic vinegar and miso. I really liked the idea of pairing the dressing with baby bok choy and chickpeas, so I went with it.

I didn’t sear my veggies as Jules’ recommended in her video, but I do not feel like it detracted from my version as the dressing pulled it all in together nicely. Sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar juxtaposed against the salty miso and earthy beans and greens. I preferred this fresh but only because my leftovers were quite watery. I have been more likely to eat more beans instead of making an additional side of grains, but grains are nice to sop up delicious juices.

Quickie Balsamic Miso Chickpeas and Baby Bok Choy

Do you think some recipes are just too simple to share?

PS. I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.

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Mini Chocolate Banana Flax Cakes (Raw, No-Bake) & Raw, Quick & Delicious Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts by Janet M on May 8, 2014

Mini Chocolate Banana Flax Cakes (Raw, No-Bake)

I don’t think I have ever eaten so many bananas in one day. I lost count, but I think I ate eight during the Shiner GASP. Never mind the oranges, peanuts and bars, oh and lots of water. I had those, too, but ate a banana nearly every rest stop. Rob and I also had some almost-sorry bananas after the hot weekend. My friend stepped on the tip of one by mistake so I knew I had to eat it soon. Too impatient to wait for them to freeze for smoothies, I made these mini cakes instead. 5 ingredients and 15 minutes later, I had a fudgy, gooey, chocolately delight.

5 ingredients, 15 minutes seems gimmicky, but it is the premise of Doug McNish’s latest cookbook: Raw, Quick and DeliciousI have been sitting on this one for a while. During the winter, I had little desire to eat raw foods but now that summer has arrived, my time is short, I cannot eat through this cookbook fast enough. Smoothies, salads, and dressings, McNish has you covered for interesting combinations (spiced apricot smoothie, caprese stacked salad, curried carrot dressing). Furthermore, he includes breakfasts (cashew scramble wrap), main courses (raw sweet potato enchiladas!), snacks (cinnamon apple almond stacks!) and desserts (pecan pie brownies), none of which ask for a dehydrator or take too long to create. Some recipes call for sub-recipes throughout the book, though, but nothing seems too onerous. He focused on sharing recipes without fancy equipment or techniques, letting vegetables shine.

Mini Chocolate Banana Flax Cakes (Raw, No-Bake)

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this simple concoction. Needless to say, I was sceptical, but I ran with it. Doug knows his food.

Gooey chocolate bliss.  The bananas create a soft, gooey consistency that is held together with the flax seeds, but there are enough flax seeds to give this some structure, too. Since it takes only 10 minutes to set and no baking is required, it is a bit gooey, but who doesn’t like their chocolate cake super moist? I particularly liked it with the accent of the fresh banana slices to counter the darker chocolate flavour. (FYI, I tried it first with less agave, but tasted it and felt it deserved the full amount).

Need a way to eat copious amounts of flax seeds with glee? This would be it! You certainly don’t taste it.

There are a few selected photos in the cookbook and they are gorgeous, including this one for these cakes:

Mini Chocolate Banana Flax Cakes (Raw Quick and Delicious)

 

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your quickest and/or easiest raw dish. The winner will be selected at random on May 20, 2014. Good luck!

Recipes from Raw, Quick and Delicious spotted elsewhere:

Date Muesli
Quick Thai Cream Sauce
Grapefruit Mint and Arugula Salad
Avocado Cucumber Hand Rolls
Summer Corn Cakes
Curried Cashews and Mixed Vegetables
Steak and Potatoes

Squash Burrito
Mushroom Tart
Coconut Macaroons
Strawberry Coconut Shortcake Tart

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

PS. I am sharing this with Random RecipesDead Easy Desserts and to the last Raw Foods Thursday.

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Shiner G.A.S.P. 2014 Recap

Posted in Uncategorized by Janet M on May 6, 2014

don't avoid the hills, another lesson in running, as in life.

No recipe today.

(gasp!)

Instead, I will share my experiences riding the Shiner G.A.S.P: The Great Austin the Shiner Pedal.

(double gasp!)

I imagine this may not interest those here for the recipes, but I felt it was important to sprinkle my thoughts about the ride.

I have spoken a lot about training for this ride. It is a 100-mile (officially 101.19 miles but it was longer than that) bike ride from Austin to Shiner, Texas. The half-GASP is 50-miles and begins at the half-way point to Shiner. I can’t remember whether I already mentioned how we found out about it. While standing in line at IKEA, during our first days in Houston (we needed some furniture!), we chatted with some strangers behind us in line, and they told us about other cycling rides in the area, including the Shiner GASP. The draw was the (free!) beer at the end from the Spoetzl Brewery. We decided to ride this during the winter, when the price was still very low. In fact, the high fundraising costs of the MS 150 turned us off, and we gravitated to a more low-key event. For each of us, it was $35 for the ride and $25 for the bus ride back. A bone fide bargain for such a well-supported ride.

Because we were only told that this was a hilly and windy course, we didn’t really know what to expect with our flat terrain training in Houston. I read previous recaps, with participants stating:

This course was going to be challenging because of the sheer number of inclines and hills (Esmeralda said she stopped counting at 23 last year), and the wind that it was famous for.  source

The next 25 miles were brutal. I don’t even think I can fully describe how mentally and physically broken I was in this last quarter of the ride. source

At about mile 83, we passed over I-10, and a sign read “Shiner 19.” I was happy to be in the home stretch, but also thinking, “crap, I have 19 more miles!” Of course these were the hilliest and hardest miles of them all. I lost close to a mile per hour of speed, and I think I was talking out loud to myself, possibly even cursing. Hey, whatever it takes. source

Winds were out of the SSE about 15-20 ALL DAY, with some gusts closer to 25-30. And the last 10 miles, you turn from Moulton onto 95 straight south into Shiner – and directly into head winds. source

People even complained about the road conditions:

The roads were of wildly varying quality. The roads around Austin, Shiner, and some of the bigger towns along the way were nice and smooth, but a lot of the ones in between were chip-seal. source

I watched the weather forecast. I knew it would be a hot and windy day (33C/92F), with winds from the south-east up to 20 mph, opposing us most of the way. I honestly thought we wouldn’t be able to make it. The previous reviews were making this seem like terror on a stick.

Although I told myself: I am a stronger cyclist this year. I have done a couple imperial centuries before (and many metric centuries). I can do this. If nothing else, these reviews show that there could also be people suffering as much as me. It will be ok.

hills: do them

I will get to the punchline for those not interested in the details: This was a great ride. My anxieties were exaggerated. It was a wonderfully well-supported and fun ride. I am so glad I did it. We would not hesitate to do it again if we still lived here.

I don’t know how many cyclists did it this year but they were capped at 2000 riders. I’d venture maybe 1600-1800 people took to the roads.

It was a fun and crowded start at 7 am but the rest stops were well placed and well stocked. The rest rooms were busy at the beginning but it tapered as the crowds thinned out. I had my fill of fruits (bananas moreso than oranges), protein bars, water, electrolyte juice, peanuts, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, pretzels, cookies, etc. They even had sunscreen and bandaids. There were 7 rest stops in total, with three in the first half and spaced closer together towards the end. There was a well-deserved (but short) stop with only 10 miles left. Usually one would just breeze right through, but I knew the hardest part would be at the end.

The terrain was not as difficult as advertised. The hills were rolling, and quite continuous, but nothing too steep. The wind made it more challenging but sometimes we caught a tailwind. Flying effortlessly at 46 km/h on a flat is such a fun experience, even moreso than flying downhill for me. Rob thinks we had more crosswinds than headwinds, but I think he just forgot about the headwinds.

Rob and I stuck together the whole time and most riders seemed to be solo or small disorganized groups. The organized groups were perhaps faster than us! People were riding all kinds of bikes, some hybrids, some without clippy shoes, some even without baskets if no clippy shoes. I make no judgment because that was me. My first double (imperial) century ride was on my hybrid bicycle and no fancy shoes or baskets. You have to start somewhere. This ride actually reminded me of that ride to Cornwall, although I think Cornwall was more flat. I kept telling myself that this would be easier than Rideau Lakes since that is 172 km each day.

In fact,the worse part was that this was advertised as a 100-mile/160-km ride and it was over 165 km on my odometer by the time we finished. Those last 5-10 km were the hardest as it was mostly a long and windy (ie, with wind) uphill without any fun downhills to recover. There were people manning nearly every intersection and when the police woman told us the end was just around the corner, we were almost there, it made me so happy.

We rolled in at 3:45 pm, with around 6 hours and 45 minutes of biking time. (We obviously took a lot of breaks!). We were greeted by cheers and a participatory medal. Then we joined the party. There were showers if we wanted to get cleaned up but the only thing I wanted to change were my shoes. Next, we found some drinks (sadly the Kombucha booth had packed up already, boo) and chowed down on veggie burgers with sauerkraut and mustard. We found a picnic table under the shade and chatted with some other riders. A few hours later, we loaded our bikes and took the bus back to Austin. As we left, a bit after 5 pm, riders were still cycling in. They were greeted by everyone giving them a round of applause. Hurrah for them!

They had threatened to pick up riders if they had not cycled 90 miles by 3pm (depending on the wind), but I am not sure whether they did that. I knew there were too many riders behind me to threaten to pick me up due to being too slow!! :)

In short, I had a blast. For the beginner-intermediate cyclist, I think this is a great route. Highly recommended.

The cycling doesn’t end, though. In a month, I will cycling Rideau Lakes again with my Dad.

I promise some new treats later this week. :)

Note: Hills photos via here. If you know the original source, please let me credit the artist.

PS. You can find another 2014 Shiner recap here.

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Manchurian Chickpea Bowl & More Quick-Fix Vegan Review + Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on May 3, 2014

Manchurian Chickpea Bowl

I have another great cookbook to share with you.

Quick, healthy, vegan meals. What’s not to like?

Like The Oh She Glows Cookbook, I have been madly cooking out of Robin Robertson’s latest cookbook: More Quick-Fix Vegan.

She promises simple, delicious meals in under 30 minutes. Provided you have cooked brown rice (which takes 45 minutes to cook), she’s right!  Delicious vegan cuisine need not be elaborate nor time consuming.

Manchurian Chickpea Bowl

Take this exotic-sounding vegetable bowl: Manchurian chickpea bowl.

Manchurian cuisine is a subtype of Chinese cooking that heralds from the North-East region of China. While I am not sure how authentic it is, Gobi Manchurian may be a well-known dish. A spicy tomato sauce infused with ginger and garlic typically smother deep-fried cauliflower. In this inspired dish, cauliflower (roasted, not fried, in my case) is joined by potatoes, peas and chickpeas. I was worried the chickpeas would seem out-of-place, but they were actually very good. It seems more Indo-Chinese (or Hakka-inspired) rather than Manchurian. In any case, I can whole heartedly recommend it. Delicious. Even without choice leftovers (hello leftover roasted cauliflower), this could be pulled together within a half-hour.

Manchurian Chickpea Bowl

I have been slowly cooking my way through the cookbook and again, had the same difficult: which recipe to share. My full reviews can be seen here, but I also highly recommend the uncanningly simple “Roasted brussels sprouts and chickpeas” which reminds me of my Easy Cheezy Chickpeas and Kale. The cookbook includes many one-dish meals including soups/stews. bowls, stir-fries, pasta, sandwiches, pantry-friendly, oven-cooked meals and even quickie desserts. I appreciate that most meals are based on whole foods and not vegan substitutes (mostly. dessert section exempted). Robin does supply recipes for some of the convenience foods including a cashew-based vegan cream cheese and tofu-based vegan mayonnaise. Having these staples pre-made expedite getting dinner to the table.  Of note, Robin calls for ketchup a few times (like in this recipe), although I substituted my own convenience food: mild Turkish red pepper paste. Booyah!

Manchurian Chickpea Bowl

Recipes from More Quick Fix Vegan shared elsewhere:

Chipotle-Sweet Potato Bisque
Chickpeas Nicoise
Kale and Black-Eyed Peas With Smoky Grits
Three-Bean Pantry Chili
Sweet Potato Barbecue Bowls
Veracruz Tacos

Banh Mi Inspired Noodles
Banh Mi Bowls
Avocado Mousse with Raspberries
Date-Pecan Bars
Mango Fried Rice Pudding
Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream
Blueberry Chocolate Trail Mix Bark

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living anywhere in the world (YAYAYA!). To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your quickest and/or easiest vegan meal. The winner will be selected at random on May 16, 2014. Good luck!

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

PS. I am sharing this with My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Sowmya.

PPS. Do you like my purple slippers in the last photo?  They were so colourful I had to keep them in. Can you tell I just blindly lift my camera to take shots from overhead? Sometimes I am way off-target. ;)

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