the taste space

Watermelon Mint Frosty

Posted in Drinks, Favourites by janet @ the taste space 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 @ the taste space 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

 

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Classic Cheesy Kale Chips & Choosing Raw Cookbook Review+Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space 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 @ the taste space 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 @ the taste space 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 @ the taste space 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 @ the taste space 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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Strawberry Balsamic Vanilla Steel Cut Oats

Posted in Breakfasts by janet @ the taste space on June 17, 2014

Strawberry Vanilla Steel Cut Oats with Mosto Cotto

Thank you so much for your positive response to my cookbook. You can see Johanna’s review of it here.

I have been debating whether to go on a complete blog hiatus during the summer or work on some pre-written posts. I am leaning towards a blog vacation simply because my absence will be too long for me to mask or simply dwindle down to a post once a week.

When deciding what to share this week (while I was on vacation last week), I had to see what was lurking in my archives. (Note: I should have added one more tip for food bloggers: have draft posts and lots of them). As such, I have been hunting through my archives of not-yet-published posts. You know – the half-written posts, the posts without any photos uploaded and the worst – the ones without a recipe.  As soon as I discovered these photos, I knew I wanted to share them.

The glowing strawberries are oh-so-ripe and the drizzle of balsamic layered nicely around the oats. I would love a bowl of this right now.

Strawberry Vanilla Steel Cut Oats with Mosto Cotto

Truthfully, I don’t remember making this but my photo time stamp tells me it was 2011. Obviously around strawberry season. Perfect timing because Ontario strawberries are just starting to appear, as we found out this weekend.

This dish was from a time when I used to toast my steel cut oats as I waited for the water to boil. Now I don’t bother.

It was before I started adding protein powder to my oats. My current concoction is a murky green stew but I am not sure if that is any better than my previous (chocolate) brown variety with berries. I used to share a lot of my morning eats but with my morning monotony there is not as much day-to-day novelty. I already shared a Balsamic Lemon-Blueberry Steel Cut Oats which was likely my inspiration 3 years ago.

Be it resolved to change my morning oats this week? Absolutely!

How about you? Do you have a similar breakfast every day?

Any preferences for my blog sabbatical? I am toying with the idea of a few summary posts (like the best vegan restaurants in Houston and Toronto).

Strawberry Vanilla Steel Cut Oats with Mosto Cotto

PS. I am sharing this with Four Seasons Food for Red, Shop Local, and Simple and In Season.

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Announcing my e-Cookbook: A Vegan Dinner Party & Giveaway

Posted in Book Review by janet @ the taste space on June 14, 2014

Vegan Dinner Party cookbookVegan Dinner Party cookbook

I know I share a lot of great cookbooks with you, but I am beyond excited to share with you a cookbook I have been working on myself over the last year. You guys know that I am a physician but you may not know what Rob does all day. He is a software programmer with special expertise in mobile platforms, like Android, iPhones, etc. For years, I have asked him to make me a “Taste Space App”. He has refused because the wordpress website is rather mobile-friendly. You can find everything you need through the search (if you already know what you’re looking for). It would take him too much time to create an app that would be more useful than what I already offer. So that was that.

But then I was approached to contribute to a new e-cookbook focusing on vegan dinner parties. I was honoured to be included amongst my co-authors: Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan and Anya Kassoff of Golubka Kitchen, both with their own gorgeous cookbooks. As an e-cookbook, the focus is on recipes you can access through multiple devices as it can be accessed online, on Kindle, iBooks, and Amazon.

Vegan Dinner Party cookbook

The cookbook includes 28 tried-and-true vegan recipes specifically for entertaining. Most are gluten-free and the benefit of 3 different authors give you a variety of recipes. I contributed some of my favourite recipes that are easy for entertaining, impressive and many of our guests have enjoyed eating. Some of the recipes have videos, too, showing you how to do some of the harder techniques.

Vegan Dinner Party cookbook

The cookbook is part of a series of e-cookbooks called Culinary Quandaries. The other cookbook published so far is a Gluten-Free Dinner Party, if you are interested in that, as well. As one of my readers, you can save 30% if you buy it through these links: A Vegan Dinner Party and A Gluten-Free Dinner Party (the discount should show up automatically). Furthermore, I am giving away a copy to one lucky reader (anywhere in the world).

For the giveaway, leave me a comment about your experiences with e-cookbooks. I will randomly select a comment on June 20, 2014. Good luck!

Vegan Dinner Party cookbook

Raw Mango Ginger Energy Balls & RLCT Recap 2014

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on June 10, 2014

Raw Mango Ginger Energy Balls

This month has and will be a whirlwind.

In fact, this entire summer will be a crazy, wonderful adventure.

I have not leaked my summer adventures here yet. In brief: cycling, long vacation, moving back to Toronto, and yet more cycling. I am warning you now. There may not be much blogging.

For now, my early summer cycling triumphs have been conquered. A month ago, Rob and I rode the 165-km Shiner GASP and I finally got my riding mojo back a few weeks ago in time to ride the 2-day/334-km Rideau Lake Cycle Tour (RLCT) with my father last weekend. This was my third time on the course, but the second time I did the full “Classic Route”. I described the route the first time I did it in 2011, but each year feels different depending on your level of training, equipment and weather.

Despite reducing my weekly cycling from 250 km to 150 km over the last month, I felt reasonably fit for the ride. I knew there were big hills that I just could not train adequately while in Houston, but we found as many hills as we could.

One difference this year, though, was that I did not have my own bike. A friend of my father graciously lent me a road bike for the weekend, although in the end, it was a men’s bike that did not fit me properly. I took it for a ride the afternoon before the ride and was sore. Too sore, too fast. I frantically tracked down a women’s road bike I could rent for the weekend which is hard to find when over 2000 other people are expected to cycle to Kingston. In the end, I found a nice bike to rent from an unlikely of stores, and they even loaned me cycling shoes to boot. This is the first year I have tried clips for my bicycle. There are different systems for clipping your shoes into bicycle pedals and SPD clips have been the bane of my existence. This weekend, I may have found a new clipping system I prefer: KEO.

In any case, while my Dad and I had fun together riding over the hills, I fell victim to all my new things, with saddle sores. Instead of my legs being tired, it was mainly the soles of my feet and my saddle that were the most bothersome. While some of the hills were still challenging, I felt the best prepared of all years. Granted, my Dad did 80% of the pulling. ;) Thankfully, the wind was not too bad but I think it helped to shave 15 minutes off our return ride along with an hour less breaks.

I actually did not bring anything recipe-inspired with me during my ride. Instead, I ate lots of bananas, dates and almonds. The dates and almonds would have been pulverized into balls anyways, so it was basically deconstructed trail mix. ;) I will not deprive you of a delicious recipe, though. They are not too travel-friendly though. I soaked the cashews, as recommended by Sarah, but I found them too creamy to be portable. Still delicious, though. I added some ginger, as a nod to the Lovely Lemon Hemp Protein Bites. I actually think these would be better with a shredded coconut dusting on the outside, but I only had coconut chips which don’t lend as well to pretty exteriors.

I am on vacation for the rest of this week and very happy to not be riding for a few days. Our next goal is finding a place to live.

In case you’re interested, another review of this year’s ride was here and one from the volunteers that man the ham radio stations here.

Please tell me about all your plans for the summer!

Raw Mango Ginger Energy Balls

I am sharing this with Healthy Vegan Fridays.

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Quick & Easy Salsa Chickpea Tacos

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on June 7, 2014

Salsa Chickpea Tacos

Did you know that Trader Joe’s is not in Canada? The closest thing we have (well, those who live in Vancouver) is Pirate Joe’s. They temporarily renamed themselves Irate Joe’s as they were being sued by TJ’s. TJ’s lost but is continuing to appeal. In any case, we’re getting our fair use of TJ’s while still in Houston.

Sadly, though, it took me 10 months to locate their perfect salsa. Their chunky salsa is totally my favourite. Perfectly spiced with a robust tomato flavour, I love it. I also managed to go through a container in less than a week.  I started adding it to everything.

In fact, this is such an easy recipe, it is almost non-recipe. I envision this as the perfect travelling meal – mix and eat. Until then, it will have a happy place in my kitchen.

Mix some salsa with chickpeas and chopped bell pepper. Throw it overtop some shredded broccoli and carrots for more crunch on a taco shell, and you’ve got a meal.  I topped mine with a healthy dose of nutritional yeast which became creamy and gooey with the extra salsa. Totally not optional for those who love nooch.

I may go into salsa withdrawal. Can anyone recommend a good recipe? I cannot imagine it being hard to make. ;)

Salsa Chickpea Tacos

PS. I am sharing this with Souper Sundays and this month’s My Legume Love Affair hosted by Susan. (more…)

Laotian Larb Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on June 5, 2014

Laotian Tofu Larb Lettuce Wraps

I told my friend in Houston that I had reached the height of my vegan eats here. There were no new restaurants I wanted to try. She assured me there were so.many.more to try and convinced me to try a nearby Thai restaurant. Oddly enough, Rob has spotted it earlier that week and was amused by its billboard that announced it was MANGO SEASON!

I was apprehensive but she assured me I would love it. She told me they had vegan ice cream. I was sold.

She did not lie. I loved it. So much so, that I quickly tried to figure out how to recreate the dishes.

Laotian Tofu Larb Lettuce Wraps

This is a spin on Laotian larb. Of note, Rob tells me this is nothing like the original and in fact, if you pronounce the r in larb, that is wrong, too.  Make no mistake about its simplicity, this salad wrap was GREAT!

A few fun points: This was the first time I have steamed tofu. I LOVED it. It made it nice and fluffy and once crumbled, it absorbed the flavours of the marinade incredibly well.  Lime juice, cilantro, in a salty-hot-sweet background, it was nice, fresh and light. After an overnight soak, it was absolutely perfect and lasted for a few days of lovely leftovers for lunch.

Laotian Tofu Larb Lettuce Wraps

I took inspiration from the restaurant to serve it next to a quarter of an iceberg. Its solid leaves make for excellent wraps, more sturdy than most lettuces and is rather mild on the green scale. Besides, it is always good to rotate your greens. :)

Do you have a favourite green wrap? I thought collards were my favourite but I was rather smitten by the iceberg lettuce. ;)

Laotian Tofu Larb Lettuce Wraps

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays, Eat Your Greens, No Croutons Required and Extra Veg.

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Maple Sesame Crackers

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on June 3, 2014

Sesame Seaweed Snaps

Spring cleaning isn’t just happening in our kitchen. Rob has decided it was time to clean up our hard-drives, over-drives and Monkey drives, too. Mostly spurred because, after trying to amalgamate his important files with my important files, it would not fit on our 1 terabyte of online back-up space.

Rob thought it was a bit nuts.

My files are mostly photos. Mostly food, but also from travel and of family/friends.

My shutter count on my six-year-old camera is 101,501. That’s only ~17k photos a year.

Apparently I take too many photos. And I keep them all. And then some.

I will let him tackle the computer while I tackle the kitchen, thank you.

Sesame Seaweed Snaps

We seem to have an excess of sesame seeds. Sadly, I bought a pack late in the year when I couldn’t find my original package…. I thought we were out. Instead, now we have twice as many sesame seeds. With our sesame seed surplus, I also made these fun crackers.

A simple cracker made with sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds and maple syrup. I remain a bit apprehensive of black sesame seeds since I don’t find them as flavourful as their whole counterparts, but they certainly make for a pretty cracker. The maple syrup bound it all together after baking. Maybe I don’t need brown rice syrup afterall? ;)

Have you checked? What is your shutter count?

PS. In my defence, I take much less photos than I used to….. and my camera has travelled to many fun places over the years)

PPS. To find your shutter count with a DSLR, you can find it embedded within the Exif information of a photo, and it can be easily unearthed through Picasa.

PPPS. I am sharing this with Bookmarked RecipesHealthy Vegan Fridays, and this month’s No Waste Food Challenge.

Sesame Seaweed Snaps

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Green Pea Curry (Mattar Masala)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space 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 @ the taste space 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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