the taste space

Raw Gingerbread Cookies with a Lucuma-Maple Frosting + Raw Cookies Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts by janet @ the taste space on December 18, 2014

Raw Gingerbread Cookies with a Lucuma-Maple Frosting + Raw Cookies Cookbook Giveaway

Cookie time! Raw no-bake cookies!

A gingerbread cookie, spiced with fresh ginger, cinnamon and cloves with a touch of mesquite with a base of almonds and caramel-like dates. Topped with a lucuma-maple frosting, not too sweet, just perfect. It was uncanny how it definitely had the flavour of gingerbread (hello fresh ginger!) without any molasses.

Raw Gingerbread Cookies with a Lucuma-Maple Frosting + Raw Cookies Cookbook Giveaway

Usually a raw cookie means ridiculously easy but I went for the more ornate cookie + frosting option. I used the tops of Mason jars as my cookie cutter to keep things simple, but feel free to cut out all the crazy shapes you desire.

Raw Gingerbread Cookies with a Lucuma-Maple Frosting + Raw Cookies Cookbook Giveaway

The cookie comes from a new cookbook, Raw Cookies by Julia Corbett. One might think it was all about raw cookies. True, all the cookies are raw. But not vegan (there is raw butter and honey in some of the recipes) but there is quite a variety of options. The cookies are broken down into coconut-based cookies (eg, Coconut Macadamia Shortbread, Lemon Poppyseed Coconut Cream Cookies), cacao-based cookies (eg, Pecan Fudge Caramel Bites, Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies and Chocolate-Topped Crunchy Peanut Cookie Bars), nut-based cookies (eg, Hazelnut Sugar Cookies, Salted Ginger Chewies and Jungle Buckeyes), seed-based cookies (eg, Ayurvedic Sesame Treats, Pumpkin Seed Spumoni), raw butter based cookies (eg, Raw Butter Snickerdoodles), Fruit-Based Cookies (eg, Wild Berry Jam Linzer Cookies) and Frostings (eg, White and Dark Chocolate Frostings).

Raw Gingerbread Cookies with a Lucuma-Maple Frosting + Raw Cookies Cookbook Giveaway

I will admit, I was excited to try the cocoa-based cookies first but many recipes called for cacao paste. I have some cacao butter hiding in my pantry but not cacao paste. So until I locate the paste, I settled for trying the fun raw gingerbread cookies. I changed a few things, like adding in some dates to help it stick together. Although by the time the cookies had solidified, the cookies were very firm, so I may have added the dates too prematurely. I also used fresh ginger (and lots of it) because I only stock the good stuff. I find the flavours of fresh and ground ginger to be quite different, so definitely add to taste. Apparently I have a very high tolerance for ginger. Bring it on!

I also really liked the contrast with the luscious frosting. I didn’t add any ginger to it, to counter the cookie base, but it worked out well. Mine was slightly lumpy because I mixed it by hand but it only bothered me after taking the photos, not while eating it.

Raw Gingerbread Cookies with a Lucuma-Maple Frosting + Raw Cookies Cookbook Giveaway

 

 

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living anywhere in the world. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite holiday dessert. The winner will be selected at random on December 22, 2014. Good luck!
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Sesame Wow Greens (A Spin on Oshitashi) + Vegan Eats World Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on December 14, 2014

Sesame Wow Greens from Vegan Eats World

Another oldie but goodie. I have been waiting to share this for a while. And now that I think about it, while the flavours are not holiday-themed, they are quite festive and cute as little mounds of green. A fabulous way to eat your greens: slightly sweetened, with a nice hit of vinegar, balanced by a homemade tahini paste and a touch of heat.

Sesame Wow Greens from Vegan Eats World

Courtesy of Terry Hope Romero’sVegan Eats World, I have told you about it before. Earlier this year, it was re-released as a paperback. Exactly the same as the original (sadly, including the subpar index) but it reminded me of some of my favourite recipes (Rob loves the Ethiopian lentils) and a lot more I still have bookmarked. With 300 recipes, this is a treasure trove of international recipes with a creative twist from Terry.

While I have many favourites from the book, the Smoky Sauerkraut Mushroom Soup (Shchi) is still one of my favourites we both really like the breakfast spin on bahn mi, I thought it was great to share a quick and easy way to add more greens to your meals. I have only ever made this with spinach, as is more traditional, you could also try chard, kale and collard greens. You no longer have an excuse when you come home with vibrant greens and uncertain how to cook them. If you don’t like leafy greens altogether, I suggest trying this similar dish which is Braised Tempeh with Green Beans in a Sesame Sauce. It is a bit more lemony but still very good.

Sesame Wow Greens from Vegan Eats World

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite international cuisine. The winner will be selected at random on December 20, 2014. Good luck!

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Chocolate Tahini Macaroons

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on November 15, 2014

Chocolate Tahini Macaroons

I see there are a lot of other coconut lovers. This quick and easy dessert is for you!

I have made raw macaroons before (raw chocolate macaroons previously, and non-traditional but lovely raw apple cinnamon macaroons), but they both used the dehydrator, which does not make them quick to make and makes them a tad unapproachable for the masses.

Thus, I was intrigued when I spotted this recipe for quick and easy raw macaroons… and also because they used tahini as the binder. Almond butter would also likely be fabulous but it was nice to switch things up a bit. The nut butter was thick enough that these macaroons held together nicely after a short chill in the fridge.

Simple and tasty, Rob declared that these could be used to woo him. Lucky for him, we’re already smitten with each other. (The wedding bells will be in a few short months!)

Chocolate Tahini Macaroons

I am sharing this with No Waste Food Challenge.

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Abby’s Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan-Oat Crust

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on September 30, 2014

Abby's Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan-Oat Crust

While it still feels like summer in Toronto, it is hard to believe Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. And as I was writing up my recipe for raw macadamia vanilla cream, I realized I never shared this fabulous recipe with you.

It still makes me smile that one of my co-workers, Abby, made a vegan and gluten-free pumpkin pie with me in mind for last year’s Thanksgiving.  Abby graciously let me take home all the leftovers which I enjoyed. Sadly, I was hoping to get better photos. I don’t think these do it any justice but figured I should still share the great recipe with you.

Abby's Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan-Oat Crust

Pumpkin pies are ubiquitous in the US around Thanksgiving but this pie was better than your traditional fare. A mixture of both pumpkin and sweet potato purees with a custard texture from tofu worked really well here. It was perfectly sweetened with a hint of savoury notes from the cinnamon and nutmeg. The recipe will make more filling than you need for one pie, which might work out nicely if you have a vegan friend who really wants all the leftovers. ;)

The crust was awesome, too, just a bit on the brown side, but with a spiced pecan background that worked well with the pumpkin pie.  As I pay more attention to the recipe, it looks like Abby took some inspiration for the crust from my pecan-shortbread crust I used with a lemon-cheesecake. You may not even need to pre-bake the crust like Abby did, so keep that in mind.

Are you ready for fall yet?

Abby's Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan-Oat Crust

I am sharing this with Simple and In Season and the Virtual Vegan Link-Up. (more…)

South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce (Tomato-Free)

Posted in Favourites, Sides by janet @ the taste space on September 23, 2014

South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce

WOAH! Stop the presses. Where have you been all my life?

No seriously.

I always thought barbecue sauces were tomato-based. This barbecue sauce has no tomato in sight. Instead, the base is from mustard and vinegar. It is amazing what a little blackstrap molasses can do to herald a sauce into the barbecue family.

The ultimate barbecue sauce is probably a very touchy/personal topic for many, especially in the US, with each region having their own spin on their special sauce for grilling. While in Texas, I didn’t go for barbecue, but I seem to be homesick for my time in Houston and bringing the barbecue back to Toronto.

However, this is not Texas-style barbecue sauce, it hails from South Carolina. Mustard-loving Germans added a barbecue twist to their local sauce and it is wonderful. Not too sweet, a heavy hand with the vinegar and a perfect punch from the savoury spices. A perfect mix for me and my love of all things mustard.

I haven’t quite decided what to do with this sauce yet. I was originally going to toss it with some tofu and veggies and then bake it, but now all I want to do is keep it. Why use that all in one go?

What is your favourite barbecue sauce and what do you like to do with it?

PS. I am sharing this with Credit Crunch Munch and this week’s Virtual Vegan Potluck.

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Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl & Salad Samurai Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on August 28, 2014

Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl & Salad Samurai Giveaway

Thank goodness I got my share of summer while I was still in Houston. Spending a month in Africa was sunny, but still a bit nippy, and definitely not that green. Our first week back in Canada was hot and humid, but that was an anomaly. Toronto didn’t get much of a summer this year, either.

However, while I am no farmer, I think one thing that has benefitted from the rainy days has been the blueberries. The wild blueberries were unbelievably big this year and the cultivated ones, even more massive. Rob tried to warn me when I loaded up with some cultivated blueberries: They don’t taste that great, he whispered to me. Turns out they were big and blueberry-delicious. And I didn’t have to share them with Rob. Score! :)

Without restraint, I added them to my morning oats and carefully crafted this salad courtesy of Terry’sFrom Salad Samurai. A multi-component, main dish salad with a spinach base, filled with cucumber and blueberries, beefed up with Ginger Beer tofu and topped with sticky, sweet & savoury almonds with Chinese 5-spice. I tried to stay true to the recipe, but only changes were to decrease the tamari because it was an ever-present ingredient in nearly all the components. I also did not want to turn on my oven for the tofu, so I pan-fried it in its marinade. It wasn’t as crispy as it would have been baked, but still good. The star of the salad, other than the big blueberries, were the Chinese 5-spiced glazed almonds which were perfectly balanced with the tamari, agave and the Chinese 5-spice imparted an interesting edge that I did not expect to taste so good.

This was not my first salad from the cookbook and it will certainly not be my last. Because the salads are huge ensembles of dressings, flavoured mains and interesting toppings, it can be hard to settle down and make an entire salad. Terry has some tips to master your art of making heavenly salads throughout the week. I have been picking and choosing each component separately, although, I really want to make everything: Thai Seitan Larb in Lettuce Cups, Lentil Pate Banh Mi Salad Rolls, East-West Roasted Corn Salad, Green Papaya Salad with Lemongrass Tofu, Miso Edamame Succotash Salad, Seitan Bacon Wedge Salad with Horseradish Dressing, Kimchi Black Rice with Asian Pear, Collards and Sweet Potato Crunch Bowl… ok, ok, I will stop. I basically want to make everything. The recipes are grouped by season and feature salads with loads of flavour from lots of fresh vegetables (no kidding) but also fresh herbs and spices. Terry also has a fun chapter for sweet salads, including a coconut carrot cake salad and overnight oats with Mexican chocolate creme that are calling out for salads for breakfast and dessert, too. Trust me, I am looking forward to cooking through this throughout the whole year.

Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living anywhere in the world (since I will be shipping it). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite salad. I will randomly select a winner on September 5, 2014. Good luck!

Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl & Salad Samurai Giveaway

Other recipes from Salad Samurai shared elsewhere:

Almond Butter Hemp Dressing

Asparagus Pad Thai Salad

The BKT (Bacon.Kale.Tomato) Bowl

Backyard Buffalo Ranch Caesar Salad

Coconut Bacony Bits

Coconut Samosa Potato Salad

Curried Tempeh and Apple Salad in Radicchio Cups

Fiery Fruit and Quinoa Salad

Grilled Kale Salad with Spicy Lentils

Herbed Pea Ricotta, Tomato and Basil

Mexican Roasted Corn Salad with Avocado (Esquites)

Pepperoni Tempeh Pizza Salad

Pesto Cauliflower & Potato Salad

Polish Summer Soba Salad

Seitan Bacon Wedge Salad with Horseradish Dressing

Sesame Noodles in the Dojo

Smokehouse Chickpeas ‘N’ Greens Salad

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays and this month’s Vegetable Palette.

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

Posted in Book Review, Desserts by janet @ the taste space 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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Raw Grasshopper Crepes (Chocolate Crepes filled with an Avocado-Mint Cream)

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on March 8, 2014

Raw Grasshopper Crepes (Carob Crepes filled with a Avocado-Mint Cream)

I may have been late to the Valentine’s Day dessert sharing by a week and truthfully, Pancake Tuesday was never on my radar.

Since there is a create-eat-blog lag, obviously, I need to be thinking about upcoming holidays months in advance. Red for Valentine’s Day? No. Green. Green is the new red, right? With what, St Patrick’s Day in March, right?

Raw Grasshopper Crepes (Carob Crepes filled with a Avocado-Mint Cream)

Joking aside, because I really don’t need an excuse to make a fun raw crepe inspired by one of my favourite childhood desserts: grasshopper crepes. My mom may chime whether this recipe is close to what she used to make: a marshmallow-cream filling spiked with creme de menthe is surrounded by a paper-thin chocolate crepe. YES! Of course, I haven’t had it in ages, but the classic flavours of chocolate and mint never fail.

Raw Grasshopper Crepes (Carob Crepes filled with a Avocado-Mint Cream)

I used an old favourite recipe for the chocolate banana crepes but switched up the filling by whipping together avocado, frozen banana and mint. I prefer the flavour from the mint extract instead of the mint leaves, but the mint leaves kind-of-sort-of made the filling green. I should have added a touch of spirulina to really make it sparkle!

Raw Grasshopper Crepes (Carob Crepes filled with a Avocado-Mint Cream)

This is my submission to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, Dead Easy Desserts and Cooking with Herbs.

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Roasted Broccoli and Quinoa Salad with Quick-Pickled Raisins

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on March 6, 2014

Curried Broccoli and Quinoa Salad with Quick-Pickled Raisins

Thank you, guys, for pointing out some technical difficulties with my last post. Everything should be working fine now, so don’t miss your chance to win a new cookbooks and try out a fabulous recipe for Cuban beer-infused black beans.

Hopefully I haven’t beaten roasted cauliflower to death yet as it is my favourite way to eat it. But, have you tried roasting broccoli yet?

Because, this was so revolutionary that a stranger came up to me at a grocery store, as I was picking out a head of broccoli. Have you tried roasting broccoli? OH MY GOSH. SO GOOD!

In my head, I was thinking: Yes, of course, I have tried it. Broccoli is great roasted! While you could just roast the head, I have got you covered with more creative options: a delicious Forty Clove Chickpeas and Broccoli and even atop a Roasted Veggie and Kale Pizza (with a quinoa-bean crust).

But it is true. Roasting broccoli doesn’t happen nearly enough. We usually opt to steam it so I decided to roast this newest head. While you can simply roast broccoli with nothing more than a touch of oil with some salt and pepper, I dusted it with curry powder first and then broiled it until it was slightly charred and tender. I then added it to some pan-roasted tomatoes and carrots, quinoa, fresh arugula and toasted cashews topped with the piece de resistance: quick-pickled raisins conferring a salty-sweet-acidy tang, nicely balancing the whole dish. The recipe inspiration came from Joe Yonan’s Eat Your Vegetables and his original recipe is for a single serving. This would be way too much work for a single meal, so I doubled it. Furthermore, I recommend doubling it again to last a few more meals as you’ll love the mix of flavours.

Have you ever tried roasted broccoli?

Curried Broccoli and Quinoa Salad with Quick-Pickled Raisins

This is my submission to this week’s Souper Sundays and this month’s No Croutons Required.

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Parsnip Rice Sushi with Sweet Tamarind Dipping Sauce & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Appetizers, Book Review by janet @ the taste space on January 11, 2014

Parsnip Rice Sushi with Sweet Tamarind Dipping Sauce

I have been very fortunate to grow up in an environment where brains were valued over beauty. None of my friends were ever on diets. If I made New Year’s Resolutions (I doubt I did; my last decade has been more of a daily self-evaluation), they were short-lived vow to be nicer to my brother. My mother (and brother) may not believe me.

It was only after I started reading food blogs, did I encounter the dizzying world of detoxes, cleanses and diets. Not that I have ever condoned detoxes. Barring liver disease or overdoses, our liver does a great job “detoxifying” our body every.single.day. Imagine my surprise when not one, but two of my friends in Houston told me they were eating 100% raw shortly after New Year’s, spurred by Kristina’s 21-Day Raw Challenge. I love the creativity that comes from cooking/uncooking/eating raw foods, but they complement my cooked vegan eats. Let’s be honest, even in Houston, winter is not the ideal time to go all raw.

Parsnip Rice Sushi with Sweet Tamarind Dipping Sauce

My friend hosted a potluck to kickstart her first day on her raw diet and this is what I brought to share. I used it as an opportunity to make something from a new cookbook, Balanced RawRaw sushi is easy to share at a party, so I tried the new recipe. I have made raw sushi before, and the recipes are quite similar, but I decided to share this version, too, mainly because Rob took some impromptu sushi rolling action shots. Using a placemat makes sushi rolling very easy. Parsnip rice is spiced with a bit of chile powder and filled with an assortment of vegetables.

Raw Parsnip Rice Sushi Demo

A note about the cookbook, though. The recipes are built around a 3-week vegan “cleanse” with a meal plan for every day. The recipes span both raw and cooked meals, but they seem to follow a low-fat 80/10/10 vegan diet. While Kristina is good about mentioning the need to eat enough calories, the meal plans in this book look woefully inadequate calorically. However, the recipes are interesting and would be a useful adjunct to whatever your typical eats may be. There are ideas for vegetables beyond salads. I use raw foods to enhance my vegan diet. It is a great way to eat more vegetables and fruits.

The publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom (YES!). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me what you think about cleanses and detoxes. Have you done one? Are you doing one? I will randomly select a winner on January 20, 2014. Good luck!

Balanced Raw recipes elsewhere:

Blue Greens Smoothie

This is my submission to this month’s I Am Vegetarian – Hear Me Raw, and this week’s Raw Foods Thursdays.

PS. There is still time to enter my giveaway for Superfood Smoothies here.

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Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on December 21, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

As I prepare to return to Canada for the holidays, Houston tugs dearly at my heart. With glorious December weather, it has taken less then 6 months for me to not miss snow. At all. Certainly, it does not feel very much like winter, but each time I cycle to work in shorts, I am positively beaming. 

Life has been a terribly wonderful busy whirlwind lately, so I apologize for being behind on replying to comments and for my disappearance next week.

I have one fabulous treat to share before the end of the year, though. December is probably the only month I could get away with sharing so many treats.

This is dedicated to all those looking for the perfect homemade protein bar. In brownie form. Is there anything you can not improve by adding chocolate?

Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

These brownies are so good for you, you wouldn’t even know it. Although I haven’t had time to make them for my Canadian excursion, I had a bit of forethought before flying to Mexico City. I was not certain of the vegan options, so I tried to cover myself with a protein-packed treat. I thought of making my chocolate mint protein bars again, but of course, I wanted to try something new.

Still based on cocoa and protein powder, this was a treat that wasn’t heavy on nuts and dates. Gooey and dense from zucchini, apple and a touch of oats and coconut flour with a heap of protein powder. Chocolate chips also added a great textural foil and bursts of sweetness. Rob decreed the chocolate chips essential to the recipe and confirmed you could not taste any hemp undertones.

Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies
While they may not be the best brownies, compared to all other brownies, they are definitely wonderful and possibly my favourite protein snack, to date. (For those interested in their stats: 219 calories, 7g fat, 26g carbs and 16g protein). I successfully halved the original recipe into my small 6″ springform pan, and it made enough for a short weekend trip.

Make sure to flatten the brownies as best you can, because there is no settling of the batter… and thus they may not look the most appealing.

Perhaps that is for the best. If you bring them to a holiday party, there will be more for you!! :)

Happy holidays everyone. :)

Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

PS. The winner for Soup’s On was Move Eat Create.


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Rich Vegan Cheesecake with a Pecan Shortbread Crust

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

Rich Lemon Cheesecake with Pecan Shortbread Crust

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

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

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

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

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

Rich Lemon Cheesecake with Pecan Shortbread Crust

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

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

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

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

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

Two-Bite Hemp Brownies

Cocoa Mint Nibbles

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

Easiest Almond Cookies

Coconut Macaroons

Chocolate-Flecked Pumpkin Seed Cookies

Sunshine Breakfast Loaf

Low-Fat Cinnamon Walnut Loaf

Fluffy Fruited Pancakes

Orange Oat Muffins

Grain-Free Autumn Oat Crumble

Butterscotch Blondies with Chocolate Chips and Goji Berries

Chocolate “Buttercream” Frosting

Ultra-Fudgy Gluten-Free Brownies

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Buns

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

Rich Lemon Cheesecake with Pecan Shortbread Crust

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

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Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies

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

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chickpea Cookies

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

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

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

What’s a cookie-loving girl to do?

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chickpea Cookies

No flour, no problem.

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

Have you baked with beans yet?

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chickpea Cookies

This is my submission to to this month’s Bookmarked RecipesVirtual Vegan Linky Potluck and to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch.

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Nut-Free Puffed Quinoa Treats

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on April 9, 2013

Nut-Free Puffed Quinoa Treats

I mentioned this in passing… I wasn’t going to share this… not because it tasted bad (it tasted great) but who wants to admit defeat? So here I am showing you that we all have our kitchen failures. You know those articles: “37 People Who Are Worse at Cooking Than You?“, “Pinterest Food Fails“, “20 Hilarious Pinterest Fails“. They even have websites dedicated to pinterest fails! Well, that includes me, too. ;)

I am not even a Pinterest Fail one-hit wonder. I generally don’t photograph my fails. Like these black bean brownie pancakes (minimal subs, I swear), mint chocolate chip protein cookies (no subs, I blame it partially on not liking Sunwarrior’s vanilla and maybe my coconut flour) or these buckeyes (I made a few subs for this one, so I will try again, methinks). But this one was still tasty, so I photographed my flop.

I wasn’t even trying to go fancy. A craving for peanut butter rice krispie treats had me perusing blogs for the perfect way to use some puffed quinoa. I eventually picked Angela’s Almond Butter Rice Crisp Treats. I settled on half a recipe because I didn’t want to make too much, but still made some a lot of changes. I used a bit less puffed quinoa because I figured there would be a higher surface area, and also decreased the sweetener (swapping in agave for her brown rice syrup), switched coconut oil for the Earth balance, ditched flax for chia, and swapped pumpkin seed butter for the almond butter (I like that pumpkin seed butter has less calories, more iron, similar or more protein than other nut butters but has a taste reminiscent of peanut butter). This seemed like a simple, malleable dessert, so I ran with it.

Nut-Free Puffed Quinoa Treats

After a minute on the stovetop on medium heat, my wet ingredients suddenly seized, changing from a melty pourable liquid into a harder taffy-like spread. Oops, I think my heat was too high? I trudged onwards, stirring in the chia even though it looked pretty sturdy and then tried to mix in the puffed quinoa. I had to mix it with my hands: I could see this going nowhere fast with a spoon. Instead of pulling out parchment paper or more oil, I figured I could freeform the bars on my silpat. I still don’t think it was that bad of an idea, although lots of untrapped quinoa puffs rolled over my counter. :( I even flipped the silpat in half to smooch it together from both sides. In retrospect rolling them into balls might have been better.

In the end, my bars, or crumbles, don’t look anything like picture-perfect Angela’s. But they were still delicious, with hints of vanilla and cinnamon within a peanut taffy studded with puffed quinoa treat. Not crispy, more chewy. In retrospect, that was how I liked rice krispie treats back in the day: less rice, more mallow, please. If only they were a bit more portable-friendly for my upcoming cycling jaunts.

Nut-Free Puffed Quinoa Treats

PS, Can anyone spot a fatal flaw in my approach? Did the heat seize the pumpkin seed butter mixture?

PPS, Comparing this to my previous Peanutty Energy Bars, this version has a better carbs:protein ratio (3:1) and 1/4 recipe has 157 calories, 15g carbs, 6g protein and 9g fat (and 31% of my iron!). I was going to add protein powder like in Ange’s energy bar, but abandoned the idea after it seized. :( I also might toy with the idea of adding pumpkin puree, date puree or chocolate next time, too. Or maybe I should stick to my easy raw treats?

This is my submission to this month’s Eat Make Grow for failures in the kitchen and to Healthy Me, Healthy Us.

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Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Almost Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on March 20, 2013

Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Almost Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)

Being known as a healthy eater has its drawbacks.

My meals have now become suspicious. Suspicious for healthy ingredients. What have I hidden in the meal this time?

Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Almost Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)

Trust me, I cater to my audience. If baking for myself, I’d easily experiment with squash carob brownies, cauliflower chocolate cake, chocolate chip chickpea blondies or chocolate mint black bean cookies. I have even gambled with (oh so good) chocolate tofu mousse pie with my family for Easter.

But for the harshest critics, I go all out.

Thus when Rob’s family came over for a birthday celebration and I offered to supply dessert, I had to determine my plan of attack.

Almost Guiltless Chocolate Mousse Pie? I knew it was a winner, but I had no tofu.

Rob suggested my Carrot Cake Cupcakes since he really liked them, but I thought they might be a bit “out there”. Carrots for a birthday dessert? (Only mine..)

Experiment with a new recipe? I considered Terry’s Italian Cashewcotta Cheesecake or Ethiopian Chocolate Flourless Torte, but still had the issue of missing ingredients.

Then I worked backwards. What do I have in my pantry? Coconut oil, nuts and cocoa powder. Cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds. Sounded delicious already. I peered around the corner of the cabinet and pulled out hazelnut butter. Eureka! A raw chocolate hazelnut cheesecake.

Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Almost Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)

I like raw desserts because I can sample the batter and can easily gauge how it will turn out. Licking the batter from the blender, I knew this was going to be good.  The next afternoon, I brought out the cheesecake to thaw. I cut a piece before everyone arrived. You know, for blogging photography purposes. But I sliced off a tiny sliver so I could do some tasting research, too.

I know I said my last raw cheesecake was utterly sinful, but how can a key lime pie compete with a chocolate cheesecake? A chocolate hazelnut cheesecake? It can’t. This my friends, was pure cocoa bliss.

Better than Nutella filling in a cheesecake form, on a cocoa-hazelnut-date crust. Decadent but not too rich and not too sweet. Perfect.

Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Almost Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)

Trust me, I was very confident with this dessert.

Before I served it, I was pummeled with questions, though. “What IS this?” I was asked. Ingredients or the name of the dish? Ingredients, tell me. Nuts, coconut oil, cocoa powder, agave, dates… Avocados? I hate avocados.. No avocados…

Thank goodness it was a resounding success. Definitely my best dessert yet.

Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Almost Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)

This is my submission to this month’s We Should Cocoa for fame, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays.

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