the taste space

Matcha Ginger Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Drinks by janet @ the taste space on December 3, 2013

Matcha Ginger Smoothie

It took me awhile, but I finally succumbed.

Caffeine: sometimes, I need a little extra oomph in the morning.

I made it through university, medical school and a 5-year residency before I contemplated caffeine. A few months into my fellowship, with its longer hours, I started with a bit of green tea.

I am not drinking coffee or black tea (I actually don’t like the taste), but Rob and I both knew something was up after we scoped out green tea for me to drink while in Mexico. Three days with a morning green tea latte.

Just the trickle of caffeine was able to fuel me throughout the day, though. Rob and I powered through multiple markets (food and general markets), biked around midtown, visited cathedrals, admired public murals, walked around Frida Kahlo’s home, cheered for Mexican wrestlers (ok, maybe we just watched) and our most anticipated event: walking up ancient pyramid ruins outside Mexico City.

We left Houston, and its cold weather, and thankfully, by the time we returned, it was back to its glorious warm self. I am back to cycling in shorts. I know, this may not be the most seasonal recipe for those in a winter climate, but I have been enjoying a multitude of smoothies since I received Kathy’s cookbook, 365 Vegan Smoothies.

Matcha Ginger Smoothie

Each weekend, after our standard cycle adventure, I would return home for a frosty drink. I’d leaf through and pick a new smoothie each week. I quickly learned that I had to plan my smoothie in advance. Sometimes, I had a hard time deciding which smoothie to make! So many options, so little time. However, once I made this Matcha Ginger Smoothie (the ever-creative Kathy named it Matcha Ginger An-Tea-Oxidant Shake), (Rob and) I knew it was the winner. The one I would photograph and share with you.

Creamy and sweet frozen bananas complement the bitter green tea matcha, but the best part was the ginger twist. Kathy suggested using a dash of ginger powder, but sharp flavour from fresh ginger is unbeatable in this smoothie. A high speed blender would have no problems whipping this into a delicious drink.

Matcha Ginger Smoothie

I was not sure whether a smoothie cookbook would be worthwhile, but I have had fun trying out different drinks. With 365 different recipes, you are bound to be inspired by a few new combinations: walnut-carrot cake, jazzy ginger grape, lemon-beet clarifying cooler, maple spice buckwheat shake, mango-cado kale kiss, a-peel-ing chai shake. Her crazy concoctions span smoothies with vegetables, fruit and nuts or non-dairy milk. Occasionally yogurt or fruit juice slips in, too. Thin and frosty, or thick and decadent. All vegan. I also appreciate that nutritional facts are included (all recipes serve 2 but the nutritional contents are for the entire recipe).

Beyond the recipes, Kathy is also a fabulous photographer. I find it hard to photograph drinks, but her cookbook is peppered with gorgeous photography. Bright, colourful and tantalizing, signatures of her blog, Happy Healthy Life. It is refreshing to see wholesome ingredients highlighted at their finest. Kathy also takes the time at the beginning to ground you in smoothie creation, with troubleshooting and myths debunked. She also highlights being creative and flexible in the kitchen. I don’t like ice in my smoothies (Kathy is a big fan) but just adjust as you see fit.

I really want to share this cookbook with you and thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite recipe by Kathy. If you haven’t made anything by Kathy yet, have a look through the table of contents of 365 Vegan Smoothies on google books (or my list above or below) or pick something from her blog and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 11, 2013. Good luck!

PS. Kathy’s recipes from 365 Vegan Smoothies shared elsewhere:

Sassy Green Kick Start Smoothie
Pink Kiss Smoothie
Watermelon Frosty

PPS. There is still time to enter my giveaway for The Simply Raw Kitchen.

This is my submission to this week’s Health Vegan Fridays and this week’s Raw Food ThursdaysVirtual Vegan Potluck and this week’s Smoothie Sunday.

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.

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Guava Flax Smoothie (& Houston’s cronut)

Posted in Drinks by janet @ the taste space on September 8, 2013

Guava Flax SmoothieHave you heard of cronuts? Maybe the dosant? They are both spins on the same baked hybrid: a donut-like croissant. The original cronut wooed New York City. However, they take days to make and minutes to sell out. The lines are long and the prices are high. Since then, a few knock-off dosants have peppered North America.

In Houston, they can be found at Pena’s Donut Heaven in Pearland. When Rob discovered this, we had our next cycling destination picked. Turns out, while the cronut was not that fabulous, we’ve discovered our favourite cycling route in Houston, thus far. We’ve pedalled back 3 times already, enjoying the long, flat and straight road leading out of downtown Houston. Of course, Pena’s dosant is not vegan and I oftentimes get giggles from strangers as they see me snacking on an apple while Rob munches on his donut.

When we get home, though, I have been mixing up my own fabulous tropical smoothies. We’re working through different frozen fruit pulps. After our trip to Colombia, it was hard to find tropical frozen fruit (mamey, guanabanana, lulo, etc) in Toronto, but we snagged a bunch when we spotted it at Fiesta Mart. Mamey is still my favourite, but this simple guava smoothie was very good, too. Usually we just drink it and forget it, but this one I remade and photographed because I thought it was perfect to share. Frozen guava is combined with frozen banana, almond milk and ground flax seeds. The flax bulk up the smoothie making it more creamy. You may see the small flecks of brown but you can’t taste them.

Coming home to a cold drink is definitely the way to go in Houston.  Do you have a favourite treat for hot weather?

Guava Flax SmoothieThis is my submission to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays.

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Zucchini “Meatballs” and Tomato-Curry Sauce with Almond Parmesan (aka Vegan Indian Spaghetti and ‘Meatballs’)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on June 18, 2013


I used to wonder if my Indian dishes were up to snuff. It has been so long since I had been to an Indian restaurant, that I have nothing for a comparison. I usually rely on Rob’s opinion, who eats out more than I do. While on my many travels last year, I stumbled upon a highly rated Indian resto that had quite a few vegan options. I helped myself to the vegetarian platter and while I ate it, the only thing I could of was that I could make better Indian food at home. Not that the food was bad; only my curries are much better, if I may say so myself. Rob has taught me well. Furthermore, I can control the level of spiciness and the amount of added oil (no deep-fried belly aches), making dishes that are truly perfect for me.

Another advantage of cooking Indian at home is that you can go totally crazy, too.  Crazy in the foodie-sense, of course.  Have you ever seen an Indian dish with noodles? Italian meets Indian. Sounds like a perfect description of Joanne, who shared the lovely recipe.

Here, we have spiced zucchini and chickpea meatballs (aka kofta) that are baked, not fried. They are served overtop a tomato-curry sauce. The next question was what to serve this with. You could go with rice to return to the Indian base, but Joanne served it with polenta. I wanted to continue with the Indian spaghetti theme. Therefore, I used zucchini noodles and made a raw almond parmesan topping. Cooked meets raw. Zucchini on zucchini. Craziness, pure craziness,  I tell you… but all in a good way. :)

If you think I am just tooting my own horn, I urge you to try our favourite Indian dishes and decide yourself:

Nepalese Mountain Lentil Curry (Dal Bhat)
Split Pea Dal with Ginger and Lime

Indian Lentils with Spinach (Dal Palak)
Plantain, Cabbage and Coconut Curry with Split Pigeon Peas (Indian Cabbage and Plantain Kootu)

Cumin-Scented Pigeon Peas with Mango (Mango Curry with Toor Dal)
Indian Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Chickpeas (Baingan Bharta with Chickpeas)
Indian Eggplant and Lentil Curry (Dal Bhat Meets Baingan Bharta)
Butternut Squash, Coconut, and Lentil Stew (Aarti’s Indian Summer Stew)
Cauliflower, Spinach and Chickpea Balti
Tamarind Lentils
Indian Chickpea and Collard Roulade with a Tomato-Mustard Sauce
Malai Koftas with Chaat Masala
Baked Lemon Cilantro Pakoras

This is my submission to this month’s Pasta Please for nuts and to this month’s Pantry Party for cheese.

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Mamey Hemp Shake

Posted in Drinks, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on June 3, 2013

Mamey Hemp Shake

Just like riding a bicycle.

I put that to the test on the weekend.

I have not been up to my typical exercise regime this spring. I pared it down to 1 weight lifting class a week and 1 bike ride. Over the past 2 months, I have not cycled more than 400km.

Yet, in a week, I have signed up to cycle 200km between Perth and Kingston. (I long gave up cycling the full 354km between Ottawa and Kingston).

I used to think anyone could ride 100km.  However, with my severe lack of training this year, I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to cycle the “short” 200km route either.

So, I dusted off my road bike (the first time I rode it this year), and cycled almost 100km with Rob and Sue on Sunday. It was one of my favourite routes (the Aurora loop) which meanders north of Toronto through such small cities like Snow Ball and Maple. Cycling north of the of the city also meant tackling the uphill during the first part of the trip and enjoying the downhill going home. All in between getting soaked from a sudden downpour and battling the wind from many directions.

Did I do it? Yes. Was it hard? Yes. Will I do it again next weekend? Yes.

Rob has been training for this throughout our short spring, so he didn’t find this route as challenging as me… which meant he had more energy when we arrived home. Originally, he wanted to treat me with some ice cream but: a) I felt more like a smoothie, and b) we should be eating through our freezer stash. As I lay on the ground, Rob whipped up a delicious smoothie. I kind of made suggestions from the floor: frozen banana, frozen mamey, vanilla, hemp protein powder and almond milk. It was a crazy concoction and we weren’t sure how it would taste…. Only after I drank a huge serving, did I have enough energy to photograph it… because we both agreed it was too good not to share.

It is hard to describe the flavour of mamey. It takes like mamey… Think about it, how would you describe the taste of apple? Anyways, it is a sweet creamy mango-like flavour with floral undertones. It has a custard-like taste and consistency. Describing flavours is hard. I like this description:

The fruit’s flavor is variously described as a combination of pumpkin, sweet potato, and maraschino cherries with the texture of an avocado. Source

It paired beautifully with the creamy banana. The hemp protein powder made it a bit more of a green colour but also added creaminess.

How did we find mamey? We originally discovered it while travelling in Colombia, both as a fruit and in delicious smoothie form. We were thrilled when we spotted frozen mamey (sapote) at a Colombian bakery in Toronto and picked up a few packages earlier this year. They also had frozen guanabanana, guava, blackberry (mora) and possibly other non-exotic fruits like strawberries.

Have you ever tried mamey? I think it is best in smoothie-form. :)

Mamey Hemp Shake

This is my submission to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch and Raw Food Thursdays. (more…)

Red Lentil Fusilli with a Zippy Vegan Rose Sauce

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on January 19, 2013

It wasn’t until I became a vegan that I started worrying about the nutritional content of my food.  I had no idea how many calories I should eat, how much protein I should consume or how to create a balanced meal.

Now I know better. I aim to create meals that are properly nutritionally balanced, aiming for more than 50g/d. Knowing that my major sources of protein are from beans, leafy greens, whole grains and a smaller amount from nuts and seeds, a meal feels incomplete without them. Where are my beans?? Where are my vegetables?

So you may be scratching your head, wondering why the heck I would post a recipe for pasta with a rose sauce, the seemingly antithesis of what I eat on a daily basis. However, this dish is packed with all good things.

First, the sauce is a zippy tomato-based creamy vegan rose sauce. All of the vegetables are roasted to create a lovely, creamy backdrop: roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted cauliflower, roasted garlic and roasted shallots. I sprinkled Aleppo chili flakes overtop to add a nice zip to the sauce. The cheesiness of a standard rose sauce is achieved with nutritional yeast, without being overpowering and cashew butter as a thickener. Throw it into your blender for an easy, delicious sauce.

But what to pair it with?

I recently picked up a package of red lentil pasta. Beans hidden in pasta form! Made by Eco Chefs, the only ingredients are red lentils and water and thus pack a nice amount of protein compared to other pastas. While I often use zucchini as a pasta substitute, it was nice to be able to have fusilli-shaped pasta. My spiralizer can’t do that to any zucchini. ;)

Next time, I may try blending in white beans, like in my High-Protein Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Alfredo Pasta or add in more greens.

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Carrot Ginger Lime Soup with Sweet Potato Hummus (& What to do with leftover roasted sweet potatoes)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides, Soups by janet @ the taste space on January 15, 2013

Carrot Ginger Lime Soup

Some people hate leftovers. (hi Mom!)

Personally, I love them. I enjoy freshly cooked food, but I love not cooking after work even more.

This is how to re-purpose leftovers into something new. The best of both worlds?

Pre-roasted sweet potatoes can be integrated into different meals.

They can easily be added to your salad of the week, but for something a bit more different, add them into a curry-flavoured sweet potato hummus for a filling dip or sandwich spread. Even though I added lemon juice to Gena’s recipe, I found it lacking the tang and bite I associate with traditional hummus. In retrospect I probably should have added some garlic, too. Still a nice dip for crackers and veggies and it travelled well while snowshoeing.

Tired of hummus leftovers? Run out of crackers and veggies? Already added it to your sandwich/wrap?  Trust me, there was a time when I couldn’t finish a batch of hummus within a week, so I understand. But now, I make a batch nearly every week. Carrots and hummus were my dessert of choice on my sweetener-free challenge.

In a land of plenty (and deficiency), you become creative. We had run out of roasted sweet potatoes but still wanted to make this carrot ginger lime soup. Of course, the reason we ran out of sweet potatoes is because I put them in the sweet potato hummus. So why not use the sweet potato hummus instead of the sweet potato? My only qualms about Tess’ original recipe for the soup is that it isn’t a meal-in-a-bowl. I prefer filling soups. Hummus, with the additional beans and tahini, adds the much needed protein and fat. A few crumbled Mary’s crackers and I had a delicious meal. One I wanted to remake hummus just to slurp the soup again when I returned home. Because it was that good and I wanted a photo to share, too.

Either way you make it, this is a simple soup. Boil nondairy milk with carrots until they are soft. Bake your sweet potato or go all out and make some sweet potato hummus. Then combine it along with ginger and lime in your blender. The cilantro topping is completely optional. Creamy, flavourful. A new way to enjoy hummus. Boo-yah! :)

Here are some other carrot soups that I’ve had my eye on:

Roasted Carrot and Lentil Soup with Harissa and Mint
Carrot and Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Miso and Thyme
Moroccan Carrot Soup
Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lemon
Carrot Soup with Miso and Sesame at Smitten Kitchen
Carrot Soup with Tahini and Crisped Chickpeas at Smitten Kitchen
Carrot and Tahini Soup at Joanne Eats Well With Others
Carrot Ginger Soup with Tahini at Cara’s Cravings
Creamy Orange Sunshine Soup (Carrot/Orange/Ginger/Cashew) at Oh She Glows
Curried Carrot Parsnip Soup at Eating Appalachia

Carrot Ginger Lime Soup

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch hosted by Helen and Camilla, to this month’s No Croutons Required with soups/salads featuring leftovers and to this month’s Herbs on Saturday.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter (Dessert) Hummus

Posted in Desserts, Sides by janet @ the taste space on October 18, 2012

Do you feel like more and more people are interested in eating whole foods?

Last weekend, between Thanksgiving meals, friends and family were curious about quinoa and kamut. One of my cousins is on a low-sodium diet and my other cousin is experimenting with a casein-free and gluten-free diet for their children and asked me if I had any kid-friendly recipes.

I had to think a bit harder. I can talk at lengths about my favorite grain (ok, pseudo-grain) but my recipes are probably not that kid-friendly. I like onions and ginger and spices and greens. Most kids like blander food. And sugary food… I think, right? I am certainly no kid feeding expert.

Dessert options came easier to me. What kid wouldn’t like a chocolate mousse pie or banana soft-serve ice cream?

Then I brainstormed more main-stream main dishes like:

Mango BBQ Beans
Pumpkin Chili
Red Lentil and Root Veggie Dal
Red Lentil and Lemon Soup

I already offered to bring hummus for the barbecue, and decided to bring two versions. My rosemary-pistachio hummus for the adults and a kid-friendly hummus: chocolate peanut butter style!

Pureed chickpeas are at the heart of this hummus, but you can’t really taste them. Compared to traditional hummus peanut butter is used instead of tahini; almond milk instead of stock and oil; garlic and lemon are removed to make room for maple syrup and cocoa powder. OK, maybe only the chickpeas keep this similar to hummus, but it was a tasty dip nonetheless. Peanut butter was the dominant flavor with more of a hint of cocoa.

I didn’t ask how the kids liked it. I imagine if they thought it was a chocolate spread they could be disappointed because it was more than that with the peanut butter. Or maybe less chocolatey, in their eyes. But the adults seemed to like it, no problem! With a few recipes requests and the leftovers snatched up, I would consider it a success.

For those with kids, do you modify your meals to be more kid-friendly and what do you change? I imagine it depends entirely on the child and their specific likes and dislikes, which may change from month-to-month. :)

This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Sra, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Pumpkin Masala Chai (Indian-Spiced Pumpkin Tea)

Posted in Drinks, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on September 23, 2012

I resisted.

I know it is fall.

I unearthed my long pants to cycle to work last week. I now don full-fingered gloves as well as my cycling hat.

But, it isn’t fall until the winter squashes come out. And the apples.

I have been relishing in the end-of-summer produce for the past few weeks. Tomatoes. Green beans. Beets. I bought some squashes but have yet to cook with them. I also got some canned pumpkin and resisted the onslaught of all things pumpkin. Until now.

Maybe I can blame it on the equinox?

Now that I’ve started, I don’t think it will stop. Not only because I have to plow through the monster of a pumpkin can but because I have found a glorious way to enjoy pumpkin.

In my morning brew.

I love my tea and usually enjoy a nice cup in the morning. Technically, I enjoy tisanes because I prefer herbal-based blends. I like rooibos but have started to shun all things with black teas. My favourite tea remains a chai-based concoction and surprisingly, I have yet to create my own home-grown spice medley. No better time than to start today with this cup.

Savoury spices, including cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom mellow nicely with the pumpkin with the peppercorns and ginger offering a nice kick of spice. I used pumpkin butter (from Trader Joe’s) as my sweetener but I look forward to fiddling with this for a less sweetened version. In any case, this was so good I had to share the recipe immediately. :)

I am also excited to make this pumpkin chili with the leftover pumpkin puree! It was so good last year! :)

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Wellness, Vegan Potluck and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

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High-Protein Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Alfredo Pasta

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on April 3, 2012

A new month, a new hospital.

Yesterday I was (slightly) complaining about my upcoming commute from our new home. After today, a 10-12 km one-way commute seems like peanuts.

A last minute change in scheduling has me rotating at a hospital outside the downtown core for April. My total commute yesterday was 37 km. Almost 2 hours on the bike.  The day’s schedule was a bit more erratic than normal, but basically my cycling looked like this:

8 km from home to downtown gym (0700 spinning class!)
10 km from downtown gym to uptown hospital (UPHILL!)
10 km from uptown hospital to downtown hospital
8 km from downtown hospital to home

Thank goodness it was broken up over the course of the day, but it was likely the spinning class that had me sore by lunch.

Considering I just started cycling to work last week, this is quite the lengthy commute.  While I have been going to the gym ~5x week throughout the winter, I always find new muscles when I hop back on my bike in the spring. I made sure to wear my padded cycling shorts. ;)

I decided to make Sunday my rest day from the gym to give me a fresh start on Monday. While Rob went to a spinning class, I was in the kitchen making this high-protein alfredo sauce with white beans, soy milk and roasted cauliflower. I bookmarked the original recipe from Jess but finally made it after Johanna also had success. My changes were roasting the cauliflower, onion and garlic with some hazelnut oil and combining that with the beans and soy milk. The lemon juice, miso, nutritional yeast and smoked paprika added extra flavour that worked well with the simple additions of baby spinach and sun-dried tomatoes to the sauce. This is a nice, comforting creamy dish. Creamy in the non-oily, non-heavy, guiltless sense, though. Perfecto! I tossed this with kelp noodles, but feel free to use your favourite pasta.

Why do I call this high-protein? Assuming you use the entire batch of sauce for 4 people (it makes a ton of sauce!), each serving has: 245 calories, 33g carbs (11g fiber), 14g protein and 8g fat. Gotta love the 2:1 carb:protein ratio! Perfect following all this cycling. :)

Two years ago, I never would have thought I would be doing commutes like this. When I started biking to work, my (one-way) commute was 4 km. Because I was essentially sedentary, I thought that was far. When I switched to a downtown hospital, my commute was 7 km, at most. When I moved out East with Rob, my commute was 8 km. When I move out West, it will be 10-12 km depending on the hospital. Having the gradual increase in distance has made this become second nature, instead of daunting. It is definitely my preferred way of traversing the city – a fun way to exercise, a great way to de-stress, faster than transit, and better for the environment. Jen recently shared this fun pic about commuting with me, which definitely reinforces why I don’t drive a car to work.

With all this cycling, I imagine I will be ready for our cycle to Niagara Falls in no time, although I am trying to figure out a better way to combine my time at the gym and commuting to work so I am not on my bike 2 hours every day!

This is my submission to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Ruth, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, to this week’s Potluck Party with high-protein vegan meals, and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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