the taste space

Spicy Mango Wrappers (or Raw Spicy Mango Chips!)

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on May 5, 2013

Spicy Mango Wraps

Wrappers. Not to be confused with Spicy Mango Wraps.

Because the mango is part of the wrap. In the wrapper.

Rob left for Kitchener yesterday and left me alone to study. I was so close to joining them. The reduced distance was a draw, but the kicker: I am sick. I have been down with an ear infection and upper respiratory tract infection all week. No fun… and not a good way to recover. Studying has never been more focused.

Of course, what is more fun than studying? Cycling, I know. I didn’t do that. I went to my regular Pump, though. No Shred. (PS, I love it when instructors in the audience fill in for no-show subs). First gym visit, actually, for over a week. When I returned home, I looked at the case of mangoes (not the Alphonsos, those were eaten; the case of Ataulfos Rob bought afterwards), glanced at my dehydrator and then outside and had dreams of an ice cream summer. It was then that I decided to forge ahead with valiant plans to make mango cones.

Spicy Mango Wraps

Mango cones are hard to make, though. Folding them to be all cone-like? Um, yeah, didn’t happen. No patience for that right now. So I dehydrated large sheets of a mango-coconut-flax wrap spiced with chili pepper and basil (optional, not necessary). Cut them into circles. Ate all the scraps as chips.

Now all I need is some ice cream… Rob has been encouraging of my ice cream needs to help my sore throat. My Mom advocated for honey-lemon tea. I tried lemon tea (sans honey) and it didn’t work. But ice cream, YES!

I digressed… We did a tour of the nearby grocers recently. Vegan ice cream cannot be found at my ethnic grocer (I knew that), Walmart, Freshco, nor Metro. The Sweet Potato and Fiesta Farms are our sure-fire bets but I know the Mega Loblaws downtown has it too… not sure about regular non-Mega Loblaws. It probably would be considered a frill at No Frills. Who knew vegan ice cream would be so hard to find? Because shouldn’t everyone be eating vegan ice cream with a sore throat and tummy? Dairy is a no-no with a troubled tummy. I should probably learn how to make it, instead (something a bit more beyond my banana soft-serve). ;)

Spicy Mango Wraps

This is my submission and to this month’s Simple and in Season and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

(more…)

Spiced Acai Energy Bars

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on May 4, 2013

Spiced Acai Energy Bars

It is with a heavy heart that I have abandoned ship for the Rideau Lakes training, but that hasn’t stopped me from making cycling snacks for Rob. Energy nibbles are definitely one of the perks of long-distance cycling. Never wanting to run out of glycogen stores during long rides (aka bonk), snacking on homemade sports drinks and energy bars are a fun way to fuel a long cycle.

In addition to high carbs for quick absorption, whole foods are good options due to their beneficial nutrients. Vitamins and antioxidants can help rebuild your body as they repair from your exercise. And because I am a sucker from trying new things, especially when heralded as a leading source of antioxidants, this is how I stumbled upon acai berries (pronounced ah-sigh-ee, btw).

However, the powdered acai berries left a bit to be desired. They didn’t add much to my morning oats. Flavour-wise at least. I needed a new strategy. Because if I am going to shell out the big bucks for acai, I may as well taste it and enjoy it.

Packed with a a medley of dried fruit (dates, raisins and apricots), almonds, vanilla and cinnamon, this is a delicious treat. Not as mono-dimension as some no-frill date-heavy energy bars, I really liked the fruitiness that the acai imparted. Could you skip it? For sure, but then I’d add something like unsweetened dried cranberries or goji berries to replace the berri-ness I enjoyed.

These nibbles have been christened ‘the pepperoni’, because Rob thought I had made pepperoni during its initial phase, rolled up as a long cylinder in the fridge. Surprises abound in the fridge, but I can assure you that these do not taste like pepperoni. However, a savoury energy snack sounds like a great idea. Dried tomatoes in a pizza-like ball, anyone? :)

I also wanted to highlight a new book for any readers interested in cycling. I know I’ve recommended Every Women’s Guide to Cycling before (although I can’t find my own post, here is a good review). I read it a few years ago when I first became interested in long-distance cycling. I felt like she was whispering and guiding me through the ins-and-outs of cycling. It seems so simple to get on a bike and pedal, but it is so much more than that. Have you ever wondered whether to wear underwear with your padded cycling shorts? And what the heck is chamois butter? Just a few of the tips I garnered from the book.  I really should re-read it when I resume long distance cycling again, because it is not geared solely to novice riders. And to be honest, if studying for my exam has taught me anything, it has reinforced that if you don’t use it, you will lose it. I haven’t really looked at cycling tips and tricks for a while.

However, I recently read through Bicycling Magazine’s 1,100 Best All-Time Tips.  I haven’t read the previous editions, but this version highlights quick easy-to-read tips about many different areas in cycling: traffic safety, riding positions, skill builders, training techniques, distance riding, mountain biking, racing, health and fitness, nutrition, equipment and bike care and repair. Most of the tips resonate with me as I figured them out myself over the years: there is less wind in the morning so start riding earlier (there is also less traffic), why to avoid riding through a puddle (there is probably a huge hole there, too), and the best communication during group rides (we are a very vocal bunch of cyclists).

It includes tips that reinforce aspects I need to continue to remind myself: don’t train hard more than twice a week, take at least one rest day a week and it reminds you of the signs of over-training. They even suggest that cyclists who work full-time (or go to school), should limit their training to 10-12 hours a week: protecting your time for what matters most while still giving you the most amount of benefit (something I remind myself daily). For more serious cyclists, they have tips like shedding water bottles during long climbs if you can refill shortly afterwards (because one should never sacrifice hydration).

The tips are very practical, with suggestions on how to plan your training year, how to structure a training camp, and how to be your own coach. I appreciate the short and to-the-point nature of the tips, but at times, I wish there were more references for the scientific advice –but that’s the doctor coming out in me. Not all techniques are so obvious and straight-forward. Building strength, endurance and muscle, can be accentuated from different angles, but make sure you figure out what works for you. So, if you are searching for the best energy bar, the ratio of carbs:protein is one thing, but taste matters, too. Too sweet? Easy to chew? Or not chew? Start experimenting now, instead of whipping up a new recipe the day of your event.

Here are some of my other favourite cycling-friendly energy snacks:

Chocolate Mint Protein Hemp Bars

Raw Lemon Barley Energy Chews

Raw Cinnamon Raisin Balls

Maca Chip Raw Energy Balls

Chocolate Brownie Power Nibbles

Cocoa-Almond Mint Nibbles

For those who prefer videos, Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Forward is a great resource, too. I enjoyed watching some of his videos from his latest module about enhancing sport performance.

Spiced Acai Energy Bars

Have you tried acai berries yet? Any favourite recipes? (more…)

Goji Chia Bircher Muesli (& Giveaway Winner)

Posted in Breakfasts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on April 27, 2013

Chia Bircher Muesli

Wow, once you start, it can be hard to stop.

I may have unrawified the quinoa wraps, but I have been noshing on lots of great raw eats all week. I also ventured away from my standard chocolate oats, and re-entered overnight oats territory. For some odd reason, I usually only eat overnight oats when I have an empty container of nut butter. The overnight soaking allows you to absorb all the rest of the nut butter on the sides of the jar.

Chia Bircher Muesli

(and yes, I think that’s some carrot that snuck in from my grater, hehe)

I like how simple changes can truly transform my breakfast. I routinely add fresh fruit to my oats (especially apples), but I usually just chop them up. However, this time I made a spin on Swiss muesli. Nowadays, muesli is more akin to uncooked granola, heavy on rolled oats, nuts and seeds, although Dr. Bircher-Benner’s original recipe called for far more fruit than grains.

When I think of Bircher muesli, I associate it with the grated apple. Not chopped, grated. Grated apple was a fun twist. I ran with Gena’s recipe, which updated the classic recipe by including chia seeds, dried fruits and chopped almonds. The textural contrast from the soaked chia seeds, creamy oats, grated sweet apple and chopped almonds was a delicious treat. Trying to clear out my pantry, I tossed in some dried goji berries and my homemade unsweetened dried cranberries. I don’t normally like goji berries (I think I’ve had the same package for over 2 years), but found they were fantastic in here. So much so that I am sad I cleaned out the last of them… and trying very hard not to run back to Chinatown to buy some more. Must. Resist. Buying. New. Ingredients.

Chia Bircher Muesli

Do you do the nut butter jar trick? Have you tried goji berries? What are your favourite recipes?

And last, but not least, the winner for my cookbook giveaway is Ellen! I will contact you to get your shipping address.

Chia Bircher Muesli

This is my submission to this month’s No Waste Food Challenge for fruit, this week’s Raw Food Thursday and to this month’s Breakfast Club for rocket fuel.

(more…)

Raw Mango Energy Bars

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

Everyone must have mango on their minds right now.

I definitely have a lot of recipes for mango and people have been bumping into some of my old mango treats lately: Raw Tropical Mango Pie, Thai Tempeh Lettuce Wraps with Mango Ginger Sauce, and Mango Shrikhand. If you have scurried to purchase dried mango for the Raw Tropical Pie, place some aside for these delicious bars.

Even before I got my own dehydrator, I knew not all dried fruit were equal.

Now with my dehydrator, I also know it isn’t always easy to dehydrate fruit.

Apple chips are super easy. I just slice and dehydrate at 135F overnight, around 8 hours. I prefer thin slices to get a crisp chip. Thicker slices are nice when you want something to chew on. I’ve added cinnamon, cardamom and pumpkin pie spices but still prefer the plain variety.

I experimented with homemade unsweetened and maple syrup-sweetened dried cranberries, but my efforts didn’t work out so well. I tried to split the skins by blanching them, but that worked only sporadically and thus, I ended up slicing each cranberry individually. Even then, I must have over dehydrated them because they were very dry… oops!

Dehydrated pineapple has such a concentrated flavour, packed with sugar, that it almost seemed like I was eating a chew candy.

And there are some fruits that never make it to the dehydrator, like mangoes. Why dehydrate them when you can eat them fresh?

Just as we have become picky about which fresh mangoes we prefer (Honey, Alphonso and Ataulfo), not all dried mangoes are created equal.

The best dried mangoes we’ve come across are the Philippine brand dried mangoes.  They occasionally go on sale at Loblaws, T&T and can also be found at Costco. They are sweet and juicy. The dried mangoes at Better Bulk (as much as I love the store) and Bulk Barn are a shame next to them, as are the packs from Sunny’s. Sadly, the Philippine brand ain’t cheap.

With all that being said, if you find yourself with any dried mangoes at all, make these bars.


They are the best granola bar I have tried and eerily taste so good I could sell them. I am so glad that Lisa decided to share her recipe for Holy Delicious Mango Bars! I had been pining the recipe even before I had my dehydrator, actually.  I’ve made granola bars before, but those had refined sugars and butter. I’ve also made oodles of raw energy treats, but they were usually more date-heavy.

I knew Rob would love them, but had to figure out when to make them to keep them as a surprise for him. I won’t give away my secret… A humming dehydrator is hard to conceal. But oh so totally worth it.. and trust me, these are so much better than those silly packaged bars. Do they even come in mango flavours, eh? Or the flavour of love? hahaha! ;)

These are incredibly flavourful, packed to the brim with goodies like nuts, seeds, oats, coconut and raisins and dates for sweetness.  Oh, and dried mango, too. Dehydrating brings everything together, with a firm feeling. If you don’t have a dehydrator, try your hand at freezing it instead.

These are part of my recent crack obsession but they were very satisfying without being cloyingly sweet.

This is my submission to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, and month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

(more…)

Strawberry Maca Smoothie (Gorilla Food’s Strawberry Bliss Up Shake)

Posted in Drinks by janet @ the taste space on April 14, 2013

Strawberry Maca Smoothie (Gorilla Food's Strawberry Bliss Up Shake)

As I said, I should listen to myself more often. I am full of great wisdom.

Another piece of Janet tried-and-true advice: follow the recipe! I know I adapt many recipes to what I have on hand, but some recipes are best left untouched. Case in point: traditional hummus. I already have a recipe I love (LOVE!) and see no need to experiment. Winging it ends up with a subpar hummus.

For some reason, I also find juices and smoothies to be a bit finicky. Sure, I can wing random smoothies and juices, but sometimes the proportions are off, some flavours aren’t properly balanced and gosh, I know it can taste better.

Hence why I am sharing this recipe. It turned out great. When I winged this with raspberries, flax and protein powder, it was ok but not fabulous. Raspberries are more tart than strawberries and while I used flax seeds as my milk substitute, almonds and hemp seeds create a more lusciously, creamy drink. I still tinkered with the original recipe but not by much. Next time, I will add some protein powder, which can easily be hidden inside a smoothie.

Strawberry Maca Smoothie (Gorilla Food's Strawberry Bliss Up Shake)

I have eaten at Gorilla Foods a few times when visiting Vancouver and this shake is definitely one of my favourites. I found most of their dishes to be a bit lackluster although I thoroughly enjoyed their Main St. Monkey Sandwich: a raw squash-curry bread filled with olive tapenade, creamy mashed avocado, zucchini hummus, tomatoes, cucumber and sprouts. I thought there was raisin chutney, too, but I could be mistaken. In any case, it was a delicious sandwich to try if you are in their neighbourhood.

I often try to recreate resto meals. Inspired by Gorilla Foods, I’ve made a (non-raw) kabocha squash curried flatbread, but filled it with eggplant bacon as a BLT. Their raisin chutney has been on my hit-list, though. Although their guacamole recipe is in Thrive Foods, it wasn’t until they released their cookbook, that nearly their entire menu was available to be made at home.

We’re all out of raisins, though, so I started by making this smoothie. And as I already said, I wasn’t disappointed. Sweet creamy strawberries with a hint of malty maca and vanilla.

How do you usually make your smoothies? Wing it or measure it?

Other smoothies/drinks here and elsewhere:

Strawberry-Mango-Carrot Smoothie
Peachy Keen Vanilla Smoothie
Chocolate Maca Raspberry Smoothie
Cucumber-Beet-Ginger Juice
Raw Chocolate Milkshake at My New Roots (very, very good!)
Mojito Smoothie at My New Roots (different but good)

Strawberry Maca Smoothie (Gorilla Food's Strawberry Bliss Up Shake)

This is my submission to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays. (more…)

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Chickpeas (& the best cat videos)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on February 5, 2013

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Chickpeas

In the morning, I like to read through my blog roll. Rob and I read different blogs, so we often share fun links with each other.

I might share interesting recipes with Rob (beer-soaked fries, anyone?), whereas Rob might share interesting news. Real new like we’re losing the penny. Where was I last year when they decided that? Or not so important (but still real) news like the Toronto IKEA monkey that made front page news around Christmas (that I otherwise missed). Or the software developer who outsourced his own job to China. I think my favourite part of the detective work was documenting that he spent hours watching cat videos.

It is true: we love cat videos, too. Like this one, this one and this one. Oh, and this oldie but goodie. I liked those better than the World’s Best Cat Video, although it was still pretty cute. The top 30 cats of 2012 had some of our favourites, too, including grumpy cat! (With a special nod to #5, cat alarm cat).

OK, OK, I know I should be studying. :P

I have been keeping things simple in the kitchen like this easy spaghetti squash stir fry with Brussels sprouts and chickpeas. Once you’ve roasted the squash, it comes together pretty simply. An Italian spiced dish with basil lightened with lemon juice, that is really more than the sum of its parts. It has been a while since I’ve cooked with spaghetti squash. My first venture was less than stellar and it took me a while to regain my confidence. Once you get past the notion it is pasta (it isn’t), you can enjoy it as a noodly-shaped squash. Actually, if you haven’t yet watched it separate into the thin spaghetti strands, you are in for a treat. A neat trick from nature. This dish was also nice as leftovers.. booyah!

So, do you enjoy cat videos, too? Any favourites?

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Chickpeas

This is my submission to this month’s Pantry Party for noodles, to this month‘s Credit Crunch Munch and this month‘s Simple and In Season.

(more…)

Kale Granola (or Raw Coconut Almond Kale Chips)

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by janet @ the taste space on December 13, 2012

I was planning on sharing a different recipe with you today.

I had the theme of my post all figured out in my head.

I went to go find my photos… and looked, and looked and looked… I looked again.

They were nowhere to be found.

Completely scandalous in the land of food blogging, where recipes rarely get repeated and I only do one photoshoot. I really have no idea how I lost them. :(

However, while I was searching for my photos, I unearthed this gem of a recipe. Rather, I rediscovered photos that I had neglected. I obviously need a better photo tracking system.

Clearly made before my sweetener-free challenge, this packs a serious punch. Satisfies a snack attack. Or maybe not, since it is so addictive.

Kale granola.

Or kale chips with the works.

Crispy dehydrated kale is coated in a caramel lemon-cinnamon dressing and tossed with coconut, dried cherries, almonds, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds for some glorious snacking.

That other recipe? Well, it was also for a crispy snack, sweetener-free, of course. I will just have to make it again and not loose the photos.

Funny how with this blogging blooper, I inadvertently turned more blogger, with a recipe for kale chips. HA!

Have you ever lost your photos before? I once had to recover engagement photos of my brother and at-the-time fiancee. Gosh, that was stressful. But now, I have no clue where the photos could even be recovered… and NO, I did not dream that I took the photos. I had witnesses while making the recipe, too. I know I did! :)

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Graziana, and to this week’s Healthy Vegan Fridays.

(more…)

Chocolate Cherry Granola Parfait with Banana

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by janet @ the taste space on August 22, 2012

Doesn’t everything look pretty in a Mason jar?

We don’t have many clear containers in our house, actually. Rob has oodles of beer glasses, but they all have logos on them! Hmmpht… Anyways, as I was saying, things all look better in Mason jars… ;)

I don’t make granola that often, but recently became intrigued by granolas made with pureed fruits instead of gobs of sugar. Rob has willingly become my granola guinea pig. It is all for the better good of granola, right?

This was definitely not your typical granola. Not very sweet and not over-the-top chocolatey, either. The sweetness from the dried cherries and coconut hit your palate one by one as you savour the granola. Its prowess was born once it was paired with creamy yogurt and sweet bananas. I heard horror stories about soy yogurt, but it isn’t so bad!

I used millet again for a nice crunch along with toasted almonds. In this parfait, I tried to separate the granola from the yogurt but it does become a bit messy. It doesn’t travel as nicely as the Salad in a Jar, unfortunately. Oh well, make it fresh and then savour it on a relaxing weekend.

This is my submission to this month’s We Should Cocoa for cherries to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring fruit and to CookEatDelicious-Desserts for chocolate. (more…)

Raw Lemon Barley Energy Cookies

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on August 2, 2012

While Magic Tours provided all food and lodgings for the hike towards The Lost City, promising vegan eats for me, I came prepared. Just in case. Fresh fruits were a-plenty, that’s for sure. Prior to my trip, though, I had my dehydrator out in full force: I was making myself treats to keep me fuelled through this grueling hike.

I made an assortment of treats and not all made the cut.

Chickpea Granola Bars: A peanut butter-based granola bar stuffed with roasted chickpeas. Sounded great but these bars were too dry for me. They are supposed to be chilled for best eating (maybe that would have helped?), and dehydrating them did not make them more palatable. They stayed at home.

Caribbean Coconut Oat Bars: Looking for something tropical, I made these with fresh mango instead of banana. They combined oats, almonds, macadamia nuts and coconut with lime. These had promise but my bars were too thin to enjoy the fudgey/chewy texture I was hoping to duplicate. These stayed at home.

Gingerbread Cliff Bars: Hoping for a savoury energy bar without all the crap from real Cliff bars, this was a strong contender. However, these were unlike any Cliff bar I have ever tasted. The pumpkin pie spice treat tasted great but they were cakey more then dense and too fragile to bring on a hike. They stayed at home.

Chocolate Mint Protein Bars: A great good source of protein when all I had to eat was fried rice and avocado for dinner (only once). With a bit of dehydration, these were a nice portable option. Without the dehydration, they would not have survived. They came with me to the jungle, too.

However, the winner of all the snacks were these raw lemon barley energy cookies from Tess! Combining only a few ingredients, these are delicious snacks that withstood everything the jungle threw at it. Almonds. Dates. Sprouted barley. Lemon. Salt. The original recipe also had raisins, but I opted to omit it in favour of a tart lemony cookie instead. The lack of raisins (or decreased dried fruit) really helped these cookies keep their shape through all the backpack reshuffles and heat of the jungle. Furthermore, I do not like overly sweet things when exercising.  I also made Tess’ Gooey Cinnamon Raisin version of these cookies which were incredibly delicious with a heavy hand of cinnamon, but the extra raisins made them a bit more gooey and sweet in the heat.

Some of my other favourite energy snacks from my cycling adventures:

Raw Cinnamon Raisin Balls

Maca Chip Raw Energy Balls

Chocolate Brownie Power Nibbles

Cocoa-Almond Mint Nibbles

What is your favourite energy bar?

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, Raw Food Thursdays and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

(more…)

Raw Vegan Parmesan (Almonzano)

Posted in Favourites, Salads by janet @ the taste space on July 19, 2012

Thank you, guys, for your positive responses to yesterday’s less than photogenic (but tasty) dish. This falls under the same category… but I had to share it!

I often get asked what I miss most now that I am vegan.

Not much, to be honest.

Going vegan was easy for me because I don’t really like cheese and eggs. I used to drink tons of milk, though: 4L in a week. After I gave up breakfast cereal, I don’t even drink much nondairy milk. Going whole foods-only was easier because I don’t really like white rice and bread.

I look at it more as eating what I love all of the time!! No need to make any compromises! ;)

As a child, though, I adored Parmesan cheese.  I’d eat it straight from the freezer. Can I have some smelly cheese, please? My Mom would buy the I-have-no-clue-if-it-is-really-food Parmesan cheese from Kraft.  It wasn’t until university that I discovered the marvel of freshly grated Parmesan. It put the Kraft container to shame.

I recently made this vegan Parmesan sprinkle and thought it deserved its own post since it was so good. Not freshly grated melty Parmesan good, but more in the other Parmesan camp.

It got me thinking what I used to love about Parmesan: the crunchy bits, the salty tang, the hard cheesiness.

Like all vegan cheeses, this isn’t exactly like cheese but it is the closest imitation to anything cheese-like I’ve made thus far. While it isn’t a dead-ringer for Parmesan, it comes pretty darn close!  There are many versions of vegan Parmesan (basically ground nuts/seeds with nutritional yeast +/- flavours), and I chose Bryanna’s version which Zoa uses routinely.

You start by grinding some almonds with nutritional yeast and salt. Miso is the magical ingredient (ok, when is it not?). It brings it all together with some moisture, some saltiness and its wonderful umami.

I decided to sprinkle it on a simple veggie salad for lunch, inspired by Gena (white beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, baby greens and this almond parmesan), but feel free to add it wherever you typically use Parmesan. I am already imagining how I will use it for a risotto. It would have been lovely with my High-Protein Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Alfredo Pasta, too.

Other vegan Parmesan cheeses:

3-Ingredient Vegan Parmesan Sprinkle from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth
Hempesan
from Choosing Raw
Parmesan Cheese with Almonds and Sesame Seeds from Veggie-licious
Walnut Parmesan Cheese from VegNews
Flavoured Almond Miso Parmesan from SAS Does
Mustard-Cashew Parmesan from Affairs of Living
Cashew-Hemp Parmesan from Nava Atlas

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Cleare, to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, and to this week’s Wellness Weekend.

(more…)

Strawberry, Avocado and Mint Salad with a Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on July 17, 2012

Yes, I bought more strawberries!

At one point, I had fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cherries in my fridge. Oh, and Rob’s bananas, too. I am addicted to the fresh fruit. It was a good thing that Rob didn’t buy the case of fresh figs, too.

My Mom is probably scratching her head.. I just told her that I spend around $10-15/week on groceries. Granted, I have a pantry packed with my staples (beans, grains, nuts, spices) and a garden with herbs and greens (kale and collards) which makes things easier. Each week, I basically buy fruits and veggies. Cilantro, green onions and regular onions, too. Garlic and ginger every few weeks. Tofu or tempeh once a month. Veggies aren’t that expensive, guys! My recent grocery glories were zucchini for 39c/lb, bananas for 29c/lb and red pepper for 79c/lb. Oh, and two HUGE bunches of Swiss chard for $1. Suffice it to say, strawberries were on sale for $1.50/lb, so I got some more.

During my week of the salad, I tried so many different leafy salads. I am not that heavy with salad dressing, so they last a long time. I still have dressings left over. I need more greens! I also like variety, so I tried yet another dressing. This time, though, I made less. This is a simple dressing to put together, so I can easily whip it up again. And I will because it was glorious. Roasted hazelnut oil. Balsamic Vinegar. Chocolate. Need I explain more?

Oh wait, please, let me tell what I paired the decadent chocolate balsamic vinaigrette with: Strawberries. Avocado. Mint. Toasted Almonds. Raw Cacao Nibs…… oh, and lettuce, too.

Pray-tell, was it the lettuce that made you swoon? I thought not! ;)

I know some people don’t like fruits in savoury dishes (not me!) but here I am left scratching my head wondering whether this should be dessert or an appetizer. Does plating something on lettuce automatically relinquish this from being a possible dessert? Anyways, I ate this for dinner. And it was delicious.

With chocolate crepes, coconut cream and cherries and raw strawberry pudding pie for breakfast, it seems like I am eating dessert all day long!

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this week’s Wellness Weekend, to this month’s Simple and in Season, to this week’s Summer Salad Sundays and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

(more…)

Raw Strawberry Cream Tart

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on July 12, 2012

I am making babies.

(It is true that Rob and I recently celebrated our “common law” status after a year of living together, but I am not talking about our eventual (not now) cute kids)

I am talking about squash babies!

It looks like my hand pollination of the kabocha squash was successful, with at least 2, maybe 3 baby squashes rapidly ballooning in size. This kabocha squash business is actually very high maintenance. Not only do I water them twice a day, I now inspect the blossoms to scout out the females. I am not leaving anything to chance and work my magic before the bees come a-buzzin. Seems to be working so far!

Just late last week, Melissa Clark at the New York Times had a post (and video) about eating squash blossoms. The best part? They weren’t deep-fried! Her recipe was for a simple cheese and tapenade filling that used the blossoms as a wrap. While Rob and I nibbled on a few male blossoms this weekend, we’ll have to see how I incorporate them into a bona fide meal. Somehow, I feel like it is more about the filling then the wrap, since it just tasted like a sweet veggie wrap!

I seem to be late with all my strawberry loving this year, but the strawberries keep coming! Looks like the second round might be knocking.

This, however, was my birthday cake from my brunch. I was inspired by Lisa’s raw strawberry tart, not only because it was topped by loads of strawberries, but also because the cream of the tart wasn’t based entirely on cashews. Instead, a frozen banana is whipped inside to create a creamy, looser filling, of which strawberries are nestled overtop. Although it seemed like just a simple garnish, the fresh mint and grated coconut added the extra dimension to make this a special cake. Because this tart is made with frozen banana, it is best eaten fresh. I swear the base was a more creamy yellow a few hours before I took the photos but I had problems with oxidation again! Arg! ;)

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Anca, Healthy Vegan Friday and to this week’s Wellness Weekend.

(more…)

Almost Raw Chocolate Banana Crepes with Almond-Coconut Cream and Cherries

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on July 4, 2012

Strawberries are out and cherries are in. Seasonal eating at its best, right?

While I originally planned for a strawberry-filled birthday brunch, I worked towards the next seasonal fruit: cherries.

What do you think of first after I say cherry?

Please don’t say cherry red macronucleoli.
(Gosh, the July 1st studying mode has made its way into my blogging, ack!)

Try again.

Chocolate. Almonds.

Now you’re talking.

The Naked Sprout‘s brunch menu inspired me again to try my hand at raw crepes. While I had the raspberry banana coconut pancakes, Rob had the chocolate coconut crepes with banana and a blueberry cashew whipped cream drizzled with an ancho chocolate sauce and a strawberry compote. What a tasty mouthful!

Not so fancy for my home-grown brunch, though. We are aiming for stress-free gatherings, not stress-inducing gatherings!

In the end, I decided to pair the local, fresh cherries with an almost raw chocolate banana crepe and an almond-coconut cream. All of which I could make in advance and allow guests to assemble themselves.

I was scared of thin raw wraps since my raw zucchini wraps were a bit finicky. I have made these a few times, so let me assure you that these are easy to make. The Vitamix makes for a smooth batter and adding the flax seeds last gives you some time to work the batter into a thin sheet. I wanted round crepes, but here, you make a big sheet of a wrap and then cut out your desired shape. It is much easier to make a consistency thin wrap if it is one big sheet. Rest assured that the extra pieces of crepe were not wasted and went straight into my belly. This wrap has a nice chocolate flavour with a hint of banana and very pliable.

I paired the wrap with a coconut-based cream. Now that Rob is gaining experience with opening coconuts, I ventured with a coconut recipe. I contemplated making a macadamia-based whipped cream but cheap coconuts from Chinatown won that battle. I paired it with almond extract for a strong almond flavour, almost begging to be paired with cherries.

Top with sliced almonds, this was a glorious brunch… or dessert.. and quite a great way to introduce my friends to raw cuisine, if I may say so myself.

Sometimes simple is all you need, because the simple flavours melded so well together.

This is being submitted to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring holiday treats, to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, to this week’s potluck party for fruit dishes, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this month‘s Simple and in Season.

(more…)

Strawberry and Roasted Chickpea Salad with a Cinnamon Vinaigrette

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

I needed to be weaned off the Colombian tropical fruit, but instead, I have been catapulted into the berry haven of southern Ontario.

Pick your poison of choice, right?

No stranger to strawberries perking up a summer salad, instead of balsamic, this time I opted for a savoury note with cinnamon. Cinnamon roasted chickpeas as well as a cinnamon vinaigrette. Strawberries confer sweetness, toasted almonds crunch with a hint of mint making this a much more complex salads. Serve overtop your favourite greens for a summer treat.

This is my submission to this month’s Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian for sweet spices, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Simona, to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring summer salads, to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, to this week’s Summer Salad Sundays and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

(more…)

Raw Strawberry Pudding Pie

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by janet @ the taste space on June 30, 2012

I am a strawberry baby.

Being born at the end of June, my birthday usually coincides with the local strawberry season. My Mom went into labour while picking strawberries. I tell no lies.

This year, local strawberries are already finished as they had an early start. (Local cherries, though, are already here!). Rob and I still managed to sneak in some strawberry action, though, before he took off for the week.

No stranger to raw desserts, I know they can be pretty heavy. Nuts, coconut, avocado, you name it. They make for delicious desserts, but they can be truly decadent.

I had been pining a recipe for a nearly nut-free Strawberry Pie, so when we had a huge clamshell of strawberries, I couldn’t resist not making this. It was now or never. Next week, the strawberries may not be as good!

I couldn’t go nut-free with a crust, so I picked an interesting almond-vanilla-maple crust. However, since it was date-free, I didn’t find it kept its integrity as well as my go-to crust from the Raw Cashew Dreamcake. The recipe below has my standard crust which I think would work better.

In any case, the filling is really simple. A puree of strawberries and bananas with lemon juice is the base for holding more strawberries. Then it is topped with even more strawberries! Strawberry heaven, for sure. :)

This pie needs to be chilled so that the base firms up. In any case, I think it will be a messy cake no matter what you do.. unless you add a thickener like agar agar. My pie firmed up nicely after a few hours in the fridge but our initial foray after an hour left us with a goopy (yet still delicious) mess. Another less messy option would be to make and serve it in ramekins, like we did with our Tropical Mango Pie (oh so good!).

Since the highlight of the pie are the fresh strawberries, the pie cannot be stored in the freezer (hello, Raw Key Lime Pie!). Instead, the leftovers were my breakfast for the rest of the week.

This is my submission to Breakfast Club, featuring leftovers, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this month‘s Simple and in Season.

(more…)