the taste space

Thrive’s Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Drinks by Janet M on March 20, 2014

Thrive's Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway

Rob disappears and I do a cold, windy and rainy bike 100 km ride. Cameo appearance by the dreaded flat tire again. Sound familiar?

It is hard to believe, but within the span of a few days of my last solo cycling adventure, I signed up for the Tour de Houston for the 60-mile/100-km ride. More impressive (or shocking), I also dedicated some overflow vacation days to visit my parents and cycle Rideau Lakes with my Dad in June. This will be my third time on the 360 km 2-day course, I am hoping it will keep my motivated to continue to cycle throughout the summer to have fun at Cycle Oregon.

In any case, cycling season has begun. This weekend simply solidified why I love cycling so much. IT IS FUN! Even with nearly 4 hours of on-and-off again rain and fierce winds, I had a blast. Granted, I was sad Rob was missing such a fun experience but it was liberating to tackle the course at my own pace (yes, I know, Rob is usually the one waiting for me, not the other way around). I don’t know how many people showed up in spite of the weather (see the video recap here), but over 5000 people registered for the event. It is infectious to be surrounded by other cyclists. I rarely see another cyclist on my commutes to work but now, I had to jostle and wind my way around so many others.

I picked this event because it is actually run by the City of Houston to promote cycling in the city. It was well marked (save one turn) and well staffed. The course changes every year to highlight different areas of Houston. This year, the course was fantastic. Nearly all intersections were staffed to give cyclists the right-of-way (most of the time, obviously they had to let cars go through as well). I also knew it would give me the courage to try out a 100 km course with lots of support. Turns out, I needed it. I found myself with a flat tire a bit after the half-way point. When I cycle with Rob, he always brings a tube, pump, and tools to fix tires but this time, I didn’t. Thankfully, I turned around and one of the sag trucks found me and my sorry wheel. They brought me back to my last rest stop where I was able to get my flat tire. In addition, they then drove me back to where I had my flat tire so I could continue my journey.

I was a bit bummed because I had lost a lot of time and I was even turned away at one of the rest stops. I had a flat tire, I am not that slow! I kept thinking to myself. However, with the continuous rain, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise: the cyclists had thinned out so it was less congested but the best part was that I was mostly passing everyone. Not just a morale boost, this was incredible practical: less mud in my face! No one has mud guards, so if you are within 10 feet of the person cycling in front of you, you would be greeted with mud galore. How do I know? Right before I had my flat tire, there was a muddy patch and it landed all over my face, my glasses, my clothes and my bike.

The course was well stocked with bananas, oranges and peanuts (and pretzels which I didn’t eat) but by the time I arrived at the finish line, most of the vendors had packed up for the day. I cycled home. And only then I remembered how long rides really deplete my motivation to cook. I had the most motivation to do laundry and have a bath, though. Talk about being dirty. But before that, I treated myself to a fun recovery smoothie courtesy of Brendan Brazier’s new cookbook Thrive Energy Cookbook.

Based off the recipes from one of my favourite restaurants, Thrive Juice Bar, this is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing: the recipes taste great. If they are true to the restaurant, you will want to make that pad thai stat. However, the curse: that pad thai? It tastes great, in part, because each component is perfected. The recipe may be on one page but it will redirect to 4 addition recipes – three sauces/vinaigrettes and a vegetable mix. All for a single serving.

The photos are gorgeous. The recipes are tantalizing with many classic vegan combinations.  I am salivating over the drinks: kale mojito (I have had that at the restaurant and it is great!), chocolate-truffle-caramel mocha, chocolate-peppermint matcha magic drink. The restaurant’s Big Green Energy Charger is in there, too, which I love with a hit of maca, but I don’t know how I will find my own freshly squeezed wheatgrass juice for my version to be authentic. The recipes focus on mostly whole foods, although Daiya cheese makes its appearance, numerous Vega products along with Wildwood Zesty Garlic Aioli which seems to be the base for all four aioli recipes. Some incredibly hard-to-find ingredients are included (lucuma, astralagus, ginseng, wheatgrass juice, reishi mushroom, maca) but not too many.. and most could easily be omitted. I look forward to trying out more recipes and thrilled I can share a cookbook with one of you, too.

For this smoothie recipe, nuts, chocolate and protein powder are combined to make a satisfying smoothie. I typically don’t like smoothies with ice, but this was well balanced, probably because there was a larger amount of nuts than my typical smoothies. Brendan calls this a recovery smoothie although for information on his rationale for his sports recipe (either before, during or after exercise), you are redirected to his previous books.

Thrive's Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe (with my modifications, of course) AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below. The winner will be selected at random on March 29, 2014. Good luck!

Recipes from Thrive Energy Cookbook shared elsewhere:

Cashew Berry French Toast

Chia Seed Blueberry Pudding

Roasted Red Pepper & Sweet Potato Soup

Coconut, Lemongrass and Lime Soup

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Red Lentil & Chickpea Burger Patties

Avocado, Black Bean & Chipotle Burger with Chipotle Lime Aïoli

Chocolate Chip French Vanilla Smoothie

Chocolate-Almond Decadence Smoothie

Acai Berry Pre-Workout Energizer

Super Chocolate Powder Mix

Almond Butter

Blood Orange and Ginger Citrus Tart

This is being submitted to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness.

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Roasted Broccoli and Quinoa Salad with Quick-Pickled Raisins

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M 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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Käsekrainer (Cheese-Stuffed Sausage) & High Protein Vegan Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on February 25, 2014

Käsekrainer from High Protein Vegan

I have been meaning to review Hilda’s High Protein Vegan for a while. I bought it last year while exploring more protein-rich ideas (I thought it was a great deal, under $5 for a kindle version). Despite many people poo-pooing protein needs, I have long been a proponent of higher protein intake. This is especially important for active people (see my first rant here). With Carrie’s recent post about Fatigue and the Ex Vegan Phenomenon and Sayward’s older post about low cholesterol and protein on a vegan diet, both highlight the importance of proper nutrition. One needs adequate calories (including protein! and fat!) on a restrictive vegan diet which is naturally high in carbohydrates (see my review of vegan nutrition guides here). Why harp on protein? For me, it can be the most difficult to obtain on a vegan diet. 

Eat beans and legumes. That includes tofu. Hilda’s book may be soy-free but soy is ok. Yes, there is protein in vegetables (spinach is almost 50% protein) but you have to eat a lot of vegetables for it to be a meaningful protein source. Whole grains, like quinoa, are ok, too. And when you want  a high protein boost, pick something like vital wheat gluten which is basically wheat protein powder.  Anyways, enough with the lecture, more about implementing high protein meals.

I like Hilda’s book because it has over 100 recipes with an emphasis on a (soy-free) protein component. All are whole-foods based recipes. Recipes are marked as gluten-free, nightshade-free, nut-free, and onion/garlic-free. Some are low-fat, some are higher fat.  She does not call for processed foods like fake meat, cheese or yogurt. The cookbook highlights the gamut of vegan protein selections – beans including chickpea flour, whole grains, nuts and seitan. She even has a soy-free tofu recipe to use in a satay tofu with an almond sauce, cauliflower parmigiana bake, bean and mushroom stroganoff and even pasta alla carbonara. I was most excited about the seitan recipes since I don’t make it nearly enough.

One of the paradoxes about eating vegan is that you explore new foods and increase your food options despite limiting meat and dairy consumption. I had never even heard of käsekrainer or a “kransky” before, let try alone a vegan version. Cheese-stuffed sausages are probably the antithesis of vegan eats but here is a vegan spin on it. An easy, flavourful steamed seitan is filled with a cashew cheese spread. I thought the cheese spread was absolutely delicious and was thrilled I had a bunch leftover. I don’t like nooch-heavy sauces but it was very well balanced. In fact, I preferred the cheese sauce before steaming as it lost its sharp, salty bite once in the sausage.

Certainly, I cannot vouch for its authenticity but I can tell you how it tastes: delicious. I shared it with Rob (who hadn’t had a kransky previously, either) who said it tasted 60% like sausage and 40% like cheese. It was 90% like cheese as the uncooked spread. With my recent infatuation with all things mustard, I thought it was perfect with a side of sauerkraut as well. (With a shout-out to this recipe that led me to finally making homemade sauerkraut successfully!!).

Hilda graciously allowed me to reproduce her recipe (it would have taken me so long to type up!) AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader ANYWHERE in the world! BOOYAH!  Please visit her blog and thank her! To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite vegan protein and how you like to prepare it. The winner will be selected at random on March 10, 2014. Good luck!

Käsekrainer from High Protein Vegan

PS. Here’s a shout out to my latest raw brownie with over 7g of protein per serving without beans/legumes/protein powder. Not enough protein for a meal but I think it is great for a dessert. ;)

This is my submission to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness.

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Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on February 22, 2014

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Remember Valentine’s Day? I reneged on my promise to make dessert. Rob had no problem coming up with an alternative. In fact, he was happy when I said I didn’t have the time to make my dessert of choice. He had already planned the whole meal!

The week post-V-Day is always special for us because we celebrate Rob’s birthday and our anniversary, so I eventually made my planned dessert, too. Our stash of avocados were perfectly ripe and could I really ignore an excuse to try out a new coconut flour-based dessert?

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

I cobbled together a delicious dessert from a few places. The base is inspired by Emma’s Raw Brownies but I topped it with a chocolate avocado frosting, based on my chocolate avocado mousse. To get a firm frosting, I used juicy Medjool dates as the sweetener (with a dash of agave only because I ran out of dates) along with a touch of lemon juice to balance the flavours. Next time, I might try a spiced version with cinnamon and cardamom again (like in my mousse).

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Because I smushed this into a springform pan, this is more like a brownie cake. The brownie was delicious and it was amazingly fudgy and moist for a raw/no-cook dessert. Unlike my walnut-based raw brownie, this was lighter in texture due to the coconut flour (but more fudgy than my raw chocolate zucchini muffin). Plus the frosting just sealed the deal: delicious decadence. I highly recommend this. Although make no mistake, this is a decadent and filling treat.

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

This is my submission to this month’s Four Seasons Food, Dead Easy Desserts and Tea Time Treats.

PS. Here’s a shout-out to my Mom who got me a small off-set spatula. Which I totally used to frost the brownies. :)

PPS. Have you entered my giveaway for No Meat Athlete yet?
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Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on February 8, 2014

Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts

One thing my friends and family have heckled me about recently (not my knees, thank goodness), is my purchase of 25 lbs of coconut flour last year.

What will you make with it? What’s your plan?

It may seem like I have a plan for most of my purchases, but not this one. Reading through a new cookbook with coconut flour recipes, I envisioned running through my coconut flour fairly quickly. And while I have been pretty good with making a few recipes with coconut flour, the recipes only use a small amount.

Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts

I did the math. I don’t think know I will not be able to finish all of my coconut flour before I leave Houston. That would be over a pound per week. No. Can. Do.

Instead, I am having a lot of fun experimenting. This dessert intrigued me as it asked for a lot of coconut flour compared to the nut flour. I wondered how it would bind together without dates or oil. I tried it out. And true enough, it did not stick together. It was dry as a bone. Natasha told me to have faith, it would clump if I pressed it really hard in my pie plate.

Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts

I pressed and pressed. And then gave up. Perhaps the secret was the refrigerator chilling. I opted to try remedy the recipe myself: I added more sweetener, some oil and lots of almond milk. Coconut flour is thirsty, give it some liquid! I added and added until I felt the batter come together. I pressed it into a 6″ springform pan (unpictured), topped it with the radacious raspberry puree and sprinkled more of the batter overtop.

With still some batter and puree leftover, I created these mini versions. Too cute not to photograph and share.

The larger pie pieces stayed together easily, but that could be because I left it in the fridge longer. These were inhaled within a few hours. Don’t wait too long to eat your dessert, though. The coconut flour will dry up (sucking it from your raspberries perhaps) and taste a bit chalky. However, with a crumbly base, it is akin to a linzertorte, the Austrian cake with a pastry base, a fruit jam topping and the classic lattice topping. Delicate lattices are for chumps when you can much easily make a delicious, delicate crumb topping. ;)

Do you have any recipes you love with coconut flour?

Vegan coconut flour recipes I love:

Raw Peppermint Patties

Nut-Free Raw Carrot Cupcakes

Nut-Free Raw Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

Maple Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts
This is my submission to Raw Food Thursdays.

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Broccoli and Pineapple Udon Bowl with Pineapple-Peanut Sauce

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on February 6, 2014

Thank you for all your kind words about my knees. Thankfully I had friends and co-workers (AND ROB!) to help with my (on-going) recovery. Unlike my sister-in-law who is still driving herself to work (her [now confirmed] broken toe is on her non-driving foot), Rob has been driving me to work. Not that I couldn’t drive myself, but he is just that awesome.

He has also been helping me around the kitchen. He made the cheezy chickpea dip again although I was to blame for the burnt coconut bacon, as Rob tended to a broken beer bottle. The beer bottle that exploded (from the bottom), after the rice vinegar fell on it which was knocked over when Rob was putting back the liquid smoke. Oh my.

He also revisited some old favourites like tamarind lentils and my lemon-ginger miso soup (Rob’s addition were carrots, parsnips with some noodles and I then added extra sauteed mushrooms and baby spinach to mine). Yum!

Rob also has been steaming up broccoli like a pro.  For this dish, he went all out with a sauce, tofu and noodles. The pineapple was a fun twist on a Hawaiian noodle bowl with a peanut sauce. I love how the pineapple was used to sweeten the sauce directly. Ginger and sriracha made it a bit zippy but this was all tempered by the sweetness from the pineapple.

While Rob was busy in the kitchen, I caught up on my web reading. Which also meant that Rob’s to-read list got longer as I punted them to him as well! Like my last link share, I figured you may enjoy them, too. There are a few travel-related links here. You know that I like to travel but you may not know that Rob loves travelling, too, and spent over a year abroad backpacking in Southeast Asia and Australia/New Zealand before we met. He wrote about that on his blog.

Without further ado, please let me know what you think about these links:

1. 10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About America. This actually rings true based on my experiences, too.

2. 20 Things I Learned from Travelling Around the World. Rob concurs.

3. Date a Boy Who Travels. YES! No offense to boys who still live with their parents. OK, maybe just a little.

4. Ben & Jerry & Me. What do you get for naming a Ben & Jerry flavour?

5. Murmuration. A quick, beautiful video. A magical canoe ride

6. Raw. Vegan. Not Gross. I don’t watch many videos on youtube but this one is great!

7. Is Pro Cheerleading a Scam? I honestly had no idea but then again I am not into football.

8. 11 Tips for Telling a Loved One About Your Mental Illness. From a new-to-me blog that I love. Great tips about communicating with others, nevermind about a mental illness

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes. (more…)

Pecan and Cranberry Cheese Log & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Appetizers by Janet M on December 17, 2013

Pecan and Cranberry Cheese Log

A few months ago, though, I was treated to a wonderful girl’s night out: a vegan wine and cheese!

A vegan cheese party in Texas.

An oxymoron like no other?

I don’t buy processed vegan cheeses and while I have tried my hand at simple homemade cheeses, I was blown over by all.the.vegan.cheeses. There was a complete spread from Door 86 (the cheese ball was my favourite), Heidi Ho, and a bunch of homemade cheeses from Artisan Vegan Cheese (the sun-dried tomato and garlic cream cheese was fabulous). I have been intimidated by recipes requiring room temperature fermentation. My biggest kitchen disasters have been sauerkraut and pineapple vinegar from Mastering Fermentation. No fun.

Pecan and Cranberry Cheese Log

Enter The Cheesy Vegan. A bit more complex than cashew spreads, but recipes not as complex to require fermented rejuvelac. I started with this recipe for a vegan cheese log crusted in pecans and cranberries. Not hard to make, but with a few steps over the span of 2 days, you need a bit of advance preparation. Coconut and olive oil are blended with cashews, lemon juice, tahini and salt and then left to drain/ferment overnight. Instead of cheesecloth, my fine-mesh strainer worked like a charm. The following morning, a fair amount of liquid had dripped from my cashew spread.. and in case you were wondering, it looked mostly like oil. A bake in the oven at a low temperature is akin to a faster dehydration (I presume) and assists with getting the cheese to firm up. Refrigerate, top with the nuts and cranberries, and you are good to go. The salty/lemony spread paired really well with the buttery pecans and sweet cranberries.

I will confess that I did not bring any vegan cheeses to the original cheese party but was inspired to make the cheese log for a subsequent vegan potluck. It was a hit. With so many recipe requests, I knew I had to share it… and lucky for you, you can also win your own copy of the cookbook!

Thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States (sorry to all my non-US readers). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite vegan cheese or cheese dish. If you haven’t made anything cheesy yet, have a look through the table of contents of The Cheesy Vegan on amazon and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 26, 2013. Good luck!

Pecan and Cranberry Cheese Log

PS. Other recipes from The Cheesy Vegan spotted elsewhere:

Bloody Vegan Mary

Lemony Parmesan Linguine

PPS. My other vegan cheese/dairy recipes:

Tofu Feta

Italian Cashew Cheese

Nacho Cheese Cashew Spread

Rosemary Cashew Cheese

Scallion Cashew Cheese

Cashew Sour Cream

PPPS. Other giveaways I am sharing right now: 30 Minute Vegan’s Soup’s On! and Indian Cooking Unfolded.

PPPPS. This is my submission to this month’s Feel Good Food challenge for cranberries and this month’s Cheese Please challenge for festive nibbles.

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Cardamom Cashew Pistachio Bars (Kaaju Pista Burfi) & Indian Cooking Unfolded Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Desserts by Janet M on December 12, 2013

Indian Cashew Pistachio Bars (Kaaju Pista Burfi)

Panela and I were first introduced in Colombia. An unrefined sugar, typically sold in block form, it is commonly used in South American desserts. I brought some back to Canada and was interrogated by the US immigration officer as we transferred in Miami. I told him I had bought panela (pa-nell -la), a type of sugar. He explained to me that I wrong. It was pronounced pa-ney-ya. The women in the market that sold it to me spoke Spanish, and I heard her loud and clear: it was panela. With an L. In any case, when he told me I could bring my sugar across the border, I scooted right on out.

I rarely see panela in Canada, but have seen it countless times in Houston. Oftentimes, it is labelled as piloncillo, the Mexican name as panela is also a type of Mexican cheese. A small cone can be found for 70 cents or so, at most supermarkets but it can also be found in large blocks and possibly ground.

In the spirit of holidays, candies and confectionaries, I broke it out for my latest treat: Indian Burfi. It sounds more dramatic, but really it is similar to my maple pecan shortbread cookies because it is simply nuts and sweetener with an Indian twist from cardamom and saffron. I used panela as my sweetener of choice, but you could substitute brown sugar (likely coconut sugar, and possibly maple syrup or agave, too) which imparted a delicious molasses undertone.

Indian Cashew Pistachio Bars (Kaaju Pista Burfi)

I called these Indian Cashew Pistachio Bars or Kaaju Pista Burfi, as this was what Raghavan Iyer called them in Indian Cooking Unfolded. I have told you about this lovely cookbook earlier, but it bears repeating because I really like it. Iyer has taken Indian cooking to its elemental components and teaches you how to cook Indian from the ground up. The recipes span meat, vegetarian and vegan options, with limited ingredients. He has capped himself at 10 ingredients, and many recipes are far more simple. While he may sacrifice in authenticity, he does not sacrifice in taste, coaxing the most from limited ingredients.

I bring up authenticity, but I lay no claim to being an expert in traditional Indian cuisine (although we make killer dal). Iyer openly admits burfi is typically much more sweet than this recipe and is actually an adaptation of a raw recipe from Jugalbandi who seemed to have sinced moved to Nitrivore, but it too, is an abandoned blog. Soma’s recent post makes me think these treats are closer to katli instead of burfi, which she describes as a sugar-nut treat. Truthfully, my fusion spin with panela, makes them even less authentic but no less delicious. As Iyer promised, these are not uber sweet. There is a subtle hint of cardamom among the molasses-infused treat. Rob thoguht it needed more saffron but I thought it was perfect. I can not really taste the saffron, so feel free to omit it.

While I typically shy away from Indian desserts, I am thrilled that I tried these. They were delicious. While Diwali has come and gone, this would be equally suited for something different on a holiday cookie spread. I blame it on the cardamom. Or the molasses. Or the nuts. They all taste like hugs. :)

Indian Cashew Pistachio Bars (Kaaju Pista Burfi)

I really want to share this cookbook with you and I am thrilled because the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to FOUR lucky readers living in the continental United States. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite Iyer recipe (he has also penned our favourite Indian cookbook, 660 Curries). If you haven’t made anything by Iyer yet, have a look through Indian Cooking Unfolded on amazon or google books (or my list below) and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 24, 2013. Good luck!

PS. Recipes from Indian Cooking Unfolded spotted elsewhere:

Smoky Yellow Split Peas (Tamatar Chana Dal)

Sweet Corn with Toasted Coconut (Thénga Makkaí)

Braised Beet Salad with Golden Raisin Vinaigrette

Ultimate Chicken Curry (Tamatar Murghi) 

Poppadums with Chile-Spiked Onion and Avocado Pomegranate Dip

Vegetarian Samosa Cakes with Tamarind Chutney

Cardamom Fennel Scallops

Spinach Phyllo Samosas

Curried Ginger Date Bok Choy with Soy Knots

This is my submission to this month’s Cooking with Herbs.

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Raw Peppermint Patties & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on November 21, 2013

Raw Peppermint Patties

I noticed this when the weather dipped to cooler temperatures. With the recent swing back to Houston’s humid summer temperatures, I noticed it again.

My kitchen barometer is the coconut oil.

During the summer it was a liquid and during the cooler days, it becomes solid.

Other things that melt in Houston: massage bars, solid hair conditioner and chocolate. Those warnings about using expedited shipping so that your items don’t spoil? Well, let it be known: chocolate will melt en route to my home. Thank goodness it still tasted great. That massage bar, unfortunately, could not be salvaged.

Raw Peppermint Patties

Wipe away your tears with these fantastic raw peppermint patties. They were delicious and you would never have known they were raw. A buttery mint filling courtesy of ground cashews and coconut flour with a touch of coconut oil is enveloped by a thick chocolate coating.

They may look like lumps of coal, but they certainly did not taste like it. ;)

Raw Peppermint Patties

I don’t know whether it was the temperature or the humidity, but I had a bit of trouble making these homemade peppermint patties.  I have made chocolate truffles before - classic lemon bittersweet chocolate truffleschocolate peanut butter truffles and even raw maca chocolates - but this was the first time my chocolate turned out more like play dough instead of a thinner liquid! This meant I had a much thicker coating for my peppermint patties which I wrapped around with my hands. Double the chocolate, which was great, since they tasted fantastic.

Also a note about coconut flour (again): it is defatted ground coconut so it lends a different texture. It also absorbs a lot of liquid, which is why it is so different than regular dried coconut. I am also convinced that different brands absorb more, so adjust the recipe as you go. I ended up adding more coconut flour since it was too liquidy with the original recipe. If you don’t have coconut flour, try these recipes that use dried coconut instead.

This recipe is courtesy of The Simply Raw Kitchen. The cookbook is from a raw restaurant in Ottawa, Simply Raw Express, and features both cooked and raw recipes (despite what the title may suggest otherwise). All vegan and whole-foods based. All gluten-free. With a bit of Austrian in her background, some of her Eastern European-inspired dishes really called to me: Austrian Blaukraut, Krautfleckerl, Lovage (Chickpea) Dumplings, Mushroom Goulash as well as Lemon Dill Cheeze and Aged Peppercorn Cheeze. However, it was her collection of (mostly raw) desserts that I could not shake from my mind: Better Pecan Pie with Shortbread Crust, Austrian Linzer Squares, Cloud Lime Pie, Orange Chocolate Blossom Tart, Holiday Nut Nog.

SimplyRaw kitchen review

I know I say it all the time, but I really want to share this cookbook with you. Thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me which recipe you’d like to try the most (or if you have a recipe from Natasha that you recommend). Have a look through the index of The Simply Raw Kitchen on amazon (or my list below) or pick something from her website and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 7, 2013. Good luck!

Other recipes shared from The Simply Raw Kitchen:

Real Tomato Soup

Lentil Soup with Kale

Award-Winning Marinated Kale Salad

Spicy Thai Salad

Lemon Poppyseed Energy Bites

Righteous Brownies with Caramel Frosting

Other recipes from Simply Raw are shared here and here.

Raw Peppermint Patties

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Rich Vegan Cheesecake with a Pecan Shortbread Crust

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by Janet M 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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Kale Salad with a Raw Thousand Island Dressing

Posted in Salads by Janet M on September 14, 2013

While we planned our trip to Burning Man half a year in advance, it wasn’t until we bought our plane tickets that we decided to tack on a side trip to Portland and then roadtrip it down to the desert. Rob was worried that I wouldn’t like the extreme nature of the camping we’d have to do in the desert, so we planned for success. How could we not enjoy Portland?

Turns out that each part of the trip was better than the next. After Portland, we drove East through the Columbia River Gorge, stopping at the Hydro Dam and Multnomah Falls. The path to the top of the falls may only be 1.25 miles long, but you are basically going up and up. Kind of like Mother Nature’s Stairmaster. There was a 700ft elevation. It was a fun but tiring jaunt! If I lived in Portland, I could see this as a fun fitness bench marker (similar to the Grouse Grind in Vancouver, which I have yet to do). How fast can you climb the falls?

The following day, we skirted along the gorge, through the Hood River Fruit Loop and stopped to pick up local sweet peaches and huckleberries (it was my first time trying them – they are similar to a tart wild blueberry).

Our next stop was the Smith Rock State Park. Since it took us a good 3 hours to get here, it was too late to begin the Misery Ridge trail. Because of the heat and lack of shade, you should begin this early in the day. In any case, we didn’t bring our hiking boots with us, so we had already planned to do smaller hikes and watch some of the mountain climbers.

Our next destination was the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Billed as the best lava park between Iceland and Hawaii, we had fun walking around the volcanic crater and the lava field below. To be honest, I didn’t even know there were volcanoes on the continental US. We didn’t have enough time to explore the lava tubes, but we will definitely be back.

The next day, we scheduled a whole day for Crater Lake National Park. You can drive around the lake and stop off for lots of smaller hikes. We hiked up to a great lookout, again on another side, to see some hoodoos, and some waterfalls. It was nice to get a variety of vistas from each hike.

The trip through Oregon was fabulous. I highly recommend it.

But I know you are here for the food. You see, we stocked up a bit with food from Portland. I wasn’t sure what lurked in the smaller towns. Turns out we lucked out in Bend, Oregon. We found a local brew pub (Rob’s mission was to try out local brews) that served vegan eats. I changed the tempeh reuben sandwich into a salad and I was blown away. It was really good. I haven’t had enough time to recreate the entire salad (now on my bucket list) but I started with making a raw thousand island dressing.

Originating from the Thousand Islands region (hola Ontario!), thousand island dressing is probably one of the most ubiquitous North American creamy sauces, as a mayonnaise dressing spiced with tomato/ketchup but may also have bits of pickle, olives, etc.

The creaminess of my raw version of dressing is from cashews. The deep tomato flavour comes from sun-dried tomatoes. Garlic and onion add further ripples, while the vinegar brightens the dressing. The acidic dill pickle brings this up a notch. The only trick is that the cashews need to be soaked a few hours for easier blending.

For my salad, I just used up the random vegetables in my fridge. I first wilted the kale with lemon juice and then tossed in cucumber, red pepper, olives and hemp seeds. I am not sure they were the perfect combination (and not the prettiest salad, either) but the dressing was perfect. Now I know where to start with my own tempeh reuben salad. :)

In any case, this vacation has spurred my love of Oregon. I am even more excited to try to schedule in Cycle Oregon next year!

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s No Waste Food Challenge.

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Raw Sour Cream & Onion Kale Chips

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Sides by Janet M on July 11, 2013

Raw Sour Cream & Onion Kale Chips

Of my blog readers, only a handful are from my family. Rob and my Mom are my biggest readers.

So, when I say something here, I am held accountable.

Raw Sour Cream & Onion Kale Chips

When we planned our move to Houston, I said we were going to try a minimalist lifestyle. I was going to leave my dehydrator behind. But then, I kept making more and more things in my dehydrator. I had forgotten how lovely it was to make things in the dehydrator.

I also forgot that I wasn’t going to let life pass me by, either. We are planning to camp in the desert (via Burning Man), continue the long distance cycling (via the MS 150, Houston to Austin) and hopefully squeeze in weekend trips (sadly, my vacation days have dwindled down to nothing). It is times like these that portable snacks work their magic.

Raw Sour Cream & Onion Kale Chips

So, as we packed, I kept reconsidering whether or not to bring my dehydrator. To be fair, it is a space hog, but it is light. It is mostly filled with air!

Rob was not pleased, though. You said on your blog, you weren’t going to bring it.. I have changed my mind! I kept saying things like, “If I had to choose between x and the dehydrator, I choose the dehydrator.” Example: “If I had to choose between pictures for the wall and my dehydrator, I’d pick the dehydrator… and I bet we could fit the pictures inside the dehydrator, too! HA!”

Eventually, Rob had heard enough. After I made these kale chips, he definitely reconsidered his position. Thankfully, I did a mass kale harvest prior to our move. These were one of our favourite kale chip flavours. I thought they tasted like Sour Cream and Onion, with a touch of cheese, if you include the nutritional yeast. One of our friends agreed they were delicious but tasted more of the scallion undertone. Either way, it made a believer out of me for the power of kale chips. Hourrah!

The question will be whether I can keep up with the kale chip demand, though. We can plow through them so quickly!

Kale chips, here and elsewhere:

Kale Granola (Almond Coconut Kale Chips)

Maple Sesame Kale Chips from My New Roots (one of my favourites)

Chocolate Kale Chips from Cupcakes and Kale (Rob likes these more than me; I actually don’t like them)

Sweet and Zesty Kale Chips from Season 2 Season Eating

Sweet Onion Kale Chips from Flora Foodie

Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips from Branny Boils Over

Dill Pickle Kale Chips at Sondi Bruner

Spicy Curry Kale Chips from Choosing Raw

Banana Walnut Kale Chips from Choosing Raw

Raw Sour Cream & Onion Kale Chips

This is my submission to this month‘s Herbs on Saturday and to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays. (more…)

Nut-Free Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Apple-Cashew Frosting

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on May 28, 2013

Enlightened Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Apple-Cashew Frosting

The carrot craze continues…

I am a proponent of eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and raw cuisine intrigues me. Dining at a raw resto can leave me beguiled: how did they do that? This goes beyond salads. Silky smooth lasagnas, luscious chocolate hazelnut cakes and brownies. This does not taste remotely like raw foods. Then I immediately want to try to make it myself. New techniques to bring you different flavours…

If you need any introduction to raw foods, raw desserts are definitely the way to go. No stranger to decadent raw desserts (Raw Key Lime Pie, Better Than Nutella Cheesecake, Raspberry Cashew Dreamcake), sometimes they go thump with the richness from nuts and coconut. It hasn’t stopped me from wanting to explore more desserts, though. Even better when they are lighter.

Last summer, I was a recipe tester for Amber’s cookbook Practically Raw Desserts and while the recipes are very flexible (I love her multiple variations!), one ingredient she was adamant about not substituting was coconut flour. It is unlike any other flour or shredded coconut.

I was dying to try was her Enlightened Carrot Cake. Nut-free, the base is made from carrots, apples and dates. Oh, and coconut flour. However, by the time I tracked down coconut flour and had the gusto to make this recipe, the book had already been shipped to the publisher (oops!). Thank goodness, this was one of the first recipes she shared online because it finally prompted me to try it.

Amber made this as a cute double-decker cake with a small springform pan. Since I don’t have one, I looked for an easier option. Cupcakes worked well with my last raw carrot cake (very good, too), and even though I had no muffin wrappers, I decided to try it out. After a bit of warm water pouring over the back of the muffin tray, the frozen cupcakes popped right out. It worked!

Enlightened Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Apple-Cashew Frosting

And yes, they were delicious. Because they are made with coconut flour, they are light. Coconut flour is defatted coconut meat, so it is a lower-fat coconut-based option for desserts. Most importantly, it is an ingredient creating a fluffier texture.  As such, these cupcakes are so different than any other raw dessert I have made. The sweetness is not over-pronounced and it was a delicious dessert with a hint of coconut and cinnamon. Satisfying and surprisingly filling for a low-fat dessert.

Amber has two recipes as suggested frostings. I chose neither, although her fermented cashew frosting is still on my hit-list. My last cashew-date frosting was a bit dense and definitely not white, so I wanted to substitute the dates.  Instead, I made an apple-cashew frosting. It was simple: apple + soaked cashews + ume plum vinegar (another acid and salt could work) + water. I liked how the fresh apple added bulk and sweetness. The consistency was just perfect after a chill in the refrigerator. Smooth and creamy.

Of course, now I am excited to make more recipes with coconut flour. Have you tried it yet?

Many of the recipes in Practically Raw Desserts use coconut flour, so I am excited to try more of Amber’s creations. I promise to do a better review of the cookbook when I finally get my copy. Here are other recipes that use coconut flour:

Maple Streusel Coffee Cake Squares in Practically Raw Desserts
Pecan Chai Spice Bars in Practically Raw Desserts (I made these as a tester but found the flavours a bit muted and the frosting too soft)
Pecan Shortbread in Practically Raw Desserts
Cake Batter Protein Balls from Chef Amber Shea (I have made these already. They are very good for something so simple)
Raw Apricot Jam Bars with Flakey Crust by Bonzai Aphrodite
Cardamom Chocolate Chip Cookies from Purely Twins
Peppermint Protein Bars from Purely Twins
Coconut Lemon Meltaways from The Hearty Herbivore
Raw Avocado Brownie from Bite-Sized Thoughts
Chocolate Avocado Cookies from Sprint 2 The Table

Enlightened Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Apple-Cashew Frosting

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Raw Zucchini Hummus

Posted in Favourites, Sides by Janet M on April 28, 2013

Have you ever had raw hummus?

As in, hummus made from raw, sprouted chickpeas?

I did. Once.

But not on purpose.

Early in our courtship, Rob decided to surprise me with some hummus. While we diligently follow our favourite recipe now, there was a time when Rob liked to “wing it”. At that time, Rob was a novice with beans, too.

He went all out and bought dried chickpeas. He soaked them overnight. He methodically added the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and finally the chickpeas to his food processor. It churned away and then stopped working. The hummus had broken his food processor! The first thing that popped into Rob’s head was – let’s go to Janet’s apartment and use her food processor to finish it off. I was away, so he silently entered my apartment and finished off pureeing the hummus.

He surprised me the next day with the hummus when he met me in Texas. I tasted it. It was off. Did you follow a recipe? Yes! But then I tinkered with it since it didn’t taste as good as before. Oh well, we better find a better recipe next time. This tastes funny. I don’t know what it is, though.

A few days later, we figured it out. Maybe it was a week later.. or a month later, I can’t remember. This story is such a classic, I mostly remember the punch line….

Rob used raw chickpeas in the recipe. He soaked them but did not cook them. He didn’t know he had to cook them (canned chickpeas are already cooked?? the recipe didn’t tell me to cook them!). Thankfully, now he knows better. ;)

These days, hummus has become fairly ubiquitous for any bean spread. Technically, hummus is Arabic for chickpea and mostly associated with a chickpea puree with tahini.

I admit it: I am guilty of making non-traditional hummus. I have made hummuses (hummi? hummus?) with edamame and white beans instead of chickpeas, with peanut butter and cashews instead of tahini, and even a dessert option with peanut butter and chocolate! I have also souped up traditional hummus with pomegranate molasses and red pepper paste. Carrots and hummus have become my go-to snack lately.

However, those versions always used cooked beans. Now was my turn to try raw hummus. Without any sprouted beans, though.

With zucchini as its base instead of chickpeas, and cashews instead of tahini, there is not  much resemblance to classical hummus. However, it is one deliciously creamy spread spiced with garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and miso. Use it to dip your favourite vegetables or crackers or however else you love to use hummus. :) Lately I have been loving it with huge carrots as my after dinner snack. There is something so satisfying about eating a whole uncut carrot smothered in a garlicky hummusdip.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Creamy Balsamic Miso Dressing

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on March 28, 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Creamy Balsamic Miso Dressing

Another batch of lost photos. Although the “lost” photos from that previous post were found (!!), months after I repeated the recipe (HA!).

This time, I am not sure where the photos went, but I have an ample substitute.

Pardon my faux pas.

One of my favourite vegetables this winter (if you could not guess) were Brussels sprouts.

I roasted them, roasted them, and roasted them again. I added them to soups, stirfries and skillets.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Creamy Balsamic Miso Dressing

Recently had a hankering for a creamy, balsamic dressing. Something tangy, something sweet but creamy, too. Then I remembered I had already made such a thing: Tess’ Miso Healthy Dressing. When I went looking for my photos of my creamy balsamic miso dressing, I looked at my notes from the recipe: tossed with brown rice, roasted Brussels sprouts and white beans. No photos to be found, but I did find photos of another creamy dressing with roasted Brussels sprouts. (Yes, there were lots of roasted Brussels sprouts around here).

Brown rice and white beans are left to your imagination. However, I included them in my recipe because that’s how you assemble a meal. :)

In any case, do not limit this dressing to roasted Brussels sprouts. With the change in seasons, make it more spring-friendly. Take your favourite leafy green, add some chopped veggies, chickpeas or quinoa, and smother it in the dressing. Or grab yourself some Brussels sprouts and get thee roasting. :)

roasted brussels sprouts and a creamy balsamic miso dressing

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Haalo, and my dressing is submitted to this week’s Raw Food Thursday.

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