the taste space

Bahn Mi Collard Wraps with Star Anise Pickled Daikon and Carrots

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on April 29, 2014

We traded hills for wind this weekend.

Blustery wind. Gusty winds.

It was kind of humbling to cycle 100-km hilly routes outside Houston, and then find ourselves so pooped we could barely finish our rides.

Even though we’re aiming for 160 km, our odometers have been stuck at 100-km for a while. This weekend, we decided to shun the hills (and the 2-hour commute to get to them) and opt for distance. The wind was a pleasant (or unpleasant), unplanned surprise. A flat tire was also a surprise and likely cost us an hour of cycling time. We pushed through 127 km of city-riding on Saturday.

On Sunday, we aimed to add hills to our windy resistance. We did an “urban hill” loop where we tried to climb as many highway overpasses as possible. The wind was relentless. If we thought Saturday was windy, it was even windier on Sunday. Southeast winds of 30km/h with gusts over 50 km/h. Rob rerouted it to include a stopover at Mi Tienda #2, our favourite Mexican grocer. We weren’t going to skip out on our aguas fresca ritual! This week they had mamey, which was a hard choice over the guanabana.

Even though we were out and about on our bikes most of the weekend, we actually had more energy. I guess we’re better at tackling wind than hills.

We ended up (ok, just me) stockpiling veggies when we finally ended up at an Asian market for our weekly grocery run. We put them to great use in this vegan spin on bahn mi sandwiches. Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich, which I associate with the pickled vegetables and cilantro. Here, tofu and mushrooms are scrambled as the base. The veggies, with Terry’s spin of adding star anise, make this a nice and bright wrap.

Rob thought it was his best sandwich ever. I thought it nice, too, and opted to eat it in a collard wrap.

Maybe everything tastes better after biking 180 km?

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays. (more…)

Raw Dolmas with a Cilantro-Tahini Sauce

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on March 18, 2014


Did you know March is
National Nutrition Month? While I celebrate proper nutrition every day (ok, 3 times a week here), I was encouraged by Erika to join Houston’s VegOut! challenge to eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days.

Thirty different vegetables in thirty days? Even as a veggie-loving gal, that’s a pretty huge feat. Look at my sidebar. I have favourites. Barring onions, my top ten are: garlic (227 recipes, and I don’t even tag all my garlic), tomato (139 recipes), ginger (121 recipes), carrot (110 recipes), red bell pepper (82 recipes), spinach (64 recipes), mushroom (50 recipes), kale (44 recipes), zucchini (44 recipes) and broccoli (36 recipes).


Erika
 may have won the first challenge with her black bean and veggie burgers (with 15 vegetables!) but I thought I’d try my best with their second challenge: my best jicama dish.

No stranger to jicama, I have enjoyed mostly in Mexican-inspired dishes: a raw burrito and as a cranberry-jicama salsa. This time, I decided to switch avenues and was inspired by Middle Eastern flavours. Packed with vegetables (7 if you include olives, but I think they are technically fruits), these are a fun twist on dolmas, stuffed grape leaves.


Instead of cooked rice, the jicama is riced into small pieces. Jicama is quite moist, so it needs a thorough drying before being incorporated with the cucumber, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. If you don’t have jicama, cauliflower would work, too. Dill and mint were used for the filling and cilantro for the green tahini dipping sauce. With all the fresh ingredients, the flavours really popped.

This was also the first time I tried grape leaves raw. I mean, without steaming them first. Steaming makes them more tender and less salty, but this was a quick and easy way to enjoy them.

Do you think you could eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days? How do you like to eat jicama?


PS. This is my submission to Raw Food Thursdays and to VegOut Jicama: #vegoutjicama #vegoutrfs

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

Posted in Appetizers, Book Review by Janet M on January 11, 2014

Parsnip Rice Sushi with Sweet Tamarind Dipping Sauce

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

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

Parsnip Rice Sushi with Sweet Tamarind Dipping Sauce

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

Raw Parsnip Rice Sushi Demo

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

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

Balanced Raw recipes elsewhere:

Blue Greens Smoothie

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

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

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Raw Parsnip Sushi Rolls, Two Ways

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on November 19, 2013

You saw the writing on the wall. With my love of wraps, it was only a matter of time before I made sushi rolls.

It took me a few tries, but I finally found not one, but two recipes that I really like.

Am I the only one who scopes out a bunch of recipes for a particular dish and then can’t decide what to make? Should I go with option A or option B? Sometimes, I decide to hedge my bets and make multiple options. That’s how I ended up with 2 versions of my chocolate black bean cookies and oodles of combinations for my savoury flax-hemp crackers. Half a recipe for you and half a recipe for you… which means the bonus of 2 recipes for me!

This explains why my recipe says it serves 1. I boiled down each sushi roll to fit one parsnip with its seasonings.  The fillings could easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled, but please, please, please don’t assemble these babies too far in advance. The nori sheet will become limp and soggy…and no fun.

To be fair, my first venture at a nori wrap was from Color Me Vegan with an orange-cashew cream sauce. I have become spoiled because that cashew sauce was nothing compared to my previous Zesty Cashew Orange Spread. The rolls seemed a tad lacking, especially since there wasn’t anything that reminded me of a standard sushi roll.

Having really enjoyed the parsnip in Raw Thai Pineapple Parsnip Rice, I knew that this was the way to approach raw sushi. Then I had to decide- nut butter-version from Gena or miso-version from Lauren? I have had some really heavy sushi rolls at raw restos because they make the rice from nuts, so I was excited to try the lighter miso version. I was torn, though, because I was still drawn to Gena’s recipe since the butter seemed to accentuate the parsnip rice. So, I made both and glad I did because they were both different yet equally delightful.

The miso version was light and flavorful and worked well with the multitude of veggies. It reminded me of my citrus-spiked sushi rice bowl with the miso twist. I am not sure the oil was completely necessary so I may remove it next time. The tahini version was heavier but incredibly flavourful from the tahini and the touch of toasted sesame oil. They were both filling as a light lunch.

If you haven’t yet made raw sushi, don’t be shy. You certainly don’t need a special sushi rolling mat. Just a great filling. It is what is inside that counts, and I’ve got you covered. Twice. Two hugs, as Rob would put it.

This is my submission to this month’s Pantry Party for quick foods.

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Cucumber Avocado Sandwiches With Dill and Mint

Posted in Appetizers by Janet M on November 5, 2013

Cucumber Avocado Tea Sandwiches With Dill and Mint

Time flies. I have already passed the 4 month mark. One-third of my time in Houston.  I already know what I will remember the most. Mosquitoes and potlucks. The mosquitos are relentless and well, I am discovering the joys of vegan potlucks.

I have been to many a potluck, but usually that means I bring a dish I will be eating. It is usually the only vegan component and I try to make it a complete meal, like a hearty bean or whole grain salad. Even though that is my specialty, it kind of limits my repertoire.

All vegan potlucks are a whole other ballpark. I know I will find plenty of food (and they have been really tasty!) and therefore, I can branch out to try something new. Furthermore, some foods lend better to a buffet set-up than others, so I have been testing out new ideas.

Enter the cucumber sandwich. Not a tea sandwich, this one replaces the bread for cucumber, creating a crunchy bite-sized nimbler. Easy to add to your plate and no fussy sauce that can leach and contaminate the next dish over. (I have adopted the 2 plate strategy for potlucks- 1 plate for savoury and 1 plate for desserts!) Perfect for those who want a gluten-free and nut-free snack… and raw, to boot. For me right now, raw has become more synonymous with easy food prep.

This dish, while easy to prep, is a bit more fussy than my typical one-pot meals. Puree your cucumber and lemon juice into a mayonnaise-like consistency and pulse in the cool and crisp cucumbers and herbs. The lemon juice should prevent the avocado from oxidizing but try not to make them too far in advance. Hopefully they will be devoured and none will remain after they have been served.

What are your go-to potluck dishes?

Other dishes I shared at potlucks this year:

Peach & Hazelnut Kale Salad with Maple Miso Vinaigrette

Raw Thai Pineapple Parsnip Rice

Curried Chickpea Salad with Carrots and Currants

Peanut Butter and Jam Energy Balls

Raw Watermelon Candy

Rich Vegan Cheesecake with a Pecan Shortbread Crust

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, this month’s Cooking with Herbs, to this month’s Random Recipes, and to this month’s Veg Cookbook Club for Isa Does It.

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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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Cucumber Hummus Dip (Hummus-Tzatziki Fusion)

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites by Janet M on September 10, 2013

Cucumber Hummus Dip (Hummus-Tzatziki Fusion)

I feel a bit guilty sharing this post.

1. It will be a quickie vacation gush over Portland.

2. More easy peasy food. I feel guilty sharing such a simple recipe but it was SO GOOD.

Oddly enough, despite travelling to Japan, Morocco, Iceland and Colombia throughout my blog tenure, I have yet to do any thorough vacation recaps. Mostly sharing the recipes they have inspired back in my kitchen or the treats I made to travel with me.

Those destinations seem so foreign and mostly inaccessible to the masses. But Portland, dude, that’s in America (and I know most of my readers hail from the US of A). I also made nada special to bring with me. I knew vegan heaven was only a plane ride away.

Despite visiting for only a short weekend, I feel like I connected with Portland and the rest of Oregon. The city, even downtown, is green. Green in the lots of trees sense, and in the save the environment sense. Cycling is a culture and definitely safer than where I have lived previously. Vegans rejoice, as there are truly innumerable options for fun meals. Lucky me, many a vegan already visited Portland earlier this year (mostly for Vida Vegan Con) so I already knew where to hit up.

In brief, food: Canteen (our favourite restaurant of our trip, the Portland bowl was fabulous as well as the maca shake); Prasad (lovely soul salad and chai latte); Rawdacious raw cheesecake (found at Canteen); Raw Pixie Re’treats (loved the mock BLT and lil pudding; found at Kure and Food Fight); Kure Juice Bar (breakfast acai bowls and matcha latte); Missionary Chocolates (found at Living Room Theaters); the infamous Portobello restaurant (Rob’s lasagna was better than my portobello steak but the decadent  ice cream sundae made up for it); vegan Mexican fare (with soy curls!) at Los Gorditos; Food Fight, an all vegan grocery store for some desert treats; Rob also had some Voodoo Doughnuts, but not the vegan ones (the Memphis Mafia was pretty epic, though [peanut butter, coconut and chocolate on top of a fritter as big as his head]) and lots of local brews for Rob
(more complete reviews can be found at Happy Cow)

In brief, non-food: Cyclepedia at the Portland Art Museum, Bike-A-Rama Bicycle Tour, watching indie films on a sofa at the Living Room Theater; Powell’s City of Books, early morning views of the city from Pittock Mansion and hiking in Forest Park (loved this!!). We also snuck in some shopping at REI and a downtown cycle store.

Who could guess we were only in Portland for less than 48 hours? Well, that’s the way we roll… bring on the awesomeness!

Cucumber Hummus Dip (Hummus-Tzatziki Fusion)

I have plans to recreate that delicious Portland bowl sauce but until then, I am sharing this delicious hummus-tzatziki fusion dip. We made it before we left and we made it when we returned. It is possibly our favourite non-classical hummus. Just like my strawberry-cucumber smoothie, cucumber adds an airy lightness to the dip which is countered by flax (trust me, you can’t taste it). Lots of garlic and bit of lemon juice makes this a great dip. Or spread. Or however you want to eat it. I won’t judge.

I still have many more places on my Portland hit-list, including Native Bowl, Natural Selection and Departure with their vegan menu, and that’s just the food list. Anything you recommend I see on my second trip to Portland? :)

PS. have you entered my giveaway for a copy of Moosewood Restaurant Favorites yet?

PPS. Hopefully we’ll have some photos up later this week.

Cucumber Hummus Dip (Hummus-Tzatziki Fusion)

This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair hosted by Swathi and to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch.

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Kelp Noodles and Kale with an Avocado-Miso Sauce

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on July 18, 2013

Kelp Noodles and Kale with an Avocado-Miso Sauce

There are stereotypical differences of Canadians. You know, publicly-funded health care, colourful paper bills, and yeah, I throw extra u’s into my words. I knew about that.

And then, there are things that I had grown to enjoy that I miss. Like the lack of pennies. Honestly, that was a great idea for Canada. Or, our penchant for environmental choices.

Get this: I have garbage removal TWICE a week. However, there is NO recycling pick-up and definitely NO green bins/compost pick-up. (People drop off their recyclables at recycling depots at their leisure, if they do at all).

And then I have this peculiar contraption in my sink. A garburator. I only know it by name, since I have never used one and they are banned in Toronto.

My new co-workers have become accustomed to my Canadian accent but never cease to discover new Canadian-isms… and apparently, the word garburator is a Canadian term. To Americans, they are known simply as garbage disposal units.

Google helped me figure out how to use it. However, it didn’t stop me from plugging my drain within a week of moving in. My co-workers confessed they rarely use them since they plug up drains too often. I think I will leave it alone, too. It seems quite wasteful and noisy to get rid of tiny scraps of foods.

I have no problem pulverizing my food into a delicious sauce, though. (I think my Vitamix is more noisy than the garburator, but it is all for a good cause). For this sauce, I combined avocado, cucumber and hemp seeds for a bright luscious sauce flavoured with lime and miso. Twirled it overtop kelp noodles and thinly sliced kale for a quick summer meal.

Do you have a garbage disposal unit? Do you use it?

*PS: Rob reminded me that while Ontario collects a lot of recyclables, they also ship it across the world to China. Not so environmentally friendly…

Kelp Noodles and Kale with an Avocado-Miso Sauce

This is my submission to this month’s Pasta Please for cheeseless wonders.

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Lemony Cucumber and Chickpea Salad with Dukkah

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads, Sides by Janet M on June 11, 2013

Lemony Cucumber and Chickpea Salad with Dukkah

Rob and I have been good about eating through the freezer and pantry. While I no longer have a white board with the freezer inventory (it was such a good idea but we lost track), we generally pick up a container, look at the label, pick our favourite of the day and chow down.

Trust me, I am very diligent about labelling freezer meals.

I am not sure why I don’t do the same with my fridge foods. I don’t store too many things in the fridge but sometimes I forget about salad dressings or marinades pushed to the back. My rationale is probably: Well, this is fresh food. I’ll remember what it is before it grows mold.

Not true.

Some fridge finds are still happy in my fridge for months. Possibly years, although I can’t say for sure. Since now I can’t remember what it was and when I made it.

Mystery ingredients.

My mystery concoction looked like roasted and ground nuts. Likely with some spices. It passed the sniff test. Not entirely sure what it is, I have two options: almonzano (unlikely because it doesn’t taste similar) or dukkah. Or something I just don’t remember making, which is also a possibility. Dukkah is an Egyptian nut and spice mix with cumin, coriander and sesame seeds but there are many variations. The New York Times recently shared recipes for dukkah with peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chickpea flour and even an herbal variation with mint and fennel. While I have included a link to my favourite dukkah recipe that includes coconut, I am fairly confident this was a different variation. I *think* this is the hazelnut dukkah from Vegan Eats World, which is more nut-heavy than spice-heavy. I prefer more spices than nuts, so that the flavours really pop, but the lack of spices did not hold back here.

This salad started off a bit ho-hum, with a simple favour profile: cucumbers, chickpeas, quinoa, lemon and balsamic. It was nice, but not something to rave about… I wanted to add some chopped almonds but instead sprinkled the mystery nut blend overtop and it definitely brought this to a wow dish. The lemon really accents and highlights the spices. It tastes great and yet I still cannot confirm what is in this mix. :)

So for now, let’s assume it is dukkah and enjoy it for all it is worth. :)

How do you keep track of your food? Do you subscribe to “if I can’t remember what I made, then I probably shouldn’t be eating it?” rule?

Here are other recipes with dukkah:

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Dukkah
Maple and Dukkah Roasted Sweet Potatoes from Olive Magazine
Roasted Carrot Soup with Dukkah from Bon Appetit
Bulgur Bowl With Spinach, Mushrooms and Middle Eastern Nut and Spice Seasoning from New York Times
Dukkah-Spiced Green Beans and Mushrooms from Anja’s Food For Thought
Roasted Squash with Tahini and Dukkah at Lisa’s Kitchen

Lemony Cucumber and Chickpea Salad with Dukkah

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays. (more…)

Tempeh and Arugula Salad with a Mustard Miso Dressing

Posted in Favourites, Salads by Janet M on May 9, 2013

Tempeh and Arugula Salad with a Mustard Miso Dressing

Power of beautiful food?

I adore Gena’s blog Choosing Raw, where she shares gorgeous food that is still down-to-earth, delicious and easy. I have made many of her recipes (there are too many to count, ok plus these, too), and I have bookmarked many more to try.

So around the time of my food funk and arugula excess, I was propelled to the kitchen with the promise of beautiful food. Gena shared a drop-dead gorgeous salad with mizuna and tempeh with a mustard-miso dressing. I had enough gusto to make the dressing and bake some tempeh. Less inclination to go to the store to buy cabbage, snow peas and cilantro. So, I tossed it with the arugula and some cherry tomatoes and cucumber.

It did not matter because the star of this salad was the dressing. Oh my gosh, it was so good. A hefty dose of miso, a strong background of mustard with a sweet sourness from Meyer lemons and maple syrup, this dressing had a lot of bold flavours that became downright addictive. The tempeh was very basic and could be used for most meal salads since it was not strongly flavoured.

By the time I finally got around to acquiring some cabbage, I think I hate half the cabbage with this dressing alone. I just kept returning for more delicious salad.

Here’s to beautiful salad! :)

Have you tried Gena’s recipes? What are your favourites?

Tempeh and Arugula Salad with a Mustard Miso Dressing

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s No Croutons Required for little bites. (more…)

Strawberry Cucumber Smoothie

Posted in Drinks by Janet M on May 8, 2013

Strawberry Cucumber Smoothie

This is just a quick post to tell you about my latest infatuation.

(Unlike the Mediterranean Beans which I ate a month ago)

That ice cream craving was this week, though.

And while this is no ice cream, it is a deliciously creamy banana-less smoothie. And so cold, it gave me ice cream head aches.

Slow down, Janet…

Yes, this is the perfect drink to slow down with.. on a sunny summery day (thank you beautiful weather, Toronto).

Bananas are a common fixture in my smoothies, but Rob has stopped buying bananas, focusing on our freezer fruits. Vegetables are commonly added to sauce to make them smooth (cauliflower, zucchini, sweet potato and roasted tomatoes come to mind), and I have even added carrots to smoothies before (for a strawberry-mango-carrot delight). But this time, I wanted to try cucumbers. They worked well in my Cucumber Beet Ginger juice, so I figured out if someone had done something similar.

Joy had.

Now it didn’t seem so scary to pair cucumbers with strawberries. I’ve tried it with the seeds and without, and personally I just can’t be bothered to remove the seeds. To be honest, you cannot really taste the cucumber per se but it gives a fresh feel to the smoothie. I’ve made it with and without the vanilla and both are good. And the lemon juice? Definitely better with it.

Weird, but it works.

Definitely a comforting, guiltless drink for the summer. Thank goodness cucumbers are on sale this week. If you pick some up and make this, please let me know what you think… or if you have any other ways to enjoy cucumbers drinks. I was wondering whether they would freeze well for smoothies but ate through all my cucumbers before I could figure it out.

Joy says hers feeds two. It serves one Janet. And I’ve drunk my way through 2 cucumbers, if that tells you anything.

Strawberry Cucumber Smoothie

This is my submission to this month’s No Croutons Required for smoothies, this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday and Raw Food Thursday. (more…)

What I Ate on V-Day (& Cucumber Beet Ginger Juice) (WIAW)

Posted in Drinks, Favourites by Janet M on February 16, 2013

My first WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday). Which was actually a Thursday, and posted on a Saturday.

I have never been one to want to document everything I eat in a day, but by the end of Valentine’s Day, Rob had managed to do most of it on my behalf. HA!  Not the best photos (thank you to fluorescent lights), but that’s all in the spirit of WIAW. (I have supplemented with some other photos). :)

In case my leaks had you wondering as much as me, this is how we celebrated Valentine’s Day through our eats. We are very low-key: not into flowers (not me, at least) and store-bought holiday stuff.

Since I knew Rob had plans for dinner, I started off by baking breakfast for Rob: Peanut butter cookie baked oatmeal. Rob gasped at how much it tasted like a peanut butter cookie (without any flour!). Pictured with Rob’s card. :)

Peanut butter cookie baked oatmeal

I usually wake up and immediately eat half a grapefruit. Lately I have been drinking some green juice (I make enough to last 3 days or so). This cucumber-beet-ginger juice was delicious. (See recipe below)

Cucumber Beet Ginger Juice

A few hours later, when I arrive at work, I eat my steel-cut oats with protein powder. Lately, I have been adding spirulina to it and it makes it an electric green.

spirulina protein oatmeal

For lunch, I had the last of my curry-miso squash and chickpea soup.

Late afternoon, I snacked on an apple.

For dinner, Rob made my African Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew. I like how he scoured my blog for a recipe he knew I would like (I am very predictable that way!). It was one of my favourite dishes in 2010 (such high praise!) and it had obviously been a long time since I’ve had it. He substituted white beans for the kidney beans and served it with red quinoa. He planned for a red-themed meal and solidified it with a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Still as delicious as I remember. Even better (I could taste the love).

African Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew

For dessert, he surprised me with heart-shaped chocolate hazelnut truffles. Rob thought my recent post was a hint for Valentine’s Day (hahaha, I swear it wasn’t). He spiced things up by using hazelnut butter and made 3 versions: au naturel, some with a whole macadamia nut inside and some with shredded coconut. We obviously had to sample all three (each, of course). I think my favourite was the one with the whole nut. (PS. Yes, this recipe is so easy, Rob made them in under 20 minutes!)

chocolate hazelnut truffles

Capping the delicious truffles, we helped ourselves to some tea. Coco Chai Rooibos for me and Sweetie Pie Rooibos for Rob.

Coco Chai Rooibos
Because I forgot to stop the kettle, I had to add an ice cube.

Coco Chai Rooibos

What a keeper, eh? :)

Do you “celebrate” Valentine’s Day? If so, what did you do?

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

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Raw Vegan Smoked Salmon and Scallion Cashew Cheese Cucumber Rolls (Aux Vivres Végé-Lox)

Posted in Appetizers by Janet M on January 6, 2013

I wasn’t going to join in…

But then I saw this article co-authored by one of my former classmates debunking Dr Oz. I may have done a little cheer and a happy dance. I couldn’t keep quiet. Please read it and tell me what you think.

It seems like the new year ushers in the applause for “healthy” fasts and diets. I condone a balanced diet but not starvation. I don’t believe in miracle foods. While I tried a sweetener-free challenge last month, I am back to eating fruits and chocolate. Fruits are filled with vitamins, anti-oxidants and fiber and too good to pass up.

I am certainly not doing a juice cleanse. I was gifted my grandmother’s juicer, but have only made juice a handful of times so far. I juice because I like the taste of fresh juice. Proponents of juice cleanses focus on the increased consumption of vegetables (more than one could eat in their raw form), lack of fibre and a way to detox your body and lose weight. If you are not one to eat vegetables and enjoy juice, then yes, this could be a way to consume more nutrients found in vegetables but it does not replace eating whole vegetables. If you are healthy, there is no evidence that your liver, kidney or stomach needs a rest to assist removal of toxins. The higher glycemic index of juice (without fibre) may actually cause one to gain weight.

There is evidence, though, that vegan diets (moreso than vegetarian diets) protect against cancer. A study in BMJ from earlier this summer suggests that low carb/high protein diets are associated with an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events, mainly exacerbated by those consuming animal protein. I recently added a link to Vegan Health on my side bar which has a lot of good information about nutrition advice for vegans, including supplementation (gotta get the vitamin B12), especially if consuming a raw food diet.

In any case, for those of you with a leftover juice pulp otherwise destined for the compost, or those with an excess of carrots, or those who rave about Aux Vivres‘ raw smoked salmon, this dish is for you.

My last visit to Montreal had me visiting the vegan restaurant for a second time. I have recreated their delicious Macro Bowl with tempeh, greens and a miso-tahini sauce, but also wanted to recreate their raw smoked salmon, or végé-lox as they call it. Made with carrot pulp and seasoned with red onion, parsley, dulse and liquid smoke, it is a delicious spread combined with their tofu cream cheese and capers. I used shallots and dill and added capers directly into the spread for a different twist. Instead of tofu, I went all raw with a scallion cashew cheese rolled into a light cucumber roll.

If you want something more sweet for your carrot juice pulp, I highly recommend these raw carrot cupcakes. What is your take on juice fasts? On miracle weight-loss products?

Any favourite recipes for juice pulp?

This is my submission to this week’s Raw Foods Thursday.

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Spinach Salad with Carrot Ginger Miso Dressing and Pepitas

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on January 3, 2013

Spinach Salad with Carrot Miso Dressing and Pepitas

I have definitely noticed an improvement in my salads.

There are salads and then there are salads. And by the latter kind of salads, I mean meal-sized salads. Size alone does not make them appropriate for meals.

Leafy green salads used to have me perplexed. Growing up, a simple salad was usually always served before a meal, with lettuce, tomato and cucumber and a light vinaigrette. My penchant for one-pot meal-in-a-bowl dishes had me rethinking my views on traditional salad.

One of my goals last year was to simplify my kitchen, with a focus on sauces and dressings with fresh vegetables supported by beans and whole grains. My salad jar revolutionized my lunch meals.

Spinach Salad with Carrot Miso Dressing and Pepitas

So let’s just say I made lots of dressings last year and this is definitely one of my favourites: carrot miso. Using vegetables themselves in the dressing adds a body typically derived from oil. Since you puree the carrot, it is a thicker dressing than I am used to… more akin to a sauce.

Sadly, this salad didn’t really travel as well in my salad jar. Most likely because it didn’t have the vinegar heaviness found in most of my dressings. The vinegar essentially pickles the bottom layer of vegetables when packed in advance. In this case, I wound up adding the dressing right before serving.

A few years ago I made a different avocado salad with a carrot-ginger dressing. It was an appetizer, a starter to a potluck with friends. This time, I made this as my meal. I added lots of veggies like cucumber, tomatoes and grated carrots along with chickpeas for protein and avocado and pumpkin seeds for fat (and crunch!). The sweet tangy dressing brought it all together. In fact, I think this dressing was even better than the heavier carrot-ginger version I made earlier. I guess my taste buds are a changin’….

Spinach Salad with Carrot Miso Dressing and Pepitas

This is my submission to this month’s Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food for Substantial Salads and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays. (more…)

Herby, Peanutty Noodly Salad

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on December 20, 2012

What better way to sneak back into sweetened life than by eating through Doug McNish’s cooking class. I’ve done a few cooking classes before, but this one was definitely one of my favourites. While I am still no master of the knives, I felt that this class was awesome despite not being hands on. Instead, we chatted and watched as Doug created this fabulous menu in under 3 hours.

- Painted Fruit

- Raw Berry Jam

- Fermented Lemon Vanilla Cashew Yogurt

- Avocado Fries with Sundried Tomato Ketchup

- Carrot and Kelp Noodle Pad Thai, Sweet and Spicy Almond Crumble

- Kelp Noodle “Stir Fry” Pear Ginger Miso Sauce, Wilted Spinach and Hemp

- Sweet Potato and Carrot Mac N Cheese

- Mushroom Walnut Stroganoff, Moroccan Spiced Dandelion Greens

- Thick Cut Zucchini Bread, Avocado, Eggplant Bacon, Hemp Mayo

- Chocolate Avocado Torte, Almond Flax Crust

- Banana Crepes, Chocolate Sauce, Walnut Crumble, Raspberry Coulis, Caramelized Peach

Yes, that is over 20 recipes. We munched on a few of the dishes as they were made, but for the most part, the eight of us split the food to take home and eat as leftovers. Batch cooking for the win! :)

This is where the class shined: The recipes were great. Doug has worked in and with many restaurants and knows his stuff. His recipes are restaurant quality. He highlighted the importance of plating and presentation. He didn’t hide his secrets.Those banana crepes we made? Sound familiar? He made them this summer when he had a special brunch menu at Raw Aura. Some of the recipes are from his current book, some from his upcoming book and others were modifications of published recipes. He does not measure as he cooks. He tastes as he goes and modifies based on the freshness of the ingredients (something I really should learn how to do more naturally).

Doug has previously shared many of his recipes, especially in his cookbook, including his infamous sour cream and onion kale chips. However, I have yet to try any of his recipes. I have been daunted by his zealous use of oils, nut butters and agave. I know his food tastes good, although a bit heavy for me. After making Peacefood Cafe’s Raw Key Lime Pie earlier this summer, I know that restaurant quality really translates to fat and sugar, namely oil and agave!

Trust me, though, I licked my takeaway containers with the delicious food, though. I hope to reintroduce these foods into my kitchen a little bit more Janet-friendly… but most importantly, my spark has been rekindled for raw foods. It also helps that we still have not hit real winter weather yet. Until then, light salads such as this seems to fit the bill.

Herby, peanutty noodly salad. I couldn’t even make up a name as fun as this (Rob probably could but he didn’t). Pick your favourite herbs and toss them in this lime-spiked dressing. Coat noodles of your choice and add in some green vegetables like snow peas, snap peas or even broccoli. Toss with some (toasted) peanuts for some crunch and fats. Not as decadent as the meals this weekend, but I am ok with that.

PS. For those in the GTA, my newest health food store find is Foods For Life which had kelp noodles (16 oz) for $2.49 earlier this week. A quick sale since they expire in January. However, a great price to try these noodles! They also have kamut!

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s River Cottage Rocks, and to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays.

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