the taste space

Chocolate Mint Chip Ice Cream & The China Study All-Star Collection Giveaway

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

Chocolate Mint Chip Vegan Ice Cream

Houston gets me every single time. You leave for a week or two and you forget how hot and humid it is. Or maybe it just became hotter.

I thought it was ice cream weather before but now it has become a dietary staple. Just like salsas, we will have to wean ourselves from the vegan ice creams at Trader Joe’s.

I have no ice cream maker, but this recipe promised to deliver.

Mint ice cream with chocolate chunks – what’s not to like? I added some spirulina to make it a vibrant green base.

Sadly, it didn’t work out. I actually wonder whether it could be done at all without an ice cream maker.  I quickly realized the chocolate chunks would sink to the bottom if I didn’t stir. So, I stirred the ice cream as it become to freeze, almost every 30 minutes for a few hours. Until it was way too late to stay up. Of course, in the morning, it was solid as a brick and difficult to thaw. I had a hard time getting it into a scoopable form and ended up thawing it in the microwave! It was also a bit icy, I suspect because I didn’t remove the watery coconut water from the coconut milk.

I eventually refroze it into small quantities and ended up adding some soy milk to turn it into a smoothie. Next time, I may try Kari’s idea to put it back in the food processor to whip it back into a creamy state. Or fish out my ice cream maker from storage.

Chocolate Mint Chip Vegan Ice Cream

The recipe comes from The China Study All-Star Collection which is a collection of vegan recipes that focus on whole foods with limited refined oils, sugars and salt. Like my cookbook collaboration, the recipes hail from many authors. I was familiar with some of the authors (Dreena Burton, Ani Phyo, Christy Morgan, and Lindsay Nixon) but also new-to-me authors like Chef AJ and Del Sroufe among others.

A cookbook like this makes a great introductory cookbook. You are exposed to the styles of many chefs, hopefully finding a few that really resonate with you, or others that perhaps push you in new directions. Would you like to try Dreena’s Apple Lentil Dal? Or Christina’s Daikon Mushroom Fettuccine? Or Laura’s Cauliflower Steaks with Sweet Pepper Sauce? Or Heather’s Dark Chocolate, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Brownies? Yeah, me too. All four. In fact, you may notice a few repeats from the more prolific writers. Lindsay’s Quick Burgers have been shared earlier as well as Dreena’s Mellow Lentil “Sniffle Soup” and Black Bean Soup with Sweet Potatoes (I shared that one in the fall and it was fabulous!). If nothing else, it may open you up to a whole new library from a new favourite author.

Of note, due to the multiple authors, the writing style of each author is apparent, along with the quality of their accompanying photographs.

Recipes from The China Study All-Star Collection shared elsewhere:

Lemon-Lime Green Smoothie

Creamy Breakfast Rice Pudding

Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Zucchini and Summer Squash Muffins

Barbecue Portobello Sandwiches

African Collard Stirfry

Gingered Collard Greens

Everything Minestrone

Peanut Butter Fudge Truffles (with another giveaway, too)

Dreamy Baked Bananas (with another giveaway, too)

Thankfully, the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite ice cream flavours. I will randomly select a winner on June 30, 2014. Good luck!

PS. I am sharing this with Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

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Raw Mango Ginger Energy Balls & RLCT Recap 2014

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on June 10, 2014

Raw Mango Ginger Energy Balls

This month has and will be a whirlwind.

In fact, this entire summer will be a crazy, wonderful adventure.

I have not leaked my summer adventures here yet. In brief: cycling, long vacation, moving back to Toronto, and yet more cycling. I am warning you now. There may not be much blogging.

For now, my early summer cycling triumphs have been conquered. A month ago, Rob and I rode the 165-km Shiner GASP and I finally got my riding mojo back a few weeks ago in time to ride the 2-day/334-km Rideau Lake Cycle Tour (RLCT) with my father last weekend. This was my third time on the course, but the second time I did the full “Classic Route”. I described the route the first time I did it in 2011, but each year feels different depending on your level of training, equipment and weather.

Despite reducing my weekly cycling from 250 km to 150 km over the last month, I felt reasonably fit for the ride. I knew there were big hills that I just could not train adequately while in Houston, but we found as many hills as we could.

One difference this year, though, was that I did not have my own bike. A friend of my father graciously lent me a road bike for the weekend, although in the end, it was a men’s bike that did not fit me properly. I took it for a ride the afternoon before the ride and was sore. Too sore, too fast. I frantically tracked down a women’s road bike I could rent for the weekend which is hard to find when over 2000 other people are expected to cycle to Kingston. In the end, I found a nice bike to rent from an unlikely of stores, and they even loaned me cycling shoes to boot. This is the first year I have tried clips for my bicycle. There are different systems for clipping your shoes into bicycle pedals and SPD clips have been the bane of my existence. This weekend, I may have found a new clipping system I prefer: KEO.

In any case, while my Dad and I had fun together riding over the hills, I fell victim to all my new things, with saddle sores. Instead of my legs being tired, it was mainly the soles of my feet and my saddle that were the most bothersome. While some of the hills were still challenging, I felt the best prepared of all years. Granted, my Dad did 80% of the pulling. ;) Thankfully, the wind was not too bad but I think it helped to shave 15 minutes off our return ride along with an hour less breaks.

I actually did not bring anything recipe-inspired with me during my ride. Instead, I ate lots of bananas, dates and almonds. The dates and almonds would have been pulverized into balls anyways, so it was basically deconstructed trail mix. ;) I will not deprive you of a delicious recipe, though. They are not too travel-friendly though. I soaked the cashews, as recommended by Sarah, but I found them too creamy to be portable. Still delicious, though. I added some ginger, as a nod to the Lovely Lemon Hemp Protein Bites. I actually think these would be better with a shredded coconut dusting on the outside, but I only had coconut chips which don’t lend as well to pretty exteriors.

I am on vacation for the rest of this week and very happy to not be riding for a few days. Our next goal is finding a place to live.

In case you’re interested, another review of this year’s ride was here and one from the volunteers that man the ham radio stations here.

Please tell me about all your plans for the summer!

Raw Mango Ginger Energy Balls

I am sharing this with Healthy Vegan Fridays.

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Chocolate Chickpea Flour Cupcakes with Chocolate Tofu Frosting & Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts by Janet M on May 24, 2014

Chocolate Chickpea Flour Cupcakes

My lovely friends are true enablers.

I wanted to make cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes.

Even with my (somewhat) minimalist pantry and kitchen, I was mostly to my goal.

I had silicone muffin wrappers, but no muffin tin. I wasn’t sure whether I could simply bake the muffins without the tin, but my friend graciously lent me her muffin tray so I did not have to experiment. (Note: Please tell me if you have tried)

Next, I found the perfect recipe: a chocolate cupcake that only used chickpea flour as its base. No wheat flour, no funny grain flours, not even oat flour. Just chickpea flour. In fact, now I was rather intrigued. Chickpea flour cupcakes??

I was missing one ingredient, though: baking powder. I have baking soda (it also helps for cleaning), but no baking powder in my minimalist pantry. Oftentimes, especially if baking with chocolate, baking soda can be substitute with baking powder. So I tried that option first. Baking experiment fail #1: I forgot to look at the conversion and it isn’t a 1:1 substitution. My cupcakes rose beautifully but tasted kind of salty and somewhat metallic.

Chocolate Chickpea Flour Cupcakes

I vowed to try again with less baking soda but my friend spared me the trouble and slipped me a bag of white powder at work. Clearly labelled baking powder. The label may have been unnecessary because if she were smuggling cocaine, I would have inherited a fortune. ;)

In any case, I shared the cupcakes at work. I was up-front that I was sharing vegan, gluten-free and grain-free cupcakes. I told people that it was made with besan/chickpea flour because quite a few of my co-workers cook with it, too, and they were shocked it could be used in a sweet baking treat.

However, what I did not share (initially) was what I was hiding in my frosting. I ran with the bean-theme and used tofu as my base! It is similar but more firm than my chocolate mousse pie filling. I thought it was too sweet when I first tasted it but it mellowed out and firmed up considerably overnight in the fridge. Both the frosting and cupcakes were well received, so I consider it a success!

Chocolate Chickpea Flour Cupcakes

This recipe is courtesy of Vegan Beans From Around the World which shares 100 recipes of naturally vegan recipes from around the world. Kelsey simplified the recipes to keep the ingredients easy-to-find and did a marvelous job of curating a variety of vegan bean-centric dishes. Dutch Split Pea Soup to Nigerian Black Eyed Pea Stew to Argentine White Bean Salad, there are plenty of dishes I still want to try. Oh, and the Navy Bean Pie (aka Muslim bean pie) which is also in the dessert section. I have been spoiled by gorgeous cookbooks as of late, so I am missing the pretty photos. Although hopefully these photos will encourage you to try out this fun cupcakes.

Recipes from Vegan Beans From Around the World  spotted elsewhere:

Hommage Hummus
Roasted Edamame
Southwestern Style Salad
Cuban Black Beans
Green Bean Fries
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Queso-Less-Dillas
Black Bean Brownies

Chocolate Chickpea Flour Cupcakes

Thankfully, the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite recipe made with beans. I will randomly select a winner on June 13, 2014. Good luck!

Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher.  I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

PS. Have no muffin tins? Try making this into a cake, as seen here.

PPS. Need other ideas for using chickpea flour? Look no further than Emma’s round-up post.

PPPS. I am sharing this to Credit Crunch Munch and We Should Cocoa for $2 cakes. I didn’t price out the cupcakes but without butter and eggs, vegan cakes are typically cheaper. Chickpea flour can be found at more economical prices at Indian grocers.

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Tahini Cups with a Sweet Coffee-Infused Filling

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on May 15, 2014

Tahini Cups with a Sweet Coffee-Infused Filling

You probably wept as I described Houston’s spring/summer weather a few months ago. With the atrocious Canadian winter, I started clarifying when my Mom would ask me about the weather: Do you really want to know? Do you really want to know we have bone fide summer with 30 C highs while you just lost the last of your winter snow? I thought not.

Have no fear, though, you will have your just revenge. That hot and humid weather is mere weeks away, if not here already. Hot and humid? Yeah, that’s was this weekend. Houstonians know this is peanuts compared to the upcoming summer (sad face). I am convinced that it is the humidity that makes the wind so heavy here, but I have nothing to prove it.

In any case, I made a Houston-newbie mistake last weekend. I brought these treats to a potluck. Not a problem in other cities, but Houston is hot these days. They were very keen to melting. Even in our apartment, with the air conditioner, they were quick to begin to melt. Since they were my only cooked food fit for others, I brought them anyhow. Imagine my shock when I arrived at the potluck, when they decided to serve the food outdoors! GAH!! A bit of reprieve, the desserts were to stay inside. I placed my container of mini treats with the other desserts and proceeded to pile up with all the delicious savoury options.

I returned indoors to the dessert table. The line from the savoury table now snaked indoors, right past the desserts. I had to do a double-take: only one half-treat remained. I told Christine to grab the last one. Instead of melting, within 5 minutes they had evaporated to high acclaim! Success!

Tahini Cups with a Sweet Coffee-Infused Filling

One of my favourite parts of going to vegan potlucks (other than trying so much delicious food), is experimenting in my own kitchen. After seeing Lisa share these, I immediately wanted to try it. Tahini-based desserts were a definite hit earlier this year (see my Sweet Sesame Rice Crispy Treats) and I am warming up to liking a hint of coffee flavour. It pairs well with chocolate (hello Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake!) but I was unsure about it without the chocolate. Lisa raved about it, so I gave it a whirl.

In case it wasn’t obvious: it was a definite hit. The coffee flavour was subtle enough (for me) and paired well with the sweet dates. The tahini cups were a nice contrast with a creamy base. I liked that it was nut-free, which helps for those with nut-allergies at potlucks.

I made these into mini cups, which I think worked well since you could get more filling:base ratio. Tahini can be a bit bitter, but it was tempered nicely with the sweet date-heavy filling. I still had some filling leftover, which was easily slipped into my next morning’s oatmeal. The tahini base settled a bit funny on top, which is probably because I didn’t use enough. I just barely had enough to surround my 24 minicups. I changed the recipe below to account for more base.

Do you like tahini in your desserts? I am inspired to try more! Perhaps these salted tahini caramels are in my future: tahini + coconut flour + sweetener!

Tahini Cups with a Sweet Coffee-Infused Filling

PS. I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.

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

Posted in Book Review, Desserts by Janet M on May 8, 2014

Mini Chocolate Banana Flax Cakes (Raw, No-Bake)

I don’t think I have ever eaten so many bananas in one day. I lost count, but I think I ate eight during the Shiner GASP. Never mind the oranges, peanuts and bars, oh and lots of water. I had those, too, but ate a banana nearly every rest stop. Rob and I also had some almost-sorry bananas after the hot weekend. My friend stepped on the tip of one by mistake so I knew I had to eat it soon. Too impatient to wait for them to freeze for smoothies, I made these mini cakes instead. 5 ingredients and 15 minutes later, I had a fudgy, gooey, chocolately delight.

5 ingredients, 15 minutes seems gimmicky, but it is the premise of Doug McNish’s latest cookbook: Raw, Quick and DeliciousI have been sitting on this one for a while. During the winter, I had little desire to eat raw foods but now that summer has arrived, my time is short, I cannot eat through this cookbook fast enough. Smoothies, salads, and dressings, McNish has you covered for interesting combinations (spiced apricot smoothie, caprese stacked salad, curried carrot dressing). Furthermore, he includes breakfasts (cashew scramble wrap), main courses (raw sweet potato enchiladas!), snacks (cinnamon apple almond stacks!) and desserts (pecan pie brownies), none of which ask for a dehydrator or take too long to create. Some recipes call for sub-recipes throughout the book, though, but nothing seems too onerous. He focused on sharing recipes without fancy equipment or techniques, letting vegetables shine.

Mini Chocolate Banana Flax Cakes (Raw, No-Bake)

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this simple concoction. Needless to say, I was sceptical, but I ran with it. Doug knows his food.

Gooey chocolate bliss.  The bananas create a soft, gooey consistency that is held together with the flax seeds, but there are enough flax seeds to give this some structure, too. Since it takes only 10 minutes to set and no baking is required, it is a bit gooey, but who doesn’t like their chocolate cake super moist? I particularly liked it with the accent of the fresh banana slices to counter the darker chocolate flavour. (FYI, I tried it first with less agave, but tasted it and felt it deserved the full amount).

Need a way to eat copious amounts of flax seeds with glee? This would be it! You certainly don’t taste it.

There are a few selected photos in the cookbook and they are gorgeous, including this one for these cakes:

Mini Chocolate Banana Flax Cakes (Raw Quick and Delicious)

 

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your quickest and/or easiest raw dish. The winner will be selected at random on May 20, 2014. Good luck!

Recipes from Raw, Quick and Delicious spotted elsewhere:

Date Muesli
Quick Thai Cream Sauce
Grapefruit Mint and Arugula Salad
Avocado Cucumber Hand Rolls
Summer Corn Cakes
Curried Cashews and Mixed Vegetables
Steak and Potatoes

Squash Burrito
Mushroom Tart
Coconut Macaroons
Strawberry Coconut Shortcake Tart

Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher.  I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

PS. I am sharing this with Random RecipesDead Easy Desserts and to the last Raw Foods Thursday.

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Ange’s Glo Bars & Oh She Glows Cookbook Review + Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on April 24, 2014

Ange's Glo Bars

Yet another travel-friendly, energy-boosting snack. But these are no ordinary granola bar. They are Angela’s Infamous Classic Glo Bars, packed with all good things.

Have you ever noticed how many different kinds of granola bars Angela has posted? Soft-and-chewy baked sugar-free granola bars, healthy banana cranberry oat bars, last-minute protein energy barsbanana bread protein bars, and more. She is the Queen of Granola Treats. Previously, I had difficulties with her almond butter rice crisp treats which was probably due to too many substitutions. Thus, I (mostly) followed her recipe exactly, scoping out brown rice syrup. And let me tell you, this ingredient is key. Its viscosity alone lends to enhanced stickiness which helps keep the bars together. Initially, I tried to replace it with maple syrup, which probably didn’t help the cause. In any case, I absolutely loved these bars. Not too sweet with a hint of peanut butter, still packed with an assortment of seeds. I used puffed kamut (instead of crisped rice) and I liked this more because it lended to a more chewy bar.

Ange's Glo Bars

The cycling has been more intense (HILLS! OMG HILLS!), which explains why I have been sharing more treats. I have enough fore-thought and energy to make my snacks at the end of the week. Rob makes us tamarind lentils to go. In theory, this should give us more time so we can leave earlier Saturday morning. In theory, alas. We ended up sleeping in last weekend and having another later start in the hills. Our Saturdays have started to look like an entire treat day: fun snacks, tamarind lentils for lunch, tropical agua fresca from Mi Tienda #2 (this week it was papaya and pina colada on tap), followed out by a meal made by someone else… because we don’t have much energy to cook for ourselves once we get back.

By Sunday, I get my cooking mojo back and have been enjoying cooking out of Angela’s latest cookbook: The Oh She Glows Cookbook. I am behind the surge of posts highlighting its praises, but that is just because I have been smitten by trying all.the.recipes. All in the name of good review research for the blog.

With such a popular and prolific blog, long-time readers of her blog may wonder how many are new recipes.  Angela mentions that there are 75 new recipes with a dozen new-and-improved reader favourites. Angela has grown as a recipe developer, as I have had some failures with her earlier recipes. Thankfully some of my favourite recipes from her blog made it to the cookbook: Creamy Lemon Basil Avocado Sauce, Salt and Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas, and her Lemon-Tahini Dressing. She is also a much better photographer than me, so this cookbook is eye-candy as well as delicious. A photograph of possibly every single recipe. How awesome is that? Her recipes are all vegan, all whole foods based, 85% gluten-free and mostly soy-free.

I cooked and baked my way through 10 recipes (so far) and then had the difficult decision of what to share. In truth, I already shared the Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake, but those photographs would not due justice to such a nice cookbook. My other favourites were the On the Mend Spiced Red Lentil-Kale Soup and the Crowd-Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole. Some meals were a bit lacklustre (Indian lentil-cauliflower soup) but just adjust the seasonings to your taste. You can see all of my recipe reviews here. There are still more recipes I want to try and will continue to enjoy cooking from this cookbook.

Ange's Glo Bars

Other recipes from the Oh She Glows Cookbook shared elsewhere:

Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake (as christened by me, aka Fudgy Mocha Pudding Cake)
Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters
Apple Pie Oatmeal
Glowing Mojo-ito Green Monster
Life-Affirming Warm Nacho Dip
Eat Your Greens Detox Soup
Cream of Tomato Soup with Roasted Italian Chickpea Croutons
Empowered Noodle Bowl with Thai Peanut Sauce
Walnut, Avocado & Pear Salad with Marinated Portobello Caps & Red Onion with Effortless Anytime Balsamic Vinaigrette
Chakra Caesar Salad with Nutty Herb Croutons
Super Power Chia Bread
Oil-Free Baked Falafel Bites
Crowd Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole
Grilled Portobello Burger with Sun-Dried Tomato Kale-Hemp Pesto
Marinated Balsamic, Maple and Garlic Tempeh
Quick & Easy Chana Masala
15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

Chilled Chocolate Espresso Torte

Thankfully, the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite Angela recipe or what you most want to make. I will randomly select a winner on May 4, 2014. Good luck!

Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher.  I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by Janet M on April 12, 2014

Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake

Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake.

Because all things with rolled oats are actually meant for breakfast. Add coffee to it, some chocolate for good measures, then there is no question: this is all good breakfast things. A perfect way to start your day.

Because that coffee at night, may keep you awake. Or maybe it was the chocolate.

This was how I rationalized eating this for breakfast.

 

Eaten fresh, this is basically a self-saucing cake. A chunky dense cake doused in a mocha-chocolate sauce. It was really good, although a bit gummy from the oat flour.

I apologize for the unappealing photographs, but the leftovers were what I had to work with… The leftovers firmed up a lot after the overnight rest, sopping up the sauce, leaving this with a texture more comparable to leftover oatmeal. I hope you still get the idea that this is saucy, though.

Just so you know, I debated remaking this to get a better photo, but decided to share it anyways. My motto is to keep things stress-free and I wanted to share this sooner rather than later.

Chocolate pudding cake has always been associated with the Good Friday Cooking Disaster of 2009, wherein I made a meatless feast with a black bean and pumpkin soup, penne alla vodka and finished it off with a brownie pudding cake. Of course, all were new recipes that I was dying to try out. If I recall correctly, everyone was mostly satisfied with my first two dishes (I remember the penne alla vodka turning out well but I had to simmer off a lot of liquid) but all heck broke loose when I shared dessert. My family did not like it and they told me very bluntly. (Too sweet! I can cook better than you!) That last part is true.

However, I think everyone would love this pudding cake, for dessert or breakfast. Or both. Rob highly approved. For both.

Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake

In addition of its association with the upcoming Easter holiday, I also wanted to share this because I received some lovely ingredients to try courtesy of Carrington Farms, ground flax seeds and coconut oil, both of which I used here. Because this is a pudding cake filled with all good things. Check out stores near you celebrating Carrington Farm’s All Good April campaign by passing deals to you, too. In Houston, you can find that at HEB and Fiesta Mart. They also have additional coupons on their website.

Disclosure: I wrote this review as part of the #CarringtonAllGoodApril campaign with Carrington Farms, through FitFluential LLC. I received the products described at no cost in order to complete the review. However, opinions are honest and my own.

PS. This is my submission to We Should Cocoa, Love Cake, and Let’s Cook Sweet Treats for Easter. (more…)

Chocolate Puffed Quinoa Treats (aka Quinoa Choc-Crackle Slice) & Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts by Janet M on April 10, 2014

Chocolate Puffed Quinoa Treats

Another  bike ride and another treat!

Although this weekend was more about travelling to Austin for the Texas VegFest to meet the ever wonderful Tess Challis, instead of cycling. We had lofty plans for both, although the rainy weather foiled our plans.

We decided to play chicken with the weather. We wanted to cycle at least 100 km, if not more. Instead of going out for a long loop, we drove out to a more rural location and used it as our home base. I would have been very happy doing multiple laps along a straight and flat road but Rob thought that would be too boring. Instead, Rob drafted 30-35 km loops in a few directions. We pedalled through two loops before giving in to the wind and rain.

Us versus the weather? We lost. Our bikes? Super dirty. Our car won. It became clean.

The nice thing, though, was that I was able to take out these treats. I was really curious to try them out. Not only to see whether it would be better than my last puffed quinoa treat, but I was curious about using coconut sugar as a binder.

Chocolate Puffed Quinoa Treats

The good part? They tasted great. A chocolately goop to keep everything together. Not too sweet with a hint of almond. Since the quinoa was puffed and not crisp, they were easy to munch on. However, my intuition was correct about the coconut sugar: it did not hold up well as a binder. The only way I could keep these treats together was by chilling it in the freezer. Even then, perfectly cut squares were hard to craft. I resorted to breaking off nibbles when I wanted a treat. As such, these were not portable snacks but worked out well with our continuous looping back to the car. I wonder whether coconut nectar would work better as a binder, although I have never tried it.

The treats are from a fun new vegan cookbook called (wait for it) The Vegan Cookbook. It is a gorgeous cookbook with creative yet approachable recipes: breakfast tagine, kale & soba noodles with ginger-chilli sauce, curried chickpea patties with satay dipping sauce, chai-spiced banana muffins and chocolate banana wontons. Authored by Adele McConnell of Vegie Head, I must admit I had never heard of it before, but we have been enjoying many of her recipes, including the super fast chickpea curry and South African sweet potato stew (very similar to my previously shared recipe).  The rasam soup was a bit too tart for me, but at least it wasn’t mind-blowing spicy. In any case, with a wide range of international whole food recipes, I have many more dishes I look forward to making.

The Vegan Cookbook cover by Adele McConnell

Here’s to hoping the nice weather persists for this weekend. Not only for our cycling adventures but for all those partaking in the MS150 this weekend, too. :)

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living anywhere in the world (YAYAYA!). To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite vegan meal. The winner will be selected at random on April 21, 2014. Good luck!

PS. Recipes from The Vegan Cookbook elsewhere:

Moroccan Quinoa Soup (with a giveaway, too)

Peanut Butter and Banana Bread

Mushroom and Pea Coconut Korma

Raw Chocolate Torte With Salted Pecan Sauce

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Chai Spiced Rice Pudding & The Blender Girl Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on April 8, 2014

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

Adult rice krispies and now adult rice pudding.

The difference is that I liked rice krispies as a kid but hated rice pudding. My brother loved it, but me, not so much.

However, spice it up with chai-infused flavours, sweeten it with apple, dried currants and a touch of maple syrup, bathe it in coconut milk and sprinkle it with pistachios along with leftover short-grain brown rice, and I am a happy camper.

This is no quick-fix rice pudding but it sure is delicious. My friend who tried it said it was the best rice pudding she had ever eaten.

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

This is my take on Tess Masters‘ version found in her gorgeous new cookbook The Blender Girl. Do not let the title mislead you too much. Yes, this is a cookbook where nearly every recipe uses a blender, but this does not mean only smoothies. The recipes are all gluten-free and vegan with only natural sweeteners. The recipes revolve around whole foods. Raw and cooked recipes are included. Tess has recipes for juices, smoothies, dips/spreads, soups, dressings, sauces and even desserts. She has entrees that use homemade sauces, including her penang curry and creamy mushroom stroganoff. Desserts include sugar-free no-pumpkin pie and chocolate-chile banana splits. Breakfast favourites including pancakes and crepes, with delicious toppings like ginger-apple-pear butter and instant raw raspberry jam. She even finds a way to use a blender for rice pudding.

She knows her stuff. It may dirty another container but I liked how a portion of the rice was pureed to thicken the rice pudding. It was rather ingenious.

The Blender Girl Cookbook cover

 

She is a girl smitten by her high-speed blender. I can tell. I have one, too, and I find it hard to remember what my kitchen was like without it. Do you need an expensive high speed blender for this cookbook? Certainly not. However, you definitely need something with a blending capacity, may that be a regular blender, an immersion blender or a food processor. If you don’t have a blender, you could still gain inspiration from her creations. Your textures may be different but it would be fun to see what else you could make.

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe 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 telling me what you love to make with your blender (or blending instrument). The winner will be selected at random on April 20, 2014. Good luck!

Other recipes shared from The Blender Girl:

Creamy and Crunchy Spuds (with Raw Mayonnaise)
Watermelon Gazpacho is The Bomb
Fresh Spring Rolls with Orange-Almond Sauce
Creamy of Cauliflower Soup
Incredible Edible Edamame Dip
Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff
Penang Curry
Pad Thai
Anti-Oxidant Avenger
Pineapple Salsa Smoothie
Chock-Full Chocolate Surprise Smoothie
Raw Chocolate-Orange Torte

PS. This is my submission for Alphabakes and Random Recipes.

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Sweet Sesame Rice Crispy Treats

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on April 3, 2014

Sweet Sesame Crisp Rice Treats

I feel kind of bad for all my buddies in Canada reading about my cycling adventures. Not much cycling is happening there, unless it is of the indoor variety. The weather here is glorious (not too humid yet and only a few mosquitoes have been spotted so far) but more importantly, we have to start cycling early. Our first cycling goal is less than a month away. 100 miles in early May. We need to get moving.

Last weekend, Rob and I finally started training together. My last few jaunts have been solo, so we weaned in carefully: 140 km over 2 days (split 90 km and 50 km). The advantage of splitting the distances is that you have a break for your legs but not your bum. ;)

The other reason we had to split our distance is because we had a late start on Saturday. With my recent string of flats, my 3-year-old tires were in need of replacement. We spent the first hour changing the tires only to realize that we also punctured one of the tubes. The fresh tires were a bit tight and I even managed to snap one of the plastic doodads trying to get the tire back on.  By this time, we were too frustrated to remove it and try again and wanted to call in the pros. However, it seemed like all bicycle stores open at 10 am so had to wait it out.

As we waited it out, I made these delicious snacks.

Sweet Sesame Crisp Rice Treats

Do you remember last year when I cycled 100 km and came home too tired to make my own smoothie? In retrospect, I wonder whether I had encountered the dreaded bonk. This year, I am ramping my snacks and calories. I am drinking my homemade sports drink. Even for these “short” beginner rides.

I really liked these treats. First of all, because they look like rice crispy treats but there are no marshmallows here at all. The goopy mess that keeps it all together is tahini and brown rice syrup with a touch of vanilla. I loved Gabby’s sesame overload with sesame seeds in addition to the tahini and the marvellous addition of  chewy raisins. This is a grown-up version of rice crispy treats if I ever tasted one, assuming that adults grow up. Perfect as a cycling snack, especially for long rides, since it is mostly carbs with some fats important for longevity… but most importantly: it tolerated the Houston heat perfectly.

While I wish I could say this was a fairy tale ending, with Rob and I cycling away without any hiccups, as we peddled away together, I noticed I lost the clipping mechanism on my clippy pedal. I opted to ride this weekend with only one foot clipped in.. I suppose I am working my way in. When I completed my first 100 km ride of the year, I only had regular shoes. Hopefully next weekend, I will have both shoes clipped in. ;)

Sweet Sesame Crisp Rice Treats

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes and Dead Easy Desserts(more…)

Raw Grasshopper Crepes (Chocolate Crepes filled with an Avocado-Mint Cream)

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on March 8, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with an Almond-Coconut Crust

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on December 27, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with an Almond-Coconut Crust

Hope everyone had a nice holiday. Back at work for me, already.

Rob and I returned to Canada, in all of its ice storm, power-deficient stateprovince. Over half a million people lost power in the days leading up to Christmas and just before we scooted back to Houston, my brother lost his power, for the second time, on Boxing Day.

With a few short days in the GTA, we explored Toronto as tourists: fast and furious. We met up with many friends and family, reminding ourselves why we love Toronto so much. Despite the cold, the warmth comes from our social network. We cooked, we ate at both new and old (favourite) restaurants and relished in multiple Christmas feasts.

As I said, I didn’t have enough forethought to bring any treats with me from Houston. Nothing lost, as I was oftentimes filled to the brim with good food, and had no desire to cook. However, while in Woodstock, I spotted a few pantry staples that could easily be whipped into a shockingly simple dessert. I could not resist. I am shocked I am sharing another dessert with you all, but in case you are looking for a fun party dessert, this could be your treat.

I threw together almonds, coconut and dates for a simple raw pie crust. The salt and vanilla accentuate the sweet maple syrup and dates. You could replace the coconut with additional nuts, but I enjoyed the textural foil next to the rich smooth filling. The filling was super simple: a bag of melted chocolate chips mixed with canned coconut milk and lots of peanut butter. At first I thought the peanut butter was a bit odd, but when you consider that the majority of raw cheesecakes are made with an abundance of cashews whipped into a butter, the leguminous peanut butter made sense. Combined with chocolate, you have a winning treat. It is rich and filling without being cloyingly sweet. And I even used semi-sweet chocolate.

Are you back at work, too? This is my shortest Christmas holiday yet.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with an Almond-Coconut Crust

This is my submission to this month’s We Should Cocoa.

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Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on December 21, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

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

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

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

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

Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

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

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

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

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

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

Happy holidays everyone. :)

Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

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


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