the taste space

Moroccan Cauliflower Rice and Date Salad & The Complete Coconut Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on November 13, 2014

Moroccan Cauliflower Rice and Date Salad

Hey guys,

See below for the giveaway but I am super excited to tell you about Camilla’s latest cookbook, The Complete Coconut CookbookDo not let the title mislead you. Yes, this is a cookbook which includes recipes for all things coconut – coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut sugar, dried coconut and coconut flour. However, it is also entirely plant-based vegan, gluten-free, grain-free and nut-free. Because there are easy substitutes for the oil and sugar, this is a rather comprehensive vegan cookbook.

Moroccan Cauliflower Rice and Date Salad

The recipes span breakfast (Banana Flapjacks, Coconut Yogurt), Beverages (Mango Carrot Coconut Smoothie, Coconut Nog), Breads and Muffins (Coconut Flax Tortillas, Vanilla Coconut Baked Doughnuts), Salads (Coconut Waldorf Salad, Shredded Beet, Coconut and Sesame Salad), Soups/Stews/Chilis (Cantaloupe Coconut Soup with Basil Syrup, Persian Coconut Soup with Split Peas, Chickpeas and Herbs), Main Dishes (Coconut Squash Pizza, Coconut Za’atar Kale, Tempeh and “Rice”), Side Dishes (Quick Sauteed Kale, Coconut Cauliflower Puree), Cookies/Cakes (Chocolate Avocado Cookies, No-Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies) and Pies/Puddings/Other Desserts (Coconut Cream Pie,  Caribbean Sweet Potato Pie).

Woah, that is only a portion of the 200 recipes.

Complete Coconut CookbookCover

Although I am not entirely sure why someone would make a cookbook that was vegan, GF and nut-free, it certainly required Camilla to be quite innovative in the kitchen. For her baking recipes, a combination of coconut flour, psyllium, chickpea flour and potato starch are used. I tried the apple coconut cookies, although they tasted more like muffins but were delicious (soft and moist). I was hoping the chocolate cherry biscotti might be a bit more crispy, although unfortunately it softened in my air-tight container overnight. I see these as interesting starting points for those who are seeking non-traditional baked goods.

However, as I showcased here, there are plenty of delicious savoury options, too. I loved, loved, loved the cabbage soup with cilantro.

This was also a fun spin on a vegetable salad: cauliflower is riced and tossed with Moroccan spices, dates and cilantro. The savoury spices (cumin and cardamom – although I think cinnamon would have been better) worked well with the sweet dates. My only complaint was that I picked a big head of cauliflower, so I needed more dressing. No fault of the author, as I guess there are truly puny cauliflowers out there.

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 your favourite way to eat coconut. The winner will be selected at random on November 23, 2014. Good luck!

Other recipes spotted elsewhere:

Acorn Squash with Coconut Chickpea Stuffing
Carrot Cupcakes with Whipped Lemon Coconut Cream

Coconut Biscotti

Coconut Pancakes
Gingered Carrot and Coconut Soup
Very Vanilla Cupcakes

Cauliflower ‘Couscous’ and Date Salad

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays, Family Foodies, and Simple and In Season.

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Lemon-Cilantro Broccoli and Chickpea Salad

Posted in Salads by janet @ the taste space on September 9, 2014

Lemon-Cilantro Broccoli and Chickpea Salad

One of my more popular salads is my spin on Whole Foods’ Detox Salad. I used lime and cilantro to complement the riced vegetables. I named mine “Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Lime and Cilantro” because I cringe when I hear the name “Detox Salad”.

In general, I always assumed that the enzyme myth was in fact, just a myth….. until I saw this video. (That long pause is Dr Gregor’s hallmark, at least in my mind).

Lemon-Cilantro Broccoli and Chickpea Salad

In this other video, De Gregor highlights the presence of sulforaphane in broccoli which enhances liver enzymes, as the most potent natural phase 2 enzyme-inducer. However, since sulforaphane is only created when two components interact, until you crush the raw cells (ie, with chewing or chopping), you miss out on sulforaphane. He later mentions that this needs to be done prior to cooking broccoli. Yes, the “enzyme myth” is true. Cooking is not as good for the broccoli’s sulforaphane levels.

But who likes raw broccoli?

Lemon-Cilantro Broccoli and Chickpea Salad
(Other than my Mom..)

To get the best of both worlds, a fun solution would be to chop your broccoli, wait a bit for the enzymes to work and then cook it.

And yes, this was my round-about introduction to this lemon-cilantro chickpea salad with almost riced broccoli, which I actually steamed for a gentler taste. Although, you are completely free to try this with raw broccoli rice, too. The lemon juice would make it tender, too, with time.

Poll time. Raw or cooked broccoli: which do you prefer? :)

Lemon-Cilantro Broccoli and Chickpea Salad

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays, No Croutons Required and Bookmarked Recipes.

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Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl & Salad Samurai Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on August 28, 2014

Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl & Salad Samurai Giveaway

Thank goodness I got my share of summer while I was still in Houston. Spending a month in Africa was sunny, but still a bit nippy, and definitely not that green. Our first week back in Canada was hot and humid, but that was an anomaly. Toronto didn’t get much of a summer this year, either.

However, while I am no farmer, I think one thing that has benefitted from the rainy days has been the blueberries. The wild blueberries were unbelievably big this year and the cultivated ones, even more massive. Rob tried to warn me when I loaded up with some cultivated blueberries: They don’t taste that great, he whispered to me. Turns out they were big and blueberry-delicious. And I didn’t have to share them with Rob. Score! :)

Without restraint, I added them to my morning oats and carefully crafted this salad courtesy of Terry’sFrom Salad Samurai. A multi-component, main dish salad with a spinach base, filled with cucumber and blueberries, beefed up with Ginger Beer tofu and topped with sticky, sweet & savoury almonds with Chinese 5-spice. I tried to stay true to the recipe, but only changes were to decrease the tamari because it was an ever-present ingredient in nearly all the components. I also did not want to turn on my oven for the tofu, so I pan-fried it in its marinade. It wasn’t as crispy as it would have been baked, but still good. The star of the salad, other than the big blueberries, were the Chinese 5-spiced glazed almonds which were perfectly balanced with the tamari, agave and the Chinese 5-spice imparted an interesting edge that I did not expect to taste so good.

This was not my first salad from the cookbook and it will certainly not be my last. Because the salads are huge ensembles of dressings, flavoured mains and interesting toppings, it can be hard to settle down and make an entire salad. Terry has some tips to master your art of making heavenly salads throughout the week. I have been picking and choosing each component separately, although, I really want to make everything: Thai Seitan Larb in Lettuce Cups, Lentil Pate Banh Mi Salad Rolls, East-West Roasted Corn Salad, Green Papaya Salad with Lemongrass Tofu, Miso Edamame Succotash Salad, Seitan Bacon Wedge Salad with Horseradish Dressing, Kimchi Black Rice with Asian Pear, Collards and Sweet Potato Crunch Bowl… ok, ok, I will stop. I basically want to make everything. The recipes are grouped by season and feature salads with loads of flavour from lots of fresh vegetables (no kidding) but also fresh herbs and spices. Terry also has a fun chapter for sweet salads, including a coconut carrot cake salad and overnight oats with Mexican chocolate creme that are calling out for salads for breakfast and dessert, too. Trust me, I am looking forward to cooking through this throughout the whole year.

Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living anywhere in the world (since I will be shipping it). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite salad. I will randomly select a winner on September 5, 2014. Good luck!

Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl & Salad Samurai Giveaway

Other recipes from Salad Samurai shared elsewhere:

Almond Butter Hemp Dressing

Asparagus Pad Thai Salad

The BKT (Bacon.Kale.Tomato) Bowl

Backyard Buffalo Ranch Caesar Salad

Coconut Bacony Bits

Coconut Samosa Potato Salad

Curried Tempeh and Apple Salad in Radicchio Cups

Fiery Fruit and Quinoa Salad

Grilled Kale Salad with Spicy Lentils

Herbed Pea Ricotta, Tomato and Basil

Mexican Roasted Corn Salad with Avocado (Esquites)

Pepperoni Tempeh Pizza Salad

Pesto Cauliflower & Potato Salad

Polish Summer Soba Salad

Seitan Bacon Wedge Salad with Horseradish Dressing

Sesame Noodles in the Dojo

Smokehouse Chickpeas ‘N’ Greens Salad

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays and this month’s Vegetable Palette.

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Brazilian Black Bean and Seitan Stew & Afro Vegan Review+Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on July 1, 2014

Brazilian Black Bean Soup Afrovegan

You know Rob is a keeper when he doesn’t kill you when it is time to pack. And a) you have essentially doubled your cookbook collection while in Houston (although I limited myself to 10 books for my move) and Rob is now packing your heavy books; b) while you should be packing, instead you are cooking the last of the bits in the refrigerator, so I am still net loss worth for packing. And then there’s c) please don’t pack my cookbooks I still want to review!  Eventually I had to give in…. and help pack. And thankful that most books I receive to review come in electronic form.

Especially after making my own e-cookbook, I have grown to appreciate digital books. They have their pros and cons. They are easier to search, but not as fun to read. I miss the ability to curl the pages and find new random recipes. Although they are definitely easier to move. They also allow me to write posts in the airport.

Brazilian Black Bean Soup Afrovegan

Afro Vegan is Terry Bryant’s new cookbook. A lover of good food, he has managed to fuse soul comfort food with gourmet twists. His muses vary from Caribbean soul cuisine, Southern US down home cooking and African menus. Pecan cornbread with dukkah? Sweet plantain and Fresh Corn Cakes? Peanut Pumpkin Fritters? Jamaican Patties Stuffed with Maque Choux? Spinach Peanut Sauce? Trust me, it all sounded good to me, I was sad I haven’t had enough time to explore it.

Brazilian Black Bean Soup Afrovegan

While a bit more complex than my weeknight meals, there are more simple and more elaborate dishes. Delicious and innovative all-round. I loved, loved, loved my version of his Southern black eyed peas, I shared it before the book was even released to the masses. Now I am sharing another great soup, which I simplified by skipping the dumplings. This black bean stew, inspired by the Brazilian feijoada, is more tomato-heavy than my previous versions, but still nice and hearty and simple enough for an easy meal.

Afro-Vegan book cover

Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living anywhere (except maybe the moon). To be entered, please leave a comment here, any comment. I will randomly select a winner on July 30, 2014. Good luck!

Recipes from Afro-Vegan shared elsewhere:

Hominy and Spinach in Tomato-Garlic Broth

All-Green Spring Slaw

Glazed Carrot Salad

Tofu Curry with Mustard Greens

Summer vegetable and tofu kebabs with pomegranate-peach barbecue sauce

Savory Grits with Slow-Cooked Collard Greens

Stewed Tomatoes with Black Eyed Peas with Cornbread Croutons

Texas caviar on grilled rustic bread

Creole-Spiced Plantain Chips

Za’atar Roasted Red Potatoes

Smashed Potatoes, Peas and Corn with Chile-Garlic Oil

Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas with Spring Herbs

Creamed Cashews

Skillet Cornbread with Pecan Dukkah

Ambrosia Ice Pops

Cocoa-spice cake with crystallized ginger and coconut-chocolate ganache

 

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Colourful Veggie Tahini Noodles

Posted in Salads by janet @ the taste space on May 29, 2014

Colourful Veggie Tahini Noodles

Desserts and salads, that’s just the way we’re rolling here these days.

There is just something so pretty about colourful vegetables, I had to share this fun twist on salad. Vegetable noodles, either created with a spiralizer, a shredder, or careful knife skills, can totally change your view on salad.

Colourful Veggie Tahini Noodles

Rob cheers every time we finish something. I actually apologized when I finished the balsamic vinegar but Rob gave me a high five. I am a bit antsy about the lack of smoked paprika in the house, too, but pretty confident we’ll replenish it before we return to Canada (because: PENZEY’S!).

The tahini may be dwindling but I have lots of sesame seeds. I haven’t resorted to making my own homemade tahini yet, but it could be fun to try. Until then, my sesame seeds are usually garnishes.

This salad dressing is a fun twist on a creamy sauce, since it is made with tahini with accents from the rice vinegar, mustard and lemon pepper seasoning. As I said, the salad was fun to create, too: spiralized zucchini is tossed with shredded carrots, thinly sliced red cabbage and instead of edamame (which would be good, too), I added sweet sugar snap peas. A bit different but fun for a change. And nice when you do not feel like cooking.

Note: I am pleading fifth amendment about the coconut flour. Some things were just meant to return to Canada. ;)

Colourful Veggie Tahini Noodles

PS. This is my submission to Definition Magazine Summer Salad Redux Recipe ContestSouper SundaysExtra Veg and Four Seasons Food.

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Asian Kale Salad with Edamame

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on May 20, 2014

Asian Kale Salad with Edamame

We reached critical mass last weekend.

I am not joking.

We ran out of room in the refrigerator.

Who knew greens could take up so much space?

I loaded up at our favourite market. $7 got us heaps of produce along with our $5 case of mangoes. The mangoes and bananas didn’t go into the fridge, but it was hard enough to get my bag of 9 leeks ($1!) and 3 heads of Boston lettuce ($1!) in there.

But then, I went to the potluck. How could I not support buying some freshly picked organic kale grown by school children from a nearby elementary school? And that is how I also ended up with a good 3-4 bunches worth of kale and could barely close my fridge.

Asian Kale Salad with Edamame

Thank goodness Rob hasn’t strangled me just yet.

With prices so low, we don’t feel as guilty if I don’t eat through everything. But I try!!

Bring on the kale salads !!

Instead of tackling all the leeks and my new produce, I decided to dig through my vegetable bins to find the older vegetables. Finish off the snap peas, carrots and bell peppers, and the last of the scraggly cilantro and scallions. For protein, I quick-thawed some edamame.

This combination reminded me of my vegetable buddha salad bowl but since we’re low on miso, I went with a dressing more reminiscent of my (other) raw Asian kale salad with edamame. With so many colourful vegetables and an Asian dressing, how could you go wrong?

Please share with me your favourite kale and leek recipes! Also, for fresh chickpeas since I scored those too! :)

Asian Kale Salad with Edamame

PS. This is my submission to Definition Magazine Summer Salad Redux Recipe Contest and this week’s Souper Sundays.

Contest_SummerSalad_Banner

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Manchurian Chickpea Bowl & More Quick-Fix Vegan Review + Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on May 3, 2014

Manchurian Chickpea Bowl

I have another great cookbook to share with you.

Quick, healthy, vegan meals. What’s not to like?

Like The Oh She Glows Cookbook, I have been madly cooking out of Robin Robertson’s latest cookbook: More Quick-Fix Vegan.

She promises simple, delicious meals in under 30 minutes. Provided you have cooked brown rice (which takes 45 minutes to cook), she’s right!  Delicious vegan cuisine need not be elaborate nor time consuming.

Manchurian Chickpea Bowl

Take this exotic-sounding vegetable bowl: Manchurian chickpea bowl.

Manchurian cuisine is a subtype of Chinese cooking that heralds from the North-East region of China. While I am not sure how authentic it is, Gobi Manchurian may be a well-known dish. A spicy tomato sauce infused with ginger and garlic typically smother deep-fried cauliflower. In this inspired dish, cauliflower (roasted, not fried, in my case) is joined by potatoes, peas and chickpeas. I was worried the chickpeas would seem out-of-place, but they were actually very good. It seems more Indo-Chinese (or Hakka-inspired) rather than Manchurian. In any case, I can whole heartedly recommend it. Delicious. Even without choice leftovers (hello leftover roasted cauliflower), this could be pulled together within a half-hour.

Manchurian Chickpea Bowl

I have been slowly cooking my way through the cookbook and again, had the same difficult: which recipe to share. My full reviews can be seen here, but I also highly recommend the uncanningly simple “Roasted brussels sprouts and chickpeas” which reminds me of my Easy Cheezy Chickpeas and Kale. The cookbook includes many one-dish meals including soups/stews. bowls, stir-fries, pasta, sandwiches, pantry-friendly, oven-cooked meals and even quickie desserts. I appreciate that most meals are based on whole foods and not vegan substitutes (mostly. dessert section exempted). Robin does supply recipes for some of the convenience foods including a cashew-based vegan cream cheese and tofu-based vegan mayonnaise. Having these staples pre-made expedite getting dinner to the table.  Of note, Robin calls for ketchup a few times (like in this recipe), although I substituted my own convenience food: mild Turkish red pepper paste. Booyah!

Manchurian Chickpea Bowl

Recipes from More Quick Fix Vegan shared elsewhere:

Chipotle-Sweet Potato Bisque
Chickpeas Nicoise
Kale and Black-Eyed Peas With Smoky Grits
Three-Bean Pantry Chili
Sweet Potato Barbecue Bowls
Veracruz Tacos

Banh Mi Inspired Noodles
Banh Mi Bowls
Avocado Mousse with Raspberries
Date-Pecan Bars
Mango Fried Rice Pudding
Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream
Blueberry Chocolate Trail Mix Bark

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 quickest and/or easiest vegan meal. The winner will be selected at random on May 16, 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. I am sharing this with My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Sowmya.

PPS. Do you like my purple slippers in the last photo?  They were so colourful I had to keep them in. Can you tell I just blindly lift my camera to take shots from overhead? Sometimes I am way off-target. ;)

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Tofu Migas with Arepas

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on May 1, 2014

Tofu Migas with Arepas

I always thought it would be funny to have enough forethought to pre-plan my holiday meals months in advance. You know, Christmas food served at Thanksgiving; Valentine’s Day treats for Christmas; Cinco de Mayo eats on Easter.

OK, I made the last one up, but it totally happened anyways.

It turns out out Rob was a bit more lonely on Easter Sunday than me, and at the last minute, we decided to host Sunday for the ex-pats. Three Canadians and a Dutchman, all displaced in Houston temporarily.

Although, instead of stressing out about our meals, we shared our love for vegan Mexican food (with a South American twist). Our friends brought some Mexican bread pudding and other Mexican treats for dessert. Easter Houston-style.

Migas is a dish typically made with eggs, but we swapped it for crumbled tofu and added some spices and topped it with salsa and cilantro. The tortillas are usually scrambled into the mixture but I like to add them at the end to keep them crispy. Rob shared his Colombian delicacy of arepas.

There is something about the weekend that brings out the tofu scramble in us.

Are you celebrating Cinco de Mayo? Fellow bloggers, have you ever pre-planned your meals that far in advance? ;)

Tofu Migas with Arepas

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Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides, Soups by janet @ the taste space on April 22, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

I love when it is going to be a delicious week.

I am too lazy/tired to cook during the week, so I make everything on the weekend. A new batch of oatmeal. I create 3-4 different dishes, with possibly some fresh rice mid-week. Rob helps with the rice. His rice always seems to taste better even if we use the same rice cooker.

Anyways. I digress.

I love delicious surprises in the kitchen.

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

I was wooed by Tess’ creamy cauliflower soup in her latest cookbook. However, I knew cauliflower and leeks, alone, would not be a filling meal. Beans. I need some beans. Where are the beans? I could have easily blended white beans into the soup, but I don’t like pureed soups.

Keeping things a bit more texturally complex, I ran with bacon-flavoured roasted chickpea croutons! Because I was going to use the oven to roast my chickpeas, I roasted my vegetables, too. It helped to free up a coveted soup pot and oven burner, too.

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

I guess I get surprised by some of my successes. Light and fluffy yet still filling, the soup was as easy as blending together roasted vegetables with some spices. The bacon chickpeas added a salty-savoury topping that contrasted the soup wonderfully.

And somewhat off-topic. Not soup-related, but related by all things delicious. You know what else we recently discovered that was glorious? Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream. GAH! Annie clued me in early on that their coconut-based ice creams were delicious and they helped tame the Texan heat in the summer. Now that we’re cycling in the heat, this has become our new way to cool off.

What have you been enjoying lately?

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays and Vegan Potluck.

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Kimchi Stew with Tofu and Mushrooms (Vegan Kimchi Jigae)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by janet @ the taste space on February 4, 2014

Kimchi Stew with Tofu and Mushrooms (Vegan Kimchi Jigae)

I don’t know what is in the air. I assure you, it was not weather-related. No snow or ice around here.

Between myself and my sister-in-law, we have a veritable collection of injuries: 2 sprained knees and 1 sprained (or broken, we’re not sure) toe. Sadly, it was me with both knees sprained. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) for my sister-in-law, sprained and broken toes are treated the same way.

Also sad is that I have not yet come up with a sexy story to explain my bilaterally braced knees. NOT MY BIKE, thankyouverymuch. In any case, each day is getting better.

I followed my mnemonic from medical school: RICE. Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. (Of course, after a free consultation from my trauma surgeon friend to confirm my suspicions nothing was broken). And of course: anti-inflammatories for pain management. Turns out there is a modified mnemonic for that inclusion: PRINCE, including P for protection and N for NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. I like it!

Serendipitously, I also happened to make the perfect “anti-inflammatory” soup a few days before I went down. A warming soup filled with cabbage, mushrooms, garlic and tofu. Kimchi, pickled napa cabbage, added a lot of flavour. It was perfect to help me recover.

There is evidence fruits and vegetables possess anti-inflammatory properties and the reasons are multi-factorial. Some fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring salicylates, the compound found in aspirin. This explains why vegetarians have naturally occurring salicylate levels in their blood, albeit not likely therapeutic. While I have heard of people shunning “nightshade” vegetables, including potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplant, because they are “pro-inflammatory”, I have not found any solid scientific evidence to support hiding from the nightshades. (If you know of any articles, please share!).

Anyways, this soup. Delicious. Not too spicy although this soup was a bit of a mystery to me. When I ate it right after making it, it was the perfect level of spice. I added the kimchi to taste, obviously. However, the soup was pretty bland as leftovers. The chiles had mellowed! To ramp the flavour back up, I added fresh kimchi to each subsequent serving. Definitely add to taste. Enjoy!

Kimchi Stew with Tofu and Mushrooms (Vegan Kimchi Jigae)

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

Kim-Chi-lla (Kimchi Chickpea Flour Pancake & Our Favourite Places in Houston)

Posted in Breakfasts, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on November 20, 2013

Kim-Chi-lla (Kimchi Chickpea Flour Pancake)

We had our first visitors last week. My parents made the brave trek down to Houston.

I say brave because just before they arrived, we were hovering around 2-5 C in the morning in Houston. It was cold. I had to break out my pants.

Thank goodness Houston redeemed its hot, humid self, so my parents could relish instead in highs of 28C, feels like 38C weather!  Rob and I have become accustomed to Houston’s weather, positively smitten by the nice weather. Instead, my parents melted under their jeans. I understand. I was there. Except in July, it was 38C, feels like 48C!

We had a hard time recommending tourist things in Houston, so instead, we treated them to a typical  week in the life of Houston-bound Rob-and-Janet.

On the weekend, we started it off by buying cheap produce at our favourite fruit and vegetable wholesaler. I usually beeline it to the stands with the cheaper produce, but I think my Dad had fun haggling his way to a $7 case of 24 Ataulfo mangoes (they couldn’t go any lower right now, they explained, since it isn’t high season).

Next up, was the Mexican bakery across the street where we picked up the highly coveted tres leches cakes*, fresh tortillas, and other Mexican baked goods. My friend has been on a quest to find the best tres leches cake in Houston and this is his pick. My parents never knew Mexican sweets were so awesome.

*Note: While this tres leches cake is definitely not vegan, we have found a nice vegan tres leches cake, too.

Our subsequent stop was at my favourite Trader Joe’s, where we sampled all 3 cookie butters before deciding which one to bring home. My Dad picked the smooth version. Who knew grocery shopping could be so much fun. An employee snuck in a souvenir Houston-themed Trader Joe’s bag into my Mom’s arms, congratulating her on visiting the store with us.

And lastly, since we had too much fun shopping and became hungry, we decided to have an early lunch for some quick dosas.

Kim-Chi-lla (Kimchi Chickpea Flour Pancake)
Sunday was our standard biking morning, when my Dad joined us cycling for cronuts while my Mom relaxed at home. We went out for a Mexican fusion vegan brunch but Rob treated us to his specialty later: chilla, Indian chickpea pancakes.

During our kimchi phase, Rob quickly figured out that kimchi worked really well in chilla. Basically it is pre-seasoned cabbage which makes it easier to add to the batter. Rob also likes to add other random vegetables, like tomatoes and spinach, but this version was just with kimchi. Easy, peasy. A dollop of mayonnaise and more kimchi as a nod to our favourite sweet potato and kimchi poutine but I ate it without it and it was still delicious.

Weather prevented us from hiking Brazos Bend together on the weekend, but my parents made their own trip there together while Rob and I worked during the week. They also toured Galveston and the Johnson Space Center (NASA), the most touristy thing they experienced. 

And just like that, my parents are back in Canada. We had a few more ideas up our sleeves, but time was too short.  A quick visit but we showed them exactly why we like Houston so much. Here’s to seeing them again in the summer as they want to return before we leave. Any favourite spots we still need to check out and share with them? :)

Kim-Chi-lla (Kimchi Chickpea Flour Pancake)
This is my submission to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch.

PS. The winner for Practically Raw Desserts is Ali!
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Snow Pea & Tofu Pad Thai

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on August 27, 2013

Snow Pea & Tofu Pad Thai

As I shared earlier, slowly, Rob and I are exploring different ethnic grocers in Houston. Each weekend, we have been heading to a new place. Last weekend was a bit of a whirlwind, though.

We wanted to go to Little India but everything was closed when we were there early in the morning (yes, we are the early birds). Chinatown was our alternate choice. Since it is more of a big box store Chinatown that necessitates driving between stores, the dilemma was figuring out which grocer to hit up first. I had 3 stores starred. I picked the one that we knew was open early, the one that also happened to be the closest and the one that had great online reviews.

The parking lot was empty but we ventured in. Let’s just say it was a sad store. I picked up some snow peas and bean sprouts. We left a bit sad. I always gauge a store by the state of their produce. I was hoping for better quality produce and to be honest, much cheaper prices. Whole Foods was better priced, which doesn’t say much.

Snow Pea & Tofu Pad Thai

Uncertain what the rest of Chinatown would hold, we figured we would check out another grocer. The next on the list was Welcome. This time, though, the parking lot was nearly already packed for an early Saturday morning. Definitely a better sign. Their produce section was busy with so many people, snapping up the best produce, clamouring for the cases of mangos or picking the best greens. Good prices and good quality. Now I was a happy camper! Chinatown had been vindicated.

I still had the snow peas and bean sprouts which Rob and I put to good use by making pad thai. I was the sous chef as Rob made pad thai for me, complete with kelp noodles and snow peas. He slipped the fresh pad thai onto my plate. It was so pretty, I had to take a photo.

Snow Pea & Tofu Pad Thai

I don’t photograph many dishes twice. Especially if it is a regular in our kitchen and Rob’s signature dish, at that. But these photos turned out much better than my first post. We tinkered with the recipe only slightly, mainly by adding more tamarind. However, that’s because we had a new brand (Swad) and it doesn’t seem as potent as what we were used to (Tamicon or the blue top one). This version turned out so well though, so if you prefer things less tart, try to find this brand of tamarind. Otherwise, 3 tbsp of concentrate may be tamarind overload! :)

And for anyone curious, we found the kelp noodles at H-Mart. Around $3 for a Korean brand, which is even cheaper than Vitacost and Sea Tangle directly.

swad tamarind concentrate

Do you re-photograph your pretty meals?

(more…)

Fresh Mango Chutney

Posted in Favourites, Sides by janet @ the taste space on July 20, 2013

Fresh Mango Chutney
I knew you would miss me in Canada, but I swear, I did not wish Houston upon you.

First there was the Toronto flood.

And now there’s the heat wave.

Your heat wave is my new normal. Although last week was actually quite mild. Lots of rain meant the temps were only peaking at 85-90F (29-32C) (before humidex, add another 10 degrees please). Whereas in Canada, you can boast about the amount of snow you endure, in Houston, it is the heat. Although, to be honest, it is not as bad as I feared. Why? Because biking is better. Working long hours. And a/c is everywhere. Yes, my long working hours mean that I cycle to work before the sun is shining too brightly and my commute home is after the mad rush from the Texas Medical Center. I swear, a leisurely bike ride is better than walking in hot weather since you make your own wind.  I basically meander from one building with a/c to another with a/c (on really hot days my car’s a/c has trouble keeping up, though). And drink lots of (flavoured) water. Fresh Mango Chutney I also have not been cooking too much. Eating, yes. Cooking, no. Salads, yes. Lots and lots of veggies. Even though my home has a/c, I do not feel like turning on the oven too often.

Raw food for the win! Simple raw food for the win.

Chutneys can be really spicy or ookey sweet. Neither which really appeal to me. I’ve made a simpler fresh mango chutney, paired with mung beans, but this time I focused a bit more on the chutney as a vector for flavour. Mango, red pepper, ginger, onions, chile flakes, curry powder and even raisins. Apple cider vinegar gives you the tang you associate with traditional chutneys. Use it as a dip, a salad topper or on top of your favourite curry. Whatever you pick, it is quite refreshing.

What are your favourite ways to beat the heat? Fresh Mango Chutney (more…)

Raw Sour Cream & Onion Kale Chips

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Sides by janet @ the taste space 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…)

Chickpea and Apricot Salad with a Pineapple-Ginger-Cilantro Dressing

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads, Sides by janet @ the taste space on June 22, 2013

Chickpea and Apricot Salad with a Pineapple-Ginger-Cilantro Dressing

Announcement time!

(No, nothing on the relationship front..)

While I modestly shared the news of passing the.most.important.exam.of.my.life, I figure you guys may be more excited about this news: my photos are in a cookbook! In Tessnewest cookbook, no less. I am not sure what was more exciting: new Tess recipes or  being a published foodie photographer? :) (I choose the former, actually)

In Tess’ latest cookbook, Get Waisted, she has teamed up with Dr. Mary Clifton, to create 100 delicious, healthy recipes. She has included healthy modifications to older recipes and all-new favourites. Bean and rice coconut banana curry, Black bean and rice bowl with mango salsa, Japanese ume rice, Lemon lover’s red lentil spinach soup, Mexican polenta bowl, Pasta caulifredo, Rosemary polenta with mushrooms, Samosa wrap with cilantro chutney, Spicy Indian chickpea fritters.. ok, ok, I will stop the temptation. You can find all of the recipes on Vegansprout if you are curious. :) Suffice it to say, the recipes are creative and drool-worthy. And I photographed a handful of them.

One of the recipes Tess included is one of my favourites from her first book: Black Bean, Cilantro and Apricot Salad. I routinely make it, changing ingredients, matching what I have in my kitchen.

This time, I swapped the black beans for chickpeas; the mango juice for pineapple juice; swapped the corn for more carrots and scrapped the spinach altogether. Combined with the sweet dried apricots and cilantro-ginger spiked dressing, you have a delicious summer bean salad. Sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy.. It is really hard to mess it up.

The photos in the cookbook are true to the recipe, thus you won’t see this in there. Trust me, I tried. Tess, I just made your salad with pecans instead of walnuts.. can’t you just change your recipe?…. NO GO FROM TESS! You will see this salad, in its many incarnations this summer, though. Perfect for potlucks and summer gatherings. Especially if Houston’s weather is as hot and humid as I fear. Last I checked, there were highs of 35C, feels like 45C with a 50% humidity. This is no heat wave. This.Is.Houston. It will soon become my new reality. GAH! I am sweating just thinking about it. I may not be turning on my oven or stove very often, methinks. ;)

Have you tried any of Tess’ recipes yet? This cookbook would be a great place to start. You can buy it directly from Tess here (discounts if you buy more than one cookbook) or on Amazon (kindle and hard copy).

Chickpea and Apricot Salad with a Pineapple-Ginger-Cilantro Dressing

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