the taste space

Quinoa Protein Bowl & Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on August 17, 2014

Gena's Quinoa Protein Bowl

Lately my meals have been a lot of random foods. I am holding out. I knew I had some staples waiting to be unpacked but quickly replenished my perishable staples (tahini, peanut butter, maple syrup, etc). As such, the last few weeks have had me cooking without spices, relying on strong-flavoured ingredients and let’s be honest, I bought some pre-made soups and added some beans to make it a complete meal.

I promise to share some of my fun meals once my home is back to normal. Until then, I will continue to unearth some oldies-but-goodies from my backlog. I chose to share this one because it is actually pretty similar to what I am eating these days: cooked quinoa, random vegetables, beans, topped with a creamy sauce.

Please head over to Sunny’s site for the recipe for the Quinoa Protein Bowl (35g protein/serving) which I am sharing for her (gluten-free and dairy-free) Healthy Lunchbox Ideas 2014.

What is your template for healthy lunches?

Gena's Quinoa Protein BowlI am sharing this with the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

Eccentric Caesar Salad & Straight From the Earth Review+Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on May 22, 2014

Eccentric Caesar Salad

This post is a twofer.

First of all, I have a gift for all of you! A free Beyond Meat product – click here for your coupon.

I don’t tend to get too excited about mock meats (it is a bit processed for my liking), but was really curious after it was selected as the “real chicken” on the Today’s Show. Some things are easier to find in the United States, so with a coupon for a free product (see above), how could we refuse? Beyond Meat isn’t new, but it was new to me and definitely uncannily similar to chicken, complete with the grill marks. You buy it frozen and just need to defrost it prior to serving. Thus, it was super easy to make and great source of protein.

Eccentric Caesar Salad + Straight From the Earth review +giveaway

Now for the book review, as advertised, with an eccentric Caesar salad. Eccentric because it is no standard Caesar. I mean, it is a vegan version of a decidedly un-vegan salad but the twist comes from the nutritional yeast and curry powder in the dressing and the mishmash of additional ingredients. The cashew-based dressing was simply delicious, aka awesome sauce. Paired with the fresh lettuce, buttery avocado, briny capers and hemp seeds, it was a superfood-packed salad. (And by superfoods, I mean super tasting foods!) Instead of the herby croutons, I wanted this to be a complete meal and thus added the chicken-less strips overtop. The strips look a bit too perfectly rectangular but they tasted great.

Eccentric Caesar Salad + Straight From the Earth review +giveaway

The recipe comes from Straight from the Earth, by mother and daughter team Myra and Marea Goodman of Earthbound Farm fame. Neither one is vegan but have created a gorgeous cookbook filled with tantalizing recipes. There is something for everyone between the two cooks. I found myself naturally gravitating to Marea’s recipes, who learned her vegan culinary tricks while living and cooking for fellow vegans in a co-op while at college. Her mother’s tastes are more classical. As an example, Marea has a recipe for chipotle-lime Brazil nuts and Myra has a recipe for double-roasted maple-spiced hazelnuts. OK, OK, both sound delicious. Lots of delicious recipes, including a nut-free crispy baked kale chips with nutritional yeast and shiitake mushroom, water chestnut and tofu lettuce cups.

Eccentric Caesar Salad + Straight From the Earth review +giveaway

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the continental United States. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me what you think of mock meats. The winner will be selected at random on June 8, 2014. Good luck!

Other recipes from Straight from the Earth spotted elsewhere:

Raspberry Salad with Baby Greens and Raspberry-Golden Balsamic Vinaigrette

Wheat Berry, Baby Kale, Grape and Orange Salad

Heart of Palm, Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

Cabbage and Carrot Crunch Salad with Agave-Dijon Vinaigrette

Thai Fresh Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Teriyaki Tofu Broccolette on Wild Rice

Barley, Quinoa, and Cannellini Bean Loaf (or Burgers)

Whole Wheat Biscuits

Blackberry Bran Muffins

Sesame, Orange, and Hazelnut Cookies

Banana Coconut Cake

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 Souper Sundays.

PPS. Stayed tuned because tomorrow I have another giveaway! (more…)

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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Green Hemp Açaí Bowl & The Juice Generation Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Breakfasts by Janet M on April 20, 2014

Green Acai Bowl

They let it slip.

My claim to fame.

At my hospital, they get new trainees every year. Obviously, it can be hard to keep track of us all. One of my co-workers may be known for her love of dance, the other that became a new mama, or another that took off suddenly to get married.

I suppose I have a few quirks. Beyond being Canadian, I could be remembered as the bicycle commuter, or perhaps the vegan… But no. Even more memorable are my unique breakfasts. Or breakfast #2 as I call it, since I eat it at work, more than a few hours after I have woken up, eaten after breakfast #1, cycled to work and gone to the gym.

Breakfast #2 is my green goop and I have eating the same thing for the past year: cooked oatmeal, hemp protein powder with some flax and chia seeds. Everything is ready to go in the morning. Once I get to work, I add some hot water, stir it up and love it.

For the uninitiated, the green swamp goop is certainly not appealing. The hemp protein powder is the colouring agent. My breakfast is an acquired taste but all things green need not taste bad. And as I learned here (and my green kale pancakes), even a small amount of green ingredients can blend to a brilliant hue.

Even though I am lamenting leaving my juicer in storage, I have been drinking my way through the smoothies and açaí bowls in The Juice Generation.

Green Acai Bowl

While I cannot lay claim to be a Canadian açaí expert, at least I know how to pronounce it. It has become a new foodie fad. Although, I will not praise any non-scientifically proven claims of this “superfood” other than its anti-oxidant laden berry-licious taste.

Originating from Brazil and popularized in Hawaii, California and eventually New York City, The Juice Generation has been one restaurant to popularize the breakfast açaí bowl. Topped with a hemp seed granola, an açaí bowl has a lot more substance than the rest of their juicy menu. They have 5 flavours on their menu and 5 recipes in their cookbook. Four overlap, but there is a bonus hemp açaí bowl in their cookbook not on their menu.

I found a combination of the green açaí bowl and the hemp açaí bowl to be the perfect combination. When I made my first açaí bowl, I was surprised at how green it turned out. Certainly not a vibrant red from the frozen açaí and not even a murky burgundy, it was positively green. The handful of spinach worked its magic and even masked my subsequent addition of hemp protein powder. The protein powder is now part of my regular addition to the açaí bowl which helped thicken the shake, an important factor since I was eating it like a soup.

The second revelation from my experiments with açaí was that it is naturally not that sweet. Some frozen packets add sugar to compensate, so buyer beware. In this case, I opted to use frozen bananas to buffer the spinach, hemp and açaí. Topped it with Rob’s granola of the week and sprinkled with some additional hemp seeds, I think this is awfully pretty. Green goop and all.

Green Acai Bowl

In addition to the recipes for their açaí bowls, there are also over 100 different combinations for fresh juice and smoothies in their latest cookbook.  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 what you think of green breakfasts (smoothies, puddings, bowls, etc) Do you eat them, too? I will randomly select a winner on May 2, 2014. Good luck!

PS. There is still time to enter the giveaways for The Blender Girl and The Vegan Cookbook, too.

I am sharing this with this month’s Extra Veg.

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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Lucuma Macadamia Smoothie & Superfood Smoothies Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Drinks by Janet M on January 4, 2014

Lucuma Macadamia Smoothie

There was How I Spent My New Year’s Eve and now How I Spent My New Year’s Day.

Who did not enjoy a mid-week hump day holiday?

Because we had returned to Houston, this was a New Year’s Day like no other. It was reasonably warm outside. Rob had a taco craving. The much-hyped taco restaurant was open on January 1. We wanted to cycle. So we combined the plans.

In truth, while I cycle to/from work every day, our weekend rides have dwindled in between all our travel, cold and rainy weather and lastly Rob’s cold. By the time I became infected, I was only inflicted by a minor sore throat (so far, at least). I didn’t let that stop us from cycling for tacos.

Instead of our dawn-cracking bicycle rides of summer yonder, our winter cycling is more of an afternoon affair. In Houston, daily temperatures are at their peak around 3-4 pm, whereas in Toronto, it is more like 1-2 pm. In any case, we forged ahead. Rob picked the location that would lead best to a bike ride.

We picked a nice bike trail that is fairly sheltered from motorists. While construction has demolished its uninterrupted bicycle bliss (Houston’s construction season must be winter), it was a great ride… and surprisingly without too many other people sharing the path.

While the bike ride was fantastic, nearly 40 km and with a good pace, we had a much slower pace at the restaurant. Because it was THE place to be… we had to wait at least 15 minutes prior to being seated. Rob felt vindicated, though. He had eaten the best tacos yet, although I still feel like those in Mexico City were superior. Rob pointed out that the commute is much easier if we stay within Houston.

Hope you enjoyed your holiday, too.

After our ride, I treated us to this delicious smoothie. A little messy, but I decided not to clean up my mess. All for a better photo, no? ;)

Lucuma Macadamia Smoothie

While we have a freezer filled with frozen bananas, I like to whip together banana-free smoothies, too.  Dates and lucuma powder provide the sweet caramel undertones for this creamy smoothie. Banana usually lends well to both creaminess and sweetness, and in this case, the creaminess comes from tofu, hemp seeds and macadamia nuts. It is actually a very simple smoothie but it tasted great. It kind of brought whole foods smoothie to a new level for me (due to the lack of non-dairy milk). In addition to the lack of banana, this smoothie was fun because you basically create your own non-dairy milk from macadamia nuts and tofu.

This is just one of the creative craveable concoctions from Julie Morris’ Superfood Smoothies. She has really outdone herself, because there are so many wonderful drinks here: watermelon acai, carrot cardamom, mango chili, cucumber mint, chocolate kale, mint chip, mayan chocolate, maca oat, pineapple maca, red velvet cake (with roasted beets!) and even a chocolate smoothie with cauliflower.

All of the smoothie focus on plant-based ingredients, with a special focus on superfoods. Superfoods including standard fruits and vegetables but also less common ingredients (aka expensive) like acai, macqui, maca and camu powders, dried mulberries, hemp seeds, and fresh coconut water. A handy substitution chart at the back of the book will help with substitutions, but let’s be honest: smoothies are meant to be forgiving. Most of the time, the hard-to-find ingredients could be omitted altogether since they are used in limited amount, substituted with something more common or you could splurge and just use a little bit of them for each smoothie, which would last you a long time. A bit more of a bother for me was the inclusion of different juices in the recipes – carrot, apple, orange, pomegranate, aloe, etc. I would rather throw in a whole carrot than only use its juice, but one is way more sweet than the other… and way more juicy.  If you use the recipes as a guide, I don’t think you will be let down. Furthermore, while there may or may not be a conflict of interest, Julie is a spokesperson and executive chef for a company that sells said expensive superfoods. Although her work with the Smoothment (Smoothie Movement), may indeed make her an expert with such ingredients. Perhaps if you drink your way through this cookbook, you will become one, too.

Lucuma Macadamia Smoothie

Thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the continental United States (sorry to all my non-US readers). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite smoothie. If you have yet to venture into the land of smoothies, have a look through the index of Superfood Smoothies on amazon (or any of the smoothies listed here) and tell me what you want to drink the most. I will randomly select a winner on January 15, 2014. Good luck!

Superfood Smoothies spotted elsewhere:

Cranberry Orange Smoothie

Toasted Coconut and Macadamia Smoothie

Lemon-Lime Smoothie (with Bok Choy!)

Mint Chip Smoothie

Raw Cookie Dough Shake

Cocoa Cream (aka Chocolate Dream Smoothie)

Mango Chili

Strawberry Basil

Grapefruit Pomegranate

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

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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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Hempy Peach Salad with a Creamy Balsamic Hummus Dressing

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Salads by Janet M on August 9, 2013

Peach and Hemp Salad with a Creamy Balsamic Hummus Dressing

Going to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches… Millions of peaches, peaches for me. {sing along here}

I swear, I wasn’t planning to share so many salads.

But to combat salad ennuis, I kept mixing up new dressings. I didn’t think it would be so spectacular, but I loved it. And then snapped away some quickie photos for you to enjoy the sights of my salad, too.

Fresh, flavourful ingredients are important for a salad; but like pasta is to sauce, salad can be a vector for dressing.

A simple go-to dressing. With hummus on hand, this is so easy to put together. Hummus, balsamic and mustard. I always taste-test the dressing, but this one was hard to read. As I said, I didn’t really think I’d like it; it seemed too tart. Drizzled next to the sweet peaches, though, it all balanced out.

And to finish off my meal? Carrots with the hummus that didn’t make it into the dressing. ;)

Peach and Hemp Salad with a Creamy Balsamic Hummus Dressing

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and this month’s No Croutons Required for seasonal.
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Peach, Basil and Hemp Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

Posted in Salads by Janet M on August 8, 2013

Peach, Basil and Hemp Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

Give me leafy greens and I will make salad.

Give me fruit and I will eat it.

Give me a CSA share and I will become creative. Or lazy, your choice.

Same salad, different fruit and new herb. Still as delicious.

I added fresh basil as a unique flavour hidden amongst the greens.

And those hemp seeds? They are really growing on me. They are my new salad topping, including fruit salads. ;) I picked up a few of my pantry staples online, and decided to splurge on these hemp seeds since they were on sale.

Peach, Basil and Hemp Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

I am used to a later peach season from Ontario (and they have finally arrived, too!), but local peaches were out in full force when we arrived in Texas. Sweet, juicy peaches. I have to remind myself that buying too many is often fool-hardy. Their peak ripeness has a short window. But once they are juicy: pounce. Peaches for breakfast, peaches as a snack and peaches for dinner. Peaches for a salad work so well because they make their own dressing, to boot. I still supplemented it with the nice citrus dressing from earlier in the week, though.

Peach, Basil and Hemp Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and this month’s Cooking with Herbs. (more…)

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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Strawberry & Blueberry Salad with Cacao Nibs, Hemp and Maca

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on July 6, 2013

You don’t realize how much you need things until you don’t have them.

A bed? Yeah, sleeping bags don’t cut it.

Chairs? Sitting on the floor is actually not that much fun.

Lest I mislead you with some pre-written posts, things have been a tad chaotic since my arrival in Texas. We drive down separately from our stuff. The shipping pod that had nearly all of our belongings was 4 days late. We were only partially prepared for living without our stuff. Rob was smart enough to pack our sleeping bags in the car. However, after one night of sleeping on the hard floor, we knew that was not sustainable. We ended up visiting REI earlier than we thought, to buy two thermarest sleeping pads. Much better. Gosh, how did I ever enjoy sleeping parties as a kid??  The good thing about the pads was that I could bring them to the kitchen, too, so I had a more comfy spot to sit on the floor.

Eventually Rob emptied the pod (while I was at work) and slowly we’ve been unpacking our home. We prioritized: 1) bed; 2) computer and then 3) kitchen. Since we only packed the essentials, we kind of needed everything. Bathroom amenities were also important: our shower curtain was in there! And my bicycle to be assembled for commuting to work. (Even before we had the pod, our first priority was internet! Pick up a modem and hook up the wifi)

Those few days in limbo had me less focused on the kitchen. Overnight oats for breakfast and lots and lots of hummus, crackers and carrots. Trader Joe’s has such delicious hummus, no? Their chickpea Mediterranean Hummus is fabulous! I started to build up my pantry with trips to grocers (totally digging Fiesta Mart) but kept meals simple without much of a kitchen.

To celebrate my first American holiday, July 4, I made this patriotic-looking salad: strawberries and blueberries with cacao nibs, hemp and maca. A fun fruit salad with unusual but not unfamiliar flavours. Kind of like a Canadian in America, no? A bit different but kind of the same. I will save my American-Canadian observations for another post… so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, enjoy your summer with some tasty berries. :)

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, this month’s Tea Time Treats for fruits and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

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Raw Walnut Zucchini Crackers

Posted in Appetizers, Sides by Janet M on July 4, 2013

You will have to forgive me. There may be a forthcoming onslaught of recipes using the dehydrator.

Towards the end of my move, the dehydrator was out in full force. Need travel snacks? Dehydrate them! Not sure what to do with random bits and bobs in the kitchen? Throw them together to get dehydrated. I quickly reconsidered my suggestion to move without the dehydrator. It suddenly made sense to bring it along for the ride.

I bookmarked this recipe because it promised to be better than Ritz crackers. It was also a fun way to sneak zucchini into a cracker along with walnuts, flax and hemp seeds. Unlike my previous savoury hemp crackers, I kept the flavours neutral. This way, they can equally be paired with homemade nutella, vanilla blueberry chia jamvegan smoked salmon, rosemary cashew cheese, or a nacho cheese sauce. Or go even more travel friendly with a simple tomato and avocado.

These crackers were a bit salty for my tastes but they were somewhat reminiscent of Ritz crackers, in the way walnuts can be buttery. However, they were more coarse due to all the fun bits in it.

For those that do not have a dehydrator, these crackers can also be made baked. And I don’t mean with the oven going for 8 hours. See below for a baked option.

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

Chocolate Chia Goodness Pudding (A Portable, Instant Breakfast, Perfect for Travel)

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by Janet M on June 27, 2013

If you can’t tell, I am a planner. You don’t magically become successful. You plan for success.

During one of my trips last year, I discovered a lovely portable breakfast idea: Ruth’s Chia Goodness. Basically it is an instant breakfast featuring chia seeds, nuts and seeds with flavours. Just add water, wait 10 minutes, and voila! Healthy breakfast is served!

Ruth has a few flavours, but I wanted to recreate the Chocolate version for this roadtrip.

The ingredient list: Chia (salvia hispanica L.), buckwheat, hulled hemp seeds, organic cacao, raw organic cacao nibs, dates, almonds, evaporated cane juice, Celtic sea salt.

Familiar with my other breakfast puddings with oats and almond milk (chocolate cherry overnight oats and gingerbread pumpkin overnight oats), I knew I had to get rid of the fresh ingredients and milk. Oats need a long overnight soak, so to make this an instant breakfast, hemp seeds and almonds seemed like a great idea. Buckwheat couldn’t possibly be used raw, though, in its uncooked form. I turned to dehydrated buckwheat, instead. With its crunch, they added the perfect textural foil to the gummy chia seeds. The cocoa nibs and Amazing Grass added the malty chocolate goodness that left me with my morning chocolate fix. Ruth has added sugar in hers, but I felt like this was perfect without it. Sometimes I add fruits to it as well. Apples, mangoes, kiwi.. I don’t know any fruit that don’t pair well with chocolate. ;)

Do you have any great travel-friendly breakfast recipes?

This is my submission to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday.

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Confetti Veggie Salad with Mustard Curry Dressing

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on January 17, 2013

Confetti Veggie Salad with Curry Mustard Dressing

Half-way through January.

Have you been affected by the January Joiners?

A congested gym as people begin their journey to health through exercise.

Surprisingly (or not), I haven’t been affected. Same thing happened last year as well.  Nothing really changed. The same regulars keep returning.

I shouldn’t give away my secret: I like going to the gym at 6:30am in part, because it is less busy. Even if I show up late, I can still find a spot at my favourite spinning or weight lifting class. (*except one crazy hard-core gym where the spinning classes are filled by 6am!)

I have been trying to be a bit more punctual for my morning work-outs, but now that I am at the mercy of the transit, things are even less predictable. The benefit of my gym is that there are lots of locations. Last week, I realized I wouldn’t be on time for the 6:30am class, so I detoured to the 7am class at a different location. Arrived 15 minutes early, only to find out the instructor was sick and it was cancelled. Another location had a spinning class that was just starting, so I rushed over and joined in 15 minutes later. Something is better than nothing.

Confetti Veggie Salad with Curry Mustard Dressing

Science says so, too. Combined short routines are as good as longer work-outs. Too long is not as good, though. Leisurely runners outlive the runners who ran twice as much. Moderate-paced runners also lose more weight than those who were more active. As you exercise more, fatigue sets in; hunger reigns.

Since I’ve stopped cycling my crazy commute, my energy levels have improved, my mood is better and my eating is under control. Sounds like I need to work on my balance. More isn’t necessarily better. More exercise, at least.. more rest could be better. :)

I’ve noticed an increased interest in my detox salad over the past few weeks. It reminded me how good it was but decided to go for a different twist. This kind of salad is perfect with hard crunchy veggies. Like the veggies leftover from platters. Cauliflower and broccoli always seem to linger behind. Save the veggies! :)  Like my Raw Thai Pineapple Parsnip Rice Salad, I use my food processor to chop up cauliflower, broccoli and red pepper into small pieces. Currants add a subtle sweetness. Hemp seeds add fat and protein. And the dressing? A sweet tangy curried mustard concoction. I love how salads like this only improve with a longer marinade. Leftovers, for the win! ;)

Confetti Veggie Salad with Curry Mustard Dressing

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Simona, and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

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Chocolate Mint Brownie Hemp Protein Bars (and Hiking in the Colombian Jungle)

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on August 1, 2012

Rob and I did a 5-day hike to La Ciudad Perdida while in Colombia.  You need a guide and we picked Magic Tours since they responded to our emails and assured me I would have vegan options on the trek. We started off with 4 other hikers, our guide, a cook and a porter (with 2 mules) for our 5-day 44-km hike.

We hiked through the Colombian jungle, with a well-delineated path, up and down many hills and through a river quite a few times! Gorgeous scenery with a great ruined city at the end. An unparalleled experience, to say the least.

I won’t lie. It was hard. We hiked in hot and humid weather, over 30C with at least 80% humidity. Shade from trees was a welcome treat after hiking in open sun. I also found the terrain difficult with many river crossings and steep hills. I wish I had had better ankle support on my hiking boots! By the fourth day, we reached The Lost City. There were 1200 steps to climb to reach the actual Ciudad Perdida with a further 800 steps within the ruined city, itself. Going up those stairs was not so bad; going down was worse! If you don’t like heights, this also won’t work well for you. :P

Before I left, I made a few energy snacks. This was one of them which was a great source of protein when all I had to eat was fried rice and avocado for dinner (only once).

I was drawn to this recipe immediately after Cara posted it. It reminded me of a souped up Raw Brownie with a heavenly base of walnuts, dates and cocoa. However, to make this a protein power star, there are hemp seeds and protein powder as well. I ended up increasing the mint extract and substituting agave for the brown rice syrup. Absolutely delicious straight from the mixer. I dehydrated them at 110F for 7-8 hours hoping to make them more portable. The sharp flavours diminished slightly but my snacks were now able to come with me to the jungle! Sadly, I didn’t wrap them individually so they kind of smooshed together towards the end of my trip. Still good, though.

I will admit that Rob and I overpacked for our hike, but I would still travel with my snacks again. I still need to share the winner of the energy snacks, so stay tuned. I had some bona fide Larabars as well, which also seemed to ooze some oily stuff under the heat of the jungle.  If you are planning for a similar trip, definitely consult your tour operator to see what they recommend you bring. While Magic Tours had an extensive list of stuff to bring (sunscreen, hat, water bottle, clothes, etc), this is what I also found useful:

Hiking socks (I had pairs from IceBreakers and SmartWool)- No blisters here, baby!

Foot talc powder- We didn’t bring any but if you are prone to sweaty feet or slipping into rivers, this is for you!

Sanitizer- We didn’t bring any, but considering the lack of soap and toilet paper, this would have been great to have to not get traveler’s diarrhea.

Compact camera- You do not want to bring a big D-SLR with you on this hike. We actually don’t have too many photos because we were more focused on hiking then taking photos.

After bite & antihistamines- We had deet (although only 30%), and were still bitten by bugs. Lots of bugs. This helped.

Ibuprofen- You may be sore. You may get a headache.

Travel pillow- On the hike, you sleep in hammocks and the occasional bunk bed. No pillows. I am VERY picky about my pillow. I often travel with my day-to-day feather pillow because I have a hard time sleeping without it. This pillow, albeit not exactly what I am used to, was a godsend, even outside the trek in other B&Bs.

Hiking poles- I love my collapsible hiking poles.

Non-cotton clothing- Want your clothes to dry? Make sure they are not cotton.

Water purification tablets- You want to make sure you are drinking potable water. These tabs add no taste to the water.

What else do you like to bring with you on long hikes?

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

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Savoury Hemp Crackers (Raw Pizza Crackers, Raw Caraway Crackers, Raw Za’atar Crackers)

Posted in Sides by Janet M on June 14, 2012

With the bright summery weather, I am thinking of doing a Raw Thursday series for the summer. A bonus recipe each week… Let me know what you think!

There is crack and then there are crack crackers.

Healthy, vegan crack.

I was honestly hooked on Mary’s Crackers for a while.
(In the US, the crackers are called Mary’s Gone Crackers for good reason!)

Then I said, enough is enough! Let me make my own crack crackers!

I started by making a sweet flax cracker with cinnamon and dates but wanted to tackle something savoury, too. This multiseed cracker, courtesy of Sarah, boasts not only ground flax but also hemp and chia seeds. This cracker base was great because it was so much easier to spread than the flax-only cracker.  It was more airy and flaky, too, compared to the Mary’s Cracker prototype. The flavourings are, of course, up to you.

I was itching to recreate Mary’s caraway flavour, which was simple. I also made a version with za’atar that was perfect with my go-to hummus.

My favourite cracker of the bunch, so far, is this pizza cracker. I spiced them with garlic, onion, rosemary, nutritional yeast as well as red pepper paste (a roasted red pepper or tomato paste could be substituted). The slight tang from lemon juice evened out the flavours just slightly.

If I thought Mary’s Crackers were addictive, now I know making my own crackers can be equally as addictive.

What flavour will I create next?

I like Angela’s suggestion to add kelp and Herbamare. Do you have any suggestions?

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Cristina, and to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness.

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