Today is a sad day.
I retired my food processor.
It was older than me, Cuisinart Robot Coupe circa 1970s. A hand-me-down from my parents, to my brother and finally to me. You see, I had to wait for my brother to get married and receive a fancy brand new one. My kitchen changed completely once I finally grabbed hold of it, though. Homemade energy bars galore. Turned out I was the one laughing (until now), since this old processor was the best. It was a work-horse. Easy to clean. Loved more than the newer models. I learned a lot with it, such as:
1. Chop your bananas before you freeze them.
That was how I broke off both clips on the side of the bowl. Huge chunks of frozen bananas jumped around the bowl and snapped it off, literally.
Have no fear, that was nothing I couldn’t solve by holding it in place myself.
2. Do not overflow your food processor with fluids.
This was courtesy of Rob’s lesson. The overflowing liquid can make its way inside your food processor and get it to stop working.
Thank goodness my Dad knows how to open up a food processor and clean up the insides.
3. Cook your chickpeas.
This is another lesson from Rob. Processing soaked chickpeas (but not yet cooked chickpeas) broke his food processor (he only had it for a week) but this beast plowed through it.
4. Don’t give away extra bowls for your circa 1970s food processor.
Lesson courtesy of my Mom. Right before I had my first crack in my bowl, my Mom told me she had just given away/thrown out the extra food processor bowl she had been holding onto for the last 4 decades.
5. Crazy glue only works temporarily.
The final straw for my food processor was when the little tip broke off. My Dad crazy glued it back in place, at my insistence. He was worried the whole thing would be glued shut. I proved him wrong. It still stuck together and moved! The problem, though: it snapped off again (while making The Great Vegetable Bolognese Sauce).
While I can manually stick that teeny piece back in its place, instead I decided to retire my food processor. *sigh* It is for my own safety.
I still remember the first time I tried the amazing 1-ingredient banana ice cream. Gena titled her post: “Banana Soft Serve: This Post Will Change Your Life”. And it was miraculous. However, without a food processor, it cannot be done. Something about the air whipping/melting the banana into a creamy soft pudding. As much as I love my Vitamix, blenders can’t do it. Creamy smooth smoothies, yes, but simple ice cream? No.
Super simple, I rarely make it more complicated than a frozen banana. I have paired it with raw banana maca pancakes and stewed vanilla-scented peaches and blueberries. For a chocolatey treat, adding chocolate protein powder is a great recovery snack.
For its ultimate farewell, I teamed the banana soft-serve with another oldie-but goodie: overnight oats with chia seeds. I’ve shared versions with chocolate & cherries, avocado and gingerbread pumpkin, but this one was a classic vanilla-cinnamon combination.
Combined together, it is a glorious breakfast. And if it wasn’t so much of a fuss to clean the food processor, I’d gladly eat this every day.
I feel kind of bad since it is the bowl that needs replacing and not the motor unit. Sadly, Cuisinart does not sell replacement bowls any longer. I think my Mom tracked down a seller in San Francisco. The commute might kill the value.
What do you think? Time to give it the farewell party? How old is your food processor?
Flash back two years ago and my favourite breakfast was oatmeal with ponzu sauce and flax seeds. I know it sounds like the oddest combination, but I loved it. Savoury oats for breakfast.
Yet somehow, I seemed to skip over posting my most repeated recipe in lieu of other savoury oatmeal concoctions: soy sauce and nutritional yeast, goji berries, nori and ponzu sauce and a savoury oatmeal that I would eat for dinner with vegetables, miso and nutritional yeast.
NATURALLY BREWED SOY SAUCE (WATER, WHEAT, SOYBEANS, SALT), WATER, SUGAR, VINEGAR, SALT, BONITO EXTRACT (FISH), LACTIC ACID, LEMON JUICE, AUTOLYZED YEAST EXTRACT, NATURAL LEMON AND ORANGE FLAVORS WITH OTHER NATURAL FLAVORS, SUCCINIC ACID, DISODIUM INOSINATE, DISODIUM GUANYLATE, SODIUM BENZOATE: LESS THAN 1/10 OF 1% AS A PRESERVATIVE.
Forget the sugar and preservatives, but it isn’t even vegan! Oopsies!
So I ventured to make my own homemade vegan ponzu sauce, without all the fluff… and the fish. My recipe is adapted from Taste of the East. The core is a base of tamari (sadly, Braggs couldn’t compete) along with juices from both lemon and lime. Yuzu is more traditional but even I can admit that I have never seen yuzu for sale. While I don’t think ponzu sauce tastes fishy, a dashi flavoured broth is created from arame and added to the ponzu. I skipped mirin, a common Japanese sweet rice wine, not only because I am challenging myself to go sweetener-free, but also because I thought it tasted fine without it. I tried it with less tamari, but found it lacking without it. Since I only use 1-2 tsp for my oatmeal, I find a little goes a long way.
While I typically eat steel-cut oats, I treated myself to some extra thick rolled oats. Pillow soft, it worked well with the ponzu sauce. More as a textural contrast, and also for its health benefits (omega 3s, lignans and fiber), I added flax seeds. I highly prefer yellow or golden flax seeds which are more mild tasting than brown flax. However, to unlock flax’s prowess, freshly grinding them is the way to go. Otherwise, they may not be absorbed at all.
I am a bad vegan.
I’ll change that right now. What better way to share vegan cheer than by spreading some vegan desserts?
I went a bit dessert happy last week and made not one, but two desserts. Both with secret ingredients.
First, we have these blondies. Fudgy and moist like brownies but without any cocoa. Speckled with chocolate chips and sweetened with dates, you have a delicious dessert. Nut-free, to boot, these treats are made with chickpeas!
I first tried baking with beans when I made chocolate black bean cookies last year. Deliciously moist, creating a cake-like consistency. Without a hint of beans, the beany cookies were definitely a hit over Christmas. This time, the chickpeas contribute to a moist filling along with the dates. Chocolate chips speckled throughout made it a nice treat.
A momentary lapse caused me to inadvertently double the wet ingredients, so I ended up doubling the recipe and making 2 pies. After chowing down one pie in 2 days, I knew I had to share the second pie. I had to say goodbye.
Rob ended up bringing it work and had some fun at the same time. His email to the masses:
I put some leftover cake and brownies in the kitchen on 5. There’s not much there. Get it while you can!!!
After it was devoured in 10 minutes, Rob sent out a second email:
I can see that all y’all devoured the goodies in mere minutes. Little did you know that they were both VEGAN cake and brownies. *evil laugh*
Rob shared with me his co-workers responses:
lol well played sir!
still tastes good =D
LOL! Touche, my friend!
Little you knew I sprinkled bacon bits over both… muhahahaha. Actually being evil!
For some reason, he didn’t disclose there were chickpeas in the blondies and whole wheat flour in the cake. I think that would scare off more people than telling them it was vegan, right? Healthy does not have to mean taste-less.
If a group of twenty-something men devoured them, I bet you would enjoy them, too! Did you celebrate World Vegan Day?
This week, Rob was uber busy at work so I decided to spice up his mornings with some new granola. Like me, Rob typically eats oatmeal for breakfast and it has been ages since he’s made granola. He used to be a granola fiend, but it was put on his back-burner after we moved in together. Way back when, in his granola-making days, he bought millet for granola. Instead, the millet made its way into savoury dinners.
I don’t remember which recipe gave us the idea to add millet to granola, but whoever did it first should be applauded. Crunch explosion! In a great way! It gave a crunchy-crispy texture to the toasted oats and nuts. For this version, I went with Rob’s favourite granola flavours: cinnamon, cranberries, coconut and almonds, but feel free to pick your own favourite nuts and dried fruit. Just don’t skip the millet, because that is what makes this granola special.
Even if you didn’t think you liked cooked millet (I will admit that it isn’t my favourite grain), this is probably my favourite way to eat it. Don’t let the birds enjoy all the millet.
Other granolas we’ve made:
How many of you are weather watchers?
Now that I am biking to work again, I watch the forecasts closely. On rainy days I track the radar throughout the day to figure out when it would be best to bike. Hourly forecasts, too.
But please, how many of you watch the weather to determine your weekly menu?
I am pretty good about making the majority of my meals on the weekends and scooping out leftovers all week. But sometimes I don’t want to eat what I’ve already made. Sometimes I don’t want salad.
Case in point: Wednesday. 30% chance of rain in the afternoon. I’ll take my chances, thanks. By the time I was finished at work, it looked wet outside but it didn’t look like it was raining. I consulted the radar: the rain had ended and it had just skirted the city anyhow.
But I walked outside and it now it was lightly raining. I pummeled home on my bike, when it rained even harder. I was cold and wet by the time I make it home. The last thing I wanted was salad.
I wanted something warm and cozy. And quick.
So I did what everyone turns to in such a panicked state: breakfast for dinner. Not wanting to eat my latest breakfast oats, I went with a savoury twist. I boiled my oats with vegetable broth, threw in some leftover cooked peas and carrots, stirred in some nutritional yeast and miso and I was in heaven. I’ve done the savoury oats thing before, but I had forgotten how lovely it was. Plus, I never ate it for dinner, with the vegetables thrown in for good measure.
While this was great the first night, I found myself craving it throughout the rest of the week, too. Nooch plus miso works so well here and you can throw in all your leftover vegetables. I tried it with uncooked carrots, but they weren’t able to lose their crunch by the time the oats were done, unfortunately. Just throw in cooked vegetables. The peas worked really well. Not sure where else canned mushy peas would be so awesome… (other than the Malai Koftas from Easter, recipe forthcoming!).
So before this weekend’s round of cooking, I looked at the forecast. It was pretty grim: rain today and early in the week. Rob made a nice cocoa chili (a bit too spicy for me) and I opted for a curried red lentil soup and a Mediterranean chickpea salad. I am sure I may have these cheezy oats once again as well.
This is my submission to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.
I may have a blog, but I still feel inept with the latest technology. I am still using Microsoft Office 2003 and I have no cell phone. I constantly have to ask Rob how to work his Android phone and navigate his Apple laptop. And sometimes, I make boo-boos with my posts… my top recipes of 2011… yeah, don’t postdate that for January 1, 2011. Because that isn’t post-dated at all. Sorry for the New Year’s teaser, especially since it is still in my Google Reader despite its deletion on my blog. Although the worse is that you have to wait until mid-December for that fabulous cookie recipe! Until then, I have another recipe with hidden beans… and hidden broccoli!
Veggie burgers? Veggie patties? Bean cakes?
These are the first veggie “burger” I have made. I think veggie patty is a better descriptor since it isn’t as “meaty” as typical burgers. What can you expect from chickpeas, broccoli and oats? Well, when they are combined with peanut butter, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and cilantro, it is a pretty powerful flavour-house.
This recipe is courtesy of MamaPea through her cookbook Peas and Thank You (recipe also posted here). The patties were simple to whip together in a food processor and I appreciated their complex flavours. The hint of peanut butter, with the spices worked really well together. I just wish they were a bit more firm (perhaps more oats?). If you camouflaged the burger in a bun, you might not notice the texture. However, I opted to plate mine overtop zucchini noodles with scattered pineapple and Napa cabbage, drizzled here with sweet chili sauce. As a salad topper, they were great! Next time, I might bake them into smaller balls if I knew they would be going on top of a salad. I also found out that the Peanut Mmmm Sauce and even moreso, the Mojo sauce were great burger spreads.
Peanut butter and banana are a classic combination. Warm caramelized banana with peanut butter is even better. Add in some rolled oats, chia seeds, vanilla and a dash of cinnamon, and you have a crazy concoction. A crazy, wonderful breakfast concoction. Or dinner, because you love it so much.
Ashley calls this a banana scramble, but I see it as a huge, fluffy pancake. Her description as a melty gooey chewy bananer oat goodness fits much better, actually. The banana becomes soft and caramelized as it is permeated with the peanut butter. The rolled oats and chia seeds add bulkiness and texture. It reminds me of a stovetop version of the Dark Chocolate Banana Coconut Almond Cookies, which are soft from the bananas, but here, you eat it right from the stove, ooey-gooey in its warmness.
I have made this a few times, and the recipe is very flexible. You can use chia seeds, ground flax or even wheat germ to help keep it together. Instead of banana, you could use apple sauce, mashed pumpkin or sweet potato. The amount of nondairy milk is up to you and your preference. It should be a bit thick, but not dry. I like to err on the side of wet. Chia seeds definitely make this an easier thing to flip, though, and 2 smaller pancakes would help to flip as well. Wheat germ was nice because it was more fluffy and I added more milk. Especially with wheat germ, it can be a bit finicky to keep it all together, so the name scramble is quite fitting.
This is the wheat germ version. After frying, It may look like this:
So just stick it together and top with bananas (see top photo) and no one would be the wiser.. Personally, in this case, as unphotogenic as it is, I prefer the super fluffy pancake that doesn’t easily keep together then a flippable pancake that is a bit sturdier. I like to eat fluffy goodness.
Every year, over 2000 cyclists bike between Ottawa and Kingston with the Ottawa Bicycle Club for the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour. This is not a charity event; everyone does it for fun. There are many different routes, but the most popular is the “Classic” 177-km route that you do in both directions on smaller country roads between the 2 cities. My Dad has done this for over 9 years and when he announced this year would be his last, I wanted to join him. Somehow (and thankfully!), other friends also thought this would be a great idea to do. We trained earlier this summer, as soon as the snow melted, in between rain, fierce winds, battling challenges with riding with heavier panniers, back on my hybrid and even renting an uncomfortable cruiser while in Vancouver.
Unfortunately, my Dad broke his wrist 2 weeks before Rideau Lakes, so he wasn’t able to cycle with us. However, he was quite omnipresent by waiting for us at random places along the route. Sometimes with the camera ready to catch us in action (a cast makes photo-taking hard, too, though!). This is me and Rob in action:
Thankfully, despite ominous forecasts, we had beautiful weather: mostly overcast, with some lovely tailwinds in both directions. My brother had spooked me by telling me this was a very challenging course, with lots of killer hills. Tackling the tough hills around Toronto allowed me to feel more comfortable attacking the steep hill near Westport. The other rolling hills were fun!
I was thankful for such a great group of friends for the ride, but almost thought I was doomed after cycling 140km on Day 2, at the last rest station in Ashton. I had stomach cramps and a bloated belly. I was not feeling well. My legs were sore (understandably) but still pushing well. But my belly was not happy. I ended up sucking it up, taking ibuprofen, and biking to the finish with the group. I am still not sure what is bothering my belly (digestion problems persist) so I don’t think it has anything to do with biking per se. Perhaps it was something I ate earlier? Who knows. Now is the time to recover.
Over the course of my training, I tried a lot of different energy balls. I will post them in due time, but this is what I brought with me to Kingston. Adapted from Radiance 4 Life (recipe also posted here), I decreased the amount of cacao nibs since I had a hard time integrating them all in the batter. The malty flavour of maca combines well with vanilla which are the dominant flavours in these slightly sweet balls, packed with cashews, almonds and oats. The cacao nibs add a nice crunch with nice change of texture. These are a delicious treat, and since they are packed with great ingredients, a delicious snack even if not cycling monumental distances.
After my success with combining grains into my morning porridge (technically combining seeds since it was a quinoa-amaranth-chia concoction), I decided to try again with another multigrain breakfast. I spotted this combination of oatmeal, quinoa and kasha in The 30-Minute Vegan (recipe also posted here). You have to tend to it a bit more than traditional oatmeal since each grain gets added in separately, but it created a wonderful texture. You get the nutty quinoa with the creamy oatmeal and truth be told, this was my first time eating kasha, but the combination was wonderful. I added in some sweetened soymilk at the end so I did not feel like it needed anything additional with the bananas. However, use this as a template to add your favourite oatmeal toppings, with the bonus of a new texture for your breakfast porridge.
When you eat alone, you may eat things that are odd. Cereal for dinner? I did that one too many times while in university. So quick and easy! Unless you are making steel cut oatmeal, regular or quick cooking oatmeal falls into the same category: quick and easy meal. Since exploring savoury oatmeal for breakfast, I didn’t think twice about whipping up a batch of oatmeal after coming home from Vancouver and then again for breakfast the next day. I was craving something warm and homey, after eating a lot of raw foods last week.
With Vancouver still on my mind (the sushi capital of Canada), I decided to spice up my ponzu-flavoured savoury oatmeal with strips of toasted nori and goji berries. Seemingly odd ingredients, but all hailing from somewhere in Asia, it worked really well together! The goji berries plumped up nicely and offered a hint of sweetness with some chewiness. The nori brought a comforting sushi-flavour to the dish, the citrus from the ponzu was light and refreshing and the quick-cooking oatmeal was slightly lumpy, but in a good reminds-me-of-rice kind of way.
I have been experimenting with more unusual ingredients lately: maca, delicious! Carob, yup. And now goji berries. Can I blame Tess’ new cookbook all about superfoods? Perhaps… but blame isn’t the right word, praise is more like it. While I also believe that common fruits and vegetables are superfoods with all their vitamins and minerals, it is nice to spice things up with new ingredients. Taste is the most important, though, which is something I will never sacrifice (the health benefits of goji berries may be overstated).
But let me share a secret: these wacky “superfoods” don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Even seaweed (nori, etc) and dried mushrooms can be expensive at health food stores. However, people have been eating seaweed and goji berries for years. Head to where they are native to find cheap supplies – and no, I don’t mean China. Head to Chinatown or your favourite Asian grocery store (Sunny!). Here, goji berries may be labelled as red medlar, though, which is why they have gone under my radar until now. Goji berries are so much cheaper, only a buck or two, whereas I know Whole Foods charges a lot more.
While goji berries are a bit lackluster straight from the bag – they taste like a tart cherry in the guise of a dried raisin – they are much better once they are plumped up in the oatmeal. Because they aren’t cloyingly sweet like most dried fruit, this paired well with the savoury nori and ponzu sauce.
My mom recently forwarded an article to me.
“Study finds vegetarians have smaller brains” screamed the headline with a link to this article in Neurology from 2008.
Gosh, do I need to bemoan how media misconstrues academic research? The article had nothing to do with vegetarian diets, rather it investigated the effect of vitamin B12 levels in the elderly and its association with brain volume. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in the elderly due to many reasons, and can be a reversible cause of dementia.
However, I understand my mom’s concern. Vegans need to understand which nutrients are harder to come by without consuming meat and dairy. There are actually a few, but vitamin B12 deficiency can become problematic since you can only acquire it from meat and dairy, unless you obtain it from a fortified food.
A good source of vitamin B12 for vegans is nutritional yeast, which is fortified with vitamin B12. While I first used nutritional yeast to make a creamy zucchini and basil soup, I hadn’t really discovered its prowess until recently.
Nutritional yeast is not nearly as scary as it sounds. Its name is true though: it is a nutritional boon for B vitamins and it is an inactive yeast, harvested from beetroot and molasses. Known as a vegan source of vitamin B12, it is also a great source of protein and fiber. It has a distinctive cheesy flavour, that I have grown to love, although you may need to warm up to it. It has that kind of ‘health food’ flavour for the uninitiated but if paired well with other ingredients, it can really shine. You should be able to find it easily in any health food store.
While I love my breakfasts to feature all kinds of fruit, I have recently been smitten by savoury oats for breakfast. Playing around with different combinations with my big batch of weekly oats, this has been my recent favourite: steel-cut oats with soy sauce and nutritional yeast. Simple, quick, healthy and a nice change of pace for breakfast.
I have a bit of frozen fruit, including frozen mango, in my freezer and I have found it hard to be inspired. Mango, so succulent and juicy is best fresh and I rarely cook or bake with it. Frozen mango deserves a special place in my kitchen, but so far I have been stumped. Until now.
My morning oatmeal is a great place to experiment and this did not disappoint.
I simmered my steel-cut oats and chia seeds with a bit of leftover mango nectar as well as these juicy frozen mango pieces, spiced it with cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg and found myself in the tropics for breakfast. It couldn’t have been easier, especially since I used the quick-cook steel cut oats from Trader Joe’s.
Lentil Mango Picadillo from Eats Well With Others
Black Bean and Mango Curry from Branny Boils Over
Raw Mango Sorbet from Everyone is Vegan
Brazilian Black Bean Stew from 1000 Vegan Recipes
Mango BBQ Beans from Appetite for Reduction
A great breakfast always starts your day on the right track. But what to do when you are travelling? Hotel buffets are typically laden with picks like bagels, muffins, pancakes or standard cereal, which don’t interest me these days. Fruit can be hard to find, and if you have oatmeal, it is usually the quick-cooking oatmeal filled with sugars and flavourings. So what’s a travelling girl to do?
Luckily, I knew I had a refrigerator at my hotel, and I knew the hotel breakfast would include fruit (standard across the Drury chain). I loaded up on apples, bananas and oranges in the morning and then devoured them along with my portable overnight oats. The benefit of nondairy milk in tetrapacks is that I can travel with it very easily before it has been opened (no refrigeration needed).
Before I left home, I created a dry mixture for my overnight oats, including rolled oats and chia seeds. I decided to flavour it with cocoa, dried cherries and a touch of cinnamon. Each night, I added 1/4 cup of the mixture to 1/2 cup of almond milk and let it chill overnight in the fridge. Sometimes I would add more milk the following morning, depending on whether I wanted it more runny. Combined with fresh fruit, I was a happy camper. Healthy breakfasts can be easy while travelling! This is also an easier way to create them at home, so that you don’t have to measure out the ingredients every time.
I found the dried tart cherries to work incredibly well with the cocoa flavour, but dried cranberries could work, too – they would just be a bit sweeter.
I eat oats for breakfast, in some shape or form, nearly every day. Lately, I have been enjoying steel cut oats. Steel cut oats are less refined than old-fashioned rolled oats, which means they retain more nutrients, but it also takes 40 minutes to cook (unless you snag some quick-cook steel cut oats from Trader Joe’s which have been partially steamed beforehand). I make a big batch of steel cut oats on the weekend and reheat portions in the microwave for 60 seconds each morning. Fast and simple.
While I typically make my oats quite plain, I can add different toppings each day to the blank canvas. I went through a phase where I added pomegranate molasses. Then, I tried soy sauce and/or toasted sesame oil for something savoury. My current favourite oatmeal topping is ponzu sauce, a citrus-flavoured soy sauce. The saltiness really enhances the oatmeal.
However, this weekend, I wanted to try something completely different, to highlight blueberries. I figured a lemony oatmeal with a touch of vanilla would complement the blueberries well, and after I topped the oatmeal with the blueberries, I thought of my recent Blueberry Salmon Teriyaki Spinach Salad, so I drizzled some balsamic vinegar overtop as well. It was divine. A cheery, gourmet way to start the day.
I haven’t tried yet, but I think dried blueberries could work as well when you can’t find fresh blueberries – just add them at the beginning to plump up nicely.