This is a quick post to remind anyone in the GTA that this weekend is the Vegetarian Food Festival, the largest vegetarian food festival in the world.
I went yesterday and had a blast. There were some awesome speakers and cooking demos. I enjoyed seeing Lisa and Nicole discuss tips for how to eat for cheap while still keeping health in the forefront. They shared delicious samples (and recipes) for a chocolate chip brownie bar with avocado frosting, an herbed tahini dip and homemade nut butter and almond milk. It was also great to see Isa Chandra Moskowitz who demo’ed her Beet Burgers and Carrot Bisque. Sadly, I wasn’t able to make it to Terry Hope Romero’s demo of her olive-flecked seitan gyros with a tzatziki cucumber dill sauce which I think is from her upcoming cookbook, Vegan Eats World.
I also had fun checking out over 100 vendors of vegetarian and vegan food, treats, equipment, books, and clothes. There were many vendors that I had never seen before so I enjoyed being able to sample their foods to see what I liked. A shout-out to Manitoba Harvest who had samples of hemp hearts and their protein powders (they had coupons for my favourite Hemp Pro 70, too!), samples and great deals on Camino Chocolate Bars, and the absolute best (hands-on) non-dairy milks by The Bridge. It seemed like a bit of a teaser since they don’t have a storefront yet (coming soon, she told me), but all their drinks were silky, smooth and sweet despite no sugar additives (not even stevia and the like). The varieties I tried include included milk from kamut, quinoa, farro/spelt, oats, and rice + hazelnuts. They reminded me of the fabulous brown basmati rice milk Rob and I bought at Eataly. Totally in a league of their own in the realm of non-dairy milks (price-wise, too, I am sure). Definitely don’t pass up the chance to try them. The raw salads dressings from RawFoodz were also very nice. I also picked up a wallet from Matt & Nat and some Hurraw lip balms from Nice Shoes.
To celebrate all things vegan, I am sharing a non-traditional yet homely rendition of a classic vegan dish: tofu scramble. This one uses both chickpeas and crumbled tofu as its base and is coated in a delicious lemony-hummus-tahini sauce. Pan-roasted tomatoes add a nice burst of sweetness and I tossed this all over fresh baby spinach. I have also made this with the spinach wilted into the dish, which was also lovely.
So what are you waiting for? Head down to Harbourfront for the vegetarian festival and if you can’t make it, celebrate at home with your own vegan creations.
I am really impressed by British/Irish chefs. Yotam Ottolenghi, Denis Cotter and now Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I had never heard of him before I saw praise for his new vegetarian cookbook, River Cottage Everyday Veg.
What I love most about these chefs is that they turn humble vegetables into something extraordinary. First, I tried Hugh’s quinoa salad with caramelized onions and zucchini that was a sleeper hit. I loved the sweetness from such simple ingredients. Then there was the Appaloosa Bean Summer Chili which used red wine with zucchini, red peppers and tomatoes to make a savoury chili.
Tell me which vegetable you like the least. Probably something local that comes up in overabundance in the summer. You can tolerate it in moderation, but week after week of the same vegetables can get boring. I would probably pick green beans. While I have made some great dishes with them, I don’t find them that versatile. Zucchini, on the other, doesn’t taste like much, but can be used in so many creative ways.
I was drawn to make Hugh’s tahini-dressed zucchini and green bean salad with sun-dried tomatoes as a spotlight to local, seasonal ingredients. I wasn’t sure it would be a filling meal, but green beans are beans and along with the lemon-tahini dressing, this voluminous salad was perfect.
While this may seem initially like a finicky salad, look at it as a main course to soothe your qualms. Relish in cooking each component to bring out its best: lightly sear the zucchini until golden, then dress in some lemon juice and chile flakes. Steam your green beans until tender crisp. Plate on top of your favourite baby greens, sprinkle with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and drizzle with your dressing. The dressing is nice and light, without being too oily or heavy (I reduced the oil and sugar since I used Meyer lemons). Enjoy this best as a warm salad directly after preparing it. Leftovers are nice cold when slathered in the dressing.
I know many people had their doubts, but yes, you can travel to Colombia as a vegan! Meat and fish abound on resto menus, but thankfully beans are a common vegan staple which were my savior. Fruits and fruit juices abound, and simple salads are also a common feature. Veggie sides are usually fried plantains, yuca or potatoes. Rice, although white rice, is a plenty.
Because I wanted to minimize the fried resto foods, and continue to eat vegan, Rob and I planned for a successful vegan-friendly trip to Colombia. I thought I’d share with you our strategies for vegan eating in Colombia (and no, Rob did not only eat vegan on the trip, too).
1. Plan Ahead – Book accommodations with refrigerators and kitchens
For general Colombian travel advice, definitely plan ahead. All of our accommodations had fridges available and the majority gave me access to a kitchen, as well. Staying in private rooms in hostels is a great way to get the perks of a hostel (kitchen, fridge, social events) as well as the privacy you want from a hotel room. Our hostel‘s kitchen in Salento was so well-stocked it even had a blender and sandwich press! Definitely the marker of a great hostel.
2. Bring snacks and protein powder
I brought a few meals and snacks with me to tide me over on the plane and after our arrival. See my new favourite non-traditional hummus recipe, below! I also brought some protein powder as an emergency if I needed a meal replacement, but also to add to whatever breakfast may be. Thankfully I was never without a vegan meal so I just used it with breakfast, as per usual.
3. Bring some cooking essentials
Planning on eating leftovers? Bring some containers to hold them. I was really impressed with my collapsible containers which were leak-proof, sturdy and collapsed easily when empty. I also cannot travel without a small paring knife that I protect with a knife case (obviously needs to go in checked baggage). Ziploc bags are also essential for oodles of things. Just make sure you know which bags had your sunscreen and which were holding food. Do not mix.
4. Figure out where you can eat
First, you need to know how to ask for vegan eats which you can find at most restaurants. Happy Cow was also great for locating vegan-friendlier restaurants and health food stores, even if limited in number. Sol del la India was a favourite of ours in Cartagena. I also consulted a few other blogs with vegetarian reviews from Colombian restaurants. Definitely scope out local fruit and vegetable markets as well as grocery stores for other purchases if cooking yourself. The typical Colombian breakfast is coffee/tea/juice, toast, eggs in some form (omelet or scrambled), sometimes an arepa, and fruit. Our B&B in Bogota was kind enough to make oatmeal specifically for me. We ended up cooking our own oatmeal at places that didn’t supply an adequate breakfast.
5. Do a cooking class
We started off our trip in Bogota and as you know, I was really excited about the cooking class. While we needed a Spanish translator (Juan was a vegan, to boot!), we were able to cook with a native Bogotan, in her humble abode that even had fruit trees within her courtyard. This was Dona Elsa’s first vegan cooking class and she was receptive to my requests to make a surplus of food for me to take home with me as leftovers. I was excited to try some new-to-me vegetables prepared ala Colombiano. We ended up making the traditional Colombian salad with avocado, a huge amount of vegetable soup (sancocho without chicken, filled with fava beans, green peas, green beans, squash/pumpkin (auyama), green plantains, carrot, corn, spinach and cilantro), frijoles (Colombian beans), yucca frita (fried yucca), patacones (refried plantains), papa fritas (fried criolle potatoes), fresh lulo juice along with a dessert that I forgot to write down. I was antsy about eating the fried foods but they were great. In fact, these were one of the best meals of the entire trip. The patacones and yucca fritas could not be duplicated elsewhere, in ay resto or when I made them myself in a hostel (I went for a non-stick, low-oil option). Sadly, I know the secret: frying in lots of oil. Twice. Not only was I armed with leftovers, I was now more familiar with the local ingredients and how to prepare them.
Here for the hummus recipe, instead? I don’t blame you…
I don’t know why, but I don’t make hummus on a regular basis. I break it out for parties and when I am travelling. This is currently my favourite non-traditional hummus. It takes a bit more work than your standard hummus, but the results are great. First, you need to saute some shallots (or onion) with rosemary to infuse a small amount of oil for your hummus. Ground pistachios and a touch of tahini are the base for this version that is also spiced with maple syrup and cinnamon. I didn’t think rosemary would pair so well with this, but it was a phenomenal hummus. Sweet, yet savoury. Lighter with the additional water, it isn’t as creamy as a decadent hummus, but you could add more tahini or oil to taste. In short, perfect for me. Enjoy!
Other hummus flavours:
Today, though, I will be eating salad.
Intellectually, I understand the value of a great sauce or dressing. Sometimes, it is a sauce that makes a dish. With a salad, fresh greens are great but the avenue it will taste will depend entirely on your dressing. It is probably no surprise that one can take classes specifically for Sauces and Marinades at George Brown College Culinary School.
While I make oodles of salads, there is only one dressing that I’ve popped into my leafy green salad repertoire. The super simple 3-2-1 dressing, where I sometimes have to remind myself which ingredient goes with the 2 and 1. (Note: Balsamic=3. Mustard=2. Maple syrup=1.)
I am trying to make life less complicated in the kitchen this year, and I am doing that partly by focusing on different dressings and sauces. This way, I can throw them on a multitude of dishes – whether as a hearty bean or grain salad, something with leafy greens, or even used in a stir-fry, etc.
The first dressing I want to highlight is this uber delicious tahini balsamic dressing that I spotted at Choosing Raw. I am loving all things tahini lately and balsamic remains one of my favourite vinegars, so I was eager to try out her dressing.
I dipped my finger into the dressing to test it out. Trust me, I licked it clean.. and another finger, just to make sure it was still so good. It passed the taste test again. I had to make sure I kept some for my salad!
The tahini provides a nutty and creamy backdrop accented by the sweet balsamic vinegar. The garlic adds a bit more complexity. The water thins it out so this isn’t heavy like oil- or mayo-based dressings. Use it anywhere you’d enjoy a creamy balsamic vinaigrette.
Its initiation into my kitchen was with a light yet hearty quinoa and chickpea salad punctated by bursts of cherry tomatoes, cucumber and slivered kale. I usually massage my kale, but here, it countered the quinoa and beans nicely with its crunch. I added the dressing just before I ate so that it would still be quite light. I assumed the quinoa could probably absorb a heck of a lot more of the dressing, but this way it was wonderful. I also made a quinoa-less salad later in the week, subbing collards for the kale which was possibly even better.
I know I could drip the dressing onto anything but I was sufficiently content with my salads for the week. Definitely let me know how you enjoy it! I bet it would be wonderful on kale chips, too!
I like to think of myself as a self-taught cook. Although, technically, I took the introductory course in George Brown College’s Culinary Arts Program a few years ago. Exploring new vegan meals through cookbooks and blogs has been the real way that I have learned so much about cooking and my kitchen. I continue to share my recipes, hoping to share the little tips and wisdom that I have picked up on the way.
While I am fairly adept in the kitchen, the garden still remains a mystery to me. Sun, shade, companion plants, pests and bugs, oh my! Then there’s the proper way to grow them, how to feed them water and other nutrients… and finally how to properly harvest. It feels like there are so many things to learn about even after picking out the so-called “easy” plants I want in my garden.
Last year we had our first garden and not everything was successful. This year, in a new home, a new garden, we decided to keep things simpler: potted herbs, beans, zucchini and kale in the garden with more kale and collards interspersed amongst the garden. Then there’s the impulse buy of kabocha squash. Four tiny plants have morphed into GIGANTIC plants, seemingly overnight (hey, we were in Colombia). After a month, my plants are at least 5 feet long, with numerous flowers. Upon further reading, I am kind of regretting the purchase. Most people recommend covering the plants to keep away the pests. They suggest opening the covers for only 2 hours so that the blossoms can be pollinated, it must be pretty bad. Furthermore, did you know that squashes need to be dried while on the vine? Kabocha squashes, in particular, need to be stored initially at a high temperature and then again at a cool temperature for long-term storage? Sounds like these crazy vines are staying here all summer, oh my!
Another mystery to me is that I cannot seem to grow dill. Dill weed. It is supposed to be so prolific many consider it a weed. Both this year and last, my seeds did not sprout. This year, I also bought some seedlings. After returning from Colombia, they disappeared. I am guessing they died. I know they don’t like to be transplanted, but I was hopeful. Oh dear.
My other herbs are doing well, so I will have to rely on the grocer (and friends!) for my dill fix.
Have an abundance of dill? Or just a lover of dill? Definitely try these garlic-roasted chickpeas with a creamy lemon-dill dressing. It had been a while since I’ve had pan-roasted chickpeas, which were a favourite of mine 2 years ago, so I decided to break them out with this creamy lemon-dill dressing from Angela. She used it with tofu but the garlicky chickpeas worked well, too. This was glorious fresh from the pan, but due to the creamy nature of the dressing, it was absorbed by the chickpeas as leftovers and became a bit dry. If you think you might be going the leftover route, consider only adding the dressing just prior to serving.
Anyone have tips for growing dill weed? Should I try again?
In much the same way as there is an art to using up the last of your fresh produce before you head away for vacation, I think there is an art to keeping a kitchen well-stocked for your return from vacation. While I have a few go-to recipes from pantry staples alone, and freezer meals help, when I come home from vacation, I am usually craving something fresh. I want the greens.
While I hate asking for rides, at the airport, it is nice to be picked up by a familiar face. I still remember returning from Japan to friendly faces and in addition to a quick ride home, they also had a few things to get me through to my first grocery run. At that time in my pre-vegan days, it was eggs, bagels, fruit and some leftover soup. With an empty fridge, it was a glorious gesture.
While Rob and I are good at taking transit to the airport, this meant we didn’t have any room to stop for groceries with all our luggage on the subway. In any case, while we came home to an empty fridge, it wasn’t so empty after all.
Granted, we were only gone for two weeks, so we still had a few grapefruits and apples for my usual breakfast routine. Onions and carrots in the crisper keep well, too. Cabbage, too. Thankfully garlic lasts, as do other citrus like lemons and limes. When in season, winter squashes can be stored outside the fridge. Frozen staples also work well: spinach, vegetables and herbs. I also keep my cooked beans in the freezer.
I always tell myself I will stop coming back from vacations on Sundays, only to be back at work on Monday, but we never learn. Returning from vacation means I also need to find quick-cooking meals that I can make after work, amongst unpacking, laundry and all that jazz from the vacation wrap-up.
Scrap the brown rice. It can take a long time to cook. Instead, I bastardized Gena’s Greek Lemon Soup (Avgolemono) by substituting quinoa. It takes half the time to cook, making a quick and tasty soup. Bright and fresh from the lemon , creamy from the tahini with depth of flavour from the miso, dill and nutritional yeast. Considering traditional avgolemono is made with eggs, the quinoa bastardization seems quite tame.. and quite the fanciful adaptation from the original. Regardless, this is a filling and delicious soup. Enjoy!
I am a victim of my own success.
Nearly a year ago, I started my whole foods vegan diet, or vegan on steroids as Rob likes to put it. I did it primarily for health and environmental concerns and haven’t looked back.
No, really, there is no turning back. I know some people wonder why I can’t just eat something if it has meat broth, or snack on whole wheat bread, or just eat the darn white rice. There is a reason for my choices and I don’t want to compromise. Not all vegan food is healthy.
On the rare occasion, I have made small compromises. Last summer, I went to a potluck where a friend didn’t know about my food choices and quickly whipped up some deep-fried tofu-and-lotus root croquettes for me. I should have stuck to my lentil salad, but I also nibbled on a rice dish and the croquettes. I left that night with a belly beyond bloated. At the time, we thought maybe I had mistakenly eaten something with shrimp (of which I do have allergies) because I reacted so badly.
I have travelled a lot this year, some for vacation, other times for interviews and this time for a conference. I have become really good at planning for success: finding a grocery store and appropriate restaurants, if need be. This time, I returned to my favourite Vancouver hotel not only because it is affordable, but because I have a mini-fridge in my room and access to a communal kitchen. I also know that T&T is close for me to pick up affordable groceries. Because I didn’t have to cross borders, I brought some veggies, hummus (this Ginger-Lime-Wasabi Edamame Hummus!) and some leftovers with me to tie me over until I was able to shop at T&T. I even brought a dressing in anticipation of buying frozen edamame, a quick and easy way for me to get my bean fix.
I was pretty diligent about picking up some produce to bring me back to my normal routine: tea and grapefruit to start the day. I planned for a simple oatmeal+flax+fruit breakfast, but instead was wooed by Ruth’s Chia Goodness at T&T. Basically it is a souped up chia pudding and I am adamant to recreate it for my next travel destination. It is easier than my portable overnight oats since I have been using water as the liquid instead of nondairy milk. I picked up a bunch of veggies to make some collard wraps with my hummus (pea shoots, carrots and cucumber), and edamame for my bean salad.
However, I left Toronto’s balmy summer weather and was greeted by Vancouver’s cold and wet conditions. In the span of an hour, I can see it pouring torrential rain, followed by some snow/sleet and then the sun will come out and dry it all away. With this chilling weather, by the time a few days rolled around, the last thing I wanted to eat was another cold salad or wrap.
While I had earlier success at some nearby raw restaurants (Gorilla Food‘s Main St Monkey sandwich is so good!), I scoped out some hot vegan eats at nearby Nuba, a Lebanese resto with many vegan options. I had enjoyed my meal there last year, so I was eager to have a large glass of carrot-beet-ginger-lime juice, as well as mujaddara. I also opted for a small side of Najib’s special: crispy cauliflower with lemon and sea salt, with a tahini sauce. Unfortunately, a few hours later, I had a bloated belly… However, a few days later, I thought maybe their red lentil soup and falafels could sooth my cold soul. Not so. Within minutes of finishing my plate, my belly was bloated again. I thought I had picked hearty bean dishes, but my plan had been foiled. Even when I don’t know what the offending food is, my belly cannnot be fooled.
In retrospect, I have blamed it on the deep-frying.The mujaddara had deep-fried crispy onions, that crispy cauliflower – yeah, it was deep-fried, too, and those falafels were also deep-fried. Suffice it to say, I don’t deep-fry anything at home and this was probably what caused my troubles.
You see, I cannot go back to my old ways.
Many bloggers have recently adopted a vegetarian, vegan or whole foods way of eating. I would love to know if you’ve experienced the same since changing. Before I went whole foods, I never really had any digestive issues. Now, a small deviation into junk can easily trigger something nasty. Annie recently said she notices changes immediately when she deviates from her vegan, gluten-free diet.
Anyways, back to the hummus. Hummus is the perfect travel food in my opinion, because all you need are some veggies to dip and you are good to go! It can also go a bit more fancy with a collard wrap or a hummus dressing for a raw kale salad. While I prefer the traditional recipe, you can easily mix things up with different flavours – any takers for pomegranate red pepper or Indian-spiced? This time, I opted for a spin off of Gena’s Ginger Lime Edamame Hummus which I had immediately bookmarked last summer.
I’ve made some fabulously creamy edamame dips (edamame miso dip and edamame guacamole), so I knew this wouldn’t disappoint. I liked Gena’s suggestion for ginger and lime. Instead of tobasco sauce, though, I added wasabi powder to continue with the Asian theme. It contrasted nicely with the sharp bite from the ginger and the acidity from the lime, all the while creamy from the edamame and tahini.
Yet another successful variation on hummus. I think I will warm it up to counteract my shunning of all cold foods.
It all started when I basically made my own tahini with freshly roasted sesame seeds to go with sauteed spinach for Terry’s oshitashi recipe (Sesame Wow Greens). So good, yet so simple.
Then, I discovered tahini heaven. I had heard that tahini could taste so good that one could eat it straight from the jar. Not so with my previous brand. But now I am a tahini-convert after spreading my way through Prince’s tahini: smooth, rich and creamy with a deep sesame flavour. I love it! I want to eat it with everything! I honestly wonder if I should try out Deb’s Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad again (I found it too bitter the first time) because my tahini was probably at fault.
This time, I went heavy with the tahini. I spotted this recipe in The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East (recipe here) and thought 1/3 cup of tahini would be great simmered with tempeh and green beans. I liked it but it wasn’t as sesame heavy as I was anticipating. The dressing, of course, also had lemon juice, broth, tamari and mirin, creating a more complex flavour palate. Nice and light, and quite soupy, too, and easy to put together. The tempeh was a bit more meaty and juicy because I pre-steamed it, dry-fried it to lock in the shape and then simmered in the sesame broth. The green beans were a perfect match. Serve with quinoa so that you can savour this down to the last drop of sauce.
Barring hummus, what is your favourite way to use tahini?
Here are some other tahini recipes I’ve had my eye on:
Miso Tahini Magic Sauce from Fresh Young Coconut
Smoky Red Pepper, Chickpea and Tahini Dressing from Choosing Raw
Miso Sesame Dressing from Choosing Raw
Low-Fat Tahini-Chickpea Dressing from Fat Free Vegan
Orange-Miso-Tahini Gravy from My New Roots
Carrot Ginger Tahini Soup from Kahakai Kitchen
Beet, Tahini and Pomegranate Dip (Mama Dall’ou’ah) from Taste of Beirut
Roasted Carrot Hummus from Enlightened Cooking
Tofu Tahini Scramble from Choosing Raw
Burnt Eggplant with Tahini and Pomegrante from Ottolenghi
Noodles with a Lemon-Miso-Tahini Sauce from ExtraVeganZa
Tangy Tahini Noodles with Tempeh and Vegetables from Julia’s Vegan Kitchen
Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles from Vegan Yum Yum
Creamy Kale Soup with Tahini from Vegan Yum Yum
Quinoa Pilaf with Spiced Miso Tahini Sauce from Sweet Potato Soul
Spinach, Chickpea and Tahini Soup from Soup Chick
Coleslaw just sounds so 1980s.
I know it was probably a disservice to rename the Raw Pad Thai as Coleslaw with a Spicy Almond Dressing. I mean, coleslaw? How lame…
How about cabbage salad? The word coleslaw originates from the Dutch word koolsla which means cabbage (kool) salad (sla). Same thing, then!
But why am I raving about a cabbage slaw, you may be wondering…
Well, for some reason I have been craving fresh cabbage. A sweet, crunch salad with a hint of cabbage-y tartness.
So I made this and ate it throughout the day… lunch, snack and dinner….
The nice thing about this salad is the dressing, which I adapted from My New Roots. Not mayo-laden like typical coleslaws. Rather, tahini is used as a creamy base and the sesame is highlighted by toasted sesame oil and freshly toasted sesame seeds. The fresh twist comes from the orange zest and fresh lemon juice. Cilantro perks up the salad with further crunch from sunflower seeds.
The next day, I was sad I had none left and craved it once again… and so the cycle repeats itself!
This is my submission to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to Simple and In Season, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Fridays, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend and to this month’s citrus love blog hop.
Grain bowls are easy to make. Pick a grain, slather with some dressing and top with your favourite veggies, nuts and seeds.
Try to pick a theme: like this sushi bowl with brown rice, topped with asparagus, avocado and toasted nori sheets. Or my millet bowl, topped with cooked spinach, leek and toasted pumpkin seeds. Or my more recent Dragon quinoa bowl, topped with roasted veggies in a miso gravy.
This time, I wanted Middle Eastern flavours and picked a broccoli salad as the base and topped it with baked quinoa falafels, finished with a drizzle of a tahini-miso sauce!
Let’s dissect the anatomy of my bowl:
1) Broccoli Base. I prefer lightly steamed broccoli, so I steamed large florets for a short period of time. I cut them into small pieces after they had cooled.
2) Quinoa Falafel from Whole Foods to Thrive. These were definitely the star of the bowl. These baked falafels are made with cooked quinoa and flax and spiced with miso, tahini, nutritional yeast, onion, garlic and oregano. After broiling them, they are nice and crispy on the outside and chewy, yet soft and creamy on the inside, loaded with tons of flavours. I don’t like greasy, dense falafels, so these nuggets were perfect for me.
3) Tahini-Miso Sauce from the Cheesy Broccoli Bowl from Whole Foods to Thrive. The dressing for this salad is addictive, although I wouldn’t call it cheezy. It has a more pronounced tahini-miso flavour but still delicious. I opted to toss half the dressing with the broccoli and reserved half for the falafel. I preferred the dressing when I could taste it in large amounts, so next time I may not even dress the broccoli and simply drizzle it overtop prior to serving.
I follow a lot of food blogs. When I started to use Google Reader, maybe only 6 months ago or so, somehow I effortlessly started reading more and more food blogs. My last count was 232 subscriptions (eek!).
I read blogs for many different reasons: to be inspired by the recipes or techniques; to learn more about ingredients or different ethnic cuisines; and lately to open my culinary repertoire into vegan (and raw) cooking.
Some blogs post tried-and-true recipes, and maybe it is just my poor luck, but sometimes I get lackluster results from other bloggers. It might seem like I have been ragging on her alot recently, I actually adore Angela’s positive message on Oh She Glows. I just haven’t had too much luck with her recipes. I find her overnight oats a bit too liquidy for me, her split pea and spinach soup and white bean pesto dip underflavoured and more recently, her tahini-avocado chickpea salad also lacked spunk. Nothing that I couldn’t fix myself, but you just know you will have to continually assess the dish at every step.
Like a mouse drawn blindly to cheese, I am still tempted by her recipes. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, because I know we share some similar tastes. While I haven’t tried her version, I also adore the Creamy Broccoli Dal from Vegan Yum Yum. I just have to do a lot of tweaking to follow her recipes.
With this in mind, I assessed her Lightened Up Protein Power Goddess Bowl with caution, despite the many positive reviews in the comments. It looked like a wonderful clean-your-fridge recipe, but I knew I wanted to load it up with vegetables. I scaled back the lentils and swapped the spelt berries for bulgur. I doubled the vegetables, used leek instead of onion, added in 2 red bell peppers, some snow peas, tomato and spinach. Because I adore lemon, I increased the lemon flavour by adding in the zest from the lemons as well. With less grains and beans, but more vegetables, I kept the same amount of dressing. Finally, an adapted OSG’s recipe worthy to share!
Here, a zippy creamy sauce is simmered with the vegetable medley that is speckled with lentils. The black lentils hold their shape well, as do the French du Puy lentils, which would also work great here. Green lentils would also work ok. I was lucky to have a leftover leek waiting in the fridge, but onions or shallots could also be used. For the vegetables, pick your favourites but I liked that the fresh tomatoes, with their juices, deglazed the pan nicely. Serve with your choice of grain, mixed into the skillet or served on the side.
Returning from vacation the day before you return to work is not a good idea. Jet-lag was one reason it took me so long to get back into the groove after returning from Iceland.
Thankfully, I was forward-thinking and froze a bunch of meals before we left. I had dal bhat waiting for me upon my return as well as this delicious Iraqi-Inspired Eggplant and Seitan Stew from Susan at Fat Free Vegan.
Just like dal bhat, this was a savoury, comforting stew. Filled with warming spices like nutmeg, smoked paprika, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin and cardamom, you have a winning combination with silky yellow split peas and chunks of seitan in a pomegranate-infused sauce. I modified it only slightly by using liquid smoke and substituting Aleppo chili flakes for the larger chilies.
I have made seitan, or wheat meat, once before as chorizo sausages. This recipe is neat because you make a batch of seitan specifically for this recipe. The results are chewy nuggets admixed within the cooked eggplant and split peas. A nice play of textures with a definite protein boost.
This was a delicious stew to return home to, especially since it was so cold upon our return. Curl up with a bowl of stew any day you need some a virtual warm hug from a bowl.
While Rob snacked on the local Icelandic delicacies including sweet rye bread, fish and lamb (not the fermented shark meat!), he still thought his best meal was at Glo. I went nearly every day and sometimes he would join in for a meal. His favourite meal was a totally non-Icelandic Moroccan vegetable tagine with couscous. I am still impressed at how wonderful Glo was, considering Iceland has a total of 300,000 people living on the whole island and nearly all produce needs to be imported.
I was warned that I may only find tomatoes and cucumbers in the grocery stores, but trust me, there was much than that available. There were lots of (although at times underripe) fruit at my breakfast buffet in Rekjavik, and the veggies were unparalleled at Glo. In the rural areas, the food was a bit more slim picking, but I had stocked up while in the city. Glo even sells day bags, where you can buy 3 raw meals encompassing breakfast, lunch and dinner with juice and snacks. All for the same price as a fancy dinner Rob would enjoy.
There were some traditional Icelandic products that I enjoyed. They have some fabulous homegrown herbal teas and I brought some home. We also spotted some new Yogi teas, including a delicious Aztec Sweet Chili and Mayan Cocoa Spice that we’ve already finished (eek!). Sadly, I don’t think they even sell them in Canada.
In anticipation of not finding much to eat, I made another batch of hummus for the trip.
A creamy tahini-based hummus is given the royal treatment with red pepper and pomegranate molasses. Muhammara meets hummus.
While I am happy to have found a new recipe for my red pepper paste, substitute a roasted red pepper for the red pepper paste. The paste is just so much easier since it comes out of a jar.
And yes, pomegranate molasses makes the world so much tastier.
This is my submission to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.
Hummus, hummus, hummus….
So many different recipes, why even bother following one?
That’s how Rob thinks… and my Mom…
Me, I like to follow recipes.. This way I know I have reproducible results. Not a one-hit wonder.
In fact, my Mom made this first, following the low-fat recipe from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth. My family devoured it. My Dad said he’d gladly eat it any time.
The next time my Mom made hummus, she ad-libbed it. It wasn’t the same.
The hummus looked the same, but it wasn’t as bright and flavourful. It wasn’t as creamy. It just wasn’t as good.
And to be honest, this photo doesn’t match my recipe (it is still hummus, though!). I didn’t even photograph the party hummus, because why would I blog yet another hummus recipe? Well, let’s just say there was no hummus left by the end of the party and I had a few recipe requests. That doesn’t happen very often for traditional hummus. Healthy, lower fat hummus, at that.
My mom thinks this vegan stuff is just a phase. Just as I go through other phases in my cooking, she tried to rationalize. She explained that first I was into cooking Japanese after my trip to Japan (all those soba noodles, Janet!), then Middle Eastern after visiting Turkey and Moroccan after my trip to Morocco. Each time, I venture into new cookbooks, find new spices, but truly, I incorporate everything I learn into all my meals. New ingredients, new flavours and new techniques.. it is all a learning process, as life should be. And yes, my pantry continues to gather new and exciting staples.
Granted, I can only eat so much, so I might tackle different cuisines in spurts. A little of Morocco here, a side trip to Brazil here, a quick jet to Egypt and then returning back to Japan. In these around-the-world culinary experiences, sometimes I forget how much I like certain ingredients. Case in point: miso. Last year, I bought miso for the first time to make baked eggplant with miso, which I adored at restos and could easily make at home. I also made miso-crusted black cod and a few other dishes which were great but then I went to Turkey… and forgot about miso.
Until, I made a Japanese winter stew with a miso-based broth. That kick-started it again. Loved it. It wasn’t the star of the meal, but it added an extra dimension. Then I made the orange-beet soup that had an extra twist from the miso. Followed up by the exquisitely delicious zesty orange cashew spread, I knew I had rediscovered an old favourite ingredient.
Plus, the great thing about miso is that I still had the same package from last year. It keeps forever in your fridge!! Discover it, forget about it, but let yourself rediscover it as you clean out your fridge.
I made this for Rob’s birthday, which had a Japanese-theme for his meal, and I loved it as an Asian spin on hummus. You use creamy edamame instead of chickpeas, but you still have lots of garlic and tahini for the prototypical hummus flavour. Instead of traditional lemon juice, lime juice is used. Throw in some spinach for some greenery, and you have a healthy, delicious dip.
It is not just a hummus made with edamame. I had the Trader Joe’s edamame hummus after eating this dip and was sorely disappointed – where was the miso?
It is creamy, smooth, salty with a bit of zip. Without knowing the ingredients, it is hard to place the flavours exactly, but you know it tastes great. Serve it with veggies, pita bread, or as a spread for a sandwich.