janet @ the taste space

Archive for the ‘Favourites’ Category

Coconut Chana Saag

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on December 23, 2014 at 7:39 AM

Coconut Chana Saag

I had all the best intentions of sharing a chocolate-based recipe this week. Sadly, not one but two recipes were a flop. How could that possibly be? One we had to throw out it was that bad but the other will still be happily eaten.

This will be a quick post to share another of my favourite repeater recipes from this year: Isa’s Coconut Chana Saag. I am still not sure why it looks like most of the curries I share, but this one is flippin fantastic. Perhaps the touch of fennel brought it to the next level? In any case, it is delicious and highly recommended.

While most people might be on holidays already (Rob is!!), I get 2 out of 3 statutory holidays off and otherwise working through the remainder of the days. Rob thinks I am working too much but I try to reassure him that this way I save my vacation for our honeymoon.

I may pop back in with a few quickie posts but if not, best wishes for the new year and happy holidays. :)

Coconut Chana Saag

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.

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Sesame Wow Greens (A Spin on Oshitashi) + Vegan Eats World Giveaway

In Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on December 14, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Sesame Wow Greens from Vegan Eats World

Another oldie but goodie. I have been waiting to share this for a while. And now that I think about it, while the flavours are not holiday-themed, they are quite festive and cute as little mounds of green. A fabulous way to eat your greens: slightly sweetened, with a nice hit of vinegar, balanced by a homemade tahini paste and a touch of heat.

Sesame Wow Greens from Vegan Eats World

Courtesy of Terry Hope Romero’sVegan Eats World, I have told you about it before. Earlier this year, it was re-released as a paperback. Exactly the same as the original (sadly, including the subpar index) but it reminded me of some of my favourite recipes (Rob loves the Ethiopian lentils) and a lot more I still have bookmarked. With 300 recipes, this is a treasure trove of international recipes with a creative twist from Terry.

While I have many favourites from the book, the Smoky Sauerkraut Mushroom Soup (Shchi) is still one of my favourites we both really like the breakfast spin on bahn mi, I thought it was great to share a quick and easy way to add more greens to your meals. I have only ever made this with spinach, as is more traditional, you could also try chard, kale and collard greens. You no longer have an excuse when you come home with vibrant greens and uncertain how to cook them. If you don’t like leafy greens altogether, I suggest trying this similar dish which is Braised Tempeh with Green Beans in a Sesame Sauce. It is a bit more lemony but still very good.

Sesame Wow Greens from Vegan Eats World

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite international cuisine. The winner will be selected at random on December 20, 2014. Good luck!

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Balsamic-Maple Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potato & Giveaway for But I Could Never Go Vegan!

In Book Review, Favourites, Sides on December 4, 2014 at 7:24 AM

But I Could Never Go Vegan.Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Rob is away this week for work. He likes to update me on his day-to-day life…. like what they serve for breakfast at work, especially when it is unusual like Brussels sprouts. I would be excited about that, too! I have had Brussels for breakfast once, when we used them in this curried dill tofu scramble. Turns out I had just made Brussels sprouts as a vegetable side and it was so good, I could possibly consider eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I mean it includes all good things: roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potato, both in a sticky tangy-sweet glaze courtesy of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. I like how the nutritional yeast adds a tackiness to the marinade and thickens it up, helping it to coat all the vegetables. I opted to skip the dried cranberries and I excluded them purely on principle. I had a sneaking suspicion that fresh/frozen cranberries would be surreal in here. I included them in this Balsamic Curry Roasted Vegetable dish and their tart juiciness would have complemented the dish well.

Kristy's Balsamic-Maple Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes

The recipe is courtesy of Kristy’s new cookbook, But I Could Never Go Vegan!I have been a long-time reader of her blog, where Kristy creates the creative recipes and her husband, Chris Turner, takes the most gorgeous photos. (You totally know he gets the credit for the top photo).

Kristy’s book is a cute foray into vegan cuisine. She aims to convince you that will not be lacking anything while munching vegan-style. Each chapter was created with recipes targetted to bust vegan myths: All Those Special Ingredients are Way More Expensive; I Could Never Give Up Cheese!; Where Would I Get My Protein?; Tofu Doesn’t Taste Like Anything; Vegan Cooking is Too Hard; Where’s the Beef?; Just Thinking about Salad Makes Me Yawn; What About Brunch?; Fake “Foods” Freak Me Out; It’s All Rabbit Food; Not Soup Again!; I’d Miss Pizza; Can’t I Be Pescatarian Instead?; My Friends Won’t Want to Come Over for Dinner; No Way. I’m Italian (or Southern/German/Mexican/French); But I Hate (Insert Vegetable Here); I Don’t Want to be Left Out at Potlucks and Family Get-Togethers; You Can’t Bake Without Butter Or Eggs; Wait, Is Chocolate Vegan?; But I Scream for Ice Cream.

Yeah, she definitely covers her bases! Her recipes span the simple and easy (see below) but also mostly on the elaborate side: Potato Sauerkraut Soup with Sausage Crumbles, Buffalo Cauliflower Calzones with Cashew Blue Cheese, Pretzel Dumplings with Mushroom-Sauerkraut Gravy; Salisbury Seitan Phyllo Pouches with Rosemary Mashed Potatoes. I may be wrong but I only recognize a few recipes from her blog: Spinach Artichoke Soup, Chickpea Sloppy Joes and Jackfruit Tuna Salad Sandwich. There may be others, but those were the ones I recognized and previously bookmarked. These sprouts and sweets are similar (and likely improved) from her Cheesy Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli dish. I am certainly looking forward to cooking through these recipes. One can not help but to be inspired by the photography and recipes.

Recipes spotted elsewhere:

(Vegan) BBQ Bacon Burgers

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Kristy's Balsamic-Maple Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about the hardest that prevents (or used to prevent you) from becoming vegan. The winner will be selected at random on December 15, 2014. Good luck!

I am sharing this with Shaheen’s Eat Your Greens and Virtual Vegan Potluck.

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Thug Kitchen’s Pumpkin Chili

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on November 25, 2014 at 8:12 AM

Thug Kitchen's Pumpkin Chili

Thug Kitchen is probably the most controversial vegan cookbook. Penned by the authors of the similarly named blog, I never followed it because I did not find their language amusing. OK, sometimes it made me smile and I like how it tries to show how simple and easy homemade food can be, and yes, it is all vegan. I will admit that I was curious about their cookbook, but instead of tracking it down, I hunted for online recipes. This was the first I made and really liked it.

Thug Kitchen's Pumpkin Chili

I am no stranger to pumpkin chili (previous version here). I don’t know why but pumpkin puree works seamlessly in chili to create a silky broth. Both version were great but I found this one lighter in flavour since it used canned tomatoes instead of tomato paste and this one had the perfect amount of heat. Furthermore, this one was a bean-centric chili and I cooked up some of Rancho Gordo’s bayo chocolate beans. I was really enticed to use them with a name like that! Turns out it is called chocolate based on their colour, not their flavour. When Rob bought them, he was told they had the consistency of fudge. Not so true, but they have a lovely firmness that lended well to this chili. Small red kidney beans would also work well here.

While I made the chili, Rob made the arepas. What a wonderful weekend meal. Enjoy!

PS. If you are interested in being way more amused with a recipe than when I write them, definitely check out the original version here. Possibly the funniest disclaimer ever: If you try to make this chili with pumpkin pie filling, don’t complain about how f*cked up it tastes. You did that dumb sh*t yourself.

Thug Kitchen's Pumpkin Chili

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays and  Bookmarked Recipes.

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Baba’s Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

In Favourites, Mains (Meat) on November 11, 2014 at 7:05 AM

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

This post is almost 5 years in the making. Before there were tamale and mustard tasting parties, pierogi parties have been a long tradition.  One reason I became interested in cooking and blogging was to learn and share our family recipes. Hand’s down, my most popular post is How to Make Authentic German Apfelstrudel and I photographed this almost 5 years ago, wanting share our family’s favourite Ukrainian food: perogies.

This is how my family makes perogies. They are not vegan although my Dad said he might try Isa’s vegan recipe next time. I did not know I could be competitive about perogies until I was invited to a perogie party when I first met Rob. As his family is Polish, he was obviously making them differently (most notably his family uses cheese and uses butter and a special pierogi flour). I am partial to our methods and simple recipe and encourage you to follow along.

First you boil your potatoes:

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

Fry your bacon. Remove and drain.

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

Fry your onions.

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

Mash the potatoes with the bacon and onions. The filling can be then set aside until needed.

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

The dough is a simple combination of flour, eggs, a dash of oil and water. My Dad is adamant that we must roll out each pierogi dough individually, because that was how Baba did it. Rob’s technique is to roll out the entire dough and use a metal can (as a cookie cutter) for identical shapes.

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

In any case, we rolled them out until very thin.

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

And it is ok if they are not perfectly symmetrical

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

Put a bit of the potato mixture inside the dough

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

Then add some more and centre it.

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

Stretch the dough so it you can pull it overtop the pierogi.

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

Pinch the tops so it stays shut.

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

Work your way on one half

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

Until it is sealed on one side, then seal the second half.

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

Then go over it again to make sure it is completely sealed (exploded perogies are no good)

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

As you make them, place them on a towel and cover with another damp towel so they do not dry out.

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

When you get going, you will make a lot. This is what we had made during the second day.

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

Fresh perogies are best boiled and served simply with sour cream.

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

You can freeze them after boiling them.

Baba's Traditional Ukrainian Pierogies

If you prefer videos, this one is pretty good although slightly different than our technique.

If nothing else, I hope you like the photos of my Dad’s fingers making the perogies. I like the lighting and detail and feel it captures a lot of character.

Are there any family recipes you truly cherish?

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Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on November 6, 2014 at 7:28 AM

Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Even for me, this recipe seems a bit long and bothersome. However, I implore to try it out.

Let’s break this recipe down so it is not too daunting. Thankfully, even the sweet potato coconut mash topping could stand-alone on a Thanksgiving spread.

Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

First, start with roasting your sweet potatoes. I honestly would have double next time. I would not judge you if the potatoes never made it to the shepherd’s pie.

I started with my favourite recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Low and Slow) which coaxes and highlights their natural sweetness. I made them the night before so this recipe would work fabulously with leftover roasted sweet potatoes, too. Despite roasting 3 big potatoes, I wanted more volume. I ran out of drinkable non-dairy milks so I grabbed a can of lite coconut milk. Just a touch whipped into the spuds created a silky sweet puree. Inspired by Candle Cafe’s Paradise Casserole’s mash, I added some miso as well. You could stop right here with a delicious side.

Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Let’s pretend you still want to make the whole shepherd’s pie, though. I used a mix of beans, which along with carrot, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes had a nice texture. Balsamic vinegar and nutritional yeast added a nice depth and if you have red wine, that would work well here, too. I used a pressure cooker for my lentils, overcooking them slightly, but this was a great way to use them. I also slightly overcooked my butter beans (pressure cooker equilibration issues) but the butter beans were a fantastic counterfoil to the smaller bits. They don’t call them butter beans for nothing. Rancho Gordo’s Florida butter beans were silky smooth, almost like butter! :P

I tried to have a good sweet potato-mash to filling ratio, with a decent height with the mash. I chose a smaller but high casserole dish, as opposed to a 9×13″ pan. I think it worked out really well. The sweet potato mash makes this a less traditional shepherd’s pie but since it is vegan, can I really claim any authenticity?

Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes and My Legume Love Affair.

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Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Fried Capers and Pickled Currants

In Favourites, Salads on October 16, 2014 at 7:18 AM

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Fried Capers and Pickled Currants

Welcome to my latest obsession: fried capers.

If you have yet to try them yet, try to imagine how they would taste. Crunchy, salty little nibbles. It surprised me how much they taste like popcorn, I kid you not. Combined with the pickled currants (tart and sweet), and the avocado (creamy!), this salad was perfectly balanced. I know I say that a lot here, but this salad rises above its peers. It could possibly be my best salad of the year. I thought my Cali-Coco BLT Salad was the best so far, but this week I switched allegiances. It could possibly usurp the former champion, crowned in 2011: The New Best Salad Ever aka Roasted Garlic Tofu Salad with Cilantro Rice, Black Beans and a Mango Salsa.

I am no stranger to quick pickled dried fruits, but the benefit of pickling dried currants instead of raisins, is that you don’t get the goopy juicy raisins that don’t particularly appeal to me.

My inspiration for this fascinating combination was the ever-fabulous Deb of Smitten Kitchen, although I changed many things, including adding the much maligned leafy greens. I also chose to roast my cauliflower and added the fantastically creamy avocado. I look forward to trying her riced fresh cauliflower in the warmer months. The fried capers? Completely her idea. Her poetic prose made me stock up on capers pronto:

Crispy fried capers are one of my favorite garnishes, ever. They are way more interesting than bacon bits — yes, I said it. When you drop capers (that you’ve patted out on paper towels as best as possible) in a little puddle of oil, magical things happen — their layers curl out and crisp, like the world’s tiniest blooming onion. Like all fried, crunchy things, they don’t keep long under the weight of dressing; I recommend adding them only right before serving. I usually use brined capers for this, but both brined and salt-packed will work.

Um yeah, totally try them out. Please.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Fried Capers and Pickled Currants

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays, Virtual Vegan Potluck and Simple and In Season.

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Cali-Coco BLT Quinoa Salad

In Favourites, Salads on October 9, 2014 at 7:20 AM

Cali-Coco BLT Quinoa Salad

You are too nice. I ran into the same low-light problem when photographing this salad after work. I wanted my standard front view and top view, but it was too blurry and grainy to work. I suppose that is when fun filters hide photographer faults? ;)

In any case, I decided the salad was too sweet not to share. Who knows how long my avocados will keep!

Cali-Coco BLT Quinoa Salad

My inspiration came from a meal I shared with Gabby at a hipster restaurant with a few vegan-friendly options. They veganized their Cali-Coco BLT sandwich which had a thick layer of sliced avocado, coconut bacon, tomato, arugula and vegan mayonnaise on a ciabatta bun.  Apparently, avocado + BLT = a California BLT. I also had a side of dal frites (yes a curry and fries poutine!), which was positively too much food.

I was still excited about recreating this at home, though. Unsweetened coconut chips were tricky to locate but my Mom helped locate these wonderfully shaped coconut slices. I am used to smaller coconut chips, so this was great. While I used mine with a salad, I think these bigger pieces would work better in sandwiches, too.

Handi Coconut Slice

I used my previous recipe for coconut bacon, added half an avocado, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a mound of arugula and then fortified it with cooked quinoa and smoked tofu. Rob thinks the smoked tofu looks like cheese, but I swear it is not. Mash up the avocado with each bite but I will admit I scooped a bit of garlic-infused mayo aioli with each bite as a quasi dressing. Delicious!

Now who wants a dal frites recreation? I am trying to convince Rob to combine our favourite beer-soaked fries with dal bhat!

Cali-Coco BLT Quinoa Salad
I am sharing this with this month’s No Croutons Required, Healthy Vegan FridaysSouper Sundays, Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck and Elizabeth’s No Waste Challenge. Read the rest of this entry »

Abby’s Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan-Oat Crust

In Desserts, Favourites on September 30, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Abby's Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan-Oat Crust

While it still feels like summer in Toronto, it is hard to believe Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. And as I was writing up my recipe for raw macadamia vanilla cream, I realized I never shared this fabulous recipe with you.

It still makes me smile that one of my co-workers, Abby, made a vegan and gluten-free pumpkin pie with me in mind for last year’s Thanksgiving.  Abby graciously let me take home all the leftovers which I enjoyed. Sadly, I was hoping to get better photos. I don’t think these do it any justice but figured I should still share the great recipe with you.

Abby's Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan-Oat Crust

Pumpkin pies are ubiquitous in the US around Thanksgiving but this pie was better than your traditional fare. A mixture of both pumpkin and sweet potato purees with a custard texture from tofu worked really well here. It was perfectly sweetened with a hint of savoury notes from the cinnamon and nutmeg. The recipe will make more filling than you need for one pie, which might work out nicely if you have a vegan friend who really wants all the leftovers. ;)

The crust was awesome, too, just a bit on the brown side, but with a spiced pecan background that worked well with the pumpkin pie.  As I pay more attention to the recipe, it looks like Abby took some inspiration for the crust from my pecan-shortbread crust I used with a lemon-cheesecake. You may not even need to pre-bake the crust like Abby did, so keep that in mind.

Are you ready for fall yet?

Abby's Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan-Oat Crust

I am sharing this with Simple and In Season and the Virtual Vegan Link-Up. Read the rest of this entry »

South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce (Tomato-Free)

In Favourites, Sides on September 23, 2014 at 6:54 AM

South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce

WOAH! Stop the presses. Where have you been all my life?

No seriously.

I always thought barbecue sauces were tomato-based. This barbecue sauce has no tomato in sight. Instead, the base is from mustard and vinegar. It is amazing what a little blackstrap molasses can do to herald a sauce into the barbecue family.

The ultimate barbecue sauce is probably a very touchy/personal topic for many, especially in the US, with each region having their own spin on their special sauce for grilling. While in Texas, I didn’t go for barbecue, but I seem to be homesick for my time in Houston and bringing the barbecue back to Toronto.

However, this is not Texas-style barbecue sauce, it hails from South Carolina. Mustard-loving Germans added a barbecue twist to their local sauce and it is wonderful. Not too sweet, a heavy hand with the vinegar and a perfect punch from the savoury spices. A perfect mix for me and my love of all things mustard.

I haven’t quite decided what to do with this sauce yet. I was originally going to toss it with some tofu and veggies and then bake it, but now all I want to do is keep it. Why use that all in one go?

What is your favourite barbecue sauce and what do you like to do with it?

PS. I am sharing this with Credit Crunch Munch and this week’s Virtual Vegan Potluck.

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Roasted Creole Cauliflower

In Favourites, Sides on August 7, 2014 at 6:31 AM

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

I spoke too soon.

You know when you plan for something, know you won’t be having internet for a while and schedule a post about what life will be like (because you planned for it to be as so)?

Well, let’s just say I planned to have a semi-functioning household. En route to our new home in Toronto, packed to the brim with loaner things (you know, all the necessities: an inflatable bed, sheets, cutlery, pot, frypan, containers and all that food you made for the following week so you wouldn’t actually have to cook..), an hour and half into our trip from Ottawa, my car breaks down. We pulled off to the side of the 401 as my dashboard went bonkers and the engine stopped working.

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

I pulled out my cell phone. Three days earlier I had finally signed up for service. Although, looking down, my phone told me I had no service. (Bad WIND!) Not good.

Thank goodness Rob’s phone still worked, despite roaming and despite me previously draining the battery surfing the internet.

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

Frantic phone calls eventually got my brother and pregnant sister-in-law to my side who had the rational idea to tow the car back to Ottawa and they would drive Rob and I along with a few essentials.

We called CAA/AAA with my brother’s charged phone, despite being on hold and having dropped calls, only to find out our membership expired last month (GAH!). Membership offices are closed because it is a holiday.

We contact my Mom, who has a CAA membership and she offered to come down and help out. We knew it would be at least 90 minutes for her to arrive.

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

We start rearranging luggage on the side of the highway. Non-essentials in the dead car. Essentials in my brother’s. I had to make quick decisions: clothes and underwear keep, inflatable bed keep (but forgot the pump and sheets!) and also realized there was no room for all of the packed food and the container with all the helpful bits (pot, pan, knives, etc).

An OPP police officer pulls over and asks us what was going on. It must be such a sight with all of us scurrying around, including a pregnant woman and someone with crutches. He calls a tow truck to remove us from harm’s way and told us to be careful (turns out someone had died earlier that day after exiting their car).

Not too long afterwards, the tow truck arrives. The car is loaded onto the flatbed truck and brought to the closest safe location as we patiently wait for my mother to arrive.

Eventually, my Mom is able to call CAA for us and she returns with the car back to Ottawa. My brother drops us off in our new empty home. (Kind soul, he actually waited with us for 30 minutes as we waited for our landlord to give us the keys). We forgot we have no microwave.

Once we’re somewhat settled, Rob runs off to the grocery store since we have zero food. And no tokens for the bus to get to work tomorrow. He comes back loaded with groceries. We quickly eat the ready-made salads and hummus.

I ask for his can opener for the beans. (Because salsa+beans=meal).  It is in the bag that went back to Ottawa. GAH.

I subsequently call up a friend and we cobble together some kitchen necessities to borrow: cutlery, can opener, bowls and plates. And a pot!

We collapse on the inflatable bed. Exhausted but at the same time basking in the love and support from family and friends. Ready for me to start my first day at work.*

*With my vacation clothes I packed for Africa.

*

If you are here for the lovely recipe instead of the dramatic life of Janet (I can’t make this up!), this was made while I still lived in Houston. This was our go-to roasted cauliflower recipe. A tomato base with a savoury spice blend. The original recipe was for a raw version, using the dehydrator, but we have been using tomato paste and the oven since it is both delicious and simple. A great side with lots of flavour.

Perhaps in a week or so I will be back to normal. Have you ever felt like the universe was pushing against you?

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes and Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck. Read the rest of this entry »

Watermelon Mint Frosty

In Drinks, Favourites on July 8, 2014 at 7:01 AM

Watermelon Mint Frosty

Last year, I was all over the strawberry cucumber smoothie. I drank it for weeks straight. Banana-less, the strawberries provided enough  sweetness and contrasted against the cooling cucumber.

This year, I went more simple: frozen watermelon and mint. Lime juice is optional, mainly because I think it would be fabulous, but right now our limes are very sad so I didn’t get very much juice at all.

Watermelon Mint Frosty

By using watermelon that has been pre-frozen, this is a quick and cooling drink. The hint of mint is a nice contrast without overpowering the drink.

Depending on the sweetness of your watermelon (and your tastes), will depends how much sweetener you would like to add.

What are your favourite summer drinks?

PS.  Another nice version is this pineapple-mint frothy!

Watermelon Mint Frosty

I am sharing this with Cooking with Herbs, Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.
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Classic Cheesy Kale Chips & Choosing Raw Cookbook Review+Giveaway

In Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on July 1, 2014 at 7:56 AM

Classic Cheesy Kale Chips (Choosing Raw)

It is my pleasure to share with you Gena Hamshaw’s new cookbook, Choosing Raw. Named after her widely popular food blog, her simple, bright and healthy recipes shine through onto paper. Full disclosure, I have loved Gena’s recipes ever since I discovered her blog (and her infamous banana soft serve recipe). My previous gushings can be seen here and here and I was thrilled when Gena asked me to be a tester for her cookbook. The best part of help her test the recipes? She actually cared about my feedback beyond recipe bloopers, making this a truly phenomenal cookbook.

Just as her blog attests, the recipes are fresh and flavourful. All vegan, some raw, some cooked, some mixed, some with options for either raw or cooked. You might think you recognize some of the recipes from her blog, but they have all been reworked and rewritten based on reader feedback. With 125 recipes, spanning essential foundation recipes (including cashew cheese, chocomole, banana soft serve, lemon turmeric vinaigrette, ginger miso dressing and hemp parmesan) and breakfasts, meals and desserts separated based on the degree of raw components and familiarity to traditional meals. She includes a primer on making meal-sized salads, including a Dinosaur Kale and White Bean Caesar Salad and a Raw Cobb Salad with Eggplant Bacon.

Choosing Raw Cookbook Review

Gena’s level 1 or introductory recipes are truly tried-and-true. Breakfasts options include the (delicious!) Raw Vegan Bircher Muesli, and (even more delicious!!) Chickpea Tofu Tahini Scramble. Gena has different suggestions for lunch and dinner (for me, lunch is always dinner in leftover form) and I can highly recommend both her Curried Chickpea and Carrot Salad and Easy Red Lentil Sweet Potato and Coconut Curry.

Slowly, Gena encourages you to branch out from the familiar with a hybrid of new and old. Her Avocado Black Bean Scramble was fresh and bright, the Raw Falafels have a carrot base which was the first falafel recipe I liked, and I love that her Raw Pad Thai actually includes tamarind (although I recommend adding more tamarind… because, that’s just the way we like it!). The Pumpkin Quinoa Risotto with Pomegranate Seeds was a fun twist for an autumn side, although I added chickpeas for a heartier meal.

Within her level 3 recipes (aka Brave New World), Gena introduces you to chocolate açaí bowls, jicama fiesta rice salad, raw corn chowder, and coconut curry kelp noodles. From this chapter, I highly recommend the Zucchini Pasta with Mango, Avocado and Black Bean Salsa (I substituted peaches which was still glorious) and her Raw or Cooked Ratatouille.

Desserts are typically the star of raw cuisine, and her recipes do not disappoint. Her Simple Raw Vanilla Macaroons are flawless and her Raw Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting is spot-on. I cannot wait to try other dishes like her Cherry Vanilla Tahini Ice Cream (no ice cream machine required!) and her No-Bake Tartlets with Raw Vegan Chocolate Ganache Filling has been on my hitlist for a long time.

Choosing Raw Cookbook Review

For me, the most important part of a cookbook are the recipes (and the index so I can find the recipes), but the recipes are only a portion of Gena’s book. Her first chapters explain “The Why”, “The What” and “The How” of a eating a vegan diet that includes raw. Normally I skip over these sections, but Gena makes these sections practical, useful and insightful with her background in nutrition. Finally, a raw cookbook that tells you the theory of keeping your food “enzymes” intact will all get decimated in your stomach’s harsh acidic environment anyhow. Likewise, her focus is on nutrients from a plant-based diet.

Gena explains how to properly balance your meals, explaining the importance of fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. She debunks myths including “Eating spinach raw is bad for you because it blocks the absorption of nutrients”, “Soy disrupts hormones, causes breast cancer and should be avoided”, “You should always eat fruit alone and on an empty stomach”, and “It’s essential to separate proteins and starches, because they require different digestive environments and will cause bloating if you eat them together”. To top it off, there are 21 days of worth of meal plans along with tips on how to transition to a vegan diet.

Classic Cheesy Kale Chips (Choosing Raw)

For this review, I had a hard time deciding which recipe to highlight. I decided to share her Classic Cheezy Kale Chips. The mixture of cashews, red bell pepper, nutritional yeast and miso coat the kale leaves which are dehydrated until they are crispy and flavourful. I don’t usually bother with pretty photos while recipe testing, and I had good intentions of taking better photos. Until I ate all the chips. And then they were all gone. They were incredibly addictive.

Gena also has a higher protein kale chip that I am dying to try: Hummus Kale Chips (made with chickpeas)!

Classic Cheesy Kale Chips (Choosing Raw)

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

Other recipes from Choosing Raw shared elsewhere:

Green Herb Dressing

Plant Protein Shake

Asparagus Quinoa Sushi Rolls

Zucchini Pasta with Quinoa Meatballs

Raw Carrot Falafels

Hemp Seed Tabouli with Yellow Tomatoes and Mint

Curried Chickpea and Carrot Salad

Zucchini Pasta with Mango, Avocado and Black Bean Salsa

Raw or Cooked Ratatouille

Easy Lentil, Sweet Potato & Coconut Curry

Heat-Free Lentil and Walnut Tacos

Raw Corn Salsa

Sunflower Seed Pate

Root “Rawvioli” with Nut Cheese and Pesto

Quinoa Breakfast Pudding

Avocado Black Bean Breakfast Scramble

Raw Bircher Muesli

Raw Cashew Banana Yogurt

Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream

Burnt Sugar Coconut Ice Cream

Coconutty for Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fig Bars

Raw Key Lime Pie

Raw Peach Cobbler
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Toor Dal Curry with Spinach (Toor Palak Dal)

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on June 24, 2014 at 6:29 AM

Toor Dal with Spinach (Toor Palak Dal)

Time is a-ticking. Less than a week left in Houston. We have been balancing DO.ALL.THE.THINGS left to do in Houston and DO.ALL.THE.PACKING. Lots of pantry-friendly meals this month as we eat through our kitchen.

We stopped replenishing the red lentils months ago and begrudgingly started eating through the toor dal. Not that we don’t love it (WE LOVE TOOR DAL) but it just takes longer to cook and time is something we are lacking right now.

We left a few Houston must-dos until the end. I finally went to the NASA Space Center, lured by a private tour by an astronaut. An astronaut with a PhD in Cancer Biology, which was right up my alley, as she explained the medical complications of space travel. And let us touch and feel the space stuff. But not wear the space suits, sadly. Astronauts ARE a science experiment in themselves, did you know? They also do deadlifts and squats in space to maintain their bone density.

We also went to Chinatown to eat at one of the rival Malaysian restaurants, complete with the suggested one-hour foot massage for only $20-25 at the neighbouring reflexology spas. It is the thing to do, I swear.

That experience was also our first (and hopefully last) experience with Houston rush hour traffic.

Also, kudos to the American pharmacies. “Yellow Fever Vaccine Now Here”. I can easily obtain travel immunizations without an appointment or a puncture fee. Vaccines tend to be controversial but it is not controversial for me: I would rather not get infected.  So I finally got my hepatitis A shots and re-immunized myself against typhoid for my upcoming vacation.

So, about this curry. It is simple, yet delicious. Lightly spices with all the great Indian spices (cumin, coriander, garam masala) and lightened with a splash of lemon juice, it is a nice hearty meal. An easy way to easily add more spinach, too.

I haven’t really gone into too much detail why I am pro-vaccine (the main reason is the ability to prevent serious diseases, some of which are incurable, which I believe outweighs the potential side effects from receiving the vaccine). Do you have strong opinions either way?

Toor Dal with Spinach (Toor Palak Dal)

PS. I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes, Eat Your Greens, The Spice Trail for Spinach, and In My Veg Box.

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Quick & Easy Salsa Chickpea Tacos

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on June 7, 2014 at 6:58 AM

Salsa Chickpea Tacos

Did you know that Trader Joe’s is not in Canada? The closest thing we have (well, those who live in Vancouver) is Pirate Joe’s. They temporarily renamed themselves Irate Joe’s as they were being sued by TJ’s. TJ’s lost but is continuing to appeal. In any case, we’re getting our fair use of TJ’s while still in Houston.

Sadly, though, it took me 10 months to locate their perfect salsa. Their chunky salsa is totally my favourite. Perfectly spiced with a robust tomato flavour, I love it. I also managed to go through a container in less than a week.  I started adding it to everything.

In fact, this is such an easy recipe, it is almost non-recipe. I envision this as the perfect travelling meal – mix and eat. Until then, it will have a happy place in my kitchen.

Mix some salsa with chickpeas and chopped bell pepper. Throw it overtop some shredded broccoli and carrots for more crunch on a taco shell, and you’ve got a meal.  I topped mine with a healthy dose of nutritional yeast which became creamy and gooey with the extra salsa. Totally not optional for those who love nooch.

I may go into salsa withdrawal. Can anyone recommend a good recipe? I cannot imagine it being hard to make. ;)

Salsa Chickpea Tacos

PS. I am sharing this with Souper Sundays and this month’s My Legume Love Affair hosted by Susan. Read the rest of this entry »