Part of the allure for travelling to Madagascar and South Africa, other than the interesting animals (LEMURS! elephants! giraffes! rhinoceroses!) was the plant-life as well. I don’t like to scope out flowers (much) but I was excited to visit a tea plantation. Sadly, we were not in the right areas to visit vanilla plantations (Madagascar is the world’s top producer of vanilla) or cocoa plantations but we serendipitously stumbled upon fields and fields of macadamia trees in South Africa. Turns out South Africa is the second largest producer of macadamia nuts, after Australia where it is indigenous.
So in addition to the chocolate, vanilla pods and tea, Rob allowed me to bring home some macadamia nuts too. A nice change from cashews, they bring a brilliant white to its sauces and possibly more creamy with all its fat. This is great news for those without a high-speed blender: silky sauces are just macadamias away.
While the blogosphere feasts on the beginning of the fall produce (apples, pumpkin and my favourite: brussels sprouts), enjoy this berry-filled salad spruced with mint and topped with a creamy whipped macadamia cream. The vanilla is a pronounced flavour which countered the sweet berries well. Feel free to use it on top of your morning oats (see below), or as part of a parfait, or perhaps, more in keeping with fall, on top of a vegan pumpkin pie or fall-spiced hot beverage (pumpkin latte, pumpkin chai tea or hot chocolate, anyone?).
Are you ready for fall yet?
This is probably my favourite concoction from the remains of my pantry.
I had a vision. I wanted to make corn muffins with masarepa. Cornmeal, polenta, masa harina and masarepa— what are the differences?
Masarepa is unique because it is precooked. We use it all the time for arepas and I love how soft and melt-in-your mouth arepas taste fresh from the oven. Sounds like the perfect recipe for cornbread, no?
My googling did not help. Possibly because arepas ARE Colombia’s (and Venezuela’s) answer to cornbread.
In any case, I cobbled together a few recipes and in the end, just ran with it. Into my batter with masarepa (and masa harina since I finished our stash), I added roasted corn, roasted hatch chiles and roasted red peppers. A bit of sweetener to accentuate the dough, although that may be sacrilegious depending on who you ask (and I am no corn bread expert).
Although I appreciate good food, and this was delicious. Basically a fiesta arepa in muffin form. They didn’t really raise too much. Although this will encourage me to add veggies to our next batch of arepas.
I find experimental baking quite daunting, but these turned out great. Do you ever make non-arepas from masarepa?
I have been meaning to review Hilda’s High Protein Vegan for a while. I bought it last year while exploring more protein-rich ideas (I thought it was a great deal, under $5 for a kindle version). Despite many people poo-pooing protein needs, I have long been a proponent of higher protein intake. This is especially important for active people (see my first rant here). With Carrie’s recent post about Fatigue and the Ex Vegan Phenomenon and Sayward’s older post about low cholesterol and protein on a vegan diet, both highlight the importance of proper nutrition. One needs adequate calories (including protein! and fat!) on a restrictive vegan diet which is naturally high in carbohydrates (see my review of vegan nutrition guides here). Why harp on protein? For me, it can be the most difficult to obtain on a vegan diet.
Eat beans and legumes. That includes tofu. Hilda’s book may be soy-free but soy is ok. Yes, there is protein in vegetables (spinach is almost 50% protein) but you have to eat a lot of vegetables for it to be a meaningful protein source. Whole grains, like quinoa, are ok, too. And when you want a high protein boost, pick something like vital wheat gluten which is basically wheat protein powder. Anyways, enough with the lecture, more about implementing high protein meals.
I like Hilda’s book because it has over 100 recipes with an emphasis on a (soy-free) protein component. All are whole-foods based recipes. Recipes are marked as gluten-free, nightshade-free, nut-free, and onion/garlic-free. Some are low-fat, some are higher fat. She does not call for processed foods like fake meat, cheese or yogurt. The cookbook highlights the gamut of vegan protein selections – beans including chickpea flour, whole grains, nuts and seitan. She even has a soy-free tofu recipe to use in a satay tofu with an almond sauce, cauliflower parmigiana bake, bean and mushroom stroganoff and even pasta alla carbonara. I was most excited about the seitan recipes since I don’t make it nearly enough.
One of the paradoxes about eating vegan is that you explore new foods and increase your food options despite limiting meat and dairy consumption. I had never even heard of käsekrainer or a “kransky” before, let try alone a vegan version. Cheese-stuffed sausages are probably the antithesis of vegan eats but here is a vegan spin on it. An easy, flavourful steamed seitan is filled with a cashew cheese spread. I thought the cheese spread was absolutely delicious and was thrilled I had a bunch leftover. I don’t like nooch-heavy sauces but it was very well balanced. In fact, I preferred the cheese sauce before steaming as it lost its sharp, salty bite once in the sausage.
Certainly, I cannot vouch for its authenticity but I can tell you how it tastes: delicious. I shared it with Rob (who hadn’t had a kransky previously, either) who said it tasted 60% like sausage and 40% like cheese. It was 90% like cheese as the uncooked spread. With my recent infatuation with all things mustard, I thought it was perfect with a side of sauerkraut as well. (With a shout-out to this recipe that led me to finally making homemade sauerkraut successfully!!).
Hilda graciously allowed me to reproduce her recipe (it would have taken me so long to type up!) AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader ANYWHERE in the world! BOOYAH! Please visit her blog and thank her! To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite vegan protein and how you like to prepare it. The winner will be selected at random on March 10, 2014. Good luck!
PS. Here’s a shout out to my latest raw brownie with over 7g of protein per serving without beans/legumes/protein powder. Not enough protein for a meal but I think it is great for a dessert. ;)
This is my submission to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness.
Remember Valentine’s Day? I reneged on my promise to make dessert. Rob had no problem coming up with an alternative. In fact, he was happy when I said I didn’t have the time to make my dessert of choice. He had already planned the whole meal!
The week post-V-Day is always special for us because we celebrate Rob’s birthday and our anniversary, so I eventually made my planned dessert, too. Our stash of avocados were perfectly ripe and could I really ignore an excuse to try out a new coconut flour-based dessert?
I cobbled together a delicious dessert from a few places. The base is inspired by Emma’s Raw Brownies but I topped it with a chocolate avocado frosting, based on my chocolate avocado mousse. To get a firm frosting, I used juicy Medjool dates as the sweetener (with a dash of agave only because I ran out of dates) along with a touch of lemon juice to balance the flavours. Next time, I might try a spiced version with cinnamon and cardamom again (like in my mousse).
Because I smushed this into a springform pan, this is more like a brownie cake. The brownie was delicious and it was amazingly fudgy and moist for a raw/no-cook dessert. Unlike my walnut-based raw brownie, this was lighter in texture due to the coconut flour (but more fudgy than my raw chocolate zucchini muffin). Plus the frosting just sealed the deal: delicious decadence. I highly recommend this. Although make no mistake, this is a decadent and filling treat.
PS. Here’s a shout-out to my Mom who got me a small off-set spatula. Which I totally used to frost the brownies. :)
I swear, I wasn’t planning on sharing yet another dessert. But once I made these (uber wonderfully, possibly, yes, confirmed, the best chocolate I have ever made) treats, I knew I had to share them. Chocolate in January usually doesn’t fly…. and I simply could not wait until Valentine’s Day to share this with you.
But, before I tell you about the chocolates, let me tell you where the recipe hails. While in Montreal last year, I explored a variety of vegan restos. I was initially wooed by Aux Vivres, a vegan resto with cooked foods, and quickly recreated their macro veggie and tempeh bowl and their raw vegan smoked salmon. I also stumbled upon Crudessence, a longstanding raw restaurant and really enjoyed my meal. I was *thisclose* to buying their cookbook. It had the recipes for many of the same dishes I had just eaten and loved at their restaurant: Kombu mojito, raw tiramisu and raw cinnamon buns. Many of their other highly praised dishes are included, such as their Om burger, pad thai, Caesar salad, Tibet fat-free dressing, maki rolls, eggplant bacon, raw parmesan (crumesan), chocolate banana pie, chocolate mouse, lime pie, banana split with chunks of raw brownies, blueberry un-“Cheese”cake and Hippocrates juice.
So why didn’t I buy the cookbook? It was in French only. I can read French but since it is not my first language, it would not be as easy to decipher all the cooking terms. So I put it back.
Fast forward a year and their cookbook has been reprinted in English. Lucky for us, because this is a drop-dead gorgeous cookbook with delicious recipes.
The first recipe I tried were these truffles. In the cookbook, they are called “dark nougat”. I am not entirely sure what nougat is supposed to taste like. I thought it might be kind of chewy and sweet (I am only familiar with the nougat that studs Toblerone bars), but this was nothing of the sort…. it was creamy, smooth and divine. Honestly, I had made the middle of creamy truffles. Akin to the middle of Lindt truffles. YES!! And it was dead simple: whizz all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and then allow to set in the freezer.
I tried to be a bit fancier by freezing them in silicone ice cube trays, but since they were still so creamy after setting, they stuck a bit to the molds. The light dusting of flaked coconut or matcha helped to make them less gooey for your fingers. I was rooting for the pretty matcha-dusted truffles, but they were still a bit bitter for my liking. The coconut-flaked ones were great and if I had enough coordination, the chocolate-and-hazelnut-coated truffles sound incredible. I think these are a bit too fragile to gift, unless you coat them in a hard chocolate shell.
There is one special ingredient for this recipe, I apologize. Lecithin. I plan on writing more about this ingredient in a later post, but I can definitely assure you that it makes the most creamy chocolate to date.
PS. Other recipes shared from RawEssence:
Rob is the King of pad thai. The recipe has been perfected. The secret ingredient has always been love…. and tamarind concentrate! It is Rob’s go-to signature dish whenever we have company. He continues to make it with eggs and rice noodles for guests, but I have tried it sans egg with quinoa or zucchini noodles. Not the same, but good for me. I think kelp noodles will be the real winner, although we haven’t tried it yet.
Go to a raw restaurant and I guarantee you there will be a version of raw pad thai on their menu. But it is not anything like the real version. I prefer Thrive‘s version the most but just because it tastes good. Usually one gets a medley of shredded veggies with or without kelp noodles with a spicy nut-based dressing. It marries the sweet-sour-hot-spicy thing but doesn’t have the magical touch from tamarind.
I actually made this dish with Rob in the summer, life before the spiralizer. It was a raw weekend, because we also made the raw Tropical Mango Pie. After spending the morning finely chopping all the veggies, I think that’s when Rob thought the spiralizer would be a great gift.
So why post this now?
How many of you have random photos from your hard drive pop up as your screensaver? I do. Recently, photos of this dish came up and I remembered how good it was even if it wasn’t real pad thai. With a focus on cruciferous vegetables this month, I really had no excuses not to share this pretty and delicious dish, loaded with 3 cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli!).
Raw cuisine (as opposed to raw food) is all about showcasing something different from “ordinary” vegetables. A play of textures without cooking your foods.
Here, you chop, grate, julienne and otherwise manually spiralize a host of veggies. Pick your favourites but some are more sturdy than others: carrot, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, etc. I opted to buy some broccoli slaw to assist with spiralizing my broccoli for me. ;)
Then you coat them in a spicy-sweet almond sauce: ginger and chili flakes give you some heat, dates and agave confer sweetness, balanced by the sour lemon juice and saltiness from soy sauce. And of course, this all lusciously bathes within creamy almond butter. Add enough water to make a dressing and throw it on your salad. A spicy coleslaw. I didn’t want to mislead you by calling this pad thai. ;)
June has been a busy month.
It started with a trip to Vancouver (where I was so happy to meet up with Ashley!).
Next, there was the bike ride of the century. Or 3.6 (metric) centuries.
Then, the following weekend, there was the move. From separate apartments to a single house. Combining of lives. Living out of boxes and boxes.
The weekend after the move also happened to be my birthday. Apparently, turning 30 is a big deal. Not just any birthday.
Thus, our new home, bricks and mortar only, housed my birthday bash. A small gathering of both immediate families.
My mom was the host, though. She transplanted most of the food, serving dishes and even flowers from her backyard in Ottawa, as we are still unpacking boxes. I can work in my kitchen, but it is not up to its full capacity just yet (where is my second set of measuring spoons?? Or the bicycle chain lube?- not that I need that in the kitchen, btw).
My mom came up with a delicious menu, catering to my “vegan on steroids” diet, as she puts it. I know she is cooking out of her own comfort zone, but she was easily able to combine my bean and grain dishes with meat and dairy-dishes for everyone else.
While Rob and I contributed baklava as a late Father’s day gift for the shindig, since it was for my Dad, I opted not to try a vegan recipe. I went with his favourite Turkish baklava recipe, complete with a pistachio-only filling.
I couldn’t back out of a birthday cake, though. I knew what I wanted: a vegan cheesecake. I have gushed over ones I have eaten at restaurants in town, but had yet to try making it at home. I picked out a recipe and my mom, thankfully, obliged. Her closest Loblaws actually carried all of the ingredients once she started to look (although they were more expensive than what I pay from natural food stores in Toronto, so I will have to hook her up next time). She made it the night before, froze it overnight, and brought it to Toronto in a cooler. Her only change to the recipe was using a 9″ springform pan, but that didn’t change how great it tasted!
Just as I had hoped, this was a delicious cake. Silky, creamy and smooth with a strong burst of raspberry in the cake. This doesn’t taste like cheesecake, but it has a similar consistency. It is not as heavy. Light and fruity. Smooth and creamy. A dreamcake. It needs its own name because it is a shame to even compare it to cheesecake. If you didn’t tell people it was vegan, all they would know is that they were eating a delicious cake. It took longer than half an hour to thaw, but we ate it chilled anyhow. Personally, I preferred it straight from the fridge, when it was more creamy. Thankfully the baklava was a hit, which meant there was more leftover birthday cake for me!! :)
The great thing about this cake? Once you have the ingredients, soak your cashews, you just whip everything in your food processor. No oven required. Freezer space necessary, though. :)
My mom was mad at me the other day.
Because of me, she was buying expensive things in the grocery store.
I know I buy some pricy ingredients, but a little goes a long way. I try not to eat out too often, and find it hard to rationalize the high prices. I could buy so much fresh (expensive) produce, tempeh, and spices for the price of a meal in a restaurant. It can be hard to justify sometimes.
Anyways, back to the mangoes. When I was home last weekend for the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour (aka the ultimate cycle), my mom had picked up some mangoes for breakfast. Rob and I stole some of the extras to fuel us later in the week.
After really enjoying the Chickpea Salad with Mexican Mango Dressing earlier, I wanted to try a variation of the mango dressing with ginger. Earlier, I had bookmarked this tantalizing Thai lettuce wrap with sesame-soy baked tempeh and a zippy mango ginger sauce in The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East (recipe here).
I adapted the recipe slightly, causing it to take more than 30 minutes to make, but I think that steaming tempeh is important. Since steaming in the microwave is so simple, I try not to forget that step.
Initially I was a bit disappointed, because the sauce was really zippy. Almost overpowering, but I was so pleased with the leftovers. Finally, a tempeh dish, a salad at that, that tastes great as leftovers!
First the sauce: fresh mango was pureed with freshly grated ginger, along with lime juice and soy sauce. I also added a touch of chili flakes, but add to taste since the ginger is fairly zingy. I found this mellowed out much better the next day. It still had a kick but not as pungent. Just whirl in your blender and you have a fabulous sauce.
Next, the tempeh is marinaded in a simple sesame oil and soy sauce marinade, and feel free to marinade it as long as possible. I was only able to marinade it for 5 minutes, but longer is always better. After baking, the marinade was completely absorbed. The steaming helped to keep the tempeh pieces moist, even as leftovers. Because the mango sauce is the main star of the wrap, the loss of sauce around the tempeh is not detrimental to the dish (which had been our problem previously).
Those are the main ingredients to the wrap. Next find yourself some large Romaine lettuce leaves, top with cucumber, sliced tomatoes, some chopped mint, add your tempeh, slather with the mango sauce, wrap, roll and eat! For the wrap in the photo, my eyes were bigger than my mouth, and I had to split it into two wraps for all that filling! :P
I also like the idea of tossing the dressing with zucchini noodles, as in this Mint and Mango Marinated Zucchini Spaghetti. This dressing would need to be thinned out a bit with water if you wanted to use it overtop a traditional lettuce salad.
I can do mad damage if I am in the right store.
Not a clothing store, not an electronic store, not even a bicycle store…. Food-related? Yuppers!
Kalustyan’s, oh yes.
Sometimes it isn’t as bad for local stores, since I tell myself I can always go back next week. That’s my inner monologue trying to talk some sense into me. Sometimes it works. Other times not.
Last week, I went to T&T. I hadn’t been in a while, since it isn’t close by and I am not (currently) biking (snow! grr!).
Watercress, 2 bunches for 88 cents. That was the plan. Maybe some mushrooms.
I came back with watercress, shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms (love them! on sale!), snow peas (love them!), soy milk (new kind to try!), mango nectar (I have plans!) and a new, mystery ingredient: pea shoots or dou miao (unlike Chinatown, T&T actually labels its produce, hehe).
They were so fresh, and even though I had never heard of them, I figured a new green in my life couldn’t hurt.
In fact, I think the pea shoots were a wonderful discovery: my new favourite green. They are sweet, just like baby spinach (it has been usurped as my previous favourite green), with a hint of sweet pea taste. The leaves/tendrils are soft and silky yet the crunch comes from the stalks. I love that body. A welcome taste of spring amongst this never-ending winter. (Aside, before spring pea season comes pea shoot season!!)
I tossed the pea shoots into this Moroccan Barley Salad, inspired from the Moroccan Barley-Spinach Toss in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth (Tess has posted a version with quinoa here). In my version, barley is toasted, then cooked and mixed with a light, fresh dressing made of fresh orange and lime juices, cinnamon, cumin and green onions. I also topped it with sprouted buckwheat. The barley salad is cinnamon-heavy with a lightness brought from the citrus juices. It isn’t that sweet with the agave because I used currants (not raisins). The sweetness comes from your greens. In my case, pea shoots! For leftovers (not photographed, sorry!), I added even more pea shoots, so this was more of a pea shoots and barley salad, and I was in heaven.
Pea shoots, as it turns out, are the young leaves from the sprouting pea plant. The early shoots and tendrils can be harvested numerous times (it will eventually become bitter as it ages) until the plant produces peas. While they are uber pricey at places like Toronto Sprouts at the St Lawrence Market (over $4 for 125g), I thought they were reasonably priced at T&T ($11/kg or $2 for a large container).
However, it would be even cheaper to grow your own (I hope! In my garden to be!) and I picked up some dried green peas from Rube’s Rice ($0.95/lb) to see if I could grow them at home (I am really encouraged by Shauna’s post!).
In short, scour your Asian grocery stores for this delicacy! Or grow it yourself!
Amaranth and quinoa are two seeds that were once considered sacred by the Aztecs and Incas. They were used in ceremonial rituals before their cultivation were forbidden by Spanish colonizers. Certainly these are powerful foods: armed with more calcium than milk and high in protein, fiber and other minerals, and feared by the Spanish. ;)
Then there are chia seeds, which I routinely add to my oatmeal and overnight oats, that are packed with healthy omega-3s and fiber.
I have been trying to incorporate more of these “high-yield” superfoods into my meals. What better time to start your day with a breakfast filled with these seeds. While eating quinoa for breakfast is not new to me, I was interested in combining all of these ancient Latin American seeds into a tasty breakfast.
Initially spotted in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth (also posted here), I modified Tess’ recipe to include chia seeds and therefore also changed the fluid volume. With both currants and raisins, you don’t need to use much agave nectar (or maple syrup), so certainly add to taste. The Indian flavours of cinnamon and cardamom worked well with the sweetness from the agave and raisins. The porridge had more substance, slightly more body from the pebbly grains which was a nice change from my smooth oatmeal.
Engrish amuses me. My favourite Engrish while I was travelling in Japan was a sign at a construction site next to a water pipe that said: “I trouble it. I fix the sewage trachea.” I know I shouldn’t laugh but I snapped a picture and giggled all night long.
I have done a bit of travelling lately and instead of eating out, I was planning on eating in and bringing some healthy food with me for the trip. I spotted this (since adapted) quick and easy bean salad in The Two Week Wellness Solution and stopped by Friends on the way from home from work to pick up some canned beans. Friends is a curious convenience store packed with Middle Eastern staples like pomegranate molasses, flat bread and of course, beans. I had a few choices but I was in hysterics when I came across Mr Goudas’ 9th Symphony Bean Mix. The label alone made me want to try it out (look at how advertising works!), but in truth, compared to Unico’s bean medley, it included a wider variety of beans, as well as fewer calories and more fiber.
So what did the label say? Well, these symphonic beans tell you to “get ready to listen!” and “eat and music will follow”. Yes, my friends, they are advertising the tooting-potential of eating beans. Thankfully, I have reached that threshold where the fiber doesn’t make me musical. I am sure my colleagues and friends are thankful for that, too. :)
Ever wondered what produces the gas after eating beans? Beans are filled with complex sugars (oligosaccharides) that we cannot digest. So the bacteria in our colon digest them instead. Unfortunately, one of the byproducts is the associated gas. However, there is something else at play because white and navy beans have a low oligosaccharide level, but have higher rates of flatulence.
But for those that are new to legumes, here are some toot-reducing tips:
1. Soak your beans (overnight is best). Not all beans need to be soaked (ie split peas, lentils, adzuki beans) but soaking helps to leach out the oligosaccharides. Rinse and drain well before cooking to remove the oligosaccharides.
2. Make sure you cook your beans through. No al dente beans, ok? Canned beans should all be cooked through.
3. Start slowly. Gradually add beans into your diet and your body will adjust.
4. If all else fails, consider Beano which breaks down the same oligosaccharides before it gets to the bacteria.
So about the salad, I really liked it. It is not your typically sweet, oily bean salad. It is light and fresh. It travels well, through US customs without problems. If it weren’t for a slightly leaky lid, it would have been fool-proof. No worries since I wrapped it in a plastic bag to spare my clothes. And who thought food porn in a hotel, with their plates, would look so gorgeous? :)