janet @ the taste space

Posts Tagged ‘coconut oil’

Peach Chia Crumble with an Almond-Coconut Topping

In Desserts on August 25, 2015 at 7:35 AM

Peach Chia Crisp

If I had to pick the best time to be in Ontario, it would be late summer.

The temperatures are warm and pleasant. The local produce is at its peak. Bursting with fresh tomatoes, zucchini, and corn. I love earlier fruits (strawberries, raspberries and blueberries) but fresh warm peaches are where I am focusing right now.

Peach Chia Crisp

With the earlier tropical heat wave, I had a hankering for a good ginger-peach crumble with an almond-coconut topping. I didn’t want a soupy bottom, so I figured chia seeds would be the perfect antidote.

Peach Chia Crisp

Sadly, by adding a mere 1 tbsp of grated ginger, I could not taste it at all. Next time, I would add more and have noted this below. So, it is a peach crumble.

Secondly, the chia seeds sopped up a lot of the released peach juice and this was more pronounced when I ate the leftovers. Different than a traditional crumble and worth a try. I also might try grinding my chia seeds in advance to avoid lumpy chia seeds.

Happy peaching!

Other crips/crumbles you may enjoy:

Blueberry Peach Raspberry Crumbles

Rhubarb Blueberry Cranberry Crisp with a Pistachio Crust

Raw Mixed Berry Crisp

Apple Cranberry Oat Crumble

Peach Chia Crisp

Read the rest of this entry »

Churros with Cinnamon Sugar (Vegan, Gluten-Free) + Vegan Everyday GIVEAWAY

In Book Review, Desserts, Events/Round-Ups on August 8, 2015 at 7:54 AM

I am going to spice things up today. Literally and figuratively. While I have been to many restaurants, I don’t share my resto reviews here. (I save them for Happy Cow – follow my profile). But, what if I told you I could give you the recipes for all the dishes we tried?  I figured that was worthy of a share on a recipe blog.

This was a marvellous meal Rob and I shared at Doug McNish’s Public Kitchen. He typically caters to take-away meals and Sunday eat-in brunch but occasionally there are pop-up specialty dinners. This was one such dinner titled “Vegan Everyday“, named after his latest cookbook.  Known for his love of raw vegan foods and writing two raw cookbooks, Eat Raw, Eat Well and Raw, Quick and Delicious, this cookbook features his love of cooked vegan food. His recipes are all whole foods based (all homemade, no faux meat substitutes and gluten-free, too). Doug’s latest cookbook is based on his extensive experience in the kitchen and wanted to prove the awesomeness of the recipes. So much so that he made them from his own restaurant to share.

So, without further adieu, here was our meal:

AVOCADO TEMPURA – crisp quinoa battered avocado, spicy kimchi, sweet lemon tamari ginger reduction, nori dust, Chinese five spice. This was excellent. Crispy creamy avocado. I never would have thought to make this at home but it was so good, I may give it a go.

AVOCADO TEMPURA - crisp quinoa battered avocado, spicy kimchi, sweet lemon tamari ginger reduction, nori dust, Chinese five spice

CHERMOULA TOFU – grilled spice rubbed chermoula tofu, braised jalapeños and collard greens, sweet potato quinoa hush puppies, crisp yucca strips, tangy almond cream sauce. Four recipes are from his cookbooks and I don’t think I would have ever thought to combine them together. Other than the sauce being a but heavy, I really liked this.

CHERMOULA TOFU - grilled spice rubbed chermoula tofu, braised jalapeños and collard greens, sweet potato quinoa hush puppies, crisp yucca strips, tangy almond cream sauce

and from the other side:

CHERMOULA TOFU - grilled spice rubbed chermoula tofu, braised jalapeños and collard greens, sweet potato quinoa hush puppies, crisp yucca strips, tangy almond cream sauce

TEMPEH CROQUETTES – crisp cornmeal and brown rice flour crust, roasted red pepper aioli, sweet potato puree, seasoned brown rice, sautéed herbed white wine garlic local veg. The croquettes were fragile but still delicious.

TEMPEH CROQUETTES - crisp cornmeal and brown rice flour crust, roasted red pepper aioli, sweet potato puree, seasoned brown rice, sauteed herbed white wine garlic local veg

BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE – soft creamy cheesecake, blueberry compote, ginger crust, candied lemon zest. I was really excited to try this because I knew the recipe from the cookbook used white beans as a secret ingredient. However, this was more cake than cheesecake as bean-based baked goods are ought to do. I will likely not remake this one at home but it was a decent cake.

BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE - soft creamy cheesecake, blueberry compote, ginger crust, candied lemon zest

CHURROS – churros with spiced coconut sugar coating, warm cinnamon chocolate dipping sauce, candied orange. This was the recipe that I lured in Rob. He probably considers himself an expert at churros, eating them that is, especially after our stint in Houston.

CHURROS - churros with spiced coconut sugar coating, warm cinnamon chocolate dipping sauce, candied orange

Let’s just say that these were unlike any churro we have ever tried. Churros are naturally vegan but these are also gluten-free which may have been our problem (not sure). In any case, they tasted great and if anything, could have passed for a gourmet interpretation of churros with a hefty coating in cinnamon and coconut sugar with a delicious warm cinnamon chocolate dipping sauce.

Vegan Everyday Cookbook Giveaway

As I said, all the recipes are from Doug’s latest cookbook. With 500 recipes, there is something here for everyone, from breakfast to dessert and everything in between. If you’ve been to his restaurants or ones where he’s helped shape their menu, you may recognize recipes like his Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Soup or his Sweet Potato Chili. Recipes are quick and easy (Black Bean Santa Fe Wraps) or more elaborate (Miso-Glazed Tofu with Crispy Sushi Cakes and Braised Bok Choy). Then there are recipes I really want to try like Indian-Spiced Date Squares. Or how about Maca Crunch Ice Cream? Honestly 500 recipes feels like a tomb of recipes when most cookbooks share only 100 or so at a time.

I have made a few recipes already and they are very good. He definitely knows how to ramp up the umami (bring on the nutritional yeast, tamari and mushrooms). So much so, that I tended to reign them in, worrying about exploding my palate. I will share a homemade recipe in the next few weeks but until then, here is the recipe and cookbook photo for the gluten-free, vegan churros. This is more what I think of when I think of churros, so I look forward to trying the recipe out myself one day.

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me what you generally try to eat every day. The winner will be selected at random on August 20, 2015. Good luck!

CHURROS - churros with spiced coconut sugar coating, warm cinnamon chocolate dipping sauce, candied orange

PS. I am sharing this with We Should Cocoa, The Pastry Challenge, and Shop Local.

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Apple Coconut Muffin Top Cookies (gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, vegan)

In Desserts on June 23, 2015 at 6:46 AM

Apple Coconut Cookies

Guys, I figured out a problem with drying our clothes outside.

Other than the potential for rain. We have been known to run outside and save our clothes before the storm rolled in.

This weekend, we hit another pitfall. Or poopfall, as a more accurate term. (Rob loves my blog puns!)

Yes, birds pooping on the clothes. The latest debacle meant a possibly permanently stained shirt. We’ll have to see how it comes out in the second round of the wash.

Otherwise, here is a super fun cakey cookie that actually reminded me more of muffin tops. It is gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free as well as being vegan, so could I really expect cookie cookies? Instead they are muffin cookies.

The shredded apple keeps them super moist but the chickpea flour makes this more nutritious than flour-based treats. Enjoy!

Apple Coconut Cookies

I am sharing this with Tea Time Treats.

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Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

In Desserts, Favourites on June 18, 2015 at 6:32 AM

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

We made these delicious raw cookie dough treats at the cottage.

Let’s just say the cottage was a tad rustic….. so when there was no vanilla, Bailey’s Irish Cream was the substitute. Have no fear, the cottage is stocked with all the essentials.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

The recipe is based from Oh She Glows but we added the Bailey’s and added some ground flax seeds for more good stuff. It actually stuck together without it as well. In fact, the dough was so smooth, it honestly reminded me of real cookie dough. With a touch of baking soda/powder, we were actually wondering whether they really would turn into cookies. While we made a double batch, there was no time to experiment since we gobbled them down. We had a few that we packed for home, but we ate them all during our traffic-thick ride home.

In all honesty, it was hard to detect the Bailey’s but I think I had one which was more boozy. I wonder if it helps keep it less icy after being frozen. I think that’s why alcohol is added to homemade ice cream, right?

What kind of essentials do you keep at your cottage?

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

You may also enjoy these recipes:

Peanut Butter and Jam Energy Balls

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Maca Chip Energy Balls

Raw Cinnamon Raisin Balls

Spiced Acai Energy Bars

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Homemade Vegan Butter + Homemade Vegan Pantry GIVEAWAY

In Book Review on June 11, 2015 at 6:50 AM

Homemade Vegan Butter

Guys, I am so excited to tell you about the latest adventures in my kitchen.

My title spoiled the surprise, but yes, I made vegan butter.

In my home. Without any dairy.

And it was ridiculously easy.

5 ingredients only. 4 if you ignore the salt.

Blend it and then let it solidify.

Creamy, melty, butter. Drippy and oozy. All vegan.

 

Homemade Vegan Butter
Full disclosure: the butter was mostly solid but a few seconds in the microwave brought it to its glorious self. Perhaps if we had a toaster with warm bread, we wouldn’t have needed the extra help.

The recipe is from Miyoko Schinner’s latest cookbook, The Homemade Vegan Pantry. She revolutionized at-home vegan cheesemongering with Artisan Vegan Cheese and she is breaking ground again with this book. My weekend was such a pleasant playground in the kitchen. First, I tried her homemade barbecue sauce, which was to-die-for. The perfect merriment of salty, tangy and sweet barbecue sauce (my liberties were omitting the chipotles in adobo and swapping in blackstrap molasses) and making her unribs. Holy moley, they were yummy.

Homemade Vegan Pantry

Next, and super simple, we tried the butter. Rob agreed. It tasted like butter. Despite adding the salt, it was not a strong component and tasted unsalted to both our palates. We both agreed that, indeed, it was glorious butterless butter. Pictured both on the cover of the cookbook as well as below, you can appreciate how beautiful the cookbook is, too.

Glorious Butterless Butter

 

I must admit, I wasn’t sure I would be too keen on making kitchen staples, but I kind of want to make everything in the cookbook.  There are condiments and I have my eye on the recipes for 3 different types of mustard (Remember that mustard tasting party? Homemade mustards are the next level in mustard party land). Next, Miyoko has replicas of dairy staples (think thick yogurt, flax seed egg whites and oil-free melty cheeses). She has many recipes for soup stocks and bouillon. You can even pull together a complete meal with some of her faux meat recipes (unribs, unpork, veggie dogs, etc) and also how to make your own tofu and tempeh. Need a sauce for your fake meats? How about a 15-minute rustic pasta sauce or a spinach and caper sauce. Want a side of bread? She includes recipes for focaccia and pumpkin dinner rolls. And not to forget about dessert, her homemade baking mixes are all sweet to allow the ease of making vegan cakes, cookies and brownies at all times of the day. Not sure how to use your butter? How about lemon curd, custard or caramel sauce?

Homemade Vegan Butter

This is definitely how you would stock your whole foods kitchen, all from scratch. The ingredients are standard in vegan cooking, although the lecithin may be a bit cumbersome to find. I use lecithin as an emulsifier to make The Best Chocolate Truffles.

Want to try a lecithin-free vegan butter recipe? This one here looks great, too. Of note, the recipe in Miyoko’s cookbook is different than the recipe she has shared previously; notable for the lack of acid/vinegar.

Happy buttering!

Homemade Vegan Butter

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the US (sorry to all my non-US readers). To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me which kitchen staple you would like to learn how to make. The winner will be selected at random on June 20, 2015. Good luck!

PS. I am sharing this with Credit Crunch Munch.
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Almond Butter Fudge + Delicious Ella Cookbook Giveaway

In Book Review, Desserts on May 29, 2015 at 6:27 AM

Almond Butter Fudge + Deliciously Ella Cookbook Giveaway

Rob thought it was a (not so) silent cry for help when I said I hadn’t been to the gym for over 2 months. I was hoping I would have good news to share. We ended up going to a spinning class together last weekend but sadly, it was another week without mid-week gym action. I am going to try to go to the gym before work next week, so we’ll see how that goes.

While I feel 90-95% back to my regular self, I know I am getting better when I want to return to the gym and more importantly, eat all the desserts. No stranger to freezer fudge (I loved this cinnamon almond freezer fudge), this was a quick snack to stash away until my next chocolate craving. Simple ingredients including dates, almond butter, coconut oil and cacao powder, this was basically like eating a raw vegan chocolate cheesecake from the freezer. However, it was already the perfect consistency the minute you removed it from the freezer. No thawing required. I mistakenly forgot to line my container with parchment paper, so it was a bit more difficult to remove my fudge from the container while still maintaining a semblance of prettiness. Afterwards, I returned the pieces back to the freezer and I had easily accessible nibbles.

Almond Butter Fudge + Deliciously Ella Cookbook Giveaway

The recipe stems from Ella Woodward’s first cookbook, Deliciously Ella. You are probably already familiar with her wildly popular blog of the same name, Deliciously Ella. Not to be confused with Naturally Ella who’s name is actually Erin and who also writes cookbooks (confusing, I know). In any case, Ella has shared over 100 plant-based recipes (nearly all gluten-free and all with whole foods ingredients) brimming with photos from nearly every recipe. With her simple approach to coaxing natural flavours out of the foods, this is a very approachable cookbook and her writing style is equally non-threatening. The cookbook is divided into the major pillars of plant-based ingredients: grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, vegetables, fruit, smoothies and juices. While it is a good way to think about approaching a balanced meal as a vegan, I wish the index were more thorough. Imagine not having the Key Lime Pie listed under Lime in the index. Yet it was included under avocados, probably because it was filed in the Fruit chapter. I look forward to eating my way through this cookbook and this freezer fudge was an excellent place to start.

Almond Butter Fudge + Deliciously Ella Cookbook Giveaway

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me what you like most: grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, vegetables, fruit, smoothies or juices. The winner will be selected at random on June 10, 2015. Good luck!

Recipes from Deliciously Ella spotted elsewhere:

Baked apples with coconut cream
Banana ice cream
Black bean and kidney bean chilli
Carrot, orange and cashew salad
Classic carrot cake
Coconut Thai curry with chickpeas
Easy avocado chocolate mousse
Key lime pie
Lentil, zucchini and mint salad
Mexican quinoa bowl
Oaty smoothie
Stuffed Cremini mushrooms
Sweet potato brownies
Sweet potato pancakes
Warm winter salad
Zucchini noodles with Avocado pesto

PS. There is still time to enter giveaways for Richa’s Vegan Indian KitchenPlant-Powered Families and Crave. Eat. Heal. Read the rest of this entry »

Simple Carrot Ginger Soup

In Appetizers, Soups on April 21, 2015 at 9:37 AM

Simple Carrot Ginger Soup

Long time no chat. A quick turn of events had me in the operating room over a week ago and recently returned home. I was incredibly grateful to be back in Canada when this happened and could only imagine what would have happened in Guatemala with my nearly non-existent Spanish.

In any case, after a surgery, it is normal to progress your diet from clear/full fluids before resuming your regular diet. My mom threw together this soup, not once, but twice, for me to nosh on while in the hospital and once I returned home.

Super creamy from the blended carrots, the ginger is a natural pairing (and possibly helps reduce nausea and vomiting). The addition of the lemon rind (without juice) kept this light and not too acidic (which has been a problem for my belly since surgery). But perhaps most of all, I hope you can see how brightly coloured this soup is. More yellow than orange, it was positively vibrant. It reminded me of Nigella’s happiness soup but this one tasted better. And had no turmeric. I wonder if the nutritional yeast helped to make it more yellow.

As well, thank you for all the positive feedback on the wedding photos. Our photographer had another teaser this week. I cannot wait to see the find photo album.

Carrot soups shared here previously:

Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lemon

Carrot Ginger Lime Soup with Sweet Potato Hummus

Moroccan Carrot Soup

Roasted Carrot and Lentil Soup with Harissa and Mint

Simple Carrot Ginger Soup

I am sharing this with Simple and In Season and Credit Crunch Munch.

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Yellow Split Chickpeas with Spinach (Chana Dal Sat-Bhaji)

In Mains (Vegetarian) on February 7, 2015 at 8:37 AM

Yellow Split Chickpeas with Spinach (Chana Dal Sat-Bhaji)

(Continuing with making a curry each week, although not necessarily blogging about them each week, ha!)

If you are looking for recipes with a pressure cooker, other than JL’s new book, I recommend checking out Indian cookbooks. Or more specifically, I knew there were plenty of bean-centric pressure cooker recipes in one of my Indian cookbooks, 1000 Indian Recipes. I ventured forth with a dish that required no pre-soaking and cooked reasonably fast.

Thank you, chana dal, which are split black chickpeas. They are more crunchy than most beans I cook although that may because I didn’t cook them with too much water (2:1 water to bean ratio, weird). This dish could also be made without a pressure cooker, it would just take longer and I would add the greens later.

While dill might seem like an unusual ingredient for curry, I know it works really well (see this fabulous chickpea dill curry). The tomato is familiar to both Indian and European foods although this is purely Indian with the ginger, cumin, garlic and cilantro. The spinach almost melted by the weight of the pressure cooker, so I may try something different next time (like using baby spinach added at the end) or use a heartier green like kale.

Rob gave me a high five for finishing up the last of our chana dal. I say high five for the chana dal for still being awesome after all these years on my bean shelf!! Yeah! :)

Yellow Split Chickpeas with Spinach (Chana Dal Sat-Bhaji)

I am sharing this with Credit Crunch Munch, Cooking with Herbs and Eat Your Greens.

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Raw Gingerbread Cookies with a Lucuma-Maple Frosting + Raw Cookies Cookbook Giveaway

In Book Review, Desserts on December 18, 2014 at 7:53 AM

Raw Gingerbread Cookies with a Lucuma-Maple Frosting + Raw Cookies Cookbook Giveaway

Cookie time! Raw no-bake cookies!

A gingerbread cookie, spiced with fresh ginger, cinnamon and cloves with a touch of mesquite with a base of almonds and caramel-like dates. Topped with a lucuma-maple frosting, not too sweet, just perfect. It was uncanny how it definitely had the flavour of gingerbread (hello fresh ginger!) without any molasses.

Raw Gingerbread Cookies with a Lucuma-Maple Frosting + Raw Cookies Cookbook Giveaway

Usually a raw cookie means ridiculously easy but I went for the more ornate cookie + frosting option. I used the tops of Mason jars as my cookie cutter to keep things simple, but feel free to cut out all the crazy shapes you desire.

Raw Gingerbread Cookies with a Lucuma-Maple Frosting + Raw Cookies Cookbook Giveaway

The cookie comes from a new cookbook, Raw Cookies by Julia Corbett. One might think it was all about raw cookies. True, all the cookies are raw. But not vegan (there is raw butter and honey in some of the recipes) but there is quite a variety of options. The cookies are broken down into coconut-based cookies (eg, Coconut Macadamia Shortbread, Lemon Poppyseed Coconut Cream Cookies), cacao-based cookies (eg, Pecan Fudge Caramel Bites, Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies and Chocolate-Topped Crunchy Peanut Cookie Bars), nut-based cookies (eg, Hazelnut Sugar Cookies, Salted Ginger Chewies and Jungle Buckeyes), seed-based cookies (eg, Ayurvedic Sesame Treats, Pumpkin Seed Spumoni), raw butter based cookies (eg, Raw Butter Snickerdoodles), Fruit-Based Cookies (eg, Wild Berry Jam Linzer Cookies) and Frostings (eg, White and Dark Chocolate Frostings).

Raw Gingerbread Cookies with a Lucuma-Maple Frosting + Raw Cookies Cookbook Giveaway

I will admit, I was excited to try the cocoa-based cookies first but many recipes called for cacao paste. I have some cacao butter hiding in my pantry but not cacao paste. So until I locate the paste, I settled for trying the fun raw gingerbread cookies. I changed a few things, like adding in some dates to help it stick together. Although by the time the cookies had solidified, the cookies were very firm, so I may have added the dates too prematurely. I also used fresh ginger (and lots of it) because I only stock the good stuff. I find the flavours of fresh and ground ginger to be quite different, so definitely add to taste. Apparently I have a very high tolerance for ginger. Bring it on!

I also really liked the contrast with the luscious frosting. I didn’t add any ginger to it, to counter the cookie base, but it worked out well. Mine was slightly lumpy because I mixed it by hand but it only bothered me after taking the photos, not while eating it.

Raw Gingerbread Cookies with a Lucuma-Maple Frosting + Raw Cookies Cookbook Giveaway

 

 

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living anywhere in the world. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite holiday dessert. The winner will be selected at random on December 22, 2014. Good luck!
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Caramelized Leek and Flageolet Bean Salad

In Mains (Vegetarian), Salads, Sides on November 20, 2014 at 8:18 AM

Caramelized Leek and Flageolet Bean Salad

So, how are you faring with the first blast of winter?

Turns out my furnace was not up to the increased stress and stopped working. Twice. For the past two nights, we have woken up to a fairly frigid home. At least we have warm blankets, so you don’t really notice until you escape for breakfast.

It reminded me of the time we were in Houston, in May during the first heat wave. It was at that time we noticed our air conditioner was broken. Eventually our home was a few degrees shy of the sweltering outside and we knew we had to contact our landlord. Accessing the air conditioner was another challenge, as it was difficult to find a safe ladder to span 4 storeys and jockey around the lightning and rain.

This time, I keep telling myself: at least we’re not in Buffalo. Did you catch the video of the snow blanket being lifting from the lake?

Caramelized Leek and Flageolet Bean Salad

I thought, perhaps my salad days were over, too. But this is a delightful salad warm or cold. A bunch of leeks are caramelized and added to creamy flageolet beans and coated in a simple lemon-mustard sauce.

Another winner from Gena!

Caramelized Leek and Flageolet Bean Salad

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays and  Bookmarked Recipes.

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Cinnamon Almond Freezer Fudge

In Desserts on November 4, 2014 at 7:44 AM

Almond-Cinnamon Freezer Fudge

You may have noticed my recipes becoming simpler. I am spending less time in the kitchen. Life is busy.

Case in point: A few weeks ago, I was so excited to leave work before it was dark.  (This was before the time change). I routinely leave work pretty late.

I texted Rob the good news: I would beat him home.

I plotted what I would do with my extra time. Plotted what I would cook up for dinner. Perhaps an easy tofu scramble.

However, as I walked onto our street, I slipped my hand into my bag looking for my keys. A second time. After a frantic search, I realized I must have forgotten them inside our home. (Of note, we have a very weird lock on our door – it locks automatically as soon as the door closes). I texted Rob that I was heading to the neighbourhood resto, for a warm supper, and to keep myself warm as I waited for him to return home. Sure enough, once I made it home, a couple hours later, my keys were right next to the front door. And it was now positively dark outside.

Almond-Cinnamon Freezer Fudge

One reason I am not stressing about my meals is that I know I have a stash of treats in the freezer. These are everything you could possibly want in a snack: quick and easy, tasty and healthy. Furthermore, the simplicity of the recipe lets you taste the finished product by the ingredient list alone. Roasted almond butter mixed with a touch of coconut oil (it gives it a nice mouth feel) along with a touch of maple syrup for sweetness and cinnamon. Because, cinnamon is in all good things. Place the mixture into the freezer and take each one out whenever you have a hankering for a snackering.

Of course, the race is to see whether there will be enough snacks left by the weekend to take photos. Although, I would not be sad to make another batch.

Almond-Cinnamon Freezer Fudge

I am sharing this with Random Recipes and Dead Easy Desserts.

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Chocolate Cherry Hemp Bars & YumUniverse Cookbook Giveaway

In Book Review, Desserts on October 29, 2014 at 7:40 AM

Chocolate Cherry Hemp Bars

I am no stranger to Heather Crosby’s fabulous recipes (seen here previously: Peruvian Bean Bowl with Fried Plantains, Blueberry Tarragon Dressing and more recently the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream), I was excited to be able to review her first solo cookbook creation, YumUniverse as part of the #YUBlogTour and #YUHealthyHalloween Blog Tour

However, it is more than a cookbook. It is a fabulously complete introduction (and then some) to eating plant-based whole foods. Her book is built in three parts: why, how and do (let’s eat). First, why eat plant-based? Heather details numerous reasons to eat your vegetables. Her second part, teaches the reader the ins-and-outs of how to cook plant-based. She addresses protein and calcium needs and how to craft a week’s worth of eats. There are tables of how to properly store fresh and pantry ingredients (fruits/vegetables, oils, nuts, spices, flours, etc; whether they go in the fridge/freezer). She explains soaking and sprouting with times for common nuts and seeds. She explains different cooking methods and even how to correct oversalting. Once you have mastered feeding yourself, she has tips for social situations. She really has left no gaps. She even explains how to get rid of pesky fruit flies.

Next, the recipes. With adventurist recipes including Mung Bean and Eggplant Curry, Jerk Lentil and Avocado Wrap, Beet, Apple and Onion Gratin and Skillet Crusted Sweet Potato Gnocchi, there are boundless possibilities. That was just in the lunch/dinner section. Heather also includes breakfasts, dressings, dips/spreads, breads, beverages, snacks and other desserts and treats.

In short, this is the cookbook I wish I had when I first began my journey becoming a vegan.

Chocolate Cherry Hemp Bars

I made her Chocolate & Cherry Hemp Bars which are a spiffied rice krispy treat. Like Ange’s Glo Bars, brown rice syrup is the binder of choice but the bars are not that sweet. Calling them hemp bars is a bit of a superfood marketing ploy: they are barely detectable amidst the sunflower seeds, rolled oats and flaked coconut. Furthermore the chocolate chips melted seamlessly into the sweet binder, so the major flavour was from the tart cherries with a faint chocolate background.  Below is the photo you would actually find in the cookbook. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cherry Hemp Bars & YumUniverse Cookbook Giveaway

YumUniverse recipes spotted elsewhere:

Buckwheat Noodle Pad Thai
Dark Chocolate, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Brownies
Hot Fudge Sauce
Maple Spice Sandwich Cream Cookies
Orange and Pepita Granola
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash
Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque
Salted Caramel Sauce
Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Kale with Miso Dijon Sauce
Toasted Super Seedy Power Bread

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me your favourite meal (no recipe required). The winner will be selected at random on November 7, 2014. Good luck!

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Caramel Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (aka Vegan Lactation Cookies)

In Desserts on October 27, 2014 at 7:23 AM

Vegan Lactation Cookies (Gluten-Free)

First of all, no.

No, I am not lactating.

No, I am not pregnant.

I do know quite a few new moms, becoming an aunt twice within the span of two weeks. It was a bountiful Thanksgiving.

I also do not profess these cookies will induce increased breast milk production. There is not much scientific evidence to recommend dietary galactagogues, but I see no harm in eating wholesome cookies packed with whole foods, namely rolled oats, flax seeds, coconut oil, raisins and wait for the kicker: Brewer’s yeast.

Vegan Lactation Cookies (Gluten-Free)

While I use nutritional yeast regularly, Brewer’s yeast is entirely different. Both are inactivated yeasts but Brewer’s yeast is byproduct from brewing beer. Both yeasts provide a good dose of both B vitamins and protein although Brewer’s yeast traditionally is high in chromium.

Most importantly, while I like the taste of nooch (nutty/cheesy/tangy), Brewer’s yeast is typically very bitter. I tracked down a debittered Brewer’s yeast at a local health food store (it also appears to be stocked by Bulk Barn, should that interest you) and happily ranhobbled home to make some mama-friendly cookies.

You wouldn’t really know these were healthy cookies. These taste like a caramel-infused oatmeal raisin cookie. Soft and chewy with a firmer exterior. There is a slight tangy aftertaste that I attribute to the Brewer’s yeast but otherwise my brother and sister-in-law both gave them the thumbs up. No word yet on getting extra milk, though. My brother definitely not.

Did you try new foods when you were breastfeeding?

Vegan Lactation Cookies (Gluten-Free)

PS. I am sharing this with Random Recipes (google search for vegan lactation cookies) and Dead Easy Desserts.

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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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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 »