janet @ the taste space

Posts Tagged ‘date’

Chocolate Chambord Ice Cream (Vegan and Sugar-Free)

In Desserts on September 5, 2015 at 7:44 AM

Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chambord Ice Cream (vegan)

Yes, it is still ice cream weather. Toronto had its hottest day of the summer last week and it could never have been a better time to have a freezer stockpiled with homemade ice cream. While I love instantaneous banana-based ice creams, I had been secretly pining the traditional ice cream, too. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

No-Bake Date Squares & Giveaway for 100 Best Juices, Smoothies and Healthy Snacks

In Book Review, Desserts on December 2, 2014 at 7:55 AM


No-Bake Date Squares & Giveaway for 100 Best Juices, Smoothies and Healthy Snacks

Date squares have a long tradition in our family. I shared our recipe, modified slightly as a Cranberry-Date Square, shortly after I began blogging. (One of my first missions was to preserve our favourite family recipes). Even to this day, my brother still requests this. Just last month, when I heard he was hoarding the date squares, I thought out loud to my mom: “Wait, that should be really easy to veganize. No, really.”

Sure enough, while reading through Emily’s latest cookbook, 100 Best Juices, Smoothies and Healthy Snacks, I just knew I had to try out her no-bake date squares. With only 5 ingredients, and no oven, she has recreated a fabulous spin on the classic date squares. Rolled oats and buttery pecans substitute for the traditional butter and white flour. Dates sweeten and help towards the architecture of the snack with a touch of coconut oil adding in for texture and stability. I was impressed that the date layer was so smooth and luscious. I think I may try adding in a touch of lemon juice next time (like our original recipe) to see if that helps to balance the sweetness. While not traditional, I also wonder whether a touch of cinnamon would work nicely. In any case, Emily’s rendition was spot on and encourage you to try it out.

No-Bake Date Squares & Giveaway for 100 Best Juices, Smoothies and Healthy Snacks

Her “Dare to Date Squares” comes from her cookbook which also has 99 other recipes for juices, smoothies, mylks and snacks (which she calls energy bars & healthy snacks). It, however, is not a raw cookbook although it is entirely vegan. As an example, she includes creative savoury soups with cooked vegetables as spicy carrot smoothie with bell peppers and creamy onion and potato smoothie. It would be best to have a juicer for the juice section although the smoothies simply require a blender. Personally, I was drawn to her snack chapter, which I wish was a bit longer. Considering her success of her first dessert cookbook (I shared her tahini cups with a sweet coffee-infused filling previously), I can see how she may not have wanted to pursue that direction in as much detail. Her photos are gorgeous (see top photo) and her easy-going nature encourages you to try new recipes. My only gripe were some missing details, like the size of pan to use in a recipe. However, most recipes are so simple you just need the ingredient list.

No-Bake Date Squares

Emily’s recipes from 100 Best Juices, Smoothies and Healthy Snacks spotted elsewhere:

Apple Cinnamon Smoothie

Berrylicious Smoothie

Chocolate Mylk

Dark Chocolate, Oat, Hemp Cookies

Green Earth Orbs

Kale Craver

Spiced Mylk

Sweet Sunshine Juice

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 beverage. The winner will be selected at random on December 12, 2014. Good luck!

I am sharing this with this week’s Virtual Vegan Linky and What’s With my Cuppa.

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Moroccan Cauliflower Rice and Date Salad & The Complete Coconut Cookbook Giveaway

In Book Review, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads on November 13, 2014 at 7:18 AM

Moroccan Cauliflower Rice and Date Salad

Hey guys,

See below for the giveaway but I am super excited to tell you about Camilla’s latest cookbook, The Complete Coconut CookbookDo not let the title mislead you. Yes, this is a cookbook which includes recipes for all things coconut – coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut sugar, dried coconut and coconut flour. However, it is also entirely plant-based vegan, gluten-free, grain-free and nut-free. Because there are easy substitutes for the oil and sugar, this is a rather comprehensive vegan cookbook.

Moroccan Cauliflower Rice and Date Salad

The recipes span breakfast (Banana Flapjacks, Coconut Yogurt), Beverages (Mango Carrot Coconut Smoothie, Coconut Nog), Breads and Muffins (Coconut Flax Tortillas, Vanilla Coconut Baked Doughnuts), Salads (Coconut Waldorf Salad, Shredded Beet, Coconut and Sesame Salad), Soups/Stews/Chilis (Cantaloupe Coconut Soup with Basil Syrup, Persian Coconut Soup with Split Peas, Chickpeas and Herbs), Main Dishes (Coconut Squash Pizza, Coconut Za’atar Kale, Tempeh and “Rice”), Side Dishes (Quick Sauteed Kale, Coconut Cauliflower Puree), Cookies/Cakes (Chocolate Avocado Cookies, No-Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies) and Pies/Puddings/Other Desserts (Coconut Cream Pie,  Caribbean Sweet Potato Pie).

Woah, that is only a portion of the 200 recipes.

Complete Coconut CookbookCover

Although I am not entirely sure why someone would make a cookbook that was vegan, GF and nut-free, it certainly required Camilla to be quite innovative in the kitchen. For her baking recipes, a combination of coconut flour, psyllium, chickpea flour and potato starch are used. I tried the apple coconut cookies, although they tasted more like muffins but were delicious (soft and moist). I was hoping the chocolate cherry biscotti might be a bit more crispy, although unfortunately it softened in my air-tight container overnight. I see these as interesting starting points for those who are seeking non-traditional baked goods.

However, as I showcased here, there are plenty of delicious savoury options, too. I loved, loved, loved the cabbage soup with cilantro.

This was also a fun spin on a vegetable salad: cauliflower is riced and tossed with Moroccan spices, dates and cilantro. The savoury spices (cumin and cardamom – although I think cinnamon would have been better) worked well with the sweet dates. My only complaint was that I picked a big head of cauliflower, so I needed more dressing. No fault of the author, as I guess there are truly puny cauliflowers out there.

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 way to eat coconut. The winner will be selected at random on November 23, 2014. Good luck!

Other recipes spotted elsewhere:

Acorn Squash with Coconut Chickpea Stuffing
Carrot Cupcakes with Whipped Lemon Coconut Cream

Coconut Biscotti

Coconut Pancakes
Gingered Carrot and Coconut Soup
Very Vanilla Cupcakes

Cauliflower ‘Couscous’ and Date Salad

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays, Family Foodies, and Simple and In Season.

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Raw Cinnamon Spice Ice Cream Cake

In Desserts on August 12, 2014 at 6:33 AM

Raw Cinnamon Spice Ice Cream Cake

I was hoping to update you with happy news that our stuff had arrived. Sadly, no. A mix up at the customs warehouse means we are still without all stuff. Except our car. We have that because my parents’ drove it down, hoping to help us unpack, only to find out our pod was not coming, as expected.

Anyways, I am ahead of myself. I am still reliving last weekend’s debacle.

Curious as to how so many people were able to help when we were stranded with the car in the middle of nowhere?

Turns out my brother and sister-in-law were also driving back to Toronto around the same time. They were in Ottawa for my SIL’s baby shower and we both left around the same time and thank goodness, they were still reasonably close when our distress call went out.

My mom hosted a fabulous shower and I had very little involvement. Other than suggesting some menu changes as there were limited vegan options. Considering I finagled 3 dishes, it was in directions only. I suggested some tried-and-true favourites for the appetizers: Pineapple and Cucumber Guacamole (my SIL stole the leftovers, so that was a success!), Cucumber Hummus Dip (very well received), and my Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad as my main. I added a bit of cinnamon this time and liked that, too. I actually made a double batch so I could take the leftovers, but alas, they never made it. I hope my Mom liked it instead.

Raw Cinnamon Spice Ice Cream Cake

My mom totally outdid herself with the desserts (so.many.pretty.cakes!) so I knew any dessert I made would just be for myself. This was my experiment. And it was a very good experiment.  My Mom treated herself to a new Vitamix so I took full use of it!

I used Brandi’s recipe as my inspiration for this cinnamon spice vegan cheesecake. It was also my first time playing with a cake swirl!  I really liked the the cake. I think lemon juice would be great here, but I swapped it for orange juice, since that was what my parents’ had on hand. I also swapped a fresh apple for the apple juice. Because this is oil-free (no coconut oil or coconut butter), it is softer than my previous raw cheesecakes. This just means that you need to time it perfectly before you can eat it. If you leave it out at room temperature too long, it will melt into a softer cake. I liked it with still a bit of bite from the freezer, thus this was definitely an ice cream cake!

My swirling wasn’t perfect but this just means I will have to try again with my next attempt. (See my tips below for my next round).

Raw Cinnamon Spice Ice Cream Cake

I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes. Read the rest of this entry »

Lemon Ginger Hemp Bites

In Desserts on May 27, 2014 at 7:13 AM

Gena's Hemp Cocoa Energy Bites

I have been a bit quiet on the cycling front.

I kind of poured my everything into the Shiner GASP and let my body (and mind) recover as needed. Rob and I kept cycling, but nothing over 50 km.  There is no point in cycling if you aren’t having fun. It pales to our upcoming distances, but I just didn’t have it inside me to resume our crazy adventures.

Three weeks later and I got my mojo back.  I started swapping my morning gym with longer routes to work. Rob would join me. On his road bike, no less, which was a good motivator to keep pushing it on my commuter, while carrying all my stuff for work on my back. I managed to squeeze an extra 50 km, in addition to my regular commute, over the 2 days we tried this out. Sadly, the forecast is all rain this week, so I may return to the gym after all.

Gena's Hemp Cocoa Energy Bites

With the long weekend, Rob and I had time to both relax and fit in some longer cycling. A perfect balance, methinks. 50 km and 107 km, including an urban hilly ride. Thankfully we made it home yesterday before the torrential rain, which is merely a preview for the week.

In any case, I made these delicious snack bites to tote along for our longer ride. They were inspired by a reader, Jessica, who encouraged me to try adding ginger and turmeric to Gena’s Hemp Cocoa Energy Bites. I love it when you guys know me too well!

No stranger to sharp, fresh ginger in sweets (remember my Matcha Ginger Smoothie?), I didn’t add enough turmeric for it to be a strong taste. I will admit that I added the ginger because I like its taste but its anti-inflammatory properties are a bonus. However, I added the turmeric specifically because of its anti-inflammatory properties (I really don’t like its taste in strong amounts!). The dates sweet this nicely and the hemp protein powder gives it a grassy/earthy undertone which complements the sweetness perfectly.

What do you think of turmeric? Do you try to incorporate into more of your foods? Any recipes you recommend?

Lemon Ginger Hemp Energy Bites Read the rest of this entry »

Tahini Cups with a Sweet Coffee-Infused Filling

In Desserts on May 15, 2014 at 7:03 AM

Tahini Cups with a Sweet Coffee-Infused Filling

You probably wept as I described Houston’s spring/summer weather a few months ago. With the atrocious Canadian winter, I started clarifying when my Mom would ask me about the weather: Do you really want to know? Do you really want to know we have bone fide summer with 30 C highs while you just lost the last of your winter snow? I thought not.

Have no fear, though, you will have your just revenge. That hot and humid weather is mere weeks away, if not here already. Hot and humid? Yeah, that’s was this weekend. Houstonians know this is peanuts compared to the upcoming summer (sad face). I am convinced that it is the humidity that makes the wind so heavy here, but I have nothing to prove it.

In any case, I made a Houston-newbie mistake last weekend. I brought these treats to a potluck. Not a problem in other cities, but Houston is hot these days. They were very keen to melting. Even in our apartment, with the air conditioner, they were quick to begin to melt. Since they were my only cooked food fit for others, I brought them anyhow. Imagine my shock when I arrived at the potluck, when they decided to serve the food outdoors! GAH!! A bit of reprieve, the desserts were to stay inside. I placed my container of mini treats with the other desserts and proceeded to pile up with all the delicious savoury options.

I returned indoors to the dessert table. The line from the savoury table now snaked indoors, right past the desserts. I had to do a double-take: only one half-treat remained. I told Christine to grab the last one. Instead of melting, within 5 minutes they had evaporated to high acclaim! Success!

Tahini Cups with a Sweet Coffee-Infused Filling

One of my favourite parts of going to vegan potlucks (other than trying so much delicious food), is experimenting in my own kitchen. After seeing Lisa share these, I immediately wanted to try it. Tahini-based desserts were a definite hit earlier this year (see my Sweet Sesame Rice Crispy Treats) and I am warming up to liking a hint of coffee flavour. It pairs well with chocolate (hello Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake!) but I was unsure about it without the chocolate. Lisa raved about it, so I gave it a whirl.

In case it wasn’t obvious: it was a definite hit. The coffee flavour was subtle enough (for me) and paired well with the sweet dates. The tahini cups were a nice contrast with a creamy base. I liked that it was nut-free, which helps for those with nut-allergies at potlucks.

I made these into mini cups, which I think worked well since you could get more filling:base ratio. Tahini can be a bit bitter, but it was tempered nicely with the sweet date-heavy filling. I still had some filling leftover, which was easily slipped into my next morning’s oatmeal. The tahini base settled a bit funny on top, which is probably because I didn’t use enough. I just barely had enough to surround my 24 minicups. I changed the recipe below to account for more base.

Do you like tahini in your desserts? I am inspired to try more! Perhaps these salted tahini caramels are in my future: tahini + coconut flour + sweetener!

Tahini Cups with a Sweet Coffee-Infused Filling

PS. I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.

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Thrive’s Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway

In Book Review, Desserts, Drinks on March 20, 2014 at 7:27 AM

Thrive's Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway

Rob disappears and I do a cold, windy and rainy bike 100 km ride. Cameo appearance by the dreaded flat tire again. Sound familiar?

It is hard to believe, but within the span of a few days of my last solo cycling adventure, I signed up for the Tour de Houston for the 60-mile/100-km ride. More impressive (or shocking), I also dedicated some overflow vacation days to visit my parents and cycle Rideau Lakes with my Dad in June. This will be my third time on the 360 km 2-day course, I am hoping it will keep me motivated to continue to cycle throughout the summer to have fun at Cycle Oregon.

In any case, cycling season has begun. This weekend simply solidified why I love cycling so much. IT IS FUN! Even with nearly 4 hours of on-and-off again rain and fierce winds, I had a blast. Granted, I was sad Rob was missing such a fun experience but it was liberating to tackle the course at my own pace (yes, I know, Rob is usually the one waiting for me, not the other way around). I don’t know how many people showed up in spite of the weather (see the video recap here), but over 5000 people registered for the event. It is infectious to be surrounded by other cyclists. I rarely see another cyclist on my commutes to work but now, I had to jostle and wind my way around so many others.

I picked this event because it is actually run by the City of Houston to promote cycling in the city. It was well marked (save one turn) and well staffed. The course changes every year to highlight different areas of Houston. This year, the course was fantastic. Nearly all intersections were staffed to give cyclists the right-of-way (most of the time, obviously they had to let cars go through as well). I also knew it would give me the courage to try out a 100 km course with lots of support. Turns out, I needed it. I found myself with a flat tire a bit after the half-way point. When I cycle with Rob, he always brings a tube, pump, and tools to fix tires but this time, I didn’t. Thankfully, I turned around and one of the sag trucks found me and my sorry wheel. They brought me back to my last rest stop where I was able to get my flat tire. In addition, they then drove me back to where I had my flat tire so I could continue my journey.

I was a bit bummed because I had lost a lot of time and I was even turned away at one of the rest stops. I had a flat tire, I am not that slow! I kept thinking to myself. However, with the continuous rain, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise: the cyclists had thinned out so it was less congested but the best part was that I was mostly passing everyone. Not just a morale boost, this was incredible practical: less mud in my face! No one has mud guards, so if you are within 10 feet of the person cycling in front of you, you would be greeted with mud galore. How do I know? Right before I had my flat tire, there was a muddy patch and it landed all over my face, my glasses, my clothes and my bike.

The course was well stocked with bananas, oranges and peanuts (and pretzels which I didn’t eat) but by the time I arrived at the finish line, most of the vendors had packed up for the day. I cycled home. And only then I remembered how long rides really deplete my motivation to cook. I had the most motivation to do laundry and have a bath, though. Talk about being dirty. But before that, I treated myself to a fun recovery smoothie courtesy of Brendan Brazier’s new cookbook Thrive Energy Cookbook.

Based off the recipes from one of my favourite restaurants, Thrive Juice Bar, this is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing: the recipes taste great. If they are true to the restaurant, you will want to make that pad thai stat. However, the curse: that pad thai? It tastes great, in part, because each component is perfected. The recipe may be on one page but it will redirect to 4 addition recipes – three sauces/vinaigrettes and a vegetable mix. All for a single serving.

The photos are gorgeous. The recipes are tantalizing with many classic vegan combinations.  I am salivating over the drinks: kale mojito (I have had that at the restaurant and it is great!), chocolate-truffle-caramel mocha, chocolate-peppermint matcha magic drink. The restaurant’s Big Green Energy Charger is in there, too, which I love with a hit of maca, but I don’t know how I will find my own freshly squeezed wheatgrass juice for my version to be authentic. The recipes focus on mostly whole foods, although Daiya cheese makes its appearance, numerous Vega products along with Wildwood Zesty Garlic Aioli which seems to be the base for all four aioli recipes. Some incredibly hard-to-find ingredients are included (lucuma, astralagus, ginseng, wheatgrass juice, reishi mushroom, maca) but not too many.. and most could easily be omitted. I look forward to trying out more recipes and thrilled I can share a cookbook with one of you, too.

For this smoothie recipe, nuts, chocolate and protein powder are combined to make a satisfying smoothie. I typically don’t like smoothies with ice, but this was well balanced, probably because there was a larger amount of nuts than my typical smoothies. Brendan calls this a recovery smoothie although for information on his rationale for his sports recipe (either before, during or after exercise), you are redirected to his previous books.

Thrive's Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe (with my modifications, of course) AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below. The winner will be selected at random on March 29, 2014. Good luck!

Recipes from Thrive Energy Cookbook shared elsewhere:

Cashew Berry French Toast

Chia Seed Blueberry Pudding

Roasted Red Pepper & Sweet Potato Soup

Coconut, Lemongrass and Lime Soup

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Red Lentil & Chickpea Burger Patties

Avocado, Black Bean & Chipotle Burger with Chipotle Lime Aïoli

Chocolate Chip French Vanilla Smoothie

Chocolate-Almond Decadence Smoothie

Acai Berry Pre-Workout Energizer

Super Chocolate Powder Mix

Almond Butter

Blood Orange and Ginger Citrus Tart

This is being submitted to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness.

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Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

In Desserts, Favourites on February 22, 2014 at 8:08 AM

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

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?

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

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).

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

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.

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

This is my submission to this month’s Four Seasons Food, Dead Easy Desserts and Tea Time Treats.

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. :)

PPS. Have you entered my giveaway for No Meat Athlete yet?
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High Raw Vegetable Chili

In Mains (Vegetarian) on February 13, 2014 at 7:07 AM

High Raw Vegetable Chili

Raspberries and tomatoes: red foods for Valentine’s Day! Matt, a friend from Canada, is joining us right now so for tomorrow, I think Rob will be making all of us dinner! Youpee!

Tomorrow is also the day to sign up for Cycle Oregon. After mulling over our options, we decided to scrap the Houston-Austin MS 150. Instead, Rob and I will be training for the 1-day 100 mile Shiner GASP (Great Austin to Shiner Pedal) ride this spring. For many reasons, we switched allegiances. I always prefer the first day of the long cycling rides and this will allow us to enjoy some time in Austin afterwards. (Free beer from the Spoetzle Brewery once we finish doesn’t hurt, either). And yes, it is only a stepping stone. Our master plan (provided we snag a porter) is to do Cycle Oregon this fall.

Cycle Oregon is not for the faint of heart: 2200 cyclists. 7 days. The route changes every year and this year it is over 400 miles and over 30,000 ft in incline. The hilly route mimics a portion of our beautiful roadtrip from Portland to Burning Man. This time, it will be by bike instead of by car.

Having a goal is a great way to stay on track. Even though we haven’t started training in earnest yet (blasted knees!), reading Gena’s snippet in No Meat Athlete about raw foods, reminded me why it is good to incorporate a variety of foods into your diet. Cooked or raw. And raw definitely does not need to be a salad. In the winter (even Houston’s winter), it can be hard for me to eat salads.

Filled with veggies, this is a fun twist on chili, done raw-style. A hybrid of my raw chili dip and chili salad wraps, this is a fun high-raw hearty chili. Red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes spiced with chili powder, tamarind and cocoa powder (YES!) create a smooth sauce that coats more veggies and beans. I used cooked pinto beans to make this a filling dish (and in my experience, easier to digest than using sprouted beans).

Is anyone else planning to do Cycle Oregon? We hope to have a small Cobra* contingent.

*Cobras are the name of our biker gang. We are a very inclusive bunch. Join us!

High Raw Vegetable Chili

PS. This is my submission to Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food for tomatoes.

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Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts

In Desserts on February 8, 2014 at 7:51 AM

Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts

One thing my friends and family have heckled me about recently (not my knees, thank goodness), is my purchase of 25 lbs of coconut flour last year.

What will you make with it? What’s your plan?

It may seem like I have a plan for most of my purchases, but not this one. Reading through a new cookbook with coconut flour recipes, I envisioned running through my coconut flour fairly quickly. And while I have been pretty good with making a few recipes with coconut flour, the recipes only use a small amount.

Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts

I did the math. I don’t think know I will not be able to finish all of my coconut flour before I leave Houston. That would be over a pound per week. No. Can. Do.

Instead, I am having a lot of fun experimenting. This dessert intrigued me as it asked for a lot of coconut flour compared to the nut flour. I wondered how it would bind together without dates or oil. I tried it out. And true enough, it did not stick together. It was dry as a bone. Natasha told me to have faith, it would clump if I pressed it really hard in my pie plate.

Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts

I pressed and pressed. And then gave up. Perhaps the secret was the refrigerator chilling. I opted to try remedy the recipe myself: I added more sweetener, some oil and lots of almond milk. Coconut flour is thirsty, give it some liquid! I added and added until I felt the batter come together. I pressed it into a 6″ springform pan (unpictured), topped it with the radacious raspberry puree and sprinkled more of the batter overtop.

With still some batter and puree leftover, I created these mini versions. Too cute not to photograph and share.

The larger pie pieces stayed together easily, but that could be because I left it in the fridge longer. These were inhaled within a few hours. Don’t wait too long to eat your dessert, though. The coconut flour will dry up (sucking it from your raspberries perhaps) and taste a bit chalky. However, with a crumbly base, it is akin to a linzertorte, the Austrian cake with a pastry base, a fruit jam topping and the classic lattice topping. Delicate lattices are for chumps when you can much easily make a delicious, delicate crumb topping. ;)

Do you have any recipes you love with coconut flour?

Vegan coconut flour recipes I love:

Raw Peppermint Patties

Nut-Free Raw Carrot Cupcakes

Nut-Free Raw Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

Maple Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts
This is my submission to Raw Food Thursdays.

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Lucuma Macadamia Smoothie & Superfood Smoothies Cookbook Giveaway!

In Book Review, Drinks on January 4, 2014 at 7:10 AM

Lucuma Macadamia Smoothie

There was How I Spent My New Year’s Eve and now How I Spent My New Year’s Day.

Who did not enjoy a mid-week hump day holiday?

Because we had returned to Houston, this was a New Year’s Day like no other. It was reasonably warm outside. Rob had a taco craving. The much-hyped taco restaurant was open on January 1. We wanted to cycle. So we combined the plans.

In truth, while I cycle to/from work every day, our weekend rides have dwindled in between all our travel, cold and rainy weather and lastly Rob’s cold. By the time I became infected, I was only inflicted by a minor sore throat (so far, at least). I didn’t let that stop us from cycling for tacos.

Instead of our dawn-cracking bicycle rides of summer yonder, our winter cycling is more of an afternoon affair. In Houston, daily temperatures are at their peak around 3-4 pm, whereas in Toronto, it is more like 1-2 pm. In any case, we forged ahead. Rob picked the location that would lead best to a bike ride.

We picked a nice bike trail that is fairly sheltered from motorists. While construction has demolished its uninterrupted bicycle bliss (Houston’s construction season must be winter), it was a great ride… and surprisingly without too many other people sharing the path.

While the bike ride was fantastic, nearly 40 km and with a good pace, we had a much slower pace at the restaurant. Because it was THE place to be… we had to wait at least 15 minutes prior to being seated. Rob felt vindicated, though. He had eaten the best tacos yet, although I still feel like those in Mexico City were superior. Rob pointed out that the commute is much easier if we stay within Houston.

Hope you enjoyed your holiday, too.

After our ride, I treated us to this delicious smoothie. A little messy, but I decided not to clean up my mess. All for a better photo, no? ;)

Lucuma Macadamia Smoothie

While we have a freezer filled with frozen bananas, I like to whip together banana-free smoothies, too.  Dates and lucuma powder provide the sweet caramel undertones for this creamy smoothie. Banana usually lends well to both creaminess and sweetness, and in this case, the creaminess comes from tofu, hemp seeds and macadamia nuts. It is actually a very simple smoothie but it tasted great. It kind of brought whole foods smoothie to a new level for me (due to the lack of non-dairy milk). In addition to the lack of banana, this smoothie was fun because you basically create your own non-dairy milk from macadamia nuts and tofu.

This is just one of the creative craveable concoctions from Julie Morris’ Superfood Smoothies. She has really outdone herself, because there are so many wonderful drinks here: watermelon acai, carrot cardamom, mango chili, cucumber mint, chocolate kale, mint chip, mayan chocolate, maca oat, pineapple maca, red velvet cake (with roasted beets!) and even a chocolate smoothie with cauliflower.

All of the smoothie focus on plant-based ingredients, with a special focus on superfoods. Superfoods including standard fruits and vegetables but also less common ingredients (aka expensive) like acai, macqui, maca and camu powders, dried mulberries, hemp seeds, and fresh coconut water. A handy substitution chart at the back of the book will help with substitutions, but let’s be honest: smoothies are meant to be forgiving. Most of the time, the hard-to-find ingredients could be omitted altogether since they are used in limited amount, substituted with something more common or you could splurge and just use a little bit of them for each smoothie, which would last you a long time. A bit more of a bother for me was the inclusion of different juices in the recipes – carrot, apple, orange, pomegranate, aloe, etc. I would rather throw in a whole carrot than only use its juice, but one is way more sweet than the other… and way more juicy.  If you use the recipes as a guide, I don’t think you will be let down. Furthermore, while there may or may not be a conflict of interest, Julie is a spokesperson and executive chef for a company that sells said expensive superfoods. Although her work with the Smoothment (Smoothie Movement), may indeed make her an expert with such ingredients. Perhaps if you drink your way through this cookbook, you will become one, too.

Lucuma Macadamia Smoothie

Thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the continental United States (sorry to all my non-US readers). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite smoothie. If you have yet to venture into the land of smoothies, have a look through the index of Superfood Smoothies on amazon (or any of the smoothies listed here) and tell me what you want to drink the most. I will randomly select a winner on January 15, 2014. Good luck!

Superfood Smoothies spotted elsewhere:

Cranberry Orange Smoothie

Toasted Coconut and Macadamia Smoothie

Lemon-Lime Smoothie (with Bok Choy!)

Mint Chip Smoothie

Raw Cookie Dough Shake

Cocoa Cream (aka Chocolate Dream Smoothie)

Mango Chili

Strawberry Basil

Grapefruit Pomegranate

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this month’s Random Recipes.

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Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with an Almond-Coconut Crust

In Desserts, Favourites on December 27, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with an Almond-Coconut Crust

Hope everyone had a nice holiday. Back at work for me, already.

Rob and I returned to Canada, in all of its ice storm, power-deficient stateprovince. Over half a million people lost power in the days leading up to Christmas and just before we scooted back to Houston, my brother lost his power, for the second time, on Boxing Day.

With a few short days in the GTA, we explored Toronto as tourists: fast and furious. We met up with many friends and family, reminding ourselves why we love Toronto so much. Despite the cold, the warmth comes from our social network. We cooked, we ate at both new and old (favourite) restaurants and relished in multiple Christmas feasts.

As I said, I didn’t have enough forethought to bring any treats with me from Houston. Nothing lost, as I was oftentimes filled to the brim with good food, and had no desire to cook. However, while in Woodstock, I spotted a few pantry staples that could easily be whipped into a shockingly simple dessert. I could not resist. I am shocked I am sharing another dessert with you all, but in case you are looking for a fun party dessert, this could be your treat.

I threw together almonds, coconut and dates for a simple raw pie crust. The salt and vanilla accentuate the sweet maple syrup and dates. You could replace the coconut with additional nuts, but I enjoyed the textural foil next to the rich smooth filling. The filling was super simple: a bag of melted chocolate chips mixed with canned coconut milk and lots of peanut butter. At first I thought the peanut butter was a bit odd, but when you consider that the majority of raw cheesecakes are made with an abundance of cashews whipped into a butter, the leguminous peanut butter made sense. Combined with chocolate, you have a winning treat. It is rich and filling without being cloyingly sweet. And I even used semi-sweet chocolate.

Are you back at work, too? This is my shortest Christmas holiday yet.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with an Almond-Coconut Crust

This is my submission to this month’s We Should Cocoa.

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Raw Apple Cinnamon Macaroons

In Desserts, Favourites on November 26, 2013 at 7:07 AM

Raw Apple Cinnamon Macaroons

I have embraced being a (temporary) Texan.

Summer in November? Yes.

Biking year round? Definitely.

I have obviously already forgotten about the hot, humid summer..

One problem, though: my dates are all messed up. Time is literally flying by. I saw an event for the end of November and thought it was weeks away. It was warm and sunny at the time… my internal clock had not registered that yes, it is indeed almost winter. At home, they’ve received more snow and cold weather than I can recall seeing in November.

I would be hard to pity me, though.. That warm spell disappeared and it is cold again. It will be a low at freezing point tonight. And I forgot (or did not pack?) my winter cycling gloves in Canada. Either that, or they are lost. :( I hope it is the former.

Raw Apple Cinnamon Macaroons

The warm weather partially explains my penchant for raw eats despite the season. The other, is that raw is easy to make and this was a recipe I knew would be fabulous. When Rob and I visited Ellen and Andy on our road trip to Houston, we shared a veritable feast for breakfast and these were my favourite treat. I have made raw (chocolate) macaroons before, but these were simply delightful. Apple, cinnamon and caramel-like dates are pulsed together with almonds and coconut for an autumn/winter-inspired treat. A touch of maple syrup and a sprinkle of salt made the flavours veritably pop.

These are so simple to make, but absolutely delicious.

Are you building your holiday treat roster yet? What are you excited to make?

Raw Apple Cinnamon Macaroons

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Curried Ginger Date Bok Choy and Soy Knots

In Mains (Vegetarian) on November 7, 2013 at 7:04 AM

Curried Ginger Date Bok Choy and Soy Knots

To all those celebrating, Happy Diwali!

While Rob remains away (he came and left again), I was whisked away by friends into a wonderfully chaotic Diwali celebration over the weekend. A huge crowd came to the Houston BAPS in Sugarland to enjoy the music, light and firework display for the Indian festival of lights.  A place named Sugarland, a suburb of Houston, seems like a fitting place for a Diwali celebration which includes a lot of dancing, fun, and food including Indian sweets.

Curried Ginger Date Bok Choy and Soy Knots

While I don’t know the difference between a laddoo, burfi, and mysore pak, I can tell you all about how make dhokla, a steamed chickpea flour bread, and baked (not fried!) pakoras. Obviously, I am all over the savoury Indian meals. While I adore Indian curries, I like mixing Indian spices with other dishes as well.

Enter this simple bok choy skillet with soy knots. I got the idea from Iyer’s newest cookbook, Indian Cooking Unfolded. Iyer, the author of one of our favourite Indian cookbooks 660 Curries, has written a new cookbook that is, in essence, a cooking class in book form. Based on his own cooking curriculum, he takes you through different cooking techniques in each chapter, highlighting ingredients, methods and tips for each recipe. What it lacks in number of recipes, he makes up for it in sharing his cooking knowledge.

Curried Ginger Date Bok Choy and Soy Knots
So, I took his idea for a quick-and-easy ginger raisin bok choy side dish and turned it into a heartier ginger date bok choy skillet with soy knots. I swapped dates for the raisins and added in these interesting soy knots. To be honest, I prefer the texture of the yuba skins (aka tofu intestines) as they were very dense. The recipe, though, is a keeper. A colourful keeper perfect for any celebration. A bit more spicy than I am used to (darn, green chiles in the tomatoes) but it mellowed as leftovers and worked well with the sweetness of the dates.

Curried Ginger Date Bok Choy and Soy Knots

If you celebrated Diwali, how did you enjoy it?

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