What a weekend, guys! Rob always complains the May long weekend is fraught with rain but this year, the rain was pushed away by all the sun. (We even managed to dry some clothes outside!)
It was a glorious long weekend and it was nice that my body was as eager to move around too. Rob and I spent a lot of time visiting family and friends, and the majority were stopping by our friends unannounced simply because we were in the neighbourhood. The stars were aligned because someone was always home for our impromptu visits. Score!
I finally have my cooking mojo back although my blogging mojo is still lagging behind. With the nice weather, I am drawn more to walking in my ‘hood instead of sitting in front of my computer. One thing that has helped to get me cooking again is the multitude of fabulous vegan cookbooks hitting the shelves. One of them is Annie Oliverio’s new cookbook, Crave, Eat, Heal. You have probably met Annie through her blog at An Unrefined Vegan where we she shares plant-based recipes without refined ingredients. Her cookbook has the same philosophy and aims to show that there should be no deprivation. All of your cravings are answered.
Annie’s cookbook is broken down into 13 chapters, each focusing on a different craving: carbs, chocolate, comfort, cool, creamy, crunchy, green, junk, salty, spicy, sweet, tart and warm. I am used to the traditional setup of cookbooks organized by course or season, but this was unique. Oftentimes, I do have cravings for something with chocolate, or something crunchy, and this would be a different way to find something satisfying to eat. With this warm weather, of course, I ventured into the “cool” cravings. There were coolers, smoothies and popsicles. Even a sweet potato pie and apple pie spice ice cream that looked phenomenal (and totally happening next weekend). But I decided I needed something a little more substantial and dove into the butter wedge salad.
After my surgery, I was on a liquid diet for nearly a week and when I finally improved, all I wanted was to bite into something. Here I was biting and actually cutting into my meal. It has been a long time since I actually used a knife and a fork for a meal, and of all things, it was to cut my wedge of lettuce.
Perhaps Annie missed out on potential “cut into your meal” cravings, because I could understand missing this not-so-fun meal normalcy. In any case, the knife and fork allowed me to experience every part of the salad with each bite: crisp lettuce, subtly sweet/soft pear, salty/meaty tempeh bacon, creamy avocado and a creamy/cool sunflower peppercorn dressing. I used a peppercorn dressing base which made for a very intense dressing but it was well balanced with the remainder of the salad.
The recipes in Crave, Eat, Heal span sweet and savoury and most are accompanied by Annie’s photographs. Her recipes are nearly all oil-free (not necessarily low-fat), mostly gluten-free, and without processed foods like white sugar. Her photo of the salad can be seen below.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the Crave, Eat, Heal cookbook to a reader living in the United States. My international readers are eligible to win a copy of the ebook Crave. Eat. Heal. Outtakes. To be entered in the random draw for the book or ebook, please leave a comment below telling me what you crave most often (and please let me know if you are not from the US). The winners will be selected at random on May 30, 2015. Good luck!
Recipes from Crave, Eat, Heal spotted elsewhere:
Roasted Garlic and Fresh Herb Cream Cheese (aka Vegan Boursin)
PS. There is still time to enter the giveaway for Superfood Juices here.
I must admit that I was drawn to making this because it had the word “summer” in its title. With frozen corn, canned tomatoes and fresh produce available even now (zucchini, spinach, red bell peppers and cilantro), you could almost imagine was made in the summer. This is probably one of most colourful curries, due in part, to all the rainbow of colours from the vegetables.
Rob and I (very briefly) considered taking our bikes out this weekend (we skipped right over snowshoeing) but while the temperatures are nice, the roads are littered with salt, sand and even some small snowbanks.
I am kind of hoping that once we return from our trip, spring will be here for real. Especially since I am already planning/imaging what I want to plant in my garden pots for the summer. I have missed my forest of fresh herbs.
Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Even when you think everything is ready to go for the wedding, little things keep popping up. Rob needs to buy a belt, maybe I should get my nails done before we leave, we should pick some readings for the ceremony, we each need to write our vows. So while I have been silent on the blog, life has been anything but.
Rob and I want a short and sweet ceremony. We didn’t even discuss readings until I my inspiration for my vows was from some absolutely fabulous quotes. I kind of want to tell you all about our choices (I am that excited about them) but I don’t want to ruin the surprise for my guests who also read my blog. So, you will have to wait (sorry for the tease). If you want some vegan wedding porn, this one looked super cute (eco friendly on a farm!).
Otherwise, as we try to eat the remainder of our perishables before we leave, this is a perfect way to chow down. I consider these as almost non-recipes since it is basically roasted vegetables, beans, rice and a sauce. Here I returned to our staples, sweet potatoes, broccoli, chickpeas and brown rice. We love steamed broccoli but since I was roasting the sweet potatoes, in went the broccoli as well. The sauce is a lovely pantry-friendly creation (ignoring the ginger and garlic) with a heavy dose of miso and toasted sesame oil with a tahini base (although certainly not overpowering). Humble or not, this is a great meal to have on hand.
Miso and/or tahini dishes shared here previously:
I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.
You guys are too kind. Based on the responses from my last post (and my post earlier this year about non-recipes), here’s to sharing some of my simpler eats. I will share my blog sabbatical during my honeymoon and hopefully come back rejuvenated. This is actually an easy recipe to share and I could not wait to share it with you.
I have made this two weeks in a row. Its first debut was when my parents came down last weekend and I threw it together for a late Sunday meal. Everyone devoured it, returning for seconds soon after polishing off their first bowl. After one bite, my Mom declared she loved it and proclaimed I could serve it for her anytime. Big win! YEAH!
While there have been glimmers of sun before and after work, I decided to continue to deliciousness into this week. It is rather a humble bowl of vegan goodness (brown rice, pan-fried tofu and kale) but the star of the bowl is the glorious peanut sauce. Sweet, spicy and saucy with a hint of curry powder. Mix it all up for a delicious meal.
Our veg staple in the fridge is broccoli and our protein of choice are chickpeas, which I contemplated for my second iteration. Worried it would be a tad repetitive (broccoli + chickpeas + peanut sauce is a common occurrence on this blog), I stuck with kale and tofu. To be honest, I don’t think I have ever made simple steamed kale and I was surprised how sweet it was. It was also ridiculously easy to make, so I definitely consider this meal a kitchen success.
What is your go-to simple meal?
Peanut sauces and dressings spotted here previously:
I have been lucky to be able to cook from so many fabulous cookbooks. I always try to share my favourite recipe for you to try as well, but sometimes there are so many good recipes. This dish was simplified, slightly from the Buddha Parcels in Keep It Vegan (as reviewed originally here).
Instead of making parcels (cute but not too practical), I put all the vegetables in a big glass tray and roasted them with a sheet of aluminum foil overtop. The sauce from toasted sesame oil and sriracha was spot on perfect, and I wonder whether the vinegar was the best part. Not that I tasted it, but it was a lovely marinade.
I used sweet potatoes and sweet red bell peppers and it complemented the spicy sauce. Because of the lid, the kale gets steamed from the juicy vegetables. Not that kale chips would be bad, because I think they were fabulous on this roasted vegetable and kale chip pizza.
There is a nice (albeit small) side of cardamom-lemon infused rice in the cookbook, but I ended up tossing the vegetables with chickpeas and brown rice. Enjoy it with your favourite protein.
I am sharing this with Shaheen’s Eat Your Greens.
Oddly enough, these last few months have been the hardest for me to blog. My new normal is scrambling the night before to cobble together a post. The recipes and photos are ready to go but I just don’t know what to say.
It isn’t that I am getting bored with my eats (I am most certainly not) but they are certainly fitting a similar theme each week. What can I say? I know what I like and I like to eat it.
Here, I took Gabby’s recipe which took an Indian-spiced tomato sauce with some (leftover, in my case) roasted spaghetti squash and cooked chickpeas. It did not disappoint in the slightest. Something a bit different than my bean-centric curries, loaded with strands of spaghetti squash. Totally a winner.
What are your oft-repeated meals?
I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.
As I told you earlier, this weekend Rob and I completed the pool portion of our PADI scuba certification. Amidst Toronto’s cold, donning bathing suits in an 86F pool (and all the scuba gear) was a pleasant adventure, as we each described our plans for wanting to learn how to scuba dive. Some of the participants were going to head to Grenada for an ecological mission, others to Indonesia and Thailand but the majority, like us, were preparing for Caribbean destinations in a few short weeks.
The interesting thing about PADI certification, is that while yes, you learn how to scuba dive, the majority of the training is how to work your way through different challenges and how not to inflict harm on yourself. Lung overexpansion injuries, decompression syndrome, and contaminated air, it was actually kind of neat and definitely not anything we learned in medical school. If anything, Rob and I will probably be very happy spending more time in shallow waters than using more air in deeper depths. But we’ll see what it is like when we get there.
If you are at all interested in water ecology and environments, I highly recommend this excellent article all about jellyfish. Fascinating look at how they are taking over the waters.
However, I am willing to bet you are here for some good food. This is a basically a noodle topped with stir-fried veggies (broccoli, mushrooms, and even some edamame) and fried tofu then doused in a miso-ginger sauce. I used kelp noodles here but soba would work equally well. I also think this would work great with a quinoa or brown rice base, too, but it is nice to mix things up. Enjoy!
How are you keeping warm during this blast of cold? My thoughts are still with those digging out in Atlantic Canada (see the impressive photos here).
This is my submission to this month’s Pasta Please.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
While the blogosphere blows up with desserts, here is a fun way to add even more chocolate to your meals. Cocoa jerk tofu tacos. No stranger to brightly flavoured jerk foods (e.g. Jamaican Jerk Plantain Soup and the ever classic Jamaican Jerk Tempeh Wraps), I have never seen it with the addition of chocolate.
The recipe is courtesy of Superfoods for Life, Cocoa which is a vegan cookbook devoted to adding more chocolate to your meals. The book explains the health benefits of chocolate and shows you ways to incorporate it into your breakfast, lunch and dinner, including desserts (obviously). Sweet and savoury.
This has been my favourite recipe so far, and I probably would not have tried it had Sayward not raved about it. The perfect balance of tangy, spicy (not too spicy) with flavourful spices (allspice, oregano, cinnamon) and the raw cocoa powder merely lent a deeper flavour. This did not taste like chocolate. It was also really simple to put together, with a quick marinade mixed in a baking dish which was then baked altogether. I served it as tacos with a spoonful of mashed avocado but Matt also recommends eating it with a side of rice, beans and/or plantains. Rob doesn’t like onions too much, so if you are like him, reduce or replace the onions with more bell peppers.
It took me awhile to review this cookbook because I quickly realized it is hard to eat chocolate so often. Even with the savoury meals, sometimes I got tired with my leftovers prematurely so I had to space them out. I will also admit was not that adventurous to try all of Matt’s suggestions yet (bana ghanoush with cocoa powder, cocoa coleslaw, choco-spinach lasagna). However, it just goes to show you how novel some of these recipes truly are.
I wish the cookbook was organized more intuitively for finding the recipes, but I cannot determine the method to their madness. I think they are organized based on health benefits (ie, preventing stroke, diabetes, etc). The chapters are labelled as such: Heart-Healthy Cacao: Little Bean, Lots of Benefits and Cacao on the Brain: From Stroke Prevention to Cognitive Function.
Here is a sample of the recipes shared elsewhere:
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 unusual way to enjoy chocolate. The winner will be selected at random on February 22, 2015. Good luck!
PS. I am sharing this with Vegetable Palette.
(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! :)
I have been blogging for over 5 years and one thing I have learned to keep this a sustainable hobby is: don’t sweat the small stuff. This recipe has been sitting in my draft folder for a while and I keep on hesitating to share it with its lackluster photos. However, the recipe is stellar and for some reason, once the snow hits, I am all about the tropical eats.
I used canned beans here. One can of red kidney beans (they never seem to get too much love in my kitchen) along with mixed beans (who remembers my Symphonic Mixed Bean Salad? With Mr Goudas’ 9th Symphony Bean Mix? YAH!). It still cracks me up: Eat and music will follow. Get ready to listen. I swear, it is written on the label. it almost sounds like Trader Joe’s would love.
In any case, the beans are mixed with a lime infused tomato broth spiked with pineapple and spiced with oregano and a hint of chile flakes. Serve with your favourite grainy side to sop of the juices.
I promise to return with some prettier photos (along with a giveaway) next week. :)
See below for the worldwide (!!) giveaway.
I don’t pay attention to food trends, mostly because I have learned I am usually ahead of the pack! Quinoa before the masses. I was talking about amaranth in 2010! Kale and cauliflower, I have you covered… Although I am still waiting for the world to catch on to the love of beans.
Anyways, Bon Appetit top prediction for 2015 is gyros.
Vegans need not fret. I am presenting to you: jackfruit vegan gyros for 2015.
Gyros sound finicky and complex. They are probably confused mostly in their pronunciation (hint: it sounds more like euro).
And yes, I also think jackfruit is looking to be the next culinary trend (and humble-brag alert, I’ve been eating jackfruit since 2012).
This recipe is courtesy of Robin Robertson’s Vegan Without Borders. A very prolific author, this particular cookbook has focused on mostly authentic vegan recipes from around the world. The cookbook is divided into sections based on geography and highlights recipes from Europe (Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, Greece, Eastern Europe, British Isles), The Americas (United States, Mexico, The Caribbean, South America, Africa, The Middle East, India, and Asia (China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Southeast Asia Islands).
The recipes, so far, have been solid. They are earmarked as gluten-free, soy-free, low oil/no oil and quick and easy. Because Robin has tried to maintain authenticity to the dishes, there are a bit more convenience foods as ingredients than I like (sour cream, cream cheese, etc) but you could definitely try substituting homemade versions, too.
These gyros, though, were fabulous. The jackfruit had an excellent texture, similar to pulled pork and the flavours were bright and fresh. Because I didn’t have yogurt or sour cream on hand, I made my own version of tzatziki which complemented the pita well. I opted for a tofu base since I thought the meal needed an extra hit of protein.
As leftovers, once I ran out of the pita, this was also excellent as a quinoa bowl, with the jackfruit and veggies piled high and a generous serving of the tzatziki overtop.
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 cuisine (Thai, German, etc). The winner will be selected at random on February 1, 2015. Good luck!
I planned on making this with grits.
Cajun beans and greens with grits. Obviously.
I even smuggled some grits home from Trader Joe’s when we left Houston.
As I prepped the ingredients for this quick and easy bean skillet, I nonchalantly brought out the grits. Another 30 minutes? No way the sun would last for them, so I photographed the beans as the sun quickly faded away and then waited for quinoa. I was worried I would have to tend to the grits continuous, like polenta, so I chickened out in the end.
Next time, there will be grits.
Curious here, guys: Do you listen to podcasts?
I ask because I couldn’t fathom any time to actually have the time to listen to anything with pure intent. I don’t drive, and even if I did, I would be focusing on the road. I certainly don’t listen to anything when cycling (and definitely not cycling right now). And at work, well, I work, and pretty happy I can play any music I want in my office.
But this weekend, I figured out the perfect time to listen to podcasts: when you are sick.
Sick in bed, possibly from influenza, or whatever virus/bacteria/etc has me bedridden, with itchy eyes that I don’t even want to open and pretty darn sleepy from the sleepless nights and possibly the nyquil side effects.
This is how I listened to the much hyped Serial podcast season one in one day. Somehow I lost my weekend.. but I gained a podcast.
Rob was great trying to keep me full of tea and soup (making my favourite Lemon Ginger Miso Soup with some added parsnips which he associates with healing soups) and eventually the flu subsided. But guys, it was a doozy. Tis a shame the vaccine didn’t work this year. I get the vaccine every year but it reminded exactly what I was trying to avoid each and every year.
If you listen to podcasts, which do you like? Did you like Serial, too?
I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.
There is a special kind of familiarity to the Indian curries Rob and I cook up each week. Certainly, we have our favourites on a constant rotation, but most of our curries involve simmering some beans with garlic, ginger and turmeric with some tomatoes, perhaps some greens with a finishing tarka with cumin and a spritz from lemon or lime juice and a cilantro garnish.
This curry hits on nearly all those points. It did not disappoint.
As the weather remains cold, I am honestly considering making a curry each week. Definitely comfort food. My how things have changed. There was a time I would not have touched Indian food but over the years, Rob has shown me the way.
Other lentil-like curries spotted here:
Woosh! Can you see the steam? One perk of the black background, although it also picks up the dust, too! HA!
Hope you are keeping yourself warm during this recent freeze. It was -30C/-22F overnight with wind chill. It is times like this that you can remind yourself: only a few short months until our wedding/honeymoon in the Caribbean. And then you remind yourself: WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO DO???? Thankfully my Mom keeps reminding me of all things I don’t know: making the veil, finding something borrowed, etc. While Rob and I take care of the very hard decisions: garifuna dancers vs firedancer (we chose both!!) and where to go for photos (beach vs jungle… vs where are cliffs.. we want cliffs).
In any case, here is another bowl of a warm, vibrant soup/stew. Jamaican jerk inspired with allspice and thyme (and also cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) with colourful red bell peppers, yellow plantains and chickpeas with a sprinkle of green onions swimming in a fragrant coconut broth. This is not a hot and spicy soup (like most things jerk), so add as much heat as you like.
Are you already longing for the summer?