I may have returned back to work full-time but slowly rekindling my interest in eating and blogging. Post-op, I found I had very little appetite but once I had enough energy, I was pretty excited about what I wanted to experiment with: juicing. With a tender digestive system (I always found this an all-too-common description amongst HLBs, albeit completely relevant in my case after a surgery), I knew I needed lots of nutrition without fibre overload. Green juice to the rescue.
I inherited my grandmother’s old juicer and must admit that I have only made homemade juice a handful of times. These past few weeks the old juicer was a real trooper. I also learned it was incredibly hard for me to juice kale and greens, although perhaps the hardest part was juicing the stem because once I stopped that, it went much smoother. I also found it easier to juice a lot at once so that I only had to clean the juicer once. With a quick shake, the juice lasts a few days in the fridge.
I played around with a few juices from Superfood Juices and my favourite was this green juice with kale, cucumber, celery and green apple. Yes, I even included the celery since it was not too much and it added a savoury hit to the juice. Beautifully balanced, light and not too sweet. It was lovely.
The juices in Superfood Juices are unique, yet approachable. Fruits and vegetables themselves are superfoods and this book aimed to include extra “superfoods” as well, such as coconut water, maca, cacao powder, acai berry powder, and also (more unusual) sea buckthorn berry juice, mangosteen juice, aronia berry juice and noni juice. This specific green juice also called for spirulina which I omitted without problems. There are suggestions for substitutions (like swapping unsweetened cranberry juice for aronia berry juice) but they are usually highlights to a recipe and could easily be omitted.
The recipes are enticing: honeydew mint chia fresca, mandarin ginger kombucha spritzer, kale martini, warm spiced fresh cider, carrot maca juice, but also seemingly impossible combinations like carrot ginger ice cream or chocolate-mint noni soft serve. A few more down-to-earth options are present too: strawberry rhubarb juice, cantaloupe ginger juice and celery greens juice.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the continental United States. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite juice flavour combination. The winner will be selected at random on May 20, 2015. Good luck!
Recipes from Superfood Juices spotted elsewhere:
Spectrum Juice (Carrot, Beet, Apple, Kale, Lime)
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.
Life would be boring is I only ate the same thing everyday.
Except if it for a few days thanks to leftovers. That’s how I roll.
I used to eat a grapefruit every.single.morning. Now, I can’t even remember the last time I ate a grapefruit. Perhaps in Houston. Suffice it to say, it has been a while.
I probably should have spent more time devouring citrus while in Texas because ripe and sweet grapefruits are delicious. Sometimes you are lucky to find them in Canada, too. In this case, I went with something more unique and added it to a kale salad. I also experimented with raw fennel, which was a touch bitter for me (especially paired with the grapefruit), so add that to taste. A bit of coconut was reminiscent of the Caribbean. The flageolet beans, perfect for adding to salads, was a way for me to make this a complete meals instead of a side salad.
Do you eat grapefruit?
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.
I don’t know how many of you were working last Friday. Friday, January 2nd. It was a weird sensation. Both a Monday feeling, with a mountain of work, combined with the excitement by the time it was 4:30pm and I realized the weekend was so close!
But yesterday was a brutal Monday. I missed my bus because I shovelled the snow that morning, all the time freezing in the cold gust of wintry air. Work was mostly back to usual and the gym, well, let’s say we nearly doubled our gym goers.. you know, from the regular 5 people to over 10. I had to learn to share.
Suffice it to say, I was a bit cranky by the time I returned home. Thank goodness I knew it would be a delicious week. This is another one of my new simple recipes. I figured I already have a ton of red lentil soups that I have shared, this time, I winged it with what I had in my kitchen.
I loved your encouragement to share the recipe inspirations. Unlike the last time, this time I have a recipe. Red lentils, carrot, tomatoes and kale were combined in a flavourful broth made with smoked paprika, Old Bay Seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. I don’t know what made it so flippin fantastic, but it was a nicely sweet soup (from the carrots??) that was balanced by the Worcestershire sauce and fresh garlic finish. It worked really, really well. And it was perfect to comfort me after my first day back.
Red lentil soups spotted here previously:
I had all the best intentions of sharing a chocolate-based recipe this week. Sadly, not one but two recipes were a flop. How could that possibly be? One we had to throw out it was that bad but the other will still be happily eaten.
This will be a quick post to share another of my favourite repeater recipes from this year: Isa’s Coconut Chana Saag. I am still not sure why it looks like most of the curries I share, but this one is flippin fantastic. Perhaps the touch of fennel brought it to the next level? In any case, it is delicious and highly recommended.
While most people might be on holidays already (Rob is!!), I get 2 out of 3 statutory holidays off and otherwise working through the remainder of the days. Rob thinks I am working too much but I try to reassure him that this way I save my vacation for our honeymoon.
I may pop back in with a few quickie posts but if not, best wishes for the new year and happy holidays. :)
I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.
I had a good run of giveaways there. I was considering whether I could do an entire month of giveaways but quickly discounted that by writing this post. Although, to be fair, this was a recipe I discovered while previously reviewing a cookbook. This soup, in its original incarnation, belongs to Angela from within The Oh She Glows Cookbook. While I love the glo bar recipe I shared earlier, this is the soup I keep returning to, time and time again.
I have a hard time explaining what the soup is. Angela called it a detox soup which makes me cringe, but it is filled with a nicely fragrant broth made from ginger, cumin with a touch of cinnamon and filled with loads and loads of vegetables. Mushrooms, broccoli and carrot. Sometimes I use kale or collards, sliced into thin strips, but this time I used a crunchy cruciferous mix of kale, cabbage and brussels sprouts for more variety. I also continued with the green theme and used frozen edamame as my protein of choice. It fits well with the uniquely Asian twist brought by the last minute addition of shredded nori.
Like the recent article in The Guardian addressed, You can’t detox your body. It’s a myth. So how do you get healthy? A healthy mix of vegetables with protein is indeed the way to go.
Looking for more good articles, these were good finds:
The secret to a long, happy marriage – So far, I think Rob and I are doing very well in this regard :)
Everything I thought about recovery is a lie – An excellent post about recovery from an eating disorder.
Why do pigs oink in English, boo boo in Japanese, and nöff-nöff in Swedish? – Rob has always wondered why Polish dogs say “hau hau”. But do you know what noises porcupines make? Very cute noises.
Floating feasts – Almost makes me want to go on a cruise. Almost… Anyways a great article about food on cruise ships
A Warning on Nutmeg – Beware of nutmeg overload!
Secret Lives of Passwords – What does your password say about yourself?
Anyways, it is a good time for vegan cookbooks and I have a few more to tell you about. I hope to finish my reviews before the holidays so it is like a mini present for the winners. :)
Turns out our furnace problems were solved with a new thermostat. Thank goodness it was such an easy fix. It will be a bit warmer over the next few days which is perfect for us. It will melt the snow and allow us to rake all the leaves we had neglected earlier before winter resumes again later in the week.
Hearty winter fare is back into my kitchen for good and this was a delicious side, and could definitely work if you are looking for a something different for a holiday meal. Brussels sprouts are braised with chickpeas, kale and sun-dried tomatoes along with Italian-inspired seasonings. I thought this was excellent. Highly recommended.
What are you planning to serve for Thanksgiving?
Lately my meals have been a lot of random foods. I am holding out. I knew I had some staples waiting to be unpacked but quickly replenished my perishable staples (tahini, peanut butter, maple syrup, etc). As such, the last few weeks have had me cooking without spices, relying on strong-flavoured ingredients and let’s be honest, I bought some pre-made soups and added some beans to make it a complete meal.
I promise to share some of my fun meals once my home is back to normal. Until then, I will continue to unearth some oldies-but-goodies from my backlog. I chose to share this one because it is actually pretty similar to what I am eating these days: cooked quinoa, random vegetables, beans, topped with a creamy sauce.
What is your template for healthy lunches?
It is my pleasure to share with you Gena Hamshaw’s new cookbook, Choosing Raw. Named after her widely popular food blog, her simple, bright and healthy recipes shine through onto paper. Full disclosure, I have loved Gena’s recipes ever since I discovered her blog (and her infamous banana soft serve recipe). My previous gushings can be seen here and here and I was thrilled when Gena asked me to be a tester for her cookbook. The best part of help her test the recipes? She actually cared about my feedback beyond recipe bloopers, making this a truly phenomenal cookbook.
Just as her blog attests, the recipes are fresh and flavourful. All vegan, some raw, some cooked, some mixed, some with options for either raw or cooked. You might think you recognize some of the recipes from her blog, but they have all been reworked and rewritten based on reader feedback. With 125 recipes, spanning essential foundation recipes (including cashew cheese, chocomole, banana soft serve, lemon turmeric vinaigrette, ginger miso dressing and hemp parmesan) and breakfasts, meals and desserts separated based on the degree of raw components and familiarity to traditional meals. She includes a primer on making meal-sized salads, including a Dinosaur Kale and White Bean Caesar Salad and a Raw Cobb Salad with Eggplant Bacon.
Gena’s level 1 or introductory recipes are truly tried-and-true. Breakfasts options include the (delicious!) Raw Vegan Bircher Muesli, and (even more delicious!!) Chickpea Tofu Tahini Scramble. Gena has different suggestions for lunch and dinner (for me, lunch is always dinner in leftover form) and I can highly recommend both her Curried Chickpea and Carrot Salad and Easy Red Lentil Sweet Potato and Coconut Curry.
Slowly, Gena encourages you to branch out from the familiar with a hybrid of new and old. Her Avocado Black Bean Scramble was fresh and bright, the Raw Falafels have a carrot base which was the first falafel recipe I liked, and I love that her Raw Pad Thai actually includes tamarind (although I recommend adding more tamarind… because, that’s just the way we like it!). The Pumpkin Quinoa Risotto with Pomegranate Seeds was a fun twist for an autumn side, although I added chickpeas for a heartier meal.
Within her level 3 recipes (aka Brave New World), Gena introduces you to chocolate açaí bowls, jicama fiesta rice salad, raw corn chowder, and coconut curry kelp noodles. From this chapter, I highly recommend the Zucchini Pasta with Mango, Avocado and Black Bean Salsa (I substituted peaches which was still glorious) and her Raw or Cooked Ratatouille.
Desserts are typically the star of raw cuisine, and her recipes do not disappoint. Her Simple Raw Vanilla Macaroons are flawless and her Raw Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting is spot-on. I cannot wait to try other dishes like her Cherry Vanilla Tahini Ice Cream (no ice cream machine required!) and her No-Bake Tartlets with Raw Vegan Chocolate Ganache Filling has been on my hitlist for a long time.
For me, the most important part of a cookbook are the recipes (and the index so I can find the recipes), but the recipes are only a portion of Gena’s book. Her first chapters explain “The Why”, “The What” and “The How” of a eating a vegan diet that includes raw. Normally I skip over these sections, but Gena makes these sections practical, useful and insightful with her background in nutrition. Finally, a raw cookbook that tells you the theory of keeping your food “enzymes” intact will all get decimated in your stomach’s harsh acidic environment anyhow. Likewise, her focus is on nutrients from a plant-based diet.
Gena explains how to properly balance your meals, explaining the importance of fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. She debunks myths including “Eating spinach raw is bad for you because it blocks the absorption of nutrients”, “Soy disrupts hormones, causes breast cancer and should be avoided”, “You should always eat fruit alone and on an empty stomach”, and “It’s essential to separate proteins and starches, because they require different digestive environments and will cause bloating if you eat them together”. To top it off, there are 21 days of worth of meal plans along with tips on how to transition to a vegan diet.
For this review, I had a hard time deciding which recipe to highlight. I decided to share her Classic Cheezy Kale Chips. The mixture of cashews, red bell pepper, nutritional yeast and miso coat the kale leaves which are dehydrated until they are crispy and flavourful. I don’t usually bother with pretty photos while recipe testing, and I had good intentions of taking better photos. Until I ate all the chips. And then they were all gone. They were incredibly addictive.
Gena also has a higher protein kale chip that I am dying to try: Hummus Kale Chips (made with chickpeas)!
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite vegetable. I will randomly select a winner on July 30, 2014. Good luck!
Other recipes from Choosing Raw shared elsewhere:
We reached critical mass last weekend.
I am not joking.
We ran out of room in the refrigerator.
Who knew greens could take up so much space?
I loaded up at our favourite market. $7 got us heaps of produce along with our $5 case of mangoes. The mangoes and bananas didn’t go into the fridge, but it was hard enough to get my bag of 9 leeks ($1!) and 3 heads of Boston lettuce ($1!) in there.
But then, I went to the potluck. How could I not support buying some freshly picked organic kale grown by school children from a nearby elementary school? And that is how I also ended up with a good 3-4 bunches worth of kale and could barely close my fridge.
Thank goodness Rob hasn’t strangled me just yet.
With prices so low, we don’t feel as guilty if I don’t eat through everything. But I try!!
Instead of tackling all the leeks and my new produce, I decided to dig through my vegetable bins to find the older vegetables. Finish off the snap peas, carrots and bell peppers, and the last of the scraggly cilantro and scallions. For protein, I quick-thawed some edamame.
This combination reminded me of my vegetable buddha salad bowl but since we’re low on miso, I went with a dressing more reminiscent of my (other) raw Asian kale salad with edamame. With so many colourful vegetables and an Asian dressing, how could you go wrong?
Please share with me your favourite kale and leek recipes! Also, for fresh chickpeas since I scored those too! :)
PS. This is my submission to Definition Magazine Summer Salad Redux Recipe Contest and this week’s Souper Sundays.
My lovely friend, Dawn, recently asked me to share my tips for food blogging.
As you know, I have a demanding full-time job and this is my hobby. After a few years, I think I have a great balance between managing the blog and the rest of my life. Mainly, the blog does not take over my life.
Some people wonder how I make and share so many different recipes without losing my mind.
I try to keep things low-key. I only take photos once. New recipe, snap a photo. If I come back and the photos suck, oh well… I will still post the subpar photos if the recipe is good.
This also means that I may make a recipe one way but find a better use for it afterwards as leftovers. Then my photos might not look like my recipe!
That is how this recipe evolved. It started out as a Thai Kale Salad with Chickpeas and a Peanut Dressing. I made it, I ate it. However, the next day, I thought rice paper rolls would be better. So I wrapped them up… and decided I didn’t want to bother with new photographs and munched away. Of course, the wrap was better. There is something sensational when all the components of the dish hit your palate at the exact same time: the lemony kale, the sweet red pepper, the crunchy carrots and the chickpeas are not rolling around everywhere…. and how could I forget the delicious peanut sauce? It is light, thinned with vinegar but flavourful with the ginger and orange. Drizzled into the salad roll, it was delicious. So delicious, I gobbled up the rest of the salad before rethinking about a new photo shoot.
Want more advice on how to be an awesome food blogger? Check out Dawn’s round-up with tips from Joanne at Eats Well With Others, Alissa from Connoisseurus Veg, Susan Voisin from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, Cara Lyons from Cara’s Cravings and Alyssa from Queen of Quinoa.
One reason Easter snuck up on me this year is because I do not get a statutory holiday this weekend. In Canada, I usually get Good Friday off. (In Quebec, I think they get the Monday off instead). Here in Texas, nothing. Although I think stores may be closed on Sunday.
The second reason, of course, is that we will not be celebrating it with family or friends.
I have even less knowledge of Passover but it passed my mind as I made this quintessential Arabic-Jewish dish: Shakshouka.
I first encountered shakshouka (also known as shakshuka or chakchoukah) in Morocco. At its roots, it is a mildly spiced tomato dish in which eggs are poached directly in the tomatoes. Like most dishes, every city had its own variation: more vegetables, less vegetables, more spice, less spice.
I was drawn to this version due to the overabundance of vegetables. Tomatoes, bell peppers and cabbage. Shakshouka’s country of origin may lie in Morocco’s neighbouring country of Tunisia, known for its hot and spicy harissa pepper paste. While I have made my own (not-too-spicy) harissa before, I opted for something quasi-similar I had in my kitchen: pat-chi. Aka, kale and collard kimchi spiced with Thai chiles. Aka, related to kimchi with a yaya-twist. A little bit goes a long way to flavour our vegetable ragout.
To keep this vegan, I swapped the eggs (perhaps totally losing the essence of shakshouka) for chickpeas. I loved it. But sadly, upon investigation found that with this swap, this would no longer be appropriate for passover. No chickpeas for Passover. Perhaps you could serve the ragout with some quinoa: now kosher approved for Passover.
Will you be celebrating Easter or Passover this weekend?
I am sorry but not sorry, Canada.
I am sorry that this was one really long and cold winter. But I am not sorry I missed it.
Last week, I returned to Canada. In Montreal, I was greeted by mountains of snow banks that still had to melt away. However, by the end of my stay, a fresh blanket of snow covered the city in near white-out conditions. My flight home was cancelled but Air Canada thoughtfully put us on a later flight, skirting the worst of the storm.
(People poo-poo Air Canada but I like flying with them, especially compared to any airline based in the US. I can catch up on my movie watching (no additional charge!) and sometimes they even give me pretzels (HA!)).
Knowing full well that warm meals are still in season (even Houston’s weather has tamed somewhat), I am unashamedly sharing yet another winter squash recipe. In March. Because, yes, they are still on my counter and based on my last post with kabocha squash, still in your kitchens, too. Plus, this dish was too good to hide until next year.
It is a deceivingly simple recipe: spaghetti squash, kale, chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, smoked paprika and curry powder. In fact, it sounded downright weird. However, after I tasted it, it made sense. A lot of curries are tomato-based and while I don’t use tomato, sun-dried tomatoes deliver intense bursts of tomato flavour without sauciness. Smoked paprika adds a different twist so this isn’t a boring, bland curry. Chickpeas add protein and bulk. The kale is more earthy but a barely noticeable way to eat some greenery. The spaghetti squash is merely a backdrop but sops up the flavours deliciously. This dish made fabulous leftovers, allowing the flavours to meld even further.
Did you get walloped with more snow this weekend, too?