janet @ the taste space

Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

Chinese Five Spice Vegetable and Noodle Stir Fry, Take 2

In Mains (Vegetarian) on January 22, 2013 at 5:46 AM

Chinese Five Spice Vegetable and Noodle Stir Fry, Take 2

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I reflect on where I have been and I wonder how I managed to pull through. How did I manage to survive 4 years of medical school? Nearly 5 years of residency? Cycle between Ottawa and Kingston and back again? In the thick of it: I don’t think, I just perform.

During medical school, for the first two years, I routinely had lectures from 8am to 5pm every day, interspersed with small group sessions, anatomy labs and clinical skills workshops.  Even when I go to conferences, I don’t subject myself to 9 hours of lectures in a day. It is just nuts. However, this weekend I sat through 3 days of intense review-type lectures. Rapid fast compressed learning, except it was more of a reminder of things I already knew. However, after 10 hours of lectures on Saturday, and a lengthy 3 hour drive home (thank you Toronto traffic), I was positively pooped. The next day, too. The last thing I wanted to do was to cook… it was that bad. I ended up sleeping at 8pm. ;)

Meals stashed in the freezer are a definite boon these days. However, I find cooking therapeutic. A way to destress as I chop and julienne vegetables, stirring patiently as I saute onions or peacefully munch through the leftovers.

When I finally made it back into the kitchen, instead of reinventing the wheel, I revamped an old favourite. This is a variation of my Chinese Five Spice Vegetable and Noodle Stir Fry. Same flavours, mostly different vegetables. Turns out the original recipe called for winter vegetables like Brussels sprouts. My first incarnation included parsnips, carrots, green beans, oyster mushrooms and Swiss chard; basically the odds and ends in my fridge. This time, I included thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, enoki mushrooms, carrots and parsnips: the current odds and ends in my fridge. The hardest part is chopping all the vegetables, but a quick saute in the wok yields a flavourful meal from the Chinese five spice. I use kelp noodles, which I like in Asian stir fries, but feel free to use your favourite noodle. Gena recently wrote a great post all about kelp noodles if you have yet to try them. I am already imagining my next incarnation, likely including edamame. :)

Chinese Five Spice Vegetable and Noodle Stir Fry, Take 2

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Marta.

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Red Lentil Fusilli with a Zippy Vegan Rose Sauce

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on January 19, 2013 at 7:19 AM

It wasn’t until I became a vegan that I started worrying about the nutritional content of my food.  I had no idea how many calories I should eat, how much protein I should consume or how to create a balanced meal.

Now I know better. I aim to create meals that are properly nutritionally balanced, aiming for more than 50g/d. Knowing that my major sources of protein are from beans, leafy greens, whole grains and a smaller amount from nuts and seeds, a meal feels incomplete without them. Where are my beans?? Where are my vegetables?

So you may be scratching your head, wondering why the heck I would post a recipe for pasta with a rose sauce, the seemingly antithesis of what I eat on a daily basis. However, this dish is packed with all good things.

First, the sauce is a zippy tomato-based creamy vegan rose sauce. All of the vegetables are roasted to create a lovely, creamy backdrop: roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted cauliflower, roasted garlic and roasted shallots. I sprinkled Aleppo chili flakes overtop to add a nice zip to the sauce. The cheesiness of a standard rose sauce is achieved with nutritional yeast, without being overpowering and cashew butter as a thickener. Throw it into your blender for an easy, delicious sauce.

But what to pair it with?

I recently picked up a package of red lentil pasta. Beans hidden in pasta form! Made by Eco Chefs, the only ingredients are red lentils and water and thus pack a nice amount of protein compared to other pastas. While I often use zucchini as a pasta substitute, it was nice to be able to have fusilli-shaped pasta. My spiralizer can’t do that to any zucchini. ;)

Next time, I may try blending in white beans, like in my High-Protein Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Alfredo Pasta or add in more greens.

Red Lentil Fusilli with a Zippy Vegan Rose Sauce

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

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Herby, Peanutty Noodly Salad

In Mains (Vegetarian), Salads on December 20, 2012 at 6:22 AM

What better way to sneak back into sweetened life than by eating through Doug McNish’s cooking class. I’ve done a few cooking classes before, but this one was definitely one of my favourites. While I am still no master of the knives, I felt that this class was awesome despite not being hands on. Instead, we chatted and watched as Doug created this fabulous menu in under 3 hours.

– Painted Fruit

– Raw Berry Jam

– Fermented Lemon Vanilla Cashew Yogurt

– Avocado Fries with Sundried Tomato Ketchup

– Carrot and Kelp Noodle Pad Thai, Sweet and Spicy Almond Crumble

– Kelp Noodle “Stir Fry” Pear Ginger Miso Sauce, Wilted Spinach and Hemp

– Sweet Potato and Carrot Mac N Cheese

– Mushroom Walnut Stroganoff, Moroccan Spiced Dandelion Greens

– Thick Cut Zucchini Bread, Avocado, Eggplant Bacon, Hemp Mayo

– Chocolate Avocado Torte, Almond Flax Crust

– Banana Crepes, Chocolate Sauce, Walnut Crumble, Raspberry Coulis, Caramelized Peach

Yes, that is over 20 recipes. We munched on a few of the dishes as they were made, but for the most part, the eight of us split the food to take home and eat as leftovers. Batch cooking for the win! :)

This is where the class shined: The recipes were great. Doug has worked in and with many restaurants and knows his stuff. His recipes are restaurant quality. He highlighted the importance of plating and presentation. He didn’t hide his secrets.Those banana crepes we made? Sound familiar? He made them this summer when he had a special brunch menu at Raw Aura. Some of the recipes are from his current book, some from his upcoming book and others were modifications of published recipes. He does not measure as he cooks. He tastes as he goes and modifies based on the freshness of the ingredients (something I really should learn how to do more naturally).

Doug has previously shared many of his recipes, especially in his cookbook, including his infamous sour cream and onion kale chips. However, I have yet to try any of his recipes. I have been daunted by his zealous use of oils, nut butters and agave. I know his food tastes good, although a bit heavy for me. After making Peacefood Cafe’s Raw Key Lime Pie earlier this summer, I know that restaurant quality really translates to fat and sugar, namely oil and agave!

Trust me, though, I licked my takeaway containers with the delicious food, though. I hope to reintroduce these foods into my kitchen a little bit more Janet-friendly… but most importantly, my spark has been rekindled for raw foods. It also helps that we still have not hit real winter weather yet. Until then, light salads such as this seems to fit the bill.

Herby, peanutty noodly salad. I couldn’t even make up a name as fun as this (Rob probably could but he didn’t). Pick your favourite herbs and toss them in this lime-spiked dressing. Coat noodles of your choice and add in some green vegetables like snow peas, snap peas or even broccoli. Toss with some (toasted) peanuts for some crunch and fats. Not as decadent as the meals this weekend, but I am ok with that.

PS. For those in the GTA, my newest health food store find is Foods For Life which had kelp noodles (16 oz) for $2.49 earlier this week. A quick sale since they expire in January. However, a great price to try these noodles! They also have kamut!

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s River Cottage Rocks, and to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays.

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Tess’ Ultimate Peanut Sauce

In Favourites, Salads, Sides on November 11, 2012 at 10:27 AM

I’ve told you my weekly menus now revolve around a new dressing.

Now that veggies may not necessarily be at their peak, a good dressing is key to eating raw salads.

Or, once you make this dressing, you may just decide to drink it instead. Forgetting the veggies altogether.

It took me a long, long while to finally make Tess’ peanut sauce.  Her recipe was daunting with the coconut milk, peanut butter and heavy use of agave. Tess’ last coconut-based sauce (the creamy Thai cilantro ginger sauce) was heavenly so I knew I should try it out. Eventually.

However, I was guarding the last of our molasses for the recipe. With my pantry purge and gusto of tackling old bookmarked recipes from October, I finally took the plunge. With less sweetener, less sodium AND using coconut beverage, we have a winner. A drinkable winner. The twist from the other peanut dressings comes from the bite from molasses and umami from the fermented black bean sauce. Use it to coat anything. Veggies, grains, beans, you name it. Here, I paired it with sliced carrots, thinly sliced sugar snap peas, julienned baby bok choy, kelp noodles and pea shoots.

I suppose this is a good time to let you all in on a challenge I started this month. A sweetener-free challenge. For 8 weeks along with Gabby and Megan. Leanne is also doing a 2-week sugar-free cleanse which is a bit too extreme for me. While I have already cut out refined sugars, I am going to limit my intake of other sweeteners, including dried fruit, maple syrup, agave and stevia. I decided to keep eating fruit that isn’t sweet (cranberries, green papaya, tamarind, etc) since they are more sour than sweet.  As I work through some of my recent recipe successes, a few may still contain sweeteners which is good for those of you still using them. :)

This is my submission to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Ruth (the last one!) and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Chili-Lime Noodles

In Mains (Vegetarian), Sides on October 5, 2012 at 6:24 AM

This post is dedicated to my Mom.

Whenever we chat on the phone, she likes to ask me how I am doing eating through my pantry. Are you still eating all your noodles? What about your beans?

I’ve tried to reassure her that yes, we are eating through our pantry. I am still eating through my kelp noodles, my collection of beans and polishing off assorted grains like millet. She just might not be able to tell from my blog posts. Not everything makes it to the blog and sometimes it can take a while for me to put together a proper post (backlog!).

So here we go: photographic proof we’re eating the soba noodles, too. OK, Rob is eating the soba noodles. ;)

Never doubt a Tess recipe. Here we have soba noodles that are smothered in a bright, tangy, zesty and most importantly delicious chili-lime dressing. The dressing has mostly raw ingredients, like garlic and cilantro that complement the heat from the sriracha, ginger and green onion and the sour from the fresh lime juice. A little sweetness goes a long way in balancing the flavours from the agave.

As with most dressings, feel free to add any vegetables you desire. I just photographed the base noodles, but it was served with pan-fried tofu and eggplant, since they were lingering in the fridge. Somehow the addition of eggplants didn’t make for a very photogenic dish, but Mom, believe me that we had some veggies and protein with this meal. ;)

This is my submission to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Val, and to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday and Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.

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Sriracha Peanut Udon Noodles with Tofu and Broccoli

In Mains (Vegetarian) on September 24, 2012 at 5:58 AM

While I don’t share all my meals with you, I still photograph the majority of my meals if convenient. A quick run upstairs, snap a few photos, and then eat away.  Sometimes I kick myself for not having taken a photo, especially if I eat it all before I have a second chance, which is why I try to photograph my meals.

The real conundrum is whether to photograph the meals that Rob makes. Not because I don’t like to post his meals (I do), but sometimes the meals aren’t what I like, or don’t use ingredients that I eat, etc, but importantly, I may not be around to snap the photo.

When Rob made these udon noodles with a spicy peanut-hoisin sauce (he forgot to add the hoisin sauce, oops!), we deliberated. Did I want to take some photos? Is it blog worthy, I asked? How does it taste? Is it spicy? There’s a 1 tbsp of sriracha in it, gosh, I’d never do that!

Initially, he thought he preferred his other udon noodle dish with a miso sauce, but happily munched away. I tasted some of the broccoli and tofu smothered in the peanut sauce. Delicious. I ate some more. Not really that spicy, totally Janet friendly. The sweetness from the agave and the peanut butter lend a helping hand to the subtle heat from the sriracha. The vinegar adds the sour dimension. And while Rob forgot to add the hoisin sauce, it tasted like it had already been added anyhow.

As you can tell, I then ran upstairs to photograph a bowl of delicious noodles. While we have yet to see whether this will truly be a Rob’s Repeater Recipe, I can safely assure you that we both liked this dish. I may whip out the kelp noodles to make the peanut sauce again! And when Rob makes the udon with miso sauce again, I’ll try to grab some pics, too. :)

Spicy Peanut Udon Noodles with Tofu and Broccoli

This is my submission to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Elizabeth.

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Zucchini Spaghetti with Chickpeas and a Roasted Tomato-Peach Sauce

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on August 31, 2012 at 6:21 AM

There should be some limits.

I shouldn’t be able to buy anything I can’t lift at the grocery store.

Technically, I could lift the crate of tomatoes. Into the shopping cart, into the car, and into the house. And then onto the scale to see how many tomatoes I got for $10!

53 lbs of tomato goodness

It is a lot more tomatoes than you think

For this recipe, I used 5 cups of tomatoes. That seems like a lot on any normal day in my kitchen. It didn’t even make a dent.

I ended up roasting, dehydrating and cooking up half of the tomatoes last weekend. Round two starts tomorrow!  Please share with me your favourite recipes. Bonus for any water-cannable recipes…. my freezer is becoming uber full.

Back to this recipe at hand, which combines seemingly polarized end of summer produce: tomatoes and peaches. Both become sweet through roasting in the oven, which is augmented with Ancho chili powder, and then tamed by balsamic vinegar. Fresh tarragon and cinnamon confer a lovely, unexpected depth to the sauce. Hot, sweet, sour… we’ve got you covered. Chickpeas are added for protein and this was delicious served overtop zucchini spaghetti.

This is my submission to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Simona, to this month’s Herbs on Saturdays, to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes. Read the rest of this entry »

Mango and Snap Pea Noodle Salad with a Tangy Peanut Dressing

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads on August 17, 2012 at 6:32 AM

This week I have been addicted to peanut butter.

I made this peanut butter banana smoothie until we ran out of ingredients. First I ran out of frozen bananas, and found out that ice + fresh bananas are truly sub-par substitutes. Next, I ran out of peanut butter, too.  I considered making my own homemade peanut butter, but gosh, I am out of peanuts, too. That’s when my addiction stopped. I had to stop cold turkey. It was probably for the better of us both.

Mango and Snap Pea Noodle Salad with a Tangy Peanut Dressing

Thankfully, I made this salad earlier in the week and have been enjoying it ever since.

Sweet mangoes and sugar snap peas are paired with a tangy, acidic (in a good way) peanut dressing, spiced with green onions and tossed overtop peppery Asian baby greens (bring on the mizuna!). I also added kelp noodles, to add a bit more bulk. They are great additions to salads since they don’t slurp up the extra dressing. I liked that the vinegar in the dressing made this quite a light peanut dressing. I normally pair coconut milk with my peanut dressings, so this was a nice change. Light and refreshing, yet still substantial. Perfect to eat during this hot summer.

This is my submission to Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Ruth, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Fridays, and and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Creamy Green on Green Pasta (aka Raw Kelp Noodles and Broccoli with a Creamy Lemon-Basil Whipped Avocado Sauce)

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on June 28, 2012 at 6:07 AM

I am really enjoying my simplistic meals these days.

First decide on a sauce or dressing. Pick your favourite veggies. Decide on a base – bean or grain.

Here, I went raw for Raw Thursdays. I picked a lusciously creamy lemon and basil dressing. How does it become so creamy? Hidden inside is a whipped avocado. Adding warm water also adds a lightness without added fats.

My veggie of choice: chopped broccoli.

My base: kelp noodles.

Rob tasted this after I had cleaned up the kitchen. I was surprised he picked up on the avocado right away since I found the lemon, basil and garlic more pronounced while the avocado was there to deliver the lusciousness.  I quizzed him- How was he so smart? He noticed the sauce was green and assumed it was from the avocados in the fridge. I protested and blamed the green on the pureed basil. In any case, he was right. He must be more in tune with his avocado sensors than me. ;)

Regardless, while I usually shun creamy dressings, this was both creamy and light at the same time. Perfect in every way.  Just be careful not to eat the entire dish in one sitting! Leftover (chilled) dressing was also great in…. wait for it…. a wrap!! (also filled with carrot, cabbage, cucumber and sprouts!)

I can’t wait to try out more avocado dressings. Do you have a favourite?

This is my submission to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Girlichef, to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, and Ruth and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

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Thai Kelp Noodle Salad with Mango and Lima Beans

In Mains (Vegetarian), Salads on June 15, 2012 at 6:18 AM

I used to want a mango tree in my backyard. Scrap that.

Now I want a mamey tree.

I ate a lot while I was in Colombia. A lot of fruit, I mean frutas. Fruit au naturel and lots of fruit as juice. Not bottled juice. Jugos naturales: fruit + water in blender and strained. Pure bliss.

I had a few foodie missions while in Colombia. I definitely succeeded in exploring the different fruits. I even tried familiar fruits in case they tasted different, fresh from the South.

I think I lost track of everything I tried.

From the more obscure, I tried: curuba, feijoa, lulo, guanabana (soursop), anon (sugar apple), pitaya (dragon fruit), zapote, mamey and mamoncillo. Passion fruit: maracuja, as well as the purple gulupa and the smaller sweet granadilla. Oh, and açai, too, in a smoothie. Apparently we missed cherimoya (custard apple) and pomarrosa. We obviously need to go back (although I think I spotted both of them at my nearby grocer for $5/lb).

Then there are ones I already knew… and was won over by the sweetness of fresh fruit. Papaya has never been so lovely. Tons of bananas. Smaller bananas, too, bananitas (or banana bocadillo). Mangoes (mainly Tommy Atkins but they had smaller ones, too). Pineapple (did you know there are red pineapples? They had pits! Yes, pineapples have pits!!). Avocados. Starfruit. Young green coconut opened for us with a machete. Strawberries, blackberries (mora), watermelons, oranges and even apples.

I remember ordering a drink at a restaurant with a new-to-me fruit: sandia. The waiter described it as a fruit with a green skin, a pink inside with black seeds. I was excited to try something new! Only to find out it was in fact… watermelon. But still, it was a tasty watermelon and the watermelon jugos naturales really hit the spot.

My favourite? Well, it is a toss up between guanabana, anon, mamey and zapote. And lulo… and granadilla. OK, I can’t pick only one. Each one different than any fruit I’d had before. I’d love to plant a tree of each one in my backyard. Sadly, I don’t live in Colombia. Who thinks I can find a mamey tree in Texas for next year? I’d rent the place in a heart beat! ;)

In any case, as much as I’d like to think it was back to normal upon my return, I really had to wean myself off the fruits. While I mostly ate them plain and in juice form in Colombia, here I’ve opted for a more filling main course salad courtesy of Ottolenghi.

Thai-inspired, the star of this dish is the creamy coconut-based dressing infused with lemongrass, Keffir lime leaves, ginger and shallots, balanced with a touch of tamarind, fresh lime juice, toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. All of the flavours are enhanced through the reduction of the coconut milk. It is probably one of the more elaborate and lengthy dressings to make, but easy none-the-less, and can be made in advance. The original recipe calls for canned coconut milk, but I opted for the coconut milk beverage (great idea from my spicy coconut-braised collards) instead which still produced a lighter dressing after the reduction.

Here, the dressing is used to bathe a kelp noodle salad with chopped mango, cucumber, lima beans (I used smaller Jackson Wonder lima beans) along with mint, cilantro and cashews. Add the dressing just prior to serving. The flavourful dressing worked well with the contrasting sweet mango, creamy beans and crunchy cucumber. Enjoy!

This is my submission to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring leafless salads, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, to this week’s Potluck Party, to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness, this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Simona, to this week’s Summer Salad Sundays and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Chinese Five Spice Vegetable and Noodle Stir Fry

In Mains (Vegetarian) on May 1, 2012 at 5:42 AM

A new home; a new 5 keys.

Trust me, I am not complaining about now having a garage. Although 5 keys is certainly overwhelming. First front door, second front door, rear door, garage door and garage.

While we are still unpacking boxes, and likely will for many weeks, the kitchen is functional. The bedroom is almost unpacked (minus my clothes) and we have no idea what to with ourselves now that we have 3 bathrooms.

In any case, while Rob and I have moved many, many times before, this is the first time we hired movers. So completely worth it. Our friends and family must think so, as well. ;) Our movers were work horses: incredibly strong, super fast while still being very gentle. One of the movers relished telling me a new joke every time he saw me. If anyone needs cheap, efficient movers in the GTA, shoot me an email and I’ll give you their contact info.

While there are many great things about our new place, we are kind of sad we don’t have a basement. You can really scurry things out of sight and mind, so our move forced Rob and I to go through another round of purging and incidentally, discover new things, as well.  Rob had some pretty bowls (and pretty chopsticks!) hidden in the basement that I unearthed! I also didn’t know that I had so many packages of kelp noodles. I knew I had bought a case (or two) when they went on sale, but looks like a lot more noodles once I take them out of the case. ;)

For one of my first meals in the new home, I decided to break in the kitchen with a quick and easy stir fry. I also inadvertently christened the kitchen by setting off the smoke alarm. I swear, there was nothing burning! I will have to be careful to not wake up my neighbors. I adapted Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Winter Stir Fry with Chinese Five Spice to what I had left in my vegetable crisper. Winter root vegetables are fabulous for keeping so long, but it felt nice to use up the remainder of my root veggies, along with some spring veggies. Goodbye winter, hello spring.

The heart of this stir fry is the Chinese Five Spice powder, which stems from the heart of Szechuan cooking. It is aromatic and savoury, composed of star anise, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves and Szechuan peppercorns. A seven spice blend may also include ginger and black peppercorns. A complex spice blend, a little goes a long way and really shines here.

Throw in your own favourite vegetables with some noodles and then toss with a sake, tamari and Chinese five spice dressing. The drizzle of lime at the ends adds the perfect acidic balance to the veggie-centric meal. Feel like more protein? Add some tofu or tempeh. Me? My pantry is all cleaned out of tofu!

While I had been working through my pantry prior to this move, I plan on eating through the remainder over the next year before our BIG move to the US. Expect to see more recipes with kelp noodles! What are your favourite ways of eating them?

Here are a few other recipes with Chinese Five Spice:

Five Spice Roasted Delicata Squash from Appetite for Reduction
Fluffy Sesame Baked Tofu
from Sprint 2 the Table
Broccoli Slaw Salad with Five-Spice Tofu from Vegetarian Times
Chinese Five-Spice Noodles with Broccoli from Serious Eats
Smoky Pomegranate Tofu with Coconut Rice from Vegan with a Vengeance
Acorn Squash, Pear and Adzuki Soup with Sautéed Shiitakes from Post Punk Kitchen
Chinese Five Spice Miso Soup with Shitakes and Edamame from Florida Coastal Cooking
Star Anise-Glazed Tempeh with Stir-Fried Peppers from Joanne Eats Well With Others

This is my submission to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Ruth, to this month’s pasta bloghop, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, Virtual Vegan Potluck and to Cookbooks Sundays.

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Raw Alfredo Sauce with Basil, Cherry Tomatoes and Zucchini Noodles

In Mains (Vegetarian), Salads on April 17, 2012 at 6:00 AM

So the joke’s on me.

70% chance of rain yesterday. I hate rainy Mondays because I have to go all over the place, with 5 destinations yesterday. If I took the subway, I’d need a day-pass!

I plotted the forecast and took my chances.  No rain! I beat the weather demon!

I lost the meal planning, though. Instead of rain, turns out it was 27C with 70% humidity. It felt down-right tropical. I was cycling around in my shorts and top, it was that awesome. When I got home, I wanted a light and crisp salad! No chili, thank you kindly.

As the summer alternative to my High-Protein Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Alfredo Pasta, I went totally raw with a light and fresh raw alfredo sauce with basil and sun-dried and cherry tomatoes smothering zucchini noodles.

Trust me, this hit the spot.

Utterly delicious. The sauce is bright with the lemon, creamy from the cashews yet still light since it is thinned with water. Miso adds that lovely fifth dimension.

I threw in some vegetables I had hanging around (cherry tomatoes, carrot, cucumber) as well as fresh basil. Gena has also paired this with tempeh, which I might add next time. Because this recipe is definitely worth repeating.

For those of you interested in my commuting challenges, I had a real quandary today. As you know, I enjoy Steve’s downtown spinning classes on Mondays. Except I had to be at work early, so there was no way I could do both.

I was up a bit earlier than usual, so I decided to try the 0630 spinning class at my old gym. With a 9km commute just to get to the gym, that meant I was leaving home around 0545. You see, this gym has an intense and awesome spinning culture. This is where I fell in love with spinning. The regulars are incredibly supportive. Kind of like where everyone knows your name. Indeed, despite not being there since I moved (10 months ago), I was greeted on a first name basis.

I still get the weekly emails (it even has its own member-driven website with instructor AND member profiles!) with interesting news and stories, guests instructors (aka subs but sounds so much nicer, eh?) and the ever elusive sign up trends. Over the winter, it was not unheard of the spinning classes to fill up 30 minutes before the class started throughout the week, INCLUDING the 0630 classes. I used to be a regular in Dave’s classes, so I completely understand, but that’s intense. Now that the weather has been nicer, the 0630 classes finally weren’t filling up at 0600, so I figured I could try my luck at the Monday class if I showed up 15 minutes early.

Suffice it to say, I have a new Monday morning spin class love. So completely different than any of my other classes, with a focus on cardio and core training, I loved the diversity. Furthermore, I loved being back with the gang, with all the hooting and hollering. It is one of the most boisterous spinning groups I have ever been with.

I will admit that one drawback of our new (upcoming) home, is the serious lack of gyms nearby.  I had planned to continue with the gym close to work, but since my old gym is just a minor detour away (still 10km away, though), I may just end up there instead. We’ll see how it goes!  I usually wake up at 0530, but this may require an even earlier start to the day. Obviously I am not thinking clearly at the moment, haha! ;)

As for Monday morning Steve? He may turn into Friday morning Steve if I meander to a different gym. ;)

Anyhow, the moral of the story? Take a risk. You might find a new love.
(Btw, there is no risk with trying out this delicious sauce. You will be smitten, too. Spinning can be a bit hit-or-miss, I understand).

This is my submission to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Ruth, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Fridays, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this month‘s Simple and in Season.

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High-Protein Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Alfredo Pasta

In Mains (Vegetarian) on April 3, 2012 at 6:00 AM

A new month, a new hospital.

Yesterday I was (slightly) complaining about my upcoming commute from our new home. After today, a 10-12 km one-way commute seems like peanuts.

A last minute change in scheduling has me rotating at a hospital outside the downtown core for April. My total commute yesterday was 37 km. Almost 2 hours on the bike.  The day’s schedule was a bit more erratic than normal, but basically my cycling looked like this:

8 km from home to downtown gym (0700 spinning class!)
10 km from downtown gym to uptown hospital (UPHILL!)
10 km from uptown hospital to downtown hospital
8 km from downtown hospital to home

Thank goodness it was broken up over the course of the day, but it was likely the spinning class that had me sore by lunch.

Considering I just started cycling to work last week, this is quite the lengthy commute.  While I have been going to the gym ~5x week throughout the winter, I always find new muscles when I hop back on my bike in the spring. I made sure to wear my padded cycling shorts. ;)

I decided to make Sunday my rest day from the gym to give me a fresh start on Monday. While Rob went to a spinning class, I was in the kitchen making this high-protein alfredo sauce with white beans, soy milk and roasted cauliflower. I bookmarked the original recipe from Jess but finally made it after Johanna also had success. My changes were roasting the cauliflower, onion and garlic with some hazelnut oil and combining that with the beans and soy milk. The lemon juice, miso, nutritional yeast and smoked paprika added extra flavour that worked well with the simple additions of baby spinach and sun-dried tomatoes to the sauce. This is a nice, comforting creamy dish. Creamy in the non-oily, non-heavy, guiltless sense, though. Perfecto! I tossed this with kelp noodles, but feel free to use your favourite pasta.

Why do I call this high-protein? Assuming you use the entire batch of sauce for 4 people (it makes a ton of sauce!), each serving has: 245 calories, 33g carbs (11g fiber), 14g protein and 8g fat. Gotta love the 2:1 carb:protein ratio! Perfect following all this cycling. :)

Two years ago, I never would have thought I would be doing commutes like this. When I started biking to work, my (one-way) commute was 4 km. Because I was essentially sedentary, I thought that was far. When I switched to a downtown hospital, my commute was 7 km, at most. When I moved out East with Rob, my commute was 8 km. When I move out West, it will be 10-12 km depending on the hospital. Having the gradual increase in distance has made this become second nature, instead of daunting. It is definitely my preferred way of traversing the city – a fun way to exercise, a great way to de-stress, faster than transit, and better for the environment. Jen recently shared this fun pic about commuting with me, which definitely reinforces why I don’t drive a car to work.

With all this cycling, I imagine I will be ready for our cycle to Niagara Falls in no time, although I am trying to figure out a better way to combine my time at the gym and commuting to work so I am not on my bike 2 hours every day!

This is my submission to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Ruth, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, to this week’s Potluck Party with high-protein vegan meals, this week’s Virtual Vegan Potluck Linky, and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Rasta Pasta

In Mains (Vegetarian) on January 27, 2012 at 6:50 AM

It is no secret that Rob and I may choose our next vacation destination based on its cuisine. Obviously, Iceland wasn’t picked based on its cuisine, although the food I had was top-notch (although not Icelandic).

One country that is creeping up in our list of places to visit is Jamaica. I don’t know how widespread the Rastafari movement is, but with its mostly-vegan cuisine (called ital), vegan options free of chemical and artificial additives should be available throughout Jamaica. According to wikipedia, they prefer more natural vegetables and fruits such as coconut and mango. Rob would be in heaven.

There are Rasta communities around the world, including Toronto where I’ve been to One Love, which serves ital and other Caribbean vegan meals. However, my introduction to Rastafarian cuisine was in Japan of all places. Around the time I was heading to Japan, Heidi gushed over Tokyo’s only ital noodle shop. Sure enough, a lover of food but not even vegetarian at the time, we scoped out this teeny tiny restaurant completely off the tourist track. We enjoyed our noodles and other veggie dishes. While this was Heidi’s best meal of her trip, I will admit that my fresh sashimi was unbeatable at the Tsukiji Market.  If I were vegan at the time, I would have really appreciated the vegan soba noodles. In Japan, fresh soba noodles are richer because they are typically made with Japanese fish broth, dashi.

Now that I am vegan, I was stoked to try Rasta Pasta that I found in Big Vegan. A bowl full of vegetables (green beans! mushrooms! collards!, tomato!), with some noodles, too, in a coconut-curry-tomato sauce. It had a lot of the similar ingredients as my favourite Kelp Noodles, Baby Bok Choy, Broccoli and Red Pepper with a Coconut-Peanut Sauce but it was so different.  The recipe called for 1 tbsp of curry powder. I’ve made other Caribbean dishes that were unpalatable by their heat (ok for Rob, just not me), so I went tame. I didn’t even use curry powder. I substituted 1 tsp of garam masala instead.

It was a quick noodle stir-fry. With the garam masala, it was savoury. It lacked the sweetness from coconut-peanut sauce, and originally I thought it was rather pungent but truthfully, as I ate the leftovers, that was exactly why I liked it. Nothing too crazy and creamy, just a savoury veggie and noodle dish. However, now that the Madras curry powder has been given the green light in my kitchen, I’d love to try this again with curry powder. If you try it, let me know how you like it!

As a vegan, where would you prefer to travel?


This is my submission to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Ruth, to this week’s Wellness Weekend and to My Kitchen, My World for Jamaica.

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15-Minute Zippy Garlic-Basil Marinara with Zucchini Noodles

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on July 22, 2011 at 5:47 AM


Please pardon my oven use during the heat wave. The Greek Baked Beans were worth it, though. Delicious lunch-friendly leftovers.

I should be absolved of my wrong doings with this meal. No oven. No stove top. Not even a blender.

Instead, I christened my new spiralizer (thanks Rob!) by making zucchini noodles. I have done julienning by hand, and this is infinitely easier, consistent and pretty! Just look at these long strands of zucchini! In 30 seconds tops, you have your noodles!


Of course, whenever you have a pasta dish, the meal is all about the sauce.

I went for a quick, super easy raw tomato sauce. 15 minutes, tops. I told you, no cooking or blender required.

A love of garlic, a must, though.

Zippy Garlic-Basil Marinara with Zucchini Noodles
Adapted from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth (the original recipe was posted here by Tess), this is a zippy, rich tomato sauce. The raw ingredients really make this sauce pop. All you do is mix together crushed tomatoes, raw garlic, fresh basil, fresh oregano, a bit of olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and you’re done!

You’ll be laughing at how simple and healthy this recipe is… but then afraid to bring the leftovers to eat at work, with all that raw garlic. :P

Now, if you don’t have a spiralizer, this sauce would be equally delicious over linguine or spaghetti, but then you’d have to boil some water for that!

What’s your favourite sauce for zucchini noodles? Or your favourite pasta dish?


This is my submission to this week’s Presto Past Nights, hosted by Anu of Truth Personified, to this month’s Simple and in Season, and to Ricki’s new Summer Wellness Weekends.

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