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.
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.
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.
With all this talk of cold going around here, you might be reasoning it is because I forgot what winter was like while I was in Texas. I assure you, this is not the case. But it does kind of make me resent it slightly and appreciate the cold spells.
Truth be told, we have been having difficulties with our furnace. During the coldest days, it also goes on strike. I spoke about it briefly here and thought a new thermostat was going to keep us warm over the winter. Imagine my dismay as I come home after work to a frigid home… and I could not get the furnace to work. Our landlord told us to sit tight, he would get us a space heater and the repair man would arrive the next morning.
Um, yeah. Not a happy camper. I went upstairs and decided to warm up the bed. It would be a cold night.
Turns out when Rob came home, he had a bit more patience in the freezing basement and reset the furnace. We were saved!
Obviously I didn’t make this with our frigid kitchen but it would have quickly warmed it up. (I opted for a quickie rewarming of leftover broccoli dal instead). It is a rather simple combination of spices and nooch for roasted chickpeas and brussels sprouts. Easy peasy and quite delicious. Definitely give it a try and let me know what you think.
If you like this, you may also like these:
I am sharing this with Extra Veg.
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:
When I said our meals have become more simple, this is probably not what you had in mind. I had not planned on sharing this either, but the meal was delicious and I scooped together the little bits left unclaimed and snapped photos to share. I loved the meal, I loved these photos, and had to share.
In an honesty, Rob is a great cook. I merely helped to assemble the ingredients. Rob was making an off-the-cuff version of our tofu migas but as we ate it, we thought it reminded us of the chilaquiles we would devour from Radical Eats in Houston. Minus the deep-fried tortillas. Eerily enough, Erica shared her baked version of chilaquiles (recipe here with black beans and kale), which I read afterwards. Great minds think alike! We opted not to make it sopping in a tomato-broth, as we used sun-dried tomatoes to help keep the chips crispy.
In any case, while these were simple to make, it brought together a few components we already had. Namely, we made JL’s Lentil TVP Taco Filling earlier in the week (I changed the spices slightly) as our ground meat substitute. My cousin also gifted us some homemade tomatillo salsa. It was quite spicy but worked well when mixed directly with the other ingredients.
In short, we started by using almost stale corn tortilla chips by baking them in the oven. Rob sauteed some sweet onions (reserving some for the topping) and sprinkled them with garlic granules (too lazy to pull the real garlic from the fridge). Next, he added the Lentil-TVP taco filling, heating it up. Because we were out of plain tofu, he added 4 eggs along with some soy milk and the tomatillo salsa, scrambling all the ingredients together. Once fully cooked, he stirred in the baked tortilla chips, heating all the way through. A sprinkle of fresh lime juice and a side of tomato salsa solidified this as a perfect New Year’s Day brunch.
I am not sure if quasi-recipes like this help you. What do you think?
I told you it was a good time for vegan cookbooks. Here is the latest cute offering, The Lusty Vegan. It is a cookbook focusing on relationships. Being vegan in a relationship can be a little tricky at times and there are approachable tips and delicious recipes to satisfy the most un-vegan. Trust me, there is almost nothing as sexy than a man that can cook and these recipes span the gamut of simple to complex, such that you might actually want to work together in the kitchen.
Heart of Palm Lobster Rolls, anyone? Tempeh Fries with Dill Avocado Dip? Miso-Vermouth Braised Drunken Bok Choy? Habanero Jackfruit Fajitas? Cherry Cobbler with Cocoa Nibs? These recipes are unique but I will admit, mostly on the elaborate side. They are matched by the stage of the relationship – trying to impress your partner, trying to impress the parents, classic vegan dishes and even desserts if you ever break up.
They make me want to try new dishes but let’s be honest, right now I try to keep things stress-free in the kitchen and I think that helps both Rob and I. Of course, it is natural to want to impress your partner, but it isn’t sustainable. Does that mean we’ve become a boring couple? I certainly hope not. Life just doesn’t always revolve around food. :)
So now, a little about these tostadas. Instead of pinto beans, mung beans substitute in the refried beans. I was curious to try them in something new, although they were a bit mealy for my liking. Although after I covered it with toppings, I barely noticed. I added cooked quinoa, cabbage and carrots, as an ode to my Lime-Spiked Black Bean and Quinoa Kale Wrap. Feel free to add whatever you have lurking in your fridge.
Recipes from The Lusty Vegan spotted elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me whether you have found your food preferences have caused difficulties in your relationships. The winner will be selected at random on December 17, 2014. Good luck!
I am sharing this with My Legume Love Affair.
Despite what you make believe, I haven’t eaten any winter squash recently. I bought a colourful carnival squash but haven’t made anything with it yet. I have this recipe I made while in Houston. The giveaway? The frozen roasted corn. I can’t say I have seen that since returning to Toronto.
This is a perfect end-of-summer, beginning of fall soup, as the last of the local corn arrives and the first winter squashes arrive. Or perfect for the dead of winter, too, using frozen corn kernels.
The Three Sisters, referring to the dietary staples of the Mesoamerican diet: corn, beans and squash. They often grow together, each plant benefitted from the others. The lankly corn husks provided a structure for the beans to latch onto. The squash covers the ground, preventing pesky weeds from appearing. And like all beans, they return nitrogen to the soil to help nearby plants. It makes sense that meals would also center around such foods, equally creating a balanced meal. This meal is simple but elevated by choice herbs and spices (cilantro, chiles, smoked paprika, garlic) with a heavy hand of lime juice. I used the full amount in the recipe and even I, the lover of all things tart, found it off-putting. Please start with less and taste as you go.
The recipe comes from a cookbook I have been meaning to write about for a while, Extraordinary Vegan. I can see Allan is a partial kindred spirit in the kitchen as he realizes a few choice ingredients can elevate meals to become extraordinary. Like I have said, some of my favourite, albeit unusual ingredients, are Aleppo chile flakes, pomegranate molasses, smoked paprika and miso. These are a few of the ingredients Allan uses to create his meals. I had a few of these in my Houston kitchen, but still piecing together my larger pantry here, and now looking forward to trying other recipes. Many recipes are simple but a few use a few hard to find ingredients. Here are a few other recipes I have spotted around the web from Extraordinary Vegan.
Are the squashes out in full force in your kitchen yet?
Allow me to be honest with you. I may have lost my cooking mojo.
I haven’t really been too interested in cooking lately. My life has slowed down a lot (physically, mainly) and my heart no no longer sings in the kitchen. One must still eat, so I am still cooking… although finding it a challenge to continue to blog consistently.
And then I made this hummus. I knew I had to share it right away.
I am no stranger to strange hummus concoctions but this one was really good. Spiced with sriracha with a depthness from red peppers, I really liked it. It wasn’t too spicy (for me!) so feel free to add more sriracha for your palate. I found this had a taste reminiscent of cheese but without any nooch, I think it was from the red pepper paste. This was nice and silky straight from the food processor. Sadly, it stiffened slightly as leftovers so either eat it all at once or add some more liquid as needed.
I spoke too soon.
You know when you plan for something, know you won’t be having internet for a while and schedule a post about what life will be like (because you planned for it to be as so)?
Well, let’s just say I planned to have a semi-functioning household. En route to our new home in Toronto, packed to the brim with loaner things (you know, all the necessities: an inflatable bed, sheets, cutlery, pot, frypan, containers and all that food you made for the following week so you wouldn’t actually have to cook..), an hour and half into our trip from Ottawa, my car breaks down. We pulled off to the side of the 401 as my dashboard went bonkers and the engine stopped working.
I pulled out my cell phone. Three days earlier I had finally signed up for service. Although, looking down, my phone told me I had no service. (Bad WIND!) Not good.
Thank goodness Rob’s phone still worked, despite roaming and despite me previously draining the battery surfing the internet.
Frantic phone calls eventually got my brother and pregnant sister-in-law to my side who had the rational idea to tow the car back to Ottawa and they would drive Rob and I along with a few essentials.
We called CAA/AAA with my brother’s charged phone, despite being on hold and having dropped calls, only to find out our membership expired last month (GAH!). Membership offices are closed because it is a holiday.
We contact my Mom, who has a CAA membership and she offered to come down and help out. We knew it would be at least 90 minutes for her to arrive.
We start rearranging luggage on the side of the highway. Non-essentials in the dead car. Essentials in my brother’s. I had to make quick decisions: clothes and underwear keep, inflatable bed keep (but forgot the pump and sheets!) and also realized there was no room for all of the packed food and the container with all the helpful bits (pot, pan, knives, etc).
An OPP police officer pulls over and asks us what was going on. It must be such a sight with all of us scurrying around, including a pregnant woman and someone with crutches. He calls a tow truck to remove us from harm’s way and told us to be careful (turns out someone had died earlier that day after exiting their car).
Not too long afterwards, the tow truck arrives. The car is loaded onto the flatbed truck and brought to the closest safe location as we patiently wait for my mother to arrive.
Eventually, my Mom is able to call CAA for us and she returns with the car back to Ottawa. My brother drops us off in our new empty home. (Kind soul, he actually waited with us for 30 minutes as we waited for our landlord to give us the keys). We forgot we have no microwave.
Once we’re somewhat settled, Rob runs off to the grocery store since we have zero food. And no tokens for the bus to get to work tomorrow. He comes back loaded with groceries. We quickly eat the ready-made salads and hummus.
I ask for his can opener for the beans. (Because salsa+beans=meal). It is in the bag that went back to Ottawa. GAH.
I subsequently call up a friend and we cobble together some kitchen necessities to borrow: cutlery, can opener, bowls and plates. And a pot!
We collapse on the inflatable bed. Exhausted but at the same time basking in the love and support from family and friends. Ready for me to start my first day at work.*
*With my vacation clothes I packed for Africa.
If you are here for the lovely recipe instead of the dramatic life of Janet (I can’t make this up!), this was made while I still lived in Houston. This was our go-to roasted cauliflower recipe. A tomato base with a savoury spice blend. The original recipe was for a raw version, using the dehydrator, but we have been using tomato paste and the oven since it is both delicious and simple. A great side with lots of flavour.
Perhaps in a week or so I will be back to normal. Have you ever felt like the universe was pushing against you?
Before you start to think this will be a smoked paprika free household, have no fear. I am pretty sure Rob will let me replenish prior to moving back to Canada.
It is a bit of a race, now. Rob has made it his own personal goal to munch through our food stocks…. so, if I wait too long, my food may disappear. Use those roasted red peppers in the pantry! The roasted corn in the freezer! The last of the soy curls! (I actually had planned to use some small flageolet beans I had frozen but could not get them to thaw out of the container fast enough….)
Reminiscent of my Sweet Pepper Coconut Corn Chowder, I loved how this one was virtually bursting with vegetables. Coconut milk would make this a thick and luscious soup. This version was inspired by one of my favourite cookbooks this year, Soup’s On!, since it is packed with quick and healthy meals. Mark’s inspiration was New Orleans’ Maque Choux, a Cajun-inspired corn soup.
I loved it. Simply delicious. I worked with what we had lying around and it made a light, summery bowl of vegetable soup.
Do you like soups in the summer as well?
PS. I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.
I love when it is going to be a delicious week.
I am too lazy/tired to cook during the week, so I make everything on the weekend. A new batch of oatmeal. I create 3-4 different dishes, with possibly some fresh rice mid-week. Rob helps with the rice. His rice always seems to taste better even if we use the same rice cooker.
Anyways. I digress.
I love delicious surprises in the kitchen.
I was wooed by Tess’ creamy cauliflower soup in her latest cookbook. However, I knew cauliflower and leeks, alone, would not be a filling meal. Beans. I need some beans. Where are the beans? I could have easily blended white beans into the soup, but I don’t like pureed soups.
Keeping things a bit more texturally complex, I ran with bacon-flavoured roasted chickpea croutons! Because I was going to use the oven to roast my chickpeas, I roasted my vegetables, too. It helped to free up a coveted soup pot and oven burner, too.
I guess I get surprised by some of my successes. Light and fluffy yet still filling, the soup was as easy as blending together roasted vegetables with some spices. The bacon chickpeas added a salty-savoury topping that contrasted the soup wonderfully.
And somewhat off-topic. Not soup-related, but related by all things delicious. You know what else we recently discovered that was glorious? Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream. GAH! Annie clued me in early on that their coconut-based ice creams were delicious and they helped tame the Texan heat in the summer. Now that we’re cycling in the heat, this has become our new way to cool off.
What have you been enjoying lately?
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?
Will you forgive me for another simple cauliflower recipe?
Because I have a problem: I will eat the whole head of cauliflower in one sitting.
If Rob is around, I might share it. If he is not, I will definitely eat the whole head.
Even to me, it sounds like a lot of cauliflower. But I swear, it starts off as a lot and after I roast it, it shrivels to a manageable and enjoyable feat.
I started by buying 1 cauliflower a week. Then it was two. I rationalized that to last the whole week, I should start buying at least 5 heads of cauliflower. Matt thought that was crazy. He dissuaded me from increasing my cauliflower purchases.
Then I let him taste my roasted cocoa cauliflower.
I would be lying if I insinuated he then agreed with my fanciful cauliflower plans. But he understood.
It is a simple recipe which surprises you. Cocoa is normally associated with sweet recipes, but instead the cocoa is paired with a hefty dose of smoked paprika. The cocoa provides a fun depth to the smoky paprika which is accentuated by the lemon pepper seasoning. (Why do I use lemon pepper seasoning? Well, I am too lazy to break out the spice grinder for simply 2 peppercorns. Plus the lemon bits add a fun twist, too).
PS. I have long been smitten by the prettiness of roasting a whole head of cauliflower, but I have yet to be convinced it tastes much better. In fact, I would think the core would not cook through entirely which is why I break up my florets first.
I have been meaning to review Hilda’s High Protein Vegan for a while. I bought it last year while exploring more protein-rich ideas (I thought it was a great deal, under $5 for a kindle version). Despite many people poo-pooing protein needs, I have long been a proponent of higher protein intake. This is especially important for active people (see my first rant here). With Carrie’s recent post about Fatigue and the Ex Vegan Phenomenon and Sayward’s older post about low cholesterol and protein on a vegan diet, both highlight the importance of proper nutrition. One needs adequate calories (including protein! and fat!) on a restrictive vegan diet which is naturally high in carbohydrates (see my review of vegan nutrition guides here). Why harp on protein? For me, it can be the most difficult to obtain on a vegan diet.
Eat beans and legumes. That includes tofu. Hilda’s book may be soy-free but soy is ok. Yes, there is protein in vegetables (spinach is almost 50% protein) but you have to eat a lot of vegetables for it to be a meaningful protein source. Whole grains, like quinoa, are ok, too. And when you want a high protein boost, pick something like vital wheat gluten which is basically wheat protein powder. Anyways, enough with the lecture, more about implementing high protein meals.
I like Hilda’s book because it has over 100 recipes with an emphasis on a (soy-free) protein component. All are whole-foods based recipes. Recipes are marked as gluten-free, nightshade-free, nut-free, and onion/garlic-free. Some are low-fat, some are higher fat. She does not call for processed foods like fake meat, cheese or yogurt. The cookbook highlights the gamut of vegan protein selections – beans including chickpea flour, whole grains, nuts and seitan. She even has a soy-free tofu recipe to use in a satay tofu with an almond sauce, cauliflower parmigiana bake, bean and mushroom stroganoff and even pasta alla carbonara. I was most excited about the seitan recipes since I don’t make it nearly enough.
One of the paradoxes about eating vegan is that you explore new foods and increase your food options despite limiting meat and dairy consumption. I had never even heard of käsekrainer or a “kransky” before, let try alone a vegan version. Cheese-stuffed sausages are probably the antithesis of vegan eats but here is a vegan spin on it. An easy, flavourful steamed seitan is filled with a cashew cheese spread. I thought the cheese spread was absolutely delicious and was thrilled I had a bunch leftover. I don’t like nooch-heavy sauces but it was very well balanced. In fact, I preferred the cheese sauce before steaming as it lost its sharp, salty bite once in the sausage.
Certainly, I cannot vouch for its authenticity but I can tell you how it tastes: delicious. I shared it with Rob (who hadn’t had a kransky previously, either) who said it tasted 60% like sausage and 40% like cheese. It was 90% like cheese as the uncooked spread. With my recent infatuation with all things mustard, I thought it was perfect with a side of sauerkraut as well. (With a shout-out to this recipe that led me to finally making homemade sauerkraut successfully!!).
Hilda graciously allowed me to reproduce her recipe (it would have taken me so long to type up!) AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader ANYWHERE in the world! BOOYAH! Please visit her blog and thank her! To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite vegan protein and how you like to prepare it. The winner will be selected at random on March 10, 2014. Good luck!
PS. Here’s a shout out to my latest raw brownie with over 7g of protein per serving without beans/legumes/protein powder. Not enough protein for a meal but I think it is great for a dessert. ;)
This is my submission to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness.