Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Green Tacos and Taco Salad


You may have noticed I have not been posting super often lately. One reason is that I have been working basically seven days a week and sometimes I just want to relax, watch tv, live life. Another is that my eating habits are changing. I have been feeling much healthier eating mostly raw vegan food and less healthy eating cooked and baked foods. I have not eliminated those foods, but they are becoming much more occasional, and much less habitual.



Today's taco recipe is a typical cooked meal for me these days. It involves both raw and cooked food. It is oil-free and much lower in sodium and fat than a traditional taco, grain-free and corn-free. It is, as usual, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and nut-free.



These Green Tacos are really delicious and offer a nice dose of plant protein and fresh vegetables. I chose to use collard greens as the shells instead of tortillas -- they are incredibly good for you and loaded with important minerals like calcium.


If you don't care for tacos, the fillings also taste delicious on top of salad greens. I had a lot of extra vegan taco "meat" and other toppings after I made two giant tacos, so I threw the rest on top of some romaine lettuce and baby kale to make a delicious taco salad! All in all, this is a really filling, healthy and delicious meal.

GREEN TACOS AND GREEN TACO SALAD

SPICED TACO "MEAT":
  • 1 can brown lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp chopped white onion
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 0.5 tsp turmeric
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • Pinch chili powder
  • Squeeze of lemon or lime
  • 1 roma tomato, chopped

In a pot over medium high heat, water saute OR oil saute your onions. Once translucent, add your tomatoes and cook for a minute. Add the spices and lentils and a little water. Simmer for 10 minutes while you prepare your other fillings.


BUTTERNUT SQUASH PUREE
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen peeled and chopped butternut squash
  • garlic powder (to taste)
  • 1 tsp of cumin 
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • squeeze of lemon or lime juice
  • 1 tsp vegan mayo (optional)
Steam the squash until soft and mashable. Add all ingredients to a food processor and puree until smooth OR add to a mixing bowl and puree with a stick blender OR add to a mixing bowl and mash and mix everything very well with a fork.

EXTRA FILLINGS:
  • 1 yellow beet, grated with a cheese grater
  • Oil free salsa, or your favourite salsa
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced into long thin slices
  • 1/4 English cucumber (grated with a cheese grater) (optional)

OPTIONAL: vegan mayo or vegan sour cream (leave out to reduce fat and oil)

TACO ASSEMBLY

Once every component is prepared, wash and pat dry your collard leaves and add some lentils down the middle, leaving lots of room around the edges. Top with some avocado slices and as much of the other toppings as you want. Wrap like a burrito and enjoy.

GREEN TACO SALAD:
  • Salad greens (as much as you desire)
  • Taco "Meat"
  • Other Fillings
  • Squeeze of lime or lemon
  • Garlic powder
Add your salad greens to a large bowl. Drizzle with lemon or lime juice and a couple shakes of garlic powder. Then top with all of your taco fillings and vegan taco "meat". Enjoy!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fruity Nice Cream Sundae


Sometimes you just need want an ice cream nice cream sundae. 

There was a time in my life that I went out for an ice cream sundae without fail every single week. Even in the winter! I've had a life-long ice cream addiction that veganism has nearly broken. Why? Well, most vegan ice cream sucks is just ok. The ice cream I am was addicted to is was the real deal. The cream of the crop.

I made myself stop eating ice cream for several reasons:
  • Its full of refined sugar. 
  • Its often full of additives I cannot identify.
  • Its not vegan.
  • Its addictive and made me feel sick after eating it.
  • The dairy industry no longer gets my dollars.
  • The temporary satisfaction it provides isn't worth the days of bloating and discomfort.
  • It gave me nightmares.
  • It made my asthma worse.
For all you diehard  ice cream fans, I apologize. I know when something isn't sitting well with me and I listen to my body. If ice cream is ok with you, I respect your choices in life.
Today's recipe is for what I reach for when that undeniable  ice cream craving hits. I like to whip up a batch of nice cream. For those of you unfamiliar with "nice cream",  I'm referring to homemade fruit "ice cream". The name is a little misleading since its mostly made of blended frozen fruit. For best results I highly recommend using a food processor. A blender or stick blender will work in a pinch but you may have to add a little liquid (nut milk or coconut water) to make it blend smoothly. I find this really waters down the flavour and texture.

Nice cream has been a favourite of mine for many years. A lot of its early proponents said that it had to involve a nut butter to be creamy and decadent. I totally disagree. I find its just as good fat free, just blended fruit and a touch of sweetener if necessary (particularly for sour fruits like raspberries).

I make nice cream all the time for breakfast and dessert. I find it almost as satisfying as real ice cream without the nasty side effects. 

To make this recipe into an ice cream sundae, I made a raw chocolate magic shell to layer between two nice cream flavours. The shell is so easy to make, especially in the summer when coconut oil tends to liquify. 

For ice cream flavours I chose vanilla and raspberry. For the vanilla I blended frozen banana with vanilla extract and a raw sweetener until smooth and thick. For raspberry I just blended frozen raspberries and stevia. For the chocolate coating I stirred together liquid coconut oil with raw cacao powder and raw honey (which I know is not vegan but I consume it occasionally for its beneficial impact on my chronic inflammation). Feel free to use maple syrup or coconut nectar in its place.



This "sundae" is not quite the real deal but its pretty damn delicious and healthy. Give it a try!


Nice Cream Sundae

Raspberry Nice Cream
  • 1-2 cups frozen raspberries
  • stevia to taste

Add your raspberries to a food processor and blend until totally smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides and continue blending. Once blended, add a little stevia, blend and taste. Add as much as needed to sweeten it to your taste.

Vanilla Nice Cream
  • 3 frozen bananas
  • 1 tsp liquid sweetener (raw honey, maple syrup, coconut nectar, agave)
  • teeny tiny pinch pink salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until totally smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides and continue blending.

Raw Chocolate Shell
  • 2 tbsp liquid virgin coconut oil (heat solidified coconut oil in a pan over low heat until melted)
  • 2 tsps or more raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp liquid sweetener (raw honey, maple, agave, coconut nectar)
  • teeny tiny pinch pink salt
Whisk or stir all ingredients together until totally smooth. 

ASSEMBLY
Grab a two clean jam jars or wide short glasses and add some raspberry ice cream to each, filling each container half full. Top with a couple spoonfuls of chocolate sauce. Fill the rest of the containers with the vanilla ice cream and top it with more chocolate sauce. Place in the freezer for a few minutes to harden the chocolate sauce. Enjoy.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Squashed Yellow Rice Bowl



I'm sure you're wondering what I mean by "squashed". Well...it all started Saturday night when I couldn't decide whether to make yellow rice or spaghetti squash. I'm incredibly indecisive about food. I drive my husband insane with options for dinner if I'm cooking. "So we're having pasta?" "Yes!...unless you'd prefer tacos, tandoori or felafel??" I can't make decisions to save my life when it comes to food these days. I must have the "grass is always greener..." syndrome...



So ya, no decision was made in the end. Instead I turned to a delightful compromise...A yellow rice bowl with roasted spaghetti squash on top! Sounds weird but tastes awesome, trust me...


This bowl has a lot going on. I'd call it a "buddha bowl" BUT I tend to associate those with tahini, or Asian flavours, which are not present here at all. So instead I'm simply calling this a "yellow rice bowl." I have a bit of an obsession with yellow coconut rice. Its addictive and comforting -- a dangerous combination. Its delicious on its own but I decided to top it with a few different toppings to make it into a meal and to give the dish a bunch of textures and flavours. Here's what this bowl includes:
  • yellow brown rice base seasoned with coconut milk, turmeric, cumin, garlic and lime loaded with tender carrots and onions
  • steamed garlicky greens
  • raw and crisp red leaf lettuce
  • ultra creamy guacamole sauce
  • grated cucumber
  • roasted spaghetti squash seasoned with cumin, garlic and lime 
Seriously delicious. Seriously healthy. Vegan. Gluten-free. Satisfying. 

Though the bowl has a lot going on and a lot of flavours and textures, its really simple to prepare. The rice is basically a chop, stir, boil, and simmer affair. The squash could be roasted blindfolded while the rice cooks. Everything else takes little to no time to prepare. You could also make the rice and squash in advance and just heat and serve them with the toppings (for a meal in minutes). Give it a try! 


SQUASHED YELLOW RICE BOWL
 
Spaghetti squash:
  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • Dash cumin
  • Dash cinnamon
  • Dash chilli powder
  • Dash garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450. Cut your squash in half. Remove the seeds and rinse. Massage the flesh with a little oil and place cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in the hot oven and roast until the squash is easily pierced through the skin with a fork. Flip the pieces over, season with the citrus and spices and return to the oven for a few more minutes. Scrape the squash strands out of the skin into a bowl. Stir in the oil evenly. Return to the oven until ready to eat.

Creamy guacamole sauce:

  • 2 avocados
  • Juice of 1/2 small lime or to your taste
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • Pinch pink salt
  • Optional: 2 tsp vegenaise or vegan sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mash everything together well with a fork until smooth, refrigerate until ready to serve.

Carrot coconut curry rice

  • 2 cups short grain brown rice, rinsed well
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2/3 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 large yellow or orange or red carrot, chopped into coins and then cut in half
  • 1/2 small leek, chopped small
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Bring everything to a boil together. Stir, cover for one minute. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes. Stir in the following:


  • 1.5-2 tbsp coconut cream or coconut cream powder
  • Big pinch pink salt
  • Dash or two garlic powder
  • Juice of half a small lime

Stir through the extra ingredients. Cover and continue to cook until rice is tender and fully cooked to your taste. Stop and stir often to ensure it doesn't stick to bottom.


Steamed greens:
  • 2 leaves kale, black, chopped
  • 2 leaves kale, green, chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • Tiny pinch pink salt
  • Few dashes garlic powder
  • Squeeze lime
  • 1/2 tsp coconut oil

Steam your greens and broccoli until bright green. Transfer to a bowl and stir in spices and seasonings. Set aside.

Extra toppings:

  • Lime wedges
  • Grated cucumber
  • Hot sauce or Sriracha


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Tropical Smoothie Bowl and why you should eat smoothies in a bowl too!

I used to always start my day with a big green smoothie but I've realized that they may not be the most conscious way to begin a new day of food. If you're like me and are prone to chugging anything liquid, you are likely not getting the most out of your smoothie routine. Drinking a smoothie too fast can result in your body only partially digesting the meal. This can lead to bloating, gas, and more unpleasant side effects of consuming food too quickly. My husband always suggests chewing your smoothie, allowing saliva to mix with the drink to help get your digestive juices flowing and help you break that drink down into usable fuel. I have tried  to do this many times but I invariably go back to my default chug setting. Enter my new best friend, the smoothie bowl. 

Smoothie bowls are great for many reasons. If you like smoothies but tend to drink too fast they may be your new best friend too. By creating a thicker smoothie that you eat with a spoon, you will slowly eat the smoothie instead of chugging it. This allows for more saliva to mix with your food as you eat it -- which unleashes valuable digestive enzymes which will help to begin to break down your food for digestion. By eating the smoothie you are also allowing yourself more time overall to consume the food. Eating slowly is always a good idea. It allows you to tune into your body's hunger signals, helping to stop you from overeating or binge eating.

Digestive issues aside, there's a lot to love about smoothie bowls. For one thing they are gorgeous! You can dress them up with fruit slices, sauces, jam, whatever you like! They can also offer a beautiful medley of flavours and textures -- I like to top mine with soft and crunchy fruits, and colourful accents to make them more appealing.


 Today's smoothie bowl kind of tastes like a dressed up Flintstone's Push Pop. Do you remember those? I used to love them because they were creamy, tart and sweet! For the base of my bowl I combine fresh ataulfo mangoes with frozen raspberries, frozen bananas and fresh lime juice. The result is creamy, cold, pink, tangy sweet heaven. I then pop it in the freezer for a bit to firm up while I slice and dice some more mango, half a red bartlett pear (for crunch) and a few lime wedges. Put it all together and you get one magical smoothie bowl.



TROPICAL SMOOTHIE BOWL

Base:
  • 2 ataulfo mangoes, flesh of
  • Juice of 1/2 a small lime
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1-2 frozen bananas (I used 1 1/2)
Add all base ingredients to a food processor and blend until totally smoothie. Transfer to a serving bowl and place in freezer while you prepare toppings.

Toppings:
  • 1 ataulfo mango, chopped flesh
  • 1/2 lime, sliced
  • 1 pear, diced
  • kiwi, sliced (optional)
Slice all toppings. Remove smoothie bowl from freezer and top with toppings. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

10 minute Quinoa and Kale Soup (that tastes like Lentil Soup)


My last post discussed my sister Anna's traditional birthday meal of hummus, tahina, falafel and lentil soup. We never waver, its always on the menu. I love lentil soup so much -- there are no words. I have made my own in the past and even when flavor wise the dish works, I always find myself curling into a ball with abdominal pain within an hour. Beans and legumes typically really upset my stomach, as much as I love them. I know I'm not the only one with this issue so tonight when I accidentally created a similar tasting soup that was legume and lentil FREE, I knew I had to share. This soup is: 

  • VEGAN 
  • GLUTEN FREE 
  • HIGH PROTEIN 
  • HIGH FIBRE 
  • FULL OF HEALTHY FATS 
  • EASY AND QUICK TO MAKE (10 MINS) 
  • FULL OF SUPERFOODS 
  • FULL OF ANTI-INFLAMMATORY SPICES 
  • LEGUME-FREE BUT TASTES LIKE LENTIL SOUP 
If that doesn't have you intrigued, did I mention this soup features quinoa and kale? Arguably two of the healthiest foods on the planet! Can you say awesome? 


I made this soup because I wanted, no I NEEDED, to eat some turmeric. Its the beginning of my seasonal allergy season and turmeric is my savior. It clears up my symptoms in less than an hour. I had planned to make yellow rice with ground turmeric but decided that I couldn't be bothered to spend that much time on dinner. So I threw some quinoa flakes, water, spices, coconut cream, coconut oil, olive oil, lemon, garlic, kale and grated zucchini into a pot, and heated them to create a thick and creamy yellow and green soup. It instantly reminded me of my favorite lentil soup so I served it in the same way -- with a drizzle of evoo, a lemon wedge, and some hot sauce. This soup is so good. 

It is undeniably similar to lentil soup but most likely won't upset your stomach if you're sensitive to legumes like me. Its just as healthy and delicious. Give it a try if you've given up on beans and lentils! 

10 Minute Quinoa and Kale Soup 
  • 3-4 cups water or stock of choice (vegetable stock etc.) 
  • 1.5 cups quinoa flakes 
  • 1/2 tsp virgin coconut oil 
  • 1.5 tsp evoo 
  • 1/4 white onion, diced small 
  • 2 leaves black or green kale, chopped small 
  • 1/2 large zucchini, shredded with a cheese grater 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder 
  • 1/4 tsp oregano (optional) 
  • Squeeze of lemon 
  • Big pinch of pink salt 
  • OPTIONAL extra spices: saffron, paprika or sumac to taste 
Add everything to a small pot and stir well to combine evenly. Heat over high heat to bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring often, until everything is yellow and thick and creamy (at least 10 minutes to ensure the quinoa flakes are cooked through thoroughly). If you like your soup thinner, add as much stock or water as you like and taste. If you need to add more spices and oil to compensate for the extra liquid, add and heat for a couple minutes longer.

OPTIONAL to Serve: Top your bowl of soup with a wedge of lemon, a dash of hot sauce, a pinch of Paprika and/or sumac, and a drizzle of evoo. Squeeze the lemon wedge over the soup before eating.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hummus Wraps (gluten-free, vegan, no chickpeas)


Last night my family celebrated my big sister's birthday in the only way we seem to know how -- with lots of hummus, tahina, falafel, lentil soup and other mezes, and lemon meringue pie for dessert. No one is exactly sure when this tradition started, but its solid as a rock. We've been ordering in for Anna's birthday for as long as I can remember from the same restaurant. No one's sure if the food is outstanding or just nostalgic at this point. Either way, its always great.

I had birthday traditions as well -- for years I would order in chow mein from our favourite Chinese restaurant. Once I realized I was allergic to soy and gluten intolerant that tradition halted.


I absolutely love hummus and I've been lucky enough to travel abroad and enjoy some of the best out there. I make no claims that my recipe today is either authentic or the best of the best, but its pretty delicious, pretty healthy and dead simple to make.




This is not a traditional recipe mainly because I don't use chickpeas to make it. Don't get me wrong, I love chickpeas, but they often really upset my stomach. I find white beans much easier to digest so I opted for those instead. The result is still very good so give it a try if you have a can kicking around. I also chose to use raw sesame tahini instead of roasted tahini in this recipe. I think I prefer the flavour of it and the raw version is a healthier choice. Feel free to use either.

Since hummus makes such lovely sandwiches (and since I no longer eat bread) I decided to wrap some of it up in some raw savoy cabbage leaves with some cucumber, tomato and hot sauce. 

These wraps are healthy, vegan, gluten-free and nut-free. They make a delicious light lunch or snack.  If you don't like cabbage but still want to enjoy this hummus in a gluten-free context, I also love adding hummus to saffron rice or with raw or roasted vegetables! Its such a versatile dish, it can be enjoyed in countless ways.


White Bean Hummus
  • 2 cans great northern beans, 1/4 cup brine reserved (I used Eden Organic which packs beans with kombu seaweed instead of salt, making the beans easier to digest)
  • pink salt to taste (more than you'd expect is required if you use unsalted canned beans)
  • lemon juice (I used about 3/4 of a lemon but start with 1/2 a lemon and add more or less to your taste)
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1-2 tsp cumin (to taste)
  • garlic powder (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp evoo (optional)
  • 1/2-2/3 cup raw sesame tahini (add to your taste) 
Reserve 1/4 cup of the bean brine. Rinse your beans until they aren't super foamy. Add to a food processor along with garlic, lemon, tahini, brine, cumin. Blend until smooth and thick. Keep processor on blend while you drizzle in the evoo through the spout, then the water. Taste. Add more lemon and blend if its not tangy enough. Add garlic powder (as much as you want) and blend well. Transfer to an airtoght container and store in the fridge. Makes a large amount of hummus.


Hummus Wraps
  • Savoy cabbage leaves, washed and dried
  • White bean hummus (as much as you want)
  • tomatoes, chopped small
  • cucumber, diced small
  • Frank's red hot or sriracha

Arrange cabbage leaves on a plate. Add hummus to the center of each. Top with tomatoes, cucumber and a few dashes of hot sauce. Eat like tacos.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"Crab" Cakes with Green Tartar Sauce (Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free)

 
I used to really enjoy deep fried and greasy meals like Fish N Chips, and crab cakes with remoulade or tartar sauce. I don't eat fish anymore, but as a vegan I wanted to create something comparable to crab cakes to enjoy. I have seen many recipes for vegan crab cakes using hearts of palm but I had another idea -- artichokes and chickpeas...

The inspiration for these comes from the classic vegan fake tuna salad recipe -- smashed chickpeas. I love the tuna-like flavour and texture of smashed chickpea salad and I thought it would work really nicely in this recipe. What I didn't want was for these cakes to be too dry or too firm, which can happen with chickpeas. Crab cakes have a lovely soft interior and crunchy exterior...So do my little vegan cakes.
 
Despite their crispy crunchy and golden exterior these vegan crab cakes are neither breaded nor fried. This is just the end result of baking my "crab" patties. Its almost magic...I created this texture by combining grated zucchini with chickpeas and artichokes (I steamed frozen artichoke hearts) in my food processor. Pulse pulse pulse and you get a chunky mixture you can use to hand-form delicate fishy patties. All the happens next is you bake the cakes in a roaring hot oven to get a crispy exterior and soft interior. Easy.
 
What crab cake would be complete without a creamy sauce for dipping? 
 
For dips I used some delicious organic ketchup and my own Green Tartar Sauce. This tartar sauce is a little unconventional and slightly healthier than ordinary tartar sauce. It is a delightful combination of avocado, soy-free vegan mayo, dill, garlic and chopped pickles. So delicious. You need to try this recipe.

The vegan crab cakes themselves are quite low in fat if you are on a low fat diet. The whole batch uses only 2 tsps of olive oil. The dip is obviously not fat free but feel free to just use ketchup instead, they'll still taste delicious.

 
For the Vegan Crab Cakes:
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (1.5 cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 zucchini roughly chopped
  • 1 cup cooked artichoke hearts (not preserved, I used frozen and steamed them)
  • 1 tsp dulse or kelp flakes
  • 2-3 tsp evoo
  • 0.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 0.5 tsp dried dill
  • squeeze of lemon or orange juice
  • big pinch of salt (I used pink salt but sea salt is a good alternative)
Add everything to a food processor and pulse until you have mixture that resembles chunky tuna salad. Form into little patties and bake in a 400F oven until lightly brown on top. Very carefully flip them over one by one and return to the oven to brown well on both sides. Serve with organic ketchup and Green Tartar Sauce (recipe follows).
Green Tartar Sauce:
  • 1 small ripe avocado, mashed until smooth
  • 2 tbsp soy-free vegenaise
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 0.5 of a dill pickle, chopped finely
  • 0.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp evoo
  • 1 tsp orange juice or lemon juice
  • 1 tsp water

Add all ingredients together in a small bowl and mix well. Use as tartar sauce for your vegan crab cakes.